Calling all DIYers

Have you done some remodeling you are proud of , got before and after pix and receipts? Check out this contest - the grand prize is $25,000. Click on the title of this post or go to www.BHG.com/challenge
$25,000 that's enough to take the whole family to Hawaii for several weeks - did I happen to mention Hawaii is my most favorite place in the whole entire world?

Hey the contest ends Jan 15, 2008 - you can still do a project and enter. Remember I do love Hawaii!

The coolest thing since peanutbutter and jelly

Confused about all those energy efficient light bulbs - I'm sure I bought some last year for our ceiling fans that said they would last for 7 years, I need to replace them. Oh well, I need to keep up with the packages and info on stuff better - yea right, like I don't have 500 other really important things to attend to. Like what the Blizzard of the month is.

I did a search to see what kind of superbulbs were out there, that's when I saw it - the GEOBULB! That's a new bulb out that will not only save a lot but will last for 12 years - yes, keep up with the info. I'd put it in the safe deposit box we have at the bank. Laugh, I know you are secretly thinking about doing the same thing.

This Geo Bulb - yea that's what it's called, it doesn't get hot, it give off good light (it's LED) who knows how much you'll save not buying bulbs for 12 years or taking the chance of falling off ladders or chairs a couple of times a year . I'm thinking I'm going to go get enough for our whole house - that's about 87, take a day off (or maybe a week) and replace them all. That way I don't have to worry about it for another 11.99 years - gee thats 2018! Check out http://www.ccrane.com/ for the scoop.

Worried about energy costs this winter - add these 5 ways to save to your list

We all shudder to think about the dreaded winter heating bills. This year at our house (it's over 100 years old) we put in all new windows (over half of them were original) and added 2 heat and central air units (yes I have central air now). I am looking forward to seeing what impact those improvements make on our heating bills. I'm not saying add new windows or add new central heat and air, these 5 items are much easier.

1) Check your insulation, in the attic if you can see the floor joists you don't have enough - it's that simple. Buy some that can be rolled out or call someone to blow some in (you can even rent these machines and do it your self!) I have used Aurelia Lumber on a couple of houses and they do a great job and are not expensive. To find out what the recommended amount of insulation is for your area and on additional parameters like fuel source etc go to Ornl.gov/~roofs/zip/ziphome.html

2) Insulate all exposed pipes, it is easy and cheap.

3) Stop air leaks - take a candle around your windows, light switches, electrical plug ins, doors, vents, under sinks, from dryer vents, up the chimney and anywhere else air can infiltrate and heat can escape. Home stores sell several products to stop Old Man Winter from stealing your heat. Every where your candle flickers there is air flow - a bad, bad thing for your wallet. Seal up the opening with expandable foam, weather stripping or insulation inserts (under light switches and electrical plates . Place a cap on the dryer vent and close the fireplace damper tightly if not in use (better yet get an insert).

4) Buy a programmable thermostat - and use it! For less than $100 you can buy a good one that will enable you to program each day and several different times within each day.

5) Is your furnace working as efficiently as it can be; have you had it serviced this year? No, get on the ball people, winter is coming! Change that furnace filter religiously, it will keep your home cleaner, your lungs cleaner, you healthier, reduce your heating bills and extend the life you your furnace. How often should you change it; I have allergies so ours will be changed every 30 days.


Annual Real Estate Report

If you are interested in receiving this informative local report (and if you are thinking of buying or selling you need it) that includes: number of residential properties sold, average sales price, average days on the market, the percent change in price and number sold by month and as compared to 2006 and a lot more!
Send me an email and I will get you on the list for January - so far there are 343 people on that list! Just send me an email at Georiga@SLRealtyCheck.com or Gweaver@iw.net and oh by the way, I do love referrals if you know of anyone who needs my services.

Preparing Your Home to Sell

Preparing your home to sell Step-by-Step.
--How to Get top dollar for your home--
So you are selling your home; and you want to get top dollar. A great Realtor® will be able to give you suggestions on how to maximize you home. Below is the proven process I recommend sellers go through to get ready to list their home. The result, homes sold faster and for more than similar homes in the area!

Home Saleability

Getting started - Purchase large clear plastic storage tubs, at least one for each room. Work one room at a time and pack a minimum of 1/3 of items for the move. If you haven’t used it, worn it, read it, or listened to it in the last 30 days pack it for the move. Reducing your items will help your home appear larger. Smoke in the home or pet odors have to be removed prior to listing, these odors will greatly reduce the price your home brings. You may be unaware of the smellappeal of your home because you live there and are use to it. Ask your Realtor®, a friend or neighbor who will be straight with you about the smell of your home. Smell is a critical part of selling a home!

Entry – It should say WELCOME to All
1) Make that door a focal point! Polish the door knob or replace it if it doesn’t look great. If
the door is beyond ever looking new or old and well kept replace it.
2) Place a wreath appropriate to the season on the door
3) As the door is opened it should be inviting and clutter free – no shoes, coats, umbrellas, book bags, pet leashes etc…
4) Only a welcoming space sparsely decorated for the season and style of the home.

Kitchen – If the item is not used daily, it should be out of sight. If not used weekly pack it in your labeled clear storage tubs. Remove all junk drawers, people check construction of drawers by opening them, ALL.
1) Clean frig (including top, behind, coils and under), stove (including under burners and oven), microwave, dishwasher, sink and drains
2) Clean cabinet fronts, oils from cooking and our hands build up on cabinets, doors and light switch plates and need to be cleaned weekly
3) Scrub counter tops, faucets and fronts of appliance until they sparkle. If faucets leak repair or replace them, if replacing add shut off valves if not already installed. Clean out under the sink, check for leaks – repair if needed.
4) Replace curtains if not “new” looking
5) Clean windows inside and out
6) Scrub floors
7) Garbage disposal cleaned and refreshed with ½ lemon and 1 cup of ice ever other day
8) Check lighting, it should be appropriate wattage for the task

Dining Room – Set the stage for a romantic dinner
1) Items not used weekly go in the labeled clear plastic tub
2) Remove all excess
3) Clean walls, floors, baseboards, remove any cobwebs and dust from furniture and from room, remove chair cushions
4) Clean windows inside and out
5) Replace curtains if not “new” looking
6) Set the table for 2 or 4depending on the size of the table. Start with a table runner in a rich color, add cloth napkins, and use crystal if you have it if not use great looking glasses, use glass or china place settings, and shiny silverware. Add candlesticks and flowers or a tray of unique items to the middle of the table to pull it all together.
7) China cabinets or built ins – remove all but a few items, make it look sparse
8) Last, but most important check lighting, chandeliers should sparkle, no dust on lighting and use appropriate wattage on light bulbs.

Living Room – Inviting and comfortable, this room should beckon come in sit down and relax
1) Items not used weekly go into the labeled clear plastic tub
2) Remove all excess, keep a few personal items like pictures they make the home feel lived in
3) Clean floors, walls, ceilings, baseboards and windows inside and out and polish all metal
4) Decide if you need to paint, many holes in the walls, discoloration from pictures, *smoker in the house or pets – patch holes and paint. The color should not be white but should be a color that complements your furniture and is a neutral. *Smokers or pets, walls and ceilings washed down with a good cleaner and painted with a Kilz product to block the smell. Curtains, carpets, and upholstered furniture cleaned by a professional to remove the odor.

Bedrooms – Should say oasis from the troubles and cares of the day, this room should be a soothing calm color
1) See Living Room above and each person in a bedroom receives a clear plastic storage tub with a label
2) Each person should remove a minimum of 1/3 of the items from the closet – it’s a good time to donate to a local charity, they always need toys, shoes, clothes that are in good shape
3) Clean every surface, patch walls and paint, clean light fixtures, replace bulbs if needed and clean windows inside and
4) Toys, football equipment, etc needs to be in it’s place and that place is not on the floor
5) New curtains or blinds if they don’t look new
6) Shampoo carpet and polish door knob

Bathrooms - Inviting, bright and clean, clean, clean
1) Each person who uses this bathroom should have a small overnight bag for personal items (hair products, personal supplies, tub toys). This bag is stored in the person’s closet in their bedroom
2) Remove excess, if not used weekly pack in the labeled clear plastic tub
3) Clean out all drawers and cabinets – some empty space makes the drawers and cabinets seem spacious
4) Check for leaks under the sink and around the commode (spongy feel to floor around the commode means you need to replace the wax seal and maybe some of the wood around the base), commode that runs – now is the time to fix it.
5) Tub, commode, sink/s, shower and shower door, need to be so clean they sparkle. If calk around vanity, sink , tub and shower doesn’t look perfect and new – replace it, a simple job that makes the home appear well cared for and in good condition – no mold
6) Clean mirrors, lights and vent fan
7) Clean walls, switch plates, medicine cabinets, baseboards, and floors.
8) Clean drains with some Clorox about ½ cup then run hot water to rinse
9) Replace shower curtain or shower door if not “new” looking
10) Replace toilet seat and lid if not “new” looking
11) Check lighting, use appropriate wattage, clean vent fan
12) Place an aroma therapy diffuser here, a light clean scent, not a
plug in (plug ins and spray type of deodorizers are petroleum
based products and approximately 30% of the population are

Basement - Unfinished clean as a living room, if unfinished see list below
1) Remove any excess items store in labeled clear plastic tub if not used
2) Clean and remove all cobwebs and dust
3) Check all light bulbs, use a higher wattage to enable the entire basement to be viewed easily
4) Repair any cracks (tuck point) and leaks prior to listing
5) Replace the furnace filter monthly
6) Clean windows inside and out
7) No litter boxes in basement, the furnace will draw the smell through the house
8) Run a dehumidifier 24/7
9) Paint the basement walls a light neutral color, this will make the area seem very clean and larger, it should show as a possible future living area not a dark damp old basement.
10) Air out with fresh air if possible (open basement windows)

Garage – Goal is to make it appear big and roomy
1) Remove excess items and place in labeled clear plastic storage tubs. These tubs and the tubs from the house can be neatly stacked against a wall for the future move
2) Clean everything – sweep floor, remove cobwebs and dust. If there are stains on the floor clean them and power-wash. Repair any cracks or chips in floor.
3) Paint walls if needed, ceilings with water stains are a big red flag to buyers, find source, fit it and paint with Kilz to block stain.
4) Check automatic garage doors, replace batteries in openers, and paint doors if they don’t look great.
5) Check lights for appropriate wattage bulbs

Yard – Should say come and enjoy some outdoor fun
1) Mow grass as needed
2) Edge walks and driveway
3) Spray for weeds and seed bare spots
4) Trim any bushes or trees for a clean look
5) Place a blooming potted plant by each door
6) Remove excess yard ornaments and children’s toys store in a labeled clear plastic tub
7) Keep all large toys in one area
8) Swing set, sandbox area – put out new sand and check swing set for maintenance needs, paint or stain If needed

Deck – Somewhere you would want to spend time with friends and neighbors
1) Repair any rotten, warped or excessively worn boards or steps
2) Check railing if present for strength
3) Spray or trim grass around the deck
4) Power - wash with a deck cleaner
5) If deck is wood and hasn’t been stained/resealed in the last 3 years it’s time

Drive Way – should look like it is new and will last a long time
1) Power wash to clean
2) Repair any cracks or chips
3) Spray to kill any grass or weeds growing on it

Gutters and Downspouts – these will help keep your home and basement dry
1) Clean all leaves, branches and seeds from gutters
2) Fix any leaks or loose areas
3) Extend downspouts at least 3 feet from your foundation
4) Inspect roof and nail down any loose shingles

Porches – Say welcome home
1) Remove excess items, no shoes, coats etc
2) Clean top to bottom
3) Check lighting for appropriate wattage
4) Clean windows inside and out

Appliances – Washers, people open these to see if there is hard water, clean to a sparkle and refrigerators clean them out, place a dish of baking soda close to the fan and do not keep leftovers

Pets – Many people are allergic or have asthma, pets and cigarettes smoke can be a big problem for them. I love animals but they don’t help sell a home
1) Remove all sighs of pets
2) Food and water bowls
3) Beds, carriers, leashes, brushes, etc…
4) Litter boxes
5) Flea shampoo is a red flag
6) You receive a call and your house is going to be shown – crate you pet and take it to a friend or the vet
7) Large dogs frighten most people although we won’t all admit it. Some specific breeds of dogs that should be removed during a showing are: Doberman, Pit bull, German shepherd, Rotweiller, Great Danes and most dogs over 30 lbs. Children accompany many parents on showings and a child bitten by a dog or cat will definitely not result in a good offer.
8) Fish, turtles, hermit crabs? – clean the aquarium and make sure there is no smell apparent
9) Reptiles – not a good idea to have snakes, large lizards, or anything that is poisons
10)Birds – clean entire area and be sure there is no smell, put them to bed (cover the cage) if at all possible

Georgia A. Weaver BS, GRI
Real Estate Professional
106 W. Railroad Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588
712-574-5426 Direct
712-732-7594 Office
E-mail – Georgia@SLRealtyCheck.com


If you are a smoker and want to sell your home - read this to save thousands!

The acrid smell of smoke in a home is a big turn-off, it is also very hard to remove. Most people will try to cover it with deodorizing sprays, candles, etc... Not a good idea. Most of theses products don't work, they add to the odor and 33% of the American population are allergic to most of these products.
If you smoked in your home and want to sell it for top dollar you will have to permanently remove the smoke smell. How, that's the hard part - yes you will have to have the carpets and drapes cleaned professionally and replace the furnace filter about every 10 days until cleaning process is complete - but that is not enough.
All surfaces will need to be thoroughly cleaned with a product like TSP (go to a paint store, they sell it and can tell you how to use it) and painted surfaces cleaned reprimed and painted with a stain and odor blocking product like Kilz. Check after this process to see if you still have an odor problem - have someone who does not smoke check the home - like your Realtor. If there is still a problem you may have to have the carpet replaced.
A house with an odor problem, like smoke or pet will not bring top price - it may not even bring in any offers depending on the market and how the home is positioned for price.
Take Away - don't smoke it costs a lot of money en a lot of areas of your life!


Storm Lake and Alta Real Estate Year to Date

The year to date numbers on residential properties sold in Storm Lake and Alta Iowa are very encouraging!

According to the Storm Lake MLS, www.StormLakemls.com

Total Dollars Sold - $16,002,318.00 - 100%

RES - $13,250,600.00
Market Share 41.40%

C-21 - $10,592,586.00
Market Share 33.09%

ReMax - $4,633,900.00
Market Share 16.41%

C&E - $800,500.00
Market Share 2.50%

Stanley - $548,425.00
Market Share 1.70%

Other - 1,624,825.00
Market Share 5.23%

Why should you care about these numbers? Well, these numbers show that our real estate activity is up 100% from 2006, it shows we have a very strong market.
These numbers also show the market share of each local brokerage. Why's that important, it is one tool to help you decide who to use to help you achieve your real estate needs and goals.

Some people think winter is not a good time to sell, well just because some people think that, it limits the number of homes on the market. People will still need to move, businesses will still transfer employees and people will still retire. So what do I think, I think an appropriately priced home will sell home at any time of the year! Call me I'll help you market your home to sell or I'll help you find a great home for you to buy!


KKK Coming to Storm Lake????

Are you kidding me; get real and join the human race. Let me know what you think, I'm sure you can guess what I think.


Storm Lake and Alta Iowa Homes Available

The local market is tight with Buyers matching Sellers very closely. As of 10/4/07 there were 63 homes listed and active (no offers) there were 5 OPCTS (offer pending continue to show. In Alta there were 6 homes listed and active, none of them have offers so far.

Fourteen homes sold in Storm Lake within the last 30 days with prices ranging from $45,000 to $142,000. The sales in Alta ranged from $120,500 to $70,000. Now is a great time to buy or sell as the numbers above show.

If you would like to receive local market updates directly to your email please drop me a request and I will git'er done. Email me at GWeaver@IW.net or go to www.StormLakeIAProperties.com

Storm Lake and Related Home Markets- Still Going Strong!

By the numbers, the local home market is still cranking out excellent numbers of both sales and listings. Unlike the national big city markets our local market is solid. Yes, we are seeing an increase in foreclosures and it is tougher to get a loan if your credit history is shaky but the impact is very little - so far.

What are the numbers?
The local MLS (Multiple Listing Service)reported 21 sales in the last 30 days
1) 14 were in Storm Lake
2) 2 were in Alta
3) 2 were in Early
4) 1 in Aurelia
5) 1 in Sioux Rapids
6) 1 in Rembrandt

25% of the sales were out of the Storm Lake and Alta Market, this may be a reflection of the Buyers decisions being impacted by the negative press concerning the national real estate market.

The properties that sold outside of Storm Lake and Alta had an average sale price of $55,600. The sale price of $55,600 is quite low for the Storm Lake or Alta market.

There were 2 foreclosures in the mix - both in Storm Lake. These sold for $45,000 $50,000. These amounts are good for foreclosures, the sale price for these 2 reflects an aggressive investor market in the Storm Lake and Alta area.

Alta had 2 sales, one at $120,500 and the second at $70,000. There is a new foreclosure listed in Alta - 113 Division Street. This is not an investor property, it is move in condition and it is priced for this condition.

For additional local real estate market info and listings go to www.StormLakeIaHomes.com