8 Questions To Ask Before Buying Your Dream House in the Dubuque Area

What To Consider Before Looking To Buy Your Dream House

by Theresa Neuhaus – Broker Associate, American Realty

Whether you’re going to be a first-time home buyer or your looking to move from your current home, deciding if now is the time to start searching for your dream home can be a tough decision. There are a number of factors involved before you start going to open houses or making an offer on a property.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing yourself to buying a new home.

Finding Your Dream House in the Dubuque Areafactors involved before you start going to open houses or making an offer on a property.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing yourself to buying a new home.

  1. Why Am I Buying A House

This is the first question you should ask yourself. Is it that you’re tired of paying rent each month with little to show. Or has your current home become too small or in some cases too big for you to live in. Whatever the case, remember that there will be a lot of work involved. Not just searching for the home, but later moving in. Are you motivated enough to go through with it, or is just something you started thinking about without having a real plan in mind.

  1. What Can I Afford

The problem with wanting to get the home of your dream is that you can’t always afford it. Figure out what your budget allows and use this to determine your price range. One of the first steps you should do is to meet with mortgage lenders so that they can sit down with you to go over your financials. They’ll help you determine what you can afford. And don’t just talk to one lender. Meet or call a few to determine what you’re closing costs will be. Getting pre-approved for your home will make home buying that much easier.

  1. What is My Credit Score Like

One of the things your lender will discuss with you is your credit score and that of your spouse if you have one. They may take the lower of the two scores so even if one is good, it might still be a factor. Even with a lower credit score you might be able to get a loan, but you might have additional fees and a higher interest rate. Your lender can advise you on whether you should wait to borrow and what to do to improve your scores.

  1. Where are Home Values Going

Housing prices in the area have been going up over the last couple of years, part of an overall trend in home buying. This means the prices for homes this year, might be higher next year. This could be motivation for you to buy sooner, rather than later. There is always a chance they’ll decline, but the economy in the Dubuque area has been pretty strong, thanks to tourism and to businesses moving into the area.

  1. Where are Home Mortgages Going?

Home mortgages are at a great point right now, making it an ideal time to get lower interest rates on homes. There is no guarantee they’ll remain that way, however. The Federal Reserve could always increase them, making now one of the best times to buy. This is again something a mortgage lender can help you decide on, even if they can’t predict what rates will be like in a few months or even a year.

  1. Where In Dubuque or Eastern Iowa Do I want to live

One of the motivations for moving might be to move to a different part of the city or the area. You might have decided you want to live in a smaller community like Peosta or Dyersville. Or maybe your job is closer to Cascade or Bellevue. Do you want to live in Dubuque or nearby Asbury? If you have no preference, you might have more opportunities, but chances are that whatever area you want to live in, you’ll be able to find something you like. Just in some cases, it might take longer or when a property opens up you might have to act fast. This is one of the first things to discuss with a Realtor if you’re working with one.

  1. What Kind of Home Do I Want

What style of home you want could also be a factor in your home buying. Do you prefer a ranch style home with fewer steps. Do you want a newer home or something older, with a little character. Your budget may influence what you can look at, as well as the size of your family. This is something you’ll want to discuss with your Realtor so that they know which types of properties to alert you to.

  1. What Can I Get For MY Old Home

Obviously, this isn’t something a first-time home buyer needs to concern themselves with. For most, however, it will come down to how much they can get for their current home and also is your buying contingent on your home being sold first. That home of your dreams won’t wait around while you try to get your sold. This is another thing to go over with your Realtor. It might be better to start searching after you’ve received an offer on your home. Or maybe you can set up a bridge loan so that you don’t miss out on your dream property.

If you’re wondering whether now is the time to buy a home in the Dubuque area, then contact one of the Realtors at American Realty. They’ll be glad to go over your options and listen to what you’re looking for in a home. We have offices in Dubuque, Dyersville and Cascade with agent’s ready to serve you.

To learn more about Theresa visit her bio.

What To Disclose About A Home When Your Selling Including Any Recent Damage

When a storm recently passed through the area, it did a lot of damage. Trees were knocked down, roofs were damaged, and some homes had issues with water in the basement. And some of these homes had for sale signs out in their yard.

It happens to many homeowners that just as they are thinking of listing their ho

The Home Disclosure Process

me, or even as they have it on the market, something unexpected happens. Or maybe they’ve had some issues a couple years ago and now wonder if it could be a factor in selling their home. It’s easy to say that this will affect your listing price or even your ability to sell it, but only if you take the wrong approach.

If the problem has just happened, then first get it taken care of. Get a contractor to take care of the roof or any other damage to the home. It doesn’t’ mean you have to take your home off the market or hold off on listing.  But it will be something you must disclose, even if you already completed this part of the selling process.

The Disclosure Process.

Most states have some sort of disclosure requirement when it comes to selling a home and Iowa is no exception. In Iowa “Sellers” are required to make a disclosure (see chapter 558A of the Iowa Code)  which consists of 21 questions. If any of the answers are “yes” there is a place on the disclosure form for an explanation. Health issues such as Radon, Lead Paint, etc. are covered on the disclosure. It is interesting that “mold” is not covered. However, the instructions on the form require the seller to “disclose all known conditions materially affecting the property”, and requires “additional” pages be attached to the disclosure if necessary.

With most of the questions you simply answer yes or no. If you do answer yes to something you do have the opportunity to answer the question in more detail. For example, if you had a leaky roof in the past you can mention the date it was repaired/replaced and that it has not been a problem since.

There are health risks you need to disclose as well such as:

  • Lead paint
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Mold

It doesn’t mean you can’t list your home or that you can’t sell it as is.  It’s simply something that needs to be disclosed.  It’s up to the potential buyer whether these issues impact their buying the property. For many homeowners this won’t be an issue if it’s a property they love and that fits their budget.

Issues with Water A Major Problem to Disclose

If there is a major issue with many homes it is most often related to water. One question will be if your roof has ever had problems. Another if you have had water in the basement or any other part of the home. Even if it was just a trickle in the basement, then you still disclose it.

The good news is that if you’ve had a problem and resolved it, there is room to put that on the form.  In many older homes water might still seep into the basement, but if you have a sump pump then you can disclose that, as well.

Some older homes in the area may have older basements that aren’t completely finished. This could mean they may have some seepage of water. Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t sell the house, you just have to make sure potential buyers are aware of it.

Emerald Ash Borer

There is one additional form you need to provide information on and it relates to the emerald ash borer. As the form states, having trees on a property adds to its value. If the trees are ash and have been infected by the emerald ash borer, it can be expensive to have those trees removed.

Many people might not even know what type of tree is on their property, let alone if they have a problem with the emerald ass borer. This is something your Realtor will review with you.

Lead Based Paint

There is a federal law that requires sellers of certain properties (built in 1978 or prior) to disclose the presence of lead paint or if the seller has any documentation concerning lead paint on the property. There is a hefty fine for not making this disclosure properly.

Will Any Issues Impact My Listing Price?

If the problem has been resolved and everything repaired or replaced it shouldn’t impact your price.  Even such issues as water seeping into the basement, might be overlooked by some buyers who like your home and are satisfied that the water won’t prove to be a risk for their belongings.

When you meet with your Realtor disclose any issues that you think might impact your listing right away. They can thus do the research to determine how much impact, if any it might have on your listing price.

You Must Disclose Any Issues Or it Could End Badly

When you’re Realtor is preparing to list your home or property you need to be truthful. You might think about hiding some potential problems, but if they come to light later it could have serious consequences. First, your home will be inspected so the issue might be discovered then. If something is found, then the buyer can ask you to take care of it before the sale is final or they simply could walk away from the deal without any repercussions.

If something is discovered after the sale of the home is complete that was intentionally not disclosed, it could result in expensive litigation.

If you think you might be able to disclos

e something at the closing, it simply gives the potential buyer a chance to toss aside the agreement and walk away from the table.

What Happens If Something Happens After the Disclosure is Signed

As in the case of the recent storm, something could happen with your home after you’ve signed the disclosure. This will trigger a requirement to amend your original disclosure. If it’s something you can get repaired, then take care of it. Whatever the case you’re still responsible for anything that happens to your home until the moment you hand over the keys.

If you’re considering selling your home and have questions about potential issues with your home, then contact American Realty. Our Realtors can answer any questions you might have and what impact any issues might have on the sale or the listing price. We have been serve Dubuque and surrounding communities such as Peosta, Dyersville, Farley, and more for over 45 years. Call us today at (563) 556-4577 to speak to one of our experienced Realtors.

Why Asbury Iowa is the place people are looking at for homes for sale

One of the most popular places people look for real estate in Eastern Iowa is Asbury. This small community is adjacent to Dubuque, but has created it very own identity. In the process, it has grown at a rate that has caught even the census takers by surprise.

Real estate in Asbury Iowa popularity

Asbury Iowa

In the 2010 census the population 4,357, which was nearly double what it had been just a decade earlier. Yet, the city government knew that its population growth hadn’t slowed and so commissioned a special census to prove it. While it was expensive, it revealed the population had grown another 25% in just the six years since. This meant more road-use and local-option sales tax revenues, since these are dispersed on a per-capita basis.

Not surprising, it’s one of the 10 fastest growing communities in Iowa, with nearby Peosta also on the list.

There are many reasons for the influx of homeowners to Asbury, from available lots on which to build to beautiful neighborhoods that are ideal to raise a family or retire to.  There are many other reasons that make Asbury so appealing.

Here are 5 Features of Asbury That Make it So Popular for Homeowners

Many of the Homes are New

There are many reasons for Asbury being such a popular place to buy a home in, not the least of which is that so many homes aren’t that old. As the population growth suggests, most of its homes are less than 20 years old and many are much more recently built. Housing development hasn’t waned and new homes are being built regularly. It’s hard for the map makers to keep up as so many streets are only now being named. So many people looking to buy a modern home find the property of their dreams here.

The Schools are New

For families looking to send their children to public schools, they’ll find modern facilities. Two of the newest schools in the area in Dubuque are just at the edge of Asbury. George Washington Carver Elementary School opened in 2007 and has kindergarten through fifth grade. Completed in August 2005, Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School is for students in grades 6-8.

For parents wanting to get their child a Catholic education, there are also options close by. Resurrection Elementary School is just a couple miles down the road, while Mazzuchelli Middle School and Wahlert high school aren’t that much further away.

Parks and Recreation.

The city actually owns its own golf course, having purchased the popular Meadows a few years

Asbury Golf Course

back.  This beautiful 18-hole course was voted the best course in the Dubuque area in 2016.

The Sundown Ski resort is just off the edge of Asbury city limits and is one of the most popular destinations for skiers and snowboarders in the Midwest.

There are plenty of places to bike or just to take a leisurely walk.

The Asbury city park is always a favorite with families, but when it hosts music in the park or has a movie shown, it’s especially popular.

Plenty of Places to Eat

Franchises have caught onto the appeal of Asbury and in the last few years Popeye’s restaurant has opened, as has Buffalo Wild Wings. Red Robin and Culvers have long been popular places to dine in or take out. For lovers of Mexican food there is Pancheros, Los Aztecos, and Fiesta Cancun.

Jumble Schoolhouse Café offers great coffee and popular breakfast items and sandwiches. It’s also housed in the oldest schoolhouse in Iowa.

There are two of the most popular sports bars in the area. Buffalo Wild Wings and the locally owned Courtside, which not only has food and drinks, but indoor volleyball courts.

It’s literally minutes away from Dubuque

Even if Asbury doesn’t have all the amenities you’re looking for, you’re likely to find them in Dubuque such as shopping malls, tourist attractions, and even more places at which to eat and or drink. With Dubuque literally a few minutes away from Asbury, you don’t have to travel.

If you’re looking to buy a home in Asbury and need help in finding the home that you want, then contact the Realtors at American Realty.  We know the area and the housing market to help you find what you want, but also help get it at a fair price. Call us today at (563) 556-4577.

Improving the Curb Appeal of Your Home

If you’re planning to sell your home soon, then one thing you can do to help sell it is to improve its curb appeal.  After all a good portion of your potential buyers will make their first impression of your home by what they see from the outside. If you’re thinking of staging the interior, put as much thought into the exterior. A sale could be won or lost when a potential home buyer pulls up to your home.

Improve the curb appeal of your home..

Another factor will be the photos of your home that will be available online. These are what entice visitors to pick your home over others when they are planning their open houses.

Clean Up The Yard

One of the easiest tasks you can do is one that was probably on your to do list anyway. Clean up the leaves that are left over from the fall, the broken branches, etc. Pick up any trash and pull out any dead flowers or large weeds.

Do Some Landscaping

According to Home Advisor “a well-landscaped yard can raise the perceived value of a home by about 15 percent. As much as an attractive yard helps your home’s value, a poorly landscaped yard will take away just as much.”

This doesn’t mean you have to invest in a landscaping company or spend a lot of money, but even a small investment can make a difference, particularly if you are willing to spend a little time.

One way to brighten your yard is to add some flowers about the home’s exterior. To give it some color that it might not normally have.  You don’t even have to plant them if you don’t want to spend the time. Some plants in a pot will have an effect, as well.

If you have some time until you’re ready to sell, then do some repairs on the lawn. If you have some bare patches, then invest in some lawn patch kits you get at the hardware store or just put down some grass seed. A full green yard can do much to add to a home’s appeal.

Get Rid of the Junk

Whether it’s an old grill, a swing set that has long been out of use or just some debris from your last remodeling project, there is bound to be some junk in your yard. That old swing might not just be unattractive, but turn off buyers that don’t have kids. You’re likely making trips to the dump anyway as you clean out the interior so take care of the outside too.

Clean off the Dirt

If the exterior looks dirty and the deck and porch tracked with mud, then power wash it. It’s relatively cheap to do, even if you don’t have one. Many of the local hardware stores have one for rent.  According to Realtor.com this simple step can add a lot of value to many homes. This can also take care of cobwebs, debris the in the gutter.

Touch Up the House

Again you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on the exterior. If your home has some chipped paint you don’t have to have the exterior completely repainted. If you don’t have the original paint color, then try to get a small patch and take it to your local home improvement store. It might not match perfectly, especially if the paint is old and faded. Yet, from a distance it might match enough and certainly look better than white patches.

If there is white trim on the exterior, then give this a fresh coat as it will make the white stand out that much more and costs little to buy.

Make the Door Stand Out

If the front door is faded or it has scratches and dings on it, then brighten it up with a fresh coat of paint. It could also be a color that stands out from the rest of the home and gives the home a whole new look.

Take Advantage of Your Exterior

Do you have a deck or patio, but the lawn furniture has seen better days? Consider borrow some or at least touching up what you have. You want buyers to imagine themselves sitting out there, entertaining friends and family. If you have an umbrella on your patio that is torn and dirty, people will think you never used the outdoor space.

Get Some Input From Your Realtor

Your Realtor will likely give you some advice as they tour the house, including things to do for the exterior.  Let them know your budget and they’ll let you know how to take advantage of it.

First impressions do matter when it comes to selling a home, so do what you can to make the right impression. This will attract the attention of more buyers and help you get the price you want.

If you’re planning to sell your home in the Dubuque area and want help getting the price you want, then contact one of the Realtors at American Realty. We serve not only Dubuque, but surrounding communities, such as Cascade, Peosta, Asbury, and Dyerseville. They have the experience to know what it takes to sell your home at the best possible price. Call us today at (563) 556-4577.

Common Mistakes Buyers Make When Looking for A Home In the Dubuque Area

The buying of a home is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. And it’s a decision they can’t get out of if they make the wrong one. It’s not like buying clothes, taking them home, and then deciding later you don’t like them. As long as you have the receipt you can take it back. If you buy the wrong home, however, you often have to live with it. Maybe for years, if not decades.

The other problem with house hunting is that your bidding on a one of kind item. If you miss out on the house you want, it’s not like you can go into a store and purchase the same model.

Buying a Home In Dubuque and what to know

Looking for a Home In Dubuque

When looking for a home you have to be cautious, but not too cautious. You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse, but you also don’t want to have buyers regret over the home of your dreams that slipped through your hands.

Here are some common mistake people make during the home buying process.

Not Getting Prequalified for a Loan

This is one of the biggest mistake you can make when house hunting. It helps to get preapproved for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you know what your price range is. Another reason is that if there is an issue with your credit history you want to learn of it in advance so you can do something to rectify it. You don’t want to find a home that you either can’t afford or can’t even get a loan for.

There are two things you can do. One is to get prequalified, the other is to get pre-approved. The first is rather simple, as you supply a lender with basic information such as your income, credit card debt, etc. From this they can give you a basic idea of your price ranged.

Getting pre-approved means going through the entire process and there is usually a fee involved.  They run a credit check, and go over all aspects of your debt. Once done, though, you’ll know not only what you can afford, but that you actually have a lender.

In Dubuque there are a number of excellent mortgage companies and banks that you can approach for a loan. Get a couple estimates so that you can find out what they offer and what they’re closing fees will be.

Trying to do it without a Realtor

We might be biased with this one, but trying to buy a home without the help of a Realtor can be problematic.  They can help you not just in your home search, but in all aspects of the closing as well. They can alert you to homes in your price range the moment they go on the market. They can also help with negotiations and in reviewing the home inspections reports.

The cost for a Realtor is often more than made up in helping you through issues that could either prevent you from getting your home or ending up with a home that has problems that should have been revealed during the closing process.

Having Too Big of a Wish List

Your Realtor will review with you what you’re looking for in a home such as number of bedrooms and baths you need and what style of home you’re interested in. It doesn’t hurt to give them as much information as you want in a home, but don’t be tied to all of it. Decide which elements are the most important to you in case you find that there aren’t homes available in your price range that meet your criteria.

Not Researching the Neighborhood

In Dubuque or in the surrounding communities this might not be too much of a big deal. Still you want to take into consideration the school district you’re in, the commute to where you and your family members work, and even how noisy the neighborhood might be. There could be a lot of dogs in the neighborhood that are constantly barking or its close to a highway. Maybe take some time and walk around the neighborhood a couple times to get a feel for the surroundings.

Deciding Too Quickly in the Home Buying Process

Looking for a home can be a time consuming process and sometimes stressful, but it’s also something not to rush. It could be that the first or second home that you look at is the home of your dreams, but take the time to view a few houses.  You might find the fifth or sixth house you look at is a much better choice.

Bidding Too Low

Negotiations are a part of the home buying process, but the last thing you want to do is bid too low in hopes of getting a better price.  Especially when it’s a seller’s market. You definitely want to counterbid, but don’t try to lowball them. This is where a Realtor is handy to help advise you on the bidding process.

Bidding Too High

Perhaps you’ve missed out on a couple properties because you were outbid. So the natural reaction might be to overbid on a home to ensure you get it. The problem with that is it might be worth more than it’s worth. It could be a problem later if you decide to sell and find you have to take a loss. Or it could be a problem during the closing when your mortgage company has a third party evaluate the home and appraise it a lower price.

Not Reviewing Thoroughly Reviewing the Inspection Reports

Once you’ve made an offer on a home and it’s been accepted, there are still things to be concerned about. You will have inspections done of the home and your mortgage lender will have an assessment done of the home. Often there aren’t any major issues in the reports, but review them carefully. There could be things that require you to go back to the seller to address them. Read our four-part series on home inspections to learn what to be looking for.

Not Having a Plan for Your Current Home

If you’re selling a home at the same time, what is your plan if you find a home you like. Are you going to carry a bridge loan to cover both properties until your home is sold? Or is the selling of your home a contingency of your buying a new home. It can be a complicated process as you might have to find you’ve sold your home and have to wait on moving into a new one. Or you might find yourself owning two homes for a while, meaning twice the costs. Is this something you can afford? This is where a Realtor can help you determine what the best option is for you.

If you’re looking for a home in Dubuque or one of the surrounding communities, then contact American Realty of Dubuque. We’ll put you in touch with one of our experienced Realtors to help you get through the home buying process.

The Home Inspection Process in Dubuque – Part 4

The is the final part of a four-part series we have done on the home inspection process in Dubuque and what homeowners should know about it. In the first three articles in this series we talked a lot about the inspection process and the different documents a buyer & seller would need to sign to Understanding home inspections in Dubuque Iowabring the inspection process to a successful conclusion.

To read previous entries in this series begin with The Home Inspection Process in Dubuque.

So let’s wrap this up with a recap of the important points.

  1. The inspection process will be beneficial for both parties – For the buyer, they will have the peace of mind knowing what the properties shortcomings are, and for the seller they will have the peace of mind knowing that they should not have to come back after the fact to make repairs etc.
  2. The key to a good outcome of an inspection is both parties knowing what the terms of the inspection document are and how to make them work- This can be accomplished by all parties reading the document in its entirety, noting dates and remedies etc. Key to this is making sure that everyone’s interpretation of the document is the same. This starts with the agent(s) making a complete explanation of the terms of the document to their clients and subsequently communicating with them as they attempt to fulfill the terms of the document.
  3. Knowing the most critical elements of the inspection addendum- In my opinion they are: If the buyer requests repairs etc. and the seller does not respond in the required time period then the seller is required to make the repairs requested. And, if the buyer does not respond to the seller in the required time period (after the inspection) then the seller is not required to make any repairs and the buyer is obligated to close the transaction.

So, here is what it boils down to-

  1. Have all parties to the transaction read the document?
  2. Do all parties understand the language in the document and the importance of complying with the terms of the document on a timely basis?
  3. Is everyone in agreement as to the interpretation of the documents language?

By now you are getting the idea that all of this depends on one person – the agent(s). And you are correct!! So, if you are thinking about doing a real estate transaction you need to choose the right agent.

If you want expert help with the home buying process, then contact one of the real estate agents at American Realty for help in the home buying process.


Dubuque Open Houses – What To Know, What To Ask & How To View Them

One of the best ways to look at homes is by going to open houses. In Dubuque, this means touring homes on a Sunday.  On a typical Sunday you can find dozens being held in nearly every price range. Often there is no way to see all of them in your price range. There are ways to get the most out of your time and still see as many as you can.

One of the advantages of an open house is that it’s a little more casual then scheduling a private showing.  You may feel you need to spend more time if you’ve set something up

Guide to Dubuque Open Houses

Open House sign

with your Realtor.  If you arrive at the home and find almost immediately it’s not to your taste, you’ll feel obligated to spend time because you scheduled something. At an open house, if you find it’s not to your taste you can leave relatively quickly..

You can also see more listings in a shorter period of time. When scheduling through a Realtor you have to find times that work for you, the Realtor and the family selling the home. You might be able to schedule a couple at once, but more than that can be tricky.

Here are some ways to get the most out of open houses.

Determine Your Price Range

Hopefully you’re already pre-approved by a mortgage company before you even begin as that will make the process easier. For one, it will give you a price range to work with. Yet, even if you’re just starting out and haven’t even met with anyone you want to have an idea of what type of monthly payment you can afford.

Keep to homes in the price range you set, so you don’t waste time looking at properties you can’t afford.  It doesn’t hurt to go a little outside this range though, as the price could be negotiable. Especially if the property has been on the market for a while.

Have a Game Plan

You’ll find it easier if you have some sort of plan before you even start out. After typing in your price range you’ll likely find there are showings anywhere from 11 to 2. This isn’t a large time frame so try to find showings that are located close together. If you try to go from one end of Dubuque to the other and then back again, you won’t be able to make that many.

Budget Your Time

You might try to get as many open houses as you can in a day, but try not to get to the point that you’re rushing through each home. Better to set aside enough time to really go through each home. You want to check out not just the interior, but the exterior as well. 15 minutes is probably about right. There might be a few homes that you know almost immediately don’t appeal to you so don’t spend too much time with these.

Improvise While Your Touring Houses

Perhaps you gave yourselves longer than you needed to go through the homes and find you have time available.  Jump on your cell phone and look to see what open houses are still going on near your location.  You can quickly scroll through the photos available to get an idea of what the home offers and then punch in the location on your GPS. While out driving you might see signs for open houses you weren’t aware of. Do a quick search to see if they meet your criteria.

Ask The Realtor At The Home Questions.

When you get to the home you’ll be greeted by the Realtor selling the home or someone acting on their behalf. They’ll likely hand you a print out on the home.  It should answer many of the questions you have about the home, but take advantage of having the Realtor there to ask additional questions.

Here are some you might want to ask

  • Do the appliances come with the home? They might not, but it could be something negotiated.
  • How long has the home has been on the market and if the price has dropped at some point.
  • Has the home has received any offers.
  • Are there any contingencies to the buyer selling, such as they’re closing on another home.
  • How soon can you take possession?

Discuss at the End of the Day

If you’re touring the homes with your significant other or maybe your family, you likely talked about each home as you went through it. After you’re completely done, talk about if any of the homes are potential candidates. Also talk about some of the features you liked about some of the homes, even if you weren’t interested in them. It might give you some ideas for telling your Realtor more of what you’re looking for.

Schedule Another Showing

If some of the homes have met your criteria and you’re to the point that you might want to make an offer, then schedule a showing with your realtor. If not everyone in the family went to the open house, then try to get them to come along. It’s a way to get more feedback on the property.

American Realty has a listing of open houses in Dubuque and surrounding areas every week. You can easily sort through it by various criteria, including price. Check out some of the homes in your range and while you’re touring them, introduce yourself to the Realtor. You might find a professional you’re comfortable with and who could eventually be your Realtor.





Why you Need a Realtor To Help Sell Your Home in Dubuque

For a while now you’ve been planning to sell your home. You finished up the remodeling, emptied out many of the rooms, and you’ve put a fresh coat of paint on the outside. You’re anxious to get it sold, but you also want to get as much out of it as you can. So you decide you’re going to sell it on your own and avoid paying a Realtor a commission. It seems like a good idea at first, but over time it might be a decision you regret.

One would think that putting a sign in the yard that says for sale by owner would be easy to do, especially in a city the size of Dubuque.  Or maybe you live in even smaller communities like Dyersville or Peosta. Whatever the case, how hard can it be to get the word out. Yet, pounding the sign into the ground is the easy part. It’s everything else that can be difficult and which a Realtor can make a lot easier for you. And potentially get you a higher price, as well.

Here are some reasons you want to have a Realtor help sell your home instead of doing it on your own.

A Realtor Can Advise You On What You Can Do To Sell Your Home Quicker

One of the first steps a Realtor will do is to tour the house.  One of the main reasons is that they want to determine the price to list your home at. Yet, they’ll also be looking for things you can do to improve the home and also any red flags that might come up during the final inspections.

An experienced Realtor can provide guidance and suggestions on your home that you might not have thought of. And if they discover potential problems that you will need to fix, it’s better to take care of them right away instead of having something derail a sale at the closing. Most likely they have contractors they’ll refer you to if there are problems you need to address that are experienced and affordable.

They’ll also advise you on how to stage the home so that potential buyers will be immediately attracted to it. It could be simple things that will make your house stand out or items that you can eliminate that might have limited your selling options.

Price Your Home To Sell

As mentioned the Realtors tour of the home will be to determine its size, it’s age, what features they have etc. You may have a price already in mind based on homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood. Are their factors in those other homes, however, you didn’t consider or weren’t even aware of? You could be overpricing your home based on limited information or worse, underpricing it. Your goal in selling your home is most likely to sell your home as quickly as possible and at the best price.  This is why the extensive research they do will help you to price your home to sell.

Get Your Home the Most Exposure

The for sale sign might attract the attention of a few passerby’s, but even you know you need more than that. You might consider taking an ad out in the Telegraph Herald, as well, which will also help. Yet, the majority of people today search online for homes. For some it’s because they live out of state and just moving to the Dubuque area.  Yet even locals will look online because its more convenient and time saving.

So you need to get your site on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and maybe directories like Zillow or Trulia.  Some of this you can do on your own, but often it takes time and money to do it. And you’ll also need to have photos to work with, of the rooms in the house and the exterior.

Yet, a Realtor often has access to other ways to get your home found. For example, the American Realty site is on the first page of Google and Bing and it has searches every day for homes for sale on its site. People from all over the country.

Realtors also network with one another and when a house becomes available, the other Realtors in the area soon know about it and can alert their clients who might be in the prime candidates for your home.

Schedule the Showings and Open House

Once the word is out on your house, then it’s time for people to begin going through it. If you’re doing it yourself, then you need to field each and every one of these calls and emails. If you’re working during the day, then you’ll want to get back to them as soon as you can.  Respond too slowly and you might end up losing potential candidates. Or you might schedule a showing with a family and then no one shows up at the scheduled time.

And if you really want to get foot traffic, you’ll want to have an open house.  That means getting the word out and also having flyers for people when they arrive on the home.

Having a Realtor means they do all of the scheduling and marketing. They know you’re schedule and can work around it when they want to show the home. They’ll respond timely to all requests.

Help With Negotiations and the Closing Process.

Bids are starting to come in and you are excited to take offers. Yet, you have to read the fine print of the offers and make sure there aren’t contingencies to the bid. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to get a bid for the full asking price or maybe even higher. Yet, if not, then you want to make a counteroffer, something a Realtor can advise on.

Once you receive and accept an offer it would seem like everything is in the clear. Yet, there is still a lot to do before the paperwork is signed. There are inspections (read our 4-part article just on inspections alone), both on behalf of the buyer and their loaning institution.  If anything major turns up it could impact the sale, but even if there isn’t, there could be requests from the buyers you might not expect.

There are legal aspects, as well. You’ll have to bring an attorney in at some point. You need to have disclosed any potential issues about the home and if you haven’t there could be repercussions later.

Help You With Complications That Arise

Throughout the process things can change or unexpected things occur. Nothing is definite until everything is signed and that can be a month or two down the road. It can be overwhelming for some people, which is why having a Realtor to handle and explain the situation is helpful.

There are many people who successfully sell their homes by themselves, but most likely they’ve done their homework and are willing to put in all the time necessary to learn the process. Yet, a number of them will soon give up at some point and bring in a Realtor.

If you’re looking to sell your home in the Dubuque area and thinking of doing it yourself, you might want to at least schedule an interview with a Realtor. You might realize the value they can bring to the process. Feel free to contact an agent at American Realty to discuss your home.

The Home Inspection Process in Dubuque Part 3

This is the third in a four-part series we’re doing on home inspections. In the first part we focused on all the inspections that take place, while in the second we focused on an actual inspection addendum. in this entry we’ll look at how to review the inspections you receive.

So you have an accepted offer on your dream home and your home inspector sends you his report. First, make sure your Realtor has also received a copy of the report. Sit down with your Realtor and review the report. Bear in mind you are under a time constraint here – you need to respond to the seller within the agreed to time frame.

OK, a number of things showed up on the inspection – as they usually do. I always recommend

Builder And Inspector Looking At New Property

categorizing these issues into two categories – I call them “minor” issues and “major issues”. A minor issue might be a torn screen or a missing window crank etc. and a major issue might be a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger etc.

My advice to my buyers is not to worry too much about the minor issues and address the major issues. Be aware that sometimes major issues pointed out by an inspector turn out to be minor issues. For instance, there might be a small amount of mold in the corner of the basement; about the size of your thumb. The inspector tags the house as “having mold”. Well, most likely the house is not infected with mold (accept for that small spot) and the issue can be remedied easily.

So after your discussion with your Realtor you need to decide how you are going to respond to the seller. If you got a great deal on the house, the seller may not be very willing to make the repairs you request. If not, you will need to decide what direction you wish to take.

That said, you will need to make a written response to the seller. If you are not requesting any repairs that’s what the response should say. Then you might not need to read what follows. If you are requesting the seller to make repairs, then read on.

Take a look at the “Response to inspection” form we us in the Dubuque market – read it over. This form can be used to respond to multiple inspections. Notice under “BUYERS RESPONSE” that it says (2nd paragraph) “In order for the Buyer to proceed with the Purchase contract they require seller to”: – this is where you will list the repairs you are requesting the seller to make. Your realtor will guide you through the proper use of this form. So you list repairs 1. 2., & 3. whatever they might be.

Your Realtor will see that the response form is presented to the seller.

Under “SELLER’S RESPONSE” the seller has 3 options: 1. “To complete the repairs requested”; 2. “Not to complete the repairs you request”; or 3. “Other” – for instance the seller says I will make repairs 1 & 2 but not repair 3. If they choose 1 then no further negotiation is required. If they choose 2 or 3 then the form is returned to you for a decision on how you want to proceed.

Your options will be 1. “Accept the seller’s response” 2. “Reject the seller’s response” or 3. “Submit another response form requesting different procedures for the seller to complete in order for you to move forward with the purchase”. If you select 2 then negotiations end and you go your merry way –without the property. If you select 3 then you are leaving negotiations open and hopefully you can arrive at an agreement with the seller as far as repairs go.

Unless there is an overwhelming reason, I rarely recommend that a buyer not negotiate requested repairs with a seller.

So there you have it!!  At this point, whether or not you move on toward closing on your new home depends on whether or not you are willing to negotiate inspection repairs if the seller is not willing to make the repairs, or is willing to make some of the repairs you request but not all of them.

I have seen many buyers lose their dream home because of requested inspection repairs. Remember, no house is perfect – not even newly constructed homes. It seems the older the house the more apt you are to encounter some issues. Be reasonable in your negotiations and you will usually be successful.

Next time we will wrap up this series with a summary of what we have talked about in regard to inspections.

10 Reasons You’ll Love Moving To Dubuque Iowa

Are you looking to buy a home soon in Dubuque Iowa? Maybe you’re getting transferred here or you just found a new job. Or maybe you are moving to Dubuque because of someone you know. Whatever the reason for moving to Dubuque, you’re going to love it.

If your image of Iowa cities is that they’re flat open areas with a lot of corn you’re going to be in for a surprise. Yes, we have farms in the area and many do grow corn. But Dubuque is anything but flat.  And it has a lot of attractions one wouldn’t expect in a city the size of Dubuque.

Here are 10 Reasons You’ll Love Moving to Dubuque

  1. Its an Award Winning City.

Each year it seems Dubuque is being honored by some national organization.  Last year it was recognized for its cultural diversity and in the past is has been regularly chosen as one of All American City. Its waterfront was chosen by the USA Today as one of the best in the United States.

  1. It has the Mississippi River

What drew early travelers to the area, and which continues to draw tourists, is the Mississippi River. There are paddle-wheels and dinner cruises that take you along the river. In addition to boating you can fish along its shores or go biking. You can walk along the river or take part in dragon boat races. On the 3rd of July you can watch fireworks explode above it. And in the fall you can take in all the bright colors of trees not just in Iowa, but across the way at Illinois and Wisconsin.

  1. It has the Mississippi River Museum

One of the sites that has made Dubuque one of the top tourist attractions in the area is the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as 12 aquariums. There are interactive exhibits and a 4D movie theater. It’s also associated with the Smithsonian Museum so it has constantly changing displays from everything from the Titanic to dinosaurs.

  1. It’s a Kid Friendly Environment

In addition to being able to take your children to the museum, there is also much to do to keep them busy. There are baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball programs for boys and girls. In the fall there is Pop Warner for boys.

The Grand Harbor Waterpark and Resort has a 25,000 square foot indoor waterpark that children can enjoy year round. And there are two public pools they can enjoy in the summer.

If your child likes to perform on stage, then there are plenty of opportunities for them to act. There are two summer theater programs that offer a number of musicals that children can try out for.

  1. There are plenty of parks

If you’re looking for a more subdued way to take in the breathtaking scenery there are a number of parks in the city, including Eagle Point which overlooks the river. The Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is such a beautiful location you can almost always find a wedding party using the flower garden as a backdrop for photographs. In the winter, Murphy Park is transformed into a Christmas light display.

  1. It’s a very social city

During the summer there seemingly is an outdoor concert every weekend at which people gather and drink and eat. Four times a year All That Jazz takes place in downtown Dubuque, while the rest of the year various other outdoor concert events occur.

Every Saturday people go to the Farmer’s Market to get locally made produce and goods or have some freshly made breakfast.

  1. It’s a Historic City

Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa and is named after a French explorer who discovered the city in the 1780s.  Julien Dubuque’s grave is along the bluffs of the river. The Shot Tower dates back to the Civil War, while there are many Victorian homes that date back to 1800’s. The Fenelon Place Elevator is the world’s shortest, steepest scenic railway and is over a 100 years old.

  1. Plenty of Outdoor Activities

One of the advantages of there being so many hills in the area, is that Dubuque has one of the best skiing resorts in the Midwest. There are biking and hiking trails in the area, including a 26-mile trail.  There are a number of golf courses in the area that challenge golfers in their own unique way.

  1. Casinos and Gaming

The Diamond Jo Casino has slots and gaming tables, as well as a bar that hosts weekend live entertainment. It also has a 26-lane bowling alley. The Iowa Greyhound Park has live dog racing in the summer, but slots and table games all the year.

  1. Places To Eat

There are many dining opportunities in Dubuque from locally owned restaurants to many popular chains. You can find great Italian food, some delicious Chinese, and some authentic Mexican restaurants.

If you’re moving to Dubuque, then you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised when you get here. In addition to the many things to do in the area, there are many beautiful homes for sale. If you’d like to get a tour of the city and begin looking for a home to buy, then contact one of the Realtors at American Realty. We know the city and its many attractions, as well as the housing market.