Check out this ranch home on 41 acres!

Discover the joys of country life with this 3 BR 2 BA ranch home with walkout basement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has a secluded location at the end of a dead end road with 41 acres m/l.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep some cows or horses on this land – there’s two fenced pastures for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mix of woods and pasture with a pond, you’ll see lots of wildlife in your backyard!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large rooms throughout this home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

main level laundry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unfinished walk-out basement with room to grow!

 

 

Call Advantage Real Estate 660-263-3393 to schedule your private tour!  MLS # 18-212

Click here for details direct to the MLS:  https://www.flexmls.com/share/1dFQz/1046CountyRoad2565HigbeeMO65257

 

Selling your home? Budget-friendly improvements

Everyone wants to get top dollar for the home they are selling.

2. Here’s a few budget-friendly tips I’ve learned and observed…

Crown molding at the ceiling makes a room look higher-end

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moldings can be simple or ornate, but don’t they really crisp up a room.

2. Hang quality ceiling fans

Ceiling fans that match from room to room give continuity and a fresh/new look

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

3. Upgrade your landscaping

   Add some flower pots, fresh mulch, and heap loads of love on your lawn by getting rid of clover and dandelions by using Weed B Gone or a similar brand.  And then fertilizing!  People often               drive by your house before ever asking to see inside.  A well-manicured lawn is inviting;  the return on investment is HUGE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wanting to put down roots?

 

Arbor Day is one of those days that we all know about. But how many of us really go out and plant a tree every year?

Planting a tree is a great thing to do. There are just so many other things that demand our time, attention, and money, that it isn’t something that most people even think to do.

Even if we do, getting a tree to take root isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need to know what you’re doing…

Buying a home is similar.

Finding the time, attention, and money to search for the perfect place to put down your roots is one of those things we all think about. But it’s something people rarely do. And when you decide to, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. It isn’t as easy as it looks.

Have you been thinking that it’s time to really set roots in a new home, but have been putting it off?

If you have… give us a ring. We know how to help you find the perfect place to set your roots.  Advantage Real Estate 660-263-3393

 

The Best 5 Projects (to Do Now) to Help You Sell Your House

Focus on curb appeal projects. You’ll get a higher return on those.

Planning on selling your home soon? Take an objective look around your home from a buyer’s perspective. What would stop you from making an offer? What do you need to do to put your home’s best face forward?

Here are some  projects to jump on now in order for your home to be in tip-top shape for a spring sale:

#1 Update Your Curb Appeal

Landscapers planting in a front yard

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Woman preparing home for sale by fixing faucet
Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Blend Images/Getty Images

Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.

Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house — and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.

1.  Have a Home Inspection

Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.

2.  Get Replacement Estimates

If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.

3.  Make Minor Repairs

Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems — sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets — as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.

4.  Clear the Clutter

Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.

5.  Do a Thorough Cleaning

A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.

If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.

Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.

5 Doable DIY Projects To Send Your Home Equity Soaring

A new front door has the highest ROI, not to mention the boost in curb appeal.

You’re going to save money with DIY home improvement projects. Sure, everybody knows that.

But did you know how much? Cut professionals out of the equation and you can save half the cost of a project — or more.

What’s more, you get a great return on your investment. Meaning, the financial value you get out of a DIY project is much more than what you put in.

Here’s a rundown of some top money-saving projects, using cost and recovered costs data from the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

#1 New Steel Front Door

Few replacement projects have as much upside as a new steel entry door. Not only will you recover about 75% of the cost of having an entry door professionally installed, but you’ll spruce up your curb appeal big time. Want proof? Ninety-six percent of homeowners responding to the “Remodeling Impact Report” say they are happy or satisfied with their new front door.

Of course, you’ll save even more if you tackle this project yourself. Know your door parts (jambs, threshold, stops) before digging in. You’ll be putting in a pre-hung door that includes jambs, so the old stuff has to come out. If you can, preserve the old casing (trim) that goes around the door. Otherwise, plan to buy new casing.

If You Hire If You DIY
Cost $2,000 Cost $250
Recoup at sale $1,500 Recoup at sale $1,500
% recoup 75% % recoup 600%

This is a good one to have a friend or spouse lend a hand. It’ll take six to eight hours if it’s your first time. Remember the three-legged mantra of door installation: Plumb, level, square.

Related: Choosing an Exterior Door

#2 New Garage Door

Tired of looking at that big blank billboard every time you pull into your driveway? Change out your old garage door for a spiffy new steel model and the whole neighborhood will thank you. Save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.

If You Hire If You DIY
Cost $2,300 Cost $850
Recoup at sale $2,000 Recoup at sale $2,000
% recoup 87% % recoup 235%

A steel garage door comes in four panels that are relatively lightweight but awkward — get a friend to lend a hand and you’ll have this project done in a day. Then stand back and admire along with 95% of homeowners in the “Remodeling Impact Report” who said they were happy or satisfied with their new garage door.

#3 New Vinyl Windows

If you want to replace four or more windows, or a second-story window, then hire the work out. Being up on a ladder with an object as bulky as a window is no place for a non-professional. Pros bring scaffolding, which takes time to set up but ultimately makes the work faster and safer.

Replacing one, two, or maybe three first-story windows is a good DIY job. Anything more and the pros will get the job done with better efficiency in terms of time and hassle.

If You Hire If You DIY
Cost (per window) $556 Cost (per window) $250
Recoup at sale $444 Recoup at sale $444
% recoup 80% % recoup 178%

If you’ve measured your rough opening correctly and bought the right window, then one window should take you three to four hours. You’ll get faster with subsequent windows.

#4 New Wood Flooring

Few projects are as satisfying, while recovering such a high percentage of your investment, as new wood flooring. According to the “Remodeling Impact Report,” 96% of homeowners were happy or satisfied with their professionally installed hardwood floors. Combine that with a 91% return on your investment, and you’ll likely be a very happy homeowner.

For the DIYer, installing hardwood flooring is a bit labor intensive, but the techniques are fairly easy to master. Once you get the hang of it, installing prefinished hardwood flooring should go smoothly.

If You Hire If You DIY
Cost $5,500 Cost $1,770
Recoup at sale $5,000 Recoup at sale $5,000
% recoup 91% % recoup 282%

Related: Should Your Refinish Hardwood Floors Yourself?

#5 Insulation Upgrade

OK, maybe it’s not the sexiest project. After all, it’s tucked out of sight in your attic. But you can feel it with increased comfort, and see the savings on your energy bill. Those are big pluses.

Upgrading an under-insulated attic space can save you up to 50% per year in energy costs. With a pro cost of $2,100, it’ll take at least a couple of years to pay off your investment with savings. Do it yourself, however, and you’ll only spend about $700 for enough 10-inch-thick fiberglass batt insulation to cover a 20-foot-by-40-foot attic space. You’ll pocket the savings much sooner.

It’s also an awkward project, it can be messy, and you’ll need to bundle up behind protective clothing. However, insulating your attic is a low-skill project that most DIYers can pull off. Just be sure not to stick your foot through the drywall under the attic floor joists!

If You Hire If You DIY
Cost $2,100 Cost $700
Recoup at sale $1,600 Recoup at sale $1,600
% recoup 76% % recoup 229%

 

 

Preparing to Sell Your Home? The Best 5 Projects to Do Now

Buyers will simply flock to your home if you tackle these value adds.

Planning on selling your home soon? Take an objective look around your home from a buyer’s perspective. What would stop you from making an offer? What do you need to do to put your home’s best face forward?

Here are some  projects to jump on now in order for your home to be in tip-top shape for a spring sale:

#1 Update Your Curb Appeal

Landscapers planting in a front yard

Curb appeal is important,” says Steve Modica, sales associate and property manager at HomeXpress Realty Inc. in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.

  • Make sure the bushes are all trimmed.
  • Re-mulch or replace stone walkways and paths.
  • Remove any dead plants and trees, and aerate your lawn so it will be lush.
  • Pressure wash the driveway, the front walk, and the exterior of your home.
  • If need be, have the exterior of the house painted.
  • At the very least, apply a fresh coat of paint on the front door.

#2 Get a Home Inspection

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® says 77% of homebuyers have an inspection done before completing a home purchase. To avoid nasty surprises once you’re in the process of selling your home, have your own inspection done, and make any repairs before you list the home.

You should know that if the inspection does discover any flaws, even if you fix them, you will have to disclose them. But that’s still amuch better strategy than letting the buyer find flaws, which gives them bargaining leverage.

#3 Replace Flooring and Paint Walls

Determine if your carpets need replacing or just a deep, professional cleaning. If they need to go, consider if hardwood or another flooring material might be more appealing to buyers.

You’ll also want to inspect interior rooms for dirty or scuffed walls that need a fresh coat of paint. “Paint the whole wall, don’t just do touch-up repair work, because it never looks as good,” says Modica. Also, if you have eccentric or loud wall colors, now is the perfect time to update to a more neutral palette. Stagers recommend beiges, light grays, and off-whites.

#4 Tackle the Basement, Attic, and Garage

Between the studs garage shelving
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Often overlooked, these storage meccas can become a catch-all for junk. Get down and dirty in these hot spots and organize them from top to bottom. Install shelving, pegboards for tools, and hanging brackets for bicycles and other large sporting equipment. Your goal is to pitch the junk, sell what you no longer need, and categorize the rest.

“Donate or recycle clothes and bedding you don’t use anymore in order to free up storage space in your closets, basement, and garage,” says Amy Bly, a home stager at Great Impressions Home Staging in Montville, N.J. These areas should look roomy, well-organized, and clean.

Related:Garage Storage Ideas Under $50

#5 Consult a Stager

Buyers need to picture themselves living in the house, and they may have trouble doing that if all your personal effects are on display. In order to accomplish that, a professional stager can create a plan for you.

Bly spends about two hours walking through a property assessing curb appeal, interior flow, closets, bookcases, media cabinets, flooring, and more.

“I give homeowners a multi-page, room-by-room form they can use to take notes on my recommendations,” says Bly. She typically recommends things like neutralizing out-of-date decor, removing old furnishings and carpeting, and updating light fixtures. She also suggests the type of shower curtains, towels, bedding, and pillows to display for an upscale look.

Getting a jump on these fall projects will give you a leg up on selling in the spring. Today’s buyers are savvier than ever before, so when you’re ready, have a friend or relative drop by for a tour and point out anything you may have overlooked.

 

Entryway Storage Ideas

7 Genius Entryway Storage Ideas to Get You Out the Door Faster

Creating personalized bins is a good start.

It’s so easy (and so unfair) how quickly your entryway can go from clean to chaos — and that chaos makes trying to get out the door brutal.

Think of all that time wasted hunting for your keys and umbrella, or digging through a pile of coats to find the one you need. Five minutes spent searching for stuff each morning becomes 35 minutes a week, or more than 30 hours a year!

Corralling your clutter can feel overwhelming, but with the right mindset and a few clever hacks, your entryway can be what helps you get out of the house on time — not what slows you down.

Here are seven ideas to help you out:

#1 Personalize Buckets

How do those hats and gloves end up all over the entryway? Half the time, it happens when someone tosses them aside while searching for their own stuff. That’s why separating each person’s storage space is so ingenious.

“Susie has her own basket, Tommy has his own basket,” says professional organizer Yve Irish. Assigning space and responsibility to each individual family member saves you — and your kids — time digging through other people’s belongings.

Personalized baskets for children's belongings
You don’t need a huge closet to do this — even little baskets in an inexpensive Ikea shelving unit can do the trick.

Irish recommends pairing a storage system with training to make personalized buckets work: “Teach your children to return items to their basket when they come home,” she says. “You want to make sure that happens and they get into the habit.”

#2 Hang Your Purses and Bags

Digging through a forest of coats to find the right purse for your outfit is a hassle. It’s also not great to shove your bags onto a cluttered closet shelf or (ugh) pile them on the floor — a practice some believe is bad luck. There’s a feng shui saying, “A purse on the floor is money out the door.” So hang your bags from the closet rod using S-hooks instead.

S-hooks used to organize purses
Image: Libby Walker for HouseLogic

Lacking a closet? If your walls are less than five feet apart, you can install a tension rod between them. Or choose a decorative wall shelf with hooks.

No matter how you hang them, do a purse purge first to avoid creating a handbag jungle. Keep that oversized bag you only pull out for special occasions tucked out of the way.

#3 Create a Charging Station

While you might charge your primary smartphone overnight by your bedside, creating a charging station in your entryway can save valuable time, especially if you have a work phone or use the kids’ tablets for car rides. When they’re always charging in the same spot, you won’t waste time in the morning hunting down chargers.

Assemble tech storage using assigned baskets with neatly-organized cords, or go big with a built-in. At organization blog “A Bowl Full of Lemons,” a cabinet with plugs inside was installed in the mudroom to serve as a neat home for laptops, tablets, and smartphones, which all charge up inside.

#4 Install an Information Station

Papers can be pernicious devils, accumulating in ugly piles, blocking surfaces, and creating stress. Cut off the problem at its head with an information station, starting with a customized paper organizer on the wall.

“We had an extreme amount of clutter,” says Aniko Levai, the blogger behind “Place of My Taste.” As part of a grand entryway remodel, she created a wall organizer to keep papers and small items out of the way.

The process is simple enough for even the newest DIYer. Levai created the organizer by combining painted wood, fabric, a few small hooks, and a $15 wall magazine rack from Ikea.

But not all paper needs to be saved, and mail-sorting procrastination is the stuff cluttered entryways are made of. Setting up your recycling center near your entryway — in the closet or a free corner — can turn paper sorting into a quick, easy to-do task every time you walk in the door.

If you have the space, add a shredder into the mix or add a whiteboard for reminders.

#5 Add Lots of Shoe Storage

Step into any big box home store and you’ll find two dozen shoe storage options, from stackable organizers to hanging canvas cubbies. The perfect option for you is a matter of taste and space, but let’s be serious: However many shoe cubbies you think your family should need, the truth is probably three times that amount. That’s why we’re partial to this clever solution from Sara Davis, who transformed an old wooden mail sorter — found at a local antique shop — into a gorgeous, 45-slot shoe cubby.

Shoe storage cubbies in a home's entry

While antique mail sorters may not be available everywhere, you can create your own by converting a bookshelf or cabinet, bundling cut PVC piping into handmade cubbies, or buying a large shoe cubby. Davis’ solution is perfect for her long, thin mudroom, which is 17 feet long, but only five feet wide.

“It’s hard to miss, so it’s a great reminder for the kids to take off their shoes,” Davis says.

#6 Assign Lockers

Industrial-style decor is in — take advantage of the trend in your entryway by installing lockers. (Yes, we mean the aluminum models your kids use at school.)

While not ideal for a super-small entryway, lockers can instantly triple your storage space if you have the room, as each one has hooks on three surfaces, as well as shelving. Even better, install short tension rods and use S-hooks for even more hanging storage.

And they provide plenty of room for creative decoration. You can paint them to match a variety of decor.

#7 Make a Station for Wet, Muddy Footwear

Your entryway is always one of the first victims of nasty weather. Is it a rainy autumn? Say hello to a puddle of dirty leaves. Winter? Snow boots can leave the entire room soaking and soiled.

Weather-safe storage solutions can be the key difference between an unorganized mess and a pristine entryway. The biggest culprit is shoes. While a mat can go a long way toward preserving the cleanliness of your entrance, you’ll need to develop a plan for storing boots — without them dripping everywhere.

Try this DIY solution: Line the bottom of a chest with a mud tray, and then fill the tray with a layer of river rocks. The rocks allow the water to drain away from the soggy boots so they’ll be ready to use the next morning — and the whole process is hidden away inside the chest.

 

Looking for a Winter Project?

Commercial Opportunity!

Commercial Opportunity!

 

As you drive by 501 N. Ault St. in Moberly, MO you’ll find this 30×80 metal building available, currently zoned B-3 for general business.

 

Current use is a specialty outpatient clinic/school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interior is large and open and has many potential uses: office, school, church, day care, you decide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s two sets of two handicap accessible bathrooms, 5 offices,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

two separate possible teaching areas divided by lockable doors with separate entrances and separate heat/cooling systems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the floor plan and decide how best it might work for your use!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approx. 18×20 ft. shed in back with overhead door and window a/c unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This property is state-certified and inspected yearly for plumbing, electrical, and fire dept. Personal property can be negotiable: desks, tables, computers, kitchenette, soda machine.

 

Here’s a link to the MLS listing:  http://askadvantage.com/idx/search/?OrderBy=-ListPrice&StreetAddress=501

 

How to find real estate deals (Cyber Monday thoughts)

Cyber Monday has become a great way to avoid the crowds of Black Friday. You can even shop while you’re at work! (As long as your boss doesn’t catch you! LOL)

It’s also a great way to find some deals. Who doesn’t want a deal!? The Internet has also changed how people look for real estate. It’s made finding the perfect home quite easy — the minute it comes on the market. But actually getting the house isn’t as easy as just clicking a button and heading to the next screen to checkout. Beyond that, if you’re looking for a real estate deal, there’s going to be others who are looking as well.
Houses aren’t like mass-produced products we buy for presents. They are one-of-a-kind. They are limited. So when they’re a “deal”….
…it’s important to be ready to jump. And even then, you’ll probably be competing against other offers.
The real trick to finding (and actually getting) a real estate deal is to look through the ones that aren’t obvious deals. And that’s not easy for the untrained eye to see. Luckily, I have a well-trained eye! (I sent it to obedience school.) So, when you’re looking for a great real estate deal, don’t just look at the obvious deals. Look deeper. More importantly, have me looking as well. Because there’s a good chance I’ll see something you’d probably overlook.

Contact your favorite agent at Advantage Real Estate!

 

Black Friday is like real estate buyers going after a hot listing

Black Friday basically begins on Thursday these days.

You’ve probably driven past a big box store on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner and seen people with tents set up, waiting in line for the store to open. They all want to be first into the store, or at least one of the first…because the deals are first-come, first-serve. You want the latest, greatest, must-have item, or the best deal? You better not linger at Thanksgiving dinner, and get yourself in line. It takes a ton of forethought, desire, and dedication to even have a shot at getting one of the deals.
It’s kind of the same with the best real estate listings. But not just one day a year…all year.
When a great deal pops on the market, or a house many people want, it’s like the frenzy of people streaming through the doors of a big box store on Black Friday. Buyers flock fast and furiously.
But, with a great real estate deal, or great house, the big difference is that only one buyer gets it.
Here’s the good news…
  • You don’t have to be first in line to see the house. You don’t need to set up a tent on the owners lawn and wait to be the first one in to see the house. (In fact, that might hurt your cause more than help it!)
  • Heck, you don’t even necessarily have to be the one who offers the most money for the house! (Although how much you offer does matter!)
  • Crafting and presenting the best offer, when you’re trying to buy a house with lots of interest, is an artform that can get you a house even when there are higher offers. (I consider myself quite the artist when it comes to multiple offer scenarios…so you’re in good hands with me!)
I wish you luck on getting any deals you’ve got your eye on this Black Friday! But when it comes to getting the house you want, I won’t wish you luck…I’ll wish you work with us at Advantage Real Estate. That should do the trick! LOL

6 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Do in November

It’s the spring cleaning of fall, so to speak.

With guest season (also known as THE HOLIDAYS) coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.

Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):

#1 Wash Bed Pillows

A bed with white lines and fluffy blue-green pillows
Image: Laura W.

You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!

With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your guest pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too

A pink note attached to a mattress
Image: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.

You’ll want your guest mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.

(Another option: if you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)

#3 Insulate Windows

A living room with couch and blue roman shades on window
Image: Nick Smith, photographer | Clare Gaskin Interiors, designer

Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.

You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies

A man in a blue coat using a snow blower in a neighborhood
Image: Chiyacat/Getty

If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.

If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.

Related: 3 Brilliant Hacks to Make Snow Shoveling a Snap

#5 Trim Tree Branches

A woman with a green short-sleeved T-shirt trimming branches
Image: Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto/Getty

The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof for excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.

Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)

Related7 Dirty Places Your Guests See, But (Shock!) You Don’t!

#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace

A woman sitting on a couch with two dogs by a fireplace

It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.

Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.

How to Winterize Your Home

9 Tips for a Spring-Clean Home All Winter Long

Get the dirt out of your home before you hunker down for winter’s worst.

You know, when you think about it, we should be obsessing over fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning. After all, you’re about to shut yourself inside for months with all the dust and dirt your home has collected during the hot, dusty, open-window days of summer. And who wants to inhale that?!

The EPA even estimates that indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor air. So here’s a checklist to help you breathe easy all winter long in your home.

#1 Wash and Disinfect Garbage Cans and Wastebaskets

A collection of wastebaskets to be cleaned

You’re going to be shut in all winter with these germ havens, so now’s a good time to clean them thoroughly. Take them outside where you can blast the insides with a garden hose, then add disinfectant.

For an environmentally safe way to sterilize these nasty grime collectors, use undiluted hydrogen peroxide or vinegar mixed 50/50 with water. Caution! Don’t mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar — the result is harmful peracetic acid. Regular bleach is an effective disinfectant (one part bleach to six parts water), but we much prefer environmentally safe.

Let the garbage cans sit for an hour, then pour out the contents and scrub the insides with a stiff bristle brush to remove any residue. Rinse and, if possible, let the wastebasket dry in direct sunlight, which helps eliminate bacteria.

#2 Wash and Disinfect Toilet Brush Holders

Take the holder and the brush outside, and spray wash thoroughly with a garden hose. Immerse the holder and brush in a bucket of hot water mixed with one of these solutions:

  • 1 part bleach to 6 parts water
  • 2 to 3 cups of environmentally friendly washing soda crystals
  • A 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water

Let everything sit in the solution for a couple of hours, then rinse the holder and brush with a hose and place in direct sunlight to dry.

#3 Turn Over Furniture and Vacuum the Bottoms

Upside down armchair

You might shift furniture around so you can vacuum the floor, but there’s another side to the story — the underside.

Tilt upholstered chairs and couches all the way back (much easier with two people) to expose the bottoms. The dustcovers tacked underneath furniture can catch dreck and dust bunnies, so vacuum them off, being careful not to press too hard on the fabric.

#4 Clean the Tops of Doors, Trim, and Artwork

Human stepladder to clean the top of a doorframe

Tables and countertops aren’t the only household items with horizontal surfaces. In fact, just about everything in your house except Rover’s tennis ball has some kind of horizontal surface where dust and dirt will nestle, often unnoticed. You’ll want to clean the top horizontal edges of:

  • Interior doors
  • Trim, including baseboards and chair rails
  • Artwork and mirrors
  • Electrical wall plates
  • Wall-mounted smoke detectors, CO detectors, and thermostats
  • Upper kitchen cabinets
  • Light bulbs and light fixtures
  • Computer monitors
  • Books on shelves

#5 Vacuum Behind the Fridge

Your fridge needs to be cleaned periodically so that it operates at peak efficiency. Ignore this chore and face another $5 to $10 per month in utility costs. Worst case: a visit from an appliance repair pro who’ll charge $75 to $150 per hour!

The object is to clean the condenser coils. Here’s how:

If the condenser coils are on the back of the refrigerator, then pull the unit out completely, and unplug it while you work on it. Brush or vacuum the coils to clean them, and clean up any dirt and dust on the floor.

Also, check to make sure your freezer vents are clear. Freezers circulate air to reduce frost, but piling up too much stuff in front of the little grill-like vents inside your freezer blocks their business.

If the condenser coils are on the bottom of the fridge, then you’ll need to clean them from the front of the unit.

Take off the bottom faceplate to expose the coils.

Clean dust using a condenser-cleaning brush ($8) or a long, thin vacuum attachment made for cleaning under refrigerators ($14).

You should still pull your refrigerator all the way out and vacuum up dirt and dust that accumulates in back of the unit. Unplug it while you work on it.

Put down a piece of cardboard so that grit under the wheels doesn’t scratch your flooring.

#6 Winterize Your Entry

Dachshund shaped boot scraper

Keep winter’s slush and gunk at bay by making your entryway a dirt guardian.

  • Get a boot scraper ($19 to $35).
  • Add a chair or bench for taking off boots, and have a boot rack for wet footwear.
  • Put down a tough coir outdoor doormat ($30 to $190) for cleaning footwear.

Related: Check Out These Clever Entryway Solutions

#7 Clean Windows

Washing the windows outside a house

By some estimates, dirty window glass cuts daylight by 20%. That’s a lot less light coming in at a time of year when you really need it to help chase away winter blues.

Clean windows inside and out with a homemade non-toxic solution:

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon eco-friendly dish detergent
  • 2 cups water

Wipe clean and polish using microfiber cloths.

#8 Clean Ceiling Fan Blades

Those big blades on your ceiling fan are great at moving air, but when they’re idle they’re big dust magnets — dust settles on the top surfaces where you can’t see it.

Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind. Here’s an easy way to clean them: Take an old pillowcase and gently cover a blade. Pull it back slowly to remove the dust. The dust stays inside the pillowcase, instead of all over the floor, the furniture, your hair (ugh!).

#9 Change Furnace Filters

One dirty pleated furnace filter with a clean filter
Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

Yeah, this is a no-brainer, which is why it’s last on this list. But everything else you do could be moot if you’re not changing your filters at least once every 60 days (more if you’re sensitive to allergies).

Air filters for furnaces are rated by level of efficiency. The higher the rating, the better the filter is at removing dirt, mold spores, and pet dander.

Filters are rated one of two ways (you’ll see the ratings on the packaging); higher numbers mean better efficiency, but there’s a point of diminishing returns — some filters with extremely high ratings also restrict air flow, making your HVAC work so hard that the system heats and cools inefficiently.

  • Minimum efficiency rating values (MERV) for filters range from 1 to 16, but 7 to 13 is typical for households (14 and up are used in hospitals).
  • Microparticle performance rating (MPR) range from 300 to 2,400.

Cheap filters cost about $2, but won’t do you much good. You’re better off paying $12 to $17 for a pleated filter with a 1250 MPR, or $20 to $25 for a filter rated 2,400.

Happy cleaning (and breathing!) this winter.

6 Tasks That Every Smart Homeowner Does in October

6 Tasks That Every Smart Homeowner Does in October

Why now’s the perfect time to replace appliances.

The temps are starting to drop; the smell of wood smoke is in the air.

Temps are more chilly than warm. That’s when veteran homeowners know it’s time to do these six things if they want to avoid grief or overspending:

#1 Buy Appliances

Brand new dishwasher in a home kitchen
Image: Pierre Desrosiers/Getty

Whisper to them. Do a rain dance. Whatever it takes to get your old appliances to wait until fall to go on the fritz. Manufacturers bring out their latest models during the fall, and store owners offer big sales on appliances they want to move out — like last year’s most popular dishwasher. So September, October, and November are great months to buy.

But October is right in the middle — when there’s still plenty of selection, and retailers might be more willing to haggle.

Refrigerators are the exception because new models don’t come out until spring.

#2 Switch the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Red ceiling fan with patterned wallpaper
Image: iaobzjls/Getty

Most have a switch to allow the ceiling fan blades to rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise — one way pushes air down to create a nice breeze and the other sucks air up, helping to distribute the heat. Think counterclockwise when it’s warm and clockwise when it’s cool.

#3 Clean Windows

A bright kitchen with open shelving and wall of windows

Daylight is about to dwindle so why not get as much of it as you can? Clean off all the bugs, dust, and grime from your windows while the weather is still warm enough to do so. For streak-free windows, combine ¼-cup of white vinegar with ¼ to ½ teaspoon of eco-friendly dish detergent and 2 cups of water.

If window cleaning isn’t a DIY job at your home, schedule a professional window cleaner (who, unlike most of us, is able to do it even when temperatures plummet) before the end of the month. The closer it gets to the holidays, the busier they get. Bright sunshine on winter’s darkest days makes it totally worthwhile.

#4 Schedule a Heating Unit Checkup

A beige wall with framed thermostat and other paintings
To ensure your family will be able to feel their toes all winter, schedule early in the month for your heating unit to be serviced. As temperatures drop, service companies get busier.

Whether you hire your heating company’s technician or a contractor to do it, they’ll clean soot and corrosion from the combustion chamber, replace filters, and check the whole system for leaks, clogs, or damage. Nothing pairs with a pending blizzard better than the assurance that you’ll be weathering the storm with warm air piping through the vents and cocoa in hand.

#5 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace

A beige-painted brick fireplace with black slate tiles

It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So yeah, it’s pretty important.

Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.

#6 Insulate Exposed Pipes

A few copper pipes in front of a concrete wall

If you’ve ever dealt with a burst pipe, you know it’s a sad, wet disaster worth preventing. To avoid the stressful (not to mention, expensive) ordeal, prep your home’s exposed pipes with foam or heat tape — choosing which one will work best with your climate — to keep those pipes toasty. Remember: The most at-risk pipes are often those in unheated areas such as an attics, crawl spaces, and garages, so secure those first.

5 Things That REALLY Will Put a Serious Dent in Your Energy Bills

Stop sending so much money to your utility company with these simple strategies.

Your Mexican beach vacation was great, but, man, those margaritas sure can put on the pounds. It’s been two months, and you’re still carrying around an extra tenner — despite a new running routine and a lot of #&*&@$ kale. So why isn’t your weight dropping?

It’s like that with energy bills, too.  Eighty-nine percent of us believe we’re doing the right things to lower energy costs, and almost half of us think our homes already are energy efficient. Yet, 59% of us say our bills are going up, not down, despite our efforts to economize.

Suzanne Shelton, CEO of the Shelton Group, a marketing agency that specializes in energy efficiency and that did this research, says we’re rationalizing: “I bought these [LEDs] so now I can leave the lights on and not pay more. I ate the salad, so I can have the chocolate cake.” Denial much?

Her research also shows consumers, on average, made fewer than three energy-efficient improvements in 2012 compared with almost five in 2010. It looks like we’re giving in to higher utility bills. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You just need to know what improvements really will make the biggest difference to lower your bills. There are five, and the good news is that they’re really (seriously) cheap. You can go straight to them here, but there’s also another thing you can do that doesn’t cost a dime — and will drop your costs:

Be Mindful About Your Relationship With Energy

Think about it. Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later, says Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation, a research and policy-making nonprofit focused on improving buildings’ energy efficiency.

With other services you get a choice of whether to buy based on price. With energy you don’t get that choice — unless you intentionally decide not to buy. You can take control by making yourself aware that you’re spending money on something you don’t need each time you leave home with the AC on high, lights and ceiling fans on, and your computer wide awake.

Related: Did You Know You Should Never Leave a Ceiling Fan on When You Leave a Room? 

That mindfulness is important because your relationship with energy is getting more intense. You (and practically every other person on the planet) are plugging in more and more. Used to be that heating and cooling were the biggest energy hogs, but now appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting together have that dubious honor, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, based on data from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the research arm of the Department of Energy (DOE).

 

“Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later.” — Cliff Majersik, executive director of the Institute for Market Transformation

 

Being mindful means it’s also time to banish four assumptions that are sabotaging your energy-efficiency efforts:

1. Newer homes (less than 30 years old) are already energy efficient because they were built to code. Don’t bank on it. Building codes change pretty regularly, so even newer homes benefit from improvements, says Lee Ann Head, vice president of research and insights with the Shelton Group.

2. Utilities are out to get us: They’ll jack up prices no matter what we do. It might feel cathartic to blame them (Shelton’s research shows consumers blame utilities above oil companies and the government), but to get any rate changes, utilities must make a formal case to public utility commissions.

3. Energy improvements should pay for themselves. Nice wish, but it doesn’t work that way. When the Shelton Group asked consumers what they would expect to recoup if they invested $4,000 in energy-efficient home improvements, they said about 75% to 80%.

Unless you invest in some kind of renewable energy source like geothermal and solar, you won’t see that kind of savings. (Sorry.) Even if you do all the right things, the most you should expect is a 20% to 30% reduction annually, says Head, which is still significant over the long term.

What does 30% translate into? $618 in savings per year or $52 per month, based on the average household energy spend of $2,060 per year, according to Lawrence Berkeley and EIA.

4. Expensive improvements will have the biggest impact. That’s why homeowners often choose pricey projects like replacing windows, which should probably be fifth or sixth on the list of energy-efficient improvements, Shelton says.

There’s nothing wrong with investing in new windows. They feel sturdier; look pretty; can increase the value of your home; feel safer than old, crooked windows; and, yes, offer energy savings you can feel (no more draft).

But new windows are the wrong choice if your only reason for the project was reducing energy costs. You could replace double-pane windows with new efficient ones for about $9,000 to $12,000 and save $27 to $111 a year on your energy bill, according to EnergyStar. (The savings are higher if you replace single-pane windows.)  Or you could spend around $1,000 for new insulation, caulking, and sealing, and save 11% on your energy bill, or $227.

The 5 Things That Really Work to Cut Energy Costs

1. Caulk and seal air leaks. Buy a few cans of Great Stuff and knock yourself out over a weekend to seal around:

  • Plumbing lines
  • Electric wires
  • Recessed lighting
  • Windows
  • Crawlspaces
  • Attics

Savings: Up to $227 a year — even more if you add or upgrade your insulation.

Related: Lots of Homes Also Have This HUGE Air Leak 

2. Hire a pro to seal ductwork and give your HVAC a tune-up. Leaky ducts are a common energy-waster.

Savings: Up to $412 a year.

3. Program your thermostat. Shelton says 40% of consumers in her survey admit they don’t program their thermostat for energy savings. She thinks it’s even higher.

Savings: Up to $180 a year.

4. Replace all your light bulbs with LEDs. They’re coming down in price, making them even more cost effective.

Savings: $75 a year or more by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs with Energy Star-rated models.

Related: LED Bulbs Are Confusing, But Here’s a Guide to Help

5. Reduce the temperature on your water heater. Set your tank heater to 120 degrees — not the 140 degrees most are set to out of the box. Also wrap an older water heater and the hot water pipes in insulating material to save on heat loss.

Savings: $12 to $30 a year for each 10-degree reduction in temp.

NOTE: Resist the urge to total these five numbers for annual savings. The estimated savings for each product or activity can’t be summed because of “interactive effects,” says DOE. If you first replace your central AC with a more efficient one, saving, say, 15% on energy consumption, and then seal ducts, you wouldn’t save as much total energy on duct sealing as you would have if you had first sealed them. There’s just less energy to save at that point.

Bonus Tip for More Savings

Your utility may have funds available to help pay for energy improvement. Contact them directly, or visit DSIRE, a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state. Energy Star has a discount and rebate finder, too.

7 Home Remodeling Projects With Top-Dollar Returns

7 Home Remodeling Projects With Top-Dollar Returns

Not all home improvements are created equal. These will reward you the most when it comes time to sell.

Your home is in the perfect location, came at the perfect price, with the perfect lot. (Yay southern exposure!)

But the home itself? Perfect isn’t the adjective you’d use. But you knew that moving in, and now you’re ready to start making it just right.

But where to begin? How about with data? Data is that friend who tells you like it really is.

Because while any home improvement that brings you joy is priceless, not all add as much home equity as you might expect.

 

Here are the best seven home remodeling projects with equity-building might:

#1 Upgraded Landscaping

This one might be a bit of a surprise. (Maybe you expected a major kitchen reno to top the list.)

But if your yard is one of your home’s imperfect parts, a little color and a touch of hardscaping can make a huge difference to your curb appeal, which is a great immediate equity-booster.

What does a basic landscaping upgrade include?

  • Flowering shrubs
  • A 15-foot-tall deciduous tree
  • A flagstone walkway
  • Two 6-by-2 stone planters
  • Fresh mulch

The cost: $4,750

The return: 105% at $5,000

#2 New Roof

If you find yourself sprinting for the buckets when it starts to sprinkle, getting a new roof should be your No. 1 to-do. Measuring rainfall from the indoors isn’t cool.

The cost: $7,600

The return: 105% at $8,000

Considering it’s what’s between you and the elements, it’s a no-brainer.

Not sure if you need a new roof? Signs you might include:

  • Shingles are missing, curling up, or covered in moss.
  • Gritty bits from the asphalt shingles are coming out the downspout.
  • The sun’s shining through your attic.
  • You notice stains on ceilings and walls.
  • Your energy bill is sky high.

#3 Hardwood Floors

You flip on the TV to see that your fave home reno-ing duo is it at again, flipping a ranch that’s stuck in the ‘80s.

They make it to the living room, pull back the dingy carpet to reveal hardwood floors in great condition. They’re psyched — and for good reason.

Hardwood floors are a timeless classic. Refinishing is a no-brainer. Neither will you regret adding new hardwood floors if you have none.

The cost to refinish: $2,500

The return: 100% at $2,500

The cost to buy new: $5,500

The return: 91% at $5,000

#4 Patio or Deck

If your home is your castle, your yard is your kingdom. After giving your yard a much-needed overhaul, you need a place to watch over you handiwork. How about that deck or patio you’ve been dreaming of?

The cost of a patio: $6,400

The return: 102% at $6525

The cost of a deck: $9,450

The return: 106% at $10,000

#5 Insulation

Insulation is tucked out of sight, so it’s often out of mind — that is, until you’re forced to wear your parka indoors because it’s sooo darn cold.

The cost: $2,100

The return: 95% at $2,000 plus the added savings on heating and cooling costs

#6 New Garage Door

No surprise that a garage door replacement project made it onto this #winning list — a new garage door provides a big boost for your home’s curb appeal at a relatively modest cost.

The cost: $2,300 (for a two-door)

The return: 87% at $2,000

There are options galore, too. A host of factory-finish colors, wood-look embossed steel, and glass window insets are just some of the possibilities that’ll give your doors bankable personality.

#7 Vinyl Siding

In any color! And never paint again.

Those are two of the three benefits of vinyl siding. The third, of course, is your home’s value.

But if long-time homeowners look at you funny when you mention vinyl siding, just tell them that today’s vinyl is way better than what they remember because of fade-resistant finishes and transferable lifetime warranties.

The cost: $12,000

The return: 83% at $10,000

Want fiber-cement siding instead? It also shows a strong payback of 79%. Although it’s the pricier option — you’ll spend $19,100 — it has one thing vinyl still lacks — the perception of quality.

And quality matters. In a survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “quality” was the one of the most important traits that home buyers focused on when house hunting.

Love the country?

Check out this one-of-a-kind property!

The sunsets overlooking the lake are priceless!

Imagine having your friends over…lots of room to entertain!

Second level great room leads to the deck.

The loft on the 3rd level could be an adventurous bedroom, perhaps?

Your own private boat dock where you can fish to your heart’s content…

Sets atop a hill, it’s so private!

Public boat ramp for access to Sugar Creek Lake is close by

We encourage you to check out the link to the interactive floor plan and virtual tour:

http://tour.spherotours.com/public/vtour/display/415493?a=1

And here’s the link to the MLS listing:  http://www.flexmls.com/share/yeyq/2662COUNTYROAD1310MoberlyMO65270

 

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The First Things to Do After You Move Into Your First Home

Locate your home’s main water shutoff valve.

Know where your main water shutoff valve is in case you need to shut off the water to your entire house.

Almost all homes have one main shutoff valve directly before the water meter and another directly after. Where the meter is located depends on the climate in your area. In cold climates, the meter and main shutoff valves are located inside, usually in a basement or other warm area to prevent freezing. In milder climates, the meter and its two shutoff valves may be attached to an exterior wall or nestled in an underground box with a removable lid.

 

Locate the electrical panel.

Find the electrical panel so you know where to shut of the power to you whole house or an individual circuit in the case of an emergency.

You’ll usually find the main circuit breaker panel—a gray, metal box—in a utility room, garage or basement. Don’t worry about opening the panel’s door. All the dangerous stuff is behind another steel cover. Behind the door is the main breaker for the entire house (usually at the top of the panel) and two rows of other breakers below it, each controlling individual circuits. If you’re lucky, there will be a guide that indicates which outlets and receptacles are served by each circuit.  The City of Moberly requires this guide be labeled by which room each circuit serves.

 

Replace the furnace filter.

One of the fastest ways to create problems with a forced-air heating and cooling system is to forget to replace the filter. Locate the furnace filter and buy replacements if the previous owners didn’t leave you a stash. Replace the filter (and get in the habit of doing it every month).

Make one room a sanctuary.

You won’t be able to make all of the home improvements you want to make right away and it’s best to live in your home for at least a couple of months before starting any major projects. Something that seems like a must-do when you first move in may quickly fall to the bottom of the wish list after you’ve actually lived in your home for awhile.

So, choose one room that doesn’t require too much work and make that space your new-home getaway. You’ll have a place, in your colors and style, where you can relax and dream about the day when every room in your home is just the way you want it.

If you have young kids, it might be best to set up their room first to give them a semblance of “home.”

 

Meet the neighbors.

It’s wise to reach out and extend a friendly gesture to your neighbors as soon as possible. You want to know those around you so that everyone can look out for each other. It’s hard to know if a situation is suspicious if you don’t know the people involved. Establishing yourself in your neighborhood can also give you access to inside information, like who’s the best plumber in the area and which roofing company to avoid. Even if you’re an introvert, you’ll be happiest if you’re in good standing with your neighbors.  Be especially sure to meet those with vegetable gardens…who knows, maybe they will share tomatoes?  LOL

 

If you don’t have keyless entry, hide a key.

If you don’t have keyless locks, be sure to hide a house key so you don’t get locked out. Consider a location other than under the welcome mat, like in a garden hose or under a flower pot.

June Is National Homeownership Month. Here’s An Interesting Take On It

This piece is a self-explanator­y stand-alone piece. But I feel like I should mention this… Read it all the way through. At first it might sound negative. It isn’t. Trust me, there’s a lot of copywritin­g skills in this one. This one is meant to get into the minds of people who are not convinced buying a home is worthwhile­. Anyone else posting about June being Homeowners­hip Month is NOT going this route. This will set you apart.

 

Are you aware that June is National Homeownership month?

Probably not. Because you’re too busy working to afford the home you live in, whether you rent it or own it.

Why should you care?

If you poke around and read anything you can find about it, you’re being urged to recognize and celebrate the benefits of homeownership.

That seems kind of a weird thing to ask you to do. Do you really have the time or care? What’re you supposed to do, throw a party? Sit alone and contemplate it? Invite some friends out for coffee and chat about it?

You’ve got to figure that the people who actively promote it probably have their reasons and motives for pushing it. (You know, like real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and the government.)

It makes you wonder…

Why do they push it, other than to make money?

Is it really the “American Dream”? Or is it just a packaged ploy?

Is it all it’s cracked up to be? What about all the people who were recently hurt by the housing market and getting in over their heads?

What about the economy and jobs? What about making enough money to even afford a house?

And, what about all the headaches and worries that come with homeownership?

Are you being sold on something unachievable, or not even all that desirable?

Maybe you shouldn’t own a home

OK, first off…

Homeownership is not for everyone.

There always seems to be this push to increase the percentage of homeowners. It gets wrapped in reasons why it’s good for you, your community, the country as a whole…maybe even the whole universe.

Pushing to increase the percentage of homeownership for the sake of statistics and percentages is wrong.

Lots of people shouldn’t own a home. Maybe some people shouldn’t even be allowed to own a home even if they qualify financially. That’s what leads to problems, because it’s a responsibility not everyone can handle.

Besides, if everyone owned property it wouldn’t be as special. As coveted. As much of a dream.

So, if you do question whether homeownership is “worth it”, maybe it isn’t the worst thing. Maybe you shouldn’t own a home.

It’s easy enough to let the people who really want to own property, and believe in the value of it, own all of the real estate.

Just don’t buy any…

Let them enjoy the “pride”

One of the catch phrases you’ve probably heard is, “There’s pride in homeownership.”

That’s kind of the cover-all reason given as to why more and more people should own their own homes.

You can’t entirely diminish the fact that there is pride and value in owning real estate. There is.

Nor can you entirely diminish the actual benefits of ownership, like building wealth, tax incentives, and not throwing money out the window and building someone else’s wealth.

But there’s certainly an inability for some people to buy real estate. Some people will never achieve homeownership.

And there’s certainly risk and worry involved. Not everyone can handle that.

It’s certainly understandable that lots of people shy away from buying real estate so soon after the real estate bubble burst, and the slow recovery. Some people are still recovering financially. Some people watched their parents struggle and worry, only to lose their home.

But for those who can and do own real estate, there is pride. And there’s appreciation.

Because while not everyone should own real estate…at least now everyone can.

You get to choose, not be chosen to own land

It used to be only a select few who could own land.

Now almost everyone has the right to own property…if they want to and have the ability.

This isn’t the feudal system where there are only a handful of Lords who’ve been granted a piece of land to look after by a King. (Side note: Do you think any Lords ever questioned the value of owning land?)

You can choose to be the lord of some land. You just have to want to, and be financially qualified to.

While you don’t have to be “chosen”…nobody’s giving it to you either.

So, if you can financially afford to, there should be some pride and appreciation in owning a little (or large) piece of this planet, with a “castle” to call your own.

So, when you do decide to buy some real estate, you should enjoy the pride, appreciation, and respect for the right and privilege to do so. You are essentially choosing to be your own land Lord.

There are places in this world you still can’t. So, imagine that. Imagine not having the choice.

Is it worth you recognizing and celebrating?

With all that in mind, is National Homeownership Month more meaningful to you?

Does it put homeownership in an objective light? Is it appealing to you? Does it make you want to own real estate? Does it make you want to own more real estate if you already own some?

Don’t get swept up in the hype of homeownership month, or anyone just trying to persuade you of the benefits of homeownership, no matter what month it is.

The best way to figure out if you should be a homeowner is to speak with a serious, objective real estate agent. One who takes counseling clients more seriously than pushing the pride of homeownership, just so they can make a sale.

Give me a ring if you’re looking for some good, objective counsel. I’d love to be part of that round table.

Jane Loeber

Broker/Owner

Moberly, MO

660-651-9106

We laugh. We work hard. We make families happy. We sell homes!
Office phone number: 660-263-3393 Advantage Real Estate Moberly, MO

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5 Adjectives You Should Look For In Your Real Estate Agent

agent-adjectives-cover

Who you choose to represent you when you buy or sell your home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make during your move. Your real estate agent can make the process easy, quick, and painless – or long, expensive, and painful.

Here are 5 adjectives you should for in your real estate agent if you want to get the most out of your sale or purchase:

1. Tenacious

Real estate is a tough world. There are seemingly endless challenges to navigate: the house you love was snatched up by someone else, someone put a bid in on your home and then pulled out at the last minute, there’s issues with the neighbors or zoning or construction. That’s why you need a real estate agent who is tenacious, never gives up, and doesn’t stop until you have successfully bought or sold your home.

If you work with a real estate agent who gives up when things don’t go as planned, you’re never going to buy or sell your home. The best real estate agents are the ones who not only have plan B, but plan C, D, and E ready and waiting. When things fall through, they don’t let it get them down. They keep pushing and coming up with creative solutions to close your real estate transaction – no matter what.

2. Honest

Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s especially important when it comes to real estate. You need to be able to trust your agent: to negotiate the best deals, to tell you the truth about your properties, to give you the right advice when it comes to buying or selling. If you work with an agent who bends the truth, withholds information, or – worst case scenario – flat out lies, you’re going to end up losing time, money, and patience throughout the process.

3. Savvy

There’s a lot to know in the world of real estate, and as a buyer or seller, you probably aren’t aware of about 95% of it. Your real estate agent should be savvy, smart, and able to help you navigate everything you don’t know about real estate.

Look for an agent that can walk you through the entire process from A to Z. You want someone who is an expert in your area, who specializes in your type of transaction (buying or selling), and who can break down complex real estate jargon into easy-to-understand terms so you know exactly what’s happening at every stage of your purchase or sale.

4. Persuasive

Every great real estate agent has the heart of a salesperson – and the persuasive skills to match. There are tons of instances in which you’ll need your real estate agent to turn on their persuasive charm. Real estate agents have to use persuasion to negotiate the best offers, to convince sellers to accept your bid, to convince potential owners that your home is the right buy for them. If your real estate agent doesn’t have any sales skills, the buying or selling process is going to be long, drawn out, and never get to the close.

Look for a real estate agent that could sell ice to an eskimo; if they can do that, they can buy or sell your house.

5. Thorough

Buying and selling property is an involved business: there are papers to sign, inspections to schedule, documents to process. You want to work with a thorough, detail-oriented real estate agent who will ensure that every i is dotted and t is crossed.

In addition to managing the transactional portion of your real estate venture, you want a real estate agent who’s so thorough they ensure that YOU don’t forget anything on your end. A thorough real estate agent will come armed with a checklist of not only what they need to do to process the purchase or sale, but what you need to do on your end in order to tie up any loose ends.

It’s easy to spot a thorough real estate agent. Do they send you calendar reminders for home showings? Is their day planner meticulously organized? Do they jokingly refer to themselves as “type A?” If so, you’ve got a winner.

The right real estate agent is essential in making the process of buying or selling a home quick, easy, and a financial win. And when you lock in a real estate agent with all of these adjectives, you’re well on your way to real estate success.

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4 Staging Secrets To Get Your House SOLD

One of the quickest, easiest, and most cost effective ways to update your space and make it more appealing to potential buyers is with a coat of paint. Painting a room can completely change the feel and make the space feel more open and inviting.

If you haven’t painted your home in a while, you’ll definitely want to repaint before you start showing your home to potential buyers. You’ll also want to repaint if you have a number of colors on the walls of your home; the purpose of staging is to showcase your home in a way that allows potential buyers to picture themselves purchasing the home and living there. If they don’t agree with your color choices, it can create a roadblock to them being able to see themselves in the home.

When you paint, choose neutral colors, like an off-white or beige. These colors are universally appealing and will also make your rooms appear more open and spacious.

2. You only get to make a first impression once.

One of the biggest secrets of effectively staging your home is that you only get to make a first impression once. Your potential buyer is only going to see your home for the first time once, and during that initial viewing, they’re going to make snap judgements on whether or not your home is right for them. You don’t want to get off on the wrong foot and lose them before they’ve even had a chance to see the entire house.

When it comes to making a first impression, curb appeal is critical. If your potential buyer drives up to your home and is immediately turned off by an unkempt lawn, a cracked driveway, or peeling paint, it’s going to be hard for them to overcome that initial impression, even if they love the rest of the home.

Before you start showing your home, make sure you do some work on the exterior so that the first impression is a good one. Have your lawn manicured, fix any issues with the driveway, refresh the exterior paint, and add plants and flowers on the path leading up to your front door in order to make your property seem more inviting.

3. The less stuff, the better.

The last thing that potential buyers want to see when they’re viewing a home is a ton of clutter and personal items. Again, the point of staging is to create an environment in your home where potential buyers can picture themselves living there. But if you have your children’s sporting gear spilling out of the closets, your family portraits lining every available surface, and an entire room you’re using for storage, it’s going to be hard for your potential buyers to separate your stuff from the space.

When you’re showing your home, remove as many personal effects as possible. It’s ok to have a photo or two, but try to make the space feel as neutral as possible. You’ll also want to declutter; clean out closets, cabinets, and the garage to make everything feel more spacious.

You’ll also want to get rid of any unnecessary furniture or decor that makes your space feel cluttered. When you’re staging, taking a minimalist approach to furniture and decor will have the most positive impact on potential buyers.

4. Clean until it sparkles.

 

 

This should go without saying, but before you stage your home, you need to make sure every inch of your home is thoroughly and properly cleaned. This is not a time to cut corners; if a potential buyer comes into your home and sees dust bunnies under the bed or a ring of grime around your bathtub, it’s going to be a major turnoff and could potentially cost you the sale.

Spend an entire day cleaning your house from top to bottom. Or, if cleaning isn’t your expertise, hire an expert from your local cleaning business or a site like Handy.

With these 4 staging secrets, your house will be staged and ready to sell in no time.

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First Quarter Statistics

First Quarter statistics are out from the Randolph County Multiple Listing Service!  Sales remain steady during the first quarter with 54 sales this time last year.  The sales volume has improved, with $5.06 million in 2016.  The average residential sales price in 2016 was $98,754, which shows strong sales prices.  The median sales price in 2016 was $85,800.    Thank you to everyone who played a part in this.  Just love to see a “seller’s market” in the Randolph County area!Statistics Quarterly

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Why You Shouldn’t Let A Website Tell You Your Home’s Value

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture this…

There’s an inexperienced real estate agent in your town.

He hasn’t sold any homes yet.

He wants to drum up some business.

So, he climbs up onto your roof and paints what he estimates to be the value of your home.

He feels like this could be a win-win:

YOU get to know the value of your house, so he was helpful to you, without even having to meet with him…

… and HE gets to show you how that he knows his stuff. Hopefully you’ll turn to him for help once you want to sell your home.

But you’re kind of ticked off, aren’t you?

First off, this guy painted on your roof. That’s just vandalism.

Beyond that, he wasn’t even close to accurate! The value he painted up there is tens of thousands of dollars off.

He didn’t even see inside your home

You notice he did the same thing to all the other houses in the area.

He seems off on the value of all of them.

It’s still kind of intriguing, though, because you’re like, “Hmm, I always felt like Bill’s place was worth less than mine. Looks like I was right. But there’s no way Gary’s house is worth more than mine, that agent is craaaazy. Unless maybe Gary did some major remodeling inside…”

But how would the agent know? He never even went inside your neighbor’s house. Or your house. Or anyone else’s house.

He just eyeballed everyone’s house from outside, and took a quick peek at some data available to the public. Then slapped his estimate up on your roof for everyone to see.

His estimates are all over the place. Some high. Some low. Once in a while he seems to be somewhat in the ballpark.

His “value” affects your actual value

Beside the fact that this guy vandalized your roof, now you have people sizing up the value of your home based upon a number he came up with, without even seeing inside your home.

It was careless and thoughtless.

He lacked respect for your privacy, your equity, and ultimately your wealth. The value of your home can now be viewed by anyone, for whatever reason they feel.

It would be even worse if you were in the middle of trying to sell your home, and now you have buyers pulling up, seeing your painted roof, and considering his estimate when (and if) they make an offer.

Can you imagine if a real estate agent actually did this?!

You’d probably want to report him to the police, his real estate broker, the real estate commission… and all of your friends, family and neighbors.

You’d want everyone to know not to trust this guy, or give him any business.

Online valuation sites are basically doing this to you

You’ve probably seen or heard about websites where you can look up the value of your house (or anyone else’s house) for free.

It seems great because there’s no need to even talk to a real estate agent. Just pop in the address, and voila, you get to see the value of the home.

You might figure that it’s super accurate, since they use fancy algorithms and stuff.

However, these online real estate valuation sites are all basically painting a number on your roof, without ever having gone inside, and without ever having sold a house. And they’re definitely not experts in your local market.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it.

They’re using public data to come up with their estimates. They didn’t steal anything. They didn’t actually paint on your roof (they just hover a value over it digitally).

They post disclaimers about their accuracy (or lack thereof), at least if you really, really look for them.

Plus, who would you even report them to anyway?!

Start valuing real estate agents’ values

The thing is, these sites exist because people tend to like them, and look at them. They wouldn’t exist if people didn’t continue to click on them. But people do.

They certainly are convenient, and entertaining, even if they are not accurate.

Many people just don’t want to deal with real estate agents, until and unless they have to. But that’s actually what you should be doing if you want an accurate value of your home.

Great real estate agents take a lot of time and pride in estimating the value of a home. This is not something you can do remotely by simply reviewing public data and algorithms.

In order to be accurate, even a local real estate agent needs to see inside of your home.

So, instead of encouraging these online valuation sites to exist, by visiting their sites and clicking around…

…click on a local real estate agent’s site, and invite him or her in to take a look at your house, and come up with an accurate value.

Don’t rely on an online valuation.

And, whenever possible, spread the word about the inaccuracy of these online valuations because they can affect the perceived value of your home… and beyond. And they will exist as long as people continue to pay them any attention.

Pay attention to real estate agents instead.