Farmland Rental Rates increase 18% for 2012

Good news for landowners, but tougher times for younger, smaller farm operators. As Farmland prices increase, according to an Iowa State University Extension survey, rental rates for Iowa farmland have also increased 18% to $252 an acre—even larger increases for higher quality land, up to $400 to $500 an acre! The $38 average increase per acre is in line with still-high commodity prices, with corn at $6/bushel and soybeans at $13.70/bushel this April. Comparatively, rental prices for Iowa farmland were $176 per acre in 2008, and commodity prices averaged $4.10/bushel for corn and … [Read more...]

10 uses for hydrogen peroxide. Who knew?

Most of us have heard of the common “green” cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda, maybe even used some castile soap. But here’s a super cheap and effective gem—hydrogen peroxide! Here are 10 uses for the 3% solution in all areas of your home: Kitchen 1. Cutting boards and countertops. Watch those bubbles clear away remnants of the meat or fish you made for dinner. Remember to store it in an opaque spray bottle, though– light will kill hydrogen peroxide’s effectiveness. 2. Refrigerator and dishwasher. Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic, so it’s great for cleaning spaces that hold … [Read more...]

Don’t Miss these 5 Signs to Sell!

Most years, homes sell best during the Spring. The market revs up in March or April, stays busy until July, and then relaxes for the summer. However, in 2011, the seller’s market was active during the beginning of the year but stalled out in April. So if you waited until spring to list your house, you may have missed out. A contributing factor to the slow down was the end of the homebuyer stimulus package for taxpayers. But a look at the economic conditions explain why the real estate market flip-flopped last year and may provide insight as to how to spot a sellers’ market in the … [Read more...]

Why it pays to clear the clutter before showing

  I read this article and really wanted to share it with those of you who are considering putting your house on the market. It may seem like common sense that it is better to show a home that is neat and tidy, but these professionals from New York point out some very good reasons why that's so. Whether you are selling a small one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan or a large five-bedroom farm house in Iowa, clutter is clutter and getting it out of sight will make a much better impression on potential buyers. A report, originally posted by Tim McKeough,, April 18, 2012. Real … [Read more...]

April is Fair Housing Month

Check out this short video and the Realtor® Fair Housing Declaration. Fair Housing is very important to real estate. Whether you are buying or selling, I am passionate about making sure that everyone is treated fairly. Please be sure to let me know if you have questions!   REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration: As a member of the REALTOR® Associations, I agree to:   Provide equal professional service without regard to the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation of any prospective client, customer, or of the residents of … [Read more...]

Has your farm been in your family for 100 years? Century, Heritage Farm applications due June 1

The deadline to apply for the state's 2012 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1. The ceremony to recognize the 2012 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 14. The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau sponsor the award. Applications are available at by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under "Hot Topics." The Century Farm program … [Read more...]

Have you turned on your AC yet?

Can you believe this heat already – well not today, but in March? I don’t know about you, but I sure hate turning on my air when I just turned off my heat. However, every year around this time in Benton County, we all start to use our air conditioning units – or at least thinking about it. Sometimes we forget how much money it costs to run and keep one up and there is another cost that could affect you this year and the next. Is your air conditioning unit more than two years old? If so you may be in for a big surprise. If you have a unit that is more than two years old it uses what is … [Read more...]

What YOU need to know about Flood Insurance

 As the warmer weather settles here in Eastern Iowa, it’s about the time we start concerning ourselves with the river levels. That means considering whether we have the level of protection we need in case of a flood. Whether or not you decide to purchase flood insurance should be determined by considering the value of your home and possessions, as well as the risk of flooding in your area. Some homes that are located in certain high-risk areas, called “Special Flood Hazard Areas,” may be required to carry flood insurance. According to insurance professional DonnaLyn Geigerich, Red … [Read more...]

USDA Rural Development Home Loan

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Home Loan program allows buyers to be issued a mortgage with 0% down. Buyers can also rely on financial gifts from various sources, including friends and family, to cover the closing costs. The following steps will help outline the process: Ensure you will be able to afford the mortgage payments: Make copies of your last two federal tax returns, 60 days worth of pay stubs, Credit card and other loan statements, Retirement and other savings account statements, and Checking account statements. Contact a … [Read more...]

USDA Downloadable Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The USDA has not printed maps for the 2012 USDA Plant Hardines Zones. Instead, the USDA has made available all maps downloadable  by state, region and national views. There are a variety of sizes and file types for you to download. NEW THIS YEAR, the USDA just released their virtual interactive plant hardiness map online. Click on your state and you get by county average temperatures. Enter your zipcode and for an immediate rating of your soil. It's fun, fast and EASY! Check it out today!! or If you have planted already - better cover your plants!! Frost is forecast tonight and tomorrow … [Read more...]

Do you have an itch??

Do you feel the itch? I feel it - the itch to get things planted and watch them grow. But WAIT! It is ONLY April in Iowa - NOT May!! Boy it does feel like May and plantin' time is here. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. The USDA National Agriculture Statistical Service recently sent out a report on theIowa Crops and Weather. I've seen some farmers already planting even though we know the earliest you should plant corn is April 11th. Most of the field work being done is anhydrous and dry fertilizer applications. Many are spreading manure and tilling. But why this urgency to get into … [Read more...]

Attention First Time Home Buyers!

Check out these tips to make your first home buying experience a success: Weigh the Benefits of Home Ownership Everyone has been telling you that you should buy your own home, so you’ve done your research and weighed the benefits. It all adds up and you’ve decided that it is the best decision for you, which is a major hurdle overcome. Define Your Search Parameters With just a few clicks of the mouse, a home buyer can search through hundreds of online listings and view dozens of virtual tours and photographs of homes and neighborhoods online. By the time you meet with a real estate agent, … [Read more...]

Iowa Farm Ground Prices are STILL Going Up!

According to, Iowa’s farmland increased 10.8% between September, 2011, and March, 2012. The Iowa Farm and Land Chapter #2 REALTORS Land Institute (RLI) conducted a survey indicating a total statewide average increase of 23.7% for the year ending March 1, 2012, which was a combination of the previous gain of 12.9% reported in September and the increase made from then until March 1st. This survey reported a statewide average prices of the following types of crop ground: $9,370 /acre – high quality $7,148 /acre – medium quality $4,879 /acre – low quality $2,418 /acre – … [Read more...]

Are you ready to get a puppy or a house?

Spring is in the air and real estate signs are popping up all over the place. One question you may ask yourself is, “Is it a good time to buy?” However, the better question may be, “Am I ready to buy?” Like getting a puppy, buying a home is a HUGE commitment and one you can’t walk away from if things get a little rough. Also, like a puppy, make sure the size is right for your lifestyle – and budget. There are some things to consider when considering a purchase: Is my/our income reliable? Is it steady enough that I can depend I’ll have a job in the future? Is there stability in my … [Read more...]

Home Inspection Checklist

You have home inspection ordered. So, what are they going to check out? Better yet, you should ask what they won’t/don’t inspect and will that be a worry for you? If they specifically don’t check for Radon and you want to have your home checked out for Radon, you will want to find an inspector who does check Radon. So, what are they going to check out? If they specifically don’t check for Radon and you want to have your home checked out for Radon, you will want to find an inspector who does check Radon. Your home inspection will not cover septic or well inspections. Those are other … [Read more...]

Do you REALLY need to have a home inspection?

Should you hire the services of a home inspector before purchasing your home? I suggest you do. The purchase order forms I use there is a  box to check whether you want a whole house inspection, partial inspection of particular sections of the house (roof, furnace, plumbing, etc.) or to waive inspection all together. Once checked to have an inspection, a contingency clause is implemented on which type of inspection you are going to use. The contingency means that if a home inspection reveals anything disagreeable, the contract between the parties may be broken.  If you waive this option, you … [Read more...]

How Most Find a Real Estate Agent

How did you find your Real Estate agent in the past - or now, for that matter? Did you Google it on the internet, hear from friends, or see an add in the newspaper? Wonder how your search compared with others who have looked for real estate agents? Which way is the best to find the best agent? Here are a couple of articles I found on which details how most people find their real estate professional. How do you find an agent you can trust your biggest purchase to? An agent to really represent you? Contact me today to see how I can be your agent! On January 6, 2012, … [Read more...]

Iowa Farm Land Values

There has been a lot of talk lately about Iowa Land Values . The National Association of Realtors put together the chart and map below showing the increase of our land values and our state's unemployment rate. We are actually better off than many other states nationally. I thought I would just show you the recent trends. If you want to know local land prices, contact me today!! Iowa State University recently released land value trends in its state. The lag time between data release and conditions is almost a year, but the underlying trend is quite dramatic with land prices in many … [Read more...]

How are You Paying for Christmas?

It' December 26th. The presents are opened, ribbon and paper thrown away, boxes broken down to recycle. You're looking at a lot of money strewn all over the floor and the Holiday bills are going to be delivered within the next few weeks. How are you going to take care of Holiday bills? You may want to rethink if you are considering a Home Equity Line of Credit. You will want to have full knowledge of what you are getting into. The decision of using your home as a piggy bank, shouldn't be taken lightly. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is using the equity you have acquired through … [Read more...]

Are you ready for snow??

  It's officially winter - and we have no snow. YET! Give it a little while and I'm sure we'll be giving our snow blowers a workout and a pain in our backs. Living in Iowa, we do see our fair amount of snowfalls. However, other years we may not get much of all. What we do know, is when we do get hit by the Big One, we want the horse power to clear that snow! Because we have recently received over 2 feet of snow over the winter, you may want a moderate to heavy snow removal jobs. These are made for up to 40 inches of snow during that time. These are usually a single-stage … [Read more...]

Not a creature was stirring …

I know it's only days until Christmas and a few more days until 2011 ends and 2012 begins, however listing your home could really benefit you NOW! Right now, inventory is low. Your home doesn't have the competition it will in Spring when everyone is thinking to list. You also won't get lost in the crowd if you list now. Serious buyers are looking now, so you won't have site seers going through your home. Your home may show better now decorated for the holidays. Having it all decked out may give it just what it needs to have someone fall in love with it. It is okay to have some … [Read more...]

Tick Tock! Time is Running Out!

Time is running out to give yourself the gift of energy efficiency for this holiday season AND to benefit when you file your 2011 federal tax return. December 31, of this year may be the last time you can take advantage of these credits since Congress may not renew them in 2012. Not only will you be able to take advantage of the tax benefits for these energy efficient improvements, but over the long haul, these will save you money on your home energy and improve your home's comfort level. Learn more about the how the tax credits work. What Does The Credit Apply To? Five basic … [Read more...]

$20,000 per acre Farm Ground in IOWA!

A 74 acre tract near Hull in Western Iowa in Sioux County, went for $20,000 per acre. There were two tracts - a 38 acre parcel and a 39 acre parcel.  Neighbor Leland Kaster purchased the two tracts from Clinton Shinkle, Washington - State. “Farmland is very valuable up here, with good commodity prices and a strong livestock industry,” said auctioneer Pete Pollema of Hull, who called the sale. Previously in October a 120-acre parcel near Sioux Center sold for $16,750 per acres. Near Sully, Iowa, an 80-acre tract sold for $16,200 in September of this year. Iowa farmland has risen a … [Read more...]

Whirlpool is Calling Back & Hiring for 2012!!

Good news from Amana and it's just in time for the Holidays! The Whirlpool Corporation announced they plan to add 250 production workers in the Middle Amana refrigeration plant during the first three months of 2012 IN ADDITION to bringing back the laid off workers. They will be able to return after the 1st of the year. This is exceptional news to our local economy after it was announced in July of layoffs numbering 350 due to the slowing economy. “The increase in employment is related to additional demand for product being made at this plant as well as seasonal fluctuation,” … [Read more...]

Real Estate as a Hedge against Inflation

Here is a great article to read about inflation and your monthly mortgage payment.... We haven't heard a lot about inflation recently. However, prices have started to creep upward over the last year. As examples, here are a few categories that increased from November 2010 to November 2011: Food at home is up 6.2% via Real Estate as a Hedge against Inflation.   If you would like to see how to prepare yourself for possible inflation, contact me today. It is a great time to purchase and be making the same house payment every month even when other costs are rising. … [Read more...]

6 Online Tools for Do-it-Yourself Electricians

A doorbell that doesn’t quite ring the way it’s supposed to, a new TV that needs to be hooked up, and simple outdoor lights that need fixing, are projects that do-it-yourself electricians can complete by themselves at home. If there are a few projects around your house that you would like to get started on, head online to find help. Apart from the important safety procedures, there are many other resources available for DIY electricians. Remember: Safety First! Before beginning any electrical project, make sure you have the proper tools and the knowledge to see the project all the way … [Read more...]

Top 7 Reasons To Use A Buyer’s Agent In A Real Estate Transaction

(Reprinted with Permission) Purchasing a home is a big step, and a big decision. The average person spends around 1/3 of their income on their home. The home that you choose has a big impact on your life, and can have a big impact on your finances, as well. It always surprises me when Buyers attempt to “go at it alone” because of the possibility of mistakes. A good Buyer’s Agent is invaluable to a Buyer, and can be the difference between a wonderful transaction, and a nightmare. Full Access to the MLS The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a powerful tool that only Realtors have access … [Read more...]

Are You Ready for Thanksgiving Entertaining Disasters?

Thanksgiving is just days away. Your house is going to be busting at the seams with all the friends and family who are coming for dinner. Your oven wont heat! Just before you start stuffing your bird, you look over the oven that you just turned on and it's not heating! ARGH! What a time for it to decide to break down! How could this have happened? Do not self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. During the cleaning process, the thermostat or fuse could go out and finding someone to fix it Thanksgiving morning could be next to impossible to find - or get to your home in time to … [Read more...]

Does your Gas Leaf Blower Start right Off?

I went out the other day to get rid of all the leaves in my yard. I should have just waited as all the county's leaves are now in my yard - again. Anyway, I go to use my leaf blower ... it spits and sputters. I try several times and then pick up the old reliable - my rake and leaf sack. But I started thinking about why my leaf blower is acting like it's on its last leg and then I read this article - who knew? According to HouseLogic, Ethanol-blended gasoline, which is made for automobiles and other vehicles isn't made for the small gas powered engines. According to the article, "Ethanolis a … [Read more...]