New Listing – 5414 Longview Court #4 in Johnston

We just listed this townhome in Johnston Iowa. It’s a great plan with a large kitchen, vaulted ceilings, and ton’s of storage  in a nice neighborhood called Bent Tree Villas. This home is in a good location in the community with extra parking and southern exposure for good lighting. Quick possession is possible in this move-in ready home. Conveniently located close to area shopping and highway access.. Come take a look…

Des Moines is named #1 most livable city

MSN just released an article on the top Most-Livable Bargain Markets. Des Moines was named #1. The article sited the number of jobs available in financial and agribusiness, the stable economy and the low median price of housing ($150,000).

While we all know that these are tough economic times (even here) it’s nice iStock_000009189135XSmallto hear that Des Moines may be fairing better than most. It also reinforces what most of us that live or have lived in Iowa know – the quality of life is high. We offer great schools, low crime, easy commutes, a great sense of community and friendly people.

MSN did mention that our climate can be less than ideal at times but that just proves that Iowans are tough!

You can find the article here:

Where are the Des Moines real estate bargains?

As the Des Moines real estate market continues to pick up steam, one of the questions that gets asked frequently is “Where are the best buys?”. Typically when most people think of bargains, they think short sales and foreclosures. While there are a lot of these properties available ( and will continue to be for the foreseeable future ) there is another overlooked area – unfinished new construction properties.  I have seen a number of these over the past few weeks that are being offered at well below the cost to build a similar home.

Most of these homes are technically foreclosures or short sales and in most CB067787cases you end up negotiating with a lending institution. However unlike traditional foreclosures you have an opportunity to purchase a home in new condition.

In the Des Moines metro area most of these homes are priced in the $300,000+ price range and are in various stages of construction. In almost every case the homes are enclosed and secured with the exteriors completely to partially finished. On the interior they could be just through framing stage all the way to almost completed and just require floor coverings, counter-tops etc.

The options for completing construction vary depending on the specific property. On some homes the builder is willing to complete construction and close just like any other transaction. In other cases the buyer would be responsible for getting a construction loan and hiring a contractor to finish the project. In this case there is additional effort required by any potential buyer to secure financing, get estimates and hire a contractor.

If you are interested in receiving  more information or exploring the possibilities, please let me know.

Golf course lots at River Valley Golf Community

I wanted to share a video that Julianna Cullen and I recently did for the Open House Television show. The video shots do a great job at highlighting these one-acre homesites located at River Valley Golf in Adel. You really get a good sense of the views and beautiful homes already located there.

Take a look just don’t be too critical of the talent (mine that is, I should have had an extra cup of coffee):

For information about this great neighborhood or Adel, you can visit these websites:

Adel Homes Online

River Valley Golf Community Information

For home listings at River Valley Golf Community, click this link:

River Valley Golf Community Homes For Sale

Nicely updated home in Urbandale IA with character

I just recently listed a home in Urbandale that has some unique qualities. It was built in 1954 so the style is more reminiscent of Beaverdale. It is a 1.5 story plan with a lot of original features such as hardwood flooring, crown molding and a tuck-under garage. It also has a nicely landscaped yard with lots of mature shade trees and a park across the street.

I took a quick video to give you a feel for the property. Take a look:

For more information and more detailed photos visit my website for additional Des Moines IA homes for sale.

Who pays the lowest central Iowa property taxes?

A question that often comes up when working with buyers is “How do property taxes compare across different cities in the Des Moines area?”. It’s a relevant question when considering areas to live in, particularly if you are not tied to a specific city, school district, etc.

Before we get into who pays the highest/lowest, it’s important to understand how property taxes are calculated. The basic formula is:

(assessed value x rollback) x tax levy

tax-houseThe assessed value is determined by the county assessor and is based on the market value of your home.  The rollback is set by the state, the rollback for 2008 is .455893. To find the historical rollback figures you can go to here:

The levy numbers (mill rates) are a combination of local expenses including city, county, school district, hospital and special assessments.  This is the factor you need to consider when comparing taxes in different areas. Since cities, counties and school district boundaries overlap you need to look at the specific tax district for a home you are considering. You can  find the tax levy numbers for Polk County here:

The Dallas County figures are here starting under Sheet 3:

You can see the variations in areas by looking at the above tables.  The totals contained in the tables are based on the valuation per $1,000.

An example tax calculation for a $200,000 home in Clive would be:

(($200,000 x .455893 = $91179) /1000=91.179) x 34 = $3,100

So who has the most favorable rates? You can compare costs by looking at the tax levy tables. In Polk County, an area of Des Moines in the SE Polk school district has a levy of  49.71, that is the highest in the county. Sheldahl in the North Polk school district is currently paying the lowest in Polk County with  a levy of  32.11. How does that affect your tax bill? The  $200,000 home with a levy of 49.71 would be paying $4,532 per year while the same home levied at 32.11 would be paying $2,927.

Most home buyers would consider that to be a significant difference. However, I think it can be a mistake to look a property taxes as the primary factor for considering where you would like to live. There are many other things to consider including school districts and proximity to areas of interest (shopping, recreation, cultural, etc.). Another factor is the overall cost of living, while property taxes may be low in a certain area that savings could easily be spent on increased commute costs.

As always, it pays to do some research upfront and consult a real estate professional when you have questions.

Want to buy a home but concerned about your job?

Anyone who is paying even a little attention to real estate knows that in most areas and price points, we continue to remain in a buyers market. There many good reasons to buy a home right now:

1. Interest rates remain close to record lows
2. There is an $8,000 tax credit available to first-time buyers
3. Inventory and selection remains good
4. Considering the builder/seller incentive, foreclosures, etc., there are plenty of good buys out there

building-blocksUnfortunately as the recession looms on, some buyers are nervous about employment and are hesitant to move forward with their purchase.

Last week Iowa Realty announced a new program – the HELP program from The Rainy Day Foundation. This program is based on similar plans from the auto industry. The essence of the plan is if you lose your job within two years of purchasing your new home, your mortage payments would be covered for up to six months. Some of the details include:

  • The plan is funded by sellers at a cost of $500, buyers can’t purchase it themselves
  • If two people own a home together and one loses their job, the portion of the mortgage payment is pro-rated
  •  There is a two month waiting period

You can read more about it by clicking on the link to this flyer:

Feel free to call or write if  you have questions or would like to discuss the program in more detail.

The Yin Yang of the Des Moines Homebuilder Show

I had an opportunity to tour the annual Des Moines Area Homebuilders show last weekend. As usual there was an impressive selection of homes priced yinyangfrom the $500,000 to $1,000,000+. It’s always a great way to see new building products and trends.

I believe that all but one of the homes was sold.The Yin Yang is that it’s a reflection of the market that  most builders would not commit to building homes in this price-range without having a committed buyer. However it’s very encouraging that their are still plenty of buyers purchasing at the homeshow price-points.

Congratulations to Scott and Stephanie Denton of DentonHomes for building another original and innovative home and receiving the Best of Show award.

Planning to sell? Have a septic tank…?

If you currently have a septic tank and are planning to sell your home, you should be aware of the the new state regulations that go into effect on 7/1/09. The new law that will be enforced bouthousey the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)    requires that all septic systems will need to be pumped and inspected in order to transfer title to the property. There are few exemptions that include transfers due to foreclosure or transfers between family members but in most cases, the inspection will need to be completed before you can close on the property.

Some counties such as Dallas have had similar procedures in place for quite some time but most counties in Iowa have not had any requirements. If you are planning to sell your home you should have your tank pumped and inspected by a DNR-licensed inspector as soon as possible.  In the event that repairs are required, you will know upfront and you won’t face the possiblity of delaying a sale. Feel free to email or comment with questions.