Buy now. Still plenty of summer to enjoy your NW Wisconsin lake home/cabin.

There is still plenty of summer to enjoy your NW Wisconsin lake home or cabin. Be ready to make that offer now.

If your goal is to relax at the lake this summer, then by now you’ve already narrowed your search to the dream home or cabin and have had one or two showings. If you plan to include a finance and inspection contingency in your offer to purchase, a typical timeline is 45 days from accepted offer to close.

I have several buyers who are patiently watching the MLS listings for an especially good deal. I’ve also been passing along listings that seem like a good fit. Sometimes buyers have been ready to move quickly, and that’s paid off. Other buyers were busy with work and family commitments, and they needed to wait a couple weeks before we could schedule a showing. Sometimes that still works out. But on at least half a dozen occasions during the past few months, I’ve scheduled a showing only to learn that another buyer has just made an offer—in a couple of cases, an offer that’s already been accepted.

I’m a Realtor, and of course you’d expect me to say that right now is a great time to buy. Consumer confidence is up, we’ve been seeing some promising economic indicators, interest rates are still at historic lows, and our Northwestern Wisconsin real estate market is turning around. That’s good news for buyers and sellers alike.

Here are some tips to keep in mind during this transitional market. If you find something you like and it’s a good value, don’t assume no one else has noticed it and come to a similar conclusion. Instead, please call me so we can schedule a showing now. If we go take a look and you like what you see, don’t assume you’ll be able to think things over for two months before you take a second look. Someone else with similar tastes may have also seen this home or cabin for the bargain it is. By the time you’ve taken two more months to think it over, their moving van could already be backing up to the front door.

Finally, here’s one last bit of advice. Pursue perfection, but prioritize your wants and needs. Now, how do you determine what sort of lake is right for you and what exactly is a bargain? That will depend on how you want to use the lake. If, for example, you want a level sandy beach for swimming, a large lake for waterskiing or jetskiing, or a small quiet lake that’s better for fishing and watching wildlife, the price tag will be significantly different. Not everyone wants or can afford that big chalet on a full recreation lake. There are other types of waterfront property that are affordable.

Large, Full Recreation Lake

A full recreational lake will have few, if any, restrictions by the DNR for usage. These lakes are large enough to use a speedboat or jetski. There’s plenty of lake to waterski. You can also fish, or simply go for a cruise on your pontoon or paddle about in a kayak or canoe. The size of the lake can be more than 400 acres and generally will be deep enough for good fish populations. The larger and deeper the lake, the more in demand it will be, and these lakeshore properties will have the highest price tags. It will be pretty tough to find that chalet with level sandy beach on a large lake priced less than $200,000 or even $300,000.

Small Lake

If you are willing to settle for a smaller lake, the same home may come with a smaller price tag. Chances are the lake is going to be quieter. Lakes below a certain size (about 400 acres) just aren’t very interesting for jet skis and water skiers; they tend to see more pontoons, fishing boats, or canoes. Some smaller lakes may have DNR restrictions like no motors or small boat motors only, and may have limited public access with a boat access for carry-in only watercraft. These lakes can be great for fishing, paddling, and swimming.

Environmental Lakes and Wetlands

Very small, shallow lakes can be wonderful for privacy but not great for recreation. These lakes will be ideal for watching birds and wildlife, and perhaps a little paddling around in a canoe or kayak. They may be great spots for duck hunting. A small lake will offer wonderful natural views at a significantly lower price than a full recreational lake.


If the idea of watching the lazy river flowing by your livingroom window intrigues you, the same cabin or home will sell for less on a river than it would if it were on a lake. Most rivers, especially smaller ones, won’t offer the same boating or recreational opportunities as a lake would. In some cases, you may be able to travel upstream or downstream in a fishing boat – or at least in a canoe or kayak. You may even find your own private fishing hole. With some riverfront properties, the river may be too small or the current too swift. You’ll mainly just be able to sit and enjoy the river view. Still, if your waterfront is a small creek that you can see from your livingroom window, there’s something special about being near the water. It can also attract a lot of wildlife that you’ll be able to watch.

Lake View

Would you be satisfied with a view of the lake or river? A home with a view can be wonderfully satisfying without the high waterfront taxes. When you decide the type of lake that’s just right for you, then you can prioritize the type of home or cabin that best suits your lifestyle and budget. If you are handy, there are bargains on good lakes that may need some fixing up. You can always remodel the bathroom or replace that pink carpeting in the guest bedroom.

Know what matters most, and know what you want so you’ll be ready when you see it. If buying your first lake home or cabin is your dream but you don’t exactly know where to start, I have a handy checklist to help you determine your ideal lake property. I’ll be glad to send it to you. And if you already have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for in a home, cabin, or recreational property, give me a call now, it’s really a great time to buy.

NW Wisconsin real estate.

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