Home Sales Up 9.8% In 2013 – Special Report

Home sales in the Metropolitan Milwaukee area were up 9.8% in all of 2013, compared to all of 2012, according to the Greater Milwaukee Area of REALTORS®.  (See graph below)

Market Highlights

  • Unit sales topped 18,000 for the first time since 2006.
  • Home prices are up an average of $14,492 in 4-county area.
  • Fewer foreclosures has had an impact on the market.
  • The total inventory amounts are tight.


Milwaukee home sales 2013



There were a total of 18,203 homes sold in 2013, compared to 16,579 in 2012.  2013 marked the first time the Greater Milwaukee area market surpassed the 18,000 total homes sold since 2006.  This beat estimates from earlier in the year that sales would barely top 17,000 homes sold.

Below is a graph of total homes sold each year from 2000-2013.  You can see homes sales took a drop back in 2006, when the economy started to fail, but you can see the trend of homes sales in the last three years from 2011-2013.  It’s pretty obvious that there continues to be positive news about homes sales in the Greater Milwaukee area.  This trend should continue for the years to come.


Milwaukee homes sales 2000-2013

You can find other monthly homes sale charts for 2013 at our page Milwaukee home sales data.



Home Improvements That Will Help You Sell Your Home Faster

sold home for saleIt’s hard to sell a house in this economy! With so many options to choose from, buyers are looking for the best of the best. Paying attention to the small details may be the thing that helps you sell your home faster. Below are a list of 10 home improvements that are a sure-fire way to help you sell your home faster.




  1. Repaint Rooms:  To appeal to more people, try painting the walls a neutral color. Light neutral colors will make the room appear more spaces. Darker colors will contribute to a smaller looking room.
  2. Fix Drywall Dings:  Dents and dings in the walls show lack of care. Be sure to fill holes in the drywall.
  3. Power Wash and Paint the Outside:  A dirty, moldy outside of the home doesn’t look good to anyone. Use a power washer to eliminate discolorations on the paint. Repainting the outside of your home can also help you to gain the curb appeal needed to sell your home.
  4. Organize and Declutter:  Help people envision their items in your home by taking out personal items and decluttering rooms. With less stuff in each room the area will look and feel more spacious. Consider hiring a professional organizer for areas that are harder to organize, like the garage.
  5. Repair/ Replace Window Screens:  This is a very inexpensive way to spruce up the home. It will also help your home be more up-to-date.
  6. Clean and Repair Gutters:  Nothing makes your home look more neglected than overflowing gutters filled with gunk. Be sure to regularly clean the gutters every six months. While cleaning, look out for damages that need repaired and fix them.
  7. Front Door Refresh:  One of the first things that potential buyers look at is the front door. Be sure to clean glass, shine hardware and consider repainting doors that are scratched and damaged.
  8. Remove Outdated Window Treatments:  Make your home look more modern by removing outdated or broken window treatments. Install new wood or neutral color treatments. These can be installed in a day and really make the difference in the state of a room.
  9. Convert Unfinished or Unused Space Into a Storage Area:  The best way to make an unfinished space usable is by installing a storage system. By installing a storage system into an unfinished basement, buyers will see an area for storage. Consider specialized and customizable shelving and cabinets.
  10. Finish with Flooring:  Make a room instantly pop by adding new epoxy floor coatings. These are especially great for garages with oil stains and imperfections and basements. Epoxy floor coatings can be installed in 24 hours and are easy to clean.

Monkey Bar Storage Solutions is a garage storage and organization company serving Milwaukee residents.

Guest post by Stephanie Hanson, who is the Community Manager for Monkey Bars and enjoys DIY projects


2 Things That Will Get Your Mortgage Application Denied

Denied Mortgage ApplicationWhen applying for a mortgage, it’s important you understand ahead of time what a lender looks for when approving a mortgage application.  Doing your homework upfront will save you a lot of stress and worry.  Once you understand what not to do, then you will have a great chance of getting pre-approved for a mortgage.  I have seen thousands of applications and heard all the stories, but these are the top 2 things that will most likely get your application denied.


Check Your Credit Before Applying For A Mortgage

We all have the option to check our credit for free at www.annualcreditreport.com .  There is no reason to have no idea what is reporting on your credit report, before applying for a mortgage.  Most people know they have had some late payments or accounts that went into collections.  What’s important is to know exactly how these negative accounts are reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus.  For example, if the negative activity on an account is recent, within the last 12 months, this will affect your score more than something that was 3 year ago.  Even if you are the kind of person that makes sure your payment on made on time every time, never runs up high balances on your credit cards, or doesn’t open too many lines of credit, you need to check your credit once a year.

The most common negative account I see is a medical bill that somehow wasn’t paid, (or never invoiced from the hospital, after the insurance company didn’t cover the expense) end up going months without payment and then the hospital sends the account to a collection agency.  The collection account ends up reporting to your credit report and then that is when some find out they still had a small outstanding balance of $50.  Don’t let something like this report to your credit for years, when you could correct the mistake ahead of time.

Please take the time to call a mortgage professional to check your credit ahead of time or do it yourself.  It’s better to have a mortgage person do this, so they can go over it with you.  They will help you with understanding what is reporting and if anything negative is reporting, what to do to correct it as soon as possible.   Prevention is better than cure.


Not Supplying All Information For A Pre-Approval

When you apply for a mortgage pre-approval, you need to make sure you supply all the information about your situation.  Please don’t stretch the truth or try to hide something from your mortgage person.  We are hear to listen to your complete and honest situation, so we can help you with placing your situation with the right lender and getting you pre-approved.  We are on your side working for you, not against you.

Take the time to supply all the documentation needed for your income, liquid assets and any other unusual situation you have had in the past.  If you had a divorce in the past, please make sure you provide your divorce decree, regardless how long ago the divorce was.  If you had a bankruptcy in the past, please provide the all the paperwork involved in the bankruptcy and discharge documentation.


Real World Example:

A client had child support payment from a divorce in the past.  He told us what his monthly support payment was, but after looking over his divorce decree, the agreement stated there was an additional payment he had to make to his ex-wife.  He told me this was just for the child’s standard costs, like clothes, food, etc. and most divorced parents have this agreement for their child.  Well, the ex-spouse wanted this stated in the divorce decree, so this makes it an additional debt counted against him for his mortgage pre-approval.  If a court order states you have to pay a certain amount, we have to use that monthly amount against you in your total debts.  If it was just a verbal agreement between the two parents, we would not have to count this against him.


The more information we know upfront , the less likely you will have to worry about your mortgage application getting denied.  Our job as a mortgage professional is to understand your entire situation, so we know what lenders will accept or not accept your situation.  This will lead to a smoother process and very little chance of denial.


Mortgage Loan For Doctors and Physicians

Doctor HousePhysician and Doctor Mortgage Loan Program

A doctor mortgage program is specifically catered to someone that is going to be taking new employment in the medical field.  When a doctor takes on new employment at a different hospital or clinic, there are usually contracts put into place.  These contracts lay out details like income, employment dates, benefits, etc.  Typically, lenders won’t approve a mortgage if someone hasn’t started their new employment and cannot show a month of pay stubs.  This can be a common problem for doctors that have a contract in place, but don’t start the new employment for 4-6 months.

A doctor mortgage loan, under a portfolio program, will accept the contract in place as new employment and income.  Typically, the contract must have no contingencies involved.  So, if the contracts states it’s pending based on a background check, the background check needs to be completed and removed from the contract.

The doctor mortgage program is also great for resident that is looking for a new job.  Once they land that new job, right out of school, and secure a contract to show employment and income, they can be pre-approved for a mortgage.  Many new doctors right out of medical school land a nice paying salary and many look to by a home right away.  This portfolio mortgage program is a great fit for most situations like this.

Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Pre-Qualification Letter

approved loanThis topic seems to be the most misunderstood topic compared to all other mortgage terms.  A big reason many people don’t understand the difference comes from the lack of education.  A borrower just assumes a pre-qualification is a solid review of your financial situation and thinks they have a mortgage secured and can start the search for that perfect home.

Sometimes real estate agents don’t fully understand the difference between a pre-approval and pre-qualification and this can be very concerning.  If they submit an offer for their buyer with the wrong letter, their offer may get rejected and lose out on the home. It’s very important that buyers understand if they have been pre-approved or pre-qualified.  There is a difference.


The Pre-Qualification Letter

A pre-qualification is an inquiry made by a potential borrower concerning how much financing they may qualify for using basic credit information and oral estimates of income.  No information is verified with documents, since a pre-qualification doesn’t require this.  A loan officer helps with guiding and giving advice, when someone is just looking to get pre-qualified.

An inquiry for a pre-qualification would be perfect for someone looking to buy a home a few months from now, but wants an idea of how much of a mortgage they should qualify for.  They may also get an idea what programs would best fit their situation.  It helps give a future home buyer a better understanding of what to expect when they get more serious about looking at homes.

Here is some information a lender would need to help with your pre-qualification:

  • How much is your annual income?
  • How much do you plan on using for a down payment?
  • What are your estimated credit scores?
  • What is your two-year employment history?

This list is relatively short, since it’s just a pre-qualification and a brief understanding of your situation. Not all, but some lenders will issue a pre-qualification letter, so your realtor has an idea what your purchasing power should be.


The Pre-Approval Letter

A pre-approval letter is a more in-depth look at a borrowers buying power, by giving a maximum mortgage amount they would be approved for.  Most information is verified by showing documentation, since a pre-approval requires proof of what is completed on an application.  Documentation of income and liquid assets will be necessary, in order to receive a pre-approval letter.

After completing a full application, here is the list of items a lender would need to help with your pre-approval:

  • Documentation showing your income.  Tax returns, W2 statements and recent paystubs.
  • Documentation showing your liquid assets. Checking, savings, IRA, 401k, etc.  Typically, lenders will only allow a liquid asset, which means an asset you can immediately draw funds from.  An automobile would not be considered a liquid asset.
  • Documentation of anything that may be unusual, like a divorce decree from a past divorce. This shows any accounts you may or may not be responsible for.  Also, child support documentation showing you pay or receive this support.

A pre-approval letter is what you really need, when thinking about submitting an offer into a home.  Having a pre-approval letter will show you are a serious buyer and will help you if you are competing against other offers.