Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

This has been a good year with so many milestones for me and our family!

I married Mark Smith in February in a fun celebration with family and friends at the Atlantic Country Club. We felt truly blessed to have so many people there to celebrate our happiness! My name is now Julie Smith, not Julie May…which is taking some time to get used to!

Our Wedding 2016

Our Wedding 2016

Mark’s daughter, Bailey, got married in April to Jeremiah Macke, a great guy who we know makes Bailey truly happy. They planned to have an outdoor wedding in our backyard, but torrential rain and wind moved us indoors to the Community Center here in Atlantic instead. The wedding turned out to be beautiful and sweet despite the rain.

Mark’s incentive trip with Principal Financial this year was to Puerto Rico in April. We took an extra few days to explore Old San Juan on our own, then went on to The El Conquistador Resort for the conference. We absolutely loved this vacation and would go back to Puerto Rico in a heartbeat!

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

We found out in May that my daughter, Jill and her husband, Dexter are expecting their first baby in January! A baby boy! I am beyond excited!

My daughter, Jill!  (34 weeks pregnant)

My daughter, Jill! (34 weeks pregnant)

The summer months were spent boating and motorcycle riding. We boat on the Missouri River out of Omaha/Blair, Nebraska and enjoy our boating friendships. We spent a week in Sturgis, SD at the motorcycle rally in August, which was a lot of fun. Some say we aren’t ‘true’ riders because we trailer the bike up instead of riding all the way there. I say we are WAY more comfortable as we pass riders in the rain or wind while we are in a cozy vehicle!

2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Nebraska Husker football season started out with a bang, and we were there to tailgate at every home game in Lincoln. Loved having so many friends stop by to spend a day with us, or just have a beer and say ‘hi’. Too bad the Huskers didn’t finish big, but there’s always next year!

Husker Game 2016

Husker Game 2016

My son, Thomas is working in Omaha as the General Manager of Coco Key Water Park.  He’s finding management both challenging and rewarding, but will soon have his student loans paid off and wants to buy a house.  My youngest son, Chris is in his Senior year at Wayne State College in Wayne, NE.  He’ll be graduating in May with a degree in Finance.  He’s also enjoying his last year on the Wayne State baseball team.

In September we were blessed with our first grandchild. Mark’s daughter, Morgan, and her husband, Ryan, welcomed a sweet baby girl named Sawyer James into this world and we couldn’t be happier. We were able to go to Memphis, TN where they live to meet Sawyer early on. Fun to spend time with a baby again!

Meeting Sawyer

Meeting Sawyer

This Christmas we were able to have a lot of family home with us, and we enjoyed the time together. We were also told that Mark’s daughter, Bailey is expecting a baby next year in July!  Three grandchildren within a year! How blessed are we? 🙂

With a year like this past one, how can I NOT be excited for this next year?! Bring on 2017!!

Best wishes to you all…

A New Experience-Ice Fishing!

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Mark has been telling me how much fun ice fishing is for the past couple of years.  In the winter months he and his buddies get their fishing poles ready, bundle up in cold weather duds, grab the ice hut and beer and head to a local lake or farm pond on a pretty regular basis.   He always comes home in a good mood (maybe it’s partly the beer) bragging about how many fish he caught compared to the other guys.  They tell the story differently, of course.

It’s always sounded like fun and I wanted to try it sometime, but I truly don’t like be to cold and thought that sitting on a frozen lake getting wet fish off a hook would be miserable.  But this past Sunday I decided to give it a try.  The temperature was a balmy 46 degrees, which after the sub-zero temps we’ve had lately felt like a heatwave.  Yes, it was really windy, but the ice hut would block the wind.  So we went.  We went to a local farm pond, parked the truck and put our gear (fishing poles, bucket for the fish, auger, wax worm bait and beer) into the ice hut bottom and pulled it all out onto the ice.  Mark used the auger to drill three holes in the ice.  It was about 15 inches deep.  We set up the ice hut, climbed in, zipped it shut and got the poles out.  I got a lesson in ice fishing…letting out the line, watching for the bobber to pull, setting the hook and reeling one in.  I caught my first fish fairly quickly, within about 5 minutes of putting my first line in the hole.  Pretty exciting!  I caught my second fish shortly after that, then about 10 more within an hour or so.  Mark was catching them too and we had quite a haul when we left 2 hours later.  It was fun!   My feet were the only part of me that got a bit cold at the end of the outing, but otherwise I was comfortable and warm the entire time.  Who knew that I could actually enjoy ice fishing!?  We packed up and came home.

Mark set out to clean the fish and I offered to help.  So he filleted them and I ribbed them.  I think he was surprised that I would actually handle a fish.  Please…I was a girl scout!    We had about 25 fish total, mostly bluegill and a couple of crappie.  Last night we fried some up and had them for dinner.  Delicious!

Just another fun Iowa adventure!  Oh yeah…and I think I caught more than Mark.  🙂

$5000 Grants for Military First-Time Buyers

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Did you know that now Military first time buyers can apply for a $5000 grant toward a down payment and closing costs? The national nonprofit Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation is offering the assistance through it’s Dream Makers program, but you are able to apply the grant to a mortgage from ANY financial institution. There are some restrictions….this is for active duty personnel, veterans, retired members of the military or employees of the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security. You must be a first time homebuyer, or have not owned a home in the past three years, and there are income restrictions. Please read about this program further at Click on the ‘Dream Makers’ link.

Definitely worth checking into for all of my military clients!

What to Do With a Low-Ball Offer

Monday, August 1st, 2011

You’ve cleaned, un-cluttered and staged your home precisely and yet you get a low-ball offer on your home. Ouch! How could they insult you that way?

I know it’s hard, but try not to take it personally. Most Buyers out there have seen the newspaper articles or heard the national TV reports about how horrible the housing market is right now. According to the news there are deals to be had everywhere and Buyers want one! The truth is the market in the Omaha Metro area isn’t awful, but Buyer’s are hoping to find that seller who is ‘desperate’ and therefore may sell their home at a very low price. Maybe they don’t understand the value of homes in your neighborhood, or they are just throwing a dollar amount out there to see if it sticks.

First…take a step back and try to see this from a Buyer’s perspective, without emotions getting in the way. Communicate. “Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Buyer for making an offer on my home.” Then take one of three approaches:

1. Accept it.
2. Reject it.
3. Counter it

Accept it. If you’ve truly got a low-ball offer, this probably isn’t your first choice. However if you’re on the verge of a short-sale, or foreclosure and you haven’t had any offers to date this may be a good final option.

Reject it. You don’t like this offer and are not willing to accept any of the terms. This response tells the Buyer in no-nonsense terms that there is not a snowball’s chance that you will come together on this deal. If the Buyer has just thrown out a low dollar amount to see if they can ‘steal’ your home, they will quickly learn that your home is not a contender. If they have offered low because they can’t afford to go higher, then they will know that they need to move on to a lower-priced property. If they DO qualify for the list price, but don’t want to pay it, then they will learn that you are too far apart to make a deal come together. But sometimes if a Buyer truly wants the property, they will come back with another higher offer once this line has been drawn.

Counter it. You don’t like the offer, but you are willing to come down in price some and the Buyer will come up in price some and hopefully you can meet in the middle. I will always encourage you to counter a low-ball offer. You’ve had several showings with no offers and this Buyer actually liked the house enough to write an offer on it. Let’s not let this ‘live’, interested Buyer get away without at least trying to negotiate an agreement. After all, if you don’t reach a mutually acceptable price and terms you are no worse off than before.

Now bring on ANY and ALL offers!

Have you ever wondered what your neighbor’s house sold for?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Now you can find out.

NP Dodge is pleased to announce a new “sold listings” feature on Consumers will now be able to search for homes in Nebraska that have sold within the past 6 months. The listings will be updated on a daily basis from sold information received through the Great Plains Multiple Listing Service. This will create much easier access to accurate sold information, rather than going through national websites such as Zillow or Trulia or even the local county assessor site.

A single search on will return sold homes from the past 6 months that match specific criterion such as subdivision, style, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Just one of the ways NP Dodge continually displays the ability to have cutting edge technology and innovation. The new sold feature button is found on the home page as well as within the detailed NE home search on the site.

Consumers request this information daily. I’m proud that we’re able to provide such easy access to this up-to-date information on our website!

Check it out!

Technology and Real Estate – Exciting New Ideas!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Last week I attended a real estate technology class hosted by John Mayfield ( While some of the information was basically simple like how to use social media (Facebook and Twitter), other ideas were exciting and new to me. There are incredible tools on the internet to make a house listing stand out from all of the others.

The one that most intrigued me was the use of QR Codes. Per Wikipedia: “A QR Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.”

Here is mine for this website:
QR Code

By using these types of codes, anyone with a smart phone can ‘read’ the barcode and be directed immediately to any website, YouTube video, Facebook page or anyplace on the web. So think of the possibilities…a QR code on a yard sign of a house, directing potential buyers to a video or visual tour of the home they are sitting in front of. Or a QR code on house flyers directing consumers to the local MLS site displaying all pertinent information on the home. Or consider putting your website’s QR code on the back of your business card to direct clients to your site! It’s such a simple way to get a lot of information out to people without a lot of paper. NP Dodge is already adding QR codes to agent flyers and other tools.

You need to download a quick free application on your smartphone in order to ‘read’ or ‘scan’ these codes. I use ScanLife Barcode Reader on my Blackberry. Try it out…you know you want to!!

Isn’t technology amazing?

Omaha MLS Statistics/Listings vs. Solds

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Hidden Fees When Buying a Home

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

I often get asked how much it really costs when buying a home. What expenses do I need to plan for?

Well obviously there is the purchase price of the home, generally put into a 30 year loan. Your lender will explain the interest rate, tax and insurance escrows, appraisal fee, PMI, and closing costs. These fees are expected.
What isn’t always expected are the extra fees involved in home ownership.

When you write an offer on a home, you need to give an earnest deposit with your offer. A typical earnest deposit is about 1% or more of the price of the home you are writing an offer on. It’s your money and will be applied to your closing costs at closing unless you decide to walk away from the offer for no reason. In that case, the Seller gets to keep that money.

A home inspection is another cost that is well worth the money. As the Buyer, you will pay for your own home inspection. They can range from $250 to $500 depending on the size of the house. Once you receive the report from the inspector you may ask the seller to make repairs to the property, but they may or may not make those repairs. At that point it is all negotiable between you and the seller. In some instances repair costs are split between the seller and the buyer.

Another cost might be a Radon inspection. This costs about $125 and is done at the time of the home inspection. If Radon levels are found to be high, then you can ask the seller to install a radon mitigation system. Sometimes the cost of the system (about $800) is split between the seller and the buyer.
Home Owner Associations (HOA) charge another annual fee. A lot of subdivisions have these associations in place to make sure that their neighborhoods are well maintained. HOA fees can range from $30/year to several hundred a year, depending on the neighborhood. So this is something you definitely want to ask your Realtor about once you decide on a home. If you are considering a condo, townhome or villa, then there are monthly association fees that pay for lawn care and snow removal as well.

Of course once you get into your home you have your monthly utilities. You will be paying for electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash removal and most likely cable and telephone services. All of which can add up to several hundred dollars per month.

Of course there may be many other little things that come up in the course of buying a home, but being flexible with negotiations helps things move along smoothly. I also strongly recommend working with a buyer’s agent who knows your market and can help guide you through the entire process.

So is it worth it? Absolutely! There is nothing like owning your own home.

So You’ve Decided to Buy a Home…

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

What you should know about Buyer representation

How often do you purchase real estate? Once, twice, three times in your lifetime? So you can hardly be expected to know all the ins and outs of such a major transaction complicated by so many details. In most transactions, sellers are represented by a listing agent who minds these details and their client’s best interests. As a buyer, don’t you also want complete and fair representation in your real estate transaction? Real estate buyer’s representatives are responsible for protecting the best interests of their clients…buyers like you…and can guide you through every step of the process. So the first step, and perhaps the most important, is finding your buyer’s representative.

What is a Buyer Representative?
Defined most simply, a buyer’s representative (or buyer’s agent) is an advocate for the buyer…not the seller…in a real estate transaction. Buyer’s representatives in Nebraska owe full fiduciary (legal) duties, including loyalty and confidentiality, to their buyer-clients and keep their best interests in mind through the entire transaction. It is also a good idea to look for an Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). These three letters after a Realtor’s name is a designation held solely by agents who have met the educational and practical requirements set forth by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) and who demonstrate skills and knowledge to best represent homebuyers.

Why Should I Use a Buyer’s Representative?
The two most important reasons to use a buyer’s representative are protection and efficiency. Most likely, the seller, or in the case of new construction, the builder, of whatever property you buy will be represented by the listing agent who can provide expertise throughout the transaction, although the listing agent is working for the seller, not you, the Buyer. Don’t you want the same kind of service as a buyer? A buyer’s representative can provide you with the expertise you need through the entire transaction, without a conflict of interest, and keeping your best interests in mind.

What does it cost to use a Buyer Representative?
The buyer pays no commission to the buyer representative. The seller of the property, or the builder in new construction purchases pays the commission due the agent. It’s like having your own personal assistant making sure the transaction goes smoothly, and putting your buyer’s interests first. And best of all…the buyer pays no commission.

If you’re interested in being represented in your new home purchase, please contact me.

Welcome to my Blog

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

A couple of years ago, I decided to build a new and improved website and I love the feedback I’ve received from it! On my site you can search all local MLS listings and there are several sections with local information about schools, lenders and more to help you through the buying and selling process. This year, in the spirit of moving forward, I’ve decided to include a blog on my site.

So without further ado… drum roll, please… Welcome to my blog!

I’m excited to have this new addition to my website so I can keep you informed about new real estate trends, tips and tidbits, and work with you to share and discuss local community issues and events.

I would love for you to join my blog! Let me know what you think. Make comments. Let’s get to know each other better, and have fun as we go!   It’s a great way for us to stay connected and informed.