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The Houses By Harlan Team


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 116

Tips for the Sale of Your Home!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

If you are considering the sale of your home? If so, there are certain things that you can do that will enhance the appearance of your home and get buyers excited.  The result of your efforts can mean a shorter time on the market and more money in your pocket.  Here is a recent article from Real Estate Today that addresses this.

As a seller, you have a lot more control in pleasing buyers than you think. If you start the selling process by learning what buyers really want, you can prepare your home to come as close to their dreams as possible.

Here are the five biggest turn-on for home buyers and what you can do to please buyers.

Curb Appeal

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your home should sell to the buyer from the curb. That's how important Curb Appeal is. Your buyer should be so impressed, so charmed, so delighted that they want to leap out of the car and run inside.

How do you create curb appeal? Show attention to detail. Your home has to be prettier, cleaner and in better condition than its neighbors.

Start with sweeping the drive, walkway, and porch or entry of dirt and debris. Get rid of leggy bushes, wilted flowers and broken tree limbs. Plant fresh flowers in the front garden or in containers at the entry.

Power-wash the exterior and hand-wash the windows. Touch up paint around the windows, if needed. Paint the front door a fresh, modern color. Replace the door hardware and porch sconces.


The number one reason why people buy homes is to have more room. Whether they're moving from an apartment or moving up from the home they have, they want to have plenty of space to do the things they enjoy.

If you have a large home, you're golden, but that doesn't mean you've got it made. You can ruin a buyer's first impression with too much clutter, so make sure to keep your home picked up so your buyer can see your home's features clearly and easily.

What if you don't have a lot of space? Plan to do some storing and staging. Rent a storage unit and put away all out of season clothes, toys, and home decorations and accessories. Clean off all tables and countertops so you have only the minimum of things your need to operate your home. Empty closets of anything that is "stored" and move it to the storage unit. The small expense you'll pay in storage fees you'll more than make back from your buyer's offer.


There's a reason why first-time buyers and singles tend to buy older homes - they're more affordable than buying new. So unless your buyer is a building contractor, chances are they want a home that's as updated as possible.

You may not be interested in putting in a new kitchen in order to sell your home, but you can do a few things to make buyers happy. Replace the most dated features - countertops, cabinet pulls, or appliances.

Bathrooms are so personal that they can easily turn buyers off. Invest in new towels, bath mats and a shower curtain. Throw out slimy soaps and limp ragged bath sponges. Replace with liquid shower and bath products. You can take all the new stuff with you to the next home.

Painting is expected by buyers, but don't repaint the same colors that you chose 10 years ago. Pick an updated neutral like a warm grey instead of beige. Be sure to choose a color that will complement the architecture and flooring in your home.

Keep in mind that the typical home purchased in 2013 was 1,860 square feet and built in 1996, so home buyers aren't expecting your home to be a mansion, nor do they expect it to be new, but they do expect to see pride of ownership. The more tweaks, updates and repairs that you perform, the more confident your buyers will be that they're choosing the right home.

Hiring A Home Inspector

by The Houses By Harlan Team

If you're hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you're a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:

1.   You can choose your home inspector

Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.

You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the inspection so you can learn what's important and what's not. No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. A home inspector will point out conditions that need repair and/or potential safety-related concerns relating to the home. They won't comment on cosmetic items if they don't impair the integrity of the home. They also do not do destructive testing.

3. Home inspection reports include only the basics.

A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an average inspection. The home inspection should include the home's exterior, steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roof, windows, and doors. Inside, they will look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages.

They report on the working order of items such as faucets to see if they leak, or garage doors to see if they close properly. Inspectors may point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy to understand.

4. Home inspectors work for the party who is paying the fee.

The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics clearly state that members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and "will discharge the Inspector's duties with integrity and fidelity to the client." A reputable home inspector will not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report if his or her fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions.

The inspector should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private, unless required by court order. That means it is your choice whether or not to share the report with others. If you're a seller, you don't have to disclose the report to buyers, but you must disclose any failure in the systems or integrity of your home.

5. Inspectors are not responsible for the condition of the home.

Inspectors don't go behind walls or under flooring, so it's possible that a serious problem can be overlooked. Keep in mind that inspectors are not party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you won't be able to make the inspector liable or get the inspector to pay for the damage. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection.

As a buyer, you need the home inspection to decide if the home is in condition that you can tolerate. You can use the report to show the seller the need for a certain repair or negotiate a better price. You can also take the report to a contractor and use it to make repairs or to remodel a section of the home.

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of cost or undue pressure by the seller. A home inspection is reasonable, it can save you money in the long run, and it's required by many lenders, particularly for FHA loans. There's a reason why buyers should beware, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to make a sound buying decision.



Right Time to Purchase a Home?

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Is this the right time to purchase a home?  Here are some compelling reasons that will say yes.  In fact you may never find a better time to purchase than right now.  Just when we thought the mortgage interest rates would start going back up and home price would begin soaring, just the opposite has taken place.  With current low interest rates and affordable home prices, right now is when you need to take action.  Here is an article from Realty Times that gives you some great reasons for purchasing a home now!

The nature of market bottoms is that it's hard to tell one's occurred until prices and sales volume start to rise again. That's why the best time to buy is when market conditions suggest a bottom.

That means there's still some risk for home buyers, since no one has a crystal ball that predicts the future. To take advantage of low mortgage interest rates and home prices still well below previous records, you may have to take a risk, such as riding out another short-term dip in property values.

But the rewards may be well worth it. Here are five reasons to buy a home right now.

1.   More jobs are available Total non farm payrolls rose by 217,000 in May, and the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment increased in professional and business services, health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, and transportation and warehousing.

2. Houses are a great hedge against inflation The Labor Department also says the May Computer Price Index is up 2.13 percent year-over-year. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in May, its largest increase since August 2011.The CPI excludes volatile food and energy, so you can bet that the accelerating cost of things, otherwise known as inflation, also includes housing. You may be paying more for goods and services, but if you're a homeowner, you're better off financially. A major asset such as a home, purchased at a fixed cost, becomes more valuable when prices inflate.

3. Housing price increases are slowing The median existing-home price was $213,400, over 5 percent above May 2013. Considering that the national median existing-home price was $158,800 in January 2011. That's when the PMI Insurance Company said home prices relative to income are below market fundamentals in more than half of U.S. states. Prices over corrected during the recession, and then they soared by the double-digits in 2013.Now housing is correcting once again from an over correction. Now's the time to take advantage of better home buying conditions.

4. Mortgage interest rates are still low During the recession, mortgage interest rates for a benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate loan, averaged 4.32 percent. Now they're close to that and there's no recession. That means mortgage rates have nowhere to go but up.

5. Pent-up demand ready to release

Since the recession, household formation fell dramatically to one percent of the national population. But considering that the leading age of the largest generation ever - 81 million Echo Boomers -- is now over 30, the numbers should be closer to the 2.3% annual growth of the 1970's, when 78 million Baby Boomers reached adulthood.The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) said about 2.1 million households delayed formation due to the recession which allegedly ended in 2011. Now there's pent-up demand for housing that should continue to drive home prices higher.

The takeaway A housing recovery doesn't occur in a straight line. There are surges and dips. Buyers could wait for better conditions, but the present alignment of falling mortgage interest rates, slower home prices, and larger selection is highly unlikely to reoccur.

 This may not be the bottom, but it's close enough.

May Sales Statistics!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Monday Morning to you all!

Have you had enough of the rain & storms? A recent client asked how to check their house for hail damage besides getting up on their roof and looking at the shingles. We are not insurance adjusters or your insurance agent. We are going to suggest your agent can answer this best. Policies are different with different companies, some companies will not rate you differently if you inquire or file a claim but do not have a loss, some might. Your best bet is to talk to your agent directly. I will suggest that you should walk around your house, look closely at your decks and windows as they can take hail damage. That is at least one area you can check on your own.

On the real estate sales side of the news, we do have our May sales statistics so we can give you that update today:


May 2013

May 2014

% Change

YTD 2013

YTD 2014

% Change

New Listings







Closed Sales







Median Sales Price







% of Original List Price Received







Inventory of Homes for Sale







Month’s Supply of Homes for Sale

4.5 Months

5.1 Months





Pending Sales







I added the pending home sales for this month’s report because they showed a very significant increase of +35% for the month over the previous year month. I looked back and the month’s supply of Homes for sale has slowly risen since January when it was a 4.1 month’s supply to today it is the 5.1 month’s supply. Thus we have continued mixed numbers in our market. I do believe that the pending home sales numbers and the median sales price increases are good reason to have continued hope for our market. We are seeing an increase of multiple offers on some properties also especially on the ones below $250,000.

Our team is staying very busy and for that we are very thankful to you and all our clients and friends for referring people to us. Thank You!

Have a Fantastic Week!


Happenings in Sioux Falls!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning to you all! We really needed that rain so we hope it did not disturb you weekend plans too much.

We mailed out a post card to many of you in the last 10 days. We included some events for our area. I had one of our friends ask us what is the First Fridays events? We will give you a link to that: First Friday  It is ideas of things happening on Friday downtown. Some good ideas to check out. This has events again in July & August.

Another event was the Siouxland Renaissance Festival. This is an annual event and looks to offer some good entertainment for this coming week and weekend.

On the real estate news side, Houses are continuing to sell but our market is a little bit erratic as we were reviewing the Supply of Homes on the Market. This monthly report shows the supply decreasing in some price ranges and increasing in others. You might want to see what is happening in your price range over the last 90 days. The one thing that is staying pretty good is that the supply is staying below 4-6 months of homes on the market for the most part in the $350,000 price range & below. Our Market in Sioux Falls is strong, take a look at the National Market Trends to see what is happening in Real Estate on a national basis.

We hope this day finds you well and enjoying the beautiful outdoors and the sunshine!

Have a Fantastic Day!

Home Owners Insurance!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

We hope you all had a good holiday and were mindful of those who are serving or have served our country in the service. I know we are proud of our families that are currently serving or have served. We all have family members that fit in these categories.

I read an article about homeowners insurance. Is your house covered for summer storm damage? Seems elementary, but not necessarily, for example if you get water damage will you have coverage? It will depend largely on where the water comes from, from within or from the  outside. You might want to consider flood insurance even if you are not in a designated flood zone. Did you know that homeowners policies can usually add a supplement for sewer backup? Some companies also have a supplement for sump pump failure. That is not a guarantee that the water will all be covered but it might help.

Another question for your insurance agent is in regards to trees and if they cause damage do you have coverage? What about if your neighbors tree falls or even gets uprooted and causes damage, will that be covered?

Generally it is a good policy to review your insurance policy at least every other year with your agent. They might suggest some additions or changes such as larger deductibles to reduce your premiums.

April Housing Statistics!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning all! It is good to be back after traveling for a few weeks. As Dorothy from the wizard of Oz said, there is no place like home! When you travel and stay in multiple places, Home is very good. We have posted a starter of pictures to our personal Facebook page if you want to learn more, More to come.

April housing statistics are in.                     


April 2013



YTD 2013

YTD 2014

New Listing






Closed Sales






Median Sales Price






%  of Orig List Price Received





Inventory of Homes for Sale






Month’s  Supply of Homes for Sale

4.4 Months







 Looks like we have some mixed numbers here. The number of new Listings is down but the total inventory of homes currently for sale is up. The closed number of sales is down slightly (probably because of our cold weather?). The % of original list price that sellers have received is up as is the median sales price. It seems we are starting to move slightly away from the very strong buyers market that we have had the last few years.

Interest rates are back down to some of the lowest rates we have seen so now would seem to be a great time to buy or sell! Contact us to see how this can work out for you personally.

Have a Fantastic Week!         

Market Continues to Move!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

So… we may have been a little premature last week in thinking that the corner had been turned on this lack of spring nonsense. I’ve been wrong before and will be again I’m sure but enough is enough! A little warm weather would be great.

Despite the temps the market continues to move. However, our latest stats, which Harlan will pass on in more detail next week, show we are behind where we were at this point last year in sales volume but our median sale price is up. Kind of a one-step-forward-one step-back thing. Mortgage rates have stayed low which is helpful for the market. Lower rates allow the buyers to exhibit better purchasing capacity and the ability to consider buying higher priced homes. Reports seem to indicate those rates will be somewhat stable for the better part of this year. The Fed continues to talk about short-term rates but it doesn’t appear that an increase in the cards until mid-2015. A vital and vibrant real estate market is a major component of the US’s economic recovery. Since we are still sluggish there, the idea of rocking the boat with Fed rate increases doesn’t have much backing at this point.

We continue to have a need for housing inventory in our market. If you have even a passing thought about whether it would be an appropriate time to consider a home move for yourself, give us a call or send us a note. We appreciate the chance to come to your door and give you some useful ideas on how a move could benefit your family. (And if it wouldn’t, we’ll tell you that too!)

Improvement in the Market!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

Good Morning to everyone!

Hope you had a wonderful Easter.  Mona & I were able to go to see our daughters family In Denver.  It was great to see our granddaughter play an excellent game of soccer,  grandson was in a play and celebrate Easter together with them. Hope you have some good memories of the weekend also.

The latest Supply of Homes report is now up on our web site! It shows that we are having improvement in the market! That is not a major surprise for this time of year, however our daily activity is also saying it is going to continue for at least a few months. Actually there is no reason that we can see that it will not continue for a while to come. Interest rates continue to be very good, (in fact they took a slight improvement in the last week or so).  We are hearing of multiple offers on houses again! In one case one of our associates lost out to someone that had told the sellers that they did not need to do a home inspection! That is scary for a buyer to do that but if they are comfortable with it, it is ok.

Thanks to those of you who have sent referrals recently!!  We are never too busy for your referrals!

Also congratulations to Erika, She sold her 5th house this past week! Way to go!

Have a Fantastic Week!

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!!

by The Houses By Harlan Team

The March Statistics are ready:


March 2013

March 2014

TTD 2013

YTD 2914

New Listings





Closed Sales





Median Sales Price





% Orig List Price





Inventory Homes for Sale





Month's Supply of Homes for Sale





We also watch these same type of numbers for the small towns around us so if you would like those, feel free to contact us and we can also bring you up to date on those markets as well.

It appears that our current inventory is stable but we are not getting the new Listings into inventory.  The other thing we see this month is that the median sales price is increasing slightly which offers some good hope for values to eventually rise as well.

We hope you enjoy hearing what is happening in our market.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 116

Contact Information

The Houses By Harlan Team
Ameri/Star Real Estate
5900 S Western Ave
Sioux Falls SD 57108
(605) 274-7273
Fax: (605) 336-7749

Houses by Harlan Real Estate Team Specializes in Selling or

Buying Homes and other Real Estate or Property in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Region.