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Hickinbotham Real Estate Team


Displaying blog entries 61-70 of 91

The Scott Hickinbotham Team Moves into the Technical Age

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

Yes, it's true. The Scott Hickinbotham Team is moving into the high-tech age by adding QR Codes to our real estate lawn signs. You should begin to see them in the St. Clair area around February 24th. But how do they work and what can they do for you?

A QR code (QR stands for Quick Response) is a fast way to get information. In our case, information about a listing. All you need to use the code is a web-enabled cell phone with QR code reader software installed on it. By waving your phone at the QR code image on our signs (I know this sounds a little weird but it's really all you have to do), you will be instantly taken to our website, which has already been optimized for viewing via cell phone.

So let's say you're on a house hunting mission in St. Clair, you drive by a home with our lawn sign in the front yard and the house looks like something you would be interested in. Simply wave your phone at the QR code sign, and you'll be taken to our website where you can view detailed information about the house, including such things as how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are, what appliances are included, room sizes, and even color pictures or a video tour. You can even contact an agent to call you back, or add this home to your list of dream houses.

You may also see these coded signs at local home shows or other events. For example, if you're at a home show looking at a booth offering services for pool owners, you might see a QR coded sign that could take you to a sight offering homes for sale in the area with pools. The options are really endless and this technology is improving daily.

If you're looking for a home in the St. Clair area, grab your phone and hit the road. You'll soon see our QR coded signs in front of our listings, allowing you to get quick access to information on any listing that you're interested in. Of course, you can still contact us the "old-fashioned" way by phone at 636-629-3419 or online.

Ten Tips for a Smooth Move to St. Clair

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

Getting ready to move into your new St. Clair home? You'll want to do everything you can to make the move easier, so here are ten tips for a smooth move to St. Clair.      

1. Before you pack your lamps, remove the bulbs.                                   

2. So you don't have to spend your first night in your new home in the dark, arrange to have your utilities turned on the day BEFORE you move.

3. Load area rugs last, so they will come out of the truck first. That way they can be placed on the floor, under the furniture that will be moved in after.

4. Pack heavy items in small boxes and light items in large boxes. Try to keep total weight per box under 50 pounds, less if you're doing the moving yourself.

5. Got plates? Pack them on their sides, vertically, with newspaper or tissue between each one.

6. Move a phone book from your old house to the new St. Clair house, just in case you need to contact old neighbors or businesses you've dealt with.

7. Drain gas and oil out of all yard equipment, snow blowers, boats, etc. before you attempt to move them.

8. Try to move during the week if possible so that utility companies, government offices and schools will be open in case you need to go there.

9. Be sure to give your movers written directions and a map to the new home along with your cell phone number, in case there's a problem and they need to contact you. Be sure to have their cell phone numbers in your hand as well.

10. If possible, leave pets with a friend or relative on moving day to avoid as much trauma in their lives as possible.

Now that I've gotten you started, you can probably come up with a lot more ideas of how to make your move easier. The first thing you'll want to do when you decide it's time for a move is to contact me, Scott Hickinbotham, to help you sell your old house or buy the perfect new one in the St. Clair area. Call me today at 636-399-2296 or contact me online.

Escrow: What is It and How Does it Work for your St. Clair home?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

An escrow account is a pre-funded account to pay off bills on your St. Clair home, such as homeowners insurance and property taxes, that will come due later in the life of your mortgage.

When you obtain a mortgage to buy your new home, you will probably be required by your lender to open an escrow account. This means that a neutral third-party will take care of the money put into the escrow account and eventually use it to pay off certain pre-determined debts.

As already mentioned, the escrow account will often be used to pay for homeowners' insurance and/or property taxes. How does this work? Once the annual payment for insurance or taxes on your St. Clair home is determined, usually around the time of closing, the total will be divided up into 12 monthly payments, which will usually be paid to the lender along with the monthly mortgage payment. Then when the insurance premium or property tax bill comes due, the escrow agent will pay these bills using the funds you have paid into your escrow account.

The main benefit of an escrow account for the lender is to insure that they aren't stuck for taxes or insurance on a property that has been damaged by fire or is about to be sold because the taxes weren't paid. The homeowner benefits by being able to spread out the total annual amounts, which can be quite large, by breaking them down into more manageable monthly payments.

If you're planning on buying a home, a Realtor® is a great source to help you understand all the ins and outs of closing and home ownership, including escrow accounts. Give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-399-2296 or contact me online.  I can help you understand all you need to know to purchase your new home in the St. Clair area.



Considering Buying a Tankless Water Heater for Your St. Clair Home?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

If your old water heater is about ready to die of old age or hard usage, it may be time to consider getting a tankless water heater to replace it in your St. Clair home.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?                                               

A tankless water heater, also sometimes called an "instantaneous water heater" or "demand water heater", heats water only on demand. It does not store heated water like the older units do, thus avoiding multiple reheats of the same water so that hot water is ready when you are.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

When the homeowner turns on the hot water tap, cold water travels to the tankless water heater where it is then heated either by electricity or gas, depending on the unit. Depending on the temperature of hot water desired, or the beginning temperature of the cold water, a unit will generally produce from two to five gallons of hot water per minute.

Will One Unit Take Care of a Whole House?

One unit may not be enough for a whole house, especially if there are simultaneous requests for hot water. In these cases, it may be necessary to install a "whole house" hot water system or connect two or more units for simultaneous demands. Installing units for specific appliances or areas may be another way to go. For example, a unit for the dishwasher or one for a specific bathroom.

What Should I Look for When Purchasing a Tankless Water Heater?

Consider the fuel type which will either be gas or electric. Consider location, size and demand, which means determining where you may want the unit to physically be, the size of your house, and how much hot water will be used - for example, per day. Consider the application. Do you want hot water throughout the house, just for certain areas such as bathrooms, or for specific appliances.

The best thing you can do for yourself if you're considering buying a tankless water heater for your St. Clair home is to find a local dealer who can come to your home, analyze your setup and needs, and make recommendations on what would be best for your household. There are several manufacturers who offer different styles and sizes of tankless water heaters, so you need to know what you're trying to do before you'll be able to make the best decision on which one to purchase.

Just like getting a local dealer to evaluate your home for a tankless water heater is the right thing to do, getting a local Realtor® to help is also the best thing to do if you're in the market for a new home or want to put your current home on the market. Give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. We're ready, willing, and able to help you with all your real estate needs.

St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce Hires New Executive Director

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

After being without an Executive Director since the November 2011 resignation of Bob Swank, the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce has hired 37-year-old Angela Crawford, who took over her duties as the new Executive Director on January 4. The new Director is from Cuba, MO and has much needed experience in economic development and small business operations.  

Crawford says of her new appointment, "My vision moving forward, once I have a solid feel for the community, is to partner with the existing business and professional network in St. Clair and the surrounding communities to help create an environment for growth."

As project manager for the City of Chesterfield's Community Services and Economic Development Strategic Plan, she has been instrumental in developing and maintaining relationships with community organizations. She also directed Chesterfield's 2010 Census campaign.

Along with her husband, Rick, Angela is co-owner of Rick Crawford Industries in Cuba. She also serves as the company's vice president of operations.

Mrs. Crawford's focus, as Executive Director of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce, will include growing Chamber membership, while working with current members, city officials and other local groups in promoting St. Clair.

The St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors includes Board President for 2012, Keith E. Domke, along with three newly elected members: Tim Davis, Stephanie Smith and Robert Triphahn   and current members Mike Murphy, Paula Dace, Debbie Mitchell, Charlie Butler and Bethany Perryman. The Chamber office is located in the St. Clair License Office (which the new Director also oversees) on Plaza Drive.

As a member of the St. Clair Area Chamber of Commerce, I encourage all St. Clair business people to consider joining the Chamber if you're not already a member. Together, we can work to make St. Clair an even better place in which to live and work.

If you're looking for a home in St. Clair, please give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call today at 636-399-2296 or contact me online. With listings in Franklin County as well as St. Clair, I can help you find the perfect home for your family.

Should You Remodel the St. Clair Home You're Selling?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

What is the value of a remodel, update or upgrade to a home that you're planning to sell? In today's real estate market, it's often hard to recoup the money you spend on a remodel. Here are a few things to consider if you're selling your St. Clair home and think maybe some changes will make the sale faster or at a more attractive price.

Changing How a Space is Used

If you're thinking of converting a small bedroom to a grand master bath, be aware that buyers may look at it as losing a bedroom rather than gaining a bathroom. The same thing can happen when converting a bedroom into an office. If prospective buyers don't use computers or work from home, they might prefer that the bedroom remain a bedroom. Converting a garage to a family room may seem like a brilliant move when you want to have large parties, but for people who would rather have their cars protected than entertain friends and family on a large-scale, a garage-turned-family-room may turn them off.

Adding Something Not Normally Found in Your Neighbors' Homes

Do all your St. Clair neighbors have decks? Yes? Then adding a deck to your home would probably be a good idea. Do all your neighbors have pools? No? Then a lonely pool is probably not going to attract buyers to the neighborhood. Do the neighbors have huge kitchens with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, and solid oak cabinetry with all sorts of specialty nooks and crannies? If not, chances are good that you won't recoup the cost if you try to sell your home using this upgrade to justify a higher price.

Creating a Space that Doesn't Conform to the Rest of Your House

Are you contemplating adding a new family room complete with wood-burning fireplace, natural hardwood floors, a wet bar, built-in entertainment center and book shelves, beamed ceilings, and a wall made of stone native to the area? Sounds like a great idea unless the rest of your house is a 1960's one-story ranch with small bedrooms and eight-foot ceilings. While your home may be quite nice, remodeling a section of it in a totally different style may not work and may in fact make the home harder to sell rather than easier.

If you still can't decide on whether to spend some remodeling money on your home to get a faster sale or a better price, asking your Realtor® for help in making your decision on this matter may be the most advantageous thing to do. Why not call me, Scott Hickinbotham, at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. I have years of experience in buying and selling homes in the St. Clair area and can help you make an informed decision on what your home needs to sell quickly and at the best price.

For Sale by Owner May Not be a Money Saver When Selling Your St. Clair Home

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

We see a lot of "For Sale by Owner" (FSBO) signs out there these days. There are several reasons for this, the main one probably being the idea of saving the commission that a Realtor® will earn by selling your St. Clair home.                                                                   

Keep your eyes on these FSBO signs and you'll soon come to realize, however, that as many as 80 percent of them will eventually opt to hire a real estate agent to sell the home for them. That kind of poor success rate may make you wonder what goes wrong.

Here are some of the pitfalls of trying to do an FSBO on your home:

Wrong Listing Price

Finding the perfect listing price isn't an easy task, even for an experienced Realtor®, so don't be surprised that it's an often impossible task for a homeowner. The right price is the most critical element of selling anything, so if you don't get it right there probably won't be a sale even though your home may be perfect in every other aspect.

Not Enough Exposure Online

If you've ever looked into selling your own home, you're probably aware of the FSBO websites that say they will expose your FSBO home to thousands of buyers. While your home may be posted on several FSBO websites, the problem is that these sites don't generate a lot of traffic. Sites that web-savvy realtors use have much higher traffic.

You can check this out yourself by Googling the name of your town and state along with typical keywords that homebuyers would use, such as "homes for sale" or "real estate", and see what shows up. I think you'll find it's predominantly the big real estate sites or even local agent's websites.

Potential Buyers Love to Share

Obviously, buyers will know you're not going to be paying a Realtor® a commission, so they feel that you should share this bit of new-found wealth with them. They may even take a percentage off the top of their offer to compensate for the money you're saving. When this happens, it really nullifies any gain you may have made by selling your St. Clair area home yourself.

Nobody's Home

Especially if you're a working home seller, it may be difficult to find a time available to show your home to prospective buyers. You also may wind up with people stopping at odd hours demanding to see your home, so be prepared!

Pre-Qualifying Buyers

Let's face it. It's really a waste of your time to show your home to buyers who aren't (and may never be) pre-qualified to purchase your home. A real estate agent will be sure that buyers who are looking at your home have the ability to purchase when they decide they want to make an offer on your house.

As you can see, selling a house on your own is not the quick and easy task that it may appear to be on the surface. In the long run, you'll be much better off putting your home in the hands of an experienced Realtor® such as myself. You're more likely to sell your home faster and for a higher price. So please, call me, Scott Hickinbotham, today at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. We'll find the perfect buyer for your home in no time.

Speaking of Christmas Lights - Should You Go Solar?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

When Santa was just a little guy, most St. Clair homes that put up Christmas lights used the incandescent type. The lights were very pretty, of course, but they put off a lot of heat which can cause a fire, plus they used quite a bit of electricity.

Santa's now a bit older and lighting has grown up too. Nowadays, with the introduction of LED (Light Emitting Diode) Christmas lighting, energy consumption is down about 70% from what the old incandescent used, and the lights themselves are cooler and last about 10 times longer. You can even connect up to 87 strands to reach all the darkest corners of your home.

But there's always something new under the sun, and that's where solar-powered Christmas lights come in. These are still LED but are now powered by solar energy rather than electricity. A small solar panel about the size of a hockey puck holds rechargeable batteries that can run a 100-bulb string for 6 to 8 hours after the sun goes down. Of course, if the weather hits a cloudy spell, as December weather sometimes does in Missouri, your solar lights may have a problem glowing into the night.

So the question is, should you go solar with your Christmas lighting? Figure it out for yourself - here are some statistics to help you:

Purchase Price of a 100-Bulb String:

            Regular LED:  $ 8.00
            Solar LED:      $ 30.00

Operating Cost for a 100-Bulb String:

            Regular LED:  30 cents for 300 hours (that's 10 hours a night for the month of December)
            Solar LED:      0

At this rate, it would take about 45 years to save enough in electricity to pay for the added cost of purchasing the solar-powered lights. Of course, since solar-powered Christmas lights are new on the market, there's currently no track record to go on that they would be able to last 45 years.

On the other hand, your $8 strand of LED Christmas lights are said to be able to burn for up to 100,000 hours over their long lifetime. At 300 hours a year, that's over 333 years. You may even want special provisions in your Will to bequeath these light strings to future generations.

Deciding between electric or solar LED Christmas lighting doesn't seem to be a very hard decision to make. Finding the right home for you and your family in the St. Clair area may be a little harder, so when you want some help why not give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. Your perfect St. Clair area home is waiting. Merry Christmas, everyone!!


Hickinbotham Real Estate Team Offers Buy-Rent-Manage Services to Investors

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

You may not realize that the Hickinbotham Real Estate Team not only offers homebuyers help in buying the home they're going to live in, but we also offer assistance to novice and experienced real estate investors who are looking for income-generating properties, but don't want the hassle of managing them. Whether you want to invest in residential, commercial or farm properties, we can help!

According to the U.S. Census, due to the uncertain job market, the number of rental homes in this country is increasing. This combination of increased demand for rentals, low home prices, and good interest rates, is making income-generating rental properties one of the best investments available.

Hickinbotham Real Estate can help investors find and purchase great income-producing properties in the St. Clair area. Once the investmentis made, our service doesn't end, however, as we can also find and thoroughly screen prospective tenants, and prepare the necessary legal documents to complete the rental process. Once tenants are in place, our Property Management Division can manage the property, while keeping the owner completely informed of how things are going with their investment.

Currently, our Property Management Division manages over 200 properties in the Franklin County area. Let us show you how we're helping other real estate investors buy, rent, and professionally manage residential, commercial and farm properties to create an ongoing monthly income.

We also offer a rent-to-own/lease option-to-purchase program. With this, the property's sales price is set and a monthly payment schedule for the tenant is put into place. Now the rent-to-own tenant is able to rebuild their credit while building equity in the property, which will eventually allow them to qualify for a conventional mortgage. And Hickinbotham Real Estate can manage every aspect of these transactions.

Let the Hickinbotham Real Estate Team and our Property Management Division help you become a real estate investor with a monthly income generated by your own rental properties. Call me, Scott Hickinbotham, at 636-629-3419 or contact me online today.


Can I Improve my Credit Score Before I Shop for that St. Clair Dream House?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

A little while back, we discussed here about how you can obtain a credit report to see why your credit is what it is before you go shopping for your St. Clair dream house. Another number you will need to know is your credit score.                                                                                                   

To find out what your credit score is go to CreditKarma, where you can obtain a free credit score at any time. This way you'll be able to monitor your score to see if it's going down (Bad News) or up (Good News). A score of 720 or above is considered "good" but anything above that is even better!

If you're planning to buy a St. Clair house, the better your credit score the lower the interest rate you'll be able to get on your mortgage and the easier it will be to find a lender willing to lend to you. So before you attempt to obtain a mortgage at a great rate, find out your credit score and, if need be, improve it.

Here are some proven ways to get your credit score to a higher level:

1. Monitor your credit score so you can see where it's at.

2. Pay down your debt so your debt-to-credit ratio is low.

3. Make your payments on time, every time.

4. If you sometimes accidentally miss payments, consider setting up automatic payment reminders to help stop missed payments.

5. Use the Credit Simulator at Credit Karma to simulate certain financial transactions, such as getting a new credit card, increasing the credit limit on a card, or even missing a payment, to see how these actions will affect your credit score.

6. If you use credit cards, choose one to use for regular purchases and pay the complete balance off each month. Save your other cards for emergencies.

Good financial behavior and time are the most important factors in improving your credit score.  Then, when you're ready to buy or sell a home in the St. Clair area, give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. I'm ready to help make St. Clair a great place for you to live.



Displaying blog entries 61-70 of 91

Contact Information

Photo of Hickinbotham Real Estate Team Real Estate
Hickinbotham Real Estate Team
Scott Hickinbotham
862 S. Outer Rd.
St. Clair MO 63077
Scott: (636) 399-2296
Office: (636) 629-3419
Fax: 636-629-4462