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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.  

Checklist: What to Look for in an Open House

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

 

Checklist: What to Look for in an Open House

 

Open Houses are a great way to casually view a home, and given that they are (typically) beautifully staged, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of the home rather than focus on the state and quality of the home.  Here's a checklist of common things that you should be looking at when you go to an Open House, or go to a showing for any home, really.

 

 

Electrical Outlets

 

  •  
    • Take your time walking through the rooms, and pay close attention to how many outlets each room has.  Use your current home as a point of reference as to whether or not you would need more outlets than this home has.  Adding outlets is possible, should you choose to Buy the home and find this a good option, but it is a big project that you should be okay with going into.  

 

Windows

  •  
    • As you walk through the rooms, pay attention to the placement and view from the windows.  The more natural light flowing into a home, the better.  Are the windows situated in such a way that they would allow for a lot of light to pour into the home?  When you look out the windows, are you met by a lovely view of your neighborhood, or are you met with a view into the neighbor's home through their window?  These are things that will make a big difference in your every day life in the home.

Floors

 

  •  
    • One thing you can do during the Open House is check the state of the floors.  Bring along a marble and set it on the floor of every room you walk into.  Does it move around and find low spots?  In older homes, a slightly off-level floor is somewhat expected, but a lumpy or unlevel floor can also be a warning sign of bigger issues in the house.  It's better to become aware of those issues before you move in.
    • Check the physical state of the flooring by peeking under rugs for signs of damage.  It's true, also, that the couch in the living room could be strategically placed over a big stain on the carpet or hardwood floors, but it's also possible that the area rug is hiding something, as well.  And, let's face it, it'd be a lot easier to lift the rug up to check for damage underneath than it would be to do the same under the couch.

 

Under Sinks

 

  •  
    • Check in the cabinets under the sinks both in the kitchen and in any bathrooms.  Check for any signs of water damage that may have been caused by a leaky pipe or problem with the plumbing.  If you see a sign of damage, you will open up an opportunity to have your real estate agent check with the sellers to see what issues there have been with the plumbing, when they were remedied, and if there are any other issues that may arise. 

 

Appliances

 

  •  
    • If any appliances are included in the sale of the house, check them while you are there.  Are they in good condition?  Try turning on the stove or oven to make sure that it seems to be in working condition.

 

Attic

 

  •  
    • If the home has an attic, even if it is hard to get to, it's not a bad idea to take a peek inside.  For one thing, you can check for signs of pest infestation that can sometimes occur in attics.  For another, you can check to see how well the insulation is.  A well insulated attic makes a huge difference to the cost of utilities in Summer and Winter.

Outside the Home

  •  
    • Check for any signs of cracking or separating on the bricks or foundation, because no one wants to have to deal with a home's cracking foundation.
    • Look at the gutters: Are they positioned in such a way that the drainage runs away from the home?  Exposure to water run-off from improper gutter installation can make for big issues with the home's foundation in the future.
Remember, the best way to prepare for the home-buying proccess is to hire a great real estate agent to help you along the way.  Buying a home is both exciting and terrifying, and having someone on your side who knows the ins and outs of the industry can lead to a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders.  You can call The Linda Frierdich Group - Century 21 Advantage any time to speak with someone about buying a home.

6 Steps to a Sale-Ready Home

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

 

6 EASY Steps to Make Your Home Ready for Sale


It's no secret that the majority of activity on a listed home happens right when the listing goes live.  There are many things that can take that flurry of activity and turn it into a quick home sale, from the right price to the photos to the staging of the home.  It's so important that the potential buyers looking at your home, whether through pictures or through a showing, see a home that they can picture as their own.  Here are six easy steps you can take to ensure that those initial interested parties aren't deterred by issues that could have been resolved before your home was listed.

 

 1.  De-Personalize

 

  • Remove Photos and Personal Items
    • Seeing personal items, such as photos, monogrammed decorations, etc. make a huge difference in how easily a potential Buyer pictures your home as their home.
  • Put Away Every-Day Essentials
    • Your toothbrush, makeup, and hair accessories cause distraction from the home and put a block between your personal home and the viewers' potential home.
  • Remove or Replace Items You Are Taking with You
    • For one thing, those items you are planning on taking with you probably have a distinct look that directly correlates with your style, but may not correlate with the style of the potential buyers.  It'd be terrible for a Buyer to fall in love with an intricate light fixture you have, only to find it gone when they go to close on the home.  The best route to take is to just avoid this issue all together and take any items you are planning on taking with you out of the home before you list it.
2.  Get Rid of Clutter

  • Donate What You Don't Need
    • Sift through those cluttered areas of your home and remove any items that you don't need.  Moving can be a great motivation to purge your home of things that you have been hanging on to for far too long.  After all, no one wants to move more items than they have to.
  • Clear Surfaces
    • Clear off nightstands, end tables, and kitchen counters to ensure that your home doesn't seem cluttered.  Some nice options for where to go with those items that usually sit out include organizational baskets with lids and mason jars for those kitchen utensils that you usually leave out.
  • Rent a Storage Unit
    • There are bound to be items in your home that you don't need access to until after the move, but that may lead to clutter or take up a lot of space in your home.  It might be a good idea to rent a storage unit and store those items while your home is on the market.  It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it could make the difference in how quickly your home sells.

4.  Organize

  • "Face" Items
    • Have you ever noticed how all the products in the supermarket have the label facing forward?  This doesn't happen by chance; the store pays its employees to ensure that all items look neat and easily recognizable on their shelves.  Applying the same kind of logic to your cabinets at home will have a similar effect.  Potential buyers will want to open up the cabinets in your home to get a good look at the state of teh interior as well as the space they offer.  The more organized your items are, the better and more spacious the cabinets will look.
  • Organize Everything
    • Rearrange your spice rack and alphabetize your movie and music collections.  If you ahve an area of your home that lacks good organization, consider investing in some organizational containers.  An organized home leaves a more positive effect on visitors than a cluttered home, and you want potential buyers to leave your home feeling that they had a positive experience.
  • Maximize Your Closet Space
    • The more organized your closets are, the bigger they look.  Clothes packed in too tight, shoes that are overflowing their rack, and items crammed onto shelves are all issues that lead to your closets looking smaller than they actually are.  Closet space is a great talking point of a home, and you want to make sure that yours looks the best it can.
4. Repair & Re-Think

  • Re-think paint choices
    • The loud color choices you made in your home may have worked for you, but they also may not work for the potential Buyer.  Re-paint those rooms with a nice neutral color.  A neutral color also seems a lot less personal than a loud color, and your goal is to make your home de-personalized to leave room for personalization in the minds of your potential buyers.
  • Fix Any Problems You Can
    • Whether it be a leaky faucet, a clogged drain, or some nail holes in the walls, repair them!  There are plenty of homes on the market that are completely repaired and ready to sell.  Don't assume that a Buyer will see the repairs in your home and accept them just because they are easy enough to do.  If a buyer has a choice between your home, that is in need of repairs, and another home, that is not; chances are, they will choose the other home.
5.  Clean

  • Dust Everything
    • Dust everything you see that needs dusted.  Don't forget to look at light fixtures, window sills, woodwork, and door frames, in addition to the furniture you have in your home.  No one likes the idea of moving into a home and living in other people's filth.  The more deeply you clean, the better your house looks.
  • Focus on Floors
    • Wax wooden floors, steam clean all of your carpets, and vacuum daily.  This step is especially important for any pet owners looking to sell their homes.  Dogs and cats leave floors a mess from dandruff and shed fur.  Animals in a home can be a deterrent for certain home buyers, so it is important that you minimize the effect pet ownership has on a home.  Remove the animal smell through washing, steaming, and vacuuming.
  • Consider Hiring a Professional
    • Hiring a professional cleaning service may be the right choice for getting your home listing-ready in a hurry.  A professional knows the areas that need to be focused on, and they can help you get your home in a state where all you need to do is keep up on it as your home is shown and on the market.
6.  Boost Your Curb Appeal

 

  • Pressure Wash
    • Pressure washing your home's exterior can be a great way to make the outside of your home look more fresh and tidy.  The first impression a potential Buyer will get of your home will be from the curb appeal as they are walking up, so you want to be sure that the first impression is a good one.
  • Keep Up on Your Lawn
    • A tidy and trim lawn also makes a huge difference in your home's curb appeal.  Be sure to keep up on the mowing and trimming, both before your home is photographed and while it is on the market.  Many potential buyers will drive by your home before they book an actual showing, so you want to be sure that your home is looking great even when there are no showings scheduled.
  • Plant Flowers
    • Flowers not only give your yard more curb appeal by adding a pop of color, they also make your home seem prettier and more appealing.  A home with flowers outside feels more like a home than one without flowers out front.

Ring in Fall with These Local Events!

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

 

Ring in Fall!

Check out these local events focused around this lovely season!




Fall is in the air, and that means that many of our favorite local autumn events are coming up.  Here are a few local events happening this weekend that you can attend to ring in the Fall season!  The weather forecast for this weekend is gorgeous- Get out there and enjoy some of what the local communities have to offer!

 

Waterloo PumpkinFest

This event draws visitors from all over the area, and for good reason.  Last year, the event was packed with people, but it didn't take away from the atmosphere one bit- it only speaks to how wonderful this event is!  Browse through TONS of vendor tents (and maybe even grab a few Christmas gifts... It's only about 11 weeks away, after all Wink), eat at any number of food vendors, enjoy games and entertainment for the kids, listen to some live local music, and maybe even stop by a restaurant or shop there at the Courthouse Square.  This lovely event takes place on Saturday, October 8th, on the grounds of the Monroe County Court House and its surrounding area.  Team member Abby Moallankamp attended last year, and she very highly recommends this one for adults and kids, alike.

Check out the event's page on the City of Waterloo website for more information by clicking here.


 

Annual Belleville Chili Cook-Off

Few things say Fall like the season's first bowl of chili... Come down to Belleville's Chili Cook-Off to get your hands on much more than just one bowl of this cool-weather staple food!  The event, taking place Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8th, hosts more than 60 vendors, from restaurants to organizations to individuals, who all come together to cook off for a chance at one of the Chili Cook-Off Awards.  This event is one of Belleville's biggest annual attractions, and it also is a great fundraising event.  Over half of the vendors who participate in this event are either a non-profit organization or a business raising money for a charity. 100% of the money you spend at that stand goes to the vendor.  In addition, attendees get to vote in the contest for their favorite chili for a price of $1 per vote.  All of those proceeds go to the Community Interfaith Food Pantry in Belleville.  Head on down to this event this weekend and enjoy the live music, entertainment, and, of course, the chili!

To learn more about this event, visit the event's website by clicking here.


 

Maestown Oktoberfest

Head on down to charming & historic Maestown to enjoy the Oktoberfest festivities!  This antique, craft, and art fair features over 50 artisans, dealers, craftsmen, and food vendors at the area around the stone mill and bridge.  Enjoy the colors of Fall while doing some shopping, and even enjoy foods such as turtle soup, potato pancakes, and popcorn cooked in old-fashioned kettles!  The local inns, shops, and resaurants will all remain open during the festivities, so you can even stroll around this lovely town and do a little window shopping or dining while you are there.  This event is taking place on Sunday the 9th from 9 am to 4 pm.

To learn more about this event, visit Maestown's website here.

 

 

 



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.

Plastic-Ware

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.  

Towels

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.

Lightbulbs

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.

Scissors

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.


GREAT Tips for Selling Your Home

by The Linda Frierdich Real Estate Group

 

GREAT Tips for Selling Your Home

 

Hire a Great Real Estate Agent

This is definitely the most important tip on this list.  Hiring an excellent agent is the best thing you can possibly do to get your home sold quickly.  Furthermore, the right real estate agent will be able to help you with all of the things yet to come on this list.

Pricing Your Home Correctly

Often, sellers believe that they can price their homes competitively and accurately without the help of an agent.  Remember, though, that if you were receiving another kind of service, you would seek the advice of a professional in that field, because you would want to benefit from their years of experience.  This is SO true when looking for a real estate agent to sell your home.  Take in every tip that your agent gives you about how to price your home.  If you do your homework and hire someone with a lot of experience in the market and in the area, chances are, you will be quite happy with the results.

Online Presence

The way homes are marketed has drastically changed in recent years.  The role of online services and social media in home marketing has only grown.  When choosing your realtor, be sure that you ask them about their marketing strategies, because you want to be sure that your home is getting maximum exposure on all possible platforms, from the Multiple Listing Service that your agent will list your house in, to Facebook and other social media platforms where your home will be showcased.

Put a Sign Up

It's true that home marketing has been taking a turn to the digital side, but that's not to say that the old ways are obsolete.  A sign placed in the front yard of your home still does a lot to attract eyes and inform those who drive by that the home is for sale and where they can look to find it.  It also helps people who are out house-hunting find your home as they are coming for a showing or perhaps just driving and prospecting potential houses.  

The Photos are EVERYTHING

This is another big thing to consider when choosing a realtor, because great photos can make or break a listing.  Be sure to look into some of the photos of listings that are currently posted and being marketed by the realtor you are looking into.  An experienced photographer can make your home look airy, spacious, warm, cozy, and well-lit.  Almost all people interested in your home will see it in photos online before they see it in person.  Make sure that first impression counts by making sure that the agent you are choosing has the capability to present your home in its best way possible.  


 

Boost Your Curb Appeal

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so make sure that first impression counts by doing some simple landscaping to your home.  Many times, a prospective Buyer will drive by your home before actually booking an appointment to see your home.  By maintaining your landscaping, planting flowers, and possibly making a few simple improvements to the front of your home, you can ensure that more buyers will drive by and actually book that appointment to see the home.  To see a complete comprehensive list of small improvements that boost curb appeal, click here.


 

Keep Your Home Clean and Tidy

The Deep Clean is as Important as the Daily Clean

Everyone can agree that it takes a lot of work to keep up on daily housekeeping tasks.  When selling your home, it is so very important that you keep up on those tasks, because you want your house to be show-ready at any time if an agent wants to show your house to prospective buyers.  Be sure you give your home a good deep cleaning before you list it.  Those tasks that only get done a few times a year often get over-looked, but you want your house to look nice and tidy to all who walk through it.  Prospective buyers may even look in those "Spring Cleaning" spots as they look at the home, such as under the sink (to check for leaks or plumbing issues) or in the windowsills (to check for any evidence of a bug problem).  Make sure you address those issues before you start showing your home.  Once you do, all you will have to worry about are the day-to-day tasks.

De-Cluttering and De-Personalizing 

It is so important that you address any cluttering that happens in your home.  Clutter not only makes your home look smaller, but it can cloud a prospective Buyer's ability to see your home as their own.  This leads into another great home-selling tip... While de-cluttering, consider removing some of your more personal home decorations.  Family portraits are lovely, but, again, they can damage the ability of prospective buyers to see the home as their own.  If you have a lot of decorations on your walls and sitting around, consider packing some of them up and opting for a more minimal decorating look while you are selling.  The less on your walls, the better reaction you will get from people being shown your home, and you will also make your rooms appear bigger.  For tips on de-cluttering, look here.


 

Make Sure Your Home is Well-Lit

Lighting is Everything!

A well-lit home is more inviting, appears more spacious, and tends to give a much better impression than a dully-lit home.  Before every showing, open the blinds, turn on all the lights in the home, and pull back the curtains.  No one wants to move into a dark and dreary home, so make your home seem more appealing by letting all the light in that you possibly can.


 

Address Any Odors in Your Home

Whether the odor is coming from last night's dinner, the dirty laundry, or your pet, make sure that you are doing everything you can to address those odors.  Before a showing, open the windows to let some fresh air in, light a candle or put a new scent in your wax melter!  

A fresh coat of paint is often recommended while selling your home.  Soft neutrals tend to be a lot more appealing than bright or bold colors, and stains or discolorations can be an issue for many people looking to possibly purchase your home.  Freshly painted walls have another benefit for those looking to sell their homes, as well.  Painting your walls can cut down on the amount of odors in your home.  Smells seep into a home after a long time, and by putting a fresh barrier over that old paint can make your home smell fresher when someone walks in.

If you are a pet owner, it is always a good idea to send your dogs or cats to a neighbor's or friend's house during showings.  As hard as it is for animal-people to understand, not everyone likes pets.  In fact, a pet in a home can be a detractor for some.  To make sure your home doesn't get overlooked because of your pets, make sure you are vacuuming often, using odor-neutralizing sprays, send the fur-babies on a short vacation to a friend's, and put away their beds, bowls, and toys while your home is being shown.  


 

Repairs & Improvements

There are certain improvements that can make a huge difference in how often your home is considered by prospective buyers.  For instance, freshly painting over the stain on your ceiling from a plumbing issue that has since been resolved or laying in new flooring in your kitchen since yours is considerably damaged.  Many improvements don't add a whole lot of value to the home, but they can often make a huge difference to how quickly your home sells and how often it is under consideration by buyers.  

Bathroom & Kitchen

The bathroom and kitchen are the two most important rooms in the house.  When you are having visitors, the two rooms you want to make sure look their best are the kitchen and the bathroom, because no one wants friends or family that those two rooms are dirty.  Those rooms are also important because they get so much use from those who live in the home as well as those who visit the home.  Simple improvements such as re-finishing cabinetry, updating light fixtures, and updating hardware, can make a huge difference on the impression buyers have on those rooms.  In addition, these two rooms are probably the most important for keeping tidy and de-cluttered.  Consider keeping an empty mason jar on your counter, so that when your house is going to be shown, you can put clutter and random kitchen utensils in it to keep the counters clear for the showing.

The more appealing a kitchen is, the better impression your home will have on prospective buyers.  It is likely the room that gets visited the most, and buyers want to see ample space, a clean and tidy space, and plenty of cabinets.  If you can play that up on your own kitchen, you will have more success with making your home a contender in others' home searches.

 

All in all, the most important things you can remember are to keep up on keeping your home inviting and tidy.  Keep that grass trimmed, open those curtains and windows, water your flowers, don't let dirty dishes sit around.  While this list gives some insight, when struggling with what tasks or improvements to make your home a top contender, it's always a good idea to ask yourself the question, "What do I look for in a home?" or "What detracts me from some homes?" and try to avoid those mistakes on your own part. 

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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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