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What To Serve At Your Super Bowl Party

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Are you in the midst of planning a last-minute Super Bowl party, but just don’t know what to serve?  Just like the decorations, your food options are endless!  And what was supposed to be a fun get-together with your fellow friends & football fans, is now a source of stress.  Well, stress no more!  We are here to save the day...or at least give you some great crowd pleasing, easy ideas for hosting the best Big Game bash!

 

So, here we go!  Our favorite football party foods, in no particular order.

 

Make it a tailgate!  We wrote a whole post on terrific tailgating, but just to refresh your memory -- fire up the grill, serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and dip.  Then, pull out the yard games (weather permitting!  We’re thinking a basement or garage might be a better Iowa option...) and let your guests enjoy the low-key, lots-of-fun atmosphere.

 

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Get guests involved -- Call it a Super Bowl Party Potluck.  This doesn’t have to resemble a post-fellowship-jello-salad-in-the-church-basement potluck that you’re familiar with!  Nope, ask guests to bring their very favorite appetizer, snack, side, main dish or dessert.  As the host you can opt to provide the table settings and drinks...or not!  Your party, your rules!  Have fun with it and don’t feel bad about asking friends to contribute.  You are hosting, afterall! 

 

 

Pardon our pun, but we think a Souper Bowl could be fun!  From chicken noodle and potato to stew, chowder, and chili, a variety of warm soups would surely please even the pickiest of partiers.  And you can even up the ease by calling on your crockpot.  Prepare the soups early, then join your guests and enjoy the festivities.

 

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Walking Tacos/Nacho Bar would be as easy as it sounds! Let your guests get involved by creating their own nach/walking taco concoction.  Offer up taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, sour cream, salsa, and so much more.  No one will go home hungry. 

 

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We’re stating the obvious here but -- PIZZA!  Really, it can’t get any easier than picking up the phone and ordering a couple of pies!  Everyone loves pizza...almost as much as parties!

 

 

Finally, for all of you over-achievers...Go BIG!  We’re thinking this would earn you some MAJOR party points!

 

 

 

Selling Your Home In The Winter Months

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

What could be more stressful than selling a home?  Selling a home in the winter, of course! And while January might seem a little late (according to the calendar!) to be broaching this subject, us Iowans know that, realistically, we still have 3-4 more months of “winter-like” weather.  This means that there is still plenty of time to take action and get your home listed and sold before spring even decides to show up!  Here are our top tips for selling your home in the winter months!

 

Take control of the snow and ice situation.  Keeping snow and ice at bay and away from your walkways and entryways is important if you want prospective buyers to get into your home safely and with ease.  Just like mowing your lawn in the summer, shoveling and maintaining your home’s exterior in the wintertime, helps the house look well taken care of and loved. Bonus tip: Even if you’re not currently living in the home, make arrangements with a friend, neighbor, or business to do snow and ice removal.

 

Go for a warm and cozy feel.  It might mean adjusting your thermometer a bit, but warming your home before a showing will help prospective buyers be comfortable.  And while you’re going for that comfortable feel, cozy things up a bit with pillows and throws in the living spaces, and perhaps a large folded-over comforter on a bed.  Make prospective buyers see themselves living comfortably in the house.

 

Make the most of natural lighting and supplement with good interior lights.  Lighting is especially important during the winter months when our days are shorter and the sun doesn’t always shine.  Take advantage of any and all outside light by opening all window coverings and turning on all (yes, all!) the lights in the house.  Again, we’re going for coziness here!  Bonus tip: Ensure that all light fixtures are clean and bulbs are burning bright.

 

Keep the windows clean.  Daylight during the winter can draw attention to dirt and grime that otherwise might go unnoticed.  Keep a prospective buyer’s focus on the home, not it’s state of cleanliness, by washing the windows.  If this isn’t a project you feel comfortable tackling, hire it out!  Trust us, a good window cleaning is worth the investment.

 

Make your home pleasing to the nose, not just the eyes.  Capitalize on our strong sense of smells, and feelings that those elicit by making sure that your home has a pleasant aroma -- without going overboard.  It can be as simple as baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies or burning a candle a couple hours before a showing (just remember to turn off the oven and/or blow out the candle!).  We’ve blogged about the Stinky Side Of Real Estate before and encourage you to re-read that to re-freshen your memory AND home prior to your first showing or open house!

 

While there may be fewer buyers during the wintertime, generally, the ones that do exist are serious and have a some sense of urgency.  Capitalize on this by making your home stand out from the others with just a little effort and preparation.  And, as always, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, let us help!  Contact us anytime!

 

Steve Hidder, Broker/Owner
Ankeny Real Estate Service
219 SW 3rd Street
Ankeny, IA 50023
(515)964-3662

www.ankenyrealestateservice.com

New Years Resolutions For Homeowners

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

As you’re working hard on all those fresh New Years resolutions, we encourage you to set some goals for your home and finances.  Whether you’re a homeowner or planning on becoming one soon, here are 5 home-based resolutions you can make -- and maybe even keep -- this year!

 

1.  Make extra mortgage payments.  This is common sense, but can make a huge difference.  The more payments you make in a shorter period of time, the less you end up paying long-term, and the faster you’ll rid yourself of that mortgage payment.  Making extra payments also allow the equity in your home to grow faster.

 

2. Get organized/de-clutter.  Less is always more...especially when it comes to overflowing closets and cupboards.  The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to tackle the clutter!  And, to avoid feeling overwhelmed, why not set a goal to organize and de-clutter one room per month?

 

3. Lower your energy bill and save money.  We’ve talked about lowering your heating bill during the cold winter months, but here are just a few small, simple ways to go green and save money:

● Turn off your air conditioning before you leave for vacations in the summer.

● Have your ductwork sealed and insulated.

● Jam-pack that dishwasher before running it each and every time.

● As your mom always said, turn off the lights when leaving a room.  Take this a step further and put outside lights on a timer.

● Reduce the length of your shower by just a quick 5 minutes.

 

4. Review your homeowner’s insurance. It is important to review your policy on occasion and the new year is the perfect time to check your coverage.  Taking the time to speak with your insurance provider can save you money in the long run.

 

5.  Get in shape! (Keep your home maintained!)  In case you missed it, we’ve made this one easy for you -- just refer back to a couple of our previous blog posts to keep you in line!

 

Preparing your home for fall.

 

Preparing your home for spring {here} and {here}.

Q & A with an Ankeny Educator: Meet Mrs. Delaney

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

We're back this week with another round of questions and answers from one of Ankeny's finest educators, Mrs. Ashley Delaney!  You all know how we feel about the amazing people teaching, leading, and influencing our community's students and Mrs. Delaney is no exception!  Won't you join us in taking a minute to meet this dedicated wife, mom, and teacher?

Name:  Ashley Delaney

Position:  ELP teacher at Southview

Number of years in education:  11

Years taught in Ankeny:  2

Family:  Brett, Brynn (3), and Kiernan (1)

Hobbies:  Food is my passion.  I love to cook and garden.  There is something lovely about eating what you grow and appreciating nature’s ability provide nourishment.  I also enjoy reading with my children and outdoor activities.

 

What is the best thing about teaching in Ankeny?

The best part about teaching in Ankeny is the people.  I thoroughly enjoy my colleagues and the families I work with. 

 

What gets you excited about the direction that Ankeny schools are heading?

I sincerely believe teachers want every student to learn and grow daily.  They work tirelessly to develop learning opportunities for students that are developmental appropriate and interesting.  The community rallies around these passionate professionals to help make this possible.  It is wonderful to see families, business, and other stakeholders work with educators to make our schools outstanding.

 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is keeping up with my students.  Day-to-day what I am teaching depends on what students need.  One day I could be extending a Physics concept and the next I could work with analyzing poetry.  Their needs and outstanding abilities never cease to impress me.

 

What motivates you?

Being a part of the development of a child is the greatest honor.  I believe it truly does take a village to raise a child into a well-rounded, empathetic citizen of the world.  As a parent, I want my children’s teachers to feel the same way.  I treat my students as if they are my own.  Ultimately, I want all of them to understand their intelligence and education doesn’t make them above the world, it makes them responsible for it.

Home Fire Safety Tips For The Winter Months

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

Cozy winter fires are the best, aren’t they?  Well, at least when they’re contained to a fireplace!  In the midst of these frigid temperatures, we are all spending more time inside, which is why we want YOU to be informed with ways you can prevent {non-fireplace} flames in your homes. Read on for fire prevention tips and tricks AND for a downloadable/printable checklist from the National Fire Prevention Association.

 

First of all, plain and simple common sense and awareness is the key to keeping flames at bay.  While these ideas are elementary in principle, the impact of follow-through is anything but!  Here are Ankeny Real Estate Service’s top tips for your winter fire prevention:

 

1. Heaters need space!  Anything producing heat (furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater) should have ample room to do their job.  The NFPA recommends a distance of at least 3 feet between a heater and anything flammable (newspaper, kindling, firewood, clothing, upholstered furniture, bedding, etc.)  Also, take care to never use a space heater with a worn cord or one without the automatic shut-off function, should the heater get tipped over.

 

2. Keep a close eye on those cooktops and NEVER use your stove or oven to heat your home.  Did you know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires?  It’s true!  And the perfect reason to never walk away from the stove when cooking.  Always turn off your burner before stepping away.

 

3.  Prepare your fireplace before use, then be sure to maintain and use it appropriately. Do not let dry leaves and needles pile up on your roof, then be sure the spark arrestor on your chimney is in place.  Furthermore, fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected yearly. Fireplaces should have a steady screen that prevents flying sparks.  When cleaning out your fireplace, hot (and even just warm!) ashes need to be put in an approved metal container, with an airtight lid.

 

4.  Extension cords. Thousands of fires yearly are attributed to faulty electrical cords. Cords should be checked for cracks and frays.  Additionally, never place extension cords in front of heaters, fireplaces, or any place they could fall onto a heat source.

 

5.  Candles. Because of the open-flamed nature of candles special care needs to be taken when using and handling these.  See the National Fire Prevention Association’s guide to candle safety {here}.  Summary:

● Don’t leave candles near combustibles.

● Don’t fall asleep with a candle burning.

● Burn candles in a candle holder or jar, never directly on a flammable surface.

 

6.  Install Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Detectors should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas.  Smoke alarms have, approximately, a 7-year life span, and batteries should be changed twice yearly (daylight savings times serve as great reminders).

 

7.  Safety escape route. Your family should develop and practice a home escape plan.  These plans should include two ways out of every room and an outside meeting spot. Consider investing in AND learning how to use a fire escape safety ladder.

 

For additional information on home fire prevention, be sure to visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires.

 

AND, don’t forget to click {here} for your own printable checklist from the NFPA to prepare your home for heater season.

The Stinky Side Of Real Estate

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

When preparing a home to sell, it is common for us to think about and focus our efforts on how it looks.  Are the floors mopped?  The china buffet dusted?  Is it staged to look homey, yet not to personal?  How about that curb appeal?  Surely the lawn is cut, watered, and perfectly manicured!  But we’re here to tell you, friends – concentration on just the physical, visible selling points of a house can lead to the costly mistake of overlooking (ahem, smelling) the scent of a home.  The unseen, stinky funk of a property can not only hinder the selling process, but completely prevent it, as well.

Studies have shown that our sense of smell is a powerful one that connects the aromas picked up by our noses to the limbic system of the brain.  And THAT is where the magic happens -- smells elicit emotions, attractions and memories. It is a subconscious psychological process that we have no control over.  This means that even if they wanted to, your prospective buyers couldn’t walk into your home and say, “I am going to ignore the wet dog/dirty sock smell and ONLY focus on the open foyer and spacious kitchen that I so desperately desire.”  Nope, it’s NOT going to happen!  So, why not use this super sense to your advantage?  Wow prospective buyers with fresh, clean scents and positive, fond memories of your home after they leave, rather than nose plug-worthy nastiness and feelings of disgust. 

We’ve compiled a list of 3 things you can do to ensure that your home will pass the smell test.

1.  Eliminate smells from their source. What you do to truly eliminate an odor depends on the odor itself, but almost always a good, deep cleaning is the first step.  And by deep cleaning, we don’t mean, a mother-in-law-is-coming-for-the-weekend-and-I’d-better-wash-the-sheets-clean.  An in-depth sanitation might necessitate professional services, but should include carpet cleaning, and washing of all upholstery, sheets, curtains, blankets, and textiles. Carpet that has been repeatedly urinated on by pets (or children! or adults?) might need to be replaced, and walls subjected to cigarette smoke or strong cooking odors should be repainted.  While your home is on the market, be mindful of your meal making! Fish, bacon, onion, garlic, and curry, in particular, are especially strong and can linger for days.  So, while you’re on “home showing stand-by,” try to find a way to curb that Curry Bacon Wrapped Fish with a side of sautéed onions and garlic craving!

2.  Take Fido (& Fifi) with you! Even if you think your four-legged friend is as fragrant as fresh flowers, it is likely that you are just used to his/her scent.  It is called sensory adaptation and it can cause major problems for homeowners if they are unable/unwilling to recognize these familiar, yet not-so-fresh fragrances.  We recommend packing up the pets, as well as any kennels, pet beds, toys, or litter boxes any time your home is being shown to prospective buyers.

3. Bring in a fresh, honest, and objective nose.  Finally, due to the phenomenon of sensory adaptation mentioned above, we encourage you to employ the advice of a close friend or family member who won’t be afraid to tell you if your home doesn’t pass the smell test. Just remember: if they tell you that your house stinks, don’t shoot the messenger.  Your loved one’s upfront (and warranted!) honesty could play a crucial role in the sale of your home!

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6