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Mobile Apps for Home Design

September 17, 2012

Home design and decorating projects used to be a time-consuming, cumbersome process. You’d have to search books, magazines and stores for ideas, go to the home store for paint samples and supplies, and then take a stab at the project. If you’d guessed wrong in design or color, you were at the mercy of your own patience level to either try it again or live with what you’d created.

Today, with the help of technology, home projects have become easy and fun through the use of mobile apps that help homeowners plan and create their space virtually before they even step one foot in The Home Depot or Lowe’s. Many of the most reputable home companies and outlets have created apps that allow users to explore everything from color to layout all on their smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re getting your home ready to sell, wanting to update a recent purchase or simply wanting to improve your current home, we know these will come in handy and save you hours of time and frustration. And, while a few apps have a pricetag attached, you can actually get most of what you need for free.

Check out a few of the most popular:

  • HGTV to GO: With this app, you can watch both full episodes and short clips of HGTV shows, see photo galleries and get inspired by their professional ideas. While you’re thinking HGTV, also check out their HGTV Color Guide app, which offers tips and guidelines from the pros, color inspiration and interactive tools.
  • Benjamin Moore Color Capture or Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap: With both of these apps from leading paint companies, users can simply take a photo of a scene they like and receive a coordinating palette from the company’s paint selection. Photos and schemes can be stored for later use or shared with friends.
  • The Home Depot or Lowe’s: Both of the major home chains offer free mobile apps that allow users to get ideas, research tools and watch how-to videos. While The Home Depot app has more features, Lowe’s offers a greater selection of videos.
  • Houzz Interior Design Ideas: According to CNN, this is the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design.” Houzz has the largest database of home design ideas on the net and more than 500,000 high-res photos. Users can browse photos and save them in a virtual idea book similar to the concept of Pinterest but specifically for home design. Photos can also be saved locally for offline use.

With the latest technology of these (and many more if you’re willing to pay a few bucks) apps, home design has become so much easier than it used to be. A simple picture from your iPhone can turn into an entire new living room—all before you leave your house. And with all of the how-to videos and tips, it’s easy for anyone to achieve their desired results without any of the former guesswork.

So what are you waiting for? Take a minute to download one or more of these handy apps and start creating!

Buying a foreclosure? Follow the rules!

August 16, 2012

According to experts, the housing market may be on the rebound. What does that mean for you as a potential homebuyer? It means you might want to act soon. Even if you’re only considering purchasing a home, you might want to do some serious investigation if you’re going to take advantage of the buyers’ market.

One of the most popular trends in real estate recently has been the purchase of foreclosures. When the economy dropped, many homeowners were forced out of properties they couldn’t afford, which led to deeply discounted prices for buyers. Now, with the trend heading back in the sellers’ direction, purchasing one of the remaining foreclosure properties could be a good idea and a wise investment. But only if you use your head and follow the rules.

We recently read a great article in the Liberty Tribune that outlined five rules for purchasing a foreclosure. The first was to position yourself for success by getting pre-approved for a mortgage and working with a highly experienced real estate agent. We agree! Both of these will help you in purchasing a foreclosure, as time is always of the essence and a deal has to be snatched up right away. If you’ve got the right team and the bank already on board, you’ll be in good position to act quickly.

The second rule was to do thorough research. We believe that having a sharp real estate agent will help with this, but there are a few things you can find out on your own in the meantime including whether or not the property has undisclosed liens and if the city has any permit records on file. Perhaps most importantly, always make sure that you won’t be responsible for any delinquent taxes the seller left behind. Do your homework!

The Tribune’s third and fourth rules were to get a home inspection and to budget for repairs. We think these go hand-in-hand. Because a foreclosure property’s previous owners were not in a position to fix up the house, there will likely be some need for repairs. When you are setting your budget, be sure to factor that into the cost. Then, have an ASHI-certified inspector review the property to help you determine the extent of the damage. This will let you know whether or not the property and its flaws are something you can or want to handle.

The final rule just made sense: Always assess the neighborhood. Yes, a foreclosure may be a great bargain, but is it worth the price you’ll pay for noisy, rowdy areas or being at a high risk for vandalism or theft? We’re guessing the answer is no. Make sure you do your research on the total package; not just the house.

Yes, foreclosures can be an amazing find. While we certainly don’t wish them on anyone, we are happy when our customers are able to afford a nice property that otherwise wouldn’t have fit their budget. So take advantage of the buyers’ market while you still can and hunt down the foreclosures in your area of choice. Just make sure you have all the pieces in place and follow the rules.

How To Cut Utility Costs | Saving Money

September 23, 2011

It is me, or does it seem like utility bills are getting higher and higher? Couple that with the gasoline bill and increasing trash service costs and it seems like a cheaper option for housing would be moving to Tahiti.

While that’s not true – I hear Tahiti is actually pretty pricey – it does make you wonder how to find ways to cut costs, and especially when it comes to household expenses.

Tahiti, anyone?

How to Cut Monthly Household Utility Bills

As a realtor in the Kansas City area, and a homeowner myself, I’ve found some tricks that help cut utility bills, or at least keep them lower this time of year. Especially in the Midwest, utility costs can be brutal. One day you need your air conditioner on, and literally two days later, you’re temped to turn on the heat.

If you’re a home owner looking for ways to cut costs, or even a home buyer trying to figure out how to save money for your down payment, here are some tricks that I’ve learned on saving money:

Save Money Through Your Blinds

That may sound silly, but you can cut utility costs by using your blinds and window coverings the right way. On warm days, keep your blinds pulled during the day to keep heat out of the house. In cooler months, it’s the opposite. Open blinds and shades to let natural warmth of the sun heat your rooms.

Save Money With a Ceiling Fan on Hot Days

Ceiling fans are a great way to keep air stirring around the house on warmer days. If the air continues to circulate, it won’t warm up as fast.

Change Your Air Filter

On your heating/cooling unit (typically in your basement), there is an air filter that you’ll need to keep an eye on and change at least every three months. Especially if it’s windy, or if your unit has been running a lot, change your air filter more frequently. The more dirt that’s in your filter, the harder your unit has to work, and the more it will run. (Thus, the more it costs you.) Make sure when you’re replacing your filter to buy the right size… check what number of filter you have first before heading to the store.

Care for your Air … Conditioner

Another hot weather tip – be realistic about what your air conditioner can do. Realistically, you can expect your air conditioner unit to create a 20-25 degree difference in temperature. (If it’s 100 degrees, 75-80 degrees may be the best it can do.) This means don’t set it so low so that it will run constantly, with no hope of reaching your desired temperature. This will wear out your unit, and possibly cause it to freeze up.

Another tip on avoiding air conditioner freeze ups is to keep your outside coils clean. On the outside unit are very tender coils that can get dirty easily. Take a sprayer and try to remove any dirt or grass clippings and leaves. As fall approaches, make sure to rake the leaves around the unit, and after you’ve turned off your A/C for the season, consider a protective cover so that your unit stays clean and free of debris.

air-conditioner-cover

Consider an air conditioner cover to protect your unit in winter

Keep Your Windows Shut & Locked

As the cooler breezes make their way into Kansas City, check each of your windows to make sure storm windows are down, and windows are locked. By locking your windows, you’ll better insulate the windows, stopping air leakage. Double-check the caulk around the windows right now, when it’s nice outside, and add caulk to better insulate if yours need assistance. I recommend doing this now before it’s too cold and you can barely stand to put your hand on the freezing metal latter.

Insulate Your House

Last tip on cutting costs in cold weather – insulate your house, specifically your attic. Most of the heat leaks out the top of your attic. Make sure that you add insulation to your attic, and around your doors and windows. This will reduce the amount of warm air leaking out of your house, and save you money. As our dad used to say, “don’t heat the outdoors!”AKA “Don’t waste my money!” Funny how all the sudden as a homeowner myself now, I get it.

Hopefully these few tips will help you save money on utility bills. They’ve helped me cut my costs around home, hopefully they can help you, too!

Traits You Want In Your Real Estate Agent

September 16, 2011

If you’re on the hunt to find a good real estate agent, there are several things to look for before signing the dotted line. Real estate agents can assist you in buying a home, as well as listing your home. I recommend looking for five important traits in a Realtor.

real-estate-agent-traits

Looking for a real estate agent? Make sure they have these five traits!

1. Your Real Estate Agent Must Be a Good Communicator

Real estate works like a marriage in the sense that communication is key. Especially when you’re selling your home, find an agent who communicates well. You will want your Realtor to communicate with you as the sellers. Plus, it’s important for your agent to communicate with other agents, too, to get feedback on what interested buyers do and don’t like about your house.

Kansas City Real Estate Agent David Wiesemann‘s Monday Morning Listing Updates

One way that I communicate with my sellers is through a weekly email. Every Monday morning, I email a report to each seller who’s Kansas City home for sale I have listed with weekly updates. I let them know how many people have searched my website for their listing, saved their listing and favored their home listing. I’ll also inform my sellers on what has happened within one mile of their property over the past week (neighbor’s house sold, dropped in price, etc.). My sellers and I review this information weekly. It allows us to stay in contact with one another.

2. A Good Real Estate Agent Knows the Market

When selling your home,  it’s critical to get your price right. A good real estate agent does his/her homework and knows the market. You will find the quickest success when your real estate agent has researched comps in the neighborhood, understands values in the community, and accurately suggests a competitive selling price. In addition, if you’re looking into a short sale, it’s imperative that your real estate agent has experience and knowledge of the short sale process.

3. A Good Real Estate Agent Refers Professionals

A good real estate agent doesn’t try to give advice on areas that are outside of his/her expertise. Many Realtors involved in the real estate community will have a wide network of service providers who can answer questions and get answers for clients. From recommendations on which banks to use, how to get good rates, home inspectors, appraisers and even legal advisors – ask your real estate agent for a professional they trust to get the right advice.

Wiesemann’s Kansas City Referral Network

As an experienced Kansas City realtor, I have a wide network of trusted professionals. If you’re looking for a recommendation on any real estate-related service from inspections to insurance to mortgage brokers, call me at (816) 309-9445 and I’ll put you directly in contact with them.

4. A Good Real Estate Agent Returns Phone Calls

It may sound simple, but find a real estate agent who returns phone calls. Realtors must have great communication with their sellers, buyers and other agents. If they promptly return your calls, it’s likely that they’ll also return calls of agents and buyers interested in purchasing your home.

5. A Good Real Estate Agent Markets Your Property

Many real estate agents will take a listing and never do any marketing to promote the home. In the day of social media and online marketing, there are several traditional and new ways to market homes. Find a real estate agent who’s not only going to put their sign in your yard, but go the extra mile to make sure people know it’s for sale.

Wiesemann’s Marketing Homes Strategy

When I list a home, I take an approach that combines traditional advertising with new tools such as online listings. I use my own personal website, as well as other home buyers sites like broker.com and homefinder.com to market each of my listings. To not neglect the traditional methods, I also may list the homes through a newspaper ad, host open houses and send direct mail. I come up with a personalized marketing plan for each of my listings, depending on how to best showcase the property.

Finding a realtor who you feel comfortable with is key when buying or selling your home. For more information about listing your home with a Kansas City real estate agent, call (816) 309-9445 or visit my website to view featured Kansas City homes for sale.

Short Sales: Buying a Short Sale Property Listing

August 29, 2011

This is post 4 of 4 in our Short Sale series.

Previously, we’ve talked to homeowners about short sale explanations, the advantages of a short sale and preparing for a short sale.

Today, we’ll talk to interested buyers about short sales.

buying-a-short-sale

Short Sales can be a great opportunity for home buyers

Why Buy a Short Sale?

For home buyers who are in search for a great house at a great price, a home listed on a short sale is one of the best deals on the market. Typically, homes listed as short sales are still well-kept and have invested property owners who still reside in the homes. The reasons the home is listed as a short sale vary; but typically they are unavoidable financial hardships that homeowners face.

Foreclosures are known for being run-down homes and can have important fixtures and appliances stolen; a short sale does not typically work the same way. Homes listed as short sales have been maintained and cared for up until the point of the property listing.

Short Sales Take Time

Buyers must be aware; however, that buying a short sale can take longer than the average real estate transaction. Because the mortgage holder is involved, the offer isn’t just between the homeowner and the buyer. The bank must be involved in the approval of the offer. Short sales are known for taking extra time, even up to many, many months. A buyer looking for a home to move into immediately might want to reconsider a short sale property – however, if a buyer has time and options and does not immediately need to reside in the property, a short sale might be a perfect fit.

Buying a Short Sale Property

It would be advantageous to use a realtor with CDPE certification when purchasing a short sale property. Just as it is important for the listing agent to be CDPE certified, having a buying agent with this same certification will allow for the smoothest process possible.

Short Sales: In Conclusion

We’ve covered short sales, both from the buyer and seller perspectives. For review, we’ve covered:

Short Sales Explained

Advantages of a Short Sale

Preparing for a Short Sale

Visit our short sales website to get more information and government links about short sales in Missouri, or contact us today if you need assistance buying or selling your home on short sale.

Short Sale: Preparing for a Short Sale

August 22, 2011

This is post 3 of 4 in our Short Sale blog series.

We’ve previously explained short sales, and the advantages of short sales vs. foreclosures. Today, we’ll guide you through the steps to take if you’re ready to begin your short sale process.

short-selling-your-home

Find a certified CDPE realtor who understands short sales

Short Sales Step 1 – Find a Realtor with CDPE Certification (Certified Distressed Property Expert)

The critical thing to know about short sales is they are a very complicated process. While not impossible to do, they require the expertise of a realtor who has experience in short sales. Special certification is given to realtors who go through classes to know all of the in” and out’s of short selling homes. Especially if you’re looking for a listing agent to short sell your home, find a real estate agent with CDPE certification.

Short Sales Step 2 – Determine if you Qualify for a Short Sale

A certified realtor will help you determine if you qualify for a short sale. The realtor works on your behalf with the bank, and explains your situation to the bank. A short sale is not for everyone, and sometimes there are other options a homeowner can take to prevent foreclosure. But, if all other options have been exhausted, a short sale may be possible.

When to Request a Short Sale

Timing is everything in the real estate market, and short selling your home is no different. If you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments, find a short sale realtor immediately to go over your foreclosure solutions. It’s ideal that you begin the short sale process 3-4 months before your home would be foreclosed upon. If you’ve already received a notice of foreclosure and have a court date set, it’s most likely too late to go through the short sale process.

Qualifying for a Short Sale

To qualify for a short sale, you must be able to present financial hardship and the inability to pay the mortgage. This can be as a result of job loss, reduced hours, death in the family, divorce, or even struggles with an ARM mortgage that became to expensive. A short sale realtor will work with you to determine if you are eligible for a short sale, and guide you through the steps for proving to the bank you should be approved for this process.

Short Sales Step 3 – Getting your Home Ready for a Short Sale

If you’ve been approved to go through the short sale process, get your home ready for the sale. It is required that each realtor notify buyers that the home is a short sale on the listing. Interested buyers will know the home is a short sale, but be impressed if the home is cared-for and marketed well. Clean out the home, de-clutter and care for the lawn as if you were selling your home on a standard listing. Stage your home by removing personal photos and artifacts and creating a space that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in.

Short Sales Step 4 – Have Patience

Short sales can be a very lengthy process. An experienced realtor will help guide you and make the process go as fast as possible, but it’s important to know that it can take several months.

Stay tuned for our last post about buying a short sale.

Learn more about qualifying for a short sale or finding a realtor with CDPE certification.

Short Sales: Advantages of a Short Sale

August 15, 2011

This is post 2 of 4 in our Short Sale blog series.

We’ve covered the basics of a short sale, but we wanted to explain more advantages of short selling your home to prevent foreclosure.

short-sale-prevents-foreclosure

Short Sales Offer Homebuyers Advantages

Short Sales Avoid Foreclosure

In the credit world, bankruptcy and foreclosure should be avoided at all costs. Both of these processes not only hurt your credit, but make it difficult to “bounce back” within several years. Foreclosures will prevent your family from getting into another purchased home for at least five years, and make it difficult to find financing. A foreclosure is also noted on your public record, unlike a short sale.

Short Sales Help your Credit

On every application at the bank, you will be asked to indicate if you’ve had a foreclosure. A short sale allows you to avoid checking that box and maintain some credit. Although a short sale will have an impact on your credit, it doesn’t hurt it as much, nor will it be part of your credit score for as long. If you pay your bills on time, a short sale will not impact you and your credit applications for as long as a foreclosure will.

If you missed payments leading up to your short sale, this is the only item that will show up on your credit score. Once you sell your mortgage through a short sale and pay off your mortgage, your credit score will show that your mortgage has been paid off as agreed upon. A short sale also will not show up on your credit history. Your credit report will show that your mortgage was “paid as agreed, paid as negotiated, or settled.” This is not the case in a foreclosure; it will hurt your credit and show on your reports for many years.

Short Sales Don’t Impact Employment

Every employer has the right to pull a credit report for current and prospective employees. A credit report can be damaged by a foreclosure situation and cause for termination of employment, or loss of job opportunity. Because a short sale is not reported on a credit report, it does not threaten employment.

Short Sales Keep Your Integrity

In addition to the financial and credit advantages, a short sale allows you to keep your integrity as a home owner. Foreclosed houses can be run down and are known to have items stolen out of them. A home that is on a short sale typically has homeowners who still care for the home, yet cannot afford the payments any longer. A short sale will show buyers that you still care for your home, but you must find a way out from it.

Learn if a short sale is right for you, or call our professional realtor who’s experienced in short sales.

Stay tuned for our next post about preparing for a short sale.

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