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Beth Jaworski

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5 Tips For Buying a House in a Tight Market

by Beth Jaworski

You have probably read the headlines (and seen the Facebook & Twitter posts) so you already know that there are not a lot of homes for sale right now. At least not enough to keep up with current buyer demand. If you are considering selling your home, this is great news. If you want to buy a property right now, it is a little more troubling. Many buyers are currently getting a rude education through painful experience on how quickly the market can flip from a buyer's market to a seller's market. To ensure that you endure the least amount of pain possible, while successfully purchasing your new property in the current market, follow these 5 tips:

1.) Find the best buyer's agent for you. Notice I say for you. Interview more than one agent and find the one you feel most comfortable with. You want someone who knows the market where you will be buying, who will be honest with you and who has a good reputation among fellow agents. You also want an agent experienced in multiple offer situations and who will communicate with you in the method you prefer (text, email and/or phone). Lastly, they need to have a system in place to get you into new listings ASAP.

2.) Get a written pre-approval letter for the highest amount possible. Many lenders (and some agents) will tell you to get your pre-approval letter tailored to the property you want to purchase. Some loan officers do not even want to even put a dollar amount in your pre-approval letter and will just state that you are pre-approved to purchase that address. They will tell you this is for your benefit, but don't believe them! When multiple offers come in, they are often astoundingly similar. Sometimes the one thing that is different is that the first buyer  is pre-approved for a lot more than they will be borrowing & the other is only pre-approved for the amount they will need to borrow to buy the house. Guess which buyer gets the accepted offer?

3.) Drop everything to get to that new listing! This cannot be stressed enough. It will not always work, but sometimes simply being the first one in and the first one to submit an offer is what gets you the house. The minute you know there is a new listing you are interested in, you should schedule a showing with your agent.

4.) Make your offer as clean as possible. This is not the time to make the offer contingent on every test possible, nor is it the time to ask for closing cost credits or appliances the seller has not listed as included. For example, radon testing is a common contingency in my area, but not all buyers include one in their offer. To remedy high levels of radon, a mitigation system can be installed, usually for around $850. As a result, we see many buyers leaving this contingency out of their offer in a tight market, in hopes of gaining an advantage over any possible competing offers. (Of course the buyer then budgets $1,000 for radon testing and possible needed mitigation after closing).

5.) Put down as much earnest money as possible with the offer. We have all heard the expression, money talks. Sometimes it does! If you want it to speak for you, write a big earnest money check with your offer. Again, often competing offers are very similar and can be for the exact same price you offered. You don't want the only difference to be that the other buyer put down a nice earnest money deposit with their offer, and you did not. 

A great agent will have even more "tips and tricks" to get you the home you want. Please contact me if you would like to find out more. I love a challenge and have a great track record in multiple offer situations!

Property Tax Assessments - How to Contest Them

by Beth Jaworski

Many people grumble about their property tax bills, yet few do anything about them. One way to lower your tax bill is to get your property assessment lowered. As a property owner you always have the right to contest your assessment. I recently attended a panel made up of three local assessors: the chief assessor for the city of Milwaukee, an assessor from the city of Brookfield and an assessor from West Bend. It was very interesting to hear what they had to say. All three agreed that assessments are supposed to reflect market value. However, because the real estate market can move so quickly, both up and down, assessments rarely do reflect current market value. That can be okay however, as long as all of the assessments in the municipality are off by the same percentage. Uniformity is the goal. In other words, if all assessments in a municipality are 10% above market value, that's okay, as then all are paying taxes at the same ratio.

Often when you look at two comparable properties you find a large discrepancy in their assessed values however. That is a problem, as the owner with the larger assessment is paying more than their fair share. If you think your property is over assessed, it may well be worth your time to contest. If you are not sure of area market values, please contact me. I am happy to help and can supply recent sales in your area.

Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to contest each year (deadline varies by municipality) but the sooner you do so, the better. You will need to contact your local assessors office and follow their procedure. It usually involves filling out a form (in Wauwatosa it is called a "Request for Review" and is available online) and then allowing the assessor to walk through your property. This makes many homeowners nervous, but if you do not allow the assessor through the property, you lose the right to contest your assessment.

The walk through can actually be a good thing, as many times the municipality has inaccurate date for your property. For example, in 2011 I contested the assessments of two of the properties that I own. Turned out the city had a much larger living space listed in the attic of one than was actually there. The other property also had an error in the room count. Both assessments were lowered and as a result, I ended up paying about $1,700 less in property taxes at the end of the year. Well worth my time and effort! Hopefully you will enjoy the same results.

Tour the Christmas Fantasy House this Weekend!

by Beth Jaworski

If you are not familiar with the American Cancer Society (ACS) Christmas Fantasy House, you are missing out. Each year, local designers decorate a beautiful home and transform it into a "Christmas fantasy". The public is then able to tour it for a small fee, and the proceeds go to help fight childhood cancer. 

This all began in 1993 because of Loretta Thomson. She was a dedicated ACS volunteer who loved both Christmas and children. Loretta wanted to share her Christmas collection with others, but sadly died before she saw her wish come true. For the last 19 years however, her friends and family and the ACS have worked together to make her dream a beautiful tradition, raising over 1.5 million dollars so far.

Elm Grove is home to this year's Fantasy House. To get there however, you need to go to Bluemound Plaza at 15800 W. Bluemound Road in Brookfield. There you can park and take a shuttle bus to the home. The house is open for touring this weekend, Friday 11/11 from 11 am to 8 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, 11/12 and 11/13, from 10 am to 6 pm.

You will not believe your eyes as you go from one incredible room to another. The designers really do go all out and transform the house to a true wonderland. Be sure to plan on spending some extra time at the end of the tour in the lower level also. There you will find a sweet shop with lots of treats for sale, a memory tree, and a raffle sale with two rooms full of incredible gift baskets, decorated wreaths and trees, all donated and available to win.

My friends and I so enjoy touring the house every year, that this year we decided to also volunteer. Yesterday we worked the 11-2 pm shift and it was very rewarding to see the amount of people coming through. Imagine my surprise when the co-chair of the event told me that it will take 900 volunteers to run the house this year. If you enjoy touring the house this year, you may want to consider volunteering next year!

You can find out more information on the website, along with a preview of the (undecorated) house: http://tinyurl.com/d3xcaqw. Hope you can make it through this weekend. You will not be disappointed! 

 

The Milwaukee County Zoo - A Local Gem

by Beth Jaworski

 

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an animal lover. I say this in the interest of full disclosure, as I could be seen as a bit biased when it comes to animals. That being said, I maintain that you do not need to be an animal lover to appreciate all the Milwaukee County Zoo has to offer.

The Zoo moved to its present location on Bluemound Road in 1958. With over 200 acres of parkland and over 320 species of animals on exhibit, it is no surprise that it is rated as one of the top zoos in the nation. One can view 2,275 different types of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles here, more than the average visitor can see in one day. Luckily they do offer season passes; only $65 for a family pass that is good for 12 months! Quite a value.

Monkey Island and the Children's Zoo are popular attractions, and no visit to the Zoo is complete without a ride on the train. What I love most about the Zoo however, is that it is open year round, and that there is always something happening. Every summer we try to make it to Zoo a la Carte, a three day festival with live music (both local and national acts). Numerous local restaurants also set up booths throughout the Zoo, so it is also a great chance to try new places and to sample new cuisines.

​Many people don't know that you can actually camp at the Zoo! They call it "Snooze at the Zoo" and you must preregister for this special experience, only offered one weekend a year. Picnic on the shores of Lake Evinrude, sing songs around a campfire, and sleep under the stars (or in your tent) listening to the animals. How cool is that?

Holiday celebrations are extra special too. "Boo at the Zoo" is this weekend, Oct. 21st & 22nd. Visit a pumpkin patch with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns carved by volunteers and try to make your way through the Haystack Maze. Or wait until next weekend, Oct. 28th & 29th, and attend in costume! There will be trick or treating Friday night from 6-9 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm. There is even a parade at 2 pm on Saturday.

Zoo Brew will be held on Oct. 27th, offering you a chance to sample beers from 18 different breweries, and Breakfast with Santa is rapidly approaching also​. Visit the Zoo's website for a calendar of current events: http://zoosociety.org. You will see on the calendar that there are many "Family Free" days, which always helps with the budget. Milwaukee County residents, with id, also receive $1.75 off admission every day, except Wednesdays. On Wednesdays Milwaukee County residents receive the reduced admission rate of only $8 for adults & $5.50 for children. 

​Hopefully you can see why I say the Zoo is a local gem. And if you haven't visited in a while, maybe this post will inspire you to stop by. There is always something to do and the animals are always happy to see you!

 

Why Get a Home Inspection? Especially on a "new" home?

by John Rocco

 

I hear the comment "Why should I get a inspection on a new home? It is under warranty and it's new." Anyone who does not get a professional inspection on any home purchase is taking a big risk on a big investment. I find most problems in the attic where it is out of sight out of mind. You say warranty? If you do not know what to look for what good is the warranty? Defects can take more than a year to surface.

Recently I was asked to perform a radon test on a new constructed home. The buyers felt no need to do an inspection. Well when I was at the home picking up the radon test I noticed a major defect. The plumbers cut completely through an engineered I joist, see photo below. This can be disastrous. Cutting the top and bottom cord significantly weakens the structure of the home. I was not inspecting this home and still noticed this defect. How?  Because I am a trained professional. This is also not the first time I have found this condition. I have actually found this three other times! Considering the fact that I don't inspect many new construction homes, this really concerns me.

 

 Why get a home inspection on new construction? This is why!

 

I have also found defects in the attics of new homes, such as missing insulation. I inspected a five year old home that had no insulation, there were measuring sticks, but absolutely not a speck of insulation  In another home the water heater vent was disconnected in the attic. It looked great on the roof, it looked great at the water heater, but it went into the attic and did not connect to the roof vent. This could cause severe mold and rot and could even cause death due to carbon monoxide poisoning. No warranty will cover that. Most people never go into the attic, so without an inspection will never know this condition exists.

Any new dishwasher is also a concern of mine. Plumbers install them without testing. I find many new dishwashers that leak. You may say hey that is under warranty and I agree, but will they cover the damage done to the flooring or basement ceiling?

Once I found poor flashing at the chimney on a new home and brought it to the buyer's attention, but the buyer did not do anything about it. Two months later the dining room ceiling was leaking. The home owner told me it took the builder six months to fix it. So yes, it was covered under the builder's warranty, yet the owners had to live in a new home for six months with buckets on the dining room floor catching water from the ceiling. The warranty unfortunately does not mean they will be there tomorrow.

I have found many other issues in new construction. If you are planning on buying a home that is old, new or "as is" don't make the mistake of not hiring a Professional Home Inspector. You can take that to the bank.

John Rocco

Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection

john.rocco@pillartopost.com

 

 

23rd Annual Tour of Homes

by Beth Jaworski

Being both a residential Realtor and a Wauwatosa resident, I always look forward to the annual Wauwatosa Historical Society's tour of homes. The society has been organizing and holding a one day tour of Wauwatosa neighborhoods since 1989 and this year's tour is upon us. Running from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, October 1st, this year's theme is "Beverly Hills 53226" and all six of the homes on tour are located in the Swan Park neighborhood. (Swan Park runs from North to Center and from 92nd to Menomonee River Pkwy - more info on the different Tosa neighborhoods and a map of  neighborhood boundaries can be found on the city's website: http://wauwatosa.net/index.aspx?nid=303)

The tour allows attendees to learn about the architecturally significant details found in local homes, along with a glimpse into the rich history behind them. Advance tickets are sold at the Little Read Bookstore on 76th and State and at Wisconsin Garden and Pet on 85th and North for $14, or you can purchase tickets at 2324 Menomonee River Parkway at the tour for $17. 

I am especially excited about this year's tour for two reasons. Although I have helped as a sponsor in the past, this will be the first year that I will also be volunteering as a docent. I will be volunteering at the home located at 9605 Wilson Blvd from 2 pm to 4 pm, so be sure to come through and say hello. Secondly, I have just listed a gorgeous brick colonial right down the street from where I will be volunteering, at 9221 Wilson. This beautiful home could be on the tour, it is so special. Please view the listing at: http://bestwauwatosahomes.com/property/9221-Wilson-Blvd-Wauwatosa-Wisconsin.

Also visit the Wauwatosa Historical Society's website, for more info on this worthy organization: http://wauwatosahistoricalsociety.org. Proceeds from the tour help the society continue it's mission of education and preservation. Hope to see you on the tour!

 

2011 Oktoberfest

by Beth Jaworski

It's Oktoberfest time!  Make plans to join your neighbors at the oldest and most authentic Bavarian Oktoberfest in the Midwest right here in Glendale, Wisconsin, located just minutes from downtown Milwaukee and a short distance from beautiful Lake Michigan. This Oktoberfest, modeled off the one held in Munich, Germany, is held on the four weekends following Labor Day, and is open Fridays from 5 pm to 11 pm and Saturdays from 4 pm to midnight.

Entertainment includes traditional German brass bands, Schuhplatter folk dancing, singing, yodeling, sing-alongs, dancing and authentic German food and drinks  for everyone. So get out your lederhosen and get ready to celebrate!

Admission is $4 in advance or $5 at the door and Parking is FREE! Also love that on Fridays all firefighters, police and members of the armed forces get in FREE (id required). For more details please visit the Bavarian Inn's website: http://bavarianinnmilw.com

 

 

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Discover The Fine Artists in Wisconsin

by Beth Jaworski

Looking for something to do this weekend? Head over to the Hidden River Art Festival at the Wilson Center for the Arts. In addition to enjoying the work of over 80 of the state’s finest artists working in a wide variety of media, there will be exciting events all weekend. This year will feature a beer tasting event where you’ll have the opportunity to experience the art of brewing and sample over 30 fine-crafted domestic and international beers.

There will also be artist demonstrations and activities, Emerging Artists Gallery and delicious food. This is a unique three-day event; one of the largest of its kind featuring solely Wisconsin artists.

You can view samples of artists and their work on the Wilson Center for the Arts website.  I am very excited to have two past clients participating in the show:  Justin Racinowski from West Allis and David Sear from Wauwatosa. Please make sure to stop by and check out their work!

Hours are: Friday 1-7,  Saturday 10-6, Sunday 11-4

Tickets:   $5 advance $7 door  Buy Tickets here!

Children 12 and younger are FREE! FREE Friday for Wilson Center Donors!

 

 

 

 

 

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10 in Tosa

by Beth Jaworski

Wauwatosa has become a dining destination that you must experience! Come and dine in beautiful Wauwatosa  during 10 Days In Tosa, September 12th through the 21st.

Twenty-one participating restaurants are offering you a dine or beverage special - each with a real value of $10 to you!  Purchase the Access Card for $10 here online, at three Wauwatosa area M&I banks, at the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce, Crowne Plaza Hotel Milwaukee West or at the Radisson Hotel Milwaukee West

You must present the card at the time of ordering to reap the benefits of the special. Some restrictions may apply.  Visit all the restaurants in 10 days and you could save $210!

Please note that unless you are an M&I customer you must pay cash for the cards. You may pay via credit card but it would be treated as a cash advance which typically will cost more. M&I bank customers can write a check or charge without a cash advance transaction.

This is the first dining week brought to you by the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce. Come out and experience all that this wonderful culinary community  has to offer!

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TosaFest 2011

by Beth Jaworski

Tosafest 2011 continues Wauwatosa's 32 year annual tradition of music, food, and family fun, to celebrate our historic village and community spirit.

Each year, proceeds from TosaFest support community projects in the areas of education, safety and neighborhood improvement, to name a few. Countless volunteers work year-round to create this memorable event that entertains and benefits the whole community.

TosaFest is an annual event and this year will be held next Friday and Saturday, September 9th and 10th. Every year Shorewest sponsors the wristbands and agents volunteer "wristbanding" on Friday and Saturday night (you need a wristband to drink alcohol so we check ids of anyone who looks under 30).

Stop by and say hi, this will be my 4th year volunteering. I will be there working the last shift, Saturday night from 8 pm to 11 pm.

For more information visit the offical
web site and they are also on Facebook!

 

 

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 25

Contact Information

Photo of Beth Jaworski Real Estate
Beth Jaworski
Shorewest Realtors
11622 W. North Avenue
Wauwatosa WI 53226
Direct: 414.844.1118
Cell: 414.520.8555
Fax: 262.782.1551

I hope that this website was able to assist in your search for a Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County or Waukesha County home, or for information about buying or selling a home.  If you need any questions answered, please do not hesitate to contact Beth Jaworski of Shorewest Realtors at sold@bethjaworski.com or (414) 844-1118.  Have a great day!