Cedar Rapids, IA Real Estate News

By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Lots of dangers to the temperatures that we are currently experiencing in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor area.  With record breaking cold, there are a few things that you need to watch for to protect your home.  1.  Your furnace vent to the outside.  It needs to be clear of ice and snow.  If there is ice blocking your vent, you have a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  If there is snow piled up to it or ice coming out of it, please make sure that you clear it immediately.    2.  Frozen water pipes.  This can happen in any home, but older homes with stone basements and non-insulated pipes are at the highest risk.  You should check your pipes and the temperature in the basement, adding an electric space heater if needed.  A pipe burst is an expensive fix!   3.  Finally, ice a...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
What is your radon IQ?  Meaning, what do you really know about radon?  Here in Iowa, it is a real estate buzzword... and with good reason!  Our state has one of the highest levels in the country.  And as our homes have become better insulated and sealing out the outside, the occurence of radon levels about 4.0 pc/L are pretty high.  In my experience, you have a 50/50 shot at needing a radon mitigation system in your home if you live in the Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City Corridor area. So what IS radon? Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless.  It originates in the soil from the natural decay of uranium that exists in or below most soils and enters the home through cracks, around pipes or conduit openings, through sump pumps and drain tiles, between the flo...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Starting in 2018, first time homebuyers in Iowa will be able to open a savings account to save for the purchase of their first home.  And the best part?  The money you save can be tax deductible*  It is a 10 year account that anyone can contribute money into for your first home.  Parents and grandparents can even add money into this special account!  You are considered a first time home buyer as long as you have not owned any piece of real estate for at least 3 years.    A new law was passed in 2017 called the First TimeHome Buyer Savings Account Act, which allowsprospective home buyers to open and contributeto a 10-year tax deductible savings account to gotoward the purchase of a first home in Iowa. Find out more information by clicking here  And of course, I would love to help you fin...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
How many of us actually know our neighbors names?  What about their phone numbers?  I bet we might know their children or their pets' names.  Why should we get to know our neighbors?  When you are sellling your home, it can make it a lot easier on you.  Especially if you are already moved into a new home and the house is vacant.   There are things that happen to a vacant home.  Things like lights that get left on after a showing.  Or the screen door might not be completely closed and it is caught by the wind.  Or the person that you paid to shovel the snow or mow the lawn is not getting over there to get the job done.   Knowing your neighbors can save you a trip across town to correct these little things.  Especially if you feel comfortable enough to allow a neighbor to have a key or a ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
I want to say never, but that isn't realistic.  And even if the buyer is purchasing an estate or bank-owned property that is sold as-is with no repairs....I think that an inspection is still important.  Even on new construction, yes...I still recommend a home inspection. But what if the seller already has a home inspection report to provide to the buyer?  What happens then?  Well, it depends on the age of the report and how thorough it is.   Case in point, my buyer purchased a home that was listed by a relocation company.  As part of the relocation requirements, a home inspection was ordered by the relocation company and the homeowner paid for it.  When we received it, it appeared to be a thorough inspection.  In fact, as a result of the inspection, there was mold remediation completed ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
For the past few years, I have been counseling home buyers in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor like this:  "When they offer on a home, the seller has 3 ways to respond": 1.  They could accept the offer as written. 2.  They could reject the offer. 3.  They could counter back to the buyer to address the price or terms. And should the seller counter offer back to you, as a buyer, you can accept, reject or counter again.  But what happens when you don't get a response at all from the seller? In today's fast-paced sellers' market, there is now a 4th option. The seller can choose to accept a competing offer and not respond at all.  In a strong sellers market, it's not uncommon to hear nothing. Crickets. Especially if the offer is less than the listing price and the buyer is asking for concessi...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyer's Corner:  Why Is that Listing Still Online if it is SOLD? "Hello, this Karen with Lepic-Kroeger.  How can I help you?"Buyer: "There is a home that I found online that I would like to see.  It is at 123 Main Street.""Okay.  Let me look up that property....oh.  It is under contract according to the MLS.  Where did you see this home online?"Buyer:  "Zillow.  I called another agent and they told me that it was sold too.  But I don't understand why it is still showing that it is for sale." As agents, we get these calls all the time.  And I am not picking on Zillow, because sometimes it is still showing active online on all of the sites like Zillow, Trulia, ReMax, and Realtor.com.  Why would that happen? Sometimes, the accepted offer happened over the weekend.  If it is a Monday or Tue...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
I have seen a few annoyed "would be" cash buyers stating they are OFFENDED that all these real estate agents just want to see their proof of funds. OFFENDED? Really?!?!?  As though a stranger's word is enough to put them in the car and show them homes?  Sorry, but no. As a listing agent I would be OFFENDED if the buyers agent DIDN'T have proof of funds before they showed my sellers home.  What a colossal waste of everyone's time.   Think about what needs to happen in order for a buyer to see a home on the market including the time that it takes for the seller to prepare for the showing and arrange to be out of the house, kids, dogs or other pets in tow.  All for not if the buyer is not pre-qualified to buy their home. Ulimately, we as agents, need to protect ourselves.  If a buyer has m...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers:  Don't Wait for the Photos to See the House! In a seller's market, there are fewer listings to choose from and the good ones sell before the pictures are added.  So you cannot sit back and keep clicking and waiting for the pictures as a buyer or you will miss out on the best listings! I had this happen to my buyer twice in one week.  She was sent the link to the listing as soon as it hit the MLS, but she wanted to see what it looked like before scheduling an appointment.  By the time the pictures were online, the house was under contract with no more showings.  :(  How does this happen, she said.  In a seller's market, this is all too familiar to the agents that are in it everyday.  When I go to a listing appointment, I can tell that the house will not last long if priced right ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
In conducting years of buyer interviews, I am never surprised to hear that would be home buyers are looking for a home for their pets too.  Sometimes, they don't have a pet currently, but they aspire to have one....someday.   Some of the things to consider:  For an aging pet, the number of stairs or the ability to get to the yard easily is important.  If there is not currently a fenced yard, a quiet street with little traffic might be a plus in case the dog gets loose.  A place to put the litter box when you are searching for a condo or home that does not have a basement.  A sunny window spot to put the cat's bed or play tower.  Sometimes the location in proximity to a dog park or the vet. No matter why they are asking, the furry creatures in their lives are just as important as their c...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyer Beware: What are Driveway Easements? A week ago, my buyers found a home that they really liked and they wanted to write an offer.  It was a new listing and I had the listing agent email me the property disclosure.  On the first page, there it was, the driveway easement.  In walking around the property, I had talked to my buyer about the fact that the neighboring home accessed the back of their property by using the driveway.  There was no attached recorded easement, so in the purchase contract, I added a contingency for the easement to be delivered to me within 3 days of acceptance for review.  We had an accepted offer, but I was still leary of the easement.  When I opened the document, my fears were confirmed.  The easement not only stated that the neighbor had unlimited access t...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Now that Labor Day is over, we are looking at the coming of the fall season.  Well, maybe not today....since it is 93 degrees and seems that summer is quite over yet, but now is the time to get ready while the weather is still nice.  1.  Clean outside light fixtures.  They might be full of bugs from the summer months and should be cleaned now so that they are ready when you change out the bulbs for Halloween.2.  Clean out the garage!  We had lots of leaves and sand and dirt in our garage from the spring and summer months that never quite got out!3.  Trim bushes, trees and plants.  Also, you can add hardy mums or other fall perennials to spruce up the flower beds when the summer flowers start to wither.4.  Change the batteries in the smoke detectors and thermostats.  If you cannot rememb...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Last year on November 1st, I started what began as a thankful month challenge to post something that I was thankful for each day on Facebook. At the end of November, I still had more to share. And now, after over 300 days, I am amazed that I have never been stumped for something to say. In fact,  I have several in my mind when I wake up each morning and I have to choose which one to post.  I start my day with my thankful post. Every. Day. And it creates a happy mindset for me. It has become a habit that I will continue for a very long time. I received a message recently from a past client that "likes" my posts every day. Although she doesn't post herself, reading my posts creates a time for her to reflect herself on what she is thankful for every day.  How often do we have a bad day and...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
When a Buyer Comes-a-Knockin', Tell Your Seller What to Do! And I don't mean it in a bossy way...but if the sign goes in the yard and a buyer knocks on the door, does your seller know what to do? My very first listing was a home that I sold for my aunt and uncle.  It was the only listing I had that entire first year, mostly because I didn't seek out sellers.  I LOVED buyers and thought that buyers were the easiest.... The sign went in the yard and that night, a buyer knocked on the door and wanted to see the house.  He was a first time buyer and he thought the sign meant that he could just see the house whenever.  My seller didn't know what to do, they had never sold a house before.  So they told him that there was an open house on Sunday and he could come back then to see the house.  O...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
But I Didn't Bring the Checkbook! It happens.  I counsel my buyers to go to a lender, have their pre-approval letter ready, and bring the checkbook when they view homes.  Why?  Because if you find one that you like and you want to submit an offer, I need to have the earnest money check in my possession.  Now, understand that the check stays with me until there is an accepted offer.  And I will let a buyer know when I provide the check to the listing agent so that if they need to move money around in their account, they are aware. There is a situation that came up recently on one of my new listings where a buyer submitted an offer, it was accepted and the buyer's agent had not yet received the earnest check or the lender letter from the buyer.  It was promised that the buyer would meet t...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
It's a Pricing War and A Beauty Contest! In 2008, I attended my first CRS Sellabration in Hawaii.  It was an incredible experience, especially coming off of my best year in real estate and on track to have another incredible year.  One of the most enlightening statements was that today's market is a pricing war and a beauty contest by the late Howard Brinton.  It is still true today. When I meet with a seller, I tell them this:  Buyers will only pay the highest price for the prettiest property.  Great photos will get them in the door, but the offer comes when you do the right things and show beautifully up close and personal.  If you skimp with cheap flooring and carpet, cut corners with the trim and finish work, and let the landscaping get overgrown....you are decreasing your profit ma...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
This is not unique to me, but I wanted to share the way that Zillow is helping buyers find me!  I know that in Zillow's commercials, they never show an agent involved.  But we all know that a buyer's agent is invaluable in the process of buying a home, especially if it is the first time for the buyer! In most cases, the buyer is not required to pay for their representation in the Cedar Rapids/Marion/Iowa City/Coralville area.  In our area, the listing contract between the homeowner and the listing company sets the commission to be paid for the sale of their home and almost all brokerages agree to split that fee with the buyer's company and their agent.  This is called a co-op agreement.  It is in the seller's best interests to offer compensation to the buyer's agent in order to get thei...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sellers: Are You Ready for Your Close-up? Before your home enters the market, your home is prepared for the close-ups of the contract.  The first being the professional photos of your home.  How important are these pictures?  These pictures are the first impression of your home.  Bad lighting and clutter can cause buyers to pass by your home and not see it in person.  All of the things on your to-do list that you have not completed?  Those are the things that are going to stand out to potential buyers.  Signs of deferred maintenance is your enemy. Once you receive an offer on your home, your second close-up is the home inspection.  Getting ready for the home inspection is extremely important as well.  The buyers may be there with a parent or a friend that they trust as well as a qualifi...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
National Night Out for Law Enforcement August 2nd As many of you may know, my grandfather was a police officer for over 25 years, even rising to the President of the Iowa State Police Association in 1984.  So this cause is near and dear to my heart.  Especially with all of the shootings and turmoil in other parts of the country right now, it is a blessing to have our police out on the streets protecting our cities. 33rd annual event in Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and all over the country tonight!  Take a look at the opportunities and events in your communities where you can talk to law enforcement, spend time in the park, meet your neighbors and there are even raffles in Iowa City for school supplies.    Click here for more information in Linn County, there are 18 events in Cedar Rapids and ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sometimes, You Need to Look Past the Photos This week, I had the pleasure of working with a young couple that is relocating to Cedar Rapids after 4 years in Mexico.  When we started talking over a month ago, I created a search for them and they would feel defeated when all of their "favorites" were selling so quickly in our market.  By the time that it was the week of their arrival, they only had about 10 left to see on their list. The first night, we looked at their "favorite".  I had shown the home before and in my notes to them, I let them know that the kitchen layout was "odd" and the photos did not do it justice.  Once they viewed it in person, it was easy to see why it was not what they wanted.  But you have to look past the pictures and see it for yourself.  After all, they had j...
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