Friday, February 27, 2009


When it comes time to write an offer, your realtor is going to ask what contingencies you want to put in it.

Every situation is different, and there is no such things as a standard offer. Many people do put in a financing contingency. If the buyers have a house to sell before they can close, they usually put in a home sale contingency. Most people these days put in a home inspection contingency.

The Offer to Purchase contains a home inspection contingency that allows for a qualified home inspector to look at the house for defects. There is also the word "and" followed by a blank line. This is where the buyer writes in any specific inspections they want: electrical, plumbing, radon testing, etc.

If you are buying a home in Monroe, I would encourage you to have your realtor write in a termite inspection. Long ago, there were lumber yards in Monroe, and this portion of our history has left us with termites in town.

Termites do not discriminate when it comes to age of home, location or price. A termite inspection will cost you the buyer somewhere around $100. Termite treatment is costly, and they can do serious damage to a home. A termite inspection can be money well spent when you are buying a home.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

Wednesday is always Things to Do day here at Cheese Country Realtors. What is happening in the area in the upcoming week?

~ Put on your dancing shoes! Line Dancing with Marlene starts on Thursday in Monroe at the MTG's Stage building from 6:30 until 7:30 pm. This five week classes is only $10 for MTG members, $15 for non-members.

~ The Green County Entrepreneurs and Inventors group has their monthly meeting on Monday, March 3 from 6:30 until 8:30 pm in the New Glarus room of the Monroe Clinic. This month's topic is "Myths & Realities of Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights." Free to the public, refreshments are provided.

~ Cherokee Rose is playing country music at the Roadhouse on the south side of Monroe on Saturday evening.

~ The New Glarus Hotel is also having live music this weekend. Badge is playing solid gold rock and roll on Sunday from 4:30 until 8 pm.

~ The Freeport Visitors Center is running an Alternative Energy Expo until March 22. The Expo features designs and ideas from local alternative energy companies. The Center is on Rt 20, just east of Freeport. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 am until 7 pm, Friday and Saturday from 8 am until 8 pm.

~ The young thespians at Shakespeare Project are starting their new year Thursday evening. Stay tuned for a more detail post on this great group in the future, but do consider contacting them if you would be willing and able to help with creation of costumes or scenery. Their annual performance is going to be in June, and the Shakespeare on the Edge core company is doing another Piazza event in September.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lego-land, Green County-style

What happens when a child tells his parents that he loves Legos, he knows that lots of other kids do too, and he thinks there should be a club for kids like him?

You get the Monroe Lego Club.

I just love the spirit of people around here. The Monroe Lego Club is a the newest addition to the groups in Cheese Country. The group is for people of all ages who simply enjoy playing with Legos. Come to the Community Room at the Monroe Public Library any time between noon and 3 pm on the third Saturday of March, April and May. Lego enthusiasts 10 and under must have a parent or guardian in the library at all times.

Bring your cool designs to display to the group, but please do not bring your Legos to build with to avoid mixing up sets. There will be ample Legos provided for building opportunities. There is no cost for the building sessions.

If you would like further information, you can contact Lisa Kivirist at 608-329-7056.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Local business you may not know about

There are so many businesses in the Green County area that are well known outside of the area, but little known here.

One of these businesses is Nicki's Diapers. Nicki's Diapers opened up a retail storefront in New Glarus last year under the name Planet Wise, but they have been operating online for considerably longer than that. Nicki's Diapers and Planet Wise show the half-hidden environmentalism that is surprisingly strong here in the Green County area.

As a cloth diaper user myself, the opening on Planet Wise made it even easier to keep my money local when shopping. They carry a large selection of cloth diapering necessities as well as the splurges that make cloth diapering more fun. Cloth diapering has been experiencing a quiet resurgence in recent years as people start to realize how easy it is.

However, Nicki believes in diversification and she features so much more than just cloth diapers and diapering supplies. There is something for every baby and toddler here. The adorable Baby Legs line of leg warmers. Flexible soled shoes by Pediped, Jack and Lily, Shoo Shoos and Pedoodles. Baby carriers by Ergo, Hotslings, New Native, Ellaroo, ZoloWear and more. Lots of wooden toys. Swim diapers and sun hats. Train sets. Diaper bags. Even lollypops made with pure sugar and free from food coloring.

Nicki's and Planet Wise are here to be part of the community as well. The front of the store is devoted to a community area with sofas and toys for toddlers and preschoolers. They offer classes once a month to help people learn about babywearing and cloth diapering. If you are curious about either, the next class day is March 7. Cloth Diapering 101 is from 10 am until 11 am, and Babywearing 101 takes place from 11 am until noon. Both are free.

You can find Nicki's Diapers at 405 2nd St in New Glarus. Call the store at if you need directions. They are open Monday through Thursday from 9 am until 5 pm, Fridays from 9 am until 4:30 pm and Saturdays from 10 am until 3 pm.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What makes my job great

One of the best parts of my job is the people I get to work with. I have gotten to know some incredible people over the last three and half years.

I love the way people stay in touch even after the home buying process is finished. There is the great couple who dropped off a bag of cucumbers for me last summer. I made them in to pickles, and every time I open a jar, I think of Jay and Ann.

There is the couple who invited us to watch the annual Cheese Days parade from their new front yard. We had family over and couldn't go, but I really appreciated Nancy's invitation.

One former client who lives a few hours away called me today because a friend of his will be playing boogie woogie piano at Baumgartner's tomorrow evening, Saturday, February 21. Michael thought we might enjoy it, and he is right. That type of music is right up my alley.

Zoila and Mario bought Girl Scout cookies from my daughters, and I enjoy seeing their toddler grow up as we run into them around town.

I am truly lucky to have had so many wonderful people enter my life or to be able to get to know them better through the process of helping them buy or a sell a home. It really is one of the things that makes my job such a pleasure.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things to Do in Monroe, WI

So, what is happening in the Green County area in the upcoming days? Lots!

~ Go out to dinner and help the Albany Music Department raise money. Their annual Spaghetti Dinner happens on Thursday, February 19 from 4:30 pm until 7:30 pm in the school . Adults are $6, students and seniors are $5, and kids under 7 are $4. Students from the music department will be performing throughout the evening.

~ Turner Hall has their monthly Styles Ala Carte fashion show from noon until 1:30 pm on Thursday. The show is free, and fashions from area businesses are featured.

~ Also on Thursday from noon until 1:30 is the Revitalizing Wisconsin's Downtown Webinar series sponsored by UW Extension and Monroe Main Street. $12.50 includes lunch. Call Cara at 328-9441 to register.

~ Go Hog Wild with the Young Professionals of Green County! They are planning a trip to see the Rockford Ice Hogs on Friday, February 20. Meet in the Swiss Colony parking lot at 5 pm. Check their website for more information.

~ Monroe Theatre Guild has a members only concert event on Friday evening too. Little Big Band will be having a casual concert in an open rehearsal format. Not a member? Join! Membership is only $20 for a family for a year. Seating is limited, so contact MTG for reservations. $5 donation at the door.

~ On Saturday, come back to MTG's Stage Building for their Adult Improv Workshop. There is still time to register. Learn improv techniques under the guidance of Dave Bristow from 10 am until 2:30 pm (half hour lunch break). See MTG's website for a registration form and more information.

~ Rainbow Fleece Farm is running their Cabin Fever on the Farm open house again this weekend from 11 am until 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Come see newly born lambs, see the freshly shorn wool and check out their yarn and roving. Stop by W7181 Hustad Valley Rd. Call Patty at 608-527-5311 for more information or directions.

~ Are you ready for Mardi Gras? Area businesses are! Tofflers is having a party on Saturday evening with music by the Raindogs starting at 9 pm. Turner Hall has a Fasnacht masquerade dance on Sunday from 2 until 6 pm.

See you around town!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Using a Buyer's Agent

When you are purchasing a home, near the beginning of the process your Realtor will likely ask if you want him or her to work as a Seller's Agent or a Buyer's Agent. What is the difference?

The state of Wisconsin requires that we as Realtors have a signed contract with one of the parties involved in the sale of home. Unless you are looking at an FSBO, the sellers have a signed contract with the listing agent. With MLS and Wisconsin rules, the Realtor helping the buyer can be considered a subagent of the Seller. It is like building a home. Someone hires a general contractor (the listing agent) who may hire someone else to do parts of the building process (the agent who is helping the buyer). In a case like this, the Realtor who is helping the Buyer is still considered to be working for the Seller and must put the Seller's interests first.

You might prefer to make sure that your Realtor is working only for you. You may want the pricing help and negotiating advice that a Seller's Agent cannot give you. In this case, hire a Buyer's Agent. You and your Realtor will fill out a contract called a Buyer's Agency Agreement. You can determine all the terms on the contract - how long it runs for, what type of properties it covers and more.

One caveat: if you purchases any property covered under the terms on the contract while it is still active, the Realtor may be legally entitled to a commission even if you work with someone else. Do not sign a Buyer's Agency Agreement unless you are certain that this is the Realtor you absolutely want to work with during your home buying process.

Not everyone chooses to work with a Buyer's Agent, but it is much more common than it was twenty years ago. A Buyer's Agent can be your best resource in the home buying process.

Friday, February 13, 2009

All about Green County

Have you seen Green County Spotlight?

If you have not been to Green County Spotlight before, click over and take a look around. This website has been a work in progress for many months now. It is a portal to all about the Green County area.

You will find guides to many local businesses as well as specialized guides for different quality of life features:
  • There is a Food and Dining Guide with information on local restaurants, food tours and culinary events, even recipes. The developers of Green County Spotlight let me know that online menus are in the works as well. If you are like me and want to preview what is available before deciding where to go, this is news worthy of rejoicing!
  • The Agricultural Guide has information for dairy farmers, cash croppers and market gardeners as well as producer information for those of us who like to buy direct from the farmer. Agricultural events are there too, from the weekly hay auctions in Monticello to open houses at Rainbow Fleece Farm.
  • There is also a new Education and Learning Guide. This section has information on different businesses offering classes, the local school districts and specific course information for learning opportunities for both youth and adults. A quick glance through the learning guide told me about arts workshops offered by MTG and Primitive Soul, a new class starting at Four Seasons Cosmetology School and an ongoing workshops on Revitalizing Downtowns offered through UW Extension.
There are also community forums for questions and discussion. Ask about anything from going green to parking tickets. Someone from the area is sure to have an answer for you.

Green County Spotlight has so much more too. There are printable coupons from area businesses. If you are a business, you can get a free customizable page and listing in their guide, and putting coupons up is free too. There is a free classified ad section available for anyone in the community. Find out about local weather, maps, census statistics and other local information.

The calendar of events is a true community work in progress. Anyone can add events to it, so feel free get the word out and let everyone know about your events. Read articles about the area, participate in polls, take the quizzes, print out mazes or coloring sheets for the kids, and peruse photos or submit your own.

Green County Spotlight is truly a work in progress for and by the people of the Green County area.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is 33 acres of vacant land near Argyle.

If you are looking for acreage in the country, do not miss this property! A nice lay of the land makes this a great place to build your home. You will be just minutes away from either Argyle or Monroe or an easy commute from Madison.

A stream runs through property making it perfect for keeping horses or livestock, or simply for enjoying nature on a summer's day. The owner is willing to selling all or part of this property, and he will divide to suit your. Great scenery and quiet location make this a perfect getaway.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things to Do in Monroe, WI

Looking for something to do with your sweetheart this Valentines Day Weekend?

~ Chocolate Temptation on Monroe's Downtown Square is having a fondue event on Valentine's Day evening. It is nearly sold out, but I just spoke with them and there is one spot left for a couple at their 8 pm seating. Cost is $28, which includes chocolate fondue, dippers and drinks. Call them at 328-2462 to nab the final spot for you and your Valentine. (And if you do, please let me know so I can edit this!)

~ The Belleville EMS is having a Sweeatheart Dance at the Sugar River Lanes in Belleville on Saturday evening from 9 pm until 1 am.

~ The Monroe Arts Center 2009 Entertainment Series has a Valentine's event as well. Bring your country lover to a concert by the Hughes Brothers on Saturday evening at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center. The Hughes Brothers were voted the Best Vocal Group in Branson, MO, and they are sure to please. They perform a variety of material including current country hits, classic country western, Broadway hits and gospel music. Tickets range from $15-35 ($12-32 for members) and can be purchased through MAC.

~ If you prefer a daytime event, Rainbow Fleece Farm near New Glarus is having their annual Cabin Fever Yarn on the Farm event. Come see newly born lambs, see the freshly shorn wool and check out their yarn and roving for the fiber enthusiast in your life. Stop by W7181 Hustad Valley Rd fom 11 am until 4 pm on Saturday. Call Patty at 608-527-5311 for more information or directions.

~ Brides-to-be, don't forget about the Monroe Bridal Show on Sunday! The event takes place from 11 am until 3 pm at Ludlow Mansion. Exhibitors will include many of the local companies that offer wedding and event goods and services. There will be sample appetizers available, gifts for the brides and door prize drawings.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Selling to a first time buyer

Yesterday's post included tips for first time home buyers. In today's market, the first time home buyer, someone who has no home to sell, is a very desirable buyer for many sellers.

The question is then how can sellers make a home more appealing to first time home buyers? It helps to know what first time buyers tend to look for in a home.

According to statistics from the National Association of Realtors, over 80% of first time home buyers want a home that is already in move in condition. These buyers want to be able to move right in without having to spend time or money getting a home in to shape.

This means that a seller should spend a little time before listing make sure that all the little things are taken care of. Take the trim that has been sitting in the garage and put it on to walls in the new family room. Put the quarter round in the dining room where you removed the carpet and exposed the hardwood floors. Replace the missing outlet cover, patch the hole in the wall from the doorknob, paint the dingy kitchen, clean the grout in the bathroom.

Many of these projects take more time than money. Take a look at the "honey do" list that has been hanging around your bulletin board for a few years. Are there some easy or inexpensive projects you can cross off? It may seem counterproductive to spend time and money fixing a house you plan to leave, but it can pay off in the long run. With the larger than average home inventory right now, the seller that presents a house that is most appealing to a first time buyer has an advantage over the competition.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tips for first time homebuyers

No matter what stage of life you are in, buying a home is never a decision to make lightly. For a first time homeowner, however, this milestone is filled with even more excitement, confusion and worry.

If you are thinking about buying your first home, consider these tips from the National Association of Realtors:

1. Be picky, but don’t be unrealistic. There is no perfect home.

2. Do your homework before you start looking. Decide specifically what features you want in a home and which are most important to you.

3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your downpayment and your closing costs

4. Don’t wait to get a loan. Talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage before you start looking.

5. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion.

6. Decide when you could move. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area?

7. Think long-term. Are you looking for a starter house with the idea of moving up in a few years or do you hope to stay in this home longer? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as type of mortgage terms that suit you best.

8. Don’t let yourself be house poor. If you max yourself out to buy the biggest home you can afford, you’ll have no money left for maintenance or decoration or to save money for other financial goals.

9. Don’t be naïve. Insist on a home inspection and if possible get a warranty from the seller to cover defects within one year.

10. Get help. Consider hiring a REALTOR® as a buyer’s representative. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. And often, buyer’s reps are paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

The process of buying your first home can be wonderful and worrisome at the same time. For most people, their homes are the largest purchases they will make in their lives. You might wake up at three a.m. worried about taking on the mortgage. You may start mentally arranging your furniture and forget to look at windows and roofs. You may be tempted to look "just $10,000 higher" than you can truly afford. Approaching the processes sensibly is important.

If you are buying in the Monroe area, give me or Luis a call. We'll be happy to help you find local bankers and home inspectors, and we can show you what is available in your price range.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Young Professionals February gatherings

The Young Professionals of Green County are sponsoring two events in the month of February.

Their scheduled event is a trip to Rockford to watch the Icehogs play the Lake Erie Monsters on February 20. They will meet at the Swiss Colony parking lot at 5 pm, with a stop at the Culvers in Winnebago for dinner and to give any stragglers a chance to catch up with the rest of the group. Tickets are $18, and you can email to RVSP.

A bonus event was just added to the February line up as well. Come bowling with the group next Wednesday evening, February 10, if you are free. We will be meeting at Turner Hall at 6 pm. $10 per person will get you two games of bowling, pizza and soda. If you have never been bowling at Turner Hall, it is blast from the past. In an age of bigger is better, Turner Hall bowling is a reminder of the way things used to be, a comfortably sized, community bowling alley. An RSVP to are requested, but not required.

Young Professionals of Green County is a group with a mission: "Our mission lies within our motto of 'Connecting, Celebrating, and Developing Green County's Young Professionals.' Our purpose is to provide existing and future YPs who live or work in Green County with a means to network while having fun."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Property of the Week

This week's featured property is a building site just outside of Monroe.

Build your dream home on this spacious 2.91 acre lot on Alphorn Road, just south of Monroe.

You will have the best of both worlds in this rural subdivision - room for your family to spread out and enjoy views of the rolling countryside, but a drive of less than a mile to Monroe.

This gently sloping lot allows for construction a home with exposed basement. Enjoy sunrises from your back windows as you look out over acres of farmland.

This lot would be perfect for a home with passive solar orientation, and photovoltaic panels could be a possibility here as well.

Priced at only $26,000, this is a lot that has many possibilities.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things to Do around Monroe, WI

Looking for something to do in the upcoming days? In addition to the regular recreation opportunities like cross country skiing or enjoying a book and a mocha at Fat Cat Coffee (New Glarus) or Café Claudeen (Monroe), consider the following:

~ The 22nd annual Wisconsin Regional Arts Program Competition and Exhibit opens at Frehner Gallery in the Monroe Arts Center on Thursday. The exhibit will run for the entire month of February. The program will culminate with an artist’s workshop from 10 am until 3 pm on Saturday, February 28. The workshop is open to the public, and there is a $5 admission fee.

~ The first Saturday of the month means live music at Baumgartner’s on the Square in Monroe!

~ Thinking of working on the house this year or building a new one? Come to the Southwest Wisconsin Builders Association Home Show this weekend. The event is happening at Ludlow Mansion in Monroe from 9 am until 8 pm on Saturday and from 10 am until 4 pm on Sunday.

~ There is live music once again at Toffler’s in New Glarus. Come listen to the sounds of The Rowdy Prairie Dogs starting at 9 pm on Saturday, February 7.

~ The Goodtime Dutchmen Trio is playing at Turner Hall on Sunday, February 8 from 2-6 pm for the weekly Dance n Dine event. Bring your dancing partner! The concert is free, and enjoy a meal in the Ratskeller before the event.

~ If you enjoy spending time at the Browntown-Cadiz State Recreation Area, consider joining the Friends group. Their next meeting is Monday, February 9 at 6:30 pm at Trailblazers Inn in Browntown. Contact Lucy Roper at 608-439-5982 for more information.

~ The Monroe Public Library has Celebrando Storytime on Tuesday, February 10 at 6:30 pm. Bring the kids for stories in both Spanish and English. Everything will be presented in both languages, so you do not have to be bilingual to attend.

Come out, come out, where ever you are! There is always something going on here in Cheese Country.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fun for the Family

Last weekend, our family spent the afternoon roller skating at The Den in Monroe for the first time in far too long. It was such a great place for the entire family.

The Den changed hands a while back, and the new owners are certainly doing a wonderful job making their establishment a place that is fun for kids of all ages as well as adults.

They have a choice of skate types available for rental. There is the classic roller skate that we grew up with, now called "quads." Some may prefer roller blades, and these are available too. Prices are very reasonable, with quads renting for $1 a pair and blades renting for $2.

The Den has three open skating sessions available every week. Two are on Friday evenings, either from 6 until 9 pm or 8 until 11 pm. If you are feeling energetic, do them both. Admission for Friday open skate is $5 per session. Sunday afternoon is when we visited, and the open skate runs from 2 until 4 pm for $4. The Den also has birthday party packages available.

There are some special events coming up in the month of February. They will be hosting a Lock In on February 27. Arrive anytime between 6 pm and 11 pm. The Lock In ends at 6 am the next morning. $25 per person includes admission, skating, face painting, pizza, soda, popcorn, games and prices.

The Den is also hosting a concert featuring 5 area bands on February 21. Doors open at 6 pm and the music starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door.

You can visit their website, but it is currently a work in progress and is best viewed in Safari or Explorer at the moment. You can also call 325-2534 for more information on anything.

We all need to get out and exercise. Skating at The Den is much more fun than a treadmill, and your kids will love it too.