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How Signage Will Help You Sell Your House This Year


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By: Tim Riley

There are many ways to market your Quad City Home. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the top 5 ways to market your home are; Internet, realtor, yard sign, open house, and print newspaper advertisement-in that respective order. The Internet has undeniable changed how real estate is sold over the two decades. People can shop for their dream home wearing pajamas in the comfort of their living room.  Don’t let this illusion baffle your marketing process. Yard signs are the third highest ranking way to draw attention your home.

Realtytimes.com reviewed a report in 2012, stating 55% of home buyers looked at yard signs for locating their new home. Living in a larger city people may or may not take a “Sunday drive” and cruise through neighborhoods they want to live in. Buyers scanning properties with For Sale Yard Signs is a valuable resource. This strategy works especially great for those second and third level tier cities such as Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island, and Moline.

So what does a quality yard sign need to have? First, is a color and font scheme that really “pops.' A quality yard seen needs to be seen from a distance and clearly state, THIS HOUSE IS FOR SALE, STOP & CHECK ME OUT. If not, many people will continue their drive onto the next house down the street. One thing that really bugs me about bad signage is a white sign with poor font, staked into snow covered backdrop.  Who is going to see this in late November, December, January, and February? Secondly, your sign needs to be made of a durable material that can with stand the color fading sun rays, brittleness of the winter, and not get blown over in 30+ mph winds. Metal signs will cost more up front but are well worth the money.

Don’t overlook the singles and families who still enjoy a relaxing evening drive and find the excitement of collecting flyers from houses they are interested in. Stats don’t lie, take the time to research the signage you or your company will be using to help sell your home.  It could be the difference of your home being on the market for six weeks or six months.

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2013 Update on the Quad City Real Estate Market


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By: Tim Riley

In the brief 8 weeks we have had in 2013, the housing market in doing what most predicted, better than previous years. This graphic provided by the Iowa Associaton of Realtors is evidence. The market is slowly beginning to sway from a buyer's market to a seller’s market. This will not come into full fruition for several more years, but it does speak towards real estate rebounding and our economy growing. http://www.iowarealtors.com/images/default-source/news-and-meetings/january-2013-iowa-home-sales.jpg?sfvrsn=2

The number of sold houses has a correlation with the workforce slowly growing, as well. According to the Iowa Work Force Development, employment rates have slightly increased by nearly 1% over the last year. More people working is more homeowners. In the Quad Cities alone, houses under $100,000 have been selling like hot cakes. With a steady job, lenders are more likely to approve loans in this price range. I have even heard from some Ruhl & Ruhl realtors that houses under $150,000 are selling really well.

The Quad Cities housing market has always been in its unique little bubble. We have several large employers in the area including John Deere, Rock Island Arsenal, and Genesis, just to name a few. With these stable employers, and we hope the Arsenal will remain strong over the year, more employed young people are looking to become homeowners for the first time. If you are looking to sell your home to a first time home buyer don’t be afraid to make some upgrades to target the ages of 25-34 years old. A neutral colored wall is no longer white, soft colors such as “Mantis Green” are considered neutral. Your buying audience is something to keep in mind when preparing to sell your Quad City home this year.

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5 Ways to Spruce up Your Home This Winter


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By: Tim Riley

Do you find yourself looking around your home this winter wanting to find ways to spruce it up and personalize it? As I had these ideas come, to me I posted them on Twitter and Facebook. It would be nice to be in the situation where I could just call up anyone of my self-employed construction buddies and have them add a bathroom to my basement, but the Dave Ramsey budget does not allow that. So keep in mind I am looking for low cost but high upgrade,s which will help any Quad City home for sale. Here is a short list of those ideas:

1. Update cabinet hardware – This is a very simple upgrade anyone can make with a screwdriver. Most handles and knobs in the kitchen and bathrooms are old and dated. Head to your closest hardware store for dozens if not hundreds of options. Keep in mind hardware can range from $0.69 – per unit upwards towards $50 and higher per unit.

2. Shampoo carpets – Choose carpet areas that are not located in high traffic areas, especially exterior doors. Yes, this may fall under the category of “cleaning” but a freshly shampooed carpet brings out that new home smell. For as little as $25 a night, plus cleaner, you can shampoo bedrooms and the basement. You also get a head start on your spring cleaning. If it’s too cold to open the windows, box fans work great to dry the carpet.

3. Change light bulbs – Walk around your house and see if all your bulbs have the same color, otherwise known as color temperature. My parent’s house has a bright white, soft white, and a yellow hue collectively in one ceiling fan fixture.  Make sure you color temperatures are organized by room. You will also save on your utility bill, which takes a beating during harsh winters.

4. Outlets, switches, and covers – I am going to start this off by saying, IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ELECTRICAL CIRCUTS, HIGHER A PROFESSIONAL. Believe it or not, outlets and light switches all have a life expectancy and will fail to work properly after heavy use, not to mention looking old and dilapidated. If your outlets show these signs it is time to change them. How do you know if your outlets are worn out? If the vacuum does not stay firmly plugged in. They also sell child proof outlets. These outlets have the safety plastic built into the plug-in and they work great! Most new homes require you to install this new build of outlets .

5. Ceiling fans and globes – Light fixtures have a globe surrounding the bulbs. These are usually very easy to change and bring a much needed fresh look to every room. Most globes screw in or may require a nut to be taken off, that’s it. If you're wanting to change one or two ceiling fans see #4 above, and if you do decide change the unit yourself make sure the breaker is flipped OFF before beginning work. I would suggest changing these during the day for obvious reasons.

Good luck sprucing up your home this winter, and if you have any other tips please share them!

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QCFSBO Final Walkthrough


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By: Tim Riley

Your big day has arrived, and I’m not talking about marriage. You are finally closing on your Quad City home and there is just one last hoop to jump through before contracts are signed and checks are written. It’s time for the final walkthrough. Sounds so…..professional, doesn’t it? While the lingo sounds like business, some people approach this more casually.

Don’t fall into the latter category. You have been hoping, dreaming, and working for the past several weeks or even months to sell your own home. You have had Ruhl & Ruhl realtors walkthrough your open house, Mel Foster contact you about their services, but you stayed strong and sold your place as a qcfsbo and saved thousands of dollars.

The final walkthrough will be performed within a few days of the closing if not actually on the day of the closing. Before this day arrives make sure everything in your home is in working order; appliances, toilets, sinks, lights, fans, sprinklers, furnace, air conditioning, windows, and anything else the buyer may be double “inspecting”. Finally make sure any and all agreed upon repairs are completed by your final walkthrough. If anyone of these items is left unresolved it could blow a closing out of the water or push the closing back weeks.

Finally, be respectful. Make sure the house is clean and ready to move in. This is not a must unless previously agreed upon, but I do believe in Karma. Nobody wants to move into a dirty house, and since you are selling your QC home, you will be moving into a place and hopefully it’s clean.

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Full Lead Disclosure


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By: Tim Riley

I found my first Quad City home scanning local MLS sites such as Mel Foster and Ruhl & Ruhl. Just in case you don’t know all real estate websites have the same houses listed with the Multiple Listing Services, (MLS). So there is no need to scan multiple realtor websites for different houses. I chose the real estate company with the best user friendly MLS interface and scanned homes there.

I also found great local organizations that will help you purchase your first home and also educate on home ownership. One such company in the QCA is United Neighbors, who offers the DREAM Program. The DREAM Program makes purchasing a home more affordable for moderate to low income families and educates home buyers. As first time home buyers don’t most of us fit into this category? One educational area they focus on is lead paint. It is a federal law to provide a lead paint disclosure for the purchase of any home built before 1978. Any known lead in the house or lead test results must be shared with the buyer.

The government banned all lead based paints in housing structures prior to 1978 because of harmful toxins found in lead.  Some of the side effects of lead poisoning include brain damage, slowed growth, nervous system damage, pregnancy difficulties, high blood pressure, digestive problems, headaches, and even muscle & joint pain. Lead can affect anyone, but small children are at the highest risk. Young children will pick up a paint chip from a door jam or window seal and put in in their mouth without hesitation.

The lead disclosure laws gives the buyer 10 days to have any lead inspections completed. As the seller make sure you disclose all information you know regarding lead based paint in the home. I would even hand the home buyer an EPA lead information pamphlet.

Also be sure to share all material facts with home buyers. Materials facts are anything which could affect the home buyer’s decision on purchasing the property. If you know of any problems or repairs that have been recently made share these with the home buyers.

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Quad City Home Inspections


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By: Tim Riley

Full home inspections are usually one of the last hurdles in selling your own home (FSBO). 99.9% of people will have one of these completed because receiving a loan from most Quad City Area lenders will require you to have this done. If you are fortunate enough to pay cash then you may not get a full house inspection but I would strongly advice against this. A full house inspection looks for many possible “hidden” problems which can financially sink you later. Here is a list of potentially costly items home inspectors will be looking at:

  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Structure and foundation of the home
  • Appliances
  • Mold & mildew
  • Damp basements
  • Roofs & chimneys
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical systems

If you know there are problems with any of these it is best you repair them before listing your house. Some of the items such as water in the basement or a leaky roof must be listed in disclosure forms according to Iowa & Illinois real estate laws. Selling your home in the Quad Cities will present a few particular items an inspector will be looking for; cracked basement foundation, outdated electrical system, worn out shingles, and termite evidence. If an inspector does see termite evidence they will refer you to a pest control specialist for another, more thorough, inspection.

A home inspection can last 1-4+ hours depending on the size of the home. Home inspectors are working for the buyers so make the inspector’s job as easy as possible to keep them happy. Have clear pathways to the utility room, make sure there is easy access into your home, and don’t agree to an inspection the day after a Super Bowl party.

Inspectors will find items wrong with the house, it is their job. Don’t take this as a negative or as deal breaker. The home inspection is not a wish list for the buyers and your contract will dictate if something has to be repaired or not. Since I am a DIY I used the inspection on the house I bought as a price negotiating tool and settled on a lower buying price.

When I sold my Quad City home I had an issue with old termite evidence. Laws had change from when I bought my house to when I sold it. Basically what came of the inspection was I needed to have the house treated again for termites even though I never had any issues personally. I could have opted out of the sale and relisted my house, but I would just come across the same issue the next time we came close to closing on it. I forked over $700, sold my home, and thanks to selling QCFSBO I still made a healthy profit and was able to make a nice down payment for my next home.

 

 

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Furnace Back Up Plan


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By: Tim Riley

Some people looking for Quad City homes for sale might be turned off by a wood burning fireplace, but I on the other hand, had it as a must. I love the smell of a wood fire; it brings me back to my childhood and seeing my dad cozied up next to the fire place like a dog on a bed. The crackling and popping collimated with the deep orange flames and red burning embers really creates the perfect date night with your spouse, while not having to hire a baby sitter.   

While viewing homes on Ruhl and Ruhl and Mel Foster, I saw many more gas fireplaces then the traditional wood fires.  The thought and work which goes into making a successful fire isn’t easy, but isn’t hard either. I am the type of person who thrives on instant results and this presents the perfect light hearted challenge to get me through the day. I think most people would want a wood fireplace if they thought of them as a backup plan to your electricity going out in the winter. MidAmerican recently reported 9,000 homes losing power during this erratic winter. I would hate to be without power, which is required to run my furnace, with temperatures below 0° this year. So, I will be heading out to my local tree trimmer and picking up some soft woods (to start the fire) and hardwoods (which burn longer, slower, and hotter) to heat my family and home just in case during this percurious winter.

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