10 Things to do BEFORE Winter sets in!

Preventative maintenance is key. When the last of summer's heat is a faint memory, and you're pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts, it's time to tackle a few simple chores that'll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.
When the last of summer's heat is a faint memory, and you're pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts, it's time to tackle a few simple chores that'll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.

This fall checklist helps:
#1 Clean and Stow Your Mower
If you're not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

#2 Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn't sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you'll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you're at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

#3 Drain Your Sprinkler System

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. Shut off the automatic controller. Open drain valves to remove water from the system. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don't have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don't have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

#4 Seal Air Leaks

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home's exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive -- and most important -- of your fall maintenance jobs. You'll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

#5 De-Gunk Your Gutters

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren't sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don't, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

#6 Eyeball Your Roof

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that's decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They'll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they're in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

#7 Direct Your Drainage

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you'll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn't touch your siding.

#8 Check Your Furnace

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you're at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven't, now's the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

#9 Prune Plants

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won't drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

#10 Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it's free of birds' nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

 

Sller: What happens after I Accept the Offer?

 

Finally, a buyer has put a great offer in on your property and you’ve decided to accept. Get ready to pop the bubbly and celebrate, right? Well, not quite yet. The buyer most likely has added a few contingencies to the offer that you’ll need to overcome before the big celebration:

Inspection Contingencies: Most buyers in Itasca County will add a water test, septic inspection, and home inspection to their offer. Your realtor can schedule both the water test (if you use well water) and the septic inspection at your expense. These are done as quickly as possible and results shared with the buyer’s agent who, in turn, shares with the buyers. If the water test meets Minnesota drinking water standards, it passes. If the septic system is found to be compliant in today’s standards, it will all pass. If not, we are back to the negotiation table with the buyer. The home inspection will be scheduled by the buyer’s agent at the buyer’s cost. The home inspector will look at everything to make sure there are not major issues. This includes checking the roof, foundation, plumbing, electric, and floor to name a few. Again, it any major issues are found, the buyer has the option of walking away from the offer, asking you to fix things, or simply taking everything as is. Normally all of these inspections are completed within a week of you accepting the offer.

Financing Contingency: Even though the buyer is pre-approved (one thing you should always ask your realtor when they present the offer), things can still fall apart with the buyer’s financing. The lender will schedule an appraisal of your home to ensure that it is worth what the buyer is saying they’ll pay. Appraisers will schedule a time to come to your home and look around to see your property. They will use comparable properties that have recently sold to help gauge the pricing. If the appraisal comes in lower then what the buyer has said they would pay, the lender will not be able to loan that amount. Again, the buyer can walk away from the deal or ask that you lower the price to meet the appraised amount.

Title Work: While the inspection and financing folks are working on their parts, the title company will be doing the title work on your property. Some of the items that come up often in the Northern portions of Itasca County are Road Maintenance Agreements for private roads, Easement issues, and Encroachment issues. If any of these issues are found, you, the seller, will need to work with your realtor to resolve them prior to closing on the sale.

Closing: On the purchase agreement, the buyer will have listed when they’d like to close on the sale. The lender knows the date. The title company knows the date, and both buyer and seller knows the date. Sounds like it is pretty set in stone, right? No 100%! The lender might not be ready. The title company might not be ready. Maybe an easement issue hasn’t been resolved yet, Your realtor will keep you informed on the process of the sale.

Selling a home is a process for sure. Your celebration comes at the closing table once the buyers have signed and your home is now theirs.

Top Tips for House-Hunting Online

 

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.


1.  Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter. Edge of the Wilderness Lakes & Homes Realty's site is a perfect place to start searching. 


2.  Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms.


3.  See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call up your real estate agent and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.

What Size Home Do You Really Need?

When buying a new house, it’s easy to get distracted by size and think that bigger is better. However, depending on your situation, the opposite may be true. So how can you determine if your new home is too small, too big, or “just right?” You’ll want to consider these elements.

What’s Your Long-Term Goal? How many years do you see yourself in this house? Is this the place where you want to raise your kids and retire? If not, then size shouldn’t be as crucial as you think. Consider the fact that you will likely move again, which means that you can upgrade in the future if necessary.


What’s Your Financial Limit? For the most part, you don’t want more home than you can truly afford. While you may be getting that promotion in a couple of months, you can’t buy now expecting to have more money in the bank later. Overextending your financial reach is always a bad move, so it’s best to avoid putting yourself (or your family) in that position.


How Many People are Living Here? In a perfect world, everyone would be able to have their own bedrooms, but when you have kids, that’s not always possible. When thinking about this situation, consider how imperative it is to have sufficient space for everyone, and what it will do to your budget.

Overall, buying a home should be about your current needs and how you plan to grow into space in the future. Don’t buy big for the sake of showing off - in the end, you’ll probably regret it.

5 Negotiating Tactics that Kill a Sale


Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:


1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.


2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.


3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.


4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.


5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

How to Manage Stress During the House Hunt


Purchasing a home can be a stressful process. There are negotiations, inspections, appraisals, strong emotions, and let’s face it, it is usually the biggest financial investment of your life. Well you won’t be able to totally get rid of the stress involved in a home purchase, there are things you can do to help lessen the stress. Whether you are a first time home buyer or someone who has bought and sold properties over your life time, this list will help you on the path to home ownership.

Know what you need in a home: You might have the best realtor in the world, but your realtor can’t read your mind. You need to go into the home buying process with an idea of what you’re looking for. It saves time and frustration if you have your “must-have” list already put together. Consider the size of the home, how many bedrooms/baths, how far you are willing to commute to work, and how convenient the home is to the things you love to do.


Flexibility is important: Unless you are building a brand new home yourself, you will probably not find the perfect home that hits on all of your “wants”. No home is perfect. Once you have your list of “wants”, you need to prioritize what’s most important. You may find that what fits your budget best is a little further from town. Or the kitchen might not be the one you’ve always dreamed of, it could be with a little work after the sale.


Get Pre-Approved: Financing a mortgage can lead to a lot of stress. It is very important to speak with a lender or two and get pre-approved prior to beginning your home search. There is nothing worse than finding the home of your dreams only to discover that you don’t qualify for the mortgage. Ask your Realtor what lenders they’ve worked with in the marketplace. They will be happy to give you some referrals. Check your credit to see if there are any red flags and clean those up right away. It’s also a good idea to have your income records and bank statements close at hand. Your lender will most likely want to see those at some point through the process.


Save Cash: Buying a home is expensive. You’ll have closing cost, a down payment, and you’ll need to get the utilities switched over. Then there is the actually moving expenses (unless of course you have family that is willing to carry the couch, beds, etc into your new home) Your Realtor and Lender can give you a rough estimate of closing cost associated with purchasing your new home.


Listen to your Realtor: Your Realtor brings a wealth of knowledge to the home buying process. Your Realtor may suggest adding contingencies to your offer once you have found the right home. Those contingencies are put in place to save you from problems down the road. For example, in Itasca County, a Septic System contingency can help save you thousands of dollars. The same is true when they suggest paying for a home inspection. While your Realtor can’t tell you what home will be best for your family, they can make suggestions to help.


Above all, recognize that the home buying process takes time. It’s rare to find the prefect home on your time day touring. But, your new place is out there.

Love it or hate it, Technology is here to stay

Technology is everywhere these days and your home is no exception. Love it or hate it, technology doesn’t seem to be going away. There are some pretty cool technology items that you can add to your home that will help put technology to work for YOU!

Ring Video Doorbell Pro: This device allows you to answer your door from anywhere. Well, your guest will not be welcomed with your smiling face, but it actually allows you to hear and speak to your guest. This doorbell works with Alexa and sends alerts to your smartphone. It can even alert you when there is motion at your door.

Smart WiFi Plugs: This also works with Alexa. You can turn on your lights, appliances and more from your smart phone with these Smart Plugs. You just plug your lamps into the plug and then with your smart phone, you can turn on your lights even if you aren’t home. How cool is that! Think about arriving at your cabin late at night, but the lights are on for you because your smartphone told the cabin to have the lights on.

Nest Learning Thermostat: Research has shown that Nest thermostat users save 10-12% on their heating bills and up to 15% on their cool bills. This device controls your thermostat from anywhere. It works with Alexa and in addition to saving you money, it also learns your habits. (kind of scary, but also money saving).

Touch Screen Deadbolt: Have a family cabin where friends and family visit and you need to give them access? Schlage has a model that uses a touch screen keypad to allow keyless entry. You can even create temporary codes for visitors or control the lock with Alexa. Amazing!

Smart Blinds: Yes, you can even control your blinds from your smartphone. Smart blinds have built in temperature sensors to let them help control the temperature and lighting in your home so you don’t have to decide how hot or cold you want it. A very nice feature is you can set daily and weekly schedules. Don’t want those blinds going up early on Sunday morning, you can set it to open later and give you a few extra minutes of sleep.


There is so much out there to make your home smarter and more efficient. What is your favorite technology for your home?

Smith Lake Home: One of many Lake Homes for Sale

As you know, we sell Lake Homes and I thought I show you one of my new listings just to give you an idea of the great homes we currently have for sale in the Marcell and Bigfork area. This home is on Smith Lake up in Marcell and is listed for $269,900.

With 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, this home has space for everyone. There is plenty of privacy as each level has a bedroom so your guest will have their own space when they visit.

The kitchen is a chef’s dream with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. And check out the dinning area with built-in’s which are prefect for your bar area.

The main living space has great views of the lake and there is a bonus room upstairs that is ready to finish to your liking. There is even an office area…..but who really wants to work when you can be outside on the lake?

The lot is 1.37 acres with Maples and Spruce and is very private with heavy tree cover. The views of the lake are stunning. Smith lake is a great lake for Crappie, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Perch.

Need storage? There is a 1-car attached garage and a 2-stall detached garage. You really do need to take a look at this property.

Sellers! Here's my 4 Tips for getting the most for your home

Spring has arrived and “For Sale” signs are popping up all across Itasca County. This is home, cabin, and land buying season Up North. If you are planning on selling your property this year, it’s time to get busy. Of course you want to walk away from the closing table with as much as possible in your pocket. To help you reach your goals financially, here are my Top 4 Tips:


#1. Price it Right from the Start: Setting the right price for your property from the start is critical to attracting potential buyers. If you are over priced, you’re not putting your best foot forward to buyers. You’ll get frustrated quickly when your property is listed and no one is coming to preview it. Setting a price for your property can be an emotional experience. Maybe you’ve raised your children in the home or spend all of your past 10 summers at the cabin. Maybe it is the first home you ever purchased and you put a lot of sweat equity into it. It’s really important to rely on your Realtor when it comes to pricing. An overpriced home leads to multiple price cuts and buyers will loose interest in the property. Use your Realtor!

#2. Set the Stage: Staging is very popular in larger cities and some sellers spend hundreds of dollars using professional stagers to make sure their home looks its best. In Real Estate, we are often selling the dream and a staged home can look “dreamy”. Do you really need to hire a professional stager? No, not at all. Ask your Realtor to make suggestions on how to make your property shine to potential buyers. The suggestions you’ll receive are often easily enough to complete yourself. De-clutter, remove extra large furniture, and clean, clean, clean.

#3. Don’t wait for the home inspection to complete repairs: If you know you have a leaky faucet or water heater that is giving you grief, its a good idea to fix it before listing your property. Cracked or missing switch plate covers, or a broken tile in the bathroom might not sound like a make it or break it deal, but it can make the difference in price to a buyer.

#4. Vet all of the offers you get: There are lots of variables to consider when reviewing buyers’ offers. The price they are willing to pay is only one of those variables. Are they pre-approved? Do they have to sell their home before they can purchase yours? Are they asking for help with their closing cost? Are they wanting too close very quickly or are they flexible on a closing date? What other contingencies have they listed? Your Realtor will go over all of the items in the purchase agreement. Consider the entire offer, not just the price.

Let's Eat: My Favorite UP North Places

Well, its only days to Fishing opener and that signals that start of our summer season. People from all over will be heading to Northern Itasca County to fish the beautiful lakes, walk the trails, and enjoy their time at the cabin. There's so much to do that there's not much time for cooking.  Why bother getting the pots, pans, and BBQ dirty when there are many great places to get breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Here's a few of my favorite places that I hope you'll stop in while you're here.  So, Let's EAT!

 

* Timberwolf Inn:  If you haven't eaten at the Timberwolf, you are totally missing out.  Located just a few miles north of Marcell on Hwy 38, the "Wolf" has a wide variety of menu items.  From sandwiches to soups, seafood and steak, you'll find something to temp your taste buds. Enjoy your meal in the dinning room, bar, or the wonderful patio.  You'll most likely find old friends and even make some new ones.

* Effie Cafe: The Effie Cafe is opened for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  Located a few miles North of Bigfork, you'll find the little town of Effie.  The Cafe is at the corner of Hwy 38 & Hwy 1.  The food is tasty, the conversation always fun, and if you listen, you might overhear where the fish are biting.  When you eat at the Effie Cafe, you'll find that everyone joins in on a big conversation rather then talking individually.  It's family! 

Park Rec: Think back to a time when you got the best hamburger, fresh off the grill.  Not something that's been sitting under a heat lamp!  Park Rec is located in downtown Bigfork.  You can miss it, there will be plenty of cars parked there and folks enjoying their burgers.  Priced very reasonably and ever so good! 

* Antler Lodge: Just up Scenic 7, you'll find the Antler Lodge. This timeless lodge offers a full menu including: Prime Rib, Lobster, Crab Legs, Shrimp, Steaks, Chicken, Burgers and Pizza. While you are there you can also shop for antiques and crafts.

That's my top favorite places! Enjoy discovering the Edge of the Wilderness!