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Protect Your Home By Tricking the Bad Guys

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Leaving on vacation or leaving your home for an extended period of time can be stressful for some. No one likes leaving their home, where they sleep at night, all their valuables, alone with protection or checking on them. But there are some tricks you can do to convince burglars that you are home, even though you are not! 

Before you leave, there are 7 things you can do to make your house less vulnerable to a break in and make your time away much more enjoyable: 

1. Dead-Bolts: dead-bolt window and door locks make it more difficult for someone to break in.

2. Alarm: Burglar alarms are the best way to alert emergency personal that there’s a problem. 

3. Exposed Hinges: Make sure all entry doors have the hinges on the inside.

4. Disconnect Internet: Keep your computers off and the Internet disconnected. If someone does break in they won’t be able to access your information and cause more damage.

5. Clean the Exterior: Put ladders, crow bars and anything else a burglar could use to break a window in a locked shed.

6. Timed Lighting: Put a timer on the TV and various lights. A flickering TV is all it takes to keep your house safe.

7. Don't be afraid to fake it: Fake camera on the outside of your home, high enough so it's hard to tell its fake. 

Best Time to Sell Your Home

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

When it comes to selling your home, the question always surfaces...When is the best time to sell? Late Spring and Early summer tend to be the most popular time to sell your home for many reasons. 

There are many pros to selling your home this time of the year; School is ending, Home Prices are up, and the summer months tend to free up more time. 

Pros of selling your Des Moines house now:

  • Larger Selling Price: With demand for homes high and inventory low, home prices are steadily increasing.
  • Better Home Evaluation: Home Value valuations are up as well.
  • Longer Days & Look Better: Longer summer days allow for more time to visit or show your home. Plus, spring & summer bring out the beauty in your yard....enhancing Curb Appeal. 
  • Bidding & Multiple Offers: Bidding may be a head ache for the seller at times but multiple offers is a wonderful situation to have!  Multiple offers normally up your Home's Price.

The Real Estate Market is HOT right now!  If you've considered Selling your Des Moines ara home, give Jon Smith a call for a personal consultation and up-to-the-minute market analysis!

Top Tips for Selling your Des Moines Home!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Home Buyers are much pickier these days than they've been in the past.  This means that you need to think about every aspect of your home BEFORE putting it on the market!  You only get one shot to make a great 1st impression....so make it count!

Top Home Selling Tips for your Des Moines Home:

1. Price your Home Realistically from the start!  This is why partnering with a reputable, knowledgeable Real Estate expert is critical.  They know the local market and can price your home at the appropriate price the first time.

2. Walk through your home room by room and assess any repairs or tweaks that need to be made.  Spend the money to make sure every room is up to par.

3. Offer up Extras!  In a competitive market it's important to set yourself apart from other home sellers.  This may mean offering something extra to your potential home buyers;  include your kitchen appliances in the sale, offer the washer/dryer, pay partial closing costs.  Talk with your Real Estate agent to develop a plan from the start.

4. Don't forget about Curb Appeal!  This is the first impression that a home buyer has of your home.  Cultivate an inviting exterior and entry to your home.  Potted plants also give a pop of color!

5. Upgrade Appropriately.  If you have major areas of improvements in your home....choose them wisely!  Remember Kitchen and Baths give you the greatest ROI!

For more Home Selling Tips visit my website or give me a call directly to discuss your home!

Are you preparing your Des Moines Home for Sale in this fantastic Spring Market?  Remember the Golden Rule:  Declutter, Depersonalize and rid the home of unnecessary furniture!  Why?  Simple, to show your homes best attributes you need an uncluttered space that has well defined travel patterns and is neutral so potential  home buyers can picture themselves living in your home!

Daunted by the perspective of getting rid of all your 'unwanted' items?  Don't be!  There are many local and online resources for you to utilize:

Des Moines Classifieds- online- https://desmoines.claz.org/classifieds/for-sale/household

Stuff- Consignment Stores- http://www.stuffetcankeny.com/

Varage Sale- online- https://www.varagesale.com/west-des-moines-ia-buy-and-sell/i/pxsrxqws-household-items

Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity REStorehttps://www.gdmhabitat.org/restore/

Yard Sales of Des Moines- online- https://yardsales.net/s/WDWV

Prorations When Buying Or Selling A Home

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

The proration will credit the seller higher and higher depending on the rate of the proration and they will get reimbursed for what they have prepaid for the specific time period. However, the seller will not "own" the property. Every state will base its property tax differently. For example, in California, the calendar year is from July to June whereas it might be different elsewhere. Also, some states collect taxes ahead of time whereas others will make collections after the unpaid balance is expired. There are various kinds of pro-rations each one with its own definition.

Three of the most widely used are Insurance, Rent, and Utility. The Insurance proration has to do with the insurance premiums which will most likely be paid ahead of time buy a buyer. This will insure things like fire insurance. The rent proration is also paid in advance and is typically used as a buyer that is investing in a property that he or she plans to either sell or use for rent purposes. The last one, utility, is not used very often. The reason behind that is because utilities are not usually used as a proration at the end of a closing. For example, in a state such as Pennsylvania, if the seller doesn't pay the county or city utilities such as trash or water, then a roll-over happens and is added to the tax assessments.

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10 Contingencies You Need To Have

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Buying a home means there will be costs involved in the process, such as earnest money deposits, appraisals, inspections, title searches and the costs to market your existing home. You may think you have all the bases covered in negotiating the terms of your contract, but things happen and deals do fall apart – some at the last minute.One way to protect yourself from additional loss is with appropriate contingencies. Accepted contingencies give you the right to walk away from the contract with no penalty (other than some of the incidental costs mentioned above).

In some cases sellers avoid contingency contracts and may pressure you to move quickly and drop contingencies. But what if the property fails to appraise at the right value, or your lender fails to fund your loan? Know what you can include in your contract as a contingency and be prepared to stand firm!

The home inspection provides the opportunity to help you decide if you should walk from a tempting deal. Even properties that look well maintained and in good condition can have hidden flaws. In addition to the basic home inspection, there may be other inspections (for lead, termites, sewer and others) or areas that need to be addressed in your contract. Make sure you know what you are getting into!

The types of contingencies vary from state to state. Here are the top 10 most common contingencies and what be aware of as you make your offer>

Common Purchase Contract Contingencies

  • Appraisal. Beware of the possibility that the appraisal may come in low.
  • Loan Contingency. Your lender may fail to find your loan as requested, even if pre-approved.
  • Home Inspection. One of the top indicators of flaws in the home.
  • Lead-based Paint. Federal laws gives all buyers 10 days to inspect for lead-based paint.
  • Wood Destroying Pest Inspection. The contract should specify who pays for termite inspection and correction.
  • Roof Inspection. Make sure the roof is part of the home inspection, and if not specify a third party inspection for the roof.
  • Sewer Inspection. This can be especially important for an older home or home on a septic system.
  • Preliminary Title Report. Make sure the seller can transfer a clean title, with no unpaid liens against the property.
  • Seller Statutory Disclosures. Some states require sellers to disclose all know material facts about the history of the property.
  • Contingent on Existing Home. This is one of the most common contingencies, and sellers usually specify a number of days to perform.

When negotiating your offer and contract, make sure you protect your rights as a buyer and understand your state laws and other requirements necessary to close on your new home!

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Tips For A Successful Negotiation

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are buying a new home or selling the one you have, you want a successful negotiation and sale. The negotiation process can be both complex and confusing for both sides. Each party wants to have a fair transaction and achieve the best deal. Below are some tips to help you get the most from the negotiation transaction.

1. Time the market right. At this time, we are in a "buyers" market, where most sellers are very motivated to sell, this can give a buyer the upper hand. On the other side,  a "sellers" market, or a market where housing supply and demand are roughly equal might give the seller an advantage. If possible, you want to be in the market at a time when it favors your position as a buyer or seller.

2. Pay attention to the details. Buyers and seller pay a lot of attention to the transaction price. It is a good idea to consider other perks or benefits that can add to the overall worth. For example, if you negotiate that the roof be replaced or perhaps having the seller pay some of the closing costs this can sweeten the deal. Don't be stuck with the idea that the purchase prince is the only financial gain to the transaction.

3. Don't forget about financing. Keep in mind that there are several factors that can impact the final sale:

• Has the buyer been pre-qualified or pre-approved by a lender?  Having buyers that are "pre-qualified" or "pre-approved" are more likely to pose less risk than a buyer who has never met with a lender. This also shows the seller that they are serious about the offer and will give the seller more confidence. that they are a qualified buyer.

•If there is a low interest rate, then there will be a larger selection of potential buyers. More buyers equal more potential demand, which is good news for sellers. On the downside, high interest rates will cause buyers to be more selective or cause them to withdrawal from the market all together.

•The traditional 20% downpayment is not standard anymore. If the buyer has good credit, loans with 5 percent down or less are now widely available. Many loans where 100 percent financing are still available, although not as much as a few years back.

Negotiation is an important tool of the real estate transaction. To be a successful home seller or buyer you should have a basic understanding of negotiation methods, knowing the motivation of the other party and adapting to their style.

Cabinet Refacing

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Whether you are planning to sell your home or want to give your kitchen a fresh look, cabinet refacing can be a less expensive alternative to a complete kitchen remodel.  The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house. Outdated cabinets are a big turn off to potential buyers. Replacing cabinets can be quite costly, but refacing them can provide a completely new look.

If your cabinets are still in good condition, refacing with a wood veneer could be the best way to give your kitchen a makeover. Prices vary between different types of veneer so the overall cost will depend on the wood you choose.

Refacing cabinets means adding new doors and the framework that holds them.  Existing structures are left standing, no cabinets are removed and the layout remains the same. A typical refacing job involves replacing the cabinet doors, the drawer fronts, and the hardware. Matching wood, paint, or laminate veneer is used to resurface any exposed cabinet framework.

The cost of a refacing job will depend on the size of the project, the materials, and options, but a typical refacing job generally costs between $1000-$5000 depending on if you plan to do it yourself or hire a contractor.  To determine the projected cost of a refacing project, some companies will give a price per unit. They count each cabinet door, drawer, end panel, and false front as a unit, and add up the kitchen's units for a total unit count. Price per unit can range from as low as $150 to as high as $250, depending on options and material selection. Using a high-end wood door will up the costs, while a less expensive RTF veneer might be a more budget-friendly option.

Staging: Sell Your House for More Using This Hot Marketing Tool

by Jon Smith, CDPE, CRB, CRS, GRI

Staging a home for sale is one of the hottest topics in residential real estate. In today’s challenging property market, you want all the ammunition you can get to sell your home at top dollar--and sell it fast.

So what is staging? It’s literally showcasing your home in its absolute best light. You draw buyers’ attention to your home’s most appealing features--and skillfully divert their attention from those that are less-than-stellar.

In short, staging is creating visual “eye candy” that emphasizes your home’s positives. It’s part art, part science--and all marketing. It can involve everything from fresh paint to clever carpentry, new lighting to new window treatments. And don’t forget the borrowed (or rented) furniture to define and enhance each room!

To see staging in action, watch an episode or two of HGTV’s Designed To Sell, The Unsellables, and The Stagers. And for some simple staging techniques presented with tongue-in-check humor, see Top 10 Home-Staging Dos  and Top 10 Home-Staging Don’ts by Designed To Sell’s Donna and Shannon Freeman.

Should you try to stage your own home--or hire a professional? My real estate experience has taught me there are two essential staging tricks that every home seller can do:

* Clear it out. You have stuff--lots of stuff. And your house is overloaded with all that stuff. Go through each room and get rid of the clutter everywhere you see it. Your rooms will look bigger, more restful, and more inviting. And all you did was pick up!

* Clean it up. Make sure everything shines inside and out, from windows, floors and countertops inside to the deck, garage and yard outside. Pay particular attention to the kitchen and bath. A little well-applied elbow grease will go a long way in selling your home. And it’s free!

Do these two simple things, and you’re already ahead in the staging game.

But should you keep going and stage other aspects of your own home? That depends on whether you have the eye, the skill--and the objectivity. Can you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and see your home as the buyer will see it--positive points and negative points? Are you prepared to tackle those negatives? Do you have the “designer’s eye” for color and other design elements? Do you have the technical skills to complete improvements?

Staging can definitely help sell your house for more if it’s done right, whether you do it on your own or you hire a professional stager. Your real estate agent will be happy to share staging ideas and recommend a professional, if needed.

And visit my Web site for more information, too. I’m always available to discuss your specific needs or answer any questions you might have about any aspect of real estate.

Protecting Your Home From Being Robbed

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Here is some practical and effective techniques for securing your home and protecting your family from intruders. I have highlighted the safety of doors, windows, alarm systems, and general security.

Doors:

• Choose strong and sturdy solid wood or metal exterior doors.

• Mount the hinges on the inside, so someone can’t remove your doors from the outside.

• If there’s a mail slot in your door, make sure that it’s small enough to prevent a person from reaching in and grasping the doorknob or lock. If you have a pet door, investigate ways to secure the door. For example, there are now pet doors that open only when activated by a microchip in your pet’s collar.

• For sliding glass doors, install a pin where the frames overlap to prevent the door from opening.

• Change or re-key your locks when you move into a new or existing home. The former owners (or tradespeople) may have shared their keys with others. Windows:

• Don’t use crescent or “butterfly” latches to secure double-hung windows; they can be pried open easily with a knife. Use a do-it-yourself nail or bolt window stop instead. Drill the hole for the stop at a slight downward angle to prevent a burglar from using pressure to jiggle the pin out of the hole.

• Laminated glass windows (which can be cut only from one side) prevent an intruder from cutting glass to gain entry. Laminated security glass products can be customized for virtually any application, regardless of requirements for heat-transfer, visibility, or aesthetics. They are especially effective in front-door windows and sidelights.

• Filming a window to reduce heat from direct sunlight does not make it stronger.

• Lock windows when not in use. Alarm Systems: According to the FBI, homes equipped with centrally monitored alarm systems are 15 times less likely to be targets of break-ins. These guidelines will help you choose one that’s right for your security needs.

1. Determine how much protection you need.  The goal of a residential security system is to detect an intruder as early as possible, alert the home's occupants to his presence, and scare him away before he does any harm. Progressive layers of protection accomplish this goal. Imagine four concentric circles around your house:

• Center circle: Your family and your most valuable possessions.

• Second circle: The interior of your home.

• Third circle: The exterior shell of your home.

• Fourth circle: The property around your home.

For most people, a system that protects the second and third circles is both effective and cost-efficient. This involves installing sensors on the windows and exterior doors, and interior motion detectors as backup to the point-of-entry protection. The additional cost of protecting the innermost circle adds spot protection for high-value areas, such as a security closet or safe, and may include a 24-hour panic button. At the outermost circle of protection, motion sensors let you know when someone enters your property. Unless you live in a remote or concealed location, this protection may be more than you need when balanced against the equipment and installation costs.

2. Decide how you want the system to respond.  At a minimum, include one interior siren to scare off the burglar and alert you to the situation. You may want to add an exterior siren so your neighbors will hear your activated alarm. Some systems include automatic, silent monitoring, meaning they send a signal to a central station where operators notify the police, fire department, or security company.

3. Choose an alarm system.  A basic alarm system consists of a low-voltage electrical circuit with sensors installed on doors and windows. When someone opens a door or window, it interrupts the flow of electricity through a sensor and activates a siren or flashing light. Many systems also include motion detectors. When something moves within the detector’s range, an alarm sounds.

Electronic alarm systems come in two basic types:

1. Wired systems (with concealed wires in the walls and crawl spaces) require running low-voltage electrical wires from a master control panel to doors and windows, motion detectors, keypads, and sirens.

2. Wireless systems use miniature radio transmitters instead of wires, and require very little drilling and no special tools to install. You can take a wireless system with you when you move. A wireless system is a better do-it-yourself choice.

Optional enhancements are available in both wired and wireless systems – from motion detectors that can’t be tripped by pets to remote access that allows you to check the system by phone from a distant location.

4. Compare prices. Get bids from two or three reputable security companies in your area. Compare the installation charges, annual inspection costs, and monthly fees (for monitored systems). Also, check with your insurance agent to see if you’ll receive a discount for installing a certain type of system.

5. Use it right. Alarm systems are only a part of good home security. Make sure that all the people who live in your home understand how to use your electronic system. Check your protective devices periodically to ensure they’re in working order.

General Tips:

• Pay attention to equipment that allows easy access to second-floor windows or balconies. If you’re remodeling or painting the exterior of your home, put ladders away at the end of each day.

• Make it difficult for an intruder to hide; trim bushes and trees to allow maximum exposure of windows and doorways.

• Motion-detection lights on all sides of the house make your home less inviting to burglars.

• Don’t hide your house key outside. If a family member habitually loses or forgets his or her key, consider giving a set of keys to a trustworthy neighbor, or hanging the key on a long chain that a child can wear around the neck.

• Lower the ring volume of your telephone so someone can’t hear it outside your house. (An unanswered phone may indicate that no one’s home.)

• Don’t enter if it appears someone has burglarized your home; call the police from a cell phone or neighbor’s house.

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Contact Information

Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa