Real Estate Frequently Asked Questions

When you are entering the market to buy or sell a home, you may find yourself asking a few questions about how to get started. To help you with this, we have provided a few answers to some common questions buyers and sellers have asked us.  

What should I do first when starting the home buying process?

Get in contact with a couple lenders and find out what lending products they have available. Local Banks, Credit Unions, and Mortgage Companies offer different types of loans and rates. Check to see if they are easy to contact, whether they answer questions in a timely fashion, and are easy to work with. Once you have established a relationship with your lender and provided documentation for them to give you a pre-approval letter, then you can reach out to a realtor about finding a home. Realtors also have good working relationships with lenders, so if you are interested in getting a lender referral, a Realtor may be a good place to start. Here’s a helpful guide to the entire home buying process.

What resources are available to me when searching for homes online?

There are a few great ways to search for homes online. First, check out local realtor websites to see if they have current listings on their website. You can also search using Realtor.com or Zillow.com. Both of these site engines list current homes on the market and are relatively up to date on the status of the homes. Each of the sites also provide realtor contact information or can help you connect to a local realtor in the area you choose. Secondly, if you have a realtor already, they can set you up on automatic emails so you see first-hand when a new home is listed under your specific search parameters. Realtors can also send you additional property information on any property listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Services) platform. Getting in contact with a realtor can help make finding a home online a whole lot easier.

How do I find local realtors in specific cities?

Are you looking to relocate or do you want to see which realtors are available in your hometown? Simply search Realtors, Real Estate Offices, or Real Estate Agents in your specific or neighboring cities for a list of available real estate agents. Give them a call and see who you prefer to work with. Ask them questions about their experience, certain cities or neighborhoods you like, and about the market to get a feel for their knowledge and background. Choosing an experienced and knowledgeable realtor will hopefully make buying a home an enjoyable experience for you.

How long does it take to close on a home?

Depending on both parties involved, a cash buyer can typically close in as little as two or three weeks from the time of an accepted offer. If financing, loans usually take 30 to 60 days to close with an average of 45 days. In that time frame, a buyer can choose to have tests and inspections completed. Loan originators need time to verify your finances in order to approve you for the type of loan you have requested. Title companies need to perform and verify marketable title in order to transfer the title into your name at closing.

What should I do as a homeowner to get my home ready to sell?

One way to help achieve the best sale price for your home is to view it from a buyer’s perspective. Buyers are looking for any potential defects in the home as they walk around the outside perimeter as well as the inside of the home. They look at foundation, roof, siding, doors and windows, as well as the curb appeal. If you see anything that needs to be fixed, it is best to do repairs before your property hits the market. Inside your home, you want it to show in the best light possible. Declutter so buyers can see the space of the rooms, floors, countertops and shelves. People need to imagine themselves living there and sometimes that can be hard to do if you have a lot of personal items in your rooms. Make sure HVAC, plumbing, and electrical are in working order prior to showings as any disrepair or issues can distract someone from making an offer.

How long does it typically take to sell a home?

This is a great question that varies year to year and season to season. In a hot market where buyers are plentiful, a home can have offers in as little as an hour on the market. There could be multiple offers where the price of the home is driven upward, typically referred to as a seller’s market. Other times, the opposite can happen. A home can stay on the market for months if the market is slow, saturated with homes, or buyers are hard to come by due to high interest rates. This is referred to as a buyer’s market when generally what we see are declining home prices or lower offer amounts on properties. This is a hard market for a seller to be in as it takes longer for them to receive an offer. When we have a dry market, there are few listings and few buyers. We experience this type of market when people don’t have a place to go, therefore they do not put their home on the market. If sellers don’t put their home on the market, buyers have less to choose from, causing them to wait for new properties to come onto the market. With any market, buyers and sellers can experience difficulties in transitioning from one place to another.

What is the difference between Assessed Value, Market Value, Market Analysis, and Appraisal?

Assessed Value: The dollar value of your property for tax purposes on a yearly basis. It can fluctuate based on the market, any improvements you have made to your home or property, or if you or your neighbors have had recent sale transactions.

Fair Market Value: Based on the agreed-to price between a seller and a willing and able buyer for a certain property on the market. That value does fluctuate depending on recent sales in the area.

Market Analysis: An evaluation done by a realtor who looks for recently sold properties similar to your property to determine a range of what your home could sell for.

Appraisal: Ordered by a lender, this process determines a home’s value based on the appraiser’s review of your property and consideration of sold comparables in the area. It is similar to a market analysis except that appraisers use various methods to determine the value of the property.

What are Easements? 

Easements allow a person to access their property when it is set back or connected in such a way that prevents a person from accessing it unless entering onto another’s property to do so. Most common access is from a shared driveway. Other ways of access could be from a dirt road or a trail to the property. Sometimes a property is landlocked and the only way to get to it is through use of an easement. Learn more about easements Understanding Easements – Route 63 Realty.

Can you purchase landlocked property?

When looking at property, you want to see maps that show the access to the property. If the land appears to be landlocked, you will want to determine if you can get access to it prior to writing an offer. If the seller has already started an easement request through the county, you will want to determine when it will be finalized. If the county has not been notified of such a request, then you will want to learn whether the neighboring owners will grant you access either willingly or for a nominal cost, and then move forward with an easement request with the county. If that doesn’t work, it may be best to look at other properties to purchase. Note: Sellers are able to sell landlocked property.   

What is a perc (percolation) test? 

A perc test is a soil test that determines how quickly water moves through the soil. A perc test can be done by septic system installers or by land surveyors. Having soil tested determines whether a septic system can be installed and where it can be located. This information can be used to design the right size and type of system best suited to the property. If the soil test does not pass for a conventional system, then a mound or holding tank will be recommended.

Are you buying a home with a septic system?

If yes, here is what you need to know. The most common type of septic system in rural areas is a conventional septic system. This system’s job is to remove waste from the home and dispose of it through the tank. Sludge breaks down and gets pumped out by septic companies periodically (every 3 to 5 years) while the liquid travels through perforated pipes to remove harmful bacteria before reaching the drain field where the water slowly enters back into the soil. There is very little cost and maintenance to owning a septic system if it is kept in good working order. To find out more about septic systems and how they work, please refer to Understanding Septic Systems.

What are mound septic systems?

A mound-style system is used when there is poor or shallow soil, high groundwater, or shallow bedrock that is close to the surface. The drain or leach field is located just beneath the sand and gravel mound. Unlike other systems, this system has a distribution box off the tank where liquid is pumped to the mound in controlled amounts in effort to prevent bacteria from entering groundwater. A mound system relies on a pump to remove the wastewater. If the pump fails, the septic tank can back up quickly. This system is less expensive to install than a traditional conventional septic system as the trenches are not as deep.

What are the signs of septic system failure?

Signs of failure could come at any time which is why it is very important to have your system pumped and inspected periodically (every 3 to 5 years). If you suspect continuous clogged drains, gurgling noises when you run the shower or flush the toilet, sewer backup into your home, it may be time to call a septic service provider to diagnose any problems and correct them. If you notice standing water, soggy spots, or lush grass near the tank or drain field, sewer odors inside or outside the home, these can also contribute to possible signs of failure. It is wise to call a septic company early on before the issues get worse.

Are household cleaners limited with a septic system?

Septic companies usually do not advise using bleach, iron removers and other cleaners as they can prevent the system from breaking down the waste properly and getting rid of bacteria. You will want to verify with your septic company what would be safe to use and what isn’t when using household cleaners. Please refer to our website for more information on septic systems. Understanding Septic Systems.

What is the most common type of foundation?

Full and walkout basements are the leading preferred types of foundation. Their primary purpose is to add additional living space to the home along with a safe haven when storms are passing through. They are the most costly due to excavating, increased structural materials, and labor. Learn more on “Understanding Building Foundations”.

What foundation materials are common in NW Wisconsin?

Poured concrete seems to be the most common way of adding a foundation for either slab, walls, or both. Poured concrete is seamless, durable, and easily customizable to the layout of the home. Weather permitting, it is the fastest way to complete the foundation work. Insulated Concrete Forms are also on the rise with an insulation barrier attached right to the form creating higher efficiency. Learn more on “Understanding Building Foundations”.

How does a home with wood or stone foundation differ from concrete?

Typically found in older structures, both wood and stone foundations have benefits and disadvantages depending on how the material was used in construction, and how it has held up over time. These foundations can both be higher-maintenance, more costly to repair, and prone to water damage. Having the foundation checked and noticing any defects right away can help eliminate any possible future issues. Learn more on “Understanding Building Foundations”.

More questions? Ask us!

Route 63 Realty

We can provide you the expertise you’re looking for! If you are ready to begin your home search, our real estate agents offer superior communication along with area and market knowledge.

Stop by or give us a call at Route 63 Realty in Hayward, Wisconsin 715-558-7846. Our staff are readily available to help answer any questions you may have.

“A house is not a home till you move in and make it yours!” – Route 63 Realty