The new tax credit for first-time homebuyers that's included in the economic stimulus package was far less than the $20,000 the homebuilding industry wanted. Analysts expect the credit of 10 percent of the value of a home, up to $8,000, to provide only a modest boost to the battered U.S. housing market. Last year, Congress enacted a $7,500 tax credit for first-time buyers, but that had to be paid back over 15 years and the impact on home sales was negligible.

The tax credit is part of the economic stimulus package expected to be signed soon by Obama. It was scaled back from a Senate proposal of $15,000 and is limited to first-time buyers who act between January 1st, 2009 and December 1st, 2009. First-time buyers are defined as those who haven't owned a…

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Madison's Capitol BuildingJust released employment figures show the U.S. economy shed 3.6 million jobs from December 2007 to January 2008, including close to half that figure in the last three months alone. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.6% nationally and, in case you hadn't heard, at over 10% already in several states. And the list is growing.

But fortunately jobs aren't disappearing at the same rate in every real estate market.

As reported by Ajilon Professional Staffing, there are still areas around the country in which the unemployment rate is low and the job outlook relatively strong.

Led by Madison, WI, Ajilon calls them "10 Cities For Job Growth in 2009". They are:

1. Madison, WI   
2. Washington, D.C.   
3. Boston, MA   
4. Richmond, VA   
5. Milwaukee, WI   
6. Pittsburgh,…

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affordable East Side bungalowLake & City Homes Realty is proud to announce its very first listing!

This adorable brick & stone bungalow is located on Madison's near East Side on a quiet tree-lined street in desirable North Gardens. And it is priced under assessment for a quick sale.

Features include good-sized living room, separate dining room, large eat-in kitchen, two nice-sized bedrooms (including a Master bedroom that leads out new sliding doors to a generous-sized deck), separate office (could also be used as a playroom, den or workout room), plus a dry, spacious basement currently used as an art studio.

The large fenced-in yard is private, boasts lovely mature trees, and is perfect for playing and relaxing with kids and pets alike. There is also a large storage shed for…

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Lake & City Homes new yard signLake & City Homes is proud to announce the completion of its first production run of yard signs and open house signs!

It wasn't easy but it was worth the effort!

First, two different designers were involved in the production of the initial logo, Dina Sporer of Red Hot Skillet Designs in Madison WI and Donna Collingwood of Collingwood Designs, also of Madison.

A third designer, Marily Crews-Nelson of Whopping Big Signs (a division of Magellan Mapping out of Waunakee WI), then skillfully reproduced our signature skeleton key and the rest of the elements in our logo onto a 24x36, full color, 2-sided, 080 aluminum, ≈24 gauge, baked white enamel sign that includes elegantly rounded corners and grommets on both top and bottom. And what a beautiful result!…

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In real estate, it's a well-known fact that many buyers have difficulty imagining what a house would look like if the furniture was arranged in a completely different way. Worse yet, buyers typically have a hard time getting past furnishings that aren't to their liking or style. That's why I'm a big believer in staging a home prior to putting it on the market. I've been known to go to great lengths to stage homes, and even greater lengths to avoid marketing a vacant home, especially when furnishing it and staging it is a possibility. I've even used excess furnture from one home to stage another! And I'm an even bigger believer that in these challenging economic times, sellers need to be even more open to advice and counsel about staging their home than…

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This week the U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the Stimulus package that provides a tax credit up to $15,000 to anyone purchasing a home between January 1st, 2009 and December 31st, 2009. The tax credit is equal to 10% of the total purchase price up to a maximum of $15,000. For example, if you purchase a home for $150,000 (or more), you would be entitled to a $15,000 tax credit. Current law provides up to a $7,500 tax credit to a first-time home purchaser. The new amendment, if passed, would apply to all home buyers whether they are first-time home buyers or not. Also, the newly proposed $15,000 tax credit would only require repayment in the event the taxpayer sells the home within 24 months of purchase or does not use the home as the taxpayer’s…

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Dane County Housing StartsEvery two weeks for the past 20 years Dominic Collar’s staff drives to 680 municipal offices throughout Wisconsin to count building permits. That's thousands of miles of driving every year. But it's business as usual for MTD Marketing Services of Wisconsin, the sales and marketing forecasting company that Dominic runs. Compiling data for MABA (Madison Area Builder’s Association), among other clients, MTD's unique data gathering, forecasting and analysis enables Dane County builders to make more informed decisions about which price points, square footage and geographic target areas are most likely to succeed from one year to the next in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Dane County Housing Starts for December 2008

December was the worst month for housing starts in…

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OxGood Riddance Year of the Rat. Happy Year of the Ox!

It is said that the Year of the Ox will bring stability and calm to the world. I think we could all use a bit less drama and turmoil after 2008, the Year of the Rat. In Chinese astrology the rat symbolizes greed and cleverness - a perfect symbol of what seems to have led to the U.S. economy's perfect storm. The Ox, on the other hand, is expected to bring "extra drive and enthusiasm" in pursuit of our goals.  And because earth is equivalent to the color brown in the five-element system, the year 2009 is also called Brown Cow Year.

How Now Brown Cow?

Well, so far it's a little early to tell. Nationally, we're still hitting new lows every week in the housing market. But at some point the market must…

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That old joke about how your tax assessor views your property may be more true than you realize...

In a recent conversation with City of Madison Assessor's Office I was struck by two things: One, the fact that the office of the City Assessor of Madison does not have unfettered access to the South Central Wisconsin MLS (apparently they they have access to Sold listings but do not have access to Active, Pending and Expired listings). And two (and perhaps more surprising), that in valuing properties for the purpose of determining homeowners' annual property assessments, the City doesn't use certain recent comparable solds. Which recent comps, you might ask? Well, recent comps deemed by the City to have been "sold under duress" as in, you guessed it, short…

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Search by mapLake, City, Lake. The motto of the place I live, Madison WI.

Yep, it's that time again. That time of year I sit in my office, hands slightly elevated over my keyboard, struggling to keep the blood flowing in the right directions, trying to ward off the frigid Wisconsin temps (it doesn't help that I have the worst circulation known to man!). Yes, it's that time of year I feel the need (half-jokingly) to remind myself why I moved back to Madison WI five years ago in the first place. The answer is, of course, because I thought it would be a great place to buy a house, raise a family and start a business. But a part of me assumed anyone views their hometown that way. At the time I was making my decison, I remembered all the great things about growing up in…

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