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 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.

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.


How Buyers Searching For Homes For Sale In Dubuque Has Changed Dramatically

Selling a home in Dubuque is more than putting a sign out front saying home for sale by owner. That might work if someone happens to drive by that is in the market to buy, is in your price range, and hoping to relocate in your neighborhood. People seldom drive around anymore looking for a home. Instead they do most of their searching from the comfort of their home.

Buyers Search Online

Searching for Homes

The internet has changed the way people search for homes. According to one recent report, 45% of home buyers begin their search online.  And 90% use the internet at some point in their search.

One of the main reasons for the increase in online usage is that there are so many advantages to looking online. Especially compared to a newspaper ad that has a photo of the home’s exterior and a few lines of description about the home. They can scroll through numerous color images of a home and have a detailed description of it. According to, of those that used the internet 89% found photos and 85% found detailed information for sale to be very useful.

When they search on homes, one of the first places they go to is Google to find home listings. The majority of these searches won’t go past the first page. This means that you want your home listed in online tools such as and Zillow. You also want to know that if you do go with a real estate agency, that their site is also on the first page of Google and Bing for Dubuque real estate. This ensures you’re getting the most maximum exposure for your home.

Mobile phones have also impacted how people search for homes. Now they search for homes while they are out going to open houses, looking for real estate listings close to their current location. They can also look up online to see its cost and what the interior looks like. They could fall in love with your home even before they’ve stepped out of their car.

They Still Look To Realtors For Help Searching

Despite the rise in online usage, having a Realtor is still critical to the buying process. Based on a survey by, 17% of home buyers contacted a Realtor even before they started searching.  And 88% of new home buyers purchased their home through a Realtor, with the main reason that they could rely on them to find the right home.

One benefit to using a Realtor is that they can let other Realtors know about your listings the minute it comes on the market. By the time the morning newspaper has come out you might have had 3 showings already.

Yet, its more than just helping with finding a home that people look to Realtors. It’s to help them through the process, from negotiating price to navigating all the paperwork involved.

Finally, they can help with Open Houses, which is still crucial for getting potential buyers into a home.

People Still Rely on The Newspaper, But Not As Much

The importance of print media has dropped over the years. According to only 20% of buyers used the newspaper to look for a home in 2015, down from 48% just seven years ago. While these numbers are down from what they were in the past, they still represent a good number of buyers. Having your home listed in the newspaper still has its benefits, particularly in a community the size of Dubuque.

As you can see from this graphic, potential home buyer use a lot of resources to look for a home and how they search has changed significantly.

If you’re looking to sell a home in the Dubuque area, then consider American Realty. We use a number of sources from online advertising to print ads to get your property exposure. Contact our office today to speak with one of our experienced Realtors.