Hug Your Home Challenge – January Tips

If you’ve been keeping up with The Property Geeks you’ve probably heard us talk about the 2018 Hug Your Home Challenge. It’s a chance for all of us to stick together through a year full of home maintenance tips and tricks. If you haven’t signed up, there’s plenty of time. Join in here! For those of you following along, we’re working through January’s list right now. It’s full of exciting things like “Clean Your Ceiling Fan Blades” and “Touch Up Interior Paint.” If you’re like us, you know those things are important to do, but not exactly the most desirable way to spend an hour of free time. We’ve got some tips here on how you can knock off a good portion of our checklist as quickly and easily as possible. Let’s start with the dreaded garbage disposal…

“Ooooh, What’s that smell?”

Ever notice a funky little smell drifting up from your kitchen sink? Maybe it’s that tuna melt sandwich you just put down the drain. Or maybe it’s time to show your hardworking garbage disposal some love. There are many ways to clean the garbage disposal and if you do a quick search on Pinterest you’ll be bombarded with options. Our best advice comes from Property Geek Karla who suggests the following:

  1. Slice up a lemon and send it down the disposal.
  2. Follow that with a cup of ice.
  3. Next, measure out a cup of vinegar and pour it down the sink.
  4. Presto! You’ve got a sweet-smelling disposal.




“Don’t Hit a Wall with the Walls!”

Do your walls and baseboards have a magnetic-like attraction to dust and grime? There are several different ways to fight back, depending on the level of effort you want to put forth. Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Dust your walls with a microfiber mop.
  2. Mix up a batch of ammonia and water then wipe down the walls and baseboards with a damp cloth.
  3. Use a Magic Eraser for stubborn stains or marks but be careful — it might remove the paint finish.
  4. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to get into the corners and tight spots on your baseboards.
  5. To cut down on future work, run a dryer sheet over your baseboards. It will repel dust.



“Shower your Shower Curtain with Love”

Do you ever get the feeling it would be better to go with a gray shower liner instead of battling the mildew that collects on that once-pristine white one? The battle against mildew and mold can be won. Just wash your shower curtain with salt. Salt? Yep. Regular table salt will do the trick. Here’s how:

  1. Toss your shower curtain, liner and a couple of towels into the washing machine.
  2. Use 1/2 the amount of detergent and toss in a cup of vinegar or use the regular amount of detergent with 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle.
  3. Add a cup of salt to a tub of water and soak shower curtain/liner for several hours.
  4. Hang to dry.
  5. No more mold and mildew!




Enjoying our tips? Sign up here for our 2018 Hug Your Home Challenge and get our annual checklist plus monthly reminders of “to-do’s.” You can also follow us on Pinterest where we’re pinning our favorite tips. And make sure you join us at 12pm CT on our Facebook page for #GrillTheGeeks. Every Thursday we talk about home buying and selling and answer your real estate questions. This week Property Geek Karla will be talking about more home maintenance tips you can use to knock off that January checklist!





The Property Geeks Introduce…


We’ve been keeping a little secret over here at Geek Central and it’s time we shared it with all of you!

There’s a new neighbor moving in next door to our office in downtown Lakeville.

The Bonus Room is approximately one-thousand square feet of versatile rental space. It’s the extra space you need if you’re hosting a meeting or event. It will be able to accommodate everything from wedding showers to weekend boutiques… book club meetings to business off-site retreats… custom classes to community get-togethers.

The space is still under construction but will be opening its doors in early to mid February. For those of you familiar with downtown Lakeville, it’s in the space vacated by Watch Me Draw. The contractors are still working hard: moving walls, painting, outfitting a full kitchen, and installing brand new carpeting. We’re enjoying watching the changes take place and can’t wait for everyone to see it.










When finished, the space will be decked out in a gorgeous, monochromatic neutral color scheme… the perfect backdrop for any event. Stay tuned to their website and Facebook page to get the latest news. We’ll be sure to let you know when the space is finished so you can pop in and see it for yourself.

By the way, rumor has it the grand opening will coincide with our ribbon cutting on February 15th. Mark your calendar now so you can be one of the first to set your eyes on the new space. The booking calendar should be up soon, ready to accommodate your events!


9 Ways Home Flipping Shows Mislead Viewers

We all know the premise of home-flipping shows: An investor buys a veritable dump and then, with the help of a team of ready-and-willing contractors and landscapers, transforms it into the best-looking home on the block. Next, that intrepid buyer turns around and sells it for a hefty profit. Sounds like a straightforward formula for financial success, right? Well, not quite.

What makes for entertaining television doesn’t always translate into a win beyond the high definition flat screen. The following are nine ways home-flipping shows mislead viewers. So, if you’re considering turning this into your next career or even a side gig, you may want to separate fact from fiction first.

1. Tight turnarounds aren’t always realistic


In order to realize as large a profit as possible, it’s important to flip the property as quickly as you can, otherwise paying the mortgage, taxes, and insurance quickly chips away at your bottom line. While sales tend to happen quickly on TV, the reality is that even if you have a willing buyer, getting pre-approved and securing the financing doesn’t happen overnight. For anxious sellers, that ticking clock is a constant reminder that every passing day means a little less money in their pockets.

2. Finding a dedicated team isn’t easy


As far too many homeowners know, not all contractors are created equal. For the most part, the artisans who make their way onto home-flipping shows are trustworthy, knowledgeable and willing to work nearly round-the-clock to get the job done. In reality, contractors may be working on multiple projects simultaneously and may disappear for days at a time. And as we all know, time is money.

3. DIY doesn’t work for everyone


Part of the appeal of these home-flipping programs is the ease with which the whole property comes together. But it’s more than just the time-lapse photography that makes it seem like anyone with a tool belt can renovate like a pro. While you might be tempted to take a DIY approach to keep expenses low, remember, these people know what they’re doing, whereas most homeowners are experts at other things. Sometimes tackling a task yourself will end up costing you more than if you’d hired the right person for the job.

4. When trouble strikes, it’s not so easy to resolve


Even with a careful home inspection, surprises (not the good kind!) pop up when you least expect them. Yet, if a sink hole opens and threatens to swallow a sunporch, home-flipping show teams are ready to fix that issue like it’s no big deal. When it happens to non-TV-star homeowners, it’s not always easy to find the right subcontractor — especially when you’re under time constraints. And, once you do, can you even afford to deal with whatever unpleasant shocker has come your way? If you have to go back to the bank for more money, that will impact your timeframe and ultimately your profit. (See number 1.) Home-flippers on TV seem to have bottomless bank accounts. Must be nice, right?

5. Materials don’t arrive simultaneously


When home-flippers begin a project, all the requisite materials are on-site and ready to go. If only this were the norm! Anyone who’s ever fallen in love with a special order item knows that it’s almost impossible to find everything you like in stock and ready for delivery. Some contractors are reluctant to start a renovation until all the supplies are in, which, again, can hurt your timeline and your profit.

6. The back-and-forth is all done behind-the-scenes


Never mind the fact that homes showcased on these programs never seem to lack for buyers, in many instances there doesn’t seem to be any haggling to speak of when it comes to the asking price. Leaving out the art of negotiation does viewers a disservice as it makes it appear that buyers can’t wait to pay full price — or above it.

7. The math is fuzzy


In order to reap the biggest profit, you need to buy below market value, sell above it, and not put more money into the renovation than you’ll get back. As if that equation weren’t complicated enough, on television, you don’t always hear about the costs of buying or selling, inspection and appraisals fees, and other expenses that go into both sides of the transactions. Leaving out some numbers conveniently inflates the profit.

8. Costs vary by area


Renovating a bathroom in rural Tennessee is going to cost much less than it would in, say, Manhattan. Not only will the labor be less expensive, but the materials and delivery charges will also skew lower in non-metropolitan areas. Of course, none of that is addressed in the show and most often estimates on TV are far lower than those you’d gather in real life.

9. You can over-renovate


Once you’re in the home improvement groove, you may be tempted to splurge and really go all out, but you have to resist the temptation to overdo it and put in more money than you’ll ever get back. In the quest to make your flip as fabulous as possible, you never want to lose sight of the the reason you started this project: to make money. Consider the return on investment for each improvement you make.

Do you have plans to take on a renovation or investment property this year? If so, let’s talk!


Geek Speak: Home Warranties

What’s the scoop with home warranties? Are they important? Do I need one?

Unlike a manufacturer’s warranty that covers an appliance for a certain amount of time, or a homeowner’s insurance policy that protects a home against catastrophic damages, a home warranty provides coverage for day-to-day breakage due to normal use.

A home warranty doesn’t expire–the plan can be renewed year after year.  Coverage can extend from appliances like dishwashers and water heaters to whole-house systems such as plumbing and electrical. Terms and limits vary by company and some offer additional coverage for specialty items like pools or wells. One of the companies we work with even covers the cost of re-keying an entire home–a huge benefit for a buyer right after a move.

Who Buys a Home Warranty?

That depends. In a competitive market, sellers may include a home warranty in the purchase price of their house. If buyers have concerns about dated appliances, they might ask a seller to include the coverage as part of the purchase agreement. Home warranties can also be purchased directly by a homeowner. They don’t have to be part of a home sale.

Kitchen AppliancesTop 3 Reasons to Purchase a Home Warranty:

Peace of Mind for Buyers – As a buyer, there’s comfort knowing that if something goes wrong, you won’t be out the expense of having to replace or repair an item in addition to all of the other moving and closing expenses.

Attractive Advantage – If a buyer is undecided between properties, the addition of a bonus like a home warranty may provide the deciding factor between homes.

Limited Liability – With a home warranty in place, a seller won’t have to worry about an appliance giving out and having to come up with the extra funds for replacement while their home is for sale.

If you’d like more information about home warranties, contact on of the geeks or tune in for this week’s episode of Grill The Geeks on The Property Geeks Facebook page where we’ll be talking to a colleague of ours who works for a home warranty company. We broadcast live every Thursday at 12pm Central time. Hope to see you there!





Theresa’s New Tradition – Zuppa Toscana Soup


Property Geek Theresa has a new favorite recipe — perfect for the cold December days and long winter nights ahead of us in Minnesota.  Her daughter, Lauren, originally made it in her Culinary Arts class but they’ve adapted it a bit and it’s become a new family favorite… a copycat recipe of the Olive Garden’s delicious Zuppa Toscana soup.

The original link to the recipe and directions can be found on

First, gather all of the ingredients…

Zuppa Toscana

Next, you’ll brown the sausage then drain it.

Zuppa Toscana - Sausage

Chop the onion and garlic, then add the onion to the same pan, cooking until it’s tender and translucent.

Zuppa Toscana - onion & garlicZuppa Toscana - Garlic








Potatoes are next. You don’t even have to peel them, just dice them and toss them in.

Zuppa Toscana - Potatoes

Zuppa Toscana - potatoes mixed








Smells delish already, doesn’t it? Now add the chicken broth and relax while the stove top does the work for a bit.

Zuppa Toscana - Broth

Now add your power veggie… kale… and let it cook until the leaves are nice and tender.

Zuppa Toscana - Kale

If you’ve stuck with us this far, you’re about to be rewarded. Final step, mix in the cream and bacon. Only a few more minutes to go.

Garnish and enjoy!


Thanks Theresa and Lauren (pictured!) for sharing your new family favorite with us!



  • 1lb Italian Sausage, browned & drained
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 Large Potatoes, diced
  • 1 Bunch Curly Kale, diced
  • 3/4 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 4 Slices Bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 1/4 Cups Parmesan, grated


  1. Brown the sausage in a large pot, then drain.
  2. In same pot, add the onion, letting it cook over medium heat until it softens.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add chicken broth and potatoes and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and tender, about 25 minutes.
  5. Stir in kale and cook until leaves are soft, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add cream, sausage and bacon. Simmer an additional 3-5 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and serve while hot.

The soup is hearty and filling and makes a meal all by itself. But Theresa likes to serve it with bread sticks and salad on the side. She also suggests making a double batch since it tastes even better the second day!

What are some of your favorite winter recipes?

Tips for Holiday Decorating

Top 5 Holiday Decorating Tips When Your House Is For Sale

We get asked this question a lot… “Should I still decorate my house if it’s for sale over the holidays?”

The short answer is yes, of course. Your home may be for sale, but you’re still living in it and should be able to celebrate whichever holidays your family holds dear. But… we do have some advice to offer if you don’t want to put off a potential buyer who doesn’t quite embrace your level of Ho-Ho-Ho. Here are our top 5 tips:

1 – Whether you’re going all out with a huge tree, snowglobes on every surface or just putting a few things up around the house, try to coordinate colors and themes if at all possible. In a perfect world you’d have color-coordinated ornaments, a tree full of sparkling clear lights and stockings to match. Think the best of Seasonal Concepts. But… the ornaments the kids painted in Kindergarten and the stocking your daughter crocheted when she was eight are some of your favorite items. We get it. The goal is to be festive without being too cluttered or too personal.


2 – Watch the breakables. This might not be the year to set our your great-grandma’s heirloom nativity set. Families may be coming through with small children. If you have to put family treasures out, make sure you put them out of reach of small hands.









3 – For outdoor decor, you’re not going for a Griswold family Christmas. No friendly competition with the neighbors or contests to see who can fit the most reindeer on the roof or inflatables in the front yard. White lights are best, but even if your family tradition calls for the multi-colored ones, just keep it simple. And keep the extension cords to a minimum. You don’t want a prospective buyer tripping over something you’ve strung across the sidewalk.


4 – Make sure your home looks, smells and feels welcoming. During these colder months, the sun can dip behind the horizon well before dinnertime. Keep things cozy by shoveling the driveway, salting the walk and turning the thermostat up so buyers don’t enter a cold home. And nothing says home for the holidays better than the smell of something fresh out of the oven. Fake a fresh-baked apple pie by simmering some apple cider with cinnamon in a slow cooker on low.

cider spices







5 – A little effort can go a long way when showing your house over the holidays. Leave bottles of water, Christmas cookies or a bowl of candy canes on the counter when you know someone is coming through. The buyers will appreciate the thoughtfulness and special touch.








If you need help deciding if you’ve got too much holiday spirit showing, ask a neighbor or your realtor to take a look. Often times their first impression will differ from yours, providing some much needed perspective on your level of holiday cheer.

With a little extra effort and a lot less decor, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the season, even when you’ve got your house on the market.

Happy Holidays!