Real Estate Information Archive


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8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


8 Tips for Restoring an Old Home



It’s hard to argue that old homes seem to be loaded with a unique character, and each one is different.  Older homes have a charm about them that is almost impossible to mimic with a newer home.  The draw to restore old homes comes from these principles, and they are well-founded.  Even those who prefer newer homes to live in can’t seem to resist the “Before and After” looks of an old home restoration.  That being said, the task of restoring an old home isn’t for everyone.  However, if it is something to which you would like to commit (after much careful and realistic consideration), these tips may prove themselves helpful.



Remember: Restore, not Replace


An older home is given its character by its unique features.  The high ceilings, the crown molding of the cabinetry, the old brass door handles, the windows that stretch almost to the floor.  Your goal is to update the necessities but maintain the integrity of the old home.  Rather than replace those old windows with newer, more energy-efficient ones, consider resealing the panes or installing efficient storm windows to the exterior of the window frame.  Rather than buying new, more tightly-fitting and tidy wood flooring, consider sanding and refinishing the original wood floors.  The goal of restoring an old home should be to honor the home’s structure and character, while modernizing it through decorating, appliances, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, original doors and windows mean a lot to an old home’s value. 


Don’t Give in to Fads


Open floor plans are wonderful.  It’s no wonder that they came into the scene with a wave of popularity and have maintained that status for a long time.  When buying an old home, it can be tempting to knock down walls to give that old home an open floor plan… However, despite their seemingly never-ending reign at the moment, their time, too, will pass.  Open floor plans didn’t exist in most older homes, and, therefore, they don’t really do a whole lot to maintain the integrity of the old home. A great alternative to completely changing the floor plan is widening doorways between rooms.  Here, you can utilize almost all of your home’s original framing while giving the flow of the home a lot more flexibility. 


Save the Flooring!


If at all possible, save the original hardwood flooring that you found under the carpet in the living room.  Yes, it’s old, discolored, and possibly damaged, but it can turn out beautifully.  Regardless of whether or not you plan on hiring a professional to restore the floors for you, you should still have one come for a consultation.  Old carpet backing often contained asbestos, and you want to be sure that you don’t have any on your floors before you begin sanding. 


Clean the Tile


Before you go all-out on tearing out that old tile, give it a really, really good scrubbing.  It can be easy to look at old tile and think:  A. WOW- Outdated, and B. GROSS- Very dirty.  However, with the right cleaning supplies,  you can get that old tile to shine again, and after looking at the refreshed tile for a week or so, you may be struck with an amazing idea for a beautiful restored room!


Keep the Cabinets


It can be tempting for those buying an older home to want to rip down the old cabinets in the kitchen and replace them with tidy, clean, and fresh newly-made substitutes.  However, the melamine and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) cabinets that are readily available are not made to last in the long-term.  Your cabinets, however rough they may look now, were made to last for many years. Strip them, sand them, and refinish them.  The work put in will pay off exponentially. 


Keep Counters Authentic


If you plan on updating the counters in your kitchen or bathroom, stick to a material that was available in the period your home was built.  A Formica kitchen top will not have been in a home that was built in 1902.  By using materials that were available in the time your home was built, even if the material wasn’t originally used in the home, you are keeping the time frame cohesive throughout the home. 


Refinish Sinks and Tubs


Just like with everything mentioned on this list, these things lend an awful lot to the character of your old home.  There are many ways that you can modernize a bathroom while maintaining an original restored sink and tub. A new coat on porcelain might cost a few hundred dollars, but it will cost less than gutting your entire bathroom and having a new bath/shower installed.


Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew


The thought of restoring an old home can be enticing to many individuals, but before you jump in to that task, be sure to do your research and due diligence.  A home with a good solid structure and that requires mostly cosmetic updates, though still very time-consuming and difficult, is worth restoring much more than a home with foundation or pest issues.  Before signing the paperwork, it’s a good idea to consult some professionals to discuss what exactly would need to happen for the changes you are wanting to make.  From there, you can better assess whether or not that particular home is right for you.

Overall, the main thing that a Buyer should be concerned with when considering whether or not to Buy an old home is honesty to one's self.  A buyer needs to be aware enough to realize that a project rarely gets completed without hiccups, and that there is a lot of work and time invested when re-doing an old home.  If it is something that you decide you are capable of, just remember to have fun while doing it!




9 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


9 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make


Buying a home is a complicated process, as it should be.  After all, the biggest purchase of your life should probably require necessary measures, time, and “getting all your ducks in a row.”  While it may be understandable that the process of buying a home is intensive, this certainly doesn’t help homebuyers navigate the housing or lending markets.  There are many mistakes that can potentially be made by home buyers, and some, in particular, tend to be made by first-time homebuyers.  Between the stress, misinformation or lack of information, and excitement of buying a first home, there are a lot of errors that can be made along the way.  Assembled here are a number of such examples, in hopes that they may get first-time homebuyers to think about these issues and how they may avoid them.



Not Attempting to Gain a Better Understanding of the Process


No one expects a first-time homebuyer to know the ins and outs of the housing and lending markets and processes.  The first thing a first-time homebuyer should realize is that it is okay that they not know everything; in fact, it’s okay to know nothing at all.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions.  Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of not asking enough questions during the process of buying  home, for a number of reasons.  Being sure about the processes involved in buying a home help to ensure that a Buyer is truly happy with their purchase in the long run.  Actually, one of the best ways for first-time homebuyers to begin the process of buying a home is assembling a list of questions they have for both the real estate agent and the lender. 

Thinking You Can Do It Alone


When in doubt of how to complete a certain task, the best thing to do is consult a professional.  The same is true when someone is looking to Buy a home.  Meet with a few real estate agents and see how they suit you.  If one doesn’t quite click with you, there is nothing wrong with moving on to a different agent.  You should feel comfortable and confident in your real estate agent, because they will be helping you through the process.  It will be a lot more enjoyable if you are paired up with someone with whom you feel comfortable.   Your real estate agent can recommend a few lenders for you to contact, so that you can begin determining which of those individuals you will choose to work with.   It is important that you feel confident in your lender and his or her professionalism, trustworthiness, and abilities.  After all, he or she will be helping you finance your biggest investment.


Not Making Your Goals Clear


When speaking with both your real estate agent and your lender, it is important that you make your goals clear.  While your real estate agent can help you decide which characteristics of a home are most important to you, you need to be honest and open during these conversations.  Your agent will know the right questions to ask you to help you decide what you are looking for, but only if you make it clear that you need help and don’t know where to start.  Your lender needs to know what your financial goals are to help you decide what kind of loan you should be getting, as well as what price range of home you should be looking for.  It’s not just about what you can afford with your income; it’s about what you can afford with your income and other financial goals, such as saving.


Failing to Take Saving into Account when Budgeting


What you can afford doesn’t simply boil down to what you are comfortable paying each month when considering other expenses.  You should also be considering planning for your future and saving money when determining what you can afford.  Too often, this aspect of a budget is overlooked by first-time homebuyers.

Not Knowing (or Ignoring) What You Can Afford

The excitement of owning a home often overtakes first-time buyers, leading them to neglect assessing what they can afford, as well as what their budget means to what kind of home they will find.  While it’d be nice if our first homes were all our final homes, and we could afford our dream house right off the bat, that’s just not realistic.  Too often first-time buyers get mixed up in their ideas of their “perfect home” and their “perfect for right now” home.

This concept is also important for first-time buyers to consider for a different reason.  Often, buyers who have never owned a home before realize that their budgets are limited and decide that they will purchase a home that needs a lot of work, a “fixer-upper” and make it their own on the cheap.  Assuming that a fixer-upper is cheaper than buying a move-in ready home is naïve and, often, inaccurate.  Even professionals who know what they’re doing can end up sinking a lot of money into a home that needs work.  If you are considering purchasing a fixer-upper as your first home, make a list of all the projects that will need to be done for you to update the home, do a little research, and start weighing the actual costs.  Don’t forget, also, that most of the time, any single project ends up costing more than expected, because projects usually hit snags along the way.

Failing to Acknowledge that Needs/Wants will Change over Time


While it is important that buyers consider that their first home will probably not be their forever home, it is also important to realistically analyze how long they think they will be in their house.  A third-floor condo may be great for right now, but if a Buyer is planning on getting a dog in the near future (while they are still planning on being at that residence), they should be considering the two flights of stairs for every trip outside with their dog. 

Becoming Distracted by Over-the-Top Features


It may be extremely cool that a house you looked at has a wine cellar or pool in the backyard.  However, if you don’t have the money to ever have the ability to stock that wine cellar, or if you don’t have the money or means to maintain that pool, neither of those features will retain their “cool” factor.  First-time homebuyers often make the mistake of becoming enamored with special features of a home, even if they are impractical or out of the range of what can be afforded.


Not Hiring an Inspector

Even if an inspection is not required by your mortgage lender, get one.  Even if the home is being sold as is, get one.  Even if the cost will come our of your pocket, get one.  Regardless of the circumstances, you should make an effort to know what exact home you are purchasing.


Changing Finances During the Home Search


Your pre-approval or pre-qualification is considered from the current financial situation you were in when you sought it out from your lender.  The numbers will change if your financial situation changes.  Change jobs, and your qualifications change.  Get a car loan, and your qualifications change.  Take out a line of credit to furnish your new house, and your qualifications change.  Make a late payment, and your qualifications change.  It is so very important, during your Home Search and especially during the period of time between signing a contract and closing on a house, that none of your financial situations change. 

Overall, there are so many things that can be done wrong when buying a house.  Without experience in the process, it’s very difficult to know what to do and what not to do.  That’s why it’s so important to learn all you can and be honest with the professionals you are dealing with. 


Did we forget something?  Let us know in the comments!

Home-Buying Dictionary: Words and Definitions to Know for Anyone Buying a Home

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


Home-Buying Dictionary


Words & Definitions to Know for Anyone Buying a Home


Buying a home is a complicated process, and first-time homebuyers, in particular, can find the process overwhelming.  Anyone who has bought a home can attest to the fact that there are many steps to buying a home, and that there is a lot of room for mistakes to be made during the process.  This prospect is daunting enough to a first-time homebuyer, and to make things more complicated, they often are faced with a feeling of ignorance due to not being familiar with the common phrases and definitions that are associated with real estate transactions.  This is a beginner’s guide to real estate terms that are important to know.



Acceptance happens when the party who received an offer accepts its terms and thereby creates a contract between the two parties.  If a Buyer puts forth an offer to purchase real estate and receives acceptance from the seller, the contract is begun.  Likewise, if a seller counteroffers the buyers’ original offer, and the buyer accepts the terms of the counteroffer, acceptance has been reached and the contract is binding.



An appraisal is an estimation of a home or property’s market value.  Appraisals are completed by licensed appraisers, and they look at comparable homes that recently sold near the home in question.  Appraisals are typically ordered by lenders during the home financing process to ensure that the investment the lender is considering is a worthy one.  If the appraisal results indicate that the home’s value is less than the loan amount, the lender may refuse to finance the loan.



The closing date is when the ownership of the home is transferred from the seller to the Buyer.  A closing takes place at a title company, where both buyer and seller will settle all credits and debits before signing the paperwork to transfer ownership of the home.  The certificate of title, abstract, and deed are prepared by an attorney, and the buyer signs the lender's mortgage paperwork.  The closing date is typically established during the negotiation stage of buying a home, but it is subject to certain criteria that could cause the date to change.  The closing essentially finalizes the original contract entered into by the buyer and seller.


Closing Costs

Closing costs are expenses other than the cost of the property in the transaction, and they are paid during the closing.  Closing costs can be incurred by either the Buyer or seller.  Closing costs typically include such expenses as the escrow fees, the real estate agent commission, the attorney fee, the appraisal, the inspection, the attorney’s fee, and more.  Some closing costs are tax-deductible, so be sure to save your closing statement and have it handy, come tax-time.



The commission is the money typically paid by the seller to a real estate agent as compensation for finding a Buyer and completing the sale.  The commission can be a flat fee or a percentage of the sale price, depending on the agency agreement.



Contingency is a word that means that a certain condition must be met before a contract is legally binding.  When a contract is contingent on something, a provision in the contract clearly states that some or all of the terms of the contract will be altered or voided by the occurrence of a specific event, usually by specific dates leading up to the closing.  For instance, a contingency clause in a contract can state that if the Buyer doesn’t approve the inspection report for the property, the buyer can back out of the contract.  The two most common contingencies in the home buying process are that the home must pass the inspection and the borrower must be approved for the loan.



A counteroffer occurs when a seller has made an offer on a property that rendered a response of a different offer from the seller.  When a counteroffer is made on real property, it essentially nullifies the original offer, giving the Buyer a chance to refuse and not be accountable for their initial offer in any way.  A counteroffer is intended to begin negotiations for a transaction to occur, depending on the amount and terms agreed upon by both the buyer and the seller.



A disclosure is a legal document that a seller is required to sign when listing their home for the purpose of disclosing any major physical defects in the house that they are aware of, as well as the presence of lead-based paint, radon, or other potentially hazardous materials, conditions, or contaminants.  A Buyer, before asking their agent to prepare an offer for a home, should ask to see the disclosures to make sure that there are no major hazards within the home that would prompt them to not move forward with the purchase.  When putting in an offer, a buyer will be required to sign the disclosures to acknowledge that they have read and understood them. 



The downpayment is the amount of money to be paid by the Buyer to the seller upon signing the closing paperwork.  The buyers’ loan amount is the downpayment subtracted from the purchase price from the home.


Earnest Money

Earnest money is a deposit made to the seller from the Buyer.  An earnest money deposit is intended to show the sellers the buyers’ good faith in their offer and intent to proceed with the transaction.  If the sale goes through, the earnest money deposit counts toward the downpayment of the home.  Unless the offer to purchase expressly states that the earnest money will be refundable if the sale does not go through, the buyer typically forfeits the earnest money in the event that the contract is not executed.  It is important to note that an earnest money deposit is not necessary to offer; it is simply to imply good faith to the seller.  Furthermore, it is not necessary that earnest money be money at all; it can be in any form that is deemed acceptable by both buyer and seller.



Escrow typically refers to the escrow account, in which funds are held until the occurrence of a sale, afterwhich the funds are released to a designated individual.  Typically the escrow account holds money from the Buyer for the lender; the escrow account will store the mortgage payments, which can consist of the principal, interest, and insurance. 


Home Inspection

A home inspection is usually ordered by the Buyer in a real estate transaction for the purpose of obtaining a report on the home’s condition.  A home inspection is carried out by a licensed inspector, who, after completion of inspection, provides both buyer and seller with a report detailing any concerns, repairs, maintenance, or potential issues that exist within the home. 


Home Warranty

Sometimes offered by a seller to give their home a competitive edge in the marketplace, a home warranty covered the costs of repairs to specified parts of the home over a specified period of time.  The home warranty, if offered, is provided by the seller as a condition of the sale.  However, a Buyer can request a home warranty and write it into their offer on the home.


Homeowners' Association

A homeowners’ association is an organization made up of residents in a neighborhood who are concerned with managing and maintaining common areas of a subdivision or condominium complex.  Many homeowners’ associations require a monthly or annual fee from residents of the neighborhood that contributes to the maintenance of those common areas.  The association is also responsible for enforcing any covenants and restrictions that apply to homes in the neighborhood.


Homeowners’ Insurance

Homeowners’ insurance is a form of insurance specifically to protect a home and its possessions from damage.  A lender will require some documentation of homeowners’ insurance while processing your loan, because the lender also wishes to protect his investment in your home.



A mortgage is a lien on real property given by the Buyer to a lender as security for money borrowed.  The loan term, interest rate, and type of loan within the mortgage is typically decided upon by an in-depth assessment of a client's finances and current situation with the help of a lender.  


Multiple Listing Service

The Multiple Listing Service is a computer-based service commonly referred to as the MLS.  It provides real estate agents a number of services and benefits.  Agents use the MLS to disburse their listings to other agents, so that any agents working with buyers can easily see if the property is something that their client would be interested in.  An agent can also look to the MLS to get comparable properties to help the seller decide on a fair and reasonable asking price for their home.  The MLS isn’t just a tool for agents, however.  The MLS also serves as an exporter of listings and their information to other websites that the public has access to, such as REALTOR.COM or Zillow.



When you find the home that you would like to purchase, your real estate agent will prepare an offer to be submitted to the seller.  This offer contains the date of your offer, a description of the property, the amount of your earnest money deposit, the amount of money you are wanting to pay for the property, financing details, your name and address as well as the seller’s name and address, the closing date, and any other special requirements or contingencies you’d want to ask for.



Pre-Approval takes place after pre-qualification, and it tends to be a much more complicated and involved process than pre-qualification.  For pre-approval, potential borrowers will complete a mortgage application and supply the lender with all the documentation necessary for them to complete an extensive examination of your credit and finances.  After this analyzation, the lender can tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved, meaning that you will have a more concrete idea of what homes you can look for.  With pre-approval, potential borrowers then receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, even if the potential Buyer hasn’t yet found a property they’re interested in.  Pre-approval usually happens after finding a home on which to make an offer, but it can be done during the Home Search.  Doing this step earlier can actually give potential buyers an advantage with a potential seller, because it’s one less step that must be completed for the contract to continue.  Once a buyer has found the home they are wanting to purchase, they only need to fill in the property information and they are ready to proceed with funding.



Pre-qualification is the initial step in the mortgage process, and it should be done prior to beginning the Home Search.  The process of getting pre-qualified allows you to discuss any goals or needs you may have with your lender, and your lender can explain your various options and give his or her recommendations.  The pre-qualification process begins by supplying your lender with your overall financial situation, including debt, income, and assets.  The lender then analyzes your situation and can give you an idea of the mortgage amount you will likely qualify for.  Often, the pre-qualification process can be done simply, quickly, and over the phone or online.  The reason that this step should be done before the home search begins is because it allows buyers to look only at homes in their price range.  Often, without prequalification, a Buyer will fall in love with a home outside of their price range, and will subsequently be let down by every home that comes on the market, no matter how perfect or lovely the home may be. 


Restrictive Covenants

Private restrictions limiting the use of real property. Restrictive covenants are created by deed and may "run with the land," binding all subsequent purchasers of the land, or may be "personal" and binding only between the original seller and Buyer. The determination whether a covenant runs with the land or is personal is governed by the language of the covenant, the intent of the parties, and the law in the State where the land is situated. Restrictive covenants that run with the land are encumbrances and may affect the value and marketability of title. Restrictive covenants may limit the density of buildings per acre, regulate size, style or price range of buildings to be erected, or prevent particular businesses from operating or minority groups from owning or occupying homes in a given area. (This latter discriminatory covenant is unconstitutional and has been declared unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court.)



A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor showing the results of measuring the land with its elevations, improvements, boundaries, and its relationship to surrounding tracts of land. A survey is often required by the lender to assure him that a Building is actually sited on the land according to its legal description.



The process by which a lender decides whether to make a loan to a potential home Buyer based on an in-depth analysis of credit, employment, assets, and other factors and the weighing of this risk to an appropriate rate, term, and loan amount.


Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances are the regulations set forth by local government that dictate what kind of property use can be utilized within a certain property.  For instance, some zoning restrictions will prevent property being utilized as farm land.  Zoning ordinances also are regulatory forces regarding Building permits and what kind of improvements can be made to property.


While this isn't a complete list of every term that a Buyer will be exposed to during the Home Search and purchase process, it provides a basic knowledge of terms, at the least.  It is important for homebuyers to ask questions during the process, if ever they feel confused about what is happening or like things are too moving too fast.  Choose an agent that you are comfortable with and who suits your personality.  During the lending process, too, it is important that you choose a lender with whom you feel comfortable with and who gave you the best options for your situation.  Never be afraid to ask questions, because professionals in the industry know that there is a lot to know.  They have no problem helping you along the way.

What to Do After You Buy a House

by The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage


You Bought a House!  …Now What?


There are some things that you can do when you move into a new house to improve the life of your appliances and fixtures and improve security, among other things.  Some of these things are common sense ideas, and some of them probably wouldn’t be brought to mind unless specifically identified.  For those who haven’t moved in many years, as well as those who are first-time homebuyers, remembering to take all these important measures when you move into a new place can be overwhelming, so we compiled this list of things that new homeowners should be doing when they move into a new house.



Change the Locks



The first and most important thing you should do when you move into a new place is change the locks on all the exterior doors.  You may know and trust the previous owners of the home, but you can never know how many other people may have a spare key.  It’s always best to have a locksmith scheduled for day one in the new house.


Transfer Utilities



After your closing, you will want to transfer all the utilities into your name.  If you are wanting to have cable or internet in your home, you will want to schedule the installation as soon as possible, so that you will have those services when you move in. 


Home Insurance



You will want to be sure to have your home insured as soon as possible, because no one plans that their home should catch fire or be hit by a bad storm.  Talk to your insurance agent about what coverage plans work best for you and your needs, and it’d be a good idea to talk to a few other agents to see what they would recommend and what their rates would be, comparatively.


File Important Documents



When you get your closing statement, make two copies of it, and file the original in a fireproof safe or at your safety deposit box.  The copies can be kept in a home binder to help you keep track of all the documents with your new home.  In this binder, you can keep copies of any important paperwork, as well as things like paint swatches and receipts. 


Contact Your Accountant



There are many costs that come along with buying a home, and some of those are deductible on your next year’s taxes.  Take one of the copies of your closing statement to your accountant, and he or she should be able to tell you what expenses you can use to your advantage when filing taxes next year. 


Photograph It



Before you begin moving things into your new home, photograph each room, fixture, and appliance.  You probably also want to photograph your possessions; at the very least, you should photograph your most expensive possessions.  No one likes to think about the worst-case scenario, especially on an exciting day like the first day in your new home, but the fact of the matter is that accidents do happen, and you should be aware of what was in your home, so keep those photos in a safety deposit box or store the files in the cloud.  To be sure that you are photographing the right things, call your insurance agent to ask his or her advice on what to focus on.


Get Familiar with Your New Home



Take a good walk around your home and familiarize yourself to all the important places and things.  For instance, it’s important that you locate your home’s main water shut-off valve so that you will be able to minimize damage in the event that a pipe bursts.  Label all the breakers on your breaker box.  Check that there are no leaks in your plumbing and under your sinks.  Check your attic to see if you need to add more insulation to save on heating and cooling costs.  Make sure that all home maintenance projects that need addressing sooner, rather than later, are close to being addressed.  As you are doing this, make a list of everything in your new home that needs updated or repaired, and then rearrange the items on that list in order of importance.  To go one step further, add dates for when you would like those tasks completed to the list to keep yourself on track and make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.


Pest Control

Before you move into your new home, you should consult a pest control specialist to have him or her come to your house to inspect for any possible infestations or pest issues.  They can also do a preemptive spray for common bugs.  Especially if the previous owners of the home you are moving into had pets, you should ask a pest control specialist about having your home sprayed for fleas.


Deep Clean



You want to walk into your new home and feel excited; you certainly don’t want to walk inside and wonder how many germs are hanging around from the previous owner.  This is why it is important to deep clean your home before you move in.  If you wish to do the deep cleaning yourself, that’s fine, but if you wish to focus on other things during the move, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a professional to come clean for you.  Here is a list of what you should be focusing on while cleaning:

-  Carpets

 Steam clean any and all carpeting in your new home… After running over the floors with a vacuum a few times, of course.

-  Floors

Even if you don’t have carpets, be sure to do a deep clean on all your flooring surfaces, even behind the refrigerator.  A newly scrubbed floor will make your new home truly feel like yours.

-  Kitchen

Everyone knows how quickly a kitchen can get dirty… and not just cluttered or messy, but downright gross.  That’s a great reason why you should do an extreme deep clean of your kitchen when you move in.  You don’t want to be thinking of someone else’s germs as you’re cooking your first meal in your new home.

-  Bathrooms

Similarly to kitchens, bathrooms tend to be havens for germs and all things unsanitary.  Give your bathroom a complete scrub-down, including wiping the walls down with a damp cloth.  You will feel so much better knowing that the bathroom of your new home is fresh.


Air Conditioning and Furnace



When you move into your new place, one of the first things you should do is change your air filters.  This can save a lot of money on heating and cooling, as well as giving you a definite time of when it was most recently replaced so you can get set up on a regular maintenance schedule.

To ensure that your furnace and air conditioner have a long life, it is important to have them routinely serviced.  As a new homeowner, you never know for sure how often and how recently the heating or air conditioning systems have been serviced.  It’s also a worthwhile endeavor, because it can mean saving on your energy bills, as well!


Change Address



Before you move in, you will want to submit a forward request to your post office, so that the mail addressed to you at your old address will be re-routed to your new address.  It’s also important that you let other service providers, friends, and family know of your new address, as forward requests are only good for so long.  Once they expire, mail addressed to you at your old address will be sent back to the sender.  Most importantly, you should let your bank, credit card company, employer, service providers, and friends and family know of your change of address.


Smoke Detectors & CO Monitors



When you first move in, you will want to change the batteries in all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.  Even if the batteries inside them are still good, it’s recommended that you use those batteries elsewhere and put new ones in your detectors.  This way, you will easily be able to keep track of the schedule to change their batteries, since they will all have been changed on the same day.  


Get Moving!



No one, I repeat, no one, enjoys moving.  It may be exciting to get a new home, but the task of packing and unpacking all of one’s possessions is not exactly a walk in the park.  We have put forth some resources to help those looking to move in the near future.  To see our tips on moving, click here.


Enjoy Your New Home



The most important thing you can do when you move into your new home is enjoy the excitement that comes along with it.  Don’t get overwhelmed with the home buying process or the moving process.  These lists serve as a tool to help home buyers be more proactive and feel that they are more organized and in control of the mania that can come along with a home purchase.  At one point during closing day and the days that follow, allow yourself to just enjoy the excitement!





While this list is helpful, it is not meant to be comprehensive, as with all of our posts.   Hopefully it helped you think of a few things you should do when closing day comes around.

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.

Moving Day Check List

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group


Moving Day Check List

 A list of important items that you definitely want to have accessible for that first night in the new house

Pack a "Moving Box" full of these essential items for Moving Day!


Over-Night Bag

Pack yourself a bag filled with all the items you would bring with you if you were staying overnight somewhere.  Fill it with any items you would need in an overnight situation, such as: toothbrush/toothpaste, hair brush, clothes to sleep in, clothes to wear the following day, clean socks and shoes, and any medications you may need.

Toiletry Bag

Fill a bag with those items that are used on a daily basis or an almost daily basis, such as contact lens solution, make up, shower supplies, hair accessories, etc.


Whether you're planning on packing some bread and deli meats for dinner or you have plans to order take-out, plastic-ware is a must.  You'll want to be able to comfortably eat whatever food you have, and chances are, you'll have been so busy moving that you won't have the kitchen unpacked yet.  Take a bit of the stress off your shoulders and pack some plates, bowls, and utensils. Don't forget the paper towels, either!

Pet Food & Bowls

If you are moving with a pet, make sure that you plan for his or her dinner as well as your own.  Pack a few plastic baggies with one meal's portion of food, and have those dog bowls easily accessible.  


Moving can be quite the dirty job.  Prepare for how badly you are going to want to wash your hands before you eat and shower before you go to sleep by packing bath towels, wash rags, and hand towels in your first night box.

Shower Curtain Liner

This is one that often gets forgotten.  If you are moving into a home that does not have a shower door and instead utilizes a shower curtain, make sure you pack a waterproof shower curtain so that you can actually take the shower you will definitely be desiring after moving day is done... Without getting water all over your new bathroom floor.


The previous homeowner typically leaves lightbulbs that are in the house, but just in case the house is dimly lit, or you'd like to use one of the lamps you brought as the night is winding down, bring along a few lightbulbs so that you can do so.

Coffee, Coffee Maker, & Coffee Filters

If you are a coffee drinker, you will definitely be struggling when the first morning after the move comes around, and if your coffee maker and supplies are packed away, it's certainly not going to help the situation.  Don't forget the coffee mugs, either!

Dish Soap

It won't be long before you will be wanting to do some dishes in your new home.  Whether you just want to get the coffee dishes out of the way after that first morning, or you are ready to start unpacking the kitchen and want to wash moving dust off of your dishes before you put them away, you'll be needing the dishsoap.

Bedding & Pillows

Make sure you have your bedding and pillows easily accessible, because, when you're in a new place, nothing feels better than getting to lay down in your own bed.  Not to mention, you'll be exhausted from the move...

Door Mat

This item, though it doesn't seem very high-priority, should be packed so accessibly that it's one of the first things you pull out of the truck.  Minimize the amount of grass, dust, or raindrops get into your home through the many trips back and forth by laying down a door mat first thing.

Rags & Cleaning Supplies

Even if you came in to the house for a cleaning day prior to move-in day, chances are, you are going to find places in the house that could use a cleaning.  Whether you skipped over them while cleaning ahead of time or you made a mess while moving, have your favorite, most-used cleaning products at the ready so that you can pull them out when the situation (inevitably) arises.

Pack a Cooler

Have a "moving cooler" ready to go on moving day to enable easy access to waterbottles, snacks, and everyone's favorite drinks.  Hydration is key!

Pack a Snack Bag

Be ready for the hunger that will certainly set in: ahead of time, pack some of everyone's favorite snacks in a bag and have them accessible.

Toilet Paper

As anyone can understand, this is something you definitely do NOT want to forget to pack in your moving box.  Have a few rolls at the ready, just to be on the safe side!

Hand Soap

Make sure you will be able to wash off that dirt and grime left by handling all those moving boxes by packing hand soap in your moving box.


Because scissors come in handy in SO MANY situations, it's always a good idea to have a pair handy.

Utility Knife

Make cutting all that packing tape a little bit easier by packing a utility knife for unpacking.

Phone Charger

While it is unlikely that someone, in today's world, would pack away their phone chargers without realizing that they might need to access them before that box gets opened, it is nonetheless an important item to put on the list.

Garbage bags

Unpacking from a move creates an awful lot of waste.  Have garbage bags packed so that you can put all your recyclables (like newspapers and cardboard) in one, and your trash in another.

Tool Kit

One of the most important items on this list, because it is only when you need access to your tools that you realize just how important those items are.  Moving often requires breaking down of pieces of furniture, and at times, the bumpy moving ride can break down some of our furniture unintentionally.  Remember, you won't be able to start putting items away in those pieces of furniture until you have all the hardware installed and the furniture secured again.

Common House Problems & How to Identify Them

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

What to Look Out for:
Home Issues and How to Identify Them When Home Searching


To be the best consumer you can be, it's not a bad idea to get familiar with identifying the issues that can arise from the product in which you are wanting to purchase.  A home inspector will be able to identify any major and minor issues in a home, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with familiarizing yourself to the potential problems that can exist in a home and how to identify them when preparing for searching for a home.  If nothing else, that gained knowledge will surely make the Buyer feel more confident about the Home Search in general.  Not all issues in a home are easy to see.  Here are some tips regarding things to look out for when searching for a home.

These tips can even help those who currently own a home identify potential problems that could possibly be evident in their own home.


Potential Structural Problems

Stand Away from the House:

Sometimes, very big structural problems will only be apparent from a distance away from the house.  When leveling a picture on the wall by "eyeing it up," do you stand close to the wall, or do you back up a few feet?  Sometimes it's hard to see when things aren't aligned right when we are up close to them.

Also, take anything with a straight edge, and hold it up to the roofline, foundation line, whatever you can, from across the street, to see if there is any noticeable sagging.  This can be caused by a number of problems with the home.  

Stand at a Corner and Look Down the Length of the House

If you've ever required very straight lumber for a project, chances are you've stood in the aisle at a home improvement store, going through every 1x2 by laying one end on the ground and holding the other up to your one open eye.  From that angle, the bowing or impurities are a lot more evident.  This is true of a house, as well.  By looking down the length of the house, it becomes easier to spot any bowing in or out that may be happening with the foundation or frame of the home. 

Walk around the Home to Look for Any Cracks

Look for exterior wall cracks, and even take note of those that have signs of being repaired but have opened again.  Especially take note of cracks that come from the corners of windows and doors, as well as those that leave the opposite side of the crack looking lopsided.

Look for any gaps that make it look like aspects of the home are moving apart from one another.  For instance, where a deck meets the home, or lines that exist where walls meet.

Feel Around with Your Feet When Walking through the House

When walking around the interior of the home, feel around with your feet to see if you notice any sloping, bumps, or divets in the flooring.  

Poor Drainage or Grading

Water in the home is something that all homeowners are afraid of, and understandably so- water in the home can lead to cracking in the foundation.  Many water problems in a home are caused by poor drainage or grading.  Although poor drainage isn't always easily detected, there are a few signs you can look out for.  If a yard has puddles of standing water, it probably has poor drainage.  Overflowing gutters, water stains in the basement of the home, and evidence that mulch or landscaping ground cover gets moved around when it rains are all signs that the home could have a problem with proper drainage.  

It's important that the grading around a home slopes away from the home's foundation, so that water run-off makes its way away from the foundation.  However, there are some inexpensive projects that can ease the water around the foundation, such as installing gutter extensions that lead water further from the home to a place where the grading will lead the water away from the home.


Pest/Insect Problems

Look for Bugs

This may seem obvious, but it is nonetheless important.  Remember, bugs are really good at hiding!  Check places like the kitchen and bathroom for live bugs, and check places like the basement and window ledges for dead bugs.

Keep an eye out for droppings and nests

Researching the best ways to identify pest droppings may sound disgusting, but it's a great way to identify pest problems within the house.  Once you can identify the animal that the droppings came from, you can get a better idea of how to deal with the infestation.  Along with the droppings research, be sure to look into identifying roach eggs and evidence of bed bugs, so that you may be on the lookout for that as well.

Animals like rats and mice like to build nests where in the areas they have infested.  Be sure to check behind appliances and in cabinets for scraps of paper or similar materials that can be used to make a nest.

Use Your Nose!

It's a bit gross, but some pests emit distinct odors where they have infested.  For instance, rats smell like ammonia, and mice have a distinct urine smell.  If you smell this in a home you are interested in buying, it might be a good idea to do a little extra looking around for other signs of an infestation.

Signs of Termites

A termite problem is potentially fatal to a home's structural solidity, given that they dine on wood.  Keep an eye out for termite damage, which includes visible holes in wood, sagging floors, and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.  Termite wings that have been shed from the bugs, and fecal pellets that are tan and resemble sawdust may be signs of an infestation, as well.


Amateur Repairs

Patches of Paint in the Home

There is nothing to be alarmed about when a home on the market has fresh paint.  A fresh coat of paint can do a lot to spruce up a home when preparing it for the market; in fact, it even can cut back on odors in the home!  However, there is something to be alarmed about if you notice that there is only one spot on a wall with fresh paint.  The owner could have simply been patching a hole, but there is also a chance that the fresh paint is hiding a problem behind it.  While this is a very open-ended potential problem, it is still worth checking into.  

DIY Home Repairs

While it is true that many home owners are perfectly capable of properly completing some repairs on their homes, it is also true that many are not.  Sometimes there is an overlap of do-it-yourself home repairs and those two types of home owners.  The issues caused by those DIY repairs are often seen on "flipped" homes, because sometimes the "flippers" are not necessarily qualified to do all the repairs that the home needs.  The most common of these problems are related to plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work.  These issues would typically be found in a house inspection, but the evidence of these projects is nonetheless important to look out for.  It is always important, when looking at a home you are interested in, to check for signs of leaky faucets and pipes, as these things can cause big problems but are easily identified.

Stains on Walls and Ceilings

Sometimes a stain on a wall or ceiling can be from an issue with the home that has since been fixed.  However, it is important to find out what caused the stains, because they could be evidence of an ongoing issue.  These stains could be caused from a plumbing issue or a leak in the roof.  No matter what, if you see a stain in the home, it is very important to inquire about it and try to find what caused it.  

Evidence of Electrical Problems

Electrical issues should always raise a red flag for a potential home Buyer.   It is important that older homes, especially, have updated fuse boxes and electrical panels.  Sometimes it can be hard to identify potential issues for those buyers who aren't experienced with electricity, so here are some simple things you can do to check for signs of electrical problems.  You should always turn on and off every light switch, check for any signs of flickering when the switch is moved, and check outlets for darkening caused by a plug getting too hot from pulling too much current.  It is also important to remember that a home inspector will more easily be able to identify any issues with wiring or electricity, so there is no need to be too worried about your own investigative skills.


In Summation...

The problems indicated in this article are identified most accurately by a home inspector.  Never jump to conclusions about any evidence of issues in a home that you are interested in buying, because some problems are expected.  For instance, it is rare for older homes to not display some time of cracking due to years of settling.  A home inspector, however, will be able to identify what cracks are less important and which ones should be worrisome.  

The information here is intended to give you a general idea of what issues are most common and how to identify them, because sometimes it can help you choose which home is the right one for you.  It all depends on what you are looking for, but this should help at a surface level in your Home Search.  

This article should also portray why it is so important to hire a good buyers agent to help you in your Home Search.  Buyers Agents have seen many of these issues, and they will always be on the lookout for any potential problems in the home.  They want to help you find the best home for you, and they are knowledgable about the common issues that arise in homes.  



Homes For Sale in Prairie Du Rocher and Community Information

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

Homes For Sale in Prairie Du Rocher and Community Information

Just fifty miles south of St. Louis and close to the Mississippi River, is Prairie du Rocher. This community is one of Illinois oldest communities and was founded as a French settlement.

Prairie du Rocher is famous for its ‘Great River Road’ which is a lovely historic site. Visitors and residents visit this site on a regular basis. The architecture in Prairie du Rocher is breathtaking. There are quaint bed and breakfasts throughout this sleepy community. These are just a few of the good reasons why many buyers are looking for homes for sale in Prairie Du Rocher.

There is only one school in Prairie du Rocher, however it is a very close drive to other schools in several communities. If you are a nature lover, you will love this community. There are many parks, trails, walking paths, green spaces and scenic views.

Prairie du Rocher is home to an array of various bistros, restaurants, cafes and eateries. There are also bars and grills and pubs to enjoy for night life activities. These hotspots are great fun for all different ages of people. If you want the best fried chicken, try Lisa’s Bar and Restaurant.  If you want beautiful country dining as well as a nice little bed and breakfast, stroll on over to La Maison Du Rocher Country Inn. Hootens is a family restaurant which specializes in great fish n’ Chips, as well as seafood. Try the Old Brick house for an historical dining experience. This restaurant has quaint charm and wonderful food.

If you are first time home buyers or just looking at homes for sale in Prairie du Rocher, you will find many options in this community with homes ranging in style and architecture. For more infomration on finding your dream home in Prairie du Rocher or if you are considering selling your home call us at: 616-281-4311.

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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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