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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 46


by Connie Erickson
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A property which is for sale has three prices.................

1.    While your tax assessment may reflect the market value, after 30 years in the business, I have found that it usually does not.  The State works on updating your assessment value each and every day.  That is what the fair market value or the market value is on your tax bill.  Once again, it is not always accurate.  The State may not know any specifics regarding your home.

2.    Appraised value.  Again, after 30 years in the business, I have found some of the Door County Appraisers to be more accurate in value than the others.  Some appraisers have just recently started appraising in Door County and other appraisers have appraised for over 40 years.  While an appraisal is extremely important, and with a financed Transaction, it is a requirement, it may not reflect the true market value.  Talk with your REALTOR regarding appraised value.

3.    Market Value.  The definition is simply what a buyer is actually willing to pay for your property.  There is not an appraiser or REALTOR or your friend at church or your neighbor down the road who can really accurately tell you what the market value is for your home.  Certainly, the have an opinion, and that is all that it is.  Market Value is what the buyer is willing to pay.

4.    As a Seller, you have 100% control over pricing your home for success.  Work with a REALTOR who sells a lot of property and has a lot of experience in the Market.  That usually will enable you to position your property to sell.  

Why it is important to test for RADON

by Connie Erickson
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Over the last few years, I have been surprised to find out that Door County has the second highest concentration rate of RADON in the State of WI.  Because of that, we had a tradesman inspector, Gene Sunstrom, come and speak to our sales meeting this past week.

Gene can perform a RADON inspection along with his tradesman inspection for $120.  If you just order a RADON inspection from Gene, the cost is $180.

Recently I had a home with a RADON content higher that 4 pic.  The Buyer and Seller decided that we would retest, and the retest also showed an unacceptable level.  I learned in our sales meeting that Gene has found that retesting rarely comes in at a lower level.  To do a long term test, the kit must remain in the house for 90 days.

I also learned that a empty house will have a higher RADON count than a house that is currently inhabited.  Because we have so much limestone in Door County, the RADON, which is decomposing the uranium, has a tendency to move towards the cracked rock and seep into a person’s home.

Last year, 91,000 people died of lung cancer in the United States.  While it can’t be attributed only to RADON, in some cases, RADON is probably the reason for it.

Gene is equipped with testing kits which can provide the results of the test expeditiously, and also email them out quickly.  If the test results return at an unacceptable level, the cost of mitigation, usually, is $1,200 +/-.

Click here to see the high Radon areas in the State of WI, the RADON measurements by County and Zip Code (yellow indicates traces, blue indicated medium count, and red is the highest), a picture of from where the RADON comes, and a picture of the exterior pipe needed for the mitigation system to vent outside.

If you desire more information, or would like a RADON test, I highly recommend Gene Sunstrom.  You can request a RADON test on his Internet site at





by Connie Erickson
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The Door County Addendum A to the Offer to Purchase addresses the conformance or nonconformance of the well servicing the subject property.  The Addendum asks a WI licensed plumber to determine if the well is up to conformance at the time of installation.

If there are repairs or work that needs to be done to bring the well up to conformance, if is usually the Seller’s responsibility to have the plumber do that prior to a sale.

Many times, the nonconformance relates to the casing, which needs to be extended 12’’ above the ground.  Sometimes a new vermin proof cap is necessary to install.  There are other things that are necessary also, and if the plumber can perform the tasks, the well is brought up to conformance.

If it can’t be brought up to conformance, it is my understanding that it may continue to exist in its nonconforming state until the first time it must be repaired.  If the plumber visits the site, and he sees that the well cannot be repaired, the nonconformance must be reported and disclosed to the DNR.  At that time, the well may have to be abandoned and a new well dug.


by Connie Erickson
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The Door County Board of REALTORS recently published Door County First Quarter Market Statistics.  Door County Median Home Price through the month of March increased +27.1% from $158,000 in 2013 to $200,750 in 2014.  The Volume of Sales through the month of March decreased -58.0% from 28 sales in 2013 to 14 sales in 2014.
Door County Median Home Price Year to Date through the month of March increased +3.6% from $152,000 in 2013 to $157,500 in 2014.  The Volume of Sales for Year to Date through the month of March increased +6.0 % from 67 sales in 2013 to 71 sales in 2014.

These numbers reflect the entire Door County real estate market (Southern and Northern Door).  CLICK HERE TO SEE DETAILS INCLUDING DETAILS ON THE NORTHERN DOOR COUNTY MARKET!


Basic Septic and Soil Testing Information

by Connie Erickson
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When buying and selling rural Door County properties, it is a good idea to have a little background on private waste disposal systems.  Below are nine facts that I’d like to share with you:



  1.  A soil test is good forever.  However, you should always verify with the Door Sanitarian as the location is determined during the testing and if something (i.e.: garage) was put in or on the location suitable for the system, the soil test may need to be re-done.
  2. A Sanitary Permit is good for 2 years and if there are no changes, it can be renewed.
  3. TMC tanks are steel septic/holding tanks that were put in from 1970 – 1990.  These TMC tanks may fail sometimes within 5 to 7 years.  All steel tanks have a shore life expectancy.
  4. Holding Tanks cost about $5,000 to $8,000 to install.
  5. Even with the new 2000 rules, the County is still putting in 40 to 60 holding tanks per year.
  6. A new conventional septic system may cost somewhere around $7,500.
  7. An at-grade system should cost $8,000 to $10,000.
  8. A mound system should cost somewhere around $12,000 to $15,000.
  9. In order to retain a restrictive flow agreement, the waste disposal system needs to be installed no earlier than 1980.

Door County Septic System News

by Connie Erickson
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According to Connie’s conversation with John Teichler, Door County Sanitarian:

There are approximately 15,000 on site waste disposal systems in Door County.  Every three years a maintenance report form must be completed by a WI Licensed Plumber on all systems and submitted to the Door County Sanitarian’s office.

The Door County Sanitarian’s office is in the process of performing a complete inventory on all waste disposal systems in Door County and they are currently, approximately 86% finished with their review.  They anticipate being totally finished by October of 2015.  The Door County Sanitarian’s office has discovered, through the testing, that 30% in the entire comprehensive survey are failing.

In the mid 1900’s the installers stopped putting in steel treatment and holding tanks.  The TMC tanks (steal) are all failing.  Any holding tank which is 17 to 20 years old will most definitely fail the testing criteria.  Prior to 1974, a soil test will be necessary.  If a soil test is necessary on a property owner’s property, the Sanitarian’s department does alert the owner ahead of time.  Prior to 1967, ANY type of system was installed with no requirements for soil depth, soil suitability, or soil absorption.  With ANY type of system installed before 1967, the soil absorption system may not be suited for the soils on the property, and may be a failing on site system. 

I found it interesting that replacing “part of” the system is an option in some cases.  With some of the concrete tanks, primarily located in Southern Door, the center wall deteriorates and may collapse within 10 to 12 years.  For a cost of around $800, if discovered early on, these tanks can be repaired and the life span increased substantially.

John Teichtler also spoke about the plastic tanks which are currently being installed in greater than 48” depth of soil and Teichtler said that these tanks could last forever!!!

There are funds for septic replacement systems available for families with an income of $45,000 and less.  It is called the WI Fund Program and it is for those systems installed prior to July, 1978.  In seeking funds, you must be an owner who occupies the property for more than 51% of the year.  The reimbursement is really slow to arrive, so if you are thinking about this, you should call the Sanitarian’s office to begin the process soon.  Some funds are also available for small commercial properties.  

The basic red flags to watch for which may indicate of failing system are effluent ponding or effluent standing in the observation pipes.  Current approximate cost to replace waste disposal systems are as follows:

Holding tank:  $5,000 to $8,000 (blasting will be the determining factor here and can +/- $2,000 to $3,000).
Conventional:  $6,000 to $8,000.

Mound:  $15,000 (also depends on soil conditions).

In-ground pressurized system: $8,000 to $10,000.

​At-grade system: $10,000.

New Lending Rule Update!

by Connie Erickson
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As we promised in our last video BLOG about the January 10th changes effecting mortgage loans Laura Seefeldt, AVP Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer with JOHNSON BANK has provided me with the following update:

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the regulatory arm that is requiring changes to the way lenders underwrite, price and service mortgage loans.  Many of these changes will be invisible to the average mortgage consumer, as reputable lenders have always followed these guidelines as a general business practice.

The new requirements are referred to as ATR (Ability to Repay) and QM (Qualified Mortgage).  ATR means that lenders must document the consumer’s ability to pay back the loan.  REALLY!?  Again, reputable lenders have always done this.  Lenders can no longer originate low-doc or no-doc loans, nor can “teaser rates” be offered. 

Qualified Mortgages must meet the standard of income, assets and credit, established by the secondary market (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and FHA/VA).   Another change, but less impactful is that the fees to obtain the mortgage are capped at 3%.  (Laura Seefeldt has never done a loan with that many fees!!)  This rule will prevent mortgage brokers from padding their bottom line with excessive fees charged to borrowers.  Additionally, consumers must be provided with a copy of the property appraisal at least 3 days prior to closing.  Lastly, the appraiser must make notation if the subject property is suspicious of being flipped.  If so, there is a limitation on using “phantom value”.

For the most part, it’s business as usual at Johnson Bank and the new rules/regs will mostly impact the less than reputable lenders out there.  

Stupid Sellers? I think not!

by Connie Erickson
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Because I list an average of 79 to 134 Door County properties per year, many of my Door County real estate competitors tell sellers that the reason my property listings sell is because I under-price them.

Occasionally, when I'm on a listing appointment, I am fortunate to hear this objection verbalized by the potential client.  While there are several ways to deal with his statement, I have found that when I respond with, "Mr. Seller, I list an average of 79 - 134 Door County properties a year, and I have been the top Door County real estate salesperson, selling more real estate than anyone else in Door County each and every year for the past 25 plus years. So, I guess I just have stupid sellers!", there is a little nervous laughter in response and the potential client and I move forward.


You Have 100% Control Of Pricing Your Door County Property!

by Connie Erickson

The most common mistake is the sellers decide to test the waters by pricing their properties too high at the beginning.  This is particularly true in a second home market where many sellers never really have to sell and most buyers never really have to buy.  After a while on the market, the sellers begin to reduce their property until it eventually gets to a price that sells the property.

The good buyers are the buyers who are there at the time the property initially hits the market.  Those buyers are motivated buyers and they are waiting for something new to be listed because they want to buy.  If they reject the price, their first impression has been made and they discount the property.  Most sellers think the buyer will return to the property after the price has been reduced.  But in actuality, the buyer rarely will ever consider that over priced property again.

You have 100% control of your price, and you have the opportunity to make the best decision at the beginning, not during the middle of your marketing time or towards the end.

Every home has three prices:   “Tax Assessment”, “Appraised Value”, and “True Market Value”.

1.    Tax Assessment:  May or may not have something to do with the value of your property.   While your property is assessed annually and is based on assessing formulas, in Door County, I have found that the properties from 2009 through today, in most cases, are overvalued, and sellers are paying way too much in property taxes.

2.      Appraised Value:  If the buyer is not financing the purchase and paying cash, and is not requested an appraisal, this is not an issue.  However, I've found most cash paying buyers want a current appraisal to make sure the value is there, and if there is financing involved, the lender will require one.  If an Offer is received with an appraisal contingency and your property does not appraise out, the buyer may walk away from the deal.  If the buyer elects not to walk away, but requests a new purchase price based on the appraised value, and you agree, you may be able to keep the deal together.  From a buye'rs point of view, this is never a win situation and creates a bad taste in everyone’s mouth regardless of whether the transaction closes or not.

3.     True Market Value:  The uniqueness of Door County, particularly in Northern Door, usually means that there are not two houses which are the same.  I cannot stress the importance of choosing and selecting a Seasoned REALTOR.  After 30 years in this business, there is not too much I haven’t seen, and I have learned over these years that Door County real estate pricing is an art.  There are many factors which aid an educated REALTOR to give the seller accurate advice on pricing their property at market value.  Even then, the time on market is usually long, and the longer one spends on the market, the less you will receive in the long run. 

You have 100 % control over your price.  A smart seller will begin at #3 "True Market Value!


Home Buying Trends

by Connie Erickson
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According to the National Association of REALTORS, home buyers today want an affordable home that is convenient to work.   Balancing work and family is important (especially to Millennials).  So homes that offer a short commute to work are appealing.  In addition, the neighborhood is important as is the quality of school.  A recent survey by revealed that almost 45% of today’s buyers are willing to pay a premium for quality schools.

Another important aspect of a home is its ability to support the buyer’s lifestyle changes over a 15 year period.  Five years ago, buyers looked at staying in their home for 10 years, today they plan to stay 15 years.

Open floor plans with high ceilings are also big sellers.  Buyers want open spaces for entertaining and for quality time with friends and family (especially Gen Y’s).  High ceilings promote greater air circulation and provide for more natural light.

Energy efficiency is also high on the buyer’s list.  In a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, buyers that were surveyed said they prefer an energy-star rated home with energy-star rated appliances and windows.

Of course the above are national statistics and every market varies to some degree.  In Door County, we are primarily a vacation home market.  Schools and commute to work may not be high on our buyer’s list.  However, commute time from home to vacation home is important to many.   If you’re thinking about selling a Door County property, you can get the facts about what can make or break a sale of your Door County property here!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 46




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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