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Don’t Wait To List Your Quad City Home This Winter


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By: Tim Riley

We have had a very mild winter so far. Actually, I am not sure if winter started yet. Temperatures were in the upper sixties just a week ago, yet today the temps dropped into the teens with the wind chill. As I drove home from work I noticed many Quad City FSBO yard signs such as FSBOFox, and broker signs like: Ruhl & Ruhl, Mel Foster, and Remax. Between real estate brokers and FSBO homes in the QCA there are well over 6,000 homes currently on the market. Given recent reports that the housing market is on the rise I see a lot of happy home sellers in the near future, even during the “off” real estate season. Especially with how nice the weather has been. But don’t expect this to last long.

Long Range Expert Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather.com, believes we are in for a bone chilling winter freeze based on all of his scientific data. The Farmer’s Almanac, which I really have no idea how they predict weather but a lot of people swear by this, confirms Bastardi’s prediction. The Farmer’s Almanac also predicts a wet and wild winter with heavy precipitation in 2012. I wanted to bring this information to my reader’s attention because you should not delay getting your house on the market thinking our winter will be mild. It is easy to put things off, especially this time of year when there is so much focus on the holidays. Take the time to talk with a consultant and do a little pre-winter cleaning for pictures. Besides, most of you will be hosting a dinner or party in the coming weeks. A sparkling house will woo your guests and help spread the word on how spectacular your home is when you do go to sell.

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What’s the difference between oil-based and water-based paints?


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By: Tim Riley

 

How much damage could a spouse do in one weekend painting an old rocking chair? My first thought is none. But after I spent a weekend hunting in the woods, I have a different opinion. As I was trying to pack for my weekend hunting trip, I was getting drilled about what she would need to do to refurbish this decrepit rocking chair she bought off Craigslist. I have to admit, I gave her a bit of the breeze because I could only focus on getting out in the woods. What damage could she really do? I quickly set out all the sandpaper, brushes, and paint she would need and jetted for my trip to renew my man card. I told her if she had any questions go to our local Quad Cities Menards and they would help. I have used this hardware store hundreds of times for home DIY projects, and they are very helpful.

Upon my return, just a day and a half later, I found there was white elf hand prints on our garage floor, the black kitchen sink had white rings, spots, faded wash, and our kitchen faucet was covered in what appeared to be crusty whiteout. No matter how hard I scrubbed the white would not go away. I asked my wife what type of primer she used, her classic response was, “what Menards told me to use.” Yes that was her response. After rephrasing the question she told me it was oil based primer. I messed my pants a little. This is why; unlike a water-based paint, commonly known as latex paint, oil based paints DO NOT clean up with soap and water. Oil based paints require paint thinner or mineral spirits to have any chance of cleaning up after a mess. The longer you let them dry, the harder it is to clean up, if they even clean up. I can see why the hardware store recommended an oil based primer. It does cover better, especially a glossy finish over a dark stain, which is what the rocking chair had. But the mess it leaves behind is not worth it. Latex based paints are easy to clean up, dry faster, and still look great if used properly. Reflecting back, I wish I would have spent 10 minutes helping my wife with her project. As it looks right now, her weekend project just earned me my own weekend home improvement project.

A small sample of white oil-based primer on a black sink and nickle brushed faucet.

.White primer on the faucet and black sink. This isn't coming up easily.

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Home Remedies For Fever


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By: Tim Riley

So, I have spent over 5 days sick in the past 2 weeks. The “sickness” seems to be spreading like a rapid plague trying to extinguish the healthiness of the human race over the holiday season. Perhaps the Mayan’s have it right, and the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. It certainly seems to feel like it. I am not kidding when I say everyone and their brother has been sick, just ridiculous. The most current wave of sickness has got me thinking, how grandma’s home remedies would stack up against a nuisance bug. These are the 5 remedies I have put to the test.

Drink Orange Juice, Lots of It: Both my mother and mother-in law swear by Vitamin C. Naturally,  OJ is stacked with this “miracle” vitamin. I sipped on the juice for 2 day; by the third day I felt like an ulcer was going to eat through my stomach like an Alien from Space Balls.

Break the Fever: This is my mother’s personal favorite. The philosophy is simple, when you have a temp. keep blankets piled on you like you’re camping during an Arctic winter. This will help get your body temperature high enough to where it will “break” the fever and begin to cool down. Yeah, I simply went for the Tylenol and Ibuprofen instead of a trip to the ER.

Pound Water: This method has the most logic behind it, and if you are attempting to “break the fever” then I recommend you drink as much water as possible. Plenty of water helps keep the body hydrated and will speed up the recovery process. After all, the body is roughly 70% H2O.

Hot Toddy: This one came from a 70 year old woman I used to live next to. I am not sure how well it works, but she swore by it. If she was ever getting a sore throat or a case of the sniffles it was time to get mildly sauced with whiskey. I still don’t know why I haven’t tried this method.

Sleep and More Sleep: Of all the home remedies listed above, I think this has to be the best one. Sleep allows the body to recover and fight any bacterial or viral sickness you may have. I personally spent the last 2 days in a flu coma, and I awoke late last night feeling much better.

I am by no means a health expert, and I do know if your temperature gets over 102° seek medical attention immediately.  But, if you are willing to try a home remedy give it a shot. They could save you an unneeded trip to the doc.

More Cowbell:  I couldn't write a blog about curing fevers without mention more cowbell.

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How Do I Advertise My House?


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By: Tim Riley

Once you go to sell your QC home you will wonder, how am I going to advertise my house if I do not have a realtor? What a great question, and if you are asking this question you are already in the mindset of a realtor.  Acting as your own agent,  you need to enlist the services of a FSBO business. I have rarely seen a house sell from just a sign in the yard or an ad on Craigslist. A lot of people using only these services come to us unable to sell.  People are busy in today’s world and want a good look at the interior of your house before they will commit the time of day to come see it personally. Some local Quad City FSBO services include professional house pictures.

After listing your home with a local FSBO site, which will post on their webpage, and sticking a professional grade yard sign in the dirt it’s… time for you to get creative.

Use Social Networks:

Facebook is the second most populous website according to Alexis, a website monitoring program, just behind Google. There are currently over 155 million Facebook accounts and 140 million Twitter US accounts. Social media is how people share images, thoughts, and large ticket items they want to sell. FSBOFOX offers both of these services with a quick share tool which includes an image of your home in the posting and a direct link to you listing. Ask family and friends to share your listing on their site as well.

Craigslist:

I wasn’t knocking Craigslist earlier. Most of the time people put the total square footage of their house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and maybe four tiny pictures. This does not provide a good enough sample of the spectacular home you are selling.

Host An Open House:

Post a sign in your yard saying, “Open House Today” or, “Open House This Saturday.” Have the sign hint at unique features your home might have such as, pool, custom kitchen, and fresh remodel, something that will draw a potential buyer’s interest. When hosting an open house, have a scent that most people will fine irresistible. A batch of cookies or a slowly cooked roast seems to work well. An abused kitty litter box, not so much.

Get Downright Creative:

Make people feel like they are getting deal if they buy your house. Offer a gift card to a nice restaurant here in town, maybe $100 gift certificate to Granite City or Duck City. Offer referral compensation if the buyer of your house was referred through another person. Gas cards seem to be attractive on most people’s list.

Bottom line is-do anything you can to get your house and the listing link to the masses. You never know who will buy your house and for that reason, make sure your house is always ready for show inside and out.

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My Expericence Selling FSBO


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By: Tim Riley

My wife and I had come to the “understanding” it was time to sell our home. Our family was growing and space was at a premium. We had also been following Dave Ramsey’s Financial Plan and were able to pay off close to $40,000 of debt in just a couple years’ thanks in part to a very cheap house payment.  We also paid cash for all of the remodels we completed, practically the entire house. It was hard for me to let go of the house because all of the work had been completed by family, friends, and myself.  The house was exactly how we wanted it and had the financial freedom to go on vacations on a whim.  So we would needed to get the most bang for our buck when selling to reatain our financial security and live in the house of my wife’s dreams. She didn’t want a palace, but a home we could stay in for 30 years and have more than one commode.

We finally decided to sell as the market picked up in early spring. Our first questions were how to handle the legalities of selling a house and what would our listing price be. I contacted consultants at FSBOFOX for services and point me in the right direction. For any legal issues I needed a lawyer. There are many good ones throughout the Iowa and Illinois area. I asked family and friends, searched the Internet, and ultimately called three real-estate lawyers and interviewed them.  All of the lawyers prices where in the same ball park, $400, and I was happy with all three. I chose to go with the lawyer who my bank used for buying our new "middle class mansion". This made communication easy with both buying and selling a house at the same time. It was stressful time in my life and a few more hair follicles closed up on my head.

When it came time to set an asking price we scoured realtors’ sites (Ruhl & Ruhl, Mel Foster, and Remax) for comparable homes in our neighborhood. We also checked the local assessor’s page for homes which have sold recently in the area. We spent hours going back and forth between $70,000 and $85,000. One number is on the low end of our market and the other at the high end. Finally after several cold drinks we decided to list at $85,000 for three reasons. One, our house was worth every penny, and the best house on the block with new mechanicals. A similar home up the street with about as much character as Lurch sold for $80,000. We could also negotiate down with the price but not up.

After ten days of anticipation and excitement of filling our flyer box, sharing our house on Facebook, Craigslist, and watching the number of views on our listing’s page go up we were able to show the house and sell it to the first buyer who walked through. HALLELUJAH the fat lady had sung!  After 45 minutes on the back deck playing it as cool as Doc Holliday and enjoying a cold Summer Shandy we settled on $83,500. The FSBO gods rained down on us from the heavens above and gave us the opportunity to purchase the home of my wife’s dreams, well I guess I kind of like too.

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5 Ways to Winterize Your House


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By: Tim Riley

Being the proud owner of an Iowa home, I do look forward to the winter months. I love the cool temperatures and white fluffed snow. I actually enjoy shoveling snow, as long as it’s not two feet deep. What I do not like are the 30 MPH winds carrying temperatures from the North Pole, good gracious - it gets ridiculously cold here some times. This, in return, seemingly sucks the heat of your house and can cause a plethora of problems in return. So here are 5 easy tips to make sure your home is prepped for Ol’ Saint Nicks favorite time of the year:

  1. Manage your gutters and downspouts. I hate cleaning gutters as much as the next fella. It’s grimy, uncomfortable, and just plain crappy work. However, if gutters are left neglected you can run into very expensive repairs ranging from roof or gutter repair all the way down to foundation repairs. Taking a couple hours during late fall to clean your gutters and make sure your downspouts are at least 10 feet away from your foundation. This will save you many headaches and wallet-aches down the road.
  2. Shut off your outside water from the inside. First, drain all the hoses you have attached to a spicket and unhook them. Second turn the outside water supply off from the inside. These controls are usually in the basement near the ceiling where the spicket is located outdoors. Then, turn on the outdoor spicket and let any remaining water drain out. Water in your hoses and pipes can freeze and actually make your pipes burst. This is not good.
  3. Winterize your windows using a kit. Head to any of your local hardware stores and pick up a window kit. They normally run $5 - $10 and will cover five averaged size windows. The process is simple:  apply double sided tape around the window trim, stick plastic to the tape over the window, and finally use a blow dryer to seal the plastic tight. This alone will save you hundreds of dollars over winter, especially if you have drafty windows.
  4. Don’t forget about your outdoor power tools. A lawn mower to me is like newborn infant to their momma. I love my mower. I will nurture it, clean it, and prepare it for harsh times like the winter. As the years pass, my mower in return will rarely let me down and give a pristine cut week after week. If you don’t change the oil, change the air filter, sharpen the blades, stabilize or empty your tank, your mower will let you down.  Do the same for your weed eater. Also, make sure your snow blower is in fine running condition, has oil, and is filled with gas. Wouldn’t it just suck to wake up at 6 a.m. and run to the gas station and auto shop to get gas and oil?
  5. Contact your utilities provider for a free energy audit. Both Iowa and Illinois homes commonly use Mid-American Energy as their utilities provider. Contact them and request an energy audit. They will come inspect your house free of charge and will tell you how you can make your home more energy efficient.  They will even give you rebates on the improvements you make. Recently, I was approved for $1,400 in insulation rebates and received all new florescent lights as needed. Visit Mid-American Energy’s Efficiency for more information.
  6. *Bonus Tip - Get the sleds out and polished. After all your hard work, it’s time for fun.  Have the sleds, inner tubes, skis, and snow boards ready to go. Meet up with your kids, family, and friends to let the good times roll. I cannot wait to Clark Griswold down a hill and take a 3 foot ramp with a sled. Just be careful of your tailbone.
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Veteran's Memorial Park Charity & Toys-For-Tots


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By: Tim Riley

We are happy to announce we have joined forces with Quad City Area bushiness and are participating in the Home Party Expo this Saturday December 1, 2012 at Army National Guard Building 3615 N. Brady St. Davenport, IA. The event is free admission and is an awesome opportunity for all of us to support Veterans Memorial Park. This event will also be a drop off for Toys-For-Tots. There are many individuals and families who could use some financial assistance this time of year. My family has helped gather gifts for the surrounding Quad City Area families and there is nothing more rewarding then supporting those who are truly in need.

FSBOFox will have a booth established to answer any questions you may have about selling your Davenport home, Bettendorf home, Rock Island home, Moline home, or any other surrounding Quad City home. Be sure to ask us about our home selling guarantee. This will come in very handy if you look to list your house over the winter months when the market slows down a bit.

For more information on the Home Show Party Expo and vendors please visit the Facebook Page here.  A big THANK YOU to Tiffany Hunt for organizing this.

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What Is The Purpose Of Thanksgiving?


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By: Tim Riley

Thanksgiving, one of the best holidays ever, I mean EVER. The basic premise is to show your appreciation for all the loved ones you have had in your life and eat turkey. Not often enough do we show our appreciation for having great family, friends, and even coworkers in our lives. We even lose sight of the material things we own and forget how lucky we are to have some of the basic needs such as a home, running water, or a pet that has been with us for 15 years. Thanksgiving is a great time to gather and show everyone our appreciation. But let’s face it people, we look forward to the mashed potatoes, stuffing, dips, and of course, the turkey. Ahh the turkey. Everyone looks forward to this majestically cooked bird. Until this yea,r I took for granted the preparation and cooking of the fabled gobbler.

My family and I recently purchased a Quad City home and felt it was time to host a holiday gathering. I took on the responsibility of seasoning the turkey and attempting to fry it. I have never fried a turkey personally but have seen it done many times, mostly on YouTube. At first, there was huge excitement about frying this delicate bird that would be so juicy your mouth would have an explosion of happiness.  But the days leading up to this moment, everyone grew more frightful of me burning down the house, rightfully so since I have Missouri blood running through my veins. “All State” did not help concerning ears with their commercial mentioning 15 homes burn down every year from frying a turkey, thanks guys.

After thawing for and eternity in the fridge and sitting in a brine all night, I finally had the oil up to a sizzling 375 degrees I cautiously and methodically lowered Mr. Butterball into the fryer. With everything cooking properly I assumed my position of turkey watch with a chair, football game, and cold beer for the next 60 minutes. I actually had a rather relaxing time watching this bird turn to a golden brown. 

When the timer dinged I pulled the turkey from the fryer and let it sit for 15 minutes.  I slowly carved one of the most succulent birds I have ever tasted. The whole experience was amazing and really it solidified one thing for me; home ownership and the pride which comes along with it. Having to host a holiday gathering and be master chef of the main course gave me a since of accomplishment and reminded me to be thankful for everyone in my life. These are the ones who have helped me be the person I am today and allowed me to have many accomplishments. Thanksgiving helps you forget about the mistakes you have made and focus on the successes you have had. It was an epiphany, and I have one 17 pound golden fried turkey to thank, happy Thanksgiving.

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Is Selling My Own Home Hard?


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By: Tim Riley

I have had multiple friends and family members ask me if selling your own house is difficult. I understand this question quite well since I too had the same feelings before I sold my own house using FSBOFox. I smile and give the most complete answer I can to them, no. Selling any Quad City home is easy and fun.

People have a hard time getting to the “fun part” of selling their own home until they understand the legal process that deals with selling a home. There really is not much to worry about selling your own house. Some companies like FSBOFox offer copies of every legal document you will need. For Iowa homes these include: offer letter, contract for sale, seller disclosure, lead paint disclosure, Radon fact sheet, and even an overview booklet, which isn’t required but helps guide you through the process. Illinois homes have very similar forms. The one BIGGEST piece of advice I would give anyone is: Don’t sign anything until you have had your lawyer look it over. If you don’t have a lawyer Google “Real Estate Lawyer,” and you will find multiple results.

After all legal concerns have been addressed and cleared it is time to have F-U-N! All the hard work you have put into your house through DIY projects, cleaning, and landscaping is about to pay off, in cash. As people begin to show interest in your house, you will be entangled with a cat and mouse match using wit, cleverness, and negotiating skills. These are the joys of selling a home and can be really exciting. Don’t stress about selling, have fun with it using multiple techniques to draw the interest of potential buyers.

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Home Sales On The Climb?


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By: Tim Riley

Before I dive into the fun and legal perks of selling FSBO, I thought I would share this article from CNNMoney with you. It fits into our “Why Sell FSBO Blog,” and will give you another reason to sell your own home.

http://www.money.cnn.com/2012/11/19/real_estate/existing-home-sales/

This brief article states the National Realtors Association released information saying annual home sales are up 2% as of October, and that includes the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Two percent may not sound like a lot, but there are a few ways to look at this. One, when you are looking at the number of homes sold annually in the mid to high 4 million unit range a small percentage actually means a lot of houses changing owners.

Secondly, this really excites me because it shows people are buying more homes across the nation! CNNMoney believes this could be attributed for several reasons including a rise in supply and demand coupled with the continuation of mortgage rates declining. I knew I should have held out for a lower mortgage rate back in May, damn.

Take this as gentle dose of confidence when selling your home, and be patient. Buying a home is a major transaction for people. They have every right to take their time and see which home is best for them. Now if you have a delightful aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in your house, it may help persuade them a little faster. Have fun with selling your home, and if you have any questions feel free to ask through my blog comment section.

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