Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another KC First - Trolley Run!

Well, what started out as my Kansas City Stay-cation, has kind of turned into me continuting (past last summer) to do new things in this great city! Today, I did the Annual Trolley Run! Don't worry, I walked! It starts in Waldo (75th & Wornall) and ends at the Plaza (about 4 miles). It was a good time though my feet were a little sore at the end (and it didn't help that my butt was sore from weights class yesterday! haha) But, I'm glad I did it!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Federal Tax Credits for Energy-Efficiency

Did you know there are tax credits available when you purchase Energy-Efficent items?? Check out this website to learn more:

Federal Tax Credits for Energy-Efficiency

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

10 FREE Web Tools to Make Life Easier

I found this article in the most recent Realtor Magazine and thought it had some good sites! Enjoy!!

10 Free Web Tools to Make Life Easier

These range of Web tools can be good resources for you in your real estate business.
By Katherine Tarbox | April 2009

This secure financial management tool pulls data from your checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and other loans to help you track expenses.

Have multiple e-mail addresses? View all your mail in one inbox, and check in with Facebook and Twitter from the same screen.

Back up your important documents and e-mail messages. This tool syncs with your computer to save documents and allows you to access them via the Web from any computer.

This alternative to Google Earth lets you view three-dimensional images of streets and cities at eye level.

For home owners who want to go green, this eco-friendly design blog provides tips and inspiration.

If buyers are new to the area, send them here. Neighbors review local restaurants, spas, doctors, plumbers, and more.

Discover hidden fees in your credit card accounts and cell phone bills, and get recommedantions for lower-cost alternatives.

Do some comparison shopping before you fill up. Get a listing of what the gas stations in your area are charging per gallon.

Touch up your photographs, create effects, and adjust lighting to create high-quality images worthy for marketing materials.

Do-it-yourselfers on a budget will love the easy home decorating projects and gift ideas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home Upgrades That Pay Off from Real Simple Magazine

Home Upgrades That Pay Off - From September 2008 Real Simple Magazine

These 10 around-the-house improvements are well worth the investment.

by Allegra Muzzillo

No sugar coating here: The housing market is in trouble. But some experts say that it will start turning around as early as 2010. So while you’re waiting for it to recover, you might want to reconsider putting off that kitchen redo or landscaping job. “Any changes you make on your house now should increase your home value later,” says Kermit Baker, project director for the Remodeling Futures program at Harvard University. But which projects will yield the most bang for your buck? Take a look at this list, starting with the upgrades most likely to recoup your investment, and then enjoy that gleaming new kitchen.

1. Painting
Why it pays off: Paint provides dramatic results with little investment. If you decide to hire a professional to do the work, expect to pay $3,600 to $6,000 for the interior of an average American house (about 2,400 square feet). An exterior paint job will run $5,000 or more. Can’t decide on a color? Gerri Willis, the anchor of Open House on CNN and the author of Home Rich (Random House, $25,, says that pale yellow homes tend to sell faster and for more money. Barbara Richardson, the director of color marketing for Glidden and a noted color-trend forecaster, explains, “Yellow is optimistic and inspirational. It gives people joy and the sense that brighter times are ahead.”

2. Adding Siding
Why it pays off: According to the 2007 Cost vs. Value Report, a study conducted by Remodeling magazine, fiber-cement siding (which is made of sand, cement, and cellulose fibers and costs an average of $13,200) is estimated to recoup about 88 percent (or $11,635) of a home owner’s initial investment. While vinyl can crack, split, and warp and aluminum tends to dent and fade, easy-care fiber cement holds up well against the elements and is resistant to fire, rotting, and termites.

3. Building a Deck
Why it pays off: A deck will provide you with more than a place to flip burgers and soak up the sun. “Buyers see a deck as offering a seamless transition from inside to out,” says Jerry Levine, president of the Levine Group, an architectural and construction firm in Silver Spring, Maryland. Experts suggest using natural, rustic wood. In 2007 wooden decks (as opposed to concrete or composite ones) reaped an impressive return on investment: Home owners who spent an average of $10,350 on lumber and labor could expect to recoup $8,840, or 85 percent of their costs.

4. Updating the Kitchen
Why it pays off: You really can’t go wrong with remodeling your kitchen, which can net up to 83 percent of the cost. “People know that renovating can be a nightmare, and potential buyers will appreciate that you did the dirty work for them,” says Vern Yip, a designer and the host of HGTV’s Deserving Design. “But stick with high-quality fixtures, like stainless-steel appliances and granite counters, and don’t pair them with a cheaper material, like laminate.” A word of caution: If your house is a tiny two-bedroom bungalow, don’t bother splurging on, say, a high-end stove. “You’ll never get your money back by installing fancy appliances in a smaller home,” says Leslie Sellers, vice president of the Appraisal Institute, an association of real estate–appraisal professionals in Chicago. And if an appliance overhaul isn’t in the cards, “you can easily make cosmetic updates on a kitchen that’s in decent shape,” says Steven D. Bullock, a designer in New York City and a certified member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, in Hackettstown, New Jersey. For example, if your existing appliances are in good working order, coat them with electrostatic paint to give them a metallic or enamel-type finish. And you don’t have to rip out your cabinets, either.

5. Replacing the Windows
Why it pays off: If you’re experiencing cool and blustery weather…in your living room, it’s time to buy new panes, pronto. Not only are you losing precious heat but your utility bill could also be skyrocketing. “Energy-efficient windows eliminate drafts, so your home feels warmer,” says Sellers. Last year home owners who spent $11,400 on 10 three-by-five-foot insulated vinyl or aluminum-clad windows got an 81 percent ($9,240) return.

6. Modifying a Bathroom
Why it pays off: Bathroom upgrades, like updated countertops and new fixtures, provide solid returns¯anywhere from 68 to 78 percent. But “avoid anything too trendy,” says designer Vern Yip. “Choose classic features, like off-white subway tiles, that will appeal to people with both traditional and contemporary tastes.” There’s no need to splurge on fancy fixtures, either. “A tub is a tub. A Jacuzzi will never make or break a sale,” says designer Steven D. Bullock. For quick touch-ups on existing sinks, toilets, and tubs, consider hiring Miracle Method, a surface-restoration company that recoats ceramic, porcelain, and fiberglass fixtures with a chemical bonding agent that looks like shiny new porcelain. (Cost: $465 to $600 for a tub,

7. Landscaping
Why it pays off: The front of your house is the first thing people see, so it makes sense that any improvements¯from planting petunias to surrounding your home with a hedge¯will be worth your while. “Don’t be afraid to spend money on perennials, which come back year after year,” says Yip. As for big-ticket investments, like trees, they aren’t just nice to look at; they also stave off erosion, block storm-water runoff, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and filter groundwater pollutants. They might make your home sell for more money, too. The Arbor Day Foundation estimates a six- to eight-foot Colorado blue spruce or live oak (both are commonly found all around the United States) may grow one to two feet a year. And properties with gorgeous, established trees are even more attractive to potential home buyers down the road. When determining which areas of your yard to attend to first, try approaching the house from the curb to the front door. “Buyers make their decisions in exactly eight seconds,” says Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group, a Manhattan real estate firm. “After that, they’ve either fallen in love or are just honoring an appointment.”

8. Installing Central Air-Conditioning
Why it pays off: Adding central air to an average 2,400-square-foot house could cost upward of $10,000 and boost your home’s value by 10 to 20 percent, says appraiser Leslie Sellers. And central air-conditioning is energy-efficient too. Centralized units have an average energy-efficiency rating (EER) of 11.5, compared with an 8.5 EER in single-window models, making them less expensive to run. What’s more, central air won’t block the view the way a window unit does.

9. Fixing up the Basement
Why it pays off: “There’s nothing worse than that unmistakable damp-basement smell,” says Corcoran. “A dry basement is far more important than worrying about the right lighting or furnishings.” If your basement is prone to flooding, leaks, or excess moisture, call in a pro. If you do want to finish your basement by adding drywall, insulation, laminate flooring, or even a bathroom, “be sure it’s proportional in quality to other areas of your home,” says Lonny Rutherford, a chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers, in Washington, D.C. According to Sellers, “basement remodels gain back anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, depending on the quality of the materials.”

10. Putting in a Swimming Pool
Why it pays off: When you’re deciding whether to install a pool, it’s important to consider the part of the country where you live. In places where it can get unforgivingly hot, such as Arizona and Florida, an inground pool may boost a home’s value by up to 8 percent, according to a 2003 study by the National Association of Realtors. In more temperate areas, however, a pool can be a big turnoff, as prospective buyers imagine all the work they’ll have to do to maintain it, not to mention safety issues and higher insurance rates. But if you plan to enjoy a pool for a few years and it improves your quality of life, “then go for it,” says Tom Kraeutler, a cohost of The Money Pit, a home-improvement radio show, and a coauthor of My Home, My Money Pit (the Globe Pequot Press, $20, “You can’t put a number on that.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happiest States

This article was in my weekly NAR (National Association of Realtors) Email. Even though it only has Kansas (not Missouri), it does mention the midwest as a HAPPY place!

10 Happiest States in the U.S.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make life a whole lot easier.’s Happiness Index examined household income, debt, employment, and foreclosures to choose the states that are surviving the current economic crisis with the most panache.

The analysis discovered that despite disastrous conditions in parts of Michigan and Ohio, overall, the Midwest is navigating the financial meltdown with the highest average salaries, lowest unemployment, and fewest foreclosures. In fact, Nebraska, in the center of the corn belt, scores highest on MainStreet’s Happiness Index.

Here are the rest of the top-10 happiest states:
1. Nebraska
2. Iowa
3. Kansas
4. Hawaii
5. Louisiana
6. Oklahoma
7. Wyoming
8. South Dakota
9. West Virginia

Friday, April 3, 2009

6 Reason's Why It's Still A Good Time To Buy....

I NEVER get tired of reminding people why it is a GOOD time to buy a house!! This is from REALTOR(R) Magazine:

6 Reasons Why It's Still a Good Time to Buy

The housing market is looking healthier. Here are six reasons why now is the time to jump into the market.

1. Uncle Sam is willing to help. First-time buyers (defined as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years) are entitled to a maximum $8,000 tax credit; interest rates are at record lows; and the Federal Reserve is doing its best to make mortgage loans available. (Sign up for a Webinar to learn more about the home buyer tax credit)

2. People have to live somewhere. About 800,000 new households are formed each year in this country, ensuring that the housing market will tighten, even if the economy doesn’t soar.

3. Borrowers leverage their investment. If you put $10,000 into the stock market and it earns 10 percent, you’ve earned $1,000. If you put $10,000 down on a home and its values increases 10 percent, you’ve made $10,000.

4. When prices come back up, you’ll have instant equity. In parts of the country where foreclosures have driven down prices, better times will mean the price of the home you buy will rise rapidly.

5. Mortgage costs stay the same. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly payment stays the same – while everything else, including rent, goes upward.

6. You own it. There is something comforting in the notion that your home is your own. You can paint it any color you want, let the dog run in the back yard and hang a swing for the kids in the front.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher (03/27/2009)