Navigating Transition

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The nuts and bolts of our work involves real estate law, property evaluation and pricing, marketing and representation of properties, contract drafting and overall knowledge of our geographical area and community. But the deep reality of what we do is help our clients through transitions.

It’s our privilege to be a part of people’s lives as they make decisions to change and transition to something new. Our work puts us square in the middle of all the questions and issues that surround the process of change. Whether we’re working with a seller or a buyer, they each need help navigating their way to new territory.

Yellow River, near Spooner, WI

Yellow River, near Spooner, WI, December 2018.

December 2018, three days later.

December 2018, three days later.

Like the weather, change can happen quickly. Before you know it, things aren’t the same anymore. What no longer works for one person, now becomes the ideal for the next. We help connect those dots by truly getting to know people and understanding their goals. We are a conduit.

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Another aspect of what we do at our firm is help people build careers. In the last 30 years, we’ve helped people of all ages create a rewarding work life that fits their goals. Being able to live in this beautiful area, have challenging, meaningful work and financially create your own destiny is a dream come true, in our opinion. We’re always on the lookout for someone special and new who wants the same thing for themselves.

It's never too early - or too late, to start learning.

It’s never too early – or too late, to start learning.

We’re agents of change at CENTURY 21 Sand County Services and we never stop asking, “Are We There Yet?” ~ Wanda Boldon

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Thirty Years in the Making!

A brown box arrived in the mail this week. We weren’t expecting anything, but it didn’t seem unusual. From time-to-time, packages arrive and then our memory is sparked with what’s inside. But sometimes our memory isn’t sparked. Whatever. That’s when you just open the darned thing and find out. (Perhaps sing a little tune while opening. “Happy Birthday” comes to mind.)

After we opened the box, we were silent. Could it be? Thirty? Years? Well, it certainly said so on the piece of fancy hardware that we pulled out of the box! It must be true.

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So there, we’ve said it – WE’RE THIRTY YEARS OLD! Well, ahem – not me. But the firm is thirty years old. It feels kind of good to say out loud, like when a three year old announces to you that they’re three. It feels that kind of good!

Dave Boldon, Broker, CENTURY 21 Sand County Services, Inc. "Thirty Years Old"

Dave Boldon, Broker, CENTURY 21 Sand County Services, Inc. “Thirty Years Old”

A lot of things got their start in 1988, like Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign and “The Wonder Years” television show. We’re the same age as British singer/songwriter Adele and we were all singing (or plugging our ears) to Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” thirty years ago.

A lot of great things have happened at CENTURY 21 Sand County Services over the last 30 years. Perhaps the greatest things we can cite are the thousands of interactions we’ve had with people to help them transition to the next stage, whether it be to sell a property or to buy one and become a part of our special life here. And so, we will keep asking ourselves the question and keep asking our clients the question, “Are We There Yet?” and look forward to opening another mystery box even farther down the line. ~ Wanda Boldon

Labor Day Weekend: A Time for Kickoff

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, we find ourselves poised in the starting blocks of the Fall selling season. The Fall market has traditionally, year after year, been the most productive time in our calendar year. We don’t see any reason that this year will be any different!

At Summer’s end, we often have people look at us with sympathetic eyes saying, “You must be ready for things to slow down a bit, now that Summer will be ending.” There is no quick reply that. But the short story is, we’re excited and invigorated to accomplish as much as we can in the coming months.

What better way to head into the big season than with a beautiful new listing on the Minerva Chain of Lakes? Whether your looking to buy or not, we welcome you inside to take a look. This tour makes you feel like you’re there. If you want to see more, just let us know. One of our CENTURY 21 agents would be glad to show it to you personally! http://Tours.SpinVision.com/544723

MLS# 1523451 Minerva Chain of Lakes $495,000

MLS# 1523451 Minerva Chain of Lakes $495,000

MLS# 1523451 Minerva Chain of Lakes $495,000

MLS# 1523451 Minerva Chain of Lakes $495,000

Where one person sees an end, another sees a beginning. Happy Labor Day weekend! ~ Wanda Boldon

Are We There Yet?

Picture this: You’re a couple of months away from kicking off your big season. The team is tuned up; playing sharp, healthy and looking good. You have a tingling in your bones that you just may have this game figured out. You could take it all the way. Maybe someday, someone will even come to you for lessons on how it’s all done. Then the phone rings. It’s the home office. They’re calling to tell you the team colors are changing and so is the logo. Everything needs to be turned and churned. And they tell you not to worry – you’re going to love it and that you will even thank them someday. Nausea rises. What’s this going to do to the team…and the FANS?

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Yup, that’s kind of how it felt when we received the word this winter; CENTURY 21, our trusty and beloved franchise was changing its logo and colors. They called it a rebranding and modernization of our brand’s image. At first knowledge, the blood drained out of our faces – just a little bit. Then we may have grumbled and said a few choice words – just a little bit. But then the more we let the news sink in, the more it began to grow on us. We might even thank the home office one day – just a little bit.

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20180806_091320And so, the turn and churn is underway. The new, more smart, sleek and sophisticated color palette along with the new C21 seal replace the old black and gold colors and logo. It’s not just symbolic, it’s a real opportunity for us to set a new bar, to shine through and to show what it means to be extraordinary real estate agents. It’s an exciting time for our brand and our firm and we accept the challenge: to be relentless, to defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences. It’s time for kickoff! ~ Wanda Boldon

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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

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

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

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.

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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.

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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

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Letters to Sellers: A Human Experience

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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.

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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.” 

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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

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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.

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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

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