Sellers who wonder whether they'll have a difficult time getting a good offer can hedge their bets in the right direction by employing a few important strategies:

1. What you see is what you get - It's nearly impossible to overcome first impressions.  If a potential buyer drives up to a home and doesn't get a "warm and fuzzy" feeling immediately, it may be hard to sway their opinion.  Same goes for the first steps into the home.  The house should be "warm and inviting" right from the front door. 
2. Use a real estate agent - Many people try to forgo this step, thinking they can sell their home just as well without an agent and not pay the commission.  A good real estate agent is a good negotiator.  They do this for a living everyday. Their negotiation skills and market knowledge will save you more money in the end. Furthermore, agents know the prices of similar homes and can help a seller price and market a home correctly for a faster sale (and a better offer).
3.  Price it competitively or wait.  It's as simple as that.  If you price your home competitively, it will sell.  The fact is, the longer an overpriced home sits on the market, the less appealing it will appear to buyers.
4.  Don't be an open book.  If a buyer knows that time is of the essence, he or she may sense that desperation, almost guaranteeing a low-ball offer.
5. Don't be afraid to counter-offer.  It's almost the norm now to expect the seller to counter-offer.  The buyer may not agree and come back with yet another counter-offer, but generally, it won't drive away a serious buyer.

Congratulations to Madison's newest homeowners, Amy and Douglas!  Not only did they purchase a roomy, well-built home in a lovely neighborhood but it comes with a fantastic three-car heated garage/workshop.  May you create wonderful pieces of art in your new artist workspace.

If you or anyone you know should be buying real estate, see HouseReward.com for details on how we can help you find your perfect new home (and an affordable mortgage, as well).

Skate with the Badgers
Meet UW men's hockey players & coaches, 4:30-6:30 pm, 12/8, Kohl Center. Free (bring skates). 608-262-1440
When: 12/08/13 @ 4:30pm
Call: 608-262-1440
Web: www.uwbadgers.com
More Information:
Lace up your skates and hit the ice for the annual Wisconsin men's hockey "Skate with the Badgers." All Wisconsin hockey fans are invited to take to the ice with the current Badger players for open skating on Dec. 8, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Badger Fans can bring their skates and get autographs and photos with their favorite Badgers. Admission is free, but participants entering the ice must be wearing skates. Skate rentals are not available at the Kohl Center, so participants must bring their own skates. Additionally no sticks or puck will be allowed on the ice. Fans without skates can get autographs and photos from the stands.

Again this year, take a tour of the men's hockey locker room complex at LaBahn Arena.
The Kohl Center doors will open at 4:30 p.m. with entrance at gate B. Free parking will be available in lot 91 and 88 for the event. The concession stand outside of section 126 will be open. Please note the Wisconsin women's hockey game against Bemidji State that day starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8.

"Skate with the Badgers" on Sunday follows the UW's men's hockey inaugural Big Ten home series with Penn State. The game Friday night starts at 7 p.m., while Saturday night's contest begins at 8 p.m. at the Kohl Center. Click here to purchase tickets to this series.

By taking preventive measures before cold weather arrives, you can prevent freezing pipes and the costly damage that goes with them.

Where the trouble lies
"Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home," explains Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.

Pipes most at risk for freezing include:
  • Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
  • Pipes located in exterior walls.
  • Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
Preventative measures for outside
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.

If you don't have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.

Exposed interior plumbing
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic,crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing. 

Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.

Under-insulated walls
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation. 

"When nothing else works, say for a northern wall in a really cold climate, the last resort is to reroute a pipe," notes Abrams. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved — and how much damage is caused in the process — this preventative measure costs anywhere from $700 on up. Of course, putting the room back together is extra.

Heading south for the winter?
For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
  • Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.