Safer Mortgages Rise From the Ashes of ’08 Financial Crash

Trending Home News Mortgages are safer now than they were 10 years ago. That’s the main effect the 2008-09 financial crisis has had on the mortgage market. The following loan types were popular during the housing boom in the early- to mid-2000s but are unavailable now to most borrowers: Low-doc mortgages allowed borrowers to get loans without documenting income and assets. Interest-only mortgages enabled borrowers to buy houses they otherwise couldn’t afford with an initially low monthly payment. But the loans were the financial equivalent of time bombs: The interest-only period … [Read more...]

There Really IS a Best Month to Sell Your Home!!!

This Just In: Data Says May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home  From "Keeping Current Matters" -  Wednesday May 2nd, 2018  For Sellers, Move-Up Buyers, Pricing   According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home. For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month: TTOM even went a step further and broke … [Read more...]

Do You Feel a Draft in Your Cedar Rapids Home?

Things are about to get colder in the Cedar Rapids Area.  We all know that time of year when we are starting our furnaces and bundling up.  Here are some ways to save some money on your heating bill by fixing the drafty spot in your home. Visual Inspection On the outside of your home inspect the areas where two different materials meet, like: All exterior corners Outdoor water faucets Where siding and chimneys meet Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet For your inside inspection look for gaps or cracks that may cause air leaks, like: … [Read more...]

Are You Eligible for a VA Loan?

A VA Loan offers home mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and offered by qualified lenders. VA Loans do have many advantages for veterans like no down payment and low interest rates. However, serving in the military for any amount of time does not automatically qualify a veteran for a VA loan. So who may be eligible? Veterans of Wartime and Peacetime Wartime is defined by the VA as the following: World War II- 9/16/1940-7/25/1947 Korean Conflict- 6/27/1950-1/31/1955 Vietnam- 8/5/1964-5/7/1975 Gulf War- 8/2/1990- Date yet to be … [Read more...]

Is Taking Possession Before Closing a Good Idea?

Timing of your move from one house to another can be tricky! We know how exciting it is to be moving into your new home and it maybe tempting to move before the closing date.  That could be a mistake for both the sellers AND the buyers.  Always consult your Real Estate Professional.  They can help you navigate the buying and selling process.  They can tell you best on if taking possession early is in your best interest. Why Buyers Should Proceed with Caution Buyers that move in early could give up their bargaining power.  Any unresolved issues with the title like judgments, liens, or old … [Read more...]

The Buyer just Asked you What??

When you have your home on the market in Cedar Rapids, there may be some really doozies of a question presented to you. No matter how much you want to sell your home, there are some questions a seller does not have to answer. Your real estate agent is there to field those for you. Real estate agents have a fiduciary duty their clients. According to REALTOR® Magazine, “Seller's representative (also known as a listing agent or seller's agent) is when a seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created … [Read more...]

Do You Know What Your Home Warranty Covers?

Home warranties come up a lot when you are buying or selling your home.  Do you know what it covers? A home warranty is a service contract.  It is the company's agreement that they will fix and in some cases replace specific components in your home.  A home warranty costs upwards of $450 or more for the basic package depending on who you decide to go with. It typically covers: Kitchen Appliances Plumbing Water Heater Furnace Sump Pump Whirlpool tub Ceiling and Exhaust Fans There is an option of paying more money to get more coverage.  This could cost you $100 or … [Read more...]

Trick or Treat! Are you Ready?

Saturday is the Big Day!!  The kids have been waiting all month to go door to door for candy!  You may want to check and see if your entry is safe for the little beggars…. Illumination Make sure the way to your porch and your porch are well lit. This could prevent little ghostly feet from tripping and falling. Use the highest wattage bulb for your outdoor lighting and add landscape lights every few feet along your front walk. Solar power lights work well for this. Clear the way Children dressed in their Halloween finest and possibly already on their way to a sugar high, are not looking … [Read more...]

Iowa has Strongest 3rd Quarter in 8 Years!

Press Release - Homes sales and sale prices continue  their steady upward trend in Iowa in September.  This is the strongest third quarter Iowa has seen in 8 years. The median sale price rose 5.9 percent from September of last year.  The median price was $131,750 in September 2014 compared to $139,500 this year. Home sales are up 4.8 percent from September of last year.  3,570 homes sold last month, while 3,406 homes sold in September 2014. Homes sold in the first 9 months of 2015 outpaced the same period last year by 7.9 percent. Homes are still selling quickly in Iowa with days … [Read more...]

2015 Iowa Land Values

The September 2015 Iowa Chapter of Realtors Land Institute’s Land Trends and Values Survey came out this week. Cropland value fell 3.7% the last six months and 11.3% since September 2014.  Northeast Iowa was hit the harder than those in other regions in the last year, falling 15.1%. According to the new survey, high-quality cropland in Northeast Iowa had an average value of $9,385 per acre as of Sept. 1, compared to $11,128 a year earlier and $9,855 in March. Medium-quality cropland averaged $7,179 in the new report, compared to $8,311 in September 2014 and $7,302 in March … [Read more...]

Pumpkin Patches in Cedar Rapids Area

The first day of Fall was yesterday, and now everyone is thinking of all the fun activities they can participate in!  Are you wondering where all the fun is? Pumpkin Patches Benton County Bloomsbury Farm – 3260 69th Street, Atkins, IA 52206.  Phone: 319-446-7667.  Fax: 319-446-7667. Email: [email protected] Iowa County Genoa Bluffs Pumpkin Farm - 2168 H Avenue, Marengo, IA 52301. Phone: 319-668-8447.   Email: [email protected] Linn County Bass Farms - Across From Palisades-kepler State Park 1325 Highway 30 West, Mount Vernon, IA 52314. Phone: … [Read more...]

Cedar Rapids Home Prices Continuing to Rise and have Fewer Days on the Market

PRESS RELEASE - Homes in Iowa reached a new low in days on market. Sale prices continue to rise. Home sales in August did drop off from a year ago according to the Iowa Association of REALTORS®. The median sale price rose 5.8 percent from August of last year. The median price was $138,000 in August 2014 compared to $146,000 this year. “The low inventory level in many markets continues to shorten the selling process. We reached a new 5-year low with 63 days on market,” stated Jon Yocum, President of the Iowa Association of REALTORS®. “With interest rates still hovering around 4 … [Read more...]

Financing Changes Coming October 3rd

Do you know about the financing changes that are coming on October 3rd?  Here are some Highlights to keep better informed: New Loan Estimate Document Created Replaces the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and initial Truth-in-Lending (initial TIL) disclosure. The new form provides clearer information so that consumers understand the loan terms and estimates of loan and closing costs and to facilitate comparison shopping. The Loan Estimate must be provided to consumers within three business days after submission of loan application. New Closing Disclosure Document … [Read more...]

Cedar Rapids Area Fall Maintenance Checklist

I know it is still warm outside but it is getting to be that time of year to do your fall maintenance on your Cedar Rapids Area home.  Doing this now will prevent high cost repairs later.  These are some things to check off before it get to cold. Water Disconnect and put away any garden hoses. Drain out any water from your outside faucets, unless the faucets are “frost free”. Drain your lawn sprinkler system and then blow out with compressed air. Empty and drain any exterior fountains. Roof Clean soffit vents under the roof overhangs. Check roof vents for … [Read more...]

Tips on Staging Your Cedar Rapids Area Home

You are ready to put your home on the market.  Staging your home could help you sell it faster.  Here are a few tips to help you stage your home for potential buyers. Clean Your home must be spotless!  You don't want buyers coming into your home and seeing your it messy.  Go through and organize your closets and cupboards.  Buyers will be opening them to see if they can fit their things in there.  Deep clean your home and Be Picky!  Cleaning the baseboards, light switches, curtains, and carpets will help you sell your home. Remove Clutter When you put your home on the market it is time to … [Read more...]

This Could be the Right Time for First-Time Home Buyers!

It's that time of year again!  School has either already started or will be starting for many schools in the Cedar Rapids Area.  Days are getting shorter and the home sales are about to slow down. If you are a first-time home buyer and have been wondering if you should be jumping into this sellers market, this could be the time to do it! The Real Estate market cycles during each season.  You have probably noticed that there are a lot of signs up in the spring/summer and not as many in the fall/winter.  This is true for the school year, as well.  Most parents are not going to be buying a … [Read more...]

What Your Home Inspector Wants You to Know

Whether you are buying or selling a home in the Cedar Rapids area, the home inspection process can be a scary time.  For sellers, you are reminded of maintenance that you haven't got to yet.  For buyers, it could mean heartbreaking news that something is seriously wrong with the house they fell in love with. Here are things that your home inspector wants you to know before they do and inspection on a house. For Sellers Pets Even though a home inspector loves pets they would still feel terrible if a pet got out on accident.  Be sure and put your pet somewhere they won't be able to get out … [Read more...]

Patience Needed for First-Time Home Buyers in Cedar Rapids Sellers Market

Being a first-time home buyer is both exciting and frightening.  You have also found yourself in a seller's market.  This means you could find yourself with elevated home prices, due to the sparse inventory, or a bidding war.  Chin up!  Things might just be changing in your favor! Motivated Sellers Listing are up 4.5% over the past 3 months.  With this news, sellers will want to get into this market while they can get the best price for their home.  This will give more first-time home buyers more to choose from.  Also, with more houses on the market this will slow the rising prices. New … [Read more...]

Home Sales Increasing and Selling Fast….Is it Time to Sell?

The good news just keeps getting better if you are selling your home in Iowa. Sale prices and number of homes sold continue their upward trend. Sales increased almost 10 percent and average days on market reached a new 3 year low according to the Iowa Association of REALTORS®. Homes continue to sell at a fast pace in most communities.  Days on market dropped to 69 in June, which is the fastest rate in over 3 years.  This is a 14.8 percent improvement from June of 2014. Sales increased 9.7 percent from a year ago. 4,749 homes were sold last month as compared to 4,329 homes that sold in … [Read more...]

Overlooked Costs of Home Ownership

You are ready to buy a home.  How Exciting!  Have you thought about the other expenses that could go along with home ownership?  Many home owners go over their budget because they were only counting on the mortgage payments and not the day to day expenses of owning a home.  You should have at least a three month cushion so that if an emergency comes along you will be prepared.   Here are a few things that are often overlooked and that you should consider when buying your next home: Insurance This is a cost that can vary per home.  Remember, home owners insurance covers structure and … [Read more...]

Why Should I use a Real Estate Professional to Sell my Home?

Have you ever thought about selling your home on your own?  Saving on the commission you would be paying to hire a real estate professional.  How hard could it be, right?  You could be asking for more than you bargained for... Knowing the Market Real Estate Professionals know the market.  They would be the best resource to help you find the most up to date market information.  By knowing the market they are able to get you the best price for your home.  This will help you sell your home quicker and with less hassle. Marketing your Home Your Real Estate Professional will market your home to … [Read more...]

First time selling your home?

Are you selling your home for the first time?  Here are some tips to make the selling process a little easier! Preparing your home Do what you can to make your home move in ready.  Don’t do anything more than you can afford!  Be sure and keep this to more cosmetic repairs like new paint, repairing leaky faucets, and decluttering closets. Don’t forget the outside!  Making the outside appealing to buyers will get them to want to come in and take a look.  You will have to keep your home show ready all the time to make it easier for you to sell your home. Finding a Real Estate Professional Do … [Read more...]

Happy 4th of July!

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Sale Prices Continue to Climb! Time to Sell? Time to Buy?

PRESS RELEASE - Sale prices and number of homes sold continue their upward trend. Homes are selling faster than any point in the last 3 years according to the Iowa Association of REALTORS® (IAR). Homes continue to sell very quickly as days on market fell to 75 days as compared to 90 days at this time last year. This is the lowest number of days on market in the last 3 years. Sales increased 7.3 percent from a year ago. 4,134 homes were sold last month as compared to 3,853 homes that sold in May 2014. Active listings were down 3.4 percent and Pending listings were up 5.7% when compared to … [Read more...]

Keep your drugs safe during open houses

Last year I wrote a blog post about keeping drugs safe during Open Houses in the Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas. However, thefts during Open Houses and showings still tend to be a problem. According to a recent REALTOR® Magazine (and an ABC News report) a woman in Maryland had stolen more than $82,000 worth of jewelry from 12 luxury homes during open houses. According to ABC News, “Ramon Korionoff of the State's Attorney's Office says the case resonated widely because ‘anyone who has had to sell their home or property has a visceral reaction to this kind of crime.’” Though I screen … [Read more...]

Market Trends for 2014 Show Home Values Rising with Sales Steady in the Cedar Rapids Area

PRESS RELEASE- 2014 Home Prices in Iowa continued to rise this year according to the official yearly housing trends released by the Iowa Association of REALTORS®. The median sale price improved 1.5 percent. The median price was $134,000 compared to $132,000 in 2013. "It is great news to see home values on the rise. This is the third consecutive year with an increase in home prices." stated IAR President Jon Yocum. Home Sales remained steady when compared to last year.  Sales dipped by less than .4%.  37,783 homes sold in Iowa in 2014. In 2013, sold properties totaled 37,930. For the … [Read more...]

Cold enough for you? What about your pipes?

It’s that time of year again –  it’s also time to be alert to frozen pipes! Whether it's a power outage  or you are gone a day, with as cold as it is in Iowa now, it doesn't take long for water pipes to freeze. Here are a few tips to save you money and headaches! If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, arrange for someone to check your house or apartment. Educate your family, other people in your household, and house-sitters on what to do if water pipes do freeze. Show them where your water shut-off valve is located. Most home meters are located in the basement. The … [Read more...]

Recycling your Christmas tree in Cedar Rapids

Residents have several options for disposal of their Christmas trees this year.  There are many different types of trees: live, flocked and artificial trees.  Flocked trees are live trees that have been covered in a white, snow-like spray.  Each type of tree has different disposal options; please take moment to determine how to properly dispose of your tree. Live Tree Disposal (un-flocked) The Cedar Rapids Solid Waste and Recycling Division collects live Christmas trees as part of the yard waste collection service. Preparing the tree for curbside collection:  • Remove all ornaments, wires … [Read more...]

Happy Holidays from Shannon!

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Is there a Better Way to Take Home Ownership?

One of the many decisions you will make when purchasing a home with another person is how each should hold title with the property. It’s not at all like buying up property in Monopoly. Is there a difference in HOW you OWN your home? Sole Ownership Of course, if only one person who purchases a home, then it is of course, Sole Ownership. All rights would be with the sole owner and that owner could determine what happens to the property, especially when they die. However, a married person may still hold title by themselves, without their spouse, like a single person but may have to go … [Read more...]

Attention all Burglars in the Cedar Rapids Area!!

Attention all Burglars!!! I am away for the Holidays and NOT home so come and take all my stuff!! Silly? But true. However, you may be showing the world you either have new EXPENSIVE things or out of the house so your expensive things can get stolen. Got a new computer? Got a new big screen TV for Christmas? How about a new wii? Yup, the neighborhood all knows it, too, because you set the boxes out in the trash last night. Instead, it may be better if you break down these boxes and take them to the recycle center near you. Yard & bushes getting a little unruly over the winter … [Read more...]

Should you put your home on hold until after the first of the year?

Ho! Ho! Ho! We are in full swing into the holiday season! Should you wait to list your home? Well, if you do, you may miss out on a great opportunity. The last two months of the year tend to be the busiest and buyers the most serious.  However, there are some things you may want to keep in mind over the holidays … Decorations Outdoor  decorations should be classy, classic and SIMPLE. Sprinkle white lights in some of the bushes and potted trees; add a welcoming wreath at the door. Create festive but without the Grizwald effect. You may really want to leave the inflatable Santa and snowmen … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving from Shannon!

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Mercy Medical Center – Radon, the Invisible Threat, What You Should Know

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Real estate agents in Iowa must present prospective homebuyers a fact sheet on radon that homebuyers must receive any data if a home has been tested for radon. Radon is an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas which is created when the element radium breaks down through radioactive decay. It kills more people by lung cancer than smoking. Think of that ….. radon kills 21,000 people every year. Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 19th Mercy Medical Center will be hosting Radon: The Invisible Threat - What You Should … [Read more...]

Is it COLD Enough for you in Cedar Rapids??

WOW! We just had a reminder that winter isn’t just close, it feels like it’s HERE!! One day 65 degrees and the next thing we know it feels like it’s 15! Well, because it seems to catch us off guard every year (or if our power goes off), here is a list some ways TO and NOT TO keep warm this winter …. DO NOT!!! Use your stove to heat your house – oh, it does keep the kitchen warm and toasty when we’re cooking, but ovens are made specifically to cook food and not be used as a heat source. Do not use candles as a heat source – HUGE fire hazard and many homes and families are destroyed by … [Read more...]

Is your home Empty? It may not be insured!

Do you leave for the winter to head down South for warmer weather? Do you have to leave your home to start a job in a new location? If your home is empty, it may not be covered by your homeowners insurance. Insurance companies may view vacant properties as high risk. Even if it’s not your vacation home, homes may be left empty for a number of reasons, such as the property being for sale, undergoing renovations, divorce or aging parents. Whether you’re at your primary residence or at your vacation home and it’s going to be empty for any extended time, you will need to know if your home … [Read more...]

Sunday – Fall Back & Check those alarms!!

It’s time to turn back those clocks - November 2nd we “Fall Back” an hour. It’s also recommended we change our fire and carbon monoxide alarm batteries. For the best protection, are the alarms in the safest areas of your Cedar Rapids area home and up to code? This is for new or replacement smoke alarms ….. According to the Iowa State Fire Marshall, “A dual sensor detector means a smoke detector which contains both an ionization sensor and a photoelectric sensor and which is designed to detect and trigger an alarm in response to smoke detected through either sensing device, or a smoke … [Read more...]

Ready for Area Ghoulish fun??

Halloween is next Friday – are you ready for the hoards of trick or treaters coming to your door? You may want to check and see if your entry is safe for the little beggars…. Illumination Make sure the way to your porch and your porch are well lit. This could prevent little ghostly feet from tripping and falling. Use the highest wattage bulb for your outdoor lighting and add landscape lights every few feet along your front walk. Solar power lights work well for this. Clear the way Children dressed in their Halloween finest and possibly already on their way to a sugar high, are not … [Read more...]

Iowa Home Sales and Home Prices Increase in September

Press Release - CLIVE, IOWA (Oct. 2014) – According to the latest housing report from the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR), home sales and prices were up in September as compared to last year. The September 2014 Housing Trends Report showed that sales rose .6 percent from this time last year. A total of 3,191 homes sold/closed this September, while only 3,172 homes sold in September 2013. The median sale price increased by 1.6 percent, rising from $131,950 in September 2013 to $134,000 this year. The average sale price also went up 3.9 percent. The average sale price rose from … [Read more...]

Fire Prevention Week in Cedar Rapids Iowa

This week is Fire Prevention week and this year’s focus is on monthly smoke alarm checks. "Image is Reproduced from NFPA's Fire Prevention Week website, ©2014 NFPA." Smoke alarms shall be installed in the following locations: In each sleeping room. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split-levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent … [Read more...]