RHINELANDER - We can often judge how the economy is doing, by the strength of the housing market.
Things have been rough since the housing bubble burst in 2007.
Buyers and sellers are just starting to feel good again.
But how long will that feeling last?
Dave Olson's house has been for sale for a year.
He hasn't hired a broker.
But he thinks this is the summer to sell.
"You know that there are people out there buying homes, so there are more people looking than maybe what there was a year ago," Olson said.
That's optimism that homeowners in the Northwoods haven't felt lately.
Kim Brixius has been selling homes for 16 years.
This winter was her best ever.
She thinks that's because a historic opportunity is almost closed for good.
"The interest rates and the historically low values," Brixius said. "I think it's driving people to realize if they wait much longer, they're gonna miss out."
Interest rates are historically low because the Federal Reserve is buying bonds to keep them there.
But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke says if the economy continues to improve, they will slowly step back.
"If the incoming data supports the view that the economy is able to sustain a reasonable cruising speed we will ease the pressure on the accelerator by gradually reducing the pace of purchases,"Bernanke said.
Brixius thinks that would bring Wisconsin home sales to a screeching halt.
"All that could put the brakes on the buyer situation, so then sellers may be waiting a lot longer than they thought,"Brixius said.
Regardless, Olson is staying positive.
"I'm very optimistic," Olson said. "I'm thinking one that the market should be getting better; it has to be getting better."
And hopefully the Northwoods won't have to experience another housing burst anytime soon.
VILAS COUNTY - Voters can still cast their absentee ballots in person this week for the upcoming April 7 election. Voters have until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 to go to their municipal clerk's office to vote.
PRESQUE ISLE - The art of violin making dates back hundreds of years, and Brian Derber is carrying on the tradition. He wanted to go into furniture making, but fell into instrument design after taking a class in college. In 1999, he opened his own school. It's the only violin making school in Wisconsin.
"The program itself is modeled after a German school of violin making," said New World School of Violin Making Owner Brian Derber. "Students have to fulfill a certain requirement before they can apply to graduate. So the minimum time they are with me is three years."
Students start out by making the body of a violin in their first year. As they progress, they add the scroll and varnish, which can take months for students to finish. Nearing the end of their stay, they can even try to make a cello.
"In the time that I have with students in the school here, I can only give them so much, and then it's time for them to go someplace else and get more knowledge," said Derber.
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