6 House Hunting Tips for Home Buyers

house and magnifying glassSigns of Spring are in the air and soon real estate agents all over the area will be escorting clients through private viewings of homes for sale.

If you’re in the market to buy, then you are probably enthused by the idea of viewing your next dream home.

But before you get ahead of yourself and unknowingly do something to offend the Seller and/or your real estate agent, read the following house hunting tips for Home Buyers.

1. Choose a real estate agent
If you’re in the market to buy your next home, it’s important to choose an agent you can trust. Throughout the home buying process, you will share a lot of personal information with that person including your financial status, your credit history, and other personal and lifestyle information.

Once you identify an agent you can trust, stick with that person. If you see a home you like online, don’t call the listing agent. Call your agent and tell them about what you just saw.

Real estate agents rely on client loyalty, and unless she has done something to offend you, you should continue with that person throughout the search up until the day of closing on your new home.

2. Get pre-approved
Guessing how much home you can afford is a very bad idea- so bad, in fact- that many real estate agents will not show homes to a Buyer without a pre-approval letter.

It’s important to obtain a pre-approval from your bank before you begin your home search. Doing so will guide you toward homes you can afford and away from homes you can’t.

3. Be prepared
Whether you’re off to view only one home or multiple homes, it’s important to anticipate the time you’ll be spending by being prepared.

Properties may or may not have their water turned on so be sure to use the restroom before heading out to look at properties. Avoid hunger/thirst by having a meal or light snack before viewing homes. Never bring outside food/drink to other people’s homes.

4. Keep your appointments
Your agent and the Seller are both preparing for your arrival so respect their time by keeping your appointment. Be punctual. If your agent scheduled your showing at 1:30- don’t arrive at 1:40.

If something unexpected comes up which requires you to cancel, always try to do so with as much notice as possible. Never ever No-Show for a listing appointment.

5. Remove your shoes
Don’t be the guy who stains the Seller’s carpet with their dirty shoes! Although it may not be a rule in your own home, it is always the rule in someone else’s home!

If you’re self-conscious about your feet, just pack some clean socks in your car for the upcoming house hunting days.

6. Don’t snoop
The Golden Rule applies to house hunting. Treat a home and its owner with the same courtesy you would expect of others.

When viewing homes, don’t wander off from your real estate agent to go exploring- and never, ever snoop! Respect the Seller’s sacred space and his or her privacy.

Do’s and Don’ts for First-Time Home Sellers

Selling your home can be challenging. There’s a great deal of emotion involved and doing it for the first time makes it Thumbs up downeven more difficult.

It’s easy for sellers to get caught up in the emotion of the process and succumb to any number of mistakes so I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind if you’re a first-time home seller.

 

DON’T overprice

Selling your home is likely one of the largest financial transactions you’ll ever make. While it may be tempting to ‘test the market’ with a slightly inflated list price, doing so can have negative unintended consequences for Sellers.

For example- if a Seller chooses a list price for their home which is 25% higher than the actual market value, many Buyers who are qualified for the true market value may overlook the home as one he cannot afford.

Sellers who attempt to overpricing their listing are often forced to reduce the list price later to the home’s actual market value, which can result in time wasted and an even lower final sale price.

Greediness leads to failure. It’s important to choose a realistic asking price based on the property’s actual market value at the time of the listing. Doing so will generate more immediate interest and increase the odds of a higher price offer.

 

DON’T get emotional

Selling a home is an incredibly emotional experience. When you’re selling for the very first time, it’s helpful to remain unemotional and try not to take things personally

Let’s say a Buyer asks you to include your patio furniture with the sale. Maybe they just think you have great taste! Take a deep breath and consider- unemotionally- “am I willing to do that, or not”?

Let’s say a 2:00 pm showing appointment cancels at 1:45. Maybe they had a family emergency! Take a deep breath and focus on one showing at a time- one day at a time. Getting caught up in emotion can only make the entire process more stressful than it needs to be.

 

DON’T be unprepared

Have you calculated your expected Selling costs? Are you planning to buy or rent your next home? Will you be needing to rent a storage unit or hire a moving company?

Being unprepared can be a time-consuming and costly mistake so all these things should be taken into consideration now.

 

DON’T ignore feedback

Through the process of listing and selling your house, you will encounter a great deal of feedback- both positive and negative.

If your real estate agent cautions you against investing any more money into your home, you may want to consider that feedback. If two of the three prospects at your open house said the living room carpet should be cleaned, consider cleaning the living room carpet.

If a prospective Buyer, however, wants you to move the front of your house to the back and the upstairs to down, you may want to disregard that feedback. That Buyer is probably not “the One”.

Not everyone likes the same things, but it only takes one Buyer- “the One”. Being open to feedback can help you as the Seller to determine if “the One” is nearby OR if an adjustment should be made before “the One” arrives.

 

DO hire a listing agent you trust

Real estate agents are not all created equal. A good real estate agent will have a marketing plan which includes putting your home on display for a large audience of prospects. A good agent will take professional looking photos to enhance the appearance of your home. A good agent will offer tips, advice, and strategies to maximize your efforts and your results.

A Seller can choose from a large selection of real estate agents, but it’s imperative he choose someone he can trust.

 

DO accommodate buyers

If a qualified prospect wants to view your home, make every effort to accommodate their request. Buyers often make inconvenient showing requests or ones with little to no notice. Although it can be incredibly frustrating, it’s important to have your home as accessible to real estate agents and prospective buyers alike.

If a home is too difficult to access, Buyers and/or their agents may choose to move on to another home with a more motivated and accommodating Seller. Remember- convenience helps!

 

DO keep an open mind

When you embark on your first journey as a home Seller, you may say to yourself “I will never do X” or “if a Buyer thinks XX, they can just forget about it”. If a Seller with this kind of attitude encounters a Buyer with a similar mentality, it can make for a very painful process.

It’s important for home Sellers to have an open mind, which includes a willingness to be flexible and open to new ideas. Do you really need to close by May 27 or can it be June 6? 0% of the time does one party to a transaction get 100% of what they want. A successful transaction takes compromise by both sides.

 

DO fulfill your obligations

If you promise your real estate agent you will have the house clean and ready to show by April 1, have the house clean and ready to show by April 1. If you agree to have the dead tree in the backyard removed for the Buyer before closing day, have the dead tree in the back yard removed before closing.

Your real estate contract will likely require you to remove all personal items and debris prior to closing so make sure you do it. Going back on your obligations as a Seller can result in hard feelings, unnecessary stress, and even potential liability.

Before You Go FSBO

Selling your house on your own can be an appealing concept. I mean- who wouldn’t want to save money on paying aFSBO commission to a real estate agent? There are a variety of reasons why FSBO’s (pronounced fizz-bos) attempt this route, and there are a variety of reasons why those attempts fail.

Selling a house can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive so before you go FSBO, ask yourself the following questions and make sure you’re prepared for the commitment necessary to successfully sell your house on your own.

Can I be objective? Homeowners have very personal and subjective perspectives of their homes because they have more invested than just money. Sellers have blood, sweat, and tears and they have memories. Did you lay the landscaping pavers at your house one by one? Do you get sentimental when you look at the room where your daughter walked her first steps? These are just a couple of examples how a homeowner’s judgement can get clouded and they can lose objectivity. Nobody enjoys rejection and navigating through certain issues about your own home with a prospective Buyer can be extremely challenging.
Do I understand perceived value? There is a very big difference between components of a home that make it more valuable and ones that make it more sellable. What you perceive as valuable may or may not match your Buyer’s perception. Because of the Internet, consumers have the capacity to be savvy when it comes to market statistics and home values. Have you done your research and are you prepared? When Buyers see a FSBO, they often envision “savings” and develop an expectation that the Sellers will extend the savings onto them. Once an offer is prepared and the negotiating process begins, both market knowledge and perceived value will be revealed. Dealing with a savvy Buyer or a real estate agent representing a Buyer, a Seller can be at a significant disadvantage if they don’t understand value.
Can I qualify prospects? When a property comes on the market, people are going to want to see it- period. That includes both qualified and unqualified people. How will you identify which is which? Showing homes to unqualified people can occasionally be beneficial, but it can also be incredibly dangerous and/or a total waste of your time.
Will I be accessible for showings and communication? When a hot Buyer enters the picture, it’s important for a Seller to be accessible. Will your Buyer prospects be corresponding with you via email, phone, or both? Can you accommodate a Buyer’s schedule with your own work schedule or personal lifestyle? Do you have time dedicated to tidying up the house AND conducting the showing itself? Having a plan in place for managing showings and communication is necessary if you plan to sell your house yourself.
What costs will I incur? Whether you’re selling your house on your own or with a real estate agent, you will incur costs. A Seller can ask an agent the cost of fees related to their services, however a Seller will need to do a bit more research to determine the costs of selling their own house. A FSBO may need to obtain the services of other professionals such as: a photographer to take and/or edit listing photos; a professional printer to prepare flyers; an attorney to prepare legal documents and/or offer legal advice; an escrow or settlement agent; a professional home stager; and an online marketing platform and/or newspaper publication.
Can I really do this on my own? Do you know what information you will need to disclose about your house at what point, by what method, and to whom? There are disclosure laws and other opportunities for liability for Sellers selling their house on their own. If you read through this blog post today and feel overwhelmed or unsure, I encourage you to get in touch with a real estate agent today.

Tips for Dealing with Winter Ice

This Winter in Iowa has been particularly grueling with the large amounts of snowfall and record cold temperatures. Winter IceAs a result, many of us are now dealing with problematic ice on our vehicles, in our driveways, and on our homes.

Applying ice melt has been a common solution for dealing with some ice problems, but all ice melts are not the same. Ice melts contain varying chemicals- some of which can be damaging to surfaces and some that can be harmful to people or pets.

So how do you get rid of problematic ice? There are a variety of products available and potential solutions to dealing with ice problems- each with its own benefit and risk.

If you’re dealing with an ice problem, consider your needs and some different options.

Ice Dams
Ice dams are formed when heat rises to the roof. As the heat causes the snow-covered roof to melt, that runoff will refreeze and remain on the eaves. As the process continues, an ice dam is formed.

Icicles and ice dams are quite common- especially in older homes or structures with poor insulation- but they can cause damage to shingles and/or cause water to leak back into a home causing damage to your walls and ceilings.

While it may be tempting to knock the icicles down, it’s important to realize those dams can be very dangerous and unpredictable. Using deicers such as calcium chloride or sodium acetate might be effective, but keep in mind that those chemicals can cause corrosion on gutters, roofing nails, and on aluminum siding.

There are some alternatives to chemical treatment. Heat cables, for example, can be applied to the exterior of the building to make the ice melt. Another method of dealing with ice dams is to use attic fans, which works by blowing cold air to the dam and cooling the underside of the roof.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important that your strategy also includes a route for the water to drain.

Icy Driveway-
Road salt or sodium chloride has probably been the most widely used compound to melt ice on roads and driveways because it works by lowering the temperature of the water and melting the ice. The downside of using salt is that it can be damaging to concrete and cause rust on vehicles.

Alternative compounds, such as do it yourself vinegar or rubbing alcohol mixtures can be effective in dealing with icy driveways, however they are typically less effective in certain temperatures.

The safest way to remove ice from driveways is with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and a shovel.

Icy Windshield-
No garage? No problem. There are a variety of deicers available for purchase and some do it yourself recipes for preventing or treating icy windshields.

Another method includes pouring warm (NOT hot) water to the windshield to melt the ice. While applying water can be effective in deicing your frozen door handle or windshield, it also comes with a risk that as the heat expands and contracts, a chip or crack may develop.

Stuck vehicle-
If your vehicle is stuck in ice and snow, consider using an abrasive material like cat litter. I’ll be very clear- using cat litter on an icy driveway will not melt the snow or ice, but it is very useful in creating transaction for vehicles that may be stuck. In fact- cat litter has become one of the most recommended components of Winter survival kits.

Sand is another abrasive material, like cat litter, that works by creating traction on the ice.
If you’re dealing with a stuck vehicle, try pouring some cat litter or sand directly in the path of your tires and give the gas another try!

The Truth About How Real Estate Agents Get Paid

I often get questions from my clients and members in the community about how real estate agents get paid. Because there seems to be a lack of understanding, I wanted to share some truth:

We are paid by the Seller
Once in a while, a Buyer will approach me and ask what I charge to represent him OR simply ask how I get paid. The truth is: real estate agents get paid from Sellers, not Buyers.
Through Seller representation, a Seller agrees to pay, usually a percentage of the sale, the agent who represents him (Seller’s Agent) AND the agent who provides the accepted offer (Buyer’s Agent).

We work for freeCash hundreds
We are a convenience driven society so unfortunately it isn’t terribly uncommon for a Buyer to use the services of whichever agent may be available when he needs one, but the truth is: real estate agents depend on client loyalty otherwise their efforts go unrewarded.

Agents continually provide services to Buyers and Sellers alike, but those services result in spent man hours; mileage expense; advertising costs; and office equipment, supplies, and services expense.

Seller’s Agents only get paid if the house is successfully sold during the course of the agent’s listing contract. Buyer’s Agents only get paid if the house is successfully sold as a result of that particular agent writing the offer. Smart real estate Agents strive to earn their client’s loyalty and to maintain a referral based business.

We’re not millionaires
How many times have you observed something in the newspaper celebrating a million dollar producer and thought “wow, she must be rich”! There’s a very common misconception in the public that real estate agents are actually millionaires (well, maybe a few are). The truth is- that particular accolade simply means that the agent has played a role in 1 million dollars in sales. When you investigate further, you will find that agents only take home a small percentage of the commission on the sale because the commission must be divided four ways between the Seller’s Agent and Broker and the Buyer’s Agent and Broker. In fact, the average real estate agent salary in Iowa is less than $38,000 (according to Salary.com January 2019).

If you’ve had a pleasant experience with a real estate agent, show your appreciation with loyalty and your real estate agent will thank you.

35 Real Estate Terms and Their Meanings

 

Real Estate terminology can be incredibly confusing. In an effort to make it a little easier to understand, I’ve compiled the list below of 35 common real estate terms and their meanings.

 

 

1. Listing Agreement

A Listing Agreement is a contractual agreement that establishes the name of the Real Estate Broker appointed by the Seller to represent the Seller. Other components of a Listing Agreement include the name of the Seller(s); the property address; the Seller’s asking or list price for the property; and the Broker’s service fees.

2. Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
The Multiple Listing Service or MLS is a platform used by real estate brokers which promotes real estate listings and allows cooperation and compensation among other real estate agents.

3. Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)
A Competitive Market Analysis or CMA is an evaluation performed by a real estate agent for a Seller which assesses, based on current market conditions and recent sales of similar properties, the value to be expected for a particular property.

4. Buyer’s Agent
A Buyer’s Agent is the real estate salesperson chosen by a Buyer to assist throughout the purchasing process and work to protect the Buyer’s interests.

5. Seller’s Agent
A Seller’s Agent or Listing Agent is the real estate salesperson chosen by a Seller to assist throughout the selling process and work to protect the Seller’s interests.

6. Dual Agency
Dual Agency is created when a real estate Broker represents both Buyer and Seller in a transaction. Real estate license law requires agents disclose to both parties the potential of and consent for dual agency.

7. Real Estate Broker
A Real Estate Broker is a licensed real estate salesperson who has successfully completed additional training and licensing requirements to work independently and/or employ other real estate agents. Real Estate Salespersons are required to work under the supervision of a Real Estate Broker.

8. Commission
A Commission is the amount of a real estate broker’s fee for services. Often a percentage of sale, the Commission is generally paid by the Seller and shared between the Buyer’s and Seller’s Agent.

10. Counter Offer
A Counter Offer is a written proposal given by a Seller to a Buyer in response to an Offer to Purchase. Subsequent Counter Offers can be presented back and forth between Buyer and Seller until all terms are accepted by both parties.

11. Purchase Agreement
A Purchase Agreement is a document and legally binding contract between Buyer and Seller which illustrates the sale terms both parties have agreed to.

12. Addendum
An Addendum is a document and legally binding contract between Buyer and Seller which accompanies the Purchase Agreement. An Addendum often includes omissions or additional terms, if any, since the original Purchase Agreement was written.

13. Contingency
A Contingency is a provision or clause to a contract which requires a specific event to occur, usually with a specified time frame, or the contract becomes null and void.

14. Earnest Money
Earnest Money is a form of deposit made by a Buyer to demonstrate good faith to the Seller that the Buyer is serious about proceeding with the transaction.

15. Showing
A Showing is a scheduled appointment for a prospective Buyer to view a property. Showings are arranged by a Buyer’s Agent, who will accompany the Buyer during the private tour.

16. Open House
An Open House is a scheduled time when a property for sale is open and available for potential Buyers to view. Open Houses are arranged by a Seller’s Agent, who hosts the public tour.

17. Home Inspection
A Home Inspection is performed by a qualified inspector who is hired on behalf of the Seller to conduct a thorough examination of the property’s condition.

18. Appraisal
An Appraisal is performed by a qualified appraiser who is hired on behalf of the Buyer and Buyer’s Lender to conduct an objective examination of the property and its value.

19. Mortgage
A Mortgage is a legally binding contract between a Creditor and a Buyer wishing to purchase a property or a Seller wishing to refinance a property. A Mortgage allows a Lender ownership rights to the property if the loan is not repaid.

20. Mortgage Pre-Qualification
A Pre-Qualification is the first step in the mortgage approval process. A Lender will review a Buyer’s credit score, income and asset, and debt information to determine an estimate of what a Buyer can afford.

21. Mortgage Pre- Approval
A Pre-Approval is the second step in the mortgage approval process. A Lender will verify a Buyer’s credit score, income and asset, and debt information for a specific loan amount.

22. Private Mortgage Insurance
Private Mortgage Insurance is a type of insurance that a Buyer may be required to carry which protects the Lender in the event the Buyer defaults.

23. Assessed Value
The Assessed Value is the value assigned to a property by county tax authorities for tax billing purposes.

24. Seller Concessions
Seller Concessions are incentives offered to the Buyer by the Seller which assist the Buyer with sale-related expenses.

25. Closing
Closing or settlement is a term used to describe the fulfillment of a real estate contract where ownership is transferred from one party to another. The Closing date is agreed upon by Buyer and Seller as part of the negotiating process.

26. Closing Costs
Closing costs are fees paid by the Buyer or the Seller at the final execution of a real estate contract for his own sale related expenses.

27. Title Opinion
A Title Opinion is a professional opinion prepared by an attorney or title company following a title search to determine if title to a property is clear or encumbered.

28. Deed
A Deed is a legal instrument which transfers ownership of property from one owner to another.

29. Abstract
An Abstract of Title is a historical record of all legal transactions and ownership rights associated with a property.

30. Contract for Deed
A Contract for Deed is a legal agreement in which a Buyer borrows money directly from the Seller, instead of from a traditional Lender, for the property purchase. A Buyer is allowed to take possession, however ownership rights are retained by the Seller until the purchase price is paid.

31. Home Warranty
A home warranty is coverage for the repair or replacement of major components in a home. Coverage typically includes plumbing systems, appliances, electrical components, and central heating and cooling systems.

32. Home Owners Association (HOA)
A Home Owner’s Association or HOA is a private organization that sets and enforces rules for a community and charges fees to residents to improve and maintain community property.

33. Covenants and Restrictions
Covenants and Restrictions are a set of rules set by a developer or Home Owner’s Association to govern residences in a subdivision or neighborhood.

34. Encroachment
An Encroachment is typically illegal and happens when an improvement made to a property crosses over boundary lines and onto another property.

35. Easement
An Easement is a legal right of an individual or organization to pass through or use another’s property for a specific reason.Letters

Prepare Your House for Listing Day

As Winter drags on here in Iowa, continued cold temperatures and more snow mean more time spent indoors. While there are downsides to being cooped up, if you’re in the market to sell your house soon- now is a great time to prepare the inside of your house for its upcoming listing day!

Although the task of prepping your home might feel overwhelming, some thoughtful planning and a little bit of elbow grease can go a very long way. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression after all, and you can follow some simple concepts to get your house ready to sell and make a positive impression on your future home buyer prospects.

Paint-
Interior paint colors are very important. Paint colors invoke feelings and affect our moods so it’s generally best to use neutral shades and steer clear of any potentially offensive colors that evoke bad feelings.

Prospective home buyers typically have a difficult time visualizing a home’s potential so do not assume “they can just repaint it if they don’t like it”. We are a busy people. If a buyer sees a room he will need to repaint, that will translate into work. If a buyer sees door dings and scuffed baseboards he will need to touch up, that will also translate into work.

If you were a buyer, how much money would you pay for a house that needs work? Work equals time and money so impress your future home buyer with your home’s current condition. If you’re unsure about paint colors, just ask me!

Depersonalize-
When a potential home buyer walks through a home, he is trying to envision “could I live here”? Buyers are easily distracted by personal items left out in view such as family photos, personal documents with names on them, and knickknacks or collectibles.

The goal is to make your home buyer prospects envision your house as their new home. This is not the time to show off your affinity for pets with your ceramic cat collection or flaunt your impressive hunting skills with your antler collection. Failing to remove personal items will leave buyers with visions of who the people are that live there and make them unable to envision it as their future home.

Clean/Declutter-
Home buyers are very curious creatures who tend to complete a full investigation before making the big decision to purchase. When was the last time you wiped down your ceiling fan or cleaned your refrigerator coils? Is there dust on your windowsills? Unsightly things such as these can be red flags to buyers and lead them to believe the house has been neglected.

Do you have multiple seasons of clothing in your closet? Do you have extra pieces of furniture in your living room? Too much clutter is another red flag to prospective purchasers who may begin to wonder “will all of my belongings fit here”?

Don’t rely on a buyer to overlook that space you’ve been neglecting. Clean any area in your home that is dirty and pack up and label any unnecessary items or furnishings in boxes or totes. If you have a lot of extra furnishings, consider renting a storage unit. Preparing these things now will not only make your house appear more attractive, it will also make the upcoming move and closing day easier for you.

Repair-
If the storm door screen is torn, replace it. If the hinges on the door are loose, tighten them. If the caulk in the bathroom is peeling, reapply it. While these repairs may seem insignificant, nothing screams house neglect more than visible issues.

Replace your furnace filter and ensure the house appears to be lived in, yet cared for and well-maintained. There are many resources online for do it yourself repairs. If it’s something major or beyond your skill level, hire a repairman.

Final touches-
Remember: it’s human nature for us to view our homes subjectively. When you believe you’re ready to list your For sale signhouse, invite your real estate agent and some trusted friends over to walk through and point out any remaining areas of concern. They can view your home objectively so don’t take criticisms personally. A well-planned presentation will soon payoff in intrinsic rewards and financial gains for you!

Which Flowers to Send This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and a popular time for gift giving. In fact, the average American spendsRose image resized approximately $140 on Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation.

While a lot of money is typically spent on gifts of jewelry, chocolate, cards, and dinner, flowers are a popular gift due to their versatility of use.

A gift of flowers can be used for your spouse or sweetheart, friend, family member, neighbor, or even co-worker. Flowers are also a great gift idea because they have a special language which allows you to communicate specific feelings to someone else.

Some flowers, such as the white daffodil, yellow carnation, and black rose have negative associations so before you go out and purchase flowers for someone special in your life this Valentine’s Day, know the special meaning behind your gift.

Below are some common Valentine’s Day expressions and their corresponding flower:

Say: I Love You
While the red rose is probably the most popular flower to communicate love, red tulips are an affordable alternative with a similar meaning. White roses and daisies are used to signify innocent love specifically while white gardenia, alstroemeria, sunflowers, and forget me nots are all additional options to reflect general feelings of love.

Say: I’m Intrigued by You
Blue roses represent the mysterious and unattainable and are often associated, like the purple rose, with love at first sight.

Say: I’m Sorry
The purple hyacinth and white tulip are great ways to request forgiveness as they are generally associated with regret.

Say: I Miss You
Say I miss you to an absent friend with zinnias or choose pink or red carnations, the most popular ‘I miss you’ flowers. Azaleas are another option if you and your special someone are in love- but apart’.

Say: I Want You
Orange and coral roses are associated with desire and a great way to tell someone “I want you’. Pink roses mean passionate love, making them another appropriate choice to reflect desire.

Say: I Appreciate You
Pink carnations and peach roses represent gratitude and are an ideal way to communicate your appreciation to someone else.

REALTORS Fight For Your Rights as Home Owners!

Each year, REALTORS from across the state of Iowa go to DesMoines to the Capitol to talk to legislators about issues that could affect home     wnership.  This year was no different and we braved the winter weather last week to go visit the State Capital.  Over 200 REALTORS from across the state gathered at The River Center for lunch and to hear DC Political Commentator, Kevin Madden, give his views on where the US is heading and what to watch for over the next two years.  We also heard the REALTORS amazing lobbyist, Jennifer Kingland, talk about a few of the issues facing agents and home owners in Iowa.

bus in4 (2)homies on the hillbus in 3iowa capitol

 

A few of the issues that are important to our industry in this Legislative Session are regarding Private Property Rights, Service Animals in Rental Housing, Groundwater Hazard Statements, and Electronic Notorization.

Private Property Rights are being taken away in some Iowa towns by local ordinances limit a property owners ability to rent property due to cap limits.  We are working with legislators to prevent these local ordinances.

The right for people to have assistance/service animals is being taken advantage of by some renters.  Currently anyone can go online and and register a pet as an assistance animal.  We support a bill that is currently in the senate that says a patient/client needs to request the assistance of a licensed medical professional to find that they do have a disability and need an assistance or support animal.

Groundwater Hazard statements are currently required to be recorded with a deed at the time a property is transferred to a new owner.  These let the county and buyer know if there are any underground storage tanks, burial sites, wells, septic systems, etc.  We are currently working with legislators to determine the usefulness of this document and if there is any other way to disclose this information.

Electronic notorization is the other legislative issue that affects REALTORS and others.  Several other states are considering or have already enacted legislation that allows for the remote electronic notorization of documents including deeds and other documents used in a real estate transaction.  This would especially be helpful for out of town buyers and sellers.

This is the 8th year that I have gone to legislative days at the capital.  Our voices are heard when we go there, and we have helped make many things happen with regard to protecting your rights as home owners!

Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

I was approached by someone recently who said- there are so many real estate agents. So- if you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, how DO you choose who to have represent you in one of the biggest transactions of your life? The answer quite simply is this: do your research. Real estate agents are not all equal, but with a little forethought and planning, you can avoid potential disaster and identify a trusted partner who will advocate for you.

Is he/she licensed?
The first step in choosing the right real estate agent is to verify their license status. Make sure the agent is active and has no history of disciplinary action. There are numerous laws that govern real estate so you’ll want to be sure that any potential candidate is licensed to practice and hasn’t been in trouble before for improper practice.

Is he/she a REALTOR?
A real estate agent may or may not be a REALTOR. The term REALTOR is used to describe “a member of the National Association of REALTORS”. REALTORS are licensed real estate agents who subscribe specifically to a strict code of ethics and are required to complete additional training and education. Would you rather choose an agent that subscribes to a strict code of ethics or one who does not?

What are his/her credentials?
It’s important to choose a person who is professional, knowledgeable, ambitious, and resourceful. Choosing an agent who has twenty years of experience over someone who has only five is fine, however experience does not always necessarily translate into knowledge. An ambitious agent will work tirelessly to study real estate laws, tools, and industry trends regardless of her years of experience.

Has your prospective real estate agent earned any awards or designations? Is he/she involved in civic groups or other professional organizations? Does he/she know the area and study the market data? Does he/she have good working relationships with lenders, business professionals, and other real estate agents? An agent with a strong network may be able to offer you resources which another agent cannot.

What do others say about him/her?
If you interview a real estate agent, she’s going to tell you that she’s great, right? She would probably be crazy not to!Business woman resized Reading testimonials, online reviews and ratings, visiting with a prospective agent’s past clients, and reviewing social media accounts are all great ways to find out more about an agent. Does the agent work with buyers, or sellers, or both? Are the agent’s past clients happy with the service they received? A strong real estate business is contingent upon referrals and happy clients. If in your research you observe poor professionalism or discover a history of unhappy clients, you may want to continue your agent search.

Are you compatible?
Will the agent answer the phone if you call? How does the agent feel about Open Houses? Communication styles and preferences, hours of accessibility, personal value systems, and chemistry are all important components of compatibility.

One of the most important criteria in choosing the right real estate agent is finding someone you can trust. You want to hire someone truthful and trustworthy to fight for your goals, and not for theirs. An agent who just seems pushy or disregards your needs might very well be an agent just looking for a sale. Listen to your instincts and always trust your gut.