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Ethel Curbow: Are You Eligible for Homes for Heroes?

Soldier and real estate agent shake hands with Ethel Curbow

Since 1981, Ethel Curbow has worked tirelessly to put people into their dream homes. For many of us, home ownership is a huge part of the American Dream. But what about our heroes? What about people who expend their lives for the betterment of our nation? For the last several decades, the United States has attempted to serve our heroes through things like VA loans that help get veterans into homes. But more could be done. In today’s blog post, we are going to look at the Homes for Heroes program and see if you might be eligible.

What is Homes for Heroes?

In 2002, Homes for Heroes was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota by current CEO Ruth Johnson. The program was established shortly after 9/11 to “give back to firefighters, law enforcement, military (active, reserves & veterans), healthcare workers, EMS, and teachers.” The goal of the organization is to not only get heroes into homes, but to allow them to save money on that home and on “everyday home-related purchases.”

As of July 2017, “over $25 million has been given back to American heroes on their real estate transactions.” That number sat at just $1 million in 2011 and more than doubled from $10 million since 2015. In the years since Homes for Heroes was founded, Ethel Curbow has been a proud advocate and supporter of the program and offers eligibility consultation.

Am I Eligible for Home for Heroes?

At first, the program was offered to firefighters and public safety officers. Since then, however, the program has expanded to many other heroes of our community, such as healthcare professionals, military personnel, educators, youth workers, pastors and a variety of other professions. Ethel Curbow has taken notice and wants to see if you are eligible for the program. However, it isn’t simply a black and white answer.

The question is less about your eligibility and more about how much you are eligible to receive. According to Homes for Heroes, heroes receive over $1,500 when buying or selling a home. But it’s hard to determine how much you are eligible for until you sign up or consult an agent like Ethel Curbow.

Let Ethel Curbow Help

For nearly four decades, Ethel Curbow has helped get people in the Springfield area into their dream homes, and if you are a hero to our nation, she wants to help you too. Contact Ethel Curbow at (417) 447-4968 or visit our website for more information.

When Should I Start Looking At Buying A House?

by Ethel Curbow

Buying a House: When Should I Start Looking?


Ethel Curbow looks at when you should start looking at buying a house

Buying a house is a dream of nearly every person on the planet. It may not be the dream of every person, but many of us want to one day say that we own our own house. For some of us, that is sooner. For others, it takes more time than we would like. The process is a long and winding for nearly everybody, but looking to buy a home at the right time can solve a lot of problems. Are you financially ready? Are there houses in your price range? There are a wide variety of questions to consider, and today the Ethel Curbow blog takes a look at when you should start looking to buy a house.

How is Your Credit?

Of all the factors to consider when buying a house, there is one that is fairly immovable: your credit score. Without a qualifying credit score, buying a house is going to be very difficult, and even if you are able to, it wouldn’t be the wisest decision. The minimum allowable score will vary with the individual loan type. With a conventional loan, the minimum score rests at 620. With an FHA loan, it lowers to 580.

While it is harder to get a loan with bad credit, it isn’t impossible. We also shouldn’t assume that more people with good credit have loans. According to Credit Sesame scores, the percentage of people with poor credit scores (500-549) who have loans is virtually identical to those with excellent credit scores (720+). You can get a loan for buying a house with bad credit. It is just more difficult.

How Are Your General Finances?

A good rule of thumb for budgeting is to have housing costs, which includes mortgage payments and interest or rent, real estate taxes, and homeowners insurance, come out to about 30% of your income. That is a more broad way to classify your finances, but if you are looking at a mortgage that will take 50% of your income from you, buying a house probably isn’t the best idea.

Another thing to think about is the cost of the down payment. In a perfect world, putting 20% of the house’s price down will save you money in the long run, through lowered interest rates and easier qualification. You don’t want to have to dig all of your savings out to make a downpayment, especially if it won’t even get you to that 20% threshold. That puts you on very thin financial ice. If you were to lose your job or be out of work for several months with no savings, you would have no good solution.

Let Ethel Curbow Help You With Buying A House

Buying a house is stressful. It takes time and effort and shouldn’t be done without proper help. Let Ethel Curbow be that help. Contact us today at (417) 447-4968 or visit our website for more information.

 

Finding the Best Qualities in Your Real Estate Agent

by Ethel Curbow

Real Estate Agent: Finding the Best Qualities in Your Agent

john prine

Buying or selling a house is nothing to be short-sighted about. Of all the decisions that one will make in his or her lifetime, home purchases and sales are likely to be the heaviest and most stressful. Because this is true, it is of the utmost importance for you to find the right real estate agent for your home needs. There are several factors that go into picking the right real estate agent, but in today’s Ethel Curbow blog post, we focus on their qualities, customer service, portfolio, and credentials.

Customer Service

This one is often times difficult to judge. Often times, real estate agents will provide testimonials on their website to show their ability to work with people and the care they provide to their clients. However, even on these websites, you are only getting interactions handpicked by the real estate agent. There are two easy ways to look into an agent’s customer service record: talk with their recent clients, and read their reviews.

Talking to clients is a good way to get a personal feel for the agent. As you talk with the person, especially someone with a negative view of the agent, you can get a feel for whether or not their thoughts are warranted. It allows for you to get a more in-depth look at the agent. Reviews do that same thing, but quicker. You won’t get the most in-depth analysis, but you will have access to testimonials--both good and bad--through a simple google search. It is important to be thorough in these cases so that you aren’t easily swayed by a few sparkling reviews, but also aren’t scared away by one bad apple.

Portfolio

This quality is easier to find. Depending on the real estate agent, you may know their portfolio beforehand simply from word of mouth. Agents with more of an online and media presence likely have a more extensive portfolio. However, you also have to be mindful of the quality of a portfolio. For instance, we see commercials for lawyers all the time. Those lawyers are often lawyers who focus on personal injury or divorce. So while they are prominent, you shouldn’t call them if you need a criminal lawyer. Perhaps you are looking to sell a house and a prospective real estate agent specializes in the buyer’s market? Or maybe they sell more expensive real estate while you are looking at just buying your first home. Portfolios are easy to find, but they aren’t always black and white.

Credentials

As discussed in our last section, different real estate agents have different skill sets. This is also reflected in their credentials. It is important not to confuse a license with a credential. Licenses, which are doled out and regulated by the state, are broader than credentials. All agents are licensed but not all have the same credentials. Some notable certifications and credentials are:

  • Seller Representative Specialist (SRS)

  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR)

  • Certified Property Manager (CPM)

  • Certified Investor Agent Specialist (CIAS)

Find an agent that specializes in the services you need.

Ethel Curbow Wants to be Your Real Estate Agent

Since 1981, Ethel Curbow has been the most trusted real estate agent in the Springfield area. As a former Army wife, she has moved over 15 times and knows the terrain better than anybody else. She has been one of the top producers at Coldwell Banker Real Estate over the last 15 years, including being named one of the top 100 realtors by REALTOR Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. If you want the best, give us a call today at (417) 447-4968 or visit our website for more information.

Homes for Sale: How to Know If the Market is Good

How to know if the homes for sale market is good, according to Ethel Curbow

Buying a home is an extensive and drawn-out process. It isn’t like buying new shoes or subscribing to a streaming app. For all intents and purposes, home purchases will likely be the biggest purchases that you make during your lifetime. This isn’t something that you want to go about haphazardly. You want to make a calculated decision, lining out all of the potential solutions before deciding on a home. One major factor that goes into home buying is the housing market and finding homes for sale in your location that are priced right for your budget. The quality of homes for sale in your price range can shift dramatically depending on the housing market. In today’s Ethel Curbow blog post, we’ll look at a few ways to know whether or not the market of homes for sale is good and discuss the differences between a buyer’s and seller’s market.

#1: The Job Market is Strong

As is true with most economic contributors, simple “supply and demand” plays a heavy role in the stability or volatility of the market. And different markets affect each other, some more than others. The housing market and the jobs market have always been intertwined due to the supply and demand affects: people with jobs, specifically higher-paying jobs, are more likely to buy houses, which makes the housing market more stable.

This is also a catch-22 because a good housing market means generally higher priced homes. A bad housing market means a lot of houses for sale without people to buy them. This may sound good for the average home buyer, but again, consider the broader context. More foreclosures and cheaper houses mean that fewer people are buying homes, which almost always signals a tough economic climate. If you are looking to buy a home, you more than likely have a job that gives you the financial stability to do so. When those jobs are readily available, home prices will be more expensive. But when homes are cheaper, many people like you may not have jobs that give them the stability to purchase a home.

#2: More Homes For Sale

The real estate market is constantly shifting and fluctuating between a buyer’s and seller’s market. While things like the job market reflect a strong seller’s market, more homes for sale reflects a strong buyer’s market. Again, this paradigm shows the constant tension of the housing market and why it can be so volatile. A good housing for buyers often reflects a slowdown in the economy.

So for those of you who have a stable job in the midst of a slowing job market, it may be time to look at buying a home. As people aren’t buying homes, the market flips from demand-side to supply-side, forcing the real estate market to lower prices on homes. With 2016 and 2017 largely being a seller’s market, many third-party analysts predict 2018 and 2019 to shift into a buyer’s market, which means there will be more homes for sale for potential homeowners.

Let Ethel Curbow Get You Into Your Dream House

At Ethel Curbow, it is our mission to walk you through the daunting process of buying a home. We want to get you into your dream home, plain and simple. Contact us today at (417) 447-4968 or visit our website for more information.

Real Estate Agent: Common Reasons Why Houses Do Not Sell


House for sale with a real estate agent

Many factors beyond the seller’s control affect the chances of a house selling, including the housing market and the economy. But when the housing market is hot and a house still struggles to sell, real estate agents know there is another problem afoot that the seller can potentially fix. Below, Ethel Curbow discusses some common reasons why your house is not selling.  

It is Priced Too High

Pricing your house slightly above its appraised value is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a seller’s market where there is a small supply of houses and a huge pool of buyers. Unfortunately, going overboard and asking for too high of a price can greatly affect the chances of your house selling. If buyers see it as too expensive, they will not even bother looking. So, to make sure you reach all of your potential buyers, price your house relatively close to its appraised value.

It is Not Well-Marketed

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of a real estate agent’s job. Today’s buyers search for potential homes online, using sites like Trulia, Zillow, and other listing services. To get people to turn up to an open house, your house needs to be well-marketed with high-quality photographs. Without an online presence, you may be missing out on a large pool of potential buyers.

It is Not Clean

For some houses, cleaning up is simply the secret to selling. Staging a house for showings is one of the most important aspects of selling a house, and a dirty house is a sure way to scare away buyers. Clutter, dirty laundry, dishes in the sink or a foul odor can all leave a bad impression, so be sure to do some deep cleaning before your next showing.

Your House Needs Improvements

Unfortunately, selling some homes requires the owner to put in a little time and money. Buyers want the most for what they pay, and if you plan to sell your house for its full price, you will have to make a few renovations. Most houses require only minor renovations. Simply consider putting in some new flooring, painting some walls, and making some updates to your kitchen and bathroom. The more modern a home looks, the easier it will sell.  

Your Real Estate Agent Does Not Care

Your real estate agent, not you, may be at fault for your house not selling. If your agent is not very personable with buyers or does not make an effort to market your house, your house will struggle in the housing market. If you question how much effort your real estate agent puts into selling your house, talk to them about your concerns and consider switching to someone else.

Contact Ethel Curbow in Springfield, MO  

If you are struggling to sell your house and need to help of a professional real estate agent, talk with Ethel Curbow. With her experience, connections, and knowledge, Ethel will work to market your house and recommend any changes you need to make to increase your chances of selling. If you are looking for a real estate agent in Springfield, Missouri, contact Ethel Curbow today!

Selling a House: How to Make a Small Room Feel Bigger

by Ethel Curbow

Selling a House: Making Small Rooms Look Bigger


Selling a house with small rooms

When you are selling a house, every room is either an opportunity to attract buyers or scare them away. While bright, spacious rooms are a major selling point, small and cramped rooms are just the opposite. Fortunately, by utilizing a few, simple tricks, you can make your small rooms look and feel much larger. To get your house ready for its first showing, expand the appearance of your small rooms with these tips from Ethel Curbow.

Declutter Before Selling a House

Clutter is probably the number one reason why a room feels small and cramped. Even if the room is large, the buyer will perceive it as small if it is overflowing with your possessions. So, before selling a house, be sure declutter and throw out some things you do not need. As a general rule of thumb, get rid of something if you haven’t used it within the last year. If you find it difficult to throw out clutter, consider renting a temporary storage space to hide your stuff while your house is on the market.

Utilize Light Colors

Dark, deep colors like browns and reds may be cozy, but they can certainly make a room look small. To make a room feel more open and spacious, paint the walls a light, neutral color, such as a light gray or an off-white. Carry the color palette throughout the room by choosing soft, light colors for your rugs, drapes, and lampshades. By doing some simple decorating prior to your first showing, you increase your chances of selling a house quickly.

Arrange Furniture Wisely

When it comes to making a room feel larger, furniture arrangements are key. Though many people think that pushing their furniture against the walls will open up the room, it can actually give a space a claustrophobic feel. Instead, place your furniture at an angle to show off the space around it, creating the illusion of the more room. Also, try limiting the amount of furniture in a room by removing unnecessary chairs or side tables, temporarily placing them in storage while your house is on the market.

Additional Tricks

Making a room appear larger is all about tricking the eye, so if you have the time while you are selling a house, try out a few decorating tricks. For example, place a mirror in the room to expand the space with a reflective surface, buy furniture that blends into the walls to widen the space, and place a floor to ceiling bookcase against the wall to create the illusion of tall ceilings. Additionally, during a showing, be sure to open the blinds and let plenty of natural light as possible, a foolproof way to make a room look larger.

Contact Ethel Curbow

Selling a house can be a difficult process, but having an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent certainly helps. If you are looking into buying or selling a house in the Springfield, Missouri area, look no further than Ethel Curbow. Ranked in the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in her region for the last 15 years, Ethel knows what it takes to sell a house. To talk with an experienced real estate agent, contact Ethel Curbow today! ​

A Real Estate Agent Explains Tips for Buying New Construction

by Ethel Curbow

Buying New Construction: Tips from a Real Estate Agent


A real estate agent discusses new construction

Nothing beats the feeling of moving into a newly-constructed home. When you smell the fresh paint and use the new appliances, you get the peace of mind that you are the home’s first owner. Despite the excitement, buying a new home can be a complicated process, requiring the buyer to do a little extra research and planning. To make sure everything runs smoothly, follow these tips from Ethel Curbow, a real estate agent in Springfield, Missouri.

Research the Builder

Real estate agents know that doing a little research on a builder can provide a lot of insightful information about a house, including information regarding the quality of construction and problems the house may have in the future. So, before buying new construction, take the time to do a little research. Look up the builder’s name, read news stories and testimonials online, and visit the builder’s previous real estate developments. If you have the opportunity to speak with anyone who lives in one of the builder’s previously built homes, ask them about their experience: have they had any problems? Did the builder cut any corners? Is the house soundly built and well-insulated? By finding out some basic information, you can save yourself from buying a potential money pit.  

Get a House Inspection

Many people think that newly built houses do not need an inspection – but any house, including new ones, can have problems that will cost you in the future. Although most cities require new properties to undergo a basic inspection, it never hurts to hire a private inspector just to make sure everything is safe and up-to-code. With a private inspection, you can make sure everything is safe before you sign any paperwork.

Hire Your Own Real Estate Agent

New real estate developments usually have an on-staff real estate agent, but keep in mind that these agents work on behalf of the builder, not you. To protect your best interests, hire your own real estate agent to accompany you on tours, help you make an offer, and advise you on decisions that will affect your property value. With the help of a trusted real estate agent, you ensure that you get the best value for your purchase.

Contact Ethel Curbow

If you are looking into new construction, it is important that you hire a real estate agent that works for you, not the construction company, to ensure that the interests of you and your family are protected. If you are looking for a trusted real estate agent in the Springfield, Missouri Area, look further than Ethel Curbow. Experienced, knowledgeable, and professional, Ethel has been ranked within the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in her region for the last 15 years. To set up an appointment, contact Ethel Curbow today! ​

Ethel Curbow: Tips for Selling a Condo

by Ethel Curbow

Ethel Curbow Discusses Selling a Condo


Condo sales with Ethel Curbow

As a real estate agent, Ethel Curbow knows that selling a condo is not like selling a traditional, single-family style home. Condos come with their own unique set of challenges, so before putting your condo on the market, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Here, Ethel Curbow discusses some tips for selling a condo.

Choose the Right Time

Condos, particularly ones in popular vacation spots, tend to sell faster than single-family homes. So, when you put your condo on the market, make sure you are prepared to move quickly. Additionally, consider the time of year that you plan to sell. Spring and summer are the most popular times for real estate, but conventional rules do not always apply for condos. For example, if your condo is in an area that is a popular winter-time vacation spot, autumn may be the best time to put your condo on the market.

Set the Right Price

Pricing a condo is a little more difficult than pricing a single family home. For one, condo buyers can be somewhat picky, and if the price is too high, they may not bother looking. When setting a price, make sure the price of your condo reflects the value of similar units in your complex, but keep in mind minor differences between your unit and others that may impact the price. For example, if you have a unit toward the end of your complex, it may be worth more than a unit stuck in the middle.

Stage it Well

Condos have a bad reputation for being plain and cookie-cutter, making staging one of the most important aspects of selling a condo. Before your first showing, be sure to take some extra steps to make your place look spacious, unique, and desirable. You may also consider making some minor improvements, like painting and replacing floors. In a small space like a condo, little issues like chipped paint and scuffed floors can come across as big issues in the eyes of buyers, so be sure to prepare before placing your condo on the market.

Contact Ethel Curbow

If you are looking into a selling a condo or a house, look no further than Ethel Curbow. Experienced and professional, Ethel Curbow has been rated within the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in the Springfield, Missouri area for the last 15 years. Whether you are interested in buying or selling, Ethel has the experience and connections to market your house and make a sale. To get in contact with a real estate agent, contact Ethel Curbow today!

Quick and Easy Renovations You Should Make Before Selling a House

by Ethel Curbow

Minor Renovations to Make Before Selling a House


Painting before selling a house

When you are selling a house, minor upgrades and cosmetic improvements can have huge payoffs, helping you attract more buyers, make a quicker sale, and potentially increase your property value. Although minor improvements lead to many benefits, going overboard can cause you to lose money on your investment. To help you find the perfect balance, follow these home improvement tips from Ethel Curbow.

Paint

Before selling a house, updating paint colors and removing wallpaper are some of the quickest and easiest improvements you can make. When choosing a paint color, think about the look and feel of your home. Shades of grey and muted blues create a contemporary feel, while earth tones create a traditional, classic look. If you are unsure of what to pick, go with a simplistic, neutral color, such as a light gray or an off-white, that will complement your furniture and give your house an open, airy quality.

Flooring

Flooring can be expensive and time-consuming to replace, so new, updated floors are a major selling point in the real estate market. Hardwood flooring is ideal, but unfortunately, it is expensive to install. If you have the time and budget, consider adding hardwood to one key area of your home, such as the living room or kitchen. In other rooms, focus on replacing the carpet with something simple, clean, and neutral in color. Completely replacing the flooring is unnecessary in some homes, but you still might consider cleaning your carpets or refinishing hardwood floors to remove stains and scuffs.  

Kitchen Improvements

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms for homebuyers, so taking the time to make it look modern and stylish is a sure way to attract attention. Although the kitchen is important, a complete renovation is expensive, ineffective, and ultimately unnecessary. Instead, quick and minor kitchen improvements will yield the greatest results. Before selling a house, focus on refinishing cabinets, replacing cabinet handles and knobs, and installing new, sleek light fixtures. With a couple easy improvements, you can bring your kitchen into the twenty-first century without breaking the bank.

Selling a House with Ethel Curbow

When you are selling a house and making home improvements, consult with an experienced real estate agent like Ethel Curbow. With her knowledge and experience, Ethel knows what improvements will help you attract buyers. For the last 15 years, Ethel has been rated within the top ten real estate agents in the Springfield, Missouri region, meaning she has the skills to sell your house and help you find the new home of your dreams. If you are interested in selling a house, contact Ethel Curbow today!

A Real Estate Agent Discusses Purchasing an Investment Property

by Ethel Curbow

Real Estate Agent Tips: Purchasing an Investment Property

Buying an investment property from a real estate agent

An investment property is a piece of real estate you purchase with the intention of making a profit. Your investment can either be short term, such as buying a house and flipping it, or long-term, such as renovating a house and renting it out. Regardless of your plans, there are a few things to consider before making your purchase. To make sure you get the most out of your investment, follow these tips from Ethel Curbow, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Springfield, Missouri.

Ensure You Can Cover the Cost

Real estate agents know that investment properties can be an expensive endeavor. Whether you are planning to flip a house or rent it, the costs can add up, so make sure you can cover them from the beginning. For most people, purchasing an investment property means applying for an additional mortgage, which can be a difficult process. Because lending an additional mortgage can be risky, mortgage lenders usually require a high down payment, so when you apply for a mortgage, make sure you have enough money to cover the cost. Renovation is also an expensive process, and if you run out of funds and halt your project, you can easily lose money on your investment. Avoid running into problems during renovation by planning out how to finance your project ahead of time.

Find the Right Neighborhood

In real estate, location is everything, especially when you are looking to make a profit. For example, if you are flipping a house, you want to make sure it is in a neighborhood where it will sell quickly. If you are looking to rent, you will need to look into zoning laws and make sure the neighborhood allows multi-family properties. To see if a neighborhood would be a good fit for an investment property, consult with an experienced real estate agent.

Stick Close to Home

Whether you are renovating or renting, you want to make sure you can easily access your investment property. Driving long distances to take care of construction or check on tenants can be time-consuming and expensive, so whenever you are looking for an investment property, make sure it is close to home.

Contact a Trusted Real Estate Agent

It can be difficult to find an investment property that is in your price range, close to home, and in a good neighborhood, but working with an experienced real estate agent can help you find the property of your dreams. If you are looking for a real estate agent in the Springfield, Missouri area, contact Ethel Curbow. Experienced, knowledgeable, and professional, Ethel has been ranked within the top ten Coldwell Banker real estate agents in the Springfield area for the last 15 years. Whether you are looking into buying or selling a house, contact Ethel Curbow today.

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