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The Home Buying Timeline

If buying a home is on this year’s To-Do List you may be wondering exactly how long it will take. There is no magic number of days that I can give you, because there are a lot of variables that go in to purchasing a home. On the average it takes about 60 days from offer to closing, but that too can vary depending on your specific situation. To give you an idea of the process involved I will try to summarize the steps you need to go through and the timeline that you should follow. The first step is critical to the success of the process and should be your first stop. Get pre-approved with a local lender. Everyone gets excited at the prospect of finding a new home and your first instinct is to run out and start looking at properties. Resist the urge and visit your lender first! This is the only way you will know how much of a house you can afford and what kind of mortgage you qualify for. Both of these things are crucial to the process. Looking in the wrong price range can set you up for disappointment, wastes valuable time and isn’t fair to the sellers that think you are a potential buyer if you can’t afford the home. There are also specific things that the property must have to qualify for certain types of financing. For example, if you are pre- approved for a USDA rural development loan, that foreclosure property that you have your heart set on probably won’t qualify for this type of loan. Knowing the price...

Should You Take Your Home Off the Market for the Winter?

Every year after we change the clocks and we get the first blast of winter weather I get the same question: Should we take our home off the market for the winter? Home sellers think that if their home hasn’t sold by now they are better off taking it off the market and trying again in the spring. That is also why most people don’t list their home during the winter and why spring is most often the choice when listing your home. My answer to this question is always no! I think winter is the most overlooked season for home sellers and buyers. There are several reasons why I think winter is a good time to buy or sell property. If you are selling your home, inventory is traditionally at it’s lowest during the winter therefore you have much less competition. Since sellers typically try to avoid listing their home in the winter months there are fewer properties on the market and therefore fewer choices for buyers. If you wait until spring, like every other seller, inventory levels are much higher and buyers have many more options making it less likely that you will get an offer. Winter is not the obvious choice for buyers either but people have to move at all times of the year. Death, divorce and job changes happen in the winter months too and buyers sometimes must find a home during the winter. Those buyers are serious buyers, not just tire kickers, so you may not have a lot of showings but typically the ones you have are from people who really need...

Fall Home Maintenance and Clean Up Tips

There is a chill in the air and the leaves are changing color signaling that soon winter will be upon us. If the Farmer’s Almanac is correct, and I hope it isn’t, we are in for another nasty winter! If you are a homeowner, there are things you should be doing now to prepare for whatever winter has in store for us. Right now you are probably mowing your yard for one of the last times this year and getting ready to rake all those leaves, but that shouldn’t be the end of your yardwork. Fall is a good time to lay down new grass seed and once it starts to come up you can add fertilizer. If your lawn is healthy before winter you will have less weeds in the spring. You should also add a fresh layer of mulch, but not more than 3 inches, to your planting beds to help protect the roots of your plants. Fall is also the time to plant those spring bulbs so you can enjoy those early blooms next year. Now is also the time to cover or put away your patio furniture and grill before the snow flies. Make sure to give both a good final cleaning so they will be fresh and ready for use in the spring. This is also the time to make sure your gutters have a final clean out before they get filled up with ice and cause damage. Drain and store your outdoor hoses and shut off the water to the spigot to prevent the pipes from freezing. When all the yard work is...

Realtors® Team Up to Provide Relief for Area Flood Victims

Our area has certainly been impacted by the recent flooding and there are many Freeport residents that have not received assistance or have not had access to a program to apply for assistance. Our local Realtor® Association- The Realtor® Association of Northwestern Illinois along with the Rockford Area Realtors® and Illinois Realtors® have teamed up to provide $25,000 in grant assistance for Stephenson and Winnebago county flood victims. The grant is made available through the Illinois Realtors® Relief Foundation or IRRF. IRRF is a 501(c)(3) organization that receives tax deductible donations from Realtors® and others to assist disaster victims throughout Illinois. If you would like to make a donation or would like more information on the Realtors® Relief Foundation you can visit their website at: www.illinoisrealtors.org/about/foundations/irrf. As I have said many times throughout my columns, real estate is local. Our local Realtors® live and work here and we do more than just list and sell real estate. We are champions and protectors of property rights and we take pride in our community. When our local residents are affected by a disaster such as the recent flooding we want to help our neighbors. We want to encourage anyone in Stephenson or Winnebago County that has been affected by the flooding to apply for this assistance and as local Realtors® we are here to help you through the process. Each applicant can request up to $500 in grant money which can be used to pay expenses like a mortgage payment, rental fees for temporary shelter and unreimbursed losses directly related to the flooding such as an insurance deductible. The grants are...

What You Need To Know About Lead Paint

Many homes built before 1978 have lead based paint in them which can pose a serious health hazard. Federal law requires that sellers and/or landlords disclose known information on lead based paint hazards before selling/leasing a house. In addition, if you are renovating, repairing or painting a house built before 1978 lead safe work practices need to be followed by lead safe certified contractors. Lead paint can be harmful to children and adults if ingested. Lead paint dust can result from repairs or renovations when lead paint is disturbed, and can be inhaled or it can settle on food or food preparation surfaces and be consumed. Small children may also eat lead paint chips. Lead is especially dangerous to children under the age of 6 because it can affect their nervous systems and brain development and to pregnant women because high lead levels in their system can transfer to the baby and affect fetal development. If you are unsure whether or not your home has lead based paint it can be tested by a trained certified lead paint inspector. You can find local inspectors on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/lead. There are ways to minimize hazards from lead based paint in your home before abatement. Carefully clean up paint chips so as not to create dust, use a mop or sponge with warm water to clean floors, baseboards and window frames and rinse thoroughly and wash children’s hands thoroughly and often, especially before eating. There are other sources of lead in addition to paint that you need to be aware of. Lead pipes in older homes can cause led...

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...

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