Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fresh Start

Out with the old, in with the new.  That’s the theme this time of year as hundreds of thousands of people make New Year’s resolutions.  It seems like a good time to start fresh, to turn over a new leaf, to begin again as we enter a new year.  These folks pledge to lose weight, get organized, save more money, eat healthy, exercise more, quit smoking, quit drinking alcohol, and so on.
These are all admirable declarations and the timing sounds right, but according to a recent study by the University of Scranton, a mere 8% of American’s who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving them.  And only 64% keep the resolution beyond the first month. 

Perhaps there is a better way.  I would argue traditional resolutions are all “me” driven.  Maybe we should change our mindset for resolutions and become more “other” focused.  And what if we re-pledged these promises every month or even every day?

For instance, I plan to:
Be generous - give more, take less.
Be kind – do unto others…
Help – not only when needed, but anytime.
Laugh – or better yet, make someone else laugh.

While these things may not seem as grand or impressive as losing weight or saving more money, they will hopefully make me a better person and help someone else at the same time.   All the best for a new year filled with giving, kindness and laughter. What's your New Year's Resolution?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Year End Real Estate Thoughts...

As we enter December, we look back on a year that was. More than anything else, it was a year which indicated that we are returning to normal in the real estate market. How do I define normal?

The first word that comes to mind is "seasonal." For the first time since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, we saw housing inventories and closed sales more in line with the typical "end of school year" and "beginning of school year" seasonal spikes that we have been accustomed to over the past decades.

The second word that comes to mind, (actually the next two words) are: "Interest Rates." When a real estate market recovers, we have historically seen a rise in interest rates each and every time. While in most cases, the increase is a simple supply and demand type of response, this time around the feared rise in interest rates is more tied to global economic conditions and interactions than in earlier periods. During the 1978-1982 time period, a strict internal supply and demand situation tied largely to population growth caused housing, as well as just about every other segment of the consumer market, to experience rampant inflation. Economic leaders took bold steps to cool all markets... and cool they did by raising interest rates on housing loans to as much as 17%.

Will we see that same precipitous rise in rates again? There is little dispute that some type of increase is definitely in the cards for next year, however no one is predicting the double digit rates of the 80's. Instead, we will likely see small moves by the Fed possibly as early as the end of the first quarter of 2015. That said, with the lower rates, consumers are wise to recognize that a rise in rates from 4% to 5% represents a 25% increase in your interest rate...ouch! No time like the present to get moving.

Predictions for next year?  I see a very fast market early on in 2015 with inventory evaporating faster than it did in the spring of 2014. I would recommend that buyers move now to have set up a search profile to keep you abreast of offerings in our market. And for smart sellers, I'd advise to list now so you can sell your current home and also find a new one while market supply still allows you some very good selections. This is not a typical, programmed, "act now or lose it" recommendation. Those looking to lock in a new home with a great fixed mortgage rate are in a race with the Fed...a race you don't want to lose.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Twenty Things

I attended a funeral recently.  It made me think about how fragile life is and all there is to be thankful for.

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s the perfect time to count your blessings.  Below is a list of 20 things to be thankful for – there are more, of course; this is just a start.  Some of these are complex, most are simple and give the greatest joy.  In no particular order:

·        Good health - even if it isn’t perfect, it could be worse!

·        Happiness - often it’s the little things that mean the most.

·        Family - both immediate and extended who are loving and well-adjusted.

·        Giving – of time, talent or treasure.

·        A want for nothing.

·        Great friends-who stand by me no matter what.

·        The ability to read and write.

·        Hugs – nothing means “I care” more than an embrace.

·        All five senses that I use every day.

·        Savings - even a little is better than nothing.

·        My dog – unconditional love!

·        Challenges – they help us grow and are often opportunities in disguise.

·        Freedom - to say and do what I want (within reason, of course!).

·        Fresh air and water – don’t take these for granted.

·        Smiles – both given and received, they brighten everyone’s day.

·        Sunny days - always bring a smile.

·        Cloudy days – make the sunny days all the better.

·        Kindness – a little goes a long way.

·        A warm, safe place to call home.

·        People like you – Friends and clients who trust my guidance and counsel.


What are you thankful for?  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Curb and Gutter

Real Estate is all about location, location, location.  So it was with alarming dismay that the city has decided that Sunset Village, the neighborhood that I live in needs curbs and gutters, in addition to new sewer laterals and perhaps the addition of sidewalks.  That's a lot to swallow...sheesh! 

We have lived in our home for 11 years (I am a life-long resident).  One of the draws of the Sunset Village neighborhood is the "rural-like" setting within the city.  The abundance of trees and their aesthetic value cannot be underestimated.  Surely, despite promises to the contrary, many trees will be lost with the addition of curbs and gutters (let alone sidewalks!).  You cannot put a value on trees that are, in many cases, 100+ years old. At a time when the city will be losing thousands of trees to the Emerald Ash Borer, clearly the loss of additional trees is distressing.
There is also concerned that the addition of curb and gutter will narrow the already narrow streets of the neighborhood.  During the winter, the snow piles narrow the streets even further and backing out of driveways when a car is parked across from the drive is already a treacherous feat.  Addition of curb and gutter will only exacerbate that issue.

Finally, but certainly not of little effect, the financial impact is also a concern.  At a time when MG&E is proposing increased rates, the Madison Water Utility has proposed a 30% increase in costs to customers and now the assessment for water and sewer laterals, as well as curb and gutter poses a tremendous financial unknown.  All of this on the heels of Sunset Village bearing the highest increase in assessed property values in the city.  And the Madison City Council has recently approved increasing property taxes again.  I can't imagine the impact these increased costs will have on those on a fixed income.
So, the neighborhood has started a petition opposing the installation of curbs and gutters.  Nearly all the residents on my block have signed the petition.  While the construction work is a year away, it's never too early to voice an opinion.  Stay tuned.  We'll see what happens as the story unfolds.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

September 2014 Home Sales and Year End Musings

We are completely entrenched in November and daylight savings has departed.  We look back on a year which brought us greater stability in the real estate market than we have seen in the last five years.

The relative balance between buyers and sellers that we currently are seeing is a welcome departure from the excesses and, subsequent shortages of, inventory that have aged everyone within this industry as well as the home buying and selling participants themselves during the past half-decade. As submitted in a previous post, the normalization of the real estate market is something that all will be thankful for as we take time to catch our breath and head toward a normal slow down that accompanies winter.

Before we say hello to Winter, let's take a look back at what sold on the near west side of Madison in September.

September 2014 Home Sales

6337 Briarcliff Ln
1208 Gilbert Rd
306 S Randall Ave
5718 Hammersley Rd
4017 Winnemac Ave
614 Gilmore St
295 Park Way
80 White Oaks Ln
1105 Mohican Pass
$266,000 *
1129 Petra Pl Apt 1
4117 Yuma Dr
2638 Mason St
3225 Topping Rd
401 Ridge St
601 Eugenia Ave
2202 West Lawn Ave
805 Emerson St
705 Edgewood Ave
602 Blue Ridge Pkwy
625 N Segoe Rd Unit 909
5 S Yellowstone Dr
5315 Brody Dr Unit 103
202 N Allen St
625 N Segoe Rd Unit 204
233 W Sunset Ct
4505 Onaway Pass
5726 Forsythia Pl
1316 Hoven Ct
15 Mondale Ct
315 S Mills St
622 Constitution Ln
3995 Plymouth Cir
11 Stonefield Ter
571 Park Ln
840 Hughes Pl
6302 Mineral Point Rd Unit 315
4217 Yuma Dr
4342 Doncaster Dr
13 Wakeman St
Not Disclosed
6 Heritage Cir Apt 4
2634 Kendall Ave
522 Wingra St
65 Cherokee Cir Unit 201

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Days

  1. 1.
    high respect; esteem.
    "his portrait hangs in the place of honor"

The recent Badger Honor Flight included two friends of my family.  If you are unfamiliar, the Honor Flight Network is a national organization that ensures that all WWII veterans and terminally ill veterans of any war have the opportunity to visit the memorials that have been erected in their honor in Washington, D.C.  Both of my friends said the Honor Flight was a trip of a lifetime for them.

As we recognize that Tuesday, November 11 is Veterans day, we would be remiss if we didn't honor all veterans on this day.  A day set aside to thank all those who served honorably in the military and who played a role in maintaining our ability to enjoy freedom in the United States.

If you know a veteran, please take the time to call or stop in to see them on November 11 to thank them for their service. If you don't know any veterans, consider stopping by any VFW Post. The flags will be flying high, so take time to show your appreciation and respect. For our veterans, we are all thankful.