The Success of Staging

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The Success of Staging 

 There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to selling your home, but one area we think deserves a little more attention is staging! In real estate, first impressions are important, which is why we believe in putting your best foot forward when listing your home. You want potential buyers to enter your home and be able to envision themselves and their belongings in the space. This is where staging can really help elevate your home.

During the busy spring season, buyers may be looking at many different homes at the same time, and houses can start to blur together. It is crucial for your home to stand out and be memorable in a positive way, so it doesn’t get lost in the process. When a buyer walks into a vacant home, it can feel cold and potentially overwhelming for a buyer to imagine how they would use the space, especially if the home is large or has a unique layout. The goal when staging a home is to use furniture and décor that is simple, clean, and ultimately highlights the space, making it feel cozy, warm, and welcoming. You may be surprised by the impact that a few pieces of furniture and cute décor can have on a space, but it is one of the key parts to making a house feel like a home!  

 When we are working with sellers, it is of the utmost importance to us that we set you up for success and get your home sold as quickly as possible. We strongly believe in the power of staging and how impactful it can be, especially in a competitive market. Making the decision to stage your home doesn’t have to be stressful, we are here to help and guide you through the process and figure out what best suits you and your home! A lot of homes don’t need staging, maybe just some rearranging or decluttering of furniture and belongings. For the homes that do, we rely on the professionals, and Evolve Staging & Design does a wonderful job! At the end of the day, our goal is to have happy sellers and homes that shine in their best light! 

R+M 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homebuying 101: An Overview of Terms + Steps

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HOMEBUYING 101

An Overview of Terms + Steps 

 Are you looking to buy a home for the first time? The real estate market is heating up, and it is a great time to start searching! Are you wondering where to begin? What to expect with the process? This is where we can help!  We’ll start by providing an overview of the homebuying process. 

 First, it’s important to begin with a few key terms that will help the steps make more sense: 

PURCHASE AGREEMENT – When submitting an offer, this is the document that is used. Once terms are agreed upon between a buyer and seller, the signed offer (which may include counter offers) is referred to as the purchase agreement. Terms that are included in the purchase agreement are price, earnest money amount, closing date, clauses for financing and inspections, and any other provisions that are agreed upon between a buyer and seller. It is a legally binding contract. 

 EARNEST MONEY – When making an offer on a property, it is expected that the buyer will provide earnest money demonstrating that the buyer is serious and there is good faith in the transaction. The earnest check is made payable to the listing company’s trust account, where it is deposited and held until closing. It is typically about 1% of the purchase price of the property. If the buyer cancels the purchase agreement unrelated to any contingencies, the earnest money may be forfeited to the seller; otherwise, the earnest money comes back to the buyer on the closing statement. 

CONTINGENCY – This may also be referred to as an escape clause, which is a clause stating the term that is expected to be met by a certain deadline. If it is not met, the purchase agreement may become voidable. The two standard contingencies found in a purchase agreement are the financing and inspection contingencies. 

APPRAISAL – An estimate of a property’s current market value, used by lenders in determining the mortgage amount. 

CLOSING/CLOSING DATE – The real estate transaction’s completion, when the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met, and the deed to the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. In other words, the day the buyer can move in! 

Now that we have some definitions out of the way, we can dive into the actual homebuying process. We want to make it as simple as possible, so we have broken it down into a list of steps: 

  • Explore financing options & determine budget 
  • Obtain mortgage pre-approval letter 
  • Work with a REALTOR® to: 
  • Discuss needs + wants 
  • Search for a home 
  • Make + negotiate an offer 
  • Reach an agreement with seller (accepted offer!) 
  • Deliver earnest money to your REALTOR® 
  • Conduct professional home inspections 
  • Submit final loan application + paperwork to lender 
  • Order appraisal (done by lender) 
  • Receive final loan approval 
  • Obtain clear title to the property 
  • Complete a final walkthrough  
  • Sign closing paperwork on closing day 

That’s it! After these things happen, you own a home! There is a lot involved (and more than this simple checklist states), but that is why we are here. We are here to make the homebuying process as seamless as possible (and fun, of course)! We are your greatest resource and advocate, and we will guide you through every step along the way. Our goal is to make the process as easy as this list, to carry the weight for our clients. 

Purchasing a home is a huge investment (perhaps the biggest of your life), and we take it very seriously and personally – we treat each and every client with great care and attention. We prefer to meet with all our buyers before even starting to look at homes, that way we can get to know that buyer, what they are looking for in a home, and educate them about what to expect with the process and market. If you’d like to schedule a meeting with us, we’d love to get to know you! 

Happy homebuying, 

R+M 

 

 

 

Market Update: 2019 A decade in Review

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MARKET UPDATE

The real estate market is heating up, so we wanted to give our biannual market update! 2019 was another strong year, but there wasn’t nearly the change in numbers like we saw in the past couple of years. Here’s a breakdown from last year: 

  • The average sales price increased from $239,000 to $244,000 from 2018 to 2019. That is about a 2% increase, down from a nearly 5% increase from 2017-2018. 
  • The average days on market went up just a little to 62 days, compared to 59 days in 2018. 
  • The average sales price to list price ratio remained the same at 98%. 

This time, since we entered a new decade, we had some fun by looking back at the last ten years and how the data has changed. Here’s a look back at where the numbers have come from 2010 to 2019: 

  • In 2010, the average sales price was $177,000, compared to $244,000 last year. That’s a 38% increase over the course of the decade! 
  • The average days on market in 2010 was 97 days, when last year it was 62 days. That’s over a month less of market time! 
  • The sales price to list price ratio was 97% in 2010, compared to 98% last year. 

There was much growth in the market the last decade, and we look forward to seeing what the next year and following nine years have in store! 

Here’s to the roaring twenties! 

R+M 

 

 

2020 – New Year + New Look

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NEW YEAR. NEW LOOK. SAME SERVICE.

It’s a new year and decade, and we are excited! As independent contractors, it’s a time to reflect on last year and to look ahead to the coming year, with new goals and a refreshed state-of-mind. We love goal-setting, challenging ourselves, and implementing practices that can better serve our clients… we’re always trying to think of the next best thing. So, to start this new decade, we thought it was the perfect time to launch our new look! It is just a logo, so it’s a rather small change; we’re still Rachel + Molly, and we still provide the same real estate services with great care and attention to detail. Nonetheless, this little modification is something we are very excited to share as we start the new year!

We love all things real estate, but we also love to be creative. That is one reason why we joined forces a few years ago. Together, we are able to create materials and content that we wouldn’t have been able to execute individually. This new logo/look is something that we poured our heart and soul into… it’s pretty simple, but that’s our style. We also used it as a time to review our marketing plan and materials, because we always want to improve our business and provide an even better service to our clients. We love adding a personal touch to everything we do. We always ask ourselves – “would we love to get something like this?” or “would we find this helpful?”. If the answer is yes to either question, we are most likely putting it on our list of projects to accomplish!

Now that we have been together for three years (where does time go?!), we are proud of all that we have achieved together. It’s the same Rachel + Molly, with the same great company of Lepic-Kroeger, REALTORS® behind us, but we just have a nice new look! If you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell this year, we would love to help!

Lastly, we want to leave you with something that we hope will inspire you for this new decade. We know we say this A LOT, but we feel blessed to be doing something we are so passionate about… our tagline “our passion. your advantage.” isn’t just fluff. This is truly our passion. Chip Gaines in “Capital Gaines” (who doesn’t love Chip & Jo?!, and it is a great read, by the way!) hit the nail on the head by writing this:

“We were created to live passionately – all of us, no matter our personality type or circumstance. The human heart was made to swell and jump and stir; that’s a fact. It took me a while to figure out what makes my heart feel that way. But that is perhaps one of the most crucial things to know about ourselves.”

Wishing you all a wonderful 2020 & here’s to living passionately!

R + M

 

City Series – Cedar Rapids

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City Series – Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids – known as the “City of Five Seasons” and is the second largest city in Iowa.

Cedar Rapids is one of Iowa’s largest cities and located just 30 minutes from Iowa City. According to the 2019 census, Cedar Rapids has a population estimate of 131,127, coming in just below Des Moines. Many people commute between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, because they are so close. With the sheer size of Cedar Rapids, there are generally more housing options available and at a more affordable price point than the Iowa City area.

Being a larger city, this means there is no shortage of places to go and things to do during any season! If you’re a sports fan, Cedar Rapids is home to the Kernels, a minor league baseball team and the Rough Riders, a Tier 1 junior ice hockey team. Other staples of the city include a variety of unique restaurant options, multiple concert venues that bring in big names in entertainment, cultural and art museums, as well as historical venues, such as Brucemore Mansion.  In recent years an area known as the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District has become extremely popular as well, with its many bars, restaurants, and shops.  It’s also home to NewBo City Market, which houses many small, local businesses and start-ups.

We could go on and on sharing all that there is to do in this wonderful city! It’s no surprise that this is the second largest city in Iowa with all that it has to offer. Our favorite part is that it feels like a small, tightknit community while still providing plenty of things to do for all ages.

R + M

City Series – Solon

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City Series – Solon

Solon- A small community located in Johnson County, halfway between Iowa City & Cedar Rapids

Solon is one of the smaller communities in Johnson County with a population landing around 2,037 according to the 2010 census records. Don’t let the size fool you, Solon is a bustling community with much to offer! One of the major perks to Solon is that it’s located roughly 20 minutes from 3 major surrounding cities, including Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids. This makes it a prime place to live if you want a small town feel with a convenient and easy commute. It is also located just under 10 minutes from Lake McBride State Park, which is full of beautiful nature trails for walking and biking. The lake is a popular place to be come summertime, with lots of things to do such as fishing, boating, paddle boarding, kayaking or hitting the beach.

Although Solon’s location is at the top of the list of reasons why it’s a great place to live, there is plenty more to share! It is a tight knit, family community and you can tell it is a goal of the city to create a safe and welcoming community to all. One of Solon’s main attractions is the adorable downtown area. With shops, restaurants and other local businesses, this area is great for the community and only continues to grow and expand with new attractions. The Solon school district is another factor in what attracts people to this area. The school district’s size is very desirable and the elementary school, middle school and high school are all located within less than 5 minutes of each other, and are all within walking distance to the main downtown area.

The city of Solon is a desirable, quaint, safe community that is growing and developing and will continue to do so in the future! If you’re moving and looking for a new place to call home, Solon may be the perfect fit!

R + M

Market Update: 2018 A year in Review

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MARKET UPDATE

The spring season is here! If you’re buying or selling a home this year, what can you expect from this market?  It’s important to know the numbers, so we are looking back at the statistics from last year.

2018 proved to be yet another strong year! Considering that 2017 was an exceptional year, 2018 had a lot to live up to, and it did.

Let’s dive into the numbers:

  • AVERAGE SALES PRICE increased from $228,000 to $239,000. That’s a 5% increase, more than the annual average appreciation rate of 3%. It didn’t quite reach the 6% increase that we saw from 2016 to 2017, but it’s still rather impressive!
  • AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET decreased (which is a good thing!) from 62 days in 2017 to 59 days in 2018.
  • AVERAGE SALES PRICE TO LIST PRICE RATIO continues to stay consistent at 98%.
  • TOTAL NUMBER OF HOMES SOLD was 3,430 this year, which was nearly identical to the number in 2018 of 3,450 homes.

All in all, 2018 has a lot to be proud of, and we’re hoping the trend continues in 2019. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home this year, we’d love to hear from you!

R + M

Silver Slope Subdivision

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SILVER SLOPE SUBDIVISION 

A new year brings new goals.  Is a brand new home on the list for 2019?  If it is, Silver Slope Subdivision may just be the perfect location to build that dream.  10 of its 19 residential lots are still available, waiting for dirt to be moved!

What makes Silver Slope Subdivision so special?

CHARACTER– It is isn’t your typical “cookie cutter” subdivision on bare land. It is nestled amongst trees and established neighborhoods, creating a cozy atmosphere.

CONVENIENCE– It is centrally located to many amenities.  With grocery stores and restaurants close, a park (including a dog park) across the way, and trails all around, it is a prime Eastside Iowa City location.

NATURE– With the surrounding tree line comes wildlife.  Despite being in town, you can still enjoy nature here… talk about the best of both worlds!

FLEXIBILITY– The covenants are limited, giving each homeowner and builder more flexibility than most new subdivisions.

FREEDOM– You can bring your own builder to build that custom home of your dreams!

Building a home can seem daunting, but we are here to help!  Silver Slope Subdivision is waiting to welcome you HOME! 

Do you want more information?  Visit our main page for lot pricing, maps, and covenants.

R + M

Made in Iowa

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MADE IN IOWA

It’s our favorite time of year!  We love filling our homes with holiday cheer and spending time with those we hold dear!  This year, the holiday season is extra special to us, because we partnered with The Makers Loft (a new store located downtown Iowa City) and are sponsoring their pop-up shop, Made in Iowa, located in the Coral Ridge Mall next to Old Navy.

When the opportunity arose, it was an easy decision for us.  As REALTORS®, it may seem like we just help people buy and sell properties.  However, for us, it is much more than that.  It also means being stewards of the community.  It is truly an honor to support such talent that makes up Made in Iowa and The Makers Loft.  These stores are filled with goods created by incredible artists right here in Iowa.  If you’re looking for the perfect gift this Christmas, you need to stop in these shops!

Here are a few of our favorite gift go-tos:
NEAT & NAVY BLUE CANDLES – These pure soy candles are to die for!  They are hand poured and made in Marengo.  Our favorite scents are Birch Leaves (perfect for the holidays), Sage & Sea Salt, and Sage & Pomegranate.  We have yet to find a scent we really don’t like – they are that good!
https://neatandnavyblue.com/collections/candles?page=1

DOE A DEER FLOUR SACK TOWELS – These towels are TOO cute… so cute that you’ll want one of each design!  If you are buying one as a gift, beware that you will want to buy one for yourself as well!  [We are guilty of that.]  These are hand-done designs and made in Stuart.
https://doeadeerdesign.com/collections/flour-sack-towels

RARE BIRD SOAP SHOP SOAPS & LOTIONS – These all-natural soaps and lotions are nice to both your skin and nose!  They are carefully and thoughtfully made in Kalona.  Talk about a great stocking stuffer!
http://rarebirdsoapshop.com/products.html

WHOA NELLI NATURAL PRODUCTS LIP BALM – The holiday lip balm trio is a must-have as the temperatures drop!  Why not show your holiday spirit all winter long and take care of your lips?!  These are handmade right here in Iowa City.
https://www.whoanelli.com/collections/holiday-gift-sets/products/holiday-lip-balm-trio

We hope you consider shopping small and local this holiday season!  We know we will be!  Happy gift giving!

R + M

City Series: Tiffin

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CITY SERIES – TIFFIN

Tiffin – A growing community located in Johnson County, just 15 minutes west of Iowa City

  Tiffin has experienced exceptional growth in its community over the last few years.  The Iowa Census Bureau released its updated population information for the year, and Tiffin was the fastest growing town in Iowa with a 72% population increase since 2010. As of now, Tiffin’s population is estimated to be around 3,300, which still gives it a small town and tight-knit community feel, but it has quick and easy access to numerous amenities in the surrounding area.

People may wonder what it is that has Tiffin topping the list of fastest growing towns! A large part of it has to do with the location.  Tiffin is conveniently located within a few short minutes of Coralville, Iowa City, and North Liberty. It also has a big perk of being just down the street from Kent Park, which is a beautiful area with many nature trails, playgrounds and a camping area.  Another wonderfully convenient thing about Tiffin is the location of schools for all ages.  The Clear Creek Amana School District has grown right along with the city of Tiffin, and it now has buildings for the elementary school, middle school and high school all located in town.

Tiffin shows no signs of slowing down and will only continue to grow its community with new housing opportunities and commercial businesses. If you’re looking for an area that feels like a small town but has all the opportunities of a bigger town, Tiffin might just be the right hometown for you!

R + M