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Michael Behnken
REALTOR®
(618) 972-1626

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Sell Your Home | 1 Posts
November
21

Holiday Decoration Storage Ideas

Decoration Storage

Major retailers have their displays of holiday decor stocked and ready for the upcoming holiday season. Before you stock up on new ornaments or lights to deck your halls, it's important to have a plan in place for storing your holiday decorations.

This helps you keep your home organized and ensures that your decor remains in good shape for years to come. Our real estate agents suggest using these ideas for storing your holiday decorations. 

  • Go Through Your Old Decor
    Before you spend money buying storage items for your decor, declutter your holiday decor. Get rid of anything that's broken and unfixable or that you just don't enjoy seeing in your home. Not only will you have less to store when it's time to pack everything away, but you'll be able to quickly find what you're looking for when it's time to decorate your home.
  • Opt for Clear Storage Containers
    Clear storage containers are a budget-friendly, efficient way to store your decor so that you know exactly what's in the bin. Try to store like items together; for example, store indoor items together and if necessary, give each room or space its own container. Label each container using specific terms so that you can quickly determine what bin you need. An added benefit of using plastic storage containers is that they help your garage or storage shed appear neat and functional, making it more appealing to potential homebuyers when you add your home to the inventory of Belleville homes for sale
  • Use Clear Garment Bags to House Large or Oddly Shaped Items
    Clear garment bags work well for protecting oversized or irregularly shaped items from the elements. You can use them to cover wreaths, outside decor, door signs, artificial trees, and floral arrangements. Garment bags are also a terrific idea for storing all your rolls of wrapping paper and decorative boxes. Depending on the item, you can hang the garment bags on a portable clothing rack, in a closet, or on hooks so that you can easily find what you're looking for when it's time to decorate. 
  • Store Ornaments and Small Decorative Pieces in Egg Cartons
    Recycle your old egg cartons to store ornaments, figurines, and other holiday trinkets. The egg carton will protect fragile items, and you can house the egg cartons in larger storage bins. Make sure to label each egg carton so that you know what's inside. 
  • Repurpose Cardboard Boxes
    You can use all your cardboard boxes to keep your lights and garland from getting tangled. Cut a piece of the box to wrap your garland or lights around so that they don't get tangled when they're in storage. This will save you detangling time when it's time to use your decorations. If you like to use specific lights in certain areas of your home, you can write on the cardboard where each strand of light goes. 

With a little time and planning, you can keep your holiday decorations organized and protected when you're not using them. Interested in purchasing a home with more space for holiday festivities? Contact us to list your home for sale!

September
19

5 Things to Know About Home Additions

Home Addition

If your home no longer fits your needs, you might be thinking of building an addition. A new wing, great room, or even bedroom can make your current house feel more like your home. You may also consider an addition if you find an awesome home for sale that's simply lacking in a few ways. We've seen plenty of Belleville homes for sale with additions that blend in well with the original architecture. Here are some key things to know if you're thinking about having an addition built.

  1. Above-Garage Additions Are An Option
    When considering a home addition, people often assume that the addition will be added square footage on the first floor. But if your yard is already small or there's no convenient place to build onto your home, there is an alternative. Building a room above the garage works well in many cases.

    This room can be an extra bedroom, a living room, a storage area, or even an office. Since you don't need to dig or pour a foundation, above-garage additions tend to be quite affordable.

  2. You'll Need a Designer and a Builder
    There are two key people you need to hire for a home addition project. The first is an architectural designer who will draw up plans for the project. The second is a builder to actually build the addition according to the drawings. The builder may subcontract out some of the work, such as roofing or plumbing, but they'll be the head of the project.

    There are design-build companies you can hire to handle the project from start to finish. However, many of these companies only build new homes. 

  3. Extra Bedrooms Are a Relatively Affordable Type of Addition
    Building a bathroom or kitchen will cost more because the room requires plumbing. Bedrooms, on the other hand, tend to be more affordable to add. It's rather simple for builders to bump out a wall and add a bedroom onto the home.

    You'll still need building permits, and you'll need to ensure your HVAC system can support the extra square footage. 

  4. Adding a Sunroom Often Works Well
    Do you feel like your family just needs additional "living space" inside of your home? Adding on a sunroom or three-season room can be an affordable option.

    In some jurisdictions, building requirements for sunrooms are more lenient, so you may not need to spend as much on elements like the foundation and roofing. Plus, these rooms are really versatile. You can use the sunroom for relaxing in the summer and for storing off-season sporting goods in the winter.

  5. Sometimes an Addition is Not the Most Affordable Choice
    Before you commit to building an addition, get an estimate or two from building companies. Also, talk to a real estate agent and visit some homes for sale that suit your family's needs. Pay attention to the prices of those homes.

    With estimates in hand, you can compare the cost of building an addition to the cost of moving to a more suitable home. Sometimes building an addition is the more affordable option, and other times, you may be better off moving.

Home additions can open up a space and make your home a more enjoyable place to be. However, we encourage you to also consider moving to a home that's already built to suit your needs. Contact us if you're looking for a real estate agent to guide you. Our real estate agents are local experts and can guide you through the buying process. 

June
20

How to Better Organize Your Kitchen

Kitchen Tips

Tired of having to search through multiple cabinets to locate the pot or pan you're looking for? Feel like your cabinets and drawers have a lot of wasted space?

Organizing your kitchen helps you quickly find what you're looking for and makes cooking more enjoyable. Follow these tips from our real estate agents to get your kitchen organized and clutter-free. 

  • Empty Everything Out
    Before you can decide what you want to keep and which items you want to toss or donate, you need to know precisely what you have in your kitchen. Empty out every item from all your cabinets and drawers. A general rule is to get rid of anything that you haven't used in the last 6 months (or 12 months for seasonal items). If you have multiples of an item, consider how many you really need based on your entertaining preferences. It likely makes sense to keep multiples of a specific type of pan or oven dish if you know you need them all when you cook larger meals, but keeping three or four spatulas when you only use one or two is a needless use of space. Get rid of anything that isn't conducive to your current lifestyle. Perhaps you used to faithfully use your juicer but now prefer smoothies made in your blender. Sell or donate the juicer. 
  • Clean Your Cabinets and Drawers
    With everything emptied out, it's an excellent time to clean your cabinets and drawers. If you're ready to add your home to the inventory of Belleville homes for sale, it's essential to make sure every surface in your kitchen is clean. Use a handheld vacuum or regular vacuum with a crevice attachment to quickly eradicate crumbs, hair, and dirt. Then, add a little dish soap to a bowl of hot water. Grab a rag and wipe down your cabinets and drawers. Afterward, dry each cabinet, shelf, or drawer with a dry towel.
  • Put Items Where They're Frequently Used
    As you put things back, try to place them close to the area of your kitchen where you tend to use them. For example, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and ovenware should be stored close to your stove or oven. Place cups in the cabinet closest to wherever your drinks are stored. Stow spices and baking supplies where you prep your meals. 
  • Invest in Storage Accessories
    The right storage accessories will expand your kitchen's storage space. Wire organizers work well for storing pans and baking sheets vertically so that you can get the piece you need without having to take everything out of the cabinet. A cabinet shelf allows you to organize your cabinet into multiple areas so that you have more usable space and can easily find what you're looking for. Hang hooks on the interior of your cabinets to store cleaning cloths and kitchen gloves. Clear bins work well for keeping items grouped together and contained in one spot. Opt for stackable bins so you can use every inch of your cabinet space. If you feel like you simply need more storage space, consider installing shelves or adding a sideboard or freestanding pantry. 

With a little time and planning, you can improve your kitchen's organization so that it's a better fit for your needs. Interested in a home with a larger kitchen? Contact us today to start your search!

December
6

6 Tips for Staging Your Home This Holiday Season

Holiday Selling Tips

The holidays are just around the corner, so it's time to fill your home with seasonal decor that creates an inviting atmosphere. While the holidays can be a difficult time to sell your home, our real estate agents have some staging tips that will impress holiday buyers.

The holiday season is a busy time of year with travel, family gatherings, holiday parties, and special events. With crunched schedules and strained shopping budgets, 'tis the time of year when home sales usually slow down. Buyers looking for Belleville homes for sale may need a little nudge to pique their interest. Staging your home for the holidays can be a great way to attract even the busiest buyers. Follow these tips to make a lasting impression this holiday season.

  1. Clean and Declutter
    Before you focus on holiday staging, it's essential to clean and declutter your home. Dusty floors, stained upholstery, and cluttered shelves and countertops are never appealing, but holiday decorations added to a cluttered interior are a definite turnoff. Before the holidays arrive, do a thorough cleaning or hire a professional cleaning crew, so you have a clean slate for holiday decorating.

  1. Add Some Lights
    Lighting up your home's exterior will increase curb appeal and attract more potential buyers. The holidays are the perfect time to add twinkling string lights to trees and shrubs, pathway lights to walkways, and spotlights to special outdoor architectural features. It's best to keep outdoor lights white or all one color to avoid a busy, overwhelming effect that may be an unpleasant distraction for buyers driving by the house.

  1. Showcase the Tree
    Your tree can create a lovely focal point that emphasizes a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. Most homebuyers will relate to a beautiful tree filled with lights and decorative seasonal ornaments that feel like home. 

  1. Decorate for the Holidays
    Home staging is all about neutralizing and paring down to make your home look larger and more appealing to buyers. Your holiday decorations should emphasize a warm, comfortable interior where buyers want to live. Think cozy quilts and throws, fresh garland with berries on the mantle, vases with seasonal flowers around the house, glowing candles and tealights, and a beautiful holiday centerpiece on the dining room table.

  1. Fill the Air with Fresh Scents
    Holiday scents are a wonderful way to welcome buyers. Whether you choose scented candles, potpourri, or freshly baked cookies, buyers will feel very welcome when they enter your home. Everyone associates the holidays with smells of fresh pine, juniper, and spruce, cinnamon and nutmeg spices, roasted chestnuts, pumpkin pies, and gingerbread cookies. 

  1. Complement Your Color Palette
    Before you start decorating, make sure your holiday decorations complement your home's color palette. If your living room is designed in cool shades of ocean blue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for silver garland or white snowflakes. If you have an earthy color scheme, choose decorations with accents of gold, cranberry, and forest green. For a subtle white or neutral color palette, decorations in gold, silver, or metallic will add a sophisticated ambiance.

If you're considering buying or selling a home during the holiday season, contact us for more ways to make your holiday real estate venture a complete success.

July
5

The Outdoor Updates Buyers Will Love

Outdoor Updates

When you're getting ready to list your home on the market, many sellers primarily focus on their home's interior, but it's important to remember your outdoor space too. Your home's exterior is your first chance to make a good impression on potential buyers. A beautiful exterior is an excellent way to attract attention to your listing. 

Our real estate agents always encourage sellers to focus on sprucing up their outdoor space before listing their home, as it can actually have a positive impact on the home value and sale price. Below are some tips to help you get started today:

  1. Update Your Landscaping
    If your yard is overgrown or your trees need a trim, it can certainly give buyers a bad first impression. Before listing your home, make sure your lawn is well-maintained, shrubs are trimmed, and weeds or debris are removed from your garden. Once everything is in order, try adding some new plants. Blooming annuals and perennials are great ways to make your exterior stand out in the summer. 

  2. Refresh Your Facade
    If the front of your home is looking a bit dated, giving it a good makeover or refresh can really increase your home value. If your home is stucco or wood, you may want to pressure wash it to remove any dirt, stains, or mold. If it's in pretty bad shape, consider giving it a new coat of paint. It might be time-consuming or expensive, but you'll likely be able to recoup the costs in your sales price.

  3. Stain Your Deck
    The deck serves an important role as a summertime gathering space, so if it's looking a bit faded, you may want to consider staining it before listing your home. Staining your deck is a good way to make it shine for prospective buyers and can give your entire outdoor space a fresh look.

  4. Add A Fire Pit
    Fire pits are the staple of any summer BBQ or backyard party, and buyers love to see them. You can buy one at a local hardware store or even build your own with brick or stone. Add comfortable seating so visitors can imagine themselves enjoying time outdoors with friends and family.

  5. Stage Your Patio
    Buyers want to see a beautiful, comfortable patio area, so be sure to show off your best furniture. Patio furniture can really make or break an outdoor space, so it can be helpful to stage the area with a nice lounge set. If your furniture is looking a bit worn or faded, you may want to invest in some new cushions. A nice patio rug is also a good way to pull the entire space together.

Outdoor areas are very appealing to prospective buyers looking at Belleville homes for sale, especially during the summertime. Make sure to give off a good first impression by devoting some extra time to refreshing the space. For more home staging tips, contact us today.

April
19

What Home Improvement Shows Get Wrong

Home Improvement ShowsHome improvement shows are perfect for lazy weekend binge-watching. An easy home renovation that's completed over the weekend and delivers dreamy results (complete with décor accessories) – who wouldn't want that? The popularity of home renovation shows has dramatically skyrocketed and perhaps changed the way viewers think about buying and renovating a home. However, things that happen on these shows are out of line with reality and can be misleading if you're looking to remodel or buy Belleville homes for sale. As you enjoy these shows, take everything with a healthy dose of cynicism. Here are some important things the shows get wrong.

  1. Their Renovation Costs Aren't Realistic
    Sorry to break it to you, but the project budgets you see on TV aren't even close to the real thing. They'll show a homeowner with a long list of must-haves and a very tight budget. And somehow, the renovators are able to deliver the expected results and even add some design elements for free. That's just made for TV. These shows receive heavy discounts for labor and materials in exchange for free publicity. They're also notorious for cutting corners and using cheap materials to drive down costs. If you're going to renovate any room in your home, be prepared to pay a higher price than what you see on TV.

  2. Their Timelines Are Unreal
    Home improvement shows make it look like you can have a new bathroom in 24 hours, but that's just good editing. Some shows will even have a professional crew working round the clock to get the job done. On average, a home remodeling project takes 4 to 8 months. From meeting with contractors and getting permits to selecting materials and finishes, there's significant planning that goes into a successful renovation. Not forgetting the time it takes to shore up plumbing, install electricity, let the paint dry, and inspect the home. Home improvement projects take careful and attentive coordination.


  3. Walls Are Just Knocked Down
    The hasty renovation process you see on home improvement shows would be a total disaster in real life. You'll see hosts swoop in, capture the homeowner's vision and kick start the demolition. Winging it without knowing what's behind those walls is a great way to run into frustrating complications and ruin your budget and schedule. Without careful inspection and planning, the contractors could end up knocking loose things like asbestos insulation and lead paint, creating a major health hazard. As we've already mentioned, solid planning and preparation are your best bet when it comes to home renovations.


  4. Time for a Vacation?
    Surprise reveals are very common in home renovation shows. A couple or family takes a vacation for a few days and returns to a barely recognizable space. This is just a big lie and rarely happens in reality. Home improvement projects should be orchestrated to minimize disruptions and allow homeowners to keep their daily schedule as normal as possible. You may need to share your space with workers and live for weeks without a functioning bathroom or kitchen, but you don't have to go on vacation while your home is renovated. In fact, it's best to stay so you can communicate with the contractor and keep an eye on the project.

It's possible to bring your home improvement fantasy to life, but you need to keep your dreams grounded in reality. If you're thinking of taking on a home renovation project, you can count on our real estate agents to help you renovate and sell smart. Contact us for more information.

August
17

The Benefits of Working with a REALTOR®

Working with a REALTOR

Buying or selling a home can be intimidating. The industry-specific jargon, paperwork, and legal restrictions can be overwhelming for the average person, let alone first-time homebuyers. Purchasing a home is a major life decision, and with so much on the line, it's very important to work with an experienced, dedicated professional that can help you steer clear of costly pitfalls and mistakes. If you're considering one of these beautiful Belleville homes for sale, make sure you're working with a REALTOR® who can provide you with the following benefits:

  1. They Have a Wealth of Information
    A REALTOR® has a ton of knowledge and information relating to neighborhoods that you probably can't get on your own. Average market prices, historical sales trends, neighborhood background, school district quality, and plans for new development - a real estate agent can provide all of the details needed for you to make the best decision on a particular area or location. Real estate agents also are very familiar with constantly changing industry legal requirements. Having an experienced partner in your corner who is capable of navigating the regulatory landscape is a major benefit and can prevent you from making major mistakes.
  2. They Can Help You Save Time
    Searching for a new home is a time-consuming process, especially if you're simultaneously selling your current home. Luckily, a real estate agent can help with both. While helping you prepare and show your home to potential buyers, an agent can work with you to find a home that meets your precise criteria. Real estate agents have access to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which is the primary tool used to weed out listings based on filters and criteria. 
  3. They Can Get You A Better Deal
    Real estate agents are trained negotiators with a solid understanding of home value and the market. They can also serve as a strong, second set of eyes capable of identifying flaws and faults that can impact a home's value. Sellers who work with a REALTOR® are significantly more likely to maximize their returns, while buyers are likely to get a better deal. When you have an experienced third party negotiating on your behalf, you're going to see a better outcome.
  4. You Won't Have To Worry About the Paperwork
    Forms, sales agreements, and closing documents -- buying a home involves a lot of paperwork and documentation. Trying to decipher terms without experience can lead to major problems - especially if you agree to something you don't understand. Instead of learning on the fly, it's better to trust an expert who is familiar with various nuances of the paperwork.
  5. They Have a Network of Vetted Contacts
    The real estate industry is a tight-knit community where relationships matter. Your real estate agent likely has a network of vetted service providers that provide quality work at a reasonable rate. Whether you need financing options, inspectors, appraisers, plumbers, or electricians, tapping into your real estate agent's network can provide you with a wide range of reputable resources.

If you're planning to buy or sell a house in the Belleville area, you don't have to go through the process alone. Trust our real estate agents to guide you through every step of the process. Contact us today!

July
6

7 DIY Projects for Your Front Porch

DIY Front Porch Projects

Refreshing the front porch is just one way to brighten up the exterior of your home. And creating a fresh new look right at your front door doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, you can do it all yourself on a budget.

Get started with these suggestions on how to turn the heads of all the neighbors as they walk past your home.

  1. Paint the Front Door
    It's surprising how a fresh coat of paint on your front door can help spruce up the space! It's a perfect opportunity to make a colorful statement, and it doesn't cost much, nor is it labor-intensive. 

  2. Paint the Porch
    Cover that gray -- the dull gray of your porch concrete, that is, by painting it. Before you start, repair cracks and clean the porch thoroughly. Be sure to use special concrete paint and sealer.

  3. Add or Change the Furniture
    Decking out the porch with a couple of outdoor chairs can complement a decorating theme or just contribute to a relaxed setting. Mix and match new, contemporary styles, or evoke a farmhouse charm with rockers and colorful cushions in vintage-looking fabrics. Don't forget to place a table between them, so you've got a place to set the coffee in the mornings or drinks to watch the sun go down. This project may cost a bit more, but you'll get good use out of your porch furniture. Also, if you are improving your front porch before listing among the other Belleville homes for sale, this will allow buyers to envision themselves enjoying the space.

  4. Say it with Flowers
    Flowers can brighten the most ordinary home exterior. Big pots full of colorful annuals and homemade porch railing planters with seasonal changes of blooming plants will go a long way toward brightening your home's front entrance. Think about how much sun and shade you're dealing with when making your plant selections. 

  5. Put Some Light on the Subject
    Installing new lighting is an easy way to jazz up your porch, as long as you're comfortable with the installation. Most lighting you purchase at the home improvement store comes with instructions that will walk you through the installation. Don't stop with the overhead lights: add Mason jars with fairy lights for a whimsical accent, or a solar LED candle lantern or two. 

  6. Add a Porch Swing
    These days you're not limited to the minimalist look of the traditional porch swing, made simply out of 2 X 4s and swing chain -- although there's nothing wrong with that. There are some fancy alternatives, including porch swing beds (imagine the possibilities!). Joists aren't in the right place to support your porch swingers' weight? A retro-looking porch glider can do the trick. 

  7. Don't Forget the Pillows
    Did we mention how much fun it is to brighten things up in your chairs, or on your swing or porch glider with brightly colored and boldly patterned pillows? Complement or contrast with your door or porch colors.

Our REALTORS® are experts at helping homeowners bring out the best in their homes and making a good impression with potential buyers. Contact us today.

May
18

15 Real Estate Terms to Study Up On

Real Estate Terminology

Whether you are preparing to sell your existing property or looking for Belleville homes for sale, studying up on real estate terms will help the process go smoothly. 

When entering the real estate market, preparation is vital to successful transactions. If you cannot remember all the different definitions, do not worry. Our real estate agents are available to answer any of your questions. Here is a list of some basic real estate terms to get you started.

  1. Buyer's Agent: In a real estate transaction, the buyer's agent represents the person purchasing the property.
  2. Listing Agent: The listing agent represents the person selling the property. The agent generally has multiple listings for you to browse.
  3. Pre-Approval Letter: When purchasing a home, you can obtain a pre-approval letter from your financial institution. The letter simply states the estimated amount of money allowed for your home purchase.
  4. Assessed Value: The public tax assessor for the area determines the value of the home. The process allows for collecting state or city tax fees.
  5. Appraisal: Before receiving your loan, your bank will request an assessment of the home. The process of appraising the home or other real estate determines the value of the property.
  6. Adjustable-Rate Mortgage: The first type of conventional loan is an adjustable-rate mortgage. A changing interest rate may cost more money throughout the life of your loan. When you use an adjustable-rate mortgage, you risk a rising interest rate.
  7. Fixed-Rate Mortgage:  The second type of conventional loans. The fixed-rate mortgage has the same interest rate throughout the life of the loan. There are no surprises on the amount of interest collected each payment.
  8. Principal: Your monthly mortgage payment consists of the principal and interest. The principal is the amount borrowed to buy your home.
  9. Interest: When you borrow money from a lending institution, you must pay an interest rate. Rates will vary. The interest is the price for borrowing money.
  10. Inspection: When you make an offer, an inspection of the home occurs. The process allows for any potential issues in the house. The inspection process checks the home's plumbing, septic system, foundation, electrical unit, and any other features that may negatively affect the home's cost. The process protects the buyer from any misrepresentations.
  11. Offer: The seller has the right to decline, accept, or counter any offer made on the home. Many sellers will reject and counter the first offer.
  12. Closing: The closing is the finalization of your home's purchase or sale. The process includes closing costs, down payment, and signing of the legal documents.
  13. Closing Costs: The closing costs consist of the bank's processing costs of the loan, title insurance, and any taxes.
  14. Title Insurance: Before sale, there is a research process to check the home's title. The home must not have any type of lien before moving forward with the closing.
  15. Escrow: An escrow account is set up by the lending institution that will receive monthly payments from the purchaser.

 If you need help with any terms, purchasing or selling a home, please contact us.

April
6

Make Your Stainless Steel Shine with These Tips

Stainless Steel Cleaning

Stainless steel appliances lend an air of sleek, modern elegance to any kitchen -- but only if they're gleaming and smudge-free. As you go about your spring cleaning, be sure to spiff up your stainless steel appliances, as well as your sinks. It's not difficult, and shining it up to polished perfection will make a great impression on a potential buyer. 

How to Make Your Stainless Steel Shine

To make stainless steel appliances shine, address those messy fingerprint smudges, water drips, and food splatters as soon as they happen. Fortunately, stainless steel is fairly easy to clean.

Stainless steel cleaner is highly recommended. It's also a good choice to prevent scratching the steel. However, there are other products you can use. But do avoid steel wool, bleach, ammonia, and scouring powder, or you'll diminish the steel's shine. Mineral-laden tap water may also leave stains. You should also avoid any chlorine-based cleaners or anything with chloride in it. 

Some products that you may have in your cupboard that will work well:

  • Mineral oil.

    Just a light coating will work fine. Buff it thoroughly to prevent tacky buildup. Do not use vegetable or olive oil, or any food-based oil. They can become rancid.

  • Windex.

    Use Windex on a dry cloth, or some ammonia and vinegar-free window cleaner. It's always best to spray any cleaner on a dry cloth, as spraying directly onto an appliance can cause drip marks. 

  • Dish soap.

    Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with a quart of hot tap water. Rub the detergent onto the marks with a microfiber cloth, always working in the direction of the grain. Rinse with warm water, drying immediately with a clean cloth. You can also polish with a little dab of baby oil, again, moving in the direction of the grain.

  • Club soda.

    Spray club soda onto appliances. As with other methods, wipe only in the direction of the grain. Club soda helps clean the surface of fingerprints and food and helps make it shine. Wipe afterward with a microfiber cloth.

  • WD-40.

    Spray WD-40 onto a microfiber cloth. Wipe it in the direction of the grain. WD-40 also helps protect stainless steel from fingerprints.

    Caution: This is a petroleum-based product and shouldn't be used on any surface that comes into contact with food. Whenever using this substance, read the safe-use label and follow directions carefully.

  • Lemon oil furniture polish.

    Apply a small amount to a clean, soft towel and then rub it evenly onto the appliance until the entire surface is covered. Wipe the polish with a clean microfiber cloth in the direction of the grain. Don't apply the polish directly to the surface, as it may be difficult to get it to even out.

Always rub stainless steel appliance surfaces in the direction of the grain. Rubbing in the right direction helps eliminate streaks; with stainless steel sinks and pots, you can use a circular motion. Sinks and pots can stand a bit more effort since you need to scrub away sticky food from pots and soap scum from sinks with more abrasive cleaners and methods of cleaning.

Are you thinking of selling your Belleville home? There are so many ways you can make your home stand out among other Belleville homes for sale. Let our REALTORS® tell you how. Contact us today.

February
17

How to Get Started Flipping Houses

Tips for Flipping HousesYou've probably seen all the house flipping shows on TV and wondered to yourself what it would take to get started in the flipping game. There are a lot of pieces that need to be in place to successfully flip a house for a profit, but luckily our REALTORS® are here to help. Here's what you need to know before you get started. 

  1. Know the Risks
    When done correctly, flipping a house can be an excellent investment. It could also end up costing you thousands if something goes wrong, so it's important to understand the risks. What looks like a great investment property could have hidden defects like a leaky roof or cracked foundation that end up souring the deal, so it's important to do your homework on each property.
  2. Understand Your Financing Options
    Because of the risks involved in flipping a house, it's essential to know exactly how you're going to finance the process before starting. While it may not be an option for everyone, it's best to buy houses in cash if possible, because it eliminates the added complications and costs that come with loans and interest while you're trying to flip a property. 
  3. Know the Market
    The same house can be worth a wildly different price depending on its location. In some cities, just a few blocks can drastically affect the price point of a home. That's why having a keen understanding of your local real estate market is so essential. It's the only way to identify a home's potential value accurately and know if you're getting a good deal on it. This knowledge of the market will also help you figure out how to price the house when it's time to sell.
  4. Make a Budget
    One of the biggest mistakes you can make is waiting until after you've purchased an investment property to make a budget. Know in advance exactly what you're price range is for buying a home, including all the repairs, renovations, inspections, and other costs. 
  5. Invest Wisely
    Making repairs and renovations is a part of flipping a house for a profit, but it's important to pick your battles. Invest in smart renovations that will increase the value of the property and make it more attractive to a buyer, but steer clear of improvements that will cost you more than you can make back. Big projects like updating the kitchen and bath can sometimes go way over budget and wreck your potential return on investment. Of course, you will need to update and repair anything that needs fixing but be sure to also focus on small improvements that add value without costing too much, like updated hardware, fresh paint, and landscaping. 
  6. Get Expert Guidance
    When it comes to flipping a house for profit, it's important not to go it alone. Working with a talented and dedicated real estate agent can make all the difference in the world. Knowing you have a solid team behind you not only improves your chances of making a profit but eliminates a lot of the stress and guesswork from the whole process. 

Contact us today to learn more about buying and selling homes in the Belleville area. Our team has years of experience offering the best Belleville homes for sale to help you and your search!

January
13

How to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient

Energy Efficient Belleville

Improving energy-efficiency within your home will trim a significant sum from your monthly utility bills. It will also enhance the home's curb appeal in an increasingly eco-conscious real estate market. As you think about the things you can do to reduce your energy usage, our real estate agents recommend you pay close attention to the following:

  1. Upgrade Your Appliances
    A new washer/dryer, refrigerator, oven, and dishwasher can shave hundreds of dollars from your gas, electric, and water bills each year. More importantly, these upgrades give your home a modern appeal enhancing the home's value in the eyes of prospective buyers.
  2. Invest in Insulation
    Adding new insulation with a higher R-value in the attic and crawlspaces can shave hundreds of dollars per year off your heating and cooling bills. Moreover, your investment in insulation pays roughly a 1:1 return in terms of real estate value. 
  3. Purchase New Windows
    Modern, energy-efficient windows will cost between $300-700. Windows are a costly investment. However, they can save you about 15% on your annual heating and cooling bills. Their most significant advantage is they will enhance the curb appeal of the property, lead to a higher appraisal, and likely result in a higher sales price.
  4. Replace the Furnace, Water Heater, and Air Conditioner      
    Furnaces, water heaters, and air conditioners have an operational lifespan of 10-20 years. These become less energy-efficient as they age, and they require more costly repairs to keep them functioning. Investing in new, more energy-efficient units will make a big dent in your monthly electricity, gas, and water usage. In some cases, you may see as much as a 30% reduction in your monthly utility bills. This investment will also reflect in the appraisal and put prospective buyer's minds at ease over their viability.
  5. Seal Up the Leaks
    One of the easiest and most affordable upgrades involves sealing up air leaks around the home. Air leaks are common around doors, windows, and vents. Applying sealant, caulk, and weatherstripping where you find leaks can boost your comfort and keep your utility bills from heating up. 
  6. Hang Thick Curtains
    Curtains are an inexpensive investment you can take with you when you move. Hanging thick curtains will help reduce heat gain on a hot summer's day, and minimize heat loss on a cold winter's night. 
  7. Replace Old Bulbs with LED's
    Most LED bulbs have an operational span of 10-15 years. Replacing your old bulbs with LED's can save you 20% or more each month on your electric bill. Over the life of the bulb, you can expect to save $125 or more per bulb in both electricity usage and replacement cost. 
  8. Install Low-Flow Showerheads and Toilets      
    Low-flow fixtures have a flow rate of fewer than 2.5 gallons per minute. Low-flow toilets use about 4.8 liters per flush as opposed to the usual 6. It is a significant difference that you will barely notice until the water bill arrives to put a smile on your face.  

Contact us for more information about the most common eco-friendly upgrades we see in Belleville homes for sale. It is our pleasure to help you choose the improvements that will help your home stand out.  

December
30

8 Ways to Improve Your Winter Curb Appeal

Winter Curb Appeal TipsEverything tends to look a little gray and dreary in the winter, so if you're selling your home during this season, you'll have to pay particular attention to curb appeal. The weather might be colder, but your home should still look warm and inviting. Winter curb appeal can make your home look more vibrant and inviting when compared to other area homes.

Our real estate agents recommend the following 8 ways to improve your winter curb appeal:

  1. Add Color to Your Porch
    If your home has a porch, add a pop of color with a few brightly colored rocking chairs with cozy outdoor cushions and blankets. Even if it's too cold for prospective owners to have a seat, they'll be attracted to a cheery color in cold weather and may imagine themselves relaxing in them when warmer temperatures come.
  2. Boost Outdoor Lighting
    Since it gets dark earlier in the winter than during other times of year, some buyers may be viewing your home when it's dark. Add outdoor illumination such as pathway lights on the side of your front door to make your home sparkle while helping keep guests safe.
  3. Add Cold Weather Plants
    Winter landscapes can normally look sparse and grey, but adding the right plants can provide some greenery throughout the year. Try planting evergreens like pansies, red-twig dogwood, or holly in bright pots to place near your doorway or along a pathway.
  4. Make Your Lawn and Pathways Tidy
    Shovel snow to keep your walkways and driveway clear, and make sure to remove any snow or ice from stairs. Not only will your home look better, but you'll also be keeping prospective buyers safe. 
  5. Replace Your House Numbers
    Prospective homebuyers are sure to notice your house numbers since they'll be searching for these to identify your home. Your numbers may look a little dingy, so replace them by choosing large digits that are easy to read from the street. Choose a striking design or one in a style that meshes with your home's character.
  6. Paint Your Front Door
    One of the easiest ways to make a big impact is to paint your front door. Use a bold color like yellow or blue, and you'll add a pop of color to your curb appeal. The goal is to choose a pleasing, eye-catching color without going overboard.
  7. Add Bird Feeders
    It's a minor detail that may sound a little odd, but adding some bird feeders can make your home more pleasant and memorable. Birds can add a lively touch, and if you attract some colorful ones, they could create a beautiful image against a backdrop of snow. Their chirps and tweets are also pleasant and will bring a tiny touch of spring to your home.
  8. Clean and Repair Outdoor Architectural Features as Needed
    Check your home's architectural features – such as roofing shingles, siding, brick, downspouts, gutters, windows, and doors – and make sure they're clean and in good repair. If your home's exterior looks grimy, that's an immediate turnoff to buyers. 

Contact us today for more home selling tips. We know what buyers are looking for in Belleville homes for sale and can help you make changes that provide the most impact for your time and money.

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 11/28/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 11/28/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of MARIS MLS (last updated Mon 11/28/2022 1:52:10 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Strano & Associates may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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