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Bridging The Gap

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Traditionally, a bridge loan is taken out by people caught in bottlenecks in the home buying process. They also help buyers take quick advantage of a home bargain, make a down payment on a house under construction or simply relieve some of the pressure of house-hunting. But the loans are fairly mysterious because few lenders write them and even fewer advertise them, making cost comparisons difficult.

What is a Bridge Loan?

Bridge loans are temporary loans to cover the difference between the sales price of a new home and a home buyer’s new mortgage if the old home hasn’t sold. The bridge loan is secured to the buyer’s existing home. The loan is then used as a down payment on the new home.

Many banks that offer bridge loans do not go by a FICO rate but more a sensible underwriting approach that hinges on the prequalification of the second home’s loan rate. (In other words, did you qualify for more than the amount of your new home or are you just barely making it. What is your debt to income ratio?)

Pros and Cons:

The Pros
• You can immediately put your house on the market.
• Bridge loans often have a grace period, without payments, for a few months.
• If the buyer has made a contingency offer to buy and the seller issues a Notice to Perform, forcing the buyers hand, the buyer can move forward still move forward with the purchase without the contingency.
• It allows you to get your new home without the stress of waiting on the sale of your old one.

The Cons
• Bridge loans cost more than home equity loans.
• Buyers will be qualified by the lender to own two homes and many buyers cannot qualify for this.
• You will essentially have two mortgage payments PLUS interest. Not the best situation for the long term.

Bridge loans are not meant to be long term, so in some cases taking out a home equity loan on your existing house for the down payment on your new home may be a better course of action. If your house sells within a month or two, you may need to make only one small payment before it closes. At closing you’ll pay off the home equity loan and be done with it. Essentially, you will have crossed the bridge before you even got to it.

Vacation Close To Home

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Summer is here and it is time for the much cherished family vacation. But record-high gas prices  are forcing people to stay closer to home instead of driving or flying long distances for their summer vacation. That does not mean any shortage of fun however, the Des Moines area is full of fun things to do with something for everyone! With a little planning you can create a fun and relaxing destination in your own backyard. Below are just a few of the wonderful attractions  you can enjoy in our area.

Des  Moines Art Center   

4700 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA  515-277-4405

The Art Center presents thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programs, as well as hands-on studio art classes. World-class architecture and outstanding Permanent Collection is also featured. The center also has a restaurant that boasts a 5-star rating and the museum shop is a source for great gifts, contemporary items, jewelry, greeting cards, and art related books.

Des Moines Botanical Center

909 Robert D. Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA  515-323-6290

The Des Moines Botanical Center is one of the most popular cultural attractions in Iowa, providing educational, recreational, and community resources to thousands. Its goal is to provide botanical displays and educational services for its visitors. It is located on 14 acres along the east bank of the Des Moines River, close to downtown.

 Adventureland Park
305 34th Avenue NW
Altoona, IA 50009

Adventureland Park has more than 100 rides, shows and attractions, including three great roller coasters. Rides for all ages, from mild to wet-and-wild. Shows throughout the park feature a variety of family entertainment. Hotel and campground located next to the park.

Big Creek State Park 
12397 NW 89th Court
Polk City, IA 50226

Big Creek State Park provides a diverse outdoor recreation opportunity for visitors of all ages and interests. Big Creek Lake along with adjacent Saylorville Lake is the result of a flood control project. The focal point of the Park is the 866-acre lake with fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, bicycling, picnicking and other leisure activities


Helping Flood Victims

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

The recent floods and devastating storms have resulted in hundreds of families who are in need of help. You can help the victims of flooding and other disasters across the country by contacting the below agencies.

The Red Cross is providing Iowa flood victims with shelter, food, counseling and other assistance. Donate at 1-800-HELP NOW or en espanol 1-800-257-7575 or online.

Iowa Concern Hotline
Iowans who need assistance or wish to volunteer with recovery efforts should contact the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985.

Des Moines Volunteer Registration
Polk County Emergency Management officials said Wednesday morning that so far they don't need volunteers to help with sandbagging efforts. However, the did indicate that there may be a large-scale volunteer effort necessary to respond throughout Polk County. Anyone interested in volunteering should begin registering now at

Volunteers will receive an email notification once opportunities and needs are made available. Residents without access to the Internet should call 211 to register their contact information. Volunteers will  then be contacted if they are needed and should be available to report to the Volunteer Reception Center as directed. Once at the Center, volunteers will be screened, given an ID and deployed to various locations in the most urgent areas of need. A Volunteer Reception Center is being set up to coordinate the volunteer response to the flooding emergencies in Polk County. The Volunteer Reception Center will be open from 7:00 am - 7:00 pm. beginning Wednesday, June 11.  It will be located at the United Way Human Services Campus at 1111 9th  St, Des Moines, IA.

Rides For Volunteers
Wednesday: Yellow Cab and Capitol Cab is offering free rides to any person who will volunteer to help with flood prevention efforts downtown.  515-282-8111 for information.


Summertime BBQ Safety Tips

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI
Now that the weather is warm you can finally fire up the barbeque grill that has been in retirement all winter.  However, before you do it’s a good idea to go over a few simple safety tips to ensure that your trip to the barbecue does not end with a trip to the hospital. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, warm-weather activities such as hosting a barbeque led to product-related injuries for more than 3.7 million people in 2002.
Grill safety: Before you start up the grill remember the following:
No matter what kind of grill you are using, keep a fire extinguisher near by.  Never wear loose shirts or sleeves that might catch fire.  Finally, keep flammable things like gasoline and other flammable substances that don’t need to be there, away from your grill.  
 Charcoal grills:
• Charcoal grills must placed on a level spot away from vegetation and OUTSIDE, where there is proper ventilation.
• Use only lighter fluid on charcoal.  Don’t substitute kerosene or gasoline.  What might sound like a good idea at the time, will ruin the food and possibly cause and explosion.
• Do NOT use lighter fluid on coals that have already been lit.  A serious flare up or even an explosion could occur.
Gas and Propane Grills:
• Before starting up the grill be sure to check the grill for leaks.  Make sure the lines are not crimped and if you use a propane tank that it is in good shape; free of dent, corrosion, bulges or anything else that may signal that it is compromised.
• Use caution when lighting your grill and never keep an open flame around the grill which might find its way to even a small gas leak.
• Never remove the valve on a propane tank.  Always recycle or exchange your tank and be sure to store it away from the grill and in an upright position.
Food Safety- There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking out.
• When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don't put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Any harmful bacteria present in the raw meat juices could contaminate safely cooked food.
• Foods should be refrigerated within an hour of when they finish cooking.
• While you might like that steak really rare, remember that undercooked meats can give rise to several food borne illnesses that would ruin a cook out.

• With that said, don’t overcook the meat either. Studies have found that a cancer causing agent, heterocyclic amines, can be found in the blackened charred meat.  Better to avoid it.
• Don’t partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
Grilling is a great way to get outside and enjoy this season, just remember that a little safety and common sense will go along way to helping you enjoy the summer tradition

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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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