Real Estate Information Archive


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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!

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.

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!


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.

Landscaping to Sell

by JS Realty

The first impression a prospective buyer will have of your home is when they pull up to the curb. The landscaping outside is a large determining factor on how they will feel about the property as a whole. Here are a few tips that will maximize your landscaping and increase your home’s value.

Plan Ahead. Landscaping isn’t something that can be done overnight. If you’re planning on selling your home, it’s best to start as early as possible. At the very minimum, clean up your yard by removing debris and trimming the grass and shrubs.

Focus on Your Plants. As the buyer is walking up to the house and waiting for the Real Estate Agent to unlock the lockbox, they will be looking around. Flowering plants add interest. Shrubs or trees hide unsightly things such as trash cans. Look for plants that bloom all summer or stay green year-round for lower maintenance.

Pay Attention to the Backyard.
Home buyers are looking for a comfortable spot outside to sit and relax. A patio or deck in the backyard is ideal and can add a lot of value to your home. Other options include fire pits, outdoor kitchens, lighting, and fences.

Don’t Waste Your Money.
Don’t spend much money on anything that is too personal or unique such as a playground, it’s unlikely the new buyers will have children of the same age. Also, don’
t overspend on mature plants, it’s best to put in smaller ones and be patient as they grow.

Keep It Simple. Buy plants that work well in your environment that don’t require too much maintenance. Buyers can be intimidated by exotic plants they don’t know how to take care of. Look at what kind of care the plants require and how they will grow before buying.

Don’t Forget the Grass. Fertilize and water your lawn to keep it green and healthy. Make sure it’s trimmed occasionally to avoid looking overgrown. Something as simple as a great-looking lawn can make all the difference.

If you have any questions or comments please give us a call at 218-729-9784 or submit it here.


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!

Simple Repairs to Help Your Home Show Better & Sell Faster

by Julie Sathers of JS Realty

Thinking of selling your home and want to protect your investment and make the most you possibly can?  Take care of these top 8 items to put your home in the best possible position for a quick and effortless sale.

1. First Impressions make all the difference!  Repaint or replace the front door, making sure it opens, closes and locks easily.  Remove dirt and cobwebs around light fixtures and the siding.  Trim up any landscaping.  Tighten up any loose handrails.

2. Clean and de-clutter.  If you don’t need it, donate it or toss it.   If you don’t know where to start, contact a home staging company.  Scrub the floors clean.  Repaint or touch up the walls.  If you have a small home, remove excess furniture to make the rooms feel spacious.  Keep it light and bright.  Open draperies.  Get rid of dated or broken window treatments.

3. The smell of your home can make or break a deal.  A clean home smells good. Don’t try to cover up smells with candles and plug in air fresheners…buyers instantly wonder what you are covering up.  A better solution is to let the fresh air in and clean your home.  Launder bedding and any pet beds.  Clean the carpets.

4. If it is broken, fix it.  Simple broken items like leaky faucets, broken window panes or windows that won’t open should be fixed.  

5. Floor coverings.  Clean, fresh floor coverings are best.  For hard surfaces, make sure they are clean. Make sure they are freshly vacuumed and cleaned – even if they are dated.

6. Windows.  Let the light in!  Clean the windows – inside and outside.  If there is peeling and chipping paint, scrap it, prime it and paint it.  Make sure all the windows are able to be opened. WD-40 can be used to loosen up hinges.

7. Paint.  Fresh paint cleans up many walls and makes the house smell clean. Keep your color choices neutral – whites, beiges and greys are best.

8. Staging.  Once you have gone through this list, consider hiring a stager or invite J.S. Realty over to walk through your home to recommend removal or addition of furniture and personal items to make rooms feel more appealing to buyers.

You only have one chance to make a first impression, whether that is pictures that are taken of your home or a buyer’s first walk through the door.  Plan ahead and put a little work into it to get your home ready to sell. You'll be pleased with the results and can thank us later!


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:

-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

-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.

The Selling Process

by Julie Sathers-JS Realty

Deciding to sell your home is a big decision.  That's why at J.S. Realty, we work hard to inform you about the selling process so you can feel comfortable with one of the biggest sales in your life.  We are there with you every step of the way!

Step one is to have an initial consultation with J.S. Realty. Should you decide to offer your property for sale, you can trust J.S. Realty to market your home to potential buyers. Once we have found a buyer, we continue to be at your side all the way to a successful closing.

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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