Why Do You Need to Start the Spring Buying Process Now?

Most people who are interested in buying wait until the spring to do so. If you're one of those people who plan on buying in the next six months, now is the time to start getting your ducks in a row.

Over the years, we've seen people do absolutely nothing between now and the springtime. When the weather starts to improve, these people are completely unprepared to begin their home search!

Right now, time is your ally. Use this time to figure out your budget, find out how much money you are going to use for the down payment, and know what your credit score is! If your score is pretty low, there are things you can do to improve it between now and the spring. Knowing what hurts your credit and when credit companies record their reports can help you do all the right things to improve your score. In just about 60 days, you can see a drastic change in your credit score.

If you want to keep your credit score in good shape, you need to avoid exceeding 30% of your max limit on your credit card. If you have a credit limit of $1,000, you need to keep your debt at $300 or under. If it's above that, your credit is going to get dinged.

Your credit score is what lenders use to determine your risk. A lot of the credit programs are risk based, so the better the credit score, the better the interest rate, and the better the interest rate, the lower the monthly payment. A great credit score can have a huge impact on your monthly mortgage payments.

If you're planning on buying in the next six months, get all your ducks in a row! Find your 14 tax returns, look at what's in your bank account, and start budgeting. These are the things a lender is going to need to determine your viability for getting a home loan.

Give us a call or shoot us an email if you would like real estate or lending assistance of any kind. We're always here to help you!

Tips for Holiday Decorating on a Budget

The holidays are approaching. Today, we thought we'd do something a little different and share this festive video on holiday decorating tips from HGTV. Designer Angelo Surmelis shares several great ideas to spread holiday cheer throughout the home. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Pay attention to the mantle. If you don't have some already, buy some kind of garland to drape over the mantle. Next, use leftover ornaments and candles to add light and texture. When choosing ornaments and candles, ensure they are in the same color-palette. This helps make your mantle a great focal point!
  2. Use smaller Christmas trees. Every house has their main Christmas tree. In addition, you can also purchase smaller, inexpensive, eco-friendly trees to place throughout the home. Decorate these trees with strips of fabric from a T-shirt in holiday colors to save money for the main tree.
  3. Use what you have. Be resourceful. Adding a plate charge and place mat to your everyday dining set adds some jazz to your table. Fresh-cut flowers and candles will help finish the look. You don't need grand, expensive candles -- a little candlelight goes a long way!

As you can see, it doesn't take much to make your home feel more festive. If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Do You Have What It Takes to be a Realtor?

Today I'm with one of our best buyer's agents, Karoline Benskin. She's going to be speaking about her journey of becoming a licensed Realtor and what it took to get her where she is today.

Karoline has been licensed for two years now. She had to take a 60-hour course that lasted about a week and a half, and after that she took a test related to the course. After passing the exam, she then had to take an 18-hour course that focused on the ins and outs of being a Realtor.

Something that most people don't realize about being a real estate agent is that you don't have endless amounts of free time. We have to cater to the needs of our clients, and we take this very seriously. The market never stops running, so we never really stop working.

Another thing to remember is that success does not come overnight. Some people expect sales right away, but usually nobody gets a sale until 60 days in. We did, however, have an agent get five deals in his first few days.

Another thing to consider is which brokerage you want to work with. Certain companies offer you varying levels of independence, so you need to do some research and find out where you would fit best. We've both been with Keller Williams, and we love it. Anyone who starts working with KW has to read "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent". It's like the bible around here, and it contains all the systems and models you need to succeed in this business.

What drove me to get into the business was when I lost my job at a marketing firm in 2008. I decided I never wanted anyone else to determine my wealth again, so I became an agent. I also used the skills I acquired at the marketing firm to build my business here.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact us with questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Make Your Move Stress Free

Today, we're going to talk about our top tips for a stress-free moving day.

First of all, start early. Don't leave everything for the last minute and get overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed just makes the entire process more stressful than it needs to be. Start early and do one room at a time. It will be more manageable, and you won't feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have to pack.

While you're packing one room at a time, keep all the rooms together. Don't have a bunch of miscellaneous boxes that aren't labeled. Put your kitchen things in boxes labeled "kitchen," your living room things in boxes labeled "living room," and so on.

While you're packing, however, make sure you leave important documents out. You don't want to have to unpack everything to find your checkbook so you can pay the mover. Leave out things like credit cards, bills, or anything you may need to give your lender at the last minute, such as tax forms.

If you're moving with kids, it's a good idea to take the kids over to the new house while it's still vacant. Have them "pick" their rooms (even though you probably already know where they're going to go), and pick the room color. Doing this helps your kids get excited about the move. When you are moving, pack some snacks and have activities to keep them focused so you can do what you need to do. If you can, have grandma come out for the day and keep the kids busy.

Finally, if you're moving with pets, you need to plan ahead. You may need someone to watch your pets. Leave their food and toys out so they have something to do while you are moving.

Those are our top tips for a stress-free move! If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Avoiding Common Buyer Mistakes in Des Moines

Today we'll discuss some of the most common buyer mistakes. First off, it's very important that you work with a buyer's agent. We work with all of our buyers under exclusive agency, meaning we advise you on everything from start to finish.

Before you even start looking at homes, it is very important that you get pre-approved.

Lately, we've seen a lot of buyers relying on estimates from sites like Zillow. You need an expert to determine the true market value of a property. That way, you can make a good offer.

One lesser known mistake we've seen buyers make in the past is relying heavily on friends and family for advice. I know that people have family members who bought houses or who have been realtors; however, each market is different. You need up-to-date information on the specific market where you are looking to buy.

We do see buyers make some outrageous mistakes that can be very expensive. We always advise our buyers to bring a reasonable offer to the table. A good offer should always be backed by recent market statistics.We have had buyers come to the table thinking they need to offer 20% or 30% less than the list price, when the property is actually priced right for the market.

I can think of one instance in particular when we came in very low with the offer, took a day negotiating with the seller, and during that day, two other offers came in. The buyer ended up spending over list price for the property. It's one of those instances where if we had come to the table with a reasonable offer, they could have gotten the home for up to $10,000 less than what they paid.

We have an exclusive agreement with all of our buyers. We offer education up front before even looking at homes. We do a buyer consultation, where we go through the entire home buying process and go through everything up front. We really want our buyers to be educated before going through the home buying process.

If you are interested in buying a home, or if you have any questions about real estate in general, please give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you!

Navigating the Building Process in Des Moines

Today we're going to discuss new developments and new construction in the Des Moines area.

Compared to 2014, 2015 has certainly seen a rise in new construction. We have huge gains in new builds, and there are many new developments coming online as well. Those developments are going up primarily on the west side of town.

When considering new construction, it's very important to have a real estate agent who is well-versed in the industry. There are so many things that go into building; thousands of parts go into a new home. From lots and developments to different builders and the home itself, it's important to have an adviser who protects your interests.

There are a lot of major components to consider when you build a new home: Which builders suit your needs? What price point are you looking for? Where do you want to live? Which development is best for you? We want to make sure that your home is going to fit into your new neighborhood.

Financing is also a huge consideration. There are products you can get that lock in your rate when you start the home building process. That way, you know what your payments will be, and you know what the interest rate will be.

If you have any questions about today's topic, or about real estate in general, please give me a call or shoot me an email. We'd love to hear from you!

Des Moines Real Estate Market Update

We're halfway through 2015 right now, so I thought I'd let you know a little about the kind of market that we're seeing right now.

We're currently seeing a seller's market, but it's beginning to even out quite a bit. We have just under 3,600 homes on the market right now, and this is actually a little low for the amount of inventory we usually see.

Sellers are seeing multiple offer situations, and we're seeing a lot of properties beginning to sell very quickly. This means that buyers need to move quickly in this market and make strong offers on homes that they like. Don't be afraid to be a little aggressive, otherwise you may not get the home that you really want. 

With the shortage of inventory we had this spring, we have seen home values rise. However, we expect prices to stabilize because we have been getting a lot more homes on the market lately. 

If you're looking to buy, please get into contact with us. We can show you homes that aren't even on the market yet. 

We can also help you sell for top dollar. Reach out to us at any time!