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Home Recycling Basics

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Each year, Americans generate millions of tons of trash but according to the EPA, the national recycling rate is only 30%. Many people don’t recycle  because they feel that it is a hassle, inconveient and messy, but in reality it is very easy! There are a variety of ways to make home recycling easy, and all it takes is changing a few small habits and attitudes. Recycling as well as reducing and reusing what we consume benefits everyone and the environment.

There are different kinds of recycling. There is recycling of paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, and even car oil. Bleached paper and newsprint recycling reduces the amount of trees that are cut down. Plastic can be recycled into other plastics. Glass can be melted down and made into many different forms from drinking glasses to glass fiber. Aluminum can be recycled into other cans, foil, and even wrapping paper. Most do not realize that even car oil can be burned for energy recovery and/or recycled and re-used. Below are some tips to help you get started recycling at your home.

• Place recycling bins next to your garbage can. This will make it easier to recycle if you have all waste containers in the same area.

• Contact your home trash collection service's recycling program. Most cities offer a free curbside service that makes it convenient to recycle!

• Know what you can and can't recycle. Read up on the recycling rules for your area and make sure you don't send anything in that can't be processed. Always check with your local municipality or waste hauler to see what kind of recycling services are available in your area. Locate a recycling center near you.

• Avoid products that cannot be recycled such as aerosol cans and Styrofoam. Try to find alternatives that are more environmentaly friendly

Starting a household recycling program is easy and there are several ways you can make a difference each day by changing your habits, attitude and being more conscious. 

We can produce less waste by reducing the amount of trash discarded, reusing containers and products and buying with recycled content.

Spring Lawn and Garden Preparation

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Spring is almost here, you can smell it in the air! The official first day of spring is March 21st and now is the time to get outside and start spring-cleaning your landscape. It won’t be long and the dreary days of winter will be replaced by the vibrant colors and smells of spring. Here are a few tips to get you started on your outdoor “to do” list.

Lawn Care

Start with removing any accumulated debris as well as removing all the thatch  (dried dead grass and weeds) with a rake. If the thatch is left in the yard it can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots of your lawn. If you will be planting grass seeds, this will help them to root in the soil better.  Because the harsh conditions of Winter can take a toll on your lawn and cause dead spots in your lawn, be sure to rake any visible spots in your lawn before mowing.

Before you mow the yard for the first time of the season, it is important you change the oil, spark plug, put fresh gasoline in the tank and make sure the blade is sharpened.  When you are ready to mow, it should be short enough to remove the dead tips of the grass. This shorter mowing will encourage the roots to waken up and start growing.

Lawns can be fertilized organically by using compost  and mulching mowers.   It is also easy to  go green when looking for solutions for lawn and soil problems. There are many organic products available from fertilizers to weed control that do not contain chemicals.


Spring is a great time to prune ornamental trees and shrubs, the best time to do so is before growth starts. This is also a great time to prune roses, by doing so you will see a much fuller and robust plant when they begin to bloom.

Proper pruning enhances the beauty of almost any landscape tree and shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape potential, so be sure to research the correct methods!

Planting: Annuals and Perennials

Many hardy perennials can be planted quite early in the spring, especially if they have been kept outdoors at the nursery and are well acclimated to the weather. While most annuals do not tolerate frost, and transplants will do better if planted into soil that has a bit of time to warm up after that cold winter, but you can  start now to get your plan together. Research gardening books, magazines as well as online for ideas and information on certain plants and the amount of care required.  However, some flowers that can take the often chilly temperatures of spring are: Snapdragons, Violas and Purple Cabbage. Depending on your area you should also be able to plant roses, berries, fruit trees and most deciduous plants now.

Spring lawn and landcape care is important, as early season care has a big impact for the rest of the season. With a little extra care and prevention now can make for a beautiful landscape to be enjoyed all summer long. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures to get your yard and garden ready now!

Hiring A Real Estate Attorney

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Getting involved in a real estate transaction is an exciting but sometimes confusing time. There can be complicated legal issues, confusing verbiage and terms and the process can take a lot of time and money to complete. With all this in mind, you may want someone on your side that is knowledgeable about this area of law. A real estate attorney can look out for your interests and help protect your investment. Legal advice offers you something the average person needs, and usually lacks-- that is, knowledge of real estate law. Use the below information to help decide if you should hire an attorney for your transaction.

What services do attorneys offer?

A real estate attorney can offer many different services and some may specialize in certain areas but some general services that are typically offered are:

• Reviewing and outlining the real estate transaction process
• Reviewing any listing or agency agreements
• Drafting and reviewing real estate condition reports
• Drafting and reviewing residential offers to purchase and counter offers
• Assisting buyers and sellers through the property inspection and financing contingencies
• Working with title insurance companies and reviewing title insurance commitments
• Checking the settlement statement figures with you prior to closing
• Advising you at closing

In addition, because you will likely have questions throughout the purchase process, having an attorney available to answer all of your questions that arise during the course of your sale will be an added benefit.

Are attorney fees expensive?

It can depend; the actual cost for an attorney varies by state and by amount of work required. Fee structures also vary (some lawyers charge by the hour, others by flat fee, some by both depending on the task.) but the typical range is $350-$1500. Personal attorney's fee is not part of your closing costs and must be paid for separately. However, keep in mind that when you are buying or selling a home, it is most likely your biggest investment and you want to do everything to protect it.

Locating an attorney in your area

Finding a good real estate attorney is not as difficult as you may think; ask for referrals from your local bar association, your real estate agent or your mortgage broker. Also, ask friends, colleagues and family whom they've had a good experience working with. The internet is a valuable tool you can use to research also, locate an attorney in your area.    

Real estate attorneys can make the buying and selling process easier and save time and money.  Their job is to protect your interests and resolve complex matters in an efficient manner. Throughout the process your attorney will check every detail, helping you protect your investment and your financial security. Having your real estate lawyer in your corner can bring peace of mind and relieve a lot of the stress associated with that sale.

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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