Northwoods home sales and interest ratesSubmitted: 06/20/2013
Story By Adam Fox

Northwoods home sales and interest rates
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.

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WAUSAU - When you think of Wisconsin, two things might come to mind - beer and snow. 

The Granite Peak Ski Area in Wausau decided to combine the two and host an annual brew fest. 

Andy Ledesma is the head brewer at Red Eye Brewing Company in Wausau. The Granite Peak Brew Fest is one of the many perks of his job.

"No other beer fest is like this, that's for sure," said Ledesma.

He definitely wasn't alone serving more than 40 beers on Saturday. 

Jeff Geurink works for South Shore Brewery in Ashland. They've been around for 20 years, but they wanted to make this brew fest a part of their line up.

"Get our name out there and make sure people are enjoying our beer and get as much information as possible out about our brewery so then when they go out and get a beer, they remember us," said Geurink.

Something everyone will remember from the brew fest was the set-up.

"Snow bar?! You can't get that in the summer time," said Roland Bruhnke.

He's right. Most beer festivals are in the summer. But when it's still feeling like winter in March, Granite Peak turns lemons into lemonade, or more appropriately, hops into beer.

"I think it definitely helped that when they get to the bottom of the hill, you see a bunch of beer," said beer salesman Jesse Bartnik.

So even though beer and physical activity isn't the best combination, dozens of people were loving it this weekend.

"The winter, the skiing, the beer, it's all one big package all rolled into one," said Bruhnke.

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RHINELANDER - This time of year, winter activies start to wind down and the summer fun hasn't quite started yet.

That's why Fisher's Resort and Bar on Lake George in Rhinelander enjoys having it's annual ice golf tournament each year.

"In year's past, March is always kind of a slower season up here in the Northwoods so we figured we'd create an event and put efforts towards a local organization," said Fisher's Resort and Bar owner, Russ Fisher.

That local organization they raise money for is the Hodag Sno-trails snowmobile club.

This year, the tournament had it's biggest turn out.

30 teams came to play, including first timer Dennis Herrmann who lives right across the lake.

"This has nothing to do with golf, I can tell you that right now. But it's a challenge for all the obvious reasons. But you do it for the charity, you do it for the fun and it gives everybody the chance to get out," said Herrmann.

This year they cut it down from 18 holes to 13 so people could get inside faster to enjoy the chili and the raffle items after their round of golf.

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The Crandon School Board voted unanimously Friday evening to change the wording of superintendent Dr. Doug Kryder's absence from the district.

Kryder is now on "paid administrative leave." Originally, he had been "suspended with pay."

The board said it made the change based on advice of its lawyer. The board met for two and a half hours in closed session on Friday.

Kryder is under investigation by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

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CRANDON - Planners in Tomahawk dreamed about a bike loop around the city starting in the early 2000s.

Two decades later, it's finally about to happen.

After more than 15 years of negotiation, the city bought a critical piece of land from the Canadian National railroad.

It will allow the city to start building a 4.6 mile bike loop around the city.

"It's a win-win for everybody. There was a little frustration from by position, but you just...kept your foot on the gas through the whole process," said Tomahawk Public Works Director John Cole.

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TOMAHAWK - Two best friends turned into business partners about a year ago.

Bill Eastwood and Blake McMahon own Outboards Bar and Grill in Tomahawk.

The duo's combined restaurant and business experience helped them hit the ground running.

Fish quality comes first at Outboards.

"Friday night is the night that pretty much everyone goes out to eat. So if you don't have a good fish fry, people around here start talking!" say Eastwood.

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ANTIGO - "It did come as a shock at first, but it's something that you realize it's not the end of the world," said Tracie Quade. 

Quade's 18-month old son, Benny, was diagnosed with Down syndrome when he was born.

"It's actually a really, really awesome thing. People with Down syndrome are wonderful loving people and they are just as capable of doing as much as anybody else," said Quade.

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RHINELANDER - The warmer weather might have you spending more time outside with man's best friend.

But the remaining snow and ice could increase the risk of injury for dogs.

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