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What is a Smart Home?

One of the fastest growing trends that todays’ homebuyers are looking for are homes with smart home technology. A smart home is a collection of smart devices connected to each other working together to automate a homes’ processes. There are many different smart devices available and the cost can vary depending on the product. One of the most commonly used smart devices is a smart thermostat that allows you to control your home’s temperature remotely and can cost around $200 or more. Smart locks can be used to control who has access to your home and to see who is coming and going when you aren’t home. These also cost around $200. Lights in your home can also be controlled with your smart phone or voice enabled assistant to turn on and off, adjust the brightness or put on a timer and vary in price from $50 to $200. Cameras can be controlled to alert you to intruders, record video or even alarm if necessary, at a cost of around $200. Smart smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors can alert you via your cellphone to increased levels of carbon monoxide or the presence of smoke and cost about $100. These devices can be controlled through one app through a smart hub and can unify all the devices and chain together events to ensure the comfort and protection of your home. You can program the hub to turn on certain lights and the air conditioning during the hours you are home and to turn down the heat and turn on other lights when you are away. As you can already...

What You Should Know About Homeowner’s Insurance

If you own your home you probably carry homeowner’s insurance on it. If you have a mortgage, your lender will require you to maintain insurance on the property. You probably pay your premiums and don’t think too much more about it, but there are some things you need to know about your policy. The purpose of homeowner’s insurance is to protect you (and your lender) against certain losses and damage to your home. When you first buy your home, your lender will require you to purchase a policy as a condition of the mortgage before you close. If you have an escrow account your future premiums will be paid by the lender from the funds in that account. If you pay cash for your home or you no longer carry a mortgage balance then it will be up to you to determine what kind of coverage you wish to have. The coverage you carry will depend on whether you choose replacement cost or a dollar amount of coverage. Replacement cost will give you the actual cost to replace your home if it is destroyed, otherwise you will receive whatever the dollar amount of coverage you have chosen. If you choose to insure your home for $100,000 and it is destroyed by fire, you will probably only receive up to $100,000 even if it costs $200,000 to replace it. A lender will require you to keep the property insured for at least the amount of the mortgage. A standard homeowner’s policy not only insures the structure but may also cover the personal property inside it and additional structures like garages,...

Tips to Get Your Home Market Ready

The snow is finally gone and you are thinking of getting your home on the market. How do you prepare your home to look its best? Here are some easy tips that will have your home looking market ready and hopefully get you a quick sale. The first step to getting your house ready to sell is a thorough cleaning and de-cluttering. By thorough cleaning I mean wash windows, clean carpets and curtains or blinds, wash light fixtures, clean moldings and baseboards, mop floors, clean cabinets and appliances and thoroughly clean bathrooms including shower walls and doors. In other words, all the jobs that most people have been meaning to do but never quite got to! If budget allows, consider hiring a professional cleaning service to take care of all these jobs quickly. A clean house is perceived as being well cared for by buyers. Now that it is sparkling clean you will need to de clutter as much as possible. Take everything that is non- essential off your kitchen counters, pack up out of season clothing to allow more space in your closets, minimize Knick knacks, collectibles and family photos so buyers can visualize their family in your space. Try to reduce the amount of large furniture pieces if possible so the rooms appear larger and less cluttered. Pack everything away in bins or boxes neatly stacked in the basement or garage. Next tackle those minor repairs you have been putting off like doors that stick, torn window screens, dripping or leaking faucets, missing or cracked grout and burned out light bulbs. These are small items but if...

Freeport Housing Market Outlook for 2019

We are already almost to the end of the first quarter of 2019, so how is our housing market looking so far? That depends on what you are comparing this year to: last year’s numbers or to the State of Illinois as a whole. Let’s start with a comparison to last year’s market at this time of year*. For comparison purposes I am only looking at residential sales, both homes and condos, in Freeport. So far this year we have sold 22 properties in Freeport as compared to 31 last year, which is a decrease of 29%. The average price of the properties sold this year was $70,096 compared with $68,708 last year which is an increase of 2%. So there is good news and bad news: the average sale price is up but the number of sales is down. I’m sure we can all agree that the weather this year could certainly explain the lack of sales so far. The good news is that the average sale price is trending higher than last year. That is good news if you are a seller but maybe not if you are a buyer. Currently we have 49 active listings in Freeport that are either single family homes or condos. The least expensive one is $22,500 and the most expensive one is $489,900 with the average list price of $101,885. The average number of days on the market for these properties is 322. There is a relatively low inventory of homes on the market but that is not unusual for the first quarter. The inventory usually increases dramatically in the spring...

What is the Difference between a Real Estate Broker and a Realtor?

Every Real Estate Broker can’t call themselves a Realtor®. Realtor® is a trademarked word for a real estate professional that belongs to the National Association of Realtors® or NAR for short. Members of this Association are bound by a strict Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The Code was first approved in 1913 to set standards for the professional and ethical practice of real estate by it’s’ members. The 17 Articles that make up the Code of Ethics establish a standard of conduct that serves to protect the interests of clients and customers as well as other Realtors®. Failure to abide by this standard can result in disciplinary action. The Code is updated as needed and was just amended in January of this year. The 17 Articles that make up the Code of Ethics also contain Standards of Practice which help clarify the intent of the Articles in day to day practice. A Realtor® agrees to be bound by the Code of Ethics and is therefore held to a higher standard than a Real Estate Practitioner that is not a Realtor®. The Code of Ethics is intended to promote moral and ethical practice among its members, promote competent service to clients and customers and to uphold the public’s best interest and welfare. Realtors® are licensed in the state where they do business and must take continuing education in order to renew their license. In Illinois, our licenses are renewed every 2 years and a 2 ½ hour course on the Code of Ethics is required every time we renew. Each Article in the Code is a rule that...

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