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When to Winterize Your Home, by Don Holding, Real Estate Services

by Steve Westmark

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  This week, I brought in a gentleman who has been doing winterization of houses for over 30 years, and it’s Don Houlding of United Real Estate Services.

DON:  Good morning.

STEVE:  Don, I’m going to ask you questions about winterizing of a home because homes with plumbing can have problems.  Why should a person have a home winterized as they leave for a period of time?

DON:  Steve, I’ve learned over the years as a licensed plumber that homes can freeze up in Minnesota’s cold weather without ever even having the heat fail.  I do recommend to my customers even when they call and say, “You’re not going to do the job” have somebody winterize the property.  They need to be protected in case that damage occurs because when a pipe bursts in a home and the water’s on, the damage can be catastrophic.

STEVE:  Houses that aren’t winterized and have a problem like that, sometimes you’ve told me that people should really check their houses for insurance.  What are the things that they look for in their insurance or they need to ask their insurance agent?

DON:  Absolutely, it’s critical to call an insurance agent and find out if the home is vacant for more than 30 days will their homeowner’s insurance remain in force.  If the home is vacated for more than 30 days, it’s very common that the homeowner’s insurance actually cancels, and there’s no advance notice of that.  So people leave thinking that even if there is a problem they’re covered when in fact, they’re not.

STEVE:  So Don, I know you’ve run into some problems in the past where a house wasn’t winterized.  What have you found as far as some of the costs that have happened and the downsides that could occur?

DON:  Well, Steve, in the 30 years I’ve been doing this, the most difficult thing I still run into is to walk into a home where the pipes have broken and the water was left on.  The damage can be to hardwood floors, to carpeting, to floor joists.  Sheetrock becomes soaked.  I’ve seen it fall off of basement ceilings.  Windows become frozen solid, and it takes weeks, sometimes months to dry the home out.  The expenses run into the tens of thousands of dollars to put all of that back together again.  And then it’s difficult to say that everything is back 100%.

STEVE:  So in a nutshell, Don, what happens when you go to winterize a house?  What are the things that you do that helps the house get winterized?

DON:  Well, the first thing we do is turn the water off at the source.  If there’s a water heater, we remove it.  If there’s a well, we turn the power off to it.  All of the plumbing is drained down, hot and cold water.  We do add non-toxic antifreeze into places where water would collect, usually things like toilet bowls, traps, drains, dishwashers.  That way there’s a little bit of water left, but they do have antifreeze in it, so it won’t freeze if the heat does fail.

I do install a temperature alarm in the houses that I winterize so if the heat fails, we still want to get in there and get it fixed even though the plumbing’s protected.  It’s structurally hard on a home to let it freeze.  So we need to get out there and take care of that furnace and get it going, and we don’t frost on the walls and ceiling.  That’s pretty much in a nutshell it.

STEVE:  Well, thanks so much, Don, for coming in today.  And what’s the best way for them to get a hold of you to get work done?

DON:  I can be reached in my office.  Phone 651-452-5261 or I’m happy to be e-mailed at

STEVE:  Great.  Thanks, Don.

The Fish Are Biting, Are You Ready for Them? by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

Hi, this is Steve Westmark of Counselor Realty.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  Well, today I have my rod and reel, have my tackle box, and I’m going to talk to you a little bit about fishing.  Most of my friends know I’m not a great fisherman.  When I go fishing, I go with people that really know what they’re doing.  But I’m going to give you an illustration of how fishing and selling your house makes sense.

You know, in today’s marketplace, you have to find where the school of fish is.  You can have a good rod and reel.  You can have the bait and the stuff, but you can cast into an area and never find a fish at all.  And that could be because there are just no fish there.  And what we learn in our real estate market when I meet with people, we find out where do fish bite that are the kind of fish that you want to have buy your house. 

And so when we go to position your house, we hope that we’re going to help you understand that by positioning your house at a certain number, that will bring about a sale.  To give you a quick illustration of that, he started a house maybe six months ago, he wanted to try a little bit higher in price and he went out at 134,900.  Then he went to 229,900.  Then he went to 224,900.  Then he finally said, “Well, what is it going to take to sell the house?”  He went to 216,900 and it sold within several weeks.

It’s finding where the fish are biting, and that’s the key that we try to help you understand when we go out to fish for your buyer.  We want to find the best pool of buyers who will pay you the fair value on your property, the most value you can get.  But make sure that you’re not just sitting there on the market and not selling and no fish is nibbling.  Well, make it a great day.  Thanks for listening.



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The Steve Westmark Team
RE/MAX Advantage Plus
14451 Highway 7 Suite 100
Minnetonka MN 55345
Fax: 952-241-1600