General Real Estate

Having your home 'staged right'

From Staged Right Blog by Mary Lemon:
I’m going to give you some things to do before you have the stager visit your home. If you can take care of some of the necessary cleaning out, etc. it will be easier for the stager to actually look at your home and determine what needs to be done to prepare it for selling without having to look at all of your family pictures, kids outgrown toys, collections. This article will talk about preparing an occupied home to get it ready to put on the market.
First of all, and this is probably the most important, you need to take the emotion out of this process–forget about how much you love your collections, family pictures, etc. and think like a buyer. Start from the front and walk up to the house like you’re a potential buyer and look at the landscaping, paint, roof, front porch, door, etc. with a critical eye and determine whether you need to paint, add a new door handle, light, numbers, etc.
Then walk through each room and pretend it’s NOT your home so you can be objective. Because you’re planning on moving anyway, this is the time to clean out, throw out, give away, pack up all of the things you don’t want or need right now. If you have to rent a storage unit, it will be worth it as clutter and too much furniture and “stuff” is a real turn off.
Next time I’ll talk about doing some necessary updating before your home goes on the market if you want to get the best price! If doing the preliminary work mentioned here is too much for you, then the stager can help you with it. I’m just trying to save you some money by doing the things homeowners can usually do themselves.

General Real Estate Market Information

Lincoln's steady economy featured in USA TODAY

Dennis Cauchon of USA TODAY recently reported on Lincoln’s steady economy. Read the excerpt of the article below, or the full article here.
To understand why some places are winning and others losing, USA TODAY examined a pair of No. 2s — the metropolitan areas of Lincoln, Neb., which has the second-lowest metro area unemployment rate in the United States, and Merced, Calif., which has the second-highest.
Lincoln symbolizes a swath of the central USA with economies that didn’t have wild highs and lows during the last decade.
Lincoln: Steady as she goes
Lincoln’s economy has been good for so long that it’s hard for many there to remember bad times.
The unemployment rate in the vibrant metropolitan area of 296,000 is just 4.1%, second-lowest in the nation.
The rate has never been above 5% since the Bureau of Labor Statistics starting tracking it 20 years ago.
“It’s like we’re on our own island out here,” says Jason Perry, a Wisconsin-born rental car manager who moved to Nebraska in 2008, when his wife, Robin, got a job in nearby Omaha, which also has low unemployment.
Lincoln is home to a major research university and national and regional headquarters for several substantial companies. It is surrounded by farms that export worldwide.
The metro area — built on the edge of the Great Plains — has the good fortune of being at the convergence of several positive trends in a dangerously weak national economy. Lincoln is:
• A college town, home to 24,000 students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Nine of the 10 metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates have major universities.
• A state capital, benefiting from a stable workforce of government jobs.
• Part of a farm economy at a time when farm income has been at or near record highs.
Just as important, Lincoln missed the real estate bubble, so it’s not suffering withdrawal from a construction boom caused by too-easy credit.
Tom Henning, chief executive of Assurity Life Insurance of Lincoln, can’t recall any significant speculative office buildings or shopping centers getting built in Lincoln during this decade’s national real estate boom that ended in 2007.
During an interview, Henning calls the company’s head of real estate lending on a speaker phone to check his memory.
Investment chief Bill Schmeeckle pauses for a long time as he recalls what’s been built in Lincoln during the past several years.
“No. None,” he says.
Henning says a real estate developer who approached Assurity Life about financing a speculative building would have been met with the common-sense question: “You mean you want to build it, but you don’t have any tenants yet?”
Construction in Lincoln proceeded at a steady, moderate pace during the last decade — and that continues today.
Assurity Life is building a new $53 million corporate headquarters. The university is developing a new research park. In May, voters will decide whether to approve bonds to start a $334 million arena for the university’s basketball team.
The city’s historic Haymarket District continues to slowly but steadily add new businesses.
The Bar & Grill has hung a sign at its future location: “Now Accepting Applications for All Positions.”
Trent Taylor, 28, who recently quit his job as a cook, says he’s not worried about finding work.
“There’s work around, just not always what you want,” says Taylor, smoking a cigarette outside a government career center in downtown Lincoln.
Lincoln hasn’t been immune to the recession. A total of 6,800 people were unemployed in December in a labor force of 167,000. That’s an increase of 1,150 from a year earlier.
“We’ve absolutely had job losses,” says Eric Thompson, a University of Nebraska economist. “It just doesn’t feel like the worst recession in 30 years or longer.”
One reason: Nebraska has among the nation’s highest rates of people holding multiple jobs, Thompson says. That means people can lose one job or be employed below their skill level, yet not count as unemployed.
Nebraska, with its high level of education, and Lincoln, in particular, have a labor force that’s attractive to employers.
“We might have someone with an economics degree working as a clerk,” Henning says.
Lincoln’s diversified economy has more than 100 companies and agencies that employ 250 or more workers, including a robust manufacturing sector. Kawasaki makes New York subway cars here, along with all-terrain vehicles and Jet Skis.
Nick Cusick, chief executive of IMS Corp., says manufacturing has been helped by electricity rates 25% below the national average.
A key reason for the low rates: Nebraska is the only state that generates all its power from government-owned utilities.
Thriving entrepreneurship and the lack of a major union presencealso have helped keep Nebraska manufacturers competitive, says Cusick, who started his company with a high school buddy in 1974.
Today, Cusick and his friend are still 50-50 partners in a company that employs 200, down from a peak of 275 in 2008.
IMS makes football goalposts, basketball hoops and electronic signs and scoreboards. The PGA Tour’s electronic leader board is one of its products.
Cusick thinks his region’s “common sense” culture helps Lincoln avoid economic peaks and valleys.
Nebraska companies typically are reluctant to take on debt because of this conservative culture, he says. Nebraska’s constitution even prohibits the state from borrowing money.
“The Nebraska sensibility — whether it’s in the public sector or the private sector — is to be cautious,” Cusick says.
Cusick vacations in Scottsdale, Ariz., every March and November. Between visits there, new shopping centers would appear there during the boom years. “Lot of vacancies now,” he says.
Lincoln was different that way. No boom, no bust. Still hiring.

General Real Estate Sales Associates

HOME agents take course on foreclosures, short sales

Thirty-one HOME Real Estate sales associates attended the “Short Sales & Foreclosures: Protecting Your Clients’ Interests” course Feb. 5, sponsored by the Realtors Association of Lincoln, the Nebraska CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) Chapter and the Nebraska Realtors Association.
The course, taught by Senior CRS Instructor Robert Morris, explained the intricacies of the short sale and foreclosure processes, as well as the roles of lenders, sellers, buyers and cooperating agents involved. It also provided dialogues and systems for working with financial institutions and other owners of REO (bank-owned) properties.
Students took this course as a core credit on their way to a CRS Designation. Those in attendance are now better able to counsel homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. In addition, they can help clients navigate the process of a short sale, which occurs when the proceeds from the sale fall short of the balance owed on the loan.
HOME Real Estate had the most representatives of any company in the state taking the course. They included: Shirley Fralin, Harry Rotthaus and Jan Thomas of the Cotner office; Kim Deubelbeiss, Jeni Eitzman, Elizabeth Katt, Chris Knoche, Jayme Krueger, Susan Luxford, June Ring, Karen Roeber, Videl Sabio-Navarro, Linda Siedhoff, Brad Ulrich and Carla Waldbaum of the North office; Donald Dahlquist, Stacy Hartgerink, Charlotte Hazzard, Ellen Walsh High, Nancy Johnson, Donna Melichar, Dan Mlnarik, Pat Ohmberger, Roger Schreiner, Lenette Schwinn, Sherri Walker and Patti Whitbeck with the Pine Lake office; and Josh Bulow, Betty Burback, Kimberlee Johnson and Vern Sorensen from the Pioneer Greens office.

Sales Associates

Congratulations to HOME Award Winners

HOME Real Estate held its “Night of Champions” last night at the University of Nebraska Champions Club. Our 2009 units and volume surpassed 2008 numbers–our agents had success in a down market and had reason to celebrate.
Congratulations to the following Special Award Winners:
Top Overall Producers
Rhonda Dodson
Top Overall Producing Associate
Top Overall Selling Associate
Most Units Closed by an Associate
Abby Burmeister
Top Overall Listing Associate
The Searcy Team
Top Overall Producing Team
Most Units Closed by a Team
Paul & Madonna Kardell
Top Overall Producing Couple
Top Overall Selling Couple
Ann & Al Underwood
Top Overall Listing Couple
Top Overall New Construction Couple
Most Units Closed by a Couple
Special Awards
Kathy Dixon
HOME Real Estate
Realtor of the Year
Regina Kastrup
HOME Real Estate
Employee of the Year
Bev Neumayer
Hartley School, Steve Schleich Memorial Award
Office Awards
Merle Jahde
Top Producing Associate
John Fink
Top Producing Associate
Ellen Walsh High
Top Producing Associate
Pine Lake
Rhonda Dodson
Top Producing Associate
Pioneer Greens
Paul Fry
Newcomer of the Year
Jayme Krueger
Newcomer of the Year
Nancy Miller
Newcomer of the Year
Pine Lake
Jeannie Thomas
Newcomer of the Year
Pioneer Greens
Connie Boender
Top New Construction Associate
John Fink
Top New Construction Associate
Renee Holscher
Top New Construction Associate
Pine Lake
Terry Kraft
Top New Construction Associate
Pioneer Greens
Marianne McAtee
Agent Choice Award
Elizabeth Katt
Agent Choice Award
Lenette Schwinn
Agent Choice Award
Pine Lake
Madonna Kardell
Agent Choice Award
Pioneer Greens
Check out pictures from the event on our Facebook page or by watching the video below:

Market Information

HomeServices of America CEO: Home Sales Improving

HomeServices of America CEO Ron Peltier weighs in on the state of the housing market.
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