Only if that’s what you pay………………..

I think everyone knows this is a Seller’s market. There is less inventory then there is demand. Many Sellers are pushing up the asking price of their home trying to glean a few more dollars. This is understandable. Some Sellers have gotten TOO aggressive with their asking price and are “out of the market” This I believe is an opportunity for Buyers who want to avoid the bidding wars that occur today. There is no rule that says you can’t offer $200,000 for a home priced at $225,000. As an agent, I have a fiduciary responsibility to present any offer you make.  I frequently provide input as to the probability of an offer being accepted. My Dad used to tell me the answer is always NO until you ask.
I have heard agents say, “I won’t present low ball offers” While that statement may make great “water cooler chatter”, it is not consistent with A Buyer Representation Agreement.  Remember,  your Agents job is to act in YOUR BEST INTEREST!
If  you  think a house is overpriced by $20,000 but you like the house, why not make an offer? What is the worst that could happen? The Seller could say NO THANK YOU! That’s not too devastating, is it?  Sometimes the real art of negotiating is having a willingness to start the conversation.  Oh and as far as hurting the Seller’s feelings, unless the Seller is your relative and you have to see them at every holiday for the rest of your life, it should be of little concern. This is a business transaction not an assessment of the Sellers taste in clothing or a critique of their peach cobbler recipe. If the house is in need of updates, has deferred maintenance or other issues it may be advisable to outline your reasons for the offer price.

Let’s, for a moment, think about a Seller who in an overheated real estate market (like we have today) has been on the market for over 90 days.  And lets also suppose that they have had some  showings but no offers. Is it possible they would welcome an offer even if it’s lower than the asking price? I would say in most cases the answer is YES!!! Remember, the actual market value of anything (including homes) is the price a willing Buyer and a willing Seller agree to.
This strategy can work if you and your agent are willing to do the homework.
What is the market value of comparable homes in the neighborhood?
Similar = style, age, finished sq. feet, amenities, finishes
Be ready to execute
-Have a pre-approval letter
-Sufficient earnest money
-What are your contingencies
-Sale of your home (Are you ready to sell/move)


The bottom line is you may be able to put yourself in a position to buy a home if you are willing to venture outside the proverbial box and avoid the your “What Will Sellers Take” comfort zone. Buying a home in today’s market can be difficult, but not impossible. You may just need to stretch a bit and be willing to look where others dare not go!!

Change Doesn’t Just Happen 

Printed with permission of SRES.ORG

Moving across the country is challenging, but when it includes frail, elderly parents, it becomes exponentially harder. It’s why those who have gone through the process with a loved one suggest getting an early start, having a handle on the to-dos, and planning ahead.  But most families wait until a crisis before considering housing options and purging a house, according to Judith Kahn of Judith Moves You, a New York City senior move manager. “It’s not unusual for people to call me just weeks before a move,” she says.  She also says it’s best to start sorting, cleaning, and figuring out the next steps a year prior to downsizing. “Frail seniors have physical and emotional limitations and can only work two or three hours at a time,” she says. When a move manager swoops in with just weeks to do their work, it increases seniors’ stress, particularly if they have dementia.

You’re fired

Still, parents and children resist. “Part of it is coming to terms with the idea that hiring me is staring mortality in the face,” Kahn says.  Sisters Rachel Wineberg-Kaufman of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., and Johanna Kellman of Naples, Fla., came face-to-face with such resistance when trying to get their 90-something parents, Bernice and Julius, to downsize several years prior to their eventual 2018 relocation from Chicago to Naples.  The two had raised the topic several times, but their parents refused to consider moving or even having help in their house. “My mom kept firing the aides we hired,” recalls Wineberg-Kaufman.

Recognizing the signs

But the signs that it was time for a change were there. When the daughters visited, friends pulled them aside and told them that their parents really could use more help. They noticed piles of unopened mail and disorganization in their parents’ normally tidy condo. But getting their parents to accept that it was time to downsize wasn’t easy, and the sisters wanted to respect their parents’ wishes.  Then, when Wineberg-Kaufman’s husband talked with his in-laws and suggested moving, they jumped on it (See more of the story in the SRES blog ___), opting to live near Kellman in Naples. A semi-neutral person, someone other than the children, making such requests sometimes can be persuasive and effective.

Tip: When talking with parents about medical directives, ask about their wishes for long-term living arrangements, should aging at home become impossible. Wineberg-Kaufman says, “I wish I had asked, ‘How will I know that you’re ready to move? What signs should I watch out for?’

Preview options in advance

After getting a thumbs-up from their parents, Kellman scrambled and started visiting and researching the independent housing options. Kellman suggests doing some scouting years before a move. The choices are vast, confusing, and expensive. In addition, it’s important to pick a place where your parents will feel comfortable.

When the building’s vibe? Do residents seem engaged and happy? Do the activities match your parents’ interests? Could you picture your parents living there?  “You really just have to find the personality that’s right for them,” says Kellman.

Editing a life

Once Kellman, an interior designer, chose an apartment in an independent living building, she took measurements and planned a layout. House-sized coffee tables, couches, and so forth, typically are too big for the limited space in independent living apartments. But moving some furniture makes the space feel homier and less institutional.

That advance planning and measuring guided the sisters’ decisions about to bring.

They opted for a few pieces of furniture that were important to their parents, some quilts her mom had made, photos, and some books and mementos.

Managing the nitty-gritty

“If you don’t have a sister who’s an interior designer, hire somebody experienced in senior moves,” advises Wineberg-Kaufman.  Such managers are expert in dealing with the big issues of a move and the nitty-gritty details, including packing and shipping, turning utilities on and off, and transferring insurance.

Their unique skills also entail scanning a room and knowing what can be donated, what’s saleable, and what need to be tossed. Moreover, notes Kahn, they have pre-vetted connections with every type of service provider – movers, geriatric care managers, auctioneers, estate sale managers, and so forth – needed to execute a move seamlessly.

When their dad moved from independent to assisted living in the same facility after their mom’s death in 2019, the sisters marveled at senior move managers’ tricks of the trade.

For example, they photographed the medicine cabinet and drawers before packing so that everything was put in the exact same spot in the new apartment. Their dad didn’t have to hunt around for things, which minimized his stress.

Orchestrating farewells

A few weeks before the move, the sisters got in touch with their parents’ friends and asked that someone go out with them for a meal each day.  It was one way for their parents to enjoy their last weeks in Chicago, celebrate with friends, and bid farewell to their hometown.  And to diminish their parents’ angst, the sisters purged and packed after the actual move.   They left the apartment intact so that their parents’ last view of it was one of beauty, not chaos.

Finding new friends

In retrospect, Wineberg-Kaufman realized that another reason for parents to move to a senior building sooner rather than later is how challenging it is to make new friends, something her parents found difficult. Wineberg-Kaufman notes that people in that age group may have hearing and memory problems and sometimes they’re too frail now to fully engage socially. She also observed that sometimes interactions among residents can mirror those of young children who play next to one another but not together. Had their parents moved they were younger, Wineberg-Kaufman thinks they would have been able to build a stronger social network.

Now that Bernice has passed-away, Julius is isolated at his assisted living facility.

But when he was back in Chicago for his wife’s memorial service, he reconnected with old, lifelong friends and was sharp and engaged. “Because of that depth of friendship, they all just fell into conversation,” recalls Wineberg-Kaufman.

The entire experience has caused her to consider a new model for aging. “Set up your own assisted living with friends,” she says. “Buy two condos: one for the friends and one for the caretaker.”


If you’re planning a cross-country move with a senior, here’s a list of resources and checklists to get you started.


Printed with permission of SRES.ORG

I looked for the origin of the quote “Home Is Where The Heart Is” It was none other than Pliny The Elder. (Not to be confused with Pliny The Younger) Who? That’s what I said. Turns out old Pliny was, among other things, was an author during the first century AD. He he is credited with several quotes. “Nothing is so unequal as equality” “In these matters the only thing that is certain is uncertainty” It is speculated that he died as a result of trying to help a family escape for the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. It appears as though he may have been both wise and brave. 

Well, back to home. These past few months have validated Old Pliny. Home has been where our heart, family, office and almost every other thing has been. Not always by choice.  

I hope you find your home is filled with all the love you can imagine, and that those who are at the heart of your love know what they mean to you. 



Elm Creek Park Reserve

For those of us that live near or north of latitude 44.986656 (Minneapolis) the winter is mostly dark and on the cool side. While the days to begin to lengthen after Christmas the temperatures can hang at below zero for extended periods. You will generally find folks hunkered down inside with a blanket, a book, and a fire. While that may sound comfortable, anyone who has experienced “cabin fever” knows that the sense of isolation and separation can be real. Combine the normal winter doldrums with a global pandemic and you may begin to exhibit behaviors like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Yikes!!


While the winter is closing in on the halfway mark, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors this winter. Here are some links to some very traditional activities. There are several places to rent equipment so you can avoid a second mortgage to gear up only to find this may not be your cup of tea.

Downhill Skiing & Snow Boarding – The Minnesota Ski Association can provide you with locations, snow reports and special offers.

Cross Country Skiing & Snow Shoeing – The Minnesota DNR website has information on locations, passes and rentals. Many of the regional parks like Three Rivers Park District or Elm Creek Park Reserve also have information

Sliding – There are enumerable local places to slide or tube but if you are looking for something a bit more dramatic and organized check out the Elm Creek Park Reserve or most of the large regional parks.

There are also lots of ice skating and hockey rinks in the metro area. A drive around after dark and you just need to look for the glow of the lights in a local park. And if you can’t find a park, we do have 10,000+ bodies of water in this state that when frozen can provide an opportunity to glide on blades of steel.

Ice fishing is also available as a great outdoor sport. Large crowds are rare in a “4 hole” fish house. Many anglers opt for a stool on the lake with no shelter at all. As is always the case, make sure that ice is of sufficient thickness and quality to support your activity. The Minnesota DNR has a helpful webpage to give you an idea of what “safe ice” is

The key to comfortably enjoying the outdoors in the winter is always dressing properly. My grandmother’s admonition to dress in layers was and is the best advice (IMO). And there is one activity that requires little gear except clothing. A leisurely walk through the neighborhood or park can giver you just to break you need. If you’ve walked during a gentle snowfall you will know what I mean. I enjoy the quiet, but I do have to be careful to not bump into something while I focus on trying to catch a snowflake in my mouth.

There are also some great organized events to fill your activity calendar. These items were still advertising online when I wrote this. 

Winter Carnival Ice Sculpture

St Paul Winter Carnival 

Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby

Brainerd Jaycees Fishing Tourney

Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Derby




If you’re looking for a more up to date list of events in the area you could try Minneapolis.org/calendarvisitstpaul.com or Google twin cities winter events



With the unknowns surrounding the pandemic it is uncertain which, if any, indoor activities will be available. These are just a few of the options that may be available in the Twin Cities to pass the time until the Spring Equinox.  Most area museums and area attractions are worth an investment of the day. (I’m not sure you can get through the Science Museum in a single day). Here are just a few:

Science Museum of Minnesota – The Science Museum was founded in 1907. The museum’s current location on the banks of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul offers 370,000 square feet of space.  It includes a 10,000-square-foot temporary exhibit gallery, five permanent galleries, 10 acres of outdoor exhibits, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omni theater.

Minnesota Children’s Museum – Sparking Children’s Learning Through Play.   Minnesota Children’s Museum provides children with a fun, hands-on and stimulating environment to explore and discover.  The museum helps to instill a lifelong love of learning by nurturing the real-world skills children need to become engaged citizens in the future.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum -The “Arb” is a top visitor attraction of more than 1,200 acres of gardens and tree collections, prairie and woods and miles of trails.  As a premier northern garden, the Arboretum was borne out of the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center and established in 1958, with the Men’s Garden Club of Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka Garden Club, Minnesota

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory might be just the ticket.

The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley

No need to hibernate with all these fun things to do. Stay active and social even on the coldest of days. It’s great practice for later because the days are getting longer and in no time at all we will be grilling and chilling by the lake or on our decks.

The recent periods of “Pandemic Prison” may have you climbing the walls and looking for something (anything) to change. While the internet can be a great resource it can also provide a tsunami of ideas that may break the bank and leave you exhausted. Perhaps a shortlist of ideas will help you focus and achieve that new look you are seeking. Here are seven ways to invest your time and resources upgrading your space


Lockdowns may be keeping us safe but they are certainly bringing families closer together. 9sometine too close) Your kitchen may now be the school room and home office. Countless living rooms have been tasked as entertainment and exercise spaces. While tearing down a wall or adding on may seem like the only answer, it may be as easy as rearranging furniture and changing the flow of a room that vastly improves function. By eliminating some bulkier pieces adjusting the number of accents and reconfiguring the layout your gym, study hall, office, dining, gathering space can be a realty.


With all the extra cleaning and disinfecting that is being done you may be glaring (instead of staring at) those shelves of trinkets and keepsakes. That friendly clutter is likely making your space feel smaller than it is. I’m not suggesting you “86” everything you love but it is possible to achieve cozy while improving comfort. I find that when I have less clutter to start with I am less apt to leave more clutter behind. Even if it is just for a few months, boxing up the clutter and storing it away will at a minimum give you a different perspective of your space and way less to dust!!


I think new paint is one of the least appreciated home improvements. Paint is not designed to be a “lifetime” investment. Changing up wall colors can be a great way to freshen up the feel of your home and provide relief from the sameness of being locked down. If you’re not up to repainting the entire house how about adding an accent wall to a room? It’s a great way to add contrast and freshness to a tired space. There are numerous techniques that can also be used to give an accent wall extra character. (thank you YouTube) Don’t like what you did to change the paint? No worries, if we’re locked down for awhile you can do it over. You’ll have the time!!

A relatively inexpensive way to change the look of any room is to update the lighting. New fixtures and updated LED bulbs can improve your look and save you some money. The LED gives you options for intensity and color. (ever dream of a blue room) You can also add accent lighting under cabinets and on stairways that is both functional and eye catching. A licensed electrician is a great resource (and often a must) when you are doing more than plugging in your new lights. Having them installed correctly and safely means you get the enjoyment without the danger of damaging your homes electrical system or causing a fire.

That full kitchen remodel may have to wait until a post pandemic period where “dining out” is a frequent option. That said, there are some simple ways to renew your space. There are some wonderful products for refinishing your cabinets in place. Countertop specialists can usually replace those time worn tops in a day. By adding new hardware you can complete the makeover. Add-ons like under cabinet or over cabinet lighting can give your kitchen a great new vibe.

After being confined for any period of time, it is apparent to me how valuable my time outdoors is. Not only does it feel like I’ve escaped (even if just to my patio) there are the well known benefits that fresh air and sunshine have on my physical and mental health.
I have added to my outdoor spaces entertainment value with things like speakers, lighting, fountains and a fire pit (gas powered) An outdoor rug and new chair cushions were an inexpensive way to put a pop of color in the space. Mine is a micro space (8’x14″) but it does feel comfortable. A great outdoor space can also add value to your home if it enhances the “livability” of the home.


I’m an optimist so I believe this too (pandemic prison) will pass. Until that happens you can greatly improve the look and functionality of your “cell” and make it a place you want to come home to when you are once again, free to move about the country.


It certainly has been an eventful year. A global pandemic that has caused many not just to social distance but to socially isolate. Political division that many feels is unprecedented. Social unrest that has and is shaking some of the very foundational institutions in our country. Will anyone look back and say they long for the “good ole days, like 2020”? At first glance it would appear the consensus would be, good riddance and bring on 2021!!

The massive social unrest of the summer was unsettling and, in some cases, terrifying. Entire neighborhoods burning, police stations over run, elected officials facing the cameras with upturned hands and fingers pointed at each other as to whom was to blame. Gangs roving the streets (some armed and on both sides) assaulting people for their ideas. As awful as it was it has caused all of us to have sometimes difficult conversations. It appears that those discussions will continue as we move forward. The further in time we get from the mayhem the hyperbole dies out and we can have honest dialogue about each of our responsibility in approval, even if tacit, of systems that would allow any citizen in this country to be denied equal protection and opportunity under the law. Perhaps all this tragedy and strife will get us closer to the words of Dr. King “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The political vitriol reached a fever pitch. Not really unprecedented but certainly well publicized. The exposure of political ideas on the plethora of media outlets helped to amplify the rancor. One very encouraging thing that came from this election is the 85% turnout in Minnesota during a pandemic. The lines at my polling place were as long as I have ever seen in my 21 election cycles. With the anger and discontent advertised in the media I could have anticipated almost any outrageous behavior at the polls. What I found was people who were polite, respectful and in good spirits. I have a newfound belief that my neighbors are in fact good decent people who apparently disagree with me politically (at least by yard sign count) but are not bent on destroying me or tearing down our country. Democracy is messy to be sure but, what else is better?

The Covid-19 global pandemic is an occurrence that is hard to find anything beneficial in. A disease that causes us to radically change our lifestyles attacking with such randomness and varied ferocity is unsettling at best. The politicization of the disease itself and the attempts to try and curb the spread have led to violence when the ideals of individuals ran headfirst into restrictions and those responsible for enforcement. What good could possibly come from this. Well it turns out families are eating more meals together. Parents are more involved in schoolwork. There is an apparent resurgence in people who are trying to find a spiritual center to their lives. As for me I am more conscious of the time I spend with those that I love primarily because I don’t know if this time may be the last time, I see them for a while. The missed birthdays, holidays and celebrations have given me a yearning to experience all I can in the coming years. I want more than ever to experience family and friends in casual and organized events. I long for church where I can hug and shake hands. When singing is mask free. When our men’s ministry group can meet for breakfast to share the triumphs and failures of our walk with Jesus. I miss the smiles of people I pass on the street or in a store. I miss the wisdom of my older friends (yes there are people older than me still walking around) that is freely shared over lunch or a cup of coffee.

So, I will thank 2020 for the lessons learned, for challenging my ideas and for the thankful expectation that I enter 2021 with.

Have a Happy & Blessed New Year

The word Christmas comes from Middle English Cristemasse, which in turn comes from Old English Cristes-messe, literally meaning Christ’s Mass. Regardless of the “official” meaning of the word, the Christmas season holds many memories. Bright twinkling lights, pine trees, nativity scenes, crisply wrapped gifts, overwhelming tables of food, Christmas carols, family gatherings, candlelight services, etc. Festive memories that bring joy to so many. For me these memories fill my heart with thoughts of Christmas past. Unfortunately, many of those things may not be part of my holiday in 2020. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will certainly have a different feel this year.

After a year of intermittent social isolation, fear and strife it might be easy to forget that this Christmas is the perfect opportunity to give a gift to everyone you know. It need not break the bank, over extend credit cards  or require a second mortgage.

God’s Christmas gift to us, was Himself. (Phil 2 6-7) He came to us as a small vulnerable child and grew among us to walk as we do through this world. An unbelievably gracious act of love that required no money, wrapping paper, decorations or food.  His gift continued to give throughout His earthly life. Continually encouraging us to love each other as He loved us. Even those that were “socially outcast” were frequent recipients of His love and mercy.

While I am unable to match the gift given to me that first Christmas,(salvation) I can follow Jesus’ example of loving my neighbor as myself. A card, a smile, a kind word, a prayer, a helpful act are all gifts from me to those around me. Giving of myself, even in small things, could be the best Christmas present ever. I know from past experience that those gifts have the most impact on the giver. Opening my heart to others and giving of myself is the one time I feel like I am truly following His command to “love God with my whole heart and to love my neighbor as myself.”          (Luke 10:27)


“Lord Jesus, please open my heart and my eyes to all those who need, this Christmas and beyond. I pray that You would give me the courage, compassion, boldness and strength to be the gift you intended me to be when you created me. Jesus, you showed me that Your love was not limited to the deserving, prominent or popular. Your love was extended to all and You demonstrated how that love held the healing power so needed in the world then and now. Use me Lord to be a conduit for Your love that points people to You and Your incredible gift of salvation.

In Your Holy Name, I pray.”



Have a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year

First things First

You MUST have money or something of value to buy real estate. There I said it. No getting around the fact that you will need to have access to money (or something of value) to trade the Seller for deed to their property. Sellers will usually reject offers that don’t have proof of ability to perform. You need to “SHOW THEM THE MONEY” There are several ways to pay.
You could swap something of value (none cash) such as precious medals, precious stones, works of art, other property, etc. While these are not the most common forms of payment for real estate transactions (in the US) they do happen. With a swap you will likely need to show proof of value in the form an appraisal (third party)
You could pay in cash. Cash transactions are quite common in real estate. A buyer has access to cash from various sources and can provide a cash payment for the property. Quick, clean no appraisal, BAM! DONE! If this is the route you’ve chosen be prepared to submit financial statements with your offer
Sellers can finance the purchase. This is often called a Contract For Deed. The Seller requires a down payment (usually substantial) and agrees to accept payments over a specific period of time until the property is paid for or for a length of time and then requires a balloon payment to satisfy the remaining balance. The deed for the property doesn’t transfer until the contract is satisfied (paid off) If the Seller has a mortgage on the property a Contract For Deed can be a real risk for the Buyer. You may want to consult an attorney before entering into a Contract For Deed arrangement. You will still need proof of funds for the down payment portion of the transaction. Yep financial statements again.
The most common way to purchase real estate (in the US) is with mortgage financing. There are several types of mortgage products available with varying interest rates and terms. there are n some programs that allow you to purchase a home with no money down. The framework and requirements for each type of mortgage financing is a subject that is best left to the mortgage professionals. A licensed mortgage professional can be extremely helpful in determining which product is right for your circumstance. In most cases they can get you pre-qualified in a very short period of time. They will also help you determine the cash you will need to successfully complete the sale (CLOSE)
The pre-qualification is a “must do” step if you are planning to use mortgage financing in the transaction.
I can provide you with the contact information of mortgage professionals that can help make your dream a reality.
Let me know how I can be of service

It is almost here, the end of 2020. A year filled with change and “new normal” Who knew, right? I vaguely remember mentions of Corona Virus and the late-night TV jokes about too many Coronas would give anyone a “virus” or at a minimum make you sick.

Thankful for 2020? Really? Do you have to ask? Can the New Year come soon enough? We need a change, right? Forget “new normal” let’s get back to the way things were. A great battle cry or political slogan but not really based in the reality of experience. If the past teaches us anything at all it is that change is coming. Continually, unrelenting and without remorse or compassion, change, will happen. And it often leaves a trail of confusion and uncertainty for a period.

Million Dollar Lake Homes - Minnesota Lake Home Million Dollars Plus, Minnesota Lake homes valued at a million dollars or more, Luxury MN Lake Homes, Million Dollar Lake ViewsEven with all the uncertainty and turmoil of this past year I find I am “thank filled”. The year started with the death of my Dad. New Year’s Day 2020. I miss him every day but find myself smiling as I think of all the things he taught me, the shared experiences, that great smile and his response each day I asked “How are you doing pops?” His response never wavered “GREAT” he would proudly pronounce. I am so thankful for the last few years when he needed extra care and I got the opportunity to know him better and serve his needs. I also know my Dad’s life didn’t end and that I will see him again.

I am thankful for my local church family. A smaller, personal and intimate group of believers who have demonstrated a God powered resiliency to continue to provide fellowship, community worship and caring not only for the members of our local church body but also out into the community. Even through the temporary fog of present circumstance the focus has been the Great Commission and Commandment given by Jesus.

I am thankful for my many business and professional relationships. I have not experienced so many people in that environment willing to share their fears, anxieties and convictions at such an authentic level. Perhaps the shared uncertainty of the future has given us a great gift of stripping away veneer to reveal  who people really are. And perhaps it has also caused me to listen and hear those around me.

Last but certainly not least I am thankful for my entire family. We are if nothing else an eclectic group. At any given gathering you experience the gambit of political, religious and social opinions. Even within the very distinct “family pods” there is little in the way of unanimity. Even when it gets loud it is only because there is an underlying sense of security and acceptance(usually)

As I said I am not just thankful, I am thank filled; Pressed down and overflowing.

I am most thankful for the God who loves me and knows my name. Whose love was so incomparable that He became a human and then surrendered His life so that I might be forgiven and receive eternal life. And as if that is not enough, He left His Spirit with me so that I would never be alone ever again. He did all this for me and every person on earth. I don’t know about you, but I think that is amazing, awesome, incredible and all the superlatives combined.

Thankful is all I can be, no other response appropriate

Many blessing to you and yours on Thanksgiving

With a brief respite in our weather you still have time to do that pesky pre-winter maintenance that you may missed. But the clock is ticking so get with it!!

Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be all inclusive nor will the suggestions apply to all circumstances or home types. Seeking the advice and assistance of licensed contractors should be a consideration before attempting any maintenance or repairs that you are not prepared or qualified to perform

Winterize your Heating System

Thinking about the arctic blast that is just over the horizon you know your heating system is perhaps the most critical element for a home in winter, and while the ideal time to check your furnace and other heating appliances is in the fall—no later than the end of October, it’s not too late to gettr’ done

Heating System Checklist

Test run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 degrees, just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on, and warm air should begin to blow within a few minutes. If the furnace is running fine, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. If the furnace not running properly, you can try to diagnose it yourself. 

Replace the air filter: Put in a new, clean air filter. It’s easy and doing so will ensure a free flow of air and a cleaner environment. Each furnace has its own requirements for air filters, so follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. A monthly replacement of the air filter is usually recommended. Have an HVAC contractor check for carbon monoxide leaks. If they discover problems, you can act now to correct the cause of the CO leak. Usually, this involves leakage in the exhaust system of a furnace or other fuel-burning appliance, such as a water heater. Do not put this work off; a CO leak is a very dangerous situation. Oh, and make sure you test your CO detectors for proper operation. Remember that CO detectors like Smoke Detectors have a shelf life and need periodic replacement (not just the batteries) Have a the exhaust vents checked for proper operation too: Some furnaces and boilers, as well as gas water heaters, vent through a chimney, while newer high-efficiency models may vent through plastic pipes running through a side wall. Make sure these vents are open and free of obstructions. A vent that has not been used all summer may have become home to birds or other animals, which can block the vent pipes and interfere with the furnace’s ability to burn efficiently and properly vent exhaust gases.

Inspect and clean heating vents: Clear obstacles to heating vents, so air can freely flow. Many experts recommend having a service technician come in and clean the vents every year or two.

Winterize the Air Conditioning System

While you might need this for several months this is the time to give your unit a visual inspection and take care of some basic maintenance. On your central air conditioner, you can clean the condensing unit of debris: Using a hose with the spray-head set to the highest pressure, clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Let the unit dry completely before covering it for the season.

Cover the condensing unit: Left unprotected, the condensing unit can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable waterproof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit.(BE SURE TO TURN OFF THE POWER BEFORE SERVICING ANY APPLIANCE) If you’re uncomfortable your local HVAC contractor can take care of it.

Winterize window air conditioners: As for window air conditioners, remove them if possible and store for winter. Left in windows, these appliances are very hard to seal effectively against winter drafts. If they cannot be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get an air conditioning cover like the condensing unit cover described above.


Inspect the Fireplace, Chimney, and Flue

Although largely ignored in warm weather, your fireplace (regardless of fuel type) and chimney can be a major source of cold air leaks and other issues in winter. So, the chimney and fireplace need some inspection and service before winter sets in.

Clear obstructions. Check to make sure the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other small animals. Check the damper. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is can be locked in the open or closed position. Check the chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.

Have the chimney cleaned. If it has been several years (or never) since you had your fireplace chimney cleaned, have it done by a professional chimney sweep. This is not a pleasant DIY project, and professional cleaning is not very expensive.

Inspect the firebrick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints, have them repaired immediately.  A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry firebrick through open mortar joints.


Winterize Exterior Water Pipes

Exterior faucets: Known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks, the exterior faucets need to have their water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from them by opening up the exterior faucets. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose bibb. And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the sillcocks or outside faucets and drain them.

Winterize Sprinkler Systems

The sprinkler system should not be overlooked when preparing your home for winter. Have your sprinkler system winterized no later than the end of October. If you have a lawn service that handles this, have them come to drain and winterize the irrigation system. Winterizing a sprinkler system can be a DIY project but you will need to understand the workings of your system to get each zone properly drained for the winter


Inspect the outside moldings around windows for damaged or missing caulking. Use a good-quality exterior caulk to seal any gaps you find around window moldings. Inspect window tracks and clean them of any debris that might be interfering with seals.

Inspect the locking mechanisms on all windows work adequately. You will want to lock them securely once winter sets in.

Check for air leaks. On a day when it is windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. Typically, air leaks will be found at the edges where the window is hinged, slides, or meets another unit—such as between the two panels of a double-hung window.

Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and be rather unattractive. It can also reduce much-needed natural sunlight in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal.



Inspect caulking around the outside moldings of door frames, and add new exterior-grade caulking, if necessary. Inspect and replace any failed weather stripping around doors, including the door sweep attached to the bottom of the door.


Inspect the Roof

Moving to the outside of the home, you should do a quick check of the roof. Either hire someone to inspect the roof if you are not comfortable doing this yourself. Wet or frosty roofs can be very slippery. (I do not like heights, so I would be calling a contractor)

Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles and have them replaced. Check flashings around chimneys and other roof projections, which are often the source of leaks. Have repairs made, if necessary. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean, with no leaves or debris clogging them. Wet leaves remaining in the gutters over winter add significant weight and volume to the gutter when frozen, increasing the risk of damage. Make sure downspouts are solidly attached. There is nothing like having the joy of the spring thaw ruined by water running out your ceiling fixtures. YIKES!!

Landscape and Store Outdoor Accessories

Is your yard prepared for winter? Your yard and shrubs will need a bit of prep to help them winter well and provide the beauty you expect come spring. The same is true for your lawn furniture and miscellaneous yard accessories. An inexpensive cover can extend the life years. Be sure to, cover patio furniture or bring it indoors to store for the winter.

Seal or stain a wooden deck if it needs it before winter. A properly sealed deck will be more resistance to winter damage.

Clean and seal any concrete or brick paver surfaces, as needed. Now is a good time to patch any cracks or damage to concrete steps or walkways.

And don’t forget your power equipment. A fuel stabilizer can really make a difference next season. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and you should be set.


Ok it’s time to go.


We will be contacting you shortly with information about your home.