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Why you should consider buying a permanent home in Wisconsin’s Bayfield and Ashland Counties


  • For a change of scenery, the Bayfield and Ashland Counties are your top choices. Filled with open spaces and rolling hills, these two counties are perfect for any nature enthusiast.
  • The Bayfield and Ashland Counties provide countless opportunities for you to experience awesome outdoor adventures. Go camping, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, and have a whale of a time!
  • There’s no better time to buy Bayfield or Ashland, WI real estate than now! Have a local agent to guide you through the entire buying process today.

The Need for Certainty in an Uncertain World

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Even as we deal with strife and uncertainty, and adjust to an ever-evolving “new normal” across America, we must reflect upon the extraordinary times we live in. We must remain mindful of one collective aspiration – the opportunity to build an equitable way of life for our community and ourselves.

As we return to offices and other places of business and resume life outside the home, let us not forget all that we learned about our capacities when we sheltered in place. Perhaps our home improvement plans can now be adjusted to accommodate fresh requirements we discovered while we stayed home – like the need for privacy for every member of the family.

Or city folk who felt stifled in boxy apartments may now think about moving out of the bigger metropolises to smaller communities, especially for those whose jobs allow them to work from home.

Where to Go

There are plenty of places to consider if you want wide, open spaces.

Northern Wisconsin, for example, offers a dramatic change of scenery if you’re used to the density of big cities. Trade in packed skyscrapers for rolling hills. Opt for the shimmer of lakes, instead of the shimmer of heat rising from city pavements. Look forward to the sound of rushing streams instead of a rush hour commute.

Northern Wisconsin is your clarion call. Search through Ashland, WI real estate or Bayfield, WI real estate for homes and neighborhoods tailored just for you. If your real estate aspirations mean building a custom home, consider looking up Bayfield, WI land for sale.

Now Is the Time

If financing rates were any indication, now would be an opportune time to bring your home buying plans back on track. Look through properties in the areas mentioned above.

Contact a local Realtor to help you out. Ask questions and do not be afraid to voice your concerns. An agent that is worth their salt will patiently walk you through your options, based on your needs and your real estate goals. Inquire about the possibility of a private showing. If you can not make a personal appearance, broach the idea of a live walkthrough on some of the properties via Facebook or related apps if location allows.

These options apply to home sellers as well. Marketing properties to buyers with Live Tour Platforms and 3D Floor plans is a great way to get properties listed quickly.

For areas where private showings are allowed, buyers should follow health and safety protocols, and abide by state guidelines. Avoid in-person showings if there are occupants belonging to a vulnerable age group.

Sellers hosting a private showing should remain just as careful. They should wipe down surfaces before and after a showing. Provide disposable shoe covers and hand sanitizers.

Sellers should also offer to open cupboards, closets, and kitchen drawers so buyers can avoid touching surfaces.

Vacation Destinations You Can Call Home

If you want to move out of the big city but do not want to miss out on the amenities you’ve been used to, a vacation destination may just be for you. A tourist area means the presence of more amenities you can enjoy like eateries, shops, and leisure facilities.

You do not just get the perks, you also get to live permanently in an idyllic location. Smaller and closer-knit communities offer a greater sense of security when it comes to helping each other out in times of need or emergencies.

Ashland and Bayfield Counties in Northern Wisconsin are two such places. Located along Lake Superior, both counties offer year-round, outdoor recreation, along with an array of cultural, historical, and leisure attractions people of all ages will enjoy.

Look to Bayfield, WI realty for opportunities to settle in these areas. Except for high season, these areas offer residents the peace and quiet they want. They are certainly ideal for freelancers, employees who can work remotely, or those wishing to establish a new enterprise or learn a new trade.

Things to do in Bayfield and Ashland Counties, Wisconsin

If you love spending time outdoors and soaking in the scenery, both Bayfield and Ashland County offer easy access to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which features 21 islands, Lake Superior and the beautiful Big Bay State Park located on Madeline Island.

These islands are perfect for those looking forward to a relaxing weekend getaway of camping and fishing. Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to find many campgrounds with boat docks providing access to waters popular for trout and salmon fishing. Other activities such as hunting and scuba diving are also allowed near some islands, but will require visitors to obtain permits.

You can reach the islands via kayak with local guides or by taking a charter or excursion boat from Bayfield. Lake Superior conditions are much different than your typical inland lake, so safety is key! There is also a regularly scheduled ferry that runs to and from Madeline Island all Summer long and until the Lake freezes over.

If you are more into winter sports, the American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Race in nearby Hayward brings ski superstars from around the world. The “Birkie Trail,” a scenic 100-kilometer trail system, draws countless skiers, bikers, hikers, trail runners, and outdoor lovers each year.

Another terrific winter destination is Mt. Ashwabay in Bayfield, which offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands. The mountain is home to a network of 12 alpine runs spanning over 40 kilometers of cross country trails across more than 65 acres. Other great activities offered at Mt. Ashwabay include fat tire biking, hiking, skijoring, and snowshoeing.

8 Communities to Consider

If Wisconsin’s Ashland and Bayfield Counties sound like the kind of place you’d like to move to, here are eight communities you may want to consider:

  1. Ashland, WI
    Nestled on the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior, Ashland, WI is a city that offers a small town feel with big city advantages. A port city on Lake Superior, Ashland offers an outstanding quality of life, with its relaxing family-friendly environment, superb outdoor venues, and top-quality schools.

    Ashland is home to many terrific local destinations, such as Whittlesey Creek Refuge, the Ashland Historical Museum, and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. The city’s vibrant area, meanwhile, features elegant brownstone buildings, the Ashland Mural Walk, and a great selection of shops and restaurants.

    Most of the groceries and dining venues are smaller and local in Ashland, although you’ll still be able to find national chains such as Culver’s, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart. Sourcing local keeps the money in the communities, which is what helps to make the Northwest Wisconsin region idyllic.

    Ashland is an ideal place to live for anyone looking forward to living a more active lifestyle. There’s a ten-mile-plus loop around Ashland that’s perfect for hiking and mountain biking. In case you need to take a break, the scenic loop features relaxing destinations along the way, such as Prentice Park and Maslowski Beach.

    The city of Ashland boasts many unique homes that will be able to accommodate any type of lifestyle or budget. You can find log homes with outbuildings, acreage, and docks on the lake or many treasured Victorians.

  2. Bayfield, WI
    Compared to Ashland, Bayfield is home to a smaller population, with an average of ten people per square mile. The quaint little city offers a laid back atmosphere in a scenic setting, with many fruit farms and orchards surrounding the area.

    Bayfield is just a few miles from Red Cliff; home to the Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, which offers tours and tastings of spirits made from local sources. There is a casino, as well as a distillery, shops, and other attractions. The annual Pow Wow is one of the area’s most anticipated events, treating locals and visitors to spectacular drumming performances, dancing, arts and crafts, and culture.

    Cottages, condos, and cabins are all available in Bayfield, WI. Several properties have acreage or improvements.

    Bayfield School averages 8:1 student-teacher ratio and is one of the best schools in the upstate.

  3. Cornucopia, WI
    Cornucopia sits just east of Bark Bay and borders the lake at Siskiwit Bay on the opposite side of the Bayfield Peninsula. The census-designated place is located close to a mainland portion of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where you’ll be able to find the Mawikwe Bay Sea Caves, also known as Meyer’s Beach Sea Caves.

    Cornucopia is home to an array of natural wonders, including ice caves, sea caves, and artesian springs. There are shops, museums, two marinas, and a fish hatchery.

    Most single-family homes for sale in Cornucopia, WI are stylish and well built, and are equipped with top-quality features such as spacious floor plans, updated kitchens, bathrooms with elegant fixtures, and oversized master bedrooms. The schools are the same as Bayfield and recent new resident reviews remark about how clean the area is.

  4. Herbster, WI
    Located just west of Bark Bay, Herbster, WI is a small northland community with a rich logging heritage and a bucolic atmosphere, with thriving local businesses such as wood crafting, quilting, carpentry, and orchard growing.

    The lakeside community is a fantastic place to live for outdoor lovers, as it boasts some of the best beach camping and bird watching around Lake Superior. A number of Class A trout streams also run throughout the town.

    A top-quality selection of real estate options is available for those planning to relocate to Herbster, WI, including gorgeous estates and lakefront luxury homes offering pristine views and seclusion.

  5. La Pointe, WI
    La Pointe is a community located on the western side of Madeline Island, just across the bay from Bayfield. Its downtown area is home to a colorful array of bars, restaurants, and other amenities. Camping, swimming, hiking, and other outdoor recreational activities are abundant and popular on the island.

    Those looking to get to La Pointe can take the Madeline Island Ferry, which usually runs Monday through Sunday between the Island and Bayfield. During the winter months, December through February, when the ice levels are adequate, an ice road provides passage to and from the mainland.

    Homebuyers in La Pointe, WI will be able to find stylish and well-designed homes, including elegant single-family homes and spacious lakefront luxury homes.

  6. Iron River, WI
    In Iron River, WI, a town located in the heart of northwestern Wisconsin, legacies matter. Named the “Blueberry Capital of the World” in its early days, the small, friendly community continues to celebrate their Blueberry Festival every year in July. The same can be said of logging, which once turned Iron River into a boomtown. Today, logging remains an important part of the local economy.

    If you like the sense of continuity Iron River brings, then this town is for you. There’s also an incredible array of wildlife, some of which can be spotted in areas where outdoor recreation abounds. It’s also home to some of the few wineries in the state.

    Properties in Iron River include acreage, as well as single-family homes with docks and outbuildings.

  7. Port Wing, WI
    With less than 400 residents, Port Wing, WI has been called a “small community with big vacation opportunities.” Lying in an area where Flag River meets Lake Superior, the town boasts pristine public beaches, trout and salmon fishing, public parks, and community events such as the Labor Day Fish Boil, Lions Club Fall Festival, and ice fishing contests.

    Indeed, Port Wing’s history of commercial fishing, as well as its logging industry, is memorialized in a museum found in one of the town’s historic buildings. If you want something more down-home, check out the bars and eateries. Or take the easy hike to Twin Falls Park and ADA-accessible boardwalks offering great views of the lake.

    If you’d like to settle here, homes for sale in Port Wing, WI come in a surprising array of architectural styles. You’ll find single-family homes built in the 1950s but updated through the years for a blend of old and new, along with sleek, contemporary homes, and a split-level Ranch on a multi-acre lot.

  8. Washburn, WI
    Washburn is the most populated community in Bayfield County, with more than 2,100 residents enjoying a quality of life Niche.com has rated an A-. The community lies on the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, where the town’s impressive collection of historic 19th century buildings were built from brownstone that was quarried locally.

    With its proximity to Apostle Islands, and the limitless recreational opportunities promised by the bay and the surrounding Chequamegon National Forest, Washburn teems with outdoor fun.

    There’s a vibrant art scene as well. Plays, art exhibits, live music, film festivals, pottery and woodcarving workshops, and grants for artistic development are part of Washburn’s regular way of life.

    If you’re interested in homes for sale in Washburn, WI, there are plenty to choose from. Custom, lodge-like single-family homes offering views of Lake Superior from every room. Updated townhomes just minutes from shopping, dining, walking trails, and the beach. Luxury homes on a 200-acre estate.

Take Action

There are many great neighborhoods, villages, towns, and communities in Wisconsin’s Bayfield and Ashland Counties. It is no wonder that houses in these communities continue to be highly desirable.

Whether you are an avid fisher, boater, kayaker, or bicyclist, there is something for everyone in Northwestern Wisconsin. You can keep active year-round with some of the friendliest, most welcoming people you will meet.

If you are a buyer, the Apostle Islands region of Lake Superior offers a unique opportunity to start anew in one of the most fascinating areas of Wisconsin.

No matter your circumstance, this area of the country provides the perfect remedy to big city blues.

Contact us today so that we can help you find your new home or assist in selling your old one. Call Windseeker Realty at 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com today. Wisconsin’s Bayfield and Ashland Counties may just be your light at the end of the tunnel.

How a Waterfront Location Affects Home Values

Owning a waterfront home is a dream for many. There’s simply nothing like living next to a body of water, where you’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves, wake up to beautiful vistas, and spend the day in idyllic relaxation or active water fun.

In Wisconsin and other parts of the Midwest, Lake Superior offers plenty of opportunities to own a waterfront property. The largest body of freshwater in the world, Lake Superior combines the vastness of the sea and the tranquility of a lake to give you the best of both worlds. With crystal clear waters, varying depths, numerous islands, and abundant fish and wildlife, the lake provides unending opportunities for fun and adventure.

Lake Superior’s shoreline stretches over 2,700 miles, spanning the city of Ontario, Canada and the states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If you’re looking for fantastic Wisconsin waterfront homes for sale, you’ll find great options in the communities along Lake Superior, particularly along the Bayfield Peninsula.

Lakefront living in Bayfield, WI

With a population of around 480, Bayfield boasts all the charm of a progressive small town with a gorgeous waterfront. Lake Superior provides numerous things to do in Bayfield, WI with abundant opportunities for water activities like fishing, swimming, boating, diving, kayaking and so much more.

Bayfield is the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a group of twenty one islands that serve as home to historic lighthouses, sea caves, wildlife habitats, and remnants of centuries-old forests. Madeline Island, although not part of the National Lakeshore, is a popular tourist destination as well boasting pristine beaches, campsites, and a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course.

The Apostle Islands offers some of the best kayaking in the United States, and Bayfield is home to outfitters who provide everything you need for a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure. Hiking, camping, fishing, and exploring the historic lighthouses are also among the top activities on the islands.

In addition to the Apostle Islands, the Bayfield area offers other unique and fun-filled attractions. The fishing villages on the south shore of Lake Superior will take you back in time with their vintage charm and historic attractions. The farms and orchards around the city delight visitors with their rustic beauty and fresh fruits that you can pick yourself.

What makes waterfront living in Bayfield even more special is the wealth of modern conveniences found amid the bucolic setting. Shopping areas, entertainment venues, topnotch healthcare facilities, and community amenities like clubhouses, marinas and the Bayfield Recreational Center which make life in the city even more relaxing and enjoyable.

Added premium on lakefront homes for sale in Wisconsin

While there are numerous beautiful homes throughout Wisconsin, some of the most desirable properties are lakefront houses for sale in Bayfield, WI. These homes not only give you the best access to the water but also stunning views all day long.

To many people, the idyllic lifestyle is enough reason to buy a waterfront home. But to savvy investors, it’s more than just about this. Waterfront homes are also excellent investments that can yield great returns in the short and long term. Historically, these properties have shown significant increases in value over time. The number of waterfront homes is limited by nature, and the demand has always been greater than the supply.

However, in the wake of recent floodings in various parts of the US, sales of waterfront homes noticeably went down. While home values continued to grow, they rose at a slower rate compared to previous decades. At the same time, the prices of inland homes went up, as buyers preferred to avoid the risk of floods and shoreline management while still getting relatively good access to the water.

In more recent years, however, waterfront homes have been seeing a rebound. A study made by Collateral Analytics in March, 2018 showed that flooding incidents and changes in weather patterns have not diminished the value and desirability of waterfront homes. Reviewing data on waterfront property sales since 2000, the researchers found that, within the same area, waterfront homes continued to show significant premium over non-waterfront homes at the following average rates:

  • Oceanfront homes – 45% premium
  • Lakefront homes – 25% premium
  • Riverfront homes – 24% premium

Looking at Bayfield, WI real estate figures, the premium for lakefront homes is in keeping with the figure given in the study, that is, waterfront homes in the city generally sell for 25% more than non-waterfront homes with similar features.

Valuation of lake homes for sale in Wisconsin

There’s no doubt that being located next to a body of water or close to one makes a property more valuable. But even in the same area, some waterfront homes fetch a higher price than the others due to certain factors.

  1. Proximity to the water

    Bayfield County, WI homes for sale with easier access to the water enjoy a premium over other waterfront properties. Locations where you can walk a short distance to the beach are highly preferred over those where you have to navigate a longer or more difficult path.

    Beaches are typically sloped, making some areas more elevated than others. Traditionally, a flatter slope is ideal, as it makes walking to the water easier, especially for kids, the elderly, or those with mobility problems.

    However, the frequency of flooding in recent times, as well as more unpredictable weather patterns, has somewhat changed buyers’ preferences. Higher elevations are now considered more desirable because they offer better protection from flooding and the elements. As a result, newer homes built on higher ground generally have better value than older homes built closer to the water.

    Inland properties in waterfront areas have also grown in value because of the changing weather patterns. Many people who want to live near the water are also more wary about having to deal with floods and storms, so they opt for homes further inland.

  2. Orientation

    How the house is oriented to various elements also factors into its valuation. A property where you get unobstructed water views commands a higher price, especially if you also get beautiful sunrise or sunset views.

    The property’s orientation to the sun also affects its desirability. If the outdoor area faces the afternoon sun, it could get too hot and will need a shade to make it more comfortable. Many buyers prefer a home that faces east to avoid having to deal with this condition.

    The direction of the wind also plays a role in a home’s living conditions, consequently affecting its value. If the wind blows from the lake toward the property, it can get even colder in the winter. Unpleasant water odors, like the smell of dead fish, might also be carried by the wind to the home.

  3. Water frontage

    Water frontage is one aspect professional appraisers look at when determining the value of a property. For many buyers, a sweeping view of the lake and all that shore to themselves are worth a higher price tag.

    However, a generous frontage cannot improve property values on its own. Other factors also need to be taken into consideration. A good example is the quality of the shoreline. A home with less frontage but has a fine sandy beach would generally be preferred over one with more frontage but faces a rough and rocky shore.

    There’s also the amount of shoreline to consider. Depending on the season, water levels in certain areas may rise and ebb significantly, affecting the amount of shoreline a property gets. Some buyers may find an occasionally disappearing shoreline to be a turnoff. In addition, if the water level rises too high in certain seasons, the chances of flooding might also be greater. In cases like this, a property in an area with a protected bay may be valued higher.

  4. Activities in the area

    A lakefront property can offer serenity and tranquility, but it also provides plenty of opportunities for activities in and out of the water. How busy an area gets and its prevalent activities can also factor into property values.

    For example, the water in some lakefront may offer great views but is too shallow or murky for most activities. Property values in areas like this may be lower than the rest of the market.

    The way an area is marketed also affects home prices. Properties in areas close to amenities like shops, restaurants, and marinas generally come with higher price tags because of the convenience they offer. But a more secluded community can also come with a premium that a niche market is willing to pay.

    Many retirees prefer a less active community where fishing and non-motorized boating are the main activities. On the other hand, more adventurous residents may opt for an area where motorized watercraft and greater variety in water activities are allowed.

  5. Home features

    In determining home values, the most common method used by professionals is comparative analysis. This involves identifying comparable homes, or comps, that recently sold in the area, and using their sale prices to approximate the value of the subject property. The strengths and weaknesses of a property in relation to the comps are used to adjust estimated value. For example if the subject home has more bedrooms than a comp, the price will be adjusted up. If a comp has a private dock and the subject property has none, the price will be adjusted down.

Maximizing the Value of Your Lakefront Property

Are you looking for lakefront cabins for sale in Wisconsin or waterfront Bayfield, WI condos for sale? A lakefront home has all the potentials of a profitable investment and is inherently more valuable than a regular home. But when it comes time to sell, you can do more to add value to your property and maximize your profit.

Here’s a list of some of the things you can do:

  1. Enhance the view

    Exquisite water views are among the top draws of a lakefront home, so highlight these at all times. Large glass windows and walls overlooking the water are perfect in bringing these treasured views indoors. If your property doesn’t have them yet, consider a home improvement project to add these. Make sure all windows that face the lake are clean and spotless, and remove objects that block the view.

  2. Spruce up docks and decking

    As they’re constantly exposed to the elements, docks and decks can easily show signs of wear and tear. See to it that yours are in great condition, especially when you’re showing the property to buyers. Replace broken boards, give the structures a fresh coat of paint or stain, and make sure they’re safe. Keep in mind that many homebuyers are buying a waterfront home for the first time and could easily get turned off by aging outdoor features, even if they have no intention of using them.

  3. Clean up the beach

    If you’ve lived in a lakefront home for a long time, you’re probably used to a certain amount of litter washed up on the shore. Homebuyers, however, have a more idealized vision of the beach and expect to find it in pristine condition, free from trash and debris. Make sure your shoreline lives up to their expectations. Get rid of as much litter as you can and make the beach as inviting as possible.

  4. Stage the waterfront

    Home staging is highly effective in making any property more desirable to buyers. With waterfront homes, the practice takes on another dimension. You need to stage your property to highlight its most desirable feature – the water. Make your waterfront visible by removing foliage that may be blocking the view. Before doing this, however, make sure you get the necessary permit and check shoreline zoning restrictions.

    If you have a patio or deck that faces the water, spruce it up with outdoor furniture and features like an outdoor grill to make it more inviting for outdoor living and entertaining. Put your boat, jetski, and other water “toys” on full display to give buyers a glimpse of the waterfront lifestyle waiting for them.

  5. Have permits for waterfront structures ready

    Docks, decks, piers, and similar water structures can certainly make a waterfront home more marketable. One of the concerns about these structures, however, is having the necessary permits. In Bayfield, the construction of docks and decks are subject to the state’s regulations, which may be changed or added to from time to time.

    If you have these structures in place, be prepared to show permits for their construction to reassure buyers of their compliance. If your property doesn’t have these structures, consider getting permits for them and other potential shoreline improvements, such as the removal of foliage or construction of a seawall. Knowing they can have the beach they want can encourage buyers to pay a premium for your property.

  6. Have adequate protective measures

    Waterfront properties are significantly more exposed to the elements than other property types. To many buyers, it’s important to have adequate measures in place to protect the house and the shoreline from these elements.

    If you don’t have an existing seawall, riprap, or similar erosion control structures, consider adding one. If they’re already in place, make sure they’re in good condition. Buyers may balk at the sale or negotiate for a discount if they find they have to spend thousands of dollars for the repair of these structures.

    Other protective measures to consider include:

    • Adding storm shutters
    • Rust proofing or using stainless steel for outdoor metal products
    • Installing a dehumidifier
    • Building a mudroom or wash area to get rid of sand and dirt before entering the house
    • Installing security features to protect docked boats and other watercraft

Work with a local real estate expert in Bayfield

If you’re considering selling a waterfront home or looking at Northern Wisconsin lakefront homes for sale, work only with a local Realtor with the right experience and knowhow. Make the most out of your investment by getting guidance from the experts.

We at Windseeker Realty are leaders in the field of research, innovation, and consumer education. We are motivated by our love for the Northern Wisconsin way of life, including the incomparable waterfront lifestyle along Lake Superior and other lakes and rivers in the region. We want you to have nothing less than the best real estate experience in our community.

Get in touch with Windseeker Realty today at 715.779.5000 or send us an email at Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com.

7 amazing things to do in Wisconsin in the fall

Wisconsin is a great place to explore when fall is in full swing. The dramatic transformation of the state’s sprawling verdant landscapes to radiant patches of crimson and scarlet is a sight to behold.

Make the most of the unforgettable views and experiences that the Badger State has to offer during this picture-perfect season. Here are seven Wisconsin vacation ideas to add to your fall itineraries:

Drive off to a picturesque road trip or two

Looking for the quickest way to bask in Wisconsin’s golden autumn glow? Just hop in the car and hit the road.

Well-known Northern Wisconsin thoroughfares like the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway, Door County Coastal Byway, and the Nicolet-Wolf River Scenic Byway are among the best scenic routes to take if you live near or are visiting the Bayfield Peninsula area.

The entire state also boasts of 119 designated rustic roads that showcase the crimson autumn hues.Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism even helps you keep track of where to find the most vivid autumn hues across the state. Just check this online Fall Color Report to see where you should go next.

See the sights of the season aboard a historic Wisconsin train

For a different kind of sight-seeing joy ride, Wisconsin’s rail lines offer memorable alternatives. The Mid-Continent Railway in North Freedom, for example, offers a seasonal Pumpkin Special. The trip stops midway to allow guests to pick the perfect pumpkins for their Halloween needs.

Other rail services worth checking out for a fall tour include the kid-friendly Riverside & Great Northern Railway in Wisconsin Dells, the historic Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway, and the Spooner-based Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad’s charming doodlebug (self-propelled railcar) called Madeline.

Experience hiking trails and state parks with a unique backdrop

Exploring the great outdoors on foot is one of the most satisfying ways to experience fall in Wisconsin. With so many open, natural spaces to choose from, there is always something new and different every year.

The Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls is an outstanding example. The Badger State’s oldest state park has been a favorite year-round destination among outdoor explorers and vacationers since 1900. When the fiery hues of fall start to appear, its lush landscapes become even more astonishing.

You can also head to Timm’s Hill in Ogema to marvel at the scarlet treetops from Wisconsin’s highest geographical point.

Get the freshest picks from a local apple orchard

Apple-picking is a beloved all-ages activity in Wisconsin in the fall. What started out as a treat for local kids has become a yearly tradition that entire families eagerly anticipate.

The Erickson Orchard in Bayfield is a quick stop for this unique seasonal experience in the northwestern part of the state. Be sure to sample their popular apple cider doughnut when you visit.

Bayfield also stages an annual three-day Apple Festival every October, gathering the best produce from approximately 15 local orchards. Mark your calendars each year for this core event.

Bring the family to a pumpkin patch

What is fall without the eager anticipation for Halloween? In Wisconsin, the abundance of local farms makes searching for the perfect pumpkins a yearly adventure that everyone looks forward to.

For residents of Northwest Wisconsin, notable destinations include Mommsen’s Produce Patch in Rice Lake, which features jaw-dropping cannons and catapults that launch pumpkins several feet in the air.

For pumpkin-based treats, The Candy Shoppe & Bakery in Bayfield has all the pies and loaves of pumpkin bread to keep your taste buds satisfied.

Wade knee-deep in cranberries

Aside from apples and pumpkins, cranberries also take the spotlight in Wisconsin during the autumn months. The best place to enjoy all of the cranberry-related festivities is in Warrens, the “Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin.”

In late September every year, this modest village hosts the world’s largest celebration dedicated to cranberries. This three-day event features marsh tours that teaches guests everything there is to learn about Wisconsin’s official state fruit.

Plus, with more than three miles of farm market booths, arts and crafts vendors, and cranberry-based delicacies on sale, this festival is certainly worth the four-hour drive from the Bayfield Peninsula.

Zip over the autumn-tinged canopy

Do you enjoy having an adrenaline rush along with your sight-seeing? Maybe a zip line tour above the dense, autumn-colored tree tops is right up your alley.

For Wisconsinites based in the Bayfield Peninsula, one of the closest destinations for this kind of adventure is the Northwoods Zip Line in Minocqua. Other options located a bit farther include the Door County Adventure Center in Ellison Bay and Wilderness Canyon in Wisconsin Dells.

A similar, but more laid-back overhead sight-seeing experience can be found at Granite Park Ski Area outside Wassau. Their chairlift rides are a great way to see what Rib Mountain looks like right before the snowy ski season begins.

For more unforgettable weekend getaways in Wisconsin this fall season, get recommendations from the local experts at Windseeker Realty and Windseeker Rentals.Contact us today by calling 715.779.5000 or sending an email to Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com.

From the subtle shift to cooler temperatures to the dramatic change of colors in the surrounding foliage, fall highlights the many wonders of living in Wisconsin like no other season can. In this new to-do list by Bayfield Peninsula real estate specialists, Windseeker Realty, you can read about seven outstanding Wisconsin getaway ideas best suited for this gorgeous season. Discover various sight-seeing rides and tours you can join, learn about the iconic local produce that have defined this season for generations of Wisconsinites, and get tips on top destinations to include on your travel itinerary in this brief yet packed local guide.

8 excellent stops for a relaxing staycation in Bayfield County, WI

People are never in short supply of outstanding places to stay in Bayfield, WI and its surrounding towns and cities. Whether you are a tourist visiting the area for the first time, or a long-time resident looking for a staycation not too far from home, you are sure to find an ideal escape nestled within the Bayfield Peninsula’s lush natural surroundings.

Here are eight ideas to get you started:

Windseeker Rentals
Various locations in Bayfield, WI

A collection of short-term accommodations in and around Bayfield, Wisconsin that spans from cozy cabins in the woods to lovely lake-view units in the heart of Bayfield. All rentals are outfitted with extra creature comforts such as luxury bedding, eco-luxe bath products and skin care items as well as locally curated artisan pop-ups that you can purchase local goods from. Visit our website to learn more and to book your stay. www.WindseekerRentals.com

Old Rittenhouse Inn
301 Rittenhouse Avenue, Bayfield, WI 54814

Combining the irresistible charm of a traditional bed and breakfast with the exquisite ambience of a fine dining restaurant, the Rittenhouse Inn presents an experience that even long-time residents of Bayfield Peninsula communities eagerly desire. The Old Rittenhouse Inn is composed of two elegant Victorian houses and a private cottage. Together, the structures provide a total of 20 guest rooms which feature sophisticated amenities such as whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and stunning views of Lake Superior.

The Bayfield Inn
20 Rittenhouse Avenue, Bayfield, WI 54814

Located right along the shoreline that serves as the take-off point to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, this iconic establishment is one of the main highlights of Bayfield’s downtown area. The Bayfield Inn offers 21 luxury hotel rooms, along with a variety of private lodging options that include rental houses, condominiums, apartments, and suites. Having recently undergone renovation for its features and facilities, the Inn today combines the best of modern comforts and conveniences with the distinct charms of yesteryear.

Bayfield County Rustic Yurts
Two locations in Bayfield, WI and one location in Cable, WI

Officially managed and operated by Bayfield County, these Mongolian-style round tents offer an exceptional way to get away from it all. Designed with four beds that can accommodate a total of six guests, these minimalist tents are nestled in the middle of a lush, wooded area overlooking Lake Superior and other breathtaking panoramas of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.A single step outside of these yurts opens the doors to unforgettable outdoor adventures, thanks to direct access to a variety of recreational trails.

The Seagull Bay Motel
325 South 7th St Bayfield, WI 54814

Just on the edge of Bayfield and nestled on the hillside overlooking Lake Superior, is the quaint Seagull Bay Motel. Offering 32 newly updated rooms of various sizes to accommodate your family or group, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the lake as well as direct access to the famous Brownstone Trail that leads straight into downtown Bayfield.

South Shore Campground
23650 State Highway 13, Cornucopia, WI 54827

This quiet 18-acre campground has 8 pull through RV sites and 5 tent sites. Located just outside of Cornucopia and the sandy beaches of LakeSuperior, enjoy the peace and serenity of the Northwoods. Less than 5 miles from Meyers Beach and the Sea/Ice Caves. Pull through sites provide 50/30/20 electric hook-ups as well as potable drinking water hook-ups. All sites include a picnic table and fire ring. A perfect base in which to explore the South Shore of Lake Superior.

Cornucopia Sweet Retreat
201-215 Superior Street, Cornucopia, WI 54827

Located in the heart of Cornucopia above the cozy and vibrant Cornucopia Sweet Shoppe. Wake up to the smells and sounds of fresh ground coffee. Just steps from the beach, perfect for swimming or watching the many sunsets over the South Shore. Open floor plan includes private bathroom, living room with kitchenette, and sleeping areas.

Siskiwit Bay Lodge
89405 Jack Pine Road, Cornucopia, WI 54827

Another worthwhile bed and breakfast to visit along the shores of Lake Superior, Siskiwit Bay Lodge is roughly a half-hour’s drive west of Bayfield.Experience the height of luxury at this sophisticated lakefront property. With accommodations limited to three private rooms and a suite, you will enjoy utmost privacy and peace surrounded by towering pines, cedars, firs, and spruce trees. Each room is designed to face the sparkling Lake Superior, guaranteeing an experience that makes the most of its exquisite lakeside location.

Do you want to discover more Wisconsin vacation spots? Let Windseeker Rentals help you – our expertise will not just lead you to excellent places for vacation stays, we can also show you outstanding real estate opportunities that will keep you close to the best adventures that the Bayfield Peninsula area can offer. Call 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com for more information.

Have you ever slept inside a yurt? If this is the first time you are even hearing of one, then it is probably time for you to experience an outdoor excursion in one of Bayfield County’s exceptional vacation hot spots. Let Windseeker Realty guide you through eight outstanding examples of the county’s most sought-after destinations for outdoor recreation. From casual bed and breakfasts to lavish, historic mansions, a variety of unforgettable experiences await you here. Make the most out of your next weekend family getaway or week-long camping trip with friends. Read this guide to learn more about your options.

Boost your home’s curb appeal for a quicker, bigger sale

One of the essential steps in selling a home is boosting its curb appeal. Giving potential buyers a strong and positive first impression of your property can set the stage for a straightforward and rewarding home sale.

Here are nine tips to keep in mind to effectively improve your home’s curb appeal:

Clean, clean, clean

Every potential buyer should see your home as good as new. Make sure that every corner and every inch of the property is as clean and tidy as you can make it.

This is especially important if you own a home in a waterfront location. Proximity to the shoreline leaves your property constantly exposed to the elements.

Deep cleaning projects can be strenuous and even dangerous (consider your roof’s cleaning needs, for example), so do not hesitate to hire professionals for these jobs. Their designated equipment and cleaning solutions will prove worthwhile investments that will contribute to a fruitful home sale.

Get essential repairs and replacements done

In many cases, cleaning alone is not enough to restore your home to its peak condition. Smart and cost-effective upgrades and repairs are the perfect complement to every deep clean.

Pay attention to your roofing, exterior walls and sidings, and windows. These are the parts of the house that endure the most wear-and-tear. Check your gutters and outdoor plumbing fixtures for clogs or leaks, too.

Apply fresh coats of paint or stain

Repainting walls and re-staining doors are simple yet elegant solutions that can instantly boost the appearance of your home’s outdoor features. Just be mindful not to resort to repainting as a solution for substantial cracks and damage. These need proper repairs to prevent future problems and delays during the buyer’s home inspection.

Give as much attention to your backyard as you do the front lawn

While casual onlookers will appreciate an impressive front view of your home, serious buyers will take their scrutiny a step further by closely examining outdoor spaces at the rear of the property.

For waterfront homes with access to the shore or a dock area, the backyard is an even more important feature that requires proper maintenance and landscaping.

Set up adequate spaces for entertaining

One of the best things about owning a waterfront home is having an exceptional outdoor space to show off. Highlight this distinctive feature of your property by creating inviting spaces that visiting buyers can use to relax during their tour of your property.

Enhance your outdoor spaces for evening views

Chances are, you will have buyers dropping by for a viewing at dusk or in the evening. How does your property look in the dark?

Strategically placed outdoor lamps along your footpaths and front porch will illuminate and even add a romantic vibe around your main entry. Decorative string lights are also a charming addition to your outdoor recreational areas.

Add fresh blooms in time for a viewing

A quick way to liven up your front and back yards is to plant fresh, seasonal flowers. If you know the schedule of your buyers’ viewings, time your purchases so that the flowers are at their most vibrant when your visitors arrive.

Remember, this is just a quick fix. Reviving your lawn or garden is a more lasting change you can make to improve the look and feel of your outdoor spaces for the long term.

Practice addition by subtraction

When it comes to landscaping, removing things is just as important as adding them. For example, if large trees are getting in the way of a good view from your bedroom window, a good trimming might be in order.

You might even have to consider uprooting older trees if they are too close to the house. Large, expanding roots underground can cause major damage to the foundation of the house.

Spruce up the main entrance

As a seller, you will always want to make every visitor feel welcome. This is why your main entry deserves plenty of attention when you boost your curb appeal.

Tidy up your porch and decorate it with a few potted or hanging plants. Make sure it is well lit at night, too. You might also need to update your main door – whether by installing a new one, applying a fresh stain or coat of paint on your current one, or simply by polishing or replacing the door knob.

For more expert advice on how to get your home ready to sell, contact Bayfield Peninsula real estate specialists, Windseeker Realty. Call us today at 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com to learn more about our team and the top-rated professional services we deliver.

A good first impression goes a long way in making a successful, rewarding, and stress-free home sale. Buyers will always have an eye for houses that appear good as new, so it pays to give that impression with just the first look. Boosting your home’s curb appeal goes well beyond just a deep cleaning. It also requires careful planning for necessary repairs and upgrades, smart choices in decorating, and a few worthwhile investments that can help increase the appeal and value of your home. In this guide, Windseeker Realty lists nine practical tips to help you prepare and showcase your property’s exterior features before you sell.

Here Are All the Documents You Need to Purchase Your New Home

Paperwork makes up a large part of what you need to buy a house. For a smooth transaction from start to finish, it pays to be ready with all the pertinent documents you will need to submit and present at different stages of the home buying process.

Use this detailed guide to keep track of your documentary requirements when buying your next home:

Credit report

One of the most important documents you should prepare at the beginning of the home buying process is your credit report. Even before you approach a lender to inquire about a mortgage, you can already request copies of your annual credit reports from federal credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion for free here.

Reviewing your credit score early gives you enough lead time to identify and report any discrepancies or errors that can lower your rating. It also gives you a head start on fixing your credit in time for your actual loan application.

Boost your credit rating by paying off outstanding debt and improving your regular payment obligations in the months leading to your home purchase. With a better credit score, you can secure a better home loan, whether in terms of a larger principal loan amount, lower interest rates, more favorable loan conditions, or any combination thereof.

Proof of income

To secure a mortgage, you must be able to prove that you have a steady source of income. There are several documents you can gather and submit for this purpose, including:

  • Your last two pay stubs
  • The previous two years’ W-2 forms (or Wage and Tax Statements) issued by your employer
  • IRS 1099 Forms, for self-employed or independent contractors
  • Direct deposit authorization forms for workers who receive payments and fees from other sources

These income records, along with the bank statements and tax returns described below, will come in handy early in the home buying process. These documents enable you to secure a mortgage pre-approval,an essential step to help you establish a realistic and reasonable price range for your home search.

Bank statements


Lenders also look at your bank accounts and other assets to assess your risk profile as a potential borrower. Official bank-issued statements of your various accounts as well as investment and insurance vehicles provide lenders with the necessary proof that you have money in reserve to cover your mortgage obligations in the event of an emergency.

Bank statements can also demonstrate that you have accumulated your down payment money over a long period of time. Large sums of money that appear seemingly out of nowhere can lead to suspicion about the validity and stability of your income sources.

Tax returns

Another way lenders get a clear idea of your financial situation is by reviewing your tax returns. If you have yet to file your tax return for the current year, the returns from the previous two years will do.

Tax returns provide information that verify the consistency of your reported annual earnings relative to your declared income. They also track whether there are any major fluctuations from one year to the next.

If you are unable to provide copies of your tax returns on your own, you can sign a Form 4506-T to authorize your lender to request these from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on your behalf.

Gift letters or deeds

In case you are receiving extra financial assistance from family or friends in the form of a direct gift, secure written confirmation confirming that the money was given as such, and not as a loan.

For transparency, the letter must indicate the exact amount given, as well as the nature of your relationship with the benefactor. It also helps to declare that the gift amount was given voluntarily.

Rent records

If you have been renting, it will also help to provide your lender with proof of your ability to pay rent on time. Be prepared to facilitate communication between your lender and your former landlord to secure the necessary documentation.

Driver’s license or other photo ID

In addition to your financial records, always make sure to have proper identification ready. This typically means any ID card that feature your photo and signature.

In most cases, your driver’s license is the handiest form of valid identification you can provide. You can save time by preparing copies of this ID ahead of your meetings with your lender and other service providers you will be hiring.

Looking for more information to guide you through the home buying process? Read Windseeker Realty’s first time home buyer guide here. Better yet, contact our local experts to get relevant tips, market insights, and reliable professional advice. Call 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com to learn more.

Buying a house involves a lot of processes and paperwork. In this complementary piece to our growing series of helpful buyer’s guide reference articles, Windseeker Realty goes into detail about the essential documents that every home buyer should prepare. From requesting and reviewing your credit report before you even begin shopping for the right lending partner, to breaking down a checklist of important income records and bank statements, we will cover all your concerns when it comes to making sense of the piles of paperwork you need to work with to buy your next home

The best nature parks and camping spots in and around Bayfield, WI

If you are searching for the best weekend getaways in Wisconsin, look no further than Bayfield, WI. With its incredible lakefront location surrounded by thriving natural areas, the area presents outstanding destinations for countless outdoor adventures. Below are five of the best places in the area worth heading to for an unforgettable hiking or camping trip:

Frog Bay Tribal National Park

Just a few miles outside of Bayfield in Red Cliff is Frog Bay National Park, the nation’s first Tribal National Park! This beautiful park boasts a protected 300 acres of tribal lands in the watershed and stretches over 3/4 mile along Lake Superior’s shoreline on the Red Cliff Reservation.The park includes a gorgeous 2-mile-long hiking loop through a moss-covered boreal forest with a stopping point at a beautiful sandy beach. The park provides views of the Apostle Islands including Oak, Basswood, Hermit, Raspberry and Stockton. Almost all the park’s infrastructure including the trail system, interpretive signs, and bridgeswere developed through careful planning by local tribal staff. It’s a great place for any season!

Houghton Falls State Natural Area

Located just south of Bayfield, this 76-acre scenic nature preserve is named after the charming low-flow waterfall that is best visited during the spring. But even if your trekking plans fall on another season, there is plenty of natural beauty to appreciate here. Break out the snow shoes and enjoy some winter hiking.

The preserve protects Echo Dells,a sandstone gorge that dates back to the Pre-Cambrian era. The picturesque 1.5-mile trail leads to Lake Superior and is surrounded by lush growths of yellow birch, hemlock, white pine, and white cedar trees.Breathtaking views of where the lake meets gorgeous brownstone cliffs.

Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed.Bikes, horses, ATVs, and snowmobiles are not allowed.

Big Bay State Park

Hop across Lake Superior and head to Madeline Island to explore this 2,350-acre State Natural Area. With four miles of shoreline, 1.5 miles of sandy beaches, a mile-long boardwalk, more than seven miles of hiking trails, and a plethora of outdoor sports and activities to enjoy, you will likely need an entire weekend to make the most of this trip.

In addition to hiking and exploring the area, visitors can swim, kayak, and go fishing on the lake. The 60-site campground welcomes campers of all ages, with 15 sites fitted with electrical outlets. Picnics are also a great idea if you are not planning to stay on the island overnight.

Pets are allowed here, with the usual requirements to keep them on a leash and under control.

South Shore Campground

This 18-acre campground located just outside of the quaint little village of Cornucopiahas 8 pull through RV sites and 5 tent sites nestledin a peaceful forested setting. Only a mile from Cornucopia’s famous sandy beaches and Ehler’s General Store, it’s the perfect setting in which to explore the South Shore. It’s also just a quick jaunt from Meyers Beach and the Sea Caves- a great place for swimming, beachcombing, kayaking, and relaxing.

Copper Falls State Park

Ahour south of Bayfield brings you to another exceptional northern Wisconsin waterfall sightseeing area. Featuring hiking trails constructed as early as the 1920s, Copper Falls State Park has plenty of stories to tell any avid outdoor adventurer.

More than a handful of exciting discoveries await every hiker or camper here – from log buildings dating back to the 1930s, to the naturally made lava flows, gorges, and a variety of waterfalls.

Hang out at Loon Lake to go swimming, fishing, and canoeing to your heart’s content. Explore 17 miles of trails that are accessible on foot, on a bike, or in skis or snowshoes. There is just so much to experience at Copper Falls State Park that you will probably head home already planning your next visit.

Leashed pets are allowed in all areas of the State Park except the Doughboys Nature Trail.

If you want to make outdoor adventures part of your regular routine, finding a home in the Bayfield area is a great way to make it happen. Let Windseeker Realty show you the best homes for sale in the area. Call 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com to learn more.

Wisconsin’s most impressive architecture

Wisconsin is no stranger to exceptional achievements in architecture. Historic homes and buildings, as well as avant-garde modern structures abound here, adding another dimension of character to the Badger State.

If you are looking for the most Instagram-worthy places to visit in Wisconsin, this list of Wisconsin landmarks will give you a good head start:

The Apostle Islands Lighthouses
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is home to a proud collection of historic lighthouses – six of which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, collectively known as the Apostle Islands Lighthouses. These included the two lighthouses on Michigan Island (built in 1857) and those located on Raspberry Island (1862), Outer Island (1874), Sand Island (1881), and Devil’s Island (1891).

Black Point Estate and Gardens
Lake Geneva, WI

This magnificent summer mansion is a beautifully preserved icon of the earliest days of Lake Geneva’s historic reputation as an opulent summer getaway destination. Built in 1888 in the eye-catching Queen Anne style, the Black Point Estate is hard to miss against a backdrop of mature foliage and clear blue skies.

In addition to the stunning summer cottage, the estate also features a lovely garden area and event lawn.

Trips to this architectural and historic landmark are available exclusively via private tours courtesy of the Lake Geneva Cruise Line.

Dell’s Mill
Augusta, WI

See what life in Augusta was like back in its days as a grain and flour production center. Built in 1864, Dell’s Mill used to be a popular gathering place among the area’s farmers, where bonds across the community were made as they waited for their grinding to be done.

Dell’s Mill now houses a museum that operates from May through October. Even if you visit during the winter and early spring months, the place will give you plenty of picturesque views and angles of the structure and its unique features like the dam and water wheel.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin
South of Spring Green, WI

Frank Lloyd Wright left a lasting legacy in American architecture, so it is only fitting that his estate belongs in a list of Wisconsin’s finest architectural landmarks.

Home, studio, and sanctuary to one of Wisconsin’s favorite sons, the Taliesin is recognized not only in the Badger State. In addition to being listed on the United States’ National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark, it is known around the world as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Taliesin is now open for a variety of guided tours, ranging from in-depth tours around the entire estate and more condensed highlight tours designed for visitors of different ages.

If the Taliesin caught your interest and curiosity, you can also sign up for a two-day tour from Madison to Racine that takes you to Wright’s best-known creations in the state.

The House on the Rock
Between Dodgeville and Spring Green, WI

This off-beat tourist attraction simply defies explanation – from its eclectic selection of buildings and exhibit rooms, to the varying stories behind its history. But this takes nothing away from the House on the Rock’s reputation as one of Wisconsin’s architectural marvels.

The building features a total of 14 exhibit rooms, with attractions ranging from model airplanes and miniature circus displays, to a 200-foot-tall “sea monster.”” The place really goes from interesting to flat-out weird rather quickly.

But the main highlight every visitor must see is the Infinity Room. Extending 218 feet out and suspended over verdant tree tops without any supporting structures underneath, this remarkable structure is sure to make hearts race.

MecikalskiStovewood Building
Pelican Lake, Schoepke, WI

This National Historical Site effectively preserves and showcases a definitively American house construction. Featuring eighteen-inch sections of cedar logs laid out to resemble a stacked woodpile, stovewood architecture is distinct from log cabins where the timber runs the entire length of the walls.

The Mecikalski Building is notable for its sheer size, which provides a prominent canvas to showcase the distinctive architectural style. Its multiple functions as both personal and commercial properties also make it a genuine artifact that is particularly relevant to Wisconsin history and culture.

The Pabst Theater
Milwaukee, WI

Named after German-American brewer Frederick Pabst – the man behind one of the most popular beer brands in the United States – this historic concert and performance venue was built in 1895. Hosting around 100 events every year to this day, Milwaukee’s “Grand Olde Lady” is currently the fourth oldest continuously operating theater in the country.

The 1,300-seat facility owes its outstanding acoustic qualities to its German opera house-influenced interior design. A stunning two-ton Austrian crystal chandelier hangs over the auditorium to add a sophisticated focal point to complement the main stage. Outside, its German Renaissance Revival-style construction is a highlight of the East Wells streetscape.

Discover more about Wisconsin’s best features and attractions with Windseeker Realty, the Bayfield Peninsula area’s most trusted real estate team. Call us today at 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com to learn more.

How to avoid taxes on capital gains when you sell your home

Every homeowner wants to maximize their profits when they sell their home. It is essential to understand how taxes on capital gains apply when selling real estate.

What are capital gains?

The profits you earn from selling assets such as your house or car – as well as stocks, bonds, and other investments – are capital gains. These amounts are taxed only after the asset is sold.

Taxes are not levied on assets that are actively earning or appreciating while they are held by investors. The only exception applies to mutual funds – investors in mutual funds may be charged for capital gains when shares of the fund’s holdings are sold.

How are capital gains taxed?

Two types of tax rates apply to capital gains levied on real estate sales, depending on how long you have owned and occupied the house:

  • Short-term capital gains taxes apply to assets held for less than a year. Short-term gains are taxed at the same rate as your regular income, which makes these rates higher.

To find out what tax bracket your income falls into, click here.

  • Long-term capital gains taxes apply to assets owned for longer than 12 months. These are generally lower, capped off at 20% as established by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In some cases, you may even qualify for a full exemption, or a 0% tax rate.

How can you avoid or reduce taxes on capital gains when you sell your house?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows exemptions of up to $250,000 in capital gains for single homeowners. For married homeowners filing jointly for exemption, up to $500,000 is excluded from the taxable amount.

These exclusions apply under the following conditions:

  • You owned the house for at least two years within the last five years prior to the sale of the property.
  • You occupied the property as your primary residence for at least two years – whether consecutive or non-consecutive – in that same five-year period. (Persons with disabilities, military service members, and members of the Foreign Service or intelligence community are exempt from this rule.)
  • You have not claimed any capital gains tax exclusions for another property that was sold two years prior to the current home sale.

Any property owner who is subject to an expatriation tax (individuals who renounce their citizenship) are not allowed to claim any of these exclusions.

A sample computation of a real estate property asset’s capital gains

Determining the total amount of capital gains from a sale involves more than just the difference between the original purchase price and the final selling price. To compute for the actual amount of your capital gains, you need to determine the cost basis of your home purchase. This total comprises:

  • The original purchase price
  • Taxes and fees paid at the time of purchase (typically between 2% to 5% of the purchase price)
  • Additional amounts spent to add value to the property (e.g. upgrades and renovations)

For example, you bought a house 10 years ago for $150,000, paid an additional 3% in taxes and fees (amounting to $4,500), and spent $50,000 on home improvement during your stay. These make the cost basis for your capital gains $204,500.

Original purchase price $150,000
Closing fees and taxes +         $4,500
Home improvement expenses +       $50,000
TOTAL (Cost basis) $204,500


If you were able to sell this house for $700,000 this year, you earned a capital gain of $495,000.

Final sale price $700,000
Cost basis from purchase –     $204,500
PROFIT (Capital gains) $495,000


This means if you are married and filing jointly, your household is fully exempted from paying any capital gains taxes. Your total capital gain falls fully within the $500,000 exclusion that the IRS allows.

However, if you are a single homeowner, $245,000 out of your $495,000 capital gain is still subject to tax.

How are investment properties affected by the capital gains tax?

Investment properties are subject to the 1031 Exchange provision, which enables real estate investors to earn a profit without paying any capital gains tax.

Section 1031 of the IRS code allows the exchange of “like-kind” properties. For example, exchanging one retail property for another retail property is allowed, but trading it for a rental property is not.

Ready to dive into the process of selling a house? Get in touch with Windseeker Realty and get top-rated professional guidance from the leading real estate experts in Wisconsin’s Bayfield area. Call us today at 715.779.5000 or email Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com to learn more.

How to find out how much house you can afford

When considering the question “What do I need to buy a house?”” the first thing that comes to home buyers’ minds is how much money they need to put out.

Thinking about money matters, especially for major, life-changing purchases like a house can be daunting, but do not let it stop you in your tracks. Read this guide for effective tips you can take to stay on track of your home buying goals.

Option A: Calculate on your own

  • Step 1: Determine how much income your household generates
  • Do you know how much money you make every month? Consider all of regular sources of income, from your salary to any additional earnings and revenue from sources such as investments or even alimony, if applicable.

    If you are married or are sharing the household (and you plan to continue sharing the new home you are planning to buy), combine your monthly income to get a more accurate base amount.

  • Step 2: Identify and add up your total monthly debt payments
  • Determine how much you pay for relevant debt obligations. These include any of the following:

    • Outstanding credit card dues
    • Student loans
    • Car payments
    • Child support obligations, if any
    • Other notable loans

    Note that regular utility bills, such as electricity, cable, telephone and internet services, and pest control costs are not included. Lenders generally do not consider these when evaluating your credit rating.

    If you are paying rent, exclude this from your computations, too. This expense will no longer apply when you buy your own home.

  • Step 3: Apply the 28/36 rule
  • Lenders generally use this standard to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness. It should also guide budgeting and debt management for your household.

    The 28/36 rule simply means you should spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance). In addition, the household’s total debt (including housing costs) should not exceed 36%.

    For example, for a household that earns $45,000 annually:

    $45,000 ÷ 12 = $3,750 monthly household income

    To compute for 28% (or 0.28):

          $3,750 x 0.28 = $1,050

    To compute for 36% (or 0.36):

          $3,750 x 0.36 = $1,350

    This household can therefore afford a house that requires monthly mortgage, tax, and insurance payments not exceeding $1,050. But these buyers should also make sure that the total of their debt obligations, including what they pay for the home, is not more than $1,350 each month.

Option B: Get a mortgage pre-approval from a lender

If you have already made up your mind about buying a home, a faster way to get a clear estimate of your purchasing power is to apply for a lender’s mortgage pre-approval.

This process entails a lender’s thorough review of your financial and personal records, based on documents such as:

  • W-2 statements from the previous two years
  • Income tax returns from the previous two years
  • At least two recent pay stubs, preferably indicating year-to-date income
  • Proof of additional income, such as bonuses or child support payments
  • Statements of assets, such as investments and retirement savings
  • Credit report
  • Proof of employment
  • Social security number

Your mortgage pre-approval will come in the form of an official letter from the lender. The letter indicates the estimated amount that you are qualified to borrow, as well as the terms that apply to the loan.

In addition to providing you with accurate information to guide your home search, you can use this document to convince a seller of your ability to pay for their home. Just be sure to pitch your offer within 60 to 90 days – the typical duration for which pre-approval letters are valid. Otherwise, you will need to request a new one.

Bonus: 3 more essential tips to keep in mind

  • Save up for a substantial down payment
  • While planning for your mortgage budget, aim to pay a large down payment up front. At least 10% of the home price would typically suffice, but if you can build it up to 20%, you will be in a better position to get lower interest ratesand even a shorter loan life.

    A big down payment can also help you avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is a measure lenders use to protect themselves from instances of borrowers defaulting on their loans.

  • Budget for closing costs and other recurring costs of homeownership
  • Set aside 3% to 5% of the purchase price for closing costs. These include home inspection, appraisal, homeowner’s insurance, and title review fees – all of which are essential in finalizing the sale.

    Start budgeting for recurring expenses for your home, too. Cover the essentials such as water, electricity, and internet bills, as well as routine maintenance (HVAC, pest control, etc.) and repair costs.

  • You do not have to spend the entire amount
  • Remember: The right home for your needs does not have to be the most expensive one that you can afford. If you find a house that costs less than the maximum amount you can borrow, save the extra money for future renovations or emergency needs. 

New to the home buying process? Click here for Windseeker Realty‘s first time home buyer guide. For more useful tips, in-depth market insights, and top-rated professional real estate services, contact our local experts at 715.779.5000 or Agent(at)WindseekerRealty(dotted)com today.