If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that the residential real estate market is hot. Demand is outweighing supply making it very much a seller’s market. If you have been thinking about selling your home, now is the time. Much of the market’s increase has to do with the all-time-low interest rates, but demands in the local market served by Stutesman’s Action Realty (Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri, and Southeast Kansas) can be attributed to the sudden “stay at home” orders from various government entities.
What types of properties are pandemic hot?
Smaller second- and third-tier cities located outside urban areas have seen an increase in market activity amidst the pandemic and perhaps a market winner. An article published in The Business Times stated that these cities are “in a better position as the pandemic wanes.” Cities that promote healthy living such as the Northwest Arkansas, Southwest Missouri, and Southeast Kansas areas abundant with hiking, cycling, walking and many other outdoor activities with the gorgeous landscape backdrop are increasingly interesting buyers from much larger fast-paced areas.
Real estate with acreage to accommodate a home site, hobby farming, and/or recreational property have had an increased interest with buyers from large metropolitan areas. Many buyers are looking for off-grid living and get back to nature.
Americans were forced to slowdown and rethink how they live. Pre-COVID, many American families were busy working and rushing from one kid activity to the next (I’m not judging, trust me, I was doing the same thing) and suddenly those busy schedules were disrupted. In the beginning, we weren’t quite sure what to think of all this free time on our hands, but the longer the pandemic has gone on and events have been cancelled, the more we realize that we kind of like nesting at home. Many buyers are looking for larger homes and/or homes with more outdoor space to continue their newly found love of staying home.
Stutesman’s Action Realty has multiple properties in this pandemic hot market. Properties range from beautifully restored homes, home sites with acreages, commercial and agricultural/recreational land. If you are thinking of buying a property, the interest rates are great and if you are thinking of selling, it’s certainly a seller’s market in this area. For your next real estate transaction, you can trust Stutesman’s. Call today to speak to a real estate professional.
Home inspectors go where none of us particularly wants to go—into all the nooks and crannies around our homes, both inside and out. So you can bet that they’ve seen it all. You know—all that stuff that you don’t want to think about happening in those dark and creepy spaces.
Wait, actually we do want to know. (Is it masochism?) So we asked home inspectors who’ve been in the biz for a long time—and boy, did they deliver, with stories ranging from Stephen King–level horror to just downright weird. Check out some of the crazy things these home inspectors have witnessed. It’s all in a day’s work!
It’s a zoo in there
“Some of the nastiest stuff we find is animals—dead ones in attics or crawl spaces, which are always disgusting, and live ones, which are always scary,” says Reuben Saltzman, president of Structure Tech Home Inspections in Minneapolis. “In Minnesota, we usually find raccoons and squirrels, and inspectors in the Southern part of the country find a lot worse.”
There have been drowned frogs under water heaters, cooked mice in furnaces, frozen porcupines in crawl spaces, and dead fish on a roof. Was it a bird that somehow dumped it there, or something weirder, Saltzman wonders?
“We’ve also found wasp’s nests the size of basketballs inside of attics, and in the basement at the ceiling rim joist, and homeowners who didn’t know they had wasps,” Saltzman adds.
Bruce Barker, founder and president of Dream Home Consultants, in Cary, NC, has collected close to 6,000 photos documenting things like fried lizards and mice inside electrical panels, snakes in basements and crawl spaces, and even a black widow spider.
“We’ve found termite tubes hanging down from the ceiling. Termites need soil to travel and live, so they build tubes out of mud,” he explains. “It looked like there were stalactites hanging down.”
Then, of course, there’s the mass quantities of bird poop, which is nasty, toxic stuff.
“One of the craziest things that I’ve ever seen was a boat trailer being used as the foundation for a home,” Saltzman recalls.
“In the crawl space, I saw a tire half-embedded in concrete. I had to stare at it for a little while to figure out what I was looking at,” he says. “And I realized the whole addition was built on top of a trailer.”
Sometimes projects are half-finished, or half-baked, like a deck being held up by a single, wobbly post.
“This puts the ‘can’t’ in ‘cantilever,’” Saltzman quips about one memorable photo featuring a doomed deck.
Perilous plumbing solutions
Saltzman frequently discovers homeowners have tried to fix leaky plumbing with whatever materials they have on hand. Contrary to popular belief, duct tape does not, in fact, fix leaky pipes, shower wall tiles, or drains, he says.
This sparked some concern.
“People will use caulk, radiator hoses, hose clamps, vice grips—just the craziest stuff—to keep water from coming out of a place where it shouldn’t,” he says.
Perhaps the most alarming things home inspectors come across involve electrical systems and outlets in a home, Barker says.
“I’ve seen people not putting the wire connections in boxes, and just leaving them hanging out. If I had a dollar for every one of those, I wouldn’t have to crawl through crawl spaces anymore,” he says, noting that this is a major fire hazard.
Also in the “What were they thinking?!” department: Another home featured rows of Christmas lights strung directly over a pool (see image above). When the water fountain feature is activated, the swimmers beneath could get seriously injured from electrocution.
One homeowner strategically placed a basketball net with its glass backboard leaning against the roof, making it the ideal magnifying glass fire-starter on a blazing sunny day. Saltzman has also seen a roof so covered in moss and plant debris, it should have been mowed.
Barker has been amazed to see turbine vents in older houses that have lost their covers, unbeknown to the homeowners, or worse, have been covered with strange things—like an upside-down Halloween candy bucket.
Makeshift chimney repairs are often laughably ineffective, adds Barker, who has seen flammable asphalt material used to fix crumbling chimneys.
Weird and wacky windows
In older homes, it’s not uncommon to find wooden window frames that have seen better days, Saltzman notes. What’s odd are the homeowners who think up outlandish ways to fix them.
“One of my favorite photos of all time was taken 15 years ago: Somebody had taken spray foam to fill in all the rotted wood, and then cut the spray foam to match the profile of the wood, which they painted to match,” he recalls.
Other head-scratching discoveries Saltzman’s team has made include a mysterious pile of leaves in the attic, scissors embedded in an electrical panel, a downspout aimed squarely at an electrical outlet, a roof fascia repaired with a hockey puck, and a bunch of unopened bags of insulation in an attic. (Pro tip: A home will always be warmer when insulation is actually laid out and not trapped in plastic.)
It’s not just horrifying for the home inspectors—all this weird stuff could kill a deal. Once potential buyers see things like mushrooms growing out of a floor drain, a crawl space filled with animal excrement and spider webs, or frost in the attic, they’ll wonder what else hasn’t been maintained, Saltzman says. And often, they’ll be spooked enough to walk away.
“We’ve got about 20 inspectors on my team,” he says, “and between all of us, every day someone decides they’re not buying a house based on what we found.”
Thinking About Selling Your Home? Declutter First!
If you are trying to sell your home, there’s no doubt one of the things you’ve heard most frequently is the importance of decluttering. Not only will decluttering help you sell your home faster, there is a good chance you’ll be able to sell for a higher price, as well!
To get started, use these easy to follow decluttering tips and tricks!
In the bedroom, use simple bedding that matches your wall color. Remove any personal items or clutter in the room. Appeal to both sexes by choosing a neutral paint color for the master bedroom. Using a gender neutral paint color allows you to immediately cast a wider net for your buyers, speeding up the sale.
In the kitchen, you can paint your outdated cabinets, rather than replacing them. Or try installing new hardware—this simple switch can have a big impact. Remove any appliances or knick knacks cluttering the countertop, and your kitchen will immediately look more spacious.
The Living Room
In the living room or other common areas, do a sweep to remove any clutter. Open the shades or the blinds, allowing natural light to make your room appear more airy and spacious. If your room is small, consider painting the room in a light color, and strategically hang mirrors across from the windows.
In bathrooms, consider packing up any drugs or medicines that aren’t regularly used. Find a new home for any stray jewelry or extra toiletry items. Remove any stains from the grout, and make sure all plumbing is in good working order.
Potential home buyers will be checking out your closets, an often overlooked area. Make sure your closets are not too full, or you run the risk of buyers thinking they won’t have enough storage space—a huge red flag in their home search. Make sure everything is organized and tidy.
The garage is another area important to potential buyers. Clear any clutter and make sure everything is put away in its place. Try hanging larger items on the wall, opening up the floor space. Remove any bins or items to be donated, making your space appear larger.
The Personal Items
While you’re at it, go ahead and start packing up any personal items, such as family photos, memorabilia, or toys you don’t need in order to create a more neutral and decluttered space. This one is a no-brainer—it not only declutters your home but also gives you a great head start on your own packing.
Owner / Broker Jennifer Stutesman Yarsulik welcomes new agents to the real estate team. ” We are so excited to be adding professionals to our real estate industry which allows Stutesman’s Action Realty to cover more territory – Kobie Langford will be specializing in Jasper,Barton, Newton, and Dade Counties & Bailey Lyons will be specializing Bourbon, Crawford and Linn County Kansas plus Vernon County Missouri.
Upgrade your living space into a smart home without breaking the bank with our hand-picked smart home devices that include speakers, security cameras, light bulbs and more. Create a smart home hub with these gadgets that work with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant to simplify your technology and help make your day-to-day life even easier.
Whether you want to personalize and control your lighting, stream music and videos or secure your home, we’ve found a variety of top-rated smart home gadgets to help you get started building your smart home. Most of your products work with Alexa or the Google Assistant so that you can control the devices with the command of your voice. We’ve also included the Aukey Smart Plug-in our list which gives any device you plug into smart capabilities.
Read on for our list of the best smart home gadgets that include the best prices and deals that are currently available. We have a variety of devices that will fit all smart home needs and budgets.
Ring Video Doorbell Pro
Home security from anywhere
Help secure your home with the Ring Video Doorbell Pro that allows you to answer your door from anywhere. The Ring Pro works with Alexa and will send alerts to Echo devices which allows you to hear and speak to visitors entirely hands-free. The Ring Video Doorbell Pro also sends alerts to your smartphone when motion is detected or when someone presses the doorbell so you can monitor your home from anywhere. The Pro features advanced motion detection with a camera view that generates motion alerts within user-set motion zones. The Ring doorbell connects to your existing doorbell wiring so you don’t have to worry about re-charging the battery and features four different face plate options. (amazon.com $199)
Echo Dot (3rd generation)
Voice controlled smart speaker
The best-selling Echo Dot is a voice-controlled smart speaker that works with Alexa to make calls, answer questions, set alarms, check the weather and so much more. The compact smart speaker can also control your compatible smart home devices with the command of your voice. Just ask Alexa to find TV shows, turn on lights, adjust the temperature and more. You can use your voice to play a song or artist through Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and others. Alexa has over 50,000 skills so you can discover new skills that will help you with everyday tasks. (amazon.com $29.99)
Amazon’s smart speaker with Alexa
The Amazon Echo smart speaker can play music, answer questions, set alarms and more all with the command of your voice. You can also control your other smart home devices with the Alexa-enabled speaker just ask Alexa to turn off the lights, adjust your thermostat, lock your door and more. The Echo can make calls and send and receive messages through the hands-free speaker. The smart speaker features a better audio experience than the Echo Dot offering a powerful audio with Dolby technology built in to the speaker. (amazon.com $79.99)
TP-Link Smart Bulb
Voice controlled light bulb
Control your lighting from anywhere with the TP-Link Alexa-enabled light bulb. You can turn your lights on and off and adjust brightness with your tablet or smartphone using the Kasa app. You can connect the smart bulb with Alexa or Google Assistant devices and use your voice to control your lights. The easy-to-install light bulb can transform into any color to set the mood and personalize your lighting by adjusting brightness as well as light appearance from soft white to daylight. The TP-Link bulbs will also help you out with your energy costs by reducing energy use up to 80% without brightness or quality loss. (walmart.com $29.99)
TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Plug
Alexa enabled WiFi Plug
Turn your electronics and appliances into voice and app-controlled devices with the Kasa Smart WiFi plug by TP-Link. The smart plug works with Alexa and the Google Assistant so you can turn your devices into a hands-free experience. You can turn on lamps, appliances and more from anywhere on your smartphone using the Kasa app. You can also schedule the smart plug to automatically turn on and off when you’re away and reduce your energy by managing devices that use the most power. (amazon.com $13.99)
Nest Learning Thermostat
Change the temperature from anywhere
Control your thermostat from anywhere with the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat. The smart thermostat uses technology to learn your habits and adjust automatically to help save you energy. On average the Nest thermostat saves 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills so the Nest will pay for itself in no time. You’re able to control your thermostat from anywhere with Nest app using your phone, tablet or laptop. The smart thermostat also works with Alexa so you can adjust and control the temperature with the command of your voice. The Nest thermostat features a thinner and sleeker design than previous models and comes in four different colors. (amazon.com $199)
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum
Wi-Fi connected robot vacuum
Clean your floors with the command of your voice and completely hands-free with the Wi-Fi connected iRobot Roomba Robot Vacuum. You can use the iRobot home app to clean and schedule your vacuum from anywhere and receive notifications when the job is complete. The Roomba 960 can continuously clean for up to 75 minutes and will automatically recharge. The robot vacuum features a three-stage cleaning system and a high-efficiency filter that captures 99% of allergens, pollen, and dust. The Roomba is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant so you can control the vacuum with your voice. (walmart.com $549)
Amazon Cloud Cam Security Camera
Works with Alexa
The Amazon Cloud Cam is an indoor security camera that monitors your home in 1080p full HD. You’ll be able to watch your home from anywhere at any time with the compatible Cloud Cam app. You can view live streams, replay clips and get alerts when the camera detects activity. You can customize your alerts so you’ll only get alerts that matter. The Amazon camera features night vision so you’ll also be able to monitor your home in the dark. The Cloud Cam also offers two-way audio so you can speak to guests in your home through the app. The security camera works with Alexa so you can use your voice to show your live feed on the Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, Echo Show, or Echo Spot. (amazon.com $119.99)
Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt
Alexa enabled deadbolt with built-in alarm
Secure your home the smart way with the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt. The Schlage connect features a touch screen keypad which allows for keyless entry. This lets every member in your family have their own 4-digit code that will be easy to remember. You can also create temporary codes for visitors and never have to worry about replacing locks or exchanging keys. The Schlage Connect is Z-Wave compatible and connects to your home automation system which allows you to lock or unlock your door remotely. You can also use your voice to control the lock with any Amazon Alexa compatible device. The deadbolt features a built-in alarm that comes in three different modes that will alert you when someone is coming or going and communicate any potential security threats. (homedepot.com $184.29)
There’s nothing more trustworthy than a good, hardy perennial. These plants might go dull in the winter, but you can rest assured they’ll return faithfully the following year. Perennials have the power to keep your landscape alive with new colors, fragrances, and wildlife all season long — as long as you treat them well. While they’re well-known for their minimal maintenance, there are still some things to keep in mind.
When to Plant Perennials
Planting is both an exciting and stressful time for plants. Most perennial plants need a modest amount of moisture to survive, especially when they’re just trying to establish themselves. The best time to plant your perennials is during the transitional seasons: spring and fall.
In our area, we fall into hardiness Zone 6a, and, lucky for us, perennial plants tend to do very well in this zone! However, spring carries with it a lot of cold weather. If you plant too early and your young plants are caught in a particularly bad frost, they may not grow at all. Avoid a disappointing garden by paying attention to frost dates. The last frost in Missouri and Kansas typically happens in mid April (but lately, we have had some pretty crazy weather!), so wait until after then to plant new perennials. Even then, check the forecast and be wary of the conditions your new plants may be subject to. It’s best to err on the side of caution and plant when you’re confident that the weather is going to cooperate.
Of course, the ground has to be unfrozen to plant anything in it. One test to see if the soil is workable is to grab a handful of it and squeeze it tight. If your soil sticks together, it’s a little too wet. If it crumbles, it’s in workable shape and you can start planting!
Any perennials you plant in summer will need a lot more attention and water to encourage growth. Avoid digging up perennials in bloom during this season. Just let them do their thing.
How to Plant / Balancing Bloomers
The term ‘perennial’ encompasses thousands and thousands of plants. Naturally, they don’t all bloom at the same time. The key to keeping an interesting garden all season long is to interplant species that flower at different times in the summer. That way, you always have something new blossoming in your garden. It’s those little pops of new color that keep something exciting happening all the time. Here are a few model varieties of gorgeous perennials that bloom at different times in the summer:
Late Spring / Early Summer Bloomers
For your early summer flowering perennials, consider giving these plants a try:
Clematis: Creeping up several feet tall, clematis produce single, colorful flowers in shades of blue, pink, red, and white. They continue to bloom all the way into fall, and they prefer lots of sunlight and damp soil.
Caesar’s Brother Siberian Iris: This deep violet flower rises up on tall, poker-straight stems that really stand out along borders. They thrive in moist soils better than most, and are extremely resilient and adaptable. Just make sure you water them regularly, especially during hot dry weather.
Peony: This lush, romantic flower is very popular for wedding bouquets and decor. Its massive blooms are a true work of art and some of our favorites are Sarah Bernhardt, Bowl of Beauty, and Bartzella Itoh. Their stems are nice and sturdy, so you won’t have to worry about staking them to keep them upright.
Creeping Phlox: This fabulous groundcover plant spreads like wildfire and is great for rock gardens, as it creeps its way up rocks and rough terrain with ease. Its densely packed flowers create a carpet of vivid color that’s truly breathtaking. So long as it has full sun and is watered regularly, it will thrive beautifully.
Midsummer Flowering Perennials
These flowers bloom beautifully in the prime of summer:
Balloon Flowers: Balloon flowers are easy to care for, and are named as such because their buds balloon before blossoming. Among a few different colored varieties, balloon flowers can come in a very striking, deep blue.
Coreopsis: These sun-lovers come in bright, warm colors and attract all sorts of butterflies. They make great cut flowers.
Salvia: Tall stalks of blossoms adorn this beautiful plant in all different shades of blue, purple and red, with a few less common varieties in shades of yellow and white. It’s actually a member of the mint family, and its aroma is absolutely divine.
Lavender: With a pleasant fragrance and characteristic purple color, you can’t go wrong with growing some lavender in your garden.
Monarda: Also known as bee balm, these vibrant flowers lure in pollinators like a magnet. Planting monarda in either spring or autumn will give you the best results. Some varieties can grow up to 4 feet tall, and they spread quite a bit, so dividing the root ball and replanting every 2 or 3 years will save it from getting overcrowded.
Late Summer / Early Fall Perennials
These plants are perfect reminders that summer is still hanging on:
Aster: Asters provide great coverage in your flower beds, and bloom small flowers in reds, blues, and purples. They grow easily enough in a richer soil without much maintenance.
Chelone Hot Lips: This mounded plant has gorgeous blue-green foliage that contrasts beautifully with its pink clusters of flowers. It makes a great border plant, reaches to around 2 feet tall and spreads 2 feet across.
Lobelia Cardinalis: The bright ruby red racemes of this fabulous perennial can be seen from miles away! It does best in moist clay soils, so if your soil is very loamy, make sure to water is generously.
When Fall Arrives
These are just a few of the endless perennial plants that can complete your garden. When fall rolls around, pay attention to any perennial pruning and winter protection needs. It’s also the perfect time to plant new perennials, as your soil is in ideal, moist conditions. You can use this season to also divide up some of your perennials, so long as they aren’t still in bloom.
Planning ahead for this season will reward you kindly. Be adventurous, and be sure to plant perennials of all different kinds during this time. A higher volume of plants will provide for more color and texture in your garden and culminate in an exciting new growing season the following summer!
Director of Operations, Broker/Assoc. MO-GRI, CRS, SRS
Diane has taken on a new role in the agency, but is still doing what she loves – helping clients with their real estate needs!
Diane’s career in real estate began 22 years ago, when along with her husband Eddie Earll, began building and remodeling homes in the and have always taken great pride in their accomplishments.
Diane grew up in rural Vernon County and graduated from El Dorado Springs School. She learned from an early age the value of hard work and determination and continues to display these principles in her career.
As a member of the National Association of Realtors and Missouri Realtors, Diane has had the opportunity to serve as Secretary, Vice President, and President for the Five County Board of Realtors. She also received her GRI (Graduated Realtor Institute) in 2008, CRS (Council of Residential Specialists) in 2015, Brokers license in 2015, and SRS (Seller Residential Specialist) in 2016.
In her current role, Diane handles everything from handling the office’s administrative duties, to ensuring contract and document compliance. Diane also works closely with the agency’s outside marketing firm, assisting with property and agency promotions. She also is a pro at keeping the team organized, keeping the database current, gathering together paperwork from the seller and the buyer, working with the title company to make sure all parties show up to closing, and making sure profits get wired in.
Her organization and people skills show in her personal life as well. Diane loves the outdoors and keeping connected with friends and family. Diane also enjoys hobbies such as cooking for her family and having huge family gatherings, working outdoors in the yard, and going on road trips.
Diane and her family have a special love for their animals… All of which were wayward souls taken in by the Earlls’. Each one of them has a story and now have a forever home with unconditional love.
She and her husband, Eddie, have one daughter Nikki and son-in-law Jonathon. They are also blessed with a granddaughter, Iridessa, which they enjoy every given opportunity.
Diane takes great pride in customer satisfaction and looks forward to each opportunity when assisting clients with any of their real estate needs.
There are many reasons why it may be time to sell your home. You may need more space to make room for a growing family or you need to downsize after your kids leave the nest. Whatever your motivations, you want to make sure that you’re timing it right.
If you sell when home prices are plummeting, you may end up losing on the deal. If you sell when home prices are highest, there may not be a lot of buyers looking to move. So how do you know when it’s a good time to sell?
A qualified Stutesman’s agent can help you determine if the market puts you in a good place or not. But for your own personal situation, here are the signs telling you that now is the time to sell your home.
You’ve Outgrown Your Home
Whether you are expecting another child, caring for an aging parent, or have taken in your adult children, when you’ve outgrown your home, it may be time to sell your home. Consider the permanency of the change. Will the kids be there for a long time? How long will you be able to care for your aging parent? Buying a bigger home is one of the main reasons why homeowners choose to sell.
You Need to Make a Change
Change is inevitable. Maybe you’re tired of shoveling snow (what a brutal winter we’ve had!) and you want to live in a warmer climate. Maybe you have to move so you can go after your dream job or you want to be closer to family. When change entails moving, then a home sale becomes necessary.
Home Prices are on the Rise
This is one of the riskiest reasons to sell your home. Sure you may get more than you ever dreamed for your home when prices are on the rise, but that also means that you will pay more for another home. Perhaps your agent can help you find a steal in a new location where prices are more level. Then you will have made a huge profit and a smart move.
You Need to Downsize
Many homeowners are selling in order to downsize. The baby boomer generation is moving into their golden years. The kids are all out of the house and you just don’t need all that space anymore. Selling now could add a nice healthy sum to your nest egg as well. As long as you are smart about how much of that profit to spend on a new place, downsizing could be just the right move for you financially.
You Can No Longer Afford Your Home
Sadly, there are homeowners who just can no longer afford their home. Whether it is due to divorce, illness, a death, a skyrocketing mortgage payment, or the loss of a job, change in your financial circumstances is a big red flashing sign that now is the time to sell your home. Waiting any longer could have catastrophic financial consequences.
In any situation you find yourself in, an experienced agent is the key to helping you achieve your goals. Learn more about how to determine if now is the time to sell your home by speaking with agent now.
Join Us Saturday, Feb 23rd for Sweet Listings Tour – Round 2!
Join us Saturday Feb 23rd 10 am – Noon! Tour 5 SWEET listings in the Ft. Scott KS area. Yummy sweet treats and drinks will be served. ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A $25 Casey’s GAS CARD!
THE RULES: Tour the homes, pic your favorite, take a selfie INSIDE the home and post it with #sweetlistings on our Facebook page in the comments section under the home’s post. Make sure to tell us what you LOVE about the home! We will announce the winner Sunday Feb 24th at 5 pm! Gas card can be picked up at Stutesman’s Action Realty Ft. Scott office!