Real Estate Information Archive


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Choosing A Lawn Care Company

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Summer is the time for fun, vacations and working on the lawn and garden. But not everyone has the time or enjoys mowing the grass and the upkeep of the landscaping.  A  lawn care maintenance company can help to free your weekends of this sometimes dreaded chore. If you decide to hire someone to help out with this, be sure you do your research and ask the right questions so you can make an informed decision. 

 How much does this cost?

The cost for services can very from company to company, some will provide services at a flat fee while others  provide a table or scale for lawn care.  Keep in mind, if you don’t already have the tools to maintain a lawn, the start up can be quite expensive.  Start by getting quotes and what services are offered.  A good place to start is the Professional Landcare Network.  This is an organization for lawn care, landscapers and other garden professionals.  Get a ballpark figure from them and go from there.  TruGreen offers a free lawn analysis which can give you an idea of what your lawn needs and how much this costs.  This can help you determine what services fit your budget and needs.  

What do you want to do?

Some people love to plant their flowers and mulch the beds, but hate the edging and weeding and grass cutting.  Other people would prefer to just forget about it and put the whole lot on someone else’s to do list.  If gardening is therapy for you then don’t be afraid to say all I want is someone to handle the yard.  Be clear about what you are expecting and make sure you understand what they have to offer. 


Be sure to understand what they use on the lawn and what they provide.   Some companies package the whole care, some companies itemize.  While there is a mark-up on the products used by the lawn care professional, that is an industry standard.  After all, they had to shop, buy and store the product before it made it to your lawn.  Be sure to ask what products they will be using, particularly if you are trying to stay “green” while your lawn does the same. 

Other Services

Many lawn companies offer year around services which also include leaf removal and snow removal.  While some residents may not be in need of seasonal services, it doesn’t hurt to find out what services are offered. 

Today, everyone has a busy schedule and there may not be enough time to do yard work. Shop around to find a provider that is in your budget and that you feel comfortable with.

Home Inspectors-What To Look For

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime, and it can also be one of the most stressful. By having a home inspection it can help to ensure that the quality of your potential home is in good condition and help to eliminate surprises by making you aware to any problems.

So how do you go about selecting a home inspector?    One good way to start is one of the two nationally recognized professional associations for home inspectors; the American Society of Home Inspectors or The National Association of Home Inspectors.   In order to be listed with either of these organizations one has to go through a certification process. Both of these have a search engine to help you find “state certified home inspectors.”  Once you have a few names it doesn’t hurt to check with the Better Business Bureau.  Make a list of inspectors that have been recommended.  Avoiding anyone who has a negative report can help you avoid any potential problems with your inspection. 

A few things questions to ask when talking to your potential home inspector:

• What is the inspector's experience? How many years have they been in the business and how many inspections do they do a year?
• Exclusively inspections? Beware of contractors who do house inspections "on the side"--they may be looking for work and this isn’t necessarily what you want.

• What type of report? Will it be written or oral or both? Will the report contain suggestions for remedying deficiencies?   Preference should always be to get it in writing.

• How long will it take? Depending on the size of the house an inspection should take between 2 and 4 hours.

• What will be included in the inspection?

• What certifications do they have? Are they ASHI or NAHI certified?


Increasing Your Home's Value With Home Improvements

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

In the housing market, some home improvements pay off by increasing your home's value , while others are not a good investment.. If you are considering a remodeling project,  there are two major things to keep in mind.  One is the tangible returns, the other is buyer influence. In general, updating your kitchen and bathrooms are always smart investments and offer the best home improvement value.

In a survey taken by home buyers, the number one turn off, or reason that disqualified a house they were shown was the kitchen or baths needing serious update.  Even now, the return rate for a kitchen remodel is one of the highest returns a seller has.  If it is the difference between selling the house or not selling the house, the market dictates that pepping up the kitchen isn’t a bad idea.  It is often one of the things that people remember in a house.

Not every improvement project is a good idea, such as adding a swimming pool. If you are planning to stay in your home for a while, an improvement like this is fine, but keep in mind that they rarely increase the value of your home. Additions like this may even make your home more difficult to sell. Avoid making too many expensive improvements that go beyond what is typically found in your neighborhood. For a list of different projects and to see a list of the actual cost of the project against the true value, view the report in Remodeling magazine’s 20th annual "Cost vs. Value Report," done in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.

Residental Pool Safety

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

With summer’s arrival, the thought of that dip in the pool is a very tempting prospect.  For children, it is even more tempting and dangerous.  It then comes as no surprise that the National Safety Council reports that the number two cause of injury-related death among children is drowning. About 1000 children drown each year and another 4000 are hospitalized for near-drowning. Many of these tragic events could be prevented by the installation of a pool fence or barrier.

Most county and townships have specific requirements for a perimeter fence around a yard containing a pool.  Those requirements have to be met to the letter.  However, if your yard is like most, it does double duty in the summer, housing a pool and also a play area.  While nothing can replace a parents vigilant supervision, there are a number of products on the market that can make things a little safer and offer a little more peace of mind.

Pool Fences:

Fence it in. Pools should be completely surrounded by fencing material at least 4 feet tall. Chain link fence works,  A slatted fence should have no gaps wider than 4 inches, so kids can't squeeze through. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a child's reach.  There are several fencing options available specifically for keeping children out of the pool and harms way.  Click here to view some of these options that are actually endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Pool Barriers:

One pool cover called Katchakid has actually gotten the ALA (American Lifeguard Association’s endorsement.  A Katchakid is a custom net system which covers the pool in a net which is too small for a child to stick a head through, but still allows you to chlorinate the pool as needed without the other issues a full pool cover would cause.  The net is made of a rough UV resistant product that is uncomfortable for little children to walk or crawl on.  Thusly, a child is prevented from crawling on or getting into the pool. 

Another recommended option is an alarm system, something as simple as an alarm on the gate of the fence that surrounds the pool.  Also available are pool alarms which are activated by motion at the pool level.   

Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a telephone is poolside with emergency numbers posted nearby.  It is also a good idea to remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool. Wile there is nothing on the market is more vital to your family’s safety than your vigilance.  Supervision is key around the pool and while children are playing outside. 

4th Of July In Des Moines

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Independence day is almost here, and for many people the 4th of July is the highlight of the summer. Backyard barbecues, parades, and of course fireworks! The Des Moines area has much to offer in fun for everyone. Take a look at what different events your family can enjoy together on this holiday.


Living History Farms

Enjoy an old-fashioned Fourth with a historic Independence Day celebration in the town of Walnut Hill! With events such as pie eating, watermelon seed spitting, and gunny sack races. An 1875 vintage Independence Day parade along with a period 1875-rules baseball game.

Fireworks, "Live At The Creek" Concert

Jordan Creek Town Center's Independence Day celebration with entertainment and fireworks will take place on July 1. Festivities start at 5 p.m. when Tony Bohnenkamp and Jared Hall challenge each other during dueling pianos at the amphitheater. Fireworks will be at dusk.

Mud Volleyball Tournament

The 24th Annual Mud Volleyball Tournament will take place in Raccoon River Park in the morning.  The WDM Community Band Concert will be held by the Coneflower Shelters in Raccoon River Park starting at 7:00pm and the fireworks display will begin at dusk over Blue Heron Lake in Raccoon River Park.

Enjoy all the different events the Des Moines area has to offer.  Have a a wonderful and safe holiday!

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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