GUIDE TO LINCOLN FARMERS’ MARKETS

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.

Home selling tips for the holidays

Home Selling Tips for the HolidaysFor many, the holiday season isn’t always the ideal time to list a house. But don’t let the hustle and bustle deter you from calling an agent and getting that “for sale” sign in the front yard. The housing market keeps going even if there’s snow on the ground—and yes—even during the Christmas season. If now is your time to move, then simply use some of these tips to maintain your sanity and sell your house during this busy season.

  1. Keep decorations to a minimum. We know, it sounds like something The Grinch would say. But limiting all of the holiday extras in your house will help stage your home for potential buyers. The extra decorations make it harder for a buyer to visualize the home as their own, and they create extra packing work for you when your closing rolls around.
  2. Keep the sidewalks and driveway clear. It’s a task you do anyway during the winter months, but putting in a little extra work and planning ahead for weather will save you from scrambling on the snowy morning of a showing. Buyers and agents will appreciate a clear walkway, and there’s nothing like a great first impression.
  3. You can also strike up a bargain to limit the amount of new toys entering the home. Try asking the kids if they’d like a mini-vacation instead of the usual pile of toys. You’ll create new memories and keep the house clutter-free at the same time. It might even become a welcomed tradition for years to come. But that doesn’t mean nothing under your Christmas tree: just try sticking to the magical rule of three. Buy the little ones one thing they need, one thing they want, and one thing to wear or read.
  4. Say no to hosting. This is the one time you have a really valid excuse. Ask a family member to trade with you if it’s “your year” to host, and in exchange you can bring a couple extra side dishes to help out. The last thing you need when you’re worried about keeping the house “showing ready” is extra guests and messes.
  5. Make your home extra appealing with a little extra heat. Remember that buyers will be coming in from the cold, so keep their comfort in mind by cranking up the heat a few extra notches. A cold house won’t feel inviting, and they won’t be encouraged to stay and look around. A nice, toasty home will be a haven from the snow that they just might not want to leave.
  6. Don’t forget to use your resources. Your Realtor will be the best source of information about finding the right buyers, pricing to sell, as well as keeping an occupied or vacant home show ready. Write down a list of questions (and your agent’s answers!) and relax this holiday season.

7 Organization Tips for an Open House

Open House OrganizationGetting a home ready for an open house is a big project and requires proper preparation in order for it to be a successful event. Marketing, deep cleaning, enhancing the ambiance, and repairs are among the many items on the open house to-do list.

Organizing the home and staging the home are crucial to an open house. Follow these handy organization tips that can increase the value of your home in the eye of homebuyers.

Photo by mobilerazzdotcom at Morguefile.comRemove Everything From Countertops

Especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. These places are often the make-or-break point for many buyers. This is also a great time to get rid of paper clutter once and for all!

Tidy Up Shelves

Put away and tidy up books, straighten pictures and ornaments, and remove clutter to leave shelves open and pleasing to the eye. Visit Pinterest for some great shelf decorating ideas.

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Keep Closets and Cabinets Clean

The temptation to stuff everything in closets or bathroom cabinets is real. The problem is, homebuyers like to look there too. Make sure to use baskets, bins, and other organizers to make things less cluttered.

Move Pets and Pet Stuff Out of the House

Get this done a day or two before the event. Having a neighbor or friend take care of your pet makes cleaning easy and rids the home of potential allergens for some buyers. Allowing a couple days between the pets’ removal and the open house would also help eliminate any lingering pet odor.

Spruce Up the Yard

The front of the house is the first thing prospective buyers see when arriving to a home showing. Curb appeal is essential for assessing home value. Mow the lawn, trim hedges, weed the garden, and put toys and equipment in the garage or a storage unit.

Move Vehicles Out of the Garage

I recommend leaving as much open space in the garage as possible because it makes it appear larger. Homebuyers want to know how much space would be available to fit their own stuff. Find a place in the neighborhood where it would be okay to keep the cars parked during the open house.

Push Furniture Against the Walls

This opens up the room and looks tidy. Try moving around excess furniture to lesser used areas, perhaps the basement, if an area is too crowded.

Remember: less is more. Organizing for an open house is typically not the same as how you would organize the place for everyday living. The idea is to keep items away and out of sight and open up the space to a model home status.

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Woods Bros Realty knows how to weather the storm

umbrellaWe love our agents! At Woods Bros Realty, we give our agents the support, knowledge and tools they need to be successful. Through good times and bad we are there for them, working behind the scenes.

One example is the recent storms that hit our area. As a part of our commitment to our agents, we believed that it was important to keep them informed, allowing them to provide the best service to their buyers and sellers when it came to handling storm damage, to keep closings together.  Woods Bros Realty agents were prepared to advise our sellers and their buyers about how to approach storm damage and disclosures. And our one-stop shop approach really made a difference to our agents and clients. Regardless of the side of the transaction our agents were on, they knew what to do or where to go to find out how to proceed. Our own HomeServices of Nebraska Insurance provided insurance tips and information immediately the evening of the storm and our general manager’s “snippet” video arrived in our agents’ in-boxes early the next morning regarding reaching out to our clients and updating disclosures. In addition, our in-house legal counsel send out a blog reminding us about our storm addendum form available to address any issues and ease anxiety.

Whether they are seasoned real estate agents or new real estate licensees, our staff did their best to provide a network of helpful information to our agents, so they could continue to provide the best experience and service to our clients.

Woods Bros Realty has weathered many storms in our 127 years, and we are glad we can put that experience and ongoing education to work putting our agents’ and their clients’ minds at ease.

Price your home in the ballpark to sell

baseball-field-wbr-webApril 1 is opening day for Major League Baseball. It’s also the start of the busy Spring selling season, when many people consider selling their homes.

One of the top concerns of home owners when selling is: “For what price should I list my home?” You don’t want to price it too high and end up in extra innings, nor do you want to price it too low and wonder if you could’ve have scored more for your most expensive asset.

Here are some tips to help you price your home in the ballpark of what a buyer will pay:

Start with the stats.

You can get a ballpark figure from any number of computer-generated models these days. The new one at WoodsBros.com will show you three base values. But in order to hit a home run, you then need to …

Put a strong designated hitter in your lineup.

A real pro knows the ins and outs of the field and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Knock it out of the park with a professional CMA (comparative market analysis) for the most accurate value of your home.

Play in the big league.

Whether you hire a heavy hitter or a rookie, you can count on the major players having a team of other agents and staff on their bench to help them find the sweet spot for your home price. And likely a buyer.

Go with a pro right off the bat.

It doesn’t pay to try selling on your own first. In fact, sellers who came up to the plate with a pro saw 9 percent higher median sales prices than those who tried to For Sale By Owner first before selling with an agent, and 19 percent higher than those who sold FSBO with no agent.*

Have a rain delay plan.

Come up with a game plan with your agent before listing for strategic price adjustments in later innings. This can help bring new attention to your home and prevent you from striking out.

Overall, a professional can help you pinpoint the winning price strategy to get your home Listed. Shown. SOLD.

* National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Profile of Home Buyers

Coming Soon: An All-New WoodsBros.com

Woods Bros Realty announces the upcoming release of all-new company and agent websites.

Responsive websites

The company partnered with Reliance Network to develop responsive websites that can be accessed from any device—from smart phone or tablet to desktop computer or smart TV, all without having to download an app.

“We’re excited to bring our clients a consistent experience, no matter where they are,” said Woods Bros IT Director Ben Dinger. “We will have one place for buyers or sellers to come to get the most accurate, local and up-to-date information for their real estate needs.”

Reliance Network specializes in technology for the real estate industry and recently released a new real estate search that caters to the ever-growing percentage of mobile users. WoodsBros.com will be among the first websites to launch this new search.

Home Value Tool

Another first is that the new websites will have a home value tool unlike any other in the local market. People can enter an address and get three different computer-modeled valuations of their homes, including the Zillow® Zestimate® value. They will also have the ability to enter adjustments for renovations and upgrades or contact a local real estate agent for a more accurate estimate.

Neighborhood Match

The companies also partnered with LiveBy, a Lincoln-based startup, to introduce a beta tool to help match people with their ideal neighborhoods. Visitors to the new sites will be able to use the exclusive tool to discover neighborhoods that meet their identified lifestyles and desires.

LiveBy was co-founded by Cory Scott and Matan Gill, as a result of the JumpStart Challenge issued by Woods Bros in 2015. LiveBy also took part in the NMotion Accelerator program in 2015, and—through Woods Bros connections—will be expanding the beta test into several markets across the country.

“At our company, we build community,” said Woods Bros General Manager Shannon Harner. “What’s a better way to build community than to support our local entrepreneurs and innovators, while also serving our clients and neighborhoods? It’s a win-win.”

Other features for home buyers and sellers

Finally, the websites will continue to offer a “Property Watch” account for viewing all listings in the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and a new “Market Watch” feature for area trend and pricing reports. There are new tools for home selling clients to receive weekly updates on their home’s activity online as well. Woods Bros agents will each get new responsive websites that include the new features.

The sites are expected to launch end of March or first of April.

How to make a buyer fall in love with your home

heart housesBuying a home can be an emotional experience and, as Valentine’s Day approaches, it is a great time to consider how to make a buyer fall in love with your home. Feelings can motivate any decision, especially in a new home purchase, and you want a buyer to feel at home instantly.

A key to preparing your home for listing begins with an understanding of what is most important for your potential buyers to envision their life in your home over your own. What you overlook day to day might be viewed as a flaw by a potential buyer and could leave a negative memory of your home as they move on to another listing.

So remember before you list that it is essential to view your home with an objective eye and consider the top three immediate improvements that can be done in time for a February listing to have your buyer falling head over heels for your home.

While we may more often think about how to prepare our home on the inside, experts note that there are certain external improvements that have been statistically shown to have a greater return value in an offer price and can make that immediate impact on a buyer’s first impression.

The Master Entrance

Recent research has shown that a new master door can be one of the best home improvements to add value to your home. If a new door is not in the budget, experts advise that painting a door in a vibrant accent color to the home’s exterior can have an equal impact for less cost.

Ambiance

Just as the mood set by a candlelight dinner on Valentine’s Day, lighting can have one of the most significant impacts on a home viewing and first impression. Be sure to consider lighting outside and inside as you prepare your home to be viewed by potential buyers. Ensure all external lights are in working order. Light up your home even during a daytime showing­— especially lights that add a decorative value to your home’s exterior—for a lasting image as potential buyers consider your home curbside.

The View

Regardless of whether your view is a neighboring park or your own garden setting, it is important to ensure that the view remains attractive in winter and throughout the transition from winter to spring. While you cannot control the weather, you do have control over window treatments, lighting, and the elimination of any outdoor debris to ensure that a glimpse from a patio door or bay window presents the best scene possible.  A pleasing view may remain in a potential buyer’s mind’s eye and remain there as they write an offer for a new home they love: yours.

5 tips to pack like a pro

moving boxesPacking for a vacation comes down to one simple tip: sit on the suitcase and zip with all your might. But packing for a move can be a little more daunting. Especially when time gets down to the wire and you realize just how much stuff you have. So. Much. Stuff. If the big red Xs on your calendar are starting to stare menacingly at you as your moving date approaches, consider these tips to make packing a breeze.

  1. Simply get rid of the stuff. If there are 27 winter coats in your coat closet, narrow it down. Or sort through toys (when the kids aren’t watching of course). As a general rule, if you haven’t used something in the past six months, pitch it. Post items on Craigslist for a little extra cash, take all of those clothes the kids have outgrown to consignment shops, or utilize one of those new trendy aps like LetGo for a quick sale. Pile all of the leftovers into a box and gift your local Goodwill or the People’s City Mission.
  2. When the real packing begins one word will save your sanity: LABEL. Pack items by room. Keep kitchen items together, bathroom, clothes, etc. But most importantly, clearly write where these boxes need to end up in your new house: “Living Room,” “Upstairs Nursery at End of the Hall,” “Master Bedroom.” The last thing you want to do is rip open a pile of boxes in your entry way like a Christmas gift exchange gone terribly wrong.
  3. Instead of stuffing your entire wardrobe into boxes, with inevitable hours of ironing later, leave them on the hangers! Cover them in a garbage bag if you’d like, then when you arrive at your new home, voila, hang them right back up.
  4. Consider your carbon foot print with all those boxes. Find a friend who has recently moved and ask to reuse their boxes, or check a local grocery store for any extras they’re willing to let you reuse. Your agent might be able to help you find used boxes, too.
  5. Perhaps most importantly, don’t let the packing send you into a frenzy. Set small goals each day, and pack a little each day until moving day.

And when you’re finally moved in, take a moment to relax and enjoy your new home. Good Housekeeping offers this fun tip “Meet your neighbors the fun way. “It’s called a graffiti party and guests are given paint samples or markers to scribble games and notes on the wall.” Don’t be shy about hosting a gig sans furniture; this relaxed party theme is built around pizza and folding chairs.”

Chances are you’ll be painting anyway, why not make it a game and create new friendships along the way? If you don’t plan on painting your walls, turn it into an art project with an old pallet or barn wood. It will be a piece of art you’ll treasure for years to come, long after the stress of moving has passed.

Looking back on 2015 housing market, forecasting 2016

As we begin 2016 and reflect on the last 12 months, we would ultimately characterize 2015 as having been a very solid year for housing.  Early year-end numbers indicate that year-over-year sales nationally are up by about 10%, equating to roughly 5.3 to 5.4 million units of inventory (and compared to about 4.9 million in 2014).  The strong spring selling season in 2015 was indicative of the market’s overall strength, even while luxury sales activity appeared to have slowed slightly over the course of the last four months. Furthermore, as has been evident in the wake of the Fed’s December announcement, the long-anticipated interest rate increase is not predicted to have a large impact on home-buying activity in the year to come.

Locally in our Nebraska market areas, we saw a nearly flat year. Woods Bros Realty closed 3,157 total units, compared with 3,200 in 2014. However, the company’s closed volume is up 5 percent year over year. The luxury market, defined as homes $400,000 and up in the Lincoln market, was down in 2015 overall. Lincoln, Seward/York, Grand Island and Beatrice are all still experiencing a sellers’ market with fewer than six months of inventory available for sale.

residential market review 2015Looking ahead, here are some of the trends we’ll be watching:

  • 2016 will be a continuation of the housing market’s recovery: This will not be a “boom” or a “bust” year, but a “normal” one with reasonable expectations.
  • Millennials forming new households: This key segment of the consumer population has largely delayed purchasing homes; however, we are starting to see a shift from rentals to ownership among the demographic … and we expect 2016 to be a “break-out year” for these buyers.
  • Washington recognizes the need for affordability: We are seeing a move toward more normalized credit standards versus more risk-averse standards, essentially giving more qualified buyers the opportunity to own a home.  The banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have furthermore seen fewer foreclosures in the recent year, and we expect that trend to continue in 2016.
  • Boomerang buyers bounce back: Homeownership continues to be a very important dream among American consumers. While a number of people weathered the hardships of short-sales or foreclosures in the downturn, over the last five years, we have seen a gradual return of these buyers to the marketplace – another indication that the market has been successfully working through prior challenges.  People who may have been forced into rentals are now re-entering the market with home purchases.
  • By that same token, even with the dollar strengthening against other global economies, the American housing market will maintain its standing as a very safe place to park assets.

All that said, as the recovery continues and the strength of the industry grows, 2016 will be another important year for housing and its steady move toward normalcy.

Questions to ask to find the best agent for you

real estate agentWoods Bros Realty has more than 200 licensed Real Estate agents. While that number fills you with confidence in their experience and abilities, it doesn’t quite help you narrow down which one is best for you. Luckily, it helps to know which questions to ask.

Experience:

What areas does your agent have the most experience in? If you are a first time home buyer, ask your Realtor about their experience with buyers. You’ll likely have more questions than a seasoned home buyer. Your Realtor will be able to walk you through everything from disclosures to how to get approved for financing.

Services:

What services does your agent offer? Ask them to present a marketing plan for your home, complete with comparable sales in your area. If you’re a buyer, what is your agent’s availability? If your career keeps you tied up during business hours, are they up for after-hours home shopping?

Communication:

What’s the best way to stay in touch with your Realtor? Is the easiest way to reach them by text, phone call, or email? Do they have specific office hours when you can drop by for a chat? Keep the lines of communication open by knowing how your agent prefers to be contacted.

The Numbers:

Always ask your agent how they plan to price your house, or how they can help you present the best offer on your dream home. You may have your own numbers in mind when buying or selling, but trust the expertise of your licensed professional; they will have the info and track record to back it up.

As you navigate through names and faces of licensed agents, don’t hesitate to make that first phone call. If the face on a billboard, name on a “Sold” sign, or flyer stuck in your door caught your attention, call and get those questions rolling!

Choosing a full service Realtor is the first step to a successful Real Estate transaction, and by knowing the right questions to ask, you’re on your way to finding the perfect agent. As Realtor.com points out, “Remember, the REALTOR® is your advocate in the transaction, whether you are buying or selling. Once you have signed up with an agent to represent you, he or she is your face, your voice and your defense against all involved in the multi-layered home buying or home selling process.”

With so many licensed professionals to choose from, you’re bound to find the best advocate for you.

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