Handy hunting reference – 2018 Wisconsin Hunting and Trapping Seasons

2018 Wisconsin Hunting and Trapping Seasons dnr.gov

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make.  If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted.  But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent.  That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.

I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.”  More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.”  Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into.  And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.

It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report.  Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth.  But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues.  So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.

If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.”  The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing.  I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution.  The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues.  Almost anything else can be fixed.  If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.

Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too.  Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit.  Ask your Realtor for recommendations.

Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer.  The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months.  So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.

Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com
Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634

Real estate and tomatoes are not the same

Real estate and tomatoes are not the same.

I’ve just updated my website with helpful information related to this important question: Why wait??? It’s a question that has to do with the time of year, but it’s also a much bigger question.

“OK,” you’re saying, “but what do those tomatoes have to do with the view from cabins and lake homes in northwest Wisconsin?” The answer: Not much. Real estate and tomatoes are not the same. Let me explain…

Around here sellers, buyers, and even Realtors can often think a little too seasonally. Summer might be the only time of the year we can grow tomatoes in northern Wisconsin, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only time of year we can produce real estate sales.

Today’s lake-home market is no longer just a summertime surge. (And that’s even more true, of course, for off-water homes.) Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a buyer or seller who happens to read this in April or May, I’d love to hear from you today. But these days plenty of serious, purposeful buyers are on the hunt all year round; at this very moment they’re getting pre-approved, researching lakes, studying properties online, and arranging to view their top picks in person.

So, whether you’re buying or selling… If you’re ready to move on to the next stage of your life, there’s no rational reason to delay until May – and especially not until some Mayday years in the future. If it’s time, it’s time.

Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wsiconsin. www.JeanHedren.com

To learn more, click on the links below:

Northwest Wisconsin bucket list: The North Country Hiking Trail

Northwest Wisconsin bucket list: The North Country Hiking Trail

The North Country Trail meanders all the way from Maine to North Dakota, in some cases incorporating existing trails like northeastern Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail. When completed, it will be 4,600 miles long. It’s administered by the National Park Service in cooperation with state and local agencies like the WI DNR, and nearly all trail building and maintenance is done by volunteers.

Although the trail still includes gaps where hikers are forced to settle for paved and dirt roads, the trail sections already completed include more miles than the entire Appalachian Trail. A couple hundred of those miles are right here in our own corner of Northwestern Wisconsin. It’s a vastly underutlized recreational opportunity, and I’d like to help spread the word.

Some great stretches of trail can be found in my own neighborhood, right near Gordon and Solon Springs. One stretch, for example, traverses the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area, known locally as simply The Bird Sanctuary.

North Country trail map - Douglas County WI

North Country trail map – Douglas County WI

Here, courtesy of the Brule-Saint Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, are two downloadable maps. The first is a map of the entire area. The second map is a guide to one segment that’s especially interesting—the Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk.

Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk

Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk

(For more on the Brule-Saint Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, click here. To learn more about their upcoming hikes and other events, click here.)

If you’d like to explore on your own, these maps will help you get started. So far, however, detailed maps and directions to trailheads are still hard to come by for most stretches of the trail. Watch this space; you’ll soon begin seeing them here.

Enjoy the fall colors while you shop for your NW Wisconsin lake home or cabin

Right now is a great time to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property in Northwestern Wisconsin.  Summer is over and autumn leaves are turning their brilliant yellow and red hues.  A smart strategy is to get serious about your search right now.

Beautiful fall colors in NW Wisconsin

Beautiful fall colors in NW Wisconsin

Fall leaves

Fall leaves

Here’s why:  If you’re planning to wait until spring before beginning or resuming your search, remember that a lot of other buyers are doing the same.  Sellers are very aware of this, and some have resigned themselves to not seeing much more activity until April. But once April arrives, they’ll be confident that more buyers will turn up in the months to follow. Home prices might even start a little higher and they’ll be less willing to negotiate on price.

Instead, if you find the place you’re looking for now and put in an offer, you’ll be in an excellent negotiating position.  Many sellers are eager to sell now so they can move on; your negotiating power is even better.  Some sellers will be glad to no longer be carrying those costs through the winter.

While interest rates are still very low, there is no guarantee they will remain at these levels. That’s one more reason to buy now.

This time of year, even Mother Nature is making it easier to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property.  The leaves are falling, and suddenly it’s literally much easier to see what’s out there.  Not only is this a wonderful time of year to enjoy the colors, lake homes and the lakes tend to be more visible.

But if you’re curious about properties you’ve seen online, I’d be glad to help you get a closer look.  To see my listings, go to www.JeanHedren.com.  You can search by county, community and even by the specific lake name. (I’ll also be glad to show you any properties in Northwestern Wisconsin.)  You can also check out my YouTube listing videos – Edina Realty Northwest Wisconsin Homes

There’s no better time than right now to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property in Northwestern Wisconsin.  The leaves are turning, our inventory of available properties is still good, and now is an excellent time to come take a look around.

Take your NW Wisconsin property search while enjoying the fall colors. Download my free NW Wisconsin property search app at www.JeanHedren.com

Jean Hedren, Edina Realty, NW Wisconsin. Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn, Sawyer County real estate. Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Solon Springs, Barnes, Hayward, Spooner real estate, and other NW Wisconsin communities.

Out exploring? GPS and phone maps are great. But don’t forget the big picture.

Out exploring? GPS and phone maps are great. But don’t forget the big picture.

Scenic drive in Barnes, WI

Scenic drive in Barnes, WI

These days, more and more people are forsaking paper maps for phone or dash-based mapping systems. But when you’re looking for real estate, and maybe even when you’re just trying to find your way back to town, don’t forget the big picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love gadgets, and I love technology. I’m no luddite technophobe. In fact, I’m the designated software trainer for the Edina Realty agents in northwestern Wisconsin. But I firmly believe that paper-based maps still have a place.

Here’s why. First, larger maps help you see the big-picture context. Without them, you’ll be looking at the world through a tiny window. Plus, when you’re driving through a dead zone your phone or tablet will only work if you’ve planned ahead and preloaded detailed maps of that particular area. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t.

So I’d especially like to recommend two entire books full of good old paper maps:

  • Northwest Wisconsin Fishing Map Guide, Northern Region. You can also find maps, fisheries info, and other lake information by going to the menu above and clicking on NW WI Lakes & Rivers. But when you’re out driving around, this 224-page volume can be an invaluable reference. Although it’s intended for anglers, it includes great maps and lake information that’s helpful for the non-angler, too. Available from Amazon, and also at finer bookstores, hardware stores, and bait shops everywhere.
  • Wisconsin Atlas and Gazetteer, by De Lorme. These 96 pp. of large-format maps show all the roads in Wisconsin—including the smallest dirt back roads. They also show terrain features, boat landings, and other points of interest. (For more about specific communities, you can also go to the menu above and click on NW WI Communities. And for the quickest routes to get here, click on Get Here.)

I love my phone, and buyers have told me the Edina Realty Mobile App can be extremely helpful. But to supplement your phone, tablet, or dash system, don’t forget plain old paper maps. They run on a user-friendly page-based operating system. Their batteries never die, and they work everywhere. Try one today.

Septic Systems Simplified

Septic Systems Simplified

I’d like to address a topic that may not be very glamorous. But it’s one that’s important to know about when you’re buying a home or cabin in NW Wisconsin.

If you’re living in town, then you probably have city water and sewer. All you need to worry about now is paying a small bill every month. But once you move to the country, you’re on your own. Don’t worry though. Most of the time these systems work just fine.

septic-system

Still, before you buy a home or cabin, it’s important to know about its septic system. Repairs and upgrades can be expensive. Here’s a quick overview; to really understand septic systems thoroughly, you may wan to do an online search on some of these terms and read further.

The first question you should ask is what type of system a particular home or cabin has. There are three main types: conventional, mound, and holding. You may also hear about something called a “separate gray water system.” One other term I’ll explain briefly is “perc test.” You’ll want to know what it is and why it’s important.

A conventional septic system runs waste water and solids into a large concrete septic tank where bacteria digest the solids. Liquids run out the other end into a drain field that’s made of perforated pipe buried in a gravel-filled trench. Solds that don’t digest settle out into a sludge at the bottom of the septic tank. Every two or three years, you’ll need to have this sludge pumped out. It’s not expensive, and it’s no big deal. It’s just part of owning a home or cabin that’s outside the city limits.

A mound system is similar, except that the drain field is above ground level inside a large mound of gravel and dirt. It’s used in certain special conditions – most often when the soil isn’t permeable enough, there isn’t enough soil before you reach bedrock, or the water table is too close to the surface. Although the mound can be landscaped in a way that makes it less noticeable, it’s still going to be there. Another negative is that mound systems often require a pumping system in between the septic tank and the drain field. Otherwise, these systems work just like a conventional septic system.

A holding tank is just what it sounds like – a hold tank that needs to be pumped out a soon as it’s full. I see them most often at older lakeshore cabins. They’re usually only used for sites that are unsuitable for either a conventional or a mound system. Sometimes, however, they were installed because they were a less expensive alternative.

As you’d expect, a larger tank is better. But it still needs to be pumped out eventually. And when it is, a large tank will cost more to empty.

You may be able to upgrade a holding tank to conventional or mound system. But even if you can, it will be a fairly expensive undertaking. Meanwhile, pumping out the holding tank will be a regular expense. If the system serves a small cabin that’s only used on a dozen weekends every year, that’s less of an issue. But if that cabin becomes a full-time, year-round home for a family of six, then you’re going to have a monthly pumping bill.

To help with that problem, some homes and cabins have a separate “gray water system.” (You’ll also see them used on conjunction with conventional and mound systems.) Gray water, as opposed to “black water,” is all the waste water that hasn’t come from a toilet. Depending on local codes and regulations, your gray water can sometimes be released with little or no processing; you could even use it to water your lawn or garden. Just be careful about what soaps you use, and avoid pouring too many household chemicals down the drain (probably a good idea anyway).

Finally, here’s one more term you should know about. If you’re building a new home or cabin, you may hear about something called a “perch test.” That’s short of “percolation test,” and it’s a measure of how permeable your soil is. If your building site is on clay soil that’s relatively impermeable, it could mean you’ll need a mound system or holding tank. It it’s on relatively sandy soil, you can relax. You’ll probably pass your perch test with flying colors.

This was an important topic, but maybe not a very fun one. If you read all the way to here, then perhaps you are ready to start shopping for your country or lake home or cabin – www.JeanHedren.com

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