Monday, December 27, 2010

A Year-End Thank You to Our Clients

The past 12 months have been a year like no other as we learn to adapt to a different real estate climate and provide our clients with the best service possible.

Our charge is to learn new ways to serve our clients, from new government regulations and programs, to enhancing online sites showing off your house, or helping a client through a complicated sale.

We thank our home sellers and buyers for their support and the support of the St. Charles community. We strive to be good neighbors and make contributions that will enhance our corner of the world.

When the going gets rough, working together makes the challenges easier and even more satisfying. We’ve been here for 35 years and intend to help our clients for at least another 35 years. Our agents always have your best interests at heart and we look forward to a brighter 2011. With you, we can do it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A touch of paint adds up to a bright home, livable home for the new year

Painting can make all the difference in how potential buyers perceive you home.

As 2010 takes its last bow, it’s time for a fresh, new outlook. Pack away those holiday decorations and give your home a bright look that will lift your spirits and position your home as more marketable. There are many small projects that can be done in a weekend, but nothing makes more of an impact than painting.

It’s amazing how much a coat of paint can change the outlook of a room. Color makes a great difference, so start with a quart of your color choice just to make sure you like it, and it shows well during different times of day.

When you buy paint, consider the type of finish and how well it will hold up. The most common finishes for walls and woodwork are eggshell and satin because they are easy to clean and give a crisp finish. Eggshell has a lower gloss than satin. In some cases, these finishes will show imperfections in the walls, so good wall prep and plastering are a must before you paint.

Other choices include flat, or matte, which has no sheen and can be hard to clean. High gloss finishes aren’t used much for interiors, but they are becoming popular for a dramatic look on cabinets and very modern designs.

Usually homeowners are counseled to present their homes in neutral colors, but don’t restrict yourself to whites and creams. Done well, even a contrasting wall in a related color will be pleasing to potential buyers. For instance, if you have a wall with French doors leading to a patio, you can make that wall a focal point with a darker shade of paint. Because the focal point wall has natural lighting, a darker paint won’t minimize the size of your room.

Crown molding is a great selling point now. Show it off with a different color than your walls, but keep the ceiling light to make the room more expansive.

Since you will be painting in the wintertime and have a limited ability to open windows for ventilation, it’s important that you choose a low or zero VOC paint. This type of paint does not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your home. These paints have a slight odor when applied and no odor after curing. They are just as durable as traditional paints and are less harmful to you and your environment.

Get started soon. A painting project is just what you need to brighten your home and your life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

THANK YOU! from The Grant Hickman Team

Just wanted to take this time to send out a personal Thank You to all friends, families, partners and everyone that supports me and The Grant Hickman Team.

This past year certainly has been one to remember, not only in real estate, but also for so many families in so many “Life Effecting” ways. From foreclosure avoidance, divorce, downsizing…to growing families, marriage and investing in real estate!

For those of you who know me personally, 2010 has shown me many aspects of life. I am grateful to have Lori, Cary and my entire SCHNEIDER team and Partners, Friends and Family surrounding and supporting me. I am also appreciative to all of our families that let us help them lease, refi, buy, sell and invest.

The world of real estate is constantly evolving. I believe, as your trusted real estate advisor, it is my responsibility to provide you with information to make your real estate experience awesome. From explaining federal and state home buying incentive programs, eco-green advantages, staging, landscaping, navigating foreclosures, short sales, profitable real estate investing, successful home closings, and all the important details that you need to know in today’s complex real estate climate.

I feel humbled and appreciative that year after year, I am able to be apart of such an important part of our families lives….their home!

On the first day of January 2011, we are lucky to have 365 days of opportunity to help! The reason The Grant Hickman Team exists at all is because of you–our families who trust us, rely on us and share an enthusiasm for my business. For this, and your loyalty, from myself and my entire team…THANK YOU.

Sincerely, your Realtor,

-Grant Hickman

Driving During Bad Weather

Living in the Midwest has brought us from warm weather and sunny skies, to cold winds and snow covered streets in a drastic way this year. With the weather changing so rapidly, our friends over at Marquitz Buick, Cadillac, GMC in Troy, Missouri want to provide you with some tips for driving in the snow and ice. The best tip available for driving in bad weather is to not drive at all. Although, it is understandable that not driving is the safest way to avoid accidents, it is not realistic and sometimes a trip to the grocery store is necessary.

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed, and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space between your vehicle, and the one in front of you.
  2. Brake with slight pressure, and release the brake if you detect slippage.
  3. Drive with your headlights on.
  4. Remove snow, and any road grime from headlights and windshield.
  5. Ice patches can be found in several spots even with temperatures above freezing. Be careful when driving on roads that are not traveled often.

If your wheels skid

  1. Take your foot off the gas pedal, and steer in the direction the vehicle is traveling. If the vehicle is sliding right, steer right. You may have to steer left and right a few times in order to get the vehicle completely under control.
  2. Most vehicles come standard with Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), and you will need to put steady pressure on the pedal to help reduce the skid.

If you get stuck

  1. Always travel with a cell phone in order to call for help if necessary.
  2. Do not spin your wheels as this will dig the vehicle in deeper.
  3. Try to clear the snow in front of the tires with either a shovel, or by turning the tires from side to side.
  4. Place kitty litter, gravel, or salt in front of your tires to help gain traction.
  5. Attempt to rock the vehicle back and forth. Check the owner’s manual first before attempting.

More information can be found at, with the National Safety Council, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Washington State Government Information & Services.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Give homeowner tax credits, rebates to you and your house for the holidays

Energy efficiency is in, as well as income tax breaks next year.

As the year draws to a close and attention turns toward giving, you can give you, your family and your house the gift of energy efficiency that will last long after the holiday hubbub. Electronics are usually gift pleasers and can mean even more if you choose those that are energy efficient. As an example, over the lifetime of a home office equipped with an energy efficient computer, printer and lighting, you can save around $350. Retail and online stores routinely offer rebates on energy efficient products that will help you save money.

The deadline for the federal government’s energy tax credits is December 31, 2010, so speed is of the essence here. Those credits include qualifying heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, insulation, roofing materials, windows and doors. Credits are for 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500 for certain products.

But if you want to install a solar water heater, those tax credits extend through 2016. Closer to home, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources offers energy efficient incentives while Ameren Missouri offers renewable energy initiatives with customers and rebates and free pick-up for old refrigerators and freezers.

The federal tax credit program is a memory now, but homeowners can get help from the city of St. Charles and the Community Development Homeowner Assistance Program or check out the homeownership possibilities with the state of Missouri compiled by the Missouri Association of Realtors.

When the April 15 income tax deadline looms next year, keep in mind that you can get some tax breaks by deducting the interest on your home loan. Real estate, or property taxes, are also deductible and points are too if your real estate purchase was for your main residence. To receive these tax breaks you must file a long for and itemize your deductions.

Learning to take advantage of energy efficient deals, tax breaks and homeowner assistance will help you end the year with a bit more change in your pocket.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saint Peters 3 Bed Home FOR SALE

Check out this awesome ranch home in Saint Peters, MO

Tucked in tall trees offering loads of privacy along with a gorgeous view this home is beautifully situated! Close to Laurel Park in a well established neighborhood don't miss checking out this home! The living room is bright and spacious featuring a cozy floor to ceiling corner brick fireplace sure to be a favorite gathering spot this winter. The heart of the home kitchen has plenty of room for a nicely sized table and hutch. The view out of the kitchen window and slider is outstanding! Right outside the kitchen is a large deck flanked with mature trees that offer their shade all summer long! The main bathroom offers the convenient Jack and Jill feature! Be sure and head downstairs where you will find another full bathroom and partially finished rec room and sleeping area. Outside the lower level atrium doors is another deck below the upper level deck that provides shade and some protection from the elements! Call today to schedule your own private viewing!

See More Pictures


Heading over to Saint Charles Community College to help set up for Adopt-A-Family Dec 10th-12th. Small way for me to give back to an amazing cause!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to make Holiday Entertaining Tax Deductible:

Any entertaining you provide must be directly related to the conduct of your business or associated with a directly-related discussion that preceded or followed the meal or entertainment. This means that giving a party to establish goodwill is not enough to make the transaction deductible.

2. The guest list determines the extent to which you can write off the party.

a. So if you are following the above No. 1, you have a 100% write off if: a) The party is open to the general public, or b) the party is for employees and their spouses;

b. You follow the 50% limitation rule that applies meals and entertainment and write off half the cost if: a) The party is for customers, prospective customers and/or b) Independent contractors associated with your firm (they cannot be classified as employees for this purpose).

3. The entertainment may not be “lavish or extravagant” (one of those subjective, gray areas).

Proving the above is another matter. You want documentation, such as the invitation announcing the business purpose, the guest list, attendees, and keep all receipts.

When providing the expenses to your accountant, separate the cost of the party that is 100% deductible to a different category from “Meals and Entertainment”. Track it under “Promotion” or “100% Entertainment” to ensure the full write-off at tax time. Otherwise, your accountant may apply the 50% rule to everything under “meals and entertainment” and you will have lost a valuable write-off.

UPDATED: Military/Federal Employees First Time Home Buying Credit

***Members of the military and certain other federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and qualify for the credit. Thus, an eligible taxpayer must buy, or enter into a binding contract to buy, a principal residence on or before April 30, 2011. If a binding contract is entered into by that date, the taxpayer has until June 30, 2011, to close on the purchase.Members of the uniformed services, members of the Foreign Service and employees of the intelligence community are eligible for this special rule. It applies to any individual (and, if married, the individual’s spouse) who serves on qualified official extended duty service outside of the United States for at least 90 days during the period beginning after Dec. 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010.
Tonight is SCHNEIDER's xmas party.....can't wait to hang out with a bunch of realtors....After more thought, maybe I will call in sick :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010