Don’t Wait for Spring for the Spring Real Estate Market

L.Lark, Yahoo Contributor Network

Spring market in real estate. It is practically a legendary time. It’s the time when all sellers and buyers come out of hibernation and transact real estate. But if you wait for Spring to sell your house, it may be too late.

Timing the Sale

If you are thinking about selling your house, you may want to get your ducks in a row a little while before you are ready to get your house listed on the market. This way, you can know what to expect and how long it will take. You will also have knowledge of when the best time to sell your house will be.

When interviewing Realtors in order to decide who to hire, make sure to ask them when the best time to sell is. If you have no time constraints, you may want to target the Spring Real Estate Market. However, be sure that you know when that is.

When is Spring in Real Estate?

Good question. When you think of Spring, you think of April showers and May flowers. But in real estate, the spring Market is half over by then. Will you have missed your buyer if you list your house in April or May? Are you still going to get the best traffic, and therefore the best offers, through your house?

Well, maybe. If you are thinking of putting your house up for sale in the Spring, you should think February. February? Yes, February. Actually, the landmark date that you should think of as the beginning of the Spring Real Estate Market is the Super Bowl. That seems to be the time when most people venture out of their houses, are settled back in after the holidays and are starting to get stir crazy. It’s also a great time to start getting your house on the market for sale.


Think about if for a minute. These days, the real estate market is slowing down in many areas. Your house may take several months to sell. Most people want to find a house buy the end of June at the latest so that they can move over the summer when work loads are lighter and kids are not in school.

If you list your house in May and it takes three months to sell, you will find your self in July and in a very quiet market. However, if you list your house in February and it takes three months to sell, you will find yourself in April, with a month or two left in the busiest real estate time of the year. No worries, no pressure.

When are the Buyers Buying?

I sell real estate in Long Island, New York. In my area, we find that the most contracts of sale are written in the months of March and April. You can be sure that the buyers have been looking before they were ready to sign contracts to purchase a home, so that backs us right up to February.

Market Slowdowns

Especially since prices are not rising in most areas, there is nothing to loose by listing your house for sale in February. In fact, if prices are actively falling in your area, you can be sure that there are many, many houses for sale. If you get a jump on some of the new listings that will surely be coming on the market for Spring, you may find yourself ahead of falling prices and get more money for your house.

Additionally, if you are in a real estate market where prices are not holding, there are probably many houses which were recently listed for sale and which did not sell. When do you think the owners of those houses are waiting for to relist their houses for sale? Spring, of course. Don’t you think it will be a good idea to get your house on to the market before there is so much more inventory added to the mix?

Do I have to Sell My House in the Spring?

No. of course not. There are many reasons why other times of the year are great times to sell as well. For example; only serious buyers are house hunting in the winter time, fall market is busy because people want to move during holiday vacation and there is less inventory for sale during the summer months.

You may find that you can not wait until Spring market and that you have to sell your house at a particular time of year. Don’t worry. Find a great realtor and you should get the most that the real estate market has to offer.

Don’t Miss the Spring Real Estate Market

If you are targeting Spring market because you want to make the most out of the sale of your house, or if you are waiting for Spring to put your house on the market for sale, don’t wait too long. You may just find out that the Spring real estate market has sprung without you.


Tips for fall home sellers

Tips for fall home sellers

By: Lori Stephan, Country Pride Realty, Inc.

Most real estate agents say Spring is the season to sell a home, but don’t rule out fall just yet.  There may be fewer buyers, but they tent to be more motivated.  The key is to find them fast, because you don’t have much time before the holidays kick in and real estate really slows down.  Try these selling tips:

Price Aggressively.  You don’t have the luxury of starting high and making incremental price drops.  Be competitive – price your home 5% to 15% below comparable homes on the market.

State it to sell.  Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it can also be hard on home maintenance.  Make sure the front yard is clear of leaves, clean out gutters and downspouts, and touch up paint. In corporate tasteful fall décor.  If you have a fireplace, make it the focal point of the room.

Be flexible.  Bargain hunters are in force in the fall, so don’t be discouraged by low-ball offers. See them as opportunities to negotiate.  If you don’t want to come down on price, be creative, such as offering to pay for closing costs & repairs.


2014 February Home Sales Report

2014 February Home Sales Report

Freezing Weather Dampens Home Sales but Prices Rise

Date: March 17, 2014

MADISON, Wis. – For the second straight month, home sales dropped as Wisconsin recorded its coldest winter in decades according to an analysis of February housing market activity released by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Existing home sales dropped 10.1 percent relative to February 2013; however median prices actually increased substantially, rising 7.4 percent to $130,000 over the same 12 month period.

Historically, February accounts for just 5.6 percent of total annual sales in a normal year, whereas a typical summer month accounts for between 10.2 percent and 11.5 percent of annual sales. “We live in Wisconsin. We expect slow sales in February” said Steve Lane, Chairman of the WRA board of directors. “But we broke many records for cold temperatures this winter, so it’s not surprising this year’s February sales were off the 2013 pace,” he said. Lane also noted rising prices and interest rates also impacted the market. “Weather extremes weren’t the only thing that conspired to dampen sales,” Lane said. “Median prices have grown consistently since March of 2012 and mortgage interest rates have been climbing and are now almost a full percentage point higher than this time last year,” he said.

Sales dropped in every part of the state, with the South central, Central and Northeast regions falling between 5.2 percent and 9 percent in February relative to the same month last year. The West region was down 11 percent and the Southeast region fell 12 percent. Finally, the North was especially hard-hit with a reduction of 16.3 percent. “The decline in sales in the North is certainly understandable given their snow totals and bitter cold temperatures this year,” said Lane.

The median price rose to $130,000 in February, which is up 7.4 percent compared to February 2013. Median prices have increased in all but one month over the last two years. “It’s good to see prices growing, but we hope to see a moderation in the rate of median price appreciation,” said Michael Theo, WRA President and CEO. He noted that although this increase in median prices was very similar to the 7.2 percent increase for all of 2013, the fourth quarter of 2013 saw a median price increase of 5.7 percent and January median prices rose just 2.4 percent relative to January 2013.

“It’s important to remind buyers that Wisconsin housing remains very affordable even in light of these recent price increases,” said Theo. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index shows the percent of the median-priced home that the household with median family income can afford to buy assuming that borrower has a 20 percent down payment and is financing at current mortgage rates. The Wisconsin index stood at 245 in February, which indicates strong affordability, even though it slipped from the peak level of 294 seen in February 2013.

Theo also pointed out that even though the national economy grew at a less-than-robust pace, with real GDP up just 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, the Wisconsin labor market continued to make modest improvements. The state added approximately 27,600 additional jobs between January 2013 and January 2014, and the unemployment rate dropped a full percent to 6.1 percent over that same period, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Although the housing market has definitely tightened over the last year with declining inventories and higher prices, excellent opportunities still exist for buyers and an experienced REALTOR® can help you find the best value in this market,” said Theo.

About the WRA
The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association is one of the largest trade associations in the state, representing over 13,500 real estate brokers, sales people and affiliates statewide. All county figures on sales volume and median prices are compiled by the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association and are not seasonally adjusted. Median prices are only computed if the county recorded at least 10 home sales in the quarter. All data collected by Wisconsin REALTORS® Association are subject to revision if more complete data become available. Beginning in 2010, all historical sales volume and median price data at the county level have been re-benchmarked using the Techmark system which accesses MLS data directly and in real time. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index is updated monthly with the most recent data on median housing prices, mortgage rates, and estimated median family income data for Wisconsin. Data on state foreclosure activity is compiled by Dr. Russ Kashian at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.

WANTED: Real Estate Agents

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It’s a simple fact of economics that if you can find a way to lower your overhead, you’ll have more money to spend elsewhere.  Think for a minute about how much you spend on business cards, personalized stationery, brochures, marketing material, signs, promotional items & errors & omissions insurance.  What about franchise fees or long distance calls?  We also offer variable splits-right up to 80% programs.
If these benefits sound interesting, you owe it to yourself and your career, to find out more.  Please feel free to call me any time @ 920.246.3000 to find out more.


It’s Never Too Early to Start Spring Cleaning!

It’s Never Too Early to Start Spring Cleaning!

By: Lori Stephan, Country Pride Realty, Inc.  Broker/Owner since 1999

           When refreshing spring weather begins to roll in, wouldn’t you rather be outside enjoying it, rather than inside cleaning?
This year, tackle those spring cleaning jobs early so that spring can be a time of relaxation and enjoyment.

            Even during the dreariest months, there are many tasks that can be completed.  Here are some tasks that don’t need to wait for warmer weather:

  • Polish your wooden cabinets.  You don’t need to replace wooden cabinets when they lose their luster.  A thorough cleaning, followed by a moisturizing polish, can make old cabinets look new.  The most common method of cleaning cabinetry is with a little Woolite and water.  But if you want to restore luster and shine, try a product like Touch of Oranges Wood Cleaner, followed by Touch of Beeswax Wood Preserver.  Simply spray the cleaner on a wooden surface, wait a few minutes, and then rub 0000-grade steel wool in the direction of the grain.  Finish cleaning by wiping the wood with soft terrycloth, then use the preserver.  Cabinets will shine, giving your kitchen a spring fresh look.
  • Clean your carpets.  Carpets can be a major trap for dust and pet hair, not to mention the salt and dried mud that have been tracked in from winter shoes.  There are many professional services to choose from, but for those do it yourselfers, renting or buying a carpet cleaner can save bundles of money.  The Oreck Rinse-A-Matic can shampoo, rinse and dry carpeted floors, and, as a bonus, can also rinse, scrub and dry kitchen floors.
  • Say goodbye to mineral stains.  Mineral deposits look depressing on windows and shower stalls.  And while cleaning the windows is often a warm weather job, there’s no reason to put off cleaning the bathroom.  Hard water stains on glass shower doors and windows look unattractive, so remove then with specialized products like CLR, Lime Away or Bring It On Cleaner.  Some hard water stains will often yield to scrubbing with white vinegar and a non-scratch pad.  If you find that vinegar is ineffective, resort to stronger chemicals.

For All Your Pulaski, Green Valley, Krakow, Zachow, Bonduel, Shawano, Oconto, Oconto Falls,  Seymour, Howard, & Green Bay surrounding areas Real Estate Needs Call Lori @ 920-246-3000 or 920-822-4663 or email


TOP TRENDS & PREDICTIONS IN REAL ESTATE FOR 2014 by Lori Stephan, Broker/Owner since 1999, Country Pride Realty, Inc.
Real Estate recovery still hinges on job growth~Our Pulaski and surrounding area’s job market is becoming more steady with less unemployment.  Recently, Marquis Yachts had announced that they will be adding 150 jobs within the next year!  This is all great news!
Inventory is coming back~Distressed inventory is drying up and sellers are looking at better profits than they have in years.  Home prices & values are inching up.  Foreclosures are still a problem, it’s much less of a problem than it was in the last few years.  Buyers will begin to outweigh sellers. There’s a lot of positive news about housing all over the United States.
How about mortgage rates?~Mortgage rates have been at record breaking lows.  But, we never expected the ultra-low rates would stick around forever.  They are still at reasonable levels but will climb in due time.  5% seems to be the average.
What loan options are available today?~You can own the home of your dreams.  However, constant tightening and changing lending guidelines will be making this even more challenging starting January 2014.  Credit will become one of the largest factors going forward.  A 640 credit score is the benchmark rating.
Pulaski and the surrounding areas could possibly qualify for 100% financing with little or no closing costs.  There are several options available including no first time home buyer requirements, no down payment or cash reserves required, no limit on gift money, fixed rate loans, up to 6% seller concession, free home warranty’s and more…of course there is flexible credit & qualifying guidelines.
The best way to approach any real estate transaction is with an experienced licensed REALTOR by your side.  They’ll bring along the best in-depth market knowledge for the neighborhood where you want to buy, sell and put down roots in the Pulaski School District.
That’s why we’re here.  We have one goal:  To help you, our neighbor, thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s real estate market.  And that will always be our goal, every week, every year.  Neighbors helping neighbors.
So from all of us here at Country Pride Realty, thank you for your continued trust in us and wishing you a Happy New Year for 2014! Call us for all your real estate needs!  (920) 822-HOME (4663)

One year ago, mortgage rates hit lowest point in history

By Yahoo Homes

What difference does a year make?

For mortgage rates, it makes more than a full percentage-point difference.

One year ago today, on Nov. 21, 2012, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit 3.31 percent, the lowest rate on record–ever. This morning, the average rate is 4.22 percent, according to Freddie Mac’sPrimary Mortgage Market Survey.

Even though today’s interest rates aren’t breaking any records, they are still historically very low. That phrase — “historically very low” — is casually thrown around a lot these days, but it’s true. Here’s why.

9% was a steal for more than a decade

Consider this: To take out a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the early 1980s, you had to pay a staggering 18 percent for the privilege. While 18-plus percent may have been abnormal, double-digit interest rates weren’t.

In the early 1970s, when Freddie Mac first started keeping record of rates through its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates were around 7 percent. But they began climbing in the mid-1970s before hitting their highest rate ever—18.63 percent—on Oct. 9, 1981.

Interest rates rarely fell below 10 percent from 1979 to late 1990.

But the 1990s saw a return to seemingly “normal,” and more important, stable interest rates: between 7 and 9 percent.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that interest rates started to get labeled as historically low. In 2003, they headed down to the 5 percent range, and then hovered between 5 and 6 percent until late 2009, when they began a slow and steady march down into the 3s.

[Take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. Compare mortgage rates from multiple lenders now.]

But those days are behind us, and it’s really a good thing. Interest rates have been organically low, thanks to a sputtering economy, and artificially low, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s stimulus program that helps keep them there.

(Back story on the Fed’s stimulus program: The Fed buys $85 billion in bonds every month from lenders. The lenders then have more cash available to loan, which essentially means more supply than demand and that keeps interest rates low because the banks are making their money in volume, not in price.)

Bank on it: Higher rates are headed up, probably soon

As the economy improves, no matter how slowly, interest rates will go up — in part because lenders know they can charge more, because people have more money, but also because the Fed will taper off buying these bonds that keep interest rates low.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in late summer that the Fed would initially start tapering off its bond-buying program this fall, but he wound up backing away from that on the heels of lower-than-expected job growth reports.

“This nonevent took rates up close to 1 percent fairly quickly, within about 30 days,” said Josh Moffit, president ofSilverton Mortgage Specialists, a direct mortgage lender in Atlanta, in an e-mail. “The taper seems to be a matter of when, not if; so when it happens, I would expect the same.”

If that’s the case, we could see rates approach 5 percent, if not higher, in 2014, Moffit said.

“From that point on, we expect to see movement based on economic factors, mainly the job market, as we move through the year,” he said. “If the job market improves steadily, we will most likely see a steady rise in rates. However, poor job reports would result in downward pressures. Outside of that, unexpected or major economic events certainly will move the needle up or down depending on the scenario.”

What’s that mean for you?

The best move for consumers is to lock in the rate that works for them at a time when buying a home also works for them. Interest rates may change quickly, but even if they push past 5 percent, that’s still extremely low historically—unheard of before this century.

Basically, this means that for homebuyers, you will still get offers for great interest rates, even if you’re not getting the best rates ever. A year from now, when interest rates may be creeping up to 6 percent, you’ll still feel like you got a great deal.

10 staging secrets to sell your house, stat!

Posted from HGTV magazine – Meridith Baer

1. White for walls.  Period. “I tell people to give rooms a coat of white paint, especially if the walls are a bright shade of anything in the mauve family – big turnoffs! White not only makes everything look new but also makes rooms seem bigger.  Pick a warm one with no gray, blue, or green undertones.  Glass of Milk by Sherwin-Williams and Decorators White by Benjamin Moore are two of my favorites.”

2. Paint your front door an unexpected color. “It sends the message that your home is well cared for.  I often like red or light blue on a white house.  If your home is tan or brown, try yellow or lime green.   No matter what color you pick, paint the trim around the door white to make it stand out.”

3. Six personal photos, max. “You may have a cute family, but when people are looking at a house, they want to picture themselves in it, not you.  A few current pictures on a shelf or wall are fine, but replace the others with simple art, or keep the space bare.”

4. Clear out 50% of your stuff.  “If a closet is jam-packed, buyers will question whether the house is big enough.  If it’s half empty, they’ll think there’s plenty of room for their things.  For storage I like pods, a service that delivers big containers to your house and transfers them to your new place once they’re filled.  The cost averages $185 per month for four rooms’ worth of storage space, plus delivery fees (”

5. Add a bedroom sitting area.  “It seems counter intuitive to pack in more furniture, but if you have the space, put an upholstered bench at the foot of the bed, or a pair of chairs with a side table in a corner.  It’ll give the impression that the room is larger since the setup offers more than one use – sleeping and sitting.”

6. Big mirrors are a big plus.  “They give the illusion of more space.  I like to lean a large one – at least 6 feet tall – against the wall in a bedroom, or hang one over a credenza in the dining room.  Place a mirror opposite a window and it’ll bring in more light.”

7.  Make your bathroom look like a hotel’s.  “This means a counter free of all products except two or three with pretty packaging.  And steer clear of anything too heavily scented! Place rolled-up white towels in a basket, and put fresh flowers or potted plant on the counter.”

8. Change the lighting for day and night.  “I’m a big fan of dimmers for setting different moods.  During the day, keep on all the lights to make the house feel bright and welcoming.  When it’s dark out, your house looks better in a softer glow, so turn down the lights if people are coming by at night.”

9. Show potential buyers how they’d live in your house.  “If you don’t spell it out, people can have trouble imagining how they’d live in someone else’s home.  In the kitchen, prop open a cookbook so they can picture themselves making meals there.  In your bedroom, put a water carafe and a current book on your nightstand, so buyer will think, Oh, that’s where I’ll read my novel.”

10. Toss in at least one quirky item.  “In the first house I staged, I put a cast stone pig on the kitchen counter, and the home sold quickly.  I’ve been doing it in all my houses ever since.  Real estate brokers see a lot of homes, so if a fun little figurine helps yours stand out, all the better!”


5 DIY Tips for Home Staging on the Cheap

Whether your home is located in Pulaski, Sobieski, Angelica, Chase, Oconto, Oconto Falls, Krakow, Bonduel, Shawano, Seymour, Green Bay, Howard, or Ashwaubenon…one of the real estate agents at Country Pride Reality can help you!

As posted in Zillow

Your home’s been on the market for a while now, and you’re not getting any offers. Your real estate agent has suggested professional staging, but that’s just not in the budget. What’s a desperate home seller to do?

You might consider a staging consultation. Many home stagers will provide room-by-room assessments for homeowners, offering tips about paint colors, furniture placement, improving traffic patterns and more. Most consultations last about two hours and won’t break the bank at $150 to $250.

Or, you can use these five low-cost, do-it-yourself staging tips to create a space that sells:

No. 1: Cut the clutter

Get boxes and tape, and start packing. Clothes, books, toys, extra pots and pans – pack up everything you don’t absolutely need during the next two or three months. Remember that potential buyers will be opening closets and drawers; if it looks like there’s not room for your things, buyers will assume storage will be tight for them as well.

Too much furniture can also make a space look cluttered. Your home will look bigger if it’s not jam-packed. Go through the house room by room and ask yourself what you can live without. See if your friends are willing to store your things until the house sells, or consider renting a short-term storage unit.

No. 2: Let the sunshine in

“I advise homeowners to open all their window coverings,” says Maureen Bray, owner of Portland, OR-based Room Solutions Staging. “Don’t just open the blinds — raise them to the top to allow people to see the view and let in light. Home buyers love light, bright rooms.”

Of course, that means windows must be cleaned inside and out, and window sills need to be wiped down.

Got a view you’re not so crazy about showcasing? Consider blinds that can be angled to let in light, or hang sheer panels.

What if you have those heavy, expensive, custom drapes and valances that were popular 20 years ago? “Take them down,” says Bray. “You got your money’s worth out of them. Today’s buyers want light.”

No. 3: Clean, then clean some more

“I always tell people, ‘Clean like there’s no tomorrow.’” says Bray. “A really clean house gives buyers the impression that it has been well-maintained.”

Unfortunately, a one-time cleaning won’t do the trick. You’ll need to keep at it until your house sells. Knock down cobwebs, wipe counter tops, scrub grout, mop floors, wash light fixtures and repeat.

If cleaning bathtubs and wiping down baseboards is simply not your area of expertise, consider hiring a weekly cleaning service. Yes, it’s an investment, but if it shortens your selling time, it’s money well spent.

No. 4: Set the scene

Want buyers to fall in love with your house the moment they see it? First impressions matter. Your lawn must be mowed and edged, bushes must be trimmed, and flower beds must be weeded and topped with fresh mulch or bark. Add colorful flowers near the front door, either in flowerbeds or pots.

You’ll make your home even tougher to resist if you borrow or rent a power washer to clean grimy sidewalks, driveways, stairs and decks. Remember: You want everything to look fresh, fresh, fresh.

No. 5: Take new photos

Once you’ve decluttered, cleaned and planted flowers, take new photos of your home.

According to a 2011 survey, 88 percent of buyers say their home search relies, at least in part, on online listings. It’s important that the photos used in those listings and printed fliers reflect the improvements you’ve made to your home. Photos that showcase your decluttered, squeaky clean, curb-appeal-laden abode will appeal to a broader range of home buyers.

18 Ways to Prep Your Home’s Exterior for the Spring Market

Spring is in the air in some parts of Canada and the U.S., although it hasn’t quite reached my little corner of the world yet. This is the time of year when thoughts turn to spring cleaning; whether or not you’re selling your home. Of course, if you are listing anytime soon, you’ll want to be even more meticulous.

The busy spring market will be upon us before you know it, so here are some tips for getting the exterior of your home shipshape:

1. Remove glass from light fixtures and take out any little critters that may have found a home over the winter.  Be sure to use glass cleaner on the panes before replacing them in your fixtures.

2. Clean your mailbox.  If it hasn’t weathered well over the winter, it’s probably time to replace it.

3. Clean and polish, if necessary, your front door’s hardware. Replace it as well if necessary.

4. Check your house numbers.  Are they still in good shape and visible from the street?  If not, replace them.

5. Wash down your front door and garage door.  If you find that the previous summer’s sun has faded the paint, consider repainting.  (Your garage door should be painted a color that blends in with the brick or vinyl siding on your home.) Before painting, check with the paint manufacturer to see what the optimal outdoor temperature should be. You don’t want to paint when it’s still too cold outside.

6. Wash the windows.  If this isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional.

7. Hose down the porch and driveway to remove any excess salt left over from de-icing.

8. Sweep the porch, driveway and patio to get rid of any rogue leaves etc. left over from the fall.

9. Check your porch, driveway, and patio for any cracking or lifting of patio stones that may have taken place during a deep freeze.

10. Check your roof to make sure no shingles are missing or were damaged during the winter.

11. Remove debris from your gutters and drain spouts.

12. Rake the lawn.  However, before doing that it’s very important to check with your local garden center first to be sure it’s not too early.  If raked too soon before the ground thoroughly dries, you could potentially damage your lawn.

13. Remove winter displays from your urns.  For a burst of color, plant spring flowers as soon as weather permits.

14. Tidy up your gardens in preparation for planting season.

15. Organize the garage. Put away shovels, snow blowers, toboggans, and any other items that made their way into your garage over the winter.

16. If you don’t use your barbeque year round, it’s time to bring it out.  If it’s a built-in unit that will be staying with the house, be sure to clean the grills and wash down the lid.  If you have a cover for it, replace it if it’s worn.

17. Remove the cover from your swimming pool and clean your pool as soon as your pool service company advises that it’s OK to do so.

18. Bring out your patio furniture and set it up.  Although it may be too cold to sit outside just yet, you want potential buyers to see your outdoor living space’s potential.

These are some suggestions to get your started.  What else am I missing?  Feel free to add to the list!

Written by: Charlene Storozuk, Dezigner Digz