If you’re like me, it was pretty incredible to see what happened in the housing market in the last 12-18 months. Iowa’s housing market has always been pretty steady (and resilient, even during and after the crisis of 2008). But if you talked to anyone buying or selling a home in the Cedar Rapids area recently, it felt as if our market had morphed into something you hear on the coasts – feeding frenzy, escalating home values, and competing offers driving prices up.
Despite the market, if you’re at a stage in life where you’re ready for a new home (getting married? Growing your family? Moving to a better location? Ready to downsize?) – you might be fearful of starting the process.
Bottom line: In 2022, the market is expected to stabilize, and it will be a good time to buy.
Let’s go through a few common fears, and what you can do about them.
1. Will I even be able to find a home?
Yes, inventory in the local market is low (but expected to start increasing again!). I have still been able to find my clients homes that check all their boxes, even in this market. How? I network with local Realtors to learn about homes that haven’t hit the market yet, I have access to the MLS of all properties as they come up for sale in your desired neighborhood, and I can get you in to see houses in a competitive time, and eventually make a competitive offer.
2. Will I pay too much for my new home?
A lot of us are still stinging from living through the 2008 housing crisis, and the uncertainty of a global pandemic. The truth is, homes in the Cedar Rapids area have steadily appreciated in value during the past 15 years (despite .5% drops in 2009 and 2013). Home values in the area have increased, but I help my clients negotiate competitive offers with the long game in mind so they don’t panic and get into a home they can’t build equity in.
3. Will mortgage interest rates go up this year?
Inflation and an uncertain global market will increase rates this year. But, rates have been so low, for so long, it’s easy to lose perspective. Predictions point to mortgage interest rates this year could reach 4%, which is still low.
4. Will it be hard to maintain or repair my new home with the current supply chain?
If you’re a newer home owner, home maintenance can feel like a steep climb. To start, make sure you get a home inspection pre-purchase, and rely on your Realtor (me!) to negotiate larger-ticket items for you before you take possession. (Negotiating a home warranty is a good idea, too). Next, the rest is pretty do-able: Find a plumber and pest control company to keep on speed-dial (it’ll come in handy, I promise – bonus points if you have an HVAC company on speed dial, too – furnaces and AC units always break when you need them). Try to build savings just for maintenance, and look long-term for ways you might want to improve your home.
5. I’m worried the process will be too complex, and my life is too busy right now.
As a father of 2, who is currently working and renovating a 90-year-old house, I understand 100%. The most exciting times in our lives also tend to be the busiest! This is where having an experienced Realtor you can trust comes in. I’m here to make things simple, do the heavy lifting behind the scenes and make your needs the priority, and take you through the process one step at a time.
Thinking about making changes to your home? If you’re smart, you’re also wondering how these changes will impact the value of your home down the line when you are ready to sell it. There are many ways to update your home to suit your tastes, and those changes come in all shapes and sizes.
But to really impact the value of your home, here are the top ways you can increase what your home is worth.
1. Add a bedroom.
Adding a bedroom is the number one way to add significant value to your home, especially since the pandemic and home offices/home school rooms went from luxury to necessity. If you have the space and the funds, adding a bedroom will pay dividends at re-sale. PROTIP: To be considered a bedroom at assessment time, there must be an egress window (a window large enough for entry or exit in case of emergency) and there must be a closet. The room must also have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet and a minimum total area of 70 square feet.
2. Install an additional full bathroom.
If you’re going to add a bedroom to your home, and you have the space (especially if the new bedroom is in the basement), you might as well add a full bathroom, too. PROTIP: Some people can get pretty creative about what should be considered a full bathroom, but a pipe coming out of the wall in the basement is not a “shower” – sorry, friends. By definition, a full bathroom is a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower or bathtub (or both).
3. Update the finishes in your kitchen and bathrooms.
Updating your kitchen and bathroom space will add value to your home and make it a lot more marketable. While you don’t need to drop serious coin on luxury updates, you could upgrade to middle-of-the-road quality cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Try to go with a classic or transitional versus a trendy look. Not only will updating your kitchen and bathrooms add value to your home but it will attract buyers who are looking for turnkey properties.
4. Maximize outdoor entertaining space.
The bottom line is, especially post-pandemic, everyone is looking for a way to enjoy their yard. The best way is to add an outdoor space where you can entertain friends and family with easy access to the kitchen or at the very least a grill. If you don’t already have a poured patio or deck, consider adding one – and bonus points if you go for a maintenance-free material.
5. Add a laundry room (or move one) to the main or second level.
The traditional place for the washer/dryer has always been the basement. Over the past 20 -30 years, the washer and dryer have migrated to the main floor. Now the big trend is to get the laundry room as close to the bedrooms as possible. One of my favorite features in new construction is a laundry room that literally connects to the walk-in master bedroom closet.
6. One thing to AVOID – don’t take away storage space.
When homeowners renovate, one of the ways they can accidently devalue their home, or at the very least make their home less attractive to potential buyers, is eliminating storage space during the addition of a bedroom or finished basement. You can also maximize existing storage space by adding shelves to a garage or utility room.
Bottom line: approach changes to your home with the end in mind.
While some of these tips will literally add tens of thousands of dollars of value to your home, the most important thing to recognize is, at some point if you are a homeowner, you will sell your home. In order to attract potential buyers, ensure a quick painless transaction and get the best possible price, you always should be thinking about how you can add value to your property.
It’s a seller’s market, you’ve got equity, and you’ve decided it’s finally time to sell your home!
After you call your Realtor (me) to tell me the good news, I come by to walk through your home. Chances are, we want to get your house listed ASAP to take advantage of weekend home shoppers.
Here are ways you can prepare to sell your house
You have lovingly cared for your home while you’ve owned it, but that’s not the same as being “show ready.” When you go to sell your home, you want complete strangers (who have different tastes) to be able to imagine themselves living there. Basically, you don’t want anything to detract from the space, features, and best offer for your house.
1. SPRUCE UP THE OUTSIDE: Make the front entry bright and cheery with colorful potted plants and flowers. Trim shrubs, pull weeds, add new mulch, mow the lawn, restain the deck, and remove any grease stains on the driveway. Touch up peeling paint on the house and exterior doors, especially where the buyers enter. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
2. PAINT WHERE NEEDED: Paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more appealing to a potential buyer. Brightly colored rooms should be re-done in a basic, neutral color. Touch up paint in the areas where there are stains, chips or scuffs. The less painting a buyer feels like they need to do, the better.
3. ORGANIZE ROOMS AND CLOSETS: Get rid of items you don't need and organize the items you do need. Don't forget the garage and storage rooms. Buyers will check to make sure they have enough storage. Fewer items in these areas will make the space feel bigger.
4. MAKE YOUR HOME FEEL SPACIOUS: Rearranging furniture and reducing knicknacks can be one of the easiest (and free!) ways to make your home feel larger and more marketable. Create an easy traffic flow. The less furniture and stuff in a room, the bigger it feels to the new buyer.
5. LET THERE BE LIGHT: Open up drapes and blinds for photos and showings. Replace the light bulbs in your home with higher wattage bulbs and clean the fixtures and shades. Buyers appreciate light and feel more comfortable in areas that are well-lit.
6. MAKE YOUR HOME SMELL GOOD: Add subtle air fresheners that give off a clean smell, especially in bathrooms and areas with pet odors. Avoid potent flowery air fresheners that just cover up the smell. Open windows and air the house out when you can. In some instances you may need to hire a professional cleaner to eliminate major odors such as pet urine or cigarette smoke. Even though they aren’t a major structural change, odors are a major deterrent for buyers.
7. CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN: This includes wiping down walls, cabinets, light switches, light fixtures, windows, sinks, and tubs. Detail the floors and baseboards. Get the carpets professionally cleaned if needed. There’s no substitute for a clean house. De-clutter and organize kitchen and bathroom countertops, and store away personal items.
These are all things you can do in the month or so leading up to when you actually list your house on the market. Have additional questions about preparing your home for sale (or wondering what NOT to invest in before you sell your home?) Send questions my way using this handy contact form, and I’ll be in touch.
You have more choices today than ever before when it comes to buying or selling a house in the Cedar Rapids area. Why should you choose to work with a Realtor, specifically me?
I facilitate a dialogue, sort of like a house therapist. I help you talk about what you want in a home, and I help partners come to an agreement on the perfect house, and I help you prioritize your wishes based on your budget.
I don’t sell houses, I help people. When we look at houses together, I don’t see it as my job to sell you that particular house. You might ask me for an opinion, and I’ll tell you about the features and drawbacks of the home, and how it compares to your priorities. We’ll talk about what I see as a fair price for it, and we will work together to determine if it’s the perfect house for YOU.
I simplify the process. There’s a lot of negotiating and paperwork that goes into transferring real estate between owners. As your agent (with the backing of an awesome agency like Skogman Realty), I help you navigate the steps so you can only focus on your future home, and we can focus on the best possible offer for it.
I follow up. I like checking in on my clients, and finding out if they need anything for the home after they get settled into their new home. Periodically, I deliver updates on their home’s value compared to recent sales in the area, and I’m always available to help home owner’s decide the best way to maintain or add value to their home.
Have more questions about the process, or want to find out if I can help you on the journey? Reach out to me through this form, and tell me what’s on your mind!