Real Estate Information Archive


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Selling Your Vacant House

by The Jana Caudill Team

Surveys show Crown Point, St. John, and Munster home buyers can more easily picture moving themselves and their belongings into a home they’re viewing if it is still furnished rather than if it’s vacant.  Kind of makes sense doesn’t it?  It’s all about first impressions and the subconscious.  People tend to relate easier to homes that show a little life.  Our subconscious tells us vacant homes are empty, and too cold or too hot.  They bring our focus to what’s wrong with a house, like a threadbare carpet, dirty walls, or even an overgrown front lawn because there’s nothing else to ply our attention and stir our imagination.  But sometimes we’re forced by new employment or other factors outside our control to relocate to a new home before the old one is sold.  Never fear.  Here are some tips to keep in mind for staging and selling your vacant house that will help buyers imagine making your old house their new home.

  1. The view from the curb.  Keep your lawn mowed and yard manicured.  Shovel snow in the winter.  Keep newspapers from piling up on the front stoop.  If you live close to the vacant house this is as easy as stopping by regularly.  If you’re new home is too far away, prohibiting you from taking care of this yourself you will have to enlist a close friend or family member, your Realtor, or some other property service manager to keep the property’s exterior fresh and inviting.
  2. Furniture staging.  It’s easier for someone to picture their belongings in a space that provides a sample layout.  A couch along this wall just like theirs; the entertainment center would go over there; our dining room table isn’t even this big, ours would fit easily; look here, they were able to put a pair of bunk beds in this bedroom.  We could move…  Get the picture?  If you have to move everything out to furnish your new home hire a staging company to bring some furniture in to help buyers imagine where their stuff will go when they move in.
  3. Utilities.  Put lights on a timer, especially during the winter.  This also helps deter break-ins.  Program your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.  You don’t want buyers to be uncomfortably hot in the summer, or cold in the winter.  That’s a lasting negative impression often too difficult to shake.  And be sure to winterize the home properly if necessary.  The last thing you want for a buyer’s first impression is flooding in the kitchen and basement.

Here are more great tips on selling your vacant home.

Quick Clean-Up Tips Before a Showing

by The Jana Caudill Team

You just got a call that some incredibly motivated buyers are interested in seeing your Crown Point, Hobart, or Munster home.  Good news: this is a second showing.  The buyers originally viewed the house two days ago right after your family completed a marathon cleaning session.  Everything had been oh so pristine…  More good news, your Realtor says yours is the only house the buyers are seeing a second time before heading to the airport.  You see, they’re from out of town, and they have limited time.  In fact your Realtor says they’re already on their way to your house.  She asks you if it’s ok to bring the buyers by in about 20 minutes…

That’s when you panic.  You’ve had a busy weekend since the last showing.  The kids had friends over, your husband had the guys over to watch a game, and housework somehow just keeps on multiplying.  What’s the saying, “A house is only a home when it’s lived in?”  Something like that.  Or, “Life happens.”  Yes, life happens, and then you have to clean up after yourselves.

Here are some quick cleanup tips to help you get your home in show-ready shape when you have no time to spare:

  1. Recruit help.  Children are major contributors to the mess in a house.  Enlist their help for the cleanup as well.  This great article suggests bribery as a means to an end when you’re in a pinch.
  2. Clear away clutter.  Books, toys, dirty clothes, whatever’s on bedroom floors that doesn’t belong there – stash quickly in closets, or safely out of sight under the bed.  In the kitchen and other living areas, clear away mail and other stacks of clutter.  Put everything in a paper grocery bag and store in the pantry for sorting later.  Nothing is so important this next 20 minutes that it needs to be put back where it belongs right now.  What’s important is getting clutter out of site.  To this point, you can store dirty OR clean dishes in the dishwasher, or even inside the oven.  Just be mindful of fire safety and go back after the showing and clear out that oven first.
  3. Entryway.  In a situation where second impressions are just as important as first impressions grab a basket and clear away all the extra shoes near the front door.  Likewise skate boards, school books, anything that’s clogging up the entryway.
  4. Horizontal surfaces.  This means a quick vacuuming of carpets where necessary.  Wipe off counters and sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Check tile, linoleum and wood flooring for dirt and smudges.  Spot clean anything that catches your eye.

Hobbies Hinder Home Sale

by The Jana Caudill Team

Will your Crown Point, Schererville, or Griffith home be remembered for the great 100 piece Hummel figurine collection dominating the family room or for more practical home features like the cozy brick mantle and fireplace beneath the collection that might actually inspire home “lookers” to write an offer and become home “buyers?”


You’re proud of your collection of Matchbox cars, antique guns, license plates, state tea spoons, movie inspired memorabilia, vintage comic books, or everything Star Trek – whatever.  If you’re selling your home it’s time to pack up those hobbies and collections and put them in storage.  Here are five important reasons why:


  1. Distraction.  Too much clutter.  Yes, to those unlike you who aren’t in love with 50’s and 60’s vinyl albums, your collection is clutter.  It causes buyers to focus on the wrong thing, and the only thing worse is if buyers are actually interested in the collection.  Imagine a scenario where they might never notice any of your home’s great features because of the distraction.
  2. Memory.  If distraction happens while buyers are in your home, memory, or the absence thereof, happens afterward when they’re trying to remember which home had the jack-and-jill bath, or the hardwood floor in the study, etc.  What will buyers remember about your home when they try to recall the high points of their visit?
  3. Breakage.  See, touch, break.  Accidents happen.  Do buyers the favor of removing a potentially negative incident from marring their interest in purchasing your home.
  4. Theft.  Burglary happens too, even during a scheduled showing.  Pack up and remove temptation.
  5. You’re going to pack it up anyway!  You’re moving right?  That in itself is your sign that if you’re not willing to part with your collection via garage sale or eBay you will eventually have to pack it up and move it to your new home.  Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today while promoting your home to potential buyers in a more positive light?

Summertime Curb Appeal

by The Jana Caudill Team

There are many standard do’s and don’ts when staging your Crown Point, St. John, or Valparaiso home for sale.  De-clutter, have a garage sale, clean-up, fix-up.  You name it.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind specific to showing your home during the summer months.

  1. Curb appeal.  I know, I know, your home’s curb appeal is important year round.  I agree.  The reason curb appeal is especially important during spring and summer is home buyers are more likely to pay extra attention to more than just the exterior of the physical house.  They’re looking at how well manicured the lawn is.  They’re looking at blooming flowers and trees…or the lack thereof; lush lawns or bald patches of earth.  Ask yourself is your yard well taken care of or does it appear somewhat neglected?  If the buyer sees the outside of the home as neglected, can you blame them for assuming the same thing about the inside even before they see it?
  2. Backyard appeal is very similar to curb appeal.  Backyard’s go hand in hand with summer, and you want potential buyers to picture themselves enjoying a backyard barbeque while watching their children and the family dog playing within the secure confines of a fenced in area.  Tidy up the patio and clean lawn furniture.  Get rid of that old coffee can you have always kept out back for smokers’ cigarette butts.  Be vigilant about clearing the lawn of doggie landmines before showings.  Think about the sights and scents in your backyard.  Enhance the good ones, and banish the bad ones.
  3. Invite the outside in.  Open drapes and let in as much natural light as possible and open windows to allow fresh air in.  If hot summer temperatures require air conditioning, be sure the temperature is set at a comfortable level.  A home that is too cold is just as uncomfortable as one that is too warm.

Storage Options in the Kid's Rooms

by The Jana Caudill Team

We often have to remind our children to take care of their responsibilities.  Brush your teeth; do your homework; take out the trash.  But the sound of one reminder echoes louder than the rest when you’re considering putting your Northwest Indiana home up for sale:  Clean your room! 

So you do your best to help support this request of the youngest members of your family.  You de-clutter the house.  You pack some items away in anticipation of a quick sale and a timely move.  You’ve even completed your garage sale.  Yet there still seems like there’s just too much stuff in your children’s bedrooms.  Maybe all the action figures, matchbox cars, dress up clothes and art supplies aren’t the problem.  Maybe it’s not all that stuff.  Maybe the real issue is the lack of neat and tidy places to tuck everything away in.

Here are a few helpful tips to increase bedroom storage for the kids:

  1. Hanging, behind-the-door, shoe bag.  Get shoes, sandals, cleats, slippers, and flip flops out from underfoot or lost under the bed.  And here’s a bonus, these hanging shoe bags are not just for shoes anymore!  Here’s a fun place to keep toy cars and superheroes, and anything else shoe-sized or smaller.
  2. Under the bed storage bins.  Great for all sorts of loose toys, off season/winter clothing.  Helps keep the mess at bay by organizing this often forgotten space.
  3. Corner cabinet.  Besides under the bed or the floor of the closet, the favorite place where kids the world over love to toss their stuff is simply in the corner of the room.  Banish that mound of clutter once and for all!  So whether you’re in Chesterton, Valparaiso, Crown Point, or St. John, install a corner cabinet that is your catch-all solution for that unexpected short-notice We have a buyer who wants to see your home right now showing call.

Window Blind Slat Repair

by The Jana Caudill Team

You’re getting ready to put your home in Crown Point, St. John, or Hobart on the market.  You call your Northwestern Indiana Realtor to stop by to do the paperwork, with the notion you ought to ask her whether or not to replace the carpet, paint the kids’ bedrooms, patch the fence, replace the blinds…You want to get the most you can for your home without spending too much up front on the repairs that have been mounting up, but there are two other homes right there on your block already listed for sale.  Can you get your asking price?  Are you going to be able to stand out from the competition?  And how much is it going to cost? 

The price tags on some fixes are generally worth it down the road in the form of a better sales price, and/or your home selling faster.  These are repairs like flooring, paint, kitchen appliances and cabinets.  The key to keep in mind here is the average buyer doesn’t want to move into a new home that has mounting deferred maintenance they know they will end up having to deal with.  There is one easy home repair you can do prior to listing your home for sale that won’t cost you anything but your time.  And if you’ve ever had a child throw a football or kick a soccer ball indoors this article is probably for you.

Do you have mini blinds with unsightly bent slats?  You know what I’m talking about, most of the slats line up, overlapping nicely to let in or keep out sunlight, or maintain privacy.  Then one Saturday your son, or daughter, or grandchild, (or husband) was playing with the football indoors.  One bounce against the delicate slats is all it takes to bend or break multiple slats.  And attempting to bend aluminum slats back into shape often makes things worse.

Repairing window blinds with bent or broken slats is much simpler than it looks.  Because most mini blinds are manufactured to fit different sized windows by adding extra slats at the bottom, this repair is almost as easy as threading a needle.  This video shows you how to shorten mini blinds, and to replace broken or bent slats you will follow this same procedure with the added step of replacing damaged slats with extra slats from the bottom.  Many repairs like restringing, broken continuous or end controls, and replacing tilters on vertical and mini blinds, and pleated shades are easy to tackle with help from this short video that illustrates solutions for the most common problems encountered with blinds.

So fix your blinds, save your money, and tell your husband to take the football outside.

Showing Your Home When You Own Pets

by The Jana Caudill Team

You love your pets.  Your neighbors love their pets.  That doesn’t necessarily mean your neighbors love your pets.  The same goes for prospective buyers considering making your home their new home.

When it comes to pets and show shape for your home here’s a simple rule of thumb: Less is better, none is best.  We’re talking about the evidence!  A best case scenario would be to have your pooch or kitty stay with a neighbor, friend or relative during showings.  Be sure all food and water bowls are picked up and put away.  The same goes for toys, kennels, cat boxes, etc.  Get them in the garage or outside on the side of the house.  Pictures of you and the family pet?  Take them off walls and desks and put them in dresser drawers.  Then vacuum!  Try to minimalize or eliminate any evidence that there are pets sharing your home.  Extreme?  Maybe.  Just remember this doesn’t mean you don’t love your furry friends.  All you are doing is removing any hesitation that might come up for a homebuyer upon discovering there is a German Shepherd living in the room where they envision putting their baby nursery.

It’s not always feasible to completely eradicate all signs of pets.  Sure you can pick up, put away, clean, vacuum and even shampoo carpets.  But what about the animals themselves?  If you don’t have another loving home where Fido can take a vacation while your home is on the market, think adventure!  Whether it’s you, a neighborhood teenager you trust, or the stay at home Mom or Pop next door, have someone available to step in at a moment’s notice and take your pets out of your house, either for a walk or just a short visit, so buyers can focus on your home and not on your pets.

Privacy for the Cat Box

by The Jana Caudill Team

Maybe your family is growing, or one day you woke up to discover you and your spouse are empty nesters.  Either way, you’ve decided the time is right to put the house on the market.  There’s just one problem, the distress caused by all the hubbub and showings to potential buyers at all hours of the day hasn’t gone unnoticed by the family cat who is suddenly doing his business everywhere but in the box.  To make sure your feline cooperates with keeping the house clean you’ll need an out of the box solution.  You don’t have to look much further than an old real estate maxim: Location, location, location.

Be sure to move the cat box to a nice private area of the home.  Cats like to be alone when nature calls, that’s why it’s important to keep the litter box out of high traffic areas.  You will want to continue prohibiting the family dog from having free access hovering about the box as well.  The key is putting the litter box in a location where it’s neither the very first thing buyers see when entering your home, nor the very last thing they see before they leave.  Negative first and last impressions are difficult to overcome when accompanied by unpleasant odors.  If you keep this in mind you’re likely to place the box where the kitty will be happier as well.

Place an old area rug or carpet remnant under the box.  Cats love to dig and scratch around the litter box; tile, hardwood, or basement cement floors aren’t the best choice.  The texture of a rug under paw makes the litter box that much more attractive to the cat, likely helping you to reaffirm that as the place to go when it comes to doing his duty.  Likewise, you can place a few sheets of aluminum foil in areas where kitty may have had recent accidents.  As much as cats love the feel of a rug under their paws, they hate the feel of aluminum foil.  Hide the foil before showings, and return it to problem spots afterwards until kitty becomes retrained to the new box location.

Click here for more dos and don’ts on retraining your cat to his litter box, and check out our blog page for more tips for home buyers and sellers.

The Great American Garage

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here are three quick tips for freeing up space in your garage:

  1. Bicycle Racks.  Whether you have a lawn mower or a snow blower (or both) everyone has large, heavy equipment of some sort taking up valuable floor space in the garage.  Bicycles take up a good amount of space as well, but they are much lighter.  Install one of a variety of bicycle racks in your garage to get them up, off the ground, and out of the way.
  2. Clear Storage Bins.  Used cardboard boxes have always been a staple of garage and basement storage.  But even when the most detailed of us labels each box with its contents often it is still difficult to find what we’re looking for when the boxes are stored up high on shelves, in lofts, or up in the attic.  Try using clear bins for storage.  Multiple bins are all of uniform size and easy to stack, AND you’ll make locating that last box of holiday decorations easier because you are able to see the contents of each bin right through the clear plastic.
  3. Go vertical!  Use the ceiling of your garage to help maximize space for storage.  There are many companies who sell motorized lifts for the lifting and storage of, among other things, bicycles.  If that’s a little pricey for your taste what about adding ceiling or wall mounted shelving units to get boxes and bins up, up, and away?

Come back and visit our blog for more great tips for home buyers, home sellers, do-it-yourselfers and more!

Doggie Doors and Cat Boxes

by The Jana Caudill Team

We love our pets.  Too bad they can’t clean up after themselves like the kids.  Unfortunately doing the dirty work for our furry friends has never been pleasant activity.  If it was we would all have a scoop or a shovel in our hands, right?  And when our pets get older, well, they simply have less control and need to go more often.  Whether you’re taking care of it yourself, or it’s a part of your children’s chore list, it’s a necessary job that becomes critical if you’re selling your home.

There’s a distinction right there I’d like to emphasize.  There is a difference between selling your home and merely showing your home.  You may be priced right for the market, have more amenities than any other home for sale in your neighborhood, and be in the best area for schools in town.  But if you’re not committed to the daily grind necessary to keep your home in showing condition none of that may matter.  If you’re not willing to do what it takes to make sure your home stands out in a very crowded marketplace you are not going to sell.  You are merely showing your home, and providing to buyers by negative comparison more reason to make an offer on something else.  Buyers are comparing you to homes that are maintained daily in the best show-shape condition possible.

Which brings us back to cat boxes boxes and doggie doors.  Keep those cat boxes raked every day, twice a day if necessary.  Doggie doors are a great way to allow Rover to hit the back yard when nature calls without you having to be there to let him out and five minutes later let him back in.  The problem is they also allow your dog to track mud or worse into the house.  Keep the back yard, or the dog run, or wherever Rover does his business cleaned up.  You may even decide to keep the doggie door locked during inclement weather, reverting to letting your dog out on your own, yes, but also ensuring the opportunity to wipe messy paws before they have a chance to leave tracks.  When visiting your home buyers like to spend some time outside, picturing themselves having a cookout, playing with the kids on the swing set, or kicking around the soccer ball.  Get rid of the source of all odors at your home, inside and out.  That means, if Fido is using the back yard when nature calls you’ll need to put the poop scoop to use often.  We love our pets.  That doesn’t mean everyone else loves our pets.  The best policy is to eliminate as many negative distractions in your home to maximize its chances of selling.

For more tips when buying or selling a home visit our links!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13