Buying is Better

Do you think you can’t afford a home right now?  Think again…7 Reasons Owning is Better (and Smarter) than Renting.

  1. Rental prices continue to rise
  2. Homeownership builds wealth
  3. Owning a home gives a sense of security
  4. Homeowners get many tax benefits
  5. Homes can be decorated and customized to your tastes
  6. A mortgage is like a forced savings plan
  7. Owning is cheaper than renting in the long run

Bottom line: You have to live somewhere, so instead of paying off someone else’s home, why not pay off your own!

Our Summer Bucket List

Summer has officially started and we’ve started our summer bucket list.  Helena and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer and we plan on taken advantage of it all.  Here’s a few things on our summer bucket list.

Kayaking/Paddle boarding – Helena’s not only central in Montana but also offers abundant access to water.  Top on our list is to kayak, paddleboard or float one of the many waters, Spring Mountain Lake if it’s just for the afternoon, Park Lake, Lakeside, or the Causeway if we have a little more time and the Missouri, Dearborn River or Trout Creek  if we want a full day float with great fishing!

Last Chance Tour Train – An exclusive attraction to Helena is our Tour Train, offering historic tours of Helena in the open-air tour trains.  It’s a fun way to see beautiful and historic Helena.

Hiking/Biking – Another one of Helena’s assets are our open lands, forests, and mountains and we can’t wait to check off our list a couple hikes up Mount Helena City Park and hit a couple bike trails. Helena was the only place in Montana to earn a spot on National Geographic Magazines recent list of America’s top 20 mountain bike towns.

Drive-in Movie – Although Helena doesn’t have a drive-in movie theater it’s on our bucket list, so we’ll head on over the short drive to Rocker, Montana to sit in the bed of our truck with an air mattress and watch a current flick at Silver Bow Drive In.

Gates of the Mountains – Nestled half way between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks sits the Gates of the Mountains. Located 20 miles north of Helena we are one of Montana’s not to miss destinations.

Disc Golf (Folf) – Did you know that Helena is the birth place of Disc Golf in Montana. Helena has more Folf courses than any other town in the state.

And of course we will hit the usual events, like Alive @ 5, the Last Chance Stampede & Fair, Brewers home games, Symphony of the Stars, Farmer’s Markets.  There is honestly too much to list and we can’t wait to start checking off the boxes on our list!  Hope to see you out there!

At Home in the Outdoors

More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why; when you live in Montana you want to spend as much time as you can outside. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider:

DECK

Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment.

Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much.

Expanding and re-configuring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity.

PATIO

Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping.

Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built.

 

GAZEBO

For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional).

Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings.

 

OUTDOOR KITCHEN

People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen is outdoors, it creates an ideal opportunity to mix, mingle and interact in the open air. Other reasons why cooking outdoors makes so much sense: less kitchen cleanup, the house stays cooler during the summer, and grilled food just tastes better.

Some may think an outdoor kitchen is only for cooks who host large parties, but homeowners who go this route say they’re more of an extension of the home, and great for daily use.

Designs for outdoor kitchens range from the simple (a grill, limited counter and cabinet space, and maybe a prep sink) to truly independent entities with a refrigerator, an elaborate grill, warming oven, freestanding island with storage space, rolling cart stations, and even a dishwasher. Depending on how elaborate your design, you may be able to list it as a second kitchen when selling your house.

SIX PLANNING SUGGESTIONS

  1. Before meeting with contractors, gather photos of designs and ideas that you like; this will make it much easier to communicate your ideas.  This is a lot easier now, thanks to Pinterest.
  2. Make sure the materials you plan to use, as well as the overall size of the structure, will be harmonious with your home’s current look and feel.
  3. Give serious consideration to a roof – which will likely add significantly to the cost, but will also provide much-needed shade on hot days and protection from rain and inclement weather. In fact, to ensure things are structurally sound and architecturally appealing, start with the design for the roof first, then set your sights on the roof supports and structure below.
  4. Incorporate lighting into your design, which will extend its usability into the evening and throughout the seasons.
  5. Consider convenience, comfort, and longevity when choosing materials. For example, a floor made of dirt or stepping stones may last forever, but one made of wood or concrete is much easier to clean and arrange furniture upon.

If you’re eager to live a healthier lifestyle and reconnect with family and friends, as most people are today, it’s time to consider an outdoor living space.

 

Your Story is Our Story: Payton & Kassidee | Our First Home

Buying your first home can be an intimidating and daunting journey.  For Payton and Kassidee Blood, they felt the gravity of this huge life changing step.  They were making a choice of going from renter to homeowner.  At first, it was a little scary for them but they went into the homebuying process with eyes wide open.  It’s impressive that they carefully interviewed a total of 3 agents using a list of questions found with a simple Google search.  It’s impressive that they had already spoken with a lender to get pre-approved before sitting down with an agent.  It’s impressive that they were willing to ask questions when they didn’t understand a housing industry concept or term.

Ultimately, they chose to work with Josh Ahmann with Windermere Real Estate, who was honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of helping the young couple find their first home.  Josh takes the role of educating buyers seriously and has a passion for finding buyers just the right match.  In Josh’s words, “Buying your first home can be scary but it doesn’t have to be.  Find an agent who will work with you.  They should work with your schedule, ask a lot of questions to figure out what you’re looking for, and coach you along so you have an understanding of the process.  After all, you may only buy or sell a home a few times in your life time.  Your agent should gather the necessary facts, be a good listener, and make the home buying process as simple as possible.”  Cheers to Payton and Kassidee in finding a great home and thank you Josh for mentoring them through the process.  Here’s to years of happiness and memories and thank you for making your story our story!

Helena’s March Market Report

75 houses were sold in March, compared to 45 last month.  Spring fever has hit and we are seeing more and more people out and about.  For purposes of this market report we included all of Helena as well as Clancy and East Helena.  If you want to know more about what’s going on in the market by either calling our office at 406.442.1578 or clicking this link for a customized market report for your home or neighborhood.

 

Here’s Your Spring Maintenance Checklist

Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance:

Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage.

Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation.

Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise household spiders do help eliminate other bugs.

Check your basement and attic for signs of other infestations. For more information on pest control go here: http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/categories/living/posts/when-things-go-bump-in-the-night

HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay.

Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way!

Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice work out and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up.

Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space.

Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon.

Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up the grill, yet, but you can get started on your outdoor entertaining checklist. Check your lawn, and if you have some spare spots start filling in with seed. Check your outdoor plants, prune, plant bulbs, start to replenish soil for your garden, and mow, so you are ready to start when the season allows.

Speaking of the grill – if you have a gas grill you will want to pull this out and perform a maintenance check. Clean everything up and check to make sure all the gas lines are clear, as these can get clogged after sitting idle all winter. Make sure the grill is clear of spiders too, as they can build webs in the tubes, causing damage to your grill. You can start to bring out your garden furniture too, or clean it up if you left it covered outside all winter. Because before you know it, it’ll be barbeque season!

 

Posted by Tara Sharp, Windermere Blog

Helena’s February Market Report

Helena Real Estate Market Report

The market is picking up in the Helena area.  There were 88 residential homes listed in February and 45 homes sold.  For purposes of the following market report we included all of Helena as well as Clancy and East Helena.  Clancy accounted for 2 homes sold and East Helena had 6 sold listings in February.  Central Valley, East Valley and East Helena were the areas that were hot for sold listings this month.  In the first 5 days of March 14 listings have been added to the Helena Multiple Listing Service.  Check out our fun infographic for February and contact us to know more about what’s going on in the market by either calling our office at 406.442.1578 or clicking this link for a customized February market report for your home or neighborhood.

February Helena Infographic

Your Story is Our Story: Zach & Sam | Tucker Gulch

Newly married Zach and Sam weren’t looking for the typical three bedroom, two bathroom, open floor plan home, their list was a little different.  What was important to them?  A claw foot bathtub, a wood burning fireplace, acreage close to town and aspen trees.  Realtor, Mary Ahmann Hibbard took to task to find them the perfect home.  After having one house fall through, the ‘one’ came on the market.  Mary knew before they walked the property that they would love it.  In Sam’s words “It was an instantaneous love for the house”.

Today Zach and Sam have turned the 3.44 acres into their own little country farm, including a yurt where Sam operates her Mountain Bluebird preschool.

As Sam affectionately mentioned, “Mary has a way with matching her clients up with the perfect home. I didn’t think we were going to find the perfect home, but Mary did it!  She found us not only a home, but our forever home.”