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Preparing your home for sale during COVID-19

By Uncategorized

As the novel COVID-19 virus continues to spread many people are finding themselves at home much more than normal. Some of you may be getting ready for a move this summer and wondering what you can do during this season while you’re home to prepare your home for sale. We want to give you ten things you can be doing even now to prepare your home to be listed!

  • Clear out the clutter – You want potential buyers to focus on all the amazing aspects of your home! While they are looking through your house they will likely be opening all the cupboards and drawers. Now is a great time to take a look at that junk drawer, clean out that linen closet. Get things organized and simplified so they can imagine their possessions in your home!
  • Paint the walls a neutral color – As much as you may love that bright purple accent wall, it’s not for everyone! Repaint the walls neutral tones (think tan, white or gray). This allows potential buyers to view your house as a blank canvas and envision how they may want to transform it and personalize it to their own space!
  • Tackle the todo list! Has that drawer pull fallen off? Is there a hole in that basement wall from the kids? All those things you’ve been meaning to get around to but haven’t can be done during this time! Start by walking through your house, making a list and prioritizing that list and then slowly start tackling all those projects.
  • Highlight your homes high points – Draw potential buyers eyes toward any special features. Have a beautiful window seat? Throw some bright throw pillows there to highlight that feature. Have a beautiful mantle area? Put a big house plant there to draw attention. Make sure you set up your house to show off all the beautiful features it has!
  • Give each room a purpose – Do you have that room that turns into a dumping ground and then the door gets closed? Bring purpose to that room. Clean it up, clean it out and pick a purpose – make it an office, a guest room or a craft room! Stage it so that you showcase its purpose and not it’s clutter.
  • Eliminate bad odors – People are very sensitive to smell and one bad smell can turn a potential buyer off. Have something lurking in that cupboard? Air it out and clean it out! Does the basement have a musty smell? Identify the source and change that. Make sure there are no funky odors in your house.
  • Check the doors – Doors might stick or close improperly. Check all the doors, handles, latches, or door frames. Correct any broken parts making your doors easy to open and close. This includes door knobs and handles, etc. Potential buyers will be checking them out as the walk through your house.
  • Clean the carpets – Dirty carpets can be a huge distraction. If you have a large home it may be best to hire a professional carpet cleaner. If your home has minimal carpet you can likely rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself. Go beyond just vacuuming and get those carpets clean and ready to go!
  • Spruce up the tile grout and clean the baseboards – Grab an old toothbrush and clean out the grout for any areas of your home that have tile. Scrub down all the baseboards. Buyers will be looking for all the little details that make the home move-in ready for them. Make sure these little things are shining, it makes a huge difference!
  • Increase the curb appeal – The first thing a potential buyer sees is the front of your home! Mow and maintain the lawn. Plant some new flowers. Re-paint the outside of your house if needed. Clean up any clutter or kids toys from the front of your home. Buy a new doormat and wreath. Make the home as appealing as possible for when they drive up.

These are just a few things to get you started on preparing to sell your home this summer. If you need more tips or tricks to get your home ready, or want to talk to one of our agents, give us a call at 406.727.6000. We would be happy to talk through other things or give you feedback on your current space!

Let’s be prepared.

By Uncategorized

Moving can be an extremely stressful time in one’s life. Here at Coldwell Banker- The Falls Real Estate, we strive to reduce that stress as much as we can. That way you have more time to enjoy and celebrate this amazing change in your life! Attached is a PNJ of a moving check list for you to utilize. Certain tasks have been split up into weeks prior to your moving date. This is to help you organize and know which tasks are a priority. Simply left click on the image to save as and print! 

Decluttering Your Home 101

By Blog

Tired of never knowing where anything is? Or maybe you’re always stepping over things you haven’t touched in years? Has your spare bedroom become a storage closet?

There are many benefits to owning fewer possessions. Even then, it’s tough to move into action. That is… until the many benefits of getting rid of clutter reveal themselves.

Less to clean. Cleaning is already enough of a chore, but having to clean around things you have zero emotional attachment to (or worse, actively dislike) makes cleaning the house much more stressful and time consuming.

Less to organize. Finding things suddenly become easier. Things don’t just “disappear” anymore. You can actually move around your home and enjoy the space, instead of moving around things that are in the way.

Less stress. Looking around at the clutter is a nausea-inducing sight once your home becomes cluttered enough. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look around and see a home you love?

Less debt. Spending less time shopping for material possessions and adding to the clutter means your wallet and bank accounts remain fuller, your credit cards’ statements are lower, and your home doesn’t get filled with costly things you don’t need.

Let’s get started:

1.) Start with 5 minutes at a time. If you’re new to decluttering, you can slowly build momentum with just five minutes a day. You can do this by adding the 1-in 1-out rule whereby any time you bring something new into the house, you get rid of one item. Essentially you’re performing a 1-for-1 replacement, which helps you net out with no additional clutter.

2.) Fill an entire trash bag. Get a trash bag and fill it as fast as you can with things you can donate at Goodwill. This bag could be filled with old clothes, clothes that still have the tag, or ones that you haven’t worn in years. You could also add items that you bought for one specific purpose, because buying something for one specific purpose can end up not only costing you money, but you also have to store something that you don’t use very often. It’s that “Maybe one day I’ll need that thing” syndrome, and realistically you never end up using it and it just clutters up your space. All of these could be donated to the Goodwill.

3.) Create a decluttering checklist. It’s a lot easier to declutter when you have a visual representation of where you need to get started.

4.) Get rid of duplicates. The more doubles, triples, quadruples of items that you have, the more clutter you have to deal with. You don’t need 4 different colors of the same shoes. You can help motivate yourself by using the 6-second rule. Pick up and item and ask yourself, “Do I need this? Do I use this? Do I love this?”. If after 6 seconds you can’t answer yes to any of those questions, then you probably don’t need that item anymore.

5.) View your home as a first-time visitor. It’s easy to “forget” what your home looks like to a new visitor. Enter your home as if you’re visiting the home of a friend. Write down your first impression on how clean and organized the home is and make changes.

6.) Get help from a friend. Have a friend or family member go through your home and suggest a handful of big items to throw away or give to someone else. If you defend the item and want to keep it, your friend has to agree with your reason. If they don’t agree, it’s time to get rid of it.

Not A Morning Person? Want To Be?

By Blog

Ever wish you could become one of those rare morning people? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and energized. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before many of us even hit the snooze button for the first time. Here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

  1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do.
  2. Let the light in. Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain its time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.
  3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake.
  4. Get your body moving. Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction.
  5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.

Things Everyone Should Know About Real Estate

By Blog

These are just a few things you should know about real estate before you decide to invest your time and money.

1. A home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay.

You may think all the time and effort you have put into your home before listing it, even what you paid for it previously, makes it worth a certain price. Even an appraiser may come in before you list and say it’s worth close to a price you like. However, at the end of the day, it is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. They may think your upgrades don’t match up with the asking price. It may be that the home does need renovations and the asking price is too much to justify buying it and immediately pouring more money into it.

2. Upgrades may not increase the value, but they’ll increase the chances of getting it sold.

It’s normal to think or hope that you’ll get back every penny spent on a home renovation. Unfortunately, in most cases you really only receive back a percentage of what you spent (or sometimes not at all). Different home improvements generally offer different returns, and that amount can vary depending on the area that you live in. Other factors include quality of craftsmanship and the personal taste of buyers.

3. Cleanliness is godliness.

No house is ever going to be perfect, especially with a dog in the summer, but it is important to make an effort to keep your home as clean as possible during listing photos and showings. Keep your towels folded and clothes off the floor. You want potential buyers to remember what they love about the home after they leave, not talking about how much of a mess your home was instead.

4. Curb appeal is the first (and strongest) impression.

We all know what they say about first impressions. It’s hard for someone to change their mind after a bad first impression. Take a look at the front of your home. As a stranger, would you buy it? Just in case you’re biased, look next door. What about your neighbor’s home? Would you buy theirs? If no, imagine if they made it more presentable. Then would you buy it? Yes? Remove the kids’ toys from the front yard. Hide the trash cans and recycling bin. Mow the lawn and trim the bushes, especially before your professional pictures are taken! Continue to maintain the lawn for showings, and for the chance that someone might just drive by and notice the for sale sign in your yard. If you have shutters, make sure they’re all still attached and if needed, slap a fresh coat of paint on them. And don’t forget to pressure wash!

5. Pet odor and clutter leave longest lasting impressions.

Just because we love our furry friends, doesn’t mean that everyone does. It’s hard to erase every piece of evidence that they exist in your home. No matter how many times you vacuum, there will be pet hair that you miss. Just make an effort. And if you can, hide their bedding and food bowls. Pet odor is extremely hard to hide, especially if you have a puppy learning how to be potty trained or a senile dog with a bladder problem. It might be worth your while to replace your flooring, or offer a flooring allowance in the deal. For now, stick a few air wicks in each room.

6. Neutral paint and decor will always appeal to the masses.

Get rid of those dark colors and bright purple accent walls now! That will stick out like a sore thumb in your listing photos before a potential buyer even schedules a showing of your home. The first thought going through their mind is, “How many coats of paint is it going to take to cover up that hideous color?!” Neutral is in. Neutral is always in. As for decor, minimal is best. Go ahead and pack any extra decor that is unnecessary while you’re trying to sell. Having less distractions from your home will make is easier for your buyer to picture themselves in it!

7. Cheap fixes or updates will result in cheap (low) offers.

If you can’t afford to update the whole house, don’t. Trying to cover everything will result in cheap updates that the potential buyer will most likely want to have redone. If nothing else, as stated above, at least paint. A fresh coat of paint in the whole house, as long it’s a natural color, is never wasted money. Instead of replacing that 12 year old carpet, just shampoo it.

8. Everything is negotiable.

Seriously. Everything is negotiable. While the refrigerator seems to be the biggest thing that buyers want or sellers note that it can convey with an acceptable offer, many other items have been negotiated. Blinds, curtain rods, curtains, furniture, even tractors. However, it is very important to make sure negotiations are done right and documented correctly in the contract.

9. Location! Location! Location!

Why does location matter so much? For starters, you can’t move a home — at least not easily or inexpensively. When you buy a home in a good location, it’s usually a solid long-term investment. It’s often wise to buy the worst house — a property that could use some TLC — on the best block. Why? Because fixing up a home in a great neighborhood will give you the best return on your investment. Quite simply, it will be easier to sell later on. Conversely, you can buy a beautiful home that doesn’t need any work. But if the block is sketchy or just plain bad, you could have a hard time selling the property at a decent price.

10. Buyers notice things they want to change before noticing any updates.

Like previously said, it’s hard to please everyone. Even though you just spent $30,000 on an upgraded kitchen and $10,000 on a remodeled master bathroom, a buyer may be groaning because they’re not looking forward to having the carpets ripped up and hardwoods laid. Or, they just might not like the choices you made during the renovation process. One fail-safe move you can make is to allow a flooring allowance or paint allowance, therefore you’re not wasting the money while getting the home ready to sell and they can pick out the details they like.

11. When priced right, it will sell.

Even if you’re in a hurry to sell and price isn’t your main concern, you still need a baseline to start marketing your home. One thing’s for certain: Pricing is one of the biggest decisions in the selling process. Set too high a price and you run the risk of turning off potential buyers. It also means your house will not compare favorably with other similarly priced homes. Even worse, buyers may not even see your listing when they search online since they will be using lower price points.

Real Estate Terminology

By Blog

Buying or Selling your home can be a very stressful time. Here at Coldwell Banker- The Falls Real Estate we want to give you the tools you need to make this change in your life a little bit easier. Today we will be sharing with you some common terms that are used in the real estate world so you can walk confidently into your closing.

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)

The interest rate for an adjustable-rate mortgage changes periodically. You might start with lower monthly payments than you would with a fixed-rate mortgage, but fluctuating interest rates will likely make those monthly payments rise in the future.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

The annual percentage rate (APR) is the amount of interest charged on your loan every year.


An appraisal on your home is an unbiased estimate of how much a home is worth. When buying a home, the lender requires an appraisal by a third party (the appraiser) to make sure the loan amount requested is accurate. If the home’s appraised value is below what the buyer has offered, the lender may request the buyer pay the difference in cost.

Bridge loan

A bridge loan is a short-term loan a homeowner takes out against their property to finance the purchase of another property. It’s usually taken out for a period of a few weeks to up to three years.

Certificate of eligibility

During the VA loan process, lenders require veterans to show proof they’ve met the minimum service requirement to qualify for a VA loan.

Certificate of reasonable value

A certificate of reasonable value (CRV) is issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is required for veterans to receive a VA loan. It establishes the maximum value of the property and therefore the maximum size of the loan.


If a property is contingent, or the contract contains a contingency, certain events must transpire or the contract can be considered null. A contingency might be that the home must past an appraisal or receive a clean inspection.

Convertible ARM

A convertible adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) allows buyers to take advantage of low interest rates by receiving a loan at a “teaser” loan interest rate.

Earnest money deposit

Earnest money is a deposit (usually 1-2% of the home’s total purchase price) made by a home buyer at the time they enter into a contract with a seller. Earnest money demonstrates the buyer’s interest in the property and is generally deducted from your total down payment and closing costs.

Eminent domain

The right of eminent domain gives the government the ability to use private property for public purposes. It’s only exercisable when and if the government fairly compensates the owner of the property.


When a property owner violates the rights of a neighbor by building or adding on to a structure that extends onto a neighbor’s land or property line, that is called encroachment.


A real estate encumbrance is any claim against a property that restricts its use or transfer, including an easement or property tax lien.


Home equity is the part of your property you actually own. While you do “own” your home, your mortgage lender has interest in the property until it’s paid off.


Escrow is part of the home buying process. It happens when a third party holds something of value during the transaction. Most often, the “value” the third party holds onto is the buyer’s earnest money check. When the transaction is complete (usually at closing), the third party will release those funds to the seller.

Fee simple

Fee simple refers to the most common type of property ownership. It means the owner’s rights to the property are indefinite and can be freely transferred or inherited when the owner chooses. It is most often associated with single-family homes, as condominiums and town homes are purchased with covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

Home inspection

A home inspection is carried out by an objective third party to establish the condition of a property during a real estate transaction. An inspector will report on such things as a home’s heating system, the stability of the foundation, and the condition of the roof. The inspection is meant to identify major issues that might affect the value of the home and the stability of your and your lender’s investment and return.


In real estate, the lender refers to the individual, financial institution, or private group lending money to a buyer to purchase property with the expectation the loan will be repaid with interest, in agreed upon increments, by a certain date.


A property lien is unpaid debt on a piece of property. It’s a legal notice and denotes legal action taken by a lender to recover the debt they are owed. It can come from unpaid taxes, a court judgement, or unpaid bills and can slow down the home buying process when unattended.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

An MLS is a suite of around 700 regional databases containing their own listings. Each database has its own listings, requires agents to pay dues for access, and allows agents to share listings across regions — without paying dues to each one. It is widely considered the most comprehensive listing service available.


A sales is considered “pending” if all contingencies have been met and the buyer and seller are moving toward closing. At this point, it’s unlikely the sale will fall through, and the buyer or seller risk losing the earnest money if they walk out on the deal at this point.


Before submitting an offer on a home (or even engaging with a real estate agent) you’ll likely be required to get pre-approved. This means a lender has checked your credit, verified your information, and approved you for up to a specific loan amount for a period of up to 90 days.

Purchase agreement

A purchase agreement demonstrates a buyer’s intent to purchase a piece of property and a seller’s intent to sell that property. The document outlines the terms and conditions of a sale and holds each party legally accountable to meeting their agreement.

Right of survivorship

The right of survivorship is employed most often when there is joint ownership or tenancy of a property. It ensures that the surviving owner automatically receives the deceased owner’s share of the property becoming the sole owner of the property.

Short sale

A short sale occurs when a homeowner sells their property for less than what’s owed on the mortgage. A short sale allows the lender to recoup some of the loan that’s owed to them but must be approved by the lender before the seller moves forward.


Got Tools?

By Blog

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

First time buying a house? Read first.

By Blog

Attention all first time home buyers! This information is for you!

One of the biggest milestones you will reach in your life will be deciding to become a homeowner. But before you take the leap, make sure you set yourself up for easy transaction and a good home buying experience. Check out the tips below to ensure it!

1.) Do your research and find a good agent. Familiarizing yourself with the home buying process before beginning your house hunt and finding a knowledgeable, experienced agent to represent you can make all the difference in securing your dream house and paying the best price for it. 2.) Pay off other debts. Before you take on such a big, expensive purchase like buying a home, dedicate yourself to paying off your student loans, car loans, and credit card debt. Not only will this allow you to live more comfortably while you’re in your new home but it will allow you to be a better candidate for a home loan.3.) Save for the down payment. The majority of home buyers don’t pay in cash for their home, but the more you are able to put down, the better financial position you will be in. Create a budget early on, stick to it, and start saving well before you start seriously looking for your home. This will also help you determine the price range to search in. Be patient. If this is your first home purchase, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming and you may feel like you’ll never find a home that meets your wish list and is in your price range. But don’t lose hope. Stay patient and trust the process and your agent.

The Falls Real Estate
Coldwell Banker
12 3rd St NW, Suite 110
Great Falls, MT 59404