Winter energy saving tips for Midwest home owners

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Your Home Newsletter Nov/Dec 2019 – Residential Real Estate Council

November/December 2019 issue of Your Home newsletter. Tips and trends for homeowners, buyers, and sellers. This issue includes:

  • Saving $ on a new bathroom
  • 5 steps to tidy your garage
  • Finishing your basement

Brought to you by Jean Hedren, Your NW Wisconsin Realtor and member of the Residential Real Estate Council If this is your year to buy or sell real estate, call Jean Hedren at 218-590-6634. Or, email:

DIY home energy checklist

This checklist can start a to-do list for potential problem areas and prioritizing repairs and upgrades. For example:

  • Rattling windows and doors.
  • Draft from the fireplace flue.
  • Replacement of furnace air filters.

About Jean Hedren Realtor. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, specializes in lake homes, cabins, and waterfront real estate in NW Wisconsin. View all posts by Jean.

Your Home Newsletter Sept/Oct 2019 – Residential Real Estate Council

September/October 2019 issue of Your Home newsletter. Tips and trends for homeowners, buyers, and sellers. This issue includes:

  • Fall home selling appeal
  • Targeted staging
  • Cold weather home prep

Brought to you by Jean Hedren, Your NW Wisconsin Realtor and member of the Residential Real Estate Council If this is your year to buy or sell real estate, call Jean Hedren at 218-590-6634. Or, email:

How many mistakes can you find?

Can you spot the 9 problems with this house? Article by HouseLogic

Are making these homeowner maintenance mistakes?

Shoreland zoning protects your property values

If you’re shopping for waterfront property, you should know about shoreland zoning and the rules that go with it. No one likes rules. But the first thing you should know is that these rules don’t just benefit fish, birds, and wildlife, they benefit you

By preserving the up north qualities of our lakes and streams, these rules also preserve your property values. Even up here in NW Wisconsin, some lakes have a more urban feel. Other lakes, however, still have a relatively undeveloped feel – even though most of their shoreline is developed. Views are preserved, privacy is preserved, and so are property values.

Second, it’s important to know that certain minimum standards are in place in Wisconsin. In some counties, and even on certain lakes and streams, the rules are more strict. Existing homes, of course, are grandfathered in. But if you’re building on shoreland anywhere in Wisconsin, you’ll need to meet these minimum standards:

  • Lot size. Lots served by a public sanitary sewer must have a minimum average width of 65 feet and a minimum area of 10,000 square feet. “Unsewered” lots must have a minimum average width of 100 feet and minimum area of 20,000 square feet.
  • Buffer strip. Clear-cutting of trees and shrubs isn’t allowed in the strip of land from the ordinary high-water mark to 35′ inland. One exception is for a 30′ wide path, for every 100′ of shoreline, down to the water. That allows you to reach the water, have a great view from your living room, and still protect your privacy. (And also, by the way, preserve the view of whoever lives across the lake.)
  • Setbacks. All buildings and structures must be set back at least 75′ from the ordinary high-water mark. Exceptions include piers and boat-hoists. And, if an existing pattern of development exists, some counties may have a “setback averaging” system that allow homes to be built closer to the water. On certain bodies of water, though, setbacks are increased to 125′ – or, in rare cases, up to 300′.

This is just an overview; for details on these and other shoreland zoning provisions, contact the DNR or county officials. Keep in mind, too, that existing homes are grandfathered in. When you buy one, you obviously can’t do much to change the lot size or setback. You can, however, take steps to restore the buffer of natural vegetation along your home’s waterfront.

But don’t try shoreline restoration just because it’s good for the environment. Do it if you’d like to increase your privacy, see more birds and wildlife, and catch mroe fish. (And also, by the way, spend less time mowing your lawn.)

Buying or selling in NW Wisconsin? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor. 218-590-6634. Or visit


How do I make sure my pipes don’t freeze or burst this winter?

Whether sub-zero temperatures have you bundled in layers or the wind chill doesn’t phase you, it’s important to understand the impact of freezing temperatures on your home.

Here are some insights you can use to prevent freezing pipes in your home — or to address the damage if the worst-case scenario occurs.

Key insights:

  • Pipes can freeze when temperatures are at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but there are ways to prevent it from happening in your home.
  • Spot a frozen pipe by looking for frost and other common indications of a freeze.
  • Know what to do — and act fast — if your pipes do burst this winter.

Why do pipes freeze and burst?

When winter rolls around and temperatures drop, the change in climate could impact your home. Pipes are more likely to freeze during winter months when the forecast is below freezing and the frozen pipes can cause water in the line to turn into ice.

And of course, water expands as it freezes, so the pressure that builds in icy pipes can result in a burst. If a pipeline bursts, serious and costly damage might occur — such as flooding, mold growth and water damage. However, you can take preventative measures to avoid frozen and bursting pipes in your home this winter.

How can I prevent freezing pipes this winter?

Protect your home from frozen pipes this winter by following these simple steps:

  • Keep your heat on, even if you’re leaving town, and don’t let the temperature in your house drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Seal any cracks in walls or floors.
  • Relieve potential pressure buildup by letting a faucet in the back of your home drip.
  • Promote air circulation by keeping the cabinets and doors that surround pipes open. (Be sure to remove anything dangerous from those areas if you have children.)
  • Add insulation (like a pipe sleeve or heat tape) to pipes that are exposed to extra cold.

Be sure to pay special attention to pipes that are located near cold exterior walls, out in the garage, down in the basement or up in the attic. These pipes may be more susceptible to freezing and bursting, as they’re likely located in unheated areas of the home.

Spot a frozen pipe before it bursts

It’s not uncommon that pipes freeze in the winter, even if you’ve covered all your bases to prevent it. Keep your eyes open for freezing pipes by staying alert for these common signs:

  • Reduced water flow from faucets and toilets
  • Frost-coated waterlines
  • Strange odors coming from the drain
  • Bulging pipes

These are telltale signs that a pipe could be frozen and at risk of bursting. If you notice one or more of these frozen pipe indications, it’s time to act quickly.

What can I do if my pipes do freeze or burst?

If you suspect a frozen pipe, you’ll want to take action before matters get worse. The American Red Cross suggests these pipe thawing methods:

  • Keep the faucet open and water running, which reduce the pressure in the short-term and will eventually cause the ice to thaw.
  • Warm pipes with a heating pad, hair dryer, portable space heater or towels soaked in hot water.
  • Check all other pipes for potential damage.

Catching a frozen pipe before it bursts will save you a lot of hassle, but it’s not always possible to identify a frozen pipe. Here’s what you can do if your pipe bursts:

  • Shut off your water supply to prevent excess damage.
  • Dry as much water as possible with a sponge, mop or towels.
  • Call a licensed plumber.
  • Speak with your insurance agent; your homeowners insurance policy may cover the cost of repairing the damage.

Key takeaways on frozen pipe prevention

Don’t let freezing pipes burst your winter spirit. Be aware of frozen pipes and do what you can to avoid potential damage by:

  • Prepping your home in advance to prevent frozen pipes
  • Keeping watch for the signs of icy pipes
  • Knowing the safest ways to react if a pipe freezes or bursts in your home

If you have a serious freeze, or you walk into your home to see Niagara Falls bursting out of your pipes, call a professional. An expert will be able to assess the situation and get your pipes running smoothly again.

And remember, if you have homeowners insurance, the damage from a pipe inside your home is typically covered in a standard policy. Be sure to get in touch with your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to check your coverage.

4 home care mistakes you may not know you’re making

  1. Using glass cleaners on mirrors Spraying can lead to “black edge,” when liquid seeps beneath the reflective backing and stains your mirror. Instead, use a lint-free microfiber cloth dampened with warm water.
  2. Using the wrong caulk There are as many caulks as there are glues, and you wouldn’t use a glue stick to fix broken pottery, according to HouseLogic. Similarly, you wouldn’t use silicone caulk on bricks because it’s made for non-porous surfaces. Check online or at a home improvement store to ensure you’re using the right caulk.
  3. Over-mulching Mulch is great for your home, but don’t pile it on too thick. No more than 3 inches should do the trick. Otherwise, you may prevent water from reaching roots and suffocate plants. 
  4. Piling firewood against your exterior wall Firewood against the exterior wall of a house is an invitation for insects. Stack your wood at least 20 feet from your home.

Thinking of selling in NW Wisconsin? I would be very pleased to help. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

This article is brought to you by Jean Hedren, a Certified Residential Specialist

Buying and selling a house — how do I time it perfectly?

Need to sell your current home and buy another? You may be wondering how to time it just right, so the sales align — or if you should be buying or selling your home first.

Here are the pros and cons of each decision with insights you can use when determining whether to buy or sell your home first.

Selling a home first

You sold your house! Now what? Here’s the inside scoop on the pros and cons of selling your home first.

  • Upside: By selling first, you’ll likely feel more financially secure as you begin searching for homes to buy. It can be helpful to know what kind of money you’ll walk away with at closing so you can set a responsible budget for house #2 and feel confident that you can get approved for your next mortgage loan.
  • Downside: There’s more to think about than just the money you’d acquire from a sale, though. Consider this: The inventory of homes for sale is low (though new listings are starting to rise) and it may take longer than you think to find your next home.

Some homebuyers are comfortable with the idea of finding a “Plan B” home as a temporary option while they search for the perfect place to after they sell their house.

Plan B options for temporary housing include:

  • Renting a house or townhome for the short-term
  • Renting an apartment month-to-month
  • Moving in with generous family or friends during the interim
  • Booking an “extended stay” hotel or inn, which tend to have a usable kitchen area

If you’re in the process of selling your home, and you’re concerned that you might close on your sale before finding your new home, you’re not without options. Together, we can discuss the possibility of negotiating for a later closing date when accepting a buyer’s offer. This will help you gain more time to find your next property.

Buying a home first

It’s also possible to buy a home before you’ve placed your existing home on the market.

  • Upside: By buying a new home before you sell your current home, you can search on your own terms and put an offer on the home of your dreams — rather than being tied to a timeline.
  • Downside: If you buy a new home before selling your current property, you’ll have to have enough cash on hand to cover the down payment for house #2, and you may end up paying two mortgages until your first home sells.

If you choose to buy first, be sure to save up as much money as possible in order get approved for a second mortgage and have peace of mind as you commit to paying two mortgages for the short-term (or possibly longer). You’ll also want to work with a real estate agent who is committed to helping you sell quickly.

Adding a contingency when buying

If you want to buy first, but avoid two mortgage payments, you can try to add a buyer’s home sale contingency in the purchase agreement of your new home. This contingency states that the transaction for the new house is dependent on the sale of your current property.

A seller may perceive a contingent offer as weaker than a non-contingent offer. In a sellers’ market, you may have a more difficult time getting the seller to accept a contingent deal.

Should I buy and sell a home at the same time?

This is a pretty common scenario, especially for homeowners who don’t have a “backup plan” — like the option to move in with family or friends for a few weeks or months.

At first, this may seem like the best-case scenario. Here are a couple of things you might not have considered about coordinating a new home purchase and a property sale.

  • Upside: You can time your moves to coincide. This will allow for a seamless transition from one house to the next — packing up a van and relocating a few miles away is about as easy as a move can get.
  • Downside: It can be a challenge to stage your for-sale home and keep it clean for showings, all while touring other homes, making offers and negotiating coinciding closings.

So, what’s the best plan?

Unfortunately, there’s no cookie-cutter answer to this question. All homeowners are different, with unique finances, timelines and other logistical factors (like school and work schedules, family trips, short-term living options, etc.) that can impact what’s smartest for them.

And, homes are different, too! In an area without many homes for sale, sellers can accept an offer on a home in just a few days or even hours — while sellers in a higher-inventory market, or who price their homes too high, may wait months for just one offer.

All in all, the perfect option for one seller might not work for a different seller, even if they live on the same block. No matter what, we can weigh all your personal and financial factors to determine if you should sell your home first, buy a home first, or buy and sell at the same time.

Next steps

Ready to get a move on buying or selling a home — or both? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.