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Connie Erickson


Displaying blog entries 781-790 of 797

Thanksgiving Day in Jacksonport

by Connie Erickson
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Bob and I had such a wonderful day on Thanksgiving Day; I wanted to share some of our day with you. We have a ritual that begins with breakfast at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. We then take a walk. This year we walked in Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park and Cave Point. It was spectacular! There has been so much moisture that liken has grown on the trees. The trees looked as if they were budding! Lake Michigan’s waves were huge and crashing on the shore.



After our walk, we went to the Jacksonport’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We have not missed one of their parades! Each year the parade gets a little larger, but it is still so short that the participants turn around and make another pass through town!


Crafty Ideas For Winter Curb Appeal

by Connie Erickson
google map to real pro systemsYes, it's still

possible to create

great curb appeal

when it's cold and

gray outside.


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

During summer months when gardens are in bloom and the sun is shining bright, curb appeal comes naturally to many homes. But when the autumn chill turns to winter cold and the sun sets earlier in the day, it becomes more difficult to create that inviting exterior look that grabs buyers from the curb.

Fortunately, it is possible to create striking winter curb appeal without expensive or complicated exterior changes, says Charlene Storozuk, a home stager and designer with Dezigner Digz in Burlington, Ontario—a city that averages 51 inches of snow per year. It just requires a little creativity.

She and other home-design experts offer these eight tips:

1. Add splashes of green and purple. Plants, grasses, and evergreens can liven up a home’s winter landscape. Experiment with tall grasses, such as fountain grasses, that survive harsh winters. And in late fall and early winter, plants from the cabbage family add a vibrant purple color. Make the front door the focal point with a large wreath adorned with a colorful ribbon. To finish the look, place large, colorful planters filled with evergreens beside the front door, suggests Elizabeth Lord, broker with Carolina Farms & Estates LLC in Rock Hill, S.C.

2. Give it seasonal sparkle. Transform an unused bird bath or fountain into a seasonal display by adding twigs with red berries. Or fill frost-resistant urns with twigs, winter greenery, and sparkly baubles (sold at most craft stores), Storozuk says. For extra sparkle, roll twigs in glitter and incorporate a gazing ball—a mirrored glass ball available in various colors—into the display.

3. Make the garden statuesque. Roman- or Greek-themed outdoor sculptures can add class and elegance to a garden in winter. Be sure to use frost-resistant statues so they don’t crack, Storozuk says. Place the statues strategically throughout the garden to draw buyers’ eyes around the outdoor space.

4. Light it bright. During the winter, it’s more likely that buyers will be viewing home after sunset. Use clear flood spotlights to focus on the home’s architectural features, Storozuk says. Keep exterior lighting fixtures at maximum wattage and clean them regularly. When snow covers the ground, Michele Thompson, broker-owner of White Fence Real Estate in Vevay, Ind., takes photos of listings at night with all of the interior lights on—the light bounces off the white snow to create a warm, inviting glow. For the best results, turn off the flash, and use a tripod to avoid blurring, she says.

5. Show off the lifestyle. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t use the deck. Shovel your backyard sitting area and leave your grill uncovered so buyers can envision themselves using the space, Storozuk says. If the home has a hot tub, leave that open and running during showings as well.

6. Make the deck an extension of the house. Set up your outdoor tables and chairs just as you would in warmer months. "Home owners often cover their furniture and place lawn objects haphazardly on the deck," says Kitty Schwartz, president and owner of Classic Home Staging in Katonah, N.Y. For added appeal, she adds a weatherproof cafe set with pillows that play off of interior accent colors. "Glancing out onto this type of vignette can make the indoor space feel larger and more interesting," she says.

7. Create a photo display of sunnier days. Show buyers what the outside of the home looks like during other seasons by displaying some landscape photos in frames or using a digital photo frame with a slide show of images. "This will give a sense of what the property looks like at other times of year," Storozuk says. If the home has a garden, make a list of what’s planted where. "Perennials can be expensive," she says, "so treat them as a selling feature."

8. Don’t forget to clear a path. If the ground is covered in snow, the simplest and most important thing you can do is shovel the driveway and sidewalks and keep the home’s patios and decks as clear as possible so buyers can get a sense of their true size.

Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online November 2010 with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

5 Steps to Obtaining a Mortgage

by Connie Erickson
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Today’s stricter lending environment means that processing a mortgage application is more complex than ever, given the number of steps that lenders, underwriters, and mortgage insurers must all complete before home buyers truly have their financing in place.

To help ensure the process goes smoother, you can also take steps of your own. It’s a good idea to discuss the process with me, I'm an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), even before shopping for homes. By planning ahead, you’ll be in a much better position to negotiate and move forward on a purchase—and avoid any unpleasant surprises regarding your mortgage.

Lenders and mortgage insurers look at a variety of factors, but the two most important are your monthly mortgage payment and your total debt loan, relative to your gross income. As a home buyer, it’s also important to consider additional expenses, beyond your mortgage payment, that can impact how much home you can afford. Depending on your situation, these other expenses could include property taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, home maintenance expenses, homeowner association fees, parking expenses, and utilities.

Deciding what type of mortgage is best for you depends on your personal situation, your financial scenario, and your future plans. For example, if your down payment isn’t large enough to qualify for a conventional loan, an FHA mortgage can be an excellent option. Alternately, you may qualify for an attractive program offered at the national or local level. Mortgage programs are always changing, so ask me about current options.

I can provide several recommendations, based on past home buyers’ experiences. Rates and fees are typically very competitive between lenders, so it’s often more important to focus on other factors including the level of service provided and how well they’ve executed transactions for other buyers. The type of mortgage you are seeking may also impact your choice of lender, since some are more familiar with certain mortgage programs than others.

Completing a loan application with one or more lenders will help confirm whether your intended mortgage financing plans will work out as hoped, or if you must modify your plans. It’s important to understand since pre-approvals are contingent upon the lender receiving full documentation; your pre-approval does not guarantee that you have a mortgage. Still, it’s an important first step that will also put you in a better negotiating position with sellers.

As soon as you are under contract to purchase a home, commit to working with one lender to complete your mortgage application. You will probably be charged a fee at this point because this is when the lender starts incurring processing expenses on your behalf. Show your lender that you are serious about working in partnership with them by submitting all the required documentation as quickly as possible.

Following these five steps will greatly improve your results in getting a mortgage. Count on me to provide more detailed information on each step on the process and answer any questions.

October 2010 Door County Real Estate Market Report

by Connie Erickson

Fall has been, and continues to be, very active….much more than in 2009. The one big difference between 2009 and 2010 is that I’ve not had one Buyer say to me: "I think I’ll wait", "The economy scares me", "I think my job may be in jeopardy." Quite the contrary, 2010 Buyers are buying because our prices have decreased somewhat and the interest rates are great.

To see the up to the minute stats on the market as of October 1, 2010 CLICK HERE.

Tell all your friends to visit my web site, regularly for up to date market information.

Rates Predicted to Stay Low

by Connie Erickson
google map to real pro systems

I spoke recently with my friend and lender, Laura Seefeldt of Johnson Bank and asked her if she’d write a guest column for my newsletter. If you are in a position to purchase, it is an excellent time. Laura predicts the rates to stay low. Did you know if the interest rate increases just 1%, you will pay 10% more for the property? Take a look at what Laura shares…………………..

I was recently in another meeting where we were talking about some upcoming changes that the Federal government is going to implement regarding the disclosure of costs and fees, interest rates, points, etc to the mortgage consumer. This comes on the heels of many previous changes in the structure, disclosure and underwriting of all mortgage loan applications. The government continues to require more and more disclosure to the consumer along with tighter underwriting standards and higher fees as it relates to loan to value (low down payments), credit score (above 740 is best), property type (condominiums and investment property) among many other factors.

So as I was thinking about how to reply to Connie’s request for a peek in the future and forecast into the remainder of 2010 and into 2011, I recalled this meeting along with the events of this past year believe we will continue to see the trend of tweaking and tightening the current regulations.

During this meeting we also discussed the direction of interest rates and were informed that Freddie Mac forecasts that mortgage rates will be in the 4.5% - 5.0% range over the next 3-6 months. However, much will depend on the continued willingness of the Chinese to purchase US Treasuries and the overall recovery of our economy which remains sluggish at best. Two factors that continue to drag the economy is jobs (unemployment at 9.6%) and home values. A total of 716,128 homes were seized from delinquent homeowners during the first 8 months of this year. That’s almost 3,000 a day!!

Further, in the US today there are 3 million job openings and 15 million unemployed. That’s 5 out of work Americans for every 1 job opening.

Laura Seefeldt

Door County Century Ride

by Connie Erickson

The Door County Century began in 1980 and has become one of Wisconsin's most popular rides. An average of 2,000 cyclists participate in the 30 mile, 50 mile, 70 mile, or 100 mile (Century) ride. The ride begins and ends at the Door County Fairgrounds, just north of Sturgeon Bay. Cyclists make their way from Sturgeon Bay progressively further up the peninsula. There are rest stops spaced along the way that provide food, refreshments, and rest room facilities.

This year's ride is on September 12, 2010, a time when the crowds of summer have departed and the rush of the Fall color season has not yet begun. Plus the weather is perfect! Door County is a cyclist's paradise. Scenic backroads blanket the peninsula and there's 300 miles of shoreline.

2nd Quarter 2010 Market Stats

by Connie Erickson
google map to real pro systems 

The second quarter market statistics are out for 2010. Comparing Northern Door County sales prices occurring during the second quarter 2010 vs. 2009, 2010 shows the following: Residential Waterfront up 17%, Residential Inland down 4%, Waterfront Land up 115%, Inland Land down 1%, Commercial up 367%, Residential Condominium down 16%, and Hotel Condominium down 37%. For up to date market information, you can always visit my web site.

Lenders Pulling 2nd Credit Report on Buyers

by Connie Erickson
google map to real pro systems 


Under Fannie Mae's new Loan Quality Initiative (LQI) that went into effect on June 1, 2010, lenders are pulling a second credit report on the buyer right before closing to verify that the buyer's credit status has not changed and that all debts were disclosed. In other words, the buyer is not officially approved for the mortgage until the second credit report is approved. The lender may also re-verify job status and check other sources to make sure there are no undisclosed debts.

Other lenders also have been known to pull second credit reports right before the closing, but the Fannie Mae LQI will likely cause many more lenders to conduct last-minute verifications.

What this means for buyers is that they are well advised to not make any major purchases or apply for new credit until after closing. For instance, applying for a new credit card may lower a buyer's credit score. Under the LQI, the lender could delay the closing, increase the interest rate or the down payment, or even cancel the closing, depending upon the actual change.

"It seems everywhere is requiring credit checks nowadays. Credit inquiries, although not a serious hit, still can reduce a credit score. I was setting up my utilities before closing, and each one of them requested a social security number and credit check to get utilities set-up. I refused to have them check my credit, and instead paid the cash deposit for setting up a new account. I get the deposit back in 4-6 months, and it prevented any dings to my credit before closing." -Scott MacCallum (recent home buyer)

Incredibly Low Interest Rates

by Connie Erickson
google map to real pro systems 

Jodi Kaye, a lender in Door County says she has money available at 3.99% for a 15 year and 4.55% on a 30 year loan.

If that rate increases 1%, you will pay 10% more for the property you buy. The time to buy is NOW, call me or email me to discuss.

Real Estate Provisions in 2010 Tax Relief Bill

by Connie Erickson

The following information was recently published in an article by the National Association of REALTORS:

Congress has passed and President Obama has signed legislation (HR 4853) that extends the Bush-era tax rates and a host of other expired and expiring provisions. The legislation is not "paid for," so there are no revenue raisers taken from real estate or other industry groups. The package provides temporary extensions of its numerous provisions. Some are retroactive, as well, so that the rules that had been in place previously will operate as if they had never expired.

Only the provisions that affect real estate investment and operations are included in this summary. The bill itself is vast, even though there are few expansions or cutbacks of previous or current law.

Capital Gains: The tax rate will remain 15% for assets sold or disposed of during 2011 and 2012. Depreciation recapture tax rates remain 25%. No new limitations are created for Section 1031 like-kind exchanges. The 15% rate is retained for dividends received during those years. Small investors with incomes in either the 10% or 15% brackets will have a capital gains and dividend tax rate of 0%.

Estate Tax: During 2010, the estate tax was repealed, but heirs who received assets from an estate were required to use a so-called "carryover basis" in determining the value of the assets they receive. Carryover basis is the amount that the original owner of the asset paid for it. Prior to 2010, the heirs had always received the asset with a "stepped-up basis." Carryover basis requires heirs to know when the decedent acquired his/her assets and at what price. Stepped-up basis measures the value of the asset at its fair market value at the time of the death. Carryover basis is astonishingly burdensome. "Basis" is the value used to determine gain/loss when the heir sells an inherited asset.

In 2009, the estate tax was in place with an exclusion of $3.5 million and a maximum tax rate of 45%. In 2010, there was no estate tax. Without Congressional action, the estate tax would have been revived in 2011 with an exclusion of only $1 million and a maximum rate of 55%. This legislation revives the estate tax as of January 1, 2010, with an exclusion of $5 million ($10 million for a couple) and a maximum rate of 35%. The executors and heirs of those who died during 2010 may elect to pay no estate tax, but the assets will be subject to the more burdensome carryover basis rules. That election will not be available for those who die after 2010. The $5 million exclusion and 35% rate will be effective through December 31, 2012.

Leasehold Improvements: The legislation renews the 15-year cost recovery period for leasehold improvements made between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011.

Bonus Depreciation:Assets with a cost recovery period of 20 years or less are eligible for 100% depreciation (expensing) in the year the assets is placed in service. This rule applies to all assets placed in service on or after September 8, 2010 and before January 1, 2012. Eligible assets placed in service during 2010 will qualify for a 50% bonus depreciation allowance.

Energy-efficient Existing Homes: The tax credit for homeowners who make specified energy-related improvements to existing homes was scheduled to expire December 31, 2010. It has been extended through December 31, 2011. The qualified investments include replacement windows, doors, or skylights, some roofing materials and some heating and cooling equipment. The amounts of the credit vary depending on the asset and its energy rating as determined by the Energy Star program. The standards for qualified property are tougher than they were in 2010, so homeowners will need to exercise great care in their acquisitions. The credit is available only for improvements to a principal residence and only if the improvement is original to the property and only if the property will last for at least 5 years. The credit is not available if the improvement is financed using any form of subsidized energy program.

Energy-efficient Buildings: Owners of commercial buildings may qualify for tax credits for investments in designated insulation, windows and roofing improvements. Improvements to the heating/air conditioning systems, water heaters and air circulation fans may also be eligible for the credit. As with the home improvement credits, these credits require compliance with a variety of energy efficiency standards. Investors should exercise great care in determining what assets will satisfy the given criteria. The improvements must be in place on or before December 31, 2011.

See: REAL ESTATE PROVISIONS IN THE 2010 TAX RELIEF BILL for a complete summary posted by the National Association of REALTORS.


Displaying blog entries 781-790 of 797




Contact Information

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Connie Erickson
Door County Realty, Inc.
Po Box 340 - 4027 Main Street
Fish Creek WI 54212
Office: 920-868-2075
Toll Free: 888-678-3949
Fax: 920-868-2425

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