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Happy Labor Day!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Labor Day is traditionally celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.  The spirit is to pay a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the power and prosperity of America. The Des Moines area offers many Labor Day celebrations  and events for everyone to enjoy on this last holiday weekend of the summer.

Pleasant Hill Labor Day Festival
August 30
Time: 7:00 AM - 10:00 PM

The Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Labor Day Festival beginning with a Marfan Foundation Walk/Run.  A parade will begin at 10 a.m. with other activities throughout the day.  The evening activities include a water ski show, band and fireworks. Visit The Best Labor Day Fest website for a list of activities and times and location

Des Moines Renaissance Faire
August 30 : 10 a.m. - 6 p.m

Come enjoy the fun! Learn more about this event, included what entertainment, shopping and food you can expect at this year's expanded festival.Price: $15.10 adult, $25 adult two-day pass, $55 season pass; $8 kids ages 5 to 12; free for children under 5.  Event Phone Number: 515-262-4100.Festival Park, Canterbury-on-Sherwood Neighborhood: Des Moines Metro 4051 Dean Ave.

Iowa Band Beach Jam

August 31 : 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
September 1 : 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.

S&S Entertainment is proud to presents a two-day summer music event over Labor Day Weekend at Clearwater Beach featuring some of the best rock bands in Iowa.
Price: Advance tickets are $20 for a single day or $35 for both days. Tickets purchased at the gate are $30 per day. Clear Water Beach Neighborhood: Des Moines Metro 6220 Raccoon River Drive, West Des Moines, IA 50266

Enjoy your long weekend and all that the Des Moines area has to offer.  Soon the leaves will change and the warm summer days will turn to cool crisp Autumn days, enjoy the rest of your summer.


Back To School In Des Moines

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

It’s hard to believe but it is that time of year again. Today children all over the area put on their new backpacks and shoes and boarded the busses all over town to head back to school. While you may have most things on your list done, you might want to check out these resources to help you and your family make this a great school year.  

  • If you are new to the area or just in need of information on the schools in your area visit Des Monines Public Schools and Great Schools. It is a valuable resource for parents with children in grades K-12.
  • Parent involvement is crucial in your child's success at school. It is a prominent focus of the PTA Web site, and also is featured in the Parent and Community section of the National Education Association Web site. The NEA represents teachers across the country. Parents of middle-schoolers might be especially interested in Bridging the Homework Divide, an NEA publication available for download.
  • Update your child’s emergency ID kit.  The next time you are at a community festival or expo and you walk by a booth with your local law enforcement agency offering child identification kits, take the time to do one for your child.  If you haven’t seen one you can do the following: to inquire about a child identification kit check with your local Sheriff's Office or contact the local crime stoppers.
  • Check out the FREE page on the federal Department of Education. In this case, FREE is an acronym for Free Resources for Educational Excellence, a guide to information on a wide range of topics compiled by many agencies and organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. The site could be particularly helpful with some of those pesky homework assignments.

It can be difficult transitioning from sleeping in and days at the pool to getting up early and homework. These resources can help make the transition easier and help get everyone prepared and focused. Make it a great and successful school year!

Housing Bill Signed Into Law

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Congress passed a housing bill at the end of July and it was signed into law by President Bush. The new law will make many needed changes. It will provide mortgage relief for more than 400,000 US homeowners facing foreclosure.  The law will also provide $300 billion in federal guarantees to help refinance problem mortgages and will also assist US mortgage giants  Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.   The bill will give the Federal Housing Administration the authority to help homeowners refinance with mortgages backed by the federal government.  Current lenders, however, will have to agree to take a loss on their loans. 

Those who opposed the bill have said it will end up taking money out of the pockets of the taxpayers and putting it in the pockets of the stockholders.  At this time there is no limit to the amount of help Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will receive.  The two companies own or back nearly half of the country's total mortgages.  The bill puts a cap of $625,500 on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in certain higher priced markets and up to 15% over median prices in other areas.

In addition to FHA-insured mortgages the bill will offer a number of other incentives.  One such incentive is the $15 billion in tax breaks such as a $7500 tax credit for first time homebuyers.  This credit is retroactive to April 9, 2008 and is valid until July 1, 2009.  Another incentive is $3.9 billion in grants for communities with the highest foreclosure rates.

Although there are some very good things in the bill there is one major item that will affect many new Homeowners. This bill will totally eliminate down payment assistance as of Sep .30 2008.

With that said several people in Congress have pledged to do everything the can to keep these programs.  It’s estimated that the down payment assistance programs have helped over 700,000 Americans purchase a home.  Many consumers would not be able to get a Home Loan without down payment assistance.

Flood Insurance: Examine Your Need

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

 The recent floods this year have many homeowners rethinking their need for flood insurance.  Even if you are dealing with a few inches of water, flooding causes serious damage to your home and can cost several thousand dollars. There is a slogan that comes from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is that “Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone", floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding. Homeowners insurance covers damage to your property if caused by other means, such as a fire or a tree falling on it, but it does not cover water damage that results from flooding. Your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire. If you are looking for a unique way to evaluate your risk, there is an assessment tool located on the National Flood Insurance Program

Once you have evaluated your risk, you will need to decide which type of insurance you need, there are two types of flood insurance:

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)

The SFHA, as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) represents the 100-year regulatory floodplain. What this means is that in any given year, properties in this area have a one-in-100 chance of becoming flooded. Residents in the SFHA are only allowed to carry regular or Standard flood insurance which is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). To get a Standard or Regular flood insurance policy, please contact your local insurance provider. For information about the NFIP or flood insurance providers, please call 800-427-4661 or visit

Preferred Risk Flood Insurance (PRPs)
This is available to home-owners that are not considered at immediate risk However, FEMA warns that over the life of a 30-year mortgage, property owners in areas like Sacramento can expect an approximately 26% chance of flooding.  So this really is the “what if’ policy.  Again, just because you haven’t had a flood in 100 years, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Once you have flood insurance, you’re protected against major financial loss. Taking stock of your possessions and knowing what your policy covers before a flood occurs can help when you need to file a claim.  It is a great idea to create a personalized “flood file” that contains these items:

1) A copy of your insurance policy with the contact information for your agent or insurance company.

2) An inventory of the possessions in your home or business on a room-by-room basis. Describe each item and include serial numbers, model numbers, date of purchase, and receipts.

3) Photos or videos of your possessions.

4) Copies of other important papers.

Safely store your flood file in a secure place, away from the property you are insuring: typically in a safety deposit box.  Also review your policy and understand what’s covered. Flood insurance covers buildings and/or contents for residential and non-residential structures. It’s important to know what your policy covers and how you would go about filing a claim.  

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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