Alex and Jen. Heyen Real Estate

Heyen Real Estate Blog | Omaha and Lincoln Nebraska

Omaha Real Estate – Real Talk V1

You like to keep your money in your pocket right?  Sure you do, everyone does.  There is a reason that shows like HGTV and DIY have become so popular, we love to do it ourselves to save money. What you probably didn’t know, (or you would already be working with us) is that you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars by working with us!

  • No Broker Admin Fee

These range from 200-1000 per transaction and often the seller ends up paying them twice because they are wrapped into the Buyer’s closing costs. For a buyer this also means they had to pay more for the house since their closing costs are higher.  Even though the seller is paying them, it still affects the bottom dollar of what you get the home for.

  • No Affiliated Business Agreements

We recommend service providers who are competitive and good at what they do, not because they give us a kickback which ultimately comes out of your pocket in the form of higher service fees. If anyone we recommend does have an agent incentive, we always give that back to you.

  • Client Centric Approach

I feel one of the biggest complaints about real estate agents in general is that people feel they push people to a closing or agreeing to terms they otherwise wouldn’t because the agent wants to get the deal done.  We don’t work that way.  This is our full time job, we are good at what we do, and we are not living from paycheck to paycheck...

How to Know Which House is Right For You

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Take A Bite Out of the Dark Side – Voodoo Taco

When I was pregnant with my son, he gained the nickname of baby burrito because all I wanted to eat was Mexican food.  I wish there had been a Voodoo Taco around then because I would have been there EVERY day.  If you haven’t had the chance to venture to one of their three locations around Omaha then stop what you are doing… no really stop… and go. Right now!

As the name would suggest Tacos are their thing, but you can get salads, rice bowls and nachos if you prefer a different vessel for your meat.  I was amazed at all the different flavors they have to offer on their menu – pork, mahi mahi, shrimp, fried avocado, and even alligator.  When we went, I ordered the mahi mahi and my husband had the steak fajita.  We were both amazed at the quality of the ingredients and the depth of flavor that we got considering that each dish was less then 5$.

As an added bonus the décor and atmosphere is awesome.  The reds, black and purple compliment their theme perfectly and the seating is well thought out and comfortable.  Despite the fact that there was a line out the door when we got there, we ordered our meals and had them quickly. The staff was very friendly and helpful.  Being gluten free, I always feel like Leper at the ordering counter, but they were very helpful in making sure I made a safe choice from the menu.

For those of you fellow gluten free foodies that might be reading this, definitely check this place out.  Although they do not have a true gluten free menu, they do offer...

Union Pacific Museum – A Blast From The Past

It was a gorgeous day in Omaha today, so we knew that we wanted to get out and do something with the kids. My son, who is almost three, absolutely loves anything that deals with transportation.  Trains, cars, boats, planes, you name it.  If it moves things from one destination to another he is ALL over it.  Having just found out that there is a Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, we thought this would be the perfect activity for the kids.

Living in Omaha, we very rarely make it over to Council Bluffs, but the museum was very easy to find.  It is located in the Old Library right off of the old square.  Parking was easy and admission is free which makes it a great option if you are looking for fun things to do with the kids on a budget.  They do request donations to keep the museum running and it is run mostly by volunteers.

The museum is two floors and is very well setup showing different stages of the railway, it’s significance throughout time and many interactive exhibits.  For us, having a three year old and one year old, much of the museum was lost on them.  I think it would probably be much better for a child who was pre-k or older who could appreciate the lovely displays and history behind the objects in the museum.  That being said, we did get a good hour of entertainment out of the museum from the interactive driving system, the train table and the caboose.

I would definitely recommend checking it out, the atmosphere was...

Krug Park – The Hair of the Dog

The hair of the dog.  I always thought that this was the most hilarious saying when I was a kid.  It wasn’t until my first horrible hangover in college that I truly appreciated the meaning and necessity of the saying.  When I think of hangover remedies now, I always think of Bloody Mary’s. I mean what better way to cure a horrible headache and dehydration then all those wonderful vegetable juices and spices.

My husband considers himself a bit of a connoisseur of the Bloody Mary.  It is his drink of choice and he has tried them in MANY places across Omaha. Although no two are the same, it is not often that he has one that stands above the rest. That being said, one place that seriously stepping up the Bloody Mary game is Krug Park in Benson.

Krug Park has been in Benson since 2011 and is named after a historical figure who opened a theme park/beer garden in Benson in the early 1900’s.  True to its name, the place is a mix of old and new with much of the original 1908 building having been restored to serve as the backdrop.

Offering 12 different variations on the classic Bloody Mary, there is something for everyone’s palate.  One of my personal favorites is the Bacon Bloody Mary.  I mean who doesn’t love a little bacon?

If Bloody Mary’s are not your thing then don’t rule Krug Place out, they also have over 50 craft beers on tap.  The Flight Night is a great way to go if you like to sample many different kinds of beer.  They have special selections of 6 different kinds...

Midtown Crossings Holiday Lights Spectacular

As if life is not hectic enough, I keep dragging the kids out to see as many light shows as I can before the Holidays are over.  Maybe I just like to be stressed out, or perhaps its just that I feel like THIS is what the holidays are all about.  Christmas music, ruby red cheeks and noses from the cold, and the smell of baked goods.  I want my children to look back on their childhood and remember those things like I do.

So, since we were blessed with warm temperatures last night the family and I went and checked out the Holiday Lights Spectacular at Midtown crossing. Every night since November 22 and through January 1st, Midtown crossing puts on a choreographed light show along to some of out favorite tunes.  Being that it was a Friday, it was busy, but with plenty of free parking and all of Turner Park to congregate, we didn’t really notice the crowd.

The show started promptly at 7pm and lasted for about 20 minutes playing favorites like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas all the while with the lights on the building and around Turner Park jamming...

Knocking it out of the Park: Lincoln’s Haymarket Development

Lincoln traditions of things like sampling The Mill Coffee and walking on the pedestrian bridge towards Saltdogs stadium have only grown to epic heights over the last year or so. With additions such as the ultra equipped music venue Vega and The Pinnacle Bank Arena, This area congruent with west downtown Lincoln is quickly exceeding expectations of what everyone always envisioned. During the 1880’s, Lincoln’s population really boomed and quadrupled; many of the beautiful old warehouses were constructed then. Tons of staple businesses like The Indian Oven have been anchors here, attracting folks left and right with big city style offerings. In September of 2011, construction began on the brightest and best of the vision for the arena, now a cultural hub and staple for the city.


Anchoring the 344 Million dollar West Haymarket Development project, the well planned development of the arena provides out of this world year round entertainment, all of the upper end sporting events, and a whopping estimated annual attendance of around  700,000. With a center stage capacity of 15,900 and over 470,000 square feet, the “wow” factor was in place immediately as soon as construction began. The area around  the arena has always been waiting for the anchor of a large city style venue to tie it together, and you can really take in the charms of the Haymarket any time of year. Hosting huge events like Larry the Cable Guy and Carlos Santana, it’s also a favorite for wrestling, local beerfests, and UNL graduation. Comedians like Jeff Dunham and even Katy...

Omaha’s Festival of Lights; Shining the Light on Hunger

One essential part of Omaha holidays is seeing the downtown area really dazzle. After a warm sit down meal at M’s Pub or Spaghetti Works, there’s nothing like a stroll to get you fully ready for the holiday vibe in this diverse and fantastic holiday landscape. Whether inspired by classic movies like “Home Alone” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”, getting out the door and into downtown Omaha for a light show will absolutely put you in the mood for 40 blocks of top notch holiday lights. Everyone on the hunt for family friendly activities that ring true for the season and make you think of stockings and well lit trees will not be disappointed. Put on by Mayor Jean Stothert and the Downtown Omaha Inc. Foundation, it is also backed by Con Agra Foods, KMTV Channel 3, and Star 104.5. There are a slew of activities here that everyone can enjoy as the neighbors get their decorations ready for display.

Sounds of the Season:

Each Saturday from the early part of the month until December 27, Pacific Life Insurance Company rounds up the cream of the crop as far as choral performers to take  the stage in the Gene Leahy Mall and The Old Market; young teens on up to seasoned professionals will take the stage here, providing a festive favorite for all in attendance. Acts such as Galmanaviches and Giselle, The renowned Master Singers, Jingle Bell Brass Ensemble, Millard North Middle School, and The Cuivre Brass Quintet will light...

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with Real Estate Photography

Almost all people searching for a home, begin their home search online.  This is an irrefutable fact.  Everyday when we take a look at the new listings on the market, we are baffled at some of the horrendous pictures that agents take.  Sometimes it looks like a CL ad for furniture.  Sometimes it is evident that an agent took the pictures with their cellphone.  Sometimes, the photos are so blurry that you can not even tell what room of the house it is.

In our opinion there is absolutely no excuse for that.  A seller is hiring an agent to represent and sell their home.  If the agent is too lazy or too broke to either invest in the proper equipment to photograph a home or hire a professional to do so, then they have no business asking a seller to pay them to sell their home.

It is often debated whether or not real estate photography is important.  There is no doubt that pricing your house correctly is going to be the largest determining factor in selling your home quickly, but in our opinion, if you don’t get people in the door then how well the home is priced is irrelevant.

Here is a blurb from our upcoming sellers guide which we are hoping to unveil in early January detailing what we do for ALL our listings regardless of pricepoint:

Real estate photography has evolved over the years from a simple photo of the outside of the home to vivid rich pictures that really show off the house.  You want to make sure that the agent...

Unforgettable Christmas Event: Mannheim Steamroller at The Orpheum

Truly America’s favorite holiday tradition, this year is extra special as it marks the 30th anniversary of their tours. This December 22nd and 23rd, the number one Christmas artist in history will perform in our city, with a festive as ever ensemble and truly stirring and one of a kind holiday music. The multimedia is stellar, leaving you dazzled and feeling as if you just walked out of the world of “Polar Express” or a modern day “Nutcracker” montage. This is one performance that you won’t want to miss, as the group will descend on Slosburg Hall for an awe inspiring stage run of two days for those who have waited eagerly all year. Leaving you craving egg nogg, gift wrapping sessions and candles lit in solace, they are one very dynamic holiday act that is a real marvel to behold.


Selling over 28 million albums just here in the US, the group began as a fun alter ego for  Chip Davis, the iconic producer and composer of the group. The name comes from a German Technique of rising the melodic line over a bass line, resulting in a different sound scheme overall and true unique finished product or track. A true pioneer, Chip founded his own label of American Gramophone when no one would else would back him, and his choice turned out to be a great one. Fresh Aire and Fresh Aire II explored the seasons with sounds and were a grand success, as people reveled in the synth, sound exploration and festive style of Mannheim. Exploring Greek Mythology, the benefits...

PE 101 Kids Gym – A Lifesaver for long winter days!

Winter has arrived.  For me, with a rambunctious toddler, this means a rowdy kid who has no way to get his energy out.  Don’t get me wrong, I try to get creative by taking him to the children’s museum, the gym daycare, to the mall play place’s and even Chik Fil A when I am desperate – but, there are only so many hours I can spend pretend working out so my kid can run around and get out his energy out.

Having lived in Omaha now for over 6 years, I thought I was stuck with my same go to options for my son this winter.  However, in a moment of desperation as my son was bouncing off the walls because it was too cold to go outside – I decided to hit google again to see what I could find.  Like a shining star in a dark sky, PE 101 Kids Gym’s name came up.

This 5,000 sqft space, is made for kids one to eight years old and includes a zip line, foam pit, weight equipment, climbing wall and so much more.  The best part about it is that kids can run around and just… well be kids.

They are open daily and offer various open gym times that accommodate both working and stay at home parents. These times change weekly though, so make sure to check their website and ...

Pros and Cons list for the Homeowner: Gas vs. Electric Furnaces

As we are literally at the time of the year where the days get shorter and the holiday season rushes up on us before we are ready, the desire to be energy efficient, comfortable, and happy in your home jumps a notch. There is nothing more frustrating for any homeowner than realizing your furnace is out! This can obviously force you to make the decision a bit quicker than you may want to, when a warm toasty day on the inside of your confines sounds so much better than freezing while being bundled up in your own home. As energy efficient as gas is generally known to be, there are still quite a few factors to look into when making the decision. Sitting down and going over the pros and cons of both can help you make the decision a bit better when the time comes, and choose which heating source is the route for your family to take.


It is true that gas furnaces have plenty of reason to be known as the energy efficient route to take when heating your living space. Absolutely true that they operate up to 98 percent efficient, gas is also known to be better at combating the actual humidity factor, all so prevalent in many areas of the US. While the benefits of gas are many, it is a fact that there is a bit of toxicity involved in the scenario. The dreaded Co2 leak does not happen often, but when it does, it is cause for concern and sometimes your city’s natural gas supplier needs to be dispatched immediately to find out where and why there is a strange odor. It is true that there are Energy Star rated versions of both gas and electric furnaces, and one opinion about gas is that it may need more...

South 24th Street; A Culture Must See in Omaha

This incredibly colorful and diverse street is something that no one passing through should miss. From every hard working rancher to any proud artist and laborer south of the border, these are traditions that die hard and always splash wonderfully on the canvas of a city neighborhood. Seeing the annual Cinco de Mayo festival here is something to truly behold, drawing visitors from very far away and being a truly multicultural affair. If you are looking for ambiance like Village Pointe or Westroads, this is not really where you’re going to find it. Literally abuzz with people, traffic, merchants, and color, this destination is perfect for when you are craving something that reminds you of red rock, cactus, and abundant sunshine.


Now there are more Latin dishes available then just standard Mexican fare for sampling here, and during a very thorough renovation period, everyone involved agreed that food was something all Omaha natives would love. Tostadas, Enchiladas, Tortas, and so much more are available here in abundance. At 24th and N, the “Plaza de la Raza” is a beacon in the area that sits snugly close to the Livestock Exchange Building, another stronghold for the picture of economic prosperity painted here years ago and brought back to life. With 33 buildings here that are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, the history in the area is more than just rich, it is jumping off this area like the most prominent feature of any richly created painting. The ultra fun La...

Homeowner Choices + Pros and Cons list: Vinyl vs. Wood Windows

Once you really settle into a property and look around to what needs fixing up and changing, the windows usually are near the top of the list. A way to lower energy costs by up to 30 or 40 percent, free yourself from constantly planning painting updates, and drastically improve the appearance of your abode all exist when choosing windows. From a large frontal bay option to a small and square side room element, when you make your pick, the entire feel of your room will change. New technology that helps trap cold air and keep rain out, options that let you replace the glass and sash without replacing the frame, and many models are available in the current window market. There really are so many options to remodel your home and improve a room that they are limitless, but in this feature we will compare vinyl to wood.


Known overall nationwide to be the most affordable, vinyl windows can cost half as much as the wood option. There are chambers within these windows that are especially good at trapping cold air, and one other benefit is that they usually require no repainting. First appearing on the market in the bicentennial 1970’s decade, they showed up on product lines because there needed to be a quick fix for some replacements that were not sized and ready to go in wood. Companies like Owens Corning and Certain Teed offer many options and sizes. When choosing vinyl, joints that are heat welded can be of better use in the long run than joints that are adjoined with fasteners and screws; the durability and overall fixture retains a higher quality. In some ways the dominating choice for modern homeowners, vinyl...

Trader Joe’s Omaha; The Neighborhood Grocery with Flair

Out on 103rd and Pacific, the always crowded parking lot is a sign of how much Omaha residents love this place. Incredibly healthy produce, snacks from around the globe, and an awesome wine and beer selection are waiting for you here when you wander in. Hopefully your culinary curiosity level is high, because you’ll find other great things here like New England clam chowder, vitamins and health supplements, lip balm, French food and soaps, and benefit from their mantra of “skipping the middle man”. Known to be very environmentally friendly and also known to have very helpful and easy to approach staff, their funky and hip store brand has attracted much attention, and retained many loyal repeat customers.


Named illustriously after the founder Joe Coulumbe, this store was originally founded in Los Angeles in 1958, and bore a striking resemblance to the prominent 7-11 chain. While on vacation, Joe noticed that Americans were bringing home lots of tastes for food and wine that the supermarkets were having a bit of trouble supplying during those years. The first store truly named “Trader Joe’s” opened in Pasadena, California in 1967, and remains in that spot to this day. They offered unique butchers who would rent space in the store, fresh squeezed orange juice, and became popular in the neighborhood amongst those looking for a change of pace in shopping....

Termites and How They Can Affect Your Home

Known to be armies or battalions of warriors with very annoying and damaging results, termites are as real a problem to the homeowner as it gets. They can chew right through siding, drastically change the structure of the home for the worst, and just be a general pain and source of great misery to you. Hopefully a good home inspection can tell you if you have to worry about termites, but in that aspect, you are kind of crossing your fingers and just hoping that all goes well. Before purchase, some buyers choose to hire an actual termite control specialist look the property over, to ease their peace of mind. If the inspection shows that you have a termite problem, don’t abandon the idea of purchasing, the buyer’s agent may be able to come up with a plan involving the seller to fight the battalion of pesky invaders.


The actual cost of the termite inspection is around 150-250 dollars, but after you are willing to cough this up, it is so very worth it in the long run. Structural areas like posts and beams are where you really want to make sure that the damage is kept away from, for these are the areas that you absolutely do not want the battalion to take over residence in. If you are the seller of a property, taking care of the inspection way before the transaction begins is also a plus; and it’s always best to try a few different companies to see which one costs bests and most meets your needs. As in any real estate...

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City; The Battery Building’s Bounty

With 54 rock and roll themed rooms and an attitude that shouts Las Vegas into the night along the Missouri River, The Hard Rock Hotel is one hot place to be seen and have fun at. More than 835 slots, table games, live entertainment, the World Tour Buffet and Fuel American Grill, and great nightlife and events await you here. This is going to be an excellent addition to the scene here in Sioux City; a place to entertain people in town on business and do it up right, or have a romantic getaway for just the two of you on Valentine’s or your anniversary. The Lobby Bar has three stories, a place to quench your thirst before you even check in, and an over the top drink selection. Here you can have classics like the sidecar, Manhattan, screwdriver, Cosmos, lemon drop, and the Vegas Bomb. This yummy whistle wetter has Crown, Malibu Rum, Peach Schnapps, and Red Bull to keep you awake for the thrill of gambling on the river.

The Fuel American Grill is the perfect place for a quick pickup of food, whether your hankering is for a burger, latte, salad, or other type of sandwich, and it’s open around the clock. Tasty items like prime rib patties and delicious fries are available here to just pick up and run right back to the nightlife and action. The World Tour Buffet has culinary items from all over, Wok and roll Asian style all the way to food categories to the Deep South, This is where you load up with unlimited portions to fuel you for the long day or evening ahead. In a location like this, there is nothing like the perfect mix of whiskey and gaming, and that is exactly what “The Yards” offers up here. With three big...

Good Seafood in Omaha, It Absolutely does exist!

We’re going to look at something today that a lot of people have uttered on their lips and we want to prove wrong, “Does great seafood exist in the Midwest, and the city of Omaha?” one of the culinary opinions that exist amongst “seafood snobs” is that delicious seafood locales like the state of Maine for Lobster and the city of Seattle for fish are really the only kind of place you’d want to be caught dead with a sampler platter. While true that the patterns of movement via air or ground can cause the seafood to not taste the same, we’re going to put up a hefty argument that overall, Omaha is a prime metro area to sample shrimp, scallops, halibut, roughy, trout, oyster, and all the goods that come straight from the Atlantic and Pacific in all their greasy, tender glory. From Benson to the Old Market, Omaha is absolutely a place that you can obtain great seafood eats, and deliciously more than simply subpar. Here’s a quick list that should get you excited to taste the succulence of the sea right here in the big O.


This gem for seafood in the Benson area has high ratings on Yelp and a lot of folks we know keep talking about it. Black Snapper, Ceviche, fried squid, and scallop in brown butter sauce are all high on the favorite list here. Trademark drinks like the Cuba Libra, great sushi rolls and friendly service, this one always retains a high spot on the list. Great place to hit up before the waiting room or beer arcade in the same vibrant and hip district.

Shuck’s Fish House and Oyster Bar:

Whenever we ask about ­which place is the freshest in terms of seafood, this joint always comes up in the conversation. The happy hour here is known to be fantastic, a perfect time to sample everything from blue points oysters on up to the very best....

Get Scared at Omaha’s Infamous Scary Acres

Everyone knows that October is a month in which haunted houses take a front row seat to other types of entertainment. Let’s face it, miniature golf, even some sports (well, maybe not in our Cornhusker state), and long bike rides don’t seem as ultimately cool as having your heart rate rise over the sight of horrifying creatures, killer clown rooms and more. Opening their doors way back in 2002, this popular Halloween haven got their beginnings when they were hired to help design “The Train of Terror”, that ran through Peony Park amongst fog, scary props, and tunnels of live snakes. In 1996, the now named “Fright Zone” was moved into a building without residential tenants at 17th and California, where those taking the tour loved the smog filled graveyard.


In later years, the warehouse next to this location was purchased and a one level haunt appeared that was the home of this Omaha seasonal favorite until they relocated completely to the new 20 acre location after Creighton University needed a new soccer field. Master’s Castle, the House on the Hill and the Haunted Woods are all areas new to this space, where many thrill seekers have passed through the gates. Fresh content every year for more bone chilling scares, bonfires every night, and a scenery backdrop that is known to be many levels above average await patrons here that walk through the doors. Many horror classics like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes”...

Holiday Activity Alert; Haunted Safari at Henry Doorly Zoo

This time of year is prime for seeking out activities themed for the season, all ages, and that truly have a fun appeal for everyone. The zoo we have here in Omaha is already ranked world class, and many events and exhibits that are already here are totally awesome. The Haunted Safari is coming up October 10th and 11th, and includes a hot dog supper, playing ghost-themed games for candies, and roasting marshmallows in true Halloween adventurer or camping tradition. This event is located in the Wildlife Safari Park off I80 at exit 426 near Ashland, a perfect outdoor and sprawling setting.

This area right between Lincoln and Omaha is in a perfect location for families driving up to the spooky event from either city, and this is one of the most lush and scenic areas in Nebraska. Dressing warm will definitely be of high priority for this, as you don’t want to end up uncomfortably cold and chilly! Exploring prairies, wetland areas, and seeing things the way Lewis and Clark saw on their expeditions years ago will absolutely be much more fun in the haunted evening theme of this Safari. As harvest time arrives and the wolves, bears, and birds in this sanctuary are prowling around in the cool night air, this is the best time for the kids to daydream about the trick or treating they will do in a few weeks. It’s the perfect prelude to wet their appetite for more costumes, cemeteries, and frightening film viewing over the rest of this ghoul-themed month.

Tickets for this event are 15$ for Safari Park and Zoo members, and 20$ for non members. An ideal setting for a scary hike, and creating a family memory that will last...

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