The biggest investment many people make is their home and in recent years that investment has turned sour.  Rapidly rising home values appeared to be a sure bet.  As home values went up and equity magically increased, many homeowners sought and were given second mortgages which left very little net equity.  

Like all financial bubbles, the inevitable crash has arrived.  A major cause was Wall Street's securitization of "sub prime" loans.  A great explanation can be found at CrisisofCredit.com.  As housing prices fell, and as homeowners lost jobs or had other financial problems, their second mortgages and high interest rate loans combined to make many homes unaffordable.

One option to avoid unaffordable monthly mortgage payments is a short sale.  A…

6696 Views, 1 Comments

Happy Halloween from Lake & City Homes Realty! Check out this amazing pumpkin carving website and choose your favorite from the pumpkin carving gallery. Then comment on anything you see in my blog (including this post) and you'll be eligible to win a $10 sign-up promo code from Alice.com (no affiliation). The drawing will take place at Lake & City Homes Realty on Friday, November 6th, 2009.

When I realized that the creator of these amazing pumpkin carvings, Scott Cummins, only spends 1-2 hours on each carving, I was inspired to figure out how I too might start working smarter, not harder! So, whether you're buying or selling, here's some tips (as opposed to dirty tricks!) for working smarter in today's real estate market to get the kind of results you…

2288 Views, 3 Comments

radon readings in Dane CountyThat is the question!

Some homeowners do the laundry in the basement, some have finished basements with offices or playrooms for the kids, others have a Master bedroom suite or a guest room in their finished lower level. But over the years I've had dozens of clients buy or sell homes without testing for radon gas. One of my clients, who was concerned about radon because she had small children, had gone to the trouble of testing for radon twice in two homes she purchased during the last 10 years. She then tested a third time when she bought the home that she is now in the process of selling on Madison's West Side.

The test had been negative for radon gas when she and her husband purchased the home years ago, so when they received an offer recently that…

8065 Views, 2 Comments

1622 Meadowcrest Lane, MiddletonIn a mad scramble to add as many bells & whistles to our flagship Madison real estate site as possible we neglected to announce that we added some important new functionality to our Property Details page: Google StreetView. One of the unique characteristics of Google StreetView is its ability to get a 360 degree view of the surrounding street outside any given property.  Check out the screenshot of the Google Streetview for 1622 Meadowcrest Lane in Middleton. Not only does it give you a ground-level view from the street so you can “walk” (virtually, of course) down any street and check out the surrounding areas, it also allows you to "grab" the picture with just one click of your mouse and manipulate the view. This is a great time-saver because it negates…

2738 Views, 3 Comments

hot tubA client recently posed this question, "Do you think if we got rid of the hot tub it would help?" Translation: Would getting rid of our hot tub make our property more attractive to buyers?

The client suggested she freecycle the hot tub. In fact, she thought she'd have no problem getting rid of it by the weekend. I don't know a lot about hot tubs (I've never owned one) but I wondered how she'd get rid of it so quickly if it was so undesirable. Afterall, it was already Thursday when she made the suggestion. Then again, that hot tub (see photo) wasn't looking so hot. It actually made her newly refinished deck look a little shabby. Then she mused, "I don't think anyone even wants a hot tub anymore. It costs a fortune to keep it running in the winter and…

7984 Views, 11 Comments


Federal Housing Commissioner Brian D. Montgomery has extended the temporary property flipping waiver to May 10, 2010.  Under  the waiver, homes that were foreclosed on and are being sold by the mortgagee or on its behalf may be purchased by FHA borrowers without regard to the 90-day seasoning period. The waiver does not apply to entities that purchase foreclosures either singly or in bulk for resale.  Subsequent sales of such properties will continue to be subject to the standard regulatory requirements.   

The waiver expires for all loans for which the sales agreements were signed by the seller and buyer on or before May 10, 2010.

What all this means is that a person who purchases a home (more than likely a home that is in foreclosure or at a sheriff sale)…

1740 Views, 0 Comments


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…

2899 Views, 2 Comments