A Door County Home for You: Tips on Getting your own Door County Home

Real Estate Agent with The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948)

A Door County Home for You:

Tips on Getting your own Door County Home


"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Don't give up too easily--persistence pays in the end".  This oft-quoted proverb has been traced back to American educator Thomas H. Palmer via an English novelist, Frederick Maryat.


These are words to LIVE by.  Let me take you back to 2012 and a new friend recently returned from a military tour of the Middle East.  I have a young veteran looking for a first-time home, he's pre-approved, he doesn't need any money down, he has decent credit, and this should be easy, right?


Door County Properties for Sale in Northern Door Co

It wasn't easy at all.


Kurt works in one municipality and had some very specific criteria about where he wanted to live.  With a new baby on the way, and planning for more in the future, Kurt knew he wanted three bedrooms in Fish Creek or Baileys Harbor or somewhere in between.  We also looked in Sister Bay.


We had three different accepted Offers that fell apart after home inspections.  We lost out in a bidding war with a bank-owned property.  We looked at great homes, good homes and some not-so-great properties (a big yard, a little bit of land, was also a must).


I kept constantly encouraging Kurt---we will find it.  When a deal fell apart, I reminded him--God closes a door, a window opens.


The bottom line is that Kurt spent some time getting really discouraged.  But we never, ever, ever gave up (credit to Winston Churchhill).  I was always ready at a moments' notice, whenever anything came on the market that suited his criteria, to be there after work or in the evening--we tried to be the first out of the gate for every new listing.


Finally, we found something that exceeded both of our expectations.  AND it was in his price point.  Hardwood floors.  Large covered porch.  Three bedrooms.   Open kitchen.  Wrap-around decks.  And lovely wooded and meadow acreage in the exact location he had truly been dreaming about.


Roughly sixty days later, we were closing.  This was a full two years later, in 2014. 


I ran into Kurt at the grocery store this morning and we hugged talked and laughed about our search.  He has three children now, a brand new son born last month.  I attended his wedding.  I helped his wife sell a family home.


And they still love the home they closed on nearly 4 years ago.


We Love Our Door County Home We Bought with MaryKay Shumway


Working with Kurt, I learned a lot.  Persistence, due diligence, and hard work paid off.


So how will I assist you in obtaining your OWN Door County home?  Here are some tips:


We'll start by searching for a home that fits your lifestyle—and budget:

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. THIS WILL NOT INCLUDE A SECOND HOME IF YOU ARE A DOOR COUNTY PROPERTY BUYER.  You can use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and what expenses affect what you can afford. 

Whether it’s a leaky roof, floor joists that need some assistance or an older furnace or water heater, things go wrong and need to be fixed. Many home buyers don't anticipate the additional costs for repair and maintenance, or for an increase in utility costs.  Consider the age of your “new” home and how well it’s been treated by the previous owners in your budget.

Be prepared to set aside a small percentage of the home’s purchase price annually for repairs and upkeep. As such, don’t forget taxes, homeowner insurance, utilities, and other monthly charges (condominium dues, etc.).



3 Bedroom Homes for Sale in Sister Bay, WI


We'll also make sure you get pre-approved before we start our search:

Getting pre-approved from a lender will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses that you cannot afford, as well as be ready to make a serious offer when you do find the right property. Some agents will ask for this letter up-front when you make an Offer.

DO NOT get pre-approval approved with confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances.  Pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt ratio and credit history.  Plan on getting your paperwork in order for this meet, and prepare to show two to three years of tax records.

We'll make sure you find a home in the Door County location that best suits you and your hobbies and passions:

If you love kayaking, I might suggest a home or condominium near the shore or near one of our inland lakes:  Europe Lake, Kangaroo Lake or Clark Lake.  If walking is your passion, what about a home with some acreage, or close to one of our County or State Parks with walking trails?  If you love golf, we have offerings in and around our golf course communities.  If you want a farm, we'll concentrate on areas with Heartland acreage and zoning. If you have young children, we'll concentrate on homes close to our exceptional public schools in Door County.  I'll make sure to LISTEN to your wants and needs and help you find the best property for your lifestyle, hobbies and passions.  We'll make sure you're regularly getting updates on new listings and price reductions at marykayshumway.com


This 3 bedroom home for sale at The Oaks Condominiums

is perfect if you like to walk to the beach in downtown Baileys Harbor

Home at The Oaks Condominium Baileys Harbor


We'll make sure to how much home you can actually afford:

Did you know that since October, 2015, Wisconsin Buyers (from this state or elsewhere) wishing to bid on a home and using financing must have a pre-approval letter?  Many home buyers spend a lot of time researching homes and condominiums — comparing bedroom layouts, bathrooms and square footage — but spend very little time researching their financing options. The first thing buyers should do is talk to a qualified lender and get preapproved for a mortgage (especially with a second home). Without first figuring out how much house you can afford, you risk falling in love with one you can't.  If you need would like to consult with a lender, please let me know and I will forward a list of reputable lenders that my clients have recommended.  Even as a cash buyer, you will want to know your limits and comfort levels.  A cash Buyer in Wisconsin has 7 days to provide Proof of Funds—proof via a Brokerage or Bank Account, or letter from same, stating that you can afford the home you want to buy.


I'll explain agency:  we can make sure you have your own representation: 

Remember, if your agent is not working EXCLUSIVELY for you, they are working for the Seller.  Either way, the Seller almost always pays the Buyer Agency commission.  Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the negotiation process.  I am an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®), and I can put my skills to work for you.


As I learn move about you, we may make some changes to find the property you REALLY love: 

You'd be surprised at how many condominiums I sell to people that think they want a stand-alone home for their vacation getaway--and how much vacant land I sell to people that swear they don't want to build.  Your life story is ever-changing, and together we'll find the IDEAL Door County property for you--even if it isn't exactly what we initially set out to find.   


Be a "Kurt" with me.  His story isn't unusual at all.  I work with a lot of second home buyers for 2-3 years until they find what exactly what they want, and the search often changes along the way.  We'll use diligence, persistence and expert knowledge of the Door County real estate market to find the Door County property of your dreams.  Make 2018 YOUR year to own a piece of Door County, and you can start your online search right here today at



A Door County Home for You:

Tips on Getting your own Door County Home


You could own this Door County waterfront home

in time to enjoy Summer at the Beach in 2018!











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All information is deemed reliable as of date of publication and is subject to change without notice.


 Thank you for reading!  MaryKay Shumway, ABR®, CRS®, Realtor® loves to laugh and enjoys working with people that love the Door Peninsula.  She is a full-time real estate Broker, mother of two and a senior Broker Associate at the Kellstrom-Ray Agency, Inc. in beautiful Sister Bay, Wisconsin.  She represents listings throughout the Door County Peninsula and also represents many Buyers that want to purchase the perfect property to make Door County a part of their lives.  CONTACT MARYKAY ABOUT YOUR DOOR COUNTY PROPERTY QUESTIONS TODAY.

MaryKay Shumway has a consistent multi-million dollar producer for over thirteen years.  Representing both listing clients and buyer clients full time, MaryKay is also a mother of two and active in the Door County community in the local school district, nonprofit groups and governmental affairs.  A member of the Door County Board of Realtors Honors Society from 2005-2016, the Door County Realtor of the Year 2008, a member of The Real Estate Group's Chairman's Circle in 2010-2015, and an member of the Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society for 2014 & 15.  She has served as President and Vice President of the Door County Board of Realtors  and as a member of its Advocacy Committee.  MaryKay is a top MLS producer and has held the position of top producer at The Kellstrom-Ray Agency, Inc. since 2016.


Contact MaryKay.  "As a multi-million dollar producer and senior associate at The Kellstrom-Ray Agency selling Door County real estate, I focus my balance on both  featured listings and representing Buyer Clients looking for the perfect Door County Property.  I turn Door County vacations into Door County traditions by helping you own your own Door County real estate, and I represent exceptional properties in all price points on the Bay of Green Bay, Lake Michigan, and all inland lakes and properties in between. Call, text or e-mail me today."


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MaryKay Shumway

Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert
BUYING or SELLING a Door County Property? Call Me Today!
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