Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Selling a home that is close to a new development can be challenging

There is a newly built home down the street - in a newly built subdivision and, you’ll admit, it is divine. It’s a house with everything… brand-new appliances, white marble countertops, wide plank flooring, pendant fixtures, and energy efficient heating, cooling, and electrical systems. Looking around, you find yourself entranced. The problem is…you’re not in the market to buy a're trying to sell your not-so-new home.  

Selling an Older Home
How do you market an older home? The good news is that older homes have buyers! Oftentimes, the buyers are looking for an older home because of its character, mature landscaping, and lower property taxes. If your potential buyer is looking for a newer home, you’ll have to make changes so that buyers are attracted to your older home.  
While there is nothing you can do about the fact that your house was built in 1985 (or thereabouts), you can research the trends in new homes, analyzing what to do to make your home appeal to buyers.

Investigate trends and review competition. Get ideas of the latest decorating trends in model homes as wells as ways to maximize the best features of your home, minimizing the least appealing features.

Selling an Older Home

Small upgrades go a long way.  Adding a fresh coat of paint in new neutral tones of pale grey or beige rather than pure white can give your house a new look. Other upgrades, like switching out the old kitchen and door hardware are small aesthetic details that can give your listing new life.  

Big ticket items go even longer.  Big ticket items like energy-efficient appliances, new countertops, and bathroom remodels, may be the most important upgrades sellers can make because most buyers can’t afford them on top of a home purchase.

Be Realistic. Lower Your Price.  A house that has seen little movement for months is frustrating. Not an easy decision, but lowering your house by $20,000 (or more) will take months off the time it can potentially be on the market.

Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade association with over 1,000 REALTOR® and affiliate members in Will and Grundy counties and the surrounding areas who provide professional and ethical real estate and real estate related services.

Call us: 815-744-4520!


Monday, June 25, 2018

Negotiating Your Way Into Homeownership


When you go to buy a house, you’re certainly hoping to get the best price and terms. In order to do that, it’s important to know when to start negotiating and when to stop. That begins with being familiar with the market, down to the neighborhood and possibly even the street. Of course, when there are a limited number of homes for sale as is the case in our marketplace today, it is highly unlikely that a laundry list of demands can be successfully negotiated. The more operative word today would be flexibility. Here are some tactics every buyer should know before negotiations begin.

Homebuyers negotiationBe Prepared to Move Fast
When properties go on the market, they go very quickly, so if you’re in a competitive market, make your first offer your best offer. And if you take too many chances, you might strike out. Remember, there will always be people who want to make a lower offer, however, when they miss out on the first or second or third property, they learn their lessons.

Don’t Use Inspections for Renegotiation
If the inspection reveals major problems, it’s completely acceptable to ask for a credit. However, know you may not get it if the market is tight. These days, it’s unlikely that a seller will make significant repairs, and so it’s better to ask for a credit at closing in order to hire your own contractors. In some hot markets, in order to submit an offer with fewer contingencies, prospective buyers have an inspection done before making their offer.

Home Negotiations

Be Flexible with the Possession Date
As a homebuyer, a great tool for negotiation is to accommodate a seller's particular closing date. By catering to their needs, you're making them feel like they're in the driver's seat. You could have a “rent-back” agreement drawn up, where you rent the property back to the seller for a short period of time. This takes pressure off their move and may make your offer stand out against the competition. If possible, also make it clear that you can also be flexible with the dates of the Purchase and Sale signing.

In every real estate negotiation, buyers ask and sellers push back - because if you're the buyer and you don’t ask, you won’t get. While buyers want the best deal and sellers want the highest price, eventually the two will have to meet somewhere in the middle for the deal to close. Since a home is the largest asset most people will ever own and there’s usually a lot of cash at stake, negotiating is extremely important.

Working with a REALTOR® provides clients with peace-of-mind that they will be receiving both professional and ethical service during the home buying or selling process. Learn more about purchasing a home and find a REALTOR® to help by visiting Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® website, or calling 815-744-4520.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Some Things to Do Before Moving In

You know how the famous lyrics go: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone?” While these are very true sentiments, we’d like to recommend a slight alteration: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘till you start to pack it all up?”

The more closets you go through and the more cabinets you attempt to organize, you might ask yourself, “Where did all this stuff come from? What am I supposed to do with all of this? Is this stuff I even really need?” These questions require even more urgent answers when you are packing and organizing for an exact purpose; specifically, when you are planning on moving.

Moving Tips

And packing up your home is just one of many things that need to be crossed off your checklist when you are preparing for moving day. The process of switching residences can be overwhelming to say the least. But by planning ahead, you can be as prepared as possible for your upcoming move:

Here are a few things to keep in mind before moving into a new home:

Gather the Appropriate Supplies
Make sure you have plenty of boxes, bins, tape, labels, bubble wrap, and newspaper on hand in plenty of time before the big move so you can stay on top of packing. And don’t be afraid to give things away—if you are going through old drawers and closets and find things you don’t need, there is no need to bring them to the new house.

Moving houses

Transfer Your Utilities
Don’t assume that the gas, water, and electric will be set up for you on moving day. It’s important to take care of this with your utility company before moving day rather than afterward.

Change the Locks
Changing the locks is the simplest and quickest way to guarantee your safety in your new space.

Clean Up
Scrubbing every possible surface of your new house is much easier when they’re not covered with furniture! Thoroughly clean your home before moving day; it will save you significant time and trouble in the future.

Other things you may consider before moving in if possible include getting to know where the circuit breaker box is and the main water shut-off valve, make minor and major repairs, childproof your home if applicable, forward your mail and update your billing address.  It's also not a bad idea to consider getting a home warranty which would cover the cost of the repair or replacement of things like your furnace, air conditioner, water heater, appliances, plumbing and electric for at least a year. Experts say that basic coverage starts at about $300.  Proper planning can help minimize the challenges and stresses of transitioning to a new home making the move much more enjoyable.

For more information on what you can do to make your upcoming move easier, work with a member of Three Rivers Association of REALTORS®.  You can find them at or call 815-744-4520.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Having a financial game plan for your home will give you peace of mind

Home financial plan

Creating a financial plan for your home can help you feel more secure in budgeting for the future. A financial plan will spell out how much you need to pay and when, so you know exactly how much money is going toward your home. Without a plan, you could find yourself overwhelmed by unforeseen expenses like emergency repairs that you didn’t budget for, or unable to make updates to your home because of a lack of savings.

Luckily, you can create your own financial planning checklist to get a better look at your expenses and savings in the years ahead.  

finance your home

Where to start
First, write down recurring expenses like your mortgage payment, taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. Note when each of these payments is due, and how much it is.
  • Follow that list up with more occasional expenses like seasonal lawn care and maintenance or replacement dates for major appliances, plumbing fixtures, and the roof. Note that these dates don’t need to be exact, but searching for the average lifespan of a water heater, for example, will help you identify future expenses you’ll need to save for.
  • Lastly, write down any voluntary expenses like adding a pool or finishing the basement. By listing the things you want to add to your home and estimating their cost, you’ll be able to see what is financially possible and when. 
Financial planning home

Ways to save
With an idea of how much you need to spend in the short and long-term of your home, you’ll be able to turn your attention to places you might save money in order to be prepared for the future.

If you’re planning on staying in your current home forever, pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment. Paying more upfront means saving thousands in interest later down the line. Plus, it just feels better to pay down your home sooner.

Another oftentimes overlooked area to save is by checking with your insurance agent to make sure you are covered enough, but not too much. Over-insuring your home means you’re paying more than you need to on a policy that you’ll never see the full benefit from. Likewise, under-insuring your home will leave you paying out-of-pocket should you need to make a claim. Everyone has to pay property taxes.  However, you may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first: Are comparable homes taxed less than yours? If so, you can contact the local assessor, challenge the assessed value of your home and possibly reduce your taxes..

With a little planning, you’ll have peace-of-mind knowing that you’re in good financial shape, and the fear of surprise expenses will be greatly reduced.  If you’re looking for a new home, contact the Three Rivers Association of Realtors at 815-744-4520 to start your search today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

These 5 Tips Will Help Your Home Stand Out In A Crowded Market

The housing market is hot right now with lots of inventory and very motivated buyers. So if you’re putting your house up for sale, you have to make your home as attractive to buyers as possible, or they’ll simply move on to another house. Following these five tips will help you be more competitive in the market - moving your house more quickly and getting you the highest sale price possible.

Tips for Selling Your House

Boost Curb Appeal

Pressure wash the siding and driveway to revitalize these surfaces. A clean exterior will signal to prospective buyers that your home was well-kept and that the interior is likely to be in great shape too.

If washing the siding isn’t doing enough to bring back the color, consider painting your home. While you’re at it, freshen up the trim, shudders, and entry door to make your home look like new again.

During the growing season, don’t forget to keep an eye out for overgrown trees and bushes as well. If you have sidewalks or paths that are partially blocked by any branches, think about trimming those back before house viewings.

Clear Out Clutter

Buyers will be turned off by excessive clutter and personal items. Removing larger furniture, decor, and family photos will make rooms look larger and it will be easier for those touring your home to envision their own items in that space.

Clean Everything Inside

Hiring a cleaning service is the fastest and easiest way to get your house sparkling. Simply call a local cleaner and ask for a move out cleaning. They’ll take care of the rest.

If you don’t have the budget to hire cleaners, then you’ll need to clean each room (including the garage and basement) yourself. Vacuum floors, wash light fixtures, polish woodwork, and clean out all appliances to brighten and deodorize your house.

Selling your home

Make Needed Improvements

Whether you want to add a fresh coat of paint to the bedrooms, update the bathroom, or make repairs in the kitchen, now is the time to do it. Renovating before you sell will be a big draw to buyers who are looking for a turnkey home.

Get Your Home Inspected

A home inspector can point out any issues that need to be addressed before potential buyers visit. You can then make the repairs, or let buyers know exactly what needs work. Though a home inspector can run anywhere from $300 - $500, it’s a great way to show buyers that your house won’t give them any surprises.

Putting a little time and money into your house before you sell can make it more attractive to buyers. Showing your house in its best light will get it more attention and maybe even a higher selling price.

When you’re ready to sell your house, contact a realtor from the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® at 815-744-4520 or

Association of Realtors

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Think about getting a home inspection before putting your home on the market

Pre-listing Inspection

In a typical real estate transaction, it is the buyer who arranges and pays for the home inspection. However, it can be to a seller’s advantage to pay to have an inspection done prior to placing their home on the market. A pre-listing inspection can provide them with valuable information about the condition of their property and an idea of repairs that they may (or may not) wish to have done. This information can help in negotiating the sales price of the home as well as avoid having these repair issues surface down the road at a less opportune time.  

Is there any difference between a pre-listing inspection and a buyer’s inspection?
The only difference is who (seller or buyer) is having the inspection done and the point in time when the inspection occurs. The scope of the inspection, whether done pre-listing or after the sales price and terms have been agreed upon, will essentially be the same focusing primarily on proper functionality of all major systems and components of the house: heating and cooling, electrical, plumbing, roof and structure, siding, doors, and windows.

Typically, how much does it cost for a pre-listing inspection?
The fee is usually the same as the buyer’s inspection, generally ranging from $350 to $500 for a qualified inspector who carries errors and omissions insurance. The price can vary based on location, square footage, age of the home, and any special conditions.

Why should a seller consider doing pre-listing inspection?
Keep in mind that whether a seller has a pre-listing inspection or not, the buyer may still choose to have their own inspection done. What a pre-listing inspection does is give the seller a chance to resolve any repair issues up front that are likely to surface in the buyer’s inspection or have them accounted for in the asking price. This not only places the seller in a better negotiating position but helps minimize the chance of having to deal with circumstances that may come up in the buyer’s inspection that is done after the sales price and terms have been negotiated.

What should the seller do if a pre-listing inspection uncovers major problems?
Generally, it is better to know about inspection issues early rather than to be blindsided at a later date. Once identified, they can be assessed for proper resolution. A seller shouldn’t automatically assume that everything needs to be fixed prior to placing the home on the market. A REALTOR® can advise them as to which repairs are likely to negatively affect the sale of their home.

If you’re looking for more information about buying or selling your home, Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® can help. Visit our website today to learn more and to find one of our members who can help you!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How a Credit Freeze Affects Home Loans

Credit Freeze
For very little money, you can prevent identity thieves from opening accounts in your name by freezing your credit report. It’s understandable if you have questions and concerns regarding a security freeze. So let’s take a look at how you may be affected.

What Is a Credit Freeze?
A credit freeze limits who can see your credit report information. The goal is to prevent anyone from opening any new accounts. It doesn't damage your credit or stop your credit report from evolving by your own actions.

Your credit information will still be released to your existing creditors and any debt collectors who may come calling.

But, if you want to open new lines of credit, you'll need to lift the freeze first. This can be done temporarily, either for a set time or for a particular party, like a landlord or lender.
The costs to freeze and lift the freeze on your credit vary based on where you live and for each credit reporting agency, but commonly run about $10 per agency.

How Can It Affect Home Loans?
A credit freeze aims to block anyone from opening new accounts in your name. The catch is that the block applies to legit inquires, too. So it's not a great idea if you're shopping for a home or an auto loan. But when you're not looking to take out any loans or open any lines of credit, it can be a financial lifesaver.

One of the biggest problems with a credit freeze is it takes a lot longer to thaw credit than it does to freeze it. That could be a problem if you need credit in a hurry, such as a store credit card for an unexpected appliance purchase. 

Working with a REALTOR® provides clients with peace-of-mind that they will be receiving both professional and ethical service during the home buying or selling process. All of the members of Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® are REALTORS® as well as members of the Illinois REALTORS®and National Association of REALTORS®. Learn more about purchasing a home and find a REALTOR® to help by visiting Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® website, or calling 815-744-4520.