Why Sell Now?

Re/Max Balloon

  • Home values are up
  • Increased buyers with millennials entering the housing market
  • Rates are down
  • Inventory is low making it a seller’s market!

For a FREE market analysis, call the Dawn Dause Group today! (815) 954-5050

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What Are The Most Germ Ridden Spots In Your Home?


Germ Ridden Spots in Home


  • Kitchen sponge or dishcloth: Bacteria love to grow on these items and the worst part is that when kitchen surfaces are wiped down, the bacteria is able to spread all over. To avoid this germ infestation, replace your sponges regularly and either run them through the dishwasher on the top rack or microwave them for 1-2 minutes in between replacements.
  • Kitchen sink: Germs love to multiply in the kitchen sink so be sure to clean the sink and drain plug daily with a solution of bleach and water (one part bleach to 10 parts water).
  • Salt and pepper shakers: Cold viruses love to congregate on these so wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe regularly.
  • Coffee tables: Many of us come home after a long day and put our feet up on the coffee table while relaxing. This spreads many germs and bacteria from outside so leave your shoes at the door and disinfect coffee tables and other table surfaces.
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Budgeting For A Remodel

  • Luxury Kitchen RemodelDetermine how much you have to spend: Once you figure out what project you want to do, you need to determine if you have the funds for it. If you are paying cash that’s one thing, but if you are going to require a loan you need to find out what a bank will loan you and how that will affect your monthly budget. There are three basic types of loans; cash-out refinance, home equity loan, and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). For the majority of homeowners, the best way to borrow money for a home improvement project is a home equity line of credit. A HELOC is a good choice because it’s a loan that is secured by your home equity which makes it qualify for a lower interest rate and you can deduct the interest on your taxes as well. The catch to a HELOC is that the monthly payment only covers that month’s interest; this can make it easy to fall into a large amount of debt. To avoid this, you can use your own repayment schedule, paying 1/60th of the principal plus the interest every month over 5 years or 1/120th for 10 years. If you can’t afford to do that, you may want to reconsider the project.
  • Estimate the costs: To begin, it’s important to understand the realistic cost of your remodel job. In general, major upgrades, such as a bathroom overhaul or family room addition, cost about $100-$200 a square foot.
  • Get quotes from contractors: Before talking with contractors, decide the details of the project including finishes and materials. This way, you are more likely to get a quote that is more accurate. Get quotes from at least 3 contractors and ask to see their recent work, check their references, and look at online sites that provide peer reviews of contractors. Once you find a contractor that you like, add a 15%-20% contingency for unexpected problems. If you can still afford this, get started! If not, it may be a good idea to rethink your plans.
  • Tailor the project to fit your budget: If your dream project is not aligning with your budget, it might be time to revamp your plan. Start by asking your contractor for ways to lower costs such as using laminate counters instead of quartz or granite. Consider keeping older items that are in good shape such as appliances or lighting fixtures. Try making the project smaller; changing a 100 square foot project to an 80 square foot project can save a lot of money.
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What’s Better-An Open Or Closed Kitchen?

House Logic
Luxury Open KitchenOpen kitchen pros
Brings the family together by integrating meal prep with other activities such as watching T.V. in the family room

  • Allows guests into the center of the home and makes conversation between guests and the home cook easier
  • Gets rid of walls that reduce natural light
  • Adds the feeling of more space, especially in smaller homes
Closed kitchen pros
  • Keeps messes in the kitchen hidden
  • Having more walls means more space for cabinets, counters, and appliance storage
  • Guests can’t easily get into the kitchen to disturb the cook
  • Cooking odors are more confined to the kitchen area
  • The dining space is more formal
Both kitchen types have advantages; an ideal kitchen may have the best of both worlds. Some ways to achieve this are:
  • A pass-through window: This can connect the kitchen to a living space without tearing down walls. Another option may be to take out a non-bearing wall (much cheaper and easier than removing a bearing wall) and replacing it with a half wall or peninsula. This is somewhat expensive but it will open up a closed off kitchen.
  • Folding or pocket doors can be opened when you want a flow into the kitchen and closed when you don’t. Use doors with glass to allow light in.
  • Put in a raised bar/eating counter in your island: Facing the raised portion towards your living area will allow the space to be open while blocking the view of the food prep area.
  • Putting in a half wall (40-50 inches tall) between the kitchen and living area offers both a physical and visual boundary for your kitchen yet the space is not completely closed off.
  • Investing in quality, sound reducing appliances will be more of an investment than regular appliances but they won’t disturb nearby conversations as much.
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5 Smart Homebuyer Strategies


  1. Be specific: Let your Realtor know exactly what is most important to you  in a home so that you don’t waste your time seeing homes that don’t fit your criteria. Once you find the home that you love, submit a letter along with the offer letting the seller know what you love about the home and why it’s a good fit for you and your family.
  2. Get preapproved by a lender: Getting preapproved lets you know how much you can afford and also allows you to put in an offer more quickly. Your Realtor can also let the seller know you are preapproved which will help your case.
  3. Shop within your range: It’s a good idea to shop either within your price range or just under so that you are more prepared to make a full price offer or one slightly above asking price in the event that you enter a bidding war.
  4. Be flexible: No home is totally perfect. In order to get more home for your money, consider purchasing an older home that may need some work in exchange for more square footage versus a home in a newer neighborhood that is more expensive for the same square footage.
  5. Be ready: Be ready to go and see a new listing with little notice. Be prepared to make an offer when you think you have found the home that is perfect for your family. Once a seller accepts your offer, decide on a closing date that not only accommodates your family, but the seller as well.
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Great time to buy and sell

Outstanding Agents

Mortgage rates are down and home values are up making it a great time to buy or sell! For more information or a FREE market analysis call the Dawn Dause Group at (815) 954-5050!

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4 Tips For First Time Home Sellers


  1. Find the right agent:  Selling your home is a big decision and finding an agent that you trust and are comfortable with is very important.
  2. You need to be ready to sell: With the internet now, you only get one chance to create a first impression of your home. If your home is listed at an unrealistic price or when it’s not in good condition, the number of days on the market (DOM) could add up and harm you in the long run.
  3. DOM could affect a buyer’s offer: An average buyer will look at a listing and first take note of the price and the size of the home. They will look at the photos and then look at how long the home has been on the market; if it’s been for sale longer than three months they may see that as a negative.
  4. If you receive an offer, you have to move soon: When you get an acceptable offer and you sign a contract, time is ticking towards your closing date. Don’t sell until you are ready and be sure to have a plan in place for where you are going to go once your home is sold.
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5 Bad Financial Habits To Break


  1. Paying bills late: Late penalties can make up about 10-15% of your monthly bill. If you are frequently paying your bills late, that means you could be paying about 10% more on bills per year than you should be. If you are almost always paying some bills late, such as credit card bills, not only are you paying penalties but your credit score is probably also being dinged. If you have enough money to cover your bills but are just forgetful, set up reminders on your phone or start using a calendar to organize your bill paying schedule. If you struggle with budgeting, try using the old fashioned envelope method. Create an envelope for every bill as well as a spending money envelope. On pay day, put enough money in each bill envelope to cover that expense; any left over funds can be used for spending money. If some bills are still difficult to pay on time, try contacting the company to request a new due date.
  2. Experiencing bank fees: Every time you pay your bank a fee for having insufficient funds you are giving money to the bank that could have been used on you or your family. If you end up paying 3 bank fees a month at $36 each, that’s $1,200 a year! If you are always being hit with bank fees it is probably due to a variety of factors such as spending more than you make or not communicating with your spouse if you have a joint account. Try sitting down with your bank manager and asking for help with the situation. They may be able to take away some of the fees and can help come up with a solution to the problem such as setting up a savings account that would act as overdraft protection for your checking account.
  3. Taking out too many loans: If you are mainly using your credit card for everyday purchases and not paying off the balance every month or taking out payday loans, you are accumulating a lot of interest which can be very dangerous. Too many loans with a lot of interest involved can really create a financial hole. One way to build an emergency fund is to set aside money from every pay check to act as a rainy day savings account. For example, if you only set aside $10 every week, you will have $520 at the end of the year. Having an emergency fund allows you to “borrow” from yourself during emergencies instead of from a lender.
  4. Overspending: Spending too much money leads to many financial issues and can be a cycle that is very hard to break. Consider keeping track of your expenses online or with a phone app. Mint.com is a great resource but there are many other great ones including LearnVest.com and DailyCost.com, etc. Another tactic to use is to wait when making online purchases. Instead of purchasing something right away, try leaving the item in your online cart for a few days and then come back to it and see if you still “need” it.
  5. Spending money as soon as you get it: If you spend your paycheck as soon as you receive it without really thinking things through or putting money into savings, you won’t have money on hand when you really need it and the bad financial cycle will continue.
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Overlooked Tips For First Time Buyers

Tips for Home Buyers


  • Think re-sale: When buying your first home, you may know going into it that you plan on expanding your family or taking care of elderly relatives in the future so you may be planning to stay in the home for just a few years. In that case, consider the location of the prospective home in terms of school district, neighborhood, etc. If you buy a home in a less than stellar school district or a home on a very busy street, more than likely you will dramatically reduce the number of interested buyers in the home when you go to sell.
  • Make a list: Make a list of the must have’s in a home, nice to have’s, and other essentials. When going through homes, see how the house matches up to your list; it can make the decision process much smoother and the process of evaluating homes much easier.
  • Consider all expenses: When looking at a potential budget, don’t just consider the cost of the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. Look at the bigger picture and consider utilities, commuting costs, cable/internet costs in the area, etc.
  • Read the HOA contract: If buying a home that is part of an HOA, get a copy of the HOA contract before buying and read through it. For example, your long term plan might be to rent out the house eventually, but the HOA contract might state that none of the houses in the neighborhood may be rented.
  • Research grants and other funding: Many people may think their income is not low enough to qualify for various grants and funding sources but do your research. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you do actually qualify for assistance.
  • Understand the contract before you buy: Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, so be sure to read and understand the contract before buying and clarify anything you don’t understand with your Realtor or mortgage lender.
  • Don’t always buy for the view: Unless you own the land between your home and the view, don’t buy just for the view. Any number of developments might be built to obstruct the view if that land is not owned by you.
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Things You Have Wrong About Green Homes

Green Home


  • Green homes are expensive: Eco friendly homes are available for a wide range of prices such as green prefabs for less than $150,000 to urban eco friendly condos for $690,000 or more. Green homes come in different types, prices, and sizes.
  • Green homes look strange: Green homes don’t just look like spaceships-they have come a long way. Most green homes look just like traditional ones only they may have solar panels on the roof or small wind turbines.
  • Green homes use only non-toxic materials: This is not always the case. Many green homes use spray polyurethane foam which can be controversial. Although this material is a great energy saver, it is also thought to contribute to global warming.
  • Green homes require cutting edge technology: Green homes are less about new technology and gadgets and more about using construction methods that increase energy efficiency and create a healthy indoor living area.
  • Green homes need new energy efficient appliances: It’s actually not green to get rid of appliances that are in good working order, even if they aren’t energy efficient. If they are taken care of properly, major appliances such as fridges and washers/dryers should last about 10-18 years.
  • Urban areas need green homes more than rural areas: Actually, both rural areas and suburban areas need green homes more than urban areas. People that live in crowded cities actually have a smaller carbon footprint because of the walkability of the area they live in.
  • Existing homes can’t be green: Not true! Retrofitting a home is a much greener process than building a new one; new green homes take 10-80 years to overcome the negative affects to the environment that the construction process causes.
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