Squirrel Away Your Equity!

Service Directory


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How to handle the paperwork: See more information on Our Service Directory page

Here's an overview of some of the main documents you will need to have prepared. We recommend you visit our web page titled "Service Directory ." There you will find a link to our web page which has many real estate forms and a document titled "Steps for buying/selling."

  • Offer to purchase
  • Counter offer
  • Conditions report
  • Closing documentation

Creating an advertisement listing on our web site:

PART I. When signing up on our web site, we need 3 things from you. These 3 things are noted below, as well as methods for getting that information to us:

  • Property information
  • Photos
  • Payment
PART 2: Detail notes on each aspect of an advertisement on our web site:
  • Photographs
  • Address, Town/City and E-mail
  • Map/directions
  • Open houses
  • Property descriptions
  • Table of basic information
  • Hit Counter
  • A live page
  • Information box

Taking your own photographs

  • What to be aware of when you take the photographs

House buying/selling tips

  • If you are selling your home
  • If you are buying a home

How to handle the paperwork

  Offer to purchase

            Before making an offer - it's always good to have a discussion with your lender to get yourself pre-approved. 

Presenting an offer to purchase is the first step to purchasing your new home. The offer does much more than just say what price the buyer is willing to pay for the home. It describes many other conditions or agreements between the buyer and the seller, like "does the refrigerator stay?" "what do I do with the house I still own?" and "what happens if there is a problem with my bank?" Offers can be pretty straightforward or very complicated. You should contact an attorney to draft the offer for you. Your attorney can help you to think through all of the available options and make sure the offer fits your needs and protects your interest.

Sellers almost always require Buyers to pay amount of earnest money (sometimes called "good faith deposit") with the offer, or very soon after the offer is accepted. Earnest money is important because it demonstrates the Buyer's intent to complete the purchase of the property. The earnest money may be kept by the Seller, or held in trust by Seller's (or Buyer's) attorney, to be credited towards the purchase price of the home at closing. It is always a good idea for both Buyers and Sellers to consult with an attorney or real estate professional at the first sign of a problem with the completion of the sale. Usually the piece of mind that comes along with this professional help is worth the cost of 250-500 dollars.

  Counter offer

After you submit the offer to the seller, the seller may either accept the offer as it is written, or prepare what's called a Counter Offer. Counter Offers are a way of "fine tuning" offers so they are acceptable to both parties. The Counter Offer usually incorporates all the terms of the Offer and lists the items that must be changed. Sometimes there are several Counter Offers before an agreement is reached. You can save time and money by reaching a clear understanding with the seller before preparing the original offer.

Conditions report

This is a report that is prepared and signed by the seller that discloses any known defects in the property. This report is valuable to both the buyer and the seller and helps avoid unpleasant surprises after closing. Many sellers provide the Condition Report at the time they receive an offer, some provide it before. Your attorney should review the report to make sure it is complete. If in doubt - DISCLOSE, it's better for seller AND buyer.  

"My offer was accepted! What happens next?"Congratulations! If all goes as planned, you are about to become a homeowner! Your next step should be to make sure the home is exactly as it seems by hiring an independent home inspector to inspect the home and provide you with a report. The offer may give you a certain period of time to have the home inspected -10 - 20 days. In addition, you should take your signed offer to your lender for approval on a mortgage (if you are not already approved). The lender may want to have an appraisal performed to be sure the home is worth what you think it's worth.

  Closing documentation

Your lender will most likely want title insurance coverage. The cost of the title insurance is usually paid by the seller. It is a good idea to have your attorney review the title insurance policy commitment before closing to make sure there are no unexpected liens or easements on the property. Your lender will coordinate the closing of the sale with the title insurance company and your attorney to be sure all documents are delivered, signed and recorded as necessary.

You should consult with an attorney for specific questions and concerns throughout the process of buying or selling a home.

   Property information

  1. Print form found on the top of our "List with Us" page, and mail or drop it (drop box only please) to our address

  2. Send it electronically via "Property REgistration page, option B.


  1. If digital:
    a) Upload images after you have completed electronic form NOTE: If uploading yourself, make sure you resize and name photos properly.
    b) Email them to us, with your address in the subject heading, our staff will upload the photos for you.
  2. If your photos are regular prints:
    a) If you used our printable form, mail photos along with form & check to our address 



  1. If you are mailing or dropping off, include check or include Visa/MC information. -OR-
  2. If using the online registration form, you can enter a Visa/MC number (secure web site) or simply call us with credit card information during regular office hours. See our "Contact Us" page.
NOTE: Checks are payable to ValleyByOwner, or VBO, LLC


For the base fee, 4 photos are included on your web page ad. Many people feel 4 photos are adequate in demonstrating the look and feel of the property's interior and exterior. Photos on the web are meant to spark the interest of your potential buyer. We recommend you include one front photo of the property. Individuals will often include a backyard photo if it is spring/summer and/or, there is something appealing about the space, (special landscaping, size, water, etc). Two or three interior photos are often adequate in bringing a potential buyer in to see the property. Kitchen and living room photos are very popular. Make sure you have adequate lighting and be sure to de-personalize and de-clutter the rooms as much as possible before photographing.  It is your advertisement and your choice as to which photos to include in your property's ad. Four color photos are included in the basic fee. You may include up to 12 photos, but additional fees would apply.

  Address, City/Town and E-mail

Usually simple questions, but if you live in a Township with a different Postal address, you may want to consider which to use. Simply let us know by filling our the forms appropriately. Please note proper zip code and postal city if it will be different than the one you want listed. Email: If you have email please include it on your form. There is a place on the form to mark if you do not want your email to appear on the web page. We use email to communicate with you (we do not sell email, addresses, name or phone numbers to other companies).


Currently, Yahoo maps is automatically generated based on address and zip code. These type of maps are not 100% accurate, thus we include written directions. Even when not accurate (although they often are correct), a map gives people from out of town an idea as to where the property is.

  Open houses

Open houses are a popular marketing tool for home selling, but it is your choice whether or not to have an open house. Our web site can list an open house with your property on the "listing results" pages, on our special "open house" page and on the individual property page. Sellers can add an open house by logging into our Seller Login area. You may also call or email us with that information and we can update your page for you. If you enter the open house yourself, it will appear online as soon as you click save. You can delete an open house by entering Seller Login/Open House tab/look at top right of screen/click "delete" found next to the open house date. You may enter future open house dates. On the listing, the system will show up to 4 weeks of future open houses at at time. 

  Property descriptions

This is probably the most time consuming part of preparing information. Generally, real estate specification sheets include a catchy paragraph that describes special property features like deck, fireplace, notes about the neighborhood, schools or inclusions in the sale. You may also email or mail your description to us and we will post it for you. 

  Table of basic information

On a property web page, there is a table which will display basic information about a property. This table is relatively flexible. If you do not want to include room dimensions, the web site will not show blank fields where the room dimensions would have been; the information simply won't appear. We recommend that you collect this information and have it ready when filling out the online registration, and/or use our handy printable form found on our "List with Us" page. If entering a Lot, multi-unit or Comerica property you can simply skip the parts of the form that do not apply.

  Hit counter

Our web site has private hit counters available through a private "seller login" area. When you are using this web site, you have a username and password assigned to the property. You can use your username/password to view hit counters. Hits mean how many individual times the page has been loaded into a computer from the Internet. So, if you visit your page 5 times, that equates to 5 hits.

  A live page

Once our staff has received all three components of your advertisement (Information/photos/payment), we will create your page, process your information and active your property onto the web site. At this time, it will appear for view by the general public. It is very important to look if over, or have someone you know, look over your property's page. Check it for accuracy and satisfaction and make necessary changes or call us as soon as possible. Expect an email titled "Online" which will confirm that your property is on the Internet. Also expect a receipt and information about our business to be mailed to you.

  Information box

An Information Box is a clear plastic container which can be installed at the time we install a sign (we cannot come back later to install one), for an additional fee. We provide the box but do not provide sheets to fill the box. Many people simply print a copy of their property's page from the web site, make copies, and keep the box filled for that potential buyer who might be driving past the property.

Taking your own photographs

  What to be aware of when you take the photographs

Cloudy days are actually quite nice for photos. It eliminates the problems of sharp shadows that often make viewing a photo difficult. A very dark day or dark cloudy evening might not be the best, but a regular cloudy day when the sun it high works well.

Clear out clutter. Remove family photos, evidence of a pet, or messy bookshelves. Take hanging towels from the kitchen, take everything off the refrigerator and only leave one or two things on counters.

Look through the view finder with the camera, imagine it as a print in your hand, notice what is showing on the outer right, left, top and bottom of the screen.

Try different angles and look at the room from different corners to see what will probably look the best. You can always cut away part of a picture, digital or not, once you have it developed.

Which rooms? Some people include a front photo, 2-3 inside images, and maybe one of the backyard or the back of the house. Photos beyond 4 require an extra fee. Inside photos generally include kitchen and main living area. Sometimes include a rec. room, family room or bonus room. Ultimately, it is your advertisement and you should choose the photos that best compliment you property. Some people do not want to include inside photos. Generally, unless they are extra special (views, extra large, patio doors…) , don't take pictures of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Inside photos: Take these photos during the daytime. Turn on all lights. Almost always force the flash of the camera to go on; this helps everything look brighter.

Digital photos: Digital photos are best emailed with property address in the subject heading or you can easily upload them onto your page once you have registered and have a username and password. When emailing, consider sending them one at a time, as some servers and Internet connections can't handle four photos in one email. Make sure the pictures are properly sized and turned.  If possible, resize photos if you have digital camera software (try using "help" within that program). 

If uploading photos yourself via Seller Login area, the site show the images alphanumerically by file name, so if you want the front photo to be first, it has to be named accordingly. (MVC-01 comes before MVC-02, and so forth).

Photo Prints are also accepted. These are generally mailed to our address (1821 W. Wisconsin Ave Appleton 54914) If you don't have a camera, purchasing a disposal with a flash is a great option. They are inexpensive and take good photos. It is better to purchase a disposable camera with a flash than to use a Polaroid.

House buying/selling tips

  If you are selling your home

  • Curb appeal is an important aspect to selling your home. If you are planning improvements, think about ways to make your property look good from the street. Some suggestions include new light fixtures, new or painted front doors and improved landscaping in front. First impressions count.
  • Obtain the necessary paper work so your are prepared if you have a potential buyer. Many ask the attorney they plan on hiring for an 'offer to purchase' form to have available if a serious buyer comes your way. Please see our Resource page as we have a web page with Wisconsin forms and Steps for buying/selling written by a local attorney.
  • Read "How to Handle Paperwork" on this web page.
  • Obtain books from the library or book store that walk you through the proper paperwork and selling procedures.
  • PROPERTY CONDITIONS REPORT.  There are  laws that protect consumers from being deceived during a house sale. All sellers are required to "disclose" any known conditions affecting the property before the sale is closed.  If the plumbing has been a problem, the roof leaks, the facts are disclosed to the potential buyer. Ultimately, the disclaimer protects the buyer as well as the seller. There are no secrets or deceptions happening regarding the condition of the property.  

  If you are buying a home

  • Develop a good idea, with the help of your financial institution, as to how much of a property you are able and/or want to afford. Ask your financial institution for a pre-approved mortgage letter to carry with you as you search for properties.
  • Determine what type of home you want. Neighborhood characteristics size, age range or other factors may be important to you. Prioritize the characteristics that will most effect your decision.
  • Look carefully at a home you are interested. Are there any cracks in the basement? Do you see any water spots on the floors or ceilings? Flush the toilets and run the sinks, how do they work?  Find a good inspector to perform a thorough home inspection for you.  Your banker/mortgage company may have some recommendations.  
  • Consider paying an attorney to help you through the paper work. Some people feel more comfortable having this extra help. Purchasing a home is an big investment and can be complicated.
  • Obtain books from the library or book store that walk you through the proper paperwork and buying procedures.
  • Shop around for the best mortgage rates, but make sure you use a reputable mortgage lender