Do You Have an Adjusting ARM? How do you know if You Qualify for Help

If you have gotten caught in the adjusting ARM nightmare, there is hope. Follow the link in the title to see if you qualify for the assistance program. Don't just stick your head in the sand! If you have missed one payment you may still qualify. Contact your lending institution or the company that services your loan and call 1-888-995-HOPE, which provides counseling to homeowners with mortgage problems.
There is HOPE, the best defense against getting into trouble is to educate yourself and don't keep your knowledge to yourself, pass it on.

Realtors and Consumers The Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Needs Your Support

Sen. Christopher Dodd is expected today to introduce a bill that would require mortgage lenders to issue only loans that are beneficial to borrowers and that borrowers are able to repay. What a novel idea - What, you thought the banking industry had your best interests at heart????

This bill seeks better loans for consumers. The proposal by the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee would not only force mortgage lenders to act in the best interest of borrowers, it also would expose Wall Street firms to lawsuits (IT IS ABOUT TIME!!!!) as well as bar subprime mortgage lending practices such as prepayment penalties and yield spread premiums, (this should not be how a mortgage broker gets paid) can anyone say Major Conflict of Interest???
Dodd's proposal is in some ways similar to one from Rep. Barney Frank, which passed in the House by a wide margin in November.

Mortgage companies and banks are expected to come out in force against Dodd's bill. Really? well you as an American consumer can help get this measure in place ----CALL YOUR BANK, MORTGAGE COMPANY, SENATOR AND YELL - Get this legislation passed and implemented. "I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it ANYMORE!"

Click on the title to link to Reuters article on the bill


Ethanol Company Merger

Verasun to acquire US BioEnergy - are we about to see the ethanol companies merge into 2 or 3 mega ethanol companies as we have observed in the livestock production industry and the grocery business? If that happens is that a good thing? So much bad press by uneducated people claiming ethanol production has pushed up the prices of everything, I wonder what will come of this news. Check out the news links below:




Let me know what you think, I am obviously a proponent of alternative energy especially ethanol and wind power. Yea, I know we have a bizillion mega tons of coal and gallons of oil - I do have a degree in Science - but just because we have a limited supply doesn't mean we need to stick our heads in the sand.

We need to get off our butts and stop depending on the addictive fossil fuels including oil. Gee, if we didn't need their oil what do you think we would have done to you know who? Car makers, get your game together and produce what we all know you already have - efficient vehicles! 20-30 miles a gallon; get real and give us 40-60 miles a gallon - and make that gallon green and completely renewable.
Ok, I'm glad that's out!


Housing Trends from the Iowa Realtors Association - Mid-Year Report

According to the Iowa Realtors Association the Storm Lake Board is up considerably over 2006.
The Median Price for 2006 was - $69,500
The Median Price for 2007 is - $88,800
That's an increase of 28%

Days on Market have increased
DOM in 2006 at midyear - 86
DOM in 2007 at midyear - 118
That's an increase of 37%

What do those numbers mean?

1) Local real estate is appreciating in general - that's a good thing
2) DOM is also increasing, that may not be a good thing, it means properties are staying on the market longer - possibly a reflection of the Doom Sayers in the national market. It could also be an indication that properties are being priced higher than the market will bear. I will look into the number of properties by percent that had price reductions before selling in 2007 as compared to 2006.

On our Wednesday MLS tours I have been disappointed to see an increasing number of unrealistically priced homes. This is a disservice to the client (Seller), it also goes against the Realtor's code of ethics that we are all bound by if we use the term Realtor behind our name.

If you want to sell a property, you contact a Realtor and they don't do a CMA prior to listing your home - RUN! This analysis is one tool that helps you price your home correctly. A CMA is a report that will show what the market will bear (in other words what you will most probably sell your property for). A CMA is also used with Buyers, it is how a Realtor best represents a Buyer - it is a report that will show what the market has paid for similar properties. This tells your Buyers whether they are offering a realistic amount. Not that they don't trust you or anything - give them the facts to backup your opinions.

Fire - Enough Insurance?

Everyone's read about or seen the fires in California in the past several months. It was brought very near to me a couple of weeks ago. We had a fire - and we don't live in California. We were so blessed, it occurred when I was home and, had 2 electricians in the house, which by the way is over 100 years old and dry as a bone!
How many of the houses destroyed in California had enough insurance to be replaced - according to the California Dept of Insurance as many as 40% of them didn't. I'm not worried - I have full coverage insurance on my home, you say, well did you know that full coverage insurance doesn't guarantee replacement cost?
Might be a good time to give your insurance agent a call and say, "I want to make sure I have the right kind and enough insurance to rebuild my home if it is destroyed - and Oh, by the way can you make it competitive :>) Thanks so MUCH!


Anti-Predatory Lending Bill Passes - Good or Bad?

Click on the title to read my opinion and please comment on how we can fix this broken system.

Need Some Great Gift Ideas?

Check out Rhonda Barker's Promo site, I recently purchased calendars for my clients but there are so many cool things Rhonda can get. http://promo-web.com/d/d1.asp?d=promo4u&pg=1

"We have items for trade shows, employee incentives, business gifts, special events, direct mail, Web site promotion, corporate apparel and more . . ."


Local Real Estate Market Report - your opinion needed!

As you know I do a local real estate market report, I have recently had several requests for additional information on this report. Mainly, the names of the Sellers and the Buyers. This info is public record after the property closes and can be found at the court house. I can include this additional info easily. What do you think, would it be helpful to you? I currently use an Excel Spreadsheet format - I do love spreadsheets, please suggest any changes you would like to see.



Buena Vista County - The Tax Man is Coming to Your Home!

The B.V. County Assessor announced November 13th that they will be doing door-to-door inspections of all residential properties beginning on Nov 1st. Hum, maybe the notice should have been given in October, Oh well. The reappraisal should end by December 2008 and go into effect January 2009. I want to be on the record stating that I am not opposed to paying a fair share for government, taxes should be for the safety and improvement of our societies. However, I don't believe in wasting money - both my husband and I work hard as I'm sure you do.

What does this mean for you; properties have been selling rapidly and have increased in value significantly over the last 3 years, especially in Alta. Have you done any remodeling work to your property, it could mean higher taxes. If your property is in poor condition it could mean lower taxes, but I suspect that overall the taxes will not go down. The type of information the Assessors will be collecting include: construction type, physical condition of the property, age of the structures, type of interior finish, and exterior measurements.

No, it won't matter if you are home or not, I think the Assessor will notify the target neighborhoods prior to sending our personnel.

In Spring of 2009 the owners will be able to meet with and discuss their revaluation and the new assessments. Mark this date on your calendar - in red! If you receive an evaluation that is higher than you think your home could sell for in a reasonable amount of time (90 days) call me, your Realtor. I have the ability to do an extensive CMA (competitive market analysis) to determine a range of where your property should sell. If this amount is considerably lower than the value your property has appraised at you may be able to dispute it and have the appraised value lowered.


October Storm Lake MLS Real Estate Market Report

Want to know what the Storm Lake, Alta and surrounding area real estate market is doing? Click on the link below or on the article title above, I think you will be surprised.
This report shows all properties reported sold on the Storm Lake MLS, the major brokerage's "piece of the pie" and the year to date numbers. Check back often to see the local market numbers and how we are doing as opposed to the national market.


Calling all DIYers

Have you done some remodeling you are proud of , got before and after pix and receipts? Check out this contest - the grand prize is $25,000. Click on the title of this post or go to www.BHG.com/challenge
$25,000 that's enough to take the whole family to Hawaii for several weeks - did I happen to mention Hawaii is my most favorite place in the whole entire world?

Hey the contest ends Jan 15, 2008 - you can still do a project and enter. Remember I do love Hawaii!

The coolest thing since peanutbutter and jelly

Confused about all those energy efficient light bulbs - I'm sure I bought some last year for our ceiling fans that said they would last for 7 years, I need to replace them. Oh well, I need to keep up with the packages and info on stuff better - yea right, like I don't have 500 other really important things to attend to. Like what the Blizzard of the month is.

I did a search to see what kind of superbulbs were out there, that's when I saw it - the GEOBULB! That's a new bulb out that will not only save a lot but will last for 12 years - yes, keep up with the info. I'd put it in the safe deposit box we have at the bank. Laugh, I know you are secretly thinking about doing the same thing.

This Geo Bulb - yea that's what it's called, it doesn't get hot, it give off good light (it's LED) who knows how much you'll save not buying bulbs for 12 years or taking the chance of falling off ladders or chairs a couple of times a year . I'm thinking I'm going to go get enough for our whole house - that's about 87, take a day off (or maybe a week) and replace them all. That way I don't have to worry about it for another 11.99 years - gee thats 2018! Check out http://www.ccrane.com/ for the scoop.

Worried about energy costs this winter - add these 5 ways to save to your list

We all shudder to think about the dreaded winter heating bills. This year at our house (it's over 100 years old) we put in all new windows (over half of them were original) and added 2 heat and central air units (yes I have central air now). I am looking forward to seeing what impact those improvements make on our heating bills. I'm not saying add new windows or add new central heat and air, these 5 items are much easier.

1) Check your insulation, in the attic if you can see the floor joists you don't have enough - it's that simple. Buy some that can be rolled out or call someone to blow some in (you can even rent these machines and do it your self!) I have used Aurelia Lumber on a couple of houses and they do a great job and are not expensive. To find out what the recommended amount of insulation is for your area and on additional parameters like fuel source etc go to Ornl.gov/~roofs/zip/ziphome.html

2) Insulate all exposed pipes, it is easy and cheap.

3) Stop air leaks - take a candle around your windows, light switches, electrical plug ins, doors, vents, under sinks, from dryer vents, up the chimney and anywhere else air can infiltrate and heat can escape. Home stores sell several products to stop Old Man Winter from stealing your heat. Every where your candle flickers there is air flow - a bad, bad thing for your wallet. Seal up the opening with expandable foam, weather stripping or insulation inserts (under light switches and electrical plates . Place a cap on the dryer vent and close the fireplace damper tightly if not in use (better yet get an insert).

4) Buy a programmable thermostat - and use it! For less than $100 you can buy a good one that will enable you to program each day and several different times within each day.

5) Is your furnace working as efficiently as it can be; have you had it serviced this year? No, get on the ball people, winter is coming! Change that furnace filter religiously, it will keep your home cleaner, your lungs cleaner, you healthier, reduce your heating bills and extend the life you your furnace. How often should you change it; I have allergies so ours will be changed every 30 days.


Annual Real Estate Report

If you are interested in receiving this informative local report (and if you are thinking of buying or selling you need it) that includes: number of residential properties sold, average sales price, average days on the market, the percent change in price and number sold by month and as compared to 2006 and a lot more!
Send me an email and I will get you on the list for January - so far there are 343 people on that list! Just send me an email at Georiga@SLRealtyCheck.com or Gweaver@iw.net and oh by the way, I do love referrals if you know of anyone who needs my services.

Preparing Your Home to Sell

Preparing your home to sell Step-by-Step.
--How to Get top dollar for your home--
So you are selling your home; and you want to get top dollar. A great Realtor® will be able to give you suggestions on how to maximize you home. Below is the proven process I recommend sellers go through to get ready to list their home. The result, homes sold faster and for more than similar homes in the area!

Home Saleability

Getting started - Purchase large clear plastic storage tubs, at least one for each room. Work one room at a time and pack a minimum of 1/3 of items for the move. If you haven’t used it, worn it, read it, or listened to it in the last 30 days pack it for the move. Reducing your items will help your home appear larger. Smoke in the home or pet odors have to be removed prior to listing, these odors will greatly reduce the price your home brings. You may be unaware of the smellappeal of your home because you live there and are use to it. Ask your Realtor®, a friend or neighbor who will be straight with you about the smell of your home. Smell is a critical part of selling a home!

Entry – It should say WELCOME to All
1) Make that door a focal point! Polish the door knob or replace it if it doesn’t look great. If
the door is beyond ever looking new or old and well kept replace it.
2) Place a wreath appropriate to the season on the door
3) As the door is opened it should be inviting and clutter free – no shoes, coats, umbrellas, book bags, pet leashes etc…
4) Only a welcoming space sparsely decorated for the season and style of the home.

Kitchen – If the item is not used daily, it should be out of sight. If not used weekly pack it in your labeled clear storage tubs. Remove all junk drawers, people check construction of drawers by opening them, ALL.
1) Clean frig (including top, behind, coils and under), stove (including under burners and oven), microwave, dishwasher, sink and drains
2) Clean cabinet fronts, oils from cooking and our hands build up on cabinets, doors and light switch plates and need to be cleaned weekly
3) Scrub counter tops, faucets and fronts of appliance until they sparkle. If faucets leak repair or replace them, if replacing add shut off valves if not already installed. Clean out under the sink, check for leaks – repair if needed.
4) Replace curtains if not “new” looking
5) Clean windows inside and out
6) Scrub floors
7) Garbage disposal cleaned and refreshed with ½ lemon and 1 cup of ice ever other day
8) Check lighting, it should be appropriate wattage for the task

Dining Room – Set the stage for a romantic dinner
1) Items not used weekly go in the labeled clear plastic tub
2) Remove all excess
3) Clean walls, floors, baseboards, remove any cobwebs and dust from furniture and from room, remove chair cushions
4) Clean windows inside and out
5) Replace curtains if not “new” looking
6) Set the table for 2 or 4depending on the size of the table. Start with a table runner in a rich color, add cloth napkins, and use crystal if you have it if not use great looking glasses, use glass or china place settings, and shiny silverware. Add candlesticks and flowers or a tray of unique items to the middle of the table to pull it all together.
7) China cabinets or built ins – remove all but a few items, make it look sparse
8) Last, but most important check lighting, chandeliers should sparkle, no dust on lighting and use appropriate wattage on light bulbs.

Living Room – Inviting and comfortable, this room should beckon come in sit down and relax
1) Items not used weekly go into the labeled clear plastic tub
2) Remove all excess, keep a few personal items like pictures they make the home feel lived in
3) Clean floors, walls, ceilings, baseboards and windows inside and out and polish all metal
4) Decide if you need to paint, many holes in the walls, discoloration from pictures, *smoker in the house or pets – patch holes and paint. The color should not be white but should be a color that complements your furniture and is a neutral. *Smokers or pets, walls and ceilings washed down with a good cleaner and painted with a Kilz product to block the smell. Curtains, carpets, and upholstered furniture cleaned by a professional to remove the odor.

Bedrooms – Should say oasis from the troubles and cares of the day, this room should be a soothing calm color
1) See Living Room above and each person in a bedroom receives a clear plastic storage tub with a label
2) Each person should remove a minimum of 1/3 of the items from the closet – it’s a good time to donate to a local charity, they always need toys, shoes, clothes that are in good shape
3) Clean every surface, patch walls and paint, clean light fixtures, replace bulbs if needed and clean windows inside and
4) Toys, football equipment, etc needs to be in it’s place and that place is not on the floor
5) New curtains or blinds if they don’t look new
6) Shampoo carpet and polish door knob

Bathrooms - Inviting, bright and clean, clean, clean
1) Each person who uses this bathroom should have a small overnight bag for personal items (hair products, personal supplies, tub toys). This bag is stored in the person’s closet in their bedroom
2) Remove excess, if not used weekly pack in the labeled clear plastic tub
3) Clean out all drawers and cabinets – some empty space makes the drawers and cabinets seem spacious
4) Check for leaks under the sink and around the commode (spongy feel to floor around the commode means you need to replace the wax seal and maybe some of the wood around the base), commode that runs – now is the time to fix it.
5) Tub, commode, sink/s, shower and shower door, need to be so clean they sparkle. If calk around vanity, sink , tub and shower doesn’t look perfect and new – replace it, a simple job that makes the home appear well cared for and in good condition – no mold
6) Clean mirrors, lights and vent fan
7) Clean walls, switch plates, medicine cabinets, baseboards, and floors.
8) Clean drains with some Clorox about ½ cup then run hot water to rinse
9) Replace shower curtain or shower door if not “new” looking
10) Replace toilet seat and lid if not “new” looking
11) Check lighting, use appropriate wattage, clean vent fan
12) Place an aroma therapy diffuser here, a light clean scent, not a
plug in (plug ins and spray type of deodorizers are petroleum
based products and approximately 30% of the population are

Basement - Unfinished clean as a living room, if unfinished see list below
1) Remove any excess items store in labeled clear plastic tub if not used
2) Clean and remove all cobwebs and dust
3) Check all light bulbs, use a higher wattage to enable the entire basement to be viewed easily
4) Repair any cracks (tuck point) and leaks prior to listing
5) Replace the furnace filter monthly
6) Clean windows inside and out
7) No litter boxes in basement, the furnace will draw the smell through the house
8) Run a dehumidifier 24/7
9) Paint the basement walls a light neutral color, this will make the area seem very clean and larger, it should show as a possible future living area not a dark damp old basement.
10) Air out with fresh air if possible (open basement windows)

Garage – Goal is to make it appear big and roomy
1) Remove excess items and place in labeled clear plastic storage tubs. These tubs and the tubs from the house can be neatly stacked against a wall for the future move
2) Clean everything – sweep floor, remove cobwebs and dust. If there are stains on the floor clean them and power-wash. Repair any cracks or chips in floor.
3) Paint walls if needed, ceilings with water stains are a big red flag to buyers, find source, fit it and paint with Kilz to block stain.
4) Check automatic garage doors, replace batteries in openers, and paint doors if they don’t look great.
5) Check lights for appropriate wattage bulbs

Yard – Should say come and enjoy some outdoor fun
1) Mow grass as needed
2) Edge walks and driveway
3) Spray for weeds and seed bare spots
4) Trim any bushes or trees for a clean look
5) Place a blooming potted plant by each door
6) Remove excess yard ornaments and children’s toys store in a labeled clear plastic tub
7) Keep all large toys in one area
8) Swing set, sandbox area – put out new sand and check swing set for maintenance needs, paint or stain If needed

Deck – Somewhere you would want to spend time with friends and neighbors
1) Repair any rotten, warped or excessively worn boards or steps
2) Check railing if present for strength
3) Spray or trim grass around the deck
4) Power - wash with a deck cleaner
5) If deck is wood and hasn’t been stained/resealed in the last 3 years it’s time

Drive Way – should look like it is new and will last a long time
1) Power wash to clean
2) Repair any cracks or chips
3) Spray to kill any grass or weeds growing on it

Gutters and Downspouts – these will help keep your home and basement dry
1) Clean all leaves, branches and seeds from gutters
2) Fix any leaks or loose areas
3) Extend downspouts at least 3 feet from your foundation
4) Inspect roof and nail down any loose shingles

Porches – Say welcome home
1) Remove excess items, no shoes, coats etc
2) Clean top to bottom
3) Check lighting for appropriate wattage
4) Clean windows inside and out

Appliances – Washers, people open these to see if there is hard water, clean to a sparkle and refrigerators clean them out, place a dish of baking soda close to the fan and do not keep leftovers

Pets – Many people are allergic or have asthma, pets and cigarettes smoke can be a big problem for them. I love animals but they don’t help sell a home
1) Remove all sighs of pets
2) Food and water bowls
3) Beds, carriers, leashes, brushes, etc…
4) Litter boxes
5) Flea shampoo is a red flag
6) You receive a call and your house is going to be shown – crate you pet and take it to a friend or the vet
7) Large dogs frighten most people although we won’t all admit it. Some specific breeds of dogs that should be removed during a showing are: Doberman, Pit bull, German shepherd, Rotweiller, Great Danes and most dogs over 30 lbs. Children accompany many parents on showings and a child bitten by a dog or cat will definitely not result in a good offer.
8) Fish, turtles, hermit crabs? – clean the aquarium and make sure there is no smell apparent
9) Reptiles – not a good idea to have snakes, large lizards, or anything that is poisons
10)Birds – clean entire area and be sure there is no smell, put them to bed (cover the cage) if at all possible

Georgia A. Weaver BS, GRI
Real Estate Professional
106 W. Railroad Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588
712-574-5426 Direct
712-732-7594 Office
E-mail – Georgia@SLRealtyCheck.com


If you are a smoker and want to sell your home - read this to save thousands!

The acrid smell of smoke in a home is a big turn-off, it is also very hard to remove. Most people will try to cover it with deodorizing sprays, candles, etc... Not a good idea. Most of theses products don't work, they add to the odor and 33% of the American population are allergic to most of these products.
If you smoked in your home and want to sell it for top dollar you will have to permanently remove the smoke smell. How, that's the hard part - yes you will have to have the carpets and drapes cleaned professionally and replace the furnace filter about every 10 days until cleaning process is complete - but that is not enough.
All surfaces will need to be thoroughly cleaned with a product like TSP (go to a paint store, they sell it and can tell you how to use it) and painted surfaces cleaned reprimed and painted with a stain and odor blocking product like Kilz. Check after this process to see if you still have an odor problem - have someone who does not smoke check the home - like your Realtor. If there is still a problem you may have to have the carpet replaced.
A house with an odor problem, like smoke or pet will not bring top price - it may not even bring in any offers depending on the market and how the home is positioned for price.
Take Away - don't smoke it costs a lot of money en a lot of areas of your life!


Storm Lake and Alta Real Estate Year to Date

The year to date numbers on residential properties sold in Storm Lake and Alta Iowa are very encouraging!

According to the Storm Lake MLS, www.StormLakemls.com

Total Dollars Sold - $16,002,318.00 - 100%

RES - $13,250,600.00
Market Share 41.40%

C-21 - $10,592,586.00
Market Share 33.09%

ReMax - $4,633,900.00
Market Share 16.41%

C&E - $800,500.00
Market Share 2.50%

Stanley - $548,425.00
Market Share 1.70%

Other - 1,624,825.00
Market Share 5.23%

Why should you care about these numbers? Well, these numbers show that our real estate activity is up 100% from 2006, it shows we have a very strong market.
These numbers also show the market share of each local brokerage. Why's that important, it is one tool to help you decide who to use to help you achieve your real estate needs and goals.

Some people think winter is not a good time to sell, well just because some people think that, it limits the number of homes on the market. People will still need to move, businesses will still transfer employees and people will still retire. So what do I think, I think an appropriately priced home will sell home at any time of the year! Call me I'll help you market your home to sell or I'll help you find a great home for you to buy!


KKK Coming to Storm Lake????

Are you kidding me; get real and join the human race. Let me know what you think, I'm sure you can guess what I think.


Storm Lake and Alta Iowa Homes Available

The local market is tight with Buyers matching Sellers very closely. As of 10/4/07 there were 63 homes listed and active (no offers) there were 5 OPCTS (offer pending continue to show. In Alta there were 6 homes listed and active, none of them have offers so far.

Fourteen homes sold in Storm Lake within the last 30 days with prices ranging from $45,000 to $142,000. The sales in Alta ranged from $120,500 to $70,000. Now is a great time to buy or sell as the numbers above show.

If you would like to receive local market updates directly to your email please drop me a request and I will git'er done. Email me at GWeaver@IW.net or go to www.StormLakeIAProperties.com

Storm Lake and Related Home Markets- Still Going Strong!

By the numbers, the local home market is still cranking out excellent numbers of both sales and listings. Unlike the national big city markets our local market is solid. Yes, we are seeing an increase in foreclosures and it is tougher to get a loan if your credit history is shaky but the impact is very little - so far.

What are the numbers?
The local MLS (Multiple Listing Service)reported 21 sales in the last 30 days
1) 14 were in Storm Lake
2) 2 were in Alta
3) 2 were in Early
4) 1 in Aurelia
5) 1 in Sioux Rapids
6) 1 in Rembrandt

25% of the sales were out of the Storm Lake and Alta Market, this may be a reflection of the Buyers decisions being impacted by the negative press concerning the national real estate market.

The properties that sold outside of Storm Lake and Alta had an average sale price of $55,600. The sale price of $55,600 is quite low for the Storm Lake or Alta market.

There were 2 foreclosures in the mix - both in Storm Lake. These sold for $45,000 $50,000. These amounts are good for foreclosures, the sale price for these 2 reflects an aggressive investor market in the Storm Lake and Alta area.

Alta had 2 sales, one at $120,500 and the second at $70,000. There is a new foreclosure listed in Alta - 113 Division Street. This is not an investor property, it is move in condition and it is priced for this condition.

For additional local real estate market info and listings go to www.StormLakeIaHomes.com



Introducing Katie Abigayle, our 1st Grandchild, and she is grand! A head full of hair and a little round face and it is love at first sight, actually it was love as soon as we found out about her on New Years Eve.

Far right is Katie and Dad, then Katie and Mom and finally Katie and Papaw

New Storm Lake Conference Center, Restrauant and Water Park Open for Business

The AWAYSIS Project is full steam ahead, the water park is open both inside and outside as are the conference center, restaurant and hotel.

The outdoor water park is awesome - if you haven't been there you are missing out. Young and young at heart are trying out the slides. If you are feeling more sedate (chicken) they have provided an area just for swiming both inside and out, but WHY not try the slides just once, you'll be hooked?

The Regetta Grill restaurant has very good food, I felt the service was a bit slow but there may be a method to that and the view makes the service well worth the wait. Having experienced both lunch and dinner a word of advice - make a reservation if there are more than 2 people.

Check out the elegant modern lobby furnishings, very sophisticated with a hint of the 1940's.

On a separate note, the new condo project across the street to the east from King's Pointe is showing signs of life. Huge concrete pillars have emerged from the golf course, I can't wait to see what comes next. A number of these condo's have been spoken for, if you are interested in a condo home on Storm Lake give me a call. A number of floor plans and upgrades are available prior to development.

CNN Money has Storm Lake listed as No. 22 on its Most Affordable Places to Live

WOW!, Storm Lake Iowa home market on CNNMoney!
I am impressed, they have us listed at No. 22, this article will be a huge boost to our local housing market, although our local housing market is very strong compared with the national market. Small towns usually benefit greatly from inclusion in this type of press. It should get more people to view information about our town Storm Lake and see the new developments (AWAYSIS, Kings Pointe, Local Photos, Marina, Dredging Project, new school, and lots more) Check out the CNNMoney website article by Jeff Cox, by clicking on the link below or on the article title.
Let me know what you think of about this article. How do you feel the local housing market is doing and should Storm Lake been included?


Harmony Hill - Proposed Residential Development in Alta

Adeline Peters, one of Alta's leading ladies is at it again. She has proposed a new residential housing development - Harmony Hill. The initial phase of Harmony Hill is composed of 26 building lots, the proposed site is the corn field south of Addie's home. The project is approximately 37-38 acres, the average size of the lots is 1/3 of an acre.

Gary Armstrong of the law firm Mack Hansen Gadd Armstrong and Brown PC, represents Addie; she has retained Mike Michaelson as the Project Manager and the Realtors Joe Aube and Georgia Weaver (both of Alta) make up the Marketing Team.

Addie and the team met with the Alta City Council Monday evening and a meeting with the Alta Utility board will take place Tuesday at 4:00. The City Council's posture toward the proposed development was very positive. Alta has a strong real estate market - with houses selling within days of listing. The homes in the proposed development will benefit the city of Alta in numerous ways: increase in needed tax dollars, additional children for the Alta School System, increase funding to the Alta School System, increase patronage to Alta's business and who knows, maybe even help spark a new grocery store project.

Addie is an outstanding member of the Alta community, very forward thinking and a treasure to know. She has decided to do this project on her own with the help of a team of local talent.
You go ADDIE!


Alta Iowa 4-Plex Remodel Update

Demo is nearly all done upstairs, what's left: 1 bathroom (including a large cast iron tub - enjoy a little hammer time :), removal of plaster, and removal of cabinets we plan to keep (for the shop).
Thanks to our son Nick, we have all the scrap wood out of the 2 upstairs apartments. What a help - saved Ronnie and me 4-5 hours hauling it down the stairs. And I got to spend some quality time with one of my most favorite people. I have 4 most favorite people: Sons Nick and Brian, daughter-in-law Kacey and my husband Ronnie. Oh, I forgot Spike - he thinks he is a person, actually royalty.

Check back for pictures of the complete demo next week. The exciting part begins soon - I get to design the kitchens, I love that part. It is very easy, get exact measurements, go to Lowe's or Menard's and give them to the kitchen design assistant. They will enter them into a CAD program and show you several ways to lay out the kitchen and even print you a picture of what it will look like completed. It really looks better then the picture when finished.
Happy 4th of July to everyone, I hope to see you at the Star Spangled Spectacular.

Please remember our veterans and their families. There are a lot of hurting people out there, do what you can for any of them God sends across your path. May God Bless You with Safety especially if you are traveling.

New Realtor! Bonnie Lewis

Announcing Bonnie Lewis - the newest Real Estate Specialists of Storm lake Inc. member. Bonnie has been a Realtor for years, has previous banking experience, and is an active member of the Aurelia community. Her banking experience adds valuable skills to our team.
Previously, an agent with Northwest Realty of Cherokee, Bonnie is a great addition. Bonnie is a strong Christian, and a people person with an obvious drive to make people happy and to do her best. Her family, like mine is spread out over this big beautiful country.
Please email Bonnie and welcome her to the Storm Lake, Alta and Aurelia market! Bonnie welcome aboard, I see great things in the future for you.
Georgia A. Weaver Broker/Associate, BS, GRI


Trulia - Real Estate Info at your Fingertips

This website is great, it lists new listings, average sales price, average price per square foot, income and home prices, school info, and just about anything you want to know about Alta, Iowa! To view click on this link http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Alta-Iowa/ or on the article title.


Televator - new access to attic space

Check out this new type of access to attic and areas above. Compact, easy to install, inexpensive, and can easily be installed by a DIYer. This product is one we will be installing, the foot print is tiny compared to the pull down attic stairs we have looked at - 22 X 22. The opening can be larger but not smalled. It comes in 2 sizes, one for ceilings between 7 ft 4 in and 8 ft 4 inches and another for ceilings up to 10 ft 3 in.
Prior to attempting to install one of these be sure you space (attic or otherwise) is capable of handling the weight you want to put on it. Never cut trusses or supporting structures in your attic or anywhere in your home, doing so can impair the structural integrity of your home. IE - it can fall down, sag or otherwise cause really big problems! To see this cool new telescoping ladder follow this link or click on the article title. http://www.lernerladders.com/

NEW Federal Mortgage Calculator

A new tool developed for home buyers who are shopping for mortgages is available from the Federal Reserve. The tool will calculate mortgage payments and home equity accumulation. This great new consumer tool is a must use - it enables you to calculate mortgage payments for different mortgage products like adjustable rate mortgages, interest-only loans and fixed-rate mortgages. All consumers need to shop for the best mortgage product for their specific situation - your mortgage is one if not the biggest financial decision you will make in your life. Ask your Realtor to help you with your mortgage, a good Realtor has financial knowledge and an established working relationship with all the local financial companies. Website for this calculator is www.federalreserve.gov/apps/mortcalc or you can click on the title to get to this calculator.


Iowa Mortgage Closing Costs

Ever wonder what the average closing costs are for Iowa and how they compare to other states? Well, if you are into that sort of thing - I personally really like it but I also like spreadsheets, check out this article. Just click on the title of the article.

Negotiate Your Closing Costs

Did you know most people including many Realtors don't know what all the charges that makeup closing costs really are and that they are negotiable? What are those charges for; they are usually a minimum of 3% of your loan that's $4,500 for a $150,000 loan- shouldn't you ask what they're for?

After receiving your Good Faith Estimate (this comes from the bank approximately 2 business days after you have an accepted offer on a property and the bank has been sent a copy of the completed contract. It is not your preapproval or prequalification information.

Ask your Realtor if they go over the Good Faith Estimate to help you understand the charges or if they will go into the bank with you to negotiate your closing costs. If they won't, look for another Realtor. Check out this article, it is excellent just click on the title!


10 Small Fixes Bring Big $$$ Rewards When Selling Your Home

Think you home is ready to sell - checkout the list of 10 small fixes
1) Remove old calk from tub, shower sinks etc, super clean and dry the area, recalk
2) Clean your stainless sink till it sparkles
3) Clean all bath fixtures until they sparkle
4) Check all floor corners - be sure they are clean
5) Trim all landscaping, especially around walks, beds and trees for a well taken care of look
6) Clean all windows until they sparkle, clean inside window sills too
7) Buy some Old English Oil, it comes in light and dark - go over your woodwork, it will look great and smell great
8)Paint unfinished basement walls white
9) Clean gutters
10) Place blooming plants (vibrant colors like rich red or deep orange) in strategic places inside and out.

These 10 tips will help you sell assuming your home has been accurately prices with the use of a Realtor and a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA).

Call me to look at your home, together we will get it in the best shape to sell in the shortest time and for the highest price! Direct: 712-574-5426


Total Property Remodel? Follow this Plan for Success

For those of us who remodel and do big projects (like whole houses or apartment buildings) this information is priceless. The logical flow of a project is one of the most important lessons you can learn, doing things in the right order can save you thousands of dollars, lots of headaches and time. Time in a remodeling project translates directly in to dollars - usually hundreds if not thousands! We develop a plan for each project, planning is important, as someone said - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. I don't know who said that but they knew what they were talking about.

You want your financial partner not just comfortable but happy loaning you money, always have a written, professionally presented, detailed project plan. Your plan should include a time line, along with supplies and contractor's names (if you aren't doing it your self), costs and end results. Do not "fudge" on your plan, to put it simply "fudging" is lying.

If you under fund the project you could end up with an incomplete project, we see this more than we should - we buy these projects - usually at a discount! We calculate a 25-30% over run, and it is noted as "overrun" on our plan to our financial partner - this covers an increase in lumber, other materials, demo surprises and other items.

Check out the link by clicking on the title and check back to see what we have to help you in your Real estate investing adventure!

15 Minute CleanUp for Every Room

Need some cleaning help - we all do! Most of us work fulltime, have a family, have a yard, friends, church, children have activities, stc..... time spent cleaning is usually time taken away from some other pleasurable activity (say kayaking). This is a great article, I use the info weekly, I send it to my clients to help them get ready to list and to keep their home show ready without becoming a slave to their home.

I also use it in my home, I am a fulltime+ Realtor, part owner and full time worker in our renovation business, slave to a large yard with lots of flowers, owner of a 100+ year home, Mother of 2 sons and a wonderful daughter-in-law, active in the church and community, my family lives half way across the country, need I say more? Any and all help I can get is very appreciated!

Why You May Want to Remodel Now Rather than Wait

Check out this article at Bankrate.com, why you may want to remodel now rather than wait until next year.


Notice: Storm Lake Foreclosure that may be a good Investor Property

New Foreclosure that could be a good investor purchase:
Address 1713 Tupil Lane
Plantiff: Central Bank (Local bank - easier negotiations, faster response)
Defendant: see notice at http://www.stormlake.com/ page 5C or get a copy at the Sheriffs office
To go to the Buena Vista Assessor's link click on the article's title
Sale July 10th - downstairs in Buena Vista County Sheriffs office (court house)
Judgement approximately $17,500, but see actual notice

Property assessed at $61,020

Could be an excellent buy, need an attorney to ensure there are no liens or judgements recorded against the current owners.

My Personal strategy: After I get the go ahead from my attorney I would go directly to the sellers and buy it before the sale. At this price you could even afford to give the Sellers something on top of getting them out of a foreclosure. A little extra money is a good incentive to have them clean up the property prior to moving out and it can help them get a new start without the black mark of foreclosure on their credit report.

Remember mark this blog to stay up to date with Storm Lake and the surrounding area's Real Estate trends! Go to www.SLRealtyCheck.com to see local homes, info on rentals, investor info, sign up for a great free reminder service and a lot more.

New Storm Lake Housing Development - not a local contractor

Twenty one residential lots are planned for single-family home development on Storm Lake's north side. Des Moines based Colby Development requested their initial plat and zoning changes to the area be approved by the Storm Lake Planning and Zoning Commission.

Colby Development is planning to build single-family homes on all 21 lots. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation will be presented at the Storm Lake City Council tonight at 5:00 pm.

Please respond to this if you have an opinion one way or the other that a contractor out of Des Moines appears to be going to get approval for this project. Should it have gone to a local contractor?


Real Estate Investor Links

New to real estate investing - check out these links, articles and additional blogs. Add these to your favorite list to keep you in tune with what's going on in this great area of investing.

One site I really like for the down home way it comes across is www.realestateinvestingfixers.com lots of before and afters and very good info on how they did it. Another is www.biggerpockets.com, it has so much info you could get the equivalent of a Real Estate Investor associate degree in about 2 weeks - just kidding.

Every real estate investor is in search of a really good tax advisor - check out this web site www.realestateinvestingtax.com. Lots of good info you need to know including 1031 exchange and how it works!

Rather see a video or download to your iPod (I love this, I can listen while I drive, cook or walk Spike) every week a new topic, go to www.getrealrei.com - great short teaching modules, a blog to search for info you need to know, ask a question and a lot more.

Great article on predatory lending http://www.mortgagelowdown.com/2007/02/will_the_suitab.html

Aurelia Iowa - Next Big Real Estate Investor Spot

Aurelia is 13.1 miles from Storm Lake, 8.1 miles from Cherokee and 7.2 miles from Alta. The real estate market is slow slow slow! A number of houses have been on the market over a year, several apartment buildings are available. Need I mention the new ethanol plant slated for fall - contractors need places to live, employees also need homes.
Shown at left is the dining room of a 3 bedroom, completely remodeled, ranch home with a 2 car garage and shop - listed for $62,000!
So, you say, if it's such a good deal why haven't you invested there? Only one reason, we have two projects inb the works - a 4-plex that is a complete remodel and a laundrymat. Need I say more?
Money is still pretty cheap, so if you want to begin investing check out some of the Real Estate Investor tools and take a drive to Aurelia. Call me if I can help!


LakeReport: Number of Foreclosures Projected to Increase by 30% Over 2006

LakeReport: Number of Foreclosures Projected to Increase by 30% Over 2006

State of the Real Estate Market in Storm Lake and Alta Iowa

There's been a lot of negative press on real estate lately, foreclosures up, too much inventory, over building by contractors. The local market continues to be the exception to the rule. Storm Lake and Alta are still solidly in a Seller's market and as a realtor if I don't stay ahead of the market by the time a property list in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service)they already have accepted offers. If you are thinking of selling - Git er done!!!

Acreages are selling fast, but they should be in fairly good shape - including the out buildings. Ranches are the best sellers hands down in our area and have been for several years; the main reason is living on one floor. If you are thinking about building or remodeling keep this info in mind.

The latest rage in local real estate is staging - staging is having someone come in and set the house up like a display in a magazine or furniture store. Does it work, you bet it does! Staging can be done in an occupied home or a vacant one, it is especially successful in new construction and vacant homes. Staging can be done by a number of business or people, and yes there is normally a fee. The fee is usually based on the items used to stage the home and the time the items will be in place.

Storm Lake Properties sold in the last 30 days: 20
Address --- List Price--- Sale Price--- Days on Market

420 Lake Ave Condo D --- $99,900 --- $97,000 --- 522
710 Walnut --- $89,000 --- $80,000 --- 265
315 Lake Ave--- $159,000 --- $147,000 --- 268
123 Superior --- $30,000 --- $15,000 --- 192
111 Superior--- $59,900 --- $55,500--- 102
1516 Hyland Dr --- $69,900 --- $65,000--- 93
716 Barton--- $115,000 --- $110,000--- 58
617 Iowa St--- $137,750 --- $120,000--- 57
1109 Seneca--- $66,900 --- $61,500--- 63
813 Hyland Dr --- $65,900 --- $65,000--- 44
224 Oneida--- $32,500 --- $31,000--- 3
600 W 5th--- $38,000 --- $35,000--- 3
307 Superior--- $33,500 --- $31,000--- 3
602 Otsego--- $31,000 --- $30,000--- 3
112 N Emerald--- $145,000 --- $140,000--- 28
906 Highview Dr --- $116,000 --- $107,500--- 6
305 E 10th--- $93,500 --- $93,500--- 28
318 E. 10th--- $55,500 --- $52,000--- 10
217 Cayuga--- $105,000 --- $100,000--- 13
Price ---High $147,000 ----Low $15,000--- Average $75,579

Alta Properties sold in the last 30 days: 3
Address--- List price--- Sold Price--- Days on Market

802 W 2nd--- $279,000--- $230,000 --- 344
1306 Peterson St--- $198,000--- $190,000 --- 67
1310 Peterson St--- $153,900--- $150,000 --- 17
Price ---High $230,000 --- Low $150,000--- Average $190,000

Remodel Pictures - 4-Plex Alta Iowa

Finished Kitchen - New cabinet doors, hardware, paint, appliances etc... Scroll down for more pix!

Kitchen before new door, to new bedroom and bath

New doorway underway to new bedroom and bath

New bedroom and drywall lift looking into the kitchen

New bedroom looking into the new bath

New drywall on ceiling in 2nd bedroom

New paint, trim, door, light and fan in livingroom (and Spike's home away from home)

Spike our company mascot - come by and see me at the office at 106 W. Railroad Street, Storm Lake Iowa

If you want to discuss projects like this and how you can get into one give me a call 712-574-5426, or email me Georgia@SLRealtyCheck.com

4-Plex Project in Alta - 1st apartment RENTED!!!

Number one is complete, as usual we pushed it to the very last minute. Somehow I always budget enough time, plus some but we manage to use it all. Normally we would begin advertising about 30 days prior to completion, but these guys came in my office and needed just what we had. This apartment was never advertised and we try to secure tenants by word of mouth. They seem to be just plain better tenants when they are referred from someone we know - but the same rules apply to everyone. The tenants are now enjoying the new paint, new cabinet doors, added bedroom and bathroom, new dishwasher, new appliances, new lighting, new shower, new doors, and a lot more.
For me personally, I am glad it is done. Taking a week off and then on to demolition for number 2 and 3!

Check back for pictures, they will be posted asap.


The Saddest Day of my Life

Yesterday was the saddest day of my life, a dear friend's (Karyn Brophy) son lost his life in Iraq. His name is Brian Botello and he is a hero, he liked the military and had just reenlisted for 5 years. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him from Iowa to Illinois to Arkansas to Nebraska and so many more.

Brian's sacrifice was not in vain, he believed in what he was doing and he died doing what he believed in. There are some who would have us simply remove our troops from the area. I am not one of those people and I don't believe Brian was either. What is the answer; I don't know, but I do believe we need to continue aggressively pursuing those who would come here and kill us without a second thought.

For everyone out there who thinks tolerance is the answer, read the Koran. Those who live by it do not voice tolerance. Christians are taught to turn the other cheek and I do consider myself a Christian. However, Jesus is not a mild timid God, He drove the money changers out of the temple and He will come back as a lion not a lamb.

If we fail in the Middle East the next place troops will deploy will be here in America. I do not like war, most of all I don't want soldiers and their families to suffer but we have a mission to accomplish. We have troops there who are depending on us as Americans to do the right thing - tolerance of and closing our eyes to those who would kill every American alive, I don't call that doing the right thing, I call that COWARDICE!


Blaze - the newest addition to the RES office family!

This is Blaze, and she is a small mix who is fast becoming the best freind of one of our excellent office ladies - Carol.
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Day one Alta Main Street 4-Plex


This is the first inside picture, cabinet doors are off, appliances are ready for pick-up. Holes in walls have been repaired, wall plates are off, walls are primed, wall color is cut in on 75% of the Kitchen - Living room space. We started by using TSP (trisodium phospahate) on the walls to clean and degloss them. This can be purchased at most stores and I apply it with a sponge mop and a hand sponge - wear gloves. It does not have to be rinsed and it does clean and degrease/degolss as good as any other product I've tried.
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Verbal Iowa Real Estate Contract???

Verbal offers to purchase real estate are totally worthless. If you are buying, selling, or negotiating for real estate be sure everything is in writing, seems like a no brainer doesn't it? You would be amazed (or maybe appalled) at how many people (including some real estate "professionals")think verbal is good enough WRONG!!! No matter what is said, the only thing that counts is what's written down signed and dated.

If you get involved in a real estate transaction where anyone insists in doing things verbally, RUN!!! and I mean run fast. Who will determine who said what - A JUDGE!.

A real estate "professional" who insists on doing business verbally shouldn't be a licensed real estate agents. Iowa has a little thing called the Statute of Frauds, it is a rule that dates back to 1677 in England, it has always been in effect in Iowa real estate dealings. The Statute of Frauds is a fundamental rule of contract law - it states that all contracts for the sale of real estate must be in writing to be enforceable.

What is the advantage of doing things verbally? If you are honest, I can't thing of one single reason to do business verbally, not to mention it's illegal, but then I may be the wrong person to answer that since I am a Real Estate Professional!


Number of Foreclosures Projected to Increase by 30% Over 2006

According to the chief economist of Economy.com the foreclosure rates are rising, 2006 had approximately 900,000 and 2007 is projected to have 1.3 million.
The reasons for the increase are 2 fold:
1) Adjustable rate (ARM mortgages) are adjusting
2) Changes in the sub prime loan market (tighter criteria)has resulted in ARM holders being unable to refinance for a better rate

Some of you have noticed properties on the StormLakeMLS.com web site that have the owner noted as corporate - the majority of those are foreclosures. Real estate markets are all local so things that impact other markets may not be seen in ours, however we are feeling the influence of the sub prime market changes.
Personally I am not a fan of most of the sub prime loan products. In my opinion the majority of sub prime loans, signature loans and unverified income loans are predatory lending. In other words, the only one benefiting from them is the lender.

End result more people unable to make their mortgage payments, more foreclosures, more stress for everyone, more spouse and child abuse, more crime, more suicide and higher taxes WHY??? so we (tax payers)can cover bad financial institutions GREED.

I don't have THE answer to this massive problem, I wish I did, I would travel town to city and shout it from the roof tops to save families so much anguish. All I can offer is good advice to my Realtor colleagues. Maybe I should structure it as a plea, please, please help your Buyers with their financing. Many Buyers don't understand that the rate and terms a financial institution gives them are both subject to negotiation.
Take their good faith estimate (received AFTER you have given the financial entity a copy of the accepted offer)and help them shop it around to make sure they get the best deal. I personally think getting my clients the best deal all the way around is what I am obligated to do - don't you?


Early Iowa Kitchen Remodel - COMPLETE

1) New floors, some cabinets and part of the counter top
2) Under cabinet lighting
3) New appliances, ceiling fan and all!
4) New Kitchen and Really handsome contractor
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Early Iowa Remodel 3/4 of the way there

1) Oh, there's my glove
2) All hands on deck - this is a team effort
3) The Big R installing new wiring
4) DryWall!!!
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Early Kitchen Remodel Saga - Installment 3

1) New Floor
2) Big Tools!
3) One really ugly window disappeared
3) Insulation and wiring whoooooowho!!
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Early Kitchen Remodel Saga continued

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Early Kitchen continued
1) Entire area down to studs
2) Big hump in floor solved! - Dry rotted floor joists
3) New straight strong floor joists
4) New PVC - what a great smell in the morning, PVC glue and fresh sawn wood