How to have a Merry “Green”mas, and safe holiday

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hollyThough not everyone will be celebrating Christmas this week, it’s safe to say that most will be spending time with family and friends.

Check out these tips to help the environment, and keep you fire-safe, during the holidays.

  • 3 Ways To Have a Merry Greenmas

    You can make the holidays more eco-friendly by putting a green twist on Christmas traditions. Here are 3 smart ways to green up your holiday. Read

  • Holiday Fire Safety Tips

    The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk. Read

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2016 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Prepare Your Home For Winter

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Cold mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons must mean it’s fall in Montana. And with occasional white-tipped mountains, it reminds us that winter is on its way.

Just like we (try to) prepare ourselves for endless ski runs at high elevation, we need to get our homes ready for whatever winter has in store for us this year. In order to protect your investment and keep it in tip-top shape, consider these five suggestions to get your home ready for winter:

home-log-exteriorPrepare the home’s exterior: Making sure everything is in good shape on the outside will help keep the “weather” on the outside, where it belongs. Check gutters to make sure they are clear. Ensure that roof shingles and siding are secure; high winds can loosen them over time. If you have heat tape or something similar to prevent ice dams on the roof, ensure that it’s in working order and secure before it’s covered in snow so it will be effective. Drain irrigation systems, and all exterior spigots if they aren’t frost proof. Water can freeze and crack the fixture.

Weatherproof doors and windows: A simple and inexpensive way to make sure cold air isn’t seeping in is by making sure the weather strips on doors and windows are in good shape. That means not cracked, in one piece, and fitting snugly when the door or window closes. In older homes, adding storm doors and windows adds another layer or weather protection and helps keep energy costs down.

Check the heating system: Furnaces and other heating sources should be serviced annually. Furnace filters need to be cleaned, and the efficiency should be monitored to make sure it’s operating effectively. Gas-burning fireplaces and stoves should be checked and cleaned. Companies like Ambient Air Solutions offer maintenance programs to keep your home on an annual schedule so you don’t have to remember.

Wood Burning Fireplace

Maintain Chimneys: There’s nothing like relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace or wood stove after a successful day on the mountain, but chimneys that are used regularly need to be kept clean of dangerous creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. Have your chimney swept and inspected for foreign objects each year before you  use it; and if you own a wood stove, make sure and clean it on a very regular basis to keep it energy-efficient.

Stock up on winter necessities: Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have salt or ice melt, shovels and other handy items for winter. Many of us wait until the first big storm to rush out and buy them, but we often find the stores are out of stock. It’s never too early once you begin to see those items in the stores. And don’t forget things like candles and matches, and batteries for flashlights in the event of a power loss.

For those who would like some assistance in completing these important items, property management companies like Two Pines Properties and Big Sky Home Management are great resources to help you.

Remember, the sooner you prepare your home for winter, the sooner you can start praying for snow!

4 Steps to Help Make Buying a Home or Property Easier

blog_4stepsBuying a home, whether it is your first or fifth, can be a daunting experience. In addition to the financial aspects, buyers must think about insurance, inspections, and the ever-changing market. Creating a great team of professionals early in the process will help immensely in the long run.

While there are many checklists involved in buying a home, we have included a few key steps here that you can take to make the process as easy as possible.

Start saving for a down payment
A twenty percent down payment has been the traditional amount required by lenders for some time if the buyer does not want to purchase mortgage insurance, but that may not be necessary in every case. Brett Evertz, a loan officer and Assistant Vice President at Big Sky Western Bank says that sometimes, “You can put as little as 5% down if buying a primary home or just 10% if buying as a second home.” There are also options for rural development loans, which are very common in a state like Montana. “RD Loans” are financed through the USDA and are zero down payment loans. As with all loans, they are subject to credit and qualifications.

Talk to a loan officer
When you have made the decision to buy a home or property, finding a loan officer early in the process can help with the big picture. Brett says, “I encourage everyone to start the process with a lender as early as possible. That way, buyers know what they can afford and, potentially, be qualified for.” A loan officer can also help buyers navigate the complicated process of pre-qualification, such as understanding various loans, credit checks, and how to build credit. Sherri Kitto, an experienced mortgage lender with Rocky Mountain Bank says, “Pre-qualification before shopping for a home is essential and helps to expand negotiating power. It gives you an advantage by providing the power to bid quickly, ahead of competing buyers who may not know if they can afford or qualify to purchase the home, and assures the seller you are a serious and credible buyer.” When applying for a loan with a mortgage lender, be sure to have appropriate documents in hand. Sherri says a few to remember are: “Your residence history for the past two years, employment history for the past two years, any outstanding debt, savings/ investment/checking account statements and balances, information about real estate you own, and personal property information.”

Once approved, seek out a Realtor®
The experienced Realtors® at Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty are here to make the process enjoyable and stress-free. A Realtor® will be able to help you understand real estate jargon, help you find homes that fit your needs and price point, and will be there to answer questions throughout the entire process. The agents at Sotheby’s International Realty come equipped with years of experience, a world-class reputable brand, and the local knowledge necessary to find you the best home or property in Montana.

Make an offer and secure the mortgage
When you are ready to make an offer, this is where your team of dedicated professionals comes in handy. Your Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty agent will help you make an appropriate offer, negotiate the best possible price, and walk you through the steps of inspection and closure. Your loan officer will help you secure the mortgage with the best rates.

Before you know it, you will have your dream home or property in Montana. Have more questions? The respected professionals at Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty are ready to help you with the buying process. Give us a call today at (406)995-2211 for experts in Big Sky, or for an agent in Bozeman call (406) 586-6688.

Spec Homes: Benefits for Buyers and Builders

Spec Homes: Benefits for buyers and buildersWith the booming housing market in Montana, options abound for buyers and building investors. Spec homes – short for “speculative homes” – are homes that are designed and built with the best housing characteristics of the market. Tim Cyr, a realtor with Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty, who is also in the process of building his own spec home outside of Bozeman, says spec homes “usually have all the bells and whistles to entice a buyer to buy.” Whether you are considering buying a spec home, or investing in building one, there are many benefits:

Benefits of buying a spec home:

• Brand new home with the latest and greatest features available
• Move-in ready, no time waiting for construction
• Oftentimes, some customization is available such as colors, cabinets, and flooring

Benefits of building a spec home:

• An investment, being able to build a cost-effective, high-quality home for profit
• Ability to get creative – design the home that best fits the market, from your point of view
• Quick sales – minimal customization, limited contact with the buyer

Not sure which avenue is best for you? Ask yourself a few questions: are you looking for a home to live in? Are you wanting to flip a property quickly, as an investment? Do you know the market well? Tim admits there is a lot to consider, but diving into the world of spec homes is fun and beneficial to both buyers and builders. Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty has realtors, like Tim, with years of experience selling spec homes in Montana. Visit Tim’s website, or call his office, to learn more about his experience with spec homes – including building his own spec home – and get his expert advice. See if a spec home is right for you!

Contact Tim Cyr at:

Website: http://www.sothebysrealty.com/eng/associate/180-a-646-4000598/timothy-cyr

Phone: +1 406.580.6316­
Phone: +1 406.995.2211­