Trending: Property Condition & Disclosure

“Septics, Foundations and Flashing – Oh My!” The topic of property condition and disclosure is a hot button for buyers and sellers alike these days. We’re finding that the difference between having a great experience versus a not-so-great experience is very much connected to what’s behind the curtain!

If you’re a buyer looking at a property that someone else has owned and maintained, there can be a lot of mysteries. If you don’t have a lot of familiarity with how things work, especially with rural living, you need someone to help you understand what to look for. That kind of assurance can come from a qualified inspector as well as a real estate agent you trust. You can also refer to what the seller has disclosed in their Real Estate Condition Report.

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

From a seller’s perspective, it may have been years since you’ve sold a property. You may not know how to prepare your property to sell or what kinds of things you should disclose. You too, need someone to help you understand what to look for and what to do. Likewise, that kind of assurance can come from a real estate agent you trust, a qualified inspector and your Real Estate Condition Report.

Are there code violations here?

Are there code violations here?

Inspections are an opportunity for buyers to get to know a property better. An inspector can share maintenance tips to keep a property in good shape. They can point out areas to keep an eye on and they also look for defects. In Wisconsin, it’s not a requirement to have your property inspected before you list it. But we have a recent example of two siblings who inherited the home where their parents lived. They never lived there and didn’t know much about the workings of the place. They chose to get an inspection, so that they could address any major issues (defects) before listing and so that they wouldn’t get blind-sided with problems down the road when a buyer was involved. It served them well. Their buyer had great confidence in the property, which resulted in good feelings on both sides when an Offer to Purchase came into play. Win-win.

Is that dryer vent kosher?

Is that dryer vent kosher?

The Wisconsin Realtors Association has released a new version of the Real Estate Condition Report, which we feel will be beneficial to both buyers and sellers. It’s much more specific so that sellers can understand areas of concern in advance and be clear about what they know. It’s also divided into categories so that buyers can easily zone in on areas that are important to them.

How do I fix this?

How do I fix this?

Talk to your real estate agent. Tell them your concerns and ask them if they see anything that needs to be addressed. Review the Real Estate Condition Report with them and find out what items they feel may be defects and which items fall under the category of maintenance. (“My dog is missing a left foot” is a defect. “My dog needs his nails trimmed” is maintenance.) Your agent should have knowledge and resources to help you put your best foot forward, so that in the end, everyone can lock arms and skip down the yellow brick road together. There’s no place like home! ~ Wanda Boldon

Fishy Weather For the Fourth

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This year, the Fourth of July is a “season”, because with two weekends flanking the actual date, it’s hard to know just when to celebrate. So, I believe the answer to the question has become “for 10 days straight”. (You have to count Fridays and Mondays as weekend days for the folks who come Up North, don’t you know!)

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Those 10 days are shaping up to be a good time to enjoy another “season” as well – fishing season. The weather and atmosphere have been giving us the classic summer pattern of low pressure to high, humidity to freshness and the fish are biting because of it.

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First things first, if you don’t have your fishing license, you can buy one online at the Wisconsin DNR site while you fill your vehicle at the gas station. It’s called the Go Wild program. Go figure.

The Fourth of July is a common time for family and friends to gather, and sharing is caring, as they say. If you have any children at your gatherings, it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to the fun of fishing. Be sure to include some good fish stories so they have some lore to dream about at night as they listen to the loons call from the lake.

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You can preserve the special memory of catching their first fish with a “My First Fish” certificate from the Wisconsin DNR site. The certificate allows you to drop in a photo of them with their fish and notes the date, fish species and where they caught it. Adorable!

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When it’s time to clean your catch of the day, don’t fret if the dog ate your cookbook. You can find some great recipes and information for eating fresh fish from Wisconsin online at eatwisconsinfish.org or at Healthy Dishes With Wisconsin Fishes.

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So when the sky looks like this, Go Wild, grab your pole and chant, “Here fishy, fishy!” ~ Wanda Boldon

Great Properties for Sale: Lots with Benefits

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The dream of building “a little something Up North” is something that lives in a lot of hearts and minds. But the reality of making it happen can be daunting. As with most daunting tasks, just getting started can be the hardest part. What if some of the hurdles of starting were already cleared? We have some solutions so your dreams can come true!

Dream: A small piece of acreage where you can get away, do some hunting and use as a headquarters for ATV riding.

Hurdle: Clearing a building spot, building a road and putting up a structure is hard, time consuming work.

Solution: A 5 acre lot in the heart of ATV country, near hundreds of acres of public land with a heated one room bunkhouse overlooking a canoe and kayaking lake. Did someone say duck hunting?

MLS #1520480 Lost Lake

MLS #1520480 Lost Lake

Dream: A lake place where you can swim, fish and boat with your friends and family.

Hurdle: Time to plan a building project and the funds to accomplish it are not available to you right now.

Solution: A lake lot with improvements in place, like a rustic cabin or bunkhouse!

MLS #1509707 Rice Lake

MLS #1509707 Rice Lake

 

MLS #1518151 Deer Lake

MLS #1518151 Deer Lake

Dream: A private fishing retreat on water that will eventually become a part of your retirement life.

Hurdle: Lake shore taxes could keep you from being able to afford such a place in your retirement years.

Solution: A lot on the River with quick and easy boating access to a phenomenal fishing has a lower tax bill than being right on the lake!

MLS #1517198 Clam River

MLS #1517198 Clam River

If you’re ready to start living your dream, contact us to see these properties or for more ideas. We’re here to help you clear the hurdles and find solutions! ~ Wanda Boldon

Nature’s Amusement Park

Wisconsin has possibly the most extensive ATV/UTV trail system in the U.S. With hundreds of miles of scenic trails, it’s no wonder ATV registration in the state has nearly doubled in the last 5 years!

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It’s a growing sport and activity that isn’t just for hotrodders or gear-heads. All ages and types are getting on board! With the variety of vehicle types available now, you can travel with 2-4 people and cover a lot of ground. It’s a great way to explore hills, forests and lakes with family and friends – of all ages. 

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If you’ve been intrigued about getting into the activity, get off the sidelines and check out the extensive trail system in this area alone. You can get a lot of good information, including trail rules and licensing information here.

Why get your thrill ride in a concrete jungle when you can roll the coasters in a natural setting? The trails are open. Go wild and get wheelin’! ~ Wanda Boldon

Trish Needham Has Earned the Certified Residential Specialist Designation!

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We’re so proud to announce that Trish Needham has joined the ranks of an elite group; the Council of Residential Specialists (CRS). She was awarded the prestigious designation after accomplishing their rigorous requirements of advance professional training and achievement in residential real estate.

This is a significant personal achievement and a milestone in a professional real estate career. Only 3% of all REALTORS are Certified Residential Specialists and we’re proud to have 2 working and thriving at CENTURY 21 Sand County Services! It shows a sincere and dedicated commitment to maintaining the knowledge and expertise required in our profession.

Trish has been a part of our firm for 15 years, starting by working behind the scenes. Her strong work ethic was made evident when she decided to get her license during a maternity leave, taking her exam the week before her due date! That was 12 years ago.

When asked why it was important to take on the arduous task of achieving the CRS designation, she said that education is important to her and that she wanted to spend her money and efforts on education that was 100% real estate driven. She plans to keep learning and achieving because she knows this business is constantly changing and she likes to stay on top of things.

Congratulations to Trish, an inspiration in many ways! ~ Wanda Boldon

Metal Arts are Alive in Frederic, WI

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Take a short drive. Travel south of Siren on Hwy 35 to Frederic. As you pass through town, a distinctive looking red building with cadet blue awnings will catch your eye. Do stop and go inside. This special place was recently given life by its new owners and occupants. Once a gas station, an oil company, a Greyhound bus stop, an optometrist office and a Coast-to-Coast hardware store (not all at the same time), this building was slated to be torn down.

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Serendipity smiled and along came Jon (Jack) Route and his son, Mike. The father and son duo, metal artists through education and experience, but mostly in their hearts, were in need of working studio space. They’d both been traveling individually, doing art shows to share their work with a larger populous and were at a place in their careers where they wanted to go down a different “route”.

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Jon (Jack) Michael Route, a skilled artist in nonferrous metal work, makes collectibles, commissioned pieces and corporate art installations with materials like silver, copper and brass. He is also the owner of One10 Gallery. The gallery features new art and fine craft art from dozens of quality artists, with an ever-changing choice of pieces to collect or give as gifts. If you have an immediate itch to scratch, in the way of art, this is the place to go!

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Mike Route, an award-winning blacksmith artist occupies the other half of the building with Red Iron Studio – his studio, office and a working blacksmith shop, where custom architectural ironwork pieces are created and forged. Mike and his crew create everything from furniture, signage, sculpture and architectural pieces for indoors and out. His work shows a combination of emotional, intellectual and physical energy that makes it distinctly his. Make an appointment to meet with Mike if you want him to make something special for you!

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This short drive that you plan to take. Do it this weekend. The One10 Gallery is a part of the Earth Arts Tour with specially planned demonstrations that will amaze you – even beer tasting on Saturday from Pitchfork Brewing in Hudson. Their hours will be Friday 10am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. ~ Wanda Boldon

Cinco de Mayo Weekend – Up North

The list of fabulous things to do Up North on Cinco de Mayo weekend is growing! Gather your friends and family to plan your weekend and then plan a siesta after it’s all over!

Here are “cinco” events to choose from:

  1. 36th Annual Second Alarm Fish and Smelt Fry – Gather at the Jackson Town Hall at the corner of Hwys A & C on Friday, May 4th, starting at 5:00 pm for an incredible experience! Widely supported by the community for a good reason. Tickets can be purchased at the door – $10 for adults, $4 for kids 12 and under. Get your smelt on!
  2. Inaugural Fat Fish 40 Bike Race – Show your true grit in this 42 mile bike race that starts at the Central Burnett County Fairgrounds in Webster, WI. The race has a fat tire division and is also has a “non-fat” category. The race course takes you on the sugar sand fire lanes, logging roads and trails by the marshes, lakes and streams through the lost acres of Webster, WI. With a spaghetti dinner the night before, the race starts at 9:00 am on May 5th and ends with a beer and a brat, a podium ceremony and prizes. https://www.fatfishrace.com/the-race/
  3. Wisconsin Fishing Opener – The first Saturday of each May kicks off the fishing season for many species of hook and line caught fish. Make sure you get your license in advance and stock your cooler so you can be on the water by 5:00 am. You own an ice barge, right? https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/seasons/index.html
  4. 9th Annual Taste of Siren – Tickle your taste buds on Saturday, May 5th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Northwoods Crossing Event Center. It’s an evening of food, festivities and fun! You can buy your tickets in advance or pay at the door. $20 per person or $35 per couple.  https://www.travelwisconsin.com/events/fairs-festivals/taste-of-siren-128205
  5. 17th Annual Spring Art Tour – Earth Arts of the Upper St. Croix organizers put together this distinctive tour of studios and galleries May 5-6th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. One could spend the entire weekend doing this alone! Download the brochure and map so you can prioritize your stops! http://www.earthartswi.org/spring-art-tour/

Sombrero and margaritas are not required, but not discouraged. Have a great Cinco de Mayo weekend! ~ Wanda Boldon

The Loons Return to Northwestern Wisconsin

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It won’t be long and we’ll be hearing the yodel, hoot, wail and tremelo sounds of our native Common Loons! After a winter, where they experience a complete molt of their feathers, they usually return from the South in mid-April to early May.

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Wisconsin has a summer population of over 4000 breeding loons. They are the darlings of the lake that they inhabit and are greeted with joy when they return. As much as we swoon over the fact that they “mate for life” and return to the same area together each year. Much of their lives is spent alone. They migrate in the Fall alone. They winter alone and they come back alone. (I’d go it alone too if I lost all my feathers.) The male loon usually returns first and waits for the female. After only a few days of calling and swimming side-by-side, they are back in synch, ready to build their nest.

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They spend most of their lives in the water because their bodies aren’t built for land dwelling. But they will typically lay two eggs in a nest on high ground and then teach their babies to swim through the course of the summer. The chicks ride on their backs for only about the first 10 days. After that, the parents swarm and coddle them as they grow and become stronger swimmers.

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The immature loons will migrate South for their first autumn, but don’t make the return flight for about 3 years. Once they do return, they will choose a place within 30 miles of their birthplace. With a typical lifespan of about 25 years, they have a pretty reliable flight pattern. From sun country to God’s country – nature is the original “get-it-right” operation! ~ Wanda Boldon

Busting Out of Icicle Jail

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Winter has had a long grip on our time and patience. It’s time to bust out! You don’t have to go far to feel the benefits of “escape” and enjoy an extraordinary outdoor experience in Northwestern Wisconsin.

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Just 45 minutes north of Danbury, lies Pattison State Park, containing the highest waterfall in Wisconsin at 165 feet! In any season, it’s a glorious site!

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The trails in the park are clearly marked and offer a variety of distances. It’s only a half mile hike through a majestic, mature forest on a nicely managed trail to get to the shores of the Black River.

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It’s a quiet place where you can let your hidden dreams of joining Tom and Huck bubble to the surface. It just might cause you to bust out…in a smile warm enough to melt ice! ~ Wanda Boldon

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How Quality Photography Leads to Happiness

Mud Hen Lake - Siren, WI

Mud Hen Lake – Siren, WI

When we discuss the real estate marketing process with Sellers, we explain to them that their “first showing” is online. Buyers thoroughly digest photos online before they contact us for a physical showing. Because of this, the photos we use to represent a property are critical to the success of everyone involved – Sellers and Buyers.

Ham Lake - Danbury, WI

Ham Lake – Danbury, WI

It makes us scratch our heads when we see new listings hit the MLS with poor photography. It’s kind of a public humiliation to everyone involved! So why does anyone let it happen? It takes work, timing and skill to beautifully represent a property. One can’t just hire a professional photographer and wash their hands of the process. If an agent is too busy to personally take and/or get involved with helping to achieve great images, the results show it.

Crooked Lake - Siren, WI

Crooked Lake – Siren, WI

At our firm, there are a few guidelines that we live by:

  • A head shot should be an exterior shot of the main dwelling. If you can’t show the outside of a dwelling in the head shot, it makes you wonder why…?
  • Efforts should be made to capture images on a picturesque day. If the weather isn’t cooperative, re-shoot when it is.
  • If the seasons change during the course of the listing, so should the photos.
  • Wide angle lenses should not be the “meat and potatoes” presentation of a property. They are for special effect only and should be used sparingly.
  • Drone photography is not appropriate for every property and should be left in the hands of a professional. Most drone shots done by amateurs (agents) in our area make it look like the woods around the property are lying down. (Sad.)

Real estate photography should flatter a property, but it should also paint a clear and realistic picture. Great photos attract the right Buyers. The right Buyers write better offers. Better offers lead to successful closings, where the Sellers and the Buyers are both happy. Happiness is all it’s cracked up to be! ~ Wanda Boldon