How to Shop for Homes Remotely

For future homebuyers, especially those who were mid-search when the shelter-in-place order started, being able to explore potential homes has drastically changed. As social distancing has increased across the country, and with an unknown time frame of how long this isolation will actually last, many open houses and meetings with agents and sellers have been cancelled. However, just because you can’t see homes in person, doesn’t mean your search needs to end.

Talk to a Real Estate Agent
The real estate business is one of thousands that has had to adjust and adapt during this time. Utilizing social media and today’s technology has given agents the opportunity to communicate with clients in new, virtual ways. If you were planning on attending an open-house or walk-through for a specific property, talk to your agent and see if you can set up a virtual tour. They may even have pre-recorded video tours to share. Don’t have a REALTOR®? Find one here.

Utilize Listing Websites
If you’re looking to explore new properties, visit Pilmer Real Estate’s search engine . This site features thousands of listings, categorized by location, price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, specific schools and much more. While you’re stuck at home, take some time to research homes in the areas you are interested in moving to and view information, images and sometimes even virtual tours to expand your home search.

Explore Neighborhoods on Facebook
Deciding on a neighborhood, or simply getting to know the ones you’re interested in moving to, can be tough when you can’t visit it. But don’t fret—social media is here to help. Many communities have Facebooks groups, run by local schools and businesses, parents or individuals to stay connected and share information. Exploring these pages is a great way to get to know a neighborhood, from dining, activities and schools to learning about your potential future neighbors and community.

Your home search may be affected by the current state of this virus, but shouldn’t stop you from exploring potential homes and neighborhoods. With the vast resources available, from experienced real estate agents to the expansive search tools online, future homebuyers have the opportunity to shop around from the comfort of their homes.

Save the date! Free Drive Thru Neighborhood Paper Shredding Event.

LOCATION: Pilmer Real Estate, Inc. • 1002 Prairie Street • Aurora, IL 60506

TIME: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

DATE: Saturday – May 30, 2020


·        all paper

·        file folders

·        hanging files

·        computer files

·        computer paper

·        notepads

·        envelopes




·        cans/bottles

·        food/wrappers

·        thick metal

·        copier/printer cartridges

·        corrugated cardboard

·        non-recyclable materials

·        large quantities of plastic

·        bio-hazard materials

·        medical waste



Productivity Tips for Working From Home

Whether you’ve been working remotely for years or are new to a work-from-home scenario, there are important strategies for doing it successfully.

Many have the misconception that working from home is easy and will automatically lead to increased productivity. In reality, the opposite is usually true. There are often more distractions at home, and not having the office resources you rely on readily available can hamper your ability to do your job.

If you want to improve your chances of being productive while working from home, do the following:

Create a designated space. Don’t try to do your job from the sofa, or worse, your bed. If you don’t already have a designated office space in your home, create one. Set up a table and comfortable chair in a room—or corner of a room—where you’re likely to have the most privacy. Having a window nearby is ideal. Also, be sure to have a power supply close for easy charging. Take over a guest room, if you have one, or claim the dining room as your new office, relegating meals to the kitchen instead. The idea is to have a space that’s as private as possible, where you can leave your work materials out at the end of the day.

Get up on time. Working from home doesn’t mean it’s time to sleep in or stay in your pajamas. Be sure to maintain the morning schedule you had when going into the office, and if you now have more time due to not having to commute, use it for exercise or to have breakfast with the family. Giving in to sleeping longer may reduce your energy level and make it harder to focus.

Establish a communication system. Working from home can often leave you feeling cut-off from your coworkers and managers, which can quickly stymie productivity. Make sure you have a system for effectively connecting, using both chat programs and video conferencing to stay in regular contact. Don’t just rely on email, which can lack details and intent. The idea is to avoid isolating yourself, even though you’re not physically present at the office.

Work during work hours. When working from home, it can be tempting to try and sneak in some domestic tasks or social engagements. Try to avoid this during designated work hours, as the distraction factor will quickly mount, and you’ll find it hard to keep switching between work and home life. Take a lunch hour and a couple of breaks for your personal tasks, then focus on work during the times you would while at the office.

Honor quitting time. One of the dangers of working from home is that your work is always right there with you. Be as productive as possible during work hours, then end your day as you normally would when at the office. Shut your computer down, organize your papers, turn off the light in your home office space and call it a day. Taking the necessary time to detach from work every day will ultimately make you more productive.

Houseplants for a Healthier Home

A Greener House: Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

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By Anita Ginsburg

Without windows, our homes would feel like dreary prisons. Windows connect us to the outside world, allowing light and fresh air into our homes.

Windows also contribute to the cost of heating and cooling our properties. One way to cut down on this expense is to use energy-efficient window treatments, such as:

Cellular Shades
Cellular shades feature hollow cells that trap air, which provides a layer of insulation over the windows. Cellular shades are among the best choices for energy-efficient window treatments for your home. These kinds of shades also come in a wide variety of colors and styles to enhance the look of any home. Additionally, they can be paired under drapery for an added layer of insulation. Cellular shades are minimal and versatile in style, but provide the maximum in energy efficiency.

Vertical Blinds
These blinds are an ideal energy-efficient window covering for sliding glass doors. Big glass doors are notoriously energy-inefficient, heating up a house in the summer and letting in the winter chill. Vertical blinds can help alleviate that problem, while at the same time, they’re very easy to keep clean. Vertical blinds come in a wide range of materials, including fabric, vinyl and aluminum. They’re not only excellent for covering glass doors, but for any large expanse of glass. You can also use vertical blinds to create a room divider.

Roman Shades
Made of thick insulating cloth, Roman shades are a great choice for any home. The vast array of fabrics, colors and designs makes this choice highly functional and versatile. Roman shades can fit in with any style—from traditional to modern. You can also add thermal backing for extra energy efficiency.

Roman shades can create a soft, comfortable feeling in your home, while actually helping to regulate the temperature in your rooms. For a window covering that is energy-efficient with a classic, stylish and versatile look, consider Roman shades.

While they’re not as commonly used as they once were, functional shutters are very energy-efficient. The tightly fitted louvered panels are adjustable, meaning you can adjust the amount of hot or cold air coming from the glass. During the winter, shutters keep the warm air inside, and in the summer, they block out sunlight and hot, humid air.

Besides being energy-efficient, shutters can add to the overall value of your home. Shutters are also a good choice because they permanently add to the style of your home, which can increase your curb appeal and property value. Shutters come in a wide range of styles, from traditional shutters with narrow louvers to dramatically wide plantation shutters.

While you’ll probably notice a lower gas or electric bill first, moving to energy-efficient home solutions is vital to a greener, more beautiful world. While your choice of window treatment might seem insignificant now, it does make a difference. Making your home a little bit greener makes the whole world a little greener, too!

This was originally published on RISMedia’s Housecall.

Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. For energy-efficient window treatments, she recommends
Luxaflex blinds.

Why Selling Your House Without an Agent Could Be a Costly Mistake

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When a real estate agent helps an owner sell a house, the agent receives a percentage of the sale price as commission. You might think that selling your home yourself would save you some money, but it could wind up costing you a lot more.

How Selling Your Home Without an Agent Could Backfire
Many buyers and real estate agents don’t take homes listed as “for sale by owner” seriously because they assume that the seller has unrealistic or unreasonable expectations or will not behave professionally. Some buyer’s agents will only show their clients houses that are listed by a seller’s agent.

It’s easy to overlook problems with your house that you see every day, but a seller’s agent would spot those flaws. A professional would be able to recommend repairs, give you advice on de-cluttering and staging, and help you find a professional photographer to take pictures that would attract buyers.

A real estate agent could get your home advertised on multiple listing services and major real estate websites. Agents also have large networks of professional contacts who can help draw in potential buyers.

Showing a home is time-consuming, and it would be difficult to handle yourself if you work full-time. In addition, many buyers are uncomfortable viewing a home when the seller is present and therefore rush through and miss important details.

Dealing with prospective buyers and hearing negative feedback about your home could be upsetting. A professional agent could identify serious buyers and calmly respond to negative comments.

A real estate agent understands the local market and knows how to price homes to sell quickly. If you set the price too high, you could have few people interested in viewing the house. If the property spent a long time on the market, people might assume there was something wrong with it. If you set the price too low, buyers and agents might assume that the house had problems or that you were desperate to sell.

Even if you have sales experience, negotiating the sale of a house would be different, especially if it was your home and you were emotionally invested in the outcome. A real estate agent has the professional training and experience necessary to get a seller a higher price than an owner could get without an agent.

Selling a house requires a lot of legal paperwork, including a seller’s disclosure of any material facts that could affect a home’s value or desirability. If you made a mistake, the buyer could later sue you for fraud, negligence, or breach of contract. A real estate agent, however, has errors and omissions insurance to cover legal mistakes.

Seek Professional Help
Selling a house on your own might seem like an easy way to save thousands of dollars, but it could be risky. In addition to possibly not attracting a buyer or getting a good price, you could put yourself in legal jeopardy. This is why you would be better off getting help from an agent.

First Time Buyers: What NOT to Do

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By John Voket

If this is going to be the year you break out into your own place, you likely want to be sure your path is as clear as possible. First and foremost, buying one’s first home is one of the most exciting – and challenging – life experiences.

To come out ahead, don’t make any of the common mistakes that could put your home-buying experience in peril. The U.S. Farm Bureau ( advises first-timers against doing any of the following leading up to or during your closing:

Don’t Open New Lines of Credit. Taking on new debt, no matter how small, could throw off your debt-to-income ratio — a magic number in mortgage lending — and disqualify you.

Don’t Miss Bill Payments. In the stress of preparing to buy a house, it’s easy to miss a payment, but it could have serious consequences that will make you ineligible for a loan from certain lenders for at least a year, the bureau says.

Don’t Change Jobs. During the mortgage loan process, change — even good change — could set you back. Avoid a change in job status that will cause a lender to question your financial stability. warns that too much of a good thing can be bad, so just because a bank will lend you a certain amount of money doesn’t mean you should take it unless you want to be house poor.

The site says you need to think about the other expenses that come along with a house, like insurance, property taxes, utilities, maintenance, and home improvements beyond your monthly mortgage commitment.

Finally, blogger Jiordan strongly advises getting a thorough home inspection done. She says a professional will ensure the foundation is solid, the wiring is up to code – even check for lead paint and wood-eating pests.

If you know before you buy, the esurance blogger says it could help you negotiate a lower price – and prepare you for any repair costs you might be facing.

Preparing Your Furnace For Winter

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With winter well on its way, homeowners who rely on their furnace for heat should take precautionary measures to make sure everything is working as it should.

“You want to take care of your furnace the same way you take care of your car,”  says Joseph Giannone, owner of Giannone Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. “It’s an investment, and neglecting proper maintenance and upkeep can lead to very costly repairs. It’s critical to be proactive instead of reactive. Furnaces tend to break down more frequently on the first day below freezing, but preventative maintenance and early attention to developing issues can help lower the chances of an untimely failure.”

Below are Giannone’s top furnace prep tips:

Ensure the furnace flue is clear. Be sure to clear any debris and obstructions from the furnace flue. For gas units, the flue is a pipe that releases the byproducts of combustion, like carbon monoxide. By clearing this, the furnace will vent properly, reducing its workload and safely removing noxious fumes.

Check around windows and doors for air leaks. According to, heating and cooling a home or business equates to approximately 40 percent of total annual utilities’ costs. Much of that can be wasted if air is escaping from the home. Use a simple match test to check for leaks around windows and doors. If the flame flickers, new weather stripping or caulking may be needed.

Replace the filter. Replacing the filter is recommended every 60 to 90 days. A new filter will reduce the workload on the furnace, making it more cost effective during the peak season. If pets are kept in the home, replace the filter every 30 days to remove excess hair and dander.

Inspect the ductwork. Air escaping from ducts is another cause for inefficient heating and unnecessary strain on the system. Look for obvious tears, damaged joints or duct tape. Another match test performed near the ducts can help find potential leaks. Fix them if possible or contact a service professional for duct inspection and cleaning.

Schedule an annual tune-up. Tune-ups increase the performance of furnaces, and they can also help identify potential issues developing with the unit. The enhanced efficiency and identification of any serious problems will result in lower monthly heating bills, and avoiding major repair expenses during the coldest days of winter. Documented proof of regular, annual maintenance may also be required by the furnace’s manufacturer for the warranty to remain in effect.

“A lot of basic maintenance is quick and simple, like ensuring your thermostat has fresh batteries for the season,” says Giannone. “Taking some easy DIY action now and scheduling a tune-up sooner than later are the two best steps homeowners can take to ensure they’ll have heat throughout the fall and winter.”


What’s Driving Home Improvement? The Neighbors!

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While there are many reasons to embark on a home improvement project, from increasing your home’s value to expanding your living space for your family, for some Americans, the next-door neighbors are the driving force.

According to a survey of 2,000 homeowners conducted by OnePoll for home-goods manufacturer Wilsonart, one in five Americans (34 percent) started a home improvement project in order to keep up with – or get ahead of! – a friend, family member or neighbor.

The survey revealed that the average homeowner spent $3,558 on home improvements or renovations to impress others, with 42 percent of respondents reporting that there is significant competition among neighbors to have the best house on the street. Summer was far and away the peak season for home improvement projects, chosen as the most popular season by 42 percent of respondents, with as many as four projects underway. Additionally, 41 percent of respondents were working on a lawn project solely to impress the neighbors, with 1 in 4 tackling a deck renovation to attract friends and neighbors to come on over.

Candidly, 48 percent of respondents admit to walking into another person’s home and immediately feeling jealous about their renovation or addition. Conversely, 63 percent report walking into another home and secretly feeling satisfied that it wasn’t as nice as their own home.

Some of the things people most often notice about a friend’s or neighbor’s home compared to their own?

– Its cleanliness – 54%
– The amount of clutter – 39%
– Odors – 34%
– Whether there’s a garden bed in front – 25%
– How nice the TV is – 19%
– How comfortable the couch is – 18%
– How many toys are scattered about – 12%
– The quality of the artwork – 11%

What Household Chores Top Your September Shortlist?

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By John Voket

The transition period between summer and fall is the perfect time to begin planning priority chores around the house before buttoning down for winter. There is no shortage of advice on what to do, and how to accomplish the most important “September shortlist” things around the house and yard.

According to, chores to keep you on track this month include:

– Cleaning heat ducts and registers, and replacing air filters.

– Patio furniture cleaning before you bring it inside and store it for the winter.

– Line up chimney sweep cleaning services now before they’re all booked.

– Order firewood and stack it away from the house to prevent pest infestation.

Over at, homeowners are directed to accomplish energy-saving items, including:

– Insulating your hot water heater with a new or replacement fiberglass insulation blanket..

– Preventing energy leaks from electrical outlets by installing foam gaskets behind them.

– Repairing window caulk if you see brittle, cracked or separated caulk.

At, Kaz Weida says September is the time to:

– Walk around the perimeter of your home and give any unsightly spots a touch-up of exterior paint.

– Clear debris from gutters to avoid ice dams that can cause interior leaks and damage the exterior of your home.

– Inspect your roof to spot problems and fasten any loose shingles.

– Ensure your furnace is working properly and get it inspected and/or serviced by a professional.

And if you’re afraid you’ll fail to get a handle on your tasks, Weida says just schedule one per week on your calendar so September doesn’t get away from you.