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Buying Tips

Buying a Home in Madison & Dane County WI: Real Estate Buying Tips & Advice

There are currently 57 blog entries related to this category.

Buying a home is a several step process, and it begins before you even look at potential properties. Laurie Ellis-Mcleod, president of AERIE Preferred Financial Group, offers 6 tips to prepare you to buy this spring:

1. Don't dip into your retirement funds.  "You can't finance retirement. You need to rethink your plan to buy if you have to dip into your IRA or 401K to make it happen," says Laurie.

2. Watch your spending.  You don't want to hurt your credit during this crucial time. Avoid the temptation to close an account, open a new one, or make a large purchase. Your lender will be looking at all of these things, and any one of them could negatively impact your credit score.

3. Make sure you understand the full cost of ownership. Talk with your

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We've been meaning to address this topic for awhile because there are some buyers in the Madison area who are trying to purchase a home or condo by working directly with the listing agent. Rather than hire a good buyer agent, these buyers are searching for properties online and then calling listing agents to schedule a private showing. Although this approach sounds simple in theory, it usually doesn't work. Below we share a few reasons why you shouldn't try to buy a home directly through the listing agent. 

Madison Home Buying Tips

Why you shouldn't try to buy a home through the listing agent

#1: Your search usually isn't focused on the right properties. If you're doing your own property searches online, then chances are you are focusing on many of the wrong listings.

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The 2018 home buying season is ramping up in Madison and Dane County, so right now is the perfect time to share some of our recent articles written for local buyers. All of these articles were written within the last year and offer some great tips for anyone looking to buy a home or condo in 2018.

Tips for buying a home or condo

10 articles for Madison area home and condo buyers

#1: Our predictions for the 2018 real estate market

Read our predictions for this year's real estate market and you'll understand that taking a casual approach to your home search won't get the job done in 2018. You'll need to be very proactive with your search and hire a good buyer agent to represent you.  

#2: 15 ways to write a winning offer

Inventory remains tight throughout all of Dane

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The Madison real estate market will once again be very competitive in 2018. We're predicting another year of low inventory and rising prices for all of Dane County. If your goal is to buy in the new year, then right now is the time to start planning for your purchase. Here are our 6 new years resolutions that will help you successfully buy your dream home in 2018. 

home buying resolutions madison wi 2018 

#1: Get pre-approved with a reliable local lender

Work with a proven, local lender who gives you the personal attention and service you need in today's competitive market. Some of the big box and internet lenders have a tendency to miss deadlines and issue bad appraisals. If you value good communication and reliable service, then go local with your mortgage. Ask us for a referral to

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Our buyer agent team includes 5 full-time real estate agents plus two administrative professionals who work together to serve our clients. Below are 5 reasons why our buyer clients appreciate our team-based customer service model. 

Mad City Dream Homes Buyer Agent Team

#1: Responsiveness

Your lead buyer agent is responsible for carrying out your home-buying plan. However, we also make our entire agent team available to you so you receive the timely service you need in today's fast-moving market.

For example, you may need to see a hot new listing ASAP before any other buyer has a chance to write an offer on it. If your lead agent is unavailable, that's not a problem. Another agent from our team will schedule your showing immediately so you don't miss out on the opportunity to

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The hot spring market seems to come a little earlier to Madison with each passing year, as buyers seek to get a jump on their competition. Last year the market really heated up in February, as can be seen in the graph below. 

Each bar on this graph represents a snapshot of the Madison single family home market taken mid-month. In February of 2016 only 35% of all single family home listings were under contract with an accepted offer. In February of 2017 the percentage jumped to 51%. In other words, if you were searching for listings online in February of 2017, over half of the listings you viewed were already spoken for and scheduled to close soon. The market stayed this tight all the way through the month of June.


2018 will be another low

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It's hard to believe, but the holiday season is right around the corner. This means the best time of year for buying a home is right around the corner, too. To see why, take a look at the graph below, which shows accepted offer totals for each month of the calendar year. 

 November and December Market in Madison

Year in and year out, November and December are the 2 slowest months for real estate in the Madison area. This market dynamic creates 3 big advantages for home buyers during the holiday season. 

3 advantages for holiday home buyers

First, there's much less competition from other buyers during the holiday season. Your odds of getting your offer accepted are much higher in November and December than in the spring and summer months. 

Second, buyers have the psychological

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What is the best way to learn about schools and school districts in the Madison and Dane County area? The report card system put forward by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is one online tool that can help you with your research. The DPI report cards offer comparative data about school and school district performance.

How to use the school report card system

First, go to the report system web page here: 

Then select a school district and school that you'd like to review. In this example we've selected Northside Elementary in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. 

The DPI website will produce a report for your selected school which you can download for viewing (for an example,

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In this low inventory market a little creativity and elbow grease can make all the difference in your home search. One very effective way to find and buy a home is to send letters to property owners in your preferred location. If you're targeting a specific neighborhood or condo community, mailing letters is an excellent way to find properties before they get listed for sale. By being proactive, you gain the advantage over other buyers who rely on more traditional search strategies. 

buying a home through direct mail

Why personal letters work

Upon receiving your letter many property owners will be pleasantly surprised by the prospects of a quiet sale. It's like pressing the easy button. Suddenly, all of the stress and anxiety that come with the traditional listing could be

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communicating your offer to purchaseAs listing agents we're noticing some interesting shifts in practice as the world becomes more digitally dependent, in particular with how offers are being submitted and communicated to sellers. Specifically, we're noticing more communication being done through text and email, and less through telephone calls and conversation. 

A relatively common scenario is for a buyer agent to email the listing agent an offer and then follow that up with a text message asking the listing agent to confirm receipt. In other words offers are being submitted without the buyer agent initiating any conversation with the listing agent. These types of offers, in our experience, are the ones least likely to get accepted in a competitive situation. 

Which offers are the

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