Summer on Wisconsin’s Waterfronts Just Got Better

Pier on Lake Wausau

Summer on the waterfront in Wisconsin can be quite enjoyable. Waterfront owners now have something more to cheer about; aside from the lovely view from their pier.  Since April when Wisconsin modified the rights of waterfront owners.  The new law grandfathers in almost all existing piers and guarantees that waterfront property owners have the right to place a pier even in areas the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has deemed to be “environmentally significant.”

Existing Piers
Under the new law all existing piers are grandfathered in as long as the pier meets the guidelines below:

  • The pier must have been originally placed prior to February 6, 2004.
  • The width of the pier could be no wider than eight feet.
  • A loading platform or deck was allowed as long as it is located at the lakeward end of the pier and the platform had a surface area no greater than either (a) 200 square feet, which may be any width, or (b) 300 square feet, if the deck/platform is no wider than 10 feet.

Moreover, the new law allows the waterfront owner to relocate or reconfigure the pier as long as the pier is not enlarged.

New Piers
A new pier can now be placed without getting a permit if the following requirements are met:

  • Width: No more than six feet wide.
  • Length: No longer than what is necessary to moor your boat or use a boat lift, or 3-foot water depth, whichever is greater.
  • Number of boats: Two boat slips/lifts for the first 50 feet of water frontage of your property, plus one more boat slip/lift for each additional 50 feet of frontage.
  • Number of personal watercraft: Two personal watercraft for the first 50 feet of water frontage of your property, plus one more personal watercraft for each additional 50 feet of frontage.
  • Loading platforms: A loading platform/deck with a surface area no greater than 200 square feet.

If a waterfront property owner wants to place a pier that exceeds these standards, a permit must be obtained from the DNR.

New Piers in Environmentally Significant Areas
Piers can now be built in areas that are considered by the DNR to be environmentally significant. While you still have to obtain a general permit for building the pier, the DNR can no longer prohibit the construction of a pier. However, the DNR may impose condition on the location, design, construction, and installation of such piers.

Wet Boathouses
You may now maintain your existing boathouse if it was constructed prior to 1979. You may use unlimited resources to maintain the boathouse. However, the boathouse can not be expanded.

When looking at purchasing waterfront property it will be important to discuss with your realtor whether the current property owner has received notice from the DNR that the pier is detrimental to the public interest and if the pier interferes with the rights of other waterfront owners.

Source: “New Pier Grandfathering Legislation Signed Into Law,” The Wisconsin Realtors Association Real Estate Magazine (May 2012).

Summer and The Games Starting in Madison

In less than 24 hours, Summer will officially begin.  The Wisconsin Sports Development Center didn’t bother waiting for the “official” start of the season though.  The Summer Badge State Games will begin today.  These wonderful games have become a favorite Wisconsin tradition for many.  I love telling new buyers moving to the area about them!   


The games began in 1985 right here in Madison.  They started as, and continue to be, a great community event for the whole state providing athletes of all ages and the abilities to participate in an Olympics style competition.  In order to participate you must be a resident of Wisconsin.  Currently 35 counties participate and host events. 


Some highlights that will be held in Madison 

  1. Rowing on Lake Wingra at Vilas Park in Madison. 
  2. Tennis at the Cherokee Country Club in Madison.
  3. Bowling at Bowl-A-Vard Lanes, Madison.
  4. Dodgeball at Pooley’s in Madison.
  5. Closing Ceremony is going to be held at the Rhythm & Booms – Madison (Fireworks Display).


Madison Spring Clean Up, Improve Your Curb Appeal

In an earlier post this week we discussed home maintenance/improvement items that would be most likely to attract Madison area buyers in this competitive real estate market.  One of the items on the list, and probably the most important, was to keep your Madison property clean, uncluttered, and constantly in show ready condition.  This is crucial on the exterior of your home because it will be the first impression of your curb appeal that may prompt prospective buyers to want to view your Madison property.  It is therefore essential that attention has been made to your landscape and yard clean-up.

I therefore wanted to let you know that Spring Leaf and Garden Waste Collection will begin in the city of Madison on April 7th and run through May2, 2008.  If you take a look at the cities site, you will be able to find specific collection pick up dates and times for your neighborhood, as well as directions on how to prepare the leaf piles.  So take advantage of this great Madison city offering and get your property show ready.  Give yourself the best possible advantage to effectively compete in this Madison real estate market. 

Worthwhile Renovations When Preparing to Sell

I am often asked the same question by Madison area home sellers, “what home repairs hold the most value?” It is a very natural question as everyone is trying to get the highest return on their investment. Who wouldn’t?

And with this same question that comes from seller to seller, comes almost always the same answer from me. Buyers are looking for a clean, well-priced home with updated kitchen and baths. Now please understand that I am not necessarily suggesting that everyone interested in selling their Madison area home run out and perform major renovations on their kitchens and baths. I do understand that this is not necessarily realistic. I can however offer some advice that may set you apart from your competition in this competitive Madison area real estate market.

•1) Make your home show ready by always keeping it clean inside and out. This is a must in every market, but it is extremely important during a time when Madison real estate inventories are high. Buyers have a lot to choose from and you don’t want them to get turned off because you fell behind on your spring cleaning.

•2) Bold colors are in this year. With a little bit of money, you can give your Madison home a little makeover with bold colors on the exterior and interior. Since the appearance of your kitchen and bath is generally the most crucial to your sale with a Madison buyer, start with a paint job in those rooms first.

•3) Madison area buyers are “greener” than ever! If you do decide to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, research eco-friendly materials that will set your renovations a part from your Madison real estate competition. In the bathroom you can put in a green faucet and shower head that conserve water and give your bathroom a luxurious modern look. You can also use recycled eco-friendly glass tiles. They come in bold colors and are usually made form 100% recycled glass. An extra bonus…they also clean easier that most other tiles. Another cool touch you can add is recycled glass door knobs. They also come in great bold colors that will compliment those recycled glass tiles.

You can check out for more great tips and eco-friendly home repair materials.

How Eco-Friendly is Your Madison Home – A Tip to Appeal to the Madison Buyer

Most people know how important it is to you have your home “sell ready” before putting it on the Madison real estate market. Today’s market is quite competitive with a great deal of inventory available for prospective buyers to choose from. It is therefore very important to consider what home items are most important to Madison area buyers. It is essential that these items have been given consideration before putting a for sale sign in the front yard. When a Madison area seller has given consideration to the buyer’s likes and dislikes, I am seeing that these well maintained and well priced properties are selling rather quickly.An area that is becoming increasingly important to many Madison area buyers is the home’s eco-friendliness level. They want to ensure that they will not be wasting resources or money when making a home purchase. I found a great site that is sponsored by the Green Built Home Program in Wisconsin. It provides a quick point system to determine how eco-friendly your Madison area home is as compared to the standard. The site also provides tips on making your home more green.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting some tips to appeal to area buyers in this competitive Madison real estate market. So Stay Tuned!!