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Heather Morris

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Displaying blog entries 21-27 of 27

Green Facts for Marion and Cedar Rapids Homeowners

by Heather Morris

Eco-friendly claims are the “little black dress” of marketing these days – nearly everybody has one, and they work on so many occasions. Lots of products are sporting “green” labels, but how do you know if they’re genuinely good for the environment? Here are some tips to help savvy Marion and Cedar Rapids homeowners make informed choices.

“Natural” is a completely unregulated term. While artificial ingredients can certainly cause health and ecological problems, so can natural ones. Think of what ammonia can do to an unsuspecting user. On the other hand, a product labeled “organic” by law must be produced without antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, irradiation, or bioengineering according to the USDA.

CFLs, compact fluorescent light bulbs, are not always the best choice for replacing incandescent bulbs. It’s true that they are 75% more efficient than traditional bulbs, but they have their drawbacks. They don’t do well in enclosed fixtures, they don’t like humid places such as bathrooms, and because they contain mercury, disposing of them can be awkward. Consider LED, light emitting diode, bulbs instead. While they are more expensive than CFLs, they last up to five times longer. Another option is an incandescent halogen. They’re more costly than traditional incandescent bulbs, but they can last up to three times longer and use 25-30% less electricity in the process.

Replacing a pre-1993 refrigerator is a good bet, but that doesn’t mean you should simply move it to the basement to hold a stash of beer. That doesn’t count as recycling, nor does simply dropping it off at the landfill. Many utility companies will come and pick it up for you, and some may even pay a small rebate for it. What’s more, the increased energy efficiency of new models will save you $100-$200 per year on your energy bills.

Reliable information is always the best way to ensure you’re getting the most for your investment, and real estate is no different. When you’re ready to buy or sell here in the Marion and Cedar Rapids region, make sure you have a trusted professional in your corner. Call me, and let me fill you in on all of the facts that will make your experience the best it can be.

 

Heather Morris

Skogman Realty

341 8th Avenue

Marion, IA 52302

319-350-7653 (SOLD)

 

www.heathermorrisrealtor.com

The Best Bang for Your Bathroom Buck in Marion & Cedar Rapids

by Heather Morris

Summer often finds Marion and Cedar Rapids homeowners thinking of home improvement projects that will not only make their home lives better now, but will also help them at some point down the road when it’s time to sell. Kitchens may come to mind as the place for great returns on renovation investment dollars, but bathrooms can also be excellent candidates.

According to Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, a well-done bathroom remodel may return up to 80% of your investment at resale time. One of the most visible features in your bathroom is the sink, and there are a number of styles and features from which to choose. Before you run out to buy, however, make sure you know not only what sort of design statement you want to make but also what sort of sink will best fit your space.

There are five basic styles of bathroom sinks, and the type you choose will impact other features of your bathroom as well, such as the vanity and countertop, cabinet knobs, and control handles not only on the sink but also on the shower and/or tub. Plus, the size of your bathroom will also play an important part in your decision.

Wall-mounted sinks are great for smaller spaces, but depending upon the type of plumbing they require, their installation may be more involved. One-piece sinks, often with pedestal bases, are simpler to install and their bases hide the plumbing and drain lines. The drawback with these choices is that they offer little or no built-in storage possibilities.

Drop-in sinks require a suitably sized hole in the vanity or countertop that will allow the sink bowl to fit inside while supporting the sink’s rim flush on the surface. By contrast, under-mount sinks are installed beneath the countertop and require a finished edge above. Vessel sinks are very popular choices at the moment. They resemble a freestanding bowl resting on top of the sink base, and many come prepackaged with an integrated faucet or vanity.

Whatever statement you decide to make with your bathroom remodel, remember that the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck at resale time is to retain the services of a Real Estate professional. If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, or you’re ready to become a new homeowner, contact me today and let me help you get the most for your efforts!

 

Heather Morris

Skogman Realty

341 8th Avenue

Marion IA  52302

 

319-350-7653 (SOLD)

http://www.heathermorrisrealtor.com

Tips to Sell Your Marion or Cedar Rapids Home Quickly

by Heather Morris

Today’s real estate market in Marion and Cedar Rapids is nothing like it’s been in the recent past. Interestingly though, while the inventory of homes for sale is increasing, there still seem to be more buyers than sellers out there. This is good news for sellers, but you still shouldn’t forget the basics in order to sell your home quickly and for the right price.

Price is the key – priced correctly for the current market, a home should move right along in any market condition. Given the current low inventory of homes for sale, it may be tempting to price your property on the higher side. But, by tending toward the lower side, your home will command more buyers’ interest, and may even become the target of a bidding war. Starting high means there’s little room to rise; starting lower gives more wiggle room for the price to potentially increase.

Less may be best – when advertising your home, go for the “teaser approach”. The goal of marketing is to make contact with potential buyers. By giving just a small bite of intriguing information, you’re more likely to attract a wider audience curious about your home.

Don’t skimp on digital content – online marketing is a fact of life. More buyers than ever find their preferred properties on the Internet. Creating an ideal online presence for your home will help it find the widest audience possible. Social media outlets are king at the moment. Be sure to leverage them to their full extent.

Renovations aren’t always necessary – more than anything else, the price at which your home is listed is still the primary motivator in selling it. When you’re ready to sell, make any necessary repairs, but don’t feel pressured into making sweeping renovations and upgrades. You probably won’t recoup your investment in them, and they may not contribute all that much to the process of attracting buyers to your home.

Selling your home needn’t be stressful. With the help of a professional realtor, you can relax and know that all of your t’s are crossed and your i's are properly dotted. Whether you’re thinking of selling your property or looking for a home that’s just right, I’m here to take you through the process. Contact me today, and let’s get down to basics.

 

Heather Morris

Skogman Realty

341 8th Avenue

Marion, IA 52302

(319) 350-7653 (SOLD)

 

http://www.heathermorrisrealtor.com

Beating the Heat in Marion and Cedar Rapids

by Heather Morris

There’s nothing quite like summer here in Marion and Cedar Rapids – warm days and long, twilight evenings. Unfortunately, summer can also mean high heat and humidity, and an uncomfortable indoor environment. Here are some ideas to help you keep your cool this season.

Ceiling fans are one of the most economical beat-the-heat upgrades you can make. They’re relatively inexpensive to buy, and there’s an almost unlimited range of sizes and styles to fit your room and decor. For the cost of running a 100-watt bulb, the wind-chill effect they create will help you keep your cool. If you use air conditioning, running a ceiling fan in conjunction with it can save you 40-60 percent.

Speaking of air conditioning, make sure your unit is situated on either the north or east side of your home to keep it out of the direct sun as much as possible. If you can’t move the unit, consider planting trees or shrubs that will give it shade during the sunny months. Getting it out of the sun can save you 10 percent in electricity usage. Don’t forget to clean and change the filters, too. That can save you another 15 percent.

Your home’s windows let in almost 40 percent of the unwanted heat that accumulates during the day. Installing plantation shutters that let you control the light while letting in fresh air are a good option. A more costly one is to install insulated shutters, which can reduce heat exchange by up to 80 percent. A simple option is to use sun control film, much like what you see on some car windows. They reduce heat and glare, but bear in mind that they also reduce the amount of light that gets in. The most basic option of all may be your indoor window treatments. Honeycomb or cellular shades act as insulators, and some even have reflective coatings to block out the light.

Summer is also a great time to find the home of your dreams. The warm weather makes moving simpler, and the current market conditions make this the perfect time to both buy and sell. Call me today, and let me show you just how great this summer can be.

 

Heather Morris
Skogman Realty
341 8th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302

(319) 350-7653 (SOLD)

http://www.heathermorrisrealtor.com

Buying Still a Better Option for Marion and Cedar Rapids

by Heather Morris

Just when we felt ready to let out a sigh of relief about the recovery of the housing market, we hear that mortgage interest rates in Marion and Cedar Rapids are on their way back up. Believe it or not, this really isn’t such a bad thing. Rates for the rest of this year will likely stay below 4%, and even if they were to rise higher, you’d still be better off buying a home than continuing to rent.

Zillow’s chief economist, Jed Kolko, announced that mortgage interest rates would have to rise to more than 10.5% before renting became a better option than buying. He noted that although home prices are creeping upwards, they’re still lower than they were before the market downturn. What’s more, they remain low relative to the monthly cost of renting a similar home.

Kolko and his team calculated the cost of buying and renting identical sets of properties including maintenance, insurance, taxes, closing costs, down payment (they used a figure of 20% down), and the monthly mortgage payment on a 30-year fixed-rate loan. They also assumed that, on average, people would stay in their homes for seven years, would deduct their mortgage interest and property tax payments at the 25% tax bracket, and would enjoy modest home price appreciation.

After all the numbers were crunched, the team discovered that buying remains cheaper than renting as long as the mortgage interest rate remains below 10.5%. This means that with mortgage rates at their current levels, 3.9% or so, buying is 41% cheaper than renting. Even if the rate rises to 5%, buying would still be 34% cheaper than renting. Kolko also noted that we haven’t seen mortgage interest rates of 10.5% since the 1980s.

The bottom line is that now is the perfect time to enter the real estate market whether you’re buying or selling. There is real demand for homes and prices are rising. There are more homes on the market from which to choose, and the mortgage interest rate is still very attractive. It’s a win-win situation. Give me a call today, or stop by the office, and let’s get you into the game!

 

Heather Morris
Skogman Realty
341 8th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302
(319) 350-7653 (SOLD)

http://www.heathermorrisrealtor.com

Cedar Rapids and Marion Mortgage Interest Rates Creeping Upwards

by Heather Morris

After months of record-low mortgage interest rates, Cedar Rapids and Marion homebuyers are seeing slow but sure increases, and the trend is likely to continue in the coming months. Starting at just above 3% at the beginning of the year, we’re now at 3.9% as we near its midpoint.

Several economists and real estate professional organizations are weighing in on just how far, and how quickly, the rates are likely to climb. The National Association of Realtors projects that 30-year fixed rates will reach 4.6% by the second quarter of 2014. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts 4.3% for the same time frame, and Fannie Mae sees 4.5%.

So, what does this mean for homebuyers? The monthly principle and interest payment (P&I) on a $200,000 mortgage increases $70.03 when rates go from 3.9 to 4.5%. This means that purchasing a property at the 3.9% level can save you nearly $850 in the first year alone. Amortize that over the life of the loan, and you’re looking at significant savings in the long run.

Believe it or not, this is all good news for housing. The slow down in the rate of foreclosure sales and the increase in overall sales show that the market is in fact recovering. We’ve been at the bottom of the mortgage interest rate curve, and now we’re heading back up the other side. If you’re considering buying this year, now is the time to do it.

The inventory of homes available for sale is increasing, and there are some fantastic properties here in the region just waiting for a buyer. There’s not been a better time in recent memory to reach for your property ownership goals, and I can help you do just that. Give me a call, stop by the office, or browse the featured properties on my website. Let’s get you into your dream home!

 

Heather Morris
Skogman Realty
341 8th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302
(319) 350-7653 (SOLD)

 

http://www.heathermorrisrealtor.com/

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Heather Morris

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates go up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

Displaying blog entries 21-27 of 27

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Heather Morris
Skogman Realty
341 8th Avenue
Marion IA 52302
(319)350-7653

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