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Making Plans to List Your Home

making plans to list your homeIf you know the near future involves putting your house on the market, it’s never too early to begin the planning process. Even if you’d rather wait until the spring months to sell, there is more involved in the sale of your home than simply putting a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Here are some practical tips to consider during this exciting time to get your home ready.

First and foremost, finding a reputable real estate agent should be top of the list! Selling your home solely on your own can be a daunting task and a real estate agent can help navigate the sale of your home, no matter how hot or cool the market may be in your neighborhood. There is a reason knowledgeable homeowners often rely on the talents of a real estate agent, saving you time and money in the long run.

It’s important to find a real estate agent that has experience in the area where you are selling, one that you connect with and feel comfortable sharing your expectations with, too. Do some research when looking for a real estate agent and also seek recommendations from others that have recently sold their home. It’s also important to interview the agent to make sure he/she is a good fit for your needs and your personality.

Curb appeal is one important aspect of selling your home. Buyers do often judge a book by its cover! If interested buyers are driving around looking at neighborhoods and come across your home with unkept landscaping and broken shingles, it’s likely they will mark your “Open House” off of their list. Make sure your front yard is tidy and cracked paint is repaired, adding finishing touches like flowers and a new welcome mat can also make a difference. Old, ugly mailbox? Fix that too.

Declutter and depersonalize. Always on the list of things to do when you’re getting your home ready to sell, cutting down on the clutter, the trinkets and the family heirloom items makes a big difference in your home’s appeal. Staging your home with the motto in mind that “less is more” is something that can begin during the months leading up to the sale of your home. Donate unused items and keep in mind during the process that nothing is off-limits when trying to sell your home. Buyers will peek into your closets and look under your sinks to find out what space is available. If they notice too much stuff, it takes away from the beauty of your home.

Some personal photos are fine to keep up on the walls, but too many family photos and oversized artwork may be distracting and overwhelming to the general public. When you are trying to sell your home and start to think of it as a blank canvas for the new homeowner to enjoy and add their personal touches to, it will help you determine what should go and what could stay as part of your overall décor.

Want to sell your home? Invest in some paint. The cold, winter months are a good time to paint the home’s interior. Accent walls are nice, but you may want to consider painting your walls and halls in a more neutral color since most buyers will appreciate a color scheme that they can spend less time updating. A fresh coat of paint, fixing any scuffs and scratches on the walls, will be very beneficial when trying to sell. How many times have you watched HGTV “House Hunters” and heard potential buyers complain about a room’s color? Although painting walls is one of the easier things to fix for home-buyers when they otherwise love a house when browsing, a paint job is just another way to freshen up a home and give it a neutral “look and feel” that will hopefully entice more shoppers.

Other ways to prepare your home for sale include thoroughly cleaning the house and garage, fixing anything that may have been broken for a while (like a cabinet pull or toilet paper holder), and taking care of any funky smells that you’ve noticed coming from the basement. We tend to overlook certain things in our homes that need fixing because we get busy and tell ourselves, “we’ll fix that next weekend”. Before putting your house on the market, make sure you create a thorough check list of items that need to be fixed and tackle that list. Give yourself enough time to fix what’s broken and freshen up what’s stale.

Now is the perfect time to begin the process of organizing the home for prospective buyers. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the market, whether you want to sell it next month or six months from now! Unsure about what your next steps should be to get your home ready to sell? Contact me and I’d be happy to answer questions or assist you in any of your real estate needs. My number is (618) 978-2384 or email me at Happy New Year!

How to Properly Winterize Your Home

winterize your homeThere are a number of different things you can do as a homeowner to winterize your home. Where we live, we can experience the mildest of winters one year and a bitterly cold mix of winter storms and below zero temperatures the next. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, so here are some simple ways you can winterize your home in the next month to make sure your home is safe and sound.

Have a winter storm kit prepared. A home safety kit is a good idea, no matter the weather. The experts recommend having a container filled with food, bottled water, and other supplies that will last up to 72 hours in the event of an emergency. Some companies even offer pre-made kits! If a big ice storm hits and the roads become too treacherous to travel on, you’ll be glad you took some time to make a storm kit. It’s also beneficial to have one on hand just in case you lose power because of storms taking out power lines.

Trim trees in your landscaping. If you live in a wooded area and there are tree branches next to your home’s roof, windows, or electrical lines, it’s a good idea to trim them now. Keep in mind that ice and snow will weigh branches down even more, so there is definitely potential for damage to your home or landscaping.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector check. Unfortunately, the winter months have an increase in home fires and cases of carbon monoxide poisoning because people are running their furnaces more often. Keep your loved ones safe and make sure your detectors have new batteries and if one isn’t working properly, change it out.

Fireplace chimney inspections. When was the last time you had your chimney cleaned or inspected? Visit for information on chimney safety and to find a certified chimney sweep. Cleaning your chimney each season is just one more safeguard against house-fires.

Install proper doors and windows. The better your windows and doors, the better your energy efficiency will be. Storm doors and windows also can be beneficial, and some tax credits are even available. If you can’t afford new windows, doublecheck your insulation around doors and windows and use blinds and shades to help keep the cool weather out.

Check your heating and cooling system. There are many qualified HVAC businesses in our area, and it’s important to have your furnace inspected annually by a dependable technician. It’s also a good idea to have your home’s ducts cleaned and inspected for any leaks and to regularly change your furnace’s filter throughout the winter months. A professional HVAC technician will be able to assess your existing system and help you determine what may need to be done before the cold weather hits.

Reverse ceiling fans for better circulation. Using your ceiling fans in the winter helps to keep your house warm. On typical ceiling fans, there are switches to reverse the flow. This pushes warm air downward and helps it to recirculate throughout the rooms in your home. When warmer weather is upon us, don’t forget to switch the direction again.

Keep your house colder. Set your thermostat a few degrees cooler and you’ll be pleased at the lower energy bill. Wearing a sweater or layers while at home is one of the easiest ways to save money during the winter months on your utility bill.

Other things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for the cooler weather is to bring outdoor patio furniture and accessories inside for storing, also bringing any plants and flowering trees inside before the first frost. Another good idea is to clean and winterize any outdoor equipment like lawn mowers and trimmers, inspecting any of the winter tools you have during the process.

Even though there are still plenty of nice days ahead, winter will be here before we know it. A little planning will ensure that your home will be ready for the colder weather and you’ll be more comfortable, too. Have questions about living in the Metro-east or need some tips about home ownership? Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

“Sandie’s Two Cents:” What Happens During a Closing?

what happens during a closingThe home search is over! You have finally found the perfect home in the ideal location, negotiated the price, had your offer accepted, and are ready to make the big move. After the walk-through, appraisal, and some constructive “back-and-forth” with the agents, family members, and friends, the next step is finally here: it’s closing time! The closing is an exciting milestone in the overall home purchasing process and it’s the final piece of the puzzle when buying and financing a home.

Taken directly from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, the closing, or sometimes referred to as a “settlement”, is when “you and the other parties in a mortgage loan transaction sign the necessary documents” so that the new, beloved home is finally your own! The closing documents make you responsible for the mortgage loan, so it’s important that you know what you are signing during the closing process.

One particular document, the closing disclosure, is a form that includes all final terms of the loan, closing costs, details of who pays and who receives any of the payments in the transaction. This document is a form that has replaced the previous HUD document (Department of Housing and Urban Development). Another document, the initial escrow statement (also called the initial escrow disclosure), lists what is going in the escrow account each month so taxes and insurance is paid on the homebuyer’s behalf. This document also shows the estimated balance in the escrow monthly as payments are made and how their account adjusts.

Contractual documents include the promissory note, which outlines clearly what you are agreeing to. It will include what you owe, interest rate of the mortgage loan, the dates when payments are to be made, total amount, length of time to repay, and more. Another form, a mortgage or security instrument, explains responsibilities as well as rights as a borrower. There are additional state and local government documents that are typically used to collect information about you, the new homeowner. Lender documents will also need to be signed at this time, too. When you receive the closing disclosure, you can ask your lender to provide a full set of all the documents listed here. This way, you can review them in advance and before the closing.

The closing process usually includes your real estate agent or Realtor®, the title company representative, also known as the closer, and potentially the lender. Your lender may or may not attend the closing. State regulations are different, so the closing meeting may include everyone at the conference room table while signatures are happening or it could take several days if signatures are being compiled separately. In some cases, a closing may even be via the internet or mail.

Regardless how the actual closing process happens, it’s important to understand that the paperwork has lasting financial implications. Before signing, make sure the documents have been reviewed and are understood. Don’t sign the documents if you’re unsure of making the payments or if there are errors. Ask questions if you don’t understand something involving the terms of the loan. Also keep in mind that over time, your payments may change. With an adjustable-rate mortgage, payments may increase over time so make sure you know when it will change and by how much. Even fixed-rate mortgages may change because of variations to taxes or insurance.

Being prepared at closing will help alleviate any stress and let you focus instead on this momentous event. Being a new homeowner is definitely a reason to celebrate! If you’re interested in a new home or want to learn more about selling your existing home, I’d love to help. I’ve assisted many families and individuals in the Metro-east area and beyond find their dream home. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

Moving? Things to Consider Before Packing Begins

moving Most of us at some point in our lives have relocated. Whether it was moving to a new house with our family as a child or packing up and heading across state for college, we all can appreciate how much effort goes into the prepping, planning and packing. Wonderful, new beginnings await us when we move! Here are some handy tips to relieve some of the stress of moving, helping you enjoy the process (and this exciting time) instead.

Know you’re moving? Organize all of the paperwork. It’s important to keep all paperwork in the same spot so you don’t spend time looking for it when a question about the move surfaces. Did you hire movers? Have their information on hand. Is your new house a rental? Make sure you have contact information in case something goes awry upon arrival and you can’t access your new apartment or home. By keeping all moving documents in one spot, you’ll not only avoid the stress of not being able to find something in a jiffy but also enjoy a more efficient move from start to finish.

To Do Lists are Key! As with any big event, keeping a list of “to-do’s” is crucial. You wouldn’t plan your daughter’s engagement party with no planning, invitees, or reservations, would you? With a move, it’s also important to keep track of the steps involved throughout the process. In many cases, it’s simply a good idea to keep a running list of things you may need to remember at a later time. This list can hold important numbers, due dates and more. It’s just one more way to stay organized during a very busy – but exciting – time.

Take photos. You may be feeling sentimental as the move approaches, but this tip has a different motive in mind. Photos come in handy for many reasons. By taking pictures of your knick- knacks before and during the move, your life will be easier once you make it to the new place and you’re trying to unpack and decorate. Know what else? Taking photos of electronic wires and connectors will help you when you’re trying to hook up the TV at the new home just in time to watch the big game! Also, if items get damaged in the move, you’ll be able to let the movers know their condition prior to the move…with the proof of a photo.

Don’t pack items you won’t be needing anymore. I’ve written about decluttering when trying to sell your home, but it’s important to also not spend the time and the effort to pack items you won’t be using in your new home. Moving is the perfect time to declutter! If you are no longer using that cabinet and it’s been in your basement’s storage room, try to donate or sell it. You can also ask yourself, “where will I need this item in the new place”? If you don’t have an answer to that question, it’s likely time to part ways with it.

The internet is filled with practical (and sometimes off-the-wall!) packing tips to prepare you for your next big move. A little preparation and forethought will go a long way, starting off life’s next phase in the right way. Are you interested in that new home or wanting to learn more about selling your existing home? I’d love to help! I’ve assisted many families and individuals in the Metro-east area and beyond find their dream home. Contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

Spring is the Best Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard (Part II)

Tony Range, Horticultural Supervisor, St. Louis Zoo

In the second part of the series, It’s Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard, Tony Range, horticulture supervisor for the award-winning and beautiful St. Louis Zoo, shared some best practices with me. Tony and I visited recently to discuss tips for homeowners wanting to add beauty and interest to their outdoor spaces at home. Our meeting was fun and informative as we chatted about proper planting techniques, native plants, and how to create stunning landscapes based on any given surroundings.

The St. Louis Zoo is a well-known and beloved attraction in our area, but did you know that it also houses its very own greenhouse? Thousands of plants are grown at the greenhouse and are displayed throughout the park May through October. Next time you visit the zoo, make sure to pay attention to the brightly colored plants and flowers scattered along the zoo’s pathways and inside the buildings, creating a lovely atmosphere for visitors and for the animals calling the zoo “home”. Enjoy the Q & A below from our recent visit!

Now that it’s spring, it’s the perfect time to beautify your home’s outdoor landscaping. What tips would you give homeowners about the use of plants to enhance their home’s appeal?

Many of us are running out to purchase annuals, hanging baskets and more for our homes now that the weather is warming. I think what most people don’t realize is that once the plant leaves the greenhouse and goes to a nursery, they can quickly become nutrition deficient. In the greenhouse, plants are treated with nutrients to keep them healthy. Once they transition to a store and then to a home, within a couple weeks of constant watering and no nutrients, their soil is leached. Plants are hungry and need more than just tap water to flourish and survive.

Nutrient-rich plant food like Miracle-Gro™, added at least once each week to your plants, will help them grow. Today, there are even slow release fertilizers on the market with Terra-Sorb (a water absorbing gel) which offers a slow-release fertilizer for your plants and flowers. Terra-Sorb doesn’t dry out as quickly and is another way to ensure that your beautiful hanging baskets and potted plants continue to impress neighbors and friends throughout the season.

Also keep in mind, dirt is what you sweep up off of your floors whereas soil is a living, breathing entity full of microbial activity, teaming with life. Without a good, healthy soil we would have nothing to sustain our daily lives.

Are there any plants you would recommend based on our planting zone in the Midwest and which ones prefer sun or shade?

There are many plants that I love and recommend! Dragon Wing Begonias tolerate heat and the sun quite well, Silver Falls Dichondra like sun or shade and are easy to maintain, and the Dazzler Merlot Mix Impatients are shade tolerant, lovely and landscape friendly. Just keep in mind that annuals, like petunias, are tropical by nature and are typically heavy feeders, requiring fertilizers to flourish.

A tip I also like to offer is that around July 4th, it’s best to cut back those petunias you may have purchased on Mother’s Day about a quarter or half of the way. This will flush the new growth out, and you’ll love the results. Simply “pinch” to the leaf nodes. Also, when purchasing 6 packs of the plants from your local nursery, steer clear of the ones that are “tangled up”, long and misshapen. Pulling and unwinding their delicate foliage and roots is very damaging, so it’s best to find the packs that are short and tidy.

As a Realtor®, I see a lot of homes with neglected landscaping. Any suggestions that you can make to convince them that curb appeal is important?

I recommend choosing plants and plant materials scaled to the home. Not all landscaping needs to be elaborate. When planting, if the homeowner follows some basic rules, the landscaping undertaking can be fun and can really enhance their home’s curb appeal.

For instance, planting perennials in groups of 5’s and 7’s offer a bigger visual impact. When planting in groups, you’ll be happier with the overall look. Shrubs, Knockout® roses and more work best in groups of three. Even planting a Juniper, for example, should be spaced out and if you plant one in your landscaping, think about planting another one in a different section. The rule of thumb is to never plant just “one” of anything.

I like to think of plants for landscaping as notes on a musical scale, stagger the plants and always place them in groups for an impactful and beautiful display!

What are some other tips you’d like to share with our readers?

Play off the landscape with the use of limestone boulders and other types of hardscape. If you’re lucky enough to find a boulder with moss naturally draped on it, it will be a beautiful and unique addition to your curb appeal. I recommend the use of hardscapes in the winter months, trees with interesting branching habits, evergreens, birdfeeders and ornamental grasses. The Taylor Juniper is a tree that I love, with a striking appearance, growing to about three feet wide and up to twenty feet tall. Also, Blue Spruce “Fat Albert” lends a colorful blue tone to the winter landscape.

The importance of feeding and grooming your landscape plants and flowers can’t be stressed enough. Adding fertilizer is a key component to a lovely yard with curb appeal. Treating your plant’s root system with care also plays a key role in their health. At the zoo, when construction and maintenance is happening amongst the landscaping, I always let the crews know how important it is to go around the plants and trees. Disrupting the roots is much like cutting off an arm or a leg for us – they need their roots intact because it provides important nutrient and water uptake along with structural stability.

Tony Range is a horticulture supervisor at the St. Louis Zoo and also a contributing author for STLZOO Magazine. I appreciated the time he took out of his busy schedule to offer planting and landscaping tips for homeowners.

 If you or a loved one is in need of a licensed Realtor®, contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

It’s Time to Start Thinking About Beautifying Your Yard: Part One of a Two Part Series

beautifying your yardAs winter becomes more of a memory and the weather turns to sunnier days, it may be time to take a peek at your landscaping and start the plans for beautifying your yard. Does it require some TLC? Not sure what it may need to become that beloved, family-friendly space again? I can help! My next two articles will be highlighting yard beautification, including an interview with Tony Range next month. Range is the lead horticulturist for the St. Louis Zoo and will offer his suggestions on how to maintain a yard that will be the envy of your neighbors, all season long.

If you are looking to enhance the overall look of your home, a beautiful, outdoor living space also increases the value of your home. A relatively recent and increasingly popular trend for homeowners is the creation of a backyard retreat, turning a home into a wonderful place for entertaining, hanging out and enjoying when the weather is inviting and the days are longer.

Homeowners who add a deck to their property or enhance their custom deck prior to selling, usually recover the cost in the sale of their home. Decks that need repairs or seem neglected can often turn away buyers because they will see additional expense and future maintenance projects. If you have a deck, it may make sense to paint or re-stain it, add some new, brightly colored cushions to your outdoor furniture, and display some potted plants and flowers. Investing in your deck and outdoor living area also adds additional space to your home, making it appear larger for potential buyers.

Even if you own a home with no future plans on selling it, Consumer Reports indicates that today’s consumers are thriftier and stay home more to entertain and to spend family time. Homes with outdoor living spaces are cited as one of the most appealing ways to spend a nice evening with those you love! When weather is prime, many clients love the idea of “outdoor living rooms. Turn off the iPad and head outdoors to toss a Frisbee in the backyard, sharing stories of the day with your kids. When you invest in your backyard, you are investing in so much more: time with family and friends.

Another way to enhance the beauty of your yard and create a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests is by adorning your entrance, driveway and more with assorted annuals and perennials. Flowers like Petunias, Snapdragons, and Knock out Roses are great additions to your landscaping. A Southern Living article cites putting a low fence between your house and the street to give an illusion that your house is farther away from the road than it truly is andit’s also a great space for planting flowers and vines.

If you have unsightly structures in your yard and you’re not sure how to hide them, strategic planting can help! Some sheds, garages, outdoor work spaces and utility boxes in subdivisions can be less than attractive. Adding window boxes and flowers to work sheds, setting attractive planters filled with flowers atop structures, and placement of potted ferns can be great additions to your outdoor ambience. Incorporating plants and flowers close to the structure, and incorporating planters onto the walls of the structure will make it seem like a seamless accompaniment to your landscaping.

As a licensed Realtor® it’s my goal to help make your real estate dreams come true, offer tips to enhance your home’s beauty, and share my knowledge of our local market. The real estate process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with my guidance! And don’t forget – next month’s blog will offer additional landscaping tips from Tony Range, St. Louis Zoo horticulturist. In the meantime, you contact me for all of your real estate needs at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

7 Best Apps For Preparing to Sell Your Home

apps for preparing to sell your homeNavigating the housing market can be difficult, but most people have a tool in their pocket that they don’t realize can help get them through this stressful time: their smartphone! These powerful tools have come a long way from just making phone calls or sending text messages. Check out these seven apps that can make preparing to sell your home a breeze!

1) ColorSnap

Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk of your hometown main street and a bluebird catches your eye. That bluebird is the most perfect shade of light blue – a shade that would look exquisite on the walls of your guest room. Luckily you have the ColorSnap app by Sherwin-Williams. With a simple snapshot, this app can match your photo to find paint colors. You can then see how that particular color looks in sample scenes, in day or night lighting. ColorSnap makes painting your home even easier with its paint calculator. Simply enter your room dimensions, and it will estimate how much paint you need.

2) Panorama 360

This free app allows you to take high-quality, 360-degree panorama pictures and videos for free. Do not underestimate the power of panoramas, especially in the housing market. Capture the essence and personality of your home with a panorama picture or video, and let the home speak for itself.

3) Homesnap

Good for both home buyers and sellers, Homesnap allows users to see home value estimates, taxes, lot boundaries, school zones, interior photos and more just by taking a picture. This can be used to the seller’s advantage by scoping out the competition. Based on your findings, you can adjust your selling price, increase your promotion efforts, or even up your interior design game.

4) Houzz

Houzz is an app favorite for designers, home owners, and renovators. Its genius lies in the technology that allows you to see what furniture and products look like in your actual home. Browse through over 5 million trending products and materials, then simply use the “View in My Room” feature to see what they look like in your space. Read hundreds of articles written by design experts, and get professional advice on your home project in the “Advice” section. Houzz also has a vast database of active home improvement professionals for you to find, hire, and collaborate with.

5) MagicPlan

Measuring room spaces and dimensions are probably one of the biggest hassles of home selling. MagicPlan makes this process a breeze: no need for measuring tapes, no need to move furniture, no need for expertise. It measures the space and draws floor plans by simply taking pictures. The app itself is free, but if you want to download your floorplan in PDF, JPG, SVG, DXF, CSV, or PNG formats, there is a one property plan purchase for $2.99.

6) Pinterest

Okay, of course everyone who isn’t living under a rock has heard of Pinterest. But did you know you can use their app to browse for design inspiration? If you are selling your home, your interior design should be stylish, trendy, and organized. Pinterest can help create the space of your dreams! Not only does it give inspiration, but you can search for furniture and products based on your needs. If you are more of a Do-It-Yourself person, there are many projects with step-by-step instructions on how to upgrade your home.

7) Ikea

After spending hours on Pinterest (or is that just me?) you may be ready to start furnishing and staging your house. Ikea not only has affordable prices, but their sleek, modern style looks great in almost every space. Get inspired with their catalog, browse through furniture, optimize your space with every organizational device made on earth, and do it all while sitting in bed. Does it get any easier than that?

The time has come and gone where a home seller has to sit and worry about whether their houses will sell. Take matters into your own hands (literally) and try out one of these cool apps! If you need an extra set of eyes, a professional opinion, or help with staging your house I can help with that, too. As a licensed Realtor, it’s my goal to help you feel comfortable and confident in the selling process, so give me a call at (618) 978-2384 or email me at

HOAs Explained: Reasons & Benefits

HOAsNot every community offers HOAs to homeowners, but HOAs are definitely on the rise. In 1970, only 1% of neighborhoods had HOAs. As of last year, 1 in 4 homeowners were part of an HOA according to the Foundation for Community Association Research. When talking about an HOA, or Homeowner’s Association, with friends, it may elicit smiles from some and grimaces from others. Often, people share varying opinions about HOAs, mainly because HOAs can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, individual homeowners will have different personalities and preferences about what an HOA should offer.

What is an HOA? Rules and membership dues vary, but generally speaking homeowners who live in a neighborhood must abide by its regulations and pay a fee that aids in the management and maintenance of the community in which it serves. Condominiums and townhouses are often part of a homeowners association, but today HOAs also include freestanding homes in neighborhoods. An HOA often pays for maintenance of common space, subdivision entranceway, community pool/rec center, tennis courts and rec centers.

One major benefit of having an HOA is that it helps preserve your community so that it looks its best, functioning smoothly and efficiently. A new trend we are seeing is that instead of annual HOA dues, monthly HOA fees are added to include benefits to the homeowner. Lawn maintenance and even snow removal are part of the community’s HOA, making it easier to enjoy evenings and weekends full of play and family activities, instead of all the maintenance home ownership may entail. In the Edwardsville area, Cloverdale and Brookshire Hamlet are two communities that offer this type of HOA incentive.

Another benefit of buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA is community appearance standards have to be met. Fines will be imposed if your neighbor’s unkempt lawn becomes an issue or if their siding begins to fall off. With an HOA, you are less likely to see obnoxiously painted homes and landscaping in complete disarray. Some HOAs do also have rules about how many cars are allowed in the driveway or if an RV can be parked on the property.

Association management is also often included with an HOA. The HOA board can help if you have a problem with a neighbor’s dog barking incessantly, for example. Instead of going directly to the neighbor over the dispute, an HOA can assist with the problem and hopefully help you resolve the issue.

How it works. HOA regulations are usually set by a committee or board of directors and can then be enforced by a paid management company or by volunteers. You can even become involved with the HOA in order to have a voice in the decisions being made. When part of an HOA, homeowners can request a rule change or an individual waiver, but there’s no guarantee that the request will be permitted.

You may be thinking, “Well what’s not to like about an HOA?” Overall, an HOA adds value to your home and community. However, for some buyers, an HOA seems too limiting on what they can and cannot do in their neighborhood. Having a management association tell you that you can’t park your camper in the cul-de-sac or place decorative metal sculptures all over your front yard may seem too restrictive to some people. Prior to buying that home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the regulations because many communities have different rules. If you know that your new community doesn’t allow a certain sized flag hanging from the mailbox before you buy, it won’t seem to be as big of an issue later.

If you are deciding between two homes in different communities, check both of their HOAs. Fees will vary, as well as benefits. Because I am familiar with the many wonderful neighborhoods in our community and the HOAs they offer, I can help you make the right decision concerning which neighborhood is best for your lifestyle. Most of the homeowners that I work with appreciate HOAs and the higher standards that a homeowner’s association provides. By understanding the regulations and fees in every community, you’ll be able to make a more educated decision on which home (and neighborhood) is best for you.

I am fortunate to live and work in such a vibrant community, one that offers a wide selection of neighborhoods appealing to homeowners with different tastes and preferences. I can help you navigate through the entire purchase process, and that includes homeowner’s association information when applicable. If you are ready for a change, give me a call at 618-978-2384 or contact me here. I look forward to working with you and finding you the dream home you’ve always wanted!

It’s Spring…We’re Livin’ La Vida Local! Local Activities Near Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, IL

Local Activities Near Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, ILOne of the best aspects about living in Edwardsville, Illinois and its surrounding communities is the many activities that “spring-up” during the spring and summer months. There is so much to do locally when the weather is nice you may not ever have to cross the river into downtown St. Louis! I thought it would be fun to share a sampling of the fun events in this great community. Start planning your weekends now and experience everything there is to love about livin’ la vida local!

Goshen Market, May-October. Love fresh produce and veggies, arts and crafts? Then you don’t want to miss the Goshen Market in Downtown Edwardsville on Saturdays, May through October. At the market, you’ll find fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, farm fresh eggs, naturally raised meats – beef, pork and poultry – along with baked goods, pottery, jewelry, other fine arts, honey, soaps, seedlings, cut flowers and more. Located in green-space adjacent to the courthouse downtown, you’ll love the energy and the family-friendly fun that Goshen Market has to offer. The market fills downtown Edwardsville with a little something for everyone on Saturday mornings, rain or shine. Learn more by visiting there website at

9th Annual Taste of Edwardsville, Saturday, May 13. This great event is the biggest fundraiser for Edwardsville Neighbors in Need, an organization that raises funds to ease the financial burdens of local families with various needs. Over the years, Taste of Edwardsville has grown to include 20+ local eateries, live music, and a fantastic silent auction. Money raised goes to local families facing a medical or emergency hardship whether it’s an illness or an injury and helps pay for things like medical bills, mortgages, food or gas cards. Tickets for the event include unlimited food tasting and drink specials. Want to mix and mingle in the community? Don’t miss this delicious affair, with tickets going on sale April 13, 2017. Last year tickets sold out in 24 hours so don’t delay.

Next up, Bonifest! The St. Boniface Bonifest has been a Memorial Day Weekend tradition for over 30 years. Another family-friendly event, Bonifest is filled with carnival rides, food, music, raffles and fun. The 5k run is a favorite for the community and happens Saturday morning of the festival. A great 5k for all ages and abilities, it takes runners through historic Leclaire Park and many other wonderful, tree-lined streets in Edwardsville. The activities are located at the church at the intersection of Vandalia and Buchanan in downtown Edwardsville. It’s a great way to “kick off” the summer months in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon!

Get your “kicks” at Route 66. Celebrating its 20th year in 2017, the Edwardsville Route 66 Festival is one of the best ways to experience the community, offering a classic car show, great food, drinks, vendors and history. Headlining acts rock the stage at City Park, adjacent to the Edwardsville Public Library downtown. There are bounce houses for the kids, crafts in conjunction with the Edwardsville Art Center and more. This year will even be more exciting with 20th Anniversary “surprises” that will surely knock your socks off. Block of your calendar now for June 9-10, 2017 and learn more about the festival at

Glen Carbon Homecoming – Father’s Day Weekend. A great way to spend time with dad is at the Glen Carbon Homecoming that happens every Father’s Day Weekend. This year, June 16-17, Main Street in Glen Carbon, Illinois is blocked off and filled with food, carnival rides and fun. The homecoming parade kicks off the festivities on Friday night, with back-to-back activities to follow for all ages. Whether you enjoy local music or a night out to catch up with friends, the Glen Carbon Homecoming is another tradition you don’t want to miss. They also offer a 5K Covered Bridge Run on Saturday morning that people flock to.

There are so many fun things to do with friends and family in the Edwardsville and surrounding areas in the spring and summer, it’s difficult to list them all. The City of Edwardsville also offers the Edwardsville Municipal Band weekly summer series, a variety of movies shown outdoors at City Park as well as musical entertainment, great shows at the local Wildey Theater, and a vibrant downtown experience filled with top-notch restaurants, boutique shopping and more.

If you or a loved one is looking to relocate to the Edwardsville or Glen Carbon area, please contact me for all of your real estate needs at 618-978-2384. I’d be happy to share more information on the abundance of wonderful places to go and things to do in the area. Springtime brings with it even more to do in the thriving community of Edwardsville!

Quick and Easy Getaways For Couples and Families

Getaways for Couples and FamiliesIt’s happened to all of us: you glance at the calendar and realize, surprisingly, that there’s an upcoming weekend that is entirely open. No kid’s sporting events, games or practices. No family commitments. It’s just two blank boxes below Saturday and Sunday with nothing to do. Do you finally organize that downstairs storage room, clean the garage, or deep clean the carpets upstairs? Well, that would be the practical thing to do. Or, do you whisk your family or loved one away for a play day or weekend, fully taking advantage of the free time that rarely seems to materialize anymore?

If you like to shake things up (which I think you probably do), here are some great getaways that won’t break the piggy bank or force you to take vacation days off from the busy work week. Put some gas in the tank and get ready to see some wonderful sights – all within a short car ride.

Kansas City or Bust! Whether you like Kansas City BBQ or a weekend full of shopping, Kansas City, Missouri is only a handful of hours away from the Metro-East. Museums for kids and adults alike are abundant, as well as some top-notch overnight destinations like Great Wolf Lodge. Water parks like Schlitterbahn and CoCo Key are available for hours of fun, and the Kansas City Zoo offers over 200 acres of animals and attractions. Check out the website,, for a plethora of information about places to stay, events, restaurants and more. The website even lists “33 Free Things to Do in Kansas City” without paying a dime.

Looking for an adult-only destination? Check out the many Hermann and Augusta, Missouri wineries that are less than two hours away. If you’ve only enjoyed the sweet flavors of Stone Hill wines from the grocery store shelves, it’s time to experience a Missouri winery first-hand. There are over 10 wineries in Hermann, MO alone! There are also many Bed & Breakfasts to choose from, making your visit memorable, relaxing and truly unique. Camping and motels are also available for your overnight or weekend stay. Check out the Hermann website at for more information. Augusta, Missouri wineries are a bit closer to home, offering an abundance of wineries, places to stay, a brewery and year-round entertainment. Plus, the views are breathtaking! Both historical districts are worth a day or weekend trip. Learn more about the Augusta wineries at

Another destination that caters to families as well as couples is St. Charles, Missouri. Old Town St. Charles offers a unique experience, whether you are a foodie at heart or love to shop, a street in this neighborhood is touted as being “one of the most historic main streets in all of America”. You can take a Main Street Walking Tour, boutique shop for finds available nowhere else, stop and have a glass of wine, and enjoy a unique culinary experience with friends. Start planning your trip by visiting the website at St. Charles also has casinos close by if you’re feeling “lucky”. Hollywood Casino and The Ameristar Casino offer entertainment, many restaurants, and of course some of the best gambling around. Turn your visit into an overnight stay at one of the casino hotels, fully enjoying what this great town has to offer.

This is the perfect time of year to enjoy the famous Mississippi River from many “hot spots” in Grafton, Illinois. Just minutes from Alton, this Calhoun County location is known for American Bald Eagle watching and many other activities. Grafton Zip Line Adventures, Pere Marquette Lodge and the Loading Dock and Ice Rink are just a few of the destinations that are sure to please your date on date night or your entire family. Experience the Grafton Riverfront from a local restaurant overlooking the water, or head to Brussels Ferry, a free ferry transportation that heads across the Illinois River at IL Rte. 100. Before you plan your trip, visit the awesome Grafton website at

Of course, St. Louis and Chicago are two cities that are close-by as well, offering a vast variety of things to do and places to see. If you have an available weekend and are starting to get the winter blues, don’t worry! Turn your “blaahs” into “aahhs” by taking advantage of the wonderful things to do, just a short drive from the Metro-East. I know the local market and have first hand experience about the many benefits living here has to offer! Looking for a new place to call home? Give me a call at 618-978-2384 and I’d be happy to answer your questions.