August 2017
Portrait of Audra Geldmacher

Audra Geldmacher
ABR, GRI, CRS, Relocation Specialist Broker Associate

First Weber Group Realtors


Home sales and prices increase as summer housing market winds down

Home sales and prices increase as summer housing market winds down

Wisconsin REALTORS Association,

Despite low inventories of houses on the market, both home sales and median prices finished the summer ahead of last year, according to the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association (WRA). Home sales in August set a record, running slightly ahead of sales last August by 0.6 percent, making it the strongest August for home sales since the WRA recalibrated its data collection methods in 2005. Year-to-date sales are also at their highest level. The median price rose 7.1 percent above the August 2016 level to $182,000.

With just 38,640 homes available for sale, the number of homes on the market was 14.8 percent lower than August 2016. The average number of days that a property remains on the market dropped to just 68 days in August, down from 82 days a year ago.

The annual rate of inflation derived from the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) ticked up slightly in the beginning of the year, but it has settled into the range of 1.6 percent to 1.9 percent the last four months. In contrast, the annual pace of median home price appreciation has been at least 5.5 percent for all of 2017. "Housing as an asset has been a good hedge against inflation since emerging from the recession," said Theo. Compared to August 2009, the CPI rose 13.7 percent, whereas median home prices in the state rose 17.5 percent over the period between August 2009 and August 2017. "This is welcome news for owners," said Theo. "Sellers can get top dollar for their homes when they list them," said Theo.

Housing remains remarkably affordable for buyers in Wisconsin. Housing prices do follow a regular seasonal pattern—moderating as we enter the fall and winter months. "Buyers can find good opportunities if they are willing to purchase outside the peak market times," said Theo.

First Weber is proud to be a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Now positioned to be the nation’s LARGEST Home Ownership Services Provider Based on Transactions!

Source: 2017 Real Trends 500 report,
First Weber is proud to be a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate
Consumer confidence keeps improving

Consumer confidence keeps improving


Consumer confidence kept improving in August. “Consumer confidence increased in August following a moderate improvement in July,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board in a statement. “Consumers’ more buoyant assessment of present-day conditions was the primary driver of the boost in confidence, with the Present Situation Index continuing to hover at a 16-year high. Consumers’ short-term expectations were relatively flat, though still optimistic, suggesting that they do not anticipate an acceleration in the pace of economic activity in the months ahead.”

Paint colors that sell and the ones that don't

Paint colors that sell and the ones that don’t


Paint colors play a crucial role in successfully selling a home, having the power to influence a homebuyer’s decision to make an offer or move on—and the best colors, according to a new Zillow analysis, are blues and grays.

Homes with bathrooms that have soft blue walls (e.g., periwinkle, powder blue), specifically, sold for $5,440 more than expected in the analysis, as well as homes with a “greige” (beige/gray) exterior, which sold for $3,496 more than homes with brown or tan stucco exteriors. Homes with dark navy blue and/or slate gray front doors also sold for more: $1,514.

Certain colors, though, have the opposite effect, lowering sale prices by a few thousand dollars or more. In fact, homes with bathrooms that have white walls sold for $4,035 less than expected, while homes with darker walls (e.g., brick red, terracotta) sold for $2,031 less than expected.

“Color can be a powerful tool for attracting buyers to a home, especially in listing photos and videos,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray, not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space. Incorporating light blue in kitchens and bathrooms may pay off especially well, as the color complements white countertops and cabinets—a growing trend in both rooms.”

The analysis considered over 32,000 photos of sold homes across the U.S.

Paint colors that sell
Home sellers are making bank in today’s market

Home sellers are making bank in today’s market


Home sellers are making bank in today’s market, realizing a 24.1 percent, or $39,900, gain in 2016, according to a recent analysis by Zillow.

Sellers on the West Coast—where home prices have rocketed since the recession—saw higher returns, with those in Oakland, Calif., taking home the most at 78 percent, or $235,000.

Duration is key. The average seller turning a $39,900 profit, the analysis shows, held on to their home for seven years and five months. The average seller in Oakland hung on to their home for seven years and three months.

“The housing market can change a lot in 10 years,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. The ability to amass wealth over the long term makes real estate the No. 1 investment for most Americans, despite proven results from stocks and other vehicles.

Ways and reasons to refinance your mortgage

Ways and reasons to refinance your mortgage


Though mortgage rates have rebounded some from the lows seen in 2016, they remain very attractive. Many homeowners are refinancing before rates go higher.

Yes, you can save money by doing a simple refinance in which you swap a lower rate for your existing higher rate. But that’s just one way and one reason to refinance. There are at least four other reasons. Here are some of your options.

Rate and Term Refinance
This is the most common form of refinancing. You replace your mortgage with a loan sporting a lower interest rate, and for roughly the same term. The term is the payoff period: a 30-year mortgage has a 30-year term.

Cash-Out Refinance
You borrow more money than the outstanding mortgage balance and you receive the difference in cash. For example, you might have borrowed $225,000 a few years ago, you’ve been making payments faithfully and now you owe $200,000. Meanwhile, your home’s value has swelled. It can be appraised at $300,000. In this case, you can refinance for more than $200,000. In fact, you can borrow up to $240,000 without having to pay for mortgage insurance.

During the boom, a guy on my street got several cash-out refinances. At least one was a subprime loan. He ended up owing much more than he originally paid for the house. Eventually, he couldn’t afford the payments, forfeited the house and moved out of state.

There are responsible ways to use a cash-out refi. You can use the money to pay off high-interest debt, or you could use it for a home improvement: a swimming pool, solar panels or whatever.

Shorten the Term
You got a 30 year mortgage three or five years ago, and you want to refinance. You don’t have to start over with a 30 year repayment period. You can ask to pay it off in a shorter time than that—27 years, 25 years, 20 years or 15 years. Your choice.

Cash-In Refinance
This happens when you have some money lying around and you spend it to pay off part of the old mortgage. Then the new, refinanced loan is for less than the old loan.

Refinance to Get Rid of Mortgage Insurance
You made a down payment of less than 20 percent, and you’ve been saddled with mortgage insurance payments as a result. But in the years since you got the mortgage, you paid down some of the debt and, more importantly, the value of your house went up a lot. If the outstanding loan amount is less than 80 percent of the home’s appraised value, you might be able to refinance into a loan without mortgage insurance.

This can be an especially valuable tactic if you have a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration, also known as an FHA loan. With modern-day FHA loans, you can’t cancel the mortgage insurance—even when your loan-to-value ratio falls below 80 percent. The way to get rid of FHA mortgage insurance payments is to refinance (or to sell the house).