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Tips When Househunting

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Even if you know exactly what you're looking for, searching for a new home can be a time consuming and frustrating process. You may look at several homes so making the most of your time is key to finding the house of your dreams. Below are some tips to help you make the most of your search.

  1.  Start by concentrating on a few neighborhoods first.  Decide what's most important to you about the neighborhood you want. This can greatly narrow down your search.  
  2. Allow yourself plenty of time. When househunting be sure to dedicate an entire day or weekend. It is important to not rush, you want to be able to spend enough time at the home, especially if you if you find one you really like. Keep in mind you might just find one that you want to act on quickly and make an offer!
  3. Bring a checklist. Create a realistic checklist of the aspects your idea home should have. When looking at homes you can check off and make notes on which homes have or don’t have what you are looking for. This will help you analyze your needs and wants and focus on the properties that you can get serious about. 
  4. Be prepared to look at the potential of a house rather than what you see in front of you. Set your needs versus your wants so you can decide on some items that can be sacrificed. It's more important that the layout of the house and the number of bedrooms you need fit your needs and that all major systems are functional versus your dislike for the carpeting or outdated stove. Keep in mind that those types of cosmetic shortcomings can be easily remedied once you buy the house.
  5. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes but it is a good idea to wear slip on shoes as many homes might have a posted  “please remove shoes” sign to help keep the flooring clean. Having to untie and tie your shoes at every house can be a huge waste of time. Wearing comfortable clothing will allow you to focus on the aspects on the home and enjoy your experience.
  6. Bring a Digital Camera. Digital cameras are ideal for house hunting. You can take pictures of the homes you visit and save them in labeled folders on your computer. Which home had the huge walk in closet? Which one had the great backyard? Just look at the photos and you’ll remember!

Tips For Moving In Winter

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Moving in any season is a chore but add cold temps, ice and snow and the task can be even more daunting. If you are moving this winter season I have some tips that can help you make your move during the winter months a little easier.

1. Be sure to have enough warm clothes with you - don't pack them. If you are moving from a warm climate to a cold one this can be even more important in case your items get delayed!
 
2. Make sure your car is serviced before the move - you don't want to break down in cold weather. A good idea for anyone who lives in cold climates is to keep an emergency 'survival' kit in your car that has canned food, bottled water, a first-aid kit and flashlights.

3. Keep plants in the passenger area of the vehicle or store them in plastic bags with holes punched for air.
 
4. Keep in mind that your belongings will be in a cold moving van for a long time, so plan accordingly. Precautions should be taken to protect expensive electronics, anything with liquid that can freeze or anything that might be damaged due to the cold.

5. In case of inclement weather be sure to clear your sidewalk, driveways and walkways of ice and snow. Remember that any accident on your property could become your liability.

Staging: Sell Your House for More Using This Hot Marketing Tool

by Jon Smith, CDPE, CRB, CRS, GRI

Staging a home for sale is one of the hottest topics in residential real estate. In today’s challenging property market, you want all the ammunition you can get to sell your home at top dollar--and sell it fast.

So what is staging? It’s literally showcasing your home in its absolute best light. You draw buyers’ attention to your home’s most appealing features--and skillfully divert their attention from those that are less-than-stellar.

In short, staging is creating visual “eye candy” that emphasizes your home’s positives. It’s part art, part science--and all marketing. It can involve everything from fresh paint to clever carpentry, new lighting to new window treatments. And don’t forget the borrowed (or rented) furniture to define and enhance each room!

To see staging in action, watch an episode or two of HGTV’s Designed To Sell, The Unsellables, and The Stagers. And for some simple staging techniques presented with tongue-in-check humor, see Top 10 Home-Staging Dos  and Top 10 Home-Staging Don’ts by Designed To Sell’s Donna and Shannon Freeman.

Should you try to stage your own home--or hire a professional? My real estate experience has taught me there are two essential staging tricks that every home seller can do:

* Clear it out. You have stuff--lots of stuff. And your house is overloaded with all that stuff. Go through each room and get rid of the clutter everywhere you see it. Your rooms will look bigger, more restful, and more inviting. And all you did was pick up!

* Clean it up. Make sure everything shines inside and out, from windows, floors and countertops inside to the deck, garage and yard outside. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath. A little well-applied elbow grease will go a long way in selling your home. And it’s free!

Do these two simple things, and you’re already ahead in the staging game.

But should you keep going and stage other aspects of your own home? That depends on whether you have the eye, the skill--and the objectivity. Can you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and see your home as the buyer will see it--positive points and negative points? Are you prepared to tackle those negatives? Do you have the “designer’s eye” for color and other design elements? Do you have the technical skills to complete improvements?

Staging can definitely help sell your house for more if it’s done right, whether you do it on your own or you hire a professional stager. Your real estate agent will be happy to share staging ideas and recommend a professional, if needed.

And visit my Web site for more information, too. I’m always available to discuss your specific needs or answer any questions you might have about any aspect of real estate.

Moving Tips - Parent Tips When Moving With Children

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Moving can be extremely stressful especially if you have children. It is important to be aware of the things that may be a concern to your children when making a move.

A few areas of concern for children when making a move may include:

  • Preschool children tend to worry about being left behind or separated from their parents.
  • Kids aged 6 to 12 can be concerned with how their daily routines will be affected.
  • Teenagers are concerned primarily with fitting in and having their social life disrupted.

A way to ease these concerns may include:

  • Communicating with your child about what the new house will be like.

  • Take them on a visit of the new home and neighborhood (if possible)

  • If you can, visit the school with your child and meet some of the teachers.
Involving your children in the move can help make the transition easier. Your kids can be a great help to you and the move if you involve them such things as:

  • Packing some of their own special belongings, and decorate the box with stickers and markers.
  • Make plans together on how to decorate their new room.

There is a lot to consider during a move and by involving your children you just may relieve the stress your children are feeling, reduce your own stress and be able to focus more on other aspects of your move!

Preparing Your Home for Winter

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

 

TODAY'S FEATURED PROPERTIES



The fall Equinox is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter, because as temperatures begin to dip, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter.

Autumn is invariably a prelude to falling winter temperatures, regardless of where you live. It might rain or snow or, as David Letterman says, "Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees." Did you know there is only one state in the United States where the temperatures have never dipped below zero? Give up? It's Hawaii.

Here are ten tips to help you prepare your home for winter:

1) Furnace Inspection

  • Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean ducts.
  • Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.
  • Consider switching out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.
  • If your home is heated by a hot-water radiator, bleed the valves by opening them slightly and when water appears, close them.
  • Remove all flammable material from the area surrounding your furnace.

2) Get the Fireplace Ready

  • Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep out rodents and birds.
  • If the chimney hasn't been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.
  • Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect the fireplace damper for proper opening and closing.
  • Check the mortar between bricks and tuckpoint, if necessary.

3) Check the Exterior, Doors and Windows

  • Inspect exterior for crevice cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them.
  • Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering the home and caulk windows.
  • Replace cracked glass in windows and, if you end up replacing the entire window, prime and paint exposed wood.
  • If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
  • Switch out summer screens with glass replacements from storage. If you have storm windows, install them.

4) Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts

  • If your weather temperature will fall below 32 degrees in the winter, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams.
  • Check flashing to ensure water cannot enter the home.
  • Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.
  • Clean out the gutters and use a hose to spray water down the downspouts to clear away debris.
  • Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.

5) Service Weather-Specific Equipment

  • Drain gas from lawnmowers.
  • Service or tune-up snow blowers.
  • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
  • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
  • Sharpen ice choppers and buy bags of ice-melt / sand.

6) Check Foundations

  • Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from the foundation.
  • Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house.
  • Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks. Mice can slip through space as thin as a dime.
  • Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
  • Secure crawlspace entrances.

7) Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Some cities require a smoke detector in every room.
  • Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight savings ends.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and / or water heater.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.

8) Prevent Plumbing Freezes

  • Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in an emergency.
  • Drain all garden hoses.
  • Insulate exposed plumbing pipes.
  • Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.
  • If you go on vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.

9) Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces

  • Trim trees if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.
  • Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.
  • Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes.
  • Seal driveways, brick patios and wood decks.
  • Don't automatically remove dead vegetation from gardens as some provide attractive scenery in an otherwise dreary, snow-drenched yard.
  • Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.

10) Prepare an Emergency Kit

  • Buy indoor candles and matches / lighter for use during a power shortage.
  • Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and tape them near your phone or inside the phone book.
  • Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.
  • Store extra bottled water and non-perishable food supplies (including pet food, if you have a pet), blankets and a first-aid kit in a dry and easy-to-access location.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.

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Contact Information

Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa