Freezing your Credit Accounts in the Cedar Rapids Area

The Target fiasco is still pretty scary when you think your credit card information may have been stolen. Breaking News from ABC | ABC Sports News Checking your credit report and freezing your credit files are a couple of suggestions to protect yourself from credit fraud. The site for the free once per year credit report is https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index . I ran through the process real quick to see how it worked. On the most part, it worked well, only when it came to Equifax the page didn’t want to take me back to go to the 3rd report for TransUnion. I wasn’t too … [Read more...]

What’s in Store with the New Qualified Mortgage Rule?

The beginning of 2014 may prove to be interesting when applying for a single family home mortgage. Starting January 10th, the “Qualified Mortgage Rule” goes into effect for loans insured, guaranteed or administered by HUD or the Federal Housing Administration. HUD’s new rule, which is similar to the rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2013. Loans now must: Require periodic payments without risky features; Have terms that do not exceed 30 years; Limit upfront points and fees to no more than 3 percent with adjustments to facilitate smaller loans (there … [Read more...]

Iowa Housing Market Continues to Look Strong

As we wind down to the end of the year, it’s good to know 2013 housing market is closing on the strong side. Even though home sales are down right now, Trulia predicts an increase in real estate inventory is predicted this year. Higher home prices will help spur an increase of home listings and even though mortgage rates will increase, home loans may be easier to secure. New mortgage rules in 2014 may make lenders more confident lending money. Contact me today at 319-480-5262 for more details. Press Release from the Iowa Association of REALTORS® The Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR) … [Read more...]

Now that Santa has come and gone, is the Tax Man far behind?

2013 is coming to a close and between throwing out the wrapping paper and finishing off the turkey; you may want to prepare for tax time before ringing in 2014. If you have sold your home this year, there are a few items you will want to make sure to collect before tax prep: Property Taxes: Any taxes paid (reimbursed or paid ahead) at closing will show up on the HUD-1 statement and may be able for deductions on your taxes. Mortgage Points paid: Any points paid at closing may be able to be deducted, even if the seller “paid” for them at closing. PMI: Any Private Mortgage … [Read more...]

Happy Holidays!!

The Friendship of those we serve is the Foundation of our Business. Wishing everyone the absolute happiest of Holidays and the New Year as bright as the stars!   … [Read more...]

Iowa Farmland Values Reach and $8,716 Average!

Press Release - December 11, 2013 Iowa farmland values went up by an estimated 5.1 percent from 2012 to a $8,716 per acre average in 2013, according to the results of the Iowa Land Value Survey conducted in November.  Land values increased for the fourth year in a row. “The 2013 land value survey shows a market in flux, with strong and weak price sales occurring at the same time,” said Michael Duffy, Iowa State economics professor and extension farm management economist who conducts the survey.  “The key question is if this shows the market is going to settle, if it is just pausing … [Read more...]

News Release-Iowa Finance Authority

News Release December, 2013 The Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) was awarded $7.5 million in grants to support affordable housing in Iowa with $1.5 million going right to Eastern Iowa.  Funding is provided from the State Housing Trust Fund’s Local Housing Trust Fund program and was approved this week by the IFA Board of directors. The state housing trust fund was established in 2003 by the Iowa legislature.  Since then it has provided $42 million dollars in housing assistance and helped 12,600 Iowa families. Those awarded in Eastern Iowa are: East Central Iowa Housing Trust … [Read more...]

Happy Thanksgiving from Shannon!!

I Am Thankful For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes– Because that means he is at home not on the streets. For the taxes that I pay– Because it means I am employed. For the mess to clean after a party– Because it means that I have been surrounded by friends. For the clothes that fit a little too snug– Because it means I have enough to eat. For my shadow that watches me work– Because it means I am out in the sunshine. For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing– Because it means I have a … [Read more...]

Iowa landlords encouraged to list rental properties on new web site

Do you have rental property in the Cedar Rapids area, but don’t have a really good way of showing availability? Have you thought about purchasing rental property, but have heard it’s expensive to advertise? Help will soon be available ….. Recent Press Release by IowaHousingSearch.org: A new rental housing locator service, IowaHousingSearch.org is now available for Iowa landlords to list units at no cost. The web site is supported by a toll-free call center and is designed to give renters, landlords, housing professionals and social service providers access to detailed information about … [Read more...]

Happy Veterans Day to all the Veterans in the Cedar Rapids and Surrounding Area!

In Honor of Veterans Day, there are many local celebrations honoring those who served and are serving in our military. Here are only a few …. Vinton/Shellsburg School plans annual Veterans Day assembly Nov. 11 Monday Nov 11th starting at 9:30 am. Community wide assembly will be held at Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School in the gymnasium. A breakfast will be served in the middle school cafeteria starting at 8:15 am, for any veteran and their family who are attending the assembly. Iowa Valley School plans annual Veterans Day assembly Nov. 11 Veterans Day programs observed by the Marengo … [Read more...]

Fun stuff to know about who’s buying and selling real estate ….

And the Survey Says ….. Recently the National Association of REALTORS® conducted their annual homebuyers and sellers survey. This survey gives insight to what is going on in the world of real estate. Though not every buying or selling experience will mirror what is in the survey, but it does give a good idea of the trends in general.  REALTOR.com survey on Home Buying: Sixty-six  percent of recent home buyers were married couples—the highest share since 2001. The median age of first-time buyers was 31, unchanged from 2012, and the median income was $67,400. The typical first-time … [Read more...]

Sunday – Fall Back & Check those alarms!!

It’s time to turn back those clocks - November 3rd 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...]

Are you scared to Buy a home in the Cedar Rapids Area?

CBS MoneyWatch recently ranked on of Iowa’s homes as one of the Six MOST Haunted homes in the United States - Villisca Ax Murder House, Villisca, Iowa. If you haven’t heard about this home in Western Iowa, a family was brutally murdered in 1912 and never was solved. Visitors have seen, heard and felt terrifying things while in the house. So, if you are buying a home and it’s “believed” to be haunted, does it have to be disclosed to prospective buyers? In the State of Iowa, a real estate licensee does not have to disclose if a home is “haunted” or that someone died on the property. Would … [Read more...]

Home Sales and Prices in Iowa Rose Again in September

Press Release posted by Mark Gavin | Oct 21, 2013 CLIVE, IOWA (Oct. 21, 2013) – According to the latest housing report from the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR), home sales and prices continued to follow the upward trend again in September. The September 2013 Housing Trends Report showed that sales rose 7.1 percent from this time last year. A total of 3,020 homes sold/closed this September, while only 2,819 homes sold/closed in September 2012. The median sale price increased by 6.4 percent, rising from $125,000 in September 2012 to $133,000 this year. The average sale price also … [Read more...]

Mortgage Credit Certificate

From Skogman.com The Iowa Finance Authority is offering a new Mortgage Credit Certificate Program that allows eligible home buyers to reduce their household’s federal tax liability every year for the life of their mortgage. The tax credit may be up to 50% of the homeowners annual interest paid on the mortgage - up to $2,000 per year. To Be Eligible: Applicants must meet Iowa Finance Authority income limits, which vary by county. The purchase price of the home may not exceed $305,000 if located in a Targeted Area or $250,000 if located in a Non-Targeted Area. The … [Read more...]

Local Pumpkin Patch List

Print Your Pumpkin Patch List! Benton County Bloomsbury Farm - 3260 69th Street, Atkins, IA 52206.  Phone: 319-446-7667.  Fax: 319-446-7667. Email: [email protected] Frazier Nursery - 2725 61st St. Lane, Vinton, Iowa 52349. Phone: 319-472-2649. 2-jo's Farm & Western Town - 2253 73rd St Hwy 30, Van Horne, IA 52346. Phone: 319-551-3660. Email: [email protected] Iowa County Genoa Bluffs Pumpkin Farm - 2168 H Avenue, Marengo, IA 52301. Phone: 319-668-8447.   Email: [email protected] Hillcrest Garden Market - Pumpkin Patch, 1580 P … [Read more...]

Money available for private-well plugging, rehab in Linn County

Linn County residents who own a well may be able to receive up to $400 for well plugging and up to $600 for well rehabilitation. Homeowners and well contractors should contact Linn County Public Health at (319) 892-6038 to learn more and to see if they qualify. Contact Linn County Public Health before performing any work to ensure funds are still available. These funds are provided by the state of Iowa to assist well owners in properly abandoning wells that are not in use or to rehabilitate wells that need repair. Well work must be completed by an Iowa Department of Natural Resources … [Read more...]

Changes to Linn County’s Treasurer’s Website

Linn County transitions to new real estate system The Linn County Treasurer's Office portion of the www.IowaTaxandTags.gov website will be unavailable from 9 p.m. Oct. 3 through approximately Oct. 24 for property tax payments while Linn County transitions to a new real estate system. The public will still be able to pay for their vehicle registrations online. During this timeframe, this is the message that will be displayed on the Linn County property tax page of the website: "Online property tax payments are not being accepted while Linn County transitions to a new real estate system. … [Read more...]

BUY NOW? NOT NOW? THEN WHEN?????

Generally this time of year, many sources are urging you to purchase your home now rather than after the 1st of the year – and it sounds like a ploy to sell more homes in the Cedar Rapids area. Well, as much as I hate to say it, you may really want to consider buying a home before the clock strikes midnight on January 31st. Interest Rates Mortgage costs have gone up 14% in just 3 months! Just last May, interest rates were around 3.3% on a 30 year mortgage and currently they are hovering over 4.5% which increases your monthly mortgage payment almost $200. That’s almost $200 more you’re … [Read more...]

Home prices and sales still on the rise in August

Press Releases Iowa Home Sales and Prices Continued to Climb in July originally posted by Josh Hibben | Aug 14, 2013 CLIVE, IOWA (Aug. 14, 2013) – Home sales and prices continued to increase substantially in July, according to the Iowa Association of Realtors®. IAR's July 2013 Housing Trends Report shows that sales were up 18.3 percent from a year ago, and year-to-date (YTD) sales were also up by more than 8 percent. Throughout Iowa 4,074 homes sold/closed in July 2013, and 3,444 homes sold/closed in July of last year. Listing activity increased in July compared to July 2012 and 2011. … [Read more...]

Bloomsbury Farm open for fall season

Press release from Bloomsbury Farm. Bloomsbury Farm, near Atkins, is open for the fall season, featuring a 10-acre and 4-acre corn maze, 1200-foot round-trip dual zip lines and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Bloomsbury Farm is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays throughout September and October. Admission is $11.50 per person age 3 and older. Visit www.BloomsburyFarm.com for an admission coupon. In addition to corn mazes, zip lines, and pumpkins, Bloomsbury Farm also offers a range of activities for out-of-the-office excursions, including a … [Read more...]

FHA’s Back to Work Program for the Cedar Rapids Area

The recent housing crisis really hurt many #CedarRapidshomeowners as well as those homeowners in the surrounding areas. Some even lost their homes to foreclosure, short sale, or deed –in-lieu of foreclosure. When that happens, generally it means a LONG time before even thinking about buying again and is a huge black mark on your credit. There are many reasons mortgage payments weren’t made - perhaps a company cut back or closed which made house payments very difficult to make, not to mention selling wasn’t an options since more than likely home values in the Cedar Rapids area was under … [Read more...]

Iowa Home Sales and Prices Continued to Climb in July

The housing market in Iowa is starting to heat up. Homes are selling almost as fast as they are coming on the market. It’s not too soon to start thinking about moving before the weather turns colder and snow is flying. Call me today and let’s get started!! Also, follow me on Facebook!! Originally posted by Josh Hibben | Aug 14, 2013 CLIVE, IOWA – Home sales and prices continued to increase substantially in July, according to the Iowa Association of Realtors®. IAR's July 2013 Housing Trends Report shows that sales were up 18.3 percent from a year ago, and year-to-date (YTD) sales were … [Read more...]

How to get your Hands on Money for Your Down Payment

Many years ago (like six) you didn't need much of a down payment to purchase a home in the Cedar Rapids area. However, in light of what has happened over the last six years, times, they are a changin'. The desired down payment today is 20%. If you qualify for an FHA, Rural Development, VA or other loan program, down payments range in the single digits. Iowa may have a payment assistant program: Iowa Finance Authority Cedar Rapids First - Time Buyer Program If you or your home doesn’t qualify and there’s not a mattress stuffed with cash, large piggy bank or enough in savings, where do … [Read more...]

First Time Home Buyer Program

The First Time Home Buyer Program is back – or at least another version of it.  The City of Cedar Rapids is offering another round of first time home buyer assistance.  While the additional funds have been approved for this program the timing is still unknown but is expected to be available in August or September. Program Overview: The purpose of the program is to increase home ownership by creating opportunities among lower income and underserved households.  As a result, revitalizing neighborhoods in the Cedar Rapids area.  $5000 will be provided as down payment and/or closing cost … [Read more...]

Careful when you change your address in Cedar Rapids Area

If you are like me, you do many things online; shop, bank, pay bills, book travel, sign up for utilities … pretty much anything and everything – it’s easy and quick. You receive an email confirmation and you know it’s taken care of. Well, if you’re moving in the Cedar Rapids area, how easy would it be just to change your address online? It could be, unless you get tripped up by a mail-change scam. Recently the REALTOR® Association warned about a “Change of Address” scam. Rather than paying only $1.00 to the United States Postal Service to change an address online, there are online … [Read more...]

Woman wins Lawsuit against Equifax – awarded $18.6 MILLION

US News | Entertainment News | More ABC News Videos One in four credit reports has incorrect information. Is that one, yours? As the woman in the news video, you may not find out until you are trying to buy something – like a home in the Cedar Rapids Area, and your applications gets rejected. But it isn’t just applying for a home mortgage, but your new employer may look at your credit report or insurance company may be looking at your credit report as well. How do you find out what is on your credit report? Get your Credit Report The site for the free once per year credit report is … [Read more...]

Radon is the 2nd Leading Cause of Cancer in the United States

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. According to a report done by KCRG in 2011, “There are more homes now in need of radon mitigation than there were in the past,” … [Read more...]

Be Cautious during Iowa’s Summer Heat

We all can see it’s HOT in Iowa and we all feel like we SHOULD be used to it by now. But we should be mindful that it IS hot and to take precautions especially when it comes to hot cars! According to the National Weather Service: Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle, even with the windows down. Teach children not to play in, on, or around cars. Always lock car doors and trunks -- even at home -- and keep keys out of children's reach. Always make sure all child passengers have left the car when you reach your destination. Don't overlook sleeping … [Read more...]

How to keep Mosquitoes from biting when outside in the Cedar Rapids area

Ah, summer time …. What a great time to spend outdoors in the Cedar Rapids area!! We look forward to this all winter and now that it’s here, we have to share it with MOSQUITOES!!! You need a blood transfusion every time you step outside in the Morning or evening. Should you spray? Splash yourself with Skin so soft, vanilla, absorbine jr., OFF or wear dryer sheets? Are you a mosquito magnet? For such a little insect, it is sure a big and costly problem. What should you do? Remove any and all standing water including drill holes in the bottom of any outside container. Clean and … [Read more...]

What is the most important thing to do before closing?

One of the most overlooked steps into the finalization of buying a home in the Cedar Rapids area is the final walkthrough. It is one of the most important, because once the signed deed is filed, there is no recourse if something has gone wrong between the time the offer is accepted and closing. The home is all yours from that point on and anything not address with the sellers (on the most part) will be a moot point. There has been final walkthroughs where the water heater hasn’t worked and in fact, was leaking. Another walk through had water streaming from the tube through the living room … [Read more...]

Happy 4th of July!!

Happ … [Read more...]

If you open a phishing email, will your computer get a virus?

Look how we work in real estate now – signing on-line documents, emails, Facebook …. Everything is pretty virtual; however, you’ve see the warnings out there about emails filled with spam, viruses and all sorts of things that can and definitely will bring your computer and your to your knees. You are filled with fear when these crafty little devils make their way into your mail box. Your handshakes and your mouse quivers because you have heard by the experts if you open that email, it will be unleashing the demons like Pandora’s box. Of all things, you do NOT want to make the wrong click and … [Read more...]

Home Sales and Prices In Iowa Continued to Climb in May

Press Release – According to the latest housing report from the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR), home sales and prices continued to climb across the state in May. The IAR released the May 2013 Housing Trends Report during its Board of Directors Meeting at the association’s summer meetings on Wednesday, June 12 in Moravia. The report reveals that sales rose 10.4 percent, with 369 more homes selling this May than in May 2012. A total of 3,906 homes sold/closed in May, while 3,537 homes sold/closed last May. The median sale price jumped by $7,500 or 5.8 percent. The median sale price … [Read more...]

Gov. Branstad to sign tax relief to all Iowa Property classes June 12 in Hiawatha

According to Corridor Business Journal and several other sources, Gov. Terry Branstad announced he will sign Senate File 295 at 1 p.m. June 12 at Hawkeye Ready-Mix, Inc. in Hiawatha. The bill provides property tax relief all classes of Iowa property: agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial. Once signed into law, Senate File 295 accomplishes the following:  Reduction stimulating job creation, with approximately $4.9 billion in tax relief over 10 years Permanent property tax relief 10 % reduction in taxable value on commercial and industrial property, coupled … [Read more...]

Act Now to secure your FHA Case Number BEFORE June 3rd!

I know – I sound like we are in a loop with the changes in FHA loans in the Cedar Rapids area, but these changes are pretty big and will impact FHA lending. April 1st, 2013 a rate increase was implemented to help build up FHA’s mortgage insurance fund and the reduction of our Government involvement in the mortgage market. Indeed in April premiums did rise, making monthly payments for those seeking this type of loan rise with them. But even more newsworthy than that was the new requirements for how long this premium is attached to their payments. The previous rules stated that anyone … [Read more...]

What do you mean that light doesn’t come with the house?

If you have ever read a real estate purchase contract for the Cedar Rapids area, there are some very specific details outlined such as price, contingencies, repairs, etc. One thing that may be overlooked, however, is what exactly transfers with the home. The house, grounds and items permanently affixed to the property are generally known as “real property” and automatically transfer with the property. In other words, a bathroom vanity/cabinet should definitely be part of the house you are purchasing. However, other items such as light fixtures, mirrors, shelving, and appliances are … [Read more...]

Iowa home sales and prices rose in April

[social Press Release from the Iowa Association of Realtors(r) ]The latest report from the Iowa Association of Realtors indicates that home sales and prices rose in April. The IAR's April 2013 Housing Trends Report shows that sales climbed 6.1 percent from April 2012. A total of 2,851 homes sold/closed last month, while 2,688 homes sold/closed last April. The median sale price across Iowa rose by 3.2 percent from $124,000 in April 2012 to $128,000 in April 2013. The average sale price also increased by 1.4 percent. The average sale price was $144,813 in April 2012 and $146,885 in April … [Read more...]

Odd things you may not think of when selling your home in the Cedar Rapids area

When preparing to sell a home there a lot of items most sellers are well aware they need to do: clear the clutter, reconcile any deferred maintenance, keep the yard looking nice for passers-by, etc. Sometimes the very thing that sells a house is the least obvious one. Sure, it’s important to prep your home physically for sale but that’s far from the only prep work that you should do. Consider the following tips for readying your home for sale in the not-so-obvious ways: Who Does Your Work? A question frequently asked by buyers, especially those who are transitioning from renting … [Read more...]

Could You Be Eligible for a VA Loan?

One of the greatest benefits to our nation’s military personnel is the VA home loan. This type of loan originated in WWII as a benefit for soldiers returning home. Since then it has provided homes to countless veterans. 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 … [Read more...]