Pristine lawn care is the key! Just making sure the grass is cut regularly is enough for a yard, but if you are trying to sell a house and want a pristine landscape that gives your house real curb appeal, then you might consider a professional lawn care service. Because the competition is increasing in the Moberly, MO market, you need to make sure the home you are selling is a cut above the rest. When potential buyers approach your “for sale” sign, you need to grab their attention and admiration at the curb and not let go until they sign the papers.
Usually when people upgrade or remodel a home for the purpose of selling it, they spend almost all of their budget on the inside flooring and new kitchen appliances and leave very little for the lawn care, which is the first thing a buyer sees. It has been said that a first impression may be the last so you need to address this issue if you really want to sell your house. A seller may have the very nicest house on the block inside the doors but if the yard isn’t manicured well, then perhaps you have not presented the appealing picture that you could be presenting.
Spend some dollars this spring to rid your lawn of all the clover, dandelions and such with some WeedBGone. This can be purchased at the local hardware store in liquid form or granular form. My husband encourages me to use the concentrated liquid type and distribute it directly on the lawn using a gadget that connects to the garden hose. Then be sure to fertilize it as well. This will green up your lawn. Yes, it will make it grow, but this may be the part of the spruce up that appeals to the next potential buyer for your home! We apply this ourselves, however you can hire a lawn care service to do this as well. It’s worth the investment, especially at a time such as this!
Perhaps you’re thinking of selling your home and want a few ideas that won’t break the bank…Well first I’d recommend cleaning out the closets and all the nooks and crannies, and box up what you’re not using. This is a good time to pack away many of the photos you have displayed around the house. Now, don’t take it personal. We don’t want people to look at who’s in the photos, we want them to look at your house and admire the room layout, the storage and the good features of your house!
For a few hundred dollars you can make some simple fixes that will bring many times the return in value:
Apply a fresh coat of paint. Paint and supplies will probably take up the biggest chunk of your budget because it’s the quickest way to transform your entire space. Keep costs low by doing it yourself. You can find great deals on recycled paint with the City of Moberly paint recycling center, which is available in a range of neutrals. While you’re at it, grab some basic white for touching up the trim inside and out.
Work on your curb appeal. First impressions can help get buyers through the door yet don’t have to cost a fortune. Save money by borrowing a pressure washer from a friend or family member and freshening up the landscaping with free mulch from the city. Moberly has free mulch at their station just north of Westlake’s off N. Morley Street. Simple entryway additions—like potted flowers, a new welcome mat and a bold color on the front door—make a big difference without a huge investment.
Refresh kitchen details. Can’t afford a complete kitchen facelift? No problem! This is a great place to sweat the small stuff. Buy decorative kitchen towels and dress cabinets up with modern hardware. A bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of cut flowers will brighten up your kitchen counter.
Set a relaxing mood in the master bedroom. Everyone wants a special place to retreat to at the end of the day. So why not create a relaxing space that puts buyers at ease? Score spa-like bedding at your neighborhood discount store and add a touch of luxury with a few extra throw pillows.
Go for squeaky clean in the bathrooms. Revamp your bathroom by eliminating any trace of “ick.” Stock up on fresh towels, shower curtain liners and pretty soaps at the local dollar store. A tube of caulk does double-duty by banishing mildew and creating neat edges around the bathtub. Or check out Pinterest for cost-effective tips on cleaning the tub with Dawn dish soap and white vinegar. I use it faithfully!
Of course, every home is personal. Need help figuring out where to focus your fix-up dollars? Ask a real estate pro at Advantage Real Estate in Moberly, MO to point you in the right direction. A good agent can help you prioritize your to-dos and keep you from spending a dime more than necessary to get top dollar for your home.
Looking for some family fun this Easter time? Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 4th. Family Life Fellowship in Moberly will be having their annual Great Egg Hunt at 2:00pm! The church is located in Moberly, MO at 1614 E Hwy 24 (approximately ½ mile East of Wal-Mart). This is a free family event with bounce houses, inflatable games, mountain climbing, cotton candy, popcorn, and memories to be made for a lifetime! Over 50,000 eggs & prizes to be given away! As always, make sure to arrive early to register for the free bicycle giveaway. Two for each age group will be drawn from the registered children. The egg hunt is for ages 0-11, but everyone is encouraged to attend. There will be something for everyone. Park & Ride: A free shuttle service will be available from the Pizza Hunt & Glik’s parking lot! For more information, please contact Family Life Fellowship at 660-263-0488 or check out their website at www.flfministries.com
Home not selling? That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price.
These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price.
1. You’re drawing few lookers
You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home, that may be a sign that buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.
2. You’re drawing lookers but have no offers
If you’ve had, say 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single offer, something is off. What are the other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.
3. Your home’s been on the market longer that similar homes.
At least consider lowering your asking price…
4. You have a deadline
Remember, it’s not how much money YOU need that determines the sales price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.
5. You can’t make upgrades
When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.
6. The competition has changed.
If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.
I’m often asked…”How is the real estate market?” We’ve had the most productive fall & winter ever! We’ve helped sell so many homes that the inventory of property for sale in Central Missouri is at an all time low. We need more houses to sell! This is where you can help! Call your favorite Realtor at Advantage Real Estate and say, “Let’s put my house on the market!” At Advantage Real Estate we’re selling Central Missouri one yard at a time…
One thing we do that’s different from other agencies is that when you list with Advantage, we’ll put in writing, that if you’re not satisfied with our service, you’re free to try elsewhere. And I’m proud to say that in almost two decades, that rarely happens.
Did you know that Moberly has a place to take your partially used gallons (and other sizes too) of paint? The City of Moberly offers a free service to area residents to dispose of their hazardous materials (like oil based paint, latex paint, outdoor chemicals, etc.). The household hazardous waste facility is located next door to the dog pound.
Where is that, you may ask? Well, if you’ve traveled the outer road between Hwy EE and Hwy 24 (parallel to Hwy 63), you’ll see the two buildings in the bottom ground near the bridge closer to Hwy EE. Both of these buildings have a green metal roof. You can drive your vehicle there by coming off Hwy EE to the entrance of the cemetery across from Cater Funeral Home parking lot. Just follow the road along, till you see a directional sign pointing you to the right. Here’s a picture to show you’re on the right track…it’s the view from above of the two buildings you are approching.
Drive to the bottom of the hill, and this is the building you’ll need to go to. It’s open on the second Saturday of the month from 8 to noon.
The City of Moberly will accept your extra unused paint, which is helpful when you are selling your home or simply cleaning out the garage. Best of all, they color coordinate their donations and are able to provide free paint if you need some. This has been helpful to many people on a budget, also it helps keep our landfill free of this material! Call the City of Moberly 660-263-4420 and ask for Geri if you need to arrange a specific time to donate that’s not the second Saturday of the month!
I still meet buyers who are wavering as to how to finance their home! The good news is that there are plenty of low down payment mortgage options that potential homeowners may consider, but deciding which of these options best fit their financial needs can be a bit more difficult. With a continuously recovering real estate market, even more of these options are becoming widely available.
Here are just a few of the current financing options available:
0% down – VA and USDA Rural Development Loans
3.5% down – FHA Loans
3% & 5% down – Conventional
Financing options like the ones mentioned above may be appealing to you as a prospective buyer, because it will allow you to afford a larger home without putting as much down up front. Unfortunately, these options can be more expensive in the long run and it’s important for you to understand so you can know what to expect in the years to come.
1. Higher Interest Rates – It’s important to realize that the mortgage industry follows a risk-based pricing system. This means that as the risk for the lender increases, the rates and fees your loan will also increase. A low down payment is a high risk for lenders, which is why FHA, VA and USDA loans apply either an upfront funding fee and/or mortgage insurance. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who back up all conforming loans, will generally charge your clients a higher interest rate and/or fees when they have less than a twentypercent down payment. Depending on their credit score and other factors, rates can vary from .125% to .25% higher for a prospective buyer putting down ten percent instead of twenty-five percent.
2. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If you decide to pursue a conforming loan and plan to make a down payment of less than twenty percent, understand that private mortgage insurance comes along with it. Depending on your loan amount and credit score, you can expect to end up paying a monthly insurance fee on top of your principal and interest payment. The good news is that once a homeowner has built up enough equity to where the loan balance is eighty percent of their original purchasing price, they can finally get rid of the mortgage insurance, because it’s not as high risk for the lender. (Except for FHA loans, which does not fall off after 80%.)
In the case of our rural community of Moberly, MO, with inventory being low and demand high, you may encounter a multiple offer situation. Sellers may tend to stay away from potential buyers with low down payments, as someone with a higher down payment will usually have their loan approved faster by a lender.
Understand that having a twenty percent down payment is a definite financing advantage, but it isn’t a deal breaker, and these are tips just to be aware of when considering purchasing a home. Other tips are to check with a lender before you start looking to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Your lender will have you fill out an application (almost as much fun as doing your tax return), bring in two years’ W-2’s, bank statements, and paycheck stubs.
Another good tip: find you an experienced, full time Realtor to help guide you through the process. At Advantage Real Estate, we pride ourselves in helping make the process as smooth as possible! Happy house shopping!
A drafty window doesn’t mean you have to buy a new one. There are some low-cost, easy fixes to seal your existing windows. Image: M-D Building Products
If the “wind eye” focused on you last winter, but you’re not ready to invest in new windows, you can still cut your energy bills if you seal those air leaks — and if you do so now, you’ll prevent cool air from escaping your home this summer.
Here are three low-cost tips to help keep air leaks at bay:
#1. For most windows: Just fill the gaps.
Easier said than done if you’re dealing with old, flaky caulk, weather stripping, or adhesive that’s really tough to remove. But if you don’t clean it off well, your new caulk and stripping won’t adhere well and could peel away before you see any benefits.
However, a common household product, petroleum jelly, removes that adhesive goo quite well. Just rub the jelly over the sticky goo, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe away. Another swipe with rubbing alcohol will remove the greasy film left from the jelly. (This technique, by the way, also works for removing price labels.)
#2. For older windows with rattling panes: Make baffles.
Cut quarter-round pine strips to fit. Use finishing nails and wood glue to secure them just inside the framed glass. Once you’ve caulked and painted the strips to match, they will disappear into the framework and look like part of the original window. It worked wonderfully on my 1920-era casement windows.
#3. If you want window treatments, too: Install waffle shades.
Folding fabric shades that are made with cells that trap air have great insulating properties — so good that some of them qualify for federal energy rebates, which have been extended into 2011. They start at around $50 — still less expensive than new windows—and you get a new look, too.
Leaky windows are a big deal, winter or summer. What ways have you found to fix your windy windows?
Homeowners in cold-weather climates, such as the Northeast, Midwest, and mountain areas, face icy conditions, blizzards, and other cold-weather storms. Beyond requiring a quick trip to the convenience store for milk and bread, snow, ice, freezing rain, and extreme cold can threaten your home’s structure and your safety. Therefore, it’s important to take measures and invest in the resources you’ll need to deal effectively with winter’s challenges before it gets into full swing.
Understand the Threats
Blizzards: Storms with heavy winds and large amounts of snow accumulation can cause roof or other structural damage and leave you isolated.
Ice storms and ice dams: Ice storms coat structures, trees, power lines, cars, roads — and virtually everything else — with ice. As the ice melts, large chunks can fall and cause injury to anyone below. When ice melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, ice dams, which block water from flowing in the gutter, may form. This condition can force water back under the roof line and cause leaks.
Related: How to Prevent Ice Dams
Sleet or freezing rain: Combinations of snow and freezing rain may cause slippery conditions and coat roads, sidewalks, and driveways with ice when temperatures drop.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that home owners have shovels on hand, as well as melting agents, such as rock salt. Some of the new, more environmentally friendly deicers include calcium magnesium acetate and sand to improve traction. Be sure to stock up early in the season, as these agents tend to be in short supply during periods before a well-publicized storm.
FEMA also advises you have enough fuel to maintain heat in your home, as well as a backup heating source: firewood if the home has a working fireplace, or a generator to power heaters in case of power failure. However, use caution as these can represent fire hazards when not used correctly. Be sure to follow directions explicitly and keep a fire extinguisher. Some generators and fireplaces also require proper ventilation, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, so follow directions carefully and keep them away from curtains or other flammable items.
Stock up on extra blankets, warm clothing, and enough food and water to sustain your family in case of a few days of isolation. And a transistor radio with fresh batteries can help keep you updated on news and information in case of a power outage.
Protect Your Home
Before winter, there are some precautions you can take to protect your home from the ravages of cold weather storms:
Winterize your home. Check shutters, siding, and other exterior materials to ensure they’re secure, says retired contractor and home improvement expert and writer John Wilder of Jacksonville, Fla. High winds, ice, and moisture from winter storms can easily strip off such outside elements if they’re loose.
Be sure that gutters are clear of debris and that walkways are even and don’t represent tripping hazards that can be exacerbated with snow or ice. Caulk drafty windows and apply weather stripping to doors — both inexpensive strategies that can keep heat in your home. Air sealing can help you save about $350 in energy costs or one-third of your average annual heating and cooling costs. The average annual home energy bill is about $2,200, according to Energy Star, of which about $1,000 represents heating and cooling. An assortment of air sealing materials and tools, including silicone foam, caulk, aluminum flashing for flues, and additional insulation, will run roughly $100 to $350.
Winterize pipes. Be sure your pipes, especially those exposed or in unheated areas like crawl spaces, are wrapped in insulation to prevent freezing and bursting. Also, learn where your water shut-off valves are so you can turn off the water supply in case of a leak. Six feet of insulation can cost anywhere from $7 to $17; it’s available at most home improvement stores.
Trim tree branches. Branches that overhang roofs or areas where you park your car — or which are simply overgrown — represent a risk to structures, vehicles, and people. Keep trees trimmed and remove those that are weak or sickly to prevent them from falling on or near your home. Tree trimming and removal pricing varies greatly, and you may have additional restrictions if you live in an historic community or if the trees are close to power lines.
Check with your municipality about any regulations and contact your local Chamber of Commerce, municipal offices, or contractor rating sites like MerchantCircle.com or AngiesList.com to get the names of reputable pros. Tree trimming and removal can be dangerous, so don’t attempt it on your own unless you’re experienced.
By keeping your home in good repair and stocking up on the supplies you’ll need before the rush for rock salt and shovels begins, you’ll be as ready as possible to tough out the storm.
The dark days of winter can really do a number on your well-being. Shorter days trigger the blahs; freezing temps spark the sniffles. So we put together a list of ideas that’ll turn your home into a comfy haven.
Cozy and Clever Energy Savers
Here’s how to create a brighter and warmer home without using more energy or cranking up the thermostat.
1. Clean dirty light fixtures and dusty bulbs to make your home appear 30% brighter without turning on more lights.
2. Seal sneaky air leaks. It’s not just window and door leaks killing your cozy vibe. Don’t forget to plug stealthy gaps around recessed lights, electrical boxes, and wall outlets. Use a lit incense stick or scented candle to hunt down drafty spots while leaving behind a cozy scent.
3. Replace your traditional gas or wood fireplace. Why? Both suck out heated indoor air and send it up the chimney. A gel fireplace insert is an eco-friendly option that produces a burning fire without gas, wood, electricity, or even a chimney. It’s also smoke-free and emits fewer allergens than a wood fireplace; some options crackle like the real thing. A basic model costs between $100 to $210; custom models go up exponentially from there. A case of gel fuel comes with 12 cans that burn for three hours each (about $35).
Tip: Use a slow cooker to infuse your home with a warm and cozy aroma. Even better, slow cookers are more energy efficient than electric ovens, typically using less energy than a light bulb.
You’ll feel coziest in a healthy indoor environment that keeps allergies at bay and reduces your chances of getting sick.
4. Get plants. Some indoor plants, like golden pothos and gerbera daisies, are particularly adept at sucking up nasty VOCs — the vapors emitted from household cleaners, paints, and dry cleaning. And since plants increase humidity levels, they help decrease household dust.
5. Vacuum while your thermostat is set to “fan on.” This helps filter dust that gets kicked-up while cleaning. Just leave the fan on for about 15 minutes after you finish vacuuming and switch it back to “auto” afterward. HVAC blowers aren’t intended to run all the time.
6. Change your HVAC filter every couple months (monthly if you have pets) to prevent excess dust from circulating.
Tip: Combat superbugs with copper. If you’re planning to upgrade your kitchen or bathroom fixtures, consider classic and homey-looking copper or a copper alloy like brass. A three-hospital study in 2011 found that bacteria can only survive on copper for a few minutes, but germs can live on stainless steel for weeks.
Lack of natural light can trigger a mean case of the winter doldrums — or worse, mood-altering seasonal affective disorder. Maximize daylight and make rooms feel warmer by adding the following to your yearly fall maintenance checklist.
7. Make your windows pane-fully clear. Clean glass not only lets more natural light into your home, it’s a feel-good task, according to a survey by the American Clean Institute. When ACI asked consumers what clean surfaces make them happy, “gleaming windows” made the top five above a “spotless sink.”
8. Ditch your window screens in the fall and winter. They trap dirt and can make your home appear darker inside and out. It’s a good curb appeal booster, too.
9. Add an interior window to a room next to a sun-drenched space to take advantage of natural light.
Tip: Paint chilly rooms, especially north-facing walls that don’t typically get sunlight, in reds, oranges, or yellows — cozy colors that can actually help the room feel warmer, according to a Michigan State University study.
I try to put myself in the place of a consumer wanting to buy or sell a home. Often in a small community like Moberly, MO, they call on the person whose name is “on the sign” or their relative who they know is licensed. Word of caution…choose an agent who has a reputation of good communication. I’ve learned in over 21 years in business how important it is!
You must always strive to be someone who takes the time to thoroughly explain a contract until a client fully understands; someone who reviews the market with them one-on-one; someone who answers and returns phone calls. I remember an ad once that said… “how hard IS it to return phone calls?” You must never be the agent who leaves his or her client in the dark. A client would rather work with a REALTOR® who finds answers quickly than with one who knows the answer but doesn’t communicate them properly.
I had a new (to us) lender call on us this week. They have a program which offers a $1400 credit to a first time buyer at closing.
This is from their bank, not a grant or additional interest rate. Of course, you can still negotiate to have the seller pay up to 3% of the purchase price for buyer’s closing costs if needed. This $1400 credit would be in place of some of this, so it would save the buyer some money in the long run. Contact one of us at Advantage Real Estate to explain more! (They define a first time buyer as not having owned a house for 36 months…)
The way your house appears from the street can make or break a sale. If it’s attractively maintained and landscaped, it can add value to your house. But which projects pump up value the most? Some color goes a long way, as does some spit and polish!
Wash your house’s face!
A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (even if you have to rent one) can reveal the true color of your sidewalks & patios.
I recommend washing your windows inside and out as well! You’d be surprised how many houses need their windowsills dusted. Prospective buyers look at these parts too when they are getting serious. You want to make sure they think you’ve been taking care of all the little things as well…so swipe cobwebs from the eaves, and hose down the downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright and clean. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate—TSP (available at home improvement centers and hardware stores), dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
Freshen the Paint Job!
The most commonly offered curb appeal advice is to freshen the exterior paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it (or not). Many clients have asked if they can just give a “paint allowance.” My experience has been that you will sell the house for much more than the cost of doing the work if you can swing it. Even though the cost of the paint and supplies is “X,” buyers will discount the price by “Y” often due to the lack of ability to visualize it as complete.
Neaten the Yard!
A well-manicured lawn with neatly trimmed bushes and freshly mulched garden beds will boost the value of your home. I recommend fertilizing the lawn to assure a full and healthy lawn and using a broadleaf weed killer on the lawn to rid it from dandelions, clover, and other fast growing lawn weeds. You may have to mow the lawn every 5 days at first, but this will make your house stand out from the competition! Ask my husband, a turf management graduate. He literally mowed our lawn prior to most showings for that clean, crisp appearance.
Add a few potted plants with seasonal color to freshen up the outside look!
Spruce up the mailbox!
How about a fresh coat of paint on it? I see many nice homes in upscale neighborhoods with dingy looking mailboxes, often leaning one way or the other. While you’re at it, put some fresh house numbers on the house and/or the mailbox. Make sure the size on the house meets occupancy code requirements, 4 inches in Moberly, MO. Hope these tips get you thinking on the right track…
I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me when is the right time to put their home on the market after the start of a new year? My answer: NOW!
We’ve had so much activity over the winter, it’s been crazy busy! I’ve found that the motivated sellers who leave their home on the market are the ones that the buyers will choose to buy from!
But if you’re thinking of putting your house on the market, interest rates are still very competitive, and there’s lots of buyers looking, so get ‘er done! Spring is typically a busy time, yet there are ebbs and flows all year long.
The most important thing is to make sure your house is ready to show. I would be glad to pop over anytime and offer curb appeal tips and perhaps some staging tips in preparation to marketing your home. First impressions count!