Buying Process

3/7/15 Take Root Milwaukee Housing Market Buyers Event

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Ready for home ownership? Starting to consider your options? Concerned about what you can afford?

Did you know that there are forgivable loans of up to $20,000. for homebuyers ready to rehabilitate City owned properties?

Here’s a free event where you can find out what’s available, from fixer uppers to fully renovated. Representatives from the City of Milwaukee, neighborhood organizations, loan officers, and Realtors will be all there to personally guide you through those first steps.

This Saturday morning, March 7 from 8 to noon, at the Italian Community Center 631 E. Chicago in the Third Ward.

For additional information, please visit the link below or just give me a call. 414-807-7599

8/1/14 Milwaukee Condo Foreclosures Short Sales

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

How attractive are foreclosures and short sales to a condo buyer?

Bottom line. Buying a foreclosure or short sale can be a long, drawn out affair. Definitely not for first-timers.

Goal #1 of a buyer? Find a condo that meets current actual needs – at a reasonable price – on your own time table.

So why can’t that happen with a short sale?

Cuckoo time table goes out the window.

Cuckoo time table goes out the window


Because the tables are reversed. The bank, not a seller, owns the property. The buyer making the offer waits, and waits, and waits (catching the rhythm here?) for months, often six months, at the behest of the bank. The buyer time-table goes out the window and must be completely open-ended, usually playing havoc with decision making.  A more typical length of time between offer and closing on a conventional purchase is six weeks.

By the time the bank gets what it’s owed on the property, you could probably find something well priced in the open market. Plus, there simply aren’t that many condo foreclosures in Milwaukee. When the bank finally decides to accept an offer, it still must grind through its own internal processes toward a closing. Attorney advice time? Strongly recommended, adding to final buyer costs.

And even after closing, that buyer is still left with a property that could need work before occupancy, remembering that no unit maintenance was done during the long foreclosure process, even within a condo building with ongoing, routine maintenance.

Buy in haste, repent at leisure. Forget scoring the  – questionably in the long run – best deal in town. It’s challenging enough to find a unit to like and want to live in, without the obstacle course set up by the foreclosure process.

2/13/14 Milwaukee Lenders and Realtors speak

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Today, at a meeting of R.E.A.L., lenders reported an upward trend in applications for mortgage pre-approval.  The consensus was that, as far as they were concerned, it was business as usual, and that the much discussed new ‘qualified mortgage’ wasn’t all that much different than the process they’ve always followed strattera adhd. So they urged agents to advise buyers not get their backs up about required documentation. The information required of potential buyers was essentially the same as before. And, the increase in applications suggested to them that activity will pick up in spring, that is of course if it ever arrives. The attendant at the filling station was muttering today, in the midst of a snow squall, that he really wanted to get his hands on that groundhog.

At the same meeting, realtors shared stories about their recent experience with buyers and sellers, agreeing that openness to questions about the process were the key to a successful relationship. This reminded me of the wisdom of a dedicated kindergarten teacher who observed to me that for her each new September brought in a whole new group of children whose only similarity was their age, that every child seemed to break the mold of students in the previous class.

It’s the same thing for me with clients. Just because after twenty years in it I’m overly familiar with the wonderful world of Milwaukee real estate doesn’t mean that they are. So if it seems as though I have too many talking points, the goal is to draw out the questions that buyers, especially newbies, may not even know they have. Some imagine that it’s cut and dried, assume that they know the roadway. Those folks often land into some unanticipated potholes, run into roadblocks. It’s so important to get to the place where it’s comfortable to ask those ‘stupid’ questions all of us are afraid to ask out loud. It’s a hackneyed phrase but it likely will be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. So negotiate it, smoothly, with all the expertise you can find.

When waiting takes its toll

Waiting, taking its toll



11/1/12 Milwaukee Condos-Rent or Buy?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

We’re hearing a lot of predictions, about the ‘when we get back to normal’ housing market, from experts checking in with tug of war opinions.

The bottom line, for those choosing to rent or buy, remains affordability, or access to a mortgage loan. Even at historically low condo prices and even lower interest rates, buyers haven’t actively sought loans. They opt to rent, or rent for any of the traditional reasons, such as short term employment.

As people contact CondoMilwaukee about potential condo rentals, especially downtown, they often find out that the unit amenities they want don’t exist at the monthly price range they are willing to pay. Rental prices are going up. Renting downtown isn’t an option for them.

I encourage anyone considering a move downtown to speak to a lender before making that choice. It’s a matter of collecting up some basic financial information and presenting it to a lender for evaluation. And if the answer is no, not yet, the lender should offer some strategies or a timeline for achieving that goal. Good information to have.

If the answer is yes, desirable units are currently available at very affordable prices. Some flexibility and balance between wants and needs may be required but if there is a real desire to experience life in the downtown area, it should be possible to meet that goal.Milwaukee downtown

With the same amount, a budgeted monthly rental range can translate into purchasing power and the financial advantages of home ownership.

That’s where my expertise can complement your persistence, finding a place that works for you, rewarding your financial smarts.

Why settle for less?

For a reliable lender recommendation,

8/1/12 Milwaukee condo Realtor says, “It’s Not My Money”

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

(An exerpt from The Adventures of RealtorMan. For more of his ongoing adventures around Milwaukee, select the link just to the right of this post.)

R.M.’s tour with Shel and Michelle was now in the Third Ward. He was pointing out its various places of interest.

“We’ve actually been in this part of town before.” said Shel. “Lots of restaurants.”

“Lots of shopping.” added Michelle.

“Lots of condos.” chimed in R.M.

“So do you sell more here than anywhere else? Is it your preferred location?”

“Not necessarily. I mean, I wouldn’t try to talk buyers into one area over another. It’s more likely that I would talk somebody out of a unit than into one.”

“How’s that? What about when you work on one of those projects, what then?”Chapter 23 Its-Not-My-Money

“Employees of those projects sometimes sign a contract stating that they won’t show a customer who visits the project any units outside the project itself. But, as I was telling you before, an agent who is not an employee is not subject to that contract. He is simply representing the project at a property showing or an Open House. He can show a buyer any listed unit anywhere, and it is professional to do so. Let the buyer choose.” R.M. emphasized. “So, one of two things will happen. One, it will confirm that the project is desirable and good value, or two, the customer will prefer something else in another location.”

“So, you wouldn’t try and talk us into something? What about those special bonuses agents get for selling?”

“It’s true that sometimes there’s what’s called a selling bonus offered to the selling agent, over and above a commission, usually for a sale made within a specific time frame. When this is the case, in the interests of full disclosure, I inform the buyer, especially if it’s a unit I think he should take a look at, because a buyer should know and come to a decision regardless of whether I earn more or not.”

“That sounds fair at least.”

“It’s not my job to coerce an offer. I really take issue with the sales effectiveness training mentality of “overcoming objections”. This is not a pair of shoes under consideration. It’s a major purchase. And anyway, why bring a buyer into an association, into a community, who will be disgruntled later?”

“Angry lawsuits to follow, you mean?” joked Shel. “So get back to coercing an offer. You were saying..?”

“When it comes down to actually making an offer, I would hope to have already introduced the whole gamut of what’s available in all areas and developments at the buyer’s price point. And in spite of the misconception out there that there are too many condos available, it often turns out to be not as many as an individual buyer might think. Taking into consideration the amenities a buyer wants, it gets narrowed down rather quickly. It’s my job to advise, up to a certain point, but when it comes to the actual offer it’s not my money Look At This. It’s the buyer’s money.”

“So you don’t advise an offer amount?”

“We can discuss the proposed amount. I can give you facts about recent sold prices, days on market, what condo fees cover. I can compare a unit in one development to another. I encourage the buyer to choose in his or her own best interest. I do explain the three results any offer might bring, but the buyer must decide on the price that goes on the offer.”

“OK, I’ll play. What three results?”

“An offer can come back rejected. It means that the offer was unacceptable to the seller, most often because of the offered price. The seller chooses to not negotiate with this buyer. If the buyer wants to pursue the property, he will have to begin with a new offer.”

“The language of offers, like the language of flowers?” Michelle asked. “Rue, for regret?”

“Paper roses only, in real estate. Verbal offers mean nothing. Now in the second case, the offer is countered by the seller. One or more of the conditions of the offer is altered to the benefit of the seller. The seller is now negotiating with the buyer. This can be about any number of things but is most often about price, financing, closing date, special allowances, or inclusions.”

“What are those?”

“Inclusions, or exclusions, are literally what’s included or left out of the property for sale. They are given in the listing information. Sometimes it’s about who keeps trees or plants on the property, in the case of houses. In condos, its more likely to be about window treatments, sound systems, shelving, or other fixtures, but something very specific to the unit.”

“And special allowances?” Shel remembered to ask.

“”This refers to specific costs of replacing an item in the property, such as worn carpeting, or to what we call ‘deal sweeteners’, seller or developer assistance with closing costs or a period of condo fees, for instance.”

“And in the third case?” Michelle prompted R.M.

“In the third case, the offer is accepted and, at closing, you become the proud new owners.”

“End of shopping?”

“At least that kind of shopping, yes. Did you know there’s another kind of shopping in this business.”

“What do you mean?”

“Cast your minds back to The Bend in the River project, as an example. The developer hires a secret shopper to evaluate and grade the sales performance of an employee or a representative. It’s called ‘being shopped’. They assess on punctuality, degree of sales polish, positive attitude, that sort of thing.”

“So, it ends up like a normal work evaluation but you don’t know you’re being watched? That’s creepy.”

“It’s also unfair. Suppose you are a legitimate customer coming into a sales trailer looking for information. I am there for Open House that day and an tied up talking with another customer, the secret shopper, who of course is only pretending to be interested. You either have to wait for me, if I am alone, or you start talking with another agent working there that day. Remember procuring cause? Then I completely miss the opportunity of working with a legitimate buyer because I’m being shopped.”

A condo view of the working Milwaukee River entrance to busy Lake Michigan harbor.

A condo view of the working Milwaukee River entrance to busy Lake Michigan harbor.

They had come to a cul-de-sac and R.M. paused before turning back. They were out at the end of Erie Street. The Summerfest Festival grounds were just to the north.

Michelle asked,”About this Buyer Agency contract you mentioned before. Would we have to pay you anything upfront, or any other time?’

“No. I would have you waive any other costs when you sign the contract. That’s just the way I work. And the seller still pays the commission when you buy.”

“Sounds to me like it’s in our best interests to have you represent us. It’s a more complicated business than we thought.” Shel commented.

“In other words, we’ll be sticking to you like glue.” interpreted Michelle.

“Well thank you for that. See those fishermen over there? They’re on traditional fishing grounds. You see the marriage before you of the pricey condo owner and the the locals. There is a development up in Port Washington where the same thing occurs. Condo owners look out the windows of their expensive units and see, shall we say, ‘traditionally dressed’ fisher-folk passing by, then watch and smell as traditional fishing continues steps from their door.”

“Do the locals eventually get forced out?”

“In an area like this, there has to be some rubbing of elbows, some give and take of neighborhood usage. Call it charm, call it nuisance, this is still a river entrance to a city harbor even though much of the warehousing and industry has moved and left opportunities for housing, in its wake, if you’ll pardon the expression.”

June 4th Nationwide Open House-Investigate Milwaukee condos pricing, low rates

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

This coming weekend, June 4th and 5th, open houses are scheduled across the nation, and here in Milwaukee, it’s your opportunity to visit a variety of housing options and to meet Realtors who are open to your questions about the relative merits of home ownership now.

Paul is participating in this event on Saturday, June 4, from noon until 2 p.m. at 413 N. 3rd ( at St. Paul) in the Soapworks. The parking meters are free on weekends! So stop by, and meet one of the most experienced Realtors in the downtown area. You can hook up with him there and then, if you want to know more, schedule a private tour, at your own convenience, of other buildings and developments that are of potential interest to you.

Follow this link for details on the unit for sale in the Soapworks where you can meet Paul this Saturday afternoon.

09/15/10 Who pays for what?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In Wisconsin, the seller of the property pays! Buyers, listen up!

The costs of selling a listed property, including title update, transfer tax, and commission, are paid for by the seller.

The asking price is based on recently sold prices of similar properties in the area. The contractual commission that only the seller pays is factored into the selling price and is divided between the brokers of the real estate companies and the Realtors® involved in the transaction. The buyer pays no commission.
The buyer does pay the costs of obtaining a mortgage from a lender, or for any optional inspections or testing at the property.

In the different case of a “Buyer Agency” agreement, a buyer opts to sign a contract with an agent who is required to act in the buyer’s interest.

Downtown Condo Expo-It was good to see you there

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

This weekend is the ninth annual Downtown Milwaukee Open House— now expanded to a two day event. It’s fun and it’s free!

On both Saturday and Sunday, from 11 – 3, take the free tour bus from the Milwaukee  Public Market at 400 N. Water that will tour over 20 downtown condo developments, either projected, under construction, or recently completed. You can get off the bus, visit any or all of the Open Houses at those and nearby developments, and catch the shuttle back whenever you like. See how the condo half lives! Imagine yourself doing the same!

On Saturday only, from 10 – 3, a Housing Expo will be held on the second floor of the Public Market, featuring a talk on downtown housing trends, and information booths sponsored by local merchants, developers, sports and entertainment venues, Realtors and lenders.

Co-ops and Condos

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

These are two distinct types of ownership, though sometimes the terms are mistakenly used interchangeably.

How to tell them apart? It’s not always possible to tell just by looking at the building, or even, at first glance, by the listing information.

Condo home ownership is described in full in the Condo Living Overview. A co-op, or co-operative, is similar to a condominium in that it has units within a larger building with common units and facilities. The difference is that the owners do not actually own their units.

Instead, they buy shares of stock in the corporation that holds title to the building. In return for stock, they receive what’s termed a ‘proprietary lease’ that entitles them to occupy a particular unit.

Also like condo owners, they pay their share of the buildings expenses. So the monthly fee and the taxes are details to look at for the sign of a co-op rather than a condo. The co-op fee is relatively higher than for a similar unit in a condominium building,  but the co-op fee includes taxes. A condo unit is owned by the buyer and taxes are charged individually.

What makes a Good Deal Good?

Monday, August 10th, 2009

It’s not just about paying less. Unless you have the time and resources to spend on fixing up a property, buying a poor quality property, or in a condo building with issues, is not a good deal at all. Over time, you will likely end up spending more. The goal should be on finding a place you want to live in.

When I find a good deal on a condo I will highlight it in Best Condo Buys. This will be a unit, sometimes more than one, that I consider to offer special value based on a price change, added amenities, or anything else that makes the unit stand out from the rest. This isn’t the same thing as the featured listings you see on other websites or marketed in ads. I make these recommendations based on my working knowledge of the market.

There is some uncertainty about the market but there are also incentives for buying now. Interest rates are still at historic lows.
There is a good initial selection of units across all price ranges, plus motivated sellers.
The $8,000 first time buyer tax credit can now also be used as part of a down payment. To qualify for the tax credit, closing must occur before July1 of this year. Plan ahead, keeping  in mind that a dedicated search for the most appropriate condo can take time and that financial institutions take months to finalize some deals, after an accepted offer and before closing.