How to Shop for a Cabin: Part II in a Series

Find the Right Bank

Whitney Houston once sang a song called “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. I can tell you where: broken hearts go to the wrong bank.

Working with lenders and their underwriting departments has become one of the more challenging parts of the buying process in the last few years. You might look in the mirror and smile, thinking those problems are just for the folks who don’t pay their bills on time and are in debt up to their eyeballs. Plus, you have a friend who’s in the lending business who has assured you that when the time comes, they’ll take good care of you. That’s all well and good, but there are a few other factors to consider that might have you singing a different tune.

Much like yourself, most people shopping for a cabin or second home have done quite well for themselves. So for the most part, we work with very well qualified buyers. The rub comes from a couple of other directions. Many of the properties we represent have unique features that can cause troubles in underwriting. It’s hard to make a laundry list of the specific things that raise red flags. You just never know what’s going to come into question from one time to the next. But one thing you can be sure of…you’ll find out at the eleventh hour when emotions are high and time is short. Ouch! Using a lender from out of the area can also bring a non-local appraiser to the party, who isn’t familiar with what is “typical” for properties here and once the appraiser has rung the bell, it’s hard to un-ring it.

Rest assured, we don’t get any financial benefit from recommending lenders. We just get to sleep at night, knowing our clients and customers are going to have a smooth ride toward a happy closing day. Once you’ve found “the right agent”, please listen to them about who “the right bank” might be for the property you’d like to buy. – Wanda Boldon

How to Shop for a Cabin: Part I in a Series

Find the Right Agent

Don’t even think about shopping for a cabin without first finding the right agent. I don’t think a lot of people give this step in the process much priority, because it’s not easy and it’s more fun to be wrapped up in finding “the property”. But having a good agent – the right agent – will help you find your best property and will help the experience be the most positive it can be. Working with the wrong agent can not only cause a chain of negative experiences, but may also keep you from finding a place at all – or worse, buying a place that you don’t even like in the end! Believe me, my life and work have been wrapped up in this profession for 20 years and I know what surrounds me. Not every agent is committed, motivated or even good at what we do. But then there are the gems – and they’re worth finding!

Start the way we start everything nowadays – online! You can size up whether a potential agent is a good match for you by reading their profile, studying their listing inventory and by reading their customer testimonials. In order to get the best knowledge and guidance, you want an experienced agent who does this for a living and isn’t just dabbling part-time. You also want someone who lives and works in the area. Don’t just jump in the car with an agent in St. Paul who says they’re licensed in Wisconsin and come Up North to look at a list of properties. Call me and we’ll have a story hour, where I tell you how that one ends!

Once you’ve narrowed the field, pick up the phone and have a conversation with them about what you’d like to find. You deserve to feel comfortable with your agent and you deserve someone who listens to what you want. Where the skill of a good agent enters is taking what you share and translating it to specific properties that will give you the experience you want. A good agent – the right agent – will also share their knowledge about the area and what can be realistically found in today’s market. This kind of “two way street” relationship is where the best results are achieved and leaves everyone with a smile in their heart at closing! – Wanda Boldon

Burnett and Washburn County Trail Update

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We received 2 inches of snow yesterday from Siren to Danbury to Spooner, which was enough to keep the Frozen Ground ATV Trail System open for snowmobile and ATV traffic. The trails are in poor condition due to minimal snow amounts and cannot be groomed. Anyone who has a “snow dance” up their sleeve, should dance it out right now. We could really use some snow to improve things for the recreational riders! – Wanda Boldon

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Preparing Your Property To Sell

There may not be much you can do outside to prepare your property, aside from plowing and shoveling. But there is plenty you can do inside that will make a vast difference in helping you sell more quickly and for the highest possible price. With all the talk about “staging” properties these days, you’d be surprised at how the common sense items get missed. Here are a few common sense tips.

Reduce Clutter. Eliminating unnecessary furniture and personal belongings can help make your house look larger. It’s also easier for Buyers to visualize their belongings in the space if there are fewer visual distractions. Clean off the outside of your refrigerator door. Tuck away stacks of books and magazines. Clear your kitchen and bathroom counters. Here are a couple of good examples.2

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Neat and Clean. Take the time to thoroughly clean your house and put things in order. Buyers get excited about a neat and clean home! If you don’t have the time or ability to do it, we can refer you to someone who can help.

Be Aware of Odors. You may not be sensitive to the everyday odors in your home. Sometimes you don’t even realize! Carpeting and furniture are usually places where odors are trapped. Start at the source to eliminate the odor and then invest in a light home fragrance option like a plug-in, spray or candle to enhance the atmosphere.

Open Window Coverings. Take extra care to leave shades, blinds and window coverings open. A light, bright atmosphere is a great first impression. Here are a couple of sellers who know about letting in the light!

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Make Sure the Locks Work. Check your keys and locks to make sure they are in good working order. This is another first impression as buyers enter your home.

If having one of the special properties for sale in Northwestern Wisconsin this Spring is in your future, focus on these basics and then give us a call. We’re here to help you reach your goals! – Wanda Boldon

Upcoming Ice Fishing Contests

We may not have a lot of snow for snowmobiling right now, but the conditions for ice fishing are great! There are a few upcoming ice fishing contests that might add a little fun and variety to your quest. If you’re feeling lucky you might catch a winning fish AND win a door prize! Check them out!

Saturday, January 31st from 10am – 3pm: Burlingame Lake, just East of Danbury on Lake 26 Road. Food and refreshments are served by the Danbury Area Lions Club and the Masons from the Frederic Masonic Lodge. All proceeds go toward a scholorship fund, community service and the ball park.

Saturday, February 7th from 10am – 2:30pm: Lower Webb Lake at the Oak Ridge Inn. This contest is sponsored by the Webb Lake Area Men’s Club and offers numerous door prizes and something special for kids who register to fish!

Saturday, February 14th from 9am – 2pm: Big Wood Lake. Sponsored by the American Legion, this contest offers some great fishing equipment as prizes along with cash prizes for the first 40 fish caught by kids. You’ll want to be an early bird with a pile of kids for this one!

Sharpen your hooks and play to win! – Wanda Boldon

Safe Storage and Disposal of Ashes

If you’re going to be burning wood in your fireplace – either for heat or ambiance, you want to be careful with how you manage the ashes after you have a fire. I have a brother in-law who nearly burned his rental house down after putting what he thought were “cool” ashes in a paper grocery bag and storing them in the screen porch for the evening. I know you’re shaking your head, and yes, he is a college graduate. But at the time, he felt certain that there was no heat energy left in the ashes, and was clearly wrong. Every year, numerous home and forest fires are caused by the improper disposal of ashes, so it’s worth a refresher course.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, ashes should be stored in a covered steel container on a non-flammable surface. Extreme care should be taken when you dispose your ashes outdoors and the ground isn’t snow covered. Ashes shouldn’t be dumped in wooded or grassy areas and it’s best to wait a week before dumping them. If the ground isn’t snow covered, you should dig a pit near an outside hose and water them down once you’ve dumped them in the pit.

If your ashes cause a fire, you are responsible for the costs of putting the fire out. I can think of more fun things to do with my money and I’m sure you can too. It’s better to be safe and keep your ash out of trouble! – Wanda Boldon

Properties for Sale with Great Fireplaces!

With many months of winter ahead of us, having a great fireplace to help soften the edges of reality is a wonderful thing! Let’s be honest – 25 degrees is still cold! I like reading in front of the fire and have recently begun to read recipe books for pleasure and inspiration. It makes for a cozy bit of leisure time.

This property on Sand Lake, near Minong has a brick wood burning fireplace that just begs for someone to open a book and sit for a spell. It even has a sauna to add a little variety to your winter life. Don’t worry, it has a wonderful sandy swimming area and a screen porch for summertime fun. Did I hear someone say “Ahhh”?

MLS# 880947 Sand Lake  $239,000

MLS# 880947 Sand Lake $239,000

Another fun thing to do in front of the fireplace is play games. I prefer the old school variety and love hearing someone say, “You sunk my battleship!” But there’s a new game that seems to have caught on with the Green Bay Packers players called Settlers of Catan. I haven’t played it yet, but could imagine they might enjoy playing in front of a roaring fire as well.

This fireplace at Point Lake offers plenty of room for several muscular people to get their game on. With more than 4 bedrooms and a 3 car garage, there are also plenty of places to park cars and rest your bones after the victory dances have been danced.

MLS# 879514 Point Lake  $255,000

MLS# 879514 Point Lake $255,000

The snow has been spotty this year, but there are certain areas that have more than others. So you can find a place to snowshoe and ski, it you put your mind to it. Just thinking about working up a sweat and then parking by the fireplace with a tasty beverage makes me want to strap on some skis!

It couldn’t be more easy on your post-workout body – flick the switch of this gas fireplace at South Twin Lake and sink into a chair. Don’t forget your beverage! If you need a little variety from this gorgeous natural stone, this property offers a brick wood burning fireplace as well. Don’t even get me started on the other bells and whistles. This place has it all!

MLS# 881885 South Twin Lake  $345,000

MLS# 881885 South Twin Lake $345,000

Hearth and home – words that warm the heart on the coldest of days. Memories of gathering with family and a radiating fireplace in the background are strong for many of us. Laughing, sharing life lessons, homework, story time and television time are all part of it.

This 5 bedroom home outside of Grantsburg offers a fireplace in a great room that will be the center of family life for years to come. With 10 acres and a large pole building for toys, there are a myriad of other family activities to be had that can build memories for a growing family.

MLS# 879417 Grantsburg Township $299,900

MLS# 879417 Grantsburg Township $299,900

If you’re interesting in seeing any of these properties, just give us a call or email us. We’re here to help (keep you warm)! – Wanda Boldon

2014 Market Review for Northwestern Wisconsin

Over the last two years, we’ve been hearing a lot about how the real estate markets in the urban areas of the upper Midwest have really taken off. Prices have risen and inventory is low. We have a daughter who is shopping for a home in Stevens Point right now who is experiencing this condition first-hand! Because of that, we find that people make assumptions about our real estate market and jump to the conclusion that we’re operating in the same kind of market. Our market area, being a recreational property market, behaves much differently and that assumption couldn’t be more wrong.

We just finished analyzing the year-end numbers for 2014 and have not only compared them with 2013, but also have a 19 year history to bring into focus. After sifting through and chewing on the results (Dave is our chief sifter and chewer), we have some conclusions that make us feel pretty good about what’s going on here.

Pricing: The average sale price for properties, whether on or off water, has remained virtually stable for the last two calendar years. For us, this is really good news! Seeing big swings in average pricing, whether it be up or down, creates conditions that may not be the best in the long run. We’re in this for the long haul and want to see stability. It’s a Midwestern thing.

Number of Properties Sold: There was a slight uptick in the number of properties sold, specifically in the waterfront category. It was just enough to make the graph line on the chart look like a smiley face!

Total Dollar Volume Sold: There was a slight uptick in this category as well, as one might assume after knowing more properties sold in 2014 versus 2013.

% of List: The average sold price versus list price for both years, whether it was on water or off water was 94%. How’s that for stable?

We don’t see this changing much for 2015 and look forward to helping our customers and clients reach their goals, with as much ease as possible! If you’re looking to sell, don’t kid yourself that your property value has jumped because of the stories you hear from the traditional housing markets in urban areas. If you’re looking to buy, don’t think that you’re going to secure your dream property with a lowball offer. That’s not the way the ball is bouncing right now! Happy New Year! – Wanda Boldon

Wisconsin’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend

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Bundle up and plan to spend some time in the great, fresh outdoors the weekend of January 17-18th. It’s the third year in a row that residents and non-residents can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp. Of course, fishing regulations still apply! It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself or a young person in your life to the joys of ice fishing. With all the new and advanced equipment available, it’s easier than ever to get started or you could keep it simple and just show up with a bucket and a fishing pole.

The DNR expects strong activity for Burnett and Washburn Counties and their fisheries biologists report that walleye and northern pike have been consistently biting in 5-15 feet of water and that bluegills, crappies, bass and perch are being caught in the more shallow lakes.

It’s time to sharpen your hooks! – Wanda Boldon