Cedar Rapids, IA Real Estate News

By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Will more earnest money help you win if you are competing for a home?  Maybe.  It certainly could not hurt!  Earnest money is also considered an act of good faith and it is typically around 1% of the purchase price or more.  Every state and area is unique, so it is best to ask your REALTOR!  The fact remains that many communities have a shortage of supply and a continually increasing demand with low interest rates and the rising costs of renting.  There are more buyers than ever looking for their piece of the American Dream of owning a home!  And with all of those buyers and so few homes, you are bound to be faced with competing with other buyers for a home. No one wants to come in at 2nd place!  So how can you get your offer to the top of the stack?  There are several ways to stand out...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Not so extreme, I moved my own cats across town.  I found that I fell into a catch 22...much like my clients. Leaving them at the current home was stressful for them and me.  They were scared of all of the boxes and strangers in the house that were there to help pack.  At first, the boxes everywhere were fun right?  Lots to explore.  But then the cats were in the boxes and needed to be moved.  Not to mention all the strangers in the house!  One cat loved new people and saw it as an opportunity for extra people to pet them.  The other was scared to death and would not stop hiding.  One of them was fascinated by all the activity and the people going in and out.  Could they go outside and explore?  They were under foot and in danger.   Moving them to the new place ahead of the furniture an...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
My poor kitty.  He loves to be able to go outside and lay on the deck.  But in the winter, there is too much snow and too little sun....in fact, we have not seen the sun in over a week here in Iowa.  And when the sun returns, we will not remember what it is.   Does real estate market have the winter blues too?   Are the buyers spending more time inside their houses?   And by spending time in their current home, are they dreaming about what the next house might look like?   Does it make us all stir crazy seeing all of the things that we don't like about our surroundings?   Maybe we are just tired of shoveling the snow and it is time for a condo.  Or at least a shorter driveway. I think in the winter, we become more aware of our immediate spaces.  We spend more time there when we cannot g...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Over the weekend, we received two offers on my new listing.  Unfortunately, one of them had a lender letter that was not worth the paper that I just printed it on.  It literally said the following "Subject to the information verbally provided by the client at the initial application phone call."  What?!?!?  So in other words, the buyer said this is how much he makes per week or month and this is how much is planning to use as a down payment and the lender verified nothing and gave a letter.   Not much confidence in that one.   In sharp contrast, the other buyer's letter stated that all credit, income and assets had been verified and the loan was contingent on a valid purchase contract, acceptable appraisal, and title opinion.  Hmmmm.  Do you need to wonder which one the sellers decided ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Let's put it this way....it doesn't matter whether the home is listed at $90,000 or $400,000, if your home is clean, updated and priced right, it is gone within a week or less.  Sometimes selling in the first hours on the market to the first buyer that scheduled a showing with their agent. I listed a home a couple of months ago in the $235,000 range.  It received 7 showings in the first 24 hours and over 30 people came through the open house.  We received 6 offers, all over the asking price.  So how did the seller choose?  Ultimately, it was not about the price.  It was about the down payment.  The buyer they chose had 20% and everyone else was at 5% or less.  There were even two agents that wrote in escalation clauses to try to help their buyers get the house.  Another home that I list...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
When I first meet with a homebuyer, whether they have purchased a home previously or if they are first time buyers, I give all prospective buyers their own wants and needs survey.  It is important that they complete these independently for a couple of reasons.    1. You may not realize how important something is to the other person.  For example, I helped a young couple last summer in their home search.  They had been married for about 2 years and when completing their surveys, the wife indicated a must have of a formal dining room.  The husband had no idea that this was important to her.  She was looking to inherit her grandmother's dining room set and china cabinet along with the china as a housewarming gift.  2.  Aligning your must haves or would like to haves is important too.  Depe...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?  Maybe in some cases, but not in real estate.  The one that got away can be a determining factor as to whether a buyer continues to work with an agent.  I received this question over the weekend. Karen, we had written an offer on a home that we loved with a previous agent and we were competing for the house.  We didn't win.  Our agent wasn't the same after that.  It became more difficult to get her to show us houses that came on the market because she said that they did not compare to the one that we had lost.  We finally had to just put a hold on our search and try again in the spring.  Are we required to continue to work with our previous agent? The short answer is no. Unless you signed a buyer representation agreeme...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
It is one of the last places that you think to check when you are moving out.  You go through the rooms and look in the closets, you look under the sink in the kitchen, you open the linen closet and make sure you didn't forget anything.  You might even open the mailbox on your way out, just to make sure nothing is in there before you drive away.  But what about the dishwasher? Depending on how you live and do the dishes, there may be dirty or clean dishes in there.  In our house, if there are dishes in the sink, they are mine and I am washing them by hand.  If they are in the dishwasher, they could be dirty and waiting for a full load to run it or they could be clean and just not put away.  It is a delicate balance.  So it comes as no surprise to me when I open the dishwasher at the fin...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Here are a couple of situations that have happened this week.  The first one:  The buyer sent her new license to the new address.  She didn't want to chance it going to the old address and with the timeframe estimate, it seemed like a safe bet.  Luckily, the seller left it on the kitchen counter for us when we went through the house for the final inspection this week.  Whew.    The second one:  My buyer called me to let me know that a large package from Amazon was received at their house today.  It was for the previous owner, who moved a week ago.  Again, could have been bad if the buyer just kept whatever it was or opened it by mistake without looking first.  In this case, I picked up the item along with something the previous owners had left in the dishwasher, and dropped it off at th...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
I am thankful for hats, mittens, and warm winter coats.  In the last week, we have received over 12+ inches of the white stuff here in Iowa.  And with the wind chill, we are well below zero for the next few days.  Although the sun was out on Wednesday, that wind.....brrrrrr.  Thank goodness for hats!  I would rather have flattened hair than frozen ears!   Stay warm out there! Keep smiling! Karen  
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
In the past week, we have received over 12 inches of snow in our part of Iowa.  And this is normal for our winter months.  Especially now that with the snow cover, the temperatures are in the teens and with the wind chill, well below zero.  I was showing homes on Monday to a relocation buyer, which was a holiday for many people.  It was cold.  And the houses that we wanted to see were all vacant except for one.  Because the last one was occupied, I had tried several times on Sunday to schedule a time to see it before the buyers had to head back to Minneapolis.  Because there was no school, it was cold, and the seller was going to be home, they would not allow the showing no matter what time I tried.  Now, understand that the roads were not in bad condition.  It had snowed on Saturday an...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Over the weekend, I was viewing homes with a couple that is relocating to our area from out of state.  During my research of the properties on their showing list, one of them stuck out.  In the remarks, it stated that the lower level bathroom would be completed prior to closing.  Since the house has been on the market since late fall 2018, we expected that it would have been completed.  It isn't completed, not even close.  And besides that, there is no permit filed for the adding of that bathroom.  Is the seller a licensed plumber?  Nope.  And what about the electrical?  Is the seller a licensed electrician?  Nope.  The buyers felt really uncomfortable with taking on someone else's potential issues.    Where they are from, if work is completed without the city's knowledge and no approva...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
I am grateful for my cats.  On cold days, they take turns on my lap and keep me warm and toasty.  On days when I am not feeling well, they curl up at my feet and keep me company.  They meow when I come home and rub their heads and bodies all over my legs.  When I am stressed, petting them and hearing their purrs make me calm down and relax.  They are my furry children and I don't know what I would do without them! This is Toby and Mr Kitty.  Toby is my 12 year old gray kitty.  He was a rescue from the shelter and he is just the sweetest cat in the world.  He loves to go outside, even in the snow.  Mr Kitty is the orange tiger.  He is only 2 and he was a stray cat that wandered into our lives a year ago.  He had come into our home through the garage when we were gone for the day. It had ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
There are a few schools of thought on this one.  Ultimately, it is the seller's decision on whether or not to disclose to all potential buyers that there is an offer on your home. And whether you should accept the first offer depends on your time on the market and whether the offer is perfect for your situation. Here is the scenario that led to this post: "Our home has been on the market since before Christmas, but we have now moved out and lowered the price.  We have received an offer but there are several showings on our house tonight. Are we required to let the other agents know that we have an offer?" First of all, if you have received an offer, it is a starting point and you have not accepted it....yet. So the short answer is no, you are not required to say anything to other buyers...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Have you ever thought about your home from a pet owner's point of view?  In our little corner of Iowa, most of the homes that we build and sell have basements.  Sometimes the basements are only really suitable for the laundry and for storage, and sometimes it doubles the size of the house in finished space.  And sometimes, a basement is where you might put the litter box for a cat or a kennel for a dog.   Last summer, I had listed a home that had no basement. But it had a special room off of the kitchen and also contained a door to the outside privacy fenced yard complete with a doggie door.  Now, to some buyers, this little concrete floored room might have been for storage or a mudroom, especially since there was no basement.  But to the seller, she had removed the flooring and used th...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Over the weekend, another agent in my office had posted a scenario that sounded all too familiar.  The buyers had looked at several homes with the agent, including one that was for sale by owner.  The buyers then went back to an open house at the FSBO, this time without their agent, and the for sale by owner convinced the buyers to dump their agent.  The seller stated that the buyers could use their attorney and save $8000...  Since the buyers really liked the house and it was listed at the top of their budget, they decided to write an offer alone.   Here is the problem:   1. The for sale by owner home is grossly over-priced and will likely not appraise even with the $8000.00 discount.  Not to mention that on their listing and at the initial showing with the buyer's agent, the seller ag...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Well, duh Karen. Because I want to see the inside of the house.  Well, that may be the obvious answer, but ultimately there is more to it than that.  Open house visitors may have an agenda.  Most of the time, you have a list of homes that you are trying to see that day.  Some of the reasons that you might visit an open house: 1.  If you have not hired an agent to represent you, you may be inadvertently interviewing the agents that you are meeting at open houses. You are taking a mental note of whether the agent is asking you to sign in and provide your info or if they are following you around the house. 2.  You may be looking for information about the neighborhood or the schools or the market.  Open houses are a great way to get to know what the houses look like and what 1000 sq ft FEEL...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
At the point of listing, we will have a discussion about inspections while preparing the property for the market.  Based on the age of the roof, furnace, central air, water heater and other appliances that are included in the sale, a home warranty may be enough to calm any fears a buyer may have.  However, if there are things that are a concern, such as peeling paint on the trim, a roof that is close to needing replacement, or a 30+ year old furnace...more may need to be done as many loans will not allow these issues.  By calling for estimates or completing repairs prior to listing, the homeowner is in complete control over the process.  You can spend a little money to fix it now or accept a longer listing period or less money to compensate a buyer to make the repairs later. In general,...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
What are closing costs?  When you select a bank or credit union for your financing, they will go over a good faith estimate of costs that you can expect at the closing.  Closing costs can be paid by you or you may ask for the seller to credit you for a portion of these costs.  When you write an offer for a home, your REALTOR can request that the seller contribute X amount for buyer's closing costs and/or prepaid expenses.  What is the difference between closing costs and prepaid expenses?  Let's take a look at each of them. Closing Costs--These are the costs associated with obtaining a mortgage and can include things like:1. Origination/commitment fees (these fees are not typically charged by credit unions, larger banks like Wells Fargo or US Bank may have these fees, usually 1% of the ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
There is a popular misconception out there that in order to obtain a mortgage, you must have 20% of the purchase price saved.  This is no longer true, and has not been true for a very long time.  There is no need to break the piggy bank and hand over all of your savings in order to buy a home!  There are several programs out there that allow potential new buyers to put down much less than you may think. FHA loans: These are federal backed loans funded by the Federal Housing Administration and require just 3.5% of the purchase price as your down payment.  Traditionally, most people associate this type of loan with a first time homebuyer, but that is not necessarily true.  As a condition of these loans, the property that you are looking to purchase must be inhabitable with 3 or more years...
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