Do you know what an Italianate Victorian home is, would you like to see one? Come by 217 Buena Vista Street in Alta this Saturday between 2 and 5 and take a look at this gorgeous home. It will be decorated for Christmas and we will be serving hot cider and of course Christmas cookies. I have the very lovely and talented Bonnie Lewis helping me with this project and she came up with the brilliant idea of holding the open house in formal attire. No we aren't going to be dressed as 2 Mrs. Claus. It should be a great time for all, if this Saturday doesn't work for you give me a call and I will set-up a tour at a time that is more convenient.
The criteria listed above is not a bad thing, it is a very good thing. If you are preparing to buy a home you will need at the least fair money management skills. Keeping a job, saving for a down payment, paying your bills on time, living within a budget and planning for the future are all prerequisites for being a mature responsible member of society.
If you are one of those members of society now is quite possibly the best time of your life to buy a home.
Check out the Green Links for just about everything:
There's sure to be at least a few that will be helpful, if you have favorites of your own please share them here too!
Green Business Guide - http://www.business.gov/guides/environment/
Best Green Blogs - http://www.bestgreenblogs.com/category/green-guides/
Green Auto Guide - http://www.cars.com/go/crp/buyingGuides/green/index.jsp
Save Gas Now - http://beyondoil.nrdc.org/fuel/gasprices
How to Reduce Your Energy Consumption - http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/genergy.asp
Energy Efficient Appliances - http://www.nrdc.org/air/energy/fappl.asp
Recycling 101 - http://www.nrdc.org/cities/recycling/gsteps.asp
7 Steps for Creating Eco-Fabulous Interiors - http://www.nrdc.org/cities/living/gdesign.asp
Consumer Guide to Water Water Purifiers - http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/gfilters.asp
How to Go Green Bathroom Renovation - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/bathroom-renovation/index.html
How to Go Green Home Renovation - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/home-renovation/index.html
Green Natural Skin Care - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/natural-skin-care/index.html
Green Cleaning - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/green-cleaning/index.html
Green Lighting - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/green-lighting/index.html
Pellet Stoves - http://planetgreen.discovery.com/buying-guides/green-pellet-stoves.html
Consumer Reports Green Choices - http://www.greenerchoices.org/pcategories.cfm?pcat=appliances
EcoBroker - http://www.ecobroker.com/
One big way to be green - blog, it saves a lot of trees!
I am also interested in green alternatives to weed control, we bought an acerage this year and it has an abundance of weeks. I would rather not use nasty chemicals because I do have a large garden.
I came across this interesting home when I moved to Alta and once I became a REALTOR I found another one in Storm Lake. While doing some research for a very special Italianate home (which is a sub class of Victorian architecture) I saw a picture of one of these homes. The homes are called Lustron homes they are made out of steel, everything is steel - even the walls on the inside. Is that cool or what?? They are prefab homes built in 1949 and 1950 and I found out there are a number of them where I live (Midwest) and now I am sharing them with you! If you would like to learn more check out the book Lustron: The History of a Postwar Prefabricated Housing Experiment (McFarland & Co., 2001).
Here is a link to find out more online - The Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation has created a Web site, http://www.lustronpreservation.org/, for more. Stay tuned for more pictures and more info.
The Iowa Association of Realtors publishes housing statistical information and summarizes all boards that report.
Statewide the numbers stack up like this:
Comparing 2008 to 2007
January 2008 - Median Price down 18% and number of sales down 36%,
February 2008 - Median Price down 17% and number of sales down 11%,
March 2008 - Median Price down 18% and number of sales down 24%
April 2008 - Median Price down 1% and number of sales down 14%
May 2008 - Median Price down 17% and the number of sales down 15%
June 2008 - Median Price down 1% and the number of sales down 31%
July 2008 - Median Price UP 1% and the number of sales down 9%
I expect to see these numbers getting into positive territory very soon, once the election is over and the economy stabilizes.
January 2008 - Median Price $52,000 down from $85,500 in 2007
Number sold 13, up from 12 in 2007
February 2008 - Median Price $72,500 down from $88,000 in 2007
Number sold 22, up from 16 in 2007
March 2008 - Median Price $78,500 up from $77,500 in 2007
Number sold 9, way down from 25 in 2007
April 2008 - Median Price $78,000 down from $83,000 in 2007
Number sold 3, again down from 5 in 2007
May 2008 - Median Price $55,000 down from 87,000 in 2007
Number sold 19, down from 23 in 2007
June 2008 - Median Price $90,000 up from $89,000 in 2007
Number sold 19, down from 25 in 2007
July 2008 - Median Price $85,000 down from $91,500 in 2007
Number sold 21, up from 11 in 2007
The real estate market in our area, just like all over the US is trending down. I believe that can be attributed to 2 major factors: the first is insecurity making major financial commitments due to the instability in the economy and the second it the whiplash effect we are experiencing from all the poor loan practices over the last 3-5 years. Banks are requiring a very good credit score and a down payment. Many Americans have neither, so they have no choice but to continue to rent. There is a bright side to all markets, regardless of whether they are up or down. In this one the silver lining is for the people who own rental properties.
Below are ways I am saving money in my life and in my business. Please add others you are using to get a better grasp of your budget.
1) No Chi Tea in the morning - saving about $11.00 a week
2) Cut eating out by 2/3 - my husband and I both work long hours and it seemed like eating out was a necessity. It isn't - approximate savings a week $80.00
3) Packing both of our lunches - eating better and saving about $65.00 a week
4) Caffeine boost of 2 sodas a day - healthier diet and saving about $50.00 a week
5) Planning my showings better to save gas. Unknown savings at this point but I drive a Toyota Solara and get about 24 miles to the gallon.
6) On days I do not have office appointments or floor time I work at home. I live about 4.5 miles from my office but I do go home to share my lunch (with a small buy mighty chihuahua named Spike) and then back. Round trip for a normal day about 18 miles. About $3.25 in gas a week, not a lot but it all adds up.
7) Programmable thermostat in our home, we have moved and have propane for the furnace fuel. I have never had this type of heat but our previous home had 2 programmable thermostats and I really liked having the ability to manage the temperature when I wasn't home or when sleeping. Unknown savings, industry estimate is about $120.00 a year. Living in Iowa, in Blizzard Alley on the Buffalo Ridge I imagine we will save a lot more than that.
8) I have hired a service to do my mailings, they also do the postage. I don't have to take the time to write, place postage or mail the info. Estimated hours saved that can be used for other prospecting 3 a week. That is 3 I can be on the phone staying in touch or doing other more immediate contacting.
9) Reviewed my advertising for 09, refined and focused it. I didn't renew some, at a savings of about $25.00 a week.
10) Read more marketing books, blogs, checkout websites of competitors, learn more about SEO so I can implement it more efficiently and not have to pay a service. Knowledge of how to do something is abetter investment than paying to have it done in some instances. Currently, I do my own website and SEO but I have been seriously looking into having it done in 09. Cost savings in 09 will be $175 a month.
Anyone else out there have any ideas?
It is helpful to keep this current at least once a year, why not at New Year's time. We get things that need to be insured at that time of year and the camera is handy. Record the info., snap a picture (you do need to print it) attach the receipt if you have it and put it all in the BIG envelope you keep IN THE SAFE DEPOSIT BOX, take the envelope to the safe deposit box and you are done.
The perfect time to begin a home inventory is when you are moving, you have to pack it, why not document it?
If you have older parents it is a good idea to help them do a complete inventory, a video camera is a big help too. Hey it can be fun, spend some time together and get a good deed done.
Why do you need it - abstractors and attorneys are human and they make mistakes, there's such a thing as a mechanics lien and it may not show up until 90 days after the work is done, judgements and liens can be filed after the closing and before the mortgage and deed are recorded leaving you liable, legal discriptions can be inaccurate, unreleased mortgages exist, and a number of other very nasty things you don't want to have to figure out on your own or at your own expense.
Unfortunately, I am personally involved in a property with a big problem, some time in the early 1900's part of the legal description was not continued with the abstract. I never knew about Title Guarantee, I am sure my bank has it and I paid for it but I can't use it. From now on I will never purchase any real property without it, all my Buyers will be educated on the need for this and the pitfalls of not having it. Some of those pitfalls include: big legal bills, inability to sell a property, angry neighbors, and a whole lot of frustration.
check out the link at www.iowafinanceauthority.gov
Clara will be missed, she was a very unique person who did things her own way.
Georgia A. Weaver BS Ed, GRI CRS
President of the United Counties Board of Realtors
Thinking of visiting or moving to Storm Lake Iowa; check out the virtual tour of the town by clicking on the title of this blog. The site is a really cool tool for anyone looking for something in Storm Lake, Iowa. Check out the downtown, eateries, shops, stores, lake, AWAYSIS project, city buildings and a lot more. See if you can find me, I'm located at 106 W Railtroad Street in Storm Lake. This site can also be used to plan a home finding trip, decide what area you think you would like to live in and check it out on-line. Be sure to go to the lake,to King's Pointe, and the water park.
Any questions or think you may want a personal tour of the homes available for sale; give me a call at 712-574-5426 to set up a meeting.
In our local area - Storm Lake Iowa, there are several options to staging a home. Your Realtor should know a lot about staging and either be able to assist you or put you in contact with people and companies who stage. Stagers in Storm Lake Iowa include possibly your Realtor, Elements, and the new Furniture and Flooring store close to Hwy 71. Prices vary greatly so first talk to your Realtor, staging must be complete prior to having the property listed and pictures taken.
Remember over 80% of ALL buyers go on-line to check out houses before they contact a Realtor to see any thing. Never allow a Realtor to list your home without having pictures to be put online. A property on the mls without a picture could cost you a buyer.
When you are deciding to list your home some things are a lot more important than others when choosing a realtor to represent and sell your property. You are not hiring a Realtor to list your property, you are hiring them to SELL your property and great pictures are an absolute must!
Elizabeth's article http://homebuying.about.com/b/2008/06/02/will-a-short-sale-ruin-my-credit.htm
Finally, while going through some boxes last night to find a few more staging items I found my silverware. I can't tell you how glad I am to not have to eat from awful plastic silverware. My staging got good reviews and I will be adding several things this afternoon. Staging is fascinating and I attended a meeting with a local interior design guru - Cathy Sorbe this week. She made several recommendations including using neutrals, and neutral does not mean all beige. I'm all for that, I am so far from a beige person I though I would die thinking I had to paint my home all beige to sell it.
Cathy also said large area rugs, large art and large foliage are good items to use. Well I have everything except the large foliage. I'm into real plants and I don't much care for faux plants, but she does have a pear tree in her shop I rather liked.
I will let everyone know what advice she gave me on adding to or pearing (pun intended :) - down my staging.
Check out a few pictures of our home
This is my apology to all my readers, as most of you know we (my husband and I) have been so busy lately that we can't see straight.
Our home is for sale in Alta, we bought a building that we plan to gut and turn into our new home. Somewhere I packed the 3 sets of silverware we have, over a month ago, and I still haven't found a single one. We were greatly blessed by our Summit Chruch family and all the help they gave us in our move, we could never thank them enough!
We were living out of boxes in the lower level of our new "home" as we got our home in town ready for sale. Getting ready included exterior paint, interior paint, new garage siding, new carpet, 2 bathroom updates, refinishing the huge front porch floor, building a new staircase to the basement, mowing every other day due to rain every day, staging, not to mention all the cleaning after drywall sanding and getting it all done within 3 weeks. Can you say TIRED?
Well the house in town is done, although I have asked Cathy Sorbe of Elements located at 1701 W. Milwaukee Ave, Storm Lake 712-732-2385 (local design Guru)to fine tune it.
She is awesome!
Our area is seeing foreclosures slowly creep up but our market is still very solid here in Storm Lake and Alta Iowa.
With the increase in the required credit score to be able to get a mortgage or qualify for PMI it is not ever a good idea to be late on your mortgage. Pay your mortgage as your first bill, and skimp on other things like cable, highspeed, entertainment, eating out, cell phone, gasoline etc....
1031 exchanges are a marvelous tool for real estate investors, check out the link to see how this works with a vacation home. There has always been a problem with the determination of vacation homes as personal or investment property. Now we have very clear rules including ownership for at least 2 years. Also to qualify as investment property, ie be considered in a 1031 exchange the property must be rented at fair market rent for at least 14 days in each 12 month period. There are also strict rules for the owner's use and it goes without saying document everything or don't even try an exchange. To find out more check out the link
1031 Exchange is fascinating and seems complicated but there are a professionals who work in this field and make it a lot easier. This is a tool every Realtor should have in their arsenal.
May God Bless all of our heros that have served or are serving to keep this great country free. Fight jihadism, if you have never read the Koran I highly recommend you do so, in a translation that is useful. If you instead choose not to you can't possibly understand what we are fighting against and what so many of our brave fellow Americans have died for - and that alone puts our counrty at a terrible risk.
I am uncomfortable with the idea of government stepping in where private business should be. From the conversation with Tom and comments made by some of the Council members the cost to develop each lot is not their biggest concern, unlike a private developer profit is not focused on. I voiced a desire to see a side by side comparison with the development Addie has proposed. Long term there would be a lot more lots available. I also think this should be an area that the public's opinion should weigh mightly on the decision, ultimately they will be footing the bill.
Hum, cost is a concern of mine as a tax payer, resident and Realtor in Alta. One of the major reasons people want to live in Alta is that the taxes are lower than Storm Lake. Keep checking back for updates to this interesting situation that is developing in Alta. Let me know your thoughts about this.
Park on Lake Avenue
Frosty Star on Lake Ave.
Frost and Fog on Storm Lake - For more pictures of Storm Lake Iowa and the surrounding area check out http://www.georgiaweaver.com/ and http://www.slrealtycheck.com/ and http://picasaweb.google.com/SLRealtyCheck.com/StormLakeIowaBlackAndWhitePictures