One question we get a lot from buyers is, “do I really need a home inspection?” Especially in a seller’s market, this question becomes more and more common. When desperate buyers compete against multiple offers, they’re tempted to waive the home inspection to put themselves ahead of the competition.
According to the National Association of Realtors, home sales have shot up to the highest level they’ve been at in a while. About 80% of those homebuyers hired a home inspector, and for a good reason! A home inspection is the most substantial contingency that a buyer possesses once under contract.
The home inspection process allows the buyer to ensure that their home is healthy and will stand the test of time. Here we walk through what steps happen during the inspection and how to fix the problems that arise from the home inspection report. We’ll also discuss how home inspections can save you money in the long run.
All The Ins and Outs of A Real Estate Home Inspection
Don’t let the idea of a home inspection scare you! They aren’t high-strung people judging your home and getting caught up on the minor details.
Home inspectors are actually detail-oriented and unbiased people who will give you a professional assessment of your home’s weak points. This helpful, neutral third party can help you identify problem areas that untrained eyes might not notice. As a buyer, you should know what kind of home you’re walking into.
What Is A Home Inspection?
A home inspection is just a visual assessment of a property that helps determine the current state of its structure and mechanics. You might think of it as an annual check-up at the doctor’s office — a way to ensure that things are working correctly and help you identify any weak points that could become an issue down the line.
A certified home inspector has the experience and the training to look for specific issues and report their professional opinion on your home’s status. As the home buyer, you’ll be able to view this report and get a clearer picture of potential costs down the line, which could help you decide whether or not you want that commitment. A home inspection is highly influential, and a home inspection contingency is a staple of most home offer and purchase agreements. It gives the buyer the contractual power to renegotiate prices or back out of a sale (without losing their deposit or earnest money).
Remember that even the best home inspection doesn’t guarantee that a property won’t ever run into issues! Its purpose is to inform the buyer about the property and help them prepare for the financial commitment before making any final decisions.
What Happens During A Home Inspection?
You and a certified home inspector will walk through the property during a home inspection. The inspector will examine the house throughout and take notes and photos for their report. A qualified home inspector will answer your questions or concerns and provide you with an unbiased and expert perspective on any issues they might see with your home. In addition, they’ll help you determine which problems will or will not impact your home purchase.
Once the inspector completes their evaluation, they’ll send you their detailed report, including any recommendations for repairs. They will also highlight the lifetime of specific appliances, including the furnace or AC unit.
Here are some things that home inspectors do look for during an inspection:
They start with examining physical structures, including looking for weak spots in the floor of your garage, roofing and attic spaces, and of course, foundation issues.
Then they’ll look through the interior of a home and try to spot signs of water damage or moisture, and they’ll take note of flooring, walls, doors, and windows.
An inspector will also look at all major home systems, including the functionality like water flow, cold and hot water outputs, and the age and condition of appliances that will be tested during a home inspection and the plumbing.
Utilities are also part of the significant systems check. Your home inspector will assess them and give you a detailed report on electrical lines and the gas service quality. The inspector might also complete a well inspection if your home has it.
A great home inspector will catch things you might not notice and warn about potential problems that might come up. However, keep in mind that home inspectors don’t look for mold, radon gas, asbestos, lead paint, and termite damage.
If you are concerned that a home you’re buying or selling might have any of these problems, it’s best to contact a specialist right away! Your real estate agent will have resources on hand.
Is There Ever A Time You Should Skip A Home Inspection?
Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, there is never a situation where you skip the home inspection. However, it is a crucial step in the home buying process, and if you skip it, you could end up with some serious and expensive consequences in the future.
Since purchasing a home is one of the most significant investments most buyers will make in their lifetime, giving up valuable information about the overall health of your home seems silly. So instead, make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Think of a home inspection as an unbiased review of your future home. Even if it looks like it’s in perfect shape from the outside, you never know what serious problems are hiding under the surface.
Even sellers can save precious time and money with a home inspection. Getting an inspection early can help you uncover severe problems to get them fixed before you list your home (which enables you to avoid drawn-out negotiations or lowball offers). In addition, selling a house that has had its issues addressed can expedite the sales process down the road.
A home inspection will cost you some time and a little bit of money, but we’ve never met a single person who regretted that decision. A home inspection can reveal problems that the current owners might fix before moving in. Plus, they can identify a potential money pit. Especially for new home construction, a home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying process.
First-time home buyers find that inspections can give you a crash course in home maintenance and even provide a checklist to know how to keep your home safe and sound. Regardless of your situation, you must address these issues early, and a home inspection can save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road.
Have you been keeping up on our Touring Billings, MT series? Nicole King, broker, and owner of 41 Realty Group has been recording a series on YouTube as a way to highlight the best parts of Billings, MT. We’ve covered Pioneer Park, Rimrock Road, and Forest Park Subdivision. Below, we’ll give you links to three more videos with their transcripts to learn more about Yellowstone Club Estates, Rehberg Ranch, and Bar 11 Subdivision.
Videos 4-6 of Touring Billings, Mt Video Series
Did we cover your favorite neighborhoods yet? Let us know which neighborhoods we should talk about next!
Touring Billings #4 — Yellowstone Club Estates
Nicole: Hey there, I’m Nicole King, broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. Today we are out at the Yellowstone family park, a four-and-a-half-acre park at the 54th Street entrance to the Yellowstone Club Estates.
This subdivision is named after its anchoring feature — the Yellowstone Country Club and Golf Course, and most of its streets are named after famous golfers. The 195-acre 18-hole golf course provides the backdrop for many of the homes located in this subdivision. And the course’s lush greens can make the home’s already large yards seem endless.
For the most part, the homes in this area are large with multiple living rooms, formal dining areas breakfast nooks, and ample windows to take in the views. There’s been much renovation of the homes in recent years both by existing and new homeowners and by investors. The architecture is a delightful and inviting mix of traditional and modern with quite a few homes being reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s style.
The subdivision offers easy access to several recreational opportunities, the most obvious being the golf course. However, there’s also direct access to Billing’s extensive trail system as well as being just a few minute’s drive from both Phipps park and Zimmerman trail.
Less than 20 homes sell in this subdivision each year. 2020 stayed true to that trend and saw an average price point of just over $390,000. The homes here were mostly built in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Some are sold with all their original appointments and are ready for you to put your own touch on them, while others have been substantially updated. You really can’t go wrong with the views, which vary from lush golf greens with shady trees to expansive valley vistas to the towering rim rocks. Take a stroll through these streets sometime and you will fall in love.
Thank you for touring another part of Billings with me today. If you have questions about the Yellowstone Club Estates or any other parts of the greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email anytime. Until next time, make it a great day.
Touring Billings #5 — Rehberg Ranch
Nicole: Hey there, I’m Nicole King, broker-owner of 41 Realty Group. Today, we are out in the beautiful subdivision of Rehberg Ranch. Rehberg Ranch sits just off the rims, which is perfectly situated to give easy access to every other part of town. If you drive the speed limit, you’ll reach the intersection of Airport and Main in 8 minutes, the intersection of King Avenue West and 32nd in 10 minutes, and the Wells Fargo Building in 11 minutes. It’s also just five minutes from the airport.
With its proximity to the airport, there are frequently planes flying overhead, which are really cool to watch take-off and land. Also in close proximity is the Rod and Gun Club. The private club provides its member with access to gun ranges and archery courses.
The subdivision was designed intentionally to take advantage of the varied terrain to allow as much natural plant growth, wildlife, and vistas as possible. The covenants that have restrictions for construction, landscaping, and fencing were drawn up and are enforced so that the natural beauty of the area is never lost. The many walking paths and large natural parks throughout make residents feel like they’re out in the country when they’re only minutes from all of Billings’ amenities. Additionally, if you run out of hiking paths and biking trails in the subdivision itself, Zimmerman park is just a minute or so from the subdivision’s entrance.
Homes in Rehberg Ranch are high-end. They are typically a few thousand square feet and boast all of the high-end finishes that you’d expect from these half-a-million-dollar-plus price points. As of the date that we’re filming this video, April 29th, 2021, there are five lots available to purchase and build on. Those range from about a quarter of an acre to about a third of an acre and cost between $49,900 and $64,900. There’s also one townhouse and one single-family home under contract, but no other actively available homes.
Four houses have sold so far in 2021, and the average price point was just a bit over $500,000 and the average days on market was just under three! Contrast that to the nine houses that sold in 2020 with an average price of just under $500,000, but with an average days on the market of 73. And you’ll see that while the price hasn’t necessarily changed much from last year, you’ll have to react much faster if you want a home up here.
Rehberg Ranch’s tight-knit community feel is appealing to many buyers. Don’t take my word for it though! Listen to what a couple of Rehberg Ranch’s residents had to say:
Akvilina: My name is Akvilina Rieger and I proudly live in Rehberg Ranch here in Billings. And I guess I am supposed to narrow it down to three things? There’s like a hundred things I love about this neighborhood. One of them is the community. It’s called Rehberg Ranch and it does feel like you’re living on the ranch. It’s nice and quiet, close-knit community. The big plus for it is we do like to live in the country, and yet I work downtown, and it’s just a ten-minute commute. So that is wonderful.
Oh, and probably all the neighbors. They’re just awesome, it’s like one big family.
Robin: Hey everyone, Robin Windham here. My family and I moved here to Rehberg Ranch about a year and a half ago. And we built our house here on this corner lot, and Paul had asked me why it was situated this way. Well, one thing that we loved about this piece of property was this beautiful view that we had out here. And as we were coming to look at different properties, I actually asked our neighbors down there, what do you love about it? And they love the trails, we love the trails, there’s so many places to go. The community vibe is just so amazing, and the people here — we just love our neighbors. And that’s why we love Rehberg Ranch.
Nicole: If you’re interested in buying or selling a home or a lot in Rehberg Ranch, or anywhere else in the greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. See you in the next video!
Touring Billings #6 — Bar 11 Subdivision
Nicole: Hey there, I’m Nicole King, I’m the broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. Today I’m up at Bar 11 Subdivision in the Heights. I’m sitting down with Hannah Reno, she is the Subdivision Liason for Bar 11. She’s going to tell us the history of Bar 11, the price point, there’s Phase 1 Lots and Phase 2 Lots, they’ve really a great subdivision going up here.
So, Hannah, tell us everything that people should know.
Hannah: Awesome, yeah. So Bar 11 evolved probably about five years ago. Now it’s turned into a 158-lot subdivision. There’s 23 acres of park land, there’s a children’s park right at the entrance of the subdivision that’s under development too, and currently phase one is annexed and ready to sell.
Nicole: Ok, and what is the general price points and sizes of Phase 1 Lots?
Hannah: So Phase 1 lots range primarily between half-acre and three-acre lots. So our Phase 1 starting range is about $70,000 and then they go up to $225,000.
Nicole: Okay, for those bigger three-acre lots?
Nicole: And the biggest thing I think that separates you from the surrounding subdivisions is you guys have city water, whereas the other subdivisions around you, you have to drill a well on your property.
Hannah: Absolutely, so we have the ability to sustain those lots.
Nicole: So city water is in, but they still have to get a septic, right?
Hannah: Right. So city water, septic, natural gas, and we’re part of the Yellowstone Co-Op for electric.
Nicole: Perfect, awesome. In the subdivision, there’s general requirements for how big a house has to be or the minimum square footage and general styles and things so people should expect easy covenants and restrictions to abide by, right? They’re not going to be overly restricted by them but they’re also protected so that you know if they build a really beautiful home, it’s not going to have a not-so-great home next to it, too.
Hannah: You know, we consider the subdivision classified as rural luxury, is the best way to describe it, and so we try and have our CC&R’s to be cohesive with that mentality. So you have the ability to build more of a luxury-style home and know that, you know, we’ll be able to maintain the subdivision in that essence.
So 1800 square feet is the minimum requirement for building size up to as big as what you think your septic system can obtain We do have all of those septic DEQ information on file too for our Phase 1 Lots.
Nicole: Perfect, so that saves time and money for the buyers when they’re coming in with their builder and they can bring any builder they want, right?
Nicole: Perfect. I mean, certainly you have builders that you would work with immediately that if somebody didn’t already have a builder that you could connect them to, but if they did then their builder can connect with you.
Hannah: Right, right. So currently we have Montana Made Builders that are on the subdivision right now, but if you purchase a lot, you’re welcome to use whoever you like.
Nicole: Wonderful, that’s awesome. Well, we’re going to get to tour a couple of those homes.
Nicole: So we’ll take you out, look at a couple of the homes so you can get a good idea of the feel of the subdivision. We’ll walk around and give you a good tour.
So, this is the plot map of what Bar 11 looks like, right?
Nicole: Okay, and you’ve got Phase 1 big and labeled. If people are trying to find the subdivision, how do they get here? Can you explain the different phases?
Hannah: Great, yeah. So we’re located right off of Highway 312. So you have a couple different access points. You can take 312 to Hawthorne and enter into the subdivision. Most people take Bitterroot and then enter into the subdivision on Plateau Road.
Nicole: So main street in the Heights becomes 312, and they turn Bitterroot, or they can turn on Hawthorne.
Hannah: It just kind of depends on what your preference is really.
Hannah: Yeah, so you can see some of our Phase 1 Lots, these ones are definitely warmer luxury lots. They’re definitely bigger in style. We’re sloped, so it sort of depends on what sort of topography you’re looking for, as far as what building you’d like.
Nicole: So if you want a walk out basement, or anything like that?
Hannah: So our softer lots are more down here by the highway, but the flatter lots are here, throughout the subdivision.
Nicole: Okay. And then a lot of them are already spoken for, and then these ones are Phase 2 lots and you guys are going through the DEQ process right now to get all that annexed and put together?
Hannah: Right, absolutely
Nicole: A couple of months-ish, right?
Hannah: Definitely. I believe that the holiday season is the goal.
Nicole: That’s awesome.
Hannah: Yeah, it’ll be awesome, and then you know these Phase 2 lots is definitely more of a luxury style lots as well. You have all of this parkland space and so you know the view that you’re going to have, knowing that this parkland and space is going to be significantly different.
Nicole: Not necessarily like play equipment and walking paths and that kind of stuff. This is more wild parks to maintain that nice view like you’re out in the country.
Hannah: Natural parkland, walking trails…
Nicole: But then you said up at the front of the division, there’s a park for kiddos?
Nicole: Wonderful, okay.
Are you in the market to buy or sell? Are you curious about what these neighborhoods are selling for this year? Reach out to our team at 41 Realty Group. We’d love to get you the information you need so you can make an informed decision, whether you’re buying or selling.
Call us, shoot us a text, or send us an email and let us help you with all of your real estate needs today!
Do you love Roots Garden Center as much as we do? There is so much to see and do there, from annuals to perennials, flowers and trees, furniture, jewelry, a fairy hunt, coffee, and so much more.
Check out this interview with Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group, and Jon Switzer, owner of Roots Garden Center.
Read on for the full transcript of the video.
Roots Garden Center — An Inside Look Into One Of Our Favorite Spots in Billings, MT
Nicole: Hey there, I’m Nicole King I’m the broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana and today I’m with Jon Switzer. He is the owner of Roots Garden Center, this beautiful garden center that just opened at 2147 Poly Drive. Over the last several months, you’ve probably been driving by and seeing lots and lots of changes from the paint color to all of the old greenhouses coming down and all the new things going up. And I just really wanted to come down and talk to Jon and find out why roots, why now, his history, everything.
So Jon thank you for sitting down with me. You and Karen, your wife, have been in Billings a long time. Tell us that story, tell us how this came about.
Jon: Yeah so Karen and I both grew up in Billings. We met each other in high school, kind of friends throughout high school, and then as we kind of moved through college years and through different, you know, job opportunities in Billings, started dating, got married. We both had kind of some different jobs throughout our younger years and then a few years ago had the opportunity to buy Karen’s dad’s landscaping business and so with that came this small little nursery just below the zoo off of Neibauer Road.
And so that was a really fun space for us but as we started to grow and develop the landscaping, which we love to do which Karen is a part of and we’re 50/50 on and we absolutely love getting to work with different landscaping clients throughout the Billings area. We kind of saw this need to kind of grow our retail presence with plants.
So with that, I started to kind of keep my eye out for some fun opportunities where we could maybe do that. I knew we needed to have a better location than what we had to be able to grow and so I kind of romanticized the idea of having somewhere in town and kind of had an eye on a couple of different spots.
Along came this space last year and it was pretty wild the way it happened because everything with Covid was just starting to roll at that point and we kind of didn’t know what to feel about expanding our business in that time. And it turned out when everybody got stuck at home, people in the area got actually really excited and even nationwide, about plants.
Nicole: Yeah making the spaces they were in beautiful.
Jon: Yeah, yeah exactly. So since everybody was stuck at home everybody started working on their homes in one way or another and landscaping became one of those things. And while people took on a lot of landscaping themselves and so our landscaping even actually declined some. What went up even in our retail presence down off of Neibauer, was plant sales.
Nicole: And you’re keeping the Neibauer location, right?
Nicole: So you have two?
Jon: So that now gets the transition. We just could never do landscaping here as well as this retail garden center.
Nicole: Because there’s a lot bigger equipment and things like that?
Jon: Yeah, I mean, we’re making our own topsoil there, we’re not shipping that at all. We’re using local vendors for some of that stuff — places like Rocky Mountain Compost, based in Lockwood, which is a great organization in town. We’re using them to help us a little bit with some of the compost and that kind of thing. And then we actually make some of our own topsoil too and so we compost materials that we get from our landscaping jobs and then we process those throughout the year and turn those over. It’s actually a really neat recyclable sustainable process for people too, yeah.
Nicole: And you grow delicious melons.
Nicole: Oh my gosh, those are amazing.
Jon: I hate cantaloupe, actually, from the store.
Nicole: They’re not cantaloupe!
Jon: No, well, yeah they are, right? But they’re not like store-bought.
Nicole: They’re like a cross of some kind, aren’t they? They’re like a cross of cantaloupe and honeydew or something like that?
Jon: Some are yeah, we have a variety.
Nicole That is one that I’ve tasted.
Jon: I need to bring you some cantaloupe.
Nicole: Bring them all to me because I think they’re delicious. I love all the fruit.
Jon: But Jerry taught us how to make, how to do the cantaloupe. He’s been doing that with his family. They would — they actually raised money as a family to go on mission trips from the cantaloupe sales in town and so our landscaping clients have kind of come to expect that.
It’s this really fun thing. We even provide a little bit locally, just right down the road to Poly Food. We love doing that and we have just a really fun relationship with them and it’s just a really fun thing like just to learn that this fruit, cantaloupe, can actually grow really well in Montana.
Nicole: And tastes good, because you don’t genuinely generally like it.
Nicole: So the Jerry you’re referring to is Jerry Anderberg. He had Anderberg and Associates, and then when you guys bought that you changed it to Switzer Landscaping? So all the Switzer Landscaping trucks that you guys see driving around town and I think there’s still some Anderberg and Associates trucks. I followed one the other day.
Nicole: So any of those that you see around town, that’s Jon and his crew working on whatever the landscaping project is. Then how did you name Roots Garden Center? Because it doesn’t say Switzer Landscaping on the side of this building.
Jon: Yeah, thank you for asking that. So it’s all based on our roots being here, on our roots with Jerry. Jerry’s done this landscaping thing with plants in a horticultural background for 40 years in the area. And so when we bought that, what’s so awesome, and we even have some up there — he’s doing these gardens in a box. He’s still involved on a daily basis. Today we were blowing out or not blowing, out we were starting Spring clears for the organization with landscaping, and he’s still very much involved in the relationships.
I mean, you don’t leave something like that with 40 years. These people that we do landscaping for have become his friends and now they’re getting to be some of our friends too and so with that there’s a lot of deep roots. it’s just we kept on seeing like — this is right in the heart of Billings. So this place has roots already. People knew what this place was. We didn’t want to turn it into something that it wasn’t and that people weren’t familiar with. It had a track record of being successful in this space as a garden center.
Dave Marble, even one of the former owners came by, walked around the place with me for an hour and a half and, you know, his wife came by on the opening day, it was really precious conversations that we got to have and we hold them in high regard. Their roots that they’ve established here, I even went down and talked with Jason and Jen Marble. They are starting, you know, their new restaurant downtown with The Marble Table, and they’re doing awesome, and their roots are here too.
So we’re getting to continue some of that legacy now with our new business with the retail garden center here.
Nicole: I love it. So one of the things, and I was telling you this earlier, is I don’t live very far from here, just warning you. Just this morning, I was pulling out and I had to wait for a mom and her kiddo to go across the street, and then when I turned down the street they walked into the parking lot and they’re just on their way into here and I see that every day.
You know the street is lined with people who get out of their cars and walk over here and I love watching them walk back with planters, it’s so amazing. You guys haven’t been open very long. When did you open?
Jon: We haven’t even been open a week and we’ve already — people are clamoring! I mean, I literally saw a city council person last week come through doing this, like almost dancing and the people that are coming through here, it is so cool and we’re so grateful for that kind of response.
I can’t tell you the number of conversations with people where they’ve come up and they’ve said “I am so glad you’re here, it was so sad when the last organization transitioned on into a different thing.” And we really hope the best for them and I never want to wish ill for anybody and they’re great people too and they transitioned to a different thing that also gave us a new opportunity and we feel like we’ve learned some things and we want to try and make a sustainable go of it here.
Nicole: You don’t just have plants here. As I was walking around, you have lots of different products! What all can people find here?
Jon: And it’s going to continue to grow. I haven’t even publicly said this so I’ll share this in the list of different things.
Nicole: You heard it here first!
Jon: So, to share what’s going on today, I mean, we have these amazing trees. We really really like to specialize in trees and educating people and helping them to make a great decision for a tree.
Trees last a long time and we want the canopy of Billings to be fantastic. I’ve talked to a couple amazing local arborists who I hold in very high regard and we walk them through here, invite them into our space and want them to feel welcome and that they can participate in that canopy, so that’s really important.
We have all the shrubs and perennials and in case you don’t you know, for the audience who might not know what perennial means; a perennial comes back every year. So you plant it in the ground every year it’s going to come back versus an annual, which we have an entire room of annuals like these violas here and those every year will actually die.
They’ll die because they’re not made hardy to our zone.
Nicole: Oh, okay.
Jon: So that root structure just can’t survive Montana’s harsh winters, but they add so much color and there’s so much variety in the annuals that it’s really fun for people to plant it adds vibrance and delight in the season for people in their yards, in pots and so that’s why we also wanted to do that. It’s just really really fun. So this room, we want to just be explosive for people and constantly changing and what’s really fun too is these came out of Bozeman. So they’re Montana grown.
Nicole: That’s cool.
Jon: So we’ve got family up there at Visser Gardens and we love them dearly and they’re amazing people and I mean they’ve got five acres, if you can imagine, of just greenhouse space and it’s just beautiful this time of year. So it’s really fun that we get to work with them, bring in their stuff and have it here, it’s Montana grown. It’s awesome.
Nicole: That is really cool! And you have artwork, jewelry and pottery and oh my gosh, every time that I come here I see something different. Like the tables that you pointed out today that I had just walked past and not even noticing yet!
Jon: Yep, so we’ve got that, you know, Marie has curated this amazing group of local artisans who are amazing people with amazing works of art everything from paintings that were booked out for a year and a half on our art gallery which is so cool.
Nicole: So you’ll be featuring different artists?
Jon: Yeah, every three months it’ll change. Amazing people. The next one is a girl that i actually went to high school with at Senior and so it’s super fun. The one I wanted to tell you about that’s new that’s really fun besides coffee…
Nicole: And that’s which coffee company?
Jon: Black Dog.
Nicole: Black Dog coffee, yeah.
Jon: Super fun, super great coffee.
Nicole: It’s more to go than sit down. So their other shop is sit down, this one’s grab a cup, wander through all of the plants and all the things and enjoy just sort of a relaxing experience
Jon: Mariah and Rob are amazing people, super fun to have them here. And the last part which is coming soon is furniture.
Jon: So if someone wants to as they’re wandering, they want to shop some furniture and they want to try out a chair or something, they can sure do that. We are super excited to have some really really classy, cool furniture. I’m expecting it probably mid to late July.
Nicole: Because it’s coming from a long ways away last time I talked to you?
Jon: Yeah most of it. Some though we have available even right now like the table you were talking about, that table up front. That was a local guy that just came in and it was such a fun conversation with him and we created some unique pieces. So we really encourag people to come down and check that out. We actually built a table that has a planter in it.
Nicole: It’s a concrete table. So it’s got metal legs, concrete table and it almost looks like a geode in the center but then there are plants coming out it is so neat you have to come down and see it for yourself. And there’s different sizes of them!
Jon: And more coming!
Nicole: Right now, there’s little ones that are like this size, and there’s bigger ones and you said more sizes are coming.
Jon: Yeah, it’s really fun.
Nicole: And it’s a local artisan who creating that in his shop, that’s awesome.
Jon: Yeah, we’re super excited to have him and all the local artisan. The pottery is amazing, the candles…
Nicole: The cards, handmade cards! Those were so cool too.
Jon: So cool. And the texture on those, because you know they’re actually made by the painter.
Nicole: They’re covered in plastic, so I couldn’t feel the texture but I’ll take your word for it right now but I’m gonna buy some.
Jon: Then the cut flowers side.
Nicole: Oh my gosh, the flowers are beautiful.
Jon: I always missed not having more availability here in town, so being able to walk in and buy flowers for my wife Karen, and to have that experience is really fun. When we walked into the space, I wasn’t even intending that but then I looked and there was this amazing cooler space with a walk in cooler and I’m like, we have to try.
Nicole: There’s something about microgreens on the door? I didn’t actually go in there yet, but there’s microgreens in there too?
Jon: Yeah, so there’s a guy who came in just the same as Jesse with the tables. He came in, he and his wife and they’re fantastic people too and they are growing microgreens right here in Billings and they are awesome. I mean, our staff — we have to kind of tone down our staff from taking all the product because it’s so good.
When we get really hungry and get going really fast, sometimes we’ll just grab one of those things and go and they’re really really priced very well. They’re delicious, and there is a bunch of different kinds, including cantaloupe microgreens.
Nicole: Your favorite! So really, people could come down here and everytime they come they’re gonna see something different and new and fresh. Fresh, literally. Gosh, you’ve just created the most exciting space down here. I’m excited to live close to it to be able to walk over anytime and I’ve just loved seeing it take off.
Jon: Oh thank you. It was really fun even just talking withthe neighbors in the area. We want to be a blessing to them and everybody around. We’ve had neighbors come in and I said, I’m sorry about the parking, you know, May is going to be crazy. And they just tell me, they’re like, oh we’ve been here a lot longer than you, we know what’s parking’s like. We’re really grateful that you’re doing something. This space is beautiful, thank you.
Nicole: You have improved it significantly for sure.
Jon: And hat’s super fun for us to hear, we love our neighbors and we love being in the space. It’s really a blast and we want to continue to create — our team is I think my favorite part of the whole deal. They’re amazing people and what’s really fun is we have some really very educated people but then we have some people who are new to plants. And one of the most fun things that I’ve seen that we’ve gotten to experience is, instead of it just being like you know the management staff being the ones that get to create and design things like this experience out here or whatever— we’ve taken some of those new people and we might like even hand them an empty pot and then say create!
And they’re like, well, I uh, uh, and it’s really fun to go, what’s the worst that can happen? You put in the wrong colors together or something? Just take them out and try something different and we’ve created these amazing spaces with people that maybe otherwise didn’t know they could create things like this. They started to see how plants work and they’re starting to learn names of plants and now they’re educating other people and it’s one of the coolest things to watch. Plants actually aren’t that complicated. They aren’t they aren’t meant to be like inaccessible, they’re actually really fun and they bring people life, so it’s pretty cool.
Nicole: I love it. So, hours, location. Tell us all the things, how can people get here?
Jon: So Monday through Friday, we’re 8-6pm. We’re staying open intentionally for that time especially like as people are trying to on their way home from work or whatever. They have just that little bit of window so they can you know pick up a bouquet of flowers or something.
Then on the weekends we’re doing eight to four p.m. We just figure that those will be sort of the the most accessible hours for most people.
Nicole: Will this be relatively seasonal?
Jon: Great question.
Nicole: What happens when the winter comes?
Jon: So it’s all new to us. Obviously, there’s a lot of dormancy that happens with trees and with a lot of the shrubs, perennials, annuals, the seasons kind of transitions. But then we are hoping, I think we are planning to be open year-round.
Some things will change. Like some of our sales out here might look a little different. Indoor plants will kind of transition too. There’s a huge boom with indoor plants and we kind of want to be the go-to place in Billings for indoor plants.
Nicole: That sphere you built, so cool. That is so cool, it’s a showstopper.
Jon: My brother actually, based out of Red Lodge, did a lot of the CNC work on that. It’s a company space 10 — the architects with that organization created that basically as a giant jigsaw puzzle that you put together. They did that for urban environments specifically and they won a competition for it. All you need is 17 sheets of plywood and a CNC machine, so I called up my brother, and I said, ‘Hey Jeff, can you do this?’ and he said, ‘yep!’ And so we put it together.
Nicole: It looks amazing, you guys need to come check it out because it is so cool. And you can like sit inside it, so that’s really cool.
Jon: Yeah, there’s even a little surprise in there, they’re like kind of little pockets of them everywhere. There’s gnomes and fairies and there’s this little scavenger hunt that you can do throughout the entire place. Especially for kids, it’s like the best thing in the first. Especially on the weekends, people can bring their kids here, it’s super fun, there’s little gnomes and fairies and they get a little scavenger hunt sheet with crayons and it’s just so cute to watch kids racing around trying to find the fairies.
Then at the end at the end if they find them all they get a little prize.
Jon: It’s pretty cute.
Nicole: Did your daughter create that idea?
Jon: Yeah, Riley is 15 and she’s really creative and an amazing writer. We kind of started talking about the idea of coming up with some stories for each one of those gnomes or fairies instead of just putting them somewhere but actually bringing them to life a little bit with a story. And so Riley wrote everything on the sheets. It’s super cute and they’re really fun stories and she’s even based them off of some friends that she has.
Nicole: I wonder if the friends know? No, I’m kidding.
Jon: Some might not!
Nicole: So, a fantastic family environment, really open for all ages, all interests. Come down to 2147 Poly.
Nicole: You’ll see the Roots Garden Center sign it’s amazing, the beautiful black and white buildings. Come down, enjoy, look around, and come back frequently for all the new things that keep getting added. Jon, thank you. Thank you for creating this space and for sitting down with us today.
Jon: It was a delight to talk about it. I get super excited talking about it, being a kid that grew up in Billings it makes me jacked to get to do this now in the community and I hope it’s a great service to the community.
We all know that the cost of moving can be extensive, which is why you might benefit from creating a moving budget. Failing to prepare can result in a hefty bill you weren’t expecting. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to help you wrap your head around what you can expect to spend money on before the moving process even begins.
The first step in setting a moving budget is creating a list of costs you should consider. The below costs might not necessarily apply to your situation, but hopefully, it will help you think about what you should factor in for your own move this year.
How To Create The Ultimate Moving Budget
It takes a little attention to detail and requires you to be proactive, but here’s our advice to help you create a moving budget that will help alleviate some of the stress that comes with the process.
Step 1: Take Inventory Of Your Things
Before you make any plans or put money into anything, start by taking an inventory of your things and decide what is actually going into the new home. Obviously, everyday items like clothes, furniture, kitchenware, and essentials will be on your inventory from the start. Still, it’s a good idea to go room by room to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
This might also be the time that you go through and donate items you’re sick of and make a list of new things you’ll likely want when you move. For example, sometimes a new home requires new furniture. Do the cleanup and donating part first before you make any other decisions.
Step 2: Do Research On Local Moving Components
Once you have a clear idea of what you’re taking with you to the new home will also help you decide what kind of movers you’ll need. Professional movers often require a list of your inventory anyways so that they can give you an estimate or quote. These estimates have several factors. Here’s what you can expect:
A base moving fee — Many moving companies start with a base rate, which is the amount that all people have to pay regardless of how much stuff they have or where it’s being moved.
Moving insurance — You will likely be offered something called valuation, which is insurance for your belongings. It provides compensation if the company damages or loses anything.
Specialty item fees — Speciality items like safes, pianos, artwork, and more are often considered specialty items. Therefore, they can charge you an extra fee to move fragile or difficult items.
However, we know that not everyone wants to hire movers. In that case, there are fees you have to consider if you’re moving on your own:
Moving truck rental — The cost of your moving truck will be determined by the size of your truck and how far you’ll be driving.
Equipment — Moving boxes, blankets, packing tape, bubble wrap, and more, there is a lot to consider when packing up your things so that they get to their destination safely and securely.
Lastly, beyond the moving truck and moving items from one place to the next, you should also consider cleaning fees. Many people employ professional cleaning services to clean after they’ve moved. You should also consider when you should move, as you might be losing money if you’re moving in the middle of the week and missing work versus moving on the weekend.
Step 3: Remember The Costs When You Get To The New House
Though you might consider your budget spent once you get to the new house, we want to make sure we point out that once you arrive at your new home, there will be expenses to consider there as well.
First, you’ll likely have a few utility setup fees to get everything up and running. When moving in, many people want new items, including furniture and household items. Also, you might be upgrading and have an extra bathroom, which could require new things to fill the space.
Take a little bit of the pressure off when you set aside a little extra in your budget and make a list of items you’ll need right away vs. what can wait until later.
We hope that our list hasn’t been too overwhelming, but remember not all of these things will apply to you. So instead, use our list as a stepping stone so you can get a better overall sense of what you might have to spend money on. And remember the reward! A new house, a fresh start, and expenses you’ll likely forget about once you get settled in.
Having a moving budget can help you plan your move and give you peace of mind. However, we think you don’t have to put every extra penny into a savings account. Instead, make sure you leave room in your budget for a bit of breathing room. Moving is stressful, and you and the family might need a break or a distraction. Even if that just means getting out of the messy house and going out to eat, make sure you’re not being too stingy with the fun stuff while you’re in the process of moving to a new home. Do you need help with the buying or selling process? The agents at 41 Realty Group have all the tools and resources you need no matter where you are in your real estate journey. So give us a call today and let us answer your questions, give you advice, and assist however we can!
Every year, 41 Realty Group partners with local non-profits. In 2021, our efforts will focus on non-profits serving veterans in Yellowstone County.
This video details some of the work we will be doing, as well as introduces you to the non-profit we will be working most with – Veterans Navigation Network.
Intro: Montana currently has the highest veteran suicide rate in the nation.
30% of veterans have a significant disability rating through the VA.
7.5% of veterans live at or below the poverty level.
Montana has one of the highest per capita rates of veterans in the United States. Our rate runs about 10%, which means we have an incredibly patriotic state and for that I ’m very grateful.
Nicole King: Hey there I’m Nicole King, broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. Those are staggering statistics. Every year my brokerage partners with area non-profits to raise money and awareness for their causes. In 2020 we focused on nonprofits working with women and children, and in 2021 we’ll be working with non-profits serving veterans, so that hopefully those statistics will go down.
To prepare for this year’s work we met with about a dozen local nonprofits in October and November. During those meetings we asked where is the gap in services for veterans in Yellowstone County? And how can we either fill that gap or get a really good start at it?
Aside from funding their answers were consistently, 1) getting the word out about their programs and 2) connecting with those who need their services. So then the question became how can we help? One after another after another they told us about a unique and effective newer non-profit and said that if we could help spread the word about them and their services and then raise funds to help them stay in business, all the other veteran non-profits would benefit
I had the privilege of talking with Blake Fuhriman with the Veterans Navigation Network, or VNN for short, a few days ago. Check out our conversation to learn more about their incredible work.
Nicole: The first person that I wanted you to meet is Blake Fuhriman. He is the chairman of Veterans Navigation Network and they’re who we’re going to focus primarily on throughout 2021. Blake, tell us how you came up with the idea for Veterans Navigation, a little bit, about yourself, what (VNN is the initials for Veterans Navigation Network), what you guys do and how you also connect with all the other non-profits here in town.
Blake: Of course so yeah my name is Blake Fuhriman, I am an army veteran — served four years in the ranger regiment and just Veterans Navigation Network was completely born out of my transition from service into civilian life. It was very difficult for me and it is for a lot of veterans to go from this high stress, high-octane environment where you also have the support of all your brothers in arms or brothers and sisters in arms, and you go from that to the next day you’re out you can’t even get onto the military base in many cases, right?
So, you get into that realm and then you move home or move to wherever and you don’t have any of your battle buddies or people you served with in the military and it’s just a complete change of pace. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, which many many people don’t, then it can lead to a lot of challenges. So that’s what Veterans Navigation Network started out of — was my own challenge during that transition.
Nicole: Sure. How long ago did you transition out of the military into civilian life?
Blake: I got out of the military in 2013 and I think I’m still transitioning out of service, right? Even though I only served four years, I mean, it was such a huge part of my life and you know there’s still days that I struggle. Just like anybody would struggle, right? I miss friends, miss fallen comrades — all of that. But you know, that is part of my life, so you never really transition away from that but you integrate into this new world that you live in.
Nicole: Absolutely. So the first couple of years that you were out because VNN has only been around for about two years?
Blake: A year.
Nicole: A year, okay, so you were out in 2013 and now it’s 2021. Tell us about those few years — what were the things that you particularly struggled with? Did you just find that there were no services to meet your needs, or? Tell us about that.
Blake: Yeah so when I got out, I had just gotten divorced. I had three deployments to Afghanistan, one of those I lost a couple friends and throughout the three, several people that I knew had been killed in combat and seeing atrocities of war, you know? I just saw that and then I came home to my family, moved from Georgia where I was stationed, to Wyoming.
And my family, thankfully for me, I had a super supportive family and they were really awesome and tried to help out in any way they could but they just didn’t know what I had gone through. And so I turned to alcohol to numb the pain that I’d gotten from a parachuting injury and the emotional pain that I’d suffered from my time in service. Alcohol, gambling — everything, you know, that I shouldn’t have been turning to is what I was turning to.
So I didn’t have that support or that network and that’s what I relied on and it was pretty disastrous for me just as a person and as a human being to go down that road without support. And not necessarily without support but without support that was targeted and knew exactly what I needed in those times, right?
Nicole: Definitely, and so your experience with not having the targeted support is what birthed, then, VNN, and you’re here in Billings now. So you went from Wyoming to Billings — tell us about that.
Blake: Yeah, so when I got back to Wyoming, you know, I struggled. I looked for other jobs and just couldn’t find anything that brought the camaraderie of the military back or filled the void that I felt in my life. And so I just applied to all kinds of jobs and struggled, struggled, struggled.
And finally I got in a position, a training position, where there was other veterans involved and they really guided me and mentored me and helped me turn my life around. That was in Alabama and then I moved back from Alabama to Montana with my current wife and just realized that that mentorship was so powerful and that I saw a ton of veterans in Billings, Montana that lacked that in their own lives.
And it just hit me like, why isn’t anybody doing this, right? And so, there’s so many great organizations in Montana and Billings, specifically that help veterans. But as a struggling veteran if I went to one and it didn’t work out perfect or something like that, right, I would have just, you know, I would have gotten discouraged. I would have maybe thought well that didn’t work out I’m gonna go drink or I’m gonna go, you know?
For me, that was a challenge. So having somebody to walk that walk with me would have been immensely powerful and that’s that’s why I want to work to make VNN work in the Billings community and I think it will, it’s already starting to prove to work.
Nicole: Yeah it sounds like it! So what you guys do is you have mentor veterans who then you partner up with veterans who are either just brand new to the transition out or maybe have transitioned out years ago and are now needing to plug into the services that are available to them, like Adaptive Performance Center, Dog Tag Buddies, Horses Spirits Healing, there’s — it sounds like basically dozens of different non-profits that they can plug into, plus then the services available to the VA.
And you help them do that with one person that they can talk to who then can help them.
Blake: Yeah, exactly. So there’s basically a constant, right? They may go to an organization for help and it may not be the right fit, right? And so what we want to be is that constant so even if this organization doesn’t work out or this option with the VA doesn’t work out or whatever it is, you have that constant that’s there by your side the whole time and just walking you through that and helping you problem solve.
You know, not necessarily holding your hand, but keeping you accountable and making sure that you’re getting what you need.
Nicole: It’s probably pretty similar to somebody having your back in the military, you’ve got your comrades that are right there that are going through that entire walk with you side by side, and this is essentially what you’re providing for them.
Blake: Exactly, that’s a great way of putting it and you know there’s organizations like Dog Tag Buddies and APC, and Horses Spirits Healing, and they’re all great and they do great things for veterans, but you know at any at any time they may not fit the whole bill.
So you know they all have their individual niches that they help the veterans fill and the gaps that they help them fill but at the end of the day, they don’t do everything, right? And neither do we at Veterans Navigation Network, but we’ll find out who does and that’s something that takes something off the plate of the veteran and helps them get what they need.
Nicole: And their friends and family. Like, your friends and family, when you first transitioned out, I bet they were sort of felt helpless saying I want to help so much but I don’t know how, I don’t know who to reach out to and you can step in and fill that for them. By helping both the caregivers the friends, the family members, and the veteran all at once to find exactly what that veteran needs, and I would imagine it also helps a bit with the isolation.
There’s somebody who’s checking back in with that veteran constantly. I mean one of the statistics we heard is that Montana has the highest suicide rate in the nation for veterans and I bet that constant checking in helps with a little bit of that isolation.
Blake: Yeah, yeah, that’s really what we want to see is just, you know, obviously everybody wants to see that number go down and that statistic disappear but, you know, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere right now and we would love to be a part of that disappearing.
So checking in on these veterans is something immensely important, right? In the military you had a team leader, a supervisor or somebody like that or even just your battle buddy — somebody who’s the same rank as you checking in on you, just watching your back, having your six, whatever you want to call it.
Veterans Navigation Network may not be able to replicate that completely because, you know, you’re not going to have that same relationship you have with somebody that you cleared a room with in Afghanistan, but it’s somebody who knows what that was like and can provide something really close to that. More than more than a spouse or more than a parent or friend who is a civilian could do, right? Because they just don’t understand that.
Nicole: Yeah, when you sit down with a veteran versus if I sit down with a veteran, they’re not going to tell me the same things. They’re not going to talk to me in the same way they’re not going to feel the same connection with me that they will with you or with any of the other mentors that you guys provide.
You know, another statistic that we heard at the beginning of the video is that about 10% of Yellowstone County’s population are veterans and that’s actually a huge number. If you google Billings population or just Yellowstone County’s population, 161, 000 is what 2019’s population was estimated at. We’ll see what it comes out with the census but if you just take 160,000 that’s 16,000 people right here in Yellowstone County that have experienced some portion of the military and that’s a huge number.
Blake: It is, yeah.
Nicole: Really that’s just, everybody that we’re walking past in the street could be a veteran, right? Statistically, one in ten is going to be. So that’s a lot of people you can’t possibly serve all of them, not all of them necessarily need help.
Blake: Yeah a lot of them could be our mentors, right? Alot of them you know may not be mentors, may not be veterans who need help but they can help in some other way. Really, they’re the community that we live in. They’re business owners, they’re doctors, they’re nurses, they’re the different people in the community that you’d never know but together, you know, the veteran community in Billings — they’re the community of Billings, really.
Just being able to connect that community and, you know, just realize that there’s that family here is incredibly important.
Nicole: And it seems like, so one of the other things that we heard is that about seven and a half percent of veterans live at or below poverty and I would imagine there’s quite a bit of pride involved in asking for help, right? So if they’re going without food, going without necessities, going without housing — whatever it is that they’re needing, you’re a great place to reach out to and get this one person they can talk to and get the assistance they need.
Blake: Yes that’s exactly, with Covid, because we haven’t been able to do that face-to-face mentorship as much, that’s really what we’ve been doing, is a lot of resource guiding; guiding vets to resources that they need and then just being somebody they can call and talk to, you know, and, you know, just help guide them or help problem solve with different things it’s it’s been great to see that we can help even in these crazy, crazy times that we’re living in.
Nicole: I bet even the smallest things are really making a big difference at this point too.
Blake: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Some examples of that are just whether it’s a family in the community that just wants to give something, right? Food, gas, you know, fill a veterans gas tank, something like that, has been incredibly powerful. One around the holidays like we are now but just with COVID and isolation, just veterans knowing that people in the community do care about them.
Nicole: Absolutely so one of the things that we’re setting up is working with coffee shops and restaurants and different vendors to both set up services directly for veterans but also for them to have information about VNN and about all the different non-profits here in town right there and available at their counters for people to pick up.
So maybe they don’t have to make that phone call but they can pick up a piece of paper and have that with them and connect with Blake later. Also several coffee shops in town are creating specials on their menus where you order that and the money that is generated from that special goes directly to VNN to help them to continue providing the services.
That, I would imagine, all that community support helps those veterans feel like they belong, that they’re valued, and the community is there for them.
Blake: Oh, yeah definitely, definitely. You know, there’s a ton of support in the community and we love seeing it come together to support our veterans.
Nicole: We appreciate you, thank you for your service and thank you for starting VNN. I think 2021 is going to be amazing for VNN, for you, for everybody and we just so appreciate you.
Blake: Well, thank you, definitely and thank you for the work that you’ve done and your organization has done on this project.
Nicole: It’s been my pleasure for sure.
Nicole: Isn’t Blake amazing? I am so excited to work with him this year over the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out various partnerships throughout Yellowstone County that will 1) raise awareness for VNN but they’ll also raise funds for them so they can keep serving veterans.
I’ve been reaching out to local business owners over the past couple of months and have been humbled by our community’s support of veterans. So many have generously agreed to have info cards and posters and donation boxes of other businesses. And some have even created specials that when you purchase them, they directly raise money for VNN. We’ve created a tab on our website https://41realtygroup.com/2021-non-profits/ that list all of the businesses around town who are supporting our efforts this year and what they’re doing.
Go there right now to learn where you can shop to support VNN. We’ll also have a direct link to VNN’s website so you can learn more about them next month. We will post a video introducing you to a few of the other area non-profits who also serve veterans and to whom VNN gets to refer veterans.
Make sure that you like and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you don’t miss that video. Thank you to everyone who has served or is serving in the military. We can never express how much we appreciate you.
See you next time.
Conclusion (Updated To Include Totals From 2021)
Here are our summaries from 2021:
We donated $50,570.61 over the course of the entire year.
– $33,935.11 went to Veterans Navigation Network, $9,500 to HER Campaign, $4,800 to Yellowstone Foundation Properties, and $2,335.50 to the Billings Community Foundation.
– $221.77 was also raised through donation boxes at several coffee shops throughout Billings.
– $470 was donated by Harper & Madison
At least 10% of every single commission generated by 41 Realty Group is donated. The more we sell, the more we are able to give! We are SO incredibly thankful for everyone who chose to use 41 Realty Group to buy or sell real estate this year and for all our agents who worked so hard to close those transactions. These donations are possible because of our clients and our agents.
A home appraisal is a critical component of any transaction, whether you’re buying a property with a mortgage, refinancing your existing loan, or selling your house to someone other than an all-cash buyer.
If you’re a buyer, owner, or seller, you’ll want to understand how an appraisal works and how an appraiser decides what a property is worth. So let’s dive into everything you need to know about home appraisals.
Your Guide To Home Appraisals
When it comes to purchasing, selling, or refinancing a property, the prospect of having an appraisal done may not be on your mind. But perhaps it should be: An appraisal determines how much a home is worth for everyone involved in the process, including the buyer, seller, and lender.
The aim is to prevent the buyer and the lender from paying too much. Although a home appraisal isn’t the most exciting aspect of purchasing or selling a house, it is essential. Learn more about how property appraisals work below.
What Is a Home Appraisal?
An appraisal is an expert estimation of a property’s worth. Appraisals are often employed in buy-and-sell transactions and occasionally used in refinance situations. They are unbiased and aim to accurately assess a property value so that everyone involved in the transaction has the truth.
An appraisal is used to verify whether the property’s contract price is fair given its condition, location, and features in a purchase-and-sale transaction. In addition, an appraisal protects the lender in a refinance situation by ensuring that they are not providing the borrower more money than the home is worth.
Lenders want to ensure that homeowners are not over-borrowing for a house as collateral for their mortgage. If the borrower defaults on their mortgage and enters foreclosure, the lender will sell the property to recover the money it gave.
The appraisal protects the bank against lending more than it might be able to recover in the worst-case scenario.
The Appraisal Process and How Values Are Determined
Because an appraisal typically protects the lender’s interests, the lender will generally request one. A good expert evaluation costs several hundred dollars and is paid for mainly by the borrower.
According to the Appraisal Institute, a professional real estate appraiser should be licensed or certified—as required in all 50 states—and be familiar with the local market. In addition, the appraiser must be impartial and have no direct or indirect interest in the deal under federal rules.
Comparable sales and market trends determine the appraisal value. In addition, the home’s features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, floor plan functionality, and square footage, are critical criteria when determining the property’s worth.
The interior and exterior of the home must be thoroughly examined, and any factors that damage the property’s value, such as necessary repairs, must be noted.
Appraisers use the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report from Fannie Mae for single-family houses. The report requires the appraiser to document the property’s interior and exterior and its neighborhood and comparable sales. The appraiser then analyzes and concludes the property’s worth based on their inspections.
The report must include:
A map of your neighborhood showing the appraised property and comparable sales used
Exterior photographs of each comparable property used
An explanation of how the square footage was determined
A sketch of the exterior
Photographs of the front of the house, the back of the house, and the street
Any other pertinent information, including market sales data, public tax records, public land records, and anything else the appraiser used to determine the property’s fair market value.
How Can You Improve Your Home Appraisal?
It’s critical to obtain a precise house appraisal. However, for sellers or homeowners who wish to refinance their mortgage, it’s still ideal for achieving as high an appraised value as possible. The most significant influence on the value of a home is sales data in the immediate market area. If all the houses surrounding the home you’re interested in are increasing in sales price, then your property will also likely continue to increase in value with no changes.
Though home appraisals aren’t really within your control, there are a few things you can do that might ensure your property is appraised at a higher value.
It’s essential to have good curb appeal. Mow the lawn, weed the garden, and trim the hedges. Confirm that the home is in excellent condition. The appraiser should be able to detect your house’s potential. Your style may not matter much, but curb appeal and maintenance may influence its assessed value.
For sellers specifically, the most significant way you can impact the market value of your home is to make improvements. For example, fresh paint and new flooring can go a long way to provide the greatest return on investment.
Make a list of recent house enhancements. Make a note of any improvements or unique features you’ve added to your property and leave it for your appraiser. You should include things like if you installed new roofing or siding or replaced your heating system, as well as when the work was completed.
Focus on the crucial upgrades. Though pools and large yards can make a difference, updated kitchens and bathrooms definitely carry more weight when it comes to a home’s value. However, we should include a warning. Don’t get too attached to the repairs you’ve made. Even if you’ve spent thousands remodeling, it doesn’t automatically mean your house will increase its worth.
What Sellers Need to Know About Home Appraisals
As a seller, an incorrect appraisal might force you to decrease the price of your home to sell it. However, waiting for an all-cash buyer who doesn’t need an appraisal as a condition of closing the transaction will unlikely result in a greater sales price. No one wants to overpay for property.
Unfortunately, if your neighborhood has recently suffered from distressed sales, the appraisal value of your property will be reduced. However, you may be able to persuade the appraiser that your home is worth more if it’s in much better shape than foreclosures and short sales in your neighborhood.
What Refinancing Homeowners Need to Know
If you’re refinancing a standard mortgage and a low appraisal will likely prevent the refinancing from happening. Your loan must appraise at or above the amount you wish to refinance for it to be approved.
If you possess an FHA mortgage, you can refinance without an appraisal through the FHA Streamline program—a fantastic alternative for underwater homeowners. Ask your real estate agent if this might be the right option for you.
The Bottom Line
The home appraisal is simply another box to check off a closing checklist when everything goes well. However, when the appraisal value is lower than anticipated, the transaction might be delayed or even called off.
Whether you’re purchasing your first house or refinancing, a basic understanding of how the appraisal procedure works can only work in your favor. This is especially true if you’re buying your first property. Contact your local real estate agent if you need help with this process. The team at 41 Realty Group would love to help you with buying, selling, inspections, home appraisals, and more! When you need experience on your side, give us a call today.
Nicole King, broker, and owner of 41 Realty Group has been recording a Touring Billings series on her YouTube channel to showcase some of the best parts of Billings, Montana. So far she’s covered Pioneer Park, Rimrock Road, and Forest Park Subdivision.
Watch the full videos of each place below or read the transcripts to learn more about each place.
Videos 1-3 of Touring Billings, Montana Video Series
What are your favorite neighborhoods in Billings? View our first three videos in the Touring Billings, Montana series, and then let us know which neighborhoods we should cover next!
Touring Billings #1 – Pioneer Park
Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to a new video series, where we explored various areas of Billings.
Today, we’re in the area surrounding Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is a 32-acre city park just north of Senior High School. It’s between 3rd and Virginia. Located within the park is a wading pool, playground, tennis courts, restrooms, horseshoe pits, mutli-use trails, barbecue areas, a folf course, and plenty of green space with mature trees which is perfect for winter sledding.
The Zimmerman Center also sits just inside the park just off of Virginia and Ave E. It is a great place to host events. With this park being centrally located and it providing so many activities and beautiful scenery, it’s no wonder that the neighborhoods surround it are some of the most requested by buyers.
The areas around the park have been formally and informally named The Avenues, North Elevations, The Tree Streets, and The Poets. Those names are mostly not a mystery in origin. The Poets are named after famous poets like Longfellow and Whittier. The Tree Streets have strong names like Elm and Maple. The Avenues include Avenues B – F. And lastly there’s the North Elevation, which is a several block radius slightly to the east of Pioneer Park that is on the national register of historic places.
It’s easy to see why so many folks love these neighborhoods. The welcoming craftsman, bungalow, and tudor-style homes along well-manicured tree-lined streets harken back to what can seem like a much similar time in history.
There are creaky wood floors, stately fireplaces, cross-hatched windows, and built-in doors and cabinets that bring the famed “character” to these homes. Buying one of these homes means embracing the quirks and inconveniences of a by-gone era, plus oftentimes needing to do expensive updates, like replacing knob-and-tube wiring, getting rid of lead-based paint asbestos, and replacing windows and adding insulation to improve efficiency.
One truly must have the love and patients for the issues of an old home. Each of these areas has their own cost variations and frequency in which homes become available. In the past 5 years, between 4-7 houses have sold each year in The Poets, but in the year 2018, none sold. The average price-point of homes sold so far in 2020 is $343,000. However, many of the larger and more expensive homes haven’t been on the market in decades, but would easily approach several hundred thousand and even over a million dollars.
In the past five years, about fifteen houses have sold each year in the tree streets. The average price of homes sold so far in 2020 was just under $285,000. The Avenues and the North Elevation overlap one another. Usually only about 10 to 15 home sell in this area each year, but 2020 has seen a spike in over 25 sold so far, with an average price of about $256,000.
No matter where you choose to live in Billings, you can’t go wrong. If you’re looking for turn-of-the-century charm amidst a canopy of trees, are comfortable keeping up with the demands of an older home, and are pre-approved for a loan in at least the mid-200s, the areas around Pioneer park might just be perfect for you.
Thank you for touring a bit of Billings with me today. If you have questions about these or any other parts of the Greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day, y’all.
Touring Billings #2 – Rimrock Road
Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. As you drive down Rimrock Road, heading west, you’ll see dozens of streets branching off near the Rims. These short, mostly dead-end streets feature an incredible array of architecture. No two homes are the same, and they range in age from the early 1900s to as recent as this year.
There are a handful of vacant lots to be built on as well, but they’ll set you back about a little over $100,000 to purchase. As we continue our tour of Billings, let’s take a closer look at these less-traveled streets above Rimrock and find out what they offer.
Many buyers ask to be in this area due to the towering trees, large yards, and easy access to most other areas of town. Rimrock Road itself connects to major roads like Airport, Virginia, 13th, Zimmerman, and Shiloh. From those, it’s just a few minutes to the Heights, downtown, King Avenue, Shiloh Crossing, and the interstate.
Aside from convenience, these sloped streets offer solitude that is often paired with incredible views of Yellowstone Valley and the nearby mountain ranges. The area is a comfortable mix of small and large homes, homes that could use some updating and homes that have already been fully renovated.
There are pocket parks sprinkled throughout, some with play equipment while some are left natural. One of the best sledding hills in Billings, Rimpoint Park, can be found just above Rimrock, a few blocks west of Shiloh. Make sure you check it out this Winter!
Usually between 80 and 90 houses sell each year in this area. 2020 has already seen more than 75 sales, and the price point of those has been about $345,000. The better-known subdivisions of Gregory Hills, Wilshire Height, and Castlewood have large signs at their entrances. Watch for them the next time you’re driving down Rimrock and then maybe turn in and drive the quaint streets and fall in love with yet another great area of Billings.
Thank you for touring a bit more of the Billings area with me today. If you have questions about these or any other parts of the Greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day.
Touring Billings #3 – Forest Park Subdivision
Nicole: Hey there! I’m Nicole King, broker/owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana. Do you drive by these walls all the time and wonder, “what is behind them?” You’d be right if you assumed they are stately homes, perfectly manicured lawns, and to-die-for master suites. You would also be right if you thought there would be friendly neighbors, meandering walking paths, and a labyrinth of streets that I quickly got lost on. Welcome to Forest Park! Let’s explore.
With the exception of this beautiful patio-home community located at the South entrance of the subdivision, most of the homes are single-family residences. The curbed streets of the subdivision keep the traffic moving slowly, as most people want to take their time admiring these beautiful homes.
Forest Park got its start in the late 60s. Many of the homes were built between then and the late 70s. A few were sprinkled in between the 80s and 90s, but there was a large push for construction between the early 2000s to about 2016. Most of the homes are very large with several bedrooms and bathrooms.
If you’re wanting to move into Forest Park, you’ll need to watch the market carefully, since only about 15 properties sell here each year. The average price point for the ten that sold in 2020 was about $421,000. Now, keep in mind that most of the homes that sell in this area are exceptionally well-maintained, but they can also be time-capsules for the era in which they were built. The average price point is high, and you might also need a healthy remodel budget for post-closing updates.
Thank you for touring another part of Billings with me today. If you have questions about Forest Park or any other part of the greater Billings area, feel free to call, text, or email me anytime. Until next time, make it a great day!
Are you wondering when the best time to buy or sell a home is? Though it does seem like certain seasons are busier than others, the real estate market fluctuates due to buy and demand rather than by the time of year. That’s why if you’re considering buying or selling a home, it’s essential to pay attention to the housing market and know the difference between a seller’s market vs. a buyer’s market.
Not sure what those terms mean? Don’t worry! This article is here to give you a crash course on what buyer’s market and seller’s market means and how they can affect you. That way, you have the upper hand when you’re ready to buy or sell or just want to stay on top of the real estate market.
The Difference Between A Sellers Market Vs. Buyers Market
If you’re wondering if your local area is experiencing a seller’s market vs. buyer’s market, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re buying or selling, it’s crucial you understand what’s happening in your local housing market so that you can get the best price for your home.
Let’s start by defining a seller’s market.
What Is a Seller’s Market?
A seller’s market comes about when there are fewer homes for sale than buyers, giving sellers more negotiating power. When this happens, the median prices for homes increase significantly, putting buyers in difficult positions.
Read on for a few strategies that buyers can utilize when they find themselves trying to buy in a seller’s market.
Strategies for Buyers
You can do several things as a buyer to ensure you’re ready to go when the right house comes along.
First, prepare for bidding wars. The market is competitive, and other buyers likely see the same things you see in a house. Talk to your real estate and decide a firm price limit at the start based on what you can afford and what the home is worth. Being the winning bidder means nothing if the home appraises too low for your financing to get approved.
Next, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start looking. Getting pre-approved shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially capable of making good on your home offer.
Lastly, act quickly and make your offer simple. Homes won’t stay on the market long, so you want to make a move quickly. It’s also tempting to waive contingencies when trying to get the upper hand. Don’t do this and risk buying a home that has significant problems down the road. Instead, make offers simple by including the financing contingency, the inspection contingency, appraisal contingency, and a standard closing period of 30 to 45 days.
3 Strategies for Sellers
Though it seems silly to list a strategy for sellers in a seller’s market, there are still a few things you should do to get the best price for your home.
The first thing you should do is list your home at marketing value. It might be tempting to list it extremely high, but overpriced homes will likely turn buyers off, and mortgage companies will likely get denied when an appraisal can’t support the increased offer price.
Next, consult with your real estate agent so that you know how to choose the best offer. The offer that sounds the best and the offer that actually closes isn’t necessarily the same. The right buyer will have all their finances in order and are ready to go quickly, even if it’s not the highest offer.
It’s also a good idea to have your next home lined up, as it’s likely your home will sell within days. If you happen to get a cash offer, your house could close within a week or two. That doesn’t give you much time to find a new place to live, especially when inventory is already low.
What Is a Buyer’s Market?
A buyer’s market exists when more homes are for sale than potential buyers, giving buyers the upper hand over sellers. Let’s discuss strategies for buyers and seller’s in a buyer’s market.
3 Strategies for Buyers
You can take advantage of your negotiating power to get a better deal in a buyer’s market. For example, you can offer less than the asking price, as a seller whose home has been on the market for a while might be willing to lower the price.
You might also be able to ask for seller concessions, which means asking the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs. Other possibilities include asking sellers to be flexible with the closing date or asking them to include appliances in the price.
Don’t be shy about asking for what you want – and that includes asking for repairs. The home inspection will let you know what needs to get fixed, and the sellers might be motivated to improve those for you.
3 Strategies for Sellers
In a buyer’s market, sellers shouldn’t let buyers walk all over them. So here are a few tips to help you handle a market that’s slightly working against you.
First, highlight your home’s competitive advantage. What does your home offer that other homes don’t have? Make sure your listing highlights those. Then, if you feel like your home doesn’t have some of those extra advantages, create them! Get the interior and exterior repainted, hire a handyman to finish all of those nagging projects, use a professional stager – anything you can to give your home a leg up.
Make room in your budget for buyer concessions. In a market where buyers will likely be asking for extras, plan for those in your listing price so that you still get a reasonable price without losing too much money.
Lastly, make sure you get a pre-inspection so that you can identify any potential issues before buyers do. This gives you a chance to fix the problems before you list or lower the price accordingly if you don’t want to fix them yourself.
A Final Word On Sellers Market Vs. Buyers Market
When you break it all down, it helps buyers and sellers know what’s going on in the market. As a buyer, you’ll want to purchase your home in a buyer’s market, as this indicates an influx of available homes, which means less competition. As a seller, you hope that you’ll be able to list during a seller’s market because it means there are fewer homes for sale, and your house will likely have several people interested.
Regardless of what’s happening in your area, the best thing you can do is hire a real estate agent to help you navigate the tricky waters that are real estate. Hiring a competent real estate agent can give you a leg up on the competition and ensure you get the best price for your home.
One of our favorite places in Billings, Montana, is Harper & Madison. Nicole King, owner and broker of 41 Realty Group interviews the owner of Harper & Madison to learn a little bit more about the history of this incredible coffee shop and bakery.
Read on for the full transcript of the video.
Harper & Madison – An Inside Look At The Restaurant We Love In Billings, MT
Nicole: Hey there I’m Nicole King I’m the broker-owner of 41 Realty Group in Billings, Montana and today we get to sit down with Joanie. Joanie owns Harper and Madison, you’ve probably driven by it plenty of times when you’ve headed either away from the hospitals toward Pioneer Park or the opposite direction. They’re on 10th Avenue North, you can’t miss them – they are the cutest little shop and when you come in you can see that this is just the most welcoming and wonderful space.
so Joanie thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Tell us how you came to be, how did you get to be in this location, how’d you name your restaurant – anything you think we should know.
Joanie: The story, okay, this is actually my third business and it’s my favorite by far. I started this business 10 years ago.
Joanie: Thanks, and originally it was going to be out on the west end on Zimmerman. I had actually signed a lease there, but it wasn’t feeling right so I was searching for a different location that felt right and I never drive down 10th avenue but for some reason, that day I was driving down 10th avenue and I saw a big for sale sign in the window of this building and I screeched to a halt. I really didn’t even close my door I ran from my car and looked in the window and I said that’s it. I knew that i wanted to have a place that was unique in Billings and not about volume and crazy busy. I wanted a place where I could build community and this seemed like exactly the right location for that and it has been.
Nicole: Yeah for sure. Great job. I think building community is exactly what you do.
Joanie: Thanks, thanks.
Nicole: And so then you set about naming it and figuring out what it looks like.
Joanie: Right originally I had planned on just opening a bakery and it accidentally turned itself into a restaurant within a few days, you know. I had five sandwiches on the menu just in case someone would like to come in from the hospital or the clinic and and grab lunch but uh like i said within three days it was clear that I had accidentally opened a restaurant so we went with that and it’s been that for the last 10 years, up until recently.
Joanie: The name comes from my kids my daughter is Harper and my son is Madison and they have literally worked with me since they were toddlers my son used to call us “Team Cake.”
Nicole: Oh my gosh, that is the cutest. I love it.
Joanie: So it felt good and uh and it makes me just – I feel like I have them here with me even though they’re far away now.
Nicole: Sure, yeah. so originally when you opened you had really long hours, a huge menu, and then recently kind of revaluated as everything shut down, did some remodeling – tell me about that process.
Joanie: We did we’ve, we’ve gone through a couple of transitions. This last time was definitely COVID-related when we had to restrict our seating, it was no longer feasible to support a staff of 12, even doing takeout. And besides, that isn’t what we’re here for. We’re not here to become a fast-food restaurant.
It really is a place for people to come and sit and be loved through food. So I made the decision to downsize. The sad part was letting some of my staff go because they were all wonderful. We went from a staff of 12 to a staff of five and decided to become a patisserie. So we sell European style desserts and a few breakfast items but we no longer do food to order, so it’s not that fast-paced busy crazy restaurant.
It’s more like the original vision that I had for it which is sweet so I guess if anything good came out of COVID it led me to where it is now.
Nicole: Oh that’s beautiful beautiful story and your food is beautiful.
Nicole: What’s in those cabinets and what comes out on the plates is just gorgeous. You can tell so much love has gone into it so much thought about the ingredients and the presentation, everything.
I saw a picture of a sandwich from your brother the other day.
Nicole: It’s got this great bow on it and everything oh my gosh, it’s wonderful.
Joanie: We have a motto here and that is yeah, it all matters.
Nicole: Yeah, it feels like it for sure. So what are your hours?
Joanie: We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from seven to one.
Joanie: We do have seating and so you can come in and enjoy one of our breakfast items or a pastry or a dessert, a great cup of coffee, and just relax and and be loved on.
Nicole: Yeah, yeah, wow that is amazing. The another thing that you’re doing is that we’ve partnered with you for the benefit of veterans. So your family has a long history of military service, thank you to your entire family for everything. Both to those who have served to sacrifice but then also all the sacrifice of, you know, family members.
Joanie: Yeah, yeah, I have many men in my family who have served in the military and you know they have shared with me what that was like. It’s a sacrifice that I can’t imagine making so that when you approached me about partnering, I was more than happy to say yes to that.
Nicole: Oh well, we really appreciate it so anybody can come down here, order a cup of coffee, and five cents for every cup sold this year is going to go directly to the help of veterans.
Joanie: So we need to sell a lot of coffee.
Nicole: Yeah, yeah, come down get some coffee, enjoy everything else that’s on their menu. Be loved on through food as Joanie says. Come down to harper madison and experience it for yourself.
Real estate investing has proven to be one of the main ways to build wealth for a long time. Real estate is never a bad investment, as it can be a viable way to build monthly cash flow, help you retire more easily, and help you reach your financial goals.
However, successfully investing in real estate can be difficult in today’s competitive market. Deals are becoming more and more complex, and even one mistake can cost investors a lot of money. So save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and money by reading some of our real estate investing tips (and mistakes to avoid) and getting in touch with one of our agents today!
The Best Real Estate Investing Tips For Those Just Getting Started
In this article, we’ll give you a basic overview of things to consider if you want to start investing in real estate. Then, hopefully, you’ll discover some actionable real estate investing tips to help you know where to look, the types of real estate to buy, and more!
Define Your Real Estate Investment Goals
The first real estate investing tip we have for you is to clarify your individual investment goals. When it comes to making investment decisions, you’ll want to determine a clear strategy to reach those goals. Know where you want to go and how you plan to get there – before you spend all of your hard-earned savings on real estate.
There are so many factors and variables in real estate investing, so it’s essential to do some market research and talk to experts to help you formulate a personal real estate investment strategy. For example, what type of real estate are you planning on investing in? Residential, commercial, land, or particular use?
Plus, there are several strategies you might consider – core, value-add, and opportunistic. While one person might thrive on opportunistic fix-and-flip properties, others find that core buy-and-hold longer-term investments suit them better.
First-time investors should do some research, talk to agents in their market, and pick a strategy they think will work best for them and their personal goals. Stick to your goals and fine-tune your investment strategy along the way.
Order Inspections and Appraisals Before Buying
One of the most important real estate investing tips we give first-time investors is to always always always get an inspection before buying. Home inspections will show you all the “red flags” that might be a part of the property. These issues are good to know early so that you can plan for repairs and renovations and adjust your budget accordingly. In addition, inspections will show you the difference between a sound investment and a high-risk investment.
Additionally, property appraisals are beneficial because they give you an analysis of the past, current, and predicted future value of the investment property. Don’t take a chance on guessing what the property is worth; get a professional opinion! Appraisers will also give you a reasonable estimate of what you can likely charge in monthly rent once you’ve fixed up the property.
Join a local networking group
There are thousands of real estate investing groups across the country. Consider joining a couple and participating in local groups too! Joining groups will help you meet people to help you and introduce you to new topics and processes you might not have been exposed to before.
Joining these groups can provide opportunities for education, mentorship, new deals, and so much more. Plus, many of these groups have local businesses you can support, and who doesn’t want to give back to the community?
Don’t Go Overboard With Renovations
Especially with fix and flip properties, don’t go crazy with renovations. You don’t have to blow your whole budget making your investment property look like it’s out of a home improvement magazine, especially when it comes to accents and fixtures.
You want it to look modern and clean, but you don’t have to go overboard. If you’re selling, the buyers will want to put their own flair on the home, and renters won’t want to pay more monthly just because you went a little overboard with the renovation budget.
Pair Up With Experts
We’ve mentioned it before, but investing in real estate has a lot of moving pieces. So it’s critical that when you first start out, you partner up with experts in each area of the process. Having people who have done what you’re trying to do will help you minimize mistakes.
One thing you should do is align yourself with a real estate agent you trust, as they have access to tools and resources that could be beneficial to you. Plus, many real estate agents are investors themselves, and they can give you more tips and help you avoid mistakes. Don’t reinvent the wheel when others have already paved the way with proven processes that work.
Pros of Real Estate Investing
Now that you’ve got a few real estate investing tips to consider let’s discuss some of the appeal of real estate. First, it’s much less risky than investing in the stock market. Though you might not have the same earning potential, you can pretty much count on making a return when it comes to real estate.
One main pro of investing in real estate is the steady cash flow. When you have enough rental properties and trustworthy tenants, this becomes a stable revenue stream for your business. Owning real estate also comes with tax breaks – you can deduct all sorts of expenses from your taxes. These include mortgage interest, depreciation, property tax, and more.
Lastly, long-term returns are often properties, because over time, most properties increase in value.
Cons of Real Estate Investing
As with every potential investment, there are some risks to consider. For example, potential returns aren’t as high as the stock market, and the time it takes for you to see that return could be a lot longer. Also, unlike stocks, you can’t turn a property into cash quickly, as they aren’t liquid investments.
Additionally, real estate investing can be pretty cash-heavy. Especially if you’re looking to create a steady stream of income, you’ll likely need cash on hand to get started. Whether’s you’ve saved the money or acquired a loan, you’ll need to be able to pay for building improvements, maintenance, and more.
Managing tenants and taking care of maintenance can be a challenge too. Whether you hire a property manager or try to manage it yourself, there can be many unexpected problems that come up. Though it can be really rewarding, it’s important to consider that with rentals come overdue rent, roof leaks, power outages, finding qualified tenants, and more.