Shop these spots and support local farmers this Spring

It’s that time of year again — farmer’s markets are opening up around Lincoln, featuring local produce, fresh flowers and baked goods. Here’s a breakdown of three farmer’s markets in the area, their unique features and how and when to shop for the best seasonal produce.

Haymarket Farmers’ Market

Located in the historic Haymarket District, this farmers market is one of the biggest and most well-known in the area. Every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to noon starting May 1st through October 9th, the Haymarket Farmer’s Market features more than 100 vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods and flowers along the district’s streets and sidewalks. The market also offers live entertainment featuring local artists. When you’re done at the market, you can check out everything else the Haymarket District has to offer from local restaurants and breweries to boutiques, bookstores and art galleries.

Fallbrook Farmers’ Market

This family-friendly market is open on Thursday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. starting June 17th through August 19th. The Fallbrook farmer’s market has something for all ages. A bounce house for kids, hot food vendors as well as local produce and craft booths. Find this market in northwest Lincoln off Highway 34 and 1st Street. If you’re not feeling comfortable to shop the market in person, Fallbrook also accepts online orders for curb-side pick-up.

Sunday Farmers’ Market at College View

If you didn’t pick up enough fresh produce on Saturday, hit up this farmer’s market on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. late April through October. The College View farmer’s market offers a wide selection of unique vendors; from grass-fed beef and farm fresh eggs to locally grown vegetables and flowers. This market also features a “master gardeners” booth every week staffed with volunteers who can answer all your gardening questions.

Why Shop Local?

Farmer’s markets offer some of the best seasonal fruits and vegetables you can get. When you shop at a farmer’s market, you know the food hasn’t been shipped from from another state or country. Meaning, it can be fresher and tastier than the produce often found in grocery stores. Plus, when you shop at your local farmer’s market, you are supporting farmers in your area and helping to boost the local economy. Farmer’s markets can also help you feel more connected to your food and its sources. You can chat with the farmers, ask questions about how the food is grown and even get cooking tips and recipes.

Support Nebraska farmers by shopping local this spring and summer.

The First-Time Homebuyer’s Glossary

Glossary for First-Time Home Buyers

When you’re buying a home for the first time, you expect there will be a learning curve. But if you find yourself wishing for a pocket dictionary just to translate the terms that get thrown around, consider this your study guide.

Also, remember, there is no such thing as a “dumb question” for your REALTOR®. A qualified one will be glad to hold your hand through the entire home-buying process and will take the time to explain anything that might seem confusing.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA):

In order to make an educated offer, it helps to have a “comparative market analysis” from the area. This will show the listing and sale price of comparable (or “comp”) properties in the area as well as details like square footage, bedrooms, baths and more.


When a buyer sets sights on a home, the first step is to submit an “offer” to the sellers with the proposed purchase price. If they desire, the sellers will then have an opportunity to counter and initiate negotiations on the offer. Once an offer or “sales agreement” is accepted, the buyer and seller are in contract on the home.


Often written into the offer on a home, a “contingency” means that in order for the sale to be finalized another condition must first be met—such as a closing that is contingent on the home inspection going well, the buyer’s mortgage approval or the home appraising for a price the lender will approve.

Earnest Money:

After an offer is accepted, buyers generally agree to put down “earnest money” to demonstrate their intentions to see the deal through. Depending on the market, this could be as little as $500 or as much as 5% of the purchase price. During the contract period, this money is held in escrow and can then be applied to the down payment on the home.

Home Inspection:

In the majority of cases, buyers will hire an independent home inspector to examine the home during the contract period. Inspectors are trained to look at a variety of issues—big and small—within the home. If the inspection turns up anything concerning the buyer, they may go back to the seller and request the issue is fixed to proceed with the sale. Depending on the size of the house, an inspection typically costs between $300-$600.


An appraisal is an estimate of the property’s “fair market price,” which lenders generally require before signing off on a mortgage amount. If the negotiated price exceeds the appraisal amount, the lender may not approve the loan.

Closing Costs:

Fees such as taxes, insurance and lender expenses, which are paid at the time of closing. There are generally fees for both the buyer and seller, so this is an important expense to keep in mind when budgeting for the purchase of a home. For buyers, closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of the purchase price.

Uncover These Common Hidden Costs Before Buying a Home

Uncover Hidden Costs Before Buying

Although the down payment may be the biggest expense when buying a home, it certainly isn’t the only one. This is a case where ignorance isn’t bliss, at least as far as your wallet will be concerned — which is why it’s invaluable to work with a qualified realtor who can help open your eyes to costs during the home buying process and beyond.

“You try to give them as much information as you can,” says Woods Bros. Realtor Mark Tvrdy, explaining years of experience has helped him become aware of potentially pricey hazards specific to different homes.

Before getting in over your head as fees arise during the home buying process and after closing, here are a few things you can be on the look-out for with your realtor’s help…

Are you in a floodplain?

As we’ve recently seen, Nebraska is not immune to flood risks. In fact, floods are the most expensive natural disasters for homeowners in the United States — and insurance companies are well-aware of this, too. As a result, if the house you are considering is in a floodplain, expect to pay more in insurance coverage.

“It can come to be a great cost,” says Tvrdy. “Even if it’s in a 500-year flood plain, you can have this extra costs on top of it. It’s a bigger issue in Nebraska right now than people realize.”

Will you need radon mitigation?

There will likely be — and should be — a radon test completed during the process of inspecting a house when it is under contract. Although it’s hard to guess the results of this in advance unless there is already a radon mitigation system in place, older homes are especially susceptible to radon, which the EPA estimates causes thousands of cancer deaths annually.

In other words, radon is not something to mess with. If the home you are under contract for has a radon level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher, you will either need to ask the seller to install a mitigation system or carry the cost yourself. Depending on the size and construction of the house, this costs approximately $1,000.

Is it a 3-tab roof?

As Tvrdy explains, many insurance companies are no longer covering 3-tab roofs because the thinner shingles offer limited protection. So although 3-tab roofs cost less to install, you may soon find yourself in need of a replacement. If you discover the home has a 3-tab roof before the sale, you may have some leeway with getting the seller to contribute money for a new roof. Otherwise, this might be an expense that will come out of your own pocket.

Is there knob and tube wiring?

Another red flag is extensive knob and tube wiring throughout the house, says Tvrdy. Commonly installed in homes during the first half of the 20th century, insurance companies now consider this system hazardous.

“You’re going to pay a greater cost if you have knob and tube wiring,” he says. “Underwriters are going to start looking at this and there are only going to be a handful of companies that take these.”

The expense to upgrade a knob and tube system is $8,000 on the low-end and can cost upwards of $20,000.

Will water flow toward the house?

Another issue Tvrdy says he helps home buyers consider is the landscaping grading — and specifically whether there are areas where water will likely flow toward the house and pool. Depending on the severity of the grating, this can be an issue for the foundation and flooding.

Some cases are relatively easy fixes, but others can put you at risk for major expenses in the years to come.

Best Practices For When You Are Simultaneously Buying And Selling

Buy + Sell Same Time Tactics

Buying a house can be stressful. Selling a house can be stressful. Trying to do both simultaneously? It can feel like asking the stars to align — especially in a fast-moving market where you have to balance snatching up a good home with not wanting to be out of your current residence too quickly.

The dream scenario for most concurrent buyers and sellers is a “door to door” transition, which means closing on both houses at the same time so there isn’t a layover during the move. There generally is a bit of luck involved, but you can turn the odds in your favor by approaching the process strategically.


Although every transaction is different, Woods Bros Realty REALTOR Kent Obrist suggests getting the ball rolling with your home sale even if you haven’t zeroed in on your next home quite yet.

“Oftentimes buyers are a bit reluctant to do this because it’s an uncomfortable feeling to think that you could end up homeless,” Obrist says. “But the control is totally in the client’s hands as far as whether they feel comfortable accepting an offer prior to finding a home to move into.”


Although door to door sales are the ideal situations, Obrist wants clients to be prepared for a gap between the purchase and sale. The best way to go about this is to lock down a bridge loan, which allows you to temporarily overlap ownership of two properties. Bridge loans, however, do come with a few caveats — such as you need 20% equity in your current home. Check with a lender to see if you qualify.


While you’re already talking with a lender, it’s a good time to get a mortgage pre-qualification letter, especially if the house you are looking to get into is more expensive than your current place. To do this, you will want to compile relevant financial and personal information to ensure the lender has everything they need.


Whenever you are selling a home, the goal is to get the biggest return on your investment. However, Obrist warns against overpricing your home — which is sage advice for any seller, but particularly for those who are also trying to buy. He explains, “This will certainly lengthen your marketing time and may be detrimental to a favorable timing of the simultaneous selling and buying.”

Also keep in mind best practices for staging the home and, if possible, attempt to make the transition at a time of year when there will be fellow buyers and sellers making moves. With these steps and, yes, a little luck, you will be in your new home before long.

Mistakes Wintertime Home Sellers Should Avoid

Avoid Wintertime Selling Mistakes

This time of year, it would be easy to assume people are more concerned with finding the perfect gift than finding the perfect home. But, while winter time may be the “off season” for home sales, it doesn’t mean you need to freeze your listing until the temperatures rise again.

“Yes, there are fewer people looking to buy. But those buyers are often more serious that the casual person out looking at homes on a nice spring or summer weekend,” says Woods Bros REALTOR® Joanne McCoy. “Those serious buyers will need to find something, and if your home is one of only a few for them to consider then it can perhaps result in a better negotiation for you.”

If you’re looking to make a move this winter, here are a few mistakes to avoid…


Don’t go overboard with holiday spirit

If you are looking to sell you home between November and December, you may want to keep the bulk of your usual holiday decorations in storage this year. Not only can these add clutter to the home that isn’t conducive to staging, but prospective home buyers also like to envision themselves in the space and the extra decor can be overkill.

Don’t get lazy with your walkways

Woods Bros REALTOR® Bruce Hahn says the biggest winter-time mistake he sees home sellers make is failing to keep their driveways, sidewalks and porches clear of snow and ice. Although this maintenance may be a big undertaking here in Nebraska, it’s worth it if you hope to move before everything thaws.

“If a potential buyer is going to make an effort to view a home in the winter, they shouldn’t have to try and navigate a snowy and slippery drive and sidewalk in order to reach your home safely,” Hahn says.

Don’t price your home too high

With fewer buyers in the market, it’s especially imperative to price your home right from the get-go. According to a 2018 report from Trulia, nearly 1-in-5 houses for sale nationally underwent one price cut—which can be a foreboding sign for some buyers as they immediately suspect something is “wrong” with the home.

Don’t make it seem any darker and colder than necessary

Good homes offer the promise of warmth and comfort in the wintertime—so now isn’t the time to save on utility costs by keeping the thermostat down and lights off. Says Hahn, “Make sure window coverings are open, all the lights are on to create a warm and inviting atmosphere to a potential home buyer.”

Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist for Homebuyers

Content Provided by American Home Shield

The Ultimate Home Inspection Checklist for Homebuyers

American Home Shield Home Inspection GuideBuying a home can be overwhelming, but a home inspection checklist can help you keep track. From costs to what’s covered, we walk you through a home inspection.

There are a lot of moving parts in the homebuying process, including pre-approvals, loan applications, information gathering, fact checking and doc signing. And that’s before you even make an offer. Luckily, there are valuable tools, like a home inspection checklist, to help keep you on track.

Once the seller accepts your offer, the property officially goes into escrow and the window for a home inspection opens. But what is a home inspection exactly? It’s a professional evaluation of the property you intend to purchase that is completed by a third party. Assessing the home from a structural and safety standpoint, an inspector helps ensure the house is free of hazards, up to code and a wise investment. But what do home inspectors look for? What happens if problems are identified? Who pays for a home inspection, or repairs for that matter? To point you in the right direction and eliminate uncertainty, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know now and what to do next.

What is a Home Inspection and Why is it Important?

An inspection offers detailed insight into a home’s current condition. Sometimes it proves a property is in great shape. Other times, a report spotlights issues the seller didn’t even realize existed. From repairs that need to be addressed immediately to maintenance that may be required down the road, identifying problems at this point in the process can be eye-opening for all parties. Home inspections give sellers the chance to fix any issues up front and affords buyers the opportunity to ask for credits and repairs. Ready to take the next step? Follow this home inspection checklist:

Find an Inspector

Your realtor will likely offer a list of professionals he or she trusts and has used in the past, but you are free to choose your own. Remember, licensing is different in every state, so take that into consideration when looking for recommendations.

Hire an Inspector

It’s important to reach out and schedule your home inspection as quickly as possible. The more valued the inspector, the more quickly their calendar fills up.

Prepare for the Inspection

Home inspection costs average between $350 and $600 depending on your state. Money should also be budgeted to cover additional assessments should the need arise.

Wondering who pays for a home inspection? Traditionally buyers are responsible, though sellers may choose to conduct independent evaluations that they will pay for.

What Home Inspectors Look For?

Both homebuyers and sellers can be present for the inspection. The process usually takes a few hours and is an ideal time to ask questions, bring up concerns and take your own photos and notes. Make a detailed list of components and areas to be evaluated, including:

  • Appliances
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Doors and windows
  • Electrical panel, power outlets and light switches
  • Exterior paint, siding or stucco
  • Foundation
  • Garage
  • Plumbing faucets, fixtures and water heater
  • Porches and balconies
  • Rain gutters and downspouts
  • Roof
  • Stairs, steps and railings
  • Thermostats and heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) system
  • Walkways and driveways
  • Walls, ceilings and floors

It’s important to note that inspectors can only report on physical components they can see. This means they may not catch issues hidden behind walls or beneath the ground, such as in the sewer line, sprinklers and fireplace. For more insight into the purchase process beyond a home inspection checklist, check out our tips for first-time homebuyers.

The Added Benefit of a Home Warranty

Some sellers instruct their real estate agent to order a home warranty while their property is on the market. This helps mitigate unexpected issues that may arise from the inspection and increases value for the buyer. While an inspection offers assurance that you’re making a wise investment, an American Home Shield® Home Warranty can extend that confidence by helping to protect major components of your home’s systems and appliances. If you don’t already have a home warranty you can get a free quote and find out how we can help protect your investment.

What To Consider When Buying Your Starter Home

Starter Home Search TIpsIt may not have all of the glamour. It may not be perfectly updated. And it may not be in the dream location. But a starter home is, well, a great place for many home buyers to start. By making the move into ownership from a rental, there is a lot to consider—from market availability and appreciation trends to what color you can paint the walls without a landlord’s prior approval.

What is realistic for the market?

According to a 2019 report from, 45% of mortgages assumed this year will be by Millennials. With younger buyers on the hunt for their first home, they will also have younger savings portfolios—and likely eager to keep the budget down. However, here in Nebraska and around the country, low prices tend to represent high competition from other would-be residents, people looking to flip houses and property management companies.

What compromises are you willing to make?

When creating a wish-list for a starter home, divide the items into “must-haves” and “could-haves.” By its very definition, you will likely move on from your starter home—so prepare to be fine if it doesn’t check all of the items on your list for a dream home. The purpose here is to also get serious about what you are unwilling to compromise, such as your top budget, the location or number of bedrooms.

Do you want move-in ready?

Although starter homes are often good chances to put your own touch (and experience the appreciation benefits) of renovations, there are some great renovated or completely new options that fit many buyers’ budgets for their starter home—especially if you are willing to look on the farther edges of town.

How long do you plan to stay?

In order to recoup the investment in the face of other expenses (such as closing costs and needed home maintenance), the general rule of thumb is that you should stay at one address for at least five years. Of course, it could be much shorter or longer than that depending on how quickly houses in the region continue to appreciate—but if you anticipate you will outgrow a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home by 2021, you may want to consider looking larger now.

How to Find Your ‘Dream Home’

Guide to finding and buying your Dream HomeMaybe it’s a grand entrance or a big backyard or even a very specific master bathroom layout: You’ve got to admit that you have some specific ideas for a dream home. Now, the challenge is getting everything you want for a price you can also live with long-term.

By the time you are grappling with these questions, you are likely also a seasoned homeowner (and buyer). That’s a credit to you in this new hunt—but here are a few more tips to keep in mind.

Find out your current home’s value:

Whether you’ve been in your current home for decades or are newer to the neighborhood, chances are the value has fluctuated since the time of your purchase. Although there are numerous ways to get an “estimate,” the best bet is by working with a realtor who understands the market, comps and your home’s unique aspects.

Set your budget:

Armed with the knowledge of how much your current home could garner in a sale, factor that into the other ways your life has changed since your last search. Also know that while what you can get approved for may be one thing, what truly is a comfortable budget may be a different matter. With a dream home in particular, it’s likely the place you will continue to call home as kids leave the nest and you enter retirement—so figuring out what is sustainable through all of those changes is key.

Get pre-approved for a loan:

Before you formally begin the search, take the time to get your financing squared away by getting pre-approved for a loan through a reputable mortgage lender. Although most pre-approval documents are only valid for two to three months, that’s better than finding “the house” and then having a more organized buyer beat you to the punch.

Remember what you can change:

If your wish list is three pages long, it’s going to be pretty hard to find a house with all of the criteria. Does that mean it can’t be done? No—you might just have to be the one who does the work. For example, if you will only go for a home with quartz countertops in the kitchen, don’t rush to rule other contenders out if the price would allow you to make this change after buying.

Allow time for the search:

It’s your dream home, but it may not materialize overnight. Especially if there is no urgency to move from your current house, take the pressure off yourself—and entertain all options, such as renovating or building a new property.

Finally, while it may be hard to check everything off the wish list and it may be disappointing to make compromises, remember that memories are what will really transform your new house into a dream home.

10 Home Updates That Quickly Increase Value

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10 Home Updates That Quickly Increase Value

If you live in an older home, or just bought a new one and want to make it yours, these 10 updates might be a great place to start. These updates will help increase your home value right away.

10 home updates that quickly increase the value of your home

Some home updates are all about making your home more comfortable for you and your family. For example, putting in a swimming pool won’t increase your property value by as much as you might think, but it will give you and your family many summer afternoons of fun. However, other home improvements are just as much about increasing your property value as they are about making your house homier.

If you’re thinking of selling in the relatively near future, you need to spend your home update budget where it counts. These 10 home updates will net you the biggest increases in property value and the highest returns on your investment.

1. Landscaping

Landscaping can increase your home’s curb appeal, and that can translate into an increase in property value of 5.5 to 12.7 percentMature plantings will net you the biggest return on investment, so ideally, you’ll begin landscaping long before you put your home on the market. A cohesive landscaping plan will give you the best return on your investment, so even if you can’t afford to hire a professional landscaper, you should take the time to plan out your new landscape before you plant anything.

2. Kitchen Remodel

Even a minor kitchen remodel can return 80.5 percent of the money you spend when it’s time to sell. Refacing cabinets, installing new countertops and floors, redoing the lighting, then installing a new sink, fixtures and range will cost roughly $15,000. In most cases, people look for bigger and more updated kitchens from what they already have. A kitchen update might just be able to seal the deal for your property when it comes time.

Bathroom remodel for home value

3. Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodels are another expensive update that buyers like to see already done – so much so that a minor bathroom remodel will actually increase your property value slightly. If you spend $20,420 to remodel a bathroom, you’ll get back about $13,717 at resale, on average. A complete bathroom redo might cost about $64,743, but you’ll recoup about 60 percent of that when you sell.

4. Adding a Deck

You’ll recoup about 75 percent of the cost of adding a 16×20 ft. wooden deck, although it varies somewhat depending on where you live – in the West, you’ll get back 100 percent of what you spent on a new deck, but in the South, where the air feels like hot soup, a deck addition will recoup about 83 percent of its cost.

5. Finishing a Basement

A finished basement will recoup an average of about 70 percent of its cost at sale. You may be able to recoup more than that in areas where basements are less common, such as in the West, but your ROI on a basement remodel will run closer to average in areas where basements are pretty standard. In the meantime, a finished basement can serve as a family rumpus room or a place to entertain.

6. Replacing Windows

Replacing your outdated windows with new ones is a good way to attract buyers and will get you back about 73 percent of what you spent at resale. If you live in a major city, you might even get back more than what you paid for your replacement windows when you sell. In desert climates, install low-e windows.

7. Replacing Your Garage Door

The average garage door replacement costs $3,611, and nets back $3,520, assuming it’s a two-car garage. A new garage door boosts curb appeal, making it one of the most valuable home updates in terms of ROI.

8. Exterior Door Replacement

Like new garage doors, new exterior doors boost your home’s curb appeal. 20-gauge steel doors also enhance your home’s security. The average exterior door replacement costs $1,826 and recoups $1,368.

9. New Siding

Your house can be the nicest one on the block in every other way, but if the siding is old and worn out, the whole house will look dilapidated. But installing new siding is like giving your home a facelift. For about $16,000, you can replace 1,250 feet of siding, and you’ll get back about 75 percent of that when you sell.

10. A Working Fireplace

If you have a working fireplace in your home, keep it. If you have a non-working fireplace in your home, it may be worth the cost of getting it in working order again. Each functioning fireplace in your home can add about 12 percent to its value.

Some home updates will improve your property value more than others. Before you start paying for home improvements, do your research and find out which ones will pay off the most when you put your home on the market. With careful planning and a little luck, you could get end up getting much more for your house than you’d hoped.

Lancaster County Property Assessments

property taxIf you live in Lancaster County (Nebraska) you should be on the lookout for a yellow postcard coming in the mail. The news is: house values are going up. The county assessor is required by law to keep residential and commercial properties assessed between 92 percent to 100 percent of market value. And thanks to sales prices having increased so much in the past year, the county assessor moved up their regularly scheduled re-assessments a year early.

I did a quick study of 15 homes (including mine). These were properties that I helped people buy or sell this past year. They ranged in price from $77,000 – $331,000. Of those 15, all but one increased in value. The highest increase was 18 percent. The average increase was 9 percent. Based on the current tax rate, my monthly real estate tax bill will increase by $48 (from about $400 to about $448).

If you want more information, go to: (keyword/search: assessorvalue).

You do have an opportunity to appeal your new value, but you need to request a hearing time no later than Feb. 1, 2017. To schedule an informal hearing date and time, go to and click on “appeal” or call 402-441-7463.

You may also call your real estate agent for more information or to help you prepare a market analysis.

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