Friday, August 5, 2016

BUYING A HOME—IN TODAY’S “SELLER’S MARKET”


According to the national Association of Realtors (NAR), sales of existing homes rose by 9% in 2015 over the previous year. Economist Lawrence Yun attributes this to pent-up demand from homeowners who have now regained enough equity to buy into a new house, or “trade up” from their current one.
As a result, home prices rose 4% in 2015 across the U.S., and are expected to rise another 3% in 2016, according to Kiplinger and Clear Capital, a real estate data firm.
So what does this all mean? It means we are in the midst of a “seller’s market.” In other words, the market is hot—and houses are selling super-fast—so it will be tougher to lock down the house you want, once you find it.
But don’t despair. Here are 4 simple tips to help you buy the right home in a seller’s market.

TIP #1—GET PREAPPROVED FOR YOUR MORTGAGE.

Make sure you’re ready to buy before you even tour the house. Since it takes at least 1-2 days to get approved by a lender, you don’t want to lose the house you love in a fast-paced market. (For more lending tips, check out HomeServices Lending.)

TIP #2—SEE NEW LISTINGS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Ask your realtor to alert you of new listings the same day they open. Be prepared to visit homes as soon as they list. Many houses in a seller’s market will sell on day 1, so you don’t want to wait till tomorrow.

TIP #3—BE PREPARED TO OFFER MORE MONEY.

If multiple buyers are bidding on the same house, it’s very likely that you will get into a “bidding war.” You may want to offer more than the price of the home upfront to avoid a bidding war or secure the best possible chance of sealing the deal. (Your real estate agent can coach you on this.)

TIP #4—BE WILLING TO WORK WITH IMPERFECTIONS.

Consider beforehand whether you would be willing to make renovations to a home that’s less-than-perfect—especially if it’s the right home in the right neighborhood. Would you paint a living room? Replace the landscaping? Redo the hardware on the kitchen cabinets? Know your limits before you buy.
Need a pre-approval in a hurry? Talk to HomeServices Lending, the affiliated mortgage company of ReeceNichols.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

8 GREAT REASONS TO BUY A NEW HOME IN YOUR 40’S AND 50’S


If you’re in your 40’s or 50’s, have you considered buying a new home? Here are 7 great reasons why it’s a perfect time to buy a new home now:

#1—THE LAST HOME WAS FOR THE JOB. (OR THE KIDS. OR THE FAMILY.)

We buy houses in our 20’s and 30’s for our growing families, new careers, and exciting jobs. In our 40’s and 50’s, our careers are more stable—so we can buy a home for ourselves, and spend a little more time commuting, if we wish.

#2—THE KIDS ARE GETTING OLDER.

For most of us with families, our kids get older by our 40’s and 50’s. Maybe your kids are in high school or college—or even starting their own families. Either way, a new home can better accommodate your shifting space needs.

#3—A PARENT, GRANDCHILD, OR OTHER RELATIVE NEEDS HELP.

Will you be caring for a live-in relative? If so, then now is the time to plan for the extra space you’ll need—to ensure that youand your guest have the right balance of privacy and care. Consider homes with finished basements, additional bedrooms, extra bathrooms, and even parking space—as well as proximity to medical care, if required.

#4—YOU LOVE HAVING GUESTS.

Do you enjoy entertaining—but never had the space to do as much as you’d like? You’ll be amazed at all the amenities available today to host in your home—from kitchen islands, to wet bars, fire pits, hot tubs, mini guest apartments, and tri-level porches.

#5—YOU WANT TO BE CLOSER TO ENTERTAINMENT.

Now is a great time to live closer to the entertainment venues you love—whether it’s nightlife, dining, shopping, museums, theatres, or the arts. Kansas City abounds with entertainment options.

#6—YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS.

Maybe you love gardening, and would enjoy a bigger yard. Or maybe you’ve always wanted a dedicated room for exercise, playing guitar, reading, cooking gourmet meals, or scrapbooking. Find a home that gives you the dedicated specialty space you need—to be as creative as you want.

#7—YOU’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF LIVING IN A SPECIAL LOCATION.

Maybe you love the Plaza—but your kids attended school in Olathe. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of living near a lake in Parkville, in a brownstone in Brookside, or in a city loft in the River Market. Whatever your dream is, now is the perfect time to pursue it.

#8—ENERGIZE YOURSELF!

Your 40’s and 50’s are a great opportunity to pursue your dreams, engage your passions, and care for yourself—as well as for any family members who may need your help. Energize yourself for the next 10-20 years of your working career, so you can live life to the fullest
Thinking about buying a home? A ReeceNichols agent can help you weigh your options. Contact us today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

KANSAS CITY FESTIVALS YOU’LL LOVE!



What better way to enjoy the weekend—than with a local festival? Kansas City offers dozens of festivals every year. Whether you enjoy butterflies, art, music, BBQ, or even Shakespeare—we’ve got something for everyone.

SNAKE SATURDAY PARADE & FAMILY FUN FESTIVAL (MARCH)

The largest Irish festival in Kansas City brings 100,000 visitors to this annual 2-day event, held around St. Patrick’s Day in the heart of North Kansas City.

ROCK FEST (MAY)

This all-day music festival draws 50,000 visitors each year to the Liberty Memorial, with multiple stages playing several different bands.

OLD SHAWNEE DAYS (JUNE)

4-day festival celebrating the unique pioneer history of Shawnee, Kansas, with re-enactments, rides, music, games, and arts and crafts. Tour Shawnee Town and experience a typical day on a 1920s Kansas farm.

HEART OF AMERICA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (JUNE/JULY)

Reserve a seat or blanket in advance for this 24-year festival, which features multiple performances of one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces. Perfect for a picnic—or grabbing a bite to eat from a local vendor. Plan enough time to see the pre-show parody and performances.

FESTIVAL OF BUTTERFLIES (AUGUST)

Powell Gardens has hosted this popular family festival for over 20 years. See hundreds of colorful, free-flying butterflies, including monarchs. Kids can do a caterpillar hunt and costume parade.

KC RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL (SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER)

For 40 years, the Kansas City Renaissance Festival has entertained guests with its medieval village, jousts, pub crawls, and comedy shows. It has more than 20 stages of live entertainment, rides for the kids, live animals, plus plenty of food and drinks for everyone.

AMERICAN ROYAL (OCTOBER)

Since 1899, the American Royal has celebrated the region’s agricultural heritage with rodeos, livestock, and a horse show. But the real draw is the World Series of Barbecue, the world’s largest BBQ competition—with 600 teams competing and nearly 50,000 attendees.

Moving to Kansas City? You’ll find a ReeceNichols agent in every neighborhood
.

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN ADDING OR CHANGING 

A KITCHEN BACKSPLASh



Thinking about adding (or changing) a backsplash in your kitchen?  Today, there are plenty of choices for materials, colors, and options. Consider these important factors—before committing to your final design.

HOW MUCH BACKSPLASH DO YOU NEED?

Are we talking about 3 ft. behind the kitchen sink? Or will the backsplash wrap around to another wall (or go behind the fridge or the stove, for example)? Deciding on a length will help you determine a budget. Generally, the longer the backsplash, the higher the budget.

FULL VS. HALF BACKSPLASH?

Also, decide now if you want a full-height or half-height backsplash. Full-height backsplashes can extend all the way to the ceiling, while half-height backsplashes (say, up to the bottom window ledge) can save you money and time in materials. You can also try a smaller 4 in. height backsplash.

CONSIDER YOUR OVERALL KITCHEN STYLE.

Are you looking for a change to your kitchen? Or do you want to keep the style intact? Make sure the backsplash matches your kitchen style—unless you really want to make a statement.

WHAT WORKS BEST WITH YOUR COUNTERS?

If your countertops are dull or neutral, then a splashy, colorful backsplash will liven them up. But if your countertops (or sink) already boast a bold color, then you may want a more neutral tone (such as white or stainless steel) as a background.

DECIDE ON A BUDGET.

A new backsplash can cost anywhere from $10/sq. ft. to $250/sq. ft.—and up. Decide in advance what you can realistically fit into your budget—before choosing materials.

CHOOSE YOUR MATERIALS.

The options for backsplash materials are endless. Look at:
  • Glass
  • Stainless steel
  • Tile
  • Marble
  • Slate
  • Travertine
  • Onyx
  • Limestone
  • Wood
  • Granite
  • Stone

CHOOSE YOUR COLORS.

Forget the dull grey and taupe backsplashes of 20 years ago. Today, backsplash materials come in a wide variety of colors, including:
  • White
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Metallic
  • Silver
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Red

CHOOSE A PATTERN.

Once you’ve selected your materials and colors, you’re ready to choose a pattern. Preview a few online to see what you like best. For starters, check out subway, mosaic, brick, modern, chevron, traditional.

DIY OR PROFESSIONAL INSTALLER?

Now that you know what you want, consider whether you should hire a professional installer to do the job. If you’re handy with do-it-yourself projects, then you may be able to install it yourself, using kits found in the local hardware store—but be aware that this project may involve plumbing and electrical work.
ReeceNichols can recommend a high-quality tile installer in your area. Contact a ReeceNichols agent today.

Friday, June 17, 2016

6 REASONS YOU’LL LOVE KANSAS CITY, KANSAS





Kansas City, Kansas is a shopper’s and sports-lover’s paradise.  Located just west of its larger sister, Kansas City, Missouri, folks travel here from all over the U.S. to browse their 400 acres of shopping, watch a NASCAR race, stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, or see a live professional Sporting KC soccer game.

1.2 MILLION SQ. FT. OF SHOPPING—AT THE LEGENDS OUTLET.

The Legends Outlet is a 1.2 million sq. ft. open air shopping center with more than 100 designer outlets, retail, dining, and entertainment destinations—such as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH,Nike FactoryChico’s Outlet, and Coach. Be sure to drop byCabela’s, the 180,000 sq. ft. hunting, fishing, and outdoor gear store with the free Mule Deer Country Museum inside.

THE 1.5-MILE TRACK AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY.

Right next to Legends Outlet is the Kansas Speedway, which seats 72,000 people on a 1.5-mile tri-oval track for several major race weekends every year. Fans enjoy the Toyota Tundra 250, GoBowling.com 400, and Kansas Lottery 300. It’s also home toThe Richard Petty Driving Experience and the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which sits directly on Turn #2.

TALLEST WATERSLIDE IN THE WORLD.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort earned national press attention when it unveiled the Verrückt, the tallest waterslide in the world. Not up for flying down the 168 ft. 7 in. slide in a 3-person raft? Then try the park’s other attractions—such as the Bahnzai Pipeline Tube SlideBlitz Falls, or Torrent River, which is 1,600 ft. of waterway that snakes through 10 ft. canyon walls on a gigantic course.

SPORTING KC WORLD-CLASS SOCCER.

Kansas City, Kansas is home to the Sporting Kansas City, the 2013 MLS Cup champs. The state-of-the-art Children’s Mercy Parkstadium was built in 2011 for $180 million, with a seating capacity of 18,467 seats, and offers plenty of amenities for enjoying a game—or one of the many concerts hosted in the location.

ENDLESS DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS.

This town hosts every kind of entertainment—from live jazz, to sports, comedy, fight nights, and casino games. Try the 403 Club, a unique pinball bar with weekly tournaments, or the AMC Legends 14 Theater, which boasts a 4-story screen with a VIP Balcony Lounge. The 7th Street Casino has 600 different slots and 2 bars to try 24 hours a day, while Dave & Buster’s is more family-friendly, with a modern twist on the old-time arcade—including a gourmet restaurant, bar, and pool tables alongside the video games. At T-Rex Café, the dinosaurs come to life in waterfalls and ice caves in a 20,000 sq. ft. family dining experience.

THE GREAT WOLF LODGE INDOOR WATER PARK AND HOTEL.

The unique, indoor waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge is kept at a constant 84 degrees year-round, and it’s the perfect place to stay on a visit to Kansas City, Kansas. Frequently used by local families for a “staycation,” the guests enjoy free indoor waterpark passes with their overnight visit, along with access to an arcade, restaurant, and nightly bedtime story. Many of the rooms are outfitted with KidCabins and Wolf Dens, perfect for families with young children.
Looking for a home in Kansas City, Kansas? Your ReeceNichols real estate agent can help. Contact us today.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

IT’S EASY TO REPLACE YOUR KITCHEN CABINET HARDWARE



Want to replace the hardware on your kitchen cabinets? Replacing cabinet knobs is a simple, easy project that even a novice can do—in a few hours, at most (depending on how many cabinets you have). And it’s a quick way to freshen up your kitchen décor, even in winter.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing your own kitchen cabinet hardware.

STEP #1—CHOOSE YOUR NEW HARDWARE.

There are literally hundreds of styles of kitchen knobs and pulls—in every style, color, and design imaginable. Browse your local hardware store, or visit one of the many online home décor suppliers available. Your new knobs should come with all the screws you need. (To make the job easier, choose new hardware with the same pattern and size of holes and screws.)

STEP #2—REMOVE THE OLD HARDWARE.

Unscrew the old knobs, using a screwdriver. If your new pulls use the exact same holes, then you can skip step #3 (you won’t need to drill new ones).

STEP #3—DRILL NEW HOLES (IF YOU NEED THEM).

If you are moving to a new size knob, or switching from a knob (which uses 1 screw) to a door pull (2+ screws), then you’ll need to drill a second hole. 
Carefully measure the distance between the 2 screws in your new pull with a ruler or tape measure, then mark that same distance on the cabinet above the existing hole with a pencil. Use a small drill bit to get the hole started, then a larger one to widen it.
If you’re adding knobs to a new door…
If you need a new hole altogether (or if you’re adding knobs to a clean door that didn’t have them before), then invest a few dollars in a clear plastic drill template—that will help you get the correct placement of the drill hole. Just line it up on the edge of the cabinet door, and mark the holes with a pencil. Then you’ll be ready to drill.

STEP #4—ATTACH THE NEW HARDWARE.

Hold the new pull in place on the front side of the door, while you place all the screws in through the holes on the back side of the door. Turn the screws loosely a few times with your fingers, just so they stay in place. Now you’re ready to tighten them. Finish turning the screws with a hand-held drill—just until they are snug (not too deep into the surface of the wood—you don’t want to splinter it).
Congrats! Your kitchen just got a quick makeover.
Ready to renovate your kitchen? Your ReeceNichols agent can recommend a qualified home renovation specialist near you. Contact us today
.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WHY SWITCH TO LED LIGHTS?

Have you tried using LED lights in your home? These lights can save you big bucks on energy, and give you better-quality light at the same time.
LED (or “light-emitting diode”) lights are very different from the old incandescent and fluorescent bulbs in your home right now. They come in a wide variety of designs that fit your same light sockets, but use a newer technology that lasts much, much longer—and require less energy to operate.
You can already find LED lighting options at your local hardware store for just about any application in your home, including recessed lights, skylights, outdoor lights, vanity lights, lamps, chandeliers—and even Christmas lights.
So what are the advantages to using LED lights in your home?

#1—SAVE MONEY IN LONG-TERM ENERGY COSTS.

Residential LED lights use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While the LED bulbs cost a little more upfront, just replacing the 5 most frequently used light fixtures in your home will save you an estimated $75 per year.

#2—MUCH LONGER LIFESPAN.

LED lights have an impressive lifespan, and can last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. In fact, some can actually last 20+ years.

#3—BETTER, BRIGHTER COLOR—IN A RANGE OF HUES.

Yes, LED’s can reproduce the warm whites, soft whites, and even bright whites that we love in our halogen and incandescent bulbs. But they can also produce a rainbow of other colors, including many variations of white and yellow—as well as blues, greens, purples, reds.

#4—THEY GIVE OFF LESS HEAT.

Even after hours of use, most LED lights remain cool to the touch—reducing the risk of fires or burns, and making your house more comfortable during the hot Kansas City summers.

#5—EASIER TO POINT IN A DIRECTION.

LED bulbs emit light in a specific direction, making them ideal for spotlights, drop lights, skylights, fireplace lighting, and recessed downlights.
Installing new lights? Need a recommendation for a good electrician in your area? Your ReeceNichols agent can help.Contact us today.