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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

by Christy Rhoades

Fall is here! With days officially dropping to jacket-weather temperatures, it is time to remember all of the items needed to make your home ready for winter. Let’s make it easy and get ahead of Jack Frost with this fall home maintenance checklist.
Exterior Items
Winterize your grill by giving it one final, deep clean and covering burners and other metal parts with cooking oil to prevent rust. Also, shut off your gas and put a protective cover over the whole unit.
Seal up exterior cracks and gaps in siding, windows or foundation with caulking or weather stripping.
Take advantage of the low humidity weather and paint your home or stain and seal your deck.
Clean your gutters and make sure they are secure.
Bring any glue, liquid weed killer, paints, stains, finishes and spray cans inside so they do not freeze.
Store outdoor decorations and furniture or at least cover it up to extend the life.
Hook up seasonal batteries for boats or small vehicles to a battery maintainer.
Fix any cracks in the driveway to keep moisture from getting in to freeze, expand and make them bigger.
Aerate, fertilize and reseed your yard.
Have your sprinkler system drained and blown out.
Winterize your lawn mower by removing all fuel or filling up the tank and adding fuel conditioner and running it for a couple minutes so it can circulate.
Empty your flower pots and planters. Bring any clay or ceramic containers inside.
Drain all garden hoses and sprinklers and store. Also turn off water to all exterior hose bibs and drain pipes.
Trim back trees and bushes and remove dead branches from to keep them from falling once weighted with heavy snow.
Rake your leaves and shred them for compost, mulch or on top of flower beds as a winter blanket for your garden.
Divide or move perennials and remove any dead annuals.
Mulch perennials after the first hard freeze and do not cover the center point (crown) to avoid rotting.
Clean garden tools before storing.
If you have been feeding birds from your yard, be sure to stock up on bird food to continue feeding them this winter.
Mark the perimeter of your driveway and sidewalk by pounding in driveway markers for easier snow removal.
Get your snowblower ready for service.
Make sure you have a snow shovel that is in good shape.
Grab a bag of pet and plant safe ice melt from the store.
Interior Items
Change the direction your ceiling fans spin so they can circulate the warm air down toward the floor.
Wrap any water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape or insulation to save energy and prevent freezing.
Replace the furnace filter or consider having your HVAC system maintained by a professional.
Remove any window AC units or cover the entire exterior to keep cold air out.
Clean out your dryer vents and remove lint.
Check attic insulation is at the proper level and doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.
Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.
Schedule a chimney cleaning.
Have your home tested for radon since windows are shut more in the fall and winter.
Change the batteries in your carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors.
Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace if needed.

Readying Your Home For Sale

by Morse Real Estate

Buyers want to find out everything there is about your home when purchasing it. Since it is a major investment, homebuyers want to inspect your property in it’s entirety while looking for any signs of damage. How can you prepare your home for the public eye? Here’s some great tips:

Thoroughly Clean the Home
Before allowing anyone into your home, you should have it thoroughly cleaned. This means dusting, vacuuming and taking out the trash. It may also mean taking steps to remove smoke or other odors from the air. If walls or other surfaces have mold on them, be sure to clean them prior to an open house. In addition to increasing the odds that someone makes an offer, taking the time to eliminate mold will go a long way toward reducing the risk of potential buyers getting sick.

Take Time to Stage the Home
Prospective buyers want to get an idea as to how a given space within a home can be used. For instance, they may want to see if there's enough room for their bed in the master bedroom or if there's enough room for the couch in the living room. If you have a finished attic or basement, be sure to showcase it as a space a buyer can make good use of.

Remove Potentially Offensive Items
When you show a house, you want to present a neutral look to potential buyers. This may mean getting rid of posters that make political or religious references. You may also want to hide items with sports logos, especially if you live in an area where rivalries are huge. By doing so, you will allow those who visit your home to imagine themselves living in the space without having anything to cloud their vision.

Make Necessary Repairs Before an Open House
If you're planning on making repairs prior to selling the home, do them before allowing anyone to see the space. For instance, you may want to repair the leaking water heater or replace shingles that have fallen off the roof as soon as possible. You should also make sure the garage door opens and closes properly and that all of the lights work.

If you want to sell your home in a timely manner, you must know how to prepare the space for public viewing. Making repairs, removing offensive items and properly staging the property may all increase the odds of selling your home.

By taking these steps before a showing, you may very well increase a buyer’s confidence that the home is worth putting an offer on.

National Garage Sale Day: August 8

by Morse Real Estate

National Garage Sale Day 2015

You’ve almost finished sifting through those long-abandoned knickknacks — er, treasures — in the basement, right? Are the signs all ready to go? How about the price tags?

Surely, you haven’t forgotten that National Garage Sale Day is this Saturday.

Yep, on Aug. 8th — National Garage Sale Day is always the second Saturday in August — we celebrate the coming together of those with belongings they no longer want and those with a want for belongings they don’t have.

Make no mistake: Garage sales are big business — even if the average selling price of goods at such events is a mere 85 cents.

Take 85 cents here and 85cents there, and, pretty soon, you have $4,222,375. That’s the total revenue that U.S. garage sales generate each week, according to the website

Make sure you pay attention these important tips:

Cash: Keep a bunch of coins and small denomination bills handy. You never want to lose a sale simply because you cannot break a $5 bill.

Advertise: Ads should be placed in local newspapers and on websites five or six days before the sale. Neighborhood signs should be eye-catching, simple and, above all, readable. Use words like, "HUGE SALE" with an arrow.

Scheduling: Schedule your garage sale to coincide with a local event that’s likely to generate extra traffic near your home.

Item Placement: Place the items with the broadest appeal close to the street to grab attention and lure potential buyers up the driveway.

Clothing: Sort clothing into categories — by gender, season and age group, for example — and display those items, if possible, on hangers.

Mirrors: Keep a mirror handy if you’re selling accessories.

Power Up: Place fresh batteries in items that require them and keep a power source handy so shoppers can try out electronics and other plug-in appliances.

Refreshments: Sell cookies, bottles of water or lemonade at your sale to keep people refreshed so they stay longer.

Finally, don’t forget what follows National Garage Sale Day by just six days: National Thrift Shop Day.

What is the best bargain you ever got at a garage sale?

5 Things to add Curb Appeal! #3 is interesting

by Morse Real Estate

When it comes time to sell your home, very clean and updated kitchens and baths are very important and can go a long way.  But what about the outside?  People see the outside before they come in and see your kitchens and bathrooms, so adding curb appeal to your home is essential for those first impressions.   Here are five things you can do to improve your curb appeal from

Landscaping goes a long way. In the spring plant colorful flowers or think about planting small shrubs or trees.  Speak with the gardening department at your local home improvement store to see what your options are for the Omaha/Council Bluffs climate.

Power washing and window cleaning. If the paint on your house looks poor consider getting it re-painted.  If the paint is good, but it hasn't been power washed in over five years, a good power washing will improve the looks and brighten up the exterior of your home. The same goes for your windows! If you are especially handy, you may be able to complete the job yourself with the right equipment.

Replace shutters and/or the front door. The return on investment of replacing your front door is one of the highest when it comes to remodeling projects. A dated front door makes a house look cheap, and a worn front door makes a house uncared for or old. You can replace the shutters or front door of your house as a DIY project, greatly reducing your costs.

Resurface your driveway. When you sell your home, a paved driveway will appeal to buyers.  A cracked up driveway can also potentially affect their ability to get certain financing.  Smooth out your blacktop or asphalt so it looks polished for future showings.

Clean or sand the deck. Prospective buyers will remember the expansive feel that a wide deck provides." Keep your deck clean and in tip-top shape. If it looks rough, it could ratchet down the interest of a prospective homebuyer.  They will see it as a big project they'll have to tackle instead of something they could enjoy right away.

With any remodeling project, and especially if you are remodeling in the interest of selling your home, you need to weigh the investment against the predicted range of return on your investment. If your home hasn't had a face-lift in years or is particularly dated or old, these little projects can go a long way toward the sale of your home.

Have you tackled any of these before yourself?  Let us know below!

Are you Landlord material?

by Morse Real Estate

Ever thought about investing in rental properties? Think you have what it takes could be a good landlord? There is certainly potential to make money owning and leasing rental property. Investing in real estate is one of the best investments you can make but you are dealing with the public so it can be a very difficult at times. Before you jump in, take some time and answer these 10 questions and see what you come up with.

10 Questions to ask BEFORE renting your home

  1. How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations? (This happens most often during holiday season and back-to-school time when families with children have extra expenses).
  2. Because of the economy, many homeowners cannot make their mortgage payment? What percentage of tenants do you think cannot afford to pay their rent?
  3. Have you interviewed experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
  4. Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
  5. Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
  6. How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In person?
  7. Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs come up?
  8. Do you have a list of crafts people readily available to handle these repairs?
  9. How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
  10. Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?

It is important to stay-up-to date on federal, state and city guidelines for rental properties and tenant rights. If you have questions about Council Bluffs or Omaha guidelines, give one of our Realtors a call. Find more about our agents here.

Do you have any awful slumlord stories to share?  Let us know below! 

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5