Just how much rent can you get per acre in Benton or Linn County?

Iowa Farmland Rental Rates 1994-2014 (USDA) Iowa State Extension Office File C2-09 Updated September, 2014 Cropland rental rates averaged $260 per acre in 2014, up $20 per acre from 2013. This was the highest value ever recorded. Cash rent for pastures averaged $50 per acre in 2014, up $1 from the previous year. Rent as a percentage of land value was 3.0% for cropland and 1.5% for pasture. For more localized information about cash rental rates, ask for the Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2014 Survey (AgDM File C2-10) at the ISU Extension and Outreach office in your county or find it online … [Read more...]

Should you consider a Home Warranty when Buying a Home in the Cedar Rapids Area?

What is a home warranty? A home warranty is a warranty that covers your major mechanical systems like your furnace, central air, wells, or septic tanks.  Some warranties even cover a new roof as long as it is specified in the policy.  This is not hazard insurance.  Hazard insurance is coverage in case of a fire, flood, or accident.  The warranty  is for the normal wear and tear breakdowns. Home warranties can be obtained for many dwellings like mobile homes, condominiums, town houses and manufactured homes.  Sellers usually buy the warranty to make their home more attractive it is … [Read more...]

Property Taxes in Linn County

Are you wondering where your property and mobile tax bills are?  The Linn County Treasure’s office announced that the twice yearly tax bills will be mailed out on September 11th.    You will still have to pay your property taxes by September 30th to avoid penalty.  According to an KCRG  interview with Linn County Treasurer, Sharon Gonzalez, "Start up glitches with a new computer software system installed by the county caused the longer-than-usual delay in getting the information out.  After the tax levy is set, the information on each bill including exemptions must be certified by the … [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...]

Happy Labor Day from Shannon!!

What is Labor Day and how did it start? Have a safe Holiday weekend!! … [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...]

Now is the Time for Buyers to take Advantage of Affordability in Homeownership

Press Release-July 2014-Home sales increased in June while home prices rose slightly, reports the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR). The IAR’s June 2014 Housing Trends Report show sold activity was up in June 2014 when compared to the number of sold properties in June 2013. Sales increased by 3.6 percent from last year. A total of 4,047 homes sold/closed in June 2014, and 3,905 homes sold/closed in June 2013. The average sale price increased slightly by 1 percent, going from $168,604 last June to $170,334 this June.  The median sale price across the state decreased by 1 percent, dipping … [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...]

Happy 4th of July!

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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...]

Is Your Money going through the Roof? Find out how efficient your home is!

Warmer weather brings a heightened awareness or the electricity bill. How can you make sure your home is efficient? A home energy audit. An audit shows you how much energy is used in your home as well as ways to improve energy consumption. Since we have several different companies serving local areas, it depends on who your provider is when calling for an audit. Alliant Energy Alliant Energy offers a free Home Energy Assessment to help their customers save energy and lower over-all utility bills. According to the Alliant Energy website, the energy expert will analyze many features of … [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...]

Home Sale Prices Increase, Home Sales Decrease Slightly

Previously posted by Amy Lucht | May 14, 2014 CLIVE, IOWA (May 14, 2014) – The average Iowa home sale price has reflected positive growth again in April, according to the Iowa Association of REALTORS® (IAR). The IAR’s 2014 April Housing Trends Report indicates the average sale price of homes across Iowa in April 2014 was $152,786, up 4.6 percent from April 2013 when the average sale price was $146,119.  The median sale price increased slightly as well, going from $127,250 in 2013 to $127,500 in 2014, a .2 percent increase. The average sales price to list price ratio (sp/lp) also showed … [Read more...]

Happy Memorial Day!

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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 Bloomberg.com, 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...]

April is Fair Housing Month

April is National Fair Housing Month, however, Fair Housing is extremely important and something we need to think about every day. I make sure everyone is treated fairly! This may be a long post, but very important …. It contains who is protected, what is protected and where you can go to complain if you feel your rights were not protected. At the end is our REALTOR® Fair Housing Oath confirming what we believe in as members of the REALTOR® Association. HUD No. 14-028 Shantae Goodloe (202) 708-0685 FOR RELEASE April, 2014 HUD MARKS FAIR HOUSING MONTH WASHINGTON - Each April, the … [Read more...]

Cedar Rapids Area’s Drug Take Back Day is April 26th

Recently I blogged keeping your prescriptions safe during home showings and Open Houses. There is a safe way to dispense of your unused, expired medications so you are removing any temptations -  Drug Take Back Day. On April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the agencies listed below and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your pills for disposal to the addresses listed below. (The DEA cannot accept … [Read more...]

Land Prices are Lower!

Spring planting will be going in full gear soon and may start one thinking about the cost of land in Iowa. Recently the Iowa Chapter of REALTORS® Land Institute published their March 2014 Land Trends and Value Survey for bare, unimproved land with a sale price on a cash basis. Land Prices have gone down for the first time since 2009. High quality crop ground averaged $11,104/acre which was a drop of 5.4% or $570 from September’s report in 2013. The largest drop was in the SE corner of the state but all 9 regions saw lower prices. Lower commodity prices, higher input costs and higher … [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...]

Iowa Housing Market Update and Flood Insurance

According to the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, home prices were up and home sales were down for February. *Benton County Board has not sent in statistics yet. Kathy Miller, IAR 2014 President, says, “The extreme cold, snow, and wind that we’ve experienced this winter, has definitely influenced buyers and sellers across the state.  Sellers are inclined to wait for warmer weather to list, and buyers are reluctant to move in the inclement weather we’ve experienced.”  Miller expresses optimism by saying, “However, spring is in the air; and we’re sure to see an increase in activity in March.  … [Read more...]

Could you qualify for a Rural Development Loan?

Rural communities which qualify for Rural Development Loans will continue to qualify for these loans until 2020 according to the recent passage of the Farm Bill recently passed by Congress. In addition to the extension, the population limit of the communities who qualify was increased from 25,000 to 30,000. This link shows the qualifying income break down by county. CLICK HERE USDA Single Housing programs provide loans to low to moderate income through loan options, grants and loan guarantee programs to purchase or improve their living conditions. The following list is from the UDSA Rural … [Read more...]

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8

April showers may bring May flowers, but it’s also that time of year for dangerous weather in Iowa. Even if you have lived in the Cedar Rapids area for years, it’s always a good idea to brush up before the sirens sound off. PLUS, social media now plays a huge part in preparedness – great links below to get on your phone now. Iowa’s Severe Preparedness Week is March 24 – 28, 2014 Press Release February 28, 2014 During National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2 to 8, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are … [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...]

Do you know what the Iowa 2014 Take Credit Mortgage Credit Certificate Program is?

Released Monday, February 10, 2014 by the Governor’s Office 515-281-5211 and Ashley Jared, Iowa Finance Authority 515-725-4934 Branstad, Reynolds Partner with Iowa Finance Authority and Iowa Association of REALTORS to Announce Opportunity for Iowans to Buy a Home, Realize Federal Tax Credit Mortgage Credit Certificates to provide Iowa home buyers with up to $2,000 in annual federal income tax credits (DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds partnered with the Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Association of REALTORS to announce an opportunity for new Iowa home buyers to … [Read more...]

Local Iowa Home & Garden Shows

Our recent bout with snow and cold makes spring seem far far away – but it’s not, really. But what better way to help the winter doldrums that attending a Home & Garden Show?? Here are several that will sure put the spring in your step even if it’s not outside!! Eastern Iowa Home Improvement and Landscaping Show Waterloo http://www.iowashows.com February 7 to 9th Since 1952. Premier home and garden show with designer showrooms, landscaped gardens, home remodelers, new home contractors, extensive seminar schedule. Five Sullivan's Convention Center West 4th and Commercial … [Read more...]

It’s Radon Month in Iowa

A few months back I blogged “Radon is the 2nd Leading Cause of Cancer in the United States”. 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. January is National Radon Action Month Iowa is one of the states with high levels of radon. The map here is not an indication you WILL have radon in your home, but the tendency of radon is found in our state and should be tested. In fact when you purchase or sell in … [Read more...]

Great News for Iowa Property Owners

News release previously by Amy Lucht CLIVE, IOWA (Jan. 21, 2014) – 2013 proved to be the fantastic year that Realtors® around the state were anticipating. “It’s great to see that the real estate market is strong once again. The year ended on a positive note and provides an encouraging look into the future,” says Kathy Miller, a 31 year Realtor® veteran and 2014 President of the Iowa Association of Realtors®. According the Housing Trends Report released by the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR), numbers have improved across the board. Sales are up, prices are up, and days on the market … [Read more...]

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...]