Real Estate Information Archive


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Iowa Property Taxes

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

The Iowa Department of Revenue issued its annual assessment limitations, or rollback, order today for property values. No adjustments were ordered for the commercial, industrial, railroad and utility property classes because their assessed values did not increase enough to qualify for reductions, the department said. The total assessed value of residential properties was calculated at $132.4 billion with a taxable value of $62.1 billion, or 46.9094 percent of the assessed value. By comparison, the 2008 residential rollback was 45.5893 percent of the assessed value. Agricultural property, which is assessed at its productivity value, had a 2009 assessed value of $38 billion; the taxable value is $25.2 billion, which is 66.2715 percent of the assessed value. State law permits no more than a 4 percent annual increase in taxable value for agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial properties. County auditors will apply the adjustments to each property class to compute the taxable values used for property taxes.

Halloween Events In Des Moines

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Pumpkins, candy and costumes..Halloween is here! If you are looking for some spooky fun, the Des Moines area has several events for everyone. Have a safe and fun holiday!

Living History Farms

Horse-drawn wagon rides, marshmallow roast, storytellers, scarecrow and jack-o-lantern displays delight all during this non-scary family event. Children ages 12 and younger can trick-or-treat in the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill. Free pop and popcorn for everyone. Cost is $5 nonmembers, $4.50 members. For more information click here.

The Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park

The Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park is a way for young and old to get scared this halloween. There are a variety of scares, from the gruesome and gory to the startles and screams, our Haunted Village has something for everyone.  This year, there is are newly redesigned  haunted attractions, bringing all new scares and terrifying, mesmerizing, pantswetting, runawayscreaming fright to one of the biggest haunted attractions in the Midwest!  For the younger and more easily frightened, there aer many attractions available. The Haunted Scream Park has food vendors offering everything from corn dogs,  hot chocolate, and warm cider to buffalo burgers, brats, and pizza.  Plus all the food vendors have a free activity for your group to play.  There is also a free inflatable obstacle course where you can challenge a friend to see who can get through it the fastest.

October 9-10, 16-17, 22-25, 29-31.  7 PM nightly.

Pumpkin Decorating Workshop

Learn a little about the pumpkin's interesting history while decorating one of these scary squashes for Halloween. Each participant will get to decorate and take a pumpkin home with them.

Reiman Gardens, 1407 University Boulevard, Ames, IA 50011
(515) 294-2710

The Haunted Barn

What is better than a haunted barn at Halloween? If you dare, visit The Haunted Barn which opens Oct. 23rd. Located at  4516 N.E. 78th Avenue
Bondurant, IA 50035. This new haunted house in the Ankeny area is hosted in a big barn just a couple miles east of Ankeny.  Open from 7pm-12am. Free Parking.

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.

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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
Fax: 515-453-6404



Licensed in the State of Iowa