House Hunting Red Flags

HOUSE HUNTING RED FLAGS

Buying a new home can be really exciting. We just don’t want you to get so excited that you rush into buying a home that you overlook some red flags. Most of the time red flags are overlooked or hidden by sellers while we are looking at the home. However, we need to take note of some tell tale signs that can indicate a potential issue. Here are a few:

Moldy Smell or Mold

Mold can tell you that there may be problems in the home such as leaks. This may lead to the need to replace things like carpet or drywall. Even though most mold you will find isn’t the toxic “Black Mold”, you still don’t want it in your potential new home.  Regular mold can still cause headaches and/or respiratory problems. Make sure to take note of any mold spots or moldy smells. If you don’t see the mold but smell it, look at areas around windows, under the sinks, and in the basement.

Odd Odors / strong air fresheners

If you walk into a home and are hit in the face with strong smell, there may be something going on.  If the home is overly-scented with air fresheners or there are bowls and containers of potpourri everywhere,  the owner it trying to cover up some sort of smell.  If what you smell is pet urine, this could indicate the carpet is saturated with it and will need replaced.

Termites

No one wants a house with a termite problem! Look out for signs like mud tubes on the foundation of the home which can indicate termites. Even if you don’t see anything, consider a termite inspection. Termites can cause serious foundation and structural issues in a home. You can always have a termite inspection done.

Foundation cracks / problems

While you are looking for mud tubes from termites on the foundation… Look at the foundation itself. Structural issues can cost thousands and thousands of dollars to correct. So take notice if the floors in the home slope noticeably or cracks in the foundation.  You have the option to have a home inspection done.

Random fresh paint

Fresh paint is always nice and can be used to make a room look and feel nice. But a random painted wall or spots can hide issues like water damage.  That brings us to the next red flag…

Water stains

You can normally see water stains by noticing yellowish or brownish areas. It can be a sign that the home has leaks.  Leaks can be fixed but the the damage to the wood can lead to structural damage. So make sure you are looking out for those stains on ceilings and walls.

In conclusion, with any potential red flag you see, always consult with a professional to see about doing a home inspection. They are worth every penny and skipping one can cost you more.

TIPS FOR SAVING YOUR DOWN PAYMENT

Down Payment

TIPS FOR SAVING YOUR DOWN PAYMENT

Sick of renting? Wanting to become a homeowner?  Unless you have stockpiled cash, you are going to need a home loan and a down payment.  Home loans are all very different with different down payment requirements. That will need to be a whole different blog! But, typical down payments are between 10 to 20 percent of the total price.  So, what are some tips on how to save up for that down payment?

Goal and Timeframe

Saving up for a down payment can take quite a bit of time. But the timeframe is ultimately up to you and your finances.  You will need to have a plan.  By having a plan, you will stand a much better chance of achieving your goal sooner than later. Decide how much you want to save and divide that by how many months you have chosen as your timeframe.  24 months, 12 months, or 6 months?  This will all depend on your budget and what you can financially afford to set aside.

Cut Expenses

Is there money you are spending that you could be saving instead? Take a good look at your bank statements and start tracking all of your expenses.  Where is your money going? Are there some areas you can cut back on or just cut out completely? Here are some ideas:

  • Take a break from the gym and workout at home
  • Do you REALLY need that high-priced coffee?
  • Bring your lunch from home and save on the take-out
  • Recurring subscriptions – Do you really need some of them?
  • Stop impulse buying. Think “If nobody were to see this, would I still want it?”

Be creative and think of more ways to cut expenses.  You will be surprised at how quickly the amount of money you can save will add up!

Get a Second Job

Is getting a second job really going to help?  Say you work 16 hours a week making $10 an hour.  That’s approximately $120 per week after taxes! (Figuring 25% for taxes) If you were to do that for an entire year, you’ll save more than $6,200 to put towards your down payment!

Speak to a Mortgage Loan Expert

Contact a mortgage loan expert. They can help you find the right home loan and guide you through the process. They can also advise you on options they might have with government incentives, or programs for first-time home buyers. They will know what will work for you and can possibly help reduce how much you have to pay out of pocket.

My Final Thoughts

By knowing your goal and timeframe, you can put your savings plan in place and be on your way to buying and owning your own home. Don’t forget to contact a mortgage loan expert to seek financial advise. Contact us at NextHome TriState Realty (712-224-6398) and our knowledgeable agents can help you with the necessary steps that will get you to your ultimate goal of homeownership.

 

What Does “A Seller’s Market” Mean?

Seller's Market

What Does “A Seller’s Market” Mean?

You might have heard recently that we have a huge seller’s market right now. So, what does that mean and how does it affect you?

In real estate the most common question is “How’s the market?”. They want to know if it’s a buyer’s market or seller’s market and is now a good time to buy or sell?

When people say it’s a seller’s market, it means there are more buyers wanting to buy homes than there are homes on the market. Here, sellers typically have the upper hand and can get a slightly higher price for their real estate because the demand for homes is higher. This is one of the many times where having a knowledgeable real estate agent comes in handy. They can make sure the home is priced correctly.  Too high of a price and your home can sit on the market, too low of a price and people may wonder what is wrong with the property and why it is priced low. So, if you are contemplating selling your home, NOW is the time to call your real estate agent and get it on the market. Remember, homes are selling fast!

If you are a buyer, you also need to make sure you have a knowledgeable real estate agent to help you work fast so you don’t miss out on a property you are interested in and to help you navigate the negotiation process.

Don’t miss out!  Give us a call and we can help walk you through the selling OR buying process. NextHome TriState Realty 712-224-6398

www.NextHomeTriState.com

Take a look at the “What’s Active In Sioux City?” information.  At 1:10 p.m. on Monday, February 8th, there were only 67 active single-family homes in Sioux City on the market.

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Can Moving Improve Your Happiness?

Home Happy Home

Can Moving Improve Your Happiness?

Why do people move?  Moving from one place to another is usually because you are trying to find something.  Maybe it is to find a new job, adventure, a new house, or you just want to find more happiness.

I know moving can be tough.  It is said to be one of the more stressful things in an adult’s life. BUT, did you know that moving can actually make you happier in the long term? Seriously, it can!

 

Fulfilled because of change

Some people move to be more fulfilled.  What does that mean?  Well, moving can help you discover more about yourself as a person.  You find out how resilient you are and become more aware of how important change is.  Change is so essential to building our character.  People can feel like they are just stuck in a rut.  This could be with their personal lives, jobs, or even their home.  People that move can feel more fulfilled as they see it as taking control of their lives.  They are happier in life all just because they feel they have taken a proactive step in choosing their destiny. 

 

A New Start

Other people just crave a new start.  Whether this in the city or suburbs, a new start can be beneficial and enriching. A new start in a new neighborhood or town can in fact make people happier with their life.  Just make sure you have done all your homework and have your business and personal items in place to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Last thing is to make sure you give us a call to help out with whatever your real estate needs are.  We will be happy to talk to you about your goals for the move and what options you have in today’s market.  After all, a new start can not only change your life but be good for your mind, body and soul.

 

NextHome TriState Realty – 712-224-NEXT (712-224-6398) or visit us at www.NextHomeTriState.com

It’s Never Too Late to Pick a New Year’s Resolution

2021 Resolutions

It’s Never Too Late to Pick a New Year’s Resolution.  Here is a List to Help Inspire You.

Let me repeat that… It is NEVER too late to pick a New Year’s Resolution!

Did you know that almost 80% of resolutions fail by the second week in February?  When choosing a resolution make sure it is something you truly want to do and/or change. Here is a list of some resolutions to help inspire you!

 

Work on Your Fitness and Health

Working on your fitness and health can mean a few things. Like exercise more, eating better, drinking more water… Getting fit and healthy can add years to your life, but you also need to acknowledge that this takes time and a lot of patience to create lifestyle changes that last.

Ease into it by making small changes.  Don’t say goodbye to chocolate forever and don’t force yourself to exercise 7 days a week.  Take baby steps towards your resolution. Go for a small walk after dinner, swap out soda for water.

Find a buddy to help you.  They will help keep you accountable and you will be more likely to stick to it.

 

Get More Sleep

To me this also fits in with “Working on your Health”.  Did you know that lack of sleep is linked to some really scary risks like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, diabetes, and obesity?

Blue light coming from screened devises slows down the production of melatonin in your body which in turn will reduce your quality of sleep.  Turn off your smartphones, TVs, laptops, tablets, or any other gadget that will beep, glow, or blink.   Another idea is you can also try using an essential oil diffuser to help you sleep.

 

Text Less and Talk More

This is a personal favorite of mine. Text less and talk more!  It seems like everywhere you look people are spending their time with their face in their phone.  Take a moment to look up and have a face-to-face conversation with family or friends.

There is a study that revealed the average smartphone user checks his or her phone an average of 150 times within 16 hours. That is way too much time spent reading texts, browsing Facebook or Instagram or sending snaps on Snapchat.

Need a tip to help with this? Disable your smartphone notifications for non-essential things like Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and games. This will help you limit the number of times that you pick up your phone.

 

Save More and Spend Less

Saving more and spending less is one of the top five New Year’s resolutions AND one of the most commonly failed.  A good way to start is to set a budget and eliminate frivolous spending (like saying no to those daily expensive coffees).  A huge savings for my family is cooking at home instead of going out to eat.  If you are going out to eat, opt for savings like drinking water instead of soda (Working on your health). Wait 24 hours for a big purchase and also think “If nobody sees this, would I still want to buy it?”

 

Read More Books

You don’t have to read 50 books a year like Bill Gates does, but some of the world’s most successful CEOs say that reading has been key to their success.

Reading comes with so many benefits like helping strengthening your vocabulary and writing skills, improve your brain function and focus, and expanding your knowledge.

January is a great time to start this!  Cozy up in a nice comfy chair and escape to another world.

 

Get started and stick to it

I hope this gives you an idea or two.  Remember to increase your odds in sticking to your 2021 resolution by only picking a few things and take it slow.  Don’t get burnt out and frustrated. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!  Oh, and if one of your resolutions happens to be selling or buying your home this year? Give us a call and we can definitely help you succeed and get you into your NextHome! 712-224-NEXT

 

Thinking about becoming a part time real estate agent?

Thinking about becoming a part time real estate agent in 2021?

 

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Finally, 2020 is just about over, and many people are feeling more than ready to be done with a year that has caused so much anxiety and confusion.  With 2021 literally right around the corner some people may be thinking about a new career, and with how hot the real estate market has been this year, it has become a very appealing option for some people. 

Here are a few tips that people looking to start a part-time career in real estate should keep in mind.

Take your time finding the right broker and brokerage

If you are planning to become a part time agent, it is very important to find a broker and team who will be a good resource for you and supportive of you even though you may not be able to hit the ground running every day.

Not every broker will want to spend energy and time on an agent who will only be able to work part time. However, becoming a new agent, you will needs lots of training and support to help you learn the ropes, so make sure you take your time finding the right fit with a broker and brokerage that will help you achieve your goals.

Be prepared to juggle

Real estate agents tirelessly need to work around their clients’ schedules.  A part time agent should be ready to deal with scheduling issues.  Since you will be working limited hours, you may find it challenging to schedule showings around your clients’ availability.  It will be very important for you to stay as organized as possible and as flexible as you can be.

Make allies with other agents and find a mentor

Since you will be balancing multiple clients and other responsibilities, it will be important to make allies with other agents within your brokerage.  Especially for the days when you will need help from them to help you out with a showing or an appointment that does not work with your schedule.

Having another agent’s help will possibly mean you will need to compensate them for their time.  Make sure you agree to the terms in advance so everyone is on the same page.

Find a professional and experienced agent or a broker for your mentor.  They will help you get your feet on the ground and help you build connections with other agents and with clients.  They will also help you by answering any questions you may have and will bring you ideas on how to grow your business.

Don’t give up

Working in real estate is hard.  You will need to stay determined and persevere when your business is slow. It is important to stay positive and stick with it.

While 2020 may have been a terrible year, we all get a fresh start on Jan 1st. Prepare to work hard and keep looking forward to the new opportunities each day will bring.

Give us a call

You probably have many questions by now and would like somebody to reach out to for help.  Give us a call and we will help answer them!

712-224-6398 or visit us at www.NextHomeTriState.com.

Keeping The Magic Of Santa Alive

How to keep the magic of Santa Alive

Magic of Santa

As children grow up and get older, the magic of Santa sadly grows out of them.  If you are like me, I desperately wanted to keep him alive in the eyes of my kids. Here are a few tips I did and a few I wish I would have known about on how to keep the magic alive for just a little bit longer.

A Call With Santa

There are ways to let children receive or make calls to Santa.  You could change the contact name of somebody in your phone and have them call!  Imagine Santa just randomly calling!  You can also call the Santa Hotline at 319-527-2680 or 712-770-4404.

Call with Santa

Video Chat With The Big Man

Okay, so with the whole pandemic going on and everybody using video chat to stay connected… Why not video chat him too?  JingleRing, Kringle Mingle, or Santa The Experience all seem to be good options!

Video chat with Santa

Track Santa’s Journey

If you are staying at home for social distancing, how do you find Santa Claus? Simple, by using North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) or Google Santa Tracker! Both the websites are loaded with fun activities and games to get children in the holiday mood.

Norad     Google Santa Tracker

Separate Wrapping Paper

This is one that I always do! Any gifts from Santa must be on his own wrapping paper. This will clearly set them apart from all other gifts.  Remember to HIDE the paper good so it is not found by them.  That’s one major rule to always remember.

Santa wrapping paper

Watch the Reindeer Cam

Have your kids watch the Reindeer Cam live feed to give them a real live look at the reindeer who will be flying Santa’s sleigh come Christmas time. 

reindeer

Special Santa Keys

Don’t have a fireplace and have a hard time explaining to the kids how Santa gets into your home? Create or buy some special magic keys and hang them on or by your door on Christmas!

Santa's magic key

Reindeer Food

My kids LOVED this one!  You leave the milk and cookies out for Santa, so don’t forget to leave some reindeer food too. Throw in some carrots and some creative sparkles to make the snacks extra festive.

Reindeer-Food-main

Nice or Naughty Certificate

If you are creative you can send your kids a certificate, from Santa of course, about how they have been behaving. Send them one of the following official certificates – a Nice List or Naughty List Certificate stating “In recognition of your good behavior this year, I, Santa, officially place (child’s name) on my 2020 Nice/ Naughty List.”  Print this on fun paper that looks legitimate considering it is from the North Pole and signed by Santa Claus himself.

Certificate

Leave cookies and milk out

Everyone knows that Santa can’t resist some cookies and a nice glass of milk. Before morning, make sure the cookies are gone or at least half bitten so the kids know he appreciated their generous offer. I also sprinkle crumbs in the milk to make it a little more believable.

Santa cookies and milk

Sprinkle red glitter

Head to your nearest store and buy a packet of red glitter. Once you’ve bought the sparkles, sprinkle it on the front lawn, by the door, or anywhere you want.  Why do this?  When your kids ask where it came from you can say it must have fell off of Santa’s sleigh when he was bringing your gifts.  

Red Glitter

Santa’s Footprints

You can make Christmas morning a little more magical by leaving a sparkling and snowy trail of Santa’s footprints. This idea will bring so much awe and wonder. You can leave a trial to wherever he goes, whether it’s to the cookies, from the chimney, or from the door. 

Santa Footprints

10 Christmas Light Safety Tips You Need To Know

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Spending time with family is one of the most important parts of Christmas, and making our homes cheerful and inviting with great smelling candles, festive decorations, and holiday lights is a beloved household tradition.  In the chaos of holiday entertaining, it can be really easy to get so distracted with everything that we forget how hazardous some of our decorations really can be if we don’t use correct precautions.

Here are some Christmas safety tips to help make certain that your Christmas decorations are merry, bright, and most important of all, safe for your family and friends to enjoy.

 

1. Do not leave your lights on unattended

You need to turn off your holiday lights any time you won’t be around to look after them. So, if you’re leaving your home for any reason or going to bed, make sure that you turn off the lights before doing so. If this feels like too much of a hassle, you can find lots of different products that simplify it, such as remote controls that will let you turn off the lights by touching a button or you can look into Christmas light timers.

2. Look into using LED lights instead of incandescent lights

LED lights are a little bit more expensive but are a much safer choice for both indoor and outdoor lighting. This is because they produce very little heat, this makes them perfect for holiday decorations. They also use 75% less electricity and last up to 25 times longer.

3. Be very careful where you place candles

I know it is nice to have warm candlelight flickering away.  It makes for a nice cozy winter evening. However, candles are can be dangerous.  This is especially true if you have pets or kids who might accidentally knock it over. You will need to place lit candles above the reach of wandering tails and small hands, and well out of the way of type of flammable materials like wrapping paper or curtains. You can always try flameless candles to prevent possible fires and burns.

4. There is a difference between indoor and outdoor lights

Even though indoor lights are normally cheaper, do not use them for your outdoor lights. Indoor lights are not as sealed against moisture like the outdoor lights are.  This makes them hazardous for wet winter weather. If you don’t know which type of lights you have, check the label or throw them out and purchase new lights.

5. Don’t overload your outlet

The number of light strings you can connect together will depend on both the maximum watt capacity of your house circuit you plug them into and the strands’ wattage. You will need to do a little bit of math to figure out what is and is not safe. If you are worried about your math skills and calculating that number incorrectly, a pretty good rule of thumb is to keep each outlet to only three strands of lights at the maximum. You can also consider using a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker instead of your wall outlet for some more added protection.

6. Get rid of old lights

Although it is nice to pass down holiday heirlooms, old light strands from years ago can be very dangerous. Today’s lights are much safer to use as they have fused plugs that will prevent sparks in the event of a short circuit.

7. Fasten down all outdoor light strings

Winter winds can catch and blow down outdoor Christmas light strands, causing potential electrical hazards. Fasten your lighted decorations to firm objects to keep your lights secure and where they belong. Also fasten indoor lights so they are out of reach of pets.  This will help in avoiding chewing mishaps that could result in accidental electrocution.

8. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees

Shiny aluminum and tinsel Christmas trees are becoming more popular, but if you are considering a metallic tree, don’t use electric lights or decorations on it. Your tree can easily become charged with electricity.  This will give a real “shock” to anyone who touches it.

9. Be smart while using extension cords

Outdoor lights can pose a safety risk if your extension cords are low enough to the ground to become wet. Make sure to keep the cords dry and use surge protectors to minimize damage that can happen.

10. Your Christmas tree can become a fire hazard

A scary fact is that Christmas trees are the leading cause of house fires during the holidays. While there are some benefits to a real tree, artificial trees are the safer choice to make. The majority of artificial trees are made with fire resistant materials which make them much safer to light and decorate. If you do decide to go with a real tree, make sure it’s fresh when you buy it and you will need to keep it well watered. If your tree dries out, it is not safe to keep in your home and should be removed from your home immediately.

Whether you go big or keep it simple with your Christmas decorations this season, your number one priority needs to be protecting your family and home. Follow these Christmas light safety tips to help you enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

How To Get The Most Out Of A Virtual Home Tour

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How To Get The Most Out Of A Virtual Home Tour

COVID-19 has changed the way buyers are able to look at properties for sale.  This has led to a huge rise in agents and clients using virtual tours.

But while virtual tours can be just as good as an in-person tour, it is important to know what you should be looking out for and how to ensure you get all the information you need to make an educated decision about that particular property.

So what exactly are the things you need to look out for?

recent article from realtor.com outlined some of the things buyers need to know to make the most out of their virtual tours, including:

  • The exterior. When you are viewing a home through the screen, it can be really easy to just look at the main features of the home’s interior.  However, don’t miss out on key exterior details you would see if you were to view the home in person. Make sure you ask the agent to show you the home’s exterior and the surrounding neighborhood while you are doing your virtual tour.
  • Ask lots of questions. When you are thinking about buying a home, it is always important to ask lots of questions. It is especially important when you don’t have the opportunity to see the property in person. Ask lots of questions to get all the information you need to make an educated decision about whether the home is the right fit for you and your family.  Some questions could be “what is the average cost of utilities per month?” or “When was the roof last replaced on the home?”
  • Take notes. When you are touring different homes virtually, it can be really easy to lose track of which home is which, and information from one home tour might be mixed into information from a different home tour. Make sure the notes you take on each property are kept separate to help keep all the details straight.

As always, make sure you are using one of our knowledgeable NextHome real estate agents.  We are willing and capable to accommodate you with in-person or with virtual tours.  NextHome TriState Realty 712-224-6398.

Mistakes Could Jeopardize Selling Your Home This Winter

snow house for sale

It might be getting cold outside, but the real estate market is definitely heating up, with this year ready to be one of the best winter selling seasons in recent history.

But just because this winter is poised to be a seller friendly market does not mean that selling your home is a given. There are lots of things that could prevent you from selling your home during the winter months.

Okay, so what exactly are those things?

recent article from realtor.com outlined some of the most common mistakes homeowners make that can prevent them from selling their homes this winter, including:

  • Not shoveling the snow.

    Buyers do not want to trudge through snow drifts to make it to your front door. If you are hit with some winter weather, make sure you shovel the snow and create a nice clear path from the street to your front door.

  • Don’t lower the heat.

    You want your home to feel warm and really inviting to any potential buyers. If they were to walk into your home and it is just as cold inside as it is outside… it can turn them off to your property quick. Before you leave your house, make sure to turn up the heat to around 70 degrees.  This will make it more pleasant for buyers who come by to look at your home.

  • Don’t use outdated listing photos.

    If you are trying to sell your home in December, you do not want to use photos of your home that were clearly taken in the middle of summer. When you are ready to list your home, make sure you use current and accurate photos.

So, what does all of this mean for you?  If you are thinking about selling your home this winter, it is really important to understand the most of the common mistakes sellers make in the colder months can be avoided.  Thus letting you successfully sell your home.