Missouri Real Estate News

Feb. 25, 2020

The Difference Between a Home Warranty and Home Insurance

 

A home is one of the biggest investments that you’ll ever make. Protecting it is essential. Two ways to protect your home are a home warranty and home owner’s insurance. While the two products have some similarities, they are quite different from one another. Here’s how.

 

What They Are

 

A home warranty is a contract that covers the repair or replacement of certain components in your home. Warranties typically last 12 months and can be renewed. You do not need one to purchase a house.

 

Home insurance is a policy that covers damages to your home that were caused by storms, floods, fires, or theft. Like warranties, insurance is renewed every year. Unlike a warranty, insurance is mandatory when buying a house using a mortgage. Your lender requires you to have insurance on the house for the duration of your mortgage.

 

What They Protect

 

A home warranty covers the repair or replacement of components like your HVAC, kitchen appliances, plumbing, and electrical work. In some cases, it may protect a pool or spa as well.

Say your HVAC were to break down. You can call out a professional to assess the situation and either repair or replace the unit. You would only be responsible for the service fee. The warranty covers the actual repairs or replacement.

 

Home insurance covers the cost of any damage to your home and personal belongings in the event of a storm or other disaster. Policies typically cover the inside and outside of the structure, personal property, and general liability should there be injuries.

 

If a tree falls on your house, an insurance adjuster comes to your home and assesses the damage. You pay your deductible and receive a check for the remainder of the balance so that you can fix your home and replace damaged items. Typically, higher deductibles result in lower premiums.

 

Which One Do You Need?

 

A home insurance policy is a requirement to purchase a home if you plan to have a mortgage. You cannot finance the purchase of a home without it. A warranty isn’t a requirement, but it can still be a good idea. Home insurance doesn’t cover normal wear and tear of the essential components in your home. For optimal protection, it’s a good idea to consider having both types of policies.

 

Protecting your home isn’t just a good idea, it’s vital. Purchasing a warranty and insurance can help to keep your home, and your belongings safe should something happen.

Posted in News
Feb. 11, 2020

Which Home Improvement Projects Pay Off the Most?

 

If you're planning on selling your house and have all these grand home improvement plans, remember that not all renovations are created equal when it comes to a return on investment. When remodeling your home in preparation for sale, know what pays off the most so that you can get the most bang for your buck and a tidy sum in equity.

 

Minor Kitchen Remodels

 

You might think that your dated kitchen needs a complete gut job, but that doesn't necessarily have to be true. Even small remodels can make a kitchen look a lot less dismal than it might have looked at first glance. For example, rather than replacing your hideously dated cabinets from the 1970s, try giving them a coat of paint and new hardware to transform their look. Additionally, new appliances can be a showstopper and bring the kitchen into the 21st century. It doesn't have to be a large and expensive upgrade to get buyers' attention.

 

Wooden Deck Upgrades

 

People love having a place outdoors to sit and relax. If you're thinking about replacing or possibly upgrading your deck, this is a great way to see the money you're putting into your home come back into your pocket. Make your deck an outdoor paradise by giving it a modern facelift and ensuring that it is safe and up to code as you do.

 

Window Replacements

 

Energy-efficient upgrades are all the buzz in the home improvement world, which means that if you purchase windows marked with the Energy Star label then you are making a fantastic choice. Buyers love to see that there are already green upgrades to the home because that means that they are reducing their carbon footprint while saving money on their monthly utility bills. Energy-efficient windows are made with a special film that absorbs harmful UV light and keeps heat inside when it's cold and cool air inside when it's warm out.

 

Bathroom Remodels

 

Already one of the most expensive rooms in the house, buyers also love to see a newly refinished bathroom. Fresh plumbing and updated flooring mean that not only is there less of a chance that something will malfunction down the road, but also that everything is clean and fresh for the new owners.

 

Selling your house can be expensive, there's no question about it. But when you see the return on your investment through home improvement tactics, pat yourself on the back for doing what needs to be done to get the most out of your home renovation.

Posted in News
Jan. 28, 2020

How to Make Your Home a Smart Home

 

Virtually everything in your home, including garage doors, lights, thermostats, and air conditioners, can be connected through the internet and remotely controlled using a smart speaker or mobile device. While this is true, the so-called smart home can be truly mind-boggling there are more than a few different accessories that only work with some products and there are some that work better than others. Some tips to help with the creation of a smart home can be found here.

 

Select the Right Smart Home Assistant

 

There are several virtual voice-controlled assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apples Siri, which make it simple to control various smart home products by using simple commands, such as Alexa, turn the lights off.Every one of these tools has specific weaknesses and strengths, so its a good idea to choose the one that will work best for your needs.

 

Select the Hardware You Want to Use 

 

After you have selected the virtual assistant that you want to use, you can choose the hardware that will be the main control for your new smart home. If you choose Amazon, you can choose products such as the Echo Show, Echo, and Echo Dot. If you use Googles Assistant, you can use a newer Android smartphone for controlling your home or a Google Home device. With Apple, you can choose from an Apple Watch, an iPad, or iPhone. Remember, these devices do require you to invest in your new smart home, so keep this in mind before moving forward.

 

What to Control with Your Smart Home 

 

Once you have created a smart, connected home, you need to begin implementing various smart devices to connect to your command center. You can implement doorbells, lights, garage doors, locks, security systems, and more. Each of these things can then be connected by the control center that you have selected (mentioned above).

 

By understanding the smart home devices that are available and how to create your own smart home, you can ensure that your home provides everything you need and that it is innovative and tech advanced. Being informed and understanding all the technology that is now available is the best way to ensure that the desired results are available. You can also work with the professionals to help ensure that your smart home is fully connected and that no serious issues arise, regardless of what your goals for the home are.

Posted in News
Jan. 14, 2020

Tips for Keeping a Flu Free Home

 

As wintertime rolls in and brings about its yearly regimen of sniffles and sneezing, oftentimes a winter cold can morph into the flu if left untreated. If you or someone in your home is encountering the beginning stages of the flu, take action immediately to make yours a flu-free home. You already know how important washing your hands is to a healthy home, what else do you need to do to take action?

 

Disinfect Everything

 

Well, maybe not everything, but when someone is on the brink of getting sick then the best possible thing you can do to keep everyone else healthy is to go through your home armed with disinfectant spray and some cleaning cloths. Some areas that are especially nasty and should be sanitized include:

 

           Doorknobs and light switches

           TV and video game remotes, cell phones and tablets

           Areas of the kitchen and bathroom that are touched regularly: Handles, knobs, faucets, and buttons

 

Bacteria spread disease. Eliminate it from your home to ensure that everyone else stays healthy.

 

Make Use of Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine

 

Hand-washing oddly shaped items can be a great way to ensure that you've killed all the hiding germs, but don't forget that you have appliances at your disposal to help simplify that task. Your dishwasher and washing machine are two invaluable tools to help you during the flu season.

 

Use your dishwasher for things like:

 

           Hard plastic toys

           Bathroom items like toothbrushes, cups and soap dishes

           Shelves and inserts from inside of the refrigerator (use the heated dry cycle with caution with plastic items!)

 

Use your washing machine for softer items such as:

 

           Stuffed animals and soft kids' toys

           Blankets and yes, even pillows

           Dog items like bedding and toys

There are so many other ways that you can use the two for things other than their intended use. Be creative when you look at your home and decide what needs to be cleaned for the sick season.

 

Clean Your Cleaning Tools

 

Sound redundant? It isn't. If you don't disinfect your cleaning tools between uses, all you're doing is spreading the infection from one surface to another. Toss mop heads in the washer, swap out rags and sponges often and wipe down your vacuum with sanitizing wipes.

 

Creating a flu-free home takes a little bit of work, but if you can keep your family healthy then it's well worth it. Decide how to maximize the tools you have available to you as you go about your home disinfecting.

Posted in News
Dec. 23, 2019

Why Should You Buy a House in Winter?

winter-house-buying

Whenever you’re planning on buying a house, you’ll face certain challenges. Price, competition, and negotiations are always complicated. There is a simple tip to make the process a little easier, however. If you are in the early stages of your home search, if you can wait until winter, you’ll find it simpler to get the upper hand in several ways. Here are the big ones.

Less Competition

In the wintertime, most sellers are waiting until the spring or summer to put their homes on the market. That means there is less inventory to look at, but that also means you’ll have fewer offers to compete with. This can give you an upper hand when negotiating and counter-offering.

Sellers Are Motivated

If you’re buying a house in winter, you’ll notice that prices are lower. This is because most people selling in winter are motivated. In some cases, they need to move because of a new job. In others, their house has been on the market since spring or summer, and they’ve lowered their asking price. It’s not uncommon for a person or family to find themselves in a new home before their old one has sold. After a few months of paying two mortgages, sellers become very motivated to lower their prices.

Realtors Are Motivated

Because of the lower inventory and a general seasonal business slowdown, realtors are more motivated than usual to close deals. This can benefit a buyer in many ways. A realtor knows the fair price for buying a house in the neighborhood, but also know what people are paying for houses there. If an offer is even close to reasonable, they will do everything they can to close the deal and help hit their sales goals in the slow winter months. An unmotivated seller can be swayed by their realtor if they explain the reality that a lower offer is better than keeping the house on the market for extra months. All of this is true if you are hiring a realtor to help you buy as well. They’re ready to make a deal and will happily handle negotiations for you.

The prospect of staging a home for open houses in winter is not appealing, and neither is the task of moving. On the other hand, as a seller, you may find your home moves quicker in the colder months, and those looking to purchase a home will find it to be a buyer’s market!

Posted in News
Dec. 10, 2019

Tips for Attending an Open House

open-house

 

Whether you’re looking to break out of your apartment complex, starting a new life with your partner, or investing in property, the open house is the best way to understand the housing market in your area. Online and print listings are a fair enough place to start, but staged pictures rarely tell the whole story. That’s why it’s important to get in and see the place yourself. Here are some open house tips that will help you succeed, no matter what your goal is.

 

Do Your Homework

 

Make a game plan by using all the resources at your disposal to see what houses are open. This can be a fun weekly activity during your house hunt, and as time goes by, it will help you understand the housing landscape in your area. You’ll get a sense for fair market value, and see which realtors are major players, making this one of the more surprisingly invaluable open house tips. Refer to online listings and social media, smartphone apps, newspapers and magazines, and drive around to plot out your weekend open house tour.

 

Be the First In

 

Getting to the open house at the very beginning may mean you get the realtor or host’s undivided attention. This gives you a chance to get down to brass tacks with them and ask the critical questions (more on that later) while being able to explore without bumping into people.

 

Greet the Neighbors

 

This may seem like one of the more strange open house tips, but it can pay off. If you like the property and are serious about making an offer, take a walk around the couple of blocks that are closest to the house. Keep an eye open for potential red flags like abandoned or neglected properties, but also take time to greet and speak with neighbors who are out. Tell them you’re interested in making an offer. They may have some inside info about the seller or neighborhood. If they’re not friendly, that may be a warning sign.

 

Crucial Questions

 

Finally, here are the best questions to ask a realtor/open house host:

  • When is the seller moving, and when do they want to close?
  • Have any offers been made?
  • Is the price flexible, and has it changed since the home was listed?
  • How long has the home been on the market?
  • What are the average utility costs, and is it in need of any major renovations?
  •  

Use these tips to confidently walk into an open house, regardless of your goals.

Posted in News
Nov. 25, 2019

8 Tips to Improve the Value of Your Home

improve-home-value

 

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your home for personal use or future resale, several specific improvements improve home value. Continue reading to find out how you can get the greatest return on the money you spend.

 

Kitchen

 

The number one feature home buyers are looking for is an updated kitchen. Buyers want to know they can move in and immediately start cooking in the kitchen. While this doesn’t mean you need to tear down your existing kitchen, it’s a good idea to start by updating the cabinets, countertops, and flooring.

 

Flex Space

 

Because of the varying needs of home buyers, a room that can be considered flex space is ideal. Finishing a basement is a great way to easily provide flex space. A room that can be used as an office, playroom, etc. is great for improving home value.

 

Energy-Efficient

 

One improvement that benefits you and future home buyers are increased energy efficiency. Simple improvements include high-efficiency windows, LED lights and an energy-efficient water heater. Purchasing a home isn’t the only cost of homeownership: maintenance and energy costs can easily add up.

 

Stress-Free

 

Plan your home improvements around the goal to reduce work and stress. Homebuyers today want to purchase a home that isn’t going to take a lot of ongoing work or maintenance. For example, instead of installing carpet, consider flooring that has a longer lifespan like tile or luxury vinyl tile.

 

Long-Lasting

 

Homeowners want to know they can enjoy the home for many years. There are simple improvements you can make to increase the comfort of your home for older people. Comfort-height toilets and walk-in showers are just a few low-cost improvements in this category.

 

Paint

 

A fresh coat of paint quickly improves the feel and value of a home. If you’re selling your home, don’t spend a fortune repainting every room; however, spend the time and money to update any noticeably damaged walls.

 

Landscape

 

Your outdoor landscape says a lot about the overall maintenance of your home. A well-groomed lawn and landscaping communicate that you take care of your home. Be sure to balance out landscaping by planting low-maintenance trees, shrubs, and flowers.

 

Technology

 

When adding technology to your home, make smart choices. For example, installing a programmable thermostat and a whole-house generator are improvements that will last for many years.

 

If you’re looking to increase your home value, consider these eight tips that will give you the most return on your investment.

Posted in News
Nov. 13, 2019

Winter Preparation for Homeowners

 

When the summer heat begins to change into cooler autumn temperatures, it's time to start considering all the ways you can improve your home before winter rears its ugly head. Stay ahead of the game and depend on these winter preparation techniques to get your home maintenance off to a great start.

 

Scan Your Roof Thoroughly

 

There's nothing more worrisome than having a faulty roof just ahead of a large impending storm. Before the clouds start rolling in, give your roof a thorough inspection. Look for any missing or broken shingles that can allow water to leak through, whether from a passing rainstorm or due to slow-melting snow, taking note of any broken flashing seals around your chimney and vents, as well. If you need help with this winter preparation maneuver, call on a handyman to check into a few small repairs, or contact a professional roofer for bigger jobs.

 

Clear the Gutters and Redirect Water Overflow

 

Any amount of debris such as built-up leaves and dirt can cause issues with your gutter system, causing a blockage that can lead to roof or lining damage, as well as potential leaks in your roof over time. Clear your gutters ahead of time, and divert any running water away from your home by extending your downspouts. Be sure to extend the spouts at least four feet away from your home so water runoff doesn't start to pool around your foundation and cause potential flooding around your entryways.

 

Invest in a Chimney Sweep 

 

While lighting a fire for warmth and ambiance during the winter is ideal, it can be dangerous if you haven't had your chimney inspected in a while. Call on a professional chimney sweep to clear out your chimney and be sure to inspect and clean your ventilation system, avoiding any possible uncontrollable fires or carbon monoxide leaks that can divert back into your household without your knowing.

 

Repair Your Heating System

 

There's nothing worse than realizing your heater doesn't work when the coldest temperatures of the year start to set in. Have a heating technician inspect and repair your system for maximum efficiency, measuring any potential carbon monoxide leakage along the way.

 

Winter preparation doesn't have to be burdensome, and it certainly doesn't have to cost a small fortune if you take proper precautions before major damage occurs. Follow these few easy steps to start your home maintenance project off right, ensuring that your home is ready for any kind of winter weather headed your way.

Posted in News
Oct. 21, 2019

Why Fall Is Becoming the Best Season to Sell a House

Whether you’re looking to sell your first home or you’re selling one of your investment properties, many homes are bought and sold in the spring and summer. However, there’s a rapidly growing trend to sell houses in the fall. Find out how you can benefit from selling a house in fall.

 

 

First, it’s to your advantage to have a smaller pool of competition. Since a large number of homes are sold in the spring and summer, there may not be as many homes on the market when you list in the fall. Less competition means more demand for your home.

 

 

Too many listings can reduce the chance of a bidding war and cause buyers to offer less than the asking price. If your house is the only one in your area for sale, there’s more pressure for a buyer to buy it before it’s gone.

 

 

While many sellers try to imagine the ideal buyer and when they’re likely to need a home, the reality is that people need houses all year. Whether it’s a sudden decision to retire, a new job offer or an emergency that requires someone to transfer to a new location, there are dozens of reasons for buyers to be looking all throughout the year.

 

 

Another key advantage of a fall sale is that it can translate into quicker closings. No one wants to be moving during the holidays or in a snowstorm. Buyers looking in the fall are typically highly motivated to make a quick deal before the holiday season. This can work to your advantage, as you both will help speed the closing along and create a pain-free transaction.

 

 

Fall can be a great time to highlight certain aspects of your home or neighborhood. As leaves begin to fall, the simple task of removing all your leaves can help your home stand out, particularly if your neighbors aren’t as quick to rake their leaves. Cooler fall temperatures may reduce your energy bills. This time of year is also a great time to highlight your local school district and the safety of your neighborhood.

Posted in News
Oct. 10, 2019

The Truth About Online House Shopping

online-house-shopping-danny-howell-real-estate

Online house shopping is like modern-day window shopping for tech-savvy adults. Instead of waiting to set up an appointment for an in-person viewing, many potential buyers turn to online listings to get first impressions of available properties. Real estate listings on the internet can be a useful shopping tool for buyers, as long as they are sure to keep some realistic information in mind.

 

Agents Paint Their Properties in the Best Light

 

Although more real estate agents are turning to detailed listings that include 3-D renderings or live social media streaming tours, listings provided on the internet are still intended to present the property in the best light possible. Typically, each room has been professionally photographed in ideal lighting conditions and at an angle so that it appears spacious. Keeping a healthy realism in mind can help reduce disappointment when you see the property in person. Odd layouts, messy neighbors and road proximity are all items that could be deal-breakers in person but usually aren't seen during online house shopping.

 

You Can Miss a Great Opportunity

 

The flip side of getting falsely lured into falling in love with a house that doesn't meet expectations is that online house hunting can also lead to overlooking a diamond in the rough. Sometimes the online listing can't quite do a property justice and you need to see it in person to appreciate it. This is especially true if the house is in the location you need and in a neighborhood, you love but needs some cosmetic repairs that are a real turn off in the pictures.

 

Sites Can Be Slow to Update

 

Depending on which sites you choose to conduct your research, you may be surprised to find that the houses you are interested in aren't actually available for purchase at all. Some sites are notorious for delayed updates, particularly if the house is a short sale or foreclosure. Before you get your heart set on a particular listing, make sure to check with a realtor to see if it is still for sale or if it is already pending with another buyer.

 

When you are house hunting, online house shopping can be a useful tool as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Using internet listings, you can often narrow down or find examples of the types of homes you are interested in purchasing. This can save you and your realtor time in the long run.

 

Posted in News