Storm Lake & Surrounding Area

Real Estate & Community News

What can be found here and why should you follow this blog?

This blog contains information for Buyers, Sellers, Investors and Renters. Real estate is a fascinating topic and a very complex one. You can search this blog by topic to find exactly what you are looking for, it will also have all of our new listings. You can learn about Storm Lake's current local (50 mile radius), real estate market, and the current real estate market in the surrounding areas like Alta, Newell, Aurelia, Schaller, Early, Fonda, Cherokee, Sioux Rapids, Ida Grove, Spencer, Spirit Lake, Lake View, Lakeside, Correctionville, Remsen and others. 

For Buyers we will have topics including financing, down payment assistance programs, tips on how to compete with other buyers, how to offer, home inspections and how they work, the process of buying a property, what not to do after you have an accepted offer, the advantage of having a Certified Negotiations Expert on your side and a lot more.

For Sellers we will have topics including how to best price your property, how to prepare your property and see it through the buyer's eyes, home inspections and how they work, how to negotiate, the importance of staging, why pictures are worth a million dollars, the advantage of having a Certified Negotiations Expert on your side and a lot more.

For Investors - a topic I LOVE! Topics will include how to evaluate a property, what tools I personally use and access to them, how to find an investment property, what basic improvements cost if done by you or a contractor, how to find a good tenant, why you need your properties in an entity and not in your personal name, how to negotiate with buyers, sellers and tenants, 1031 Exchanges and a lot more.

For Renters - we list all the new rentals as we are notified of their availability on this blog, we can help you determine if it is time to buy instead of rent, help you determine what if any programs  - like down payment assistance - you may qualify for, discuss how to have a conversation with a landlord when the property you are renting is in need of work, and a lot more.

For Everyone - Thank you for making Weaver LLC, Realtors the #1 Most Recommended Real Estate Company on Google 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 & ....for our Area!

Georgia Weaver Call me 712-291-0118 Georgia Weaver - Broker Owner CRS, CNE, GRI, AHWD, PSA, RENE

_________________________________________________________________

Weaver LLC, Realtors Team Photo 

Lissett Lopez, Geneva Miesner, Ronnie Weaver, Georgia Weaver, Ron Witham, Valerie Meinerts

Nov. 8, 2022

100 Things to Declutter Right Now For a Minimalist Home

I wanted to share with you 100 things to declutter from your home. These are either things that you can completely get rid of or you can minimize greatly. There's different categories to go through and you can work through one at a time to declutter a few essentials quickly.

 

Paperwork and stationery - 24

  • Magazines, newspapers, or leaflets.
  • Opened envelopes where you've taken out the piece of information can go straight into the trash.
  • Old paperwork from courses and receipts for items that you don't need to keep.
  • Old membership cards.
  • Old birthday cards.
  • Pens that no longer work and pencils you don’t need.
  • Old notebooks and old diaries.
  • Used parcel packaging for resending things.
  • Old calendars or old letters.
  • Craft supplies you do not use.
  • Used candles or ends.
  • Books or textbooks that you don't need.
  • Knickknacks? I suggest reducing all of those.
  • Picture frames - you only need to have a few photo frames.
  • Duplicate photos? Get rid of any duplicates or ones that are blurry.
  • Seasonal decorations. Minimize down to a small basket or small box.
  • CDs and DVDs. Think about what it is that you actually watch.

Electrical and organization - 8

  • Extension leads. After a few years of using some, they can become faulty.
  • Storage boxes. Donate extras.
  • Unused subscriptions to the gym or memberships for TV, music, or movie subscriptions.
  • Old phones or devices. Dispose of them or sell them.
  • Games consoles that you no longer play.
  • Unused cables. There are some cables that are worth keeping like a multi-use cable that works with a couple of devices.
  • Remote Controls. I've never really had spare remote controls, but I know that this is a thing.
  • Storage furniture. As you start decluttering, you'll find that you don't need many storage units.

 

Outdoor clothing - 9

  • Have you got too many coats? You only need a light coat and a heavier coat.
  • Same with shoes. I only wear five pairs of shoes and a pair of wellies.
  • Sunglasses. Keep one pair in the car and have one in the house.
  • Old glasses. If you wear glasses, you can donate your old pairs of glasses.
  • Do you have spare purses or spare wallets? Use one until it no longer works or breaks.
  • I don't tend to have spare hats, gloves, and scarves. I have two hats, one large scarf, one or two lighter scarves, and two pairs of fingerless gloves.

Kitchen items - 14

  • Mugs. You only need a couple.
  • Have you got any baking trays that you no longer need? You probably only need one or maximum, two.
  • Glass tumblers.
  • Out-of-date food or unused food in the fridge. Get rid of it.
  • Kitchen appliances that you no longer use.
  • Cookbooks.
  • Recipe boxes and recipe cards.
  • Takeout menus. Get them online instead.
  • Cookie cutters. Choose your favorites and get rid of the rest.
  • Food container boxes that you no longer use.
  • A collection of plastic bags.
  • Tea towels.
  • Vases.

 

Pets - 7

  • Declutter pet toys, pet carriers, pet baskets, pet towers, and pet scratching posts. Do you have ones that are not used?
  • Pet leads. You only need one per pet.
  • Pet coats. They could be repurposed or given to a shelter.

 

Garden - 8

  • Old garden furniture that is no good or is broken.
  • Plant pots that are not used.
  • Do you keep tubs of paint in your shed? Do they need to be kept?
  • Old bikes that are no longer needed.
  • Dead plants. That is quite common for me.
  • Broken pegs in your peg basket.
  • Garden tools that no longer work or are broken or faulty.
  • Car cleaning tools that you no longer need.

 

Bathroom - 5

  • Out-of-date medicine.
  • Medicine that you no longer need for being treated for something. Take them to your local pharmacy and they will dispose of them for you.
  • Old sun cream. I highly recommend not reusing sun cream from a previous year.
  • Travel-sized items.
  • Do you have any extra shampoo or conditioner? Use it up or get rid of it.
Sports and exercise - 5
  • Exercise balls or exercise equipment that you no longer need.
  • Sports rackets that are broken or damaged.
  • Sports bottles that are old. You only need one or two maximum.
  • Sports clothing either that no longer fits or that you no longer use.

 

Clothing - 7

  • Worn through socks.
  • Underwear that you have too much of.
  • PJs - we need one or two pairs maximum.
  • T-shirts and clothes that have not been worn in several years.
  • Clothes that don't fit.
  • Spare hangers in your wardrobe that you are not using.
  • Suitcases that you no longer use?

 

Household items - 13

  • Do you have any foreign coins? Foreign coins can be donated to some charities.
  • Old makeup products that are out of date. Throw them away.
  • Cleaning products that you no longer use. Use them up or donate them.
  • Towels. Go through and see if you can declutter.
  • I tend to only have two bedsheets. One that's on the bed and one spare.
  • If you don't need spare pillows, donate them to a shelter.
  • The same goes for blankets.
  • If you change your curtains, could you sell the old ones that you don't use?
  • Do you have too many cushions, cushion covers, or tablecloths?
  • Coasters or placemats that you no longer use.
  • Do you have side tables in your living room? Could you get rid of the ones you don’t use?

100 things to declutter

In total, here's about 100 things you can declutter in your home. I hope this helps to make decluttering your home a bit easier for you. Where are you in your decluttering journey? This doesn't need to wait for you to move either!

Posted in Staging
Oct. 30, 2022

3 Questions You May Be Asking About Selling Your House Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

3 Questions You May Be Asking About Selling Your House Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

  • If you’re planning to sell your house this year, you likely have questions about what the shift in the housing market means for your home sale.
  • You might be wondering: Should I wait to sell? Are buyers still out there? And can I afford to buy my next home?
  • Connect with a trusted real estate professional so you can get answers to these questions and learn about the opportunities you still have in today’s housing market.
Oct. 27, 2022

What’s Ahead for Home Prices?

As the housing market cools in response to the dramatic rise in mortgage rates, home price appreciation is cooling as well. And if you’re following along with headlines in the media, you’re probably seeing a wide range of opinions calling for everything from falling home prices to ongoing appreciation. But what’s true? What’s most likely to happen moving forward?

While opinions differ, the most likely outcome is we’ll fall somewhere in the middle of slight appreciation and slight depreciation. Here’s a look at the latest expert projections so you have the best information possible today.

What the Experts Are Saying About Home Prices Next Year

The graph below shows the most up-to-date forecasts from five experts in the housing industry. These are the experts that have most recently updated their projections based on current market trends:

As the graph shows, the three blue bars represent experts calling for ongoing home price appreciation, just at a more moderate rate than recent years. The red bars on the graph are experts calling for home price depreciation.

While there isn’t a clear consensus, if you take the average (shown in green) of all five of these forecasts, the most likely outcome is, nationally, home price appreciation will be fairly flat next year.

What Does This Mean?

Basically, experts are divided on what’s ahead for 2023. Home prices will likely depreciate slightly in some markets and will continue to gain ground in others. It all depends on the conditions in your local market, like how overheated that market was in recent years, current inventory levels, buyer demand, and more.

The good news is home prices are expected to return to more normal levels of appreciation rather quickly. The latest forecast from Wells Fargo shows that, while they feel prices will fall in 2023, they think prices will recover and net positive in 2024. That forecast calls for 3.1% appreciation in 2024, which is a number much more in line with the long-term average of 4% annual appreciation.

And the Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) from Pulsenomics, a poll of over one hundred industry experts, also calls for ongoing appreciation of roughly 2.6 to 4% from 2024-2026. This goes to show, even if prices decline slightly next year, it’s not expected to be a lasting trend.

As Jason Lewris, Co-Founder and Chief Data Officer for Parcl, says:

“In the absence of trustworthy, up-to-date information, real estate decisions are increasingly being driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt.”

Don’t let fear or uncertainty change your plans. If you’re unsure about where prices are headed or how to make sense of what’s going on in today’s housing market, reach out to a local real estate professional for the guidance you need each step of the way.

Bottom Line

The housing market is shifting, and it’s a confusing place right now. The best way to navigate that shift is to lean on a trusted real estate professional to help you make confident and informed decisions about what’s happening in your market.

Oct. 25, 2022

Should You Still Buy a Home with the Latest News About Inflation?

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to bring down inflation, the latest data shows the inflation rate is still high, remaining around 8%. This news impacted the stock market and added fuel to the fire for conversations about a recession.

You’re likely feeling the impact in your day-to-day life as you watch the cost of goods and services climb. The pinch it’s creating on your wallet and the looming economic uncertainty may leave you wondering: “should I still buy a home right now?” If that question is top of mind for you, here’s what you need to know.

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

In an inflationary economy, prices rise across the board. Historically, homeownership is a great hedge against those rising costs because you can lock in what’s likely your largest monthly payment (your mortgage) for the duration of your loan. That helps stabilize some of your monthly expenses. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrateexplains:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

And with rents being as high as they are, the ability to stabilize your monthly payments and protect yourself from future rent hikes may be even more important. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains what happened to rents in the latest inflation report:

“Inflation refuses to budge. In September, consumer prices rose by 8.2%. Rents rose by 7.2%, the highest pace in 40 years.”

When you rent, your monthly payment is determined by your lease, which typically renews on an annual basis. With inflation high, your landlord may be more likely to increase your payments to offset the impact of inflation. That may be part of the reason why a survey from realtor.com shows 72% of landlords said they plan to raise the rent on one or more of their properties in the next year.

Becoming a homeowner, if you’re ready and able to do so, can provide lasting stability and a reliable shelter in times of economic uncertainty.

Bottom Line

The best hedge against inflation is a fixed housing cost. If you’re ready to learn more and start your journey to homeownership, connect with a real estate professional today.

Oct. 11, 2022

First TIme Homebuyer Vocab Cheat Sheet

Sometimes we get ahead of our clients and start talking "greek" to them. Here's a little help with Real Estate terms to help you understand what we're talking about if we forget to talk in lamens terms:

Oct. 6, 2022

10 Tips Every First Time Homebuyer Should Know

Buying a home could be the biggest purchase of your life, and it can be overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time home buyer.

Some things to consider during the home buying process are taking enough time to really look over the house you want, making sure you can afford the loan, and knowing what you are getting into.

Certainly, buying a home is a process, and it is not something you can do overnight. It takes time, lots of contracts, and many other extra things in the process.

Without a doubt, buying a home is a big investment and a huge commitment. The list below will allow you to make sure your buying experience is positive and that you are ready for the commitment of a new home.

1. Saving Money Ahead of Time 

Make sure you have a savings account ready to help cover closing costs, inspection fees, and other costs. Yes, you can get a loan for your home, but a lot of the inspections and even the closing costs will come out of pocket.

You might get ready to buy a home and then find that you need $4,000 in cash for closing costs, and if you don’t have it, you lose your new home.

In most cases, you need to have a down payment to get a loan; some companies require a certain percentage based on your loan amount.

Your real estate agent can give you a ballpark figure of all of the out-of-pocket fees you might have once they pinpoint your price range and budget.

2. Know Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score ahead of time will allow you to get a better picture of the right time to buy a new home. Your credit score is a big factor in buying a home. It will determine your approval, interest rate, and loan terms.

Companies like Credit Karma can provide your current credit report FREE of charge. I like Credit Karma because it’s free to join, and you’ll be able to know your credit score instantly. It is very safe and keeps you informed with real-time monitoring and alerts.

The best part of Credit Karma is that it monitors your credit report from Equifax and TransUnion on a regular basis. Besides, they will notify you when there are important changes in your credit report and they offer you free ID monitoring; in case of identity fraud.

You can do all this from their app, which is very easy to download and use.  You can sign up for a FREE credit Karma account here.

3. Look for the Right Real Estate Agent

When you have a great real estate agent by your side, he will help walk you through the steps. Make sure you feel comfortable with him so that if you have a question, you are not afraid to ask.

Your real estate agent will be the one showing you houses that might become your future home. You want him to truly get an idea of your perfect home so you don’t waste your time or his.

4. Maximum Spending Limit on a Home 

This is one thing that happens often: you get qualified for a certain amount of money, and you buy first-time that is on the high-end of your home approval. Try to remember that you will have homeowners insurance, possible flood insurance, and other fees that go along with owning a home.

If something breaks, you need to fix it, so make sure you can afford to keep saving money.

Plus, your monthly house payments may go up over time, and you need to ensure that you are not buying a home based on the maximum amount of money you can spend each month on your home payment.

5.  Think About the Future

Many first time home buyers make the mistake of buying a home because it fits their current situation or needs.

However, if you are planning to start or expand your family, consider buying a home large enough for your family to grow into.

Also, try to consider the idea of how effectively the house could sell in the future (if you ever need to sell it).

6. Choose the Right Neighborhood

The task of finding the right neighborhood is important. Some things that can help you to decide on the right neighborhood are how safe is the area, the quality of schools in the area, and the surrounding safety and crime statistics.

There is nothing worse than living in an area where you and your family don’t feel secure at all.

7. Additional Costs 

Buying a home doesn’t just mean you simply buy the home and you’re are done. You can have additional costs that really add up quickly, and you want to make sure that you are prepared and can financially cover it all.

Here are some recurring costs you will want to factor in when you purchase a new home:

  • Property Taxes
  • Utility Bills
  • Homeowner’s Insurance (possible flood or hurricane insurance if you are in a high-risk area)
  • Mortgage Insurance
  • Home Maintenance

8. Checking Homeowner Insurance Prices 

Depending on where you buy your home, the price to insure it will vary. If you buy a home on the beach, the price can be pretty high. If you live in an area that is at high risk of floods or even hurricanes, you have to factor in those special insurance items.

Flood and hurricane insurance is required in certain areas if your home is at risk, and they are not cheap! Reach out to your insurance company ahead of time or speak to your realtor to see if the home is in a high-risk zone.

9. Home Inspections 

Making sure your potential new home gets inspected will help save you money in the long run. If, for example, you buy a country home and don’t get a home inspection before purchasing, you may find some leaky faucets, your septic might need to be updated, your basement might leak, and you could have mold.

All this can go unnoticed when you’re simply viewing the house, and then you are stuck with some hefty bills when it is all over. Replacing a septic can easily cost $9,000.

I highly suggest getting your potential new home inspected to know if there are any issues with the roof, water, and so on that need to be fixed. Some mortgage companies require inspections, and others do not.

10. Don’t Get Attached 

When buying a home, you have to know things can happen in the process, and you can lose out on buying a home. You can put an offer down on a home and get declined. Try not to get too attached to the home.

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions in your life. It can be nerve-wracking, especially if it is your first time buying a home. The list above will serve as a starting point for some of the most important aspects of the home purchasing process.

Oct. 5, 2022

The Long-Term Benefit of Homeownership

Today’s cooling housing market, the rise in mortgage rates, and mounting economic concerns have some people questioning: should I still buy a home this year? While it’s true this year has unique challenges for homebuyers, it’s important to factor the long-term benefits of homeownership into your decision.

Consider this: if you know people who bought a home 5, 10, or even 30 years ago, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding someone who regrets their decision. Why is that? The reason is tied to how you gain equity and wealth as home values grow with time.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“Home equity gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage through principal payments.

Here’s a look at how just the home price appreciation piece can really add up over the years.

Home Price Growth Over Time

Even though home price appreciation has moderated this year, home values have still increased significantly in recent years. The map below uses data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to show just how noteworthy those gains have been over the last five years.

If you look at the percent change in home prices, you can see home prices grew on average by almost 64% nationwide over that period. 

That means a home’s value can increase substantially in a short time. And if you expand that time frame even more, the benefit of homeownership and the drastic gains you stand to make become even clearer (see map below):

The second map shows, nationwide, home prices appreciated by an average of over 290% over roughly a thirty-year span.

While home price growth varies by state and local area, the nationwide average tells you the typical homeowner who bought a house thirty years ago saw their home almost triple in value over that time. This is why homeowners who bought their homes years ago are still happy with their decision.

Even if home price appreciation eases as the market cools this year, experts say home prices are still expected to appreciate nationally in 2023. That means, in most markets, your home should grow in value over the next year even if the pace is slower than it was during the peak market frenzy when prices skyrocketed.

The alternative to buying a home is renting, and rental prices have been climbing for decades. So why rent and fight annual lease hikes for no long-term financial benefit? Instead, consider buying a home. It’s an investment in your future that could set you up for long-term gains.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the shifting market delay your dreams. Data shows home values typically appreciate over time, and that gives your net worth a nice boost. If you’re ready to start your journey to homeownership, reach out to a real estate professional today.

June 23, 2022

2 New REALTORS in Weaver LLC, Realtors

WELCOME!!!

Geneva Miesner and Valerie Meinerts, we are so glad to have you

onboard!

   Valerie

 Geneva

Both Geneva and Valerie bring enthusiasm and a desire to help others. We are very happy and thankful to have these 2 as part of our team, here at Weaver LLC, REALTORS!

 

Sept. 2, 2021

How to get your offer accepted in a HOT market

Escalation Clause - How your offer can go to first place in a multiple offer situation

Are you tired not getting your bid accepted in this hot market?

Enter the Escalation Clause. A tool I have used successfully to give our buyers an edge over the competition.

100        

How does an Escalation Clause work?

If you have ever made a bid on eBay you probably understand the basics of this tool. You make an offer and you agree to increase your offer in set dollar increments if another competing offer is received. You set a predetermined amount (highest price you are willing to pay) upon acceptance of a copy of the competing offer. 

Your Offer: Lets say a house comes on the market at $275,000. This price is backed up by a good comparative market analysis (CMA) and your agent agrees with this price.  So, you offer $285,000 with an escalation clause of $500 with a contingency for obtaining an 80% mortgage, but add in the Escalation Clause form stating you are prepared to increase your offer by $500 over any other competing offer. This escalating of the offer stops at a predetermined dollar amount. Yours is at $300,000.

The seller's agent has a 3 day hold or review period on offers noted in the listing (seller will keep the property active and accept offers for 3 business days prior to choosing or countering an offer) and you know there will be other offers to compete with. 

2nd Offer:  Offer number 2 is for $289,000 without an escalation form. The other terms: same loan type, same close date. 

Upon receiving a copy of the competing offer, your offer increases to $289,500, five hundred dollars over this competing offer. 

What happens and who's offer will the Seller accept?

The seller will accept your offer, it is higher, with all terms the same. 

While Escalation Clauses vary significantly, the general escalation clause addendum has 4 basic components:

1) The original offer price is stated

2) The dollar amount increment ($500 on yours),  that the original offer amount will
     be escalated above any other competitive bid.

3) The maximum amount that the buyer is willing to go to to purchase the property.

4) The circumstances in which this clause is used, should be only with multiple
     offers.

When should an escalation clause be used

Escalation Clauses should only be used by experienced knowledgeable REALTORS because there is risk. Once an Escalation Clause is written and presented there is no going back. You just told the seller how high you are willing to go. I personally would only use one on a newly listed property (less than 3 days) and one that had another offer in. If there is no other offer in you have no need to do an Escalation Clause, my opinion.  

If your offer is contingent on an inspection, appraisal for a mortgage or other terms be sure they are included. Has the seller's agent include a review time period for the offer? I do a certain number of days the seller is accepting offers (in my case usually 3-5 business days). It is a good idea to know and understand how all offers are going to be reviewed and responded. 

Problems that can happen with an Escalation Clause and why you need an experienced REALTOR

An Escalation Clause should only be used by an experienced Realtor who can clearly explain to you how the process works and answer your questions. A real estate contract is a complicated legal form, adding things to it make it even more complicated. But, there are times when addendums can give a client an advantage in negotiations and should be used. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with your agent using an Escalation Clause have them get their Broker involved.

Weaver LLC, Realtors is an experienced knowledgeable real estate company, at this time we have 2 Associate Brokers and me, the Broker. If you are in this pursuit to win it, we can help. An Escalation Clause is only one of the many tools we use to assist our clients. Call me, Georgia Weaver at 712-291-0118 to help you get the property you want under contract. 

Posted in Alta Iowa
July 1, 2021

2021 Real Estate Boons and Busts

2021 has been an unusual year, as was 2020 with the Corona Virus. This year is a little wild in the real estate industry. Homes are getting multiple offers, most are selling for more than listed price. Some homes are getting as many at 6-8 offers. That is unusual in NW Iowa here except for in the early Spring market. Even then, it is unusual to get more than 3-4 offers. 

Realtors are changing how they do business to best assist their buyers and sellers, including our office. Last year we saw the lack of inventory and the low interest rate as 2 significant factors that would change our market. We started looking outside our area for solutions to how other Realtors were handling the situations. 3 Tools are making a big difference for our Buyer and Seller Clients.

Several solutions surfaced immediately:

1) This one we have been doing for nearly 2.5 years. The other realtors in our area are not doing this to this day. That
     is to hold a property on the market available for at least 3 days and 5 is what we recommend to sellers. Of course,       this is up to the seller. But, if the ultimate goal is to sell for top dollar then this is the way to go in the current 
     market. By not immediately accepting an offer, more realtors and buyers are aware the property is for sale.

2) Buyers are required to be preapproved prior to looking at properties. Sellers are encouraged to require this in their
    listing criteria. If a buyer is preapproved, they will know what price range to search for properties, what kind of loan
    they are getting and therefore the Realtor will know if a specific property qualifies for the loan type. They will also
    know what their payment should be. 

3) Escalation Clause - I LOVE THESE. Our office is the only one in our area that uses these, not sure why. Other than
    they are not aware of them or how to use them to benefit their clients. These give my Buyers a tool to safely ratchet
    up their offer if another offer comes in above theirs.