Posted tagged ‘home selling’

Check List for a Better Spring

April 3, 2014
Time to take care of the yard.

Time to take care of the yard.

Now that we’ve finally reach Spring, it’s time to start preparing the house for both indoor and outdoor activities.  Laura Gaskill recommends things like cleaning off the lawn furniture, fix and patch the house. Check out her entire list:

1. Set up outdoor furniture. If you haven’t yet gotten the outdoor furniture out of storage, now is the time. Give everything a good cleaning, and go shopping for new pieces as needed. Wish you had an outdoor dining area or place to sit with a good book? Jump on the project now so that you have all season to enjoy using it.

2. Tune up lawn mower and gas grill. Make sure all of your outdoor equipment is in working order. Stock up on the types of fuel you will need to run your lawn mower and gas grill. If you have a reel lawn mower (i.e., a push mower), take it in to have the blades sharpened.

Lawn Care

Lawn Care

3. Clean siding. Wash the exterior of your house to remove road salt and grime that has accumulated over the winter. Use a pressure washer or a regular hose with a cleaning attachment, depending on the type of siding.

4. Check fences, driveway and paths for damage. Particularly for regions that experience freezing and thawing conditions, driveways and paths can become cracked over the winter. Take a walk around your home, looking out for signs of damage on the driveway and walkway, as well as the foundation, fences and gates. Schedule repairs as needed.

5. Refresh your mantel. Take everything off your mantel, and wipe down the surface. Bring in something fresh and green — potted ferns, blooming bulbs or cut branches will last longer than cut flowers. If you have a mirror hanging above the mantel, clean it as well. Add a few scented or plain beeswax candles as a finishing touch.

6. Celebrate Earth Day by going greener at home. Commit to making lasting changes to go greener this year by adopting a few easy new habits:
• Trade paper towels for a stack of washable dish cloths
• Use real napkins instead of paper
• Swap out your cleaning products for natural methods
• Check out a local farmer’s market for fresh produce
• Shut off lights when you leave the room

7. Clean windows. Boost natural light throughout your home by cleaning the windows, inside and out. If you have second-story windows, either hire a service to clean the outside or use a hose attachment to clean them yourself (while standing safely on the ground!).

8. Have air conditioning serviced. If you use air conditioning and haven’t had it serviced yet this spring, now is the time. If you use window air conditioning units, change the filters before installing them.

9. Bag up some giveaways. Simplify your life this spring by getting excess stuff out of your home (and out of your way). Grab some boxes or sturdy bags, and aim to fill at least one per room with items to give away, sell, recycle or toss. Your home will feel so much lighter, it’s worth the effort!

10. Rotate artwork. If you love collecting art prints and paintings, you know how easy it is to run out of wall space long before you’ve hung all of your artwork. A simple solution is to rotate your artwork each season, keeping some pieces carefully stored in a closet.

11. Swap towels and bedding. Rotating linens with the seasons is an easy way to perk up your home, and it extends the life of your textiles. You can’t go wrong with classic white towels and sheets, but if you are looking for something a little different this spring, why not pick a bold color instead?

Take care of these things and your Spring and Summer will be so much more enjoyable and healthy.

Selling your home – how do you set your price?

March 20, 2014

Selling Home - Real Estate in DFW, pricing to sell, Sandy LuedkeIt’s the first day of spring, and a good time to plant that For Sale sign in the yard. Selling your home wasn’t a snap decision, and you’ve thought long and hard about your next move, but there’s one thing left to do – name your price. Do you list high to ward off tire-kickers, or list low in the hopes of a bidding war? What determines your price anyway?

Obtaining the help of a seasoned real estate agent (like me, Sandy Luedke!) will go a long way in getting you and your home prepared for that winning offer. Here are some questions you should ask your realtor, and they should have a ready answer for you:

  • What is the difference between list and sales prices?
  • What are the two most important factors when selling a home?
  • When is the best time to buy?
  • What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
  • What is the difference between list price, sales price and appraised value?
  • How does someone sell a slow mover?
  • How is the price set?
  • What are the standard ways of finding out how much a home is worth?
  • How do you prepare a house to sell?
  • Where do I get information on housing market stats?
  • How do I handle a low offer?

Answers to these questions and more are also available on Ideal Real Estate Group’s Resource Page for Home Sellers, in the article titled Pricing to Sell.

Contact us at any time and let us answer any real estate questions you have, and let us help you through the transition of selling your home.

How to prepare your home to sell for top dollar

March 13, 2014

Flower Mound Realtor, Selling Your Home in Flower Mound, Texas Real EstateYou stopped noticing your cracked driveway over a year ago, and the broken light fixture on your front porch has been long forgotten. Pet owners are not immune from it either – “normal” odors they are no longer sensitive to could be a big turn off for prospective home buyers. When something has been a part of our lives for so long, details that stick out like a sore thumb to anyone else can become invisible to us.

When it comes time to sell your home, you want to make it as attractive as possible to your ideal buyer. This means you want to prepare the space in such a way that they can easily see themselves being happy and worry free within the walls of your home.

To do this, it would be wise to hire someone to stage your home for you. If that isn’t an option, clear your mind and do your best to look at your home like a prospective buyer. Is there clutter on the counter? This would immediately put the thought of having to ‘clean the place’ in the mind of the person looking to buy, which will put a mark in the negative column regarding the home tour.

Are the carpets stained? Are the walls too bare or too bold? These are also considerations of buyers when looking at homes. They typically don’t want to be saddled with the need to immediately repaint purple walls or install new carpet. That alone could cause them to turn away without making any kind of offer on the home.

Another topic that is touchy for some home owners is that of family pictures. We love our family, and many of us decorate our home with years of photos that tell the story of our life. However, when selling your home, being surrounded by a ‘strangers life’ can subconsciously create tension that might block a prospective buyer from feeling like this could be their family’s new home, since it so clearly belongs to someone else. For better results, replace family photos with inviting landscapes, seascapes, mirrors, and nature prints.

If you are able to afford it, be sure to take care of any major repairs or updates that could deter a buyer from making an offer on your home. This includes:

  • Replacing any broken windows
  • Replacing a leaky roof
  • Fixing cracked driveways, sidewalks, and walls
  • Update old or outdated appliances, cabinetry, and/or flooring

It is also important to work on your home’s curb appeal. Remove any weeds, dead plants, bushes and/or trees to make your landscape look pristine. Make sure the grass is green and maintained, and plant a few annual flowers in noticeable spots near your front entryway. It is also appealing to plant greenery and flowers in decorative outdoor pots that can later be moved. These can be placed along the sidewalk, by your driveway, or set by the front door.

For a few other quick fixes that don’t cost a lot of money but can help you get top dollar for your home, be sure to visit our Ideal Real Estate Group’s Website. Go to the Seller’s Resource Page and see our article on Common Questions and Answers about Selling Your Home.

As an expert real estate agent in the Dallas / Fort Worth area for over two decades, I can help you make sure your home looks its best when buyers come knocking, so contact me, Sandy Luedke, today and we’ll get started on selling your home for top dollar!

Relocating to Texas? Here are some things you need to know about Property Taxes!

February 20, 2014

Property Taxes
Because Texas does not have a state income tax, it makes us a popular place for relocations. When you dig a little deeper, you realize our property taxes may be higher than some states, but when all is considered, the various trade-offs for calling Texas your new home are worth it.

However, if you are a transplant from another state, your former state may still expect you pay their property tax. It pays to plan ahead and make sure you have cut the proper ties. Just because you many no longer consider yourself a resident of your previous state, there may be some other factors that cause them to think otherwise.

Here are a few points to review. If any of these apply to you, it will be wise to be proactive and get it handled and changed over, instead of procrastinating and receiving a penalty letter from the IRS:

  • The amount of time you spend in your previous and current state
  • Where your spouse and children live, and where your children go to school
  • The state where your driver’s license is issued
  • The state where your vehicles are registered
  • Where your professional licenses are maintained
  • Your location of employment
  • Where you file your tax returns
  • The address of any professional listing (online, social media, yellow pages, etc.)
  • The location of any property tax exemptions you claim

If you are planning on making a move from one state to another, be sure to get professional advice from a tax specialist on what your particular tax caveats might be. It is not wise to assume the tax laws will be logical.

Please visit our Buyers Resource Page regarding Property Taxes for more information you may find useful.

For any of your relocation needs, whether you’re selling your home in Flower Mound, looking for a family home in Colleyville, or you simply want to explore your options, Sandy Luedke and Ideal Real Estate Group have the expertise and long-standing record of Texas hospitality and service to help you get where you need to go.

After all, there’s no place like home, and we’d love to help you find yours!

Buying Your Home – Finding the Right Home

January 4, 2014

Buying your homeWhat are the pros and cons of adding on or buying new? Before  making a choice between adding on to an existing home or buying a larger one,  consider these questions:

  • How much money is available, either from cash  reserves or through a home improvement loan, to remodel your current house?
  • How much additional space is required? Would the foundation support a  second floor or does the lot have room to expand on the ground level?
  • What  do local zoning and building ordinances permit?
  • How much equity already exists in the property?
  • Are there affordable properties for sale that  would satisfy your changing housing needs?

Do we dig deep and buy a dream home or settle for a starter  home? Choosing between a smaller house in an affluent neighborhood, an  older, bigger house in a more working-class community or a brand-new home is not  easy. If you’re in this situation, start by examining your priorities and asking  the following questions:

  • Is the surrounding neighborhood or the home itself  the most important consideration?
  • Is each of the neighborhoods safe?
  • Is quality of the schools an issue?
  • Do any of the areas seem to attract  more families with children or adult residents? And where do you fit in?

As for the return on your investment, home-price appreciation is hard to  predict. In the late 1980s, and again 10 years later, the more expensive move-up  housing appreciated wildly. But during the recession that followed, smaller  homes tended to hold their value better than more expensive ones.

How  do you choose between buying and renting? Home ownership offers tax  benefits as well as the freedom to make decisions about your home. An advantage  of renting is not worrying about maintenance and other financial obligations  associated with owning property. There also are a number of economic  considerations. Unlike renters, home owners who secure a fixed-rate loan can  lock in their monthly housing costs and make prudent investment plans knowing  these expenses will not increase substantially. Home ownership is a highly  leveraged investment that can yield substantial profit on a nominal front-end  investment. However, such returns depend on home-price appreciation.

Starting to work with your Agent

October 10, 2009

The first thing that your real estate agent will do for you is to have a relaxed, but thorough, conversation about what kind of home you are looking for. He or she will listen carefully at what you want in your new house and clarify the main details so that he/she will have a very clear picture of it. Another main consideration to be discussed is of course, your price range.
Having the right information about what you are looking for will help the agent in focusing their search, and will avoid wasting the time of both parties. Once the agent is clear on everything, including how much you are willing to spend, the search for the most fitting home will speed up.

Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

January 12, 2009

With the tough times many of us are facing today due to the economic downturn, we’re all re-evaluating the fixed costs in our lives and businesses and seeing where we can cut corners.

For those of us living in Texas, we now have a valuable resource to determine if we are paying a competive rate on our home and auto insurance. Consumers can now shop for better rates at a new state web site:

The site, run by the Texas State Department of Insurance, offers a breakdown of premiums for areas around the state. Comparisons show that the cost of homeowner’s policies can differ by hundreds of dollars a year for similar houses within the same zipcode!

An example based upon rate from the 27 largest home insurance companies in Texas reveals, that a typical $150k brick home in Dallas County, where the owner had an average credit rating and no insurance claims for the previous 5 years…shows a range from $704 to more than $2200 a year. Now that’s a significant spread and worth looking into!

Consumer watchdog groups have contended for years that we in Texas pay rates that are far too high (one of the highest in the nation), so this service may be invaluable, especially in these penny pinching times.

Bottom line…rates can vary dramatically and it pays for people to shop around for home insurance, just like we now do with car insurance!

-Sandy Luedke
Ideal Real Estate Group

A New Opportunity For Realtors in ’09?

January 12, 2009

After about 30 years of being a successful Real Estate Agent in DFW, in late 2008 I finally made the decision to get my broker’s license and create my own Real Estate company. Thus, Ideal Real Estate Group, was born!

How many realtors have you known over the years that get frustrated by: Giving away a significant portion of their commissions to their brokers; unreasonably high monthly office rent and overhead; and not getting a significant level or training and/or on going support from their broker.

Having personally experienced all of these things at one time or another during my career, I made the call that I was going to put together a different kind of opportunity for Realtors to take advantage of that would address these issues. That’s where the name Ideal came from…for I wanted to create the ideal environment for Realtors to become successful!

At Ideal Real State Group, we provide an effective solution to basically two types of real estate agents. For the experienced agent, we offer the opporunity to greatly reduce their monthly overhead, with a pricing structure that is one of the best deals in all of DFW, while still providing them with access to a professional, state of the art and brand new office infrastructure. For the new or struggling agent, we offer something that’s hard to find in this profession…an environment that provides them with ongoing training, weekly support and mentoring sessions, while still keeping their overhead at the lowest possible level…to better faciliate them being able to build a successful business quickly.

Here’s an overview of Ideal’s Realtor fee structure.

-$200.00 a month office fee
-$200.00 per transaction
-E & O fees will be deducted out of the first closing.
-Unlimited use of an office and conference room in our state of the art facility, located in Flower Mound…as well as any necessary office equipment, (fax, computer, copy machine etc…).

-$200.00 a month office fee.
-20% of each commission earned
-Unlimited use of an office and conference room in our state of the art facility, located in Flower Mound…as well as any necessary office equipment, (fax, computer, copy machine etc…).
-Weekly support meetings to discuss and develop: Managing your business; goal setting/achievement; how advertise at little or no cost; how to find listings and buyers.

-$200.00 a month office fee.
-50% of each commission earned
-Unlimited use of an office and conference room in our state of the art facility, located in Flower Mound…as well as any necessary office equipment, (fax, computer, copy machine etc…).
-Weekly support meetings to discuss and develop: Managing your business; goal setting/achievement; how advertise at little or no cost; how to find listings and buyers.
-Total mentoring environment, where I will personally work with you hand in hand on all aspects of the profession, including: Writing the paper correctly; Going along with you on your listing appointments, new buyer appointments and showings.

*This package is designed stictly for either, new agents or agents who once licensed, have never gotten proper intruction on not only to the technical aspects of this business, but more importantly, how to deal with the different kind of people you’ll encounter in this profession.

Agents can start at any level that they feel they need and can switch to another to lower their overhead as their business begins to develop.

Compare these programs to what you’re paying now and I think you’ll find this is one of the most competitive in all of DFW!

If you’d like more information, or would like to discuss your particular situation, please contact me directly by phone at, 469-635-3234, or by email at:

I’m here to help you succeed!

Sandy Luedke
Ideal Real Estate Group

Is Home Rennovation For You?

November 7, 2008

Here’s a wonderful article that should be beneficial to anyone who’s a homeowner.

Replacing items is often more costly than fixing them

The word “renovation” implies that you’re replacing something old and worn out with something new and better. Yet too many so-called renovations simply involve replacing things that are old and substantial with ones that are cheap and flimsy but just happen to be new. That seems less like renovation and more like ruinovation.

If every modern building product were better than its counterpart of 50 years ago, meaningful renovation would be easy. But they’re not, and so it isn’t. While some things really have improved — modern heating systems, for example, are vastly superior to those of years past — the sad fact is that many building products are mere wisps of their former selves.

The euphemistic “economic pressures” we’ve all heard about — put plainly, “greed for fatter profit margins” — are the real culprit behind the declining quality of so many building items. The practice of outsourcing to cheap labor overseas means many name-brand products are now manufactured in places with indifferent or nonexistent quality control, regardless of what manufacturers claim to the contrary. The fact that many venerable American brands are now haphazardly manufactured in Third World countries may do wonders for corporate profits, but it won’t do wonders for your home. You’ll merely be replacing things that have lasted 25, 50 or even 100 years with new ones that’ll break in four or five.

Therefore, before you replace any item in your home in the interest of sweeping renovation, ask yourself two questions. First: Does it still serve its purpose well? If so, it shouldn’t be high on your renovation agenda — certainly not for reasons of fashion alone.

Second: If it no longer serves its purpose, can it be fixed? Here’s where many stalwart Americans seem to have lost their Yankee grit. We’ve slowly come to believe the fallacy that throwing things away and replacing them with new ones is easier and cheaper than fixing them. In the case of many items in a house, however, this is just plain bull.

Windows, for instance, are a frequent candidate for ruinovation, due mainly to cunning marketing by window replacement companies. Many people are talked into replacing their windows to save on utility bills, but the truth is that, in an average house, heat loss through windows makes up a relatively modest fraction of total energy use. Therefore, upgrading your home’s attic insulation or even replacing your furnace would probably be a much more cost-effective way to conserve.

Moreover, no matter what the problem with a home’s original windows might be, chances are it would take less money, effort and resources to have them repaired by a local window shop than it would to replace them wholesale with new ones. The fact that this approach also best maintains a home’s original style is just icing on the cake.

But whether we’re talking about windows, doors, flooring, hardware or plumbing fixtures, there’s little to be gained by replacing sound original items en masse just to experience the brief thrill of newness. On the other hand, there is something to be lost: As often as not, you’ll actually be downgrading the quality of your home, and spending good money to do it.Copyright © 2008 Inman News – Written by Arrol Gellner

Sandy Luedke                                                                                               

Tips For Home Selling

November 7, 2008

In times past many home sellers held the belief made popular by the Kevin Costner Movie, Field of Dreams ( …that if you list it they will buy!

Truth be told in today’s crowded marketplace you can sell your home, but you’ve got to go above and beyond the norm to make sure you get top dollar for your home.  That’s where a Realtor experienced in staging your home properly and the nuances of what turns buyers on and off, is so important. 

Here’s some information that may help you get some extra value out of your home sale:

Don’t Let Tiny Closets Shut Out Buyers
Experts in home staging and closet organization share their best tips on how to make the most of sparse storage space.   By Kelly Quigley

Walk-in closets and roomy pantries are a necessity for many of today’s home buyers, who have lots of stuff and need a place to store it.  So when your listing is lacking in storage space, you have a big challenge to overcome in order to maximize buyer appeal.

You’re most likely to encounter small storage areas in older homes, condominiums, and lofts. In many cases, the problem is compounded by cluttered living areas, as items that would normally be kept out of view become part of the décor.

“We’re a consumer society, and we have more stuff than ever before,” says professional organizer Barry Izsak, owner of Arranging It All in Austin, Texas (  “Twenty or 30 years ago, people lived with less.  They didn’t have three sets of dishes and 15 pairs of black shoes.”

“But even tiny closets and other storage problems are surmountable.  All of their hard work purging and organizing will give them a head start on packing for the move — and will go a long way in winning over potential buyers”, says Izsak, a former president of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

Izsak suggests telling sellers: “If a closet is packed to the gills, it’s only going to draw attention to how small it is. The smartest thing you can do is weed through what you have so the closets look ample, not overflowing.”

Apply the Two-Thirds Rule

Whether you’re facing a jam-packed closet in the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen, you should ask sellers to sift through their belongings and clean out everything that’s not used regularly. “A rule of thumb is to have closets no more than two-thirds full,” says Terrylynn Fisher, CRS®, GRI, a broker with Diablo Realty in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Fisher, who’s also a trained staging expert, says prospective buyers should be able to look inside a closet and think: “I have more stuff than this. But there is extra room in the closet, so surely my things will fit.”

Bedroom closets, which can make or break a sale, need special attention when they’re on the small side.  That means removing clothes, shoes, and bulky jackets that are out of season or worn only on formal occasions. “It’s a fact that most people wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time,” Izsak says.

But sometimes it’s not just clothes and shoes clogging up a closet.  Ramona Creel — a professional organizer in the Washington, D.C., area who has worked with home owners and real estate practitioners to get homes in shape for sale — says purses, hats, and sports equipment also are commonly misplaced in bedroom closets — making the space seem smaller than it really is.

Box It Up, Move It Out

If the extra items can’t be moved to an emptier closet in the home, they should be packed away in labeled storage boxes, which can be neatly stored under the bed, in the garage, or in a basement. But if these options aren’t feasible, which often is the case in condos, consider doing what Fisher encourages her sellers to do: rent storage space.

The cost of storage is usually well worth the improved appearance of closets and other cluttered areas of the home, she says.

What if sellers have weeded out clothes they don’t wear and closets are still packed?  Make sure drawer space, hanger space, and shelving in the bedroom are being used wisely, Izsak says.  Jeans and tee-shirts that are hanging in the closet are prime candidates for moving to the drawers — if there’s space.

Sellers also can consider buying an inexpensive closet organizer that can double a closet’s capacity. Many discount stores and online retailers sell rods for less than $20 that hang from the existing closet rod and create a second level of hanging space.

Declutter Kitchens, Baths, and Beyond

You can encounter closet challenges in virtually any room of a house. In each instance, follow the same advice given for bedroom closets: clear out the items that aren’t used often and box them up for storage, either on-site or off-site.

In the kitchen, have sellers pack up their little-used pots, pans, and other cooking utensils that fill up valuable cabinet space. Non-perishables can be donated to a local food bank or stored in boxes in a less conspicuous part of the house. Pot racks are a viable option for some, but not for all. “You have to have nice-looking pots,” Fisher says. Otherwise, they can work against you.

For overstuffed bathroom closets and shelves, sellers should remove extra towels and toiletries. If a bathroom lacks a closet or shelf space, you must find innovative ways to make sure sparse storage isn’t the first thing a potential buyer notices. Fisher has placed rolled-up towels in iron wine racks, while Iszak relies heavily on decorative baskets to group small items.

“It looks pretty to the eye, but it serves a very functional purpose,” Izsak says.

An excess of toys can be a big problem in kids’ closets. Under-the-bed trundles can store toys out of sight, as can attractive storage bins and toy chests — which can double as benches or tables in the bedroom or playroom. Parents can work with their kids to cut down on the number of toys in the room by donating them to charity or boxing them up.

Details That Make a Great Impression

Your next task is to attend to details that make a storage area go beyond looking ample to truly shine.  Experts say it helps to paint the inside of closets a bright, neutral color and to clean the lighting fixtures so the space won’t appear dark and dingy.

Creel, who runs the Web site, says quality hangers also improve the look. “It’s amazing what a difference consistently sized and shaped hangers can make,” she says.

Toss out the wire hangers and put those big bulky suit hangers in storage, Creel says. Instead, use plastic tubular hangers, which can be purchased in bulk from almost any discount retailer.  Izsak suggests taking it a step further by grouping similar clothing items together and facing the same direction.

If a seller decides to empty out closets entirely before showings, it’s smart to add a few decorative touches by hanging a dress and placing a hat box on the top shelf, Fisher says. Just as it’s smart to make sure closets are no more than two-thirds full, it’s also important that they’re not completely barren.

Always Think Creatively

One thing is certain: it’s always better to show off a home’s closets in their best light — even if they’re small — than it is to act as if the storage space is a downside of a property. As popular as walk-in closets are, some buyers may not be put off by smaller storage spaces.

As is the case in any other room of the house, if a small closet is “too cluttered and too personalized, buyers won’t be able to picture their belongings in your space,” Fisher says.

But by putting the best face on any small space, you should be on track for a successful home showing.

Sandy Luedke-                                                     

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