Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

How to Save the Most When You're the Holiday Host...

by The Cathy Russell Team


From our friends at Home Warranty of America...

Celebrating your first holiday season in your new home is a special milestone. We hope that this year is exceptionally memorable. However, all the necessary tasks such as cooking, baking, heating, lighting, and cleaning can run up your bills faster than Black Friday shopping. That's why HWA is dishing up several of the best ways to conserve your home's energy this holiday season.

1. Kill two birds with one oven. As we all know, holiday season centers around delicious, home-cooked food. Try cooking as many dishes in the oven at once - reheating and readjusting the oven zaps energy.

2. Be the dishwasher. Make the post holiday meal a time to bond over the sink. You'll save water and the energy it takes to heat it by filling sink basins with soapy water and washing and drying them yourself. If you do decide to use the dishwasher, make sure it's completely full before running so you can cut down on the number of loads you must do.

3. Manage your fireplace. The hearth is the ultimate energy saver. Make it count by turning down the thermostat to 60 degrees or lower and closing the door to that room. Just don't forget to close the flue when you're done!

4. Decorate with candles. Adorn your home and walkway with luminaries for a beautiful yuletide glow that won't run up energy bills. To ensure your luminaries are safe, be sure to weigh bags down with sand or use a battery-operated, flameless candle.

5. Appreciate the small things. Miniature holiday lights will twinkle just as long and brightly - while using about 70% less energy than the larger bulbs.

6. Speaking of lights...standard incandescent lights consume thousands of gigawatt hours each year. Avoid these energy hogs and switch to LED holiday lights, which will save you about one-fourth of that in just one season.

7. Cool it. Setting your water heater to "normal", or 120 degrees Fahrenheit, could save you over 10% in water heating costs.

8. Stay in control. Invest in a programmable thermostat, which will help moderate the temperature in your home while you're out on a shopping marathon or visiting Grandma's house. It is estimated that programmable thermostats can save you almost $200 in energy costs every year.

9. Follow the Star. Take advantage of Energy Star's "Home Energy Yardstick", where you can assess your current energy use and receive tips on how to enhance your home's energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort. Learn more about how HWA supports eco-friendly Energy Star products here.

10. Go with the flow. A dirty air filter can slow air flow, putting more of a burden on your entire system. Replace your filter every month to save between 5 -10% on annual energy costs.

Why Use A Realtor?

by admin

A Realtor can be an invaluable tool when buying or selling real estate

An often perused question is: Should I use a Realtor or not?  People often underestimate Realtors and their importance in a real estate transaction.  On both sides of a deal a real estate professional can be an invaluable asset, helping to keep deals together and run more smoothly. For sellers Realtors are valuable in a number of ways.  Realtors know the local market and how to evaluate the price your home should be sold at.  A real estate professional will advertise, market and expose your home to other real estate professionals as well as the community at large, not to mention the large customer base that they may already have.  A Realtor can help you set your home up for success by helping you present your property in a way that will appeal to potential buyers.  Realtors are indispensable when it comes to contracts and making sure each step is carried out to the seller’s best interest. For buyers a real estate broker can be an incredibly helpful tool when looking for real estate.  Not only does a competent Realtor know his local real estate market and what is available but he also knows the community, its amenities and all that it has to offer.  A Realtor will write a contract when a buyer has found his ideal property and will help the buyer follow through with each step until closing. In a nutshell, Realtors are incredibly helpful in diminishing the stresses involved with buying and/or selling real estate.  Contact an experienced Realtor in the area you are thinking of buying or selling property in today.


Paying attention to how your home will appear to others will help you sell your home

If you are trying to sell a home in today’s market there are a few things to keep in mind that will help your home stand apart from the pack.  Prioritize and analyze what will fit in your budget and take the steps necessary to make your home show well and appeal to prospective buyers.

  • Fresh & Clean: Inspect your home inside and out. Does it need a coat of paint? A fresh coat of paint will always be recouped in the sale of a home and is well woth the cost.  Does it look clean and tight?  Pack up the mess, the more clutter free a home the better it will show.  Likewise an empty house shows better.
  • Curb appeal: Pay attention to your home as if you were a potential buyer.  Is it inviting?  Clean?  Shore up your landscaping, make sure that your lawn is green and well-kept, that your flower beds are weeded and mulched, and that the exterior of your house is clean and respectable.
  • Inspection: There will be a home inspection completed by the buyer be prudent and do one yourself.  Attend to items that could possibly hold up the sales process.
  • Best areas of a home to update and remodel? The Master Bathroom and the Kitchen.  Don’t spend the money to gut and redo your entire home but remodeling the master bath and kitchen areas of your home will make your home more appealing and grab a buyer’s eye.
  • Evaluate: Are the remodel/updates going to net you more than you are putting into them?  It is very important in the ned to pay attention to your local market and make the improvements that will help you not hurt you.  If you are not going to get the money back that you are intending to put into your home don’t do the changes.  Do the low-cost improvements and make do by making your home clean in its appearance.

Check out for more information and ways to sell your home.

Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation Home

by lheraty
Home, sweet homeIf you have fallen into the category of a second-home owner who is having financial difficulty and trouble selling it, there are things that you can do to try and save money.
  • Wait for rates to come down again and re-finance the loan.
  • Hold off on any planned home improvements.
  • Rent the property. You may rent your property for up to fourteen days before having to report the income to the I.R.S. This is a wonderful option if your property is near a popular annual event that brings in many out-of-towners needing places to stay for the event.
  • Donate the home to charity. You can donate a week for a charity auction and then possibly deduct the fair market rental value from your income taxes. A home can be donated as a Life Estate, which gives the homeowner the right to live there until death and provides a large tax deduction.
  • If you are ambitious you could hire a tax attorney and appeal your property taxes. Many property taxes were assessed on values at the peak of the market, and are now valued much lower.
  • Write up a written agreement or family limited partnership to share the financial burden of the second home with a “partner”. This could be a family member, or not.
To earn more about possible tax advantages of second-home ownership go to Family Education.

Grass on the roofIn today’s market, sellers who have kept up with all of their home’s maintenance needs are finding themselves in a much more enviable position than a homeowner who has neglected theirs. The reason for this is the market change from a “seller’s market” of just a couple years ago to the current ”buyer’s market”. Buyers are no longer saying yes to the “as is” agreement when purchasing a home. It used to be that before listing their home, sellers would put most of their time and energy into things like pretty new paint, updated light fixtures, fresh new flooring and hip hardware. Unfortunately, for a seller in today’s market you still must manage these minor updates, as well as keep home maintenance up-to-date to sell quickly. For example, it is helpful for a seller to have their roof maintenance performed or any termite damage corrected before putting the home on the market. Buyers are looking more closely at the costs of these things before buying. If there is another home down the street with good home maintenance and not such great curb appeal, in today’s climate a buyer may choose the former - as it will be less cash out of pocket and less headaches for them down the line.

For more information about home maintenance tips see Home Tips.

Home interiorThere really is some very good tried and true advice for a seller when they are staging their home for prospective buyers. The following are things that sellers have done mistakenly assuming that it will help them to sell their home, but all it did was cause them to miss their chance to make a great first impression. Never do the following to your home for a showing:

  • Leave your pet in the house, assuming that prospective buyers are probably pet owners as well, and will enjoy meeting your beloved furry friend.
  • Let shrubs get so big that it blocks out light and has the look of an abandoned house.
  • Assume that a buyer will not mind having a list of unfinished jobs to do around the house, if they purchase the home, that is.
  • Throw all of your personal items that are laying about into your closets to make the house look clutter-free. One of the first things a prospective buyer does when they step foot into an entryway is to open that closet door, to see how much space it has…
  • Assume that a prospective buyer is interested in all of the details of your extremely long kitchen renovation - with a photo album detailing each step.
  • Forget to put away your personal papers, such as bills or bank statements.
  • Use sickeningly sweet scented candles. Most buyers consider it an alarm bell for deeper odor issues.

For more information on Home Staging Tips view this website.

Tomatoes in windowThe first impression really does count with potential home buyers. If your home is lacking basic curb appeal or is not sparkling inside, you could lose a potential buyer’s interest immediately - and never get it back! Here are some tips to avoid losing a potential buyer:
  • Flowers, flowers, flowers. Nothing welcomes a potential buyer more to a home than colorful flowers.
  • Keep walkways clear, trimmed and weeded.
  • Patios must be power-washed.
  • Windows should be sparkling.
  • Dust everywhere. Even the baseboards.
  • Since potential buyers look everywhere, make sure underneath your sinks and closets are clean, clutter-free and odor-free.
  • Remove all personal items such as framed photos, awards and collectibles. Buyers need to be able to imagine the space as theirs.
  • Paint any room that is a bright color, a neutral color.
  • Remove any worn or outdated furniture.
  • Repair any chipped or smudged paint, broken fixtures or squeaky doors.
  • Toss worn carpets.
  • Consider replacing dated hardware.
For more information about home staging go to Home Staging Information.

Candles Orient Home DecorSometimes sellers lose sight of what is most important to a buyer. Making that good first impression is so important since you usually only get one chance during that first showing. Remember to focus on the following and you should have an offer in no time:

  • Spruce up that entryway, or change it to appear more welcoming as a buyer enters through the front door, with an attractive bench or chair and a vase of fresh flowers.
  • Houses can lose their appeal to a buyer if there are dirty dishes piled in the sink, piles of laundry or dust. It is hard work to keep your house sparkling at all times for a surprise showing, but very necessary.
  • Kitchens sell a house. If yours looks old, a buyer might ask for up to $10,000 off of the asking price. Specifics to focus on are change the countertops, install new hardware and change to a neutral paint color. Even replacing just one appliance with a stainless steel version makes a difference!
  • Never forget to remove any personal items such as family photos and collections. It makes it harder for a buyer to envision themselves in the space if all they see are dozens and dozens of hummels.
  •  Light is good! Even if you prefer a darkened space, remember that a prospective buyer looks for as much light as possible. Remove drapes if you have to to let in light, or trim back large bushes or trees that are preventing light from entering a space.
  • Empty those closets so that at least half of it is visible. Many sellers find that they have to put things into temporary storage elsewhere, but this effort pays off as a buyer needs to believe that they have a myriad of places to put all of their “stuff”.
  • In this economy try your best to be brave and list your home at 15% to 20% off of its value. This strategy has a track record of creating many buyers with bids, that often end up over the ask price.

For more information about how to properly price your home for sale go to “How Sellers Can Maximize Profit”.

The Party's OverFrustrated homesellers have begun looking into more and more creative ways to sell their homes. Long gone are the days of simply baking a pie during a showing for the enticing aroma or setting out beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers to interest a buyer. Here’s what some are actually doing to sell their homes more quickly:
  • Throwing an Open House Party. The offerings at these shindigs are wine, catered food, live music and prizes.
  • Consulting a Feng Shui home stager. Their homes are being rearranged to make potential buyers feel more welcome by following the ancient chinese philosophy to improve the home’s “chi”, or energy.
  • Helping buyers with the financing. Many are offering lease-to-own deals, financing it themselves, paying the closing costs, or paying a point to lower the interest rate for the buyer.
  • Burying statues. People are swearing by the fact that shortly after burying a statue of the patron saint of family and household in their yards, they sold their homes.
  • Throwing in BIG extras to seal the deal. Gone are the days of generously offering a big-screen TV. Sellers are now offering cars, vacations, home upgrades, furniture stipends and even a year’s mortgage.
For more interesting ways to consider selling your home faster go to the Fun Times Guide.
Vintage kitchen modernizedPutting your house on the market is always a challenge in that you must look for ways to make it the most appealing it can be to potential buyers. Beyond the tried and true rules of emptying closets and keeping all rooms tidy and clean, here are some things you may not have thought of that can have major impact during a showing or open house.
  • If you have a small room in your home that you would like to appear more spacious, paint it the same color as the room it is attached to. This will convey a more seamless, spacious feel. Another trick to convey spaciousness is to keep all window treatments in small rooms the same shade as the walls.
  • Paint your sun room an attractive shade of green. It really does help to bring the outside in!
  • If you have a narrow room, add wall shelving. This gives the space depth, without crowding out occupants.
  • If you are upgrading to sell, choose Eco-friendly materials. Buyers are showing more interest in homes with these materials. For example, consider cost-efficient and “green” cork flooring instead of hardwoods.
  • Consider breaking up a finished basement into “zones”. For example, furnish one area for reading, another area for a bar, one for games, one for a workspace with a desk and another for lounging in front of the television.
  • If your kitchen is outdated and you do not want to renovate, replacing old appliances is highly suggested. Studies show that sellers recoup every penny spent on new appliances!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10




Contact Information

Photo of Cathy Russell Real Estate
Cathy Russell
The Russell Company
2522 Covington St.
West Lafayette IN 47906
(765) 426-7000
(765) 335-5588
Fax: (765) 497-1003