41 Realty Group Home Inspection General Real Estate

What Goes Into a Home Inspection and Why Do…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

If you need help with the buying or selling process, including scheduling a home inspection, we’ve got your back! The experts at 41 Realty Group will help you with every phase of the process and make sure you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s!

For Sale By Owner - 41 Realty Group Sellers

Should You Sell Your House For Sale By Owner?

Are you thinking of selling your home yourself (also known as “for sale by owner” or FSBO) because you think it will save you a lot of money? It’s no secret that the standard real estate agent’s commission is typically 5% to 6%, which really adds up depending on the price of the home you want to buy. With that in mind, you might be thinking that acting as your own seller’s agent will be worth the savings. However, before you go the for sale by owner route, there are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider. 

Things You Should Know Before You Sell Your House For Sale By Owner

Here are the highlights of things you should know before choosing FSBO. First, while it might be tempting, the risks of going it alone outweigh the benefits.

These risks include not finding qualified buyers, not knowing how to negotiate properly, not having enough free time to facilitate the sale, and potentially making emotional rather than logical decisions. The most significant risk of choosing “for sale by owner” is not having the experience or expertise to navigate all the requirements (both legal and regulatory) that come with selling a home.

Now that you know the risks let’s dive into what FSBO entails.

What Is For Sale by Owner, Exactly?

In the real estate world, For Sale By Owner (FSBO, pronounced “fizbo”) is when a house owner sells their home without any representation from a real estate agent. 

Most home sellers decide FSBO isn’t worth it because of the hassle alone — and they find that they end up getting a worse deal on their home than if they had used a realtor. Most people who choose the FSBO route sell their homes at 11% less than those with an agent. 

Real Estate Is a Full-Time Job

Think about these questions: Can you rush home from work when someone wants to see your home? Is it possible for you to answer your phone every time it rings with a potential buyer? Do you have the time or energy to market your home at every available opportunity consistently? 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed just thinking about that, it might be time to hire an agent. A real estate agent is passionate about getting your home sold for the best price, so you can sit back and relax and let them do the hard work for you.

Real Estate Agents Have Large Networks

Sure, there are websites and networks you can list your home on like Zillow, Redfin, Craiglist, and the MLS, but is simply posting a listing enough? Real estate agents have a vast pool of people they can spread the word to so that you can get your home sold faster. Even if you think you have many friends and family, will they go the extra mile for you to make sure more people see your home? 

A small network means less demand for your property, which means longer waiting periods and not getting as much money as your home is worth. An excellent real estate team will likely already have a collection of buyers who are looking for precisely what your house has! 

Realtors May Not Show a “For Sale By Owner” Home

Though not true of all brokerages, some agents know that in an FSBO deal, there isn’t a professional colleague who knows what they are doing on the other end of the transaction. As a result, agents representing buyers might discourage their clients from making an offer because of the hassles and risks of trying to close the deal without a professional agent (and without a guaranteed commission!).

If you really want to be taken seriously by seller’s agents, avoid any hiccups, or miss any critical steps, it’s better to use an agent who can help you manage the process.

Agents Avoid Emotional Sales

The sale of your home can become an emotional process. Having an agent removes you slightly from the process, so you don’t overprice your home or give in too quickly when you’re tired of waiting for the right offer. If you choose not to use an agent, you’ll also have to deal directly with rejection every time a buyer’s agent tells you that the client isn’t interested. 

The right real estate agent can take the sting out of the rejection and positively spin any constructive criticism. Hiring an agent means you have someone on your side, facilitating the deal so that everything goes smoothly.

Real Estate Agents Weed Out Unqualified Buyers

When you use a real estate agent, they will be able to take the time to find out whether someone who wants to see your home for sale is a qualified buyer or simply a curious neighbor. It can be a significant interruption every time you have to put your life on hold, clean your home, and find the time for potential buyers to come over. An agent can limit those hassles and only show your home to those who actually want to buy.

Real estate agents are trained to ask the right questions to determine the buyer’s seriousness and make sure they are qualified. They also know how to determine how long buyers have been looking, whether they’ve seen any other homes, and more. As a result, a real estate agent will be able to move a qualified and motivated person to the point of purchase, while FSBO sellers lack this training and skill set.

Lastly, having the seller present can make showings a little uncomfortable. Most buyers rush through the house if the seller is present, and might feel awkward asking the questions they want to or going through the house the way they want to because of the watchful eyes of the seller.

The Bottom Line With For Sale By Owner

It’s a big deal to learn how to sell your house without the assistance of an agent. Selling your home is likely one of the most significant transactions you’ll ever make. Though it’s true, that you might save a few dollars, we think that hiring an agent has a lot more advantages. The right real estate agent will get you more exposure and negotiate a better deal on your behalf, but real estate is what they do, day in and day out. They can make certain complex transactions go smoothly, with a few potential financial and legal pitfalls as possible. Are you in the market to sell? 41 Realty Group wants to help! Set up a consultation with us and let us show you why hiring an agent is a great idea (especially in this crazy market!).

Touring Billings MT 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Touring Billings, MT Video Series (Videos 4-6)

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? 

Hannah: Right.

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?

Hannah: Absolutely.

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.

Hannah: Absolutely. 

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?

Hannah: Yes. 

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. 

Nicole: Perfect.

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?

Hannah: Absolutely. 

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!

Roots Garden Center 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Best of Billings Video Series — An Intro To…

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? 

Jon: Yeah. 

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.

Jon: Yes. 

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. 

Jon: Yeah.

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.

Jon: Yeah.

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.

Nicole: Yes!

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.

Nicole: Perfect. 

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. 

Jon: Yep. 

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. 

Nicole: I think it is! 

Moving Budget 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Things To Consider When Planning Your Moving Budget

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!

41 Realty Group Homebuyer Mistakes Buyers

10 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes To Avoid

As a first-time homebuyer (or even if it’s been years since you’ve bought a house!), there are a lot of common home buyer mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Starting with your mortgage pre-approval and ending with you actually moving into your dream house, at the end of the process, you’ll be a home-buying expert. 

However, with all the moving pieces involved, there’s a lot of room for error. We suggest looking for homebuyer classes as a way to start your journey to homeownership and consulting with a qualified team of real estate professionals. If you want a quick guide, read on for our guide of first-time homebuyer mistakes so you can identify potential hurdles and hopefully avoid most of them!

How to Avoid These First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

Every year, first-time homebuyers make their way into the real estate market, and without the right help or knowledge, they make the same mistakes their parents or family members did. Today’s buyers can stop the cycle. Here’s our list of errors to watch out for and what to do instead!

Waiting To Start Saving

One big mistake that new owners make is waiting too long to save. Before you even start looking for homes, saving early can help you contribute more money overall. Plus, you have the potential to earn more with interest from a savings account. When buying a house, you’ll need cash up-front to cover both your down payment and closing costs.

Try to create a separate account dedicated to your home-buying savings so that you know exactly how much you have to contribute to your future house when it’s time to buy. Automatic deposits can help you stay on track and grow your savings quickly.  

Saving For a Down Payment Only

Since we’re talking about saving, let’s discuss some of the others costs you should consider as you’re looking forward to your new home.

As the buyer, you’ll be responsible for several closing costs. They can include:

  • Loan origination fees — 1% of the home’s purchase price
  • Down payment — at least 3% of the home’s purchase price
  • Escrow fees — 2% of the home’s purchase price
  • Title insurance — varies by location
  • Homeowner’s insurance — 1 year of premiums
  • Private mortgage insurance — up-front premium or monthly payments
  • Property tax — 6 months 
  • Escrow fees — 2% of the home’s purchase price

It’s also a good idea to save money for your move-in plan. That could include shelling out money for professional movers, a moving truck, and more. In addition, new houses often require new appliances and other upgrades around the property to make it feel like a home. Though you’ll likely get a better idea of how much you need after you choose the house you want, it’s good to anticipate these extra expenses from the beginning. 

Overestimating How Much House You Can Afford

It is a waste of time and energy to start looking for houses when you don’t know how much home you can afford. You don’t want to end up looking at houses that are out of reach and get your hopes up only to have them crash down again.

First-time homebuyers should look for homes where the loan amount leaves with a comfortable monthly payment that won’t cause extra stress on their lives. 

You can avoid homebuyers’ mistakes like these when you get a mortgage preapproval letter, which will tell you exactly how much you can afford.

Going With The First Mortgage Lender

Since we mentioned mortgage preapprovals, we thought it might also be good to mention that it’s essential to compare offers. Mortgage interest rates and closing costs vary from lender to lender. This is a huge one on the list of homebuyer mistakes — almost half of the borrowers looking to buy a home don’t shop for a loan.

Avoid this mistake by applying with multiple lenders. All mortgage applications made within a 45-day window will count as just one credit inquiry, so your credit won’t plummet if you get all your applications done within a short time frame.

Not Taking Advantage Of First-Time Home Buyer Programs

First-time homebuyers don’t often have a ton of money saved up for the down payment or closing costs. However, don’t feel like you can’t afford a home without a considerable sum saved up! There are plenty of low-down-payment loan programs that you can participate in. In addition, you might qualify for down payment assistance and competitive mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers.

Ask your real estate agent or mortgage lender about first-time homebuyer options and look for programs in your state. For example, the Federal Housing Administration loans have a minimum down payment of 3.5%, and some other conventional loan programs allow down payments as low as 3%.

Not Checking Out The Neighborhood Before You Buy

You’re not just buying a new home; you’re moving into a new community. So check out the neighborhood before you buy to ensure it’s the right fit for you and your family’s lifestyle. 

It’s good to check out the entertainment options that are available locally, as well as the distance to nearby schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and more. Travel costs can add up, so don’t forget to calculate the commute.

Skipping The Home Inspection

One of the biggest homebuyer mistakes you can make is skipping the home inspection. Home inspectors will help you evaluate a house and identify major structural issues your potential home might have, including repairs needed and the condition of included appliances. The goal is to make sure the home is liveable and that both the buyers and the sellers have a clear view of the house’s condition before any sale is finalized.

Though skipping an inspection can save you a little money upfront and even give you an edge in this competitive market, it could cost you thousands of dollars later. In addition, if you find significant damage after you close, you might end up having to pay more than the home is worth. 

Talk to your real estate agent or ask your friends and family for home inspector recommendations. The inspector’s report can give you leverage when it comes to negotiating repairs or the price of the house.

Underestimating The Costs Of Homeownership

Remember that the monthly costs don’t go away when you buy a house. As a result, you might have different bills equal to more than what you were paying when you were renting. This could come as a surprise if you haven’t prepared.

You’ll have a mortgage payment, but also gas bills, cable bills, electric bills, water bills, and more! In addition, your new home might come with higher costs or entirely new bills you hadn’t considered. 

Avoid surprises by working with a real estate agent who can tell you about the neighborhood’s property taxes and insurance costs. You can request to see the seller’s utility bills for the last twelve months, too, so that you can get a better idea of how much those things will cost after you move in. 

Final Thoughts

Buying your first home (or at least first home in a while) should be an exciting life step! It can be a journey that offers comfort, financial benefits, plus security, and stability. Your home is where you’ll welcome family for the holidays, celebrate big wins with your friends and loved ones, and watch your family grow all under one roof. Let 41 Realty Group help you enjoy the home-buying process without getting completely overwhelmed. Get in touch with our team today and let us help you shop for the home you want and avoid some common homebuyer mistakes.

Prepare Your House For Freezing Weather 41 Realty Group Sellers

How To Prepare Your House For Freezing Weather

Wind, snow, and ice may be dangerous to your house and your finances. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to avoid the expense and bother of winter damage – as well as savings on heating bills.

Though typically winter house preparation should be completed in the fall, it’s never too late to take care of your home when the temperature drops. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your house for freezing weather.

Tips for Protecting Your Home From Freezing Temperatures

When it comes to weatherproofing a home in a cold-winter climate, the various structural and mechanical systems have an additional burden. Water might be challenging in any situation, but the difficulties are much more significant in locations where it stays snowy and icy for weeks or months on end.

Here are some guidelines to help you avoid the problems caused by frigid temperatures and weather.

Winter Weather Prep For The Outside Of Your Home

When the weather goes south, and the snow seems to trap you inside, you’ll be relieved that you have taken these precautions to secure your home.

Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris from your gutters to allow melting snow and ice to flow freely. This can avoid ice damming, which occurs when water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house, which might make water drip through the ceiling or into the walls.

You might also consider installing gutter guards. Gutter guards keep debris out of the gutters as debris might interfere with the water’s flow away from the house and into the ground.

Trim trees that are overgrown or dead branches to prevent them from breaking away and causing damage to your home or vehicle. Trimming excess branches could also prevent the weather from hurting someone who may be walking by your property.

It’s also possible that your stairs and handrails need to be replaced. When snow and ice accumulate on broken steps and railings, they become highly dangerous.

Use caulk to seal cracks and wall gaps to keep chilly air and dampness out of your house. Weatherstripping around windows and doors will prevent heat from escaping and cold air entering.

Prepare The Inside Of Your House For Freezing Weather

Water pipes can break due to extreme cold, snow, and ice. Likewise, water heaters are more likely to fail in the winter because of colder temperatures. Ensure your home’s internal systems are in working order for safety and efficiency. Consider having your heating system inspected. Furnaces, boilers, and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year.

Consider Adding Extra Insulation

Attics, basements, and crawl spaces can all benefit from extra insulating. For example, heat may escape through an attic when the temperature is too high, causing snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water then may refreeze, resulting in more ice buildup—and possibly ice dams that cause your roof to collapse. Well-insulated basements and crawlspaces will also aid in pipe protection. To keep pipes from freezing, consider insulating garages and other unfinished surfaces.

Insulation or plug-in heating cable can be used to prevent pipes in attics and crawl spaces from freezing. Make sure you get UL®-rated versions of heating cables with built-in thermostats; they will turn on the heat when it’s needed. Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations carefully when using the cables.

Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will prevent the system from being overwhelmed by freezing pipes and possibly causing a pipe to burst.

Take Steps To Prevent Flooding

Your experienced contractor can also help you avoid flooding from melting snow and ice runoff by suggesting actions to prevent it. For example, internal basement wall coatings, sump pumps, and other improvements may help protect your property and belongings from water damage.

Consider purchasing a sewer backup insurance policy. Sewer systems may be overwhelmed by melting snow flooding. Thousands of dollars in damage can be caused to floors, walls, furniture, and electrical systems if raw sewage backs up into the drains in your home.

Sewer backup is not covered by standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and it isn’t covered by flood insurance; nevertheless, it may be purchased as a separate product. Contact your insurance provider and ask them what they recommend.

Prepare Emergency Kits

Make a winter survival kit: Road salt, non-perishable foods, a car charger for phones, flashlights, batteries, and sleeping bags. Extra cash is always helpful. Channel your inner Boy Scout by keeping emergency supplies available when severe weather strikes.

If possible, include any medicines or first-aid supplies in the kit. Most convenient stores have ready-made disaster kits available if you don’t want to make your own emergency pack.

Contact Your Insurer

Check to see if your policy covers any winterizing expenses, such as stormproof shutters or sensors that detect high water flow and automatically turn off the water supply. These fixtures can help you save money on your insurance premiums too. Keep in mind that the insurance company benefits when you take steps to safeguard your property.

Invest In A Home Generator

To ensure that your refrigerator, heating system, and lights stay operational in the event of a power outage, get a standby generator that can keep you and your family warm and keep your pipes from freezing. Generator prices for small homes can be as little as $500. First, do some homework to figure out what type of generator would work best for your family. Then, before you install one, consult an expert electrician and make sure what you’ve chosen is safe and efficient. 

Install A Carbon Monoxide Detector

Keep your family safe and warm! If you don’t ventilate your heating equipment properly, it might leak carbon monoxide, which is harmful. Carbon monoxide detectors will let you know if something is wrong so that you can address the problem.


Montana gets COLD. You want your home to keep you and your family safe and warm. Taking care of these weather tips on your home can help ensure that your home stays in good order for a long time. 

Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts about winter home prep with us! We’d love to hear how you prepare your house for freezing weather. 

Have more real estate questions? Get in touch with us here.

Mortgage Rates 41 Realty Group Buyers

Everything You Need To Know About Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are the interest rates set for a home loan. It is also known as a “mortgage.”

Mortgage rates are derived from mortgage-backed securities (MBS), bonds backed by U.S. mortgages. Mortgage rates vary depending on the type of loan and the lender and can be confusing!

Understanding what factors influence mortgage rates might help you comparison-shop for mortgage rates and feel confident that you’re receiving a fair price. Ready to dive in?

How Mortgage Rates Are Determined

Comparing loan offers is critical if you want to get the greatest home deal. Unfortunately, loan estimates are jam-packed with data and statistics, which can be challenging to understand if you’re a first-time buyer.

Don’t let all of these figures overwhelm you, though. As long as you understand the mortgage rate you’re receiving, you have a solid foundation on which to compare your loan options. 

What Are Mortgage Rates?

A mortgage rate is the interest rate you’ll be charged to borrow money. The yearly interest amount will be a proportion of your total loan balance.

There are two types of mortgages: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Your interest rate is constant throughout the duration of your loan with a fixed rate.

For example, a lender quotes you a 6% fixed mortgage rate on a $300,000 loan. This means you’ll pay 6% of your loan balance every year until you sell the home, refinance, or pay it off.

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of home loan with an interest rate that fluctuates after a certain amount of time. For example, the 5/1 ARM is one of the most popular adjustable-rate mortgages. For the first five years, you will receive a set interest rate, and then it adjusts once a year after that.

Factors That Determine Mortgage Rates

Lenders set mortgage rates on a borrower-by-borrow basis. They consider many different factors, both larger economic and personal factors like the borrower’s individual financial situation.

Larger economic factors can include:

  • Strength of the economy
  • Inflation rates
  • Employment
  • Consumer spending
  • Housing construction and other market conditions

On the other hand, personal economic factors typically include:

  • Credit score
  • Credit history
  • Down payment size
  • Loan-to-value ratio
  • Loan size, type, and term
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Location of the property

Your unique financial position will have an impact on the interest rates you’ll get. The quality of your credit score, as well as factors like your down payment size, the amount of money you’re borrowing, your income, and more, will all play a role.

To get the lowest interest rate, you should have:

  • A good credit score
  • A down payment saved up
  • A low loan-to-value ratio
  • A low debt-to-income ratio

How To Shop For The Right Mortgage Right

Mortgage rates are unpredictable, changing without notice or warning. When shopping for a mortgage, it’s vital to understand the techniques as well as have a strategy. You must shop the “right way” if you want to get the best deal.

It’s also essential to keep in mind that when you’re looking for a mortgage rate, you’re shopping for a mortgage rate as well as any associated closing costs. You can’t have one without the other.

Mortgage lenders will never offer you a rate without including any associated costs, so keep an eye on your quotations – a rock-bottom rate is meaningless if your closing expenses are incredibly high.

There are two options for obtaining mortgage rates. You may either look for a particular mortgage rate or a specific closing cost. When you can isolate a single loan variable for comparison, such as “cost” or “mortgage rate,” it’s simple to determine which mortgage company is offering the best deal.

Let’s pretend you want a rate of 4.00 percent, for example. This is your “fixed” variable. So all you have to do now is inquire about mortgage lenders’ lowest closing fees at a 4.00% interest rate.

Alternatively, let’s say you want to take out a loan with no closing costs. In this scenario, closing expenses are your fixed variable – they’re $0.

To choose the best mortgage lender, simply inquire with each one about what their interest rate would be if there were no closing costs. Then, you pick the lender who offers you the lowest rate.


Are you looking to buy a home in the near future? If so, understanding what factors influence mortgage rates might help you comparison-shop for mortgage rates and feel confident that you’re receiving a fair price. Interest rates can be fixed or variable, depending on the type of loan product desired – it’s important to compare both types before making a decision. 

We can help you get a fair price for mortgage rates. So call us at (406) 969-4141 or reach out online today. We’ll get back to you with personalized advice on how to find the right loan company today!

We have contacts in Billings, Montana, that help our clients find the rate for them so that they can get the house they want when they want it.

2021 Yellowstone County Veterans Non-Profits General Real Estate

2021 Yellowstone County Veterans Non-Profits [VIDEO]

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 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.

Home Appraisals 41 Realty Group General Real Estate

Everything You Need To Know About Home Appraisals

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.