Cedar Rapids, IA Real Estate News

By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers: Use the Home Inspection to Gather Information! Most buyers look at the home that they are going to buy at least twice.  But they will see different things each time...and forget some other things that they might like to know.  The home inspection is the buyer's opportunity to see the house again and it will be the only time until the final inspection closer to the closing.  I was recently reminded by an international buyer how important that it is to know as much as possible about the house that you are buying.  They are only here for the week and they will not have the opportunity to be back prior to a couple of days before the closing.  So they needed to have their list of questions ready for the home inspector and for them to make the most of their time in the house. Here is ...
Comments 1
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
 In the home buyer consultation, I talk to buyers about my role in our "partnership".  My role is point out all the little stuff.  The flaws in the house, the quality of the remodel, the location, the way that they want to live in the house, etc.  I am the proverbial "mom" that is showing them all the negative things that they shouldn't overlook in the process of making a decision.  If the house survives after they know the good, bad and ugly...I didn't sink it. It is my job to read through the seller disclosure with you and look for warning signals or premonitions.  If the seller states that the roof age is unknown, I might suggest that we have a contractor take a look and see what the cost of replacement might be.  If the seller states that they have had water in one part of the basem...
Comments 7
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Do You Have the Stomach OR the Wallet for a Fixer-Upper?  A past client reached out to me late this afternoon.  She was asking about a property that had been rebuilt in the flood zone area.  It has been on the market since winter and is now priced modestly at $50,000.  Her daughter is searching for rental or purchase options because she has a cat and would like to have a dog as well.  The house had been remodeled and featured some very new and modern touches.  The current owner has owned it for 9 years and has rented it.  Maybe not the right place for my buyer, but it got me thinking. I have buyers coming in from out of state next week that are considering all different types of homes.  From fixer-uppers with character built in the early 1900s to newer modern ramblers or split levels in...
Comments 4
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sellers: Showings Can be Risky Business! As a listing agent, I have learned and stumbled along the way when it comes to discussing showing expectations with my sellers.  What is a normal for me as a buyer's agent is not everyone's normal procedure, even in the same market. Ultimately, the homeowner hired the listing broker to keep their home safe.  The responsibility falls directly on the listing agent.  So I let my sellers know ahead of time the following: 1.  The buyer's agent may or may not leave a business card. (depending on the market)2.  All or some of the lights may be left on.  (I prepare them for this inevitably because it will happen at some point and I am managing expectations.)3.  And if they come home and the door is not locked, they should not enter the home but call the ...
Comments 2
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers: Making Sense of the Home Inspection Reports The high of an accepted offer leads to inspection period.  Depending on the age, type of financing,  and conditions of the home, you may have 2-5 different inspections to schedule. The first inspection is the whole house inspection.  This one is the most important and usually requires the most time.  It is also smart to check out several different inspectors including reading the reviews on their website or viewing their sample reports.  This inspection is the most expensive, in most cases, and covers the entire house.  It is a must have so that you have all of the information in front of you in order to make the decision on whether or not to proceed with your purchase. The second inspection is the termite/pest inspection.  This inspec...
Comments 12
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sellers:  Do You Have "Buyer's Eyes"? When I meet with a homeowner for the first time, we talk about the importance of "buyer's eyes", this is especially important if the homeowner has lived in their home for 10+ years.  (The market has changed A LOT in that time frame.)  The court of public opinion begins with the photographs of your home. What is "buyer's eyes" you may ask?  Buyer's eyes is looking at your home as a buyer would.  How would your home compare with the other homes in the neighborhood, in the school district, or in the city that you live in?  Is your home above all the rest in amenities, location, features, and projected price point? Just as important is "buyer's nose".  I can tell from the moment I walk in if a pet is present.  Especially if it is a strong dog smell or I...
Comments 10
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Be careful in letting Google "fill in" your info online! Buyer snafoo this morning....they completed an online request to a home inspector on his website.  As she was filling in her name, Google offered to complete her address information and "fill in" the blanks.  Without thinking, saving a step, she accepted the help. Last night, the inspector contacted the buyer, thanked her and set up the appointment.  Then he forwarded the request to his preferred radon and pest inspector as well. Fast forward to this morning, I receive a call from the radon inspector.  He was confused.  There was no sign in front of the property and no lockbox.  Strange....  So I opened the email confirmation and saw that the inspector was at the current apartment of the buyer, NOT the property that they are purch...
Comments 3
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sellers:  Are you planning to SELL?  Or EXPIRE?  Every day, I spend some time looking at the "hot sheets" on the MLS.  They will show me at a glance the properties that have: An accepted contractHave closed/soldHave canceled their listing with the current agentHave withdrawn their listing from the marketOr have expired. And most of the time, especially on the expired listings, I can see the reason why they failed at selling the first go around. Sometimes, it is the agent that you chose.  Whether it be lack of accurate information or remarks with typos, poorly lit photos or lack of photos, or an unrealistic price. Sometimes, it is the seller.  Choosing a price above the market, clutter everywhere (which caused the agent to upload less photos), pet smells, overall condition of the propert...
Comments 25
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
That awful feeling when your buyer client calls you late in the evening or you see the post on Facebook the next day.  She is all moved in now and has been living there for the past month.  She is in tears and has called the police and is waiting for them to arrive to walk through the house before she goes in....just to make sure that no one is there waiting for her to come home.The door was standing open, where she knows that she locked it as she does every day before leaving the house.  From the front porch she can see that drawers are open and things are misplaced.Every new homeowner's worst fear....and every agents' nightmare.  What was a happy experience of buying that cozy little home in the quiet neighborhood is replaced with the nagging sense of invasion of her privacy.  Not kno...
Comments 51
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Karen's Top Three in the Corridor for June 17-19, 2016 Some much to do this weekend!  Summer is officially here! 1.  Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market-Saturday June 18th 7:30 am-12:00 pm.  You will love the 150+ vendors downtown with everything from cooking demonstrations to wine tastings to food trucks and fresh flowers and baked goods.  Don't miss out!  Click here for more information.  Click here for this week's vendor map so that you can plan your route!  2. Uptown Friday Nights-McGrath Ampitheater in Cedar Rapids 5:00-9:00 pm-  Just $5 to get in with food and drinks on site!  Live music and great atmosphere and networking opportunity.  21 years and older event.  Click here for more information. 3. Fathers Day Farmers Market in North Liberty 11:00 am to 2:00 pm-Take dad out for a...
Comments 0
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
No, not really.  I have two cats.  But apparently, having a dog is the way to know all that is going on in my neighborhood under my nose.  Over the weekend we were pulling out some horrible bushes that the previous owner had let overgrow.  Not only that, but prior to selling us the home, they tried to trim them back and killed them from the inside out.  (We ripped out the ones under the window on the right side of the house.) Anyway, as we were doing the work, we noticed that all of the neighbors were out walking their dogs.  Some of these neighbors, we have not met before in the two years that we have lived in the house.  Joe joked that we need to have a dog to know all that is going on in the neighborhood.  Out of the three sets of neighbors that stopped to talk, we learned about the ...
Comments 13
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Don't Forget to Clean up Your (Pet's) Mess Too! This happens moreso in the winter months of selling homes in our area, but it is certainly something to think about if the current homeowners have a dog.   I will never forget the winter that I had a listing with 3 dogs.  The home sold quickly and the dogs were able to return home for the escrow period.  It was a particularly snowy and cold winter.  And like most pet owners in the area, the picking up and disposing of pet waste may wait for a warmer (perhaps spring) day.  Uh oh.  This is why I prefer my cats....  :) In this case, the sellers and buyers had negotiated a longer than usual time frame between the offer and actual closing and possession of the home.  Two months of winter and the seller moved out before the snow melted.  Less th...
Comments 3
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
The Power of the Seller's Story  In the last couple of years, I have requested that my sellers write a letter to the future buyer of their home.  In it, they have the opportunity to write about all of the reasons that they choose this home when they were looking to buy.  It personalizes the house and provides information that only the owner would possess.  And because it is written by the owner, they share the pride in their home and are the best "sellers" of their house. My sellers have the best ways of showcasing their home and their neighborhood and all it takes is a little effort to write one page about their home.  Chances are, the next buyers will make the decision to buy for the same reasons.  Some of the things that sellers have included over the years: location of parks and sch...
Comments 6
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyer Tip: Does It Make More Sense to Buy New Construction? In negotiating an offer with a first time homebuyer today, the seller countered back at a higher than expected price.  This prompted my buyer to ask the question:  At what point does it make more sense to buy new construction instead? In this case, the existing condo is 10 years old.  It includes the kitchen appliances, but the washer and dryer are not included.  There is also a finished basement that is also a walkout.  Again, everything is 10 years old including the flooring, mechanicals, roof, and appliances. For the same price, new construction condos feature everything new.  Still no washer and dryer, but new appliances, lower association fees, and no finished basement.  NO walkout lower level either. So at what point does...
Comments 0
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Is It Spring Yet? There have been MANY robin sitings in our area this week following the groundhog day prediction of spring being on the way sooner than later.Below is a picture posted by one of my clients, Becky Garms.  This is by far the most I have seen posted in one place all at once! It got me thinking about how everyone is so excited to skip winter.  This week was our first snow day...and it didn't really snow very much at all.  And now we have more time of daylight, so it feels like it almost over.  Especially since I am leaving in 12 days for a mini-vacation to Florida!   But back to real estate, the market is starting to feel like spring too with several listings ready to go on the market in the next couple of weeks.  The advantage of the mild winter has been the number of buye...
Comments 4
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers and Inspections: How Much is Too Much to Ask? At time of writing the offer on a property, I discuss the inspection options with each buyer.  Depending on the age of the home, the condition of the home, and the seller property disclosure information, the buyer determines which inspections that they would like to request.  These inspections are customarily ordered and paid for by the buyer and completed within 10 business days or less of the accepted offer.   In the Cedar Rapids/Marion, Iowa area, the purchase contract addresses the intent of inspections as the following:.  "These inspections are not to be construed as inspections to bring an older home into compliance with the current local building codes.  These inspections are only mean to discover any major structural, mechanic...
Comments 7
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Which Inspections are Necessary When I Buy a Home? When I meet with a buyer to write a purchase contract, we discuss the recommended inspections and property condition.  Based on the items in the seller property disclosure, the age of the roof and mechanicals, and the overall condition of the home, the buyers have the option of several different inspections.  Inspections are an out of pocket cost for the buyer, but it may save the buyer thousands! 1.  Whole house inspection-This is the most common and highly recommended, even for new construction properties.  The most expensive and most comprehensive, this is the largest investment of the buyers' time and provides the most information about the home's current condition. 2.  Septic and Well Inspections-This is only for properties that ar...
Comments 2
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
The High of the Accepted Offer...Back to Reality! Once the excitement of the accepted offer wains down, it is time to get back to work.  I mean, now the real work begins.   Over the weekend, I wrote an offer with a first time home buyer.  We were able to get our offer accepted with a couple of counters and under contract!  Happy dance! Today we met to go over the checklist of all of the items that need to be completed in the next 10 days. 1. Provide a copy of all signed documents to the lender.  Schedule a time to sign preliminary loan paperwork and lock the rate.2.  Call for insurance quote for the new home and provide information for the insurance company to contact the lender to secure the binder information.3.  Call to arrange for the home inspection, radon inspection and pest inspe...
Comments 54
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Seller Tip: What Type of Financing Should You Offer to Buyers? When listing your home for sale, there are many different types of buyers out there and their financing requirements are very different.  Here are some of the common types of financing that we see in the Cedar Rapids/Marion/Iowa City area: Conventional financing:  Typically this is for buyers that have at least 5% down payment and are not usually first time home buyers.  This is the most common and the terms are a fixed rate for 15, 20, or 30 years.  The inspections and appraisal with this type of financing are the easiest for both buyers and sellers. FHA financing:  This is for first time home buyers with only 3.5% down payment available.  (Also can be any other buyer as long as they have not owned a home in the last 3 year...
Comments 1
By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
How Does the Home Inspection Work in the Winter Months? There are a couple of unique challenges for home buyers that purchase a home in the winter months in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  During the winter, there are a few things that cannot be inspected.The first one is whether or not the central air works.  This one becomes very important when the new owner turns on the air conditioning for the first time in the summer months.  If the temperature outside is less than 60 degrees, it simply cannot be tested by the home inspector.  So what can a buyer do?  First of all, we can request that the seller provide a one year home warranty.  This will protect the new homeowner in case the freon is low or the condenser has decided to not work in the summer.  Secondly, we can ask for the seller to...
Comments 2