Wisconsins full time residential real estate agent focused in waterfront property; luxury lake homes, lake homes, vacant lake land and vacation homes or second home opportunities . There is no place like "WISCONSIN LAKES". If lake living is what you desire then Lake Country is the place to be!If you are thinking about buying waterfront property in Wisconsin,a little time invested in learning about waterfront living will pay back sizeable dividends in matching your expectations to realities.

The magic of Wisconsin’s lakes - The LAKE COUNTRY

There are many reasons people fall in love with Wisconsin lakes. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets, good fishing, a tour of the water in a favorite boat, a beautiful backdrop to enjoy scenery and explore nature, a place to reflect or just get away from it all. With more than 15,000 Wisconsin lakes, there are many types and sizes of lakes all with their own unique character and natural assets.

Your best source for Lake Country Living is Lisa Bear.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Decorating Hacks: Genius Makeovers You Can do In A Day

white dining room       

Display a Great Collection on a Dining Room Table

In the living room of an Atlanta house by designer Beth Webb, an elm plank table from Clubcu, which often doubles as a dining table, dramatically displays a collection of Chinese porcelains. "The pieces don't have to match, but they do have to play together well," Webb says.

Hang an Interior Curtain

In the kitchen of the same Atlanta house, a linen curtain runs on a track spanning the room and can be pulled "to conceal the mess of preparation," Webb says. Steel-and-glass casements frame views of the pool and garden. KWC Gastro faucet.


Mix and Match Your Bedding

"We call this 'the sailor room,' because we went all out with the nautical theme," designer Ken Fulk says of a bedroom in his Massachusetts vacation house. "The mix-and-match nature of the patterns and faded batik prints make it feel like it's a collection of old textiles brought back from a journey at sea." John Robshaw bedding. Antique cage lights hang from an antique metal four-poster bed that belonged to the previous owner.


Put an Antique in the Bathroom

The guest bath in Fulk's vacation home "feels authentic to the period of the house, but also clean and modern," he says. Pedestal tub and fixtures from Sunrise Specialty.


Paint an Inexpensive Piece of Furniture White

This Kansas City house's dining room, a former loggia, is "light, bright, and airy," homeowner and designer Zim Loy says. "I accomplished that with lots of white paint." She bought a beat-up old $60 table at an estate sale and gave it a fresh new look by the painting the base high-gloss white. Its curves echo the arms of the Barbara Cosgrove chandelier.


Cover a Wall with Plates

Loy discovered Hackerware on eBay — "there's tons of it, and it's so cheap!" — and started collecting it for the dining room. Covering the whole wall with plates has the same effect as "one big piece of art."

Wallpaper Your Vinyl Window Shades

"I had a roll of wallpaper in my office that was left over from a photo shoot we did, and I was about to put it in the trash when I thought, 'No, I can do something with this,' " Loy says. "Then I thought of the vinyl shades in our guest room. So I wallpapered them. You gotta go for it." The vinyl shades are papered in Pierre Frey's Espalier. The canopy bed was painted black to show off its silhouette.

Dress Up Hallways with Turkish Runners

In the second-floor hallway of a California house, designer Betsy Burnham overlaps Turkish runners from Rugs & Art, drawing the eye to a Moroccan-inspired reading nook. The vintage carpets "can transform a plain hallway into a decorated space," Burnham says. "A really faded, tattered rug is instantly Bohemian." The window seat is covered in Tibet woven silk from S. Harris. Pillows by Hollywood at Home; garden stool from Rolling Greens.

Move Seating Away From the Walls

"Float furniture away from the walls: It creates more intimate seating," designer Betsy Burnham says. She did just that in the living room of this California house. The console table separating back-to-back sofas is decked with vintage goddess figurine lamps and Chinese monkeys "for a Tony Duquette, William Haines flavor." Sellarsbrook rug, the Rug Company. Rectangular Cocktail Table, Baker.

Reupholster Furniture with Old Curtains

"Everything in this room has a story," designer Podge Bune says of her Hamptons cottage's living room. "The easy chair is covered in my old dining room curtains, a Designers Guild fabric they no longer make."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tips For Buying A House

1. Don't buy if you can't stay put.


2. Start by shoring up your credit.


3. Aim for a home you can really afford.


4. If you can't put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.


5. Buy in a district with good schools.


6. Get professional help.


7. Choose carefully between points and rate.


8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.


9. Do your homework before bidding.


10. Hire a home inspector.

Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Pet-friendly Home Additions

10 pet-friendly home additions: Smart flooring (© Gina Callaway)
Linoleum flooring is becoming popular among designers because it has anti-microbial properties, it's easy to maintain and it is more environmentally sustainable than vinyl flooring, says Nancy Chwiecko, associate professor of interior design at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., and author of the book "There's a Dog in the House."
Wood floors, too, are easier to maintain than carpet if you have a pet. Pick light to medium finishes, lower-luster glosses or distressed woods to help minimize scratches from pet nails. Keep your pet's nails rounded and short to prevent scratches.
If you prefer carpet, consider modular floor-carpet tiles from companies such as Flor because they can be replaced easily in case of accidents, Chwiecko says. Flor will recycle any returned tiles.
What if you have to move? There's no need to replace the floors, as long as they're still looking great.

10 pet-friendly home additions: Pet doors   (© Steve Lovegrove)

Pet doors  

If you work long hours or spend a lot of time away from home, pet doors can be a great way to make sure your dog isn't stuck inside the house for hours on end.
Pet doors can be pricey, costing between $80 and $500. But there's an array of options, says Jon Mortensen, owner of Seattle-based PetDoorStore.com, which sells thousands of pet doors each year. There are doors for walls, screens, windows — even sliding-glass doors. Some doors are activated by microchip for more security; others are built to withstand 50 mph winds.
What if you have to move? "It's possible you may have to replace the door, but not certain," says Sharon Berry, a managing broker with Windermere Real Estate in Redmond, Wash. "It's all between the buyer and seller." If the buyer asks you to replace the door, the cost ranges from $700 to thousands.

10 pet-friendly home additions: Latches on cabinets and toilets  (© Tiburon Studios)

Latches on cabinets and toilets

Childproof latches can be useful when you have a puppy or kitten that is fascinated with drinking or playing in the toilet or getting into cupboards. It's important to keep pets from getting into food, cleaners and medicine. Lysol-type cleaners, chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts and xylitol sweetener in gum can be toxic — even fatal — for dogs. Spinach leaves, potpourri and acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol, are extremely toxic for cats.
"Pets can chew through plastic bottles, so keep medicines away from your pets," says Dr. Patricia Olson, chief veterinary adviser for the American Humane Association.
Remember, too, that cats and dogs like to chew on electrical cords, so tuck them away, unplug them or use plastic covers that snap over them. Child gates are an easy way to keep your dog away from certain areas of the house.
What if you have to move? Childproofing isn't a detriment to home value, Berry says. Buyers can remove these features if they don't want them. Childproof latches can be removed easily, as can child gates.

10 pet-friendly home additions: Window screens (© George P. Choma)

Window screens

If you live in a high-rise with open windows, screens are vital to keeping your pets safe, especially cats.
"People have the misconception that cats have good instincts and won't jump out," says Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan.
During warm months, the hospital sees two to four cats a week that are hurt or killed in falls. She says that many people think that bars or child window guards will help, but cats can get through them. Cats will also jump from balconies and fire escapes, she says.
If you rent and do not want to spend money on permanent screens, you could purchase inexpensive, accordion-style screens that fit various-size windows.
What if you have to move? Most houses have screens, Berry says. There's no need to remove them if you sell your house.

10 pet-friendly home additions: Fence  (© hightowernrw)


"I think good fencing is vital," Chwiecko says. "You're going to have a happier dog, a happier family and happier neighbors."
Invisible fences can be a good option for people whose neighborhoods do not permit physical fences. But many pet experts do not recommend them because they can inflict pain, and some dogs test the fences every day. Some dogs also have also become more aggressive because they associate the shock from the fence with passers-by, Blake says.
If you have a physical fence, ensure it is in good condition and free of loose boards or metal that could hurt your pet or allow it to get out. Another tip: Keep benches and big rocks away from fences; they can be launching points for a dog to jump the fence.
What if you have to move? Good fences make good neighbors and make good overall sense to keep, Berry says.

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Pros and 7 Cons of Refinancing

Upside 1: Cheap loans

The low interest rates are the best reason to refinance now, says Andrew Schrage of Money Crashers, a personal-finance site. Recent numbers for 30-year fixed-rate loans are lower than the one-year introductory rates on adjustable-rate mortgages in most years since 1992.

Upside 2: Improved loan period

In addition to lowering your rate, consider shortening the length of your loan. In the first years of a 30-year loan, you're paying almost all interest — it's not until the later years that you start paying principal. With rates this low, you can often both lower your monthly payment and shorten the length of your loan, saving thousands in interest, says Stuart Feldstein of SMR Research Corp., which does market research on the home-mortgage business.
But there's an opposite school of thought on how to use a refi. Ric Edelman, founder of one of the country's biggest wealth-advisory firms, recommends refinancing into another 30-year fixed (or from a 15- to a 30-year) and using the savings on your payments for other investments that will generate higher returns. He adds that a longer mortgage term also nets you a bigger annual tax deduction — at least for now — than if you shorten the term.

Upside 3: More options

Be sure to shop around — the gap between the best and worst deals can be as much as a full percentage point, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Elizabeth Weintraub, a Sacramento, Calif.-based real estate agent who covers refinancing issues for About.com, says consumers should go local when possible: "That face-to-face with somebody that you've actually met, it makes a difference versus somebody you're talking to on the phone." Borrowers looking to refinance also aren't under as much pressure as new homebuyers, she says. "When you do a refinance, you have the luxury of time to really investigate your options ... Because you can walk away from a refinance. You don't have to close that loan."

Upside 4: More leverage

Because so many loan providers are offering low rates right now, you'll have more negotiating power to get a better deal. Federal law requires lenders to give you an estimate of what they'll charge to complete your refi. Weintraub suggests bargaining to eliminate or reduce "garbage fees" that appear on your estimate — things like document preparation, wire transfer, courier, commitment and rate-lock fees — which can add $800 or more to the cost of the loan. "There's usually some flexibility there," she says. She even suggests that if the interest rate falls just before you close on your loan, you should ask the lender to give you the lower prevailing rate. "They'll say no, you can't do that, you've locked in your rate and you're stuck," she says. "But that's not true … if they find out you're going to cancel it, all of a sudden that rate comes down."

Upside 5: Escape from adjustable-rate mortgages

Refinancing allows people with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) to convert to fixed-rate loans, an advantage even if they don't save on their monthly payment immediately. "If you have an ARM, refinancing to a 30-year fixed can not only lower your rate but dramatically improve the safety of your loan by eliminating the risk that your rate might increase," Edelman says.

Upside 6: Loan mergers

Refinancing lets you consolidate a second mortgage or a home-equity loan with your home mortgage, which can save money by allowing you to pay one low rate on the entire amount, instead of a low percentage on your primary mortgage and a higher one on the other loans.

Upside 7: Cash in your pocket

If you have equity in your house, a cash-out refinance lets you pull out capital for productive uses, Schrage says. But don't make the mistake of so many people leading up to the financial crisis — draining equity to pay for vacations or consumer purchases.
"I'd only consider it for necessary expenses, such as a home renovation or [paying for] college…" he says.

Downside 1: Fees

Even if you get rid of junk fees, the cost of refinancing can offset the savings you'll get on a lower monthly payment under your new loan. Look carefully at the refinancing fees to make sure your savings will pay back those costs in a reasonable timeframe, says Don Martin, an independent financial adviser in Los Altos, Calif. Typical fees, the Federal Reserve says, range from $1,900 to $3,650, not including any loan origination fee (0 to 1.5 percent of the loan principal), private mortgage insurance (0.5 percent to 1.5 percent), or loan discount points (0 to 3 percent).
Use a refi calculator to determine your break-even point — the number of months it will take you, at your lower payment, to recoup what the lender charges for refinancing your loan. To figure out when interest rates have fallen low enough to consider refinancing, use this calculator from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Downside 2: Financial risk

Weintraub notes that in some states your initial mortgage is a "nonrecourse" loan — if you don't pay, the bank can foreclose your house and keep the proceeds from a sale but can't come after your other assets if there's a remaining deficit. But refinanced mortgage loans are usually "recourse" products — if you default and the sale of your house doesn't cover your loan amount, the bank can seize other assets. If you're worried about what happens in your state if you default on a refi, check with the state's housing finance agency.

Downside 3: Few people qualify

Banks are being more selective given the lending problems that caused the housing crash, Feldstein says. People with even average credit scores may start the refinancing process but be rejected or pay a higher rate once banks check their scores. To get the lowest rates being advertised now, you'll need a score of 720 or above, Chris Boulter, president of loan specialist Val-Chris Investments tells Yahoo Homes.

Downside 4: Prepayment penalties

Your original loan may include a penalty for paying it off early, which includes refinancing it. The Truth in Lending statement for the loan should include information on whether it has a penalty.
You should include the costs of any penalty in calculating the time it will take you to break even on the refi. If you're refinancing with the same lender, try asking whether that penalty can be waived.

Downside 5: Less mobility

If you refinance, you'll have to stay in your house for at least a few years to recoup the fees you paid to get the lower monthly rate. Otherwise, Schrage says, you'll lose money on the deal. For example, on a refinance of $100,000 in which you drop your interest rate by 2 percentage points and pay $3,800 in fees, it would take about 32 months to break even.

Downside 6: Little savings for recent refinancers

Many people have already refinanced in the past year won't save much by doing so again now. Feldstein says refinancing "may not be such a hot idea" if you're not going to drop your interest rate by at least a point and a half.

Downside 7: Paperwork, paperwork

You have to suffer a little to get that lower rate. At a minimum, that means completing a lengthy loan application that allows for a complete review of your finances and employment history, including providing recent income-tax returns, pay stubs, investment and loan statements, and proof of checking and savings account balances. You'll also need to work with the loan officer to get a survey and appraisal completed, provide proof of homeowner's insurance, and sign off on a blizzard of documents at settlement.
"The loan-qualification process is more onerous than ever because of the credit crisis five years ago," Edelman says. So if you pursue a refi, he says, you're in for "an annoying couple of months."