5-3-?-?-? What Your Zip Code Says About YOU!

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Thinking about building a new home in a different ZIP code from where you currently live?  Check out a new tool by Esri that, if nothing else, is fun to browse as you consider the ZIP code your new home may be built in.  Esri is a geographic information firm who has created a new interactive map which mines socioeconomic and demographic data to create a picture of who lives in each ZIP code.  Esri’s “Tapestry Segmentation” database uses 67 neighborhood classifications, complete with cutesy names like “American Dreamers”, “Front Porches” and “Top Tier”.  The data lets you look into the stereotypical lives of residents in the ZIP code, including their average income, age, and population.

How much truth there is in these broad characterizations is questionable.  Does an entire ZIP code really listen to the same type of radio?  According to my ZIP code, there’s supposedly a lot of Soccer Moms residing here, which I have to say is pretty accurate based on the number of minivans with soccer ball stickers on their rear windows!  Some of the other traits may or may not truly represent ME personally and could be too generalized.

Yet, as I sampled through some other ZIP codes that I am familiar with, I was surprised at how accurate much of the information appeared to be in terms of a general representation.  It was an interesting tool to play around with for a while, and does help me gain a better understanding (if not somewhat subjectively) of the different areas in my city.  Check it out at:


Tis The Season…For Saving!

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This season, it’ll all about saving, gaining & winning.  What does that mean exactly? Read on. You can thank us later…

SAVE – The continued improvement in the single-family market supports the expectation of more and stronger growth in 2015 as consumers gain confidence in their economic futures, mortgage rates remain very low by historic standards and home prices continue to be affordable to those with good credit and a solid employment history.  Once again,…the new construction product is far superior than the average re-sale and with our drastic weather challenges we are experiencing will support the$AVINGS in utility costs.

The Real Estate industry feels the natural ebb and flow of sales due to the holiday seasons.  Other than calendar/holiday indicators there are other factors we all experience in pricing and affordability across the nation.

Examples of seasonal effects include a July drop in automobile production as factories retool for new models and increases in heating oil production during September in anticipation of the winter heating season.

GAIN MOMENTUM-Off- season dealing: Sellers in late fall and early winter, especially between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, are often more motivated  to deal, real estate agents say. “I’ve done my best negotiating from October to December,” says Jim Crawford, a real estate agent, lecturer and Web consultant in Roswell, Ga. “Families don’t want lots of people tromping through your home around Christmas time … so you’re more apt to accept an offer and MOVE ON.”

WIN – While most are sleeping and slowing down,…  you are preparing for the momentum, ramping up, outperforming the competition and winning!

What Will New Homes Look Like in 2015?


The current state of affairs within the housing industry has many wondering what lies ahead in 2015. Changes are being made to match the current trends within the industry; not only the number of new homes being built but also what’s inside newly built homes.

A recent study by The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveyed a group of builders, designers, architects, manufacturers, and marketing specialists. The Director of Economic Services of the NAHB, Stephan Melman said, “We asked builders, ‘what do you anticipate the new home size would be by 2015?’ “ The overall consensus was found to be “houses will get smaller”.  The study found that homebuilders expect newly built single-family homes to average 2,150 square feet compared to the current 2,400 square foot average.

This aligns well with the trend of going green that we can expect to see more of in 2015.  Smaller homes have greater heating and cooling efficiency gains associated with less space. Builders are also utilizing water-efficient appliances and plumbing, using LED and compact fluorescent lighting, as well as installing energy efficient windows.

Other amenities will also be affected, such as the “Great Room” replacing the “Living Room”. The “Great Room” combines the living room, dining room and family room into one open space that usually flows into the kitchen which helps save square footage.

Other changes that you can expect to see in 2015 are:

  • Reduced 4 or more bedroom homes
  • More master suite walk-in closets
  • Changes in use of space outside of main living quarters, such as more porches and 2 car garages
  • Better utilization of space by replacing formal dining rooms with eat-in kitchens
  • Larger laundry rooms
  • Less mudrooms, hobby rooms or game/media rooms
  • A wide variety of interior color choices

Many exciting changes are on the horizon for newly built homes in 2015. The options for designing your perfect home seem to be endless. Melman stated, “Although affordability is driving these decisions, smaller homes are a positive for builders, it allows for more creative design, more amenities, better flow. It’s an opportunity to deliver a better home.” The changes ahead in 2015 seem to be positive for all involved and the goal of a better home will be met for builders and buyers alike.

“CFPB issues proposals to update Integrated Disclosure Rule.” Say what? Read on!


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently published recommendations for updating the Integrated Disclosure Rule, which is under the Truth in Lending and Real Estate Settle Procedures Acts.

The rule’s purpose is to supply easy-to-understand disclosures for borrowers when they complete a residential mortgage application. The CFPB proposed two changes to the Integrated Disclosure Rule:

One change is in regard to construction loans. Given the longer time it takes to close one of these loans compared to other loans, the estimated charges can change after 60 days.

“Our proposal would create a space on the Loan Estimate form where creditors could include language informing consumers that they may receive a revised Loan Estimate for a construction loan that is expected to take more than 60 days to settle,” the CFPB said.

The second change would give creditors more time to give borrowers a revised loan estimate after the latter locks in a floating interest rate. The current turnaround period is limited to the same day, and the CFPB proposed extending that time to the next business day. This strategy would give creditors adequate time to produce new disclosures while giving borrowers more time to lock in their rates.

Mortgage market becomes more favorable. The CFPB’s proposed changes to the Integrated Disclosure Rule are welcome news for consumers who want to get a US home mortgage while clearly understanding their obligations in receiving financing to buy a home. Although borrowers will have to wait until Aug. 1, 2015 to see the rule in affect, they currently can get some relief in getting a mortgage via low interest rates. Here are the findings of the latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey by mortgage insurer Freddie Mac:

·        The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.97% in the week ending Oct. 16, down from 4.12% the previous week and marking the first time the average fell below 4.00% since June 2013.

·        Fifteen-year FRMs’ average interest fell from 3.30% to 3.18%.

·        For 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages, the average rate was down four percentage points to 3.28%.

·        Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs dropped below 3% to stand at an average of 2.92%.

Freddie Mac Vice President and Chief Economist Frank Nothaft attributed the drop in mortgage rates to investors’ skepticism regarding economic volatility in Europe.

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2013 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.

Designing Your New Construction Home


Building your new home allows you to tailor your home to your current needs and your personal taste.  That’s what’s great about building a home.  You can dream big and your options are unlimited.  But what if you budget isn’t?  How do you choose the best upgrades and stay within your budget? C&E Wurzer Builders, your go-to for new construction homes in the Eau Claire area, and now expanding into the Madison area, has tips for you to get the most bang for your buck!

Kitchen Cabinets: Your kitchen is where you and your family spend most of your time so you want it to be functional, durable and a room that you enjoy.  Upgrading your cabinets gives you better construction and longer lasting finishes.  Buy premium hinges and draw slides – they will stand abuse for many years.

Flooring:  Choose wool carpeting.  It will stand up to traffic, looks great and maintains its good looks. Also, there is a wider selection of colors.  Upgrade your carpet padding too which will increase the life of your carpet.  Wood Flooring is another great option for your main living areas — it never goes out of style, it blends with any décor and adds warmth to any room.

Ceiling Fans: They are a smart, low-cost upgrade that will save you energy in both the summer and winter months.

Skylights: Skylights add about 30 percent more light than a window of comparable size.  Some have built-in shades that you can operate manually or by remote control. Some even open up and have rain sensors that close it automatically.

Choose features that you can install now to adjust to your future.

A main floor den can be converted into a bedroom if you have a growing family.

Include roughed-in plumbing and electric for an eventual basement bathroom or attic.

A deep tandem garage that fits three cars can be walled off later to add indoor space or an extra room.

Plywood sheathing can be installed behind drywall and tiles in bathrooms to attach grab bars without hunting for studs.

Most importantly, choose the upgrade that’s going to make you happy.  After all, this new house is your home.  What does it say about you?

For more information on Wurzer builders, copy the link below.  Happy Dream-building!


Underwater but want to buy a new home? Just. Keep. Swimming.

Foreclosure Avoidance

So you bought a house in 2006, it lost 20-40 % of its value….but, today you could break even, hopefully……you want to buy a new home, but don’t really have any equity, what should you do?  You’re not too confident in the housing market, but you know rates are great?? The real question should be……What would you pay today to put income in your pocket and a roof over your head for the rest of your life?

Today you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a new home, keep your old house and own them both in 15 years! What would your life look like if you owned two homes in 15 years? You could use the income from one to live in the other, have a roof over your head for life and have a retirement income! Act now….this opportunity will go away within 1-2 years max.

Interest Rates are going up! We have been at a 100 year low and you won’t be able to create wealth like this ever again in your lifetime!

That’s right, when rates are back to 6.5-7 % you will not qualify to keep your old house and buy another and you might be lucky to even buy one home on a 30 year mortgage! let alone a 15 year mortgage.

The choice is yours.

Option One:

Stay put…be conservative wait to see what is going to happen with the market.
Keep your “old” house, hunker down….wait and see if rates really will go up?

Option Two:
You purchased your existing house in 2006, paid $255,000 it went up, then down, then down some more, now it is back up to a little less than you owe.
Why sell?……keep it, rent it for the monthly payment….at 5.5% your payment is
$1636 and fair market rent should be at least that. Pay $600 a month extra in addition to rent and you own it in 15 years!

Your new home is $300,000. Instead of doing a 30 year mortgage at 4.25 with a payment of $2026, do a 15 year loan at 3.5% and pay an extra $695 per month!

So what? 

For $2,600 more per month over 15 years, you can own both houses, get income of $2,000 per month for the rest of your life and own your home free and clear…..with the leverage of reverse mortgages, you could have $4,000-$5,000 per month with no house payment for the next 15-20 years! That’s what!

If you have been wrestling with yourself, your spouse, your parents or relatives you need to
BUY NOW!  and you will forever be a genius.

Choosing the Right Wisconsin Builder for You!


Congratulations!  You’ve decided to purchase a new-construction home!  But when it comes to selecting a builder, where do you start?  It is important to shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home.  Regardless of the size or type of home, you will want to know you are buying a good quality home from a builder with a great reputation.  There are many good builders in most markets in the U.S. – here’s some tips on how to proceed as recommended by the National Association of Home Builders:

Make A List of Potential Builders

Once you have thought about the type of house you want, you will need to find a builder.

  • Contact your local home builders’ association to obtain a list of builders who construct homes in your area.
  • Your local newspaper will have a real estate section where builders will advertise their current projects.  Some markets hold “Parade of Homes” events and distribute a directory of all the new home communities.  By reading through ads and articles online, you’ll get a good idea of which builders are active in your area, what types of homes they are building, and the various price ranges.  Make your own list of the builders who are building the type of home you are looking for in the price range you are comfortable with.
  • A great resource is to enlist the services of a local real estate agent (especially if that agent is a Certified New Home Ambassador).  He/She can direct you not only to the good builders, but can also help answer your questions and represent you in the sale, looking out for your best interests.
  • Ask family and friends who have previously built homes for recommendations of any builders they have worked with who did a good job.

Do Your Homework

Once you have a list of builders, how can you find out about their reputations and the quality of their work? The best way to learn about builders is to visit homes they have built and talk with the owners.

  • Ask builders on your list for the addresses of their recently built homes and subdivisions. Builders may even be able to provide names of some home owners who would be willing to talk with you.
  • Drive by on a Saturday morning when home owners may be outside doing chores or errands. Introduce yourself and say you are considering buying a home from the builder who built their home.  Talk to several owners, and try to get a random sample of opinions.  The more people you talk with, the more accurate an impression of a builder you are likely to get.  At the very least, drive by and see if the homes are visually appealing.
  • When you talk to builders and home owners, take along a notebook to record the information you find and your personal impressions about specific builders and homes.  Doing so will help you to make comparisons later. Some questions you can ask people include: Are you happy with your home?  If you had any problems, were they fixed promptly and completely?  Would you buy another home from this builder?
  • Usually, people tell you if they are pleased with their homes.  And if they are not, they’ll probably want to tell you why.

Shop For Quality and Value

Look at new homes whenever you can.  Home shows and open houses sponsored by builders are good opportunities to look at homes.  Be sure to take your real estate agent along to share perspectives and to offer you additional new-home advice.  Model homes are typically filled with many, many upgrades to help you visualize different types of finishes, textures and fabrics.  You may also ask a builder to see unfurnished homes to help you really get a look at the construction quality.

When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features.  Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, carpeting, trim work and paint.  Ask the builder or the builder’s representative a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. If you receive the answers verbally rather than in writing, take notes. Never hesitate to ask a question.  What seems like an insignificant question might yield an important answer.