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.
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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'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.