Monthly Archives: January 2017

9 Decisions to Make When Buying A Home

There are few bigger decisions a person can make than purchasing a home. It’s not just the amount of money you’re investing, but also the impact it will have on you and your family’s life.  If you make the wrong decision it could be something you will have to live with for years or worse end

Home Buying in Dubuque

Buying A Home In Dubuque

up losing because it’s something you couldn’t afford or had issues you were unaware of.

If you’re looking to buy a home soon in Eastern Iowa and in the Dubuque area, in particular, then here are some things to consider before you ever sign a contract. It will help to make the buying process that much easier.

What Can You Afford?

The best option is to meet with a mortgage broker to find out what you can afford. In fact, if you can get pre-approved that will make your home buying process that much smoother. After reviewing your financial data, the mortgage agent will likely give you a price range that you can afford. Consider the number carefully, as even with their recommendation you still want to decide how much you’re comfortable with. Then use this as the top of your price range when searching for a home.

Also when it comes to your mortgage get a few estimates to not just get the best rate, but the best closing costs.

Who do you want as a real estate agent?

This is another big decision, as you want someone you can trust, who is an experienced Realtor, and who knows the area. You might be considering to do this without a Realtor, but the advantages they bring outweigh the costs. They can let you know when a home that meets your criteria is immediately on the market. You could be looking at a home before it’s even in the newspaper. They can also make recommendations as you go through a property and help guide you through the entire process.

Where do you want to live?

This might not be as big an issue in Dubuque as it could be in a major city where your commute time could be lengthy depending on where you work. Still, even in Dubuque, you might want something close to where you work or in a specific school district. Maybe you want something in the city or in one of the many beautiful little towns surrounding Dubuque, like Peosta or Dyersville.

What are you doing with your current home, if you have one.

If you currently have a home, then is the purchase of a new home contingent on the old home being sold first or will you carry a bridge loan for both properties. Either way there are factors to consider, such as where you will stay between homes, if necessary, or how long can you afford to pay two loans. Selling your home might be a contingency on the new home.

How fast do you have to move in?

This could be related to the sale of your home or that you are just moving to the Dubuque area and need something quick.  You might find the home of your dreams only to find that the homeowners may not be ready to move out right away. They could be waiting on their own home purchase. If taking possession of a home in a set time is important, then let your Realtor know this.

What features mean the most for your new home?

You might have a wish list for your new home, but which ones are the most important. Is it a big backyard or an open design in the living quarters? How many bedrooms do you need and do you want a finished basement? Perhaps you find a home that has all the items you wish for, but if not, which ones are the deciding factors if you can’t have everything.

How much work are you willing to do?

Maybe you’re willing to sacrifice some of the items on your list because you can make some of the changes yourself. Or maybe the home’s interior has colors that don’t appeal to you. Will you have time to paint them yourself or to do some remodeling. Also what about the yard work. Is the lawn too big for you to take care of or will getting rid of all the snow on the sidewalk and driveway every winter?

Will your life be different in a few years?

Part of that wish list could be a certain number of bedrooms. Yet, if you’re going to be having more kids in a few years, will the new home be able to accommodate them. Or will people be moving out soon and you’ll be left with a place bigger than you need. Most likely this will be a long term investment so you have to think that way.

Are there any flaws in the homes and if so, what to do about them?

Once you’ve found a home and put in a bid that’s been accepted, there are still a few items to be completed. One of these is an inspection of the home. The home inspector is acting on your behalf and will prepare a report for you to review. Most of the findings might be small things, but some might be more significant. Some the mortgage company might even require to be taken care of before closing. And some could be significant enough to impact your offer. The chances of this happening are small, but if they do occur your Realtor can help you through the process.

Read our series on home inspections to learn more about the process.

If you’re planning to start looking for a home soon, then contact American Realty. We serve Dubuque, as well as Asbury, Bellevue, Guttenberg, Balltown, Holy Cross, Sherrill, Peosta, Dyersville, Farley, Sageville, Rickardsville, Bankston, Bernard, East Dubuque, Galena, and Epworth. We’ll have one of our agents meet you with to go over your list and help you find the home that you want. Call us today at (563) 556-4577.


As I mentioned in the first part of this series, there are a number of documents for both sellers and buyers to review in the home sales process. In this we’ll take a look at an actual inspection addendum we use in our Dubuque market. You can view the document by clicking this sample Addendum

The home addendum covers items that the home inspection revealed which were not disclosed by the owners. If you haven’t already, read the first entry in this series in which I go into more detail about what the addendum is.

If you look at this document you will see some of the verbiage we referred to in the first part of this series. Halfway down the first page, the document begins to recite the various inspections a buyer may ask for. The option for the buyer is to either have a particular inspection or decline that opportunity – the choice is theirs.

You will note that each type of inspection has some kind of time line connected with it. For instance, the home inspection – on or before a certain date or within a certain number of days after a certain event occurs – like acceptance of the buyers offer or arranging financing etc.

Home Inspection

The time line for the pest inspection however is on or before a certain date or no later than a certain number of days prior to closing. You want to be careful when choosing these particular dates.

If you move down to the lead-based paint inspection you will see that it would need to be completed by 9 P.M. on the 10th calendar day after acceptance of the purchase contract by the seller.

The septic inspection, since it is required by state law (in Iowa) for certain properties, has its own timelines depending on circumstances.

Take a look at page 3, number 7 RIGHT TO CURE/REPAIR. If the “no exceptions” (a) box is checked and the inspection points out a defect that the seller is willing to correct, then the buyer cannot terminate the contract because of that defect. However, if the (b) box is checked and there are any conditions noted there – like “structural damage or termite” then the buyer would have the right to terminate the contract, even if the seller is willing to remedy the problem.

Especially take a look at number 8 of page 3. This is extremely important. It deals with a sellers or buyers failure to respond within the required time periods. Be sure to read it over.

This inspection addendum is one of many you might find in use across the country. Inspection agreements, whichever one is used in your market, should be designed to accomplish the same thing – to protect all parties to a transaction.


In the third entry of this series we will talk a bit about how a buyer might respond to a seller if an inspection(s) point out defects in a property.