The Rental Market is Hot!


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The Rental Market is HOT!

As the Madison real estate market has continued to heat up, so has the rental market. Local rents are soaring as vacancy rates remain well under the national average. This has prompted some homeowners to buy their next home now, while renting their current home out. If you’ve considered the same, you may want to run your holding costs & potential income through a Rental Analysis Spreadsheet to determine whether or not the numbers work. Since the value of income property is measured differently than single family, owner-occupied property, you’ll want to be sure you’re looking at the right data when determining whether or not your home works as a rental. Need the spreadsheet? Email us for a free copy!

Thinking about buying income property? You may be interested in checking out our Investment Property Comparison Guide, consisting of active & sold properties, which is used to compare properties via cap rate, GRM, & cash return. Ask us for a free copy.

The Greenbush & Mansion Hill/James Madison Park TIFs offer great opportunity to both buyers & sellers. These amazing incentives are offered by the City to assist buyers in the rehabilitation of 1-8 unit buildings that are currently being used as rentals. Buyers must owner-occupy to qualify.

Final thought: There are literally thousands of new apartments being built in Madison this year, so sooner or later the market will balance out, and rents will probably soften up a bit. No big deal if you know what to look for in your next investment, but if you’re new to the game, be sure you’re taking all of the facts into consideration (current & future neighborhood development, neighborhood market trends, etc.).

Put_A_Rooster_On_it_LogoListing a home? Net more with Roost Realty! We’ll market your home with style, vision and boundless energy. Looking to buy? Let us be your property matchmakers! We’ll get you in the community, lifestyle and home of your dreams – because we know a home is so much more than a house.

Garage apartments, granny flats, and "tiny houses"

All about the cool phenomenon known as "Accessory Dwelling Units"

accessory dwelling unit in madison wi real estate

From converting a garage into a rental unit, to adding a second home on your lot for an aging parent -- "accessory dwelling units" are popping up across Madison!

In January 2013, changes to the City of Madison's zoning ordinance allowed residents to legally construct accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. Not only are ADUs helping some homeowners make better use of their existing space, they're also tapping into the increasingly popular "tiny house" movement.

According to the national experts at, ADUs are "a really simple and old idea: having a second, small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as an apartment over the garage, a tiny house on a foundation in the backyard, or a basement apartment."

So -- you have a garage you'd like to convert, or addition you'd like to make. Where do you start? Well, any legally added ADU will need a permit. Here's a quick list of first steps from our friends at the City.

Ten steps for planning and permitting an ADU:

1. Brainstorm your project goals and scope 2. Talk to the Madison Zoning Department about the project to determine its feasibility 3. Rough-sketch your ideas -- get creative input from family and friends 4. Identify your architect and consider potential builders (unless you're going the DIY route) 5. Work with your architect to create and refine a schematic design 6. Talk with your neighbors -- community buy-in is important, especially when adding density to already-dense areas 7. Choose a builder 8. Develop permit-ready (or construction-ready) drawings 9. Apply for your permit -- permit issued! 10. Break ground

Want to learn more? Here you go!

Green Accessory Dwelling Unit Initiative - resources for Madison homeowners who want to build environmentally friendly ADUs

10 Steps to Permitting an ADU - a quick reference guide for Madisonians interested in building (and permitting!) their own ADU

Design Coalition - design support for Madison-area residents who want to design and build ADUs - a volunteer-run resource guide on how to design, build, and get approval for your ADU, complete with zoning ordinances by state

ADUs in Madison - a Facebook page where Madisonians can share advice and resources related to ADUs

Time to Build - sample ADU floorplans, plus words of wisdom when thinking about your own ADU

Madison Zoning Department - who to contact when you're ready to get started!

Related links:

The Hottest Home Amenity: In-Law Apartments, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2014.


FSBO: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Is FSBO right for home sellers in Madison WI You're about to list your home for sale, and you want to keep as much money in your pocket as possible once the transaction is done. Often, home sellers come to the conclusion that selling their homes themselves -- For Sale By Owner -- is the best way to go.

Sometimes, going the FSBO route can work out well. But for many home sellers, it's often fraught with some surprising challenges. We frequently work with home sellers who attempted FSBO and then decided to list their home with a Realtor when their homes didn't sell. And we've heard from others who sold their homes as FSBO but weren't completely happy with the end result.

Here are the lessons we've learned, about the pros and cons of going FSBO.

Selling your home as a FSBO might make sense for you when you have...

  • a lot of time. Selling a home takes time -- from staging, to showings, to open houses, to answering follow-up questions from potential buyers and showing agents, etc.
  • a thorough understanding of the real estate market. What does current market data suggest about the fair market value of your home? Choosing a reasonable listing price requires examining a whole host of data -- you need to know where to find it, how to interpret it, and how to use it when making the case with buyers that your home is worth that value.
  • top-notch writing, photography, and marketing skills. You want your home's photos and description to shine -- these are the first things most buyers see, and it's essential that your marketing materials make a strong first impression!
  • a wide network, and a willingness to use it. Selling a home requires more than posting an online ad and plopping a for-sale sign in the yard. You need to actively recruit potential buyers. Do you have the time, interest, and ability to network with your friends, neighbors and co-workers, to generate interested foot traffic?
  • strong negotiation skills. Getting top dollar for your property requires knowing how to negotiate with buyers. And knowing what buyers will pay a premium for requires a depth of knowledge about the real estate market in your city and neighborhood!

If you read the list above and think, "check, check, check!", then congrats! Selling your home as a FSBO might be a good option. But for many people, going FSBO soon leaves them feeling like their in over their heads. If that describes you, here's why working with a Realtor might be a good idea.

Listing your home with a Realtor...

...saves you time. A lot of sellers are surprised by the amount of research, preparation, and constant communication involved in listing a home. An experienced Realtor can make it look simple, but the truth is, there are a lot of moving parts involved! If you don't have the time to manage them all, it might make sense to list your home with a professional.

...saves you peace of mind. Your Realtor handles the hassles -- the phone calls, the emails, the back and forth with other agents. And your Realtor handles the checklist of legal documents and deadlines that come along with selling a home -- so you never need to worry about missing paperwork, missed deadlines, or other slip-ups that can derail an otherwise solid sale.

...instantly widens your network. We're constantly in communication with other Realtors, networking our listings to see if they match the needs of other buyers. This is the kind of highly customized exposure that an online ad and yard sign will simply never be able to attract.

...makes you more money. The most common reason sellers choose FSBO is to save commission fees. But an examination of local real estate data shows that FSBO sellers often walk away with less money than their homes are worth -- sometimes up to 13% less money! That's significantly more than they would have paid a professional Realtor in the first place. It's shocking and sad to see how much money FSBO sellers can leave on the table simply because they don't know any better.

...gets the job done right. Why do Realtors make you more money? Because a good Realtor knows the market inside and out. She can use her knowledge and experience to suggest the best possible listing price for your home, to market your home successfully and aggressively -- and to negotiate at top dollar.

And finally, an important note about contracts and negotiations...

Many FSBO sellers don't have a complete grasp of the contracts used to execute a sale. This can result in oversight regarding their contractual rights and obligations. This can mean wasted time, less profit, and unforeseen expenses, as well as missed opportunities for re-negotiations.

Most buyers and sellers aren't experts in the ever-changing world of lending and mortgages. Without the help of a professional, they don't always ask the right questions or require the proper documentation from the other party. One of the most common complaints we've heard from homeowners who've tried selling FSBO is that their deal fell apart because of buyer financing issues. Most of these scenarios could have been avoided with proper due diligence up front.

On a similar note, many sellers typically don't understand the implications of various loan programs, which can lead to deals falling apart far too often. Some loan programs simply do not match with some types of properties -- this is critical information for every buyer and seller to know.

So -- at the end of the day, is selling your home as a FSBO the right choice for you? It's smart to weigh the true pros and cons before making such a big decision. We'd be happy to answer any of your questions as you decide the best path for you, your family, and your home!

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison

We get a lot of calls from home buyers who are looking for unique or mid-century modern homes in Madison. And we understand why! We love unique properties -- homes with extra charm, mid-century modern lines, and other special details that make them truly stand out. Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI Homes for Sale

Often, homes like this don't regularly show up in the MLS property search. But we're not deterred! We take matters into our own hands, turning into Madison real estate sleuths, working hard to track down the unique, mid-century modern homes in Madison that meet our buyers' needs.

Part of this involves turning to you. If you, or someone you know, owns a unique, mid-century modern home, and you're contemplating a move, we'd love to talk. We know you need a listing agent who understands your home's uniqueness, and who knows how to market its features properly to secure the best possible offer. That's where we come in. We know the Madison real estate market inside and out -- and our passion for vintage, unique, and mid-century modern homes means we're perfectly suited to help.

Here are a few tips for selling your unique or mid century modern home for the highest dollar possible:

1. 1950s and 60s home decor trends are back in a big way. We can work with you to turn your home’s “dated” features into today's trends that appeal to the buyers who are looking for something unique and vintage. (Here's an example of how to do that with dated bathroom tiles.)

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI homes for sale

2. Leverage your color palette! Let's identify the colors that work best with your home’s original features, then use that color palette to determine complementary wall and accessory colors that buyers will love.

3. For an instant facelift, consider painting your brick or stone fireplace.

4. Wood paneling can date a home and make a space feel heavy and dark. Refresh your space with paint and/or punchy wall art.

5. Vintage wallpaper can be beautiful! But it's very taste-specific. Consider toning it down with the neutral drapes and contemporary accessories.

6. Educate your buyers. If your home is unique, tell them how and why! From the type of materials used, to the history of your home’s design, or the credentials of it’s architect -- don’t leave anything out when selling buyers on your home's charm. 

Mid-Century Modern Homes in Madison WI vintage home furnishings

7. Make sure that your Realtor “gets it”, too. Your ideal Realtor will not only appreciate all that your home has to offer, but will be able to articulate its value to potential buyers. While it’s unlikely that every original feature in your home will be a mid-century gem worth saving, your Realtor should have an eye for vintage chic, and be able to help your home for sale reach the appropriate audience.

Just remember -- buyers are craving unique and mid-century modern homes. But not only do you need to know how to market your home to them, you need to show them why your home is special.