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Uncategorized | 8 Posts
May
5

Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid

When selling your home, you'll want to stage it for both showings and photos. A properly staged home makes your home more appealing to different buyers. To make your home appealing to the most buyers, there are some common staging mistakes to avoid. Here is what you should not do when staging a home.

Not Cleaning Enough

Familiarity in a space can often result in overlooking minor details. These minor details can quickly add up when prospective buyers walk through your home. Not cleaning adequately is something you should definitely not do when staging a house. Corners full of dust or cobwebs, grime in your shower, and, perhaps worst of all, unpleasant smells that you no longer notice, are all things that prospective buyers will notice. Make sure you clean everywhere and, if possible, get an outside opinion so they can point out things you overlooked.

Leaving Your Furniture As Is

Using your furniture to fully utilize your home's space is essential in showing off its full potential. One common mistake is pushing furniture against the wall. Large rooms actually look smaller when the space in the center of the room isn't being used.

Another example of what you should not do when staging a house is hanging paintings or artwork incorrectly. Hanging art too low or too high can make a space look off, so make sure everything is hung at eye level for the average height.

Avoid Needless Upgrades

It can be tempting to upgrade your home to increase its value before a sale, but while that's a great idea, make sure that the upgrades have a high return on investment. Typically, kitchen and bathroom upgrades have the highest return on investment, but they need to be focused on the right things.

Some often overlooked home improvement projects are landscaping projects and, believe it or not, door and window upgrades. However, a home office, fancy wallpapers, and other niche upgrades, like a swimming pool, don't often translate into a higher return on investment.

Not Getting an Agent

Having a real estate agent who knows what people in your market are looking for will make the staging process a lot easier. They have experience selling homes and know the do's and don'ts of staging. They can also connect you with professional stagers who may have tips or can stage your home themselves!

At Heartland Properties we've been serving the area for years, helping people buy and sell homes. We know what people are looking for and what you should not do when staging a house. We would be happy to help you avoid the staging mistakes that affect many home owners like you. Give us a call today!

April
13

Millions of Americans set a goal and succeed in paying off their credit card debt each year! Is this one of your goals? With determination and a plan, you can take control of your credit, improve your credit score and start building a savings account in the process. Here's how:

CUT THE CARDS
The first step toward reducing your credit card debt is to stop adding to it. While you don't have to literally shred your cards, you do need to stop using them routinely.  Try one (or all) of the tips below to break this habit:

Carry Cash
Give yourself a weekly cash allowance for expenditures. You'll be more aware of how much you actually spend; plus, once you run out of money, you're more apt to stop spending.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Keep your credit cards at home and you'll be less likely to use them.

Think Strategically 
Decide on two to four credit cards with which you have a lengthy, positive history, and close any other accounts. Having a few good accounts will boost your credit score, but having too many will hurt it (and may also keep you tempted to spend money you don't have.)

LOWER RATES/CUT A DEAL
Once you've got your spending under control, focus on reducing your interest rates.

Negotiate Rates 
Call you credit card issuers and ask for a better rate. Usually, borrowers with good credit scores can cut their rates by a few points – sometimes as much as 10%.

Transfer Balances 
Consider transferring balances from cards with high interest rates to a different card. Look for offers with low introductory rates that are good for at least a full year, with relatively low rates thereafter. Read the fine print, and pass up offers from cards with hidden fees or costs.

Shop Around 
Do a little investigative work to find the best card offers. Research online to locate current offers.

REDUCE YOUR DEBT
Now it's time to start chipping away at those balances. Develop a strategy and make it happen using the following tips:

Develop A Plan
Make a list of each credit card you have, its existing balance, minimum payment, and interest rate.  Pay as much money as you can on your card with the highest interest rate, while paying the minimum on the other cards. This additional payment on the high-rate card will help you pay off the principal faster.

Build A Debt Snowball
Once your highest interest rate card is paid off, take the same amount you've been paying on that card and add it to the minimum payment on the card with the next highest interest rate (This is commonly referred to as "snowballing" or a debt-reduction rollover of your payments). Continue to pay the minimum on the remaining accounts, repeating the process until you're debt-free.

THINK AHEAD
Now that you're debt-free, start thinking even further ahead:

Invest
Begin to invest the same amount of money you've been applying to debt every month. You've trained yourself to live on less by paying as much as possible toward your debt each month, now take that philosophy and use it to your advantage, reinforcing that thrift must continue in order to develop a mindset of abundance.

Visualize
Spend a few moments each day imagining what it will feel like to be debt-free, paying cash for every purchase, and looking forward to a comfortable future.

 

 

 

*Source: 
Buffini & Co. Used by permission

 

March
29

Steps To Selling Your Home

After making the decision to sell your home, it's time to begin the process of actually listing it, combing through offers, and eventually closing on the deal. During this time there are a few key steps to make selling your home in Council Bluffs fast and easy.

1. Hire an Agent

While hiring an agent doesn't need to be the first step on your journey to sell your home, it can do a lot to alleviate the workload and stress that comes with selling. An Aagents can help make selling your home in the Council Bluffs area easy by helping you set a timeline, take care of inspections, handle negotiations, and help finalize paperwork.

While waiting until later is always an option, having an experienced agent who knows the market will greatly speed up the process.


2. Pre-Sale Inspection

While technically optional, performing a pre-sale inspection can save you time and disappointment down the road. For starters, it will identify any minor or major issues that should be addressed before listing your home.

Second, it will help keep things moving once the selling process has begun. After all, buyers will want to have their own inspector come in. If they identify issues that you were unaware of, it can slow down negotiations and reduce the amount prospective buyers are willing to pay.


3. List Your Home

Once you have an agent and your home is ready to sell, it's time to start listing. This involves getting photos taken, listing it for sale online and offline, and showing your home.

This is where having an agent really comes in handy, because they will list your home for you, often using networks that are unavailable to the public. This gets your home in front of as many people as possible. The agent can also schedule showings and take care of the negotiations.


4. Close the Sale

The last step is to close the sale of your home. During this final stage of selling your home, legal paperwork, contracts, and anything else that might need to be provided during the sale need to be presented and completed.

Once complete, you'll have officially sold your home! We hope these 4 steps to make selling your home in Council Bluffs fast and easy were helpful. If you have more questions about how to make selling your home in the Council Bluffs or Omaha area even easier, give us a call today!

March
18



St. Patrick's Day is the one day out of the year that nearly everyone will be dressed in green, devouring corned beef and cabbage, and claiming to be of Irish descent.  

It's no different at Heartland Properties. This year, our lunch was catered by Tobey Jacks Mineola Steakhouse from Mineola, Iowa.  As always, they come with bubbly smiles and fabulous food!


We had plenty of festive green attire, delicious food, and cheerful conversation!

 

 

March
8

3 Steps on Buying Your First Home in the Council Bluffs area

Buying your first home can seem like a daunting task. With all the details to consider, such as which neighborhood to choose, how may bedrooms you will need, how to finance it, and countless others, it can become overwhelming. Where to begin? At Heartland Properties, we understand what it's like to buy your first home, and that's why our agents are here to help. Here are 3 steps to help you buy your first home in the Council Bluffs area:

1. Make Sure You're Financially Ready

The first step in buying a new home in the Council Bluffs area is to make sure your finances are in order and that your credit report is in good shape. Making sure you are financially stable is essential in qualifying for loans and moving forward with a home purchase. At least two years of employment at the same company will make you more appealing to lenders. You'll also want to check your credit report and make sure it's in good standing. Having a history of paying your bills on time, your debt to credit ratio, and the number of active credit accounts you have are all factors in your overall credit score. Also, verify you have liquid assets that will allow you to make a good down payment.

2. Determine What You Can Afford

If you are in fact ready to buy a new home, then your next step should be determining your debt-to-income ratio. To find this, you will add up your total monthly bill payments and then divide it by your gross monthly income. Generally, expenses such as food, utilities, and taxes aren't included in your debt amount. Convert the quotient into a percentage. This percentage is your debt-to-income ratio. An ideal ratio is 35% or lower.

You'll also want to make sure you have money available to make a down payment, ideally 20%. This lowers a mortgage lender's risk, which makes them more willing to work with you. As a general rule, most lenders will require you to pay for mortgage insurance if you don't make at least a 20% down payment on the home.

3. Find the Right Real Estate Agent

Finding an experienced real estate agent to work with will make every step of navigating the homebuying process easier. Having someone on your side who is knowledgeable about the local housing market, techniques to ensure your offer is accepted, and filling out all of the required paperwork for closing is a priceless asset. Once you know you're financially ready and have an idea of what you can reasonably afford, your agent will work with you to find a house that fits your needs and your budget.

We hope these 3 steps on buying your first home in Council Bluffs were helpful. At Heartland Properties, we welcome first-time home buyers and look forward to serving you! When you're ready to start your journey to home ownership, contact us!

December
13

If there is something we have learned about our agents at Heartland Properties, it's that they like food, and they like a challenge.

We decided it would be fun to combine the two; Eat & Compete!

It's beneficial for a couple of reasons; the office gets to enjoy some great food, and friendly competition is a good character builder!

In the Fall, we like to kick off the cooler weather season with our annual Chili Bowl. 2021 marked the 14th year of this battle, and it came with great anticipation we had never faced before.  You see, one of our agents threw a wrench into the game with the 13th Chili Bowl when he graciously accepted his Grand Prize Trophy, and then provided the evidence that our three judges had chosen Campbells Chunky Chili as the winner! Shock & disappointment was heavy for those who had toiled (some for days) over their "pride in a pot" as they gawked at the empty cans displayed on the table!  The judges, two of which were attorneys, seemed proud that they had chosen a chili that had been perfected by a team of chefs and purchased by millions of consumers.

This year, the curiosity was piqued as participants wondered if this same prank would prove victorious again!  We had 9 entries, and to our discovery, only 1 was not prepared in the personal kitchen of the chef (by the same culprit).  Our 3 guest judges were sequestered in a private room, identities hidden until the results are announced. One by one, the sample bowls are served, tasted and judged in 3 categories; appearance, texture, and taste.

 


Once the judges are confident in their decision, the numbers are tallied, the winners are revealed and the coveted trophy is handed over to the new champion!


1st Place Winner - Shari James, wife of Jason James who also had an entry of his own.  Awkward.
2nd Place Winner - Ruth Knott
3rd Place Winner - Yvette Perdue

To keep the competition around the office sweet, we started a newer tradition of having a Chocolate Chip Cookie contest.

This year was only the 2nd one, but the battle was hot! We have one sole judge, John Jerkovich, a self-proclaimed chocolate chip cookie connoisseur.  And one sole rule, only chocolate chips.

No nuts, no oatmeal, just chocolate chips.

There were 20 entries!
John tasted his way through the crispy crumbly edges to the gooey chocolaty middle, taking notes as he went along to be mindful of the ones he preferred.


One entry came in the shape of a ninja, hoping to kick the competition to the curb.

John picked his top 3 favorites

1st Place Winner - Larry West
2nd Place Winner - Gloria West
3rd Place Winner - Yvette Perdue

In the end, it was a win for the whole office.
Good food, lots of laughs, and memories made!

 

 

November
16

Selling a home may be a stressful experience, especially for first-time sellers! One of the best ways to ease anxiety and reduce stress is to know what to expect. Here's a general overview of the selling process.

While everyone's experience may be different, these steps tend to be universal. Of course, once you've decided to sell your home, give us a call and we'll help you every step of the way.



~GETTING YOUR HOME READY TO SELL~
Here are some tips to hep you prepare your home for its market debut.

Start packing valuables and items you don't plan to use until after you've moved, including any personal photos displayed in the home. Removing clutter will make your home appear more spacious. While deciding what to pack, think about which appliances to take with you. For example, are the washing machine and dryer included or do you want to take them?

Get your home move-in ready. Most buyers want a home in move-in condition when they buy. Painting the interior a neutral shade or white is a simple way to make a home appear brighter and allows potential buyers to easily incorporate their style into the space. Also, be sure to complete regular maintenance on your home's cooling and heating and other systems to keep them in good working order for the next owner,

Boost Curb Appeal. The exterior is often a potential buyer's first impression of your home. If it's well-kept outside, many buyers also assume it will be well-kept inside. Paint or clean your exterior, trim hedges and shrubs, tidy the lawn.  These small activities have a big impact on attracting the right buyers to your home.

Clean.  A clean home is an attractive home. You may want to consider hiring a professional to thoroughly clean those spots you may have missed.

~SHOWING YOUR HOME~

Interested buyers will make an appointment to see your home in person. It's standard to leave your home while potential buyers are there; doing so makes them feel more comfortable talking about the home and encourages them to take their time. Be sure to let us know what appliances and fixtures will not be included in the sale so we can let buyers know before they submit an offer.

Open the curtains and blinds to let light in and turn on all the lights in your home. Also, turn the thermostat to a comfortable temperature.

Keep your home in show-ready condition. Keep the clutter under control and home maintained, inside and out.


~HANDLING OFFERS~

When you get an offer, we'll present it to you and negotiate on your behalf. The offer may include the amount the buyer is proposing to pay, how much they plan to mortgage, their ideal closing date, any contingencies, and personal property they want included or excluded.

Once you've accepted an offer, we'll outline contingency dates and start the paperwork process. During this time, it's important to make all contingencies, including all inspections and repairs, are made by the deadlines. On closing day, the buyer will do a final walkthrough to check the condition of the home and ensure the required repairs were made.

 
~CLOSING~

During the closing process, you and the buyer will sign the final paperwork. Additionally, the title will be transferred to the buyer and they will receive the house keys. Most importantly, you'll receive payment for the home, minus the payoff of the existing mortgage and transaction costs.


If you have been thinking of selling your home, give us a call! We would love to help you through the home selling process and answer any questions you may have!  712.325.0445

 

November
3


Diving into November and the holiday season brings all the feels - are we right? Whether you have all of the plans mapped with family and friends or you keep it simple with just a few spontaneous moments of celebration, taking time to remember that the holidays are more than a table of delicious food, football, and parades; it's a time to purposefully give thanks and appreciate everything we have. 

As you're preparing for the exciting season ahead, take time to purposefully be grateful every day. Not sure where to begin?
Here are some ideas to help you slow down and savor these special moments. 

1. Count your blessings. 
It takes up to eight weeks of practicing gratitude for the brain to start showing changes reflecting greater happiness.* Write down three to five things you're grateful for daily. If you're not sure what to write, answer these questions: 
  • What are you grateful for right now? 
  • Who are three people you're grateful to have in your life? 
  • What is something you tend to take for granted that you're grateful for? 
Think about things big and small – 
  • The roof over your head! Have you lived in your home for 10 years and love the memories and comfort it provides? Did you just move and you're grateful to be getting settled into your new house to make new memories? Or maybe you're looking for your dream home – that's something to be grateful for, too. 
  • Your health! Whether you're in stellar health or working on it -- the choice is yours and you can make little changes daily to get where you need and want to be.
  • The people around you! This leads to the next point… 

2. Appreciate the little things.  
Some days it's easier to find things to be thankful for than others. Regardless of how your day is unfolding, take time to appreciate the little things and you may find your day turns out better than you expected. 

3. Look on the bright side. 
Look for ways to be grateful when faced with challenges. Gratitude changes your mindset and helps you become more optimistic. Optimists see challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement. 

4. Volunteer.  
When you help others, it tends to create feelings of well-being and happiness. Volunteer locally  or help others you know who may be facing difficult times. Look for opportunities to give.  
  • Here in Council Bluffs, there are several ways to get involved in the community -- check out the 712 Initiative for more ways to play, grow and connect. 
5. Show appreciation. 
In addition to saying "thank you' and letting people know how much you appreciate them, write a note to someone who has had an impact on your life and let them know how much they mean to you. 

 

About Heartland Properties:

Building Connections that Build Communities
Heartland Properties opened its doors in 1988 and has been serving the Council Bluffs/Omaha Metro area as a leader in real estate ever since. Our Agents have over 500 years of combined real estate experience and make a personal investment in our community as active members and volunteers. 
Looking to buy or sell your home? Or are you interested in a commercial real estate property? Call Heartland today at 712-325-0445. 

 

*Source : Forbes 
Buffini & Co. Used by permission

 

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