Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Cedar Rapids Iowa REALTOR®Below are questions I get asked frequently (obviously). I will be updating these as time goes by and new questions come in. If you have a question that is not here, contact me. I will reply back to you and post the question here for others to reference in the future.

Questions and Answers

Q: Is the assessed value listed on the assessors site the value of the home?

A: No, unfortunately. That would make my job a lot easier. The original intent was probably for that purpose and tax purposes as well, but with changing market conditions a lot of times they have not been updated. Presently, you could have a home that is either under assessed or over assessed. The important number to know is the market value of the home. Primarily, the assessed value is used for tax purposes.

Q: What is market value and how do you find it out? (What is the value of our home?)

A: Market value is what a buyer is willing to pay for your home. A REALTOR® will be able to put together a detailed report giving a range of what the home is worth. This can be done for both buyers and sellers. You could also get an appraisal which should give you a good indication as well. If you are a buyer, an appraisal will be done for your financing | mortgage after you have an accepted offer on a home.

Q: Can we get money from the seller at closing?

A: Yes and No. Depending on what loan | mortgage program you are doing, you can ask for between 3-6% for concessions to cover the costs of getting your financing | mortgage. If you end up asking for more money than you need, the only money you can get back is what you put down for earnest money. The rest will go back to the seller. Any money passed under the table is fraud and such activities were what helped create some of the mortgage mess.

Q: What are concessions?

A: Concessions: origination fee, pre-paids, and closing costs. Overall, these represent the out of pocket expenses to buy a home.

Q: Are For Sale By Owners good deals?

A: That depends on the home being sold. If you want to shop For Sale By Owners the list price of the home should be a minimum of 7% less than the market value. Otherwise, you will be paying for professional services that you won't receive. Also, make sure the owner is following state law requirements. I have had some clients that bought For Sale By Owner, and when I went to sell the property it took me a year to get things cleaned up.

Q: What are the ages of the mechanicals etc?

A: The seller's property disclosure should give you a good idea, but you should always get a certified home inspection to verify as much information as possible. It should also give you a good picture of what to expect and the current condition of the home.

Q: What is your commission?

A: Our market is a 7% market which is also our policy at Keller Williams Legacy Group. The commission is split 50/50 between the two real estate companies involved, and often there is a split between the agent and his/her company as well. In situations such as higher end homes and working with builders, we do provide different commission schedules.

Q: How do we find out how much we can afford?

A: In almost every case, you can get approved for more than you can afford. Ultimately you must decide what fits your budget. A REALTOR® will be able to evaluate your situation and give you a rough estimate. To get an exact figure you will need to visit with a loan officer.

Q: What is a GFE?

A: GFE stands for good faith estimate and is provided by your lender. A GFE breaks down the costs in buying a home. A REALTOR® will be able to take your GFE and apply it toward the home you like, figuring out what it will cost to buy the home as well as figuring in all the costs associated. This includes costs not on the GFE and your tax credit from the seller.

Q: How do we buy or sell a home?

A: This is a great question with numerous answers that depend on your situation. The best thing to do is to sit down with a REALTOR® and look at your unique situation. To view a list of services I provide for buying a home click here or a selling a homeclick here.

Q: Can a REALTOR® show any listing?

A: An agent, regardless of which company they work for, can show any listing to you as the client. For example I work for Keller Williams Legacy Group. If you are my client, I can show you any listings represented by Iowa Realty, Coldwell Banker, ReMax, Skogman, etc.

Q: What can a REALTOR® do for me?

A: Great question. For buying a home, click here, selling a home, click here, or for new construction, click here.

Q: What are the interest rates like?

A: Click here to see current interest rates. Current interest rates are fantastic.

Q: If we sell our home how much will it cost?

A: A REALTOR® will be able to provide you with an estimate of proceeds using hypothetical numbers from your market analysis on what should happen and how that will affect you. Once an offer is received, your agent should be able to tell you where your bottom line stands if you accept that offer. Once you do accept an offer, you should know what to expect before you get to the closing table, leaving no room for surprises.

Q: Is staging necessary when selling our home?

A: Definitely. In today's market the better representation/condition you can provide, the faster your home will sell, and for the most amount of money.

Q: What is the market like?

A: The market is always changing and a REALTOR® will be able to give you an honest assessment. Living in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area we are lucky to not experience a lot of the turbulence and strife found in other areas of the country. In effect, we do not see high appreciations or large drops in any given year, leaving our market stable and in great shape. This is a great place to live, work, and own a home, or homes.

Q: Is it a good time to build?

A: I think so. Some builders are offering more incentives. Additionally, in a more select market, your construction quality should be better and more unique, in my opinion.

Q: What is financing | mortgage?

A: This is a question with varying answers. A REALTOR® will be able to sit down and explain the different loan options and what they mean to you. View my financing | mortgage services.

Q: What is earnest money?

A: Earnest money is provided by the buyer as a security deposit when buying a home. The money is deposited into the trust account of the selling agent's company. The seller does not receive the money unless the buyer backs out of the deal or some other unique situation happens. The most commonly used amounts are $500 and $1000. As the price of the home increases so does the amount of earnest money in most cases.

Q: Can you explain property taxes?

A: Yes, property taxes exist here. The tax year goes from July 1 till June 30th of each year with instalments due in September and March. As a seller, your taxes are always behind. Therefore, when you go to sell your home you will have to pay your back taxes at closing, in effect, providing a tax credit to the buyers. For example, if you close December 1st you will pay your March instalment and then a pro-ration from July 1 till December 1st. Whenever you buy a home (outside of new construction), you should receive a tax credit-unless you didn't want it. This explains why when you build a home you do not have any taxes for up to two years in some cases. Your new home has to be assessed and then applied to the tax year.