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News at Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors®


Welcome Jeni!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Say hi to Jeni! She is our newest sales associate in our Northpark office in Johnston!

Growing up, Jeni was very involved in the Delaware Township fire department where both her mom and dad were firefighters. She helped a lot with the pancake breakfasts, chili suppers, and went to work with her mom often when she was a trustee so she naturally loves to help people.

"I am looking forward to all the relationships I will build here at Coldwell," Jeni said. "I'm excited to help others with their home buying experience whether it be their first house or their fifth."


In her free time, Jeni likes to do anything active. From going to the gym to riding horses, she enjoys it all but she especially enjoys anything outdoors. She loves to bake and decorate cakes and spending time with friends and family including her dog, Jake.

"I'm so eager to help people get their dream home and to make this process hassle free during such an exciting time in their life," Jeni said.

And we are excited that she is here Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, REALTORS to do so!

Jeni can be reached at jeni.hornbacher@cbdsm.com or (515) 681-4610.

The Marvin Pomerantz legacy, the beginning of our #CBStory

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The history of the Mid-America Group is closely tied to the career of Marvin A. Pomerantz. Born in Des Moines, Iowa on August 6, 1930, Mr. Pomerantz graduated from The University of Iowa in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Commerce. In 1961, he founded Great Plains Bag Corp. and Great Plains Equipment Co. (which eventually became Mid-America Investment Co. in 1972) and served as their President and General Manager for 14½ years.

Shortly after founding Great Plains Bag Corp., and with a need for additional warehouse space, Mr. Pomerantz created Mid-America Realty Company to own the bag plant and a building next door. He then proceeded to build a new warehouse. A long-term tenant was found for the warehouse, so he built yet another warehouse. The theory - to build a building suitable for a variety of uses, fill it, then lease it and build again - led to the formation of Mid-America Development Company (originally called Mid-America Realty Company) on December 1, 1972.

In the mid-1970's, Mid-America Development Company began undertaking joint ventures on build-to-suit projects, including the company's association in West Properties Partnership forming the Westridge Office Park in West Des Moines; a joint venture project for the Des Moines Northwestern Bell Telephone Company Piekenbrock work center; a partnership arrangement (during 1979) for the purchase, development, leasing and management of the Colorado Springs Service Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and again, a joint venture agreement for the construction of the Waterfall Glen Office Park with the Levy Organization of Chicago, Illinois (in 1984) to construct a quality office park in the Chicago area.

In December of 1988, the Company announced a new venture in the residential and commercial brokerage business. In March 1990, the brokerage company entered into a franchise agreement with Coldwell Banker. In February 1992, the Company was fully integrated into the Mid-America Group, Ltd. companies and is now known as Mid-America Real Estate Co. and is doing business as Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, REALTORS.

By December 1990, the Mid-America Group controlled over one million square feet of industrial space and close to a million square feet of office space. Mid-America Investment Co., continues to develop commercial and residential real estate. Land zoned for single family homes is developed into attractive neighborhoods complete with parks, trails, and other amenities. These lots are sold to builders with covenants dictating land usage and construction. The Woodlands is a 155-acre development of executive style homes in Clive, Iowa. Ashland Meadows in Ankeny, Iowa is currently being developed as a mixed use, pedestrian friendly community.

During 2000, work began on Mid-America's next Class A office park, Northpark Business Center. Located in Urbandale at the junction of I-80/35 and 86th Street, Northpark is positioned to be the next premier suburban office/retail campus. Also that year Mid-America Group began work on a 156 acre community located in northwest Ankeny. Ashland Meadows is designed to combine the best features of urban living with the conveniences suburban residents expect. A mixed-use development with schools, churches, shopping and a variety of residential options close at hand, Ashland Meadows is positioned to be the lifestyle choice of the next decade.

In 2006 residential sales began in South Maple Grove. At just under 220 acres, South Maple Grove is truly a city within a city. The development, west of the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, integrates over 300 residential lots with strategically placed support commercial and medium- and high-density developments, as well as a Waukee elementary school and neighborhood park.

 

Word of Advice Wednesday- New Construction

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thinking about building your own dream house? Jackie Schuller answers some questions about new construction! #WordOfAdviceWednesday

Word of Advice Wednesday- 3 Tips to Find the Right Home for You

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Finding the perfect home that fits your family's needs and wants can be difficult... but it's not impossible! Jim Hibbs shares '3 Tips to Find the Right Home for You!' #WordOfAdviceWednesday

6 New Countertop Ideas That Aren’t Granite

Friday, April 14, 2017

Granite’s durability and looks make it a popular investment for many homeowners. But there are other options aside from granite. Keep reading to learn more about six alternatives to granite countertops.

Butcher Block

Empty kitchen countertop

Butcher block countertops provide visual warmth to modern spaces, particularly those with white cabinetry. These countertops are also very cost-effective, especially compared to natural stone.

You’ll need to make oiling a regular part of your maintenance routine if you do install butcher block countertops. You’ll also need to use trivets or pot holders under hot pots and pans to avoid burning your counters.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural stone that’s easier to maintain than marble, but still requires more work than sealed granite. Soapstone is particularly vulnerable to liquids and acidic spills. Too much heat can also damage its appearance. Despite regular maintenance, soapstone is a beautiful alternative to granite.

Marble

Empty marble table with white brick wall background.

Marble is a natural stone that is considerably softer and more porous than most other stone options. If you don’t have a busy kitchen, marble can be a perfect material. For busy home chefs and homes with kids, marble may not be a good choice.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a fun and incredibly durable countertop material. Unlike other countertops, ceramic tile isn’t prone to damage from liquids or heat. Ceramic tiles can stain and chip over time, but individual tiles are easy to replace. Tile is also extremely inexpensive, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

Stainless Steel

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Stainless steel’s sleek looks and durability make it the perfect material for modern or cooking-focused kitchens. You can wipe down stainless with a cloth, though special cleaner should be used from time to time as well. Stainless steel countertops can be expensive, but they’re perfect for design- or cooking-obsessed homeowners.

Quartz

 

Quartz, also called Caesarstone or Silestone, is a man-made stone that’s cost-effective and attractive in many spaces. Its uniform finish also appeals to many homeowners who feel that natural stone is too busy in terms of patterns. Quartz is easy to maintain and incredibly durable, making it the ideal choice for homeowners who use their kitchens regularly.

What Should I Ask My Real Estate Agent When Buying a Home?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Since buying a house is an enormous investment, it’s best to know what questions to ask at the beginning of your home search. Acquiring information about the qualifications of your agent and the homebuying process can help protect you from unpleasant surprises and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Here are some essential inquiries to make:

Are You Experienced?

Question agents about their qualifications. Ask if they specialize in particular communities. Inquire about how many years of experience they have and their percentage of successful transactions.

Should I Rent or Buy?

It’s wise to purchase a home when your financial situation is sufficiently strong. Renting may be a better option if you lack the funds needed for a down payment, have debt, or a low credit score. Your agent can give you a buy-versus-rent analysis within your market.

What Are the Costs of Homeownership?

First time home buyers may not be aware that the costs of homeownership extend beyond the monthly payments on the principal and interest of the loan. Expenses also include taxes and insurance, as well as utilities and maintenance. The exact monetary outlay may be difficult to estimate, but your agent can give you a general idea of what to expect.

What Preparations Do I Need to Make Before I Can Write an Offer?

In certain areas, a property won’t stay on the market long, so you need to be prepared to act quickly when you come across your dream house. Give your agent a realistic price range of what fits your budget, and then he or she can help you navigate the process of getting the necessary cash in an account that is ready to use.

03.31 questions to ask agent - agent with woman

How Do I Learn More About the House and/or Neighborhood?

Before you sign the dotted line, you’ll want to know more about the neighborhood you may be moving to. Ask your agent to provide insight into the livability of a neighborhood. You should also ask your agent if the property is in close proximity to a major source of noise like a train station or busy freeway. 

Has the Property Changed Ownership Often?

Finding out how long the present owner has lived in the house can help you figure out if there are long-term issues with the property or the surroundings. 

May I Speak to the Sellers?

Having a direct conversation with the seller can be a great advantage because sometimes they will be candid about the reason they’re moving, and any aspects of the property. If possible, contact the former owner for another opportunity to discover more about the property.

When Was the House Last Updated?

With the intent of uncovering needed updates that could pose a major expense, ask when the house was last updated. Inquire specifically about the age of the roof, wiring, and appliances. See if the drainage system needs to be replaced.

What is the Minimum Offer the Seller Will Accept?

See if the seller is willing to negotiate on the lowest acceptable offer. Speak to your real estate agent to develop a sound plan for negotiation that will keep you in good standing with the seller.

How Long Has the Property Been on the Market?

Find out if the house has been languishing on the market for some time, or if the seller has received considerable interest from potential buyers. This knowledge will be of value in gauging if you have negotiating room when making an offer.

Can I Get the Home Inspected Before I Sign the Contract?

If you can get the home inspected before signing the contract, you aren’t obligated to buy if the property needs costly repairs. This downside is that it carries a risk that during the inspection, the seller could accept another offer before the inspection is finished. The solution is to have an inspection contingency in the contract that permits you to get out of the sale if the projected repairs exceed a certain limit.

When Can I Move In?

You’ll need to know this to schedule your moving plans. In most cases, you can move after escrow or closing, but an experienced agent can give you an accurate time frame.

 

 

Asking your agent questions is of utmost importance when buying a home. The answers can maximize your chances of buying a home that will offer you many years of enjoyment.

How to Prepare Your Home for New Pets 101

Friday, April 14, 2017

Congratulations! You’re considering getting a pet, or you’re about to bring a new furry friend home to join the family. This is an exciting moment. Of course, it also requires some preparation — part of which includes readying your home for the new addition. Here’s how to prepare your home for new pets:

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Install childproof locks on your cabinets so your new pet can’t open them and get to potentially dangerous items. Professional installation will cost about $460.

Put anything your pet can reach — medicine, chemicals, etc. — on a high shelf.

Invest in covered trash bins that can’t be knocked over easily.

Keep food and other edibles out of reach.

Living Room

Hide wires from TVs, stereos and other electronics to prevent animals from chewing on them and shocking themselves.

Hide any small items your pet could chew on or knock over and break.

Move potentially poisonous plants outside, or place them out of reach.

Give them something comfy to lay on, whether it’s a bed on the floor or a blanket on the furniture.

Put machine-washable slipcovers on your furniture.

Certain types of furniture are easier to clean than others; have the right cleaning materials on hand for messes and accidents.

GettyImages-514274679

Bedroom

Put clothes and shoes in closets — and close the door so your pet can’t get to them.

Keep any medications or cosmetic items in drawers.

Any household cleaners that you keep in the master bathroom need to be well-hidden or kept behind childproof locks. ​

Secure garbage cans with lids or store them underneath cabinets.

Outside

Keep your animals away from pools or ponds to avoid drowning.

Check your fence for any holes to ensure your pet can’t escape from the yard.

Designate a certain part of the yard as your pet’s bathroom. Keeping it to the same spot helps prevent damage to your bushes or grass.

Move hazardous chemicals and sharp objects to your garage — and keep your pet away from the area.

GettyImages-534214340

Other General Areas to Consider:

Windows

If you can, replace vertical blinds and window treatments that incorporate draping tassels or cords; these could become choking or strangulation hazards.

Avoid using mini-blinds in your home; pets frequently bend and break them when they’re curious and want to see outside.

Walls

Semi-gloss paint is washable and easy to clean.

Vinyl-backed wallpaper is also easy to clean; you might consider this option in rooms in which your dog may be training.

Floors

Area rugs are easier to keep clean than carpeting. If you have carpeting, use enzymatic cleaner to eliminate urine and poop smells.

Tile and linoleum flooring are easy for handling pet accidents. Keep this in mind when deciding where to put your pets during the day.

 

Make sure your hardwood floors are sealed before your pets walk on them.

What Fees Are Involved in Selling a Home?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Selling a home includes a host of fees, some of which are unavoidable. Here are some of the fees and costs you’ll need to take into account when budgeting for a sale, particularly if you’re planning to buy a new home with the proceeds.

Escrow Fees

Escrow is a service provided by an organization independent of both the buyer, the seller, and their agents. The escrow officer has three main roles:

  1. Holding onto all the relevant sales documents
  2. Handling the money (both deposit and full payment) as it moves from buyer to seller and making sure the money gets to the right place at the right stage of the sale process
  3. Handling the deed and title transfers that make the buyer the new legal owner of the property

The total escrow fees are commonly 1-2% of the sale price, but can go higher. You have two opportunities for negotiation here: negotiating the fee itself (or shopping around for a different escrow organization), or negotiating how the fee is split between the buyer and seller.

Title Fees

Title is the legal term for who is officially the owner of a property. As well as the cost of handling the title transfer itself (which is usually part of the service covered by escrow fees), a house sale usually brings about two other title-related fees.

  1. A title search is a formal check of public records to confirm the seller is indeed the legal owner of the property and nobody else has any claims or liens on it (A lien is where a court gives someone else legal ownership of a property until a debt is paid, for example if the property owner has failed to pay their taxes). The cost of a title search depends on the state and how difficult it is to access the records.
  2. Title insurance covers the potential legal problems and claims if it turns out there was a mistake in the title search. Title insurance requires a one-off payment rather than ongoing premiums, and it’s generally in the range ½ -1% of the property sale price. Who pays the title search and title insurance fees is usually a matter of negotiation. While the services benefit the buyer, sometimes a seller will cover the fees to make the house sale more attractive.

04.03 selling home fees - couple laptop

Taxes

Selling a property will often attract taxes, depending on your state. The most common is a transfer tax, which is usually imposed on the sale itself rather than an individual, meaning it’s up to the buyer and seller to negotiate who pays (or how to split the cost). In some places, the county and even the city may have additional transfer taxes on top of that imposed by the state. Transfer taxes are nearly always based on a percentage of the sale price, but the proportion can vary widely from as little as 0.1%-2% or more.

Some states also have a mortgage tax, though this is imposed on the mortgage borrower, so shouldn’t affect you as the seller.

In some cases, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the profit you’ve made on the property: that is, the sale price minus what you originally paid for the property. This doesn’t affect most people, as there’s a $250,000 exclusion for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple, as long as it’s been your main home for at least one year of the previous five years. This exclusion applies only to the profit, not the sale price, so it’s only usually a factor for very expensive homes.

Miscellaneous Fees

A host of other relatively small fees could arise when you sell a house, which can add up. It’s worth keeping track of such fees and checking if they seem reasonable, but sometimes the negotiation may not be worth the time and stress involved. Examples of fees a seller might have to pay include:

- Fees to a Home Owners Association to cover the transfer of membership to the buyer

- Fees to courier companies to physically move documents such as title deeds

You may also face several costs when you sell a home that aren’t strictly sale-related fees, but are still important to budget for. These include:

- Repairs and renovations to the home before you put it on the market, which boost potential sale value

- Removal costs when you empty the property after the sale

 

When it comes to selling your home, don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent about the fees you might pay as a seller, including ways to negotiate with potential buyers. A great realtor will not only know which fees are relevant to your situation but be more than happy to explain them to you.

What Buying a House Can Do for You: Investment Opportunity and Financial Security

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Some people may think of buying a home as a stressful experience that comes with an enormous commitment that can burden you for years. However, buying a home can be a great way to build wealth and protect your assets. Learn how homeownership can be a great investment decision that bolsters your financial security.

A Net Worth Boost

Research shows that on average, homeowners’ net worth is far higher than that of a renters’ net worth by up to 36%. And this wealth gap keeps widening every year. One explanation for this gap is the concept of forced savings. This is a situation where a person is essentially forced to save a certain amount of money every month for a significant expense, such as a house or a car.

Paying for a mortgage is a great example of forced savings. Paying for your mortgage month after month forces you to save a portion of your income to help pay off your property, which works towards increasing your home equity and net worth. Renters, on the other hand, increase the net worth of their landlords without building equity or assets.

04.10 buying a house - house car

Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a house shouldn’t be considered fully as an expense. Homeowners enjoy a variety of tax breaks that you might not know about. Here are some of the tax breaks homeowners may qualify for:

Mortgage Interest Deductions

The monthly mortgage you must pay when you buy a house is split into two parts: one portion goes towards the actual principal amount, and the other portion pays off your interest on the mortgage. In some cases, the mortgage interest on your main and second residence is tax deductible.

To claim the mortgage interest, you must itemize your deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A, unless you just want to just claim the standard deductions. You should get a 1098 Form from your mortgage lender at the beginning of every year showing the total amount you paid as interest for the previous year that you can claim for tax returns.

Property Taxes

City or state real estate taxes that you pay on your house may be filed as a deductible while itemizing the deductions on a Form 1040 Schedule A.

Mortgage Points

There are two types of mortgage points, and each point represents 1% of your total mortgage. Origination points, which is a fee that you pay to the borrower to compensate for their work that goes into processing a loan, are non-deductible. Discount points, which allow you to get discounted interest rates on your mortgage, are tax deductible.

Some of the interest that you pay on home equity loans are also deductible, along with interest on home improvement loan, and qualified moving expenses.

Using the Power of Leverage for Investing

One advantage of buying property for the purpose of investing is that you can borrow funds to make the purchase, as opposed to other investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds. Another advantage is that when inflation hits and prices increase, sometimes your house value will increase as well. If you borrow with a fixed rate mortgage, you will still be paying the future monthly payments with a currency that’s depreciated in value. As years go by, the equity on your property will increase, and once the principal amount is all paid off, you will have a debt-free asset that will continue to appreciate, depending on market conditions.

Compared to stacking up cash savings in your bank account and watching it lose value to inflation, investing in a property can secure your money in the long-term and act as a hedge against dollar debasement. Whether for diversification of your investment portfolio, or to secure a property where you and your family can grow and build memories, buying a home can be a timeless investment vehicle.

5 Tips for Increasing the Curb Appeal & Value of Your Home

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No matter how low mortgage rates fall or how they flush the housing market, selling a home can be a long and often difficult process. That’s why it’s vital that you do whatever you can to make your home more attractive to buyers. The first step: curb appeal.

When talking to real estate agents, most will tell you that curb appeal is one of the most important factors in selling a home. Why? Because homes with strong curb appeal can fetch higher prices.

An attractive home exterior can boost the selling price of your home. After all, first impressions are nearly impossible to reverse or undo. So, what does that mean? Do you have to completely update your home’s appearance? Not necessarily.

The Importance of Curb Appeal

Curb appeal isn’t just about making your house more attractive; it’s about making it memorable and demanding positive attention. A home with high curb appeal can demand higher prices and take less time to sell. The outside is also what brings potential buyers inside.

The reality is that many homebuyers begin the buying process online and, of those, over half will drive by a home they saw online. That means that over half of your prospective home purchasers could make a decision on your house by what they can see from the street. Every part of your home’s exterior from the front entryway to the yard, driveway, sidewalk, walls, and windows can make an impression.

You probably won’t be able to update or polish every aspect of your home’s exterior, so what should you prioritize?

1. Wash Your House

Before you start worrying about your landscape, you should first focus on cleaning the exterior of your home. Just as you’d take the time to scrub your bathrooms and kitchen, you should take the time to wash your home exterior. By simply sprucing up the outside of your house, you can make a strong positive impression on potential buyers.   

You can start and complete the process over a couple of weekends. All you need is a pressure washer, a bucket of soapy water, and a long-handled brush. Whether your home has wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, or fiber cement siding, a little washing can remove years of dust and dirt. And don’t forget to wash your windows, clean your eaves, and power-spray your garage door.

If your walls could use a refresh, consider repainting. It’s not a low-budget option, but it can make a serious difference. If you can’t afford to paint the entire thing, just focus on the trim.

04.04 Increasing Curb Appeal - family infront of a house

2. Take Care of Your Roof

As a homeowner, you probably don’t think about your roof that often, but it’s one of the first things that a buyer notices and that an appraiser will assess. If your home has missing, curled, or faded shingles, it can seriously detract from your home’s value. The key is to determine if your roof just needs a solid cleaning or if it should be replaced entirely. The difference is cost and results.

Replacing and repairing your roof isn’t cheap. The national median cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $8,700. But you can also choose to simply clean your roof for closer to $1,000.

3. Keep It Manicured

A poorly manicured lawn can give a bad first impression to potential buyers. Good landscaping can make a huge difference in the value of your home; just make sure you don’t get carried away. You don’t have to spend excessively on premium landscaping. An appropriate yard facelift can happen for just a few hundred dollars and increase the value of your home by 5-10%.

Make sure your grass is neatly cut and green, replacing dead patches with sod from your local department store. You should also trim any trees and prune your shrubs. And, if needed, plant a few new shrubs to replace dead plants or fill in blank spaces. It’s also vital that you pull up weeds, remove dead foliage, and put down a new layer of mulch. Every little bit helps.

04.04 Increasing Curb Appeal - house night time

4. Enhance Your Home’s Polish

Small enhancements can take your home from just another house on the block to “the house” to buy. And you don’t have to go crazy. These days your local department store has many affordable and attractive options for polishing your home’s exterior.

Here are a few ideas to enhance your curb appeal polish:

  • Add Color: It only takes a small splash of color to attract buyers. Add a tulip border near your entryway or add a brightly colored bench to your front porch.
  • New Numbers: Replace your old, outdated house numbers with shiny new numbers that match the style of your house. Consider something unique like copper, bronze, or brushed nickel.
  • Light Up: Homebuyers like homes that look good night and day. A quick fix is to add solar light fixtures to your walkways and custom light fixtures on your porch and around your garage door.

5. Add Character and Style

Curb appeal isn’t just about cleaning and repairing what you already have; it’s also about adding a little bit of personality to your home. Buyers are more likely to purchase a home that they can picture themselves living in. And it doesn’t take much to add that little extra “oomph.”

The typical front door is rather dull. To add some “pop” to your home, consider making your front door your home’s focal point. Replace the standard white door with an artistically rustic creation or paint it red for a burst of color. You can also add character by adding a new mailbox, installing a white picket fence, or laying down a cheery welcome mat.

Now that you know what you need to do to add curb appeal to your home, discover tips about staging your home or selling your home

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