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Ethel Curbow


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Buying a Home: Fixer Upper or Move-in Ready?

by Ethel Curbow

Buying a Home: Fixer Upper vs. Move-in Ready

Couple moving into new home holding up house keys

There are so many things to consider when buying a home. One of the most significant questions people have when buying a home is whether they should be looking for a move in ready home or a one that will require a little bit of updating.

There are definite pros and cons to both options! Read on to find out which choice is right for you!

Benefits and Downfalls of a Fixer Upper Home

If you’re willing to put some extra work into your new home, one of the most significant benefits of a fixer-upper is that it will be a far more budget-friendly choice. You can buy a diamond in the rough and fix it up exactly the way you like it.

Customizing your home is another significant benefit to buying a fixer-upper. You can choose the finishes and materials that you like the most. Of course, you should be careful and budget otherwise your updates might end up canceling out all the money you saved in the purchase. You should also be aware that at some point your property value will max out, so don’t make so many updates that you end up losing money if you ever want to sell your house in the future.

One of the downsides of buying a fixer-upper is that it requires a lot of work. It will take a long time to complete renovations.

Also, these renovations can sometimes uncover unexpected issues that you were not anticipating. Unforeseen problems can end up driving up the cost of your home renovations significantly. Based on these facts, you’ll have to decide if the benefits outweigh the costs when buying a home like this.

Benefits and Downfalls of a Turn-Key Home

The allure of a turn-key home is evident. You walk into the house, and everything is updated and move-in ready. Moving is stressful enough, so not having to worry about doing extra work in your home is very appealing.

With newer houses (which turn-keys most often are) you don’t run into as many unexpected problems. Appliances and materials have been updated, so there isn’t much for you to worry about as a homeowner.

However, these kinds of homes are more expensive than a fixer-upper, so if you're on a tight budget, this option may not suit your needs.

Additionally, if customization is important to you a move in ready home may not be for you. With a turn-key property, everything is already updated for you so you won't have any say in the finishes or materials used.

Make Sure to Contact Ethel Curbow When You’re Buying a Home!

Whether you feel a fixer-upper is an exciting challenge you want to tackle or you prefer the simplicity of buying a home that is move-in ready, make sure to contact Ethel Curbow! She has been in real estate for 30 years and knows the Springfield and surrounding area inside and out. No matter what is on your list, Ethel Curbow will be able to help you with buying a home that will fit all of your needs! Contact her today!


Selling a House: What Updates Pay Off?

by Ethel Curbow

Selling a House: Updates that Pay Off

Close-up of a person’s hand installing wood flooring

Making a space your own is a fun part of home ownership. However, you must be careful when choosing what updates to invest in. Knowing the value of your home and the value of other homes in your area will help you determine what kinds of updates are wise and what will cause you to lose money when you’re selling a house. Below is a list of updates that have a high return rate. The types of materials and finishes (whether high-end or budget-friendly) will depend more on what homes are selling for in your area!

Kitchens and Bathrooms

One of the most significant returns you'll get when selling a house is on kitchen and bathroom updates. In newer homes, these are the rooms that have the most modern, sleek finishes, so people look for them when they're buying homes.


Updates don’t have to be significant to add value to the home. Replacing your old laminate countertop with a more modern looking laminate option or with granite will make a huge difference. Updating your cabinetry is also a wise move as they are the focal point of any kitchen or bathroom.


If you don't want to replace the cabinets, consider staining them a more modern color. Maybe even consider going with two-tone upper and lower cabinetries for a fun pop of color and modern twist.


In kitchens, appliances are also a significant investment. Stainless steel appliances are far more eye-catching and sought after than older models – even if the older model still functions well.

These minor changes to your kitchen will make a huge difference in the aesthetic appeal of your home and your resale value.

Basic Home Maintenance

While it doesn't add aesthetic value to the home, buyers expect that necessary home maintenance will be taken care of. A reliable water heater, new roof, new gutters, furnace, etc. are good investments. Buyers take for granted that these things are fixed in your home, and if you don't take care of those things before trying to sell, you will lose a lot of potential buyers. People buying a home aren't interested in major maintenance overhauls. So if you’re selling a house you need to invest some time and money in basic home maintenance.

Curb Appeal

You want your home to catch people's attention when they see it from the outside. Curb appeal is a significant factor in selling a house. If people don't like what they see when they drive up, chances are they may never even venture inside your house.


This means you need to spend time on your landscaping. You cannot have overgrown brush covering your walkway or doorway.


Consider adding a pop of color to your exterior. You can add a pop of color to your shutters or front door. It'll help set your house apart from others in the neighborhood.


This is one of the simplest things you can do to update the appeal of your home. Buyers like spaces that feel light and airy. It makes spaces feel bigger and more welcoming!  

Selling a House with Ethel Curbow

Ethel Curbow has been in the real estate business for 30 years, and she knows this area inside and out. If you're selling a house and looking for someone to help you, make sure to contact Ethel Curbow today!



Buying a Home: Avoiding Renovation Disasters

by Ethel Curbow

Buying a Home: How to Avoid Renovation Disasters

Man and woman looking at paint samples

If you’ve decided on buying a home that will require some renovation it’s important to be prepared. There's a lot more that goes into a DIY home renovation project than merely going to a home improvement store and picking up some supplies. Home renovation can be complicated, and there is a lot of room for error. Read on to see Ethel Curbow's tips for avoiding home renovation disasters!

Safety First

If you’re buying a home that you hope to update, it’s important to consider safety above all else. Though you cannot possibly anticipate everything that will happen, it is smart to be safe and put some safety precautions in place.


In case something does happen, be sure that you have a first aid kit handy. Also, always make sure to wear your safety glasses and the correct kind of attire!

Know the Cost

DIY home makeovers are everywhere. Television shows make these fixes look so simple and affordable, but the truth is you need to make sure you do your research and find out the actual cost. Not only can materials be much more expensive than expected, but if you don't have the necessary skills to complete to project you might end up spending a lot of money fixing the problems you made.

When you’re buying a home with the intention of updating things, spend time researching how best to go about the renovations you're planning. It is essential to know what you're doing. Make sure to compare the cost of doing the project yourself versus hiring a professional.

Know When to Bring in a Pro

We would all like to save money and complete all renovation projects ourselves. However, sometimes it’s a safer, wiser option to bring in a professional. With things like electrical work or anything that requires technical training make sure to hire a professional who will be able to do the job correctly and safely.

Check on Permits

For some projects, depending on the state that you live in, you may need to get a permit. Even if the project doesn’t seem like a huge one, it’s best to check with the city to see what they require.

Some of the renovations you would need permits for are: any electrical work, demolition of any kind (and that includes walls in the home), electrical work, etc.


The best practice is always to make sure before proceeding with any work. Renovations are enough of a hassle without additional legal headaches caused by not having a permit! It's still better to check into it!

Buying a Home with Ethel Curbow

If you’ve decided on buying a home – whether it’s one you’ll be renovating or a move-in ready property make sure to contact Ethel Curbow. She’s been in the real estate industry for 30 years and is an expert on the real estate market in Springfield and the surrounding area! Contact her today about buying a home!



Affordable Kitchen Updates for When You Buy a Home

by Ethel Curbow

Buying a Home: Affordable Kitchen Updates

Man in kitchen on ladder painting shelves

When you're buying a home, there is a lot to consider! A big decision you'll need to make is if you're comfortable making updates to a house or whether you want a place that is move-in ready.


If you choose the former, one of the first rooms to consider updating is the kitchen. Kitchen updates can be daunting! They can also be expensive if you aren’t careful. There are so many beautiful finishes and possibilities when it comes to updates, but you don't have to go the expensive route to see significant differences.


If you are willing to do a little bit of extra work yourself, your kitchen can look beautiful and brand new at any budget! Read on for tips on how to make budget-friendly changes to your kitchen after buying a home!

Paint Your Cabinets

Cabinets are a huge focal point of your kitchen. If you’re buying a home with a kitchen that needs updating, this is where you want to start. If you don’t have the money to replace outdated cabinets, you can choose to stain them yourself. Go for bright, light colors! It will make your kitchen seem bigger and more modern.

If you're feeling bold, you can also try two different colors in your kitchen – a darker bolder color on the lower cabinets and something lighter and airier on the upper cabinets.

Painting your cabinets may seem like a small thing, but it will make a huge difference in the space!

Replace Handles and Pulls on Your Cabinets

Again, this seems like a small thing, but it will go a long way in making your cabinets look sleek and modern. Go with something bright and shiny like brushed nickel or stainless steel. This kind of hardware will make your cabinetry pop!

Change Up Your Lighting

Consider replacing outdated lighting fixtures. Updating fixtures is a fun way to add some individuality to your kitchen. You can find fun accent pieces at a variety of stores or online. Installing a fun, quirky chandelier in your kitchen can add a lot of personality and aesthetic appeal for a low cost.

Update Your Countertop

We would all love to have marble or granite countertops, but sometimes that isn't in the budget. There are a lot of laminate options that still look high-end without that high-end price tag.

Add a Backsplash

Adding a backsplash can be a fun, inexpensive way to install a pop of color in your kitchen, especially if you’ve gone with a neutral color, like white or grey, for your kitchen cabinets. Or you can choose to go with something more classic like white subway tile.

There are many fun, cheap options when it comes to the backsplash. If you're willing to do some DIY work, you can save a lot of money by installing the backsplash yourself.

Buying a Home with Ethel Curbow

Buying a home and making it your own is an exciting experience! However, buying a home can be overwhelming! Ethel Curbow has been in real estate for 30 years, and she knows the market in and around Springfield. Whether you're looking for a home you can update or a move in ready home, let Ethel Curbow help you find what you’re looking for! Contact her today!



Selling a House: Rooms You Should Stage

by Ethel Curbow

The Most Important Rooms to Stage When Selling a House

Staging a room for selling a house

When you’re selling a house, staging is key. By setting up some simple furniture arrangements in each room, you can help buyers visualize themselves living in the space and increase your chances of selling quickly. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources to stage every room. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to focus on a few key rooms. To get started, follow this helpful guide from Ethel Curbow.

#1. Living Room

The living room is by far the most important room to stage when selling a house. This is the social hub of the home, the place where friends and family congregate and spend time together.


To stage a living room, focus on making it look spacious and comfortable. Remove any excess clutter, throw on a fresh coat of paint, and place new throw pillows on the furniture. You can also focus on lighting by using lamps and natural light to enhance the look and feel of the room. When it comes to accessories, add a pot of flowers, some houseplants, or a new rug.

#2. Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, which means that buyers pay close attention to the way it looks and feels. Buyers look for a kitchen with plenty of space for cooking and cleaning, as well as an area to entertain guests.


When staging the kitchen, focus on making the room look roomy and modern. Declutter the countertops, hide away any dirty dishes, and make some minor updates. For example, if your cabinets are out of date, consider painting them and adding new knobs and handles. To make it feel homey, place a cookbook on the counter or set out a bowl of fresh fruit.

#3. Master Bedroom

The master bedroom should be a space where buyers feel that they can sleep, unwind, and forget about the troubles of the day. When selling a house, try to create an environment that feels relaxing and romantic.


Removing clutter is incredibly important. You do not want to remind buyers of any responsibilities while they are in the bedroom, so be sure to remove your gym bag, laundry, or anything work-related, such as a computer. To stage the space, consider buying a new comforter or freshen up your bedding with new throw pillows. You should also place table lamps on nightstands and add some inexpensive wall art.

#4. The Bathrooms

Though it may surprise some, staging the bathroom is an important component of selling a house. To attract buyers, this space needs to feel clean and relaxing, much like a spa. To stage the space, put away any personal toiletries, set out new towels, update the shower curtain, and purchase new accessories, such as a new toothbrush holder and soap dispenser.

Selling a House in Springfield, Missouri

If you are selling a house in the Springfield, Missouri metro area, contact Ethel Curbow. For the last 15 years, she has been rated within the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in the 417 area. To learn more, give Ethel a call today at 417-447-4968!



Buying a Home: Additional Fees You May Encounter

by Ethel Curbow

Fees You May Encounter When Buying a Home 

Couple buying a home with additional fees

When planning a budget, most homebuyers focus on the cost of the home, the down payment, and the interest rate on their loan, forgetting about the additional fees that are associated with buying a home. For many, these additional fees can be a bit of a shock. To help you prepare, Ethel Curbow discusses some additional fees you may encounter in the home buying process.

Appraisal Fees

An appraisal is the estimated value of the house you want to buy. Before you get a mortgage, you will need to get an appraisal to calculate your loan-to-value ratio. Appraisals, which are typically conducted by a third party, require a one-time non-negotiable fee. Depending on the location, this fee can be anywhere from $300 to $1,000.

Home Inspection Fee

You will also have to pay a home inspection fee. Home inspections are an important part of buying a home and ensure that you do not buy a property with structural problems. Typically, home inspections cost about $300 to $500, depending on the location.

Credit Report Fee

When you are seeking a home loan, lenders will pull up a credit report to determine the risk-analysis of lending you a loan. Though you can access your credit score for free through a site like Credit Karma, lenders will want their own report. Typically, you can expect to pay approximately $50 for a credit report.

Title Insurance

Title insurance protects a lender in case an issue arises with the title of the home you are buying. When you are buying a home, most lenders require you to obtain title insurance and is usually grouped into your closing costs or financed into your loan. You can also obtain title insurance for yourself for additional protection, but this is optional. The cost of title insurance will vary depending on your home.

Document Preparation Fee

Creating a loan estimate takes a great deal of time and money. As an administrative cost, many lenders will charge anywhere from $50 to $100 for the time that it took to prepare the documentation. This cost will vary depending on your lender and it is rarely set in stone. In some cases, the cost may be built into your monthly mortgage fees.

Buying a Home with Ethel Curbow

If you are thinking about buying a home, look no further than Ethel Curbow. With over 30 years of real estate experience, Ethel will help you find the home of your dreams. If you are buying a home for the first time, she will help you throughout the process. To get started, contact Ethel Curbow today at 417-447-4968!


Tips for Buying a Home and Flipping It

by Ethel Curbow

Advice For Buying a Home to Flip 

Couple in plaid Buying a Home

Flipping houses has been a popular business for years. For some, it’s a full-time job, and for others, it’s a nice way to make some additional income. But buying a home to flip is not always an easy process. To make a profit, it’s important that you choose the right property and make wise financial decisions. With over 30 years of real estate experience, Ethel Curbow knows which houses will flip and which ones will flop. Here, she provides some advice on buying a home to flip.

Don’t Go Too Big

When it comes to flipping houses, it’s important that you keep it simple. Buying a home that is too big or requires too many renovations decreases your chances of earning back your investment. If it’s your first flip, start with a simple single-family home that only needs a few simple updates and renovations. By starting simple, you decrease the risk while you learn the ropes of flipping.

Remember Holding Costs

Many first-time flippers forget about holding costs when they are buying a home. These costs can include mortgage payments, utility bills, homeowner association fees, and more. Forgetting about these costs can dramatically affect your budget and cause you to lose money on your flip. When you are planning a budget, think of all the costs involved.

Get a Home Inspection

An inspection is important anytime you are buying a home, but it is especially important when you are planning to resell a home for profit. To save yourself time and money, you never want to buy a home with any major structural problems. An inspection will help you avoid these pitfalls, save you money, and even help you negotiate with your contractor in the future.

Choose the Right Neighborhood

Buying a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood is the ideal situation of any flipper. This is will ensure that the house will sell quickly and you will earn back your investment. When you are looking for a home, search for neighborhoods where property values are increasing or are near shopping centers and good school districts.

Buying a Home with Ethel Curbow

For the last 15 years, Ethel Curbow has been ranked within the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in the Springfield, Missouri metro area. With over 30 years of real estate experience, she has what it takes to find you the ideal home for your next flipping project. To learn more, contact Ethel today!


Selling a House? Add These Features to Attract Buyers

by Ethel Curbow

Selling a House: Features Buyers Want 

Selling a house with Ethel Curbow

If you are selling a house, you may be hesitant to make upgrades and improvements. After all, you won’t be living there much longer. Though you may not necessarily get to enjoy these improvements, making some simple renovations and updates can increase the value of your home and improve the likelihood that it will sell. As one of the top real estate agents in the Springfield area, Ethel Curbow knows what buyers want. Here, she shares some of the top features buyers look for in a home.

#1. Exterior Lighting

Curb appeal is one of the most important aspects of selling a house, and illuminating your lawn with exterior lighting is a sure way to grab buyers’ attention. In fact, exterior lighting is one of the top features buyers look for in a house. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, they also add an important security feature. Burglaries are less likely to occur if your house is bright and illuminated. If you are thinking about investing in exterior lighting, your options include walkway lights, spotlights, uplights, pendant lighting, and more.

#2. Hardwood Floors

The benefits of hardwood floors are numerous. They are durable, last a lifetime, and require very little maintenance. For many buyers, hardwood floors may be the factor that makes them choose one house over another. Unfortunately for the seller, hardwood floors can be pretty expensive. To save money when you are selling a house, consider adding hardwood floors to only the most important rooms, like the living room and dining room.

#3. Ceiling Fans

Though this may come as a shock to some sellers, ceiling fans are one of the most sought-after features in a home. They help save energy, reduce utility bills, and improve the overall look of a house. In particular, buyers look for ceiling fans in the bedrooms. Luckily for sellers, adding a few ceiling fans is a simple home improvement that won’t break the bank.

#4. Outdoor Space

The exterior of the house is just as important as the interior. A well-manicured backyard, nice landscaping, and a deck or patio are features that are sure to attract buyers when you are selling a house. There is no need to go overboard with outdoor renovations. Simply create a space where buyers can envision themselves sitting back, relaxing, and spending time with their family and friends.

#5. Energy Efficiency

Aesthetic features are not the only features buyers want. In fact, many buyers care a great deal about features that will lower their monthly utility bills, such as energy efficient appliances, Energy Star-qualified windows, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Many of these features can be expensive to install, but making a few small improvements that reduce energy bills will certainly impress buyers.

Selling a House with Ethel Curbow

If you are selling a house, contact Ethel Curbow today. As one of the most experienced real estate agents in the Springfield, Missouri area, Ethel has what it takes to market and sell your house.


Understanding Real Estate Listings

by Ethel Curbow

Explaining Real Estate Listings​

couple looking at real estate listings

Real estate listings are the most useful way to find out information about a property for sale. But what information is available? In today’s Ethel Curbow blog, we break down the main sections of a real estate listing and explain the information you can find in each section.

General Information

The first main section you will see on a real estate listing is the general information about the property. This includes details like the address and asking price for the property. In that section, you will also be able to find the square footage of the house, the county location of the property, and directions about how to get to the location from a general starting point — usually via a highway or other main road.

Interior Features​

Below the first section on the real estate listing will be a larger box that provides even more details about the home you are potentially interested in purchasing. You can find much more information about the house, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as any additional living areas and interesting features that can be found in the living or dining areas, like a fireplace or built-in bookshelf.


This section also breaks down the main features of the interior and exterior of the house. This is where you can find out if the house has central heat and air, whether the kitchen appliances are powered by electricity or gas, and whether it is wired for things like cable and high-speed internet.

Exterior Features​

In the exterior features section of real estate listings, you can find more information about everything on the outside of the home. The materials that make up the siding of the house, the type of roof that is on the home, and features like patios and decks are all detailed in this section. You can also find out how big the lot of land the house sits on is, as well as any important features of the land itself — trees, additional buildings, and the like.

Additional information​

Additional information on a real estate listing means any of the information that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Here, you can find details like the year the house was built, the type of property it is, and tax information. You can also find what school districts the house is a part of — important information if you have children.


A bunch of numbers and descriptions don’t really mean anything unless you can see the property itself. Any valuable real estate listing will have several pictures of the property it is describing. Most listings will at least have a picture of the exterior of the house, along with photos of the kitchen, dining area, living area, and at least the master bedroom.

Check out Ethel’s Real Estate Listings​

If you have found a few real estate listings that you would like to take a better look at, contact Ethel Curbow today! As an expert in the Springfield area for over 20 years, Ethel and her team are ready to help you through every step of the process of buying a home. Contact us today at 417.447.4968.


5 Things to Keep in Mind When Looking at Land for Sale in Missouri

by Ethel Curbow

Land for Sale in Missouri: What to Look For

beautiful land for sale in missouri

Land for sale in Missouri comes in all shapes and sizes — especially in southwest Missouri. Owning land is a great investment, but you shouldn’t just purchase a plot of land without doing some research first. Some properties can seem like a great buy at first glance but can easily turn out to be too good to be true. In today’s Ethel Curbow blog, we take a look at five questions you should ask when looking at land for sale in Missouri.

Is the Land Easily Accessible?

When you shop for land for sale in Missouri, chances are high that the property you are looking at was once a part of a larger farm or family plot of land. Through years of dividing the land between children, access to the land can become convoluted. The only access point to a plot of land may be owned by one person, or it may be a long and winding path to get to the property. Before you make an offer on some land for sale in Missouri, check the access points to make sure you can reach the main roads.

Is the Land on a Flood Plain?​

If you’ve lived in southwest Missouri for any period of time, you have probably realized that when it rains, it rains hard. Crazy rains mixed with wide variations in land features can result in constantly flooded areas of land. While having water on your land is a feature that many people search for, having land that is predominantly on a floodplain is an entirely different situation. If a property has been determined to be part of a flood plain, insurance rates will go up significantly, and it can be difficult to get the permits required to build a house or other structure on the land.

Will the Land Work for Your Needs?​

Typically, when you shop for land for sale in Missouri, you want property for a specific purpose. Whether you would like to farm or raise animals or you’re just looking for a beautiful property to build a house on, not all land is created equal. For example, you wouldn’t want property that has a lot of trees if you plan to grow crops on the land, and you wouldn’t want wide open spaces if you would like to hunt on the property. Be sure to do a thorough examination of the layout of the property to make sure it will work for your needs.

Are There Issues on the Land?​

When you’re looking at land for sale in Missouri, there can sometimes be issues with the land that may not be apparent during the initial look at the property. However, issues like sinkholes and unfarmable land can arise. If you are interested in a specific property, look into the different tests and inspections you can have done on the land to make sure there are no underlying issues that may appear after you purchase the property.

Talk to a Real Estate Agent about Land for Sale in Missouri​

If you are interested in buying land in the southwest Missouri area, trust an experienced real estate agent to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Ethel Curbow has been a leading Realtor in the Springfield area for over 20 years, and would be more than happy to help you find your next property. Contact Ethel today!


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 65




Contact Information

Photo of Ethel Curbow Real Estate
Ethel Curbow
Coldwell Banker Vanguard, REALTORS®
1334 East Republic Road
Springfield MO 65804
Office: 417-447-4968
Fax: 417-447-1214