The Moods of November

The month of November is a fickle friend in the Northwoods. We’re not even 2 weeks in, and we’ve had to adjust our attitude many times over. If you feel you need some practice in adaptability and acceptance, let November be your teacher. – Wanda Boldon







Barndance & Company: What’s Inside?


You’ve driven by this place just North of Siren – over and over, wondering what’s inside, right? Me too!


Barndance & Company is a shop where you can find handcrafted barn wood furniture and beautiful repurposed items for sale. Now settle down. I know what you’re thinking, but hold on! There’s no bad smell or creep-you-out factor inside. It’s just lovely, tasteful, unique one-of-a-kind home décor items, furnishings and gifts. According to the owner and artist in residence, Sarah Kelby, most everything has been “touched”. Indeed! She has been gifted with a magic touch and has a keen eye for how to transform things that might otherwise find their way to a landfill.


Sarah’s shop also features other local artisans to round out the bevy of special items including pottery, hand knit wear and fabric textiles.


I asked permission to see where all the magic happens and was able to take a peek into the workshop. It’s in the back of the building and is just brimming with reclaimed barn wood, oak and unique items that are in the queue to be transformed into a new treasure.


When the Lions Club starts to erect the Christmas light display in Crooked Lake Park, you’re reminded that the holiday season is right around the corner. Go easy on yourself and check off the nicest people on your gift giving list by finding them something special at Barndance & Company. Then sit back and wait for the hugs in return! – Wanda Boldon


Forest Bathing: A Primer

Shinrin-yoku – a practice that originated in Japan in the 1980′s is a therapy to help alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. The term is loosely translated to “Forest Bathing” in English.


Forest Bathing is not hiking. It’s about spending time in nature – deliberately slowing down and becoming immersed in the natural surrounds by using your senses of smell, touch, sight and taste. In a way, it’s akin to guided meditation, in that you focus on things like the crunch of leaves underfoot, the sound of two birds calling, the smell of pine needles. Some people even talk to the trees, silently asking them questions. I think I’d stop short of tree licking though…


The trees actually release compounds (phytoncides) that have been proven beneficial in fighting stress hormones and dropping anxiety levels. After 15 minutes, heart rate and blood pressure go down. After days of exposure, creativity and cognitive ability increase. Cool!


An entire industry is blossoming around Forest Bathing. People are assembling Forest Bathing clubs and paying for certified assistance in the experience. In fact programs to become certified as a Forest Bathing guide are at capacity as soon as they’re announced.


For those of us who are daily benefactors of the Northwoods, none of this is a news flash. We’re livin’ clean every day! If you want to dip your toes into this Forest Bathing thing, we have everything you need right here. You just need to choose your suds! – Wanda Boldon

Inspections – Setting Your Expectations


i110An Offer to Purchase is more than a Buyer offering to purchase a property for a particular price. It’s a whole package of intentions, permissions and promises. Depending on the situation and the property being pursued, Buyers should weigh carefully how their package will be received by a Seller, if they truly are earnest in wanting to own the property. Because from the Seller’s side of the fence, they tuck themselves in bed at night and dream of getting an offer with few or no hurdles to clear – “cash, no contingencies”!

Hurdles (contingencies) can include financing, inspections and a myriad of other things. Getting a bank loan is pretty straight forward and understandable to most Sellers. They don’t generally think twice about how that happens. But inspections are one of those things that can instill a dribble of fear in a Seller. Ask a group of ten people about their experience with a home inspection and you’ll likely get at least a few horror stories.


Some Buyers don’t feel the need to inspect. They either feel well informed because they have a personal skill set that allows them to “self-inspect”, they feel the property was priced appropriately for its condition and will take it “as is” or they want the Seller to look favorably on their offer and accept it without blinking. For everyone else – they just want to know that there isn’t something horrible lurking below the surface of what they’re about to buy.

But inspections don’t have to be spooky if everyone understands what to expect from the process. Those expectations should be set by the agents involved in the sale as well as the inspector who is hired to do the work. Agents should review the language in the Offer with the Buyer and Seller so that everyone is clear about the mission. Buyers should attend their inspections because it’s a great opportunity to learn about the “care and feeding” of their new treasure and a good inspector will teach and share as the process goes along.


Anything can be negotiated in an Offer, but in our area, it’s customary for Buyers to pay for their inspections. The most common types we see here are home, well (with a safe water test) and septic inspections. What we’re looking for are significant defects. The biggest concerns are the things that bear the biggest price tag to fix like heat, roof, well and septic. It’s not a witch hunt to see how many puny things we can find wrong!

If everyone understands the purpose from the get-go, and you get the right inspector, inspections can be a fun and informative process! And hey, let’s face it – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen your reflection in a septic tank!  – Wanda Boldon


Special Details Add Value

We meet special, funny, grateful, loving, giving, creative, industrious People every day in our work. The People are what drive us to work long hours and go the extra mile. When you like and appreciate the People, you do a lot to help them. It feels great to make them happy!

After the People, come the Properties. The Properties we encounter here are varied and unique. Each Property seems to have a soul, with something special about it. But there’s an argument to be made that Mother Nature is what “makes” most of the Properties in our market. The natural features and creatures associated with any given property are the things that bring buyers from far and wide.

Where Mother Nature leaves off, the People step in. They create homes and cabins to suit the location and their needs. When we come across a structure where thoughtful choices were made in the construction and stylish finishes top it off, we giggle, clap and jump up and down. (Well, I do.) These special details are what adds extra value to a property. We have a couple of great examples on the market right now.

This chalet style home on Johnson Lake is a treasure, by all counts. The log features throughout the home tie the interiors together seamlessly and creatively. In addition, the fieldstone featured in the landscaping along with the fieldstone fireplaces in the home marry the inside beautifully to the out.




Switch gears to this traditionally styled home overlooking Birch Island Lake, where choices were made to add to its elegance like a stately covered porch, dormers in the roof line and a sweeping entrance to welcome you home.



We’ve found that sellers who make the choice to add special details like these are rewarded when it comes time to sell. We think the buyers feel rewarded too! – Wanda Boldon

Fall ATV Riding Season Begins Tomorrow


The state funded ATV trails close tomorrow, September 16th. If you’ve enjoyed the trails all Summer, don’t panic! The Burnett County Forest Woods Trails & County Forest Roads are still open for ATV/UTV use. You can ride on any wooded trail, snowmobile trail and ATV trail that is located on County Forest Lands, as long as it is not bermed, gated or signed as closed and is at least eight feet wide. (A good rule of thumb is that if you can drive a truck down the trail, then you take your ATV/UTV down it.)

The leaves are starting to change here. So it should be a beautiful weekend to get out and ride. Have fun! – Wanda Boldon


Letters to Sellers: A Human Experience


We’ve experienced several instances this year, where buyers have felt compelled or moved to write a letter that accompanies their offer when it’s presented to the seller. The letters have a variety of sentiments about why they’ve chosen to pursue the property and offer a little bit about the buyer’s personal life and family. If a person chose to wear a cynical cap, the letters could potentially appear self-serving, as a way to butter up the seller, in a market that has become competitive. I don’t see anything wrong with that. But cap wearing isn’t really my style and I think there’s more to it. I think they’re expressing something deeper.

In our day-to-day work, helping buyers and sellers reach their goals, we develop a special relationship, where we become privy to personal information so we can help their hopes and dreams come to life. A recurring theme is the desire to spend more time with people who matter. In an age where we live with devices and tools that boost our productivity, but slowly reduce the quality and quantity of our actual human interaction, the quest for ways to get it back is strong.


Our customers get it. They know what’s happening in their lives and they’re looking to fill the gap. This is what some are saying:

“When we reflect on our family and what we enjoy most, as well as what we want in our future, it’s the time spent together, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We know things will slow down a bit for the kids when High School ends, but most likely for a short time as they move into adulthood, college, marriage, kids, etc. We’ve been searching for a place that we can use for years upon years, as a place for family to gather and enjoy.”

“We have 4 children, and as they are growing up, we are realizing that our time with them is limited. We hope to purchase a lake home in order to spend more quality time together, while they are still living with us, but also when they are grown with families of their own.”

We are eager to have a cabin for our family to enjoy.  Our family is large – seven children. Next school year, four will be in college and two in high school.  We are looking forward to sharing special time with our children and, soon, we hope, grandchildren at a lake place.  We feel that your home would be a great place for all of us to enjoy.” 


This essay from David Byrne, “Eliminating the Human” describes very thoughtfully how we got here and why we thirst for more human interaction. He summary says this:   “Our random accidents and odd behaviors are fun—they make life enjoyable. I’m wondering what we’re left with when there are fewer and fewer human interactions. Remove humans from the equation and we are less complete as people or as a society. “We” do not exist as isolated individuals—we as individuals are inhabitants of networks, we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.”

Thankfully, this place, our area, is a vehicle for more human interaction. If you’d like to start exploring how it can help you prosper and thrive, we’d love to be a part of your journey…and one day, maybe even deliver a letter! – Wanda Boldon


Recreational Market Heats Up for Fall!

The recreation real estate market in our area has been strong all Summer. Certain sectors have been hotter than others. But we’ve been impressed by what has been happening here. Normally the Summer market can be a little sleepy, because buyers and sellers are busy having fun, enjoying the seemingly endless vacation life that is available here. But this Summer could be best summed up with the phrase “you snooze, you lose”. People were jumping into the market very readily.


Now, as the kids head back to school and the endless party of Summer starts to fade, our Fall market will start to unfold. Traditionally, the Fall market comes on strong and then starts to taper just before the holidays. We’ve often asked ourselves “why and how can it be our best selling season?” Recently, we slowed down long enough to attempt to pin down some answers. Here’s what we came up with!

The Conditions: We generally have long, lingering, beautiful autumnal weather here. Temperatures are moderate. Our plant life and vegetation starts to die in August, making it easy to look at wooded land lots. The bugs diminish, which adds to the enjoyment of being outdoors. The honking sound of migrating geese fills the air. In short, heaven.

Sellers: Would-be sellers decide to put their property on the market, after enjoying “one last Summer” – or after NOT enjoying one last Summer.

Buyers: Fall buyers are long-term thinkers and not hemmed in by the seasons. They want a property to enjoy all year around and are serious about finding the right place.

So even though our Summer sales this year have been just ducky. We expect Fall to be even hotter! – Wanda Boldon


Vacation Rentals: A Northwoods How-To

1Vacation rentals in the Northwoods are easier than ever for both sides of the transaction, with the help of services like and Property owners can help defray expenses for a property they don’t use all the time and renters can dip their toes into lakefront living for a reasonable cost. It seems like a win-win for everyone – and usually is!


I attended a hearing this week at the Burnett County Government Center, where I had the opportunity to witness some of the difficult sides of vacation rentals, where everyone doesn’t win. There were several property owners on the agenda, looking to get approval for Conditional Use Permits that allowed them to rent their properties on a short-term basis. As each person stood before the committee, their stories unfolded through the series of questions and answers. Some permits were granted and others were not.


Renting Your Property – How to Win: You need a permit to rent your property on a short-term basis. If you advertise your rental online, you can’t hide. Just do yourself a favor and get the permit. You’ll want to do some homework before you apply. Is your septic large enough to accommodate the number of people who will be renting? Do you have someone living nearby who can be a “24/7” contact for your renters? How do you screen your renters and monitor their behavior so that they don’t pose a problem for your neighbors? Those are just a few of the zingers you’ll want to be prepared to avoid. Here is a link to more guidelines that will help you through the process.


Renting A Property Like a Winner: If you’re renting a property in our area, especially a lake home, pack a sticky note that says “When in Rome”. It’s a lot of fun to splash around a new lake and soak up the summer sun. But proceed with care and witness how the owners behave on their lake. Find out about any special concerns and understand what is the norm. Because you will distinguish yourself very quickly as an outsider if you don’t. Terrorizing the neighborhood by buzzing the shoreline with your boat, screaming profanities around the firepit and shooting off fireworks at 2am are all ways to shut down the future of renting a property again. If you need to blow off steam, hit the gym. Don’t ruin an owner’s ability to continue renting their property. Only a loser would do that…Wanda Boldon


Great Retirement Properties for Sale

One trend that’s caught our attention lately is buyers with a focus on retirement. Buyers of just about all ages will utter the word…retirement. It’s been an interesting turn-about. During the recession, we all-but-lost the category of buyers who’d hoped to buy a place here to enjoy during retirement. They either couldn’t sell their homes in the city to make the transition or they weren’t thinking about retiring, with all the uncertainty that existed. Those reasons, along with a myriad of others took them out of the picture for us.

Now, they’re back – and have taken shape in unexpected forms. It’s expected that someone in their mid-to-late 50’s would be thinking about how they’d like things to go when they decide to retire. Many plan to sell their large home in the city, where they raised their families and buy something here that’s more modest. They crave the pace, peace and lifestyle that our area offers. And yet, they’re still close to their family and friends in the Twin Cities. They often plan to buy something in the sunbelt for the winter months as well. This is all expected. Normal.

What’s not expected is to hear people in their 30’s and 40’s with very young children projecting the very same things for themselves. Their mission is to buy something now, work on it, make it their own and enjoy it as their family grows. Interesting.

For those of us who already live and work here, it’s easy to picture the transition – far down the road, as it may be. For those who’d like to jump in, here are a few properties that offer some nice features for retirement life. Contact a CENTURY 21 agent if you’d like to take a closer look. We can answer a lot of questions about “life Up North” as well! – Wanda Boldon

MLS# 1507201 Overlooking Birch Island Lake $299,000

MLS# 1507201 Overlooking Birch Island Lake $299,000

MLS# 1509380 Dunham Lake $275,000

MLS# 1509380 Dunham Lake $275,000

MLS# 1509278 Prinel Lake $275,000

MLS# 1509278 Prinel Lake $275,000