First Time Home Buyers

JUST LISTED and OPEN HOUSE Sunday, October 2 11-1: 3553 Heather Crest, Madison

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3553 Heather Crest, Sunset Village in Madison, WI  $250,000

The “Lustron” home is an enameled steel prefabricated house that was immensely popular and highly promoted post World War II. A piece of history. Think outside the box because this is not your typical 3 bedroom home. The low maintenance design has stood the test of time. The historical value of these homes has been promoted and maintained through a strong online community. This community offers ideas and tips for new ways to enhance, redecorate and maintain your Lustron home. The space is efficient and the location is absolutely perfect. Enjoy an actual neighborhood with a city feel. You can walk to restaurants, book stores, grocery stores, coffee shops, ice cream shops, bagel store, yoga studio and all the shopping you could dream.

  • 3 BR, 1 BA,
  • 1217 Sq. Ft.
  • Immaculate interior and exterior
  • Excellent storage
  • For current price and more photos,  click here:   http://bit.ly/2dp74RP

Property Features and Updates

  • Bathroom remodel, 2015
  • New Windows, 2015
  • New floors in Living room, Hall and Den, 2015
  • New custom Gutters, 2015
  • New Pellet Stove Fireplace, 2015
  • New Washer and Dryer, 2015
  • New Fenced backyard, 2015
  • New 1 ½ car garage, 2013 and insulated, 2015
  • New water heater, 2014
  • New entry and dining room tile, 2013
  • New Storage Shed, 2009
  • New carpeting, 2007
  • New stainless steel dishwasher, refrigerator and stove, 2007
  • Complete bath remodel, 2007
  • Complete kitchen remodel with wine refrigerator and Corian® counters, 2003
  • New Furnace, 2004

Sunset Village Neighborhood Information

  • Walk Score 79 (Very Walkable) and Bike Score 97 (Bikers Paradise)  www.walkscore.com
  • Walking distance to Hoyt, Quarry, Oscar Rennebohm and Lucia Crest Parks
  • Close to many restaurants, shopping, library and local attractions
  • Minutes from Downtown, UW Campus, Capitol Square and Beltline

School District Information

 

This home is marketed by Brett Larson of the The Alvarado Real Estate Group. For a showing of this home or to discuss selling your home, please contact Brett Larson today at 608-575-4123, or brett@thealvaradogroup.com.

 

Five Things to Look For in a New Neighborhood

So you’re on the home-buying market. Congratulations! Madison is a great place to live. Even so, you’re probably already overwhelmed by decisions: Wood or brick? One- or two-story? Carpet or parquet flooring?

And that’s not even including one of the most important factors in any new home-purchase: location, location, location. It might not be everything, but it’s almost everything. It will determine your commute, change your social life, shape your children’s education, and affect a host of other aspects in your life.

You probably have your own list of things to look for when looking for your new abode. But if you want a bit more guidance as you do research, we at ABODO have put together a handy checklist of things to look for (and avoid) as you examine possible settings for your new house. You will also learn more when you meet with your Realtor for a buyer consultation.

1.  School Districts

If you don’t have children and don’t plan on having them, skip to the next item. But if you have a family — or think you might have one within the next few years — school districts should be a major component in your neighborhood choices. There is a full list of Madison and surrounding schools with information here and other sites like, niche k12 offer testing statistics, user reviews, and contact information for hundreds of thousands of schools nationwide — public, private, and charter. It might be a good idea to schedule a tour, or attend an open house, so you can get an idea of how your child (or potential child) might fit in with the culture and educational philosophy. Here’s a map of Madison’s public school districts. You might also find the annual report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction helpful. It collects data — test scores, AP enrollment, graduation rates — for public schools in Wisconsin, so you can compare schools across districts and cities.

2. Property Taxes

You’ll be paying taxes on your house and the land it sits on, so it’s a good idea to know the general tax rate in the neighborhood you’re investigating, and what it gets you. If you’re in the market for a particular property, it’s easy to find the value of the house and attendant land up for purchase. Just visit the Madison Assessor website and use this handy search tool: You type in an address, and the Assessor will give you the value of the property, the amount of recent taxes paid, and a host of other details about the property and area. You can even see how recently the roof of your potential home has been replaced.

3. Neighborhood Parks

Local parks — state, county, or city — provide health benefits and recreational opportunities beyond your backyard. Plus, studies show that nature sojourns are linked to lower blood pressure, reduced obesity rates, and mitigated pollution effects. Fortunately, Madison is loaded with parks and biking trails — it’s repeatedly named one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation due to its expansive system of off-road trails.

Scope out the local parks and what they offer, such as tennis courts, basketball courts, grills, or beaches. Also, do a little research into which local parks often host festivals or concerts throughout the year. Armed with that information, you can decide how close — or far — you want to live to these events.

4. Safety Concerns

To check up on the crime rate in your potential future neighborhood, visit NeighborhoodScout.com to get a general sense of where crime is happening, CrimeReports.com for a map of that labels types of offenses as well as trends, or FamilyWatchdog.us for a map and details of nearby sex offenders.

5. Eye Test

This neighborhood measure is the easiest to research: just take a look around and see how you feel. Does it feel like you and your family would enjoy living here and walking around? Is the location close to what is important to you? If you value privacy and large lots but also want to live close to downtown, you might have to decide on how important the commute is to you vs the yard size. Location and neighborhood are important factors and makes the difference in a house feeling like a home. It’s a simple test, and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

JUST SOLD! 6111 Bridge Road by April Johnson

Congratulations to Beth and Brian on the purchase of their first home! Sounds like there is soon to be one lucky dog for that awesome fenced in yard!

JUST SOLD! 6111 Bridge Road in Monona, WI on February 22, 2016 for $204,000. 

3 Bedroom, 1.5 Bathroom - 1694 Square Feet - Great layout!

 

Sold by April Johnson of The Alvarado Real Estate Group. She is an expert working with buyers and brings great knowledge, experience and patience to the process. Feel free to contact April Johnson today at 608.358.7481 or april@thealvaradogroup.com.

 

6914 Old Sauk Court - Madison Condo for Sale

6914 Old Sauk Court

Beautiful and spacious. This second floor condo sparkles with great updates, natural sunlight, white trim, neutral colors, and features a fantastic master bedroom bathroom. The living room is spacious with fireplace, built in bookshelves and huge south facing windows. Great layout, two full bathrooms, large closets. Roof new '11, flooring new '07, washer new '11, furnace '06, windows '10. Other features: stacked washer/dryer in the unit and private garage with extra storage. Enjoy the park like setting yet close to everything!

  • 2 BR, 2 BA, 932 Sq.Ft.
  • 1-car garage
  • For current price and more information, click here

 

Condo Features

  • Unit is in the Wyndemere Condo Association
  • Spacious living room with fireplace and south-facing windows
  • Private, in-unit stackable washer & dryer
  • Fantastic private master suite with full bath
  • One-car garage is included
  • New roof and gutters in 2011; siding in 2009
  • New washer in 2011
  • New kitchen flooring and carpet in 2007
  • Condo dues are $177 per month
  • Included in condo dues: condo management expenses, snow removal, common area maintenance & insurance, reserve fund

 

Neighborhood Information

  • Many neighborhood features including Odana Hills Golf Course, Woodland Hills & Wexford Parks, High Point Swim Club and High Point Church.
  • On bus line for easy access to all of Madison
  • Only minutes to shopping at West Towne & Westgate Malls
  • 10 minutes to the UW Campus
  • 15 minutes to downtown Madison

 

School District Information for 6914 Old Sauk Court

Sara Alvarado, The Alvarado Real Estate GroupThis home is marketed by Sara Alvarado, Broker / Listing Specialist - The Alvarado Real Estate Group. For a showing of this home or to discuss selling your home, please contact Sara at 608.438.5005, or sara@thealvaradogroup.com.

M&I Bank is offering a unique Neighborhood Home Loan Program

M&I, soon to be BMO Harris Bank, is offering another fantastic financing option called the Neighborhood Home Loan Program (NHLP), which is a 30 year, fixed-rate loan with as little as 3% down with NO PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE! Potential clients would also be able to receive a $1,600 closing cost credit from M&I Bank if they open a Portfolio Checking account and establish auto-pay for their new mortgage.

Typically, NHLP is an income restricted program, however, there is no income restriction when utilizing the program for the purchase of a home in a "low" or "moderate" income census tract (defined by the Federal Government based on census data). This program can be used on owner-occupied single family homes, duplexes (with 5% minimum down), or condos that meet Freddie Mac guidelines.

NHLP loans can also be utilized by borrowers buying a property in Dane County who make under $65,500 gross annual income. Borrowers under this income limit can use this program to purchase owner-occupied homes that are not located in "low" or "moderate" income census tracts. These borrowers buying outside of a "low" or "moderate" income census tract would be eligible to receive a $1,100 closing cost credit from M&I if they open a Portfolio Checking account us and establish auto-pay for their new mortgage.

With interest rates still at or near historic lows, coupled with this lending option, you really shouldn't wait to make a move. Get into a new home before the holidays!

Where are the homes for sale that qualify for this great program? Call Carlos Alvarado today to find out. Or if you'd like to speak to our preferred M&I Bank lender about this program, please contact David Clem at 608.231.5675 or david.clem@micorp.com or visit www.bmoharris.com/dclem to apply online today.

JUST SOLD! Charming Monona Home

1011 Birch Haven Circle, Monona

 

Aaron was looking for an agent to get to know him and really listen to what he was looking for in a home. He had a lot of questions when he sat down with Adrienne Sella for a buyer consultation so they could discuss the details of what he wanted to find in a home and the right location. After fine tuning the results of his search there were only two homes that fit what Aaron was looking for. This is the fun part - they went out to see both homes, wrote an offer on the best one in Monona, got it accepted, successfully negotiated through the contingencies and closed within 30 days!

They could have spent weeks driving around, looking at houses that weren't right for Aaron but we all know that time is hard to come by in today's busy world. Finding the right house isn't just about looking at what is out there...it is about taking the time to talk about what is important, having a Realtor that knows how to listen, knows the market and what is realistic and helping their client focus and understand on how the process works.

Before you start looking for your next home...find the right Realtor. It will make a difference.

JUST SOLD! Alvarado Real Estate Group

JUST SOLD! 4310 Sentinel Pass, Madison WI

JUST SOLD - 4310 Sentinel PassAfter many months we are happy to congratulate the Rodriquez/Zuniga family on the purchase of the FIRST home! During a time that has proven challenging in the lending industry Carlos Alvarado and Dave Clem at M&I Bank worked hard to help this family buy a home that they loved and that would cater to their big family dinners, great parties and that place they can call home.

4310 Sentinel Pass is just south of the beltline off of Seminole Highway and features four bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,908 square feet. On the market for 41 days it was listed for $219,900 and sold for $200,000 in July 2011.

Thinking about buying a house? Check out our buyer tips and contac Carlos Alvarado for a consultation today, 608.438.6757, carlos@thealvaradogroup.com!

Wisconsin VA Home Loans

  Moving with your Military Family 

Military families are well aware of how tiring it can be to move often. With military installations scattered across the country, these families get to see a number of great cities; however, finding a place to call home delivers a good feeling and living in the Midwest provides a central location, so military families are never too far from friends and family. Madison, WI serves as a great place for service members and veterans to call home and can be a very affordable option, especially when they use a VA loan to finance their home.

The VA loan program, created in 1944, is unmatched in the benefits it provides to service members and veterans. Unlike any conventional loan, VA loans in Wisconsin allow qualified homebuyers to finance 100 percent of a home purchase without paying anything down. Any conventional home financing option comes with a down payment, some as high as 20 percent, which cuts into the purchaser's savings. VA loans also offer a high loan limit in Wisconsin, which means homebuyers can fully finance their home up to $417,000 without putting a penny down.

Conventional loans' monthly payments can be costly, in large part because of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This monthly charge does not exist in the VA Home Loan program, thereby reducing military homebuyers' payments each month. In addition to lowering the payment, VA loans offer negotiable interest rates. VA-certified lenders are happy to reduce interest rates on Wisconsin VA loans because the VA backs up to 25 percent of each loan. Other benefits to Wisconsin VA loans include:

  • No prepayment penalty
  • Lower closing and concession costs
  • Capped interest rates for active duty members
  • VA Streamline, a way to refinance and lower interest rates
  • More lenient qualifying standards than conventional loans

Eligibility depends on discharge and service history. Veterans with a dishonorable discharge are ineligible for a Wisconsin VA loan. Honorable or injury-related discharges are permissible. Military homebuyers who may qualify for a VA loan fit one of the descriptions below:

  • While on active duty, military members who served for 90 days during wartime or 181 days during peacetime.
  • Reservists and National Guard members who served for at least half a dozen years.
  • Active duty personnel who meet the service requirements above.
  • Spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or because of a service-connected injury.

Completing a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) is the first step in obtaining a Wisconsin VA loan. COEs are available through the VA or from a VA-certified lender. The latter is available to answer any questions about VA loans in Wisconsin.

Guest post by Matt Polsky with the www.vamortgagecenter.com and the www.vabenefitblog.com.

There are many lenders in the area that can help with your VA loan. Please check with your preferred lender to see if they can help or email Matt Polsky for more information at mpolsky@vamortgagecenter.com.

1022 Reinke Dr. - 3BR Madison Home For Sale

1022 Reinke Drive, Madison WI

Alvarado Real Estate Group presents this great new listing - a bright and sunny ranch has many great updates! Beautiful hardwood floors, bay window in living room, open and large kitchen area and a huge 3 season porch makes a great play area and the perfect place to eat most months of the year. Newly remodeled bath features double vanity, ceramic floors. Lower level has a large rec room, guest room (not a legal bedroom), and office area plus a 3/4 bathroom. Fenced yard includes play structure too! One year home warranty included.

1022 Reinke Drive Property Features and Updates

  • New vanity, lighting & tile floor in main floor bath in 2010
  • New shed in 2008
  • Added lower level guest room in 2008
  • New fence and play structure in 2007
  • Replaced refrigerator in 2006
  • Replaced washer and dryer in 2006
  • Replaced windows in 2005
  • Spacious living room with south-facing bay window
  • Hardwood floors in living room and all 3 bedrooms
  • Pre Home Inspection by Amerispec available upon request
  • One year home warranty offered (value $495)
  • Easy to add wood burning stove in lower level 

Northland Manor Neighborhood Information

  • Walking distance to Wheeler Heights, Sherman Village, Northland Manor, Lake View and Wheeler Road Parks
  • Walking distance to beautiful Cherokee Marsh
  • Walking distance to Lindbergh Elementary and Black Hawk Middle School
  • Close to many restaurants, shopping and local attraction
  • Visit the Lakeview Library on N. Sherman Ave.
  • Easy access to downtown

Madison School District Information for 1022 Reinke Drive

  • Lindbergh Elementary School
  • Black Hawk Middle School
  • East High School

Sara Alvarado, Real Estate Broker / OwnerThis condo listing is brought to you by Sara Alvarado, Broker/Owner. For more information about selling or buying please contact Sara, sara@thealvaradogroup.com, 608.438.5005.

SOLD! 6302 Mineral Point Rd #313 - Condo

Madison WI Condo for Sale

Wonderfully updated 2 bedroom in Marbella close to shopping & busline offers top floor unit, great natural sunlight, spacious open layout. Large living room with fireplace overlooks 3 season porch and wooded surroundings, kitchen features tile counters & classy backsplash, lots of light. Master bedroom with walk in closet, master bath. Updated glass & tile shower in 2nd bathroom. Laundry room across the hall. Unique condo assoc. offers a swimming pool, tennis courts, heated underground parking, clubhouse and lots more!

Marbella Condo #313 Features and Updates

  • Storage unit in building and basement
  • Screen porch
  • Large walk in closets
  • New carpet throughout
  • Remodeled bath with glass shower and tile
  • Natural sunlight from large 3 season porch
  • New backsplash and counters
  • Walk-in closet and master bathroom

Marbella Condo Association Features

  • Located in the midst of a private park
  • On the busline - easy access to downtown & UW campus
  • Clubhouse, heated pool and tennis courts
  • Heated, underground parking space included with unit
  • 40 additional outside parking spaces
  • Walking distance to shopping, restaurants and theatre
  • Walking distance to Mineral Point and Garner Parks
  • Condo fee of $296/month includes parking, hot water, water/sewer, management, trash removal, snow removal, common area insurance & maintenance, reserve fund, and recreational facility

Sara Alvarado, Real Estate Broker / OwnerThis condo listing is brought to you by Sara Alvarado, Broker/Owner. For more information about selling or buying please contact Sara, sara@thealvaradogroup.com, 608.438.5005. 

3553 Heather Crest, Madison WI 3 BR Home For Sale

3553 Heather Crest, Madison 3 BR

3553 Heather Crest, Madison WI

The Lustron home shows us that sustainable features are not just trendy today but have a history in these enameled steel prefabricated homes that were immensely popular and highly promoted from 1948 to 1950. Hang your pictures with magnets...think out of the box because this is not your typical 3 bedroom home. The space is efficient and the location is absolutely perfect. It is hard to find a 3 BR home with 1217 square feet in the Sunset Village area at this price! (Click here for current price and all photos).  Enjoy an actual neighborhood with a city feel.  You can walk to restaurants, book store, grocery stores, ice cream shops, coffee shops, bagels, yoga studio and all the shopping you could dream of.

  • 3 bedrooms, 1 bath
  • 1217 Sq. Ft.
  • Historic Lustron Home

Heather Crest Madison Property Features & Updates

  • New carpeting, 2007
  • New stainless steel dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, 2007
  • New doorknobs and deadbolts and baseboards throughout
  • New screen door
  • Complete bathroom remodel, 2007
  • Kitchen totally remodeled in 2003 and includes a built-in
  • wine refrigerator, Corian® counter tops
  • Storage shed new in 2009
  • Furnace new in 2004
  • Washer & Dryer replaced in 2002

Sunset Village Neighborhood Features

  • Walk Score 80 (Very Good) www.walkscore.com
  • Great Neighborhood Association, Sunset Village
  • Walking distance to Hoyt, Quarry, Oscar Rennebohm and Lucia Crest Parks
  • Visit the Sequoya Library on Tokay Blvd.
  • Close to many restaurants, shopping and local attractions
  • Minutes from Downtown, UW Campus, Capitol & Beltline

Madison School District Information for 3553 Heather Crest

For a showing of this great home please contact us by calling one of our team members at Alvarado Real Estate Group. 608-438-4315, info@thealvaradogroup.com.

It's all about the Down Payment in Madison's market!

Save for Down Payment to Buy a Madison WI Home For Sale

Saving for a Down Payment

While Madison WI's real estate market presents challenges for many, it still remains an optimal market for first time home buyers and investors. Reasonable home prices, a healthy inventory (search Madison homes here) and still low interest rates create a winning combination for those looking to make the leap from renter to owner. Many of the Alvarado Group's featured listings are a perfect fit for first time home buyers.

As a result of tightened lending standards, however, securing a healthy down payment is even more important than ever. The days of zero-down loan programs are a thing of the past and more money on the table upfront can mean a faster approval for your loan and, perhaps, a better rate.

While you should be sure to leave some cash reserves in place to handle unexpected costs associated with your new home, there are several steps you can take to start building a sizeable down payment. Here are some worthwhile suggestions:

Set up an automatic savings plan

Every financial advisor will tell you that when money comes directly out of your paycheck and into a savings account before you even receive it, you will hardly notice the difference. For most, this was money spent on mindless discretionary purchases, anyway, from a daily latte to random online shopping -- chances are, you won't miss it at all.

Sell something

You might have a high-ticket item in your possession that you really don't use or need -- perhaps a boat, motorcycle or even an extra big-screen T.V. Cashing in any collectibles or assets can free up funds to go directly into your down payment savings.

Liquidate investments

Liquidating stocks, mutual funds, savings bonds or other investments can also help. Cashing in any extra assets will only add to your growing down payment sum.

Look into government programs

Talk to your WI real estate agent or mortgage professional to see if you may qualify for a special home buyers program. For example, HUD's Good Neighbor Next Door program offers teachers, police officers, firefighters or other public servants extreme discounts on homes in certain neighborhoods.

Don't be afraid to ask

If there is an event coming up in your life that friends and family will most likely get you a gift for, don't be shy -- let people know you are saving to buy a home and would appreciate a check. Loved ones will be more than happy to contribute to this cause. If you're fortunate enough to receive a very sizeable gift, however, let your real estate agent know; lenders may want to know how your down payment was funded in order to make sure you can handle monthly mortgage payments on your own.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Please contact the Alvarado Group team for more detailed information about securing a down payment, and be sure to share these ideas with others (real estate tips via Twitter) you know who may soon be making the move to homeownership!

5315 Brody Dr., Madison WI Condo For Sale

Madison Westside Condo for Sale

5315 Brody Drive, Unit #103 in Madison

Easy living and your monthly payment will be less than rent! Alvarado Real Estate Group presents a great 1st floor condo with patio doors that open up to your own outdoor area (easy to let your dog out). This one bedroom condo has a flowing layout, lots of closets with a walkthrough to the bathroom. All appliances are 5 years new, great paint colors and a built in desk area in the front closet. Green living combines energy efficiency and space efficiency! Easy commute to the UW and Downtown and all the great things that the Madison area has to offer. 

For more photos and the most current price, visit the MLS data page.

  • 1 BR, 1 BA, 717 Sq. Ft.
  • Updated kitchen with newer appliances & countertops
  • 1 underground parking space included
  • Swimming pool and a wooded setting

Madison Condo Property Features

  • New roof in 2010
  • Fresh paint in 2006
  • Built-in desk area in 2006
  • All new appliances in 2005
  • New countertops in 2005

Westside Madison Neighborhood Features

  • Great wooded area surrounds the condo
  • Close to Middleton shopping & local restaurants (visit www.DaneBuyLocal.com).
  • Walking distance to Spring Harbor Park, Owen Conservation Park, and 6 other neighborhood parks
  • Visit the Sequoya Library on Tokay Blvd.
  • Close to many restaurants, shopping and local attractions and bike paths
  • Minutes from Downtown, UW & Beltline - great busline to the University available

For a showing of this condo or if you need any further information please contact Alvarado Group at 608-438-4315 or info@thealvaradogroup.com.

4904 Spaanem Ave. - 3 BR Madison Home For Sale


4904 Spaanem Ave., Madison WI

4904 Spaanem Ave., Madison WI



Alvarado Real Estate Group is marketing a new Madison area listing: this 3 bedroom ranch home at 4904 Spaanem Ave is on a spacious lot backing up to the Monona Golf course. Open floorplan, hardwood floors and natural sunlight. Enjoy a perfect backyard that is fenced, offers lot's of space and access to the golf course. The two car garage has new doors and siding! Remodeled lower level offers a 3/4 bath, guest room, rec room plus a lot of storage!

The front bay window in the living room creates beautiful natural sunlight. Kitchen is open to the dining room and features a built-in microwave, gas stove. Enjoy the proximity to parks, schools, shopping and easy access to beltline, downtown, and more!

One year home warranty included!

To view more photos and for the most current price - visit the Alvarado Group mls data page

  • 3 BR, 2 BA, 1540 Sq. Ft.
  • Newly remodeled lower level
  • Fenced yard, adjacent to golf course
  • Walking distance to parks and schools
  • 2-car garage

Property Features and Updates:

  • New dryer in 2009
  • New washer in 2008
  • Lower level remodeled with 3/4 bath and family room in 2008
  • New vinyl in lower level in 2008
  • Gas stove new in 2008
  • New garage siding in 2008
  • New garage door opener in 2008
  • New roof in 2006
  • New disposal in 2005
  • Newer windows throughout (age unknown - not original)

East Side Neighborhood Features:

  • Walking distance to Quaker, Stone Bridge, Lake Edge, Acewood, and Edna Taylor Conservation Parks
  • Walking distance to Nuestro Mundo/Frank Allis Elementary, Sennett Middle School, and La Follette High School
  • Golf the Monona Golf Course and use the backyard entrance for cross country skiing throughout the winter too
  • Visit the Pinney Library on Cottage Grove Rd.
  • Close to many restaurants, shopping and local attractions
  • Minutes from Downtown, Capitol & Beltline

Madison School District Information for 4904 Spaanem Ave.

For a showing of this home or if you need any further information please contact Alvarado Group at 608-438-4315 or info@thealvaradogroup.com.

Closing Day vs Moving Day - Madison Real Estate Insider Tip

New Homes Madison WI

keys to your new home

For those that are buying Wisconsin real estate now - there are IMPORTANT insider Buyers tips that you need to know about. It isn't as simple as shopping around for the best house, writing an offer, and then moving in. You need to know what neighborhood you want to live in, maybe research schools and understand Madison's short sale and foreclosure market. You need to learn about how market conditions locally will affect your negotiating position. It is crucial to understand the financing process and what the pre approval and loan commitment process means. We also will educate you on the inspection process and how the condition of the home can also affect your financing.

What about closing day vs moving day?

Here are the Top 3 Important Factors to Consider:

Pick a realistic and manageable closing date.

Don't assume you can change it later. Most likely your offer reads, "Closing shall be no later than ____" and there is a date in the blank spot. You can close earlier, although all parties need to agree but you can't close later. To close later you must amend the offer. To close earlier, you just need to coordinate schedules and it is not necessary to get an amendment signed by all parties. Sellers have complicated moving schedules as do Buyers so just remember that the closing day you write into the offer will most likely be the day you go to the title company for the closing if all goes well.

Consider Your Lender.

Your lender may be doing all they can to expedite the closing so it will happen quickly and in the timeframe you have agreed upon with the Seller. However, life is not as easy for lenders anymore either. The Buyers lender may be the cause of a delayed closing. It isn't abnormal for underwriters to ask for more documents even days before the scheduled closing date...which can postpone the closing date. Prepare for the worst and expect delays.

Your moving date should NOT be the same date as your closing date.

If you are the Seller, try to arrange to move out a couple of days prior to closing. You can even pre sign documents at a convenient day and time so that you are not rushed the day of closing. You may ask, "Where do I go if I can't get keys to my new house until I close on my current house?" There are a couple of creative ways to plan a different moving day from your closing day.

  • Negotiate a pre closing occupancy on the house you are buying. Now you have a couple of days to move into the next house before you actually close on it. Sometimes the Sellers won't allow this but may allow you to move your belongings into the garage. And this can be enough to create a smoother transition.
  • Stay with a family member or a friend. There are times that moving on the day of closing is what ends up happening. And that isn't the end of the world. It just takes a lot of planning and optimism.
  • Negotiate a post closing occupancy on the house you are selling. If the Buyers that are purchasing your home are in a lease and have until the end of the month to move out, it usually works out just fine to ask them if you can stay in your home a couple of days after the closing date to give you needed time to move into your new home and clean out the house you are selling. Many homebuyers are agreeable to this.

As a Homebuyer, my recommendation is to give yourself a 2 week buffer in planning your move. If you are negotiating a quick close and are hoping to close in 30 days, understand up front that there may be delays so don't plan to move on closing day. Don't order furniture or appliances to be delivered on or the day after closing. Don't arrange for the carpet replacement either. By assuming everything will go smoothly and you will close on time sets you up for frustration if there are delays. And the goal is to set yourself up for a smooth move - not a stressful one. If you give yourself additional time and things go well and you close on time, then you can move things up (and if not, then you wait). But it is easier to have extra time then to cancel and rearrange due to delays.

As a Seller it isn't as easy. There are risks in selling your home in any market, and especially in today's market. Again, there is a chance that something could go wrong the day before or the day of closing which would delay closing. As a Seller there isn't much you can do but prepare to move and continue with your moving plans. But if something goes wrong, it is smart to have backup plans. Make sure your Realtor continues to market your home. Negotiate a reasonable amount of earnest money so that if something goes wrong, you are compensated appropriately for the time and money lost.

Madison WI real estate is not what it once was.

I know I'm not telling you anything new. The media inundates us with a ridiculous amount of doom and gloom when it comes to the real estate market. It is all perspective. There are houses being sold. People need bigger, they need smaller and they are moving out of state. As long as couples continue to marry, and as long as children continue to grow and move on with their lives, there will be a need to move to a different space. There will always be someone that wants to move South or North...you get the picture right?

Sara Alvarado, real estate broker

keys to your new home

A buyer's market doesn't mean that you are out of luck if you have a house to sell. It just means that you may get a better deal on the house you are going to buy then make a ton of money on the house you have to sell. You could wait until the market turns around and then get more money for your current house and pay more for your next house. That is simplifying a decision that is based on many factors.

Please call Sara Alvarado at 608.438.5005 if you want to discuss whether now is the right time for you to buy and sell.

Mortgage Options for Madison's Homebuyers

Madison WI homebuyersWhile many great deals exist in today's real estate market in the Madison WI area, securing the optimal mortgage is a critical part of your home purchase decision.

Our team of Madison WI real estate professionals are well versed on the factors in many mortgage loan package that will determine whether or not you can afford the house you want to buy. A couple of years ago it was easy for many people to get a loan for a home and the question wasn't, "What are you pre-approved for?" it was, "What are you comfortable paying each month?" Because banks were approving borrowers for more than they were comfortable spending. Now things are different. The most important factors to take into consideration are: interest rate, points, mortgage type, closing costs and fees, and down payment and mortgage insurance. Here's a closer look at each:

  1. Interest Rate: The interest rate determines the amount of your monthly payment. Keep in mind that different lenders offer different interest rates, so it is important to shop around. Generally, a short-term or adjustable-rate loan will offer a lower interest rate because you agree to repay the lender more quickly or to pay fluctuating rates.
  2. Points: Points are fees charged by the lender to originate your loan. A point equals one percent of the total mortgage amount. Lenders will charge different numbers of points for different loans, so it is important to understand how many points a lender will be charging. For example, in some cases, lenders may advertise very low interest rates, but build a high point charge into the cost of issuing the loan, making the deal less valuable than a loan at a higher interest rate.
  3. Types of Mortgage Options:
    • Fixed Rate. On a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate does not change for the entire life of the loan.
    • Adjustable Rate. Adjustable rates, on the other hand, are interest rates that fluctuate based on market conditions. Since no one knows how the market will behave, they are riskier than fixed-rate loans. Over the life of the mortgage, you could end up paying more or less than you would have with a fixed-rate loan.
    • Balloon. The next common type of mortgage is a balloon payment loan. A balloon payment loan allows you to make relatively small monthly payments for an initial period, but requires a lump-sum payment toward the end of the term. These are risky to consider unless you are confident that you can either refinance the loan or sell the home at the end of the initial loan period.
  4. Closing Costs: Closing costs and fees are additional amounts that the buyer and seller must cover during the course of the mortgage loan transaction. They include items like credit report fees, appraisal fees, title search fees and title insurance.
  5. Down Payment and Mortgage Insurance: When searching for the right type of mortgage for you, the amount of your down payment, the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI) and other factors, such as whether you are a first-time home buyer, a teacher or a peace officer, will also affect your monthly mortgage payment.

A professional real estate agent, such as a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, or a trusted mortgage broker can help you decide what makes the best financial sense for you. Check out more home buying tips on our website where we also have a very handy mortgage calculator and a page of frequently asked questions from Buyers. Or simply contact us at 608.251.6600 or info@thealvaradogroup.com, we are happy to help!

Do you know what impacts your Credit Score? It's Quiz Time!

Understanding Credit Scores from Alvarado GroupTake the Alvarado Real Estate Group's monthly quiz and find out if you know what impacts your credit score: According to credit experts, 42% of U.S. consumers have credit scores between 550 and 699. As a result, these consumers typically don't qualify for preferred interest rates and, depending on their overall credit profile, they may not even qualify for certain loans and credit cards.

As a Madison WI Real Estate Broker, I have worked with many home buyers and sellers throughout my years in the business and have seen first-hand how credit scores can really upset the opportunity of securing a favorable mortgage. Most clients I work with don't have a clear picture of what impacts their credit profile and, more importantly, don't know what steps they can take to help improve it. I find this short quiz, from credit consultants ApprovalGuard.com, to be very helpful when it comes to understanding how your credit profile works.

1. To have the best credit-profile impact, what is the maximum amount of your monthly credit line that should be used?

a) 70% b) 30% c) 50%

2. What is the number-one contributing factor to a good credit score?

a) Length of credit history b) Amounts you owe c) Payment history

3. If you pay 2% each month on your credit card (typical minimum payment), when will you pay off a $3,000 balance at 10% interest?

a) 18 years b) 6 years c) 3 years

4. After paying off a high-interest credit card, you should:

a) Continue using it occasionally b) Close the account c) Use the full amount of available credit every month

5. Applying for credit cards in order to just receive a free sign-up gift (t-shirts, mugs, etc.) has no impact on my credit profile?

True or False

6. Rewards points on credit cards are a good deal when:

a) I get cash back b) I get free airline tickets c) I carry no balance each month

7. To have a credit score, I must have at least one creditor reporting activity on my credit report for:

a) 12 months b) 8 months c) 6 months

8. Credit bureaus that manage your personal credit report data and credit scores are a:

a) Government entity b) Non-profit agency c) Regular business corporation

9. Banks and credit card companies think you are creditworthy by how many credit offers you receive by mail?

True or False

10. Credit scores are used by lenders mainly to:

a) Tell how I compare to other consumers b) Tell if I make my payments on time c) Predict the likeliness that I will repay my loan on time

Answers: 1 - c, 2 - c, 3 - a, 4 - a, 5 - False, 6 - c, 7 - c, 8 - c, 9 - False, 10 - c

If you find you answered more than half of these questions wrong, you're not alone. ApprovalGuard says that the majority of consumers do not know the answers to these and similar types of questions. The good news is it's not too late. With a good understanding and proper guidance of how credit works, consumers can learn how to effectively manage their personal credit profile. For more information, you can email me at sara@thealvaradogroup.com and since I'm not a credit expert, I can connect you with the right person if I can't answer your question(s). Please feel free to forward this quiz to others.

From a local Madison WI perspective, credit discussions come up a lot in conversations about short sales and foreclosures. This is a hot topic because there are so many factors in understanding your best options if you are in financial distress. And I'll save that for another post so stay tuned!

Interest Rates Drop for WHEDA loans!

This just came through from WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing Economic Development Authority)

Thanks to a change in our underlying cost of funds, WHEDA effective immediately is substantially reducing the interest rates on its WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage suite of first mortgage products. The new rates are as follows:

WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage 4.95% WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage - Price Point 4.40% WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage - MI Choice 4.60% WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage - Low LTV 4.60%

WHEDA will reduce the interest rates accordingly on all loans that are currently locked but have not yet funded. Lenders will receive a revised Confirmation of Rate Lock. Rates are subject to change daily, so lenders should visit www.wheda.com periodically for the most up-to-date interest rates.

WHEDA issues mortgage revenue bonds (MRBs) to raise proceeds to fund its mortgage loans. Changes announced yesterday to the New Issue Bond Program (NIBP) by the U.S. Department of Treasury will effectively reduce the interest rate on MRBs WHEDA will issue through December 31, 2011, making this one-time decrease in interest rates possible. Under NIBP, the Treasury, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is investing in a portion of MRBs issued by state housing finance agencies (HFAs) in an attempt to lower borrowing costs for low-to-moderate income first-time home buyers as a means of increasing affordable housing lending activity nationwide.

Why did my Offer get Rejected?

The Frustrated Monkey Lost His Dream House

"I really wanted that house!"

I met with this woman a while ago to talk about selling her house because she wanted to buy a new one. She told me she didn't want a buyer's agent to help with the purchase of her next house, she just wanted someone to help her sell her house. She was pretty adamant about it so I didn't push it.

I ran into her yesterday and asked about the house she had wanted to buy and if that was going well. She said that someone else outbid her. She was really disappointed. I'm good with the perspective that everything happens for a reason. And even after I said that, she still had this look of, "but I really wanted that house."

I've seen this happen many times. The way it works is that a Seller agrees to pay a commission for the sale of their house. No matter who sells it. For example (and this is just an example), if the Seller agrees to a 6% commission and there is no other agent involved in the sale, the listing agent earns 6% of the sales price. If a Buyer's agent represents the buyer and helps them buy the home, the Listing agent gets 3% and the Buyer's agent gets 3%.

Many buyers that don't understand this think they can save 3% by not working with an agent. And that is what this woman did. She thought she would be fine on her own and so she hired an attorney to draft the offer.  As a Listing agent I receive a lot of offers to present to my Seller clients. You can quickly tell when an agent is experienced in the way they write their offer. As a Buyer client, this is something you just have to trust. You have to trust that the offer will be drafted in a way that not only protects you but puts you in the best position to get that house. You are writing the offer in hopes of getting it accepted right? So if you are writing the offer to get it accepted, make it a great offer. I love attorney's, don't misread this post. I love my attorney and I love working with attorney's. It brings a new challenge to the transaction. But just like you have to trust a Real Estate agent to write a great offer on your behalf, you have to trust the attorney to do the same.

I'm easily frustrated when I hear stories about buyers not getting the house they wanted and I just have to wonder what went wrong in the negotiating process. Of course, it isn't always the agents (or attorney's) ability to write a good offer because the terms of the offer are ultimately determined  by the Buyer. If the Buyer insists on writing the offer for 25% less than the asking price and they know there is another offer on the table, well then, hello?! The Buyer is not going to get that house.  

The way you negotiate an offer depends on a lot of things. It takes a professional to assess these things and recommend terms and verbiage that will protect you, the Buyer, and at the same time put you in the best position possible to get that offer accepted. It is called strategy.

What do we look at when we are strategizing?

Days on the market, Sellers motivation to sell (if we can find that out), how much they purchased the home for, how long the Sellers have owned it, analyzing the comparables, looking at the competition, taking into account the condition, features, unique aspects of the home, how many offers they've already received and finding out why they didn't get accepted. These are just some of the factors that go into creating a strategy on behalf of our Buyers.

Buying a home is as stressful as you make it. Take the right steps and you can avoid frustration, rejected offers, marital turmoil (seriously). If you are at the beginning stages, make sure to read the post called, Before you Start Touring Homes, and you'll set yourself up for success. And talk to a Realtor that you can trust and ask all the questions you have in the world. Because you aren't expected to know this stuff. As agents, we learn through experience. Even when we sell 100 homes a year, we are always learning. Take advantage of our experience. Join our team in buying your next house and if you still aren't sure, read what our clients have to say.

Before you start touring Madison WI homes for sale...

Alvarado Real Estate Group For Sale SignSometimes I get a call from a buyer that wants to go look at a home (one would hope that I would get calls like that!) and as I  ask some basic questions I quickly realize that this potential buyer is very early in their home buying process. Asking questions is the key to being an good Realtor and asking the right questions is the key to being an effective Realtor. Before you start calling around to request showings please consider the following in your process: 

- Research and gather information about neighborhoods and schools. Ask your friends and co-workers what they like and dislike about where they live to give you a clear picture of a neighborhoods features. And narrowing down your search based on a school district is important to your search too (if relevant). Don't wait until you fall in love with a home to then find out that the school district isn't good fit for your family. You can search homes in specific school districts on our website. This is also an important time to understand agency and the difference between a Buyer's Agent and a Seller's (or Listing) Agent and what that means in your search.

- Discuss and determine what you want beforehand - how many bedrooms, approximate square footage, preferred neighborhoods, energy efficient and green homes, and how much you can afford to spend. A buyer consultation (usually a no obligation appointment) is crucial to a successful search. One of the most common complaints is, "My Realtor showed me homes that weren't a good fit. S/he just didn't listen to my needs." And that is why this meeting is so important. Sitting down at a table with all parties openly talking ensures your Realtor will understand what is important to you in your next home.

- Make sure your credit report is accurate. There would be nothing worse than finding the perfect house and missing your chance to make an offer because there's an error on your credit history that places you in an unfavorable light with a lender.

- Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin looking at homes. Not only will this give you an exact price range for your purchase, but pre-approved will add muscle to your offer. This is when you can start conversations with lenders but don't feel like you have to work with the lender you get pre-approved with. There are a lot of great lenders out there with different programs that you'll want to understand clearly. And what you are pre-approved for isn't necessarily what you want to spend. Use our mortgage calculator to help you figure out what you're monthly payment will be.

- Keep in mind that there's no such thing as the "perfect" home. Instead, set priorities. Determine what may be more important on your list. For example you may want a 2 car garage in a specific area where many homes only have a one car garage. You may have to decide if the garage or the neighborhood is more important to you. Our team of buyer specialists are specially trained to help you with these decisions and give you important input on what will help you sell later too.

We can help and we want to help. Contact us to schedule a free and no obligation buyer consultation to see if we are a good fit for you: office@thealvaradogroup.com, 608-251-6600. You can find us on Facebook too!