Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!




Dec. 23, 2022

Realtor® vs. Real Estate Agent: Deciphering the Difference


Realtor® vs. Real Estate Agent: Deciphering the Difference


While you may think the terms “real estate agent” and “realtor” can be used interchangeably, that is just not the case. In fact, there are several differences between the two. Today, we’re shedding some light on a few of those determining factors – along with some similarities, too.


First and foremost, they’re both legit. Both real estate agents and realtors have taken the necessary courses and passed the required licensure exam to help buyers and sellers complete their real estate transactions. That may be their biggest similarity. Their biggest difference is pretty simple too… Realtors belong to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), while real estate agents do not. What does that mean?


Realtors practice real estate under the NAR code of ethics. Basically, they agree to work with other real estate professionals to ensure that their clients’ best interests are met. What does that mean to a buyer and seller? Well, obviously, it means their realtor pledges to do their best to help their client buy or sell a home. What it does not mean for those clients is that their realtor will do this unethically. Realtors also pledge to treat all parties in a transaction with honesty.


What are the consequences for violating the NAR code? That is pretty simple too. Realtors who are found to have acted in a way that is not in accordance with the code of ethics can have their “realtor” title removed.


Do these differences mean that you’ll only receive honest, reputable service from a realtor? Absolutely not. What this information means is that you need to choose the person who will be representing your home sale or purchase very carefully.


Here are three tips to help you make sure you select the right real estate agent:


1. Take advice from family and friends.

When a family member or friend has had a good (or bad) experience during a real estate transaction, they are bound to want to talk about it. If you have friends or family members who are particularly happy with their home sale or purchase, find out what it was they liked most about their real estate professional – and find out if they would use that person again.


2. Read the reviews.

Family members and friends are not the only people who want to share their opinions about their real estate transactions. Use tools like social media sites and online reviews to confirm the word-of-mouth advice you receive.


3. Conduct your own interviews.


As with any advice, take real estate recommendations in stride. Reach out to the real estate agents or realtors who’ve helped your family and friends. But make sure they can help you too. Ask them about the things that matter most to you when it comes to your transaction. See if they will be a good fit for you. Once you’re satisfied, select your real estate professional, and rely on their honesty and expertise to carry your home sale or purchase to completion.


Dec. 21, 2022

Five Reasons to Replace Your Windows


Five Reasons to Replace Your Windows


Replacing your home’s windows can seem like a task that is not your top priority, but the benefits you can gain will make a huge difference.  Over time, windows need to be replaced, just like your appliances or roof shingles. Don’t wait until the weather gets cold, now is a good time to take a look at your windows and determine if they will need to be replaced.


1. Energy Efficiency

If you are starting to notice your energy bills are going up, you might want to take a look at your windows to see if they are the cause of the problem.  Window replacement is a common recommendation among construction professionals as a way to improve energy efficiency. According to a study on the energy performance of residential windows, new windows reduce annual heating and cooling costs by 22%.  Although new windows are an investment, they will save you money in the long run. Now is the time to swap out your old windows with double-pane, energy-efficient windows.


2. Window Defects

If you start to notice any defects in your windows, such as small cracks or chips, it is a good time to replace your windows.  Leaving a crack will only cause more damage in the future. Some problems include air leaks, water leaks, and letting in small insects. Visible cracks also weaken the strength of your window.  Having a crack or broken window can cause a lot of problems down the road. It is a good idea to replace them sooner rather than later to save money.


3. Security

Windows are an entry and exit point to your home so windows that aren't opening or locking correctly pose a security risk. Some signs that burglars might look for to identify vulnerable windows include old or wooden windows, windows with cracks, or condensation in windows.  You also don’t want small critters like bugs or chipmunks getting through window openings.  


4. Curb Appeal

Updating your windows might seem odd to increase your curb appeal, but instead of simply focusing on changing the outer appearance of your home, be sure to incorporate changes that add into your home’s structural integrity and energy efficiency. For instance, if your window frames have rotted then you’re ready for new windows.  They will not only improve the functionality of your home, but the appearance too. Installing new windows will increase the value of your home and make it more appealing.


5. Value

If you’re thinking of selling your home in a few years, replacing the windows can help your home stand out in a crowded market, plus raise its value before you list your home. Some buyers love buying homes that are not only move-in ready, but updated with modern amenities. New windows improve your home’s marketability and help you command a higher selling price. 


If you have old windows in your home or are planning on listing your home soon, now is the time to replace your windows.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Dec. 20, 2022

5 Reasons to Hire a Property Manager


5 Reasons to Hire a Property Manager


Sometimes, it can be hard to admit that we need some help – particularly when admitting that fact may cost us some money. But, for the group of homeowners who not only own a primary residence, but also have one or more income properties, how much is too much?


As a landlord, income property owners are responsible for a laundry list of tasks that include, but are not limited to finding and retaining tenants, managing routine maintenance and repairs, collecting rent, handling tenant complaints and, frankly, just being available in case of an emergency. And, yes, that is in addition to any day job the income property owner may have, too.


When income property owners decide to hire a property manager for their investment properties, guess who handles that laundry list of “landlord” tasks? Not the property owner!


Are you an income property owner who may need a little help? Here are five reasons it may be time to hire a property manager:


1. You own multiple properties or rental units. Maybe managing one tenant is doable while balancing life’s other priorities – and even that’s a maybe. But, if you are an income property owner with multiple homes or other rental units, it is understandably difficult to maintain the properties and manage the tenants. It could be time for you to contact a reliable property manager who can help to lighten your landlord workload.


2. You don’t live near your rental properties. What do you do when you live a few states away from your income property and it is time to show it to potential new residents? What if your tenant contacts you in the middle of the night with a plumbing issue or other pressing problem? When you don’t live near your income property, it may be more cost-effective and efficient to hire a property manager.


3. You don’t have a lot of time to devote to managing your property. Is maintaining your income property and keeping tenants happy your only job? It certainly can be a full-time job! So, if you’ve got a career in addition to owning a rental property, you may need to decide how much of your free time you’re willing to devote to being a landlord. If you’re having a hard time wearing all hats, you may need to hire a property manager.


4. You are not (and don’t want to be) familiar with landlord/tenant laws. In addition to all those previously listed landlord tasks – you know, maintaining your property and managing your tenants – a landlord also needs to be familiar with housing regulations and property laws. There are local, state and federal regulations that landlords must follow. How can you be sure you’re in compliance? A property manager can keep you and your property up to date on the latest laws and regulations.


5. You can afford it. Perhaps this should be number one on the list. But, if you’ve seen yourself in all other listed reasons, this may be the last thing you need to evaluate before hiring a property manager. Keep in mind that they typically function as independent contractors and most property managers may take a flat fee of one month’s rent or anywhere between around 5-10% of your monthly rental fees. Do the math and decide if you’re able to afford that kind of sometimes-invaluable help.


As an income property owner, it may be difficult to admit that you need the help of a property manager. But, if you already can admit that you’re struggling to properly maintain your property and manage your tenants, the easy choice for you may be enlisting the help of a trusted property manager today!

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Dec. 19, 2022

10 Quick Financial Tips for College Students


10 Quick Financial Tips for College Students

More and more millennial buyers are entering the real estate market these days, which means that the time to start saving money is now! Since many millennials are typically still in college—and college can be a very difficult place to save money—we’ve decided to compile a quick list of tips to help this enterprising group of future home buyers start saving toward that first big home purchase.


No, it’s not Money Management: 101, but here are 10 quick money tips for college students:


1. Buy used books. Then, sell them when you’re done. Unless it is an absolute requirement from one of your professors, there is no need to buy brand new textbooks. Find used books from the bookstore or from some of your classmates. Pass them on to other students at the end of the semester.


2. Get a roommate. Whether you’re living in on-campus dorms or at an off-campus apartment, your housing costs are sure to decrease if you split them with one or more roommates. So, find a friend or two and share those housing costs!


3. Take advantage of being a student. You may be surprised how much you can save by simply showing off your college I.D. College students are able to get discounts at retail stores, restaurants, and other places.


4. Skip a spring break trip. You don’t have to spend your spring break at some hot spot to make it memorable. You’ll save money and gain a sense of accomplishment if you do something domestically, like volunteering or visiting your family!


5. Cut out the coffee shop. We get it; grabbing a latte on the way to your 8 a.m. class can be a necessity from time to time, but it doesn’t need to be an everyday occurrence. Cut out a few trips to your favorite coffee shop (or happy hour) and watch your savings start to grow.


6. Track your spending. Get an app or use that notebook you bought for class and have failed to crack open. Whichever you choose, start to track the way you’re spending your money. It is much easier to hold yourself accountable when the financial figures are right in front of you. 


7. Get a job. This tip is two-fold. Not only will working on or off campus prevent you from spending some of your money, but it also will help you to earn and save more! Even if you are working only 10 hours each week, the extra money can make a difference.


8. Be careful with credit. College students are often presented with new credit card offers. There is nothing wrong with building your credit, but it becomes a problem when you’re making major purchases against your own credit. Sure, you should establish some credit, but don’t go crazy just because you’ve got credit.


9. Don’t overspend on food. Just because you have a roommate, does not mean that you have to pay to feed a whole army! If you’ve got a meal plan, use it; but, be sure you’re clear about what it includes. Only pay for what you’re using.


10. Do without a car. It is good for the environment, and it is good for your bank account. Instead of driving your car to class, opt for public transportation… or, even walking! You could be in better physical—and financial—health!


If you’re in college, there is no better time than now to start getting smart about your spending and saving habits. Study up on ways you can start saving money at home now.

Posted in Financial Tips
Dec. 16, 2022

5 Questions to Ask Before Adding an Addition


5 Questions to Ask Before Adding an Addition


If you’re a long-time homeowner whose home just isn’t measuring up to all your needs and wants anymore, you could consider adding on to the home you love instead of abandoning it altogether.


If you’re considering adding on to your home, congrats! But before you schedule an oh-so-gratifying demolition day, consider a few things first. Here are five questions to ask before adding on to your home:


1. How much do I want to spend? 

Obviously, you’re not going to blindly embark on a home renovation project without considering price. But, when it comes to adding on to your home, you need to get a few estimates from the professionals who will complete the work—once you do, be sure to account for a few overages before committing to the project.


2. Will the addition be worth it? 

 n your mind, maybe we’re talking about finances here. But maybe we’re talking about your quality of life in your home. If you intend to sell your home after adding on, you need to consider the resale value and how the addition may return your investment. If you don’t intend to sell, consider how the addition may enhance your lifestyle at home.


3. Would remodeling be a better option? 

Always wanted a home office, but never seemed to have enough rooms to give yourself the space? Don’t simply start breaking down a wall in your home to add on the office. Instead, survey your current space. Are your children off to college—or will they be soon? Could you finish your basement and create several new rooms? It may be more economical to make simpler renovations to your current home rather than adding on. Look at all possibilities before you begin major construction around your home.


4. What regulations do I need to follow?

Unless you live in some remote area with very few rules, it is likely that you’ll have to follow some restrictions when it comes to adding on to your home. Before you start spending and break ground on all your enhancements, contact city or county government offices to see what rules you may need to follow during the construction process.


5. Can I afford this in the long run? 

Yes, you considered the amount you would be spending on your renovation project in the beginning. However, some home additions can tack on additional costs that last for the long run. Consider the extra costs of heating and cooling your home once you add on. Also think about an increase in your property taxes. Don’t forget to account for any extras you’re adding in too—you know, like a hot tub or additional bathroom. Those extras can add monthly expenses. Make sure you’re prepared for any extra costs your addition may bring.


Adding on to your home is a great way to make it last. But before you break ground, you need to know that your addition is the best option for you. Ask questions about the addition up front so you don’t face any surprises during your project.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Dec. 15, 2022

Finished Basements: Do They Add Value?


Finished Basements: Do They Add Value?


Whether you are an owner looking to invest in your property or a real estate professional working to help a seller, the topic of basement remodeling is sure to come up. Before beginning any project, it is important to understand what you want to get out of the remodel, what is possible on your budget and whether you will receive a return on your investment when you decide to sell your home. Achieving a return on investment can sometimes be difficult. The following are three key considerations for you to keep in mind.



If you are taking a basement from unfinished to finished, you will have to take moisture into account. Any leaks, condensation or flooding will have to be dealt with before you start remodeling. This can be a large factor in your rate of return, because the cost to fix these issues can run into the thousands of dollars. If you neglect to deal with these issues first, however, you will pay far more in mold removal, ruined carpets and musty smells.


Labor costs

If you plan on hiring contractors, keep in mind that labor is typically the largest part of the cost. A rule of thumb is that materials are about one-third of the cost to the owner and labor accounts for the other two-thirds. This means that handy homeowners can save significant money by doing part of the remodeling job by themselves. Keep in mind that attempting to do a job that you are not qualified for may end up causing damage or simply look shoddy, which can ultimately mean more expense to pay someone to undo your mistakes. Plumbing and electrical work should always be left to professionals, but installing insulation, hanging drywall, painting and even installing carpet may be within reach.



Often, for a basement room to be considered a bedroom, building codes will require that a basement have a window large enough for occupants to safely escape in the event of a fire, and for a firefighter to enter wearing full gear. This is important, because adding an exit to your basement's foundation can be expensive if there isn't one present already.


Remodeling a basement can be fun, but to get the best return on your investment, it may take some elbow grease. For those homeowners willing to take the time to do the job inexpensively and effectively, however, there can be a significant payoff.

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Dec. 13, 2022

What You Should Know About Equal Opportunity Housing


What You Should Know About Equal Opportunity Housing


The sale and purchase of a home is a major milestone in your life, which is why you should be able to feel 100 percent confident in that decision.  Whether you are looking for your very first home or settling down after retirement, you should always be assured that the home buying process will be equal and fair.  Equal Opportunity Housing is put in place to avoid discrimination in the home buying and selling process.  The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, nationality, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.  As a buyer or seller, you should feel confident in your decision, know your rights, and be able to voice your concerns should they arise.  


What is Prohibited?

You have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.  This includes: 


  • The refusal to rent or sell a home


  • The refusal to negotiate for housing


  • A seller making housing unavailable


  • Providing different housing services or facilities


  • Falsely deny that housing is unavailable for inspection, sale or rental 


What Are My Rights as a Buyer? 

 As a buyer, you are entitled to rights that protect you when purchasing a home.  You should always feel comfortable going into a home for a showing, sitting down with a real estate agent for a consultation, or signing paperwork.


What Are My Responsibilities as a Seller?

 As a home seller or landlord you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale of a home or rental property.  Your real estate agent should be fully prepared to help you navigate your responsibilities as a seller or a rental property owner.


What Should I Do If I Suspect Discrimination? 

 If you feel like you are being discriminated against in the home search process, you have the right to speak up and defend your rights as a home buyer. There are a few different ways you can speak up.  You can reach out to your real estate agent or contact one of the agencies put in place for Equal Opportunity Housing.

The Local Boards of REALTORS® will accept complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics filed by a home seeker who alleges discriminatory treatment in the availability, purchase or rental of housing.  You can also contact the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for complaints against discrimination in housing.


Purchasing a home should be a stress-free and enjoyable process.  Having equal rights in the home buying journey is a big part of that.  If you feel like you are being discriminated against, know that you have rights and people to defend you under the Equal Opportunity Housing Act.


Posted in Buyers
Dec. 1, 2022

6 Housewarming Party Tips


6 Housewarming Party Tips


In the process of moving into a new home? Well, don’t forget to christen your new space with a housewarming party! We know, we know, the last thing you may feel like doing when you’re in the middle of unpacking boxes and setting up your new home is entertaining. But you may be pleasantly surprised by how it feels to take a minute, welcome a few friends, meet a few neighbors, and gaze at your new purchase.


And, trust us, when you throw a housewarming party, your friends and neighbors are not expecting your new home to look perfect, but you can bet they are excited to get a first look at your new space! Need some motivation to get your boxes put away and at least a bit of décor up on your walls? Here are five tips for throwing an awesome housewarming party: 


1. Get Planning

Decide on a date and time for your party. Once you set the date, determine your guest list and send out your invites. Use regular mail, email, or social media to get the word out. Remember, it is customary for guests to bring a gift to a housewarming party, so if you prefer that your guests just come to have fun, be sure to indicate that in your invite.


2. Choose a Theme

Here is where you can have a little fun before your party even starts. When it comes to housewarming parties, you can host anything from a casual backyard BBQ to a fancy dinner to an unpacking party—yes, you could put your guests to work when they come to the party!


3. Include a Tour

Just as guests pretty much plan to bring a gift to a housewarming party, they also plan on receiving a tour while they’re there. Of course, you can keep it traditional and simply parade guests through your home to show off the new space. But you also have a unique opportunity to add to the fun of your event. Offer up a non-traditional tour by creating a scavenger hunt through your new home. Deciding between a few colors in certain rooms? Let guests weigh in while they’re on tour!


4. Let Guests Help

In addition to asking guests to weigh in on paint colors or décor while they’re in your new home, you also can rely on them to help with the night’s menu. Plan to provide the main course, but let guests bring their favorites when it comes to appetizers, desserts, or drinks. This is a great way to beef up your recipe collection or stock your bar, too! 


5. Invite Guests Back

The best way to end an awesome housewarming party? Don’t let the memory-making stop. You can ensure your new home is always full of fun and friends by giving your guests a way to remember how to find you. Send your housewarming party guests home with a memento that includes your new address. Anything from personalized post-its to custom-wrapped candy bars can include your address. Get creative when thinking about how to send your guests home after your party.


6. Don’t stress yourself.


A final tip for hosting a great housewarming party? Don’t stress. House cleaning and care are all a part of being a homeowner. If those tasks don’t get perfectly done before your party, it is OK. Remember, your guests are interested in seeing your home, but above all, they’re there to support you in your new venture!


Posted in Homeowner Tips
Nov. 29, 2022

Not Happy With the Listing Price? Here’s What to Do


Not Happy With the Listing Price? Here’s What to Do

Arguments, disagreements, even confrontation? When a couple is selling a home, it is possible that they may face all three. However, we’re not talking about the usual stressful situations that can occur between partners when it comes to the home sale process.


As if selling your home wasn’t cause enough for a little uneasiness, what if you fully disagree with some advice that you get from your real estate agent? In fact, what if you think your home should be listed for a higher price than your agent recommends? Before your frustration level bubbles over and you decide to abandon your entire home sale altogether, relax… you’ve dealt with a little disagreement before, right?


Here are three handy ways to approach a difference in opinion with your real estate agent when it comes to your home’s listing price:


Keep Perspective – As the saying goes, “you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.” So, first and foremost, remember that your real estate agent has training and experience to back up their recommendation. Also keep in mind that they’ve done a comparative market analysis of similar area homes that are currently listed or have recently sold. They did not simply pull their recommendation out of thin air!

If you’ve scoured the web and a site like Zillow suggests that your home is worth more than your real estate agent recommends, it is important to note that a Zillow estimate is merely a starting point that is calculated from public data and user-submitted information, as stated on the site. Your real estate agent is able to assess your home’s interior and current market conditions in your area before recommending a listing price.


Demand More Proof – Now, you know that your real estate agent puts in some serious work before recommending your home’s listing price. But, if you’re not satisfied with their recommendation, ask for a further explanation! We’ve talked about a comparative market analysis of similar area homes; ask your agent to show you information about the homes they compared to yours. Get a greater understanding of the homes that are on the market or those that have recently sold.


Communicate! – As with any disagreement, keeping the lines of communication open is vital. You trust your real estate agent and have reviewed your comparative market analysis, but you still think your home should be listed at more than what your real estate agent recommends? Tell them!

Your agent works for you, which means they should work with you! But, don’t expect them to know you’re unhappy with their recommendation simply by casting sideways glances and giving the silent treatment! Voice your concerns and talk through your listing price until you reach a point where you’re satisfied.


The home sale process can be stressful enough. There is no need to add in extra frustration by disagreeing with your real estate agent over your home’s listing price.

Posted in Sellers
Nov. 14, 2022

What’s the difference between Pending or Contingent?


What’s the difference between Pending or Contingent?

Each home listing has a status that’s updated by information that the listing agent feeds into the multiple listing service (MLS). A home listed contingent or pending is under contract, but there’s still a chance for you to buy it.


Most purchase offers for the buyer to back out if they can’t get financing, the home doesn’t pass inspection, or the home price doesn’t meet appraisal. In some cases, the listing agent will update the listing with showing instructions such as:


Contingent - continue to show (CCS): the seller wants to pivot to a backup offer if the buyer can’t perform.


Contingent - no show: the seller believes the buyer will have no problem removing the contingency.


Contingent - with kick out: the buyer has a limited time to remove the contingency or risk the contract being voided.


Contingent – probate: a deceased homeowner’s assets are going through the probate process, so the home may not be available for purchase for some time.


When a listing is pending, the contract is closer to closing, but there are exceptions:


Pending- taking backups: the seller is accepting backup offers in case the buyer can’t perform.


Pending- short sale: the mortgage holder has been asked to take less money than the seller owes on their mortgage.


Your real estate agent can advise you about your chances. In a hot market with low inventory, shopping contingent or pending homes could be a great way to make offers with less competition.

Posted in Sellers