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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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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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...]

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...]

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...]

Fall maintenance checklist for your Cedar Rapids area home

It’s after Labor Day!  And it’s time to get out the honey-do list and get your Cedar Rapids area home ready for fall. Here are a few things you may want to check off your list before it gets really 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 bird and wasp nests. Clean … [Read more...]

How do you decide where to live in Cedar Rapids?

Moving can be an exciting prospect, especially if you’re moving in the Cedar Rapids area. You get to change your scenery, change your commute or even change your home’s size. But there are SO many neighborhoods and communities to choose from, how will you know which area or neighborhood is right for you?Or, if it is THE right area for you? Consider the following: Proximity- That is, how close is it to “your” places? Work? School? Favorite shopping or restaurants? On that note, would you like to live close to a park or entertainment venues? Would you prefer to avoid crowded areas or … [Read more...]

What is a bedroom?

That should be easy enough to answer – a place to sleep. According to Wikipedia – “A bedroom is a room where people sleep. A typical Western bedroom consists of a bed, closet, nightstand, desk, and dresser.” However, if you’ve been around the real estate world, a bedroom may show up in all different shapes and sizes. The question becomes, is it REALLY a bedroom? “Bedroom” may have many definitions, but the term “bedroom” has not been defined on the State of Iowa level or national level. The federal government actually does not want to put a national definition on “bedroom” because it … [Read more...]

What goes into Closing Costs in the Cedar Rapids Area 

According to Bankrate, Iowa ranks 16th lowest in terms of closing costs. You can expect to pay about $1,773 in bank origination fees; $675 in third-party fees, appraisals, and title insurance; for $2,488 in approximate closing costs. However, just two years ago Iowa was ranked 4th cheapest. But not to worry, even though our ranking slipped, closing costs have actually decreased. In 2012 the average closing costs in Iowa were $3,257 and now they’re $2,488 – a difference of over $700!! You may see fees by the Lender like this: Origination points (not discount) - $732 Application - … [Read more...]

What does an Underwriter have to do with your loan?

If you’ve been working with a loan officer during the final stages of your loan process, you more than likely have heard the term “Underwriter”. Do you know what underwriters are looking for when they are gleaning your application, life history and purchase agreement? I always pictured underwriters as beings on a cloud, wand in hand ready to grant or dispel home mortgage funding. Gods, if you will. You give and give and give tons of paper and your utter most personal and financial information. On a good day you could get your loan funded, on a not so good, you may be going back to square … [Read more...]

What You Need to Know About Homeowners Insurance

If you own a home in the Cedar Rapids or surrounding areas, insuring it and making sure your policy provides the coverage needed is incredibly important. For this, you will need to know and understand your policy well. Don’t wait until you have to submit a claim (or a claim denied) to read it.   Breaking It Down – Coverage  Actual cash value – If your policy states that it will pay the actual cash value of the contents of your home, you will be paid an amount equal to what your belongings were worth before they were destroyed. This includes wear and tear and depreciation. This coverage … [Read more...]

Is Sand Driving You Crazy?

Whether you've just been to the beach, the playground, or just stepped out of the sand pile, the one thing you’ll discover – sand will follow you home.   And lots of it. Sand can be quite unpleasant especially when it’s brought into the house – it can even seem to be a never ending battle to keep it on the beaches and out of your kitchen. While you may never be able to eliminate every grain of sand, there are ways to keep it at bay …. Take your shoes off! This will become your mantra if you have kids running around. It is amazing how much sand is tracked in from the bottom of our shoes. … [Read more...]

Cedar Rapids Police Department Releases New Crime Searching Tool Online!

You’ve heard the old real estate mantra –LOCATION – LOCATION – LOCATION. And it’s true a home’s location does make a big difference to your enjoyment of your home and neighborhood. However, it can be a guess and by golly if you’re not familiar with certain neighborhoods and areas if you’re starting the home search. A home may look great on paper, but would you like the area? What is the trend in a neighborhood when it comes to crime statistics? Of course, you will want to find out as much as you can before choosing your home to purchase and there are many online sites which will give … [Read more...]

Home Prices Steady in the Cedar Rapids Region

Press Release- July 2, 2014-The Eastern Iowa housing market continues to show strength, with prices slowly and steadily increasing in most communities. However, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), home prices in the Cedar Rapids region have decreased 0.74 percent in the past year.Nationally, home prices have increased 5.75 percent in the last five years, while the Cedar Rapids market is down 0.69 percent. This compares to other markets: Dubuque is up 6.85 percent, Iowa City is up 2.45 percent, Quad Cities is up 1.28 percent, Des Moines is down 2.16 percent, and Chicago is … [Read more...]

Iowa Home Prices Increased; Sales Decreased in May

Iowa Home Prices Increased; Sales Decreased in May CLIVE, IOWA (June 2014) – Home prices continued to climb while sales decreased last month in Iowa, reports the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR). According to the IAR’s May 2014 Housing Trends Report, the median sale price across the state increased by 1.1 percent, climbing from $137,500 in May of last year to $139,000 this May. The average sale price decreased slightly by 1 percent, going from $161,098 last May to $159,442 this May. “With the expectation that interest rates may rise, we urge buyers to start building wealth and invest … [Read more...]

Save Energy at home while you are on Vacation

Last week my post was on Energy Audits and your home. This week is how to save money when you’re away. Spending time away from home on vacation doesn’t mean all your energy savings should go out the window. Below are a few tips to do to make sure your dollars are spent on fun and not unused energy:  Lighting: Timers inside and out set to turn on a couple of times a night will not only save energy but will add to your security making it look like someone is home. Refrigerator: If you’re only going to be gone a few days, set your fridge temp to 35 degrees and the freezer at 5. However, … [Read more...]

Should you hire a Buyer’s Agent to purchase a home in the Cedar Rapids area?

What IS a buyer’s agent? In short …. A buyer’s agent is a real estate professional, who may also be a member of the REALTOR® Association, who represents ONLY the buyer and not both the seller and buyer. According to the REALTOR® Association, “A buyer's agent serves as your representative during the home search and purchase process. The tasks that they perform can include helping you find a home that meets your needs, liaising with building contractors, providing you with an analysis of the prices of similar properties in the area and any property value trends and identifying any problems that … [Read more...]

Will the changes in FHA insured Loans stop you from buying a home in the Cedar Rapids Area?

Previously I have posted articles about FHA insured loans – FHA Renovation Loans and FHA raising their premiums just to name a couple. Now according to an article on, the FHA (Federal Housing Authorities) are replacing their capital reserves which ire depleted by the surge of default during the housing crash by raising their fees. FHA has been increasing monthly fees since 2010 and now charges 1.3% per month instead of the .5 it charged borroirs in 2010. This has really hit the first time buyer. “When you’re asking young families to pay a couple hundred extra dollars every … [Read more...]

Spring is HERE in the Cedar Rapids area and so is Home Maintenance

Every winter seems to be the longest and this winter in the Cedar Rapids area, this year was no exception. With the warmer weather and sunny skies, it’s time to turn our attention from shoveling snow and keeping warm to enjoying the sun and green grass. It’s also time to get your home ready for the warmer months ahead. It WILL be warmer and stay warmer – promise – and it’s a good time to have your air conditioner inspected. It’s better to do it now and pay the maintenance fee than when it’s 100 degrees outside and your unit goes down. Check your roof and gutters. Snow and ice can really … [Read more...]

Did you turn on your lights?

WHOO HOO!! Time to MOVE!! You’re going to pack up all your things and move into your new Cedar Rapids area home!! Grab some boxes and newspaper and start packing!! However, there are a few things you will want to do before moving day ….. Insurance If there is a moving company involved, make sure to get in writing of what is insured and what is not AND for how much!! You may find damage done by the movers is insured by weight and not actual item value. This may mean cents on the dollar instead of replacement value. Check your insurance – renters or homeowners policies – to make sure your … [Read more...]

Has the Late Spring Affected Iowa Home Sales?

Press Release- CLIVE, IOWA (April 2014) – The latest report from the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR) shows that home sale prices continued to increase across Iowa. According to IAR’s March 2014 Housing Trends Report, home prices increased by 1.7 percent from last year at this time. The average sale price was $143,565 in 2013 and $146,059 in 2014. Median Sales Price showed no change, staying at $125,000. Twenty-six local Realtor® boards reported increases in sales price. The number of sales decreased statewide; dropping 16.2 percent from last March. The report indicates a total of 2,300 … [Read more...]

Are there better ways of spending your rent money?

I love the articles with interactive charts and when Trulia came up with their Cost of Renting vs. Cost of Owning your home, I couldn’t help but play with the numbers. Trulia reported that as an average, it would almost be 30% cheaper to purchase a home than to rent. But what does that mean? I entered a few numbers into the calculation to see just much a home in the Cedar Rapids area you could purchase, if your rent is $850 per month. According to Trulia’s interactive chart, $850/month rent equals to a monthly loan payment to purchase a $110,000 home. Renting is a really good option … [Read more...]

Keep your drugs safe during open houses

A recent article in the REALTOR® Magazine about the number of prescriptions stolen during Open Houses got me thinking about a safety issue when you have your home listed – your family’s medications. Though I screen every potential buyer I take through your Cedar Rapids area home and walk with them every step we take, there still are Open Houses and other showings of your home. As careful as I and other agents are, precautions are still needed. Prescription drug thieves actually target open houses and many times travel in pairs. One of them acts as a decoy and the other travels around the … [Read more...]

Preventing Ice Dams in Iowa

You’d think we wouldn’t have to talk about snow , sub-zero temps, school closings or freezing pipes right now in the Cedar Rapids area, but the reality is, we still do. And one of the most damaging things going on in many homes right now are ice dams – you’ve seen them  …. homes with lots of icicles hanging off the roof. Ice dams are typically caused by uneven heat loss from your home in wintry conditions such as snow, heat melting the snow, and cold temperatures re-freezing melted snow. The heat is typically caused by inadequate attic insulation or from warm air seeping into the attic from … [Read more...]

Iowa Home Sale Prices Continue to Rise

Previously posted by Amy Lucht | Feb 13, 2014 NEWS RELEASE - CLIVE, IOWA (Feb. 13, 2014)-According to the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR) home sales dipped slightly in January, however home prices continued to rise. In the January 2014 Housing Trends Report, IAR reports that the average sale price increased by another 6 percent and the median sale price was up 3.4 percent.  The average sale price was $136,489 in January 2013 and $144,724 in January 2014.  The median went from $116,000 in January 2013 to $120,000 in January 2014.  Twenty-nine of the 44 local Realtor® boards in the … [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...]

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...]

Mortgage Credit Certificate

From 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...]