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End of the road condo opportunity on Little St. Germain Lake-yet close to shopping, snowmobile trails, and bike trails. Enjoy sandy beaches, private boat launch, docks, swimming area, playground, fish cleaning house, and lakeside storage-all maintained for you! This renovated, fully furnished, seasonal, open concept 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottage includes knotty pine interior, wood burning fireplace, 15x10 deck th...
A true Northwoods Ponderosa! 111 hilltop acres, two homes, beautiful barn & 60-mile view. The 2br/1.5ba main home features open kitchen w/island & hickory cabinets, finished walkout basement, wet bar, master suite, huge family room, vaulted ceilings, in-floor zoned heat, handsome stone fireplace & 2-car attached garage. The impressive 67 x 39 2-level barn can be used in many ways. Accessible from outside, the...
67-ACRE PENINSULA ESTATE w/5700'+ of frontage on Rice & Echo Lakes plus the Turtle River. Surrounded by water on 3 sides, there's a ready-to-use 1br/1ba guest cottage, a full log main home which could be the bones of a remarkable restoration project, miscellaneous structures, & an enchanting footbridge to the property across the Turtle River rapids with room to build a garage or repair the old one already the...
Private peninsula w/water on two sides! Spacious end of the road 5br/2.5ba home features 997' Chaney Lake frontage, awesome views,& total privacy on nearly 18 ac bordering public lands. Meticulously maintained, enter to find a great room w/towering knotty pine ceiling, massive stone fireplace, & trapezoid windows w/great water + woods view. With abundant counter space, the chef's kitchen adjoins a spacious di...
A Frank Lloyd Wright inspired treasure awaits on beautiful Big Lake! A long winding driveway takes you to this 3br/2ba home built of block & redwood. From most rooms, enjoy a panoramic view over 300' of gradual rippling sand bottom frontage to Big Lake. Huge master bedroom suite features wrap around windows, luxury master bath and a very open feel. Relax in the enchanting living room w/redwood ceilings/trim, ...
Escape to this gorgeous custom home that exudes character, craftsmanship, and the quintessential Northwoods Chalet charm. Framed by gorgeous trapezoid windows and beautiful views, the immense towering full masonry field stone fireplace soars upward with the 25' vaulted ceilings. 3 bedrooms, a den, two bathrooms and a fully finished lower level with wood stove provides a great venue for living and entertaining...
Escape to this gorgeous custom home that exudes character, craftsmanship, and the quintessential Northwoods Chalet charm. Framed by gorgeous trapezoid windows and beautiful views, the immense towering full masonry field stone fireplace soars upward with the 25' vaulted ceilings. 3 bedrooms, a den, two bathrooms and a fully finished lower level with wood stove provides a great venue for living and entertaining...
How about end of road privacy, 8 ac of tranquility, 310' Chaney Lake sandy frtg, executive home w/touches of luxury & a rare wilderness view? This 4 BR/2 BA chalet has it all. Main floor master w/WIC. Mbath has jetted tub, dbl sink, quartz, & superb tile shower. Main floor laundry, 4th bed/office, & walk-in pantry. Great room boasts soaring ceilings, full height stone FP, double island kitchen, quartz, SS, & ...
PICTURESQUE & PROFITABLE! On the pure sand shore of Lake Superior, Scott's Superior Inn distinguishes itself as a year-around turnkey resort with impeccably maintained & updated accommodations, pure sandy beach. outstanding reputation & spectacular views of the Greatest of the Great Lakes! Featuring 4 suites, 4 rooms & a lobby with fireplace, the main lodge also includes a 3br/2ba apartment, game room, & a fu...
WIND DRIFT RESORT. Live the life you dreamed of as the owner/operator of this profitable, well maintained, turnkey and fun resort on beautiful 4370-acre Lac Vieux Desert! Excellent reputation with 85% repeat customers! There's eight rental units, a recently built waterfront recreation room, fish cleaning house, workshop plus a lovely 4br/2ba owner's home finished walkout basement, two kitchens, 3 season porch...
The ultimate venue for a family or corporate retreat on 4370-acre Lac Vieux Desert! 23 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms provide room for a large group to experience Northwoods fun together on the lake! There's eight units, a recently built waterfront recreation room, fish cleaning house, workshop plus a lovely 4br/2ba main home w/finished walkout basement, two kitchens, 3 season porch and 3-car attached garage. Ever...
THOUSANDS under assessed value! One in a million private peninsula property + private island, meticulous 2br/1ba home, 3-car garage plus 1200' frontage on the Fisher Lake Chain. A rare combination of being surrounded by water and complete privacy, this is a once-in-a-lifetime find offering outstanding potential for an investment property, expansion to become the ultimate family Northwoods retreat, or simply e...
Turnkey commercial storefront building in right in the heart of beautiful Manitowish Waters. This well finished and recently constructed building features a metal roof, energy efficient design, spotless exterior finishes, loading dock, deliver door, huge dry basement storage area, half bath, and central air. Warm knotty pine T&G paneling, wood-look commercial grade flooring, and meticulous finishes add up to ...
Premium 4BR/3BA West Shore Lake Gogebic executive home w/220' of prime frontage! Enter to find a massive great room w/towering cathedral ceiling, open kitchen/dining area, impressive fieldstone fireplace, huge log beams, large bedroom, full bath, laundry room, & commanding view of the lake through a wall of trapezoid windows. Go up the log staircase to find a loft suite w/master bedroom, en suite full bath + ...
REDUCED! Tucked away on 570' of frontage on pristine Gaylord Lake just North of Presque Isle, this 4.16 acre parcel is ready to be the location of your Northwoods getaway. Sandy frontage and Canadian wilderness views are yours on this lovely 80-acre lake that is full of fish! With National Forest land next door, there's no worries about future development. The mostly level terrain features abundant mature tre...
REDUCED! Wilderness lakeside retreat! Situated on wild Gaylord Lake just N of Presque Isle, this stunning property has 48.3 acres, 2,618' sand/stone frtg, charming rustic cabin, outbuildings, pvt peninsula, maple trees & a sense of privacy like nowhere else. Current price reflects a frontage value of only $248/ft, which is well below neighboring lake front values. Whether your passion is hunting, fishing, nat...
REDUCED! Outstanding business opportunity right in the heart of beautiful Manitowish Waters! The Wine Barn is a popular year round local business loved by locals and out of towners alike! The beautifully finished and recently constructed building features a metal roof, energy efficiency, spotless exterior finishes, loading dock and door in the back and has a central location in the highest traffic area in one...
CRAB LAKE! A once in a lifetime opportunity to be on "Wisconsin's Most Beautiful Lake" (Milwaukee Journal). Crab Lake encompasses nearly 1,000 acres, 23 islands, gin clear water and 25 miles of shoreline. Situated on a gorgeous peninsula with breathtaking bluff views of the lake, the 2br/1ba home features a beautiful sun room, open floor plan, full basement, storage shed, 2-car detached garage and a handsome ...
An incredible opportunity to own your own Island in Wisconsin's Last Wilderness. Located on North Crab Lake, you get a one acre island surrounded by wild beauty with a recently built 24 X 16 insulated professionally constructed cabin featuring a free standing wood burning stove, and a generously sized sleeping loft. Equipped with a generator hookup, the cabin is already wired with A/C outlets and lights. Enjo...
Premium waterfront property at a fire sale price! Have the best of all worlds with this incredibly priced waterfront parcel with 280' rippling sand frontage perfect for swimming, canoeing, or kayaking on 496-acre Chaney Lake just North of the WI state line. Get Canadian lake views, complete privacy, and enormous elbow room with 10.7 acres of level property on both sides of the road. Start making your plans to...
Cozy, Cute A-Frame cottage in excellent condition with lots of room. The main level has a bedroom, bath with shower and stack washer/dryer unit, nice kitchen open to living room with a breakfast bar and a free standing wood burning unit. The 2nd floor has a large loft that can accommodate a double bed, bunk beds a hide-a-bed. There is a sliding door off the loft to a small deck. The large full front lakeside ...
Come to the lake! With 118' of level sand frontage, here's a great place to make memories year around! Enter to find a cute open floor plan with panoramic lake views, huge sleeping loft upstairs, full bath and galley kitchen. A full walkout basement below includes a finished bath, 2 more roughed in bedrooms and a sizable utility area. Unwind on the lakeside deck and take in the beauty of 500+ acre Birch Lake....
Take a look at this Pine Lake waterfront home today w/175' frontage and prepare to be impressed! Marvel at the beautiful lake view from the classy dining room and updated kitchen with newer appliances and quartz counter-tops. A huge living room offers vaulted ceilings, impressive stone fireplace, and a commanding lake view while two bedrooms upstairs provide additional sleeping areas each with their own lake ...
LOCATION-CONVENIENCE-FEATURES! 14-MONTH HOME WARRANTY comes with this terrific 3br/2ba family home as well as a $750 floor allowance to finish the lower floor any way you like! Conveniently located centrally in Ironwood and just a block from the snowmobile/ATV trail, this home is ideal for a family, rental investment, or Northwoods vacation home central to all of the year around activities Upper Michigan has ...
Almost 10 acres of privacy is yours along with a partially finished 32x24 pole barn and a cozy 16x14 cabin with wood stove, built in bunk beds, sitting area and range. Great hunting camp, start of a Northwoods retreat, or a place to come up North and enjoy the peace and quiet of the woods. Driveway and electricity is in and this property is just waiting for your ideas or you can enjoy it as is for a rustic ge...
Incredible Harris Lake parcel with Wet Boathouse! This stunning lot includes 1.5 acres, 305' frontage on exclusive gin-clear Harris Lake, and a very rare wet 3-stall boathouse. Situated on the historic Camp Mishike Peninsula, this gently sloping lot is nestled on the Northern side of the peninsula and offers panoramic views of this magnificent 507-acre Class A Musky lake that also offers excellent Walleye fis...
BE CAPTIVATED by this masterfully crafted hand-scribe FULL LOG home with 126' frontage and 1.48 acres on tranquil Stepping Stone Lake #1! An open concept main floor features towering cathedral ceilings, massive log beams, large kitchen with wrap around marble countered bar, cozy living room with a handsome field stone wood burning fireplace, convenient half bath & 1st floor laundry, lavish master bedroom suit...
Situated in a natural setting, this 2br/2ba home comes with all the amenities you'd expect: central air, full basement, open concept floor plan, blacktop drive, custom cherry kitchen cabinets, master bed/bath, Generac LP-fueled B/U generator, and huge screened in porch! Abundant garage space has a new roof and boasts 3+ cars of storage w/workshop area! An innovative dual energy LP/electric furnace offers a se...
Start planning your waterfront escape today! Take a look at this 1.3 acre parcel situated on 496-acre Chaney Lake just across the MI State Line. Enjoy commanding panoramic views, great fishing and a true up North experience from the 99 feet of rocky frontage. Centrally located in the heart of the Northwoods, all of your recreational desires are at your fingertips. This is a very rare opportunity to own fronta...
Complete privacy, deeded water access, snowmobile trail access, and 11.09 acres to roam are yours for $16,500 under assessed value! SELLER WILL CONSIDER LAND CONTRACT! Roughed-in driveway, electricy at the lot line, and partially cleared building site are ready for you to finish and put your home or cottage on. Electricity is at the lot line and the deeded access boat launch is nearby. 148-acre and 36' deep R...
A Waterfront bargain is waiting for you on Chaney Lake just North of the WI state line! Approx 175' level frontage, gorgeous lake view, 2.9 acres, and a 2br/1ba cabin are ready for your family plans! The cabin does need some TLC including floor and foundation work but features a roomy kitchen, wood fireplace, washer/dryer, and a panoramic lake view from the living room. There's also a pier, shed, deck and a l...
Seller has SLASHED the price on this 25.2-acre parcel with 1,200' of frontage on 496-acre Chaney Lake just across the border from WI. There's tons of room to roam and many choices for a great building site for your Northwoods dream home or getaway cabin. There's about 100+ of clear frontage and the rest is a mixture of marsh and boardwalk frontage on the lake. Privacy galore is yours in a Canadian-type settin...
Get on a nice lake for a fraction of the usual price! This 2 bedroom cabin is just a mile North of the WI border, is on 496-acre Chaney Lake and features a range, refrigerator, and large deck with rocky weed less frontage. Newer flooring and drywall was installed recently. Has detached garage, large shed and an outdoor privy. A nice getaway as is or bring your plans to make it even better by adding a septic, ...
Carlin Lake is calling you to this 1.63 acre parcel which is the ideal setting for a beautiful Northwoods home or escape. There's a gentle slope to where crystal clear water meets 200' of sandy frontage on a gradual drop off...ideal for swimming, wading, fishing or just enjoying the magnificent views over this no-public access lake. Abundant, mature trees dot this well-wooded property featuring many great spo...
This well wooded, private buildable lot is just a few hundred feet walk from Street Lake, has utilities at the lot line, and has been PERC tested for a conventional septic system. Bring your plans and ideas for a great spot tucked away in the Northwoods yet just a short drive from shopping, recreation, and hudnreds of lakes.
With approximately 1.8 acres and loaded with mature trees, this private lot is ready for your plans and ideas. Walk just a few hundred feet to Street Lake public access. All utilities are at lot line. Everything being out in the woods entails while being just a short drive from shopping, medical facilities, recreation, and hundreds of lakes.
This delightful 2BR/2BA Dickenson home comes with deeded access to beautiful Rainbow Lake as well as a paved driveway and huge 28 X 36 detached garage (built in 2016) for all of your toys. The open concept interior features a great room w/kitchen, dining and living areas. The main floor also features two large bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Go downstairs to the basement and find two nicely finished bonus ro...
Northwoods lakefront at its best! Tucked into a tiny bay, 310+ feet of sandy frontage and 27.8 wooded acres on the renowned 900+acre Turtle Chain of Lakes awaits your ideas and plans! At the corner of County W and County O, you're close to town, ski hills, restaurants, and the best recreational opportunities in Northern Wisconsin. Facing West, you'll experience gleaming sunsets over the lake while enjoying un...
This charming, well-maintained year-round cabin sits on 3 acres and includes 100' of sandy frontage on Canadian-like Rock Lake, which is part of the 945-acre Turtle Lake Chain. The property offers great value: cedar siding, a metal roof, 24x29 detached garage with storage loft, a drilled 6" well, aluminum pier, and fieldstone fireplace w/super-efficient Pacific Energy insert. The home has an open concept and ...
Golden Opportunity to have the lifestyle you deserve living in the beautiful Upper Peninsula right on Lake Superior! The Sunshine is the second largest accommodation in the popular Ontonagon area featuring 19 room and cabin units, excellent profitability, owned beach access to Lake Superior, recently updated 2br/2ba living quarters, and an outstanding reputation both locally and online! There's 60 acres of la...
This 3-bedroom, 2 bath country home features many new upgrades and is exceptionally well maintained! It's privately located on 8.59 acres, and borders hundreds of acres of County land, has direct access to the snowmobile and ATV trails and across from Little Pine Lake offers the Pine Lake Boat landing a short distance way. There is a new metal roof, a large attached garage plus a heated workshop and fantastic...Listed by CENTURY 21 PIERCE REALTY - MERCER
MOTIVATED SELLER! Will consider land contract. Beautiful 23 acre parcel with 695' of frontage on deep water Hiawatha Lake. Driveway leads into the property, electricity is 250' from lot line, and there are numerous choice building spots nestled within the mature, diverse forest. Explore the woods or hunt on hundreds of acres of adjacent public land. Privacy, room to spread out, beautiful woods, and abundant f...
Outstanding investment opportunity in the area's busiest location. This 6,720 square foot plaza encompasses 5 units with an eye doctor/eyeglass store, insurance agency, dentist, mental health counseling office and the ever-popular Angelo's pizza (also available for purchase). Built in 1997 and meticulously maintained, the building is in excellent condition and brings in $4950/month in rents. A great investmen...
REDUCED-TURN KEY LIKE BRAND NEW: this 3br/2ba yr round condominium home offers practically zero maintenance, top quality finishes, & plenty of room for the whole family. Top choice as a family retreat, cozy year around home, or a weekly rental investment! Completely renovated in 2013, this home features new "Fox Block" insulated ICF foundation, impressive stone fireplace, new chimney, new flooring, Furnace, C...
Buying or Selling? Let's Do it Right!
Customers and Clients Come First!
Best Seller Service in the Northwoods!
Simply the Best Buying Experience!
What to Expect When Selling
(by Jim Mulleady, Jr)
When you are considering selling your home or vacant parcel, there are several steps in the process. Sometimes one can speed things up by bypassing some of the steps. Sometimes there are additional steps that must be inserted. This piece is meant to be a brief overview of the steps and what one may expect when selling your property.
1. The first step is the simple question, “Do you wish to sell?”. I know that seems oddly simplistic but I have had several sellers change their mind after going through the process of researching, pricing and listing. The biggest reason for changing one’s mind is family. Someone in the family objects to the sale or someone in the family wishes to purchase the property. I consider that a happy ending! I know it does not get me a commission, but this business is so much more than getting a check. When I see a family member stepping up and buying a property, I consider it a win for the family.
Stepping back a moment, most home sales begin with some sort of life event. That event may be a marriage, divorce, the arrival of children, or children leaving the nest. The event could be something more dire: moving on to assisted living residences or death. In recreational property, it may be that the family is simply no longer using the property
My point here is that sellers should ask family members prior to
starting the process. There may be a
strong objection from a family member.
There may be a family member with the means to buy the property.
2. The second step is to
begin research on the property and the market.
In this Internet age, it is quite simple to obtain information. There are home valuation sites everywhere. You can also look at your home’s assessed
value or fair market value (FMV). While
you may not feel these values to be accurate, sometimes they are. In this market, I find the land values to be
reasonably accurate. The “improvement”
values can be wildly inaccurate. The
improvements are the home, garage, landscaping and other items that have been done
to the land.
Another place to go are the third party sites like Zillow and homes.com. I find these sites to not be useful in this
area. I do think these sites could be
useful in more urban/suburban environments.
The algorithms these sites use are complex and proprietary. What I suspect they look at is the value of
the land which they can pull off of the tax rolls. They also would look at the square footage of
the homes which in many areas is also available on the tax rolls (not here in
the Northwoods). They then look at the
price levels where that particular market has been selling. That is where the fun part is. It is trying to put a value on the price per
square foot without ever setting foot in the home. They do not know if you have granite
counters, Sub-Zero refrigerators, custom cabinets, or bamboo flooring.
Here in the Northwoods, it is even more complex. When you are looking at an area like
Waukesha, WI, you are better able to gauge values from a distance. Here in the Northwoods, the automated systems
are (thus far) unable to tell if you are on a lake or not. Imagine you have a lake home and the home
across the street from you is off water.
A Zillow Zestimate is not able to discern that the value of your land is
much higher for the lake lot than the off-water lot across the street. I suspect that they will one day. Right now, they will “average up” the
off-water home and “average down” the on-water home. This means that if you have a home on a lake
that may be worth $300,000 and the home across the street may be with $150,000,
the systems will try to average things out so the $300,000 home may show up in
the $250,000 range and the $150,000 home may show up in the $225,000 range. The system is making the assumption that the
land is somewhat equal.
The point of all this is that it is still better to get an
estimate from a human. That person could
be a REALTOR. That person could be an
appraiser. The REALTOR cannot put
together an appraisal (unless they are a licensed appraiser). The REALTOR can
put together something similar to an appraisal called a Market Analysis. Appraisers are licensed and are the only ones
who can create appraisals.
Both Market Analysis and appraisals use market data. Both use comparable active listings and
comparable sold listings (‘comps’ for short).
In slow markets, comps are sometimes are hard to find. Lenders really need comps. Without comps the person in charge of making
the call on the loan (the underwriter) is in a bind. They like to do a process call
“bracketing”. What that means is that
they like to get a comp priced both above and below the subject. Imagine a home on a lake and the offer is at
$250,000. The appraiser looks for comps
both above and below the $250,000 price.
The appraiser looks for both active and sold listings too. The sold listings have to be “fresh”
too. They cannot be older than 12 months
old. If they are older than that, the
comps are kicked out.
What happens if you have a $1M home and there are no comps above
$1M? That is a very difficult question
and one that the underwriters must grapple with all the time. There is no automatic in the lending business.
There are three basic ways to assign value to a home or
2. Cost Approach
3. Income Approach
The market approach is what we REALTORS use. The market approach uses comparable active
and comparable sold properties. The
market approach tries to determine the value by looking at these sold
properties and active listings.
The cost approach is what the insurers use. They will look at the square footage of a
home and assign a cost per sq. ft. The
cost per sq. ft. is essentially the replacement cost. It is influenced by building material and
labor costs. I like to think of it as if
the house burned down, what it would cost to replace it.
The income approach is not something we use much in residential
real estate. It is the preferred
approach for commercial properties though.
It is a good approach for rental property. If a home is bringing in $20,000/year in
income it may be worth up to $200,000 in value (even if it is in poor
Pricing is absolutely the most important decision one will
make The presentation of the home may
get you more money and may get the property sold quicker. However, nothing is more important that
pricing. The price WILL determine
how fast the home will sell. If you
price it too high, the market will take a look at it and move on. Consumers these days are very well educated. The Internet has given buyers all the tools
to determine if the price is good or if it is too high.
There are three different ways to price a home.
1. At Market Value
2. Above Market Value
3. Below Market Value
Market value is where you ask a REALTOR or an appraiser to put
together a value for the property. You
then price it at that level. If the home
is priced correctly, it should sell quickly!
Pricing above market value is another approach that is often
used. After one determines what the
value of the home is, they price it “slightly above” market value. After all, the buyer is going to negotiate
and try to bring the price down. If I
already have a “cushion” then I can get my price right? Not necessarily.
Another point here is that if you price above market value and
the market is declining, you really may be looking at a long time on the
market. If the market is on the rise,
eventually the market will overtake your price and you will sell. Many buyers look at days on market and steer
clear of properties that have been on the market for a while. Your home can be perceived as undesirable
because it has been on the market too long.
Pricing at market level is normally the way that most sellers
Why would anyone price below market? It seems crazy but it is a strategy. The theory is that the seller is trying to
start a bidding war. It is a successful
strategy if you have a high demand property that will gain a lot of
attention It is not a common strategy
here in the Northwoods. I have seen it
though. There was a cute but unfinished
log cabin on a small but clear water lake.
The privacy was terrific as it had 300’ of frontage and over 3
acres. I figured the market value to be
in the area of $250,000. The seller
listed it at $189,000. Of course I
quickly called several customers and shared the news of the bargain! After all it was November and no one was
paying close attention. The home had 19
offers on it and it sold for $240,000.
Yes, it was still less than my price opinion but it was close. It also closed very fast. The pricing below market value is what I call
the “feeding frenzy” approach.
REALTORS do try to determine the market value for a
property. They use tools like the
Multiple Listing Service and market knowledge to help find a solid number. It is easier to determine a market value in a
urban/suburban market than it is in the Northwoods. It is because the scarcity and diversity of
listings. How does one compare a home on
Lake Tomahawk vs. Mid Lake? Both are
lakes on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes?
Should they not be comparable?
Lake Tomahawk may command $4000 per front foot for lake frontage. Mid Lake will be much more modest. It may be around $1500 per front foot on Mid
Lake. Why? The old real estate adage of “location, location, location” is
till true. Why is land in Barrington
worth more than Elgin? It is the
location and ultimately the demand for that location. That is what makes it so hard to determine
price here in the Northwoods.
I will reiterate that a good agent can help you determine a good
starting price. It is up to the buyer and
seller to “seal the deal”. It is the
open market that ultimately determines the market value.
3. Decide to list with a
This is no small decision either.
Many folks underestimate the steps it takes to market and sell a home in
the Northwoods. Some items to consider:
1. Less than 35% of properties that are listed
actually sell. When compared with other
markets that is very, very low.
2. The time it takes to sell a property in the Northwoods is long. Our local MLS does not have a feature to calculate total days on market. I try to average and it comes out to just under 250 days. Why does it take so long? A lot of it has to do with the cyclical nature of Northwoods real estate. We do not sell many lake properties in the winter months. We sell a great deal (over 70%) of lake properties between July 1 and October 1.
3. Marketing no longer is putting a sign in the ground and putting it in the newspaper. Real Estate marketing has evolved from sign and newspaper ads to the Internet and now on to social media. Savvy real estate salespeople can target buyers by zip codes and interests. Imagine your home showing up on a persons’ Facebook feed somewhere in northern Illinois.
Many sellers decide who they wish to list with prior to speaking
with agents. There are so many agents
out there. There are so many things to
consider. Do I want the top producer? Maybe.
They must be good at what they do. The one downside is that they may be
quite busy. You may only be able to
speak to the assistants, not the top producer.
You may want the experienced person.
That may work well for you. The
one downside is that the experienced person may not be fluent with some of the
new technologies. That is quite
important these days. Sometimes the
younger agents are hungrier and more adept with technology. The downside with the younger agents is that
they may not be as experienced as other agents.
The Items I would consider when choosing an agent:
3. Negotiation Skills
4. Marketing Plan
5. Honesty and Integrity
Why in that order? I
really like to have someone who can predict what is going to happen next. That is where the experience comes in. If they have “been there, done that”, they
will know what to do and do their best to inform you.
The technology aspect has become a big deal. Websites are big but social media may
actually now be bigger. The agent and
the company’s ability to present your home in its best light can now be greatly
enhanced with technology. Video is now
the way to present.
Once you get an offer you want your person in your corner
fighting for every point. That is where
experience is key. Negotiation skills
can be the difference between getting a deal together or the parties walking
away. Rather than simply presenting
offers and counter offers, a good negotiator can see common ground and offer creative solutions to problems.
A marketing plan is very important aspect of real estate
marketing. A plan is the road map for
the sale of your home. It is a good
idea to know what comes next. Photos
first, MLS, signs, websites, social media, newspaper and magazines and then
what happens next. That is where the
marketing plan can tell you what happens next.
I think that honesty and integrity are critical. I am not wise enough to tell you how to
measure and/or judge that. The only
suggestion I can make is that I think you have to meet the person to judge the
honesty. One can read reviews and get a
sense of the person. I do believe that
meeting the person face-to-face is a very good way to get a feel for the
Before you interview possible agents, I would suggest looking at
their websites and social media sites.
You may see some significant differences! After you have done some online digging then I
would suggest talking to the agents and asking them what they will do to market
4. Preparing the Home For
This did not used to be a step.
It now is an important step. One
needs to make the home look irresistible to the buyers. Most sellers do not yet understand this.
It used to be that you simply put the home on the market. You may have vacuumed before a showing and
put the dishes away. These days one must
do more. I strongly suggest you
declutter. The plastic packing bins one
can obtain in many home and discount stores are terrific. I would start moving things in the basement
or garage. Anything that is
non-essential should go in the boxes.
Next I would paint. I
know, I know. “The buyers will just
paint over my paint.” Paint is
cheap. Paint can cover up many
shortcomings. I will add that paint can
mean the difference between selling and not selling. I will also add that paint can get you that
full price offer.
I have many theories on this.
My one theory is that buyers do not have imaginations. They see things as they are. They do not see things as they can
be. That is where paint comes in. They also watch more TV. They see the Property Brothers or Martha
Stewart. They want to buy those homes
that are showcases. Paint helps homes
look like a showcase.
Clean the carpets. Have a
professional come in and clean. It is
not that expensive. The professionals
have tools and can do a much better job than the rental units can. I do not know why but they can.
Remove smells. The
olfactory sense is one of the strongest senses.
I have had people turn around and leave the perfect home just because of
odor. If someone smokes, you may have to
go to extremes with odor eliminators like Ozonators. You may have to paint or remove carpet. If there are pets in the home, that is
OK. Have a non-pet owner come over and
give you an honest opinion. A big quote
here: “We cannot sell it if we can smell it”.
My last theory is quite simple.
The buyers simply want to enjoy life!
They do not want to paint and clean and move things around and take
stuff to the dump. They do not want to
open windows in January in an attempt to remove odors. They want to “sit on the
pier with a beer”. I think everyone can
relate to that. Do not underestimate the
process of preparing the home for sale.
4. Home on Market
You have cleaned, painted, moved stuff out, eliminated
odors. You are ready for the world!! Now
comes the fun part! The agent will
arrange for photos and measure things up.
They will then bring agents through the home. After that you are ready for potential buyers
to show up.
Here is where it gets hard. Be prepared for little or no notice to show the home. Buyers not only ask but expect to view homes immediately. They will expect to view homes at all hours of the day too. Here in the Northwoods it is made worse by the fact that most buyers are not from the area. We routinely get calls saying that “I wish to view the home tonight. I am heading for home tomorrow.” Now you can just say no to the viewing. The problem with that is that you never know if that person was THE BUYER or not. I would suggest that if you really need to sell quickly, you swallow your dignity and allow the no lead time showing. If you are not as pressed for time, politely state that perhaps they can set up a time the next time they are up north. Seriously, the last minute viewings often do not turn into things. However, I do not like missing any opportunities.
Next, you will then receive feedback. Some of the feedback is helpful. Some of the feedback is useless. REALTORS are masters of the vague
platitude. The agents are the ones that
are writing the feedback; not the buyers themselves. You will see things like “the home did not
work for them” or “did not like”. What
the heck does that mean? What does not
“work”? What exactly did they not
like? I personally get angry at this
lack of feedback. I go after the agents
and ask what exactly they did not like.
If there are 150 step to the lake and buyers have mobility issues, tell us! If the buyers have 6 kids and you have a 2
bedroom home, tell us! Once in a while
something interesting will come out. The
buyers need high speed internet for their jobs.
The buyers had a bad experience with LP gas and they want natural
gas. The buyers did not care for the
layout of the home. Those are legitimate
reasons to move on to the next home. A
home “not working” or “did not like” without additional rationale are not.
You will also get feedback that is harsh. Buyers will say things that are inaccurate,
untrue or simply not well thought out.
Remember buyers may not yet be familiar with the market here. Remember that buyers may see a 2 bedroom, 1
bath home on 5 acres with a perfect sand beach on the most desirable lake in
the Northwoods. They may think because
the home is modest that the price will be modest too. What most uneducated buyers do not realize is
that 5 acre lot with the sandy beach on the most desirable lake in the
Northwoods may be worth $400,000. The
home may only be worth $50K. This is
possibly the only area of the state (perhaps Lake Geneva and Door County) where
the land is often worth more than the improvements.
So you may get comments that the home is overpriced. Just remember that you did your homework back
in Step 2. The buyer may not have yet
done his homework.
5. Offers and Negotiating
All properties will get an offer.
Some will get more than one offer.
How do you respond? Hopefully you
priced the home well and you got an offer quickly. A fact about offers, pricing and offers. The shorter the time on market, the closer to
asking price you will see. Conversely,
the longer you have been on the market the lower the offer will come in. So there is a direct relationship between
pricing and days on market. The higher
the price vs. market value, the longer one can expect to be on the market. That is especially true on recreational
Think about recreational properties like we have here in the
Northwoods. These sorts of purchases use
“discretionary income”. These buyers do
not have to buy. They want to buy but
they do not “have” to buy. So they can
submit low offers and if they are countered or rejected, it is not the end of
the world. It is not a must.
Most of the time offers are presented formally. That means that they are in writing. You may or may not have been notified ahead
of time. The offers may just show up
unannounced. Sometimes offers are
informal. There is no right or wrong way
to draft an offer.
Once an offer is submitted you have 4 options. 1. Accept.
2. Reject. 3. Counter. 4. Ignore.
Ignore is not a very polite option. You may receive offers that you may consider
ridiculous. Legally, your agent must
present those offers (except if the Listing Agreement states that all offers
submitted below a certain point may not have to be presented).
Obviously if the offer is great in all cases you may wish to
consider accepting. Sometimes the first
offer is the best offer.
There are many elements to the offer. Price is very important but so are the terms
of the offer. If the financing is not
specified or the buyer has not been pre-approved, you may wish to hold off
accepting the offer until the buyer proves that they have the ability to obtain
a mortgage. There may be items included
that you do not wish to part with. The
closing date may be unacceptable. There
really are many parts to an offer. If the
buyer has proven his credit worthiness and the closing date is acceptable and
the buyer is not asking for more than what you can provide, then the offer
should be considered for acceptance.
One word of timeliness. I
have seen sellers wait a period of time before accepting. That can prove to be risky. I have seen buyers get “cold feet” while
sellers are deliberating. I do not think
it prudent to answer the same day but I also think it not polite to go for
several days. My strong preference would
be the next day if possible.
There are all sorts of delivery methods. These days most offers are delivered and
accepted electronically. In some cases,
e-delivery may not be possible. However,
if the parties have access to a computer or even a smart phone, it is possible
to sign electronically.
Delivery is very important with offers. Just signing an offer is not enough. The State of Wisconsin requires that copies
of the signed documents be delivered to the parties for the offer to be
binding. The copies can be sent via
computer, fax, US mail or personal delivery.
Methods of delivery are agreed upon in the Offer and do not
underestimate their importance.
Negotiating and Counter Offers
There is no right or wrong way
to negotiate. One can simply say
this is the price and that is what I want.
The other extreme is passing counter-offers (countering is now a verb)
back and forth. I have personally made
it to Counter #10. I am sure others have
made it more lengthy than that. There
are dozens of negotiating techniques in between as well.
A common negotiation tactic is what I term the “triangulation
method”. This is where a buyer looks at,
say, a $300,000 home. They really do not
wish to pay $300,000 but would pay $275,000.
So they offer $250,000 hoping the seller would “meet them in the
middle”. This may work for some
sellers. This may blow up in the buyers
face too. It depends on the motivation
on the seller. If the home is price
competitively, reducing the price $25,000 may be considered an insult. This could harm the way that the seller views
the seriousness of the buyer.
My own preference would be both parties present their
“sides”. A good negotiator will try to
find the common ground . He/she will
then try to see if there is room for compromise Most of the time these sorts of negotiations
are performed informally (verbally or via emails/texts). Sometimes these sorts of negotiations are
done formally with counter offers. That
is where we get multiple counter offers going back and forth.
A quick word about counter offers. Counter offers are technically a rejection of
the offer. That is important. Once one makes a counter offer, the original
offer or previous counter offer is rejected.
That gives the party the full right to walk away. The other point is that counter offers are
not cumulative. This means that if you
counter the price and ask for the boat lift in Counter 1 and the seller
counters your price but says nothing about the boat lift, the boat lift is not
included. The counter that is agreed
upon is the binding counter. Whatever is
included in that language of that counter is what is binding. So a word of caution when dealing with
counter offers. They can get confusing.
I hope that you will experience a special kind of counter offer
called a multiple counter offer. A
multiple counter offer is often used when there is more than one offer. If you have a property for sale and there are
multiple buyers and they make offers, your agent may suggest that you make a
multiple counter offer. This where you
draft a multiple counter offer and send it to all buyers. All buyers are then on notice that there are
multiple suitors for the property. A
unique feature of the multiple counter is that the seller signs it first. The buyer then can either sign it or counter
back with another counter offer or reject it.
The seller then would sign the multiple counter offer (or counter
offer). So the seller can make a counter
offer and it is not binding until the buyer signs it and the seller signs it again. The seller really holds all the cards in this
situation. One other feature of a
multiple counter offer is that the seller can offer a multiple counter offer
with different terms to each buyer. Why
would they do that? There may be logic
but I will put together an example.
Let’s say that a seller has a listing and is asking $300,000. There are two buyers. One offers $295,000 with no contingencies and
the other offers $300,000 with inspection and financing contingencies. The seller decides to counter back with $300,000
to the buyer with no contingencies and $305,000 to the buyer with inspection
and financing contingencies. The buyer
feels that the financing and inspection contingencies are worth $5000. Remember that the deal is not together until
the Buyer signs the counter and the Seller signs it as well. If both buyers sign their counters, then the
seller has to make the decision on which offer to go with.
I would also add a note on lenders. I have been hurt by “trusting” downstate and
out of state bankers. Buyers often have
friends and preferred bankers from their hometowns. i understand and respect that
relationship. However, downstate and out
of state lenders do not know the special circumstances that we have in the
area. The local lenders do.
The local lenders know about septic systems and wells. The local lenders know about rural fire
departments. The local lenders know
about lakefront. The local lenders know
about private roads, easements and roads with no road maintenance agreements. Out-of-area lenders do not know these
things. I know the out-of-area banks
will say that all lenders will have to deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
issues. The one thing I will counter
with is the local lenders know how to work with our unique issues.
I would not suggest that you outright ban all downstate
lenders. I would suggest that you work with your agent and ask the
buyer to address all of these issues at the beginning of negotiations and have
the lender prove that they are capable of getting past the well, septic,
private road, road maintenance questions and anything else in the offer. You may as well address them early rather
than be disappointed right before closing.
Working Through Contingencies
It is my opinion that we do real estate all wrong in the US. We go through the difficult process of
negotiating offers and counter offers and then finally….we have agreement. We have an accepted offer!! Woo hoo!
Time to crack open the champagne and celebrate!! Right!
Right? Perhaps but we still have
to work through contingencies. The
biggest contingencies are inspections and financing. I will start with inspections. Inspections are performed by the buyer. Unfortunately, home inspectors are paid to
find defects and they do find defects. I
have never seen a perfect home. Once
defects are uncovered, then we get to go back and negotiate again. To do that makes no sense. However it is the standard practice in real
estate. So, be prepared to do more
negotiation during the inspection process.
Next comes the financing contingency. The bank will order an appraisal. The appraiser will do another home inspection
and look at your well and systems. The
appraiser will also look at your offer and inspect those items contained in the
offer. If the home appraises for over
the agreed upon price, you are in good shape.
If it comes in less than the contract price, then it is time to go back
and renegotiate. Most of the time the
seller has to give in.
Let’s go back to our $300,000 sale. We decided to go with the higher dollar offer
with the financing contingency. We have an
accepted offer at $305,000. The appraisal comes in at $300,000. Oh no!
What happens now? Generally, the
buyer will ask the seller to concede the $5000 difference. If the seller does not concede the $5K, the
lender may balk at lending on the home.
The deal at that point falls apart.
There is one lesson you can learn from this example. Cash offers without financing contingencies
are very attractive and they are worth money.
How much? That is hard to
say. In this case it is definitely worth
more than $5K. In this case I would
estimate between $5K and $10K.
One other item regarding financing. There are huge differences in
types of loans. A 30-year conventional
loan is the industry standard. There are
FHA Loans and those are very difficult.
Homes have to have a number of items done or corrected to clear the FHA
bar. 30-Year conventional loans and FHA
Loans are the extremes. There are dozens
of programs in between. It is important
to understand that the loan specified in the offer could easily become a
problem. Pay attention to it.
Preparing for Closing
“When do I start packing?”
That question gets asked a lot.
In Wisconsin, occupancy typically happens at closing. When the seller gets the check, the buyer
gets the keys. The real question is what
happens if it does not close? I have
moved out. I have bought another
home. I have made numerous arrangements
and I am beyond the point of no return.
I wish I had the ability to see into the future. Unfortunately, I am not gifted with this
My own opinion on this is that you should start packing before
you put the home up for sale. Today’s
buyers are quite picky. They watch too
much HGTV and they expect every home to be perfect. That said, you should start moving what I
will call non-essential items out right away.
Old files, photos, tools can start to be packed and put in boxes and put
in the basement, garage or storage. It
is also an opportune time to “purge”. I
have moved many times myself and have helped move others. People accumulate “things”. It is time to let yourself free. I can tell you that I personally have been
accumulating things since I purchased my first home in 1986, I have moved 6 times since 1986. I still have accumulated ‘treasures”. I have started the purging process.
Clothing, furniture and essentials one really cannot do much
about. I would suggest waiting until you
get through the inspection process before you start packing more essential
Other things you should do preparing for closing are obtaining
mortgage information, trust information and obtain your previous title
policy. The old title policy can save
It is also a very good idea to ask your agent how financing is
going for the buyer. The longest lead
time item in financing is the appraisal.
Once you clear the appraisal hurdle (you do not get to see the appraisal
or even anything in it!) then you are not assured of closing but you are about
as close as one can be.
Closing used to be buyers, sellers, bankers, title company folks
and real estate agents all sitting around a table. Those types of closings still happen but they
are far less frequent. Most of the time there
is no “live” closing. Documents are now
signed and Notarized when the parties are available to do so. The documents are then express mailed back to
the title company. Once all of the
documents are received and the funds from the buyer arrive (normally by wire),
then the closing agent can “disperse” which is formally closing.