Market Update: 2018 Mid-year Review

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da·ta (noun) – facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis 

With how the first half of the year has gone, 2018 is on track to be another strong year for the local real estate market!  Going into this year, there was concern that increasing mortgage interest rates would slow down home buyers and sellers.  That has not been the case for our housing market, and interest rates are still historically low, ranging between 3.5-5% (depending on the type of loan).  This market has remained strong and steady! 

Let’s look at the data thus far: 

  • The average residential sales price in this area has increased by $14,000, from $226,000 to $240,000, compared to last year at this time.   
  • Almost 400 more homes have sold so far this year in relation to last year. 
  • The average days on market has decreased by three days, from 63 days to 60 days. 
  • The one number that hasn’t changed is the average sales price to list price ratio, which is still 98%. 

 Clearly, the market isn’t slowing down!  We’re excited to see what the rest of 2018 has in store! 



Decorating Your Home on a Budget

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Decorating Your Home on a Budget

Becoming a homeowner comes with a wide variety of emotions and new responsibilities, but the experience of decorating your new home should be something you can look forward to and not dread.  Anyone who has moved before knows that feeling of getting your current belongings moved into your new home. Within days, a list of items you want or need for your new space start piling up.  This is the moment where some people may have that thought of “how am I going to afford to decorate this space”…

We’re here to provide a few pointers and hopefully make it a more enjoyable experience.  There are SO many ways to decorate and create your little in-home oasis without spending a fortune! Here are a few easy tips and tricks for decorating on a budget:

 [THROW BLANKETS & PILLOWS] This is such a simple way to change your living room or bedroom space. If you’re on a budget (like most people are), this is a great inexpensive solution to making your space feel cozy and homey. It’s a convenient and creative way to add pops of color and texture to an otherwise blank space. These items are also easy to change with seasons or as your style grows without breaking the bank. What could be better?!

[LIGHTING] Lamps are another great and affordable way to change up your home. It not only fills blank space on side tables or empty room corners, but the soft light really changes the feel of a room. Once again, this is an item that you can change as your style does – switching out the base or the shade is easy, and you would be surprised with how that small change can impact a room!

[FRESH FLOWERS] We personally LOVE flowers and plants of all kinds, so we may be biased, but it’s a game changer for us. Not only does your home smell pretty, it also looks pretty! Between the pops of color and the fresh smell, a flower arrangement is the most simple and perfect centerpiece for a bare table or counter space. Plus, with there being so many different types of flowers, you’re never stuck with the same kind!

We hope this will help make your moving and decorating experience a little more fun and a lot less stressful! If you’re struggling with where to shop for some of these items, here is a short list of our favorite, affordable places to check out:

Target – HomeGoods – IKEA – Hobby Lobby

          Happy Decorating!


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City Series: North Liberty

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North Liberty- Located in Johnson County and is a suburb of Iowa City

North Liberty, which is considered another suburb of Iowa City, has quickly gone from a small community to one of the fastest growing towns in the Johnson County area. According to the Iowa Census Bureau, the City of North Liberty saw a 38% population increase from 2010 to 2016.  This doesn’t come as much of a surprise with the great location, being only 9 miles from downtown Iowa City and 19 from downtown Cedar Rapids. Along with being close to both of these bustling cities, you are just miles away from Lake McBride and beautiful nature trails.  Whether you’re a fan of being in town by restaurants and shops, or out in nature bike riding, hiking, or being on the water there is something for everyone in this area! 

As North Liberty has been developed more over the past few years with new neighborhoods, restaurants and parks it has drawn in a market for a lot of young families and first-time homebuyers. There are many different neighborhoods in this community, making it easy to find a home that fits the needs for you and your family.  Some of North Liberty’s most popular neighborhoods include Arlington Ridge, Autumn Ridge, Cedar Springs, Quail Creek and Chesterfield Commons, among many others. These neighborhoods each have so much to offer with the styles of homes and a wide range of price points. Whether you’re looking for an older, more established neighborhood, new construction, single family house or condominium, there is a home for everyone in North Liberty!


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Happy 4th of July! Let freedom ring in your outdoor space!

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Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July is always a holiday we look forward to – it means time spent with family and friends, backyard BBQs, and the always anticipated fireworks, of course! Being in the middle of summer, this means most of the fun activities and get-togethers are taking place outside, and it can sometimes feel hard to know how to decorate your outdoor space or prepare for a large group get-together. It doesn’t have to feel like a huge undertaking to get prepared for this family fun holiday! Whether you’re using a patio, deck, or backyard, there is always something that can be done to make sure you love your entertaining space.

One of the easiest ways to spruce up your patio or deck is to add lighting. A good set of string lights can bring such a fun element to a porch or deck, and it gives you the right amount of light when you start entering the darker part of the evening. With a holiday like the 4th of July, your decorations can be simple – just adding a large American flag can totally transform your space.  Plus, what could be more patriotic?!

 Another way to cozy up an outdoor space is by adding plants…you can never really have too many! (Yes, we are total plant ladies.) It’s a great way to add pops of color, and if you’re having a large gathering with multiple tables, they can make for easy and simple centerpieces.

Our last tip for having the perfect outdoor hangout is by adding pillows or cushions to your seating areas.  It quickly makes an outdoor space feel more like inside, and adds a new element of cozy comfort for your guests to enjoy all day and night.

With these simple tips and tricks, we hope your outdoor decorating becomes a little bit easier just in time for the holiday! We are so thankful to be living in a place where we get to celebrate holidays like this with our family and friends. We hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday!










The Springtime Scurry!

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scur·ry (noun) – a situation of hurried and confused movement

It’s that time of year…every homebuyer is scurrying to find that perfect home in this rapidly-moving market. We take the confused out of this springtime scurry by educating our home buyers every step of the way. However, the hurried very much applies – time is of the essence, and we work swiftly for our buyers to secure that perfect home.

 It all boils down to the simple principle of supply and demand. Specifically, homes priced under $250,000 are a hot commodity. There just isn’t enough inventory for the number of buyers out there looking. Last year’s market was very strong, with the average residential sales price increasing by nearly $13,000 from 2016 to 2017. So far this year (based on the January-February statistics from the Iowa City Association of REALTORS®), the average sales price has increased over $2,000 from last year at this time. With the majority of homes being sold from March to October, that number is sure to increase, but the market is already off to another strong start.

Buyers, don’t get discouraged – that’s why we’re here! Sellers, if you’re considering selling your home, now is the time! We will help teach you the moves of this springtime scurry!






Listing 101: Readying your Home

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read·y (verb) – to prepare (someone or something) for an activity or purpose

With the spring season upon us, home sellers are diligently working on readying their homes for the market. This can be an arduous task, but it is crucial to achieving a quick sale and a top dollar amount for the property.

So, what does it mean to ready a home for sale?

  1. DE-PERSONALIZE – There’s no better time to get a head start on the moving process! Pack away all personal items to help the buyer visualize themselves living in their new home.
  2. DE-CLUTTER – Less is more! Pack away small items, tidy shelves, clear counters, and organize closets. A buyer is buying the home, not all the belongings.
  3. CURB APPEAL – First impressions set the tone! Give the front door, porch, and windows a good cleaning and freshen up any landscaping.
  4. FIX-IT UP – Tackle the to-do list! If there are any repairs needing addressed, get them done. Even the small repairs, like paint touch-ups, caulking, leaky faucets, etc., are important to remedy up front.
  5. CLEAN, CLEAN AND CLEAN AGAIN – A clean, fresh-smelling home is a happy, well-maintained home! This is the simplest thing a seller can do, but can also make the biggest impact.
  6. PRISTINE PRESENTATION – Fluff the pillows and let the light shine in! Pull the curtains, make the bed, and fold the towels to truly show off the home.

It sounds like a lot of work, because it is. However, each and every property is different. For our home sellers, we offer advice tailored to their needs and desires. Ultimately, we strive to make what can be a stressful situation as stress-free as possible, while also achieving the goals that our sellers have. It’s a collaborative effort, from start to finish!

If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, we would love the opportunity to meet with you!











Welcome to 4058 Grindstone Drive!

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4058 Grindstone Drive

Welcome to 4058 Grindstone Dr in Iowa City, a stunning Hotka Construction home.  This isn’t your typical new construction; it’s filled with custom details that make it stand out from the rest.

With over 2,000 square feet on the main level, it’s the definition of a sprawling ranch. Upon entering the front door, you can’t help but notice the custom features.  A gorgeous stone fireplace with a Douglas Fir timber mantle and white-painted shiplap anchors the great room. The beautiful 4-inch white oak floors that were stained in place create an elegant glow to the space. The spacious & timeless kitchen that boasts white cabinetry, a dark-stained accent island, white Quartz counters, and a beveled-edge subway tile backsplash is perfect for any chef or baker with its large island and extra-wide gas range/oven. The cedar-lined screened porch and attached deck create the perfect transition from inside to outside. All of this greets you in this grand great room.

Off the kitchen, you will find custom-built lockers with a laundry room and large half bathroom. From there, you will escape to the master suite retreat, with a spa-like bathroom boasting classic, white marble tile floors and shower, a free-standing tub, and double vanity. Off the great room, there are two bedrooms that have a practically-designed Jack & Jill-style bathroom between them, perfect for the kids.

In the walkout lower level, there is a light and bright family room and two additional bedrooms, each with walk-in closets, and a third full bathroom. There is storage galore in the unfinished area, including a convenient garden room that opens to the backyard. You will also notice two water heaters and a zoned heating/cooling system while back there.

It doesn’t end there. The exterior of the home is the perfect take on a modern-day farmhouse with its board and batten Hardie board siding, partial stone front, and the breathtaking timber frame entry.  This beauty of a home sits on a nice, level lot and backs to a strip of green space, giving the illusion of an even larger yard.

It is easy to make yourself at home at 4058 Grindstone Drive. Hotka Construction’s innovative design and attention to detail makes this home feel as if it were tailored just for YOU.







Market Update: 2017 Data in Review

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Data (noun) – facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis

What a year it was for the local real estate market! The housing market in this area is notoriously strong, but 2017 was an exceptional year. When comparing 2016 data with 2017,  it’s easy to see just how good this last year really was.

 Let’s take a look at the data:

  • The average residential sales price in 2017 was about $228,000, compared to about $215,000 in 2016. That’s a roughly 6% increase from 2016, when the average annual appreciation is typically around 3%.
  • The average days on market last year was 62 days versus 70 days in 2016.
  • The total number of properties sold was 3,450 in 2017 compared to 3,411 in 2016.
  • The residential sales price to list price ratio remained steady at 98%.

This data includes the 248 towns represented in our MLS – all communities surrounding and a part of the greater Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas.

It’s hard to predict what 2018 will have in store for us, but we’re confident it will be another strong year. We’re excited for all the buyers and sellers we will have the privilege of representing this year!

Here’s to 2018!



Home for the Holidays

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hol·i·day (noun) – a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done

We love the holiday season – it is truly the most wonderful time of year! That is why we couldn’t resist inviting you into our homes and sharing our love for all things that create Christmas cheer!

Home for the holidays is the best place to be, celebrating with the company of loved ones. We celebrate all month long by cozying up our homes with Christmas décor, burning holiday-scented candles (one of our favorites is locally made by Neat & Navy Blue), baking cookies, and warming up next to the fireplace. We always think of our clients this time of year as well, wondering how they are making their homes festive. After all, one point of discussion that happens quite often in our home searches with clients is the placement of the Christmas tree… which we agree is quite important!

For all of you reading this, we hope this season is filled with love and happiness. We are beyond blessed for all our clients, colleagues, and supporters – a sincere thank you for a wonderful 2017!

Our passion is truly all things real estate, including our own homes, so please enjoy a peek into our holiday spirit! Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!








Happy Halloween! The inside on Spooks in your home.

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Spook (noun) – ghost, specter, or apparition

How many spooks does your new home have? We’re not talking about actual ghosts here. We’re talking about structural, mechanical, electrical, health-related, or pest spooks. How do you discover these? Who ya gonna call? THE GHOSTBUSTERS (a.k.a., licensed inspectors)!

The three most common inspections are whole-house, wood-destroying pest, and radon. The cost of all three ranges from $500-$600 and is the responsibility of the buyer. It is money well-spent, so you know exactly the ghosts that are haunting your future home, from big to small.

If the home isn’t brand new, you can’t expect it to be, and that is why the big ghouls are what we’re after. What are these ghouls we’re talking about? They are major deficiencies involving heating/cooling, electrical, plumbing, structural, safety, and health-related issues within the home, and remediation for these can be asked for in a remedy request to the seller. If the buyer and seller are unable to reach an agreement on repairs for these deficiencies, this is where your inspection contingency comes into play and the contract can be cancelled.

The Ghostbusters play an important role in the homebuying process. After all, who wants to live in a home full of spooks?! We are thankful for the work that they do!

DISCLAIMER: Licensed inspectors are not actually paranormalists, this is in spirit of Halloween. If you are wondering about actual haunted properties… Iowa real estate law says that a homeowner does not have to disclose if they have experienced any paranormal activity in the home. It is not considered to be a material adverse fact. You’ll only know if Casper is your roommate once you get settled in…

Happy Halloween, all!