Madison WI Real Estate

Don't Lose the Right House in Madison WI's Tax Credit Race

Racing to meet the April 30 tax credit deadline

In your race to meet the Tax Credit April 30th deadline, take some tips from the Alvarado Group and plan your time well

Buying a house isn't always easy and as a Madison real estate professional I have always believed that the best approach in working with Buyers is to let them find a comfortable pace at which to guide them through the process. Everyone is different and every home buying process is different and that has worked great. Until now.

Now, we all have ONE date - April 30th!

If you have not written an offer yet, or if you are in an accepted offer but still getting through contingencies, here are quick home buying tips that you need to know today!

  • Don't fight time. Plan your time, be in control of your time and create time to make this happen. If you have to reschedule activities and push them into May, do it. Don't try and fit it all in. You will cause yourself unnecessary stress. Buying a home takes time. Take a day or two off from work. Once you find the right home, the negotiation process of offers, counter offers and amendments back and forth take time, inspections take time, meetings with your lender take time. Explain what is going on at work and get the flexibility you need to make good decisions through the process.
  • Write a solid offer. You've found the right house (phew!) and now it is time to submit an offer to the Seller. Before writing the offer it is important to know the market. If you've seen 10 homes and this home is the best for you because of the perfect yard and it's close to your work then it holds more value than those other 9 homes. Don't lose sight of that. There is competition out there, multiple offers are being submitted. If you are looking to submit a low ball offer because you want a 'deal' then it is time to consult with your agent. Know how many days the home has been on the market, have the Sellers rejected prior offers, is there a competing offer looming and have you analyzed the comparables? You don't want to leave money on the table. You're not going to write a full price offer on a home that has been on the market for 200 days. So what are you going to offer? Plan well. Work with your agent to create a strategy. And then make each move thoughtfully.
  • Understand the process. Yay! You have an accepted offer, you can relax. WAIT! STOP! This is when it heats up and you have more on the line. It is important to read through the offer with your agent so you understand what could go wrong and where there are potential problems throughout the process. Understand the inspection process so you aren't forced to submit a notice vs an amendment. And if you are going to submit a notice, understand what the consequences are and what your choices are. Don't let the contingency deadlines jeopardize your opportunity to buy. The contingencies are there to protect you, but they have the ability to do just the opposite.

Work closely with your agent and you can find the right house, negotiate a great offer and work through the process with as few problems as possible. Notice I didn't say with NO problems. There will be problems. But if managed properly, there won't be devastating problems.

Good luck!

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:, 608-251-6600. You can find us on Facebook too!

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.

4615 Treichel Street, Madison WI Home for Sale

4615 Treichel Street, Madison, WI

4615 Treichel Street, Madison, WI

Spacious floor plan is created with the living room, dining room and kitchen (with stainless steel appliances) all open with vaulted ceilings and great sunlight. The main floor also features the master bedroom with walkthrough full bathroom and a deck off the dining area.

The lower level area has 2 bedrooms and large bathroom, great storage in laundry room. You'll love sitting on the back deck enjoying the huge soccer field in your backyard. Very updated & neutrally decorated home. This is not a short sale or a foreclosure, just a motivated Seller! Washer and dryer included.

  • 3 Bdrms, 2 Baths, 1440 Sq.Ft.
  • 5 years new, 2 car garage

For current price and more photos, click here.

Home & Area Information

  • Mechanicals and appliances are all 6 years new
  • 5 minute drive to Beltline/12 minutes to downtown
  • Home backs up to William McFarland Park
  • Washer and dryer included in sale
  • Twin Oaks Homeowners Association yearly fee of $120

School Information

Glendale Elementary Sennett Middle School LaFollette High School

For a private tour or more information on this home and its availability, please contact or 608.438.4315.

JUST SOLD! 1309 Carpenter Street - Madison, WI Home

Congratulations on your new Madison home! Congratulations to the new owners of a great Madison 3 BR home on the east side!

3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, 1400 total finished sq. ft. 2 car attached garage. 12 years old.

Gorgeous landscaping that is easy to take care of and an interior that is incredibly well maintained and updated. Beautiful porcelain tiles throughout the kitchen, dining & living rooms are highlighted by vaulted ceilings and natural sunlight. Three bedrms upstairs & a rec room (with new flooring) in lower level and a newly finished 1/2 bath & laundry room. Extra R54 insulation increases energy efficiency. The garden/yard is certified by the National Wildlife Federation and is truly amazing!

1309 Carpenter Street - Madison, WI

This home was listed for $182,900 and sold for $173,000 in July of 2010. If you are thinking of buying or selling, call the Alvarado team today, 608.251.6600 or email

Looking for a Madison WI EcoBroker®?

EcoBrokers in Madison WIOur mission is to facilitate the process of selling and buying a home with a positively exceptional experience; to create peace of mind for our clients during a stressful process; to strengthen our local community by embracing the passion for a more sustainable world and a healthier planet through awareness, education and inspiration. 

That means we are charged with educating ourselves so we can carry out our mission of educating others. All of our team members have additional certifications and education that helps them be the very best. We've found that the EcoBroker® Courses are incredibly helpful and have brought amazing resources to our team. EcoBroker®  is an education and certification program for real estate professionals who care about the environment and see the value in promoting energy-efficient and green features in homes and buildings. Certified EcoBrokers® meet the Buyer and Seller demand for real estate professionals with the real understanding of the issues that drive current market decisions.

We Promote Healthier, Cost-Effective, and Green Practices in Real Estate.

How we help Buyers:

  • Help you understand energy efficiency and the costs or savings associated with energy-efficient building components and we know more about indoor air quality and healthy environments.
  • Consider building orientation and natural landscaping features that can make your new home more efficient.
  • Find homes with green features. We understand the certifications a home should have and we can also help you certify your new home or get an energy audit.

How we help Sellers:

  • Differentiate your Listing from all the others. We have a unique marketing program specifically available to homes that qualify. There are a growing number of green-minded consumers and we ensure maximum exposure to this targeted market.
  • Communicate the energy cost savings and health benefits of your home. This helps you get the best price for your property.
  • Properly highlight features of your home.  This includes building orientation, landscaping features, energy saving mechanicals, additional items included like rain barrels, composts, etc.

What makes us a Green Company, Locally Owned in Madison WI:

  • It is who we are and the values we all share & wish to share with others. It is how we live on a personal level and we are blessed to be able to blend that into our professional world.
  • It is how our company operates. From the green and efficient work space we've created to our office practices and systems to the message we communicate with our clients and within the real estate industry. View our Eco Friendly Work Space Slide Show.
  • It is the knowledge and training we have and are constantly seeking. It is our commitment to share information in an attempt to inspire awareness and create change within the real estate market.
  • Read the featured article here. Marketing the benefits of green real estate in Madison WI

    It is our way of making a difference for the future of our planet.  

We are proud that everyone on our team has either the EcoBroker® or the GREEN designation. And we will continue to push the limits within the real estate industry and with how we operate our company to ensure a sustainable workplace environment.


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 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.

2550 Hoard St, Madison WI Bungalow with Green Features

A Madison WI Green Home for Sale! And a garden lovers heaven! The time, love & dedication that has gone into the landscaping makes this sweet bungalow a special find. And if you value energy efficiency and green features, check out the solar hot water system, rain barrel and the low utility bills! Interior features: laminate floors, spacious layout, newer windows. Exterior features: new siding, built in patio firepit, amazing garden and more! The backyard borders a city park & bike path! Sit on the front 3 season porch and escape into your retreat home.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

2550 Hoard Street has 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1155 sq. ft and a 1 car garage attached. For the current price, click here.

Property Updates and Features

- New toilet 2010 - Replaced sink, faucet & disposal 2007 - Solar hot water heater panels and system installed in 2005 - Gas water heater New 2001 - New stainless steel siding 2005 with lifetime warranty - Windows replaced in 2005 (Living Room, 1999) - Refrigerator replaced in 2003 - Laminate wood flooring installed 2001 - Roof replaced in 1999 - Washer & dryer 1998 - Great edible landscaping includes: Raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, apple tree, blueberries, strawberries, mulberries, currants, lingon berries, josten berries, elderberries, perennials and more! - Tile work by Red Rose Mosaics - Backyard patio features high efficiency fire pit surrounded by gardens and borders the city bike path and park - UHP warranty included in sale (value $425)

Neighborhood Information

- Walk to area restaurants, shopping, grocery stores, Walgreen's - Walk to famous Ella's Deli - East commute access to Downtown or Aberg to Stoughton Rd. - Close to the bike path, bus routs and parks - Family friendly, quiet neighborhood - Visit the Hawthorne Library on E. Washington - Minutes from Downtown, Capitol & Beltline - Walkscore of 68 (pretty good!) at

2550 Hoard Street School Information

Emerson Elementary Sherman Middle School East High School

For a private tour or more information on this home and its availability, please contact or 608.438.4315.

1 N. Strathfield Circle, Madison WI Short Sale

Wonderful floor plan, warm colors & a great lot with fenced yard & beautiful mature trees makes this home stand out from the rest. You'll love the updates like newer windows, updated bathrooms, new furnace in 2006 & more. First floor family room w/stone fireplace, formal dining room & the upstairs master bdrm has a walk through bathroom. Lower level: newer egress window adds additional sunlight & full bath, great for guests! Vibrant community of Wexford Village, parks, walking/biking trails, close to shopping! And for more information about short sales...if you are a buyer and if you are a seller.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

- 3 Bedroom, + office, 2.5 Bathrooms, 2,051 Sq Ft - Main floor family room with wood burning fireplace - Great fenced backyard with patio - Lower level has private bathroom, great for guests! For additional information and price, click here.

Property Features

- Furnace new in 2006 - Refrigerator new in 2008 - Newer windows (date unknown, but not original) - Fan in master bedroom newly installed in 2010 - Sump pump in basement, seller has never had water problems - Water softener recently serviced, good condition - Fireplace has not been used by current owners

Wexford Village Neighborhood Information

- Enjoy several nearby parks, including Blackhawk, Junction Ridge, Mineral Point, Kettle Pond, Everglade and more - Great shopping, restaurants and entertainment at nearby Sauk Point Square, Stonefield Glen and West Towne mall - The High Point Swim Club is a few short miles away - Local Wexford Village neighborhood association sponsors a variety of events and activities all year around. - Wexford organizes its very own baseball and soccer leagues! Please check out more details at the Wexford Village website.

1 N. Strathfield Circle School Information

Stephens Elementary Jefferson Middle School Memorial High School

This home is a short sale. The Alvarado Real Estate Group has team members that can assist you in learning more about short sales as a buyer or as a seller. Please contact us for a private tour or more information on short sales and the buying or 608.438.4315.

4817 Anniversary Lane, Madison WI Condo For Sale

Madison Foreclosure | Anniversary Ln

4817 Anniversary Lane, Madison WI condo for sale

Stop Renting! This spacious and sunny townhome is brought to you affordably courtesy of the Madison Community Land Trust. Watch the sun pour in the patio doors and highlight your vaulted ceilings. Enjoy your open living room/dining room/kitchen concept layout with a guest bathroom conveniently located downstairs. Up the open staircase you will find 3 spacious bedrooms and a full bathroom. City of Madison down payment assistance is available. Buyers must meet income qualifications. This condo is in pre-foreclosure. More details about the short sale / foreclosure process for Buyers can be found on our website. Our check out this blog post about the top 10 factors to look for in purchasing a Madison Foreclosure.

3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, 1,300 sq. ft. Built in 1998, 1 car garage attached

View current price and more photos - click here!

Contact a team member for a showing or call 608.251.6600 or email:

Buying a Foreclosed Home in Madison WI? Here are top problem areas to look out for...

Madison WI Foreclosures

Today's Madison WI real estate landscape offers some great buys for savvy real estate consumers, especially when it comes to foreclosure properties. Unfortunately, even though there are already a large number of foreclosures on the market, analysts are predicting that yet another wave of distressed properties will crop up in the coming months.

As a local Madison area Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), I've consulted with many clients seeking to capitalize on a foreclosure purchase. I always advise them, however, to weigh the pros and cons. While a foreclosure could represent your best chance to get a great deal, make sure you educate yourself about the potential pitfalls of purchasing a distressed property in advance - and what correcting those pitfalls might cost. In most cases, it's not so much about what damage occurred but rather the source of the damage and how long before the problem was addressed.

Here are the top 10 signs that may indicate trouble in a foreclosed home:

  1. Unheated house in winter months. If the home has been properly winterized, there's no need for heat. But if the home has not been properly winterized, pipes will burst and cause water damage.
  2. Missing sinks, toilets and other fixtures. Make sure they've been properly removed and not ripped from walls and floors.
  3. Peeling, bubbling and discolored paint; swelling in walls or ceilings (especially around kitchens and bathrooms), or a musty odor all indicate water damage and, potentially, the presence of moisture and mold.
  4. Fungus growth inside cabinets, behind drawers and built-ins. Fungus could mean that there has been water damage. Since water falls down, look for the source above the mold.
  5. Blocked drains or pipes will cause future problems and may have already created sewage backups.
  6. Black cobwebs, greasy gray residue on walls and/or a strong oily odor. This could point to potential soot damage or a malfunctioning furnace.
  7. An older home with extensive renovations. Check with the city for pulled permits in order to get remolding details. If asbestos is present and has been disturbed, be sure it's been remediated by a certified specialist.
  8. Excessive painting of every nook, cranny, door and floor may mean that the seller is covering up mold.
  9. Discolored subflooring. From the basement, check the subflooring above for stains and small holes, both caused by mold.
  10. Air quality. The air quality within a home tells a lot about the home's condition. Be sure to include air and surface testing in your home inspection. It's a few hundred dollars well spent.

Please keep in mind that not only are there potential issues with the condition of a foreclosed property, but each foreclosure property is sold subject to restrictions of record which are unknown to the Sheriff and subject to any unpaid taxes and water bills or assessments. One of our favorite resources is the Dane County Foreclosure website.

There are indeed many great opportunities in today's market, but proper education and preparation are essential to making the right investment. Please call 608.251.6600 or email us for further information and be sure to forward this article to others who might be considering a foreclosure purchase.

Search all foreclosure homes in the Madison area.

Just Sold! 4752 Secret Garden Drive, Madison WI

4752 Secret Garden Drive, MadisonThis gorgeous and almost new home with custom built features like extra large windows, sound system & amazing backyard was recently sold by Sara Alvarado. The activity was strong and the interest was high but it took longer than anticipated and sold for a lot less than it was purchased for in 2005 due to depreciation in the area. These Sellers did all the right things to create a well staged and showing ready home and that made a big difference and they were thrilled to get a SOLD sign in the front yard.

Very well maintained Energy Star home features an open kitchen, eating area, sliding doors to back deck, formal dining room (currently tv room), bright living room w/cathedral ceilings. Upstairs features 3 bdrms + loft area office (could be family play area). Master features large bathrm, walk in closet, vaulted ceilings. Main floor laundry room. Best yet...McFarland Schools! Just 10 minutes to the Beltline.

- 3 BR, 2 full BA, 1 half BA, 1997 Sq.Ft. - 2 car garage attached, full unfinished basement - List price: $269,900 - Sold price: $255,000

Contact us to learn more about Getting Your Home Sold with the Alvarado Real Estate Group.

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop - FREE in Madison WI

Madison WI Foreclosure and Short SalesFREE Foreclosure Prevention Workshop for any homeowner who is concerned about the affordability of their mortgage. As foreclosure and short sale experts in the real estate world, our team talks to a lot of people who are concerned with their ability to continue to pay their mortgage. Whether their adjustable rate mortgages are coming due or someone in the home has recently lost a job or a divorce is causing financial stress; there are many reasons that a looming foreclosure is a reality. Our website has great information as you start to understand what your options are and there are great local organizations that are here to help too.

Madison WI Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

Monday, September 20th 6-8pm and Monday, September 27th 6-8pm *MUST ATTEND BOTH NIGHTS

Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa Street, Madison WI Click here for the map.

This two part workshop is hosted by the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and is designed to educate homeowners about options for their mortgages including loan modifications:

  • Learn about programs to help you manage your mortgage.
  • Leave with tools and resources to help you make informed decisions.
  • Small group conversation with housing counselor, attorney, real estate agent, financial educator.

Please contact Ellen Bernards, 608-576-8658, to register. Registration is not required but recommended. And visit the Dane County Foreclosure website: or contact Carlos Alvarado at 608-438-6757 or

World Car Free Day Event in Madison WI

Car Free Day in Madison WI

photo by World Car Free Network

As Realtors that make house calls and show homes to our clients it can be hard to be car free (although Darcy is regularly spotted biking to appointments) but it is a part of daily habit to think about ways to reduce our use of cars as much as possible. We also see first hand that people are also changing the way they think about their car use as we meet with clients that are choosing the location of their next home based on their ability to be a one car family and watch them figure out if a home they like is really in a walkable neighborhood or not. So join us in celebrating World Car Free Day here in Madison WI!   

Madison Events Information

World Car Free Day Event - September 22nd 5:00-6:30pm

Join Mayor Dave on a walk around the Capitol followed by a meet and greet where everyone will be invited to share their alternative transportation stories and win alternative transportation PRIZES provided by Machinery Row Bicycles, Planet Bike and Community Car!

5-5:30pm Walk around the capitol starting at the north end of the square by Hamilton Street

5:30-6:30 Meet and Greet on the sidewalk in front of The Old Fashioned

Mayor Dave will be speaking and light refreshments will be provided by Willy Street Co-op.

This is a fun way to celebrate all you do to help make this a better planet, to stay healthy and to connect with like minded friends.

Remodeling your Madison Home? New Lead Regulations You Need to Know About

Painting your Madison HomeWhile we're all aware of the health risks posed by lead, you might not realize that even common renovation projects can be hazardous in terms of lead. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), activities like sanding, cutting and demolition can create dangerous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to both adults and children.

As Madison WI Realtors, we are committed to keeping our clients informed on current regulations pertaining to home safety issues and ways to keep your home healthy. To protect against the lead risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, as of April 22, 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978 must be EPA certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. That means that when you are checking out our list of preferred vendors in the Madison area, it is important to ask the right questions.

Home Remodeling Tips

If you are embarking on a home-improvement project, be sure to use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

Make sure that your renovators employ the following practices - and you, too, if you're a do-it-yourselfer:

  • Contain the work area
  • Minimize dust
  • Clean up thoroughly

According to the EPA, to permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough. For other tips on painting the interior of your home read this great article from This Old House website (who we can also thank for the photo!).

For more information on the dangers of lead and the new regulations regarding remodeling, please visit, or email us directly at I encourage you to pass this important information along to anyone you know who might be renovating their home soon.

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, 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 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!

1953 Sachtjen Street, Madison WI Home For Sale

Madison Northside Neighborhood Home for sale

Madison Northside Neighborhood

This sunny 2 bedroom ranch used to be a 3 bedroom until a smart homeowner changed the 3rd bedroom into a beautiful dining room that connects to the kitchen and opens up the floor plan dramatically. Living room features a large window that brings in great sunshine and warmth. Hardwood floors and a wood burning fireplace add great character but one of the BEST features is the amazing & fenced backyard & screened porch. Best lot in the neighborhood!

Madison Northside Property Features

  • 2 BR, 1 BA, 1140 sq. ft.
  • Beautiful hardwood floors
  • Large screened porch
  • Huge fenced backyard
  • Close to Warner Park

View current price and more photos - click here!

- Kitchen updates in 2009 include: solid surface counters, installed in 2009, new dishwasher, 2009, new stove/oven, 2009, sink and faucet new in 2009 - Washer and dryer new in 2006 - Brick wood burning fireplace in good condition - All hardwood floors were refinished in 2005 - Roof is approximately 10 years old (2000) - Huge completely fenced yard with large screen porch off garage - Window coverings are newer and negotiable - Furnace & water heater are 18 yrs old (remember there is a one year home warranty included!) - Central air and water softener are approx 12 years old - Drain tiles and sump pump were installed by previous owner. No water in basement!

Neighborhood Information, Madison's Popular Northside

- Enjoy the famous Rhythm and Booms 4th of July fireworks that takes place annually just blocks away at Warner Park - Just a short walk to Madison Mallards Minor League baseball games - Great shopping, restaurants and local stores nearby too! - Close to busline & easy commute downtown, minutes to airport - Take advantage of the Warner Park dog park, Lake Mendota, and the Warner Park boat launch - Vibrant and active Sherman Neighborhood Association offers many neighborhood opportunities: Annual Potluck Dinner, Earth Day Cleanup, Flower Weekend, Neighborhood Garage Sale, December Holiday Party! - Northside Town Center and Northgate shopping centers create a truly walkable neighborhood.

Madison School District Information for 1953 Sachtjen Street

Mendota Elementary School Sherman Middle School East High School

Contact a team member for a showing, call 608.251.6600 or email:

Parade for the Planet and Sustainability Fair in Madison WI on 10/10/10

Madison's Parade News from Alvarado GroupMadison WI Event & Parade Info

Join us for the first annual Parade for the Planet and Sustainability Fair

12-4pm, Sunday, October 10, 2010 - State Street, Madison, Wisconsin

This parade is for you if you...

  • Have worked to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Are concerned about climate change
  • Want to send a message to our leaders to enact policies reducing our use of carbon fuels
  • Want to join with people across the globe to save our planet

Students, congregations, businesses, agencies, non-profits, neighborhoods, and families throughout the Madison area have already been taking many creative and determined steps to lower our carbon emissions.  We invite you to join the Parade! Organize a delegation from your group to celebrate your efforts and ask our leaders to increase theirs. Help us build a movement to stop climate change

Please contact Nathan Gorst at or visit the event website:

About is a global movement to stop climate change. Local members are organizing the Parade and Fair as part of the Global Work Party being held by on 10/10/10. (Read our mission statement.) Over the weekend of 10-10-10, citizens around the world will complete work projects and celebrate in their communities to show concern for the planet. Our government leaders will take note of the many ways we are all working to reduce our carbon emissions. Leaders will be encouraged to increase their own efforts to create policies and programs that will reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million or less. Find out more about the Global Work Party at

Madison's Green Realtors

Alvarado Real Estate Group is committed to creating awareness and inspiring change for greener homes and living. As trained EcoBrokers we help our homebuyer clients understand homes from an energy and health related perspective as we tour and guide through the decision making process and we help our Seller clients differentiate their home from the competion. We also give our clients Green Home Care Packages when they move into their new homes and do our best to promote ways to create a more energy efficient and healthy living space for their families and for the planet. And as a local and independent Madison WI business we are able to create business policies and office standards with our values at the forefront. Whether it is saving paper, conserving energy or making decisions about our office space and furniture - we are committed to being innovative in every aspect of our business.

2909 Foxwood Trail, Madison WI Home For Sale

Enjoy the suburban life on a cul de sac with the added bonus of being 7 minutes to all the urban amenities of downtown, the lakes, the bike paths and more. This home has a great yard, 2 stories (feels larger than the square footage) and an unfinished lower level with a walkout. Main floor offers a 1/2 bath, newer bamboo flooring and a dining room that opens to the back deck. Master bedroom has a walkthrough full bathroom and all new carpet throughout. UHP one year home warranty included.

Property Features

  • 3 BR, 1.5 BA, 1,352 SqFt
  • Huge backyard
  • Bamboo Flooring, New Carpet

For additional information, including price, click here.

Madison Neighborhood Information

Madison School District Information for Foxwood Trail

Contact a team member for a showing, call 608.251.6600 or email:

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 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.