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

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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.

10 Important Thanksgiving Turkey Cooking Tips You Should Know

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Most of the recipes I cook for Thanksgiving dinner are not very complicated. I’ve got my go to macaroni corn casserole and I could practically make mashed potatoes in my sleep. But there is one dish that I always question how to cook. That dish is the very intimidating Thanksgiving turkey. So I rounded up some of the best turkey cooking tips I could find, what mistakes we should avoid and how to cook the turkey without drying it out.

Choosing the right size turkey

If you are buying a whole turkey, figure on 1 pound of turkey (uncooked) per person. If you are buying a boneless turkey breast, figure about ½ pound per person. Feeding an army like my family? Instead of buying the biggest turkey you can find, get a whole turkey and one breast, or  two smaller turkeys. Hopefully these estimates will leave you with lots of leftover turkey to enjoy after all  of the hard work is done.

Plan ahead for turkey thawing

According to the USDAthe safest way to thaw turkey is in a refrigerator. This method is good because it is the most hands off and it results in an evenly defrosted bird that is ready to cook. How long does it take to thaw a frozen turkey in a refrigerator? You will want to allow 1 day in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds of turkey, so refrigerate a 12 pound turkey for 3 days and a 20 pound turkey for 5 days, and so on.

Dry brine your turkey

Thanksgiving turkey is something we patiently wait all year to eat, and most of the time it comes out dry and flavorless. Dry brining is one of the best ways to ensure the turkey is seasoned all the way through and not just on the surface, the skin will get extra crispy, and the rest of the turkey retains its moisture. The only thing you need to dry brine a turkey is salt; just rub the salt all over the raw turkey, place the turkey into a large plastic bag (or 2 bags) and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days before cooking.

Skip stuffing the bird

Don’t of pack your turkey with bread cubes that will just turn soggy, try stuffing recipes baked outside of the turkey, in a deep casserole dish.  This is the safest and tastiest option. Not only does this ensure that your stuffing avoids contact with the raw turkey, but the final product is a moist, crispy-topped, delicious creation!

Add aromatics

Salt works well to bring the flavor out of the bland turkey, there are still a few more ways to add even more flavor. Most of these herbs you might have on hand during Thanksgiving, like thyme, sage, and rosemary. Since you are not putting your stuffing in the turkey, add those herbs into the turkey.  This will be about 12 sprigs in total, along with a quartered onion. You can also add a head of garlic, just cut it in half and put that in there too. You can also add a small orange or a halved lemon. As your turkey cooks, all those seasonings in the cavity will flavor the rest of the turkey.

Don’t forget the roasting rack

The roasting rack will help keep the bottom of your turkey from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Don’t have a rack? Don’t worry! Try this trick: Create a bed of celery stalks and carrots to elevate your turkey. You will have some extra flavorful veggies to use later. Or, you can cut onions into 3/4-inch thick slices, arrange on the bottom of your pan, and place the turkey on top.

Forget the basting

It is true that basting can help to keep your turkey evenly brown, but it has little, if anything, to do with keeping your turkey moist and juicy. In fact, repeatedly opening the door of your oven will lower your oven temperature, which may increase the overall time to fully cook your turkey. If you are really wanting a more even brown turkey, rub it with butter and olive oil before roasting.  This will help produce that crisp, golden brown skin you are looking for.

Take its temperature

Roasting a turkey is not something most of us do on a regularly basis and using the 15 minutes a pound rule, or even keeping your eye on that plastic popper are just not real good ways to tell if it is fully cooked. All sorts of factors from your fridge temperature to your oven accuracy will affect how long is actually takes to cook the turkey. An instant read thermometer is your best friend here. You can know that your turkey is fully cooked when you insert a your meat thermometer into the thickest part of its thigh (just don’t touch the bone) and the temperature reads at least 165°F. Its juices should also run clear when part of its thigh is poked with the tip of your knife.

Let it rest

Letting your turkey, or any piece of meat, rest will allow the juices to redistribute. If you carve it too soon, most of the juice will be on the cutting board and your turkey will be dry. So, don’t rush the resting period. When you take it out of the oven, very carefully tilt the turkey to drain all the juices from the cavity into your pan (you can save these juices for your gravy). Move the turkey to a cutting board and set both your turkey and cutting board into a rimmed baking sheet. This will catch most of your turkey’s juices while it rests and while you are carving. Cover loosely with foil and let your turkey rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving.

Don’t carve your turkey at the table

I know, that’s how they do it in the movies, but unless you are a doctor and want to show off your surgical skills, it is just better to carve your turkey in the kitchen. Follow these steps from Kitchn:

  1. Remove the leg and thigh together. Slice through the skin that connects the breast and the drumstick until you hit bone. With your hands, pull the leg back and down until the joint pops out. Press down firmly on the joint to completely sever it. Run the knife between the thigh and the back bone to cleanly remove the leg piece. Place on the serving platter.

  2. Remove the breast. Staying on the same side of the turkey, slice through the skin on the top of the turkey along the breastbone from the neck joint and the wishbone first. Then slowly work the knife through the breast meat, along the rib bone, removing as much meat as possible. Place this breast on the platter.

  3. Remove the wing. Pull the wing back, as you did the legs, and cut at the joint. Place on the platter.

  4. Turn the turkey and repeat steps 2 through 4 on the other side. Rotate the turkey 180 degrees and then repeat with removing the leg and thigh, breast, and wing on the other side.

  5. Set aside the turkey carcass and wipe down the cutting board. Remove the turkey carcass from your work area (you can set it back in the roasting pan or set it directly into a pot if you plan on making stock). Wipe down your cutting board if desired.

  6. Separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Place the leg pieces skin-side up on the cutting board. Cut right between the drumstick and thigh at the joint. Repeat with the other leg. Return the drumsticks to the platter.

  7. Slice the thighs. Cut the thigh meat off the bone and into smaller pieces, if desired. Return to the platter.

  8. Slice the breasts. Place the breasts skin-side up on the cutting board. Cut crosswise at a slight angle into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Return to the platter.

 

Homes Are Selling For Top Dollar And In Record Time!

Homes Are Selling For Top Dollar And In Record Time!  This Is Making Now The Perfect Time To Sell!

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When you are selling your home, you would really like it to sell for top dollar and quickly, right?  Well, if that is the case, there has never been a better time to sell your home than right now!

According to recent data from the National Association of REALTORS®, the national median existing home price in September 2020 was selling for $311,800, up 14.8%.  The median price in the Midwest was $243,100, also a 14.8% increase from September 2019.

And not only are homes selling at higher prices, they’re also selling quickly. Nationwide an astounding 71% of homes sold in September were on the market for LESS than a month. On average, these homes in September were on the market for ONLY 21 days.  This is record breaking and down from the national average of 32 days back in September 2019.

According to Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, the low interest rates and high demand is the one of the key factors behind driving the current buying frenzy. “Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season,” Yun said in a recent press release outlining NAR’s findings. “I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace.”

Are you excited about possibly selling your home when homes are selling higher and quicker than just one year ago?  All these numbers are telling are you that if you have been thinking about selling your home, don’t wait any longer and now is the time to do it!  Go ahead and make the move.  Just don’t forget to call us here at NextHome TriState Realty for all your buying and selling needs!  712-224-NEXT

Wanting A New Construction Home? Here Are Some Things To Look Out For

What Things To Look For In New Construction

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There are a lot of buyers out there thinking that are wanting new-construction homes instead of existing home.  They are thinking that they will be better quality and a better long-term investment.

While that certainly can be true in some cases, there are also some things buyers need to be aware of and looking for when shopping for a new constructed home.

recent article from realtor.com outlined a few of the essential things that you should be looing for when shopping for a new construction home, including:

  • The Build quality. Not all new construction homes are built the same way. You will see that some are higher quality than others. Before you purchase your new construction, ask the builder if you can review the home’s architectural plans.  This way you can check for any issues and get some insights on the materials that will be used to build the home.
  • Builders reputation. Before you commit to buy the home, make sure you are buying from a reputable builder.  Do research and find out everything you can about this builder and what their reputation is in your area.
  • Possible upgrade and design options. Many builders will offer you the option to customize different features in your home (like fixtures, flooring, and countertops). Again, before you commit to building a new home, make sure you fully understand all the features that will come standard with potential home, the different design and customization options you may have, and what the cost will be for any upgrade you want.

So the bottom line is that buying a new construction home can be a possible good choice for your next home purchase.  Just as long as do your research and know what to look for during the new home construction buying process.

Get Your Home Ready For Colder Weather

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The recent snow has made me wonder… Is my home ready for winter?  Granted the temps will get warmer in the upcoming week, but we all know that it WILL get cold again.  So, if you want your home to make it through the winter, you’ll need to take some proper measures to protect it.

Here are some ways to winterproof your home now so your home is ready for the cold temperatures, snow, and bone chilling wind.

 

Store patio furniture

We normally don’t barbecues and dine outside during the winter months, so it’s important that you protect your grill and patio furniture — that way, they’ll be ready to go when the weather starts to warm up.

Take your grill and patio furniture and put them into storage. If you don’t have a place to store your them, you should at the very least cover them up to protect it from the elements. This is really important if you have aluminum patio furniture.  These can rust once the snow hits.

 

Empty and store hoses

You will want to store your garden hoses before the temperature gets too cold. If you leave your hoses outside laying on the ground, the water in them can freeze, which can damange them causing holes and leaks. Make sure you drain each of your garden hoses and store them inside until spring.  If you leave them attached to your home you may be looking a costly fix, because they can cause your water pipes to burst.

 

Protect your home from the cold winter air

Winter is air is COLD, and if that cold air finds a way into your home, you are likely to find yourself shivering no matter how high you turn that thermostat up. It is very important to seal off your home to keep cold air from getting in. Look for any gaps in the foundation or walls and seal them with caulk or foam.  You can also use caulk to seal any gaps around your windows. If your home is always cold in the winter, you may also want to check the insulation. Both your attic and basement should be insulated. If your insulation is improperly installed or old, it can cause the temperature in your home to drop in the colder months. Adding or redoing insulation can be expensive, so if you are not sure whether your insulation is good, consult an professional and get an estimate.

 

Get a good thermostat

One of the top ways to protect your home in the winter is by keeping it at the proper temperature.  However, “proper temperature” is relative; obviously, you will want your house warmer when you are home, but it’s fine to turn down the heat while you’re out. But if you turn OFF your heat, you will run the risk of the temperature dropping too low.

A programmable thermostat will let you to control the temperature in your home at all times. You should program your thermostat to automatically lower the temperature of your home when you leave, and raise the temperature before you return home. Many of the new thermostats even connect to your smartphone, letting you control the temperature in your home.

 

Replace your furnace filter

Old, dirty filters will make your furnace less efficient, making your energy bills go up and making your home more harder to heat. Replace your furnace filter this fall to make sure your furnace is in ready to go when winter hits.

It may warm up a little in the upcoming weeks, but we all know colder temperatures will be back!

Now Is The Perfect Time To Sell

Now Is The Perfect Time To Sell

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The pandemic is still creating a lot of uncertainty — which has many homeowners wondering if now is a good time to sell their home.

Well, it turns out, now is not just a good time to sell your home — it is one of the best times to sell your home.  Better than it has been in years.

Here are a few of the top reasons why now is the perfect time to sell your home:

  • Inventory is low and Demand is high. After months of being stuck at home due to the pandemic, buyers are coming out of the woodwork ready to buy—but there just aren’t enough homes to keep up with demand. According to realtor.com’s market outlook the national housing inventory was down 39 over last year. This means with fewer homes the higher buyer demand and higher prices for sellers.
  • Mortgage interest rates are low. Mortgage interest rates are still at an all time low and rates have flattened over the last month; according to data from Freddie Mac, on October 8, average interest rates hit 2.87% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Buyers are scrambling around to hurry up and lock in those low interest rates.
  • The economy is showing slow signs of recovery. There’s no denying that the pandemic initially sent shock waves through the economy. But unemployment is still to trending downward, meaning more people are getting back to work.  This means more people may be in the position to purchase a home.

What are we trying to tell you?  There has not been a seller-friendly market like this in years.  If you have been thinking about selling your home, don’t wait any longer because now is the perfect time to make a move.  Give us a call and any of our amazing agents here at NextHome can help you. 712-224-6398

Things To Consider Before Buying a Fixer-Upper

Things To Consider Before Buying a Fixer-Upper

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DIY and home renovation shows have increased the amount of buyers that now want to purchase fixer-uppers. But before you decide to buy a fixer-upper—and invest money, time, and your resources in fixing it up — you should know a few things first.

According to a recent article from Houselogic, there are a few key pointers all buyers really need to consider before purchasing a fixer-upper.

  • Price –  The whole point of a fixer upper is to purchase it, then invest money in fixing it up, and finally transform it into your dream home (or flip it and sell it for a possible profit). But for that to happen, you need to be able to purchase the home at a lower price — and have enough of money left for renovations needed. If the price is too high, you are going to get into a situation where the house needs a lot of work — but because the price was too high you no longer have the means to pay for that work.
  • Improvements needed –  Not all fixer-uppers are the same. Some will need a few minor cosmetic changes, some will need a few major projects, and then others will need a complete gut job. Before you purchase a fixer-upper, it is very important to get a thorough home inspection to uncover as many possible issues as you can. But, also know that there is a good possibility some things will not be able to be found until you are in the middle of a renovation. So, always expect the unexpected, even if you do a thorough job taking into consideration all the improvements that you feel will be needed before starting.
  • The “fixing up” process may take some time –  Renovating a fixer-upper does not happen overnight. Depending on the amount of work needed, your budget, and the contractor’s availability, the construction process could take many, many months. If you are going to be living in the property, this can be extremely disruptive to your normal day to day routine — so before you decide to purchase a fixer-upper, make sure you know how much you are willing to deal with the actual “fixing up” process.

Purchasing and completing a fixer-upper can be extremely rewarding though. It can be a great investment that you can turn into a profit, or it can help you build equity in a home you live in. But, make sure you go into it this with your eyes wide open, and do your research and planning, before purchasing that “fixer-upper”.  Don’t forget to talk to your real estate agent for advice!  Make sure to give us a call for a no-obligation consultation! 712-224-NEXT

Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year

Sherwin-Williams Announces Its 2021 Color of the Year

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Since we are all already over 2020 I thought it would be nice to share what Sherwin-Williams announced as its 2021 color of the year.  It’s Urbane Bronze! Sherwin-Williams says Urbane Bronze captures simple sophistication.

Urbane Bronze

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Urbane Bronze

 

Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing, Sue Wadden says “Urbane bronze is a comforting color, drawing from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity.”  The gray undertones also give it a modern twist.  You can pair this color with natural materials complementing the shade, including woven textiles, stone accents, wood finishes, and mixed metals. They also suggest pairing it with other warm neutrals like their Modern Gray or Messenger Bag color that has a hint of green.

You can use this color as exterior or interior.  Use it as a primary or accent color in living rooms, bedrooms, home offices, or dens.  Wadden also says that it can be used to accentuate window trim, columns, and accent walls in residential or commercial spaces.

We could all use a feeling of relaxation and serenity with everything going on in the world right now. Why wait for 2021?  Go and grab this color and create it yourself!

9 Illusions Created by “Reality” Property Shows Which Simply Aren’t True