Thursday, August 27, 2015

Martin, My Latin Lover, Because He'll Do It on the Carpet and Hardwood Floors

It's been a while since I've written anything and it's time to get back into the habit.

This morning, I'm working from my dining room table.  As I listen to Martin and try to come up with an idea of what to write about, I decide he's a fitting topic.  Now, you might think this is going to be something wrought with scandal.  I can't promise that, but I hope to not disappoint just the same.

Yesterday I was showing homes to a terrific couple from Illinois.  What makes them terrific is that they've been married for 55 years, they tease each other constantly, and he wants nothing more than to buy her the most perfect home in Lincoln, Nebraska.  We don't know each other very well...having only met this week.  But there are moments, whether it be in a too-small dining room, a gorgeous basement, or on a patio that he will look at her will so much love and she'll twinkle a smile back.  You can see his heart glow.

But this isn't about their love, it's about me and Martin.  I told them about Martin.  We were talking about vacuuming and all the hard work involved in keeping floors clean.  And that's when I came clean and told them they needed to get a Martin.

Now let's go back in time to about March 2015.  My college daughter was home from college with her boyfriend.  Before bed the first night home, I told them that my housekeeper would be over around 8:00 the next morning to clean.  I warned them that he's pretty loud, doesn't speak English and he'd be here for about an hour.

You can imagine my delight when I came home from working later the next day to find my daughter glaring at me and pointing to the floor and asking, "Is that your housekeeper?"

I said yes and asked why.  Well, it turns out my daughter an her boyfriend had spent the morning in their respective bedrooms waiting for Martin to finish his work.

You see, my housekeeper is Martin.  He's a Roomba.  He'll do it on the carpet and the hardwood floors.  And I love him.

(He actually does speak English, but in kind of a girly voice).


Friday, November 7, 2014

Quick Clean Up Tips

My tips for selling a home when you get a last minute showing request.

Everyone has stuff. Stuff needs to be put somewhere – but you can’t expect to be on your game and your kids to be perfect 100% of the time.

So, I offer a few quick tips to make your life easier without making you feel like you’re a prisoner to showing requests to sell your home.

Quick Tip #1: Buy each child a storage container and at any given time, they can have as much stuff out as will fit in the storage container. This is so that if you have a last minute showing it’s easy to straighten the house quickly. Everything just gets thrown into the container and then put into the
closet. 30 seconds of cleaning. And the buyer won’t know that it’s shear chaos in the container.

Quick Tip #2: Buy smaller containers for bathroom items that you like to leave on the counters, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, contacts and eyewear, and facial creams. You can quickly sweep these items into the smaller plastic container, close the lid and place it either in a drawer or under the sink. The items stay clean and are again easy to access when you get home and are ready for use. Yet the counters look spotless and show their best to the buyer.

Quick Tip #3: Stay committed to keeping the dishwasher empty or at least no clean dishes in it. That way, if you get a last minute showing request, you can throw all the dirty dishes in it and even run the load if you have time. Yes, buyers do sometimes look in the dishwasher, but it’s better to see dirty dishes in the dishwasher than in the sink or on the counters.

Quick Tip #4: Any dirty laundry can get thrown in the washer and dryer. Keep the clean stuff put away so the dryer is free if you need to throw the dirty clothes in it to tidy up the laundry room for a last minute showing.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Where to Put the Christmas Tree?

Many people think now is a terrible time of year to sell their home. Please let me give you my take on selling your home in the winter months.

Your home will show it's true colors in the winter months in Nebraska. When the wind is blowing at 40 miles per hour and it's bitter cold, buyers will notice if your home is cozy warm and quite. And buyers will be impressed!!

There are fewer buyers on the market in the colder months, but these buyers are seriously looking for a home. They are not your Sunday Open House Tire Kicker Buyers that make so many of us crazy all summer long. Winter buyers are determined to buy a home. They ARE looking for a place to put their Christmas tree.

So, the time is now to put your home on the market for these buyers. When you put your home on the market, there will be a "showing period." The goal is to make that as short as possible. Your REALTORS® marketing plan is very key to the success of this as well as competitively pricing your home.

Once you get an offer, you'll be in the closing period for 30-60 days on average. This depends on the type of loan and lender they are working with. If you plan for a 30-45 day closing period, you're going to need an offer on your home by November 15, 2014.

Then you must ask yourself what your goals are? Are you okay with selling right before Christmas? Remember, they are looking for a new place before Christmas. But that means you must also find a new home before Christmas or have your plan B in place (living in a short term rental or with a relative). If this is something you're not willing to do, maybe you should consider waiting to put your home on the market.

What are the pros and cons to waiting until after the first of the year to put your home on the market? Well, the pro is obviously convenience to you. You won't have to deal with the showing appointments during the holiday season. And you won't have to pack up and move either. But there are also cons. The biggest being almost everyone else has chosen to wait until after the first of the year to market their home for sale, so the market is saturated with homes and your's is no longer the only one to choose from. This means possibly taking a lower price and certainly being up among other competition. And in Nebraska, it's typically actually colder in February than it is in December, so you may be moving in even colder temperatures.

There are many other things to consider in selling your home, but at this time of the year, these are the major concerns of most sellers. Call me to discuss all your concerns and help you decide whether to market your home now or wait. Sometimes a third party can help you see things more clearly.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Can You Afford To Sell Your Home?

Many home owners want to sell their home and move up to a larger home to fit their current family needs. But you need to decide if you can really afford to sell your home.

Now, I can find ways to make it affordable to sell your home and buy the next one, but that's not what we're talking about here.

I'm talking about: Can you afford it, is the equity there, and if you do, can you accomplish the goals you set out to accomplish?

When I'm speaking with someone who wants to sell their home, one of my first questions is always, "How long have you owned your home?" For me, a good rule of thumb is that you need to be in your home about six years in order to get any equity out of it. Now, that's just a rule of thumb. There are a lot of variables that go into this. Did you buy your home when the market was in an upswing? Did you put down a significant down payment when you bought your home? The goal in selling would be to take your down payment with you, but that's not always possible.

There are costs that go into selling a home - beyond your Realtor® fees. You'll also pay your property taxes, usually a month's worth of interest on your loan, State Documentary Stamps, escrow closing fee, title insurance, and possible seller required concessions such as paying for the pest inspection or a loan fees depending on the type of loan the buyer is using. And then there are other variables such as lender required or buyer negotiated repairs and seller's concessions (buyers closing costs). All these things add up and can chip away at what you thought you might have in equity in your home.

Many home sellers first reaction when discovering these additional costs is to immediately decide to sell their home on their own. But did you know that according to the NAR 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, homes sell for $51,000 less on average when sold For Sale By Owner. That's a scary number isn't it? Obviously if you're selling a $100,000 house, it's probably going to sell better than $49,000. But, you still run the risk of taking a significant reduction in what you sell for when going it alone. That's because when you have a Realtor® on your side, we negotiate for you to make sure you get the best price for your home.

But the question remains, can you afford to sell your home? The best way to find out the answer to this question is to request a CMA - a Comparative Market Analysis by a Realtor® experienced in your area. This analysis should include a Seller's Net Proceed analysis as well. This will require you to be up front and honest with what you owe on your home. That will get you the best results. If you were hoping to get a specific amount out of the sale of your home, this is where to start to find out if it's possible.

Get your CMA before you start shopping for homes. You'll want to know whether it's a possibility or not. If you cannot afford to sell the home just yet, you may want to call your lender next and talk to them about an upcoming preapproval. Your lender may have a simulation tool that will help you either raise your credit score to get the best possible rate, or determine what debt to pay off to help you qualify for more money when it comes time to buy a home.

Doing a little homework in advance of your new home search can save a lot of heartache and time and energy.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

  • How to Replace Weather Stripping

    When weather stripping on doors and windows gets worn out, cold air comes sneaking in. Here’s how to replace weather stripping and stop air leaks. Read

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wait!! Leave the Light Bulbs!!!

There are many reasons that can cause you to move out of your home before it's sold. Perhaps a job transfer to another city or you've already bought your next dream home and you want to move into it.

If you're like most people, you've decided to move out and take all your belongings. This blog isn't about staging - so go ahead, take your things. It's your stuff after all. No, today I'm talking about helping your real estate agent out when it comes to showing your house in the most basic fashion.

There are five things I want you to leave in your house that will help me show it.

1. 9v Batteries. Do you remember when you were shopping for a new home? You walked up to the front door and while your agent was unlocking the door you heard....beeeeep.......beeeep......beeeeep. I like to call that the foreclosure/shortsale alarm. It seems every foreclosure or short sale has a fire alarm or smoke detector that needs a battery changed. But did you know that a battery can go dead at any time in any kind of home? So, please, leave some batteries for me to change so the buyer doesn't have to put up with that annoying beep. And instead they can enjoy the silence of your home - the good windows and doors that block out the sounds of the traffic.

2. Step Stool. And while we're on the subject of changing a battery in your smoke alarm, did you have any idea that you have 10 foot ceilings? Even a home with a standard 8 foot ceiling is pretty tricky. So leave me a chair (shhhhh, don't tell OSHA) or a step stool. You might be surprised what I am willing to stand on to change that battery, but help me out. I don't actually want to kill myself trying to sell your house.

3. Light Bulbs. I'll put your step stool to good use for you again if you'll promise to leave me light bulbs. And please leave a few of each style you use in your home. I haven't yet had a buyer walk into a room with one light fixture with the bulb burned out and say, "Oh, the bulb must be burned out." Oh, no. They always jump to the conclusion that there is a major electrical problem and we're seconds away from the whole house burning down. (Please see item #1 and why it's again so important.)

4. Smelly things. I probably don't need a step stool to change these, but if you're going to have air fresheners, leave a few refills for me. An empty one plugged into the wall is just a reminder of how long your home has been on the market. I know it seems a little silly, but buyers notice.

5. Dusting spray and a rag. I'm not going to give your home a thorough scrub down, but even a home that's been vacant for one week will have some dust. And dust on those granite counter tops is not appealing. A lot of times I show up early to show your home just to make sure everything is as it should be. And if everything is in tip top shape, I just might run the dust cloth over a few surfaces to give it that extra special touch.

Place these items under the sink or in an obvious cabinet in the kitchen - perhaps a pantry if you have one. I don't want to ransack your house looking for that one drawer that you forgot to pack up. It helps me help you. I'm sure you'd rather do this than have me call you and tell you need to change a battery, replace 3 light bulbs and for the love of Pete, dust! It will take me 15 minutes to do all these things for you and it could be the difference between a buyer writing an offer or walking away with a headache.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

What's in a Name?

"Good morning! Thank your for calling, how may I help you?"

"Hi! This is Mike Fox, I'd like to take a look at 123 Main Street tomorrow at 2:00."

This is how most of my buyer contracts begin. A simple telephone call, pretty laid back. And once the buyer has settle on a home it's time to write a contract. That's when the name becomes even more important. You see, a contract to purchase a home is a legal document. I know you knew that already. Did you know that your lender needs a copy of the purchase agreement for the underwriting process? Did you know that the name on the name on the purchase agreement needs to match the name on the loan application? If it doesn't, it's not the end of the world, but it does save a lot of time and a lot of unnecessary steps if we can get them to match up on the first try.

It seems that when Mike Fox did his preapproval for his loan - because he was a responsible buyer - he felt that application was pretty important. He knew they'd be delving into his past credit history, so he knew he needed to apply for his loan as Michael Joseph Fox. But when it came time to write the purchase agreement this is how the conversation went.

"Is your full legal name Mike Fox?"

"No, it's Michael Fox."

"Do, you sign using a middle initial or middle name?"

"Oh, well, yes, I usually sign with Michael J Fox."

"And is that how you completed your loan application?"

"Yeah, I think so. No, wait, I think I used my full legal name, Michael Joseph Fox."

We all love Michael J Fox and always will. But when purchasing a home, be sure to give your agent the same name you used when completing the loan application or preapproval so that all documents match and we don't have to do addenda later that reveal all your aliases. And to go one step further, it's helpful to provide your agent with a preapproval letter from your lender when you begin looking at homes. Your agent and lender are going to work hand in hand together once an offer is written, so they might as well get to know each other early on to make the process as smooth as possible for you.

***Disclaimer: I have no idea what the famous Michael J Fox's middle name is, and he's not a client of mine, but I'd probably work with him if he called.

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