Read on for the latest news in real estate in Wayne Nebraska and the surrounding communities as well as useful tips for buying and selling your home. Bonus features include a look into the good, the bad, and the ugly of homeownership as shared by blog author, homeowner, property manager, and real estate broker, Trisha Peters.
Welcome Home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Marriage: A Work-in-Progress

Well, our first wedding anniversary is in the books.  This year (and the many years to come) can be labeled as a "work-in-progress." We celebrated the day by reminiscing about all of the shenanigans at our wedding.  On Sunday, our Pastor mentioned the moment of panic at the beginning of the ceremony when one of our spring-loaded candles popped out of the holder (already lit, mind you) and rolled under her seat near the altar.  My younger brother mentioned having another infamous "wine dance" at our house on Monday evening to help us relive moments from our wedding dance.  He was unsuccessful in recruiting more party-goers to the event.  My husband and I indulged in frozen wedding cake while sitting near the light of one of our sparkling Christmas trees which adorned the auditorium for the occasion.  The year started out for us immediately as a work-in-progress as we lived apart for two weeks after the wedding until we could close on our first home together.  Many of you have followed our journey of home remodeling throughout the year.  I must say, it is a testament to any marriage that makes it through a complete home remodel, but more on that later as we approach the one year anniversary of that project as well.

Looking back at our time together, it is hard to believe how quickly this year has gone.  It makes me appreciate the idea of having a place to call "home" where we can relax and unwind.  There is comfort in hearing the sound of the garage door open each night when Tim arrives home from work while I plug away at a load of laundry or the dirty dishes in the sink or as I sit on the living room floor grading papers for my part-time gig at the college.  Many evenings, I'm on the phone trying to tie up some loose ends for the day while he waits patiently to gauge what kind of conversation he should be making.  He usually has a way of knowing what to say and how to say it once he knows the mood of the house.  This, too, has been a work-in-progress for us.  Learning when it is time to close up shop and just be home together is something we have both worked on throughout the year.

Overall, I must say it has been a pretty wonderful year.  Even though we are both stubbornly set in our ways, we seem to have adapted to married life, homeownership, work commutes, and, in general, each other quite well.  I was able to convince Tim to climb on our roof to string Christmas lights for the first time this year, and he regularly quizzes me about tractor and combine specs to make sure I know the difference in horsepower and transmission styles (and to make sure I'm listening to him ramble on over supper each night about equipment). Our lives, personal and professional, will always be labeled as a "work-in-progress."  No matter where we are at, there is always one more project to finish, one more job to do, or one more person to think about.  Even though some days seem like we are progressing backwards, the important thing for us to remember is that we must always look for some sort of progress, no matter how minute, in our relationship, our professional lives, our family, and our home.  Cheers to another wonderful year ahead!  Welcome Home.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Out With the Old...in With the High Efficiency

Paranoia sometimes has a way of giving us premonitions of things to come.  Lately, my anxiety had been revolving around our ancient relic of a furnace that, until yesterday, sat complacently in our basement furnace room.  That beast would groan like a 92-year-old man trying to get up from his rocking chair each time the thermostat told it was time to go to work.  The number of turns the giant squirrel cage inside the belly of the beast had taken over the years was no small feat.  Just the sound of it firing up was enough to make you jump if you were someplace nearby.  What it gained in sound, it lost in efficiency each day.  The living room and the storage room adjacent to the furnace room were always toasty.  However, the weak puffs of air that made it over to the more remote areas of our home were hardly enough to keep the icicles off our noses as we slept each night.  This could be due in part to the fact that I am a total gas miser, and we literally have to play "freeze-out" in our house.  Nevertheless, my husband and I were still reluctant to install a new heating and cooling system despite the fact that we had two estimates for new units already.  After all, our existing relic had been with the house since its date of construction.  Removing it would be like taking a worn blankie from a thumb-sucking toddler (or like using a crowbar to pry open the checkbook of young couple who thought their major home remodeling expenses were over).  I rationalized that throwing an extra quilt on the bed and wearing coveralls in the house would be more efficient than turning up the heat.  By some twist of fate, our paranoia peaked over the weekend and helped make up our minds.

Upon returning home from a two day stint in Omaha for continuing real estate education, I was welcomed at the door by the smell of natural gas.  My instant thought was, "Don't turn on the lights!"  My second thought was, "Oh, your nose is playing tricks on you, don't be paranoid and turn on the lights."  I listened to my first thought, left the door open and walked down to the basement furnace room to see if I could locate a source for the leak (big no-no according to the gas leak professionals at Black Hills Energy http://www.blackhillsenergy.com/safety/gas/smell/).  Actually, the smell became less noticeable the closer I got to the furnace room.  So, I turned on the lights as my fears subsided and ruled it as a false alarm.  I left for work shortly after my investigation and shut the house up again for the day.  Low and behold, Tim came home later that afternoon and claimed that he, too, smelled gas in the house.  It couldn't be that both of us were wrong?  He followed the exact same procedure that I had performed just hours before and came to the same conclusion, but the paranoia had spread.  Being that it was late on a Saturday afternoon by this time, we convinced ourselves not to contact a professional to inspect for a gas leak.  Instead, we decided to replace our ancient gas-hog-faded-yellow relic of furnaces past with a new furnace and heat pump.  That's right folks, we cashed out the old beast for a modern, high efficiency Amana furnace.  Time to get out the checkbook again.

As mentioned, we had two experienced professionals within the last two weeks who had given us estimates for the new unit.  In the end, we decided to go with Jeff Brown Plumbing, Heating and Cooling here in Wayne because of his promptness, professional advice, and price.  Jeff handles a few service calls for us down at 1st Realty, and he is always easy to work with and ready to help in a pinch. We called him on Monday and by yesterday, he had the furnace and new electric water heater installed.  We can already notice a big difference in the consistency of temperature in our home.

With the new furnace and heat pump, we are hoping to recoup some of the expense of the unit by saving on our utility bills in the upcoming months and years.  We made sure to write the date of installation on our new unit to ensure that potential buyers in the future would be able to identify when the work was completed.  I advise all of my clients and customers to do so even if you aren't looking at buying or selling anytime soon.  This will help you avoid having to do extensive homework and receipt digging when your agent asks you the age of your furnace and water heater.  For the time being, our paranoia has subsided, and we are putting that crowbar in a secret hiding spot in hopes that we won't have to pry our checkbook open for anything else at our home for a very long time.  Welcome Home.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn Inspiration

As I drive to work each morning, I can't help but notice all of the colors that abound this time of year in the Elkhorn River Valley. I'm not really sure why I missed this for the past few years, but it seems like I have really taken notice of the colors of the trees and the changes in the farm fields throughout the past month.  Maybe it was the fact that my previous home was situated on a street with few mature trees, or maybe I need a distraction to keep the daily drive interesting.  Irregardless, harvest has already wound to a close at the Hansen farm and will soon be done further south at the Peters farm where my in-laws and husband have waited patiently for the crops to dry down in comparison to their northern neighbors.  They were fortunate to catch a few timely rains in their area, so the yields are slightly better and the corn is taking longer to mature. Nonetheless, this is a year like none many of us have ever seen, and we certainly hope that we do not experience the extreme drought and heat again anytime soon.  The devastating results were evident as farmers discussed their 1.5 bushel/acre yields while I waited in line on Monday morning at the County Treasurer's office.  My husband is thankful this week that harvest hours are starting to wind down as he continues to trek across Northeast/Central Nebraska and Eastern Iowa to service and maintain harvest systems.  (This wife is thankful for some downtime to have her husband help with fall projects around the house.) 

The fall weather has put me in the mood for making all kinds of soup, canning tomatoes, and changing decor around my house.  In a world where the average human does up to 300 routine things during any given day, a little change in life might be just what the doctor ordered.  I'm noticing scarecrows and pumpkins adorning front stoops all over town, and I'm anxious to start digging into my basement store room to see if I can find my fall decorations.  The mums along the south side of our home are a welcome surprise this fall, so maybe I'll have to renege on my previous comments about a "total" landscaping makeover for next year.  Despite the drought, our landscaping has provided us with some beautiful surprises!
The falling leaves have added beautiful contrast to the green grass in our yard at home. 

 Speaking of inspiring autumn surprises, don't forget the huge yard and extensive landscaping potential at 803 Grainland Road.  Priced at $125,000, it is a great deal for a 3-bedroom, 3 bath home (including master bath with walk-in shower), main floor laundry, and large rear deck.  Cozy up by the gas fireplace on these crisp autumn nights!



Your very own autumn inspiration is waiting for you at this beautifully updated acreage located just 3.5 miles north of Wayne on Highway 15.  Plenty of room for a hobby farm, garden, and all the perennials you can imagine.  Buy it this fall and start dreaming about your spring landscaping plans while the snow is on the ground.  Price reduced to $165,000!


Now is also a good time to get inspired about investing your money in something more profitable than a CD or the stock market.  Check out all of 1st Realty's investment listings like this one at 608 West 1st Street for $67,500.  New roof, new kitchen floor, mostly new interior main floor paint, and it is rented for $650/month through May, 2013.  This property has not been vacant for more than one month since 2007! 



You can also get inspired to start making those rent payments go to work for you by checking into a manageable 2-bedroom home like this one located at 1007 Poplar Street.  With 900 square feet, a full basement with egress window, a newer roof, and a large deck, this home has great possibilities.  Enjoy the shaded, fenced backyard and the attached garage for your fall projects.  It is a great home for a first-time buyer!


Wherever you find your inspiration, always make sure you have a place to call home to re-energize your spirit.  Stay in touch with 1st Realty for your autumn home buying or selling inspiration!  Welcome Home!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Childproofing...

The topic of childproofing has been on my mind for a couple of weeks.  You see, I'm going to be an aunt for a second time this year.  My brother and his wife are expecting their first child within the month, and I'm planning on being the aunt that spoils the dickens out of their little bundle of joy.  For some reason, the idea of having a small child around the house has me thinking about all of the things that can happen (my first stab at being an aunt came with my 9-year-old step-nephew, so these things didn't seem as necessary).  The biggest thing that has been bugging me is that we have no smoke detectors installed on the main floor of our home.  I mean not even one!  While we were focusing on getting all of those "other" things done with our house, we basically have disregarded all personal safety for ourselves.  So, I purchased the smoke alarms last week. Check that off the list. Did you know that as a home seller, you have to have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of your home?  (More is better and it is recommended that one be installed in each bedroom and any hallways leading to bedrooms.)   

I also started checking around the house for so-called choking hazards and other small objects that are not kid-friendly.  Guess what, our house is filled with them.  We will be moving those up a couple shelves from "baby-level."  We also do not have any outlet plug covers, but for some reason, our electrician decided to install the outlets that you can't plug anything into without just the right finesse and cord to plug alignment (extremely frustrating for small children, the elderly, and wives trying to use the hand mixer on a time schedule.)  I'm not sure of the exact name of the electrical genius who invented those outlets.  If anybody can electrocute themselves in those, let alone figure out how to plug-in a lamp, they need to be awarded a medal.  Those outlets are the bane of my existence, and installing plug-in covers in those tricky plug-in holes will be quite the task which I will save for a day when nobody else is around to laugh at my hardship.

At the present time, the only steps in our house are closed off by a locking door, so we can prevent falls that way.  Many of us have to rely on child safety gates to block of hazardous areas of the home.  If your home is currently childproofed, leaving the safety gates can often be a selling point for young families.  Many people ask for permanent gates attached to walls to stay along with other personal property listed in the purchase agreement.

The other thing we are lacking are door knob covers and cabinet door locks.  Nonetheless, as our little niece or nephew grows older, we will probably have to take measures to ensure that the little tike doesn't have access to harmful chemicals under the sinks and in the laundry area.  For the time being, I'll make it easy on Uncle Tim by avoiding those tricky door handles:).  Again, young families appreciate viewing homes that already have the child proofing measures taken, so don't get rid of these features for showings.  (Well, maybe the door knob covers.  I don't care how old you are, those things can be difficult to operate!)

As you can see, I am very excited for the new addition to the Hansen family set to arrive on October 20th.  Even though he or she will not have a permanent residence at our home, we hope to make it safe enough that Mommy and Daddy will trust Aunt Trisha and Uncle Tim with some babysitting duties in the future.  The new changes might not go with the feng shui we are used to, but I think we can make an exception.  I'm all about sacrificing style for a few baby toys laying around anyway.  Make your home a safe place to land by following these tips, too.  Welcome Home.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"You're no bother at all."

I am always astounded by the number of clients and customers who say goodbye each time they leave my office or an appointment by saying, "I bet you'll be glad when you don't have to deal with us anymore." Another standard goodbye when a transaction closes is, "Aren't you happy that we won't be bothering you everyday?"  And I always answer, "You're no bother at all."  The truth of the matter is that I enjoy it when people come into the office to "bother" me.  If I'm not getting phone calls or drop-ins, I'm not doing my job.  And if I'm not doing my job, I'm not learning how to make things go more smoothly for the next person that walks through the door.  I don't want anybody out there to forget what I am here for and that is to make your day a little bit easier by bearing the weight of the good, the bad, and the ugly of your home sale or purchase. 

The second truth of the matter is that there is something to be said about being able to close a difficult home sale versus an "easy" home sale.  A sense of accomplishment accompanies a closing that requires hours of additional time and patience throughout the process because of a fly-by-night lender, an inefficient government agency, a home inspection filled with bad news, or a botched communication somewhere along the lines.  In fact, that is why you should strongly consider having a REALTOR® help you through any home sale or purchase.  My job is make things work out for all of the parties involved, and my experiences have taught me that no sale, closing, or negotiation is impossible.  It just might seem like it at the time.  I used to get really worked up when something didn't go according to plan.  In most cases, the things that we want to happen in perfect order are completely out of our control.  A multitude of puzzle pieces have to fall together in order to make a closing happen.  If things don't work out according to plan, the best we can do is evaluate the situation and head towards Plan B.  The combined knowledge from all of my real estate experiences is designed to help you and me make wise decisions about buying and selling homes.  This knowledge also makes everything go better the next time around when someone else faces the same problem (and I guarantee that you are not alone in your mission to buy or sell under difficult circumstances.  Someone out there will benefit from the expertise gained from your transaction). 

So, please, stop in anytime.  Bother me.  I'll be glad you did.  Welcome Home.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

FIRE HAZARD!

My family started chopping corn this week, nearly a month ahead of schedule.  If you've been wondering why I'm so hard to get ahold of this week, that's why.  I'm running the silage wagons between the field and the silage pit to help my dad and brothers.  Silage chopping is something that generally gets done around Labor Day each year, however, the unusually dry conditions have pushed harvest ahead.  The corn looks OK in some spots, not so OK in others, but everybody can see that for themselves.  I'll digress to a larger issue that came to the forefront yesterday as I was driving into town after we had finished chopping.

Many of you probably heard the fire sirens going off in town around 12 p.m. yesterday.  Those fire trucks were heading 9 1/2 miles south of town to put out a fire alongside Highway 15 which could have been started by any number of things...a spark from an exhaust, an errant cigarette thrown out of a passing car window, or some other freak accident. I passed the fire just as it was getting going, and I did not hesitate to call it in to the 911 dispatchers.  Luckily, someone else had already notified authorities and fire trucks were on their way.  I was amazed at how quickly the fire took off in dry, drought scorched grass along the highway.  The current weather conditions are providing the perfect storm for something like this to happen, even in town.  My advice to everybody is to protect your real estate investments and make wise choices when it comes to open flames of any kind.  Fire pits and open burning should be a major concern for everybody, and the dry conditions are providing plenty of tinder for a fire to immediately become out of control. 

If you must burn an open flame, be sure to keep extinguishers or water nearby in case of an emergency, and never leave a fire unattended.  The warning I heard on the radio just this morning says it best, "If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave."  An uncontrolled fire can mean significant property losses for you or your neighbors.  Keep this in mind as we try to deal with the drought as best we can.  Welcome Home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Put a Jacket On!

Morning temperatures in the 60s??  Feels like jacket weather today!  Despite the fact that we have not received any measurable rain since before Memorial Day, the cooler days are a wonderful relief from the 100+ temps we have been experiencing.  The crops, the trees, the lawns, and the people are all just a little perkier today! 

Quite a few of you have been asking me what effect the drought conditions are having on buyer and seller confidence in our local real estate market.  In all honesty, buyer traffic has been high during the past few weeks.  We tend to see a lull in activity in mid-July due to the heat and other activities that typically take place this time of year (i.e. Chicken Days and the Wayne County Fair).  Nonetheless, showings have been consistent throughout the month of July, which is good news for sellers.  The homes pictured below have become pending sales during the past two weeks.

1021 1st Avenue

206 Wilcliff Drive

1407 Linden Street

 
408 Douglas Street




As you can see, a wide variety of homes have sparked interest in buyers from ranch-styles to multi-levels and two-stories to townhouses.  In fact, several buyers have inquired as to whether or not we anticipate new listings in the next few weeks/months.  Our home inventory is down considerably from where it was three or four years ago which is somewhat limiting the selection we have available for move-up and first-time homebuyers.  Investment properties have also been moving throughout the spring and summer.  If you are contemplating a move, it is a great time to list your home!

As for the current weather conditions, it is hard to guess what effect the drought will have on the local market at this point.  The most glaring hold up to purchasing homes during hot spells is simply the heat itself.  Let's face it, who wants to move when it's 110 degrees in the shade?  The distinctive "crunchiness" of the dried lawns around our homes this year is a little discouraging.  In any given year, heat generally prohibits both buyer traffic and seller traffic.  Psychologically speaking, the weather can significantly influence buyer confidence and the  willingness to purchase homes because of the long-term impact it might have on our local economy.  With a largely agricultural base, Wayne is positioned to be heavily affected by a prolonged drought and poor harvest.  Water and energy concerns also factor into buyer decision making and can impact their interest in acreage properties and other properties with private well systems as well as homes that are not energy efficient.  Planting shade trees and installing high efficiency air conditioners are important things to consider when trying to cut back on cooling bills.  Many buyers today are requesting energy usage figures when they purchase a home of any shape or size.

For the time being, we will continue to look to the sky for precipitation in hopes that we can measure the next rainfall in inches rather than in drops.  Whether you farm, work in construction, or have an office job, the prospect of rain can help all of our attitudes and improve our confidence in the local housing market.

As a side note, all of us at 1st Realty welcome everybody to Wayne this weekend for the Wayne County Fair, and we hope you take advantage of the cooler weather to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the fair.  Welcome Home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grimace

The excessive heat and drought conditions are having a physical effect on the area crops and landscaping as well as a psychological effect on us human beings.  As we continue to hope and pray for rain and cooler weather to relieve our weary souls, I thought I would share a couple of photos from around my home to help take your mind off the conditions (if even for a minute).

Those of us who are children of the 1980s remember the lovable purple character known as Grimace in the McDonald's commercials.  At our house, we have a Grimace of our own.  Take a look at the photos to see if you notice a resemblance... 




Grimace the Ornamental Bush is strategically placed right in front of the outside water spigot on the front of our house, so I have to battle for turf whenever I need to fill my watering can.  You'll notice that I became frustrated with the little guy earlier this spring while trying to mow, so I took the hedge trimmer to him and knocked off a portion of the bottom branches.  I assumed they would fill in, but the bush is still sporting a large bald spot several months later.  On the other hand, the rose bush that you see on the right hand of this photo is clearly out of control again and does not hesitate to grab anybody that walks too close with its thorny branches.  It has made me bleed profusely on a few occasions despite being trimmed down to the ground this spring. As you can see, our landscaping is in need of an overhaul, so what you see now will most likely have a date with a skidloader this fall.  The weed barrier (where one was installed) is no longer working and we started out with a serious wild lettuce, Creeping Jenny, and Morning Glory problem in some areas around the foundation.  I know many people do not consider these weeds, but my background has taught me that any sort of invasive plant such as these must be destroyed for the sake of the crops.  All of these plants can be brought under control by using any product containing 2, 4-D to spray the unwanted weeds. 

For the time being, I will continue my struggle with Grimace to water my flowers.  Now that the majority of the inside work is complete, it seems that our plans have spilled over to the outside.  By this time next year, I hope to have a whole new landscape and a new look to the curb appeal of the house.  I'm pretty good with a hedge trimmer!  Welcome Home!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Free Labor

As childless newlyweds, my husband and I might be a bit naive about what it takes to raise children.  About a month and a half ago, we had the opportunity to have a sleepover with the newest addition to our family, our 9 year old step-nephew, Anthony.  We soon learned how much energy it takes to keep up with a 9 year old.  I figured since everything was so "boring" at our house, the best thing to do would be to work outside in the yard and catch up on some fertilizing and weeding.  Anthony was excited by the idea of fertilizing the lawn once he saw the fertilizer spreader.  I was excited to have some free child labor helping around the house.

We filled the hopper up with granules, placed it in the start position and showed him how to operate the trigger to release the granules.  Little did I know that he didn't let the trigger go after the lesson was over, so the rotary spreader filled with granules, which were spread in a heap at the starting point.  The damage did not show up until about 2 weeks later when I noticed the grass was burning a strange circular pattern.  I thought the aliens had landed and were producing some mysterious lawn circles.  Burned spots showed up here and there on the edges of the front lawn, but nothing appeared in the back lawn.  My husband and I had fertilized the back lawn because Anthony soon grew tired of this "hard job."  He was mad because we hadn't disclosed how "hard" it would be prior to him taking the controls of the spreader.  However, the puzzle pieces soon fell together.  The burn spots were all in a circular pattern and all in areas where Anthony had stopped to take a break from manually propelling the spreader forward.  Exhibit A represents the consequences of free child labor.  Be careful about the rate of application for nitrogen based lawn fertilizer products.  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" (English Translation-Burns, 1785).  Welcome Home.

Exhibit A: Mysterious lawn circles appeared a couple of weeks after fertilizing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Meaning of "Home"

This past weekend was a proud moment for the Hansen family.  My great uncle, Dale M. Hansen, was honored for his service during WWII at a special ceremony organized by the American Legion Riders on Sunday at the Wisner, NE cemetery.  The following is the citation he received upon being awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1946:

Medal of Honor citation of Private Dale M. Hansen, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 200):

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 7 May 1945. Cool and courageous in combat, Private Hansen unhesitatingly took the initiative during a critical stage of the action and, armed with a rocket launcher, crawled to an exposed position where he attacked and destroyed a strategically located hostile pillbox. With his weapon subsequently destroyed by enemy fire, he seized a rifle and continued his one-man assault. Reaching the crest of a ridge, he leaped across, opened fire on six Japanese and killed four before his rifle jammed. Attacked by the remaining two Japanese, he beat them off with the butt of his rifle and then climbed back to cover. Promptly returning with another weapon and supply of grenades, he fearlessly advanced, destroyed a strong mortar position and annihilated eight more of the enemy. In the forefront of battle throughout this bitterly waged engagement, Private Hansen, by his indomitable determination, bold tactics and complete disregard of all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his company's mission and to the ultimate capture of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His great personal valor in the face of extreme peril reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service."

From the riders to the flags to the reception afterwards, it was quite a spectacular event to witness.  My husband and I had the privilege of offering our home as a gathering place for not only our family, but the riders who gave their time and talents to a soldier and a family they had never met.  The experience was humbling.  Without a doubt, it made me proud to be a part of this ceremony, and it made me proud to be able to offer our home to those who gave so much to my family.  If only for a little while, everybody was able to come together, cool down, and visit with family and friends whom they had not seen in ages.  It was a wonderful experience, and I only hope that you have such memories to share with your family in your own home.  Welcome Home.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Something to Get Excited About!

That's right folks!  I'm posting pictures of ceilings now, and I am soooo excited!  For 180 days, my husband and I have been living in a dark, ceilingless basement (and yes, ceilingless is the word of the day).   I take that back, we "officially" moved upstairs on Sunday, so technically, we were down there for 177 days.  Still, we've been staring at the open floor joists under two dim lights for purt near half a year.  I'm loving the new recessed lighting, which wasn't a part of our original plan.  We have also eliminated those two large, pesky piles of ceiling tiles that had become a part of our decor for the past six months.  We still have the kitchenette and bathroom to tackle...lots of cutting and tight installation spaces we've been putting off, but the basement is starting to shape up.  In fact, my husband says it looks good enough to move back down there.  He can go right ahead. I'll live in luxury on the main floor where I have developed a new relationship with the sunshine as I finally get to wake up to it each morning streaming through our main floor windows!  Considering it was our goal to have the transition made by March 31st, being three months behind schedule isn't too bad, right?  Trying to do some of the work ourselves has not been ideal with the mild winter we experienced which carried into a busy farming and real estate season.  Time to work on the house has been at a minimum.  Throw in a Master's degree and everything else that needs to be done in life, and those one or two hours we've had to work on it each day don't go very far. 

I've been itching to get to the blog this week. (Literally. From the dust that falls on you when you are trying to replace ceiling tiles).  I've got lots of neat things to post about our place and in the local real estate market.  Stay tuned for a bush that looks like a McDonald's happy meal character, lawn crises, tree diseases, and so much more in and around our humble abode.  Welcome Home!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Keep it Simple

Many sellers in today's market are getting caught up in the real estate TV shows and listening to everything the high profile Los Angeles agents have to say about getting a home sold.  Guess what?  We aren't in L.A.!  This is Wayne, Nebraska, and experience has taught me that the most important thing to getting your home sold these days is...you're not going to believe this...having a CLEAN home!  And when I say clean, I mean CLEAN.  Your home should be so clean that you can smell it when you walk in the front door.  And if you can't smell the clean, ask your best friend to come over and tell you whether or not it smells clean.

The carpets should be vacuumed and free of pet hair, the curtains should be washed and pressed, the light fixtures should be sparkling (and have all burned out light bulbs replaced), and the hard surface floors should be mopped.  Many of us have little time to wash windows, but if you intend to sell your house, I strongly recommend washing the windows, mirrors, light switch covers and door knobs. Don't forget to dust the baseboards and trim in your home and wash any walls that have fingerprints or marks in high traffic areas. 

The reason I bring this up is because I was visiting with someone who had been in the home my husband and I purchased prior to our remodeling projects.  That person made a comment about being able to tell it had not been lived in for a few years due to the dead bugs on the window sills, the cobwebs in the corners and the dust on countertops.  It was a huge turnoff for her.  What really caught my attention was when she looked in our main floor bathroom, which was not remodeled or even painted yet.  A new floor has been installed and it has been cleaned from top to bottom (it even had the same mauve flowered curtains).  This person insisted that the vanity and tub were new because they didn't look the same as before.  They were CLEAN!

This is an item of huge importance when it comes to selling a home.  In fact, the number one comment that I get from buyers is how clean or dirty they perceive a house to be.  Why leave something like that to chance?  A few hours with a vacuum and a date with Mr. Clean can make a big difference!

Nonetheless, if you feel like your old drapes date your home, consider purchasing some long flowing sheers at your local discount store.  I recently picked up a very modern set for my picture window for a grand total of $15 on clearance.  Consider putting a new rug at the front door to welcome people into your home (and to give them a place to kick off shoes before walking on your CLEAN floors), or buy a few throw pillows and a couch cover to hide that small tear in the cushion.  You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to make your home look like a million bucks. Welcome Home!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Psychedelic Shelf Paper


 I had to share my most recent discovery at our home.  Raise your hand if you have ever moved into a home with retro shelf paper lining the kitchen cupboards, bathroom drawers, or closet shelves.  We have it all!  The purpose of lining shelves and drawers with paper years ago was to prevent the wood from being stained or discolored by household products that had a tendency to leak.  Most modern cabinetry has a melamine resin coating that makes shelf paper obsolete, but many people still use it in cupboards where oils, cleaning products, or other liquids may leak.  It is also useful in kitchens with metal cabinetry which has a tendency to rust when exposed to liquids. 

I ran across that beautiful remnant of days past in our master bedroom closet.  With 14 feet of hanging space, dual overhead shelving units, built-in dressers, and double doors, I have no complaints about dealing with a little shelf paper.  The closets are also equipped with lights!  As I was wiping out the drawers, I ran across the awesome shelf liner pictured above.  Thankfully, it was not stuck down on the wood, and it still had the "instructions and uses" on the back side.  I thought some of you might get a kick out of seeing what the Clopay Corporation's recommended uses were for it.  I particularly enjoyed their suggestions for valances, headboards, and entire walls.  Psychedelic!  Welcome Home!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Living in a Fish Bowl


My husband and I have been living in a fish bowl.  My mom came home from a church function last week, and proceeded to tell me that several of the church ladies commented on our home and EVERYTHING that has been going on there.  Mom was kind of surprised because she hadn't been given a progress report recently.  I didn't think people were paying that much attention to our dog and pony show.  I guess those gutters we installed last week were as awesome as the salesman said they were going to be!  Then I got to thinking...maybe it's because we are living in a "fish bowl" for everybody to see what we are doing.  After all, I took our curtains down on the main floor the day we moved in, and I have yet to put new ones up.  I'm thinking I might invest in one of those castles, some seaweed plants, a hollow log, and some colorful pebbles to spread on our living room floor so we can truly make it look like home.

Back in January, we (meaning "I") decided to replace many of the window treatments in our home (my husband would be fine with a bath towel hanging over the window).  I had a definite budget in mind, and I wasn't looking to break the bank.  I started researching online, and shopping around for styles and designs that matched our decor.  As many of you know, window treatments are difficult to purchase until you have furnishings, carpet, and all of the other essential items picked out.  And guess what, they don't sell inexpensive curtains to fit on those funky rods with the string on the end that our grandmas put up back in the 60s and 70s.  You know, the ones that hung out about a foot past the edge of the window on either side so as to let the maximum amount of light in and trick visitors into thinking a person could afford windows the size of a side of a barn.  My first thought was to retrofit modern curtains to work on those rods.  I started by spending one whole Sunday afternoon carefully pinning the material and making each pleat 5 1/4 inches apart only to find that the one panel that should have covered half the window would only cover a small fraction of the window when complete.  No wonder custom curtains are so expensive!  It takes a small army to weave all the fabric needed to stitch them all together!  Needless to say, I scratched that idea and dashed my hopes of opening a custom curtain shop on the side.

Now that I wasn't able to use the existing curtain rods, the task of picking out curtain rods loomed before me.  I looked everywhere trying to find something suitable and reasonably priced only to find exactly what I needed on a last minute trip this weekend to none other than Wal-Mart where I was looking to purchase an ice cream maker and ended up with curtain rods instead.  Hallelujah!

With the promise of using power tools, I conned my hubby into helping me hang the curtains in the living room last night.  The poor guy was covered in grease from head to toe (even in his right ear) from a transmission project earlier in the afternoon, so he even had to change clothes to help because I didn't want my new curtains all greasy.  After a couple of small disagreements about the proper way to go about the job, and a few "I really don't care" comments from the male's point of view, the job was complete.  We can now pull the shade on our fish bowl in at least one room.  Only five more to go. Welcome Home!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Assessed vs. Appraised Value

There are two little words in the language of real estate that are confusing to many home buyers and sellers.  Those words are assessed and appraised.  Trust me, these are two totally different things, but many people use them synonymously.  Let's review the difference.

As a homeowner, you will be confronted with property taxes.  I talk to homeowners everyday that grumble about paying these taxes because they can be a financial burden.  Property taxes are determined by property tax assessments.  These are provided by the assessor in the county where you reside and assessments are used solely for taxation purposes.  So, why do so many people rely on them for determining their property value on the open market?  The simple truth is that most of us think that assessed and appraised mean the same thing.

Look at it this way.  The higher the assessed value of your home, the higher your real estate taxes will be.  As a home seller or buyer, you want to have the lowest assessed value possible.  It is a good thing to have a low comparative valuation in relation to the market value of your home.  Unfortunately, if you decide to sell your home and your assessed value is very low in comparison to the selling price, chances are that the assessed value will increase in relation to the sales price once it passes through the county records.  Bummer.  The buyer now has to deal with an increased assessment on the property and the increased real estate taxes that go along with it.  The good news is that it takes about three years for the assessment to reach its full value in relation to the market value.

County assessors report that assessed valuations are supposed to be within 90 percent of the actual market value of a property.  Technological advances in property valuation techniques have increased the assessor's ability to assess values on properties by making neighborhood comparisons.  Nonetheless, this is not the rule across the board for all properties.  Some valuations have not changed dramatically in several years, particularly in areas where sales are very limited.  In some instances, your assessed value might actually be higher than the market value of your home (meaning that you are paying taxes on a property value that is not supported by the market).  Bummer again.  The good news is that you can protest the assessed value if you have documentation to support the fact that the assessed value is higher than the actual market value of the home (this is where a real estate agent might come in handy!)

So now that you understand what is meant by assessed value, how does that differ from appraised value?   Prior to listing a home, a real estate agent will typically prepare what is known as a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine the listing price for a home.  This is NOT an appraisal, but it follows the principles of appraising to a lesser extent.  Most real estate professionals and lending institutions rely on the appraised value of a home to determine the true market value.  Once you have agreed to purchase a home, your bank will require an appraisal be performed by a licensed appraiser.  This person is NOT someone affiliated with the property or the sale of the real estate in any way.  This person will make efforts to review all aspects of your property from square footage to condition to sales history in order to give you an independent, unbiased opinion of the value.  Sometimes the value aligns with the purchase price, sometimes it is higher, and sometimes it is lower.  All in all, the purpose of the appraisal is to support or reject the sales price of the property to guarantee that your lender is making a safe investment by lending you money.  The appraised value is a reliable tool for determining the true market value of your property. 

To summarize, do not be fooled into thinking that the assessed value is a true representation of the market value of your property.  As the saying goes, "the only sure thing in life is taxes," but the saying does not indicate that the county assessor knows what your property is worth on the open market.  Do not base your home's purchase or selling price off of the assessed value of the home!  This will often be an inaccurate evaluation of the market value, and you may be selling your property for less than it is truly worth.  Rely on the expertise of a real estate professional or a professional appraiser to identify the market value based on their knowledge of comparative market analysis or appraisal.  Welcome Home.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fountains and Fish Ponds

Prior to last weekend's much welcomed rains, my husband and I decided it was finally time to check out the old underground sprinkler system at our home.  We hadn't inspected it prior to closing because we closed in the dead of winter.  I am a bit of a conservationist, so I try not to waste too much water on watering the lawn.  However, I still like to keep it from going totally brown and turning into a barren wasteland (I am a farmer's daughter, and that is my "farm ground," after all).  With the help of my brother Dale (that guy is incredibly handy!) we cycled through the stations on our sprinkler system.  Everything was good until we got to station 7.  Suddenly, it looked like we had Old Faithful in our backyard!  A sprinkler head was broken off and water was shooting up as high as the treetops.  I wish I had some pictures to share the excitement!  Dale started laughing and said, "well, at least you have good water pressure!"  My idea was to dig the hole out and make a coy pond with a fountain in the center of our backyard.  Tim did not care for this idea.  Grumbling, I added "sprinkler head" to our unending to-do list.

I'm sure many of you can relate to our list of things to complete at our home.  This time of year gives everybody the itch to start doing things in and around the home.  The beautiful weather and longer daylight hours add to the enticement of working outside.  Weeding, trimming, and mowing lawn are a few of my favorite things to do in the summer time. Many of you probably don't know, but Tim is quite handy with a wrench, and he refurbished an old Allis Chalmers lawn mower especially for our lawn in town.  He got everything finished except for the muffler, so until planting season winds down, we will be the folks that sound like we are having the lawn mower version of Thunder by the River every time we mow lawn.  It gives our neighbors something to point and stare at, and we're all about bringing new life to the neighborhood!:)

I hope that you are finding time for all of those activities you have planned around your home.  If you are tired of working on your current home, we have seen some excellent new listings coming on the market in the local area.  Check out some of the great homes we have for sale at 1st Realty this spring:

This great home at 1312 Meadow Lane is located on a quiet street provides a great view of the evening sunsets.  It offers 3-bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 2-car garage. Enjoy the spacious living room, formal dining room, and eat-in kitchen.
Check out 803 Grainland Road with a great country view as well!  Features include a master bath, functional kitchen, large rear deck, gas fireplace, and newer roof and windows. 
This wonderful acreage north of Wayne provides the perfect country setting and the convenience of being located along Highway 15!  With a total of 6 bedrooms, it has plenty of room for the entire family and guests!  Enjoy the extra space provided by the detached 2-car garage and .86 acres of room to run!
This townhouse at 1010 East 14th Street is move-in ready with 3-bedrooms, 2 baths, and a full basement.  No steps from the garage or front door make it the perfect place to retire!  Mowing and snow removal is covered by the monthly association fee!
Invest in your future with this home at 221 Lincoln Street.  Reasonably priced at $41,000, it has potential as a rental property with 2-bedrooms and a full, unfinished basement.
This newer home at 1527 Vintage Hill Drive was built in 1997.  The floor plan includes 3-bedrooms, 2 baths, a formal dining room, and kitchen with dinette. The corner lot has a great view of the fields to the east and the unfinished basement offers lots of potential for any owner!
Consider the benefits of living in a small town, and take a look at this beautiful home in Concord.  Just 10 minutes north of Wayne, this home has been completely remodeled.  The original woodwork is in excellent shape, and the owners have taken great pride in the improvements.  A new roof and new exterior paint are to be completed this spring.  Listed at $89,500, this home is a great deal!


Be sure to visit www.1strealtysales.com for all of our latest listings.  Keep up to date with information in the world of real estate, and see what's happening in my blog!  I look forward to working with you this year!  Welcome Home!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Tribute

I've been absent from the blogging scene for a few weeks due to some drastic changes that have occurred in our lives.  My grandfather passed away on March 26th after a short battle with cancer and emergency surgery.  In many respects, the timing was not good, but then again, it never is when you lose a loved one.  In the midst of everything, we are still working slowly on the house.  I must commend everybody who has helped us during the past few weeks and who has provided understanding during the times when Tim and I couldn't be there to give our assistance.  Particularly, the Karpet Shop of Norfolk for finishing our tile work and carpeting, Doescher Appliance of Wayne for installing and moving our appliances, Discount Furniture of Wayne for delivering our living room and bedroom furniture that has been stored in their warehouse for 3 months, and Russ Loberg Electric of Wisner for putting the finishing touches on the wiring.  It was a relief to know that I could trust these folks to handle the work without us being present, and it was nice to come home to the finished product after the long days prior to and following the funeral.

This house is my tribute to Grandpa and the many things he taught his grandchildren throughout the years.  The day after grandpa died, we installed a flag pole in our front yard in his memory.  He was always proud of his country and the service he and his older brother, Dale, had given it during World War II.  Dale was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valiant actions on Okinawa just days before he was killed in action by a sniper.  My younger brother is also named after him.  Grandpa taught us the meaning of service, valor and honor.

My grandfather was bit of a perfectionist, and I must admit that I inherited the same gene (much to my husband's dismay).  With the remaining cement from setting the flag pole, we also fixed broken section of the curb that borders the street running north of our house.  Grandpa couldn't stand it when his curbs had chunks of broken cement missing out of them, and my dad, brothers, and I spent a few Saturdays helping him replace portions where the snow plow or a car tire got a little too close.  I am thankful that he taught me and my brothers how to do this task.  He instilled a sense of pride for owning your own property and keeping it in good shape. 

Grandpa told me several times after we purchased the home that he was coming down to see it after we were finished with the remodeling.  He insisted on waiting until we were done because he didn't want to "bother" us.  He understood that we were busy, and he always felt like he was in the way if we were in the middle of a project.  I would always laugh when he interjected about the way something "should be done" versus the way we were going to do it.  He liked to share his knowledge, and he enjoyed being able to have a say in what was happening. We should have made a point to have him visit sooner.

As I've said many times before, a house is more than shelter.  It is a place of great memories and good times with family and friends.  Don't put off those visits from loved ones because you feel like you don't have the time or things aren't in the order you want them.  All they care about is seeing you.  I know that Grandpa is proud of how far we have come with our house and in some way, he is talking to us to make sure we are doing things right.  We wouldn't have it any other way.  Welcome Home.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Excuse Our Mess...

...we're under construction!"  I'm not sure how many times I've said this since the first of this year.  In all honesty, I might miss that excuse when I no longer have it.  After all, it has made my life easier.

Didn't make the bed this morning.  No problem.  "We're under construction."  Didn't do the dishes last night.  "We're under construction."  Didn't fold the clothes in the laundry basket or clear the papers off the table before company showed up.  "We're under construction." 

Do you see where I'm going with this?  When you are in construction mode, it doesn't matter if your house is a mess.  And even though the things I mentioned have nothing to do with the construction happening on the main floor, I still get away with that excuse.  Everybody understands!  I mean, why clean up when you are just going to have a puff of drywall dust finely coating everything the next day anyway?  After all, life is about more than just cleaning up those everyday messes.  Your home is built to "live" in and life is messy!

So, remember, the next time you have some unexpected guests show up and the house isn't looking just right, say, "Excuse our mess, we're under construction."  When your guests question what you are actually constructing, all you have to say is, "I'm building a life."  Trust me, they'll understand. Welcome Home.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jimmy-Rigged

My husband and I left two weeks ago for a honeymoon trip to the National Farm Show in Louisville, KY (exotic, I know!)  We had our electrician lined up to wire our kitchen and back office with new outlets, GFCIs and recessed lighting while we were gone so we could proceed with drywall this week.  My brother was gracious enough to offer to help during the process and to make sure our plans were carried out to specification.  Our hope was to come home to a kitchen with a whole new look including recessed lighting and insulation.  Well, it definitely had a whole new look, alright!  Wood shavings, plaster cutouts, attic insulation, and a tangled mess of old wiring and electrical boxes greeted us in the kitchen.  In the defense of our electrician and my brother, they were working on a tight schedule.  To their credit, this turned into a way bigger job than any of us truly anticipated.  You see, our house is what I will call "jimmy-rigged."  We had lights in the bedrooms connected to outlets in the kitchen, and fixtures that were grounded while others were not.  The stove, fridge, dishwasher, disposal and kitchen lights were all on the same circuit.  I can just imagine that five years ago, the owners had to be careful not to have the kitchen lights on while cooking or else they would blow a fuse (OK, maybe not that extreme, but it is not a wiring system that would work for today's modern appliances and home computers.)  

Fast forward to this week where we have seen our drywall going up.  The third coat of drywall mud is going on the seams as we speak and the look of the house is really starting to change.  It is amazing how recessed lighting can modernize the look of any space.  We have almost every inch of flooring pulled out on the main floor, and we are working on getting the baseboards and trim pulled off in the rooms that didn't need new drywall.  New windows are coming next week along with the kitchen cabinets.  Once we get the green light that the drywallers are done, we will be pushing to get the kitchen and laundry area painted to stay ahead of the cabinet installers.  Don't be surprised if I'm sporting some paint highlights in my hair when you see me in the next couple of weeks!

Now, comes the issue of where to stop with the trimwork.  We have one area of our kitchen where the carpet was literally glued to the plaster wall in the place of wood trim.  I scraped for an hour on that glu-ey, sticky mess last night trying to make it so the drywallers might be able to skim coat over it and even out the imperfections.  The rest of our existing trim was installed with an overabundance of 2.5 inch finish nails, which caused the brittle wood to split in several places as we were removing it and also left big holes in the plaster that isn't getting replaced.  We were warned that the fellow who built this house never intended for it to come apart, and that is no joke!  They should use our building materials to line the vault of Fort Knox! Unfortunately, trimming is tedious and exact work that requires precise cuts to get everything to fit just right. I'm going to warn everybody right now that our house will be the one that you come to 5 years from now to find that the trim still hasn't been installed.  We've all been there before!

For those of you who were concerned that you hadn't heard about the house for a couple of weeks, we are still alive and we are still married.  On a side note, I had the privilege of sharing my real estate experiences last weekend at a women's conference, and I think the attendees enjoyed hearing that we are all in the same boat when it comes to making a house a home.  The important thing to keep in mind is that these things don't happen overnight.  It is so rewarding to see the progress being made at home each and every day.  My husband even admitted earlier this week that he has stopped dreading coming home each night (I'm still not quite sure how to take that comment).  For the time being, I'm going to assume he means that although he loves his wife, it is hard to come home each night and be faced with the daunting task of putting a puzzle back together again while living at the mercy of contractors, deadlines and other commitments. ;)  Just remember, despite what happens each day, life does go on.  You'll get through it so long as you remember to take one step at a time and enjoy the little victories.  Welcome Home.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Progress Report

For the last month and a half I have been wondering when everything was going to come to a head with our new home.  By that, I mean, when would our cupboards come in, when would the plumbing get fixed, and when would I generally need to have my act together?  It appears that it was this week, and it came just as I was getting used to dodging the handle on the toolbox that kept gouging my leg each time I stumbled to the garage door as I was leaving for work.  

We received the call that our cabinets and countertops had arrived from the factory on Monday, so I anxiously sprung into action to see what our plumber and electrician had in mind for the next couple of weeks.  Our plumber, Chuck, showed up the next day to reevaluate our game plan.  He has pretty much finished with everything he can do until the cabinets are installed.  Our flooring installers were scheduled to start with underlayment next Tuesday.  Due to a cancellation, they showed up yesterday!  Tim and I frantically worked into the night on Wednesday to get the subfloor prepped and get all of the tools out of the way so they could do their job with little obstruction.  This entailed removing the existing floor boards, vent covers, toilets, and other miscellaneous things that were in the way.  Without hesitation, Tim pushed the old dishwasher and disposal line through the existing hole in the kitchen floor because those will now be in a different location.  As soon as he did it, I heard the sound of rushing water, and I saw him put his eye up to the hole in the floor to see what was happening in the basement below.  This was followed by an expletive and a dash down the basement steps.  Neither one of us even considered that the line would contain some of the stagnant water that didn't drain when it was unhooked. There it sat in a black puddle on our orange, black and gold carpet which has lovingly been deemed our "tiger" carpet.  The horrible smelling concoction managed to also splatter into two pairs of my shoes, one of the cushions on our brand new folding chair set and a basket of dirty clothes (thank goodness they weren't washed and folded already!)  Considering it was already late in the evening, it was not the type of mess (or smell) that either one of us wanted to deal with.  I immediately grabbed some paper towels and extra strength carpet spot remover to see if I could mitigate the damage.  After three spot treatments and about an hour's worth of time, you can't even tell it happened!

I thought I might share a few photos to document our progress.  Pay particular attention to the beautiful mosaic of colorful flooring we currently have in our basement.  I am growing more and more attached to it each day because it gives our house its own personality:

Dining Room on closing day.  Water damaged carpet removed and new subfloor already installed.

The pretty in pink bathroom on closing day
Our original "drive-in, back-out" kitchen with new subfloor on closing day.

The office: paneling and burnt orange carpet soon-to-be drywall and new carpet!

Our "tiger" carpet in the basement family room.  Looks as good as the day it was installed in 1968.

Floral design shag in the basement bedroom.  Lots of color combinations for decorating.

Yellow-green shag in basement bathroom.  Warm and comfortable on the feet!

Kitchen with plaster/drywall and cabinetry removed plus new flooring underlayment installed. Imagine the 6' eating bar and new chestnut stained oak cabinets!

Living Room drop zone looking into the dining room/kitchen
 For those of you who have taken on a remodeling project, I salute you.  The value it adds to your home and your personal life is a good investment in today's market.  Tim and I have learned a lot about each other during our short stint so far as husband and wife.  He's particularly impressed that I actually do know a little bit about houses and construction (considering I'm a real estate agent that sells houses rather than builds them), and I'm in love with the fact that he can tackle almost any project and figure out how to get it done on a budget.  Stay tuned for next week's post about the interesting ice sculptures that form when your gutters leak and the water refreezes in the bushes that sit underneath them!  Welcome Home!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sentimental Value

Well, I officially SOLD the first home that I ever had the privilege of owning today.  It was a bittersweet moment as I handed over the keys to my big brother so he and his future wife and her little boy can start their new life together there.  The reality didn't really sink in until this past Sunday as my husband and I were moving the last of my things.  We were standing in the kitchen and he gave me a big hug and said, "I know how much you love this house.  I love this house."  It hadn't even dawned on me that so much sentiment could be contained in one little house.  There is much more to it than just the financial value.  We reminisced about our first date, the first kiss on the front porch, and the time I used gasoline to start the charcoal briquets on the grill and nearly burned the whole house down.  We had a good laugh about our friend that stumbled in the bathroom and put his head through the wall (that one tested my drywall skills) as well as the time my neighbors blackened my mailbox post with a fireworks display and then blamed it on somebody else.  We also talked about all of our little home "improvement" projects that tested our relationship from the very beginning and my housewarming party that took place over 6 1/2 years ago (long before I even knew Tim).  That house provided warmth, comfort, shelter, and oh so many wonderful memories.  As the saying goes, "if only those walls could talk..."  It was more than just a house, it was a home. 

I haven't had much time in the last two months to reflect on all of the good things that came out of that house.  All I can say is that it is in good hands.  It is time for someone else to make that house their home.  My only hope is that my brother and his family get as much enjoyment out of it and create as many memories as I am taking with me.  And, I look forward to being a part of the memories they make there.  Congratulations Tom, Sandra, and Anthony!  Welcome Home.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Downsizing...

I used to think that I lived a pretty minimalist lifestyle.  For years, I didn't have cable TV, I always shopped for bargains, and I never have liked having a lot of stuff just sitting around.  Apparently, I was just really good at being a pack rat and storing things in places where the naked eye could not see them.  Places like the top shelf of every closet, the storage space under the stairway in the basement, the kitchen "catch-all" drawer, etc.  Never before did I realize how much I really had until this past weekend.  I have been gradually moving the past 3 weeks, taking a carload here and there whenever I had a few spare moments.  I thought I was nearing the end, and I asked Mom to come help me doing some final cleaning on my house in Wayne last Saturday so we could finish up.  Low and behold, we filled two cars, a pickup and an SUV with the miscellaneous items I had left, and there is STILL a trailer load of stuff to be hauled to Wisner!  I couldn't figure out where this stuff was coming from!

Once every vehicle was packed so full that it rendered the rear view mirror useless, we formed a caravan like a bunch of traveling gypsies and made our way to Wisner.  I unloaded the pickup first, and Mom packed things in the store room.  It was then that I figured out how I fit all of that stuff into my house...I inherited my mother's gene for making it look like we didn't have as much stuff as we actually do.  She managed to fit an entire pickup load of boxes onto three shelves in a five foot wide storage area.  It was the most amazing thing I've seen in ages!  In that little space, it didn't look like much at all, and I was feeling better about things.  But, the thought was lurking that it was going to take a whole pickup load if we ever intended to move again.  Then, Dad stopped in on Sunday after church, looked around, and said, "You should be a lot richer."  (Meaning that I should have put my money in the bank instead of buying all of that stuff!)  2012 is definitely going to be the year for downsizing!

Last night, I started moving boxes around and organizing the store room to accommodate for more construction (fingers crossed we start rolling around February 1st).  This was the third or fourth time that I've handled some of those boxes, and vowed that I would not purchase anymore kitchen appliances, pots, pans, towels, wall hangings, home decor, clothes, or anything else for that house unless I got rid of two (or four) things that I already have.  Watch out Goodwill, it's going to be a busy year! 

Now, I'm devoted to being a bit more like my husband who showed up on moving day with a recliner, a box of equipment manuals, his clothes, and a flashlight.  (If we had a machine shed to house his tools, tractors and equipment, his move would be a different story, too.)  I, on the other hand, have worn a rut in Highways 15 and 275 with two stock trailers and 20+/- car loads.  I am taking a stand to never move that much stuff again.  Here's to cleaning out the store room, emptying the closets, and overcoming the gene that causes me to save EVERYTHING.  Welcome Home!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our 1-Bedroom Basement Apartment

Tim and I have been jokingly referring to our new home as our 1-bedroom basement apartment for a couple of weeks now.  I keep waiting for a sweet little old lady to holler down the basement steps to let us know that she has some homemade cookies fresh out of the oven (but that would require having an oven first).  We have visited with many a married couple that started out their lives this way.  In some ways, it feels like we have reverted back to our college days (sans the afternoon naps and generally carefree lifestyle).  Back then, we would put up with pretty much anything just to have a place of our own.  The one-basin cast iron sink would have held at least a week's worth of dirty dishes, the loveseat and TV stands would have made for some elegant dining, and the electric blue shag carpet would have hidden a year's worth of not having time to vacuum.  I didn't know Tim back in college, but I'm guessing that so long as he had a place to sleep at night, he was fine.  Really, he would probably be fine living with the bare plywood subflooring upstairs, but there is always a woman to mess up a guy's plan for life.


As time goes on, we are both adapting the changes that moving created for us, and we are also liking our home more each day.  It has many great features, and a little tweaking will make everything perfect for us.  I have worked with many home buyers and sellers over the years, and this experience has made me appreciate the ability to see the potential in a property.  One of the best parts about working with buyers is getting to see a home once they have added their own personal touch to it.  Whether it's paint colors, carpeting, window treatments, or a complete remodel, a home really can take on an entirely new personality once someone with a vision goes to work on it.  A home, in many ways, defines a person's style, taste, and character.  It provides insight and serves as an oasis of solitude and comfort.   When it comes right down to it, there really is no place like home.

So far this week, our home has proven to be watertight.  (Chalk one up for Tim and Trish!)  After having a near miss with the partially opening garage door on Monday morning, Tim did spend some time fixing the tension to make it open all the way.  We have both continued to fill every nook and cranny in the basement with our "stuff," and it looks promising that we might actually be able to squeeze it all in down there until the upstairs is ready for us.  When we first moved in, it seemed like we had a ton of space, but now that we are starting to fill in the gaps with the "stuff" of two households, we are lucky to keep a path through the living room.  We've considered setting up a maze and charging admission to our dog and pony show to help pay for the remodeling!  Luckily, we are on schedule so far with our plans.  As soon as the plumber and electrician have a chance to do their thing, we will be ready for the sheet rock.  The kitchen cabinets and flooring have been ordered and should arrive mid-February.  Until then, we are content in our 1-bedroom basement apartment and patiently wait for those fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies to show up.  Welcome Home!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Plaster Dust and Shower Heads

I left off last week with things in a bit of disarray at our new home.  Friday night, I opened the basement cupboard door to reach for a plate, and I noticed that we had sprung yet another leak.  This time, it was coming from the 1/2 bath off the main entrance from the garage.  I love this feature because it is near the laundry area and it makes for a great place to wash up after working outside.  However, that loving relationship soon turned to despise as it was Friday night, I was tired, it was late, and we had nowhere to go to get parts to fix the leak.  I was beginning to think that we should have bought a boat to float us down the Elkhorn River on the stream of water that seemed to be coming from every orifice in our house besides the ones it needed to go into or out of.  Nonetheless, Tim was able to loosen the shut off and tighten a nut underneath the sink and stop the leak enough to allow us to get some parts on Saturday. 

My little brother and I worked on taking the remainder of the plaster out of the kitchen on Saturday afternoon.  We can't do anything without a power tool, so we had plenty of dust flying throughout the main floor by the time Tim got home from work.  Of course, he was ready to go to Menards before I had a chance to clean up, so we left for Norfolk in a hurry with me looking like Casper the ghost due to the plaster dust.  Wouldn't you know it, we ran into three other couples we knew while we were shopping.  You can about imagine that every conversation started out, "So, uh, did you have a fight with a flour sack?"  If I would have been dressed to the hilt, we wouldn't have run into anybody we knew.  The Law of Personal Encounters always works that way.

After getting home from Norfolk, the first plan of attack was to install a new shower head to replace the one that sprayed an enormous amount of water pressure on everything except the person showering.  Tim grumbled a little bit because it was late, but it was a 2-minute project that made his wife very happy.  No more sopping wet bathroom floor, no more moving the head all around to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, and no skin indentations from where the three or four working water spouts hit me.  It's like a totally new shower!

On Sunday, we made a second trip to Menards to get everything that we forgot on Saturday night.  We had purchased several doorknobs the week of closing only to realize that apparently door knob sizes have changed a bit since 1968.  The one doorknob we bought on Saturday was the right size, and we found that it fit perfectly in the basement walk-out door.  Thinking we had scored a victory, we decided that we should purchase more knobs to put on the main floor doors so we at least had more than one working lock to get into the house.  We started installing the new doorknobs only to find that the main floor doors were fitted slightly different than the basement.  Who would have guessed that 1/16 of an inch could make so much difference?  And, again, the hubby was grumbling.  We got all five knobs changed with a little help from a reciprocating saw and a few less-than-desirable words being said.  At least nobody lost a finger to the saw and a door knob covered one little "whoopsie" we had.

All in all, we accomplished everything we set out to do this weekend, and my socks didn't even get soggy walking into the bathroom this morning.  Life is good.  Welcome Home!