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Why to sell during the winter season

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We posted earlier on why you should buy a home during the holidays, but there are just as many reasons to list your home during the holidays:

11. By selling now, you may have an opportunity to be a non-contingent buyer during the Spring, when many more houses are on the market for less money! This will allow you to sell high and buy low.

10. You can sell now for more money and we will provide for a delayed closing or extended occupancy until early next year.

9. Even though your house will be on the market, you still have the option to restrict showings during the six or seven days around the Holidays.

8. January is traditionally the month for employees to begin new jobs. Since transfers cannot wait until Spring to buy, you need to be on the market during the Holidays to capture the market.

7. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.

6. Buyers have more time to look for a home during the Holidays than they do during a work week.

5. Buyers are more emotional during the Holidays, so they are more likely to pay your price.

4. Houses show better when decorated for the Holidays.

3. Since the supply of listings will dramatically increase in January, there will be less demand for your particular home. Less demand means more money for you.

2. Serious buyers have fewer houses to choose from during the Holidays and less competition means more money for you.

And the number one reason why you should list during the Holidays …

1. People who look for homes during the Holidays are more serious buyers!

By lacrossefinehomesgroup Posted in Sellers
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Why to buy during the winter season

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There are a lot of things going on during the year-end festivities. Would you want to buy a house as well?

If you aren’t terribly picky, the answer might be yes.

Sellers usually avoid the end of the year because the mix of weather, shorter days and busy schedules make it tough for buyers to find time to get to their home.

Plus, they might want to decorate it for the holidays, not keep it unpersonalized.

But those who do choose to sell at year-end are often under pressure and highly motivated to cut a deal.

And that’s why the year-end might be a smart time to buy: Determined house-hunters can take advantage of sellers’ urgency.

There can be pros for buying a home.

Price

With less buyers competing to buy, sellers might lower prices or concessions. Sellers might be willing to negoatia

Less competition from other buyers during the holiday season might mean you’ll be able to negotiate a favorable price for a home you want to purchase.

Still, with fewer homes from which to choose, you might have to lower expectations. If you download the Keller Williams Realty app, you will have the market at your finger tips.

Offer accepted

With less buyers, there are less offers coming through so sellers might be more willing to look at your offer or accept it and negotiate.

Better interest rates on mortgages

The drop in demand to buy a home at holiday season means that lenders experience less requests for mortgage money at this time. This can mean a more favorable mortgage for buyers — a great reason why it’s the best time to buy a house. Interest rates drop every December through January on a cyclical basis.
A lender can offer you a low interest rate or even cancel some fees to secure your patronage. Do your homework and shop around (don’t forget to include the many online options) in order to get the best rate.
Loan officers advise that it’s best to get prequalified with a mortgage broker or lender early because loan closing turnaround times can range from 30 to 60 days.

Quick closing

With less home closings, schedules are open and everyone from home inspectors to appraisers to banks have more room to get buyers in early.

Enjoy the summer vacation

With the house already found and bought, when spring rolls around, buyers can sit back and relax.

Cons

The biggest downside is the limited supply of for-sale homes, which occurs mainly because sellers are so uninterested.

If you can’t find a home you like, you might be able to tap into homes that aren’t on the market. Your agent can make calls for you to find the homes that are on the fence.

Don’t worry about the snow either. Snow can cover defects that will only be found once the ink has dried and the ice has thawed. How to fix that is to ask for pictures of the house during the warmer months. A home inspection will also relieve some of the risk.

The most important thing to ask is your real estate agent what their availability is so you aren’t surprised.

If you are interested in buying a home during the holiday season, don’t hesitate! Contact us and we will help you!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group, LLC., of Keller Williams Realty

By lacrossefinehomesgroup Posted in Buyers
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Download our mobile app

Take your househunting everywhere you go with the Keller Williams Realty app.

  • Easily connect with your agent and send property inquiries instantly.
  • Draw a circle on the map or drop a pinpoint to search that area.
  • See property details and full-screen photos, get driving directions, mark your favorites, create notes about what you liked, or share it with family and friends.
  • Estimate your home loans with a free mortgage calculator.
  • View Open Houses in your area. View Rental Properties in your area.

Here are some how-to instructions to get the app:

Search “Keller Williams Realty” in google play or app store.

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Open app and agree to all terms.

Enter Sue Mravik’s agent code (KW2MD9IE2 – that is an ‘i’ after the 9, not an 1).

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Sit back and search.

You can refine your search by criteria.

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You can narrow or broaden your search using the map function.

If you use the pinpoint function, you pinpoint a location and it will give the nearest houses for sale.

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Or you can draw boundaries and the app will list the properties for sale in the boundaries.

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You can click on properties and see a ton of information on the property.

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If you find something you want to see, just click contact and get in touch with Sue!

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Still have questions? Give us a call or check out some FAQ’s here.

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Antifog your bathroom

anti fogA nice warm shower feels great. When you get out, however, it is always hard to start getting ready with fogged mirrors.

To combat that, all you need is shaving cream or furniture polish and a clean cloth.

Apply the shaving cream or furniture polish to the mirror evenly with a cloth before wiping off with a lint-free cloth.

It is as simple as that.

Repeat every couple weeks to keep that mirror fog free.

Check out our home tips tab for more help around the house or let us know your biggest trick!

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Buying vs. renting

A lot of people want to own a house. Not only is it nice to be able to paint, have pets and entertain friends, but owning a home can be a better way to spend money than renting.

You have many options to consider and choices to make. Buying a home is a big responsibility, financially and emotionally, but most people want to own a home. Homeownership often is referred to as “the American dream.” Why is it so special? Among the reasons: Real estate often is an excellent investment, perhaps the number one source of wealth-building for families.

pro v cons

Owning a home has many benefits.

When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity – and that’s an investment.

Owning a home also qualifies you for tax benefits that may assist you in dealing with your new financial responsibilities – such as homeowners’ insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep – which can be substantial. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are definitely worth it! Owning your own home also can be a great source of pride and stability.

But homeownership may not be for everyone.

It’s a big financial commitment – starting with the initial shock of your purchase (including a “down payment” and fees paid to a real estate agent, the lender and others) followed by years of monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, property insurance and maintenance costs. When you decide to purchase a home, you accept responsibility for paying for these expenses. They are additional costs to your monthly mortgage payment and should be included in your budget estimates:

  •  Property Taxes and Special Assessments
  •  Home/Hazard Insurance
  •  Utilities
  •  Maintenance
  •  Home Owner Association (HOA) Fee if applicable.

One of the advantages of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities and the flexibility of moving almost as soon as you decide. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for your housing needs. There are many considerations in choosing between renting and buying:

There are tax advantages to homeownership in both the short and long terms. The mortgage interest and real estate taxes are tax deductible, which allows you to subtract part of your housing related expenses from your taxable income, which could reduce your tax bill. In many cases, the amount of money a renter spends on rent can be about the same as or less than the amount a homeowner spends on a mortgage. With the tax benefit for homeowners, the savings can be significant.

Buy vs. Rent cost comparison

The chart below shows a cost comparison for a renter and a homeowner over a seven year period. The renter starts out paying $800 per month with annual increases of 5%.

cost comp

The homeowner purchases a home for $110,000 and pays a monthly mortgage of $1,000. After 6 years, the homeowner’s payment is lower than the renter’s monthly payment. With the tax savings of homeownership, the homeowner’s payment is less than the rental payment after 3 years.

By lacrossefinehomesgroup Posted in Buyers
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Save on heating costs

Boy, have the temperatures started to drop here. Fall jackets are a must during the day, mittens and scarves are coming out for the winter.

As for inside, air conditioners have long been turned off and now the thought of turning heat on has many looking to keep costs down but temperatures up. High energy bills can deeply dig into household budgets.

blogThere are many small things that can be done to save on heating costs. Wearing extra layers, turning the thermostat down during the day or when no one is in the home and keeping vents clean all help.

Here are a couple places to watch:

Heating

  • Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.
  • Make sure your programmable thermostat is:
    • Installed properly.
    • Programmed appropriately – a programmable thermostat only saves energy when it is programmed.
    • Not located in an unheated space, a poorly-sealed or seldom-used room, or in direct sunlight near a heat source. The thermostat should be able to sense the average temperature in your home. If it is not in the right place, contact a heating and air conditioning professional about having it moved.
  • Lower your thermostat and wear socks and a sweater in doors. Lowering the thermostat by just one degree Fahrenheit can reduce energy use by 3 percent.
  • If you have a forced air furnace, inspect your filters at the beginning of the heating season and monthly during the season. Clean or replace them if there is significant dust build up.
  • Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in New Mexico. Moister air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set at a lower temperature.
  • Install foam insulation gaskets behind electric outlets and switch plate covers.

Windows and doors

  • Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. That includes overhead doors on attached garages.
  • Install do-it-yourself plastic-film storm windows. Find them at a local hardware store.
  • Seal off unused rooms (as long as the room is less than 100 square feet and isn’t the room where the thermostat is located). Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed.
  • Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close window coverings at night to keep the heat in.
  • Weatherstrip and caulk windows. Check window frames for cracks and fill them with caulk that contains silicon. Putty-like “rope caulk” can help seal large cracks and save you up to 5 percent on your energy bill.
  • Check all exterior doors for air leaks and weatherstrip and caulk as needed. A one-eighth-inch gap around a door is equivalent to a 6-inch-square hole in the side of your house and causes a lot of energy loss. You can check doors two ways:
    • Have someone stand on the other side of the door and shine a flashlight around the door’s perimeter. If you can see light through the cracks, your door needs sealing.
    • Hold a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weatherstrip around the door.

Water heater

  • Make sure the water heater is set no higher than 125 degrees.
  • Drain off a bucket of hot water from your water heater annually to remove sediment that will interfere with the heater’s long-term use.
  • Install a water heater blanket if your water heater is older than 5 years.
  • Insulate the pipes around the water heater with inexpensive, easy-to-install pipe insulation. This is particularly helpful if the water heater is in an unheated space.

Fireplace

  • Never use a traditional fireplace for supplemental heating. A fireplace sucks heated air out of your home to fuel the fire and exhausts it through the chimney, and then your furnace has to turn on to replace that warm air.
  • Close the fireplace damper and seal the opening shut when not in use.

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Alternative uses for dryer sheets

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This tip comes from Ashley Koch, a Keller-Williams agent in the Twin Cities.

Dryer sheets are great for laundry, but can be used for many other chores around the house, a tip that can help save time and money in the long run.

So, here is a (excuse the pun) laundry list of things dryer sheets are good for:

1. Dusting: used dryer sheets can knock the dust off nearly any surface, including furniture, blinds, car interiors, baseboards/molding. Also works for sawdust and drywall compound.

2. Keep bugs away: Tuck some in your picnic basket or under lawn furniture to repel bees from your juicy flesh and encourage them back to the flowers, where they belong. You can also rub a sheet directly on your bare skin to discourage would- be buggers from leaving their mark.

3. Keep your clothes fresh: tuck a few fabric-sheets in your drawers to keep that ‘just-washed’ smell happening for weeks. Throw one in your dirty clothes hamper to prevent any rampant, residual odors from escaping into your bedroom

4. Scrub your showers: Lightly wet a used dryer sheet, and scrub to remove soap build-up and mineral deposits.

5. Freshen your home: Place (or tape) a dryer sheet on your HVAC vents to scent the air circulating through your home. You can even place one alongside your filter in your central heating unit to distribute the scent. Also works on ceiling fans, and on the back of box/portable fans.

6. Reduce static cling: Pat your self with a sheet to combat static on your clothes, stockings, and even long hair!

8. Clean your laundry room: When you finish drying a load, hold on to the dryer sheet, and wipe down the inside of your dryer’s drum, your lint trap, the outside of your washing machine and dryer, and scrub away any excess or spilt laundry detergent.

9. Scrub the bugs from your car: Summer drives often equal insect gut polka dots all over your auto’s body and windshield. Simply wet your car down, and use a dryer sheet to scrub away carnage with ease.

10. Wipe up hair: The cling of a dryer sheet is perfect to wipe up pet hair from your furniture, or even your own hair from your bathroom.

11. In your shoes: Toss a dryer sheet in the toes of your shoes to minimize odors and prolong the just-purchased smell.

12. While traveling: Place a few dryer sheets in between items in your suitcase to keep both your clothes fresh and to prevent your items from picking up any mustiness from old luggage.

13. In your crafts: Use dryer sheets to add texture to cards, scrapbooks, etc. Also use for reinforcement in appliqué and quilting work.

14. For diapers: Keep your used dryer sheets in your diaper bag, and roll one up in the diaper to prevent odors before you have to chance to throw it away.

15. In the kitchen: Soak cookware with burnt or baked-on food in warm water, with a dryer sheet or two. Makes clean-up easier than you’d expect. Also works on cook tops and dingy cabinet doors.

16. Clean paint brushes: Soak your used paintbrushes in warm water with a dryer sheet, and that pesky latex paint will come off in under a minute.

17. In books: placing a dryer sheet in new books or photo albums will keep them smelling fresh, and can combat the musty paper smell of used or old books. Also works as a killer bookmark.

18. In toilet paper: Roll up a dryer sheet in your toilet paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.

19. As you sleep: keep a fabric-softener sheet in your pillow case and under your mattress or mattress pad for sweet dreams of summer all year ‘round

20. While sewing: use a dryer sheet to store your needles while threaded to keep them from tangling, for paper piecing whilst you quilt, and for backing for embroidery.

21. Repel rodents: Use dryer sheets to keep out mice, skunks, squirrels, rats, etc from your basement, garages, boats, campers, and clubhouses.

22. In your car: stash dryer sheets under your car seats and floor mats, and in your glove box and trunk for fresh scents as you travel.

23. At work: Hide dryer sheets in drawers, behind computers, and in cabinetry to keep your workspace fresh, and combat your co-workers awful perfume or stale cigarette scent.

24. In you vacuum cleaner: Place a dryer sheet in your vacuum bag or dust containment unit. As the hot air moves as you vacuum, you’ll bulk up your cleaning efforts. (Make sure this is in NO WAY a fire hazard)

25. In storage: tuck dryer sheets in your rarely used items such as luggage,camping gear, sports equipment, or specialty craft or kitchen items to prevent the inevitable smells of basements, attics, and garages.

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Prepare your home for winter

Earlier in the day we posted on our facebook a reminder to winterize outdoor pipes before the cold really sets in.

But there is so much more to do besides the pipes.

Here are couple more tips. It’s a long list, but it is also a long winter. You want to make sure you can do as much preventative maintenance as possible so you aren’t outside in negative temperatures trying to fix things!

Windows and doors

  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Look at the weatherstripping and caulk inside and out, when necessary, or replace weatherstripping.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

Lawn,  garden, and deck

  • Check drainage: Make sure rain and snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt should slope away from your home.
  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem
  • Move patio furniture indoors or cover well. Clean and dry it first so you don’t have to do that in the spring.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

Tools and machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.

Gutters, roof, and drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.
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Kitchen storage solution

collageWhile touring a new listing we have (shameless plug here), there was something special about their kitchen.

It wasn’t the wall-long cupboards or plentiful counter space.

It was their storage solutions.

No one likes to have that one drawer full of spatulas and other utensils that is always the hardest to open.

Nor does anyone like having vases full of them eating up counter space.

Solution: A peg board.

These owners used a peg board built-in next to their fridge to store all of those utensils. Brilliant.

It keeps everything out of a drawer and off the counter, but easily accessible.

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They also used the same idea on the back of their basement door. It is an unused space that many forget about.

They had the pegboard attached to the back of the door and baskets with those awkward items to store, like electric mixers, oven mitts, and graters.

Do you have a great kitchen or home storage solution? Send us pictures!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group, LLC., of Keller Williams Realty

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Why pre approval matters

There are certain things that have to fall in place before you can buy a home:

  • Have enough for a down payment and all closing costs
  • Know what closing costs are
  • Clean up your credit score by clearing old debts and stop applying for other lines of credit
  • Figure out how much you can realistically afford
  • Know what you want in a home and what you can do without

But the most important thing to do is get preapproved for a mortgage, if needed. If, as a buyer, you don’t need a mortgage and are paying in cash, you are a rare breed and can log in to Facebook now. You don’t need to read this.

A pre-approval is a commitment in writing from a lender that a borrower would qualify for a particular loan amount based on income and credit information. Most pre-approval letters are good for 60 to 90 days.

A buyers’ chances of purchasing a home improve greatly when you have your financing in place before you walk through the first house.

It help you know what your limits are financially so you don’t spend six months looking at homes that are  out of your league. That is a waste of your agent’s and your time. Plus, you don’t want to fall in love with a house you can’t afford.

When it comes to writing an offer, having pre-approval is great. It is a good argument for why the sellers should accept your offer. It shows the buyer is committed to buying a house, can afford the price they are agreeing to and things won’t fall apart at the last minute because of financing.

Or, if you find a house you love and then have to go take time to get pre-approved, another buyer can swoop in and snipe that house.

Sad, but I’ve seen it happen.

Getting pre-approved isn’t as simple as filling out a profile on Facebook. The process for preapproval is a bit more extensive than in the past. You first have to contact a lender and will need to have a variety of documents, ranging from W2s from the past two years, paystubs for past three months, tax returns from past two years, savings and checking account bank statements as well as landlord or previous mortgage information. Contacting a lender before you start house hunting gives you ample time to get all of these together, so you don’t have to rush and stress out later in the process.

The lender will analyze your credit report for any red flags such as late or missed payments or charged off debt. Your credit score will affect your ability to qualify for a loan and determine how low of a rate you can get. Your overall debt (minimum credit card payments, student loan payments, car payments, etc.) will be analyzed to calculate your overall debt-to-income ratio. You will also need to provide any alimony or child support payments you are required to pay.

A lender can also answer questions of the ins and outs of mortgages.

If you have any questions about pre-approval or the process of purchasing a home, ask us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty