Friday, January 27, 2012


Yes, it may still be winter, but the real estate market has started with an early thaw.

Real estate agents report that phone calls into their office have increased in number since the doldrums of the holiday real estate market.

Open houses have been well-attended. This represents a change from the general outlook during 2011, when buyers were more hesitant to express their desire to purchase, and seemed more "on the fence" about buying a home.

FreddieMac recently came out with their January 2012 Economic Outlook. While those who make predictions are hedging their real estate bets, the home buyers we are talking with have an optimistic outlook on their home buying prospects.  Historically low interest rates and lower home prices certainly are contributing to this positive feeling.  Also, buyers are feeling more "settled" in their jobs.

Sellers may see an increase in activity. We encourage sellers to take a hard, realistic look at their listing price before putting their property on the market. We find that sellers who are pricing their homes more in line with the marketplace, without an extra "pad" in the price, are creating an encouraging signal to home buyers.

Yes, it's a winter thaw. Let's hope the real estate market continues to bloom in spring, and heat up in summer! If we can help you find that perfect property at the lake or help to sell your existing one, just give the Spouses Selling Houses a call. Thank you. Ebbie :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Home View: Caretaker or Financial Partner?

What did you neglect to do for your real estate in 2011? What will that cost you in 2012?
As 2012 begins, what opportunities to accelerate appreciation have you overlooked?
§                     Which simple value preservers have you ignored?
§                     How many costs of ownership have you missed opportunities to reduce?
§                     Which value builders have you ignored?
§                     Which advantages of ownership have you neglected?
Is your home a “thing” to look after, or a financial partner in your future? Either way there is maintenance and property management to be done on many levels every season, every year. Why not make sure your care-taking activities consciously also build value?
How many of the following value-making strategies did you apply to your real estate this year to achieve cost saving and equity building?
§                     The last leaves have fallen…probably into your eaves troughs. Did you have them cleaned out once the trees were barer? Depending on how many trees surround your home, you may need to clean the eaves troughs two or three times a year to keep rain water and melting snow flowing off your roof and away from outer walls and the basement of your home. Reduce the labor and cost of cleaning by installing screens across gutters that block debris accumulation. Failure to act will cause damage to the gutters, roof damage, damaging interior leaks, and a wet basement. Rotting leaf litter can also attract animals and end up smelling bad. The unsightly damage down-values curb appeal, too. What will all that cost in 2012, or later, just because eaves troughs are ignored now?
§                     Snow is part of winter…causing ice dams on your roof which damage the roof and inside, too. If there is not sufficient insulation and ventilation in the attic to keep the attic and roof cold, escaping warm air will start a chain reaction that means unnecessary expense and a prematurely-aged roof. Interior heat loss (which is also financial loss) melts snow on the roof and the melt water runs down to re-freeze when it hits snow or ice in the gutters. This repeated action causes a dam of ice which pools water, so it seeps up under shingles and into the home to damage ceilings, walls, and furnishings. Eventually, rot sets in and you’ve got structural problems. Are you sure you have enough insulation in the attic and great ventilation? If insulation’s been there a while, it may have been damaged by contractors or animals. Have roof vents and exhaust vents from fans been properly installed, or are they piping warm moist air into the attic to grow mould? Government energy grants may shoulder some of the cost, but what will it cost if you ignore the threat? 
§                     Winter is garden planning time…How did you improve curb appeal this summer? Many homes don’t sell because buyers are not won at the street. If they won’t go in, they won’t buy. Create the most interesting, low-maintenance garden on the block and you’ll have a house that wins attention even before you decide to sell. Make that a “green” low-water landscape and you’ll save time and money in the process.
§                     Spring is property tax time…Did you contest your assessment and have the assessed value of your property lowered? Keep pushing that value down and you’ll keep property taxes in check as much as possible. The more loonies you keep in your pocket, the richer you are.
§                     Summer is sale time…furnace sales, that is. Make major purchases in the off season and you’ll get a great price and the full attention of the best installers. In peak months, you’re overpaying for overworked contractors who are too rushed to do a thorough job, just show up. Government grants and manufacturer specials for replacement of furnaces and heat/cooling systems are common, particularly at the beginning and end of season. Updating systems adds resale value and saves on monthly costs.
§                     Holiday season is payback time…Shop locally and you enhance the value of your neighborhood, and stave off big-box and chain stores which homogenize areas. Buy your gifts from local artist studios and shops and you’ll have unique presents that keep value in the neighborhood. Too often the very shops and small food stores that first draw home buyers to an area are ignored once they’re residents in favor of cheap, high-volume national and international chains. Shop in 2011 and start 2012 by revisiting local shops and businesses so their year starts strong, and you’ll keep future home buyers envious of those who live in your neighborhood.
§                     Action beats “if only I’d”…If you believe 2012 will bring a slow down or stall to your neighborhood real estate market, did you seriously consider the advantage of selling in the stronger 2011 market? You could rent for a while and then buy in the softer real estate market. Your home is only worth what someone will pay for it, not should pay in your opinion. Owners who list with prices from the last strong market, lose valuable credibility with buyers and, therefore, may net less in a sale. Investing time to crunch numbers and seriously consider all your options each year, is the best way to be sure you’re making the most of your equity. Aim to never put yourself in an “if only I’d” situation, and you’ll know real estate is your financial partner in building the future of your choice. Many real estate owners count on passive appreciation and expect their real estate to automatically increase in value. Waves of real estate booms driven by boomers moving from first house to megahome to recreational property to deluxe condo, through various stages of life, have driven real estate values to dizzying heights and made significant annual price increases seem the norm. What will drive value increases in the future? How much can owners count on passive appreciation to build future value?

Real estate will increase in value under some circumstances, but not automatic, not for every property. Sometimes values decline. In strong real estate markets and preferred locations, property values can steadily increase, but not equally for all properties in every neighborhood. When markets slow, only preferred locations may keep increasing in value, or at least hold their own. Unless owners step in and deliberately preserve equity, maintain equity, and build value by treating their real estate as a financial partner in their future, many owners may not see as dramatic appreciation in the future as they have experienced in past decades.
The future starts now for real estate. By the time future patterns become present realities, it is too late to make the most of those real estate opportunities. Look ahead with your real estate. Build value as you go to retain the flexibility to be ready to act on opportunity. Take full advantage of the investment you love to live in. Make 2012 the year you moved beyond being a caretaker. For all of your Real Estate needs at the Lake of the Ozarks, please contact the "Spouses Selling Houses" team. Ebbie :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A perfect time to buy at the Lake!

If you are planning to purchase Lake of the Ozarks Real Estate there's never been a better time to buy a luxury home at the lake. If you’re a potential buyer who has been waiting for prices to come down, then your time has finally arrived. The lake is perfect for vacation homes, second home buyers or the move-up buyer. And now, many luxury homes are available at low, economically friendly prices! With the abundance of luxury homes at the lake, record low interest rates and prices where they were several year ago, now is the perfect time. So, don’t let it pass you by.

When you visit,  you can search Lake of the Ozarks Luxury Homes through our extensive MLS database. You will find homes in several cities and counties throughout the lake. You will find that the website is filled with a wealth of information for your journey through the lake. We can also help you with helpful information on how to make an offer, choosing the "right" property, mortgage rates, negotiating, moving, financing, and everything that can be involved in making an informed decision in today´s real estate market.

Also, be sure to check out the community links while you’re on You will be able to get a good feel for each wonderful community here at the lake and find out why so many people call this beautiful area home. If we can assist you in your search for the perfect lake home, or in listing your existing home, please call and let our “Spouses Selling Houses” team go to work for you. Ebbie :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Home Insurance - Where to Start

Picking the right insurer for your home can be a daunting task especially if you’re a new home buyer with no prior experience. There are so many providers out there with such a vast range of insurance packages, it’s difficult to tell which is the right plan just for you.

Fortunately the internet makes home insurance shopping much easier especially with sites like InsWeb for the US and Money for UK residents. InsWeb provides a free database  which offers quotes from up to 8 insurers and the UK Money site provides up to 20. They are basically search engine comparison sites so you can access quotes from one location without having to hop from one insurance site to another.

There’s also an article on the CNN site under the money section which I recommend reading that discusses the top things to know about insurance. They even provide some other good articles worth reading pertaining to home ownership in general.

Insurance coverage and requirements also vary based on which state and country you live in. Regardless of your location, it’s always important to seek out and find at least 2-4 quotes before making your decision. Not only will you save money but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you didn’t just select the first insurance plan you came across. Good luck in your search! if we can help you find the perfect home here at the Lake of the Ozarks, please contact the Spouses Selling Houses team at 573-302-2313. Ebbie :)