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Tips for Showing Your Home During the Holidays

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Tips for Showing Your Home During the Holidays

 

This time of year is often regarded as a terrible time to sell your home, because the housing market slows during the holidays.   However, this is not necessarily true.  There are a number of things you can do to help your home stand out during the rest, giving you an advantage despite the less saturated market.  In fact, if you play your cards right, there is even some evidence that sellers actually get better results during the Winter months 


There may be less buyers in the winter months, but that means that there are also less buyers.  You can make this work in your favor.  Hire an experienced real estate agent, and price your home right.  Remember, also, that many of the buyers looking for homes in the winter are doing so because they have a specific reason for moving.  Whether it be divorce, job transfer, or any number of reasons, buyers are motivated.  If you are a motivated seller, this can work in your favor in a major way.  Here are some tips to give you an idea of what works (and what doesn’t) for staging your home for sale during the holidays.

 

 

Decorating

 

First things first, decorating your home for the holidays.  There are two schools of thought on whether or not sellers should decorate their home for the holidays when they will be opening the home for showings.  On one hand, it would be awful to overwhelm a Buyer with personal decorations, because for many buyers, it can be difficult to picture themselves in a home that is so personal to the sellers.  Furthermore, many times, holiday decorations can get excessive and make the home look cluttered, which in turn makes the home look smaller and certainly doesn’t leave a good feeling in the buyers’ minds after a showing.  It’s also important to note that not everyone celebrates the same holidays as you do, and some people don’t celebrate the holidays at all.  Decorating your home heavily for the holiday you celebrate might alienate your home from some potential buyers who follow a different belief system than you.


However, there are some really great things that can happen if you decorate your home properly.  A home decorated for the holidays feels warmer, cozier, and more inviting.  Since light is such an important factor in your home’s appeal to potential buyers, including indoor lights into your holiday decorating can be a great way to decorate for the holidays, while helping to illuminate your rooms fully.  Simplicity is key, so when you are digging out the decorations, even if you usually go all-out for the holidays in your home, it’d be a good choice to tone it down this year and think, “simple and chic.”  Steer clear of the kitsch, and perhaps consider leaving many items packed away, at least for this year. 

 

Holiday Lights

 

Just like interior decorations, there are two schools of thought on putting up holiday decorations.  Some people will advise you to steer clear of decorating all together, and the other group will tell you that decorating your home can actually help potential buyers picture themselves in your home.  Keeping it simple is definitely the way to go, should you decide to decorate your home for the holidays.  Don’t go overboard with outside decorations, and sticking to the classics can be a great philosophy.  Steer clear of large lawn decorations, and keep it chic and simple with the lights strung on your home.  Given that it will often be dark when potential buyers are coming to your home, being one of the only homes on your street without lights can make your home look uninviting and cold.  The lights will help illuminate the outside of your home so that those coming to your home for a showing can easily find their way. 

 

The Usual Rules Apply

 

Just like in any other season, the tips for holiday selling also include the ones typically given for home staging.  De-clutter, de-personalize, deep clean, and illuminate well.  Be sure that the interior of your home looks tidy, bright, and maximize the utilization of your space as best you can. 

For more information on general staging tips, click here.

 

Light, Light, Light

 

Winter is often a tough time for many people because of the lack of sunshine and shorter days.  Any real estate agent who knows their stuff will tell you that lighting your home properly goes SUCH a long way on making your home appealing to buyers.  Some homes are designed to let in more natural light than others, and some have better lighting on the interior than others.  Knowing how to play up the light that your home does have is key.  In the winter, days are shorter, and because of that, there will be no natural light flowing into your home during the hours that most showings are scheduled.  Before showings, be sure that you turn on all the lights in your home. 

 

Keep the Outside Clean


Be sure that your home looks clean going into the colder months, because the winter weather can cause damage and dirt to build up on and around your home.  Despite the dripping, sloppy snow, make sure that your home is as clean as can be, so that your home looks neat and tidy despite the weather happening around it.  Keep your porches, walkways, and driveway clear of ice and snow, always.   You never want to turn away a showing, and you certainly don’t want to be liable for anyone getting hurt on your property.  Not to mention, if it is hard to get into, your home will seem less inviting, right off the bat.  


If your home is being listed during the holidays, meaning that your interior photos will be done during the holidays for the advertising of your listing, it is recommended that you either get the photos done before you begin decorating or that you hold off on decorating until after your photos are taken.  The holidays will soon be over, but if your home is still on the market, the images people will be seeing will be dated to the holidays and no longer be appealing in the same way they would be during the holidays.  


All in all, selling a home during the holidays can prove to be a tricky endeavor, but it can also pay off for the sellers, if they utilize the knowledge and tools that are available.  

Wondering What to Do This Weekend?

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Looking for Something to Do This Weekend?


You've come to the right place!


The weekend following Thanksgiving is always so busy.  People are getting out their holiday decorations, beginning to shop for gifts, and looking for things to do to get them into the spirit of the season.  Here are some local events going on in our area that should help you find something to occupy your time this weekend!  


 


Anheuser Busch Brewery Lights

 

This event, which is a huge hit in the St. Louis area, is back again this year, and it returns with a few added features!  Visitors can still enjoy the free self-guided tours down Pestalozzi Street and around the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Guests who are 21 and older receive a wristband for five 5oz samples of a variety of beers, and any hungry visitors can stop at one of the food stations in the Biergarten, where you can find a variety of dishes.  Visitors can also get a jump start on their holiday shopping, because there are a number of vendors selling crafted items at the Stella Artois Market.  New this year is the Bud Light Ice Rink, where skaters can glide along under the red glow of the Budweiser sign on the Bevo Packaging Plant.  Other attractions include the S’mores Station, sand and ice sculptures, and the chance to reserve a private fire pit for up to 8 guests, featuring wait service and 2 printed photos included in the price!

 

Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights 2016

 

November 17 – January 1

5-10 pm

Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday

(Excluding Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve)

1200 Lynch Street

St. Louis, MO 63118

 

For further details, click here.

 

 

Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow

 

This popular event is a gem of a St. Louis tradition.  Though it only began in recent years, its popularity has caught on quick.  Visitors can walk through the Missouri Botanical Garden and view the gorgeous light display, surrounded by lovely plants and mature trees.  Along the path, visitors can find food and drink stations with a variety of drinks, including the ever popular holiday drinks hot chocolate and egg nog (while also featuring alcoholic beverages, as well).  Along the way, visitors can find themselves around an area with fire pits to gather ‘round while listening to the live carolers featured in this event.  If you have never been, it’d be a great year to give the Garden Glow a visit—you’ll likely make it part of your holiday tradition from here on out. 

 

Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Garden Glow


The Garden Glow opens to Botanical Garden members on Nov. 18 & to the general public Nov. 19, and it runs through January 1.  It is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Hours: 5-10 pm (last entry at 9 pm)

4344 Shaw Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63110

 

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

 

Santa’s Express Train Ride

 

The St. Louis Union Station always puts on a great holiday event, and this year it hosts with a ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas theme.  Although the train ride is the main focus of this event, there are plenty of other attractions to make your visit even better, including spectacular holiday décor, North Pole Village and activities, ice skating, and the new Fire & Light show!  The centerpiece of the event, the Santa Express Train Ride, takes ticket holders on a train ride out of the St. Louis Union Station to view the wonderful holiday features along the way. 

 

Santa’s Express Train Ride at Union Station


Wednesdays-Sundays, November 18-December 30

Trains leave the station at:

4:45, 6:15, 7:30, 8:30

1820 Market Street

St. Louis, MO 63103

 

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

 

Belleville’s Chriskindlmarkt

 

Chriskindlmarkts have begun to sprout up all over the country.  They are open-air Christmas festivals based on Bavarian traditions, but Belleville’s celebrations focus more on this area’s German heritage.  The event features European vendors and traditional German food and refreshments, as well as a Children’s lantern parade around this historic square on Friday night, cultural activities, arts, crafts, music, and dancing.  Even the way the vendors have their stations set up is unique, operating in individual wooden chalets and offering German lace, hand-blown glass ornaments, amber jewelry, nesting dolls, and more.  Head down to Belleville this holiday season and see what they have to offer.  You may even get a few gifts while you’re there!

 

Belleville's Chriskindlmarkt


Downtown Belleville

November 25-December 23

Sundays – Thursdays: 10 am – 7 pm

Fridays & Saturdays: 10 am – 9 pm

 

For more information, click here.

 

 

Waterloo’s Glow Parade

 

Each float boasts over 1,000 lights, so attendees know that they are in for a real visual treat at this Waterloo tradition!  The parade starts at Gibault Catholic High School and follows the Porta Westfalica Route to downtown Waterloo.  There’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than spending an evening in your community admiring all the holiday spirit your neighbors have!  Keep your eyes out for parade marchers in holiday-inspired costumes!

 

Waterloo's Glow Parade

 

Downtown Waterloo, IL

Saturday November 26

5:30 pm

 

For more information, click here.

 

 

Waterloo’s Christmas on the Square

 

This annual holiday event takes place in Waterloo’s historic downtown area.   Visitors have many chances to win great prizes, and Santa will even be in attendance!  In fact, free carriage rides take place from 12 pm – 4 pm each day!  Visitors who also wish to stick around for the GLOW holiday lighted parade can stake out their spots early and ring in the holiday season in Waterloo’s square.  Post-parade, the public is invited to a chili supper at the SPPCS grade school.  Sunday’s attendees get to vote on their favorite decorated lamppost around the courthouse square.  This event will also feature a free concert from the Waterloo Municipal Band on Sunday at 1 pm and a kettle corn vendor!  There is so much to offer to the community!

 

Waterloo's Christmas on the Square

 

Downtown Waterloo

November 26 – 27

 

For more information, click here.



Small Business Saturday


The Saturday following Black Friday has recently been dubbed, "Small Business Saturday," an event all across the country that urges consumers to consider spending their holiday money locally.  Small businesses, boutiques, craftsmen, and artisans all have sales on Saturday to help drive business.  Shopping around your community is more than just an enjoyable way to spend your Saturday, however.  Supporting small businesses this holiday season is such a wonderful choice to make on so many levels.  Money spent in the local economy has a much better chance staying local.  The more successful the businesses in your area, the more valuable homes are in that area.  Spending money at a small business is likened to investing in making someone's dream come to fruition.  There are so many wonderful things that come from spending your money at a small business or local craftsman or artisan.  The best perk about going out and spending money at small businesses this holiday season, though?  The gifts you give will be totally unique, and you're bound to find some things that your family and friends will LOVE!


Small Business Saturday


Your hometown

All Day Saturday

November 26

 

For information on Small Business Saturday and all that it does for your community, click here.


Things to Do in the Area this Weekend

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Events Happening this Weekend

 

This weekend brings on the last weekend before the official start of the holiday weekend, and there are so many events happening locally to help ring in the season!  Here are a few of the exciting things taking place in the Metro area this weekend!

 

 


Anheuser Busch Brewery Lights

 

This event, which is a huge hit in the St. Louis area, is back again this year, and it returns with a few added features!  Visitors can still enjoy the free self-guided tours down Pestalozzi Street and around the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Guests who are 21 and older receive a wristband for five 5oz samples of a variety of beers, and any hungry visitors can stop at one of the food stations in the Biergarten, where you can find a variety of dishes.  Visitors can also get a jump start on their holiday shopping, because there are a number of vendors selling crafted items at the Stella Artois Market.  New this year is the Bud Light Ice Rink, where skaters can glide along under the red glow of the Budweiser sign on the Bevo Packaging Plant.  Other attractions include the S’mores Station, sand and ice sculptures, and the chance to reserve a private fire pit for up to 8 guests, featuring wait service and 2 printed photos included in the price!

 

Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights 2016

 

November 17 – January 1

5-10 pm

Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday

(Excluding Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve)

1200 Lynch Street

St. Louis, MO 63118

 

For further details, click here.

 

 

Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow

 

This popular event is a gem of a St. Louis tradition.  Though it only began in recent years, its popularity has caught on quick.  Visitors can walk through the Missouri Botanical Garden and view the gorgeous light display, surrounded by lovely plants and mature trees.  Along the path, visitors can find food and drink stations with a variety of drinks, including the ever popular holiday drinks hot chocolate and egg nog (while also featuring alcoholic beverages, as well).  Along the way, visitors can find themselves around an area with fire pits to gather ‘round while listening to the live carolers featured in this event.  If you have never been, it’d be a great year to give the Garden Glow a visit—you’ll likely make it part of your holiday tradition from here on out. 

 

Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Garden Glow

The Garden Glow opens to Botanical Garden members on Nov. 18 & to the general public Nov. 19, and it runs through January 1.  It is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Hours: 5-10 pm (last entry at 9 pm)

4344 Shaw Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63110

 

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

 

Belleville Flea Market

 

Get some holiday shopping done early by attending this unique event featuring a variety of products.  Vendors will be situated both outside and inside the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, and the event boasts over 600 tables and 300-400 vendors selling antiques, collectibles, and merchandise, both old and new!  Shoppers can head to this event and get some of their holiday shopping done early, and they will find so much variety of products and price ranges.  Parking costs $3.00, but admission to the Flea Market is free!

 

Belleville Flea Market

November 19 & 20

9:00 am – 4:00 pm

200 South Belt East

Belleville, IL 62220

 

For more information, click here.

 

 

Santa’s Express Train Ride

 

The St. Louis Union Station always puts on a great holiday event, and this year it hosts with a ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas theme.  Although the train ride is the main focus of this event, there are plenty of other attractions to make your visit even better, including spectacular holiday décor, North Pole Village and activities, ice skating, and the new Fire & Light show!  The centerpiece of the event, the Santa Express Train Ride, takes ticket holders on a train ride out of the St. Louis Union Station to view the wonderful holiday features along the way. 

 

Santa’s Express Train Ride at Union Station

Wednesdays-Sundays, November 18-December 30

Trains leave the station at:

4:45, 6:15, 7:30, 8:30

1820 Market Street

St. Louis, MO 63103

 

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

There are so many great things to do this weekend to get ready for the holiday season to come!  If you're one of those who likes to wait until after Thanksgiving to begin your holiday celebrations, all of these events, except the Flea Market, are open through the end of December or beginning of January, so you've got some time!  

 


Tips for Preventing Water Damage to Your Home's Foundation

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


Tips for Preventing Water Damage to Your Home’s Foundation

 

Winter is coming, bringing with it many dangers to your home and property.  The cold temperatures, fallen leaves, and dreaded winter precipitation can become a combination to wreak havoc on your property. 

 

It’s so important to make sure that your home is equipped with a proper drainage system.  Keeping up on your home’s drainage systems can help you avoid major damage to your home’s foundation.  Here are some tasks you can complete to help make sure that water is properly draining from your home and prevent any future damage.



 

Locate your water shut-off valve

 

The least you can do to avoid any potential water damage that may be happening to your home is to know where your water shut-off valve is, so that if something catastrophic happens, such as a pipe bursting, you can quickly prevent any further damage.  It’s important for all members of your household to know where the shut-off valve is and how to use it.  It’s always better to be prepared for the worst than to have to deal with the consequences of your unpreparedness.


Clear and clean your gutters

 

Clogged gutters can mean a lot of water is making its way to parts of your yard and home that should not be exposed to very much water at all.  It is so important that you don’t wait until spring to clean out your gutters, because winter brings snow, ice, and rain, which mean a lot of water around your home.  The best way to make sure that your gutters are functioning optimally is to first clear dirt and debris from the gutters, then rinse them with a hose, and finally spray the hose through all the downspouts to make sure that they’re clear.  You also should be checking for any damage to your gutters or leaks that are evident, so that you can get those issues fixed before the winter weather arrives.  Ensure that your splashpans divert water at least three feet away from your home and that the water is on a slope such that it will flow away from your house.

 

Check the soil around your home

 

Keep an eye out around your home for signs of soil erosion or areas that remain wet for extended periods of time.  Finding an area like that near your house can mean that your gutters aren’t functioning properly or that your yard is not draining properly.  If this water is near your foundation, your home is becoming increasingly more vulnerable to water damage. 

 

Vegetation

 

Vegetation around your home is a bit like a double-edged sword.  For one thing, the vegetation can do a lot of good for preventing excess water around your home, sucking up any excess moisture that may otherwise find its way into your foundation.  On the flip side of that, however, having any plant too close to your home can lead to extra pressure on your foundation from the roots of that plant wanting to spread.  A good rule of thumb is to plant the vegetation the same distance away from your home as the plant will grow tall.  For instance, if you are planting a shrub that can grow up to three feet tall, plant the shrub no closer than three feet from your home. 

 

Check your roof for signs of damage

 

It is important that, before the snow starts Building up on top of your home, you check your roof for signs of damage.  If you see any damaged or missing shingles, it is imperative that you get them fixed as soon as possible, especially when they are located in the valleys that connect the different slopes of the roof.  Water can seep into your home through those damaged shingles, and, although the damage it will cause will not be to your foundation, it will still do damage.  Also, be sure to check the metal flashing around chimneys, vent pipes, and roof joints for any signs of damage or evidence that the flashing is beginning to pull away from the house. 

 

Check wood siding for signs of damage and rot

 

The minimum amount of space you should have between wood siding and the ground is 8 inches.  This is because any less space can risk moisture from the ground reaching the wood, leading to mold, mildew, and rot.  If damage occurs to the wood siding, you now have openings where water can penetrate, which can drip down toward your foundation and grow mold inside your home.  It’s also important to clear the leaves and sticks that fell before the winter arrives, because that debris will hold moisture and inch closer and closer to the siding on your home, risking water penetration.  Be sure to also check to make sure that your home’s siding and vulnerable areas are properly painted or sealed, since that can be your best defense for prevention.

 

 

Questions to Ask Before Buying a House

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Questions to Ask Before Buying a House

 

The process of buying a home is both exciting and stressful.  There are so many aspects that play into your Home Search and eventual purchase.  Hopefully, if you are going through this process, you have hired a fantastic real estate agent who is helping ease some of that stress.  In this process, where tensions can tend to run high, it’s important to not get carried away with any of the stress or the excitement.  Sometimes buyers dismiss wonderful homes due to very minor issues, simply because they don’t understand the details of the problem.  Opposite that, sometimes buyers get so excited about a particular house that they fail to look at it objectively and don’t ask the questions they need to be asking.  Here is a list for those of you who are emotionally driven, because it can be difficult to think of the right questions to ask when you are filled with excitement about a home.

 


 

Can I see the seller’s disclosures?

 

It is very important that you get all the information you can about the home you may potentially Buy.  A seller’s disclosure will have information regarding the safety and details about the home.  No matter how excited you may be about the possibility of buying this home, it’s important that you look at the seller’s disclosure objectively.  It may reveal an issue that should be a deal-breaker for your current circumstances, but you may have a vision clouded by excitement.

 

What are the zoning guidelines?

 

This is important for a number of reasons.  If you plan on adding on to the house, you will need to know what the zoning restrictions are and what that entails for you and your home.  One thing to consider when buying a home and considering the zoning guidelines is the future.  It’s easy to look at your life and what you need at the moment to find a home that will work for you, but you also need to consider where you’ll be in five years, as well as how long you may end up staying in that particular home, on the generous end.

 

For another thing, if you are planning on ever raising animals at the house you are looking to Buy (like chickens, cows, goats, etc), you need to be sure that the home you are buying has the right zoning for that to happen.

 

What home inspections are available?

 

It’s important for you to try and understand all that you can about this home.  Ask for the results of the home inspection, because there may be details of issues that still remain in the home.  Furthermore, if there are any that have been remedied, you may get an idea of any potential problems to arise again. 

 

Why is this home for sale?

 

More than likely, you will get a generic answer, because a Buyer isn’t going to be inclined to tell you if the reason they are selling their home is something that could steer you away from purchasing their home, however, it’s important for you to ask this question nonetheless.  For instance, if the sellers answer that the house no longer accommodates their growing family, you may want to consider how long you may live in this house and if you are likely to run into a similar issue.

 

How old are the appliances?

 

You, as the Buyer, should inquire about any of the appliances being included in the sale of the home.  Find out when they were purchased and whether the seller bought or received a warranty on the appliances.   This may give you some insight into how soon you may have to be spending a decent chunk of change on new appliances, and for that reason, it is very important to ask.  Furthermore, if the seller bought the hot water heater ten years ago, when you move in, you may want to drain the appliance to remove any sediment build-up and to extend the life of the water heater.

 

What updates have been made to the home?

 

Be sure to ask about whether or not the sellers made any updates or improvements to the home and how long ago the updates took place.  These facts can be very helpful to know!  For instance, if the home recently received a new roof, you will have a better idea of when you will need to get the roof done on the house.

 

What’s the average cost of utility payments?

 

Just because you can afford the monthly home loan payments does not necessarily mean that you can afford to pay the bills once you move in.  The monthly living expenses you will encounter once you move should definitely be factors you are considering in your Home Search.  If the house is much larger than your current or last home, you may be shocked at the extra energy required for every day usage.  Also, an older home often is less insulated, meaning that energy bills will go up more than expected during the summer and winter months.  Be sure that the utility bills are within your budget range before you fall in love with a home.

 

What are the annual taxes?

 

The cost of the yearly taxes for a home are even more important to know than the average utility bill cost.  Taxes can end up being a large amount, and it is important to know what they will likely be before you move forward in purchasing the home.  To consider whether or not you can afford the taxes for a home, do the math from last year’s tax bill, which your real estate agent will be happy to provide you with, and break it down into monthly payments.  Chances are, if you are looking into buying a home, you have figured out your monthly expenses and income.  If not, it’s a good time to do so.  Add in the monthly cost of the taxes, and be honest in your consideration of whether that will leave you enough money to be comfortable with.

 

Ultimately, there are so many questions that could possibly be asked before you Buy a home, and they would differ enormously depending on what is important to each individual situation.  However, hopefully this list served as a guide to start thinking about what questions will be important to you.  Don’t ever hesitate to ask your real estate agent about what questions you should be asking, either.  They have a lot of experience in the field, and they want you to feel confident moving forward.

8 Ways to Give Gratitude this Thanksgiving

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Ways to Give Gratitude this Thanksgiving

 

Thanksgiving is our next up-and-coming holiday, so it’s time we started thinking about ways that we can show our gratitude to others this year.  After all, it’s called Thanksgiving for a reason.

 


Thank You Cards

Sending thank you cards is arguably a dying art.  It’s one, however, that we should desperately be trying to save.  A handwritten thank you note can be such a wonderful thing to receive, especially when it comes from an unexpected source.  Consider these thank you card ideas for this Thanksgiving season:

Make a list of people who deserve thanks.  Look for these folks in the monotony of everyday life.  The mail carrier who delivers your mail no matter the weather, your trash service men, a family member or friend who often shows you kindness.  Whoever they are, write a thank you note to them.  It will mean more than you can even realize.  If you have children, get them involved in this activity as well.  Prompt them with some suggestions of who you chose to send thank you notes to; this should get them thinking about those in their lives who may usually be overlooked.

In addition to personal thank you notes, consider coming up with a generic thank you note to keep in your wallet or purse to hand out to anyone who shows you or someone else kindness, consideration, or helpfulness.  When the retail worker is especially friendly to you, hand them a note before you leave the store.  If you see someone doing something kind for someone else, hand them one.  Not only are you showing your own gratitude for those who show kindness, but you are encouraging further acts of kindness.  You can even include this on your card: “Please pass this on to someone you see showing kindness during this season!”

 

Those Who Serve

The first responders in your community work crazy hours, sacrifice time with their families, and put others before themselves.  If anyone deserves a “Thank you,” it’s them.  To thank your first responders, consider dropping off a baked good to their office while on your way to your own Thanksgiving celebrations.  Baked goods are a wonderful treat to give; they cost very little to make and are handmade, making them delightfully personal gifts.  First responders, like many others, are working on a holiday reserved for family and friends, and they have committed to this career because of their devotion to their community.  Send a small “Thank You” their way!

So many men and women serving in our Armed Forces spend the holidays away from home, missing precious time with friends and family, and often enduring loneliness and many other issues relating to their service.  There are also so many veterans who have returned home to fall on hard times and are currently fighting their own battles, often related to their service.  What better way to give back this season than sending something their way to let them know that they are appreciated and cared about.  Click here to find a link to Operation Gratitude, an organization that works for both active and inactive military members.  The name couldn't be more fitting, am I right?

 

Teachers: Get the Kids Involved!

It’s no secret that teachers are not compensated properly for the work they do for the future of our country: the education of our children.  It’s traditional to give your child’s teacher a gift around Christmas time, but consider doing an additional gift on the holiday reserved for gratitude.  For this one, however, mix it up!  It’s great for a parent to pick out something special for a teacher on Christmas, but for a teacher, have the child in your life come up with the idea of how to show their teacher that he or she is appreciated.  This gift does not have to be anything big or expensive.  Even giving your child 5 dollars at the dollar store and helping them choose the gift for their teacher would be suitable! For a little extra “thanks,” have your child write a thank you note on one side of a card’s interior, and write your own note on the opposite side.  It’s important for our teachers to know that we are grateful for their hard work!

 

Give your Time

Whatever your circumstances, there is something you can do to help spread gratitude this season.  Find a local organization that runs on volunteer work, and offer your time to them as a way to help.  Giving your time costs you absolutely nothing, but can do a world of good for an organization working to help others.  Your local food bank, homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or animal shelter are all great organizations that you could choose to volunteer at!

 

Make a Little Extra

During this season, consider occasionally making a little extra when you’re fixing tea, coffee, cookies, or dinner.  Invite over an elderly neighbor or lonely friend, or bring it to them.  Enjoy a little bit of it with them, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes, it can make a world of difference to someone who is facing loneliness at a time reserved for loving those closest to us.  Once again, it costs you very little, but it could make a world of difference for someone who may be struggling more than you know.

 

Donation in Lieu of Host Gift

Before you head to your own Thanksgiving celebration this year, you may be thinking about what gift to give to your host or hostess as a thank you for putting on the dinner.  Consider giving a donation to a charity you know that they support in their name & giving them a receipt or note with it, explaining the gift.  If your host is an animal lover, consider donating to your local no-kill shelter; if they are passionate about the outdoors, consider giving to the National Park Service.  Chances are, they will cherish this gift much more than the bottle of wine you would’ve brought instead, no matter how much they love wine.  ;)

 

Make Care Packages for the Homeless

Although the homeless are in need all year ‘round, it is often even more difficult during the winter, for a number of reasons, from loneliness to the bitter cold.  Consider making up small boxes or bags with necessities inside and carrying them in your car to hand out when passing a homeless person by a store or in the street.  Many necessities can be purchased at the dollar store for a very little total, but they could make a world of difference to someone encountering the struggles of homelessness and poverty.  Some things to include in your packages are:

-Hat -Gloves -Socks -Toothbrush -Toothpaste -Bottled Water -Soap/Shampoo Combo -Deodorant -Comb -Tissues -Toilet Paper

 

Give Kindness

The last thing you can do for others during this Thanksgiving season is the easiest, least expensive, and arguably, the most important.  Work hard to be kind and considerate of others during this time.  The holidays can be immensely stressful; the stores get busier, people are stressed out, and there is so much to be done within the next month or so.  However, putting the effort in to keep your frustrations at bay, being understanding of others (even if you may want to be upset), and conducting small acts of kindness all can make a huge difference to the way others feel this holiday season.  You never know what another person is dealing with in their own life, so try to combat rudeness with a politeness, fight impatience with patience of your own, and give a smile when someone else gives you a frown.  Hold the door open for others, compliment the woman whose scarf you adore, and ask the retail worker what their holiday plans are.  A little extra kindness can make a world of difference.  It will make you feel better, and, chances are, it will make another person reconsider their mood. 

 

All in all, this season is about so much more than shopping, turkey, and pies.  Help yourself and others get into the true spirit of the season by giving back to your community in whatever way you can, even if it’s just the flash of a smile to a stranger.  Spread gratitude this season!


Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage

 

Prepping Your Home for Cold Weather

 

The weather is beginning to get colder, and as it does, the threat of winter weather looms ever closer.  Everyone knows that before a winter storm hits, they've got to go to the store and pick up milk, bread, and eggs to survive,  but there are more things you can be doing right now, before that imminent occurance is upon us.  The Fall is a great time to get your home ready to brave the cold weather, whether you're worried about making your life easier come Springtime cleanup, you'd like to keep your house warmer this Winter, or you are looking to avoid a home disaster following a Winter storm.  So, we present you with this list of things you can do now, before that cold snap sets in, to help you with whatever your concerns are for this coming Winter.

 


Clean the Gutters

 

When Winter hits, the Midwest tends to be hit with a mix of wet and frozen precipitation.  It's important to remember that even the frozen precipitation turns to liquid at some point, and as it does, the liquid will drain to your gutters, down the spout, and be deposited a distance from your home and in a manner that will drain away from your home.  That, at least, is true if you have your gutter system set up properly.  Now is the time of year to unclog your gutters to prevent water overflow.  Also double check to effectiveness of your gutter drainage system to ensure that the water is being dispensed away from your home (and that it won’t make its way back toward your home down a decline).

 

For proper drainage around your home, it is important to fill in any holes that have developed around your foundation to prevent melting snow and ice finding its way toward your home.

 

Seal Your Window & Door Frames

 

Unsealed window and door frames can lead to a striking amount of heat loss during the colder months of the year.  To ensure that your home isn’t losing significant heat during this Winter, check your home for air leaks, and seal the problem areas with caulk.  Adding weather stripping is a great choice for cutting back on air leaks, as well, and it’s cost efficient, at less than $5 a roll.

 

Protect Your Roof

 

Snow and ice accumulation on trees can become incredibly heavy.  To ensure that your trees won’t crash down on your home from the weight, trim your trees before Winter hits.  When doing so, you should be trimming any limbs that hang above your home, as well as any that are visibly dead. 

 

To help prevent any potential damage to your home or roof, inspect your roof and replace or repair any damage to the roof or shingles.

 

Service Your Furnace

 

When the cold weather arrives, HVAC service providers are extremely busy, and there is often a bit of a wait to have any services performed, should you encounter a problem with your furnace.  To avoid the hassle and stress, and to keep your furnace running as efficiently as possible, it’s a great idea to have your furnace serviced now.  This increases your chances of making it through the winter months without any major furnace issues.

 

For maximum efficiency, it is also the time of year to change your furnace’s air filter.  This keeps your system running properly, especially as the air dries out, increasing the amount of dust in the air in your home.

 

Seal Your Driveway

 

This task is one that is often not suggested, but it is a great tip for cold weather preparations.  The melting and freezing of snow and ice often leads to the breaking down of asphalt and concrete, causing holes and cracks in roadways, sidewalks, and driveways.  Applying a layer of sealant to your driveway in the Fall can significantly decrease your chances of encountering damage, because the sealant creates a protective layer that prohibits the water to penetrate the concrete or asphalt.  This project is fairly quick and easy, and the supplies are easily obtainable at any home improvement store.

 

Service Summer and Winter Equipment

 

To maintain optimum performance of your lawn equipment that is utilized in the Summer and Spring months, it’s important that you drain the gas and oil from your lawn equipment.  On Fall and Winter equipment like your leaf blower and snowblower, perform your tune-ups now in the Fall, and be sure to turn on the equipment before you need it to make sure that it starts easily and is in optimum working condition. 

 

Roll Up & Store Hoses

 

Before freezing weather hits, remember to unhook any hoses, drain them, and turn off water to your outdoor spigots.  Also, winterize your sprinkler system, if your home is equipped with one.  Freezing water lines can create a nightmare of problems, but these simple steps can help you avoid any in your home.

 

Have Chimney Cleaned & Inspected

 

Having a woodburning fireplace or furnace is wonderful in the Winter months, providing your home with cheap heating.  They can also be incredibly dangerous if not maintained properly.  It is important to have your chimney serviced every year to avoid excessive build-up of soot, which can consequentially cause a fire in your home.  If you aren’t sure how to properly perform the cleaning and inspection, contact a professional to have them do it for you.  You will still save money on heating this Winter by burning wood for heat, and you will avoid any tragedies.

 

On a side note, if your home is heated, in part or in full, by a wood burning fireplace or furnace, be sure that the wood you are storing outdoors is at least fifteen feet from your home in order to prevent a termite infestation.

 

Drain Hot Water Heater

 

Sediment can build up and clog the pipes of your water heater, and draining your system to get rid of some of that build-up can increase your water heater’s energy efficiency by up to fifty percent!  It’s beneficial by increasing the lifespan of your equipment, and it saves you money on your energy bill… A true win-win!

 

Care for Your Lawn

 

As soon as the weather turns frigid, we all start longing for the warmth, sunshine, and life that Spring will bring.  To make your Spring cleaning a little easier this year, consider prepping your lawn for the warmer months now, before it turns cold.  You can aerate, fertilize, and seed your lawn now, and it can actually very beneficial to do so.  The precipitation that comes in Winter will help the nutrients penetrate your soil effectively, meaning that your lawn will be richer and fuller in the Spring.  Also consider mowing your leaves instead of raking and burning them, turning them to a mulch that will break down and become a natural fertilizer compost that costs you nothing! 

 

If your home is equipped with a wood burning fireplace or furnace, consider this tip as well: Saving the ashes from this Winter.  If you have a vegetable garden, till it this Fall, spread the ashes over it as Winter continues, enabling the precipitation to soak the nitrogen into your soil.  You will be amazed at the richness added to your soil!  If you don’t have a vegetable garden, consider spreading the ashes in your flowerbeds for a wonderful fertilizer that will help you have more blooms!

 

Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

 

Reversing your ceiling fans in the Fall can help with heating costs in the Winter.  Rather than blowing air downward, the fans will keep the air in your home moving, which is a big help to the comfort level in your home, considering that heat rises.

 

 

Questions Every Seller Should Ask Potential Real Estate Agents

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

Questions Every Seller Should Ask

Potential Real Estate Agents

 

So you've decided to list your home, and you're ready to begin the process.  You know that the first step is to hire a GREAT real estate agent, but you want to make sure that you make this listing count, because this is not only the biggest investment of your life, but you also understand the importance of choosing the right real estate agent to help you along with this process.  From experience to marketing strategies, there are so many things to consider when you are looking to hire someone to help you with this endeavor.  It is so important that you give yourself options during this time.  Be sure that you do some research into the real estate agents in your area, and also know that it's a great advantage to interview more than one agent.  By interviewing a few agents, you can get a good idea of what is working in your market, as well as what isn't working.  The trouble is, it can be difficult to know what to ask, because there are certain things that you wouldn't know about unless you were very educated on the housing market.  Here is a list of questions that you should be asking every agent you meet with, so that you may better understand who would work best for your needs.

 

 


 

  • How long have you worked in Real Estate?
    • This question is general but so important.  A fresh face has a lot of advantages in most cases, but in the real estate market, you're much better off to be working with someone who has been in the industry for a long time.  Those "seasoned" agents have seen the market fluctuate over the years, and they have learned to be successful during all kinds of housing market circumstances.  Furthermore, their experience with all aspects of the buying and selling processes can be such a huge advantage for you, the seller.  They will be able to recommend the best of the best of any service providers you may need, from inspectors to electricians to lendors to movers.  





  • Do you have any advanced real estate designations or education?
    • This particular question is essential in your interview process.  In the ever-changing real estate marketplace, you want to be sure that you choose someone to represent you who works dilligently to keep up with the trends and technologies.  As quickly as technology changes and develops, the best ways to market in real estate change along with it.  Talk with the agents with whom you interview to make sure that they are committed to keeping up with their trade to be more effective.  Ask them how often they attend conventions, and ask them how they plan on continuing to keep up with technology and the changing marketing landscape.  It's hard to know what any of the acronyms they will mention mean, or which ones to look out for, so to help you get an idea, you can find a list of common real estate designations and their definitions here.




  • How much real estate have you sold in your career?
    • This question is in the same realm as, "How long have you worked in real estate," except that the answer to this question gives more insight into effectiveness.  If your agent has been working for many years in real estate, but he or she hasn't sold nearly as much as another agent who has been in the business for a comparable amount of time, you may reconsider choosing the agent.  An agent can work very hard, but if they are not producing the results they should be or could be, they probably aren't the person you want to hire.




  • Where do you rank in market share statistics?
    • This question is important, because these answers will give you more insight into what agent is the best in your area.  By asking to see their market share rankings, you are making sure that you are presented with concrete evidence of their ability to deliver great results.  Talk to them about other realtors who compete with them, and ask what they think is responsible for their ranking as compared to the rankings of others.  Remember, it may seem like an agent has the upper hand in an interview process, because they come in with plenty of information and experience, but you are interviewing them.  If they're good at what they do, they'll be able to answer all your questions with ease, and this question is such an important one.




  • How long have you worked in the area?
    • Hiring an agent that has experience in the area where you are selling is so very important.  Real estate markets can vary substantially from town to town, county to county, state to state.  Not to mention, the demographics of certain areas react differently to different homes and marketing strategies.  You want to make sure that you are hiring an agent who knows your area well, as well as the people who live there or would be interested in buying a home in the area. 




  • How many referrals do you receive?
    • Any real estate agent who really does a good job will be more than happy to show you an extensive list of referrals from past clients.  Reading at least a dozen of these is important, because it will give you a great insight into what the agent focuses on, what their strengths are, and how well they communicate and work with their clients.




  • Do you work weekends?
    • So much of the activity that happens regarding a listed home happens during the weekend.  Those who can't make it to view homes during the week schedule their showings for the weekend.  Also, any Open Houses that take place at your home will be occuring during a weekend.  Ask any potential agents you interview how often they work weekends, because this can often give you insight into how committed they are to the success of their listings being sold.  If the agent you are interviewing works with a team, it's a good idea to ask about the members of their team and how often they work weekends, as well.



  • Can you give me an outline for how you will represent me?
    • To move forward with hiring an agent, you want to feel comfortable with them and confident in them.  A big part of how well they do their job is how well they explain the process to you, because the process of selling a home can be complex and extensive.  You are hiring them to take a lot of that stress and pressure off of you, so it's a very good idea to see how they explain the process to you, as well as whether or not they give you a physical outline of what to expect.  This step shows a level of professionalism that is essential to a successful and smooth real estate transaction.



  • Do you have a marketing program?
    • A marketing program that is intensive and comprehensive is essential in today's real estate market.  You should be listening for an answer that involves your listing being featured on many listing sites, especially the Multiple Listing Service. You also want to be sure that your listing will get plenty of attention on a variety of social media platforms, because the public is visiting these sites more and more to get details and the latest news on listings.  The importance of online listing management and social media promotion is growing, and it is showing no signs of slowing down.  You want to be sure that you are hiring an agent that takes that importance seriously and is committed to staying active, dilligent, and relevant in the online marketplace.  

Overall, the choice of a real estate agent is ultimately up to the confidence you have in them and how well you connected with them as a person.  However, there are many things you can do to make the interviewing experience better, starting with getting great responses out of them when you ask these questions.  A great agent will be able to offer you everything you have asked for, as well as more.  

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Contact Information

Photo of The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group Real Estate
The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group
Century 21 Advantage
103 S Main St
Columbia IL 62236
IL: 618.281.7621

138 Concord Plaza Dr
Saint Louis MO 63128
MO: 314.649.0221
Fax: 618.281.4311

Linda Frierdich is the area's premier real estate professional, offering services in St Louis, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Crestwood, Ballwin, Arnold, Fenton, Oakville, Columbia, Waterloo, Millstadt, Valmeyer, Dupo, Belleville, O'Fallon, Mascoutah, Fairview Heights, Smithton, Ruma, Hecker, New Athens, Edwardsville, Collinsville, Caseyville, Shiloh, Swansea, Monroe County, Madison County, St Clair County, and Randolph County.  Her team focuses on resale homes, new construction, first time home buyers, condos, farms, land sales, subdivisions, lot sales, single family, multi-family, commercial, foreclosures, bank owned property, military relocation, and building. This site offers options to search real estate in Columbia Illinois and other areas. We offer buyer and sellers services second to none!

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