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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!

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

 

Winter Projects to do Around the House

by JS Realty

The winter months are perfect for decluttering, organizing and redesigning your home to make it more marketable during the spring months.  Winter can be dreary and often puts people in poor moods, but with these projects around the house, you’ll be able to be get moving and better your home!

Organize your closet
Go through your closet and get rid of clothes that you don’t wear anymore.  Too small or too large of clothes can be donated.  Put your summer clothes into bins and put it in a storage area so that your closet has more space in it.  Place shoes in an orderly fashion or put them in boxes and stack them on shelves in your closet.

Paint a room
Painting is great in the winter because it can completely transform a room and with the heat being on, it helps with drying paint!  Just make sure that you paint a room neutral colors (tans, whites, grays) because anything other than those can off put potential buyers.

Declutter pantry
Going through your pantry can help you get rid of cans or boxes that are years old!  A good starting spot to decluttering the pantry is completely emptying it.  This way you can start with a fresh space.  After emptying it, wipe down the shelves/bins to make them nice and clean.  Go through all of the items that were removed and throw out the expired ones.  Instead of having bags of things (chips/cereal/pasta/flour/sugar etc) put them in clear containers and label them with what they are.  When you are ready to place things back in the pantry, place things in a way that’s logical to you and don’t forget to label the shelves (so that other people can help you stay organized).

Finish basement
Winter is the perfect time to finish your basement or remodel it.  If you are able to starting a project like this can add value to your home if done right.

Deep Clean
Winter is a great time to go through your whole home and clean.  Since you’re cooped up indoors might as well dust in all of those corners, scrub your shower, and mop the floors. 

Insulate
Insulate pipes and your water heater to save on energy costs and to help reduce your chances from pipes freezing.  All you need are some pipe sleeves, duct tape or cable ties and scissors and measuring tape.  Measure how much pipe sleeve you’ll need to cover the pipes (the first 3 feet from the hot water heater is critical!) then cut the pipe sleeve and place on the pipe.  You’ll want it to have the seam side down.  Secure the pipe sleeve with the duct tape or cable ties.  This will help reduce heat loss.  Another good spot to insulate is the windows to keep from losing heat

Winter Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in Duluth MN

by JS Realty

Duluth is a great place to live year round, however, sometimes in the winter it is hard to remember that there is plenty to do outside.  Here’s a few ideas of what you can do outside to pass the time and have fun while doing it too!

Spirit Mountain is located in Duluth and is the go to spot for skiing and snowboarding.  Featuring 22 downhill runs (6 Easiest, 8 More Difficult, 5 Most Difficult and 3 Terrain Feature Areas), Spirit Mountain can accommodate anyone from a novice to an expert skier/snowboarder.  Stay at one of the villas located right on the mountain or in a nearby hotel.

Cross-Country Skiing is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by all ages.  In the Duluth area there are several trails that are perfect for cross country skiing.  Some of these include but are not limited to, Jay Cook State Park, Magney-Snivley, Piedmont, Hartley, Lester-Amity and Bagley Nature Center, Pine Valley in Cloquet and Spirit Mountain.

Snowshoeing
The great thing about snowshoeing is that once you get the equipment, if you can walk, you can do it.  Many of the parks that you can cross country ski in are also great for snowshoeing in, but beware trails get packed down quick.  You can also snowshoe anywhere there snow.  Snowshoeing is a great winter activity to participate in.  Jay Cook Park has some great trails that

Ice skating
Several areas around town have a pleasure rink that is free for people to utilize.  There is a pleasure rink and warming shack in Bayfront that is free for the public to use and features some great views of Lake Superior.

Chester Bowl
Opening around mid-December, Chester Bowl offers spot to ski and snowboard in the heart of Duluth.  The fun hill is over 800 feet long, has 175 feet of vertical drop and has a double chair lift.  Perfect for those just starting out on the slopes, Chester Bowl also offers ski lessons on most Saturdays.  Rent your ski equipment out for the season to see if you skiing is something you’d enjoy!

 

Ice fishing is a great way to spend your day when it’s chilly out.  You can ice fish on Lake Superior or on one of the various surrounding lakes.  You can still enjoy a nice walleye dinner in the winter!  Just make sure to bring your auger and vexlar.

Snowmobiling is a great past time and can be lots of fun to do as well as watch.  Here is a list of all the designated snowmobile trails in Duluth and the rules and regulations. If you’re interested in watching snowcross, this year there was a snowcross kickoff at Spirit Mountain over the last weekend of November.

Hockey
Duluth is the perfect place to watch a hockey game.  If you’re into college hockey enjoy one of the many UMD men’s or women’s hockey games at the Amsoil arena.  You could also go see one of the high school teams play at Heritage Center, Mars arena, Hermantown, Proctor or Cloquet.  Click here for area high school games on any date.  If you are interested in playing hockey, for the last 12 years there has been a pond hockey tournament that you can participate in just over the bridge in Superior at Barker’s Island.  Here is the rules and regulations for teams and the game dates .  On February 6th Duluth will be hosting the Minnesota Hockey Day down at Bayfront Park.

Winter Driving Tips

by JS Realty

What does winter driving have to do with Real Estate? Actually, knowing how to drive in wintery conditions is important for real estate agents, buyers and sellers alike.  For real estate agents and buyers, you have to drive to the property that is being shown.  For sellers, while it’s not required that you leave when your home is shown, it is suggested that you leave so that the buyer can get an unbiased feel for the property.  Here are some tips for safe winter driving.

Give yourself plenty of time. It is important that you give yourself time to get to where you are going.  Road conditions could be slick with snow.  If it takes about 15 minutes to get to your destination, it would be wise to leave about a half hour before you need to be there.  Road ways can become dangerous fast.

 

Drive slowly If the road conditions are slick or snowy, drive slower than normal.  Actually speed limits are just a guideline when it comes to wintery conditions.  You should drive as fast as weather permits (however, this doesn’t mean that you should go over the speed limit).  It is always okay to drive slower than the speed limit.  Driving slower usually gives you more control to stop and maneuver your vehicle.

Give yourself more distance. It is important to follow further behind another vehicle.  Normally the rule is 3-5 seconds or 1-2 car lengths behind someone.  In winter, it is important to lengthen this time to 6-7 seconds or 2-4 car lengths behind someone.  This allows for more time to react if your car or theirs hits ice.

Be Focused. Winter driving is not the time to be multi-tasking in your vehicle.  Whatever you have to do can wait until you have reached your destination.

Have a Kit. It is always a good idea to have a shovel in your car.  It is also a good idea to have a “kit” in your car.  This kit could include a blanket, hand warmers, non-perishable food like an energy bar, road flares, red bandana (for tying to your antenna to make your car more visible), a flashlight, deicer and a good scraper.  Another good thing to have in your car is kitty litter, so that you can lay it under your tires to gain traction.  Having an extra hat, coat and gloves in the car would be helpful if you’re stuck for a long time.

Real estate processes don’t stop for winter weather and neither should you.  Just because it is winter doesn’t mean that you have to stop going places.  It is important to be safe and cautious when driving in winter mix. 

What Could be "Haunting" Your Home???

by JS Realty

There are many debates (especially around Halloween) about if haunted houses exist or if they can be explained away by science.  No matter what you believe it’s always a good idea to check and see if it’s the scientific "haunting" before you jump to the conclusion that it’s paranormal.  There are some things that can make a house feel haunted but really they are perfectly explainable.

Infrasound
What one person might think is a ghost is really infrasound.What is infrasound?  Basically infrasound (or low frequency sound) is any sound that has a frequency that is lower than 20 hertz per second.In humans, frequencies that are lower than 20 hertz per second can cause some really weird effects such as anxiety, chills and extreme sorrow.Lots of things can produce infrasound, but it is most commonly associated with storms and winds as well as music.To tell if this is your problem and not a ghost, purchase (or borrow from someone) a frequency meter and walk around your house, paranormal investigators use these devices too to check that the levels are where they are supposed to be.If you find any area that has a low frequency sound then that’s likely the culprit and not a ghost!

Drafts
Often times people who experience a “haunting” feel cold spots or chills.This feeling can be attributed to a draft in the house.Not only are drafts a bad thing to have when trying to determine if your house is haunted, they can also be very costly to you.A draft means that somewhere there is cold air coming into your home from the outside, making heating cost more money.You want to find the area with the draft immediately so that you can patch it up and then keep those cold spots away, the ghosts out and more money in your wallet.

Ions
When ion levels are unbalanced in your home that can cause some mood changes in people.If there are more negative ions in the room, then there are more positive effects such as feeling relaxed, where as positive ion are known to help contribute to feeling gross and having a headache.Often times, people who live in a haunted house report headaches and feeling in general icky.So there could be an imbalance of positive ions in the house.Get an ion counter to help determine if this is your problem.There are many different causes to ion generation like the weather, but one that could be harmful to your family is radon gas.Check your home for radon gas and if it is present fix it and get those ions back in order!

Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is very dangerous to your family, it is odorless, colorless and a gas, so it’s pretty hard to detect.Some common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is weakness, confusion, nausea, hallucinations and death.There is a famous case of a family in 1921 that were plagued by a haunted house.Some of the things they experienced were slamming doors, footsteps in rooms that were empty, apparitions and feelings of tiredness and depression. Plants were dying and when they investigated a little further, they found that their furnace was not working properly. The gas that was supposed to be going into the chimney was getting pushed into the house.The culprit to all their issues? Carbon Monoxide.Once the furnace was fixed and the home was aired out, all activity ceased.If you are experiencing any symptoms like these, you should get a carbon monoxide detector in your home and find the problem right away. Carbon monoxide could kill you, and then you’d be the ghost haunting the house for its next owner!

There you have it, haunted houses explained. As always check these potential haunting culprits first, if it’s none of these, then maybe you do have a true haunting on your hands. Share your experiences with a haunted house with us! We will post the most terrifying on our Facebook page!

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.

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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