Monday, March 31, 2008

Begin at the end?

Buying a home is a big undertaking. Whether you are purchasing your first home or your tenth, it is still a process that should be done carefully. Many buyers, especially first time home buyers, begin the process by looking for houses, either on the internet or in local papers. While looking at homes is one of the most fun parts of the home buying process, I strongly encourage buyers to begin instead at a place most go to last – the bank.

When you decide to buy a home, the first question should be “How much can we spend?” I hate to see buyers start looking at homes with no idea what their budget is. It is disappointing to buyers to start looking only to find out their budget is fifty thousand dollars less than they thought. The houses in the lower price range never look as nice as the more expensive homes they started out looking at. Talk to your bank when you start talking with your realtor. If you do not know where to go to talk about mortgages, ask your realtor for recommendations. I am always happy to help my clients find good mortgage bankers.

When you find out what your budget is, stick to it. Being house-poor is never a good situation. When people buy at the very top of their price range or slightly over the top, there is no money left for decorating or regular maintenance. The buyers may have a great home, but there is no room in the budget for dining out, vacations, entertainment or extra activities for the children. When people buy what they can afford, they can still have room in budget for unexpected expenses life may throw at them.

A good realtor should be your partner in the home buying process, not a wolf on the prowl for the biggest commission possible. When you as a buyer know your limits, a good realtor should stay within that limit. It is a winning situation for everyone when a seller gets a fair price on the property they are leaving, a buyer gets a fair price on a home they can afford and a realtor helps the transaction go smoothly.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Things to do

If you are looking for something new and different to do in the next week, the following events are going on area:

~The Gem, Mineral and Fossil show is happening Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30 at the High School. Sponsored by the Badger Lapidary Society, there are hands on activities for the kids like panning gold. It is a fun way to explore earth sciences.

~ The Monroe City Band is having a Cabaret Night at Turner Hall on Saturday, March 29. It starts at 8 pm and tickets are available at the door for $6.

~ Toffler's Pub and Grill in New Glarus is featuring live music by the Mike Croft Trio on Saturday, March 29. The opening receptions always feature wonderful nibbles by local chefs.

~ A new exhibit opens up at the Monroe Arts Center on Thursday. Called "On A Liquid Planet", it features photographs by Stephen Gassman with the common thread of water.

~ On April 4, Monroe turns 150 years old! Join us for cake and celebration. More on this in another post.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Everything old is new again

I was recently reading an article on current housing trends, things that are now considered hot and things that are considered not. I found some of the items quite interesting. Everything old is really is new again.

~ Free-standing soaker tubs for the bathroom are supplanting the whirlpool tub as today's it bathroom accessory. Think of all the old westerns with the cowboy soaking in the clawfoot tub with the raised back, that is a soaker tub. They are back!

~ McMansions are out, homes with reduced carbon footprints are in. This may vary with market, but people are starting to see the absurdity of a 6000 square foot home for a family of four or for empty nesters.

~ Out door living space is in again. The old fashioned generous porches for entertaining and outdoor stone hearths for cooking. There are modern twists of course, but really, grandma and grandpa knew what they were doing sitting out on the porch on a summer evening, and great-grandma's summer kitchen is the forerunner of today's outdoor cook spaces.

~ The top color trend was natural, unstained and undyed materials. Things that people used to do for frugality is now chic.

I find it intruiging how cyclical trends are. There were other, modern trends, like fully hidden appliances and pet showers, but many of the concepts were so familiar.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a large brick home in Monroe.

Room, room, room! Your family will have all the space you need in this 2900 square foot brick home in Monroe. Four bedrooms on the second floor will end the fights over the kids sharing rooms. On the main floor, you will find a formal living room and dining room, both with stunning original woodwork. The bonus room could be a sitting room, office, playroom or a fifth bedroom. The large kitchen has room for an active cook and a table for casual family meals.

Old meets new in the finished basement. Walk downstairs and you will find a large space waiting for an office or playroom and an enormous media room with attached kitchenette. You will be the one hosting the Super Bowl parties or stock it with snacks for the teens and have the peace of mind of knowing where your teen is on Friday nights because his friends will want to hang out in this great space. There is also a large separate laundry room in the basement, and here is where you will find the newer furnace.

Spend summer evenings on your screen front porch talking with friends or hang a hammock on the upstairs back sleeping porch for rainy day naps.

The location cannot be beat. Only a block to East School Park means the kids will have plenty of space to run. Walk to events at the Fairgrounds and let the kids bike downtown or to the Middle School. This house is a gem waiting for a new family to call it home.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Traveling Green

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism recently began a new certification program. Called Travel Green Wisconsin, it recognizes businesses in the tourism industry that are paying attention to their impact on the environment and making an effort to reduce their footprints on the earth.

Here in Cheese Country, we have business owners who have already take the steps necessary to be certified by Travel Green. If you are looking for an off the beaten path way to travel, consider some of these businesses or activities:

~ Earth Rider Boutique Hotel. With a unique bicycling theme and an coordinating bike shop business, consider Earth Rider for a wayside on your next cycling trip through Green County.

~ Inn Serendipity Bed and Breakfast. A nationally recognized Eco-Destination right here in Green County! Local authors Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko offers a unique experience, complete with a hearty vegetarian breakfast that travels only one hundred feet from garden to table.

~ The Badger State Trail, Sugar River Trail, New Glarus Woods State Park and Browntown-Cadiz Springs Recreational Area are all travel green certified. Camp, hike, bike or just spend an afternoon picnicking in these public areas.

~ Scotch Hill Farm near Brodhead is a CSA/market garden grower that also offer handmade soaps. Call ahead to arrange pick-up of a box of fresh vegetables to take home or join the CSA if you are nearby. Be sure to check out their soaps!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a ranch home in Monroe.

They say quality shows, and they are correct! This 22 year old ranch home was built right, and you will appreciate the attention to detail in the entire home. All the details are here, from the jetted tub to the built in bookself, the walk-in closet to the shaded back patio.

The layout is perfect for the couple that enjoys entertaining. The open concept main floor living area means the cook will never be separated from the party. Family and friends are sure to gather in the enormous lower level family room. There is a built in bar on one end, complete with stools, and a huge stone fireplace. Built in seating faces the fireplace wall, which includes a place for your flat screen TV, complete with cable hook-up. In between the bar and fireplace, there is room for tables, banquets, conversational seating areas, a pool table and more. If the weather permits, have the party outside. Adults can talk and grill out on the shaded back patio while the kids or grandkids run in the yard.

You will never want for storage in this home! The spacious living room includes a full book shelf with storage cabinets spanning an entire wall. Both bedrooms have oversized closets, and the one on the mater bedroom must be seen to be believed. In the basement family room, the bar area has cupboards galore. The two car garage is extra large, allowing for storage on both sides and in the rear. The utility room has storage tucked in to all of the nooks as well.

This great home has been well maintained, and the mechanicals are newer. If you are looking for somewhere that is ready to simply move into and start living, look no further - even the carpets are freshly cleaned and a home warranty is included for your peace of mind.

The sellers are asking only $220,o00 for this impressive home. Last time it was on the market, it sold in ten days, so call Brenda or Luis for your private showing before this one is gone again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

End the Hibernation!

As always, there is plenty to do in Cheese Country!

If you are Irish or simply enjoy a good parade, come up to the Square in Monroe on March 17. The Gathering of the Clans parade is downtown at 4:45 on Monday, and will be preceded by stories and crafts at the Monroe Public Library. The downtown parades have been growing well over the years, and the St Patrick's Day parade is no exception. Come see your neighbors and friends, and don't forget to wear green!

Later in the week, come to the Monroe Arts Center from 7 until 8:30 for a talk with local authors and entrepreneurs Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko. They will be talking about their new book Renewing the Countryside: Wisconsin as part of the UW Extension's Local Fare program. It is sure to be an interesting evening.

Also in the upcoming week, author John Kaminski will kick off this year's Distinguished Author's Series at the Monroe Arts Center on Thursday, March 20. The Brodhead Jaycees are having their Spring Arts and Crafts Show on Saturday, March 15. The Browntown Fire Department's Annual St Patrick's Day Dance is on Saturday, March 15 as well.

Get out of the house and enjoy the breath of spring that is on the air these days!