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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...

Get to Know Your Home’s History

Have you ever wondered about the history of the house you live in? If you aren’t the first owner then your house has a story to tell. Tracing your home’s history can be a fascinating project. There are basically two types of research you can do on your home: architectural research and historical research. Architectural research begins with looking at the type of construction of your home and will help establish the time period your home was built. Talking to your neighbors may help you learn more about the former owners or even the builder of the home. Most neighborhoods consist of similar homes built in a similar time period and if you are lucky enough to have a long time home owner as a neighbor, they may have a wealth of information about the history of your home. If you live in an older neighborhood with charming brick or stone 2 story homes, they could easily be over a hundred years old. If you live in a neighborhood of smaller wood frame ranch style homes, those were popular post war time with young families. The style of your home may help you determine the era it was constructed. Historical research usually begins with a search of public records and can help you discover previous owners and other events that may have happened on the property. The first place you might want to search is the county Recorder’s office to obtain the deed records for your home. This will help you establish a chain of ownership. You may also be able to locate and old abstract of title which...

What Is a VA Loan?

Today is Veteran’s day so I thought I would dedicate today’s column to all the Veterans out there and to explain one of the benefits of being a Veteran- the VA Guaranteed Loan Program. The program was started in 1944 as part of the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act or the G.I. Bill, as it became known, by President Franklin Roosevelt. The purpose was to help veterans returning from war re-establish credit, purchase housing and to stimulate the economy. Since its inception, the VA Guaranteed Loan Program has helped over 20 million veterans and their families purchase homes. There have been several changes to the program since it began but the goal has remained the same: to assist Veterans and their families in obtaining loans to purchase or re-finance their homes. VA loans can be used to purchase existing or new construction homes or to re-finance an existing mortgage. This loan program offers several important benefits over other traditional mortgages. Most notably is the opportunity to purchase a home with no down payment and no mortgage insurance. Typically a down payment of at least 3.5 % is required for most loan types. Some form of mortgage insurance is always required unless you have at least 20% to put down on a home. The VA also requires the property to meet certain requirements for it to qualify for this type of financing. The VA appraiser will make sure that the property is safe, sanitary and sound according to the VA loan requirements as well as making sure the property value is consistent with the loan amount. Who is eligible for the VA...

How Do You Know When to Accept an Offer?

When you put your house on the market you have high hopes of getting multiple full price offers the first day. Unfortunately for most sellers, that rarely happens. Average marketing time in Freeport for a single family home is about 7 months. So when you do get an offer how do you know if you should accept, counter or reject. You just got an offer so what do you do now? Your Realtor will help you go through the offer, show you the good and the bad elements and help you decide what the best way to proceed is. Sometimes the highest price offer isn’t necessarily the best option. It may not always be about price. Here are some other things you need to consider when looking at an offer on your home. How much earnest money is the buyer putting down? Earnest money is a sign of the buyer’s “good faith” and usually the more earnest money the buyer is offering to put down, the stronger the offer. What are the contingencies the buyer is requesting? Most offers contain some contingencies, or provisions that must be met in order for the purchase to go through. Typical contingencies are financing contingencies, appraisal contingencies, inspection contingencies and home sale contingencies. There are other contingencies the buyer may request as well but these are the most common. The more contingencies a buyer puts in an offer, the greater the likelihood of potential issues or the chances of a contingency not being satisfied. Some other things to consider are the kind of financing the buyer is looking to obtain and how much...

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