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Protect Your Home By Tricking the Bad Guys

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Leaving on vacation or leaving your home for an extended period of time can be stressful for some. No one likes leaving their home, where they sleep at night, all their valuables, alone with protection or checking on them. But there are some tricks you can do to convince burglars that you are home, even though you are not! 

Before you leave, there are 7 things you can do to make your house less vulnerable to a break in and make your time away much more enjoyable: 

1. Dead-Bolts: dead-bolt window and door locks make it more difficult for someone to break in.

2. Alarm: Burglar alarms are the best way to alert emergency personal that there’s a problem. 

3. Exposed Hinges: Make sure all entry doors have the hinges on the inside.

4. Disconnect Internet: Keep your computers off and the Internet disconnected. If someone does break in they won’t be able to access your information and cause more damage.

5. Clean the Exterior: Put ladders, crow bars and anything else a burglar could use to break a window in a locked shed.

6. Timed Lighting: Put a timer on the TV and various lights. A flickering TV is all it takes to keep your house safe.

7. Don't be afraid to fake it: Fake camera on the outside of your home, high enough so it's hard to tell its fake. 

How wifi can save you money during the summer!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

In recent decades we have seen large advancements in thermostat technology, and even more so in recent years with the addition of WiFi controlled devices. Technology has gone from settable temperatures, to programmable (a huge break through of its time), to the all mighty WiFi Connected Thermostat. Since 2013, these devices have improved even more than the latest generation, saving even more money than any device before. 

WiFi thermostats are best known for drastically reducing homeowners energy costs. This is done through automatically adjusting the temperature depending on whether you are home, asleep, or away, by analyzing your heating and cooling patterns and adjusting for the energy-saving opportunities, and by letting you create temperature zones that can be independently controlled. According to many studies, home owners can save up to $200 annually by installing a WiFi device, which would pay for the device itself in the first year, and then continuously save you money from there on after. 

Make Your Roof Last

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Extend the Life of Your Roof

Maintaining and caring for your roof, whether it is brand new or has seen a few seasons, is very important for extending the life of your roof and keeping your pockets full. Most owners do not realize there are issues with their roof until it is too late. Compare your roof to your car, it needs yearly maintenance to stay in top condition and last you a long time. 

Unwanted Guests

The shingles on your roof are used by some animals to chew on, eventually causing leaks. While other animals such as squirrels, mice, rats, and even birds, will make your roof their new home. How do they get up there? Tress surrounding your roof make perfect bridges or ladders, make sure to keep the trimmed back. 

Debris 

Complimenting the critter control, making sure that tree limbs do not rub your roof and will prevent leaf build up. Some people choose to have professionals do the trimming, and some choose not to plant trees near their house at all,

Regular Cleaning 

Debris build up on the roof and in the gutters can cause stagnant water pools, forcing the water to go into the siding of the house and possibly into the drywall. Extra debris can cause the gutters to fall as well, they are not meant to support the weight. So keep your gutters clear and your home happy. 

Keep your Eyes open & know when to ask for help

 

Periodically walking around your house and inspecting the roof can seem very simple and mundane but can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Look for loose or missing shingles, extra debris build up, and even damage from weather. If something seems a little too complicated or big of a job, do not be afraid to call experts, they are professionals for a reason. 

Be proactive about your roof, and it will make sure to keep you safe and dry!

Best Time to Sell Your Home

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

When it comes to selling your home, the question always surfaces...When is the best time to sell? Late Spring and Early summer tend to be the most popular time to sell your home for many reasons. 

There are many pros to selling your home this time of the year; School is ending, Home Prices are up, and the summer months tend to free up more time. 

Pros of selling your Des Moines house now:

  • Larger Selling Price: With demand for homes high and inventory low, home prices are steadily increasing.
  • Better Home Evaluation: Home Value valuations are up as well.
  • Longer Days & Look Better: Longer summer days allow for more time to visit or show your home. Plus, spring & summer bring out the beauty in your yard....enhancing Curb Appeal. 
  • Bidding & Multiple Offers: Bidding may be a head ache for the seller at times but multiple offers is a wonderful situation to have!  Multiple offers normally up your Home's Price.

The Real Estate Market is HOT right now!  If you've considered Selling your Des Moines ara home, give Jon Smith a call for a personal consultation and up-to-the-minute market analysis!

Top Tips for Selling your Des Moines Home!

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Home Buyers are much pickier these days than they've been in the past.  This means that you need to think about every aspect of your home BEFORE putting it on the market!  You only get one shot to make a great 1st impression....so make it count!

Top Home Selling Tips for your Des Moines Home:

1. Price your Home Realistically from the start!  This is why partnering with a reputable, knowledgeable Real Estate expert is critical.  They know the local market and can price your home at the appropriate price the first time.

2. Walk through your home room by room and assess any repairs or tweaks that need to be made.  Spend the money to make sure every room is up to par.

3. Offer up Extras!  In a competitive market it's important to set yourself apart from other home sellers.  This may mean offering something extra to your potential home buyers;  include your kitchen appliances in the sale, offer the washer/dryer, pay partial closing costs.  Talk with your Real Estate agent to develop a plan from the start.

4. Don't forget about Curb Appeal!  This is the first impression that a home buyer has of your home.  Cultivate an inviting exterior and entry to your home.  Potted plants also give a pop of color!

5. Upgrade Appropriately.  If you have major areas of improvements in your home....choose them wisely!  Remember Kitchen and Baths give you the greatest ROI!

For more Home Selling Tips visit my website or give me a call directly to discuss your home!

Checking Your Credit Before Purchasing A Home

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are planning to be a homeowner in the near future, you should access and check your credit report before starting to look for a home. Most lenders usually prefer to check your credit report before considering your application when you apply for a loan. The information in your credit history helps the lenders in deciding your credit worthiness and how much credit to offer you in case of a loan approval. Your credit score will also decide which interest rate you are eligible for. 

The first critical step is to review your credit report to check for any errors.  Unfortunately, many people fail to take this all important first step. Instead, they wait until they have applied for a mortgage loan to find out from the lender that there are problems with their credit scores.

By checking your credit score before you apply for a mortgage loan you gain the opportunity to find out if there are problems which you can correct and discrepancies that need to be removed. There are three national credit reporting agencies that you can choose from: Experian, Trans-Union and EquiFax. Remeber that you are also eligible for a free credit report annually by law, click here to get your free 3-in-1 credit report.

Review your credit report carefully for any errors and if you find any discrepancies you have a right to contest it. You will need to contact the credit reporting agency and explain why you believe the item is incorrect and thus you will need to provide documentation such as receipts and cancelled checks can help your claim. Bank Rate offers some great advice on fixing these errors along with the forms you will need. Although this is will be an inconvenience it is better to get everything cleared up before you fall in love with a home only to be denied a loan due to problems with your credit report.

Des Moines Holiday Events

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Now that Thanksgiving is here, the holiday season has offically kicked off. The Des Moines Area is full of holiday events and fun for the whole family. Below are some dates and information for some of the area's best seasonal events.

  • What would the holiday season be without shopping? On November 27th, The annual Rockin' Shoppin' Eve at Jordan Creek Town Center means that stores will open at 12:01 a.m. for holiday shopping. Free coffee and live entertainment will keep you awake.
  • On December 3rd and 10th, Shops will stay open late during Valley Junction's Holiday Open House. The businesses in Historic Valley Junction and the streets will be lined with more than 150,000 twinkling lights.
  • If holiday crafts interest you then you will want to visit Adventureland from Nov. 27-29th they will host more than 100 craft vendors.
  • On Dec. 5th, West Glen Town Center hosts Sip and Shop, with a tree lighting on Nov. 21, carolers on Dec. 5 and visits from Santa and carriage rides both days.
  • It's the 18th and final year for Dutch Christmas in the Country, which features 55,000 lights and twelve structures that make up a Dutch Village. Starting Nov. 27 through Dec. 31 visit this amazing event which runs 5:15-10:30 p.m. Nov. 23-Dec. 31. To get there, take Highway 163 east to Pella, take exit 40 and follow the signs. Admission is free.
  • From Dec. 1-18 go back in time 150 years and visit Merry Christmas to All: A Thomas Nast Christmas in Ames. Celebrate the season and the timeless images of Thomas Nast, and experience an authentic founding farm Christmas. Visitors will see traditional holiday decor and hear Christmas songs from the 19th century while touring the 150 year old Farm House  Farm House Museum, Knapp-Wilson House, Iowa State University, 1810 Lincoln Way, 290 Scheman Building, Ames, IA 50011, (515) 294-3342
  • Don't forget that animals need help this season as well. The Animal Rescue League is hosting “Home for the Holidays” Open House and Frosty Paw Boutique. Visitors can explore the adoption area and meet adoptable pets ready for new homes, and shop the Frosty Paw Boutique, located in Mapes Auditorium. Everything from art work, pet supplies, makeup, jewelry and food items will be available for early holiday shopping. There will also be a raffle for a chance to win some fabulous prizes all while helping the animals at the ARL. Animal Rescue League, 5452 N.E. 22nd St., Des Moines, IA 50313
  • If theatre is your thing, mix together a batch of fruitcakes, dozens of Christmas trees, a chickenpox epidemic, two southern spinsters, an estranged old man, a runaway boy, and a Christmas hog, and youve got the recipe for a fun holiday show. This moving story of understanding and reconciliation provides a heaping helping of holiday warmth and Christmas cheer. Admission: $15  Ames Community Theaterof Recreation Service, 120 Abraham Drive, Ames, IA 50014

Making An Earnest Money Deposit

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

 

TODAY'S FEATURED PROPERTIES

 

Earnest money is a good faith deposit of funds that accompanies your offer if you are buying a home, condominium or other real estate. By depositing this money it establishes that you are serious.  Earnest money is not a legal requirement but the seller may not take your offer seriously or their real estate agent or attorney will recommend against them taking the house off the market until you come up with a deposit.

How much money should be deposited?

There is no legal set requirement as to the amount of money that should be deposited. The good faith deposit is dependent upon the agreed sale price of the real estate. Deposits vary and typically can range anywhere from 1 to 3 percent of the sales price. Typically you want your deposit to be large enough that your offer is taken seriously, but you do not want it to be so large that you put significant funds at risk.

Is the deposit refundable?

This will depend upon your real estate contract , so be sure to review this document very carefully. It is advisable that you consult a real estate attorney who can help ensure that your offer is written in a manner that protects your rights to the deposit.  Even if your money is refunded, you may not receive the entire amount. Often, third party fees are paid out of earnest money deposits. For example, if an appraisal has been completed on the property then the appraisal fee is going to have to be paid before money can be released to either of the parties. Check the laws in your state as some states have laws requiring the buyer and the seller to agree on the disbursement of these funds before they are refunded, which can lead to further problems and legal action.

Who holds the money?

The earnest money deposit should be made to a reputable third party that is agreeable to both the buyer and the seller such as a well known real estate brokerage, legal firm, escrow company or title company. As a buyer, be aware that if you allow earnest money to be held and deposited directly by a seller or by a builder or developer for use in construction, you risk that they will not be able to return it to you in the event the transaction does not close for whatever reason.  To reduce the risk that the monies will be improperly used it is best to have real estate agents or attorneys hold the earnest money deposit as  they are licensed by the state and required to deposit the money in a trust or escrow account. To avoid the loss of your deposit, follow these tips.
• Never give an earnest money deposit to the seller.
• Verify that the third party will deposit the funds into a separately maintained trust account.
• Obtain a receipt.
• Do not authorize a release of your earnest money until your transaction closes.
• Ask how the money will be returned if necessary. Do they hold the check until it clears or return it?

Where does the money go before closing?

The purchase contract will indicate where earnest money will go. It should also specify the amount(s) to be paid, when the payments are to be made, where the money will be held and who is holding it. The contract will indicate as to if they money will be credited against the purchase price at closing, and what may happen to it if the transaction does not close.

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

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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
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa