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Checklists: Before & After You Buy A Home.

by JS Realty

The Final Walk Through

by JS Realty

The final walk through is an important step in the purchasing process.  During this time the buyer of a property will look at the condition of the home and to make sure nothing has substantially changed from the original viewing of the home.

When should the final walk through be performed?
The final walk through should happen the day before or the day of closing.  It is also best if the seller has moved completely out before doing the walk through.

Who should be there?
The buyer’s agent, the buyers and sometimes, if they buyers would like, the sellers can be there to give the buyers a play by play of the house.  This can be very useful if there mystery light switch or if there is something unique regarding the day to day operations of the house.

What should be checked?
Major things that will need to be checked will be that all of t
he seller’s debris is gone (unless otherwise specified), make sure everything turns on and off correctly and that nothing has substantially changed since your last viewing.  It is also a good time to verify that the utilities are in the buyer’s name (starting the date of the scheduled closing).  The final thing to check is that all personal property that has been negotiated is present and accounted for.

What if something is amiss?
If something is wrong, the buyer’s agent would communicate with the seller’s agent to figure out the fixes or to verify what is stated in the purchase agreement.

Do I get to keep the keys?
No, not yet.  Normally, the buyers receive the keys to the house at closing after all the paperwork has been signed.

Part of a real estate transaction can include a home inspection. Some people choose not to do a home inspection to make their offer more attractive or if they feel that they can handle anything that the home might throw at them.  We suggest having a home inspection done because it will help you from getting any unexpected surprises as well as helping you determine how much time/energy you want to put into fixing up a place.

What is a home inspection?
A home inspection has to do with the checking out the condition of a home.  Often home inspections are non-invasive, objective and usually they go hand in hand with a real estate transaction of the home. 

What exactly does a home inspection entail?
A home inspection usually involves a licensed inspector going through a property.  They check things like: the structure of the home (foundation and framing), the exterior of the home (all walkways, driveways, attachments to the home like a deck or porch, windows, doors, siding and trim), the roof (age of roof, draining system, issues with the shingles, gutters and downspouts and any potential for water to pool), the electrical (location of breaker box, condition of service panels, breakers, fuses, disconnects, service entrance wires and how many outlets are in every room), heating and air conditioning systems (vents, flues, chimneys, cooling systems, water heater information), plumbing (draining system, sump pumps, water supply and water heaters), interior (walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, counters, appliances and cabinets), ventilation and insulation (check that the ventilation is okay in unfinished areas as well as the insulation) and fireplaces (vent and flue). 

Why is having a home inspection important?
Having a home inspection is important because it helps buyers and sellers know what needs to be repaired on the home.  Also, a home is probably one of the largest purchases you will ever make.  A good inspection helps buyers to make an educated and informed decision about their purchase.

How much will the home inspection cost?
There is not a standard cost for home inspection and every region is different.  There are also several factors including the size and age of the property and if there are any “extra” items that you want to have inspected more thoroughly.  We would say a good range for the Duluth area would be between $200-$500, however this is subject to change.

Is this something I could do by myself?  (If so) What are the drawbacks if I do?
Sure you can! However it is NOT recommended.  In most cases buyers or sellers who want to do the home inspection themselves are not able to be truly objective.  This can cause the inspection to be skewed because they would skate over things that are truly an issue because “it’s not that bad” or “it looks fine”.  Getting an inspector to do the home inspection would be the best thing.

How do I know if the inspector is on the up & up?
According to the National Association of Home Inspectors there are 39 states that requires that a home inspector is licensed.  Minnesota is one of the 11 states that does not require licensing.  We would suggest asking if they are licensed (it’s a huge plus if they are, but shouldn’t be a deal breaker), if they have had inspection training or certifications, and how many years they’ve been in the business.  It is also a good idea to ask how many homes they’ve inspected and if they have any people that would recommend them.

Is an inspection something that a seller can do before putting their house on the market or is it buyer specific.
Yes! A seller can always do an inspection too! It may help them predetermine problems and will include repair suggestions.

How long is an inspection report good for?
A home inspection has no expiration date. That being said it is not uncommon for an inspection to occur and then the next day something that was fine is now not fine. Also, inspections are not public information, they are client specific and they get to choose who sees the information. It is a good idea for each separate buyer putting in an offer get their own inspection.

Is it better to accompany the inspector or have them do it alone?
Be there for the inspection if you’re buying.  A good inspector would want you to be there too.  However, if you are a seller and the buyer is having a home inspection preformed, it would be a good idea to stay away until the inspection is complete.  Buyers might find your presence intimidating.

If you're looking for inspectors in the Duluth, MN area ask us!  We would love to help you find one!

Easy Ways to Go Green Around the Home

by JS Realty

Going “Green” doesn’t have to mean going overboard. Here are a few ways to go green that are quick, easy and not too hard on the wallet.

Replace light bulbs
If you haven’t already, switch your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs.  The main difference between the two is that compact fluorescent convert a majority of the energy used into light whereas incandescent convert the energy into heat.  Compact fluorescent also use less energy and last longer than incandescent.

Do full loads of laundry or dishes
Wait until your washer or your dishwasher is full before running a load.  It will save a lot of water.   When doing laundry use the cold water setting rather than hot, it takes more energy to heat up the water, and there are many detergents that are designed to work well in cold water.

Donate old clothing
Bring your clothing that doesn’t fit anymore to a shelter, to Goodwill or give it to a friend that would like it.  By doing so you’re letting it be reused instead of sitting in a landfill.  You could really be helping out someone in need.

Unplug
When you’re not charging something or using something that needs to be plugged in, electricity still flows though the power cords even if the item is not charging or in use.  You’ll not only use less energy but you’ll save on your power bill.

Check your refrigerator
If your fridge and freezer are colder than they need to be, you are using more energy than you have to.  For a fridge, the ideal temperature is between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Don’t go higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or you’ll risk bacteria growth.  A freezer should be kept between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit.  If either one is less than those, adjust the temperature and you’ll save energy.

Adjust your thermometer
Out
of the energy that is used in homes, air-conditioning and heating energy make up almost half.  Use less energy by having a lower house temperature in the winter (not too low though, make sure it’s still well above freezing!) and a little higher house temperature in the summer.  You’ll reduce your energy intake and also save on your monthly electricity bill.

Use less chemicals
Chemicals are very bad for the environment and there are many natural ways to clean your house without releasing all of the harmful vapors into the air.  Use lemon and vinegar as a natural cleaner.  You might even have lemon and vinegar in your kitchen right now.  Check out some other ideas here.

Use less paper
Opt out of getting bills in the mail, see if you can get them emailed to you or if you can just sign up for auto payment.  You’ll use less paper and you’ll also have less clutter around the house.

The Importance of Working with a REALTOR®.

by JS Realty

Why working with a REALTOR® is important?
It is important to work with a professional for many things in life. Working with a REALTOR® who is licensed and experienced is especially important for those who want their real estate transactions to occur with little to no problems.  J.S. Realty has over 80 years of experience between the three of us. We are all licensed full-time REALTORS® committed to helping you through your real estate transaction. Here are some reasons working with a REALTOR® is beneficial.

Ethical
REALTORS® must follow a code of ethics as set forth by the National Association of REALTORS®.  The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® help enforce the code of ethics through the Professional Standards Board. All three of us have volunteered on the Professional Standards Board in our career. We want to do what is right.

Good at Negotiating
REALTORS® have great negotiating skills, they take some classes on how to negotiate and they can help get the price you want.  Negotiating can be tiresome and not turn out the way you want quickly, but don’t worry you’ve got a REALTOR® in your corner.

Understanding the changing market
The real estate market is constantly changing.  It is important that you work with a REALTOR® because they know about all of the changes and how to react based on what’s happening.  REALTORS® also have to take continuing education so that they are able to keep up with new trends and law changes.

Keep things on track
REALTORS® do so many things that you aren’t aware need to happen...When something gets stuck, it is your REALTOR® who gets it to move again.  REALTORS® are great at putting out fires before the buyer or seller even know there’s a problem. You’ll feel less stressed if you work with someone who knows how to get stuff done!

Experience Matters
You want a REALTOR® who can “go to bat” for you, coach you on how to make the best offer and help you determine the best price point to list your home at.  REALTORS® are also packed full of knowledge with just about anything that comes to real estate. They know a good deal, a bad one, what you need if you want to buy a foreclosure, what the neighborhoods are like and all sorts of other answers.  J.S. Realty has a combined experience of 80 years in real estate. We know the ins and outs.

Genuinely care
When you and your REALTOR® are committed to each other your REALTOR® will care about your needs and wants, and do their best to make your real estate transaction run smoothly.

With J.S. Realty, you’ll get all of this plus so much more. 
Call us today, we would love to hear from you!
218-729-9784

 

Easy Things to Do Around the House in the Fall.

by JS Realty

Fall is here!  This means that winter is just right around the corner.  Fall is the perfect time to make adjustments to your home that could help with a potential sale.  It is also the ideal time to winterize your home before the cold and snow come.  Here are some tips on things to do around the house in the fall.

Clean the gutters
It is important for your gutters to remain clean especially in the fall because gutters help with water control.  If there are leaves, sticks or ice cluttering your gutters than it can be catastrophic.  If there is too much build up there could be problems with water damage to your ceilings and walls because the water gets backed up and goes right into your home.  This can cause major issues when trying to close on a home.  Clean the gutters or get a handy gutter guard to assist with easier clean up.

Get your furnace serviced and cleaned
A furnace that is running efficiently will help lower heating costs and reduce risk for fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.  Getting it cleaned will help there be less dust particles and irritants floating around your home.  It can also help get rid of any smells that might be making your home unappealing.  It is always a smart idea to get it serviced before the winter months or you could be dealing with having no heat on a cold night.

Clean out the dryer vent
Another fire hazard if not cleaned out regularly.  It is important to clean out the dryer vent because it helps your dryer work more efficiently and clothes will dry faster.  Fall is the perfect time to clean this area because the temperatures are cooler and there is no snow to deal with.

Weather strip your door
Weather stripping your doors is an inexpensive way to help keep heating costs down during the fall and winter months.  Weather strips are a barrier between your door and the frame that helps keep cold air out and warm air in (or the opposite in warmer climates).  It is important to regularly check and re-strip your door because there could be holes in it that could cause a draft and then you’re just throwing money out the door.

Change light bulbs
Fall is the perfect time to go around the house and check and replace light bulbs.  The temperature is cool so you don’t feel bogged down by sweat and since it is getting darker earlier, it is easier to spot the lights that need to be replaced.  Lighting is important for any home ESPECIALLY in fall and winter months because it gets darker earlier.  Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a good option for your house, they are more cost effective and use less energy

Rake the yard
Raking the yard is important for curb appeal in the fall.  There are many different options for you to do with the leaves, you could put them into pumpkin trash bags and use them as decorations or you could just get completely rid of them and use them as mulch!  Don’t just leave them out on the lawn.

Clean and Check ceiling fans
Fans are not only useful for cooling an area down, they can be used to warm an area up too.  In the fall and winter months have your fan turn clockwise on a low speed to help with moving warm air around.  Clean your fans by dusting them off so that they don’t spread dust particles when you are using them.  Check your ceiling fan that it is working properly, if it’s not, then it could be sucking up energy when it doesn’t need to be, thus costing you more money.  Fall is a good time to check so that it can help aid in keeping your heating costs lower.

Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
Fall is a great time to check that your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are working and have fresh batteries.  This is the time of year when people start to use fireplaces, light candles, and use heaters.  It is important that both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order to help keep your family safe during the cold season. 

Check and Service your snow blower and get your shovels out
Snow is not fun sometimes, and the last thing that you want is to get stuck with a snow blower that doesn’t work or shovels that are out in the shed for the first snow fall.  Fall is the perfect time to get ready for when the snow flies.  Service your snow blower now, check if the oil needs changing or if the starter doesn’t work.  This will save you a lot of hassle if you don’t have to fix these issues while it’s snowing.

Spring Market is Here!

by JS Realty

With the reappearance of grass, leaves, and warm days comes the resurgence of the Real Estate Market. While sellers are prepping their homes for showings, buyers should also be preparing ahead of time. See below for the 6 things you should do before and during your home buying process.

Know What You’re Looking For. In certain price ranges, there may not be many homes for sale. By narrowing down your search and moving quickly on homes you know you’re interested in, you will spend less time looking at houses that are of no interest to you and you won’t miss out on ones you would love. Make a list of the top features that are most important to you and rate the houses based on that for quick decision making.

Consider the Neighborhood. When viewing houses, make sure to take a look around the neighborhood to see if it fits what you and your family are looking for. If you have a preference for urban or rural living, make sure to take that into account when looking at houses. If you have children, finding a neighborhood with other children for them to play with could be beneficial. Consider how far it is away from the places you go on a regular basis, work, daycare, favorite restaurants, etc.

Research Extra Expenses. Once you find a home you like, look at how much the utilities cost last year. Look at assessments that still have to be paid. Are there any home improvement projects that you would need to do? Make sure all of these extra costs work into your budget so you aren’t surprised with any unexpected expenses. Always hire a professional home inspector to look at the home before signing the purchase agreement, that way you won’t be surprised with anything when you move in.

Know That the Perfect House Doesn’t Exist. Many home buyers have unrealistic expectations when looking at houses, but it is rare that everything fits what you’re looking for perfectly. Know what you’re willing to compromise on and what features are necessary for you in a home.

Get Your Pre-Approval for Financing. With how quickly houses are being sold, it’s important to have your finances in order before making an offer. Ask your realtor for recommendations of who they have worked with and can trust. The process is always easier with a local lender you can meet in person instead of an online application. Now when you make an offer, the seller will be more inclined to accept it over someone who has not been pre-approved.

Choose the Right Agent. Jamie, Julie, and Jackie have 82 years of combined experience and plenty of happy customers to prove it (click here to see feedback). Having an agent that knows what they’re doing can take all the stress out of buying a house, so give J.S. Realty a call today to begin your home buying process.

Please give us a call at 218-729-9784 or leave us a comment if you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling your home.


Whether buying or selling, there are many things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction. Here are three of the most important ones to be aware of and ways to avoid them.

 

Financing. As one of the most important parts of buying or selling a home, Financing can be a little tricky. Along with having a great real estate agent, it is crucial to have an experienced and trusted lender in order for the proceedings to go seamlessly.

Inspections. Almost every buyer will want to do an inspection of the home before the final closing. If there are problems found in the inspection, the buyer could back out of the sale or the closing could be delayed. To avoid any potential problems coming up in the final inspection, the seller can have a pre-listing inspection done. That way the seller can take care of any problems before the closing and avoid complications.

Not Being Prepared. Whether it has to do with staging your home for showings, negotiating a final price, or being ready for the closing, it is always crucial to be prepared. Having a reliable real estate agent help you along the entire way is the best way to be prepared for all stages of the process. Jamie, Julie & Jackie of J.S. Realty are here to help whether you are buying or selling your home or property.
 

Please feel free to leave a comment or question here or call us at 218-729-9784!

Tips for Women Home Buyers

by JS Realty

Women home buyers attribute to a large market share in our marketplace.  Just like any buyer, there are certain things to pay attention to when purchasing a home.  When working with the J.S. Realty team (all women), we will help you through the entire process of finding a home that best suites your needs.  Here’s a list of some key things to consider:

How much exterior maintenance do you want?  Buying a home with maintenance-free siding along with soffit and facia can limit the amount of money you spend on taking care of the exterior of your home.  Siding that is painted will mean you will need to continually be painting the exterior and dealing with peeling and chipping paint on regular basis.  The same goes for decking.  Stained or painted decks require maintenance.  Decks that are made with composite or left natural, will require much less upkeep.

Does the home need “big ticket” repairs?  Make sure to take a good look at the foundation, roof and windows.  Repairing or replacing any of these items can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.  When you find your dream home, if any one of these items need attention, make sure and find out the costs during your home inspection time frame.

Location?  Living in town can mean you are closer to everyday conveniences, smaller yards to upkeep, shorter driveways to maintain and a host of other things.  If you desire to live out in the country, make sure and plan ahead for the costs of maintaining large yards and long driveways and the increase in fuel costs to drive to everyday conveniences and work. Think about your lifestyle and look for a home to match.


Safety?  Wherever you end up finding your home, make sure to independently research crime in the neighborhood.  This can be done by calling the local police department or using a website like crimemapper.com.  Pay attention to general safety tips like having good exterior lighting on your home, a good fence, good neighbors, windows far from the ground, an attached garage with an interior entrance to your home, no overgrown landscaping, etc.  Once you purchase your new home and move in, it is also suggested that you have all the locks changed on your home or get an alarm system.

Always leave yourself a “nest egg” of money.  Owning a home is a long-term commitment.  Appliances, furnaces, water heaters and plumbing issues happen.  Be prepared for the cost of repairs so you have the funds available to get things fixed. Being realistic about what you can afford is important.

Work with a REALTOR®.  At J.S. Realty, we will guide you through the home buying experience and look out for you every step of the way.  Buying a home may be the largest purchase in your life, so having representation is very important.  We sell homes to hundreds of home buyers and you can feel confident that we will do a good job for you too.

If you are looking to buy a home for yourself, give us a call. 
Jackie, Jamie or Julie Sathers are here to help!

What to Expect During a Closing

by JS Realty

The home closing or settlement is a very important day for home buyers and sellers alike. This is the day all money and documents are taken care of so the ownership and possession of the property can be transferred from seller to buyer. Your Agent at JS Realty is there to help walk you through the closing process and answer any questions you may have about your closing.

At this time, all previously agreed upon actions, such as work on the house or property need to be completed and all personal property needs to be removed. Payments to the contactors and all other parties involved with the transaction will be paid on closing day. Also on this day, if the seller has a mortgage, this will be paid in full.

A closing agent is typically hired as a neutral third party to handle all of the documents, money, and various other things needed for the closing. The closing agent is usually the title insurance company that is insuring the buyer’s title to the property and the closing will most likely take place in their office.

What to Bring to the Closing:

Buyers:
-Certified or cashier’s check made out to the closing company
-Insurance binder & paid receipt – be sure to check who the loss payee is by calling your loan officer
-Photo ID
-Apply for your utilities, electricity, city water, city sewer, and city gas

Sellers:
-Keys, garage door openers, etc. for the house
-Paid receipt from the garbage company
-Photo ID
-If in the city of Duluth, bring the I & I (sump pump) certificate
-Call to cancel utilities effective on the day of closing
-Call to cancel insurance, only after closing

The buyer will always have to attend to sign original loan documents but the seller may or may not need to attend as they may be able to pre-sign the deed and other documents. The proceeds from the sale may be wired directly to your bank or, in some situations, their new home purchase.

After the closing is complete, the buyer is in possession of the property and the seller must give them all keys, garage door openers, and any other devices related to controlling the home. The seller will have moved all of their possessions out of the house and the property should be clean. The buyer has a right to a final walk through just before signing all the final papers.

Make sure to keep copies of all documents as your tax preparer may want to see them when preparing your taxes for the year of sale. Also remember to give yourself more than an hour for the closing as you never know what could happen.

If you know what to expect from a closing beforehand, everything will be smoother and easier on the day of. Feel free to submit any questions or comments as we are always here to help.

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Contact Information

Photo of J.S. Realty Real Estate
J.S. Realty
J.S. Realty, LLC
5112 Midway Rd
Duluth MN 55811
Office: (218)729-9784
Fax: (218) 729-5638