Cedar Rapids, IA Real Estate News

By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers: Give It Your Best Shot! I am currently working with a first time home buyer.  And they are a lucky charm....for homes that have been on the market for over 90 days.  As soon as they show interest, ask to see it.....it sells before we can see it.  Unbelievable.   Today was a rare case where a home that had been on the market for two weeks was still available.  Not even 30 minutes after the showing, I received a dreaded call from the listing agent....an offer had just been submitted and we had a window of opportunity to compete.    Tears welled up in my buyer's eyes.  She really liked this one.  So we called the lender to find out the payment for the highest price that she could afford...made the best offer that we could, and held our breath for a few hours. We didn't get the hous...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sellers: What are the Buyers Saying Behind Your Back?   My grandmother always said that what someone says behind your back is none of your business.  But when you are selling your home, not knowing can cause your home to stay on the market longer than it should and sell for less. And I don't know of any seller that wants to have their home expire and not know why. Why do the dust buckets of the market happen?  It could be that the listing agent just wanted their sign in the yard and they could not tell the homeowner that their home needed to be decluttered and deep cleaned.  They needed the listing, any listing!   Or why does it seem like there are new listings in your neighborhood that are even priced higher that seem to fly off the market while yours gets shown but no offers?  You are...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Stuff Happens!  Moving Forward from a Bankruptcy I met with a couple today that are on the track to purchase a home this year.  Their lease is up in a few months and they wanted to get the pre-approval process started.  We met with the lender this morning and though it was disappointing that the credit union would not be able to assist them (they do not have FHA financing as an option there), these buyers are able to qualify for FHA financing.  They are fortunate that they did everything right!  A couple of things to know about bankruptcy. 1.  It is NOT the end of the world.  It is more common than you think and we will not scold you or look down on you if you have one in your past. 2.  It will need to be 3 years after your bankruptcy discharge date before you can be approved for FHA fi...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
I started posting a daily gratitude at the beginning of November 2015.  Every day, usually in the morning before I got out of bed, I would post on Facebook something that I was grateful for that day.  It was short and sweet.  At first, I thought that I would just do it for the month of November.  But then it became a habit and I kept going.  Now on the 62nd day of a daily gratitude and there are "friends" on Facebook sending me messages or commenting on my posts thanking me for being an inspiration and how they look forward to my positive messages every day.  So not only is it helpful for me to focus on all the things that I am thankful for, but it is helping others to consider how much they have in their life as well.   What started out as a simple November challenge has become to one ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
If your home made New Years' resolutions...here are some things that would be on the list: 1. Save money by making one extra payment per year.  Whether you pay 1/12 of one payment towards the principal each month, or you set up bi-monthly payments for your mortgage (since there are two months with 5 weeks, this will result in an extra payment), you will increase the equity and reduce the interest paid over the life of the loan. 2.  Now is the time to update with more energy efficient windows, HVAC systems or appliances.  Not only will you save on your energy bills, but there are also many rebates available for replacement.  Check out your local utility company websites to see how much you can receive! 3.  Create a rainy day fund for your home.  A special savings account just for the lit...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
One of the top things that sellers are looking for in a REALTOR is a process.  This could not be more true!  As I compete with almost every listing that I obtain, I can tell you that most agents do not take this seriously.  They are ill-prepared and take for granted that their "brokerage" or market share will be enough to secure the listing.  But homeowners are sold on the agent as a person, not their company.  They are SOLD on your enthuiasm, passion for what you do, and your knowledge.  Whether by experience or through mentors, your knowledge is the key.   Here is my process in a nutshell: 1. Pre-listing interview:  This takes 10 minutes on the phone.  It will assist me in preparing for our consultation in the next week.  You will know after this interview what to expect next.2. Pre-l...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyers:  If you Want the House, Let the Offer Show It! In any market, buyers run the risk of offending a seller with a potentially lower than expected offer.  There is a time and place for negotiating that way, but purposely offering much less than what comparable properties are selling is always a risk.  As a buyer, you do not know the motivation for the seller.  When a seller is presented with your offer, they have 3 choices:  1.  They can accept it exactly as written with no changes.2.  They can reject the offer.3.  They can send the buyer a counter offer for the items that were not quite what they wanted. Does your offer show that you want the house?  In my experience, a buyer that offers within the average list to sale price ratio (In Cedar Rapids, this is 97-98%), shows that they ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Should Your Home Stay on the Market after Halloween? Is there an automatic cutoff date for the housing market in your area?  I received an email yesterday from a seller that was asking if it was worth it for them to consider listing their home now, prior to Thanksgiving or waiting until the spring. In the Cedar Rapids area, there is definitely fewer buyers in the market to purchase at this time of the year.  But there is also a lot less competition too.  In the spring, there is more of both buyers and competing listings. My advice?  In any market, there is advantages no matter what time of year it is.  A clean and well-priced home that is easy to show, sells no matter what the weather may bring.  So if your home is not market ready, meaning that you have a list of things that you would ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Just like a watched pot doesn't boil, I cannot "will" my phone to ring.  It is a tense morning in the office this morning as four agents and four clients wait to hear whether or not they will get to close today.  The first transaction in the chain has been broken and it is holding the other three at it's mercy.   We expect that these things will happen.  After all, Murphy's Law applies on the last Friday of any month.  We have four buyers/sellers that have moved out of their homes and are effectively homeless.  They cannot get the keys to  their new home and all of their belongings are packed away in a truck.  They took the day off from work.  Friends and family are waiting to help.  The pets and kids are restless.  The clock is ticking away and it is a domino effect. I have drawn the l...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
The Real Work Begins AFTER the Contract is Accepted! There is too much buzzing about buyers that think that they don't need a buyer's agent to represent them.  Even more, they think that they can ask the seller to credit the buyer at closing because they are not using an agent to help them buy the house. Whoa, wait a minute.  First of all, don't believe everything that you read online.  When the internet tells you that all commissions are negotiable, this is not one of those cases. The buyer does not have the authority to negotiate the commission that the seller pays.  That was determined at the time of the LISTING with their broker and cannot be renegotiated when a buyer decides to offer on the property. So whether or not you choose to have representation as a buyer, the seller has a c...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Tick Tock, You Are on the Clock! This post is for buyers out there.  When you submit an offer, it is just the beginning of your journey and purchase of a home.  There are so many deadlines!  Trust that your agent will guide you through the process.  I received an email today from a disgruntled buyer (not mine) who lost a home that they had offered on over the weekend.  Here is the situation: The buyers offered on a home that had only been on the market for a few days.  They were told that there were many showings and interested parties, so they offered a very well written offer that was within 1% of the listing price with all of the requested documents and asked for a quick response from the seller.  Submitting the offer at Friday at 5:00 pm and asking for a response by 8:00 am Saturday...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Get the Seller's Instructions in WRITING There is a fine line that we walk when dealing with possible multiple offers.  If you have an offer in your hand but there is an agent that has called to tell you that they "will be sending you an offer", at what point do you let the first agent know that they are competing?  First of all, it isn't the AGENT's decision.  It is the SELLER's decision.  It is the listing agent's responsibility to let the seller know the pros and cons of trying to have multiple offers on their home. (In my experience, the other "offer" does not exist until I have it in my hand, or in my email...until I physically have it, the seller does not know about it.  There have been too many times where I was told that I would be receiving an offer only to find out later that ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Why Won't the Agent Just Meet Me at the House I Want to See? I think that as a profession, we can tend to not explain the "whys" of our business practices. So I would like to talk about why I cannot just show you the property that you are sitting in front of right this minute. I received a Zillow call over the weekend and this person was sitting in front of the house and was demanding to see it right now, like yesterday.  Very impatient and demanding does not go over to well, in case you are taking notes.  We really don't sit and wait for the phone to ring.  And also, as in this case, the home that you are calling about is NOT my listing or my company's. Here are several reasons that an agent may not be able to just get in the car and show it to you at the drop of a hat. 1.  If the hous...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Vacant Home Sellers:  Do You Know How Cold it is? (in Your House that you aren't living in anymore) It is officially fall in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor, as evidenced by the frost warning last night.  I ran around to five houses last night to take in plants, remove hoses that were still attached, and to change the thermostat from cool to heat as temperatures were to be in the 20s last night.  And that was just for the vacant houses where the seller is out of state.  Other local sellers that vacant homes, I sent an email to the homeowner to remind them to check on their home as well. No one wants to see their home be damaged because they forgot that they needed to turn on the heat!  It doesn't need to be toasty in there, but 62-65 degrees is about right.  That is a comfortable te...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyer FAQ #2:  What is Agency?  How Does it Work? When I meet with a buyer for an initial consultation, we discuss the importance and relevance of agency in our Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor market.  In our area, we serve our clients based on appointed agency.   What is appointed agency?  This is a form that is signed by the buyer and the agent that they have selected to represent them.  This is not a binding agreement to pay commission and it has no timelines to be enforced.  It simply discloses the duties of the agents to the buyer and the buyer's duties to their agent.  Some examples are that the agent will disclose any material adverse facts that are known about the property of interest.  This is very pertinent in our area where the flood affected over 1300 city blocks of our city...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Buyer FAQ #1: Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval  In the market today, many things have changed when purchasing a home.  Especially since 2008.  There are much tighter requirements for lenders, appraisers, and underwriters when determining who is eligible for the best rates and loan products.   This will be step one in a Buyer Series in Purchasing a Home in Today's Market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  You need to begin somewhere.  With the development of TRID, which went into effect on Saturday October 3rd, it is more important than ever to research your lender and their company and ask lots of questions. As agents, we need to be a knowledgeable point of contact that keeps everything running smoothly from the accepted contract to the closing table.  But first, buyers need to be pre-approved. ...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
After a little bit of a hiatus, I have been super busy getting out and enjoying the weather and have forgot to include all of you in my adventures.  So, here are my top three for this coming weekend: 1. Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmer's Market-Saturday August 1st from 7:30 am-Noon-FREEThe farmer's market downtown is one of the best weekend events of the summer season.  Click here for more information!  I hope to see you there! 2. Summer Wine Tasting-Vineria Wine Bar from 6:00-8:00 pm $10- must be 21 years or olderThis is an opportunity to sample summer wines all in one place!  These events are usually booked, so call today to reserve your tickets.  Click here for more information.   3. Brucemore's Outdoor Children's Theater Presents Cinderella!  Saturday August 1st at 5:30 pmYou don't need...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Seller Tip #26-The Importance of Being "On Time" At the listing consultation, there are many things that I discuss with my sellers.  The most important of which is the importance of being on time. Being "on time" to a seller means that they are out of the house with lights on and show ready 15 minutes prior to the requested viewing window and they do not come back until at least 15 minutes after the time window.   Imagine that the seller is still there, running 10 minutes late with the garage door open and furiously trying to chase the kids, the cat and the dog into the minivan.  Now the first impression that you have made to the buyers and the agent is that you are rushed and frazzled.  This is likely to shorten the time that the buyers may spend in your home because they think that th...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Sorry for the late posting!  I bet you were all wondering what to do this weekend right?  What would you do without my weekly posts?  :)  It has been a short and busy week with the Memorial Day weekend!  Hopefully the weather cooperates for some of the great outdoor events that are coming up this weekend. 1. Lewis Black, comedian at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in Riverside, Iowa Friday May 29th and Saturday May 30th at 8:00 pm-Nestled just 45 minutes south of Cedar Rapids, there is a comedian coming to the casino that is worth the drive.  Make a day of it by going to the spa or getting in a round of golf too!  Click here for ticket information.   2. Friday May 29th Night Live Music at Cedar Ridge Winery-Tis the season for live music at the winery!  Kicking it off with The Funk Dadd...
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By Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
(Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group)
Karen's Pick Three (or Four) May 22nd-25th! Memorial Day Weekend 2015 1. Uptown Friday Nights-McGrath Amphitheatre, Downtown Cedar Rapids- May 22nd 5:00-10:00 pm- The Pork Tornadoes are headlining the opening of our downtown music series on Friday nights tonight!  Just $5 to get in with many choices of food and beverages.  This is a 21 and older music and networking event sponsored by the Cedar Rapids Jaycees.  For more information, click here.  It will be a beautiful night out by the Cedar River! 2. Tree Town Music Festival 2015-May 21st-24th in Forest City, Iowa-There is plenty of music available in Forest City this weekend!  It is just a two hour drive from Cedar Rapids.  Click here for more information. 3. Steve Miller Band-Friday May 22nd at US Cellular Center, Downtown Cedar Rapid...
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