How to Increase Your Property Value from the Outside In

As a homeowner, you know your house is not just a place to live but is also an investment that can build wealth. That process is called home appreciation, and the rate of that appreciation depends on several factors. Here are some ways to increase your property value.

Ensure You Care for the Grass and Landscaping

Maintaining a beautiful yard will increase its value as the first thing potential buyers notice is your landscaping. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you care for your lawn.

While keeping your grass cut and maintained will show you care for your property, it’s best to avoid cutting it too short. Cutting too short can cause brown patches and may expose the delicate roots to the harsh sun. You might feel that cutting the grass longer will prevent it from growing back, but it will look lush and stay healthier in the long run. Also, consider leaving the grass clippings in your yard to help add more nutrients and nitrogen to the soil.

When it comes to watering, you might feel that more is better, but that’s not always the case. You’ll want to avoid watering too frequently, as that can result in a shallower root system. Instead, turning the sprinklers on a couple of times each week can encourage the roots to stretch deep in search for water.

Fertilize the grass every year or so. The timing and kind of fertilizer used is determined by your climate and the type of grass.

Aim for the grass to grow thick so it can defend against weeds. Once there are enough leaves of grass, they can easily choke out incoming weeds. Still, if you have an issue with unwanted weeds, there could be a soil issue that makes it hard for the grass to grow well.

Finally, mulch is an excellent way of helping the soil retain its moisture, and it can reduce the number of weeds in the area. Plus, it’s inexpensive.

You’ll often see red mulch in commercial areas, but for a residential area, it’s often better to stick with black or brown mulch. Red mulch comes from recycled wood chips, meaning it will break down faster. On the other hand, black mulch often retains heat and sunlight better, making it best for cooler climates and brown mulch will likely make your plants look more vibrant and healthier.

Consider Using Flowers to Increase the Beauty of the Property

You can get plants and flowers to add a bit of color to your home. Start by focusing on your front porch so it will stand out as potential buyers drive by. Try grouping specific colors or types of plants in odd numbers which will result in adding a visual flow to the landscape. Having groups of colors lets the eye move around gently instead of causing it to jump around.

Start increasing your home’s value by improving its outside appearance. Focus on having a lush, green lawn and then adding plants and flowers to give it more life. Though there are a lot of components to achieving the lawn you desire, don’t feel you have to do it all by yourself. Consider hiring a lawn care company like TruGreen in Montana to take care of things.


If Your House Is Making You Sick, There Are Ways To Make It Better

When you own a home, you expect that home to provide your family with safety and security. What you likely don’t expect is that it will harm your health. Unfortunately, this happens, but there are changes you can make to ensure that your surroundings are safe and healthy for your entire family. Want to know more? Keep reading.

Cold Symptoms Caused by HVAC

Depending on the age of your HVAC unit, it might be the reason that you experience breathing problems, headaches and dizziness, and a perpetual cold. Your home’s heating and ventilation system is supposed to regulate the temperature and alleviate humidity. But it can spread dust, bacteria, and airborne fungi throughout your home. If you continually experience nasal irritation, dry eyes, and itchy skin, it may be time for an AC upgrade. Nerdwallet notes that you can expect to spend anywhere from $3,000-$7,000 for a new unit. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to replace the ventilation and ductwork, which may cost extra.

Allergens From The Floor

Your HVAC unit isn’t the only thing that can trigger allergy and cold-like symptoms. The Mayo Clinic notes that people suffering from mold, pet, or pollen allergies should remove carpeting and replace it with hardwood flooring when possible. If you have a large home with wall-to-wall carpeting, you can spend upwards of $11,000 to install new hardwood. Other costs to keep in mind are furniture removal, and whether you need the old planks taken to the dump or require repairs to the subfloor. If you’re on a budget, stick with bamboo or pine, as these are much cheaper options than engineered or exotic woods. HomeAdvisor illustrates the price differences, noting that pine floors can cost as little as $3 for materials while mahogany and cypress can set you back up to $14 per square foot plus the cost of installation.

Itchy Skin? It Could Be Your Water

The water that flows through your faucet may be the reason that you have dry skin or eczema. In many parts of the country, hard water – which simply means that it contains high levels of calcium and magnesium – flows through the pipes every single day. While it is not an emergency health concern, eczema is uncomfortable and can leave you self-conscious about your appearance. The only real remedy for this problem is to install a water softener in your home, and costs range from $2,000 to $2,500 for a unit and installation. 

Depression And Your Outdoor Space

Sometimes, the way our home affects our life and health isn’t evident in physical symptoms. If you routinely feel down in the dumps, the problem may be that you are not active enough. This is often caused by a lack of usable outdoor space. If you don’t have a deck, patio, or pool, for example, you may be less likely to spend your afternoons outdoors. The cost of these outdoor upgrades vary, but you can spend as little as a few hundred dollars on a truckload of paving stones up to $30,000 or more on a professionally-installed in-ground pool. If you think you need more time outdoors, adding a place where you can be outside and enjoy your property provides a huge benefit to your physical and mental health.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new house to give yourself a safe and healthy space. One thing you should do, however, is research the service providers you choose for each job. Look for online reviews and trade affiliations before you sign a contract for repairs and upgrades. After all, you’re trying to make your life better, and choosing the wrong contractor is a stomach churner that no renovation can cure!

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home staging mistakes

Five Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid

5 Mistakes to Avoid; 5 Better Home Staging Tips

When it comes time to sell your home, you want to make it look as nice as possible.  You wouldn’t want to buy anything from the store in a dirty, distressed state, so why would anyone want to buy a home that’s similar?  The problem is that most people tend to glance over a lot of this part of the home buying and home selling process.  They tend to feel that the lived in look is what is going to be most common, so that’s how it should be viewed.

As a Realtor in Billings, I’m here to say that’s not the case!  The home should be staged to look as beautiful as possible.  So here are a few tips to help you get started, and remember: heed the advice of your real estate professional.  They have done this hundreds or thousands of times.

Home Staging Mistake #1 – Skipping Staging Completely

This mistake is made especially when the real estate market is hot.  Homes don’t sit long, so people believe that a minimal effort is necessary.  There are two factors at play here: yes, the home will likely sell quickly even if it’s not staged.  But it’s not going to sell for as much as it could have if it were staged properly.  Billings, Montana real estate is a hot market, but why settle for less when a little effort could get you thousands more?

Home Staging Mistake #2 – Packing Up too Much Stuff

People are pretty terrible at thinking abstractly.  So if you clear out the room completely, you might think that it looks big and spacious.  But you’re relying on the memories of when furniture was in the room, and it was properly organized.  Buyers don’t have those memories.  So what looks like a nice big room to you, looks like an unusable space to them.  Instead, clean out clutter and items that detract, keeping the room looking clean, livable, and beautiful.


Home Staging Mistake #3 – Displaying a Bedroom as an Office

Rooms are designed for a specific purpose.  You wouldn’t convert your kitchen into a game room, so why convert a bedroom into an office?  As with the last point, you have a different perspective than your buyer.  Suppose you have three bedrooms, and you have one displayed as an office.  Buyers looking for three bedrooms will see your house as a two bedroom home: not enough room for their needs.  Instead, display each room for its intended purpose.  Even if you use the bedroom as an office, convert it back to a bedroom for the duration of the sale.

Home Staging Mistake #4 – “Hiding” Clutter in the Closets

One of the biggest parts of staging your home is getting rid of the clutter.  We all have it; it’s the knick-knacks that we accumulate on our travels.  It’s the overstuffed closets because we have too many clothes.  It’s the mismatched throw pillows.  It’s the pile of books on the night stand.  Often what happens is people try to hide this clutter in the closets, cabinets, or under the bed.  When a buyer comes in and sees this, they see a space that isn’t big enough for their storage needs.  Your home is suddenly a lot smaller than they thought.  Instead, buy storage tubs (boxes will do), and pack up everything that’s non-essential.  Store it tidily in the garage (or rent a storage space for a couple of months).  You will be surprised at how much more comfortable the home is, and perhaps get rid of the clutter permanently.

Realtor in Billings; real estate billings montana

Home Staging Mistake #5 – Buying Staging Furniture and Accessories

Your old bedroom set is functional, but it may not look that nice.  So, you decide to upgrade and buy all new furnishings.  While you’re at it, artwork, accessories, other furniture, and more items are added to the list.  Two problems unfold here.  First, those items add up quickly!  You may not recoup the cost by selling your home for more.  Second, you may have to take them with you, and they may not fit in the new home.  Instead, upgrade only what needs upgraded.  Minimize out-of-pocket expenses.  Only buy what will fit nicely into your new home.  If other items are needed, see if you can borrow, or even rent, them.


Western Skies Real Estate Billings, Montana

Here at Western Skies, our goal is pair you the buyer with the perfect seller.  It’s also to pair you the seller with the perfect buyer.  We are driven by a passion to get you into the home that is right for you, and not to make the sale that is right for us.  So if you’re looking for the best Realtor in Billings, you’ve come to the right place!

Get in touch today, and we can answer your questions and get you started on your real estate journey.

House-Hunting for Pet Owners: Finding a New Home with Fido

This guest post comes to us from Cindy at

Remember Your Pet When Buying a New Home

Finding a new house to buy can be challenging for anyone, but pet owners often have additional hoops to jump through. Not only must you find a house that suits your lifestyle and falls within your budget, but you also need a home that can accommodate your dog — a nice yard, tough floors and even a pet-friendly neighborhood.

House Hunting in Billings, MT

So, what can you do to ensure your house-hunting project results in a win for you and your furry family? Here are a few tips on how you can ensure your family and pets are a priority in the home search.


Get a Realtor in Billings who understands your pets

New home for sale in BillingsBe sure to hire a pet-friendly real estate agent who truly understands and respects the kind of pet owner you are. Be sure they are up-to-date on your city and county pet ordinances, as well as the regulations for homeowners associations in the neighborhoods you’re hunting in. It’s important that your agent knows which neighborhoods are good for pets so that you aren’t searching in areas that would only waste your time or disappoint.

You’ll also want an agent who knows if the houses you’re looking at had previous pet owners. It may not seem like an important matter, but if the house and the pets weren’t well cared for, you could be purchasing a flea trap or worse.

Know your needs and wants — now and in the future

Real estate in BillingsYou know what your pets need now, but are you planning for the future? For instance, if your dog is a breed that might suffer from hip dysplasia, you may want to consider a one-story house or one that doesn’t have many stairs to the front and back door.

Will you bring home new pets eventually? If you plan on getting more than one dog — or currently have several — you may want to have open spaces where they can play, both inside and outside. According to, slick hardwood floors might hinder play, and your pup’s paws might also give it extra wear and tear. Also consider how far away your new home is from work, in case you want to come home for lunchtime bathroom breaks.

Speaking of bathroom breaks, you may notice your dog reverting to puppy behaviors — like indoor accidents — when you move into a new space. For that reason, you should spend some time and be strategic about introducing your dog to your new home. Remember, consistency is key.

You’re buying more than a house — you’re buying into a neighborhood

Tour your potential new neighborhood to see if people are walking their dogs. Explore nearby shops and restaurants to see how many are pet-friendly. You can make your new place a home for your pet, but notes that your new neighborhood is a different story. If you enjoy walking your dog, you’ll likely want an area with nice, clean sidewalks or a park with an off-leash area.

While you don’t necessarily need a big backyard, think about how Fido will feel all cooped up during the winter months when those nice long walks are no longer an option. A big back yard gives them plenty of room to run and play year-round.

Purchasing a new home comes with its own stressors, but when you add a pet into the mix, you can find a lot more to worry about. You’re a good pet owner; you want to find a home that your dog can thrive in, so keeping these tips in mind when you’re on the search will help the process go much more smoothly for you and your four-legged family members.