Wednesday, June 29, 2022



If you’re like a lot of long-time homeowners, you’ve probably got a great deal of home equity on your hands right now. If you’ve been considering putting it to work, it’s still a decent time to take out a second mortgage or a HELOC, even as rates are starting to rise. Having so much home equity can enable you to make some very seriously needed changes to your home, either to allow you to age in place or to accommodate other lifestyle needs. It’s an opportunity to make major changes or upgrades, but there are certainly some ways that are better than others to use your home’s equity. We’ve got some ideas to get you started.

Freshen Up the Whole Place

There’s nothing better for the value of a house that’s not had much regular care in a while than a general sprucing up. You’ll have to go room by room, as well as take a hard look at your exterior space, to decide which items are tired and in need of repair or replacement. You’d be surprised how much difference some careful clean-up and maintenance work can really make.

A few common exterior items that can really make a tired house look brand new include a new garage door (for houses with street-facing garages), exterior window dressing such as window boxes or updated shutters, tuckpointing for brick homes, or cleaning and resealing your driveway. Interior items that can make a huge impact house-wide include new floor coverings or refinished floors, updated room lighting and under-cabinet lighting in kitchens and baths, and a fresh coat of interior paint.

Consider Major Outdoor Upgrades

According to Remodeling Magazine, something simple like adding a wooden deck to your home can improve your home’s value and return as much as 65% of the cost back to you if you were to sell right away. Outdoor living spaces have become all the rage since the pandemic has made vacationing challenging, so it could also be an addition your family would use a lot.

Upgrading your landscaping can also add a lot of curb appeal to the front of your home, which would help if you decided to sell. You could even use your home’s equity to add landscaping that’s far easier to care for than what you have now, like xeriscape plants that require little water or intervention, or simply a better-planned landscape that minimizes the need for mowing your lawn.

Make Your Bathroom or Kitchen Universal

Aging in place is becoming a more common goal for people as they age. They want to be in their own homes, and these kinds of upgrades make it possible by creating spaces that will allow for walkers, wheelchairs, and other support tools. Universal bathrooms and kitchens can be amazing ways to use your home’s equity. Universal bathrooms may need wheel-in showers, sinks that are table height, bidets, and other sanitary plumbing installed, or even just simple changes like non-slip flooring and better storage added.

Universal kitchens are a bit more involved, often involving sinks, appliances, and workspaces being lowered to a height that can be used by people in wheelchairs or those who simply can’t stand for long periods on hard floors. Better task lighting, more accessible storage in cabinets and other areas, and non-slip tile are also important parts of universal kitchen design.

If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact us at 913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.  Also, if you are interested in buying or selling rural property, give us a call.  We can help.  

Monday, June 20, 2022


Maybe you’ve just moved into your new home and you’ve got a patio of your very own for the first time, or maybe you’ve had one for a while and just didn’t know what to do with it. Patios are magnificently flexible spaces, if not a little boring by themselves. Think of your patio as a three-dimensional canvas that you can literally create anything on that you’d like. From tiki hot tub paradise to casual outdoor dining space, patios are only limited by your imagination. Here are some things to think about when you’re trying to dress yours up!

Lights, Camera, Action!

Patios are great, but nighttime patio lighting is often lackluster. For patios near the house, many people rely on a single bulb hanging near the back door, and those floating on the lawn may have no lighting whatsoever! It’s understandable, since there was once a time when your only outdoor lighting options were hardwired, and that was tricky with a cement slab.

But today’s patios have so many more options. Not only are solar lights affordable and reliable, but they’re also amazingly diverse. Want a bit of a beach party mood? Add a whole collection of solar-powered string lights with round bulbs. Looking for something more romantic and period? Victorian-themed solar wall sconces can evoke a real mood. Add poles to elevate your lighting for even more flexibility in placement.

Fun in the Shade

Sure, the sun is awesome, but have you tried the shade? The shade is great, especially on a sunny day when the entire world is just a little too hot and a little too bright. Shades can also protect dining areas from debris that might fall from nearby trees, making dining outdoors a true pleasure.

Shade sails are easy to install, come in lots of fun colors, and lend a super modern look to all kinds of spaces. If you want something a little more serious and a lot more fancy, aluminum pergolas with shade systems can be attached to your patio or home permanently. These often have shades that can be opened or closed to let the sun in – or not – as your heart desires. Some even come with curtains to create a more private space.

Roll Out the Carpet

Outdoor rugs are increasingly diverse and must-have patio items to accompany outdoor living furniture and tables. These rugs can be heavy-duty, with similar quality to rugs you might choose to have inside your house. A huge range of patterns and colors can help you create the atmosphere you’ve been dreaming of.

Using an outdoor rug can help keep your patio looking cleaner, as well as define specific spaces if your patio is larger and has a few different activity areas. You might color-coordinate one under your patio dining set (set beneath your new pergola, of course), and add another to the set of patio furniture near the hot tub to encourage people to stop and have a chat.

Add a Touch of Green

Of course, your patio is almost certainly already near plants, but there’s a whole different mood that comes with potted plants on a patio. You can tell so much about space by how potted plants are chosen and the kinds of pots they’re in. Sleek and modern areas might benefit from simple, upright foliage plants in tall, narrow pots. More traditional spaces could go full cottagecore with some old wash tubs overflowing with your favorite annuals.

As always, if you are interested in buying or selling rural property, give the Rural KC Team a call.  We are always ready to help.  913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022


If you’re planning to buy a home, it’s critical to understand the relationship between mortgage rates and your purchasing power. Purchasing power is the amount of home you can afford to buy that’s within your financial reach. Mortgage rates directly impact the monthly payment you’ll have on the home you purchase. So, when rates rise, so does the monthly payment you’re able to lock in on your home loan. In a rising-rate environment like we’re in today, that could limit your future purchasing power.

Today, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is above 5%, and in the near term, experts say that’ll likely go up in the months ahead. You have the opportunity to get ahead of that increase if you buy now before that impacts your purchasing power.

Mortgage Rates Play a Large Role in Your Home Search

The chart below can help you understand the general relationship between mortgage rates and a typical monthly mortgage payment within a range of loan amounts. Let’s say your budget allows for a monthly mortgage payment in the $2,100-$2,200 range. The green in the chart indicates a payment within that range, while the red is a payment that exceeds it (see chart below):

As the chart shows, you’re more likely to exceed your target payment range as mortgage rates increase unless you pursue a lower home loan amount. If you’re ready to buy a home, use this as your motivation to purchase now so you can get ahead of rising rates before you have to make the decision to decrease what you borrow in order to stay comfortably within your budget.

Work with Trusted Advisors To Know Your Budget and Make a Plan

It’s critical to keep your budget top of mind as you’re searching for a home. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at, puts it best, advising that buyers should:

“Get preapproved with where rates are today, but also consider what would happen if rates were to go up, say another quarter of a point, . . . Know what that would do to your monthly costs and how comfortable you are with that so that if rates do move higher, you already know how you need to adjust in response.”

No matter what, the best strategy is to work with your real estate advisor and a trusted lender to create a plan that takes rising mortgage rates into consideration. Together, you can look at your budget based on where rates are today and craft a strategy so you’re ready to adjust as rates change.

Bottom Line

Even small increases in mortgage rates can impact your purchasing power. If you’re in the process of buying a home, it’s more important than ever to have a strong plan. Partner with a trusted real estate advisor and lender to strategize so you can achieve your dream of homeownership this season.

If you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling rural property, please feel free to give the Rural KC Team a call.  913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411

Friday, June 10, 2022


As spring turns to summer, one thing that unfortunately comes along with that change is summer storms. For some people, this means frequent downpours or heavy rains. For others, it means lightning or the possibility of severe weather. Even for those who don’t live in areas that commonly experience tornadoes or other severe weather, there is still a possibility of damage from things like flooding and high winds. Whether storms are a common occurrence where you live or only infrequent, keeping your home safe during bad weather should still be a concern.

You’ve likely already seen suggestions for how to stormproof your home and stay safe during inclement weather. To make sure that you’ve covered all the bases, here are a few additional ways to stormproof your home that you might not have thought of.

Stormproofing Your Property

There are a few changes that you can make to your property that may significantly reduce the likelihood of storm-related damage to your home. One big thing that you can do is inspect any trees on your property before storm season, and again in the fall to make sure that there aren’t any dead or damaged limbs that could break under pressure. Getting these removed will not only make your trees look better, but will also help protect against home damage or injury from falling limbs.

If your home is on a downward slope or located in a low area, you might also consider installing French drains to reroute water away from your foundation. This can be very effective in preventing damage from flooded basements and garages, as the drains will keep a lot of that water from actually reaching your home. Depending on how the French drains are set up and where they drain to, this can move a significant amount of water away from your home during a storm.

Upgrading Your Defenses

If you’re considering home improvements, there are a few options you might consider. If thunderstorms are common where you live during the summer, installing a lightning rod or other lighting protection components can be a good idea. You also might want to get transient voltage surge suppressors to plug high-value electronics such as computers and televisions into as well since this helps to limit voltage to 1.5 times the normal voltage range. While this is still higher voltage than these devices are used to, they are much more likely to survive without damage compared to the significant amount of voltage they might experience during a lightning strike surge.

Other improvements you can make to better protect you during a storm include installing new windows and a new roof. Advances in window and roof materials make them much more durable than they were even a decade ago, and if your windows and roof have been in place for a long time, then they might already be experiencing some wear and tear. Not only will replacing them before the weather gets bad help to prevent leaks and other storm-related problems, but in the event of a big storm, you may even have an installation warranty on your side.

Review Your Policies

One last thing that you might want to do is look over your homeowner’s insurance and any other insurance policies you have for your property to see exactly what is and isn’t covered regarding storm damage. Flood damage commonly isn’t covered by standard policies, and depending on where you live there may be other storm-related exclusions as well. You definitely don’t want to wind up surprised at your coverage level if you have to make a storm-related claim.

As always, if you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling rural property, give the Rural KC Team-Keller Williams Partners a call.  We can help!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022


When you’re looking to sell your house, there are a lot of little things that you can do to increase the likelihood that some prospective buyer is going to make an offer. Many of the tips you’ll find to improve your home’s appeal focus on things inside the house, ranging from paint colors to furniture and a variety of other little tweaks. There is something else that you can do to improve the appeal of your home that’s often overlooked, though: add some plants.

A lot of people don’t put much thought into the plants around their home when prepping for a sale, and this can be a big missed opportunity. From fixing up your lawn and garden to adding splashes of greenery indoors, there are several ways that you can leverage plants to help sell your home when the time comes. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Increase Your Curb Appeal

While interior staging is important, it’s easy to forget that the outside of your home is the first impression that potential buyers are going to get. There are obviously a few external things that you can do, such as slapping a fresh coat of paint on the door and cleaning up the windows a bit. However, one of the biggest boosts to your home’s curb appeal comes in the form of improving your lawn and external plants.

As soon as you start considering selling your home, it’s time to treat brown spots or thin areas on your lawn so that everything is lush and green. Cleaning up flower beds, adding decorative plants on the porch or along the walkway, and otherwise sprucing up the look of the outside will go a long way toward capturing the attention of potential buyers. Just like a shabby exterior can dampen buyer enthusiasm, a well-manicured lawn and decorative flowers or trees can get buyers excited before they even step inside.

Bringing in a Touch of Nature

Exterior landscaping isn’t the only way that plants can help you sell your home. Potted plants, vases with fresh flowers, and even small decorative potted trees or other tall plants can add both color and a sense of freshness to your home that are hard to replicate. It’s the same reason that a lot of grocery stores have fresh flowers near the entrance to the store; when people see plants and flowers, their brains immediately focus on the idea of freshness and life. In stores, this makes people assume that the produce is all fresh, and in your home, it helps potential buyers to picture themselves living in the house.

If you choose flowers or other plants with pleasant scents, bringing them in can add to the overall freshness of the air without the need for artificial air fresheners or incense. This can let your plants serve double duty, improving the quality of the air while also adding a splash of color and life to your home. Just make sure to avoid plants that produce a lot of pollen or else you may have some cleanup to take care of before potential buyers come for a tour.

Call Some Help if Needed

It’s possible that you won’t really be able to take care of everything you want to do all on your own. Perhaps you have trees on your property that need trimmed or have to have dead limbs removed. Maybe you want to revitalize a flower garden but don’t really have the time. It’s even possible that you’d love to add some floral touches to your home, but aren’t really sure what would go best with your house. It’s okay, we’ve got you covered.

The Rural KC Team-Keller Williams Partners can connect you with landscaping and trimming pros in your area that can take care of whatever issues you’re having.  Give us a call today and you’ll be one step closer to taking your home from “For Sale” to “Sold.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


Because buying or selling a country home is such a big decision in our lives, the need for clear, trustworthy information and guidance is crucial. And while no one can give you perfect advice, when you align yourself with an expert, you'll get the best advice for your situation.

An Expert In Buying or Selling Country Homes Will Give You the Best Advice Possible

Let’s say you need an attorney, so you seek out an expert in the type of law required for your case. When you go to their office, they won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end or how the judge or jury will rule. What a good attorney can do, though, is discuss the most effective strategies you can take. They may recommend one or two approaches they believe will work well for your case.

Then, they’ll leave you to make the decision on which option you want to pursue. Once you decide, they can help you put a plan together based on the facts at hand. They’ll use their expert knowledge to work toward the resolution you want and make whatever modifications in the strategy necessary to try and achieve that outcome.

Similarly, the job of a trusted real estate professional is to give you the best advice for your situation. Just like you can’t find a lawyer to give you perfect advice, you won’t find a real estate professional who can either. They can’t because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen throughout your transaction. They also can’t predict exactly what will happen with conditions in today’s housing market.

But an expert real estate advisor is knowledgeable about market trends and the ins and outs of the home buying and selling process. With that knowledge, they can anticipate what could happen based on your situation and help you put together a solid plan. And they’ll guide you through the process, helping you make decisions along the way.

That's the very definition of getting the best-not perfect-advice. And that’s the power of working with an expert real estate advisor.

Bottom Line

If you want trustworthy advice when buying or selling a country home, contact the Rural KC Team-Keller Williams Partners at 913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022


If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard mortgage rates are rising and have wondered what that means for you. Since mortgage rates have increased over two percentage points this year, it’s natural to think about how this will impact your homeownership plans.

Today, buyers are reacting in one of two ways: they’re either making the decision to buy now before rates climb higher or they’re waiting it out in hopes rates will fall. Let’s look at some context that can help you understand why so many buyers are jumping off the fence and into action rather than waiting to buy.

A Look Back: How the Current Mortgage Rate Compares to Historical Data

One factor that could help you make your decision to buy now is how today’s mortgage rates compare to historical data. While higher than the average 30-year fixed rate in recent years, the latest rates are still comparatively low when you look at the bigger picture of where rates have been since 1971 (see graph below):

 Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explains it like this:

“. . . historical context is important.  An average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate of 5.5 percent is still well below the historical average of nearly 8 percent."

If you’re deciding whether to buy now or wait, this is an important context to have. Today’s mortgage rate still gives you a window of opportunity to lock in a rate that’s comparatively lower than decades past.

A Look Ahead: What Happens if Rates Climb Further

The buyers who are springing into action now are also motivated to make their move because they know rates have risen steadily this year, and they’re eager to get ahead of any further increases.

Why? When mortgage rates climb, they impact the monthly mortgage payment you’ll have on the home you’re buying. Basically, it’ll likely cost you more to buy a home if you wait. Experts say mortgage rates will rise (although more moderately) in the months ahead. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains: 

“. . . ongoing inflationary pressure remains likely to push mortgage rates even hight in the months to come." 

So, if you’re ready and financially able to buy now, it may make more sense to get off the fence and make your purchase sooner rather than later. As Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

"With even hight interest rates on the horizon, I don't see any reason to hold off from purchasing a home right now.  If you feel financially secure, you should start looking for a home."

At the end of the day, there is no perfect advice on when to buy a home. What you should do depends on your goals, your finances, and your personal situation. Use this information with the help of local real estate professionals to make an informed decision on what’s best for you. Bill McBride of Calculated Risk sums it up best:

“. . .if you're on the fence about weather to buy now or wait for a better deal, buying sooner rather than later might be wise. That said, home buying is always a personal decision. Whether you should buy in 2022 depends on your financial situation and the local housing market where you live.”

Bottom Line

For many buyers, rising mortgage rates are motivating them to act now and make a purchase before rates rise higher. To decide what move is best for you, partner with a trusted real estate professional so you have expert advice on your side. The Rural KC Team-Keller Williams Partners is ready, willing, and able to help.  Give us a call at 913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


With a limited number of homes for sale today and so many buyers looking to make a purchase before mortgage rates rise further, bidding wars are common. According to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nationwide, homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale. Here’s a look at how that breaks down state-by-state (see map below):


The same report from NAR shows the average buyer made two offers before getting their third offer accepted. In this type of competitive housing market, it’s important to know what levers you can pull to help you beat the competition. While a real estate professional is your ultimate guide to presenting a strong offer, here are a few things you could consider.

Offering over Asking Price

When you think of sweetening the deal for sellers, the first thought you likely have is around the price of the home. In today’s housing market, it’s true more homes are selling for over asking price because there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. You just want to make sure your offer is still within your budget and realistic for the market value in your area – that’s where a local real estate professional can help you through the process. Bankrate says:

"Simply put, being willing to pay more money than other buyers is one of the best ways to get your offer accepted.  You may not have to increase it by a lot-it'll depend on the area and other factors-so look to your real estate agent for guidance."

Putting Down a Bigger Earnest Money Deposit

You could also consider putting down a larger deposit up front. An earnest money deposit is a check you write to go along with your offer. If your offer is accepted, this deposit is credited toward your home purchase. NerdWallet explains how it works:

"A typical earnest money deposit is 1% to 2% of the home's purchase price but the amount varies by location.  A higher earnest money deposit may catch a seller's attention in a hot housing market." 

That’s because it shows the seller you’re seriously interested in their house and have already set aside money that you’re ready to put toward the purchase. Talk to a professional to see if this is something you can do in your area. 

Making a Higher Down Payment 

Another option is increasing how much of a down payment you’re going to make. The benefit of a higher down payment is you won’t have to finance as much. This helps the seller feel like there’s less risk of the deal or the financing falling through. And if other buyers put less down, it could be what helps your offer stand out from the crowd.

Non-Financial Options To Make a Strong Offer points out that while increasing these financial portions of the deal can help, they’re not your only options:

. . . Price is not the only factor sellers weigh when they look at offers. The buyer’s terms and contingencies are also taken into account, as well as pre-approval letters, appraisal requirements, and the closing time the buyer is asking for.”

When it’s time to make an offer, partner with a trusted professional. They have insight into what sellers are looking for in your local market and can give you expert advice on what levers you may or may not want to pull when it’s time to write an offer.

From a non-financial perspective, this can include things like flexible move-in dates or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized). For example, you could make an offer that’s not contingent on the sale of your current home. Just remember, there are certain contingencies you don't want to forego, like your home inspection. Ultimately, the options you have can vary state-to-state, so it’s best to lean on an expert real estate professional for guidance.

Bottom Line

In today’s hot housing market, you need a partner who can serve as your guide, especially when it’s time to write an offer. A real estate professional is your best resource and coach for making the strongest offer possible for your specific situation.  If you are in the market for a rural property, please feel free to contact us:

Bill Gaughan                                        Danicia Duncan

913-837-0760                                       913-837-0411                      

Thursday, May 5, 2022


Retirement is a big step for most of us and it opens up a myriad of possibilities. Retiring to the country is a great step in the right direction in allowing you to enhance your lifestyle, rather than diminish it. Here are some strong reasons to consider retiring rural. 

With better health care and the lengthening of life spans for the average person, it is inconceivable that we should not plan for a full and enjoyable life. Retirement is not a time for doing nothing, but it is a time to enjoy some of the exciting things, that perhaps, we did not have time for along the way. Retiring to a rural setting is one way to enhance our lifestyle and experience nature more.


1. Improved opportunities for gardening.

Those who enjoy the challenge of gardening, whether ornamental or vegetables, will find that space might not be as restrictive on rural acreage. Ornamentals can add immensely to your property and vegetable gardens will provide nutritious meals, reserved food supplies, and great exercise.

As an added bonus, gardening has been linked to increased longevity, reduced incidence of heart disease, enhanced happiness, and mood, and much more. 

2. Outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, fishing, and similar pursuits are more readily available. 

For example, retiring on a lake property would allow access to boating, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. Those with larger properties manage wildlife for better hunting opportunities. And even if you choose a smaller parcel of land, you’ll likely be a short drive, or hike, away from a variety of public recreational opportunities.

3. Rural living provides the chance to create the yard/property of your dreams.

The addition of trees, shrubs, fruiting vines (grapes and other berries), and other additions are not possible in an urban setting.


4. You won’t waste your precious retirement years contending with the traffic and congestion of city living.

Just imagine all the time you could get back for more meaningful things...not to mention less wear, tear, and mileage on your automobile!

5. You’ll get to enjoy the quiet, peaceful atmosphere that nature supports.

Coincidentally, living close to nature has a variety of health benefits, from enhancing immunity to reducing stress and even improving/protecting your eyesight!

6. As the tempo of life slows down, it allows us to pursue some of the things that we ‘always wanted to do’.

This might include writing a novel or volume of poetry, expanding our knowledge of photography, or some similar pursuit...and a beautiful rural backdrop provides the perfect quiet setting.

This is also a good time for avid readers to indulge in reading of favorite novels or topics. 

On a personal note, since retirement from my primary occupation, I have published 34 books on various topics on Amazon Kindle, ranging from ‘how-to’ books to novels. Retirement has also allowed me to concentrate more on photography.

7. Retirement allows more time to expand your involvement in hobbies of interest. 

This could include fly tying, woodworking, needlework, horticulture, or any number of interesting skills. Horticulture is another example of a hobby that would be greatly enhanced by living in a rural environment with increased space available for a greenhouse, garden, etc.

If you love animals, rural acreage provides endless opportunities to expand beyond house pets to chickens, ducks, horses, and other livestock (many of which can be enjoyed as hobbies and used to generate income).


8. Potentially lower taxes.

Extensive research prior to retiring might reveal that buying a country home in certain areas may lower your rate of taxation. There are many tax benefits available to rural landowners, from ag credits to homestead credits and even perks for placing acreage in conservation, so be sure to talk to a tax professional who’s familiar with the tax laws in your area.

9. More Bang for Your Real Estate Buck.

Research might also reveal that property values vary widely by location and certain areas and tracts of land might allow more ‘bang for your buck’.

Rural land tends to be less expensive, and if you plan on building a home to downsize, etc. you’ll have a lot more flexibility with design than you would in an urban or suburban setting (tiny homes, earth homes, earth-sheltered homes, barndominiums, kit homes, etc.

10. Little savings add up.

Other savings may include cost savings on sewer and water charges by having a septic system and private well...these cost savings may seem small but can really add up for those on a fixed income. Depending on the area, there might be savings opportunities by using solar or wind to generate energy. Be sure to check zoning regulations prior to purchasing.


11. A rural setting often offers an attractive setting for visits by children or grandchildren.

The savings of being in a rural area might allow for the creation of a home setting that would be more appealing to the extended family.

By going rural, you have a unique opportunity to create a legacy for the family as a place with good memories that will be cherished and hopefully passed on to future generations.

A dear friend of mine often quotes from his extensive memory of wise statements by saying, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is today.” 

The same could be said of planning for retirement. Finding the right rural location may require some legwork, but now is the time to start thinking about tomorrow.

If you are interested in moving to the country, give the Rural KC Team-Keller Williams Partners a call.  We would love to chat with you about the benefits of living in the country.  We are always available at 913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.