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Top Home Buying Myths Debunked!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

There is a lot of misinformation out there about Home Buying! From process to financing and everything in between, it is easy to be overwhelmed as a home buyer and make mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Let us debunk 9 major home buying myths to help you smoothly find your dream home in Mason City IA today!

 

Myth 1: The first step of the process is looking for a house.

Although the home search might seem like the obvious first step in the home buying process, it is not. Your first step as a home buyer should always be getting your finances in order! Make sure that your credit is in top form and, most importantly, get pre-approval on a mortgage. By doing these two things, you are able to focus your home search on those houses that actually fit within your budget. Pre-approval also makes you more attractive to sellers from the get go.


Myth 2: 30-year mortgage is your best finance option.

30-year mortgages can be deceiving. Monthly payments on 30-year mortgages are lower than those that are 15-year. However, since the amount of money borrowed is the same for both options but the time frame is twice as long to pay back on the 30-year mortgage, you end up paying MORE over those 30 years and at a higher interest rate. This is not to say that a 30-year mortgage is not right for you. Just make sure to do plenty of research to truly decide what loan option best fits your financial situation. Check out our Finance Information for help with this step of the process.


Myth 3: A down payment must be 20%.

Buyers can avoid paying for Private Mortgage Insurance by making a 20% down payment. However, not all lenders require that amount. You may be eligible for loans with a 5 or 10% down payment if you are willing to pay for PMI monthly. Additional down payment assistance options, such as FHA loans, might also be available for you.


Myth 4: Your only upfront cost is the down payment.

When budgeting for a new home, many home buyers only consider the initial down payment. However, you want to budget for additional costs that can always occur during the buying process. These costs include, but are not limited to, credit reports, closing costs, inspections, and insurance.


Myth 5: You cannot buy a home if you have bad credit.

You will undoubtedly have an easier time buying a home if your have good credit. However, you are not out of luck if your credit is less than ideal. There are several financing options, such as FHA loans, that you might be eligible for. Just make sure to do your research first to make sure that you are selecting an option that is best for you now and in the future.


Myth 6: You can skip the home inspection.

Home buyers should always complete a home inspection. Save money and time by discovering any issues with the house during the inspection process.


Myth 7: You will lose the house if you don't offer asking price.

Home buyers often worry that they will lose out on their dream home if they do not offer the asking price. Although doing so does make you attractive to the seller, there are other things you can do that will often cause the seller to be open to negotiation. By having a pre-approved loan, awesome credit, and a down payment ready to go, sellers know that you are 100% ready to make the purchase. Additionally, if the home inspection unveiled any issues with the home, you can negotiate for a lower price based on the findings and necessary repairs needed.


Myth 8: Home buying is easy on your own.

Whether it's your first home or you have purchased a new home in the past, working with an Experienced Realtor during the home buying process is always a good idea. We are filled with a wealth of helpful knowledge. We are experts on the local market, have years of negotiation experience, and can help take a lot of the stressful work off of your hands.


Myth 9: Your immediate needs are the most important deciding factor.

Choose a home based on your needs now AND in the future. Although it is impossible to know your future, you want to pick a home that you will continue to fit your potential lifestyle needs that have developed 10+ years from now. Consider the home and the neighborhood.

If you are ready to buy your dream home, work with the Top Realtor Mason City IA! We can help you find the perfect property to fit your needs within the North Iowa Homes for Sale! Give our experienced Team a call today at 641-425-4900 or visit our website at http://www.janefischer.com/.

Clear Lake's Color the Wind Kite Festival!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

It's time to bundle up in your warmest cold weather gear and head out on the ice for the 2019 Color the Wind Kite Festival in beautiful Clear Lake! This Saturday, February 16th, marks the return of one of North Iowa's favorite winter traditions! Come to the Downtown Seawall (10 North Lakeview Drive) from 11 am to 4 pm to see the sky filled with incredibly, colorful kites! It is fun for the whole family!

 

This event is the midwest's largest winter kite festival! It features giant inflatable kites with participants from all around the country! And, admission is FREE!

 

Pick up your own beautiful kite for sale from Route 66 Kite Shop (located in the Lakeview Room) to join in on the high flying fun!

 

Enjoy delicious hot food from Smokey Heights and delicious sweets from a local Relay of Life team.

 

Check out incredible performances throughout the day by two talented, professional stunt kite teams: Team 180GO and Fire & Ice Alchemy.

 

Take the little ones over to the Clear Lake Arts Center (17 South 4th Street) that morning to make their very own kite. This free Kids' Kitemaking Workshop will begin at 10 am and continue until the kite kits are gone.


Please note there will be limited parking close to the flying field. Luckily for all of us, the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce is offering a free trolley service from 10 am until 4:30 pm. The trolley will pick up from Clear Lake High School (125 North 20th Street), where parking will be available, and will drop riders off in the vicinity of the festival.

 

Check out our Website and follow us on Facebook for information on more great North Iowa events throughout the year! Jane Fischer & Associates wishes everyone a warm and fun time at Color the Wind 2019!



Image Credit: Color the Wind 2019

 

Top Valentine's Day Dining Spots in North Iowa!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Valentine’s Day is almost here! What better way to show your sweetheart how much you love them than with a romantic dinner for two! Luckily for you, there are many incredible dining options for you in beautiful North Iowa! We compiled a list of our top choices for Valentine's Day dinner in Mason City and Clear Lake to make planning your romantic evening even easier!


1910 Grille’ | 7 West State Street, Mason City | (641) 422-0015

--Enjoy a fine dining experience with upscale cuisine and tasty cocktails at this beautiful restaurant located within the last hotel that Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built.


GeJo's By The Lake | 12 North 3rd Street, Clear Lake | (641) 357-8288

--Look out over beautiful Clear Lake as you enjoy delicious, hearty Italian fare.


Prime N Wine | 3000 4th Street Southwest, Mason City | (641) 424-8153

--This spot might not offer the most intimate setting, but the large wine list, prime cuts of

meat, and delicious food make it a great spot for a special dinner.


The Anchor Inn | 468 North Shore Drive, Clear Lake | (641) 357-8688

--This Clear Lake staple might seem casual for a romantic dinner but the food never disappoints and the small town feel cannot be beat.


The Quarry & Tapas Bar | 10 South Federal Avenue, Mason City | (641) 421-0075

--This restaurant has incredible service and delicious menu offerings. While it’s full meals are equally delicious, it is a good spot for those that like to try a wide variety of items to share throughout their meal.



Jane Fischer & Associates wishes everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day! Follow us on Facebook for more holiday ideas and community information throughout the year.

Keep Your Home Nice And Cozy During The Cold Winter!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

This winter has been brutally cold! Make sure your North Iowa home is keeping you nice and cozy during the last few months of the season! Increase your home's energy efficiency, save money on your heating bill, and protect your family during the frigid temperatures by following these 7 Easy Steps to Winterize Your Home!

 

1. Dodge Drafts! Drafts can waste 5% to 30% of your home's energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)! Save that energy by placing a draft blocker under your doors.


2. Use A Window Insulation Kit! Head to your local hardware store for some plastic for your windows. This adds an additional buffer against the cold.


3. Add Storm Windows! Skip the plastic and install storm windows that will last you for years to come. Studies show that these windows can save 12% to 33% on your heating costs every year!


4. Caulk Windows & Doors! Air leaks throughout the house waste a lot of energy. Be sure to caulk and seal all your windows and doors properly.


5. Replace Furnace Filters! Dirty filters increase energy use by restricting airflow. Plus, the irritants trapped in it can make your family sick! Your furnace filter should be changed every month during the winter. To save time and money (in the long run), consider using a permanent filter.


6. Monitor Your Heat! Make sure you turn down the thermostat everytime you aren't home to reduce energy waste. Also, save money by turning down your heat a degree or two and wrap up in a warm blanket instead!


7. Lower Your Water Temperature! According to the DOE, you can annually save 4% to 22% by turning down your water heater's temperature! Most water heaters are automatically set to 140ºF. Lower the temperature to 120ºF. Trust us, you won't notice the difference....aside from the money you will be saving!

 

 

Like and Follow-us on Facebook for more great tips and new homes to the market.


Understanding Home Buying Contingencies!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

During your search for a new home, you find that many have Contingent Offer statuses. It is important to understand what these are and whether or not you want to proceed with that particular property. Contingent offers are standard in real estate contracts. They mean that once an offer has been made by the buyer and accepted by the seller, the final sale is contingent upon a set of criteria. There are 3 major contingencies you will find: Home Inspection, Appraisal, and Mortgage. These contingencies allow the buyer to back out of the sale within a certain amount of time and regain their deposit if something goes wrong.


 

HOME INSPECTION CONTINGENCY

The one contingency that you almost always want to have is the home inspection contingency. This gives the buyer the right to have the home professionally inspected before the deal is finalized. A good inspection will find anything wrong with the house. When an issue is found, the buyer can ask the seller to fix it or back out of the sale.

 

APPRAISAL CONTINGENCY

The appraisal contingency means that the lender will hire a third party to evaluate the fair market value of the home. If the appraised value comes in less than the sale price, the buyer can back out of the deal. This helps protect the buyer from overpaying for a home. Here is an example. A home is selling for $250,000. Your loan covers 90% and you need to put down 10% upfront. The home is appraised for $215,000. The loan will now be for $193,500, covering 90% of the appraised value. This means instead of paying a down payment of $25,000 you now are expected to pay $56,500. If the seller will not lower the price based on the appraised value, the buyer can walk away and get their deposit back. In a market with a lot of competition, buyers might want to waive this contingency to be more appealing to the seller. However, realize that waiving this can be a risky move. You can always ask for a second appraisal and present the lender with evidence as to why the home is worth more. This might enable you to secure a loan for the full amount.

 

MORTGAGE CONTINGENCY

The mortgage contingency protects both the buyer and seller by ensuring that the proper finances are in place before getting into a sale. This contingency gives the buyer a certain period of time to obtain a loan that covers the mortgage. If a loan cannot be secured, the buyer can exit the sale with their deposit. This contingency can be easily avoided by knowing that you qualify as soon as you start the home buying process. Use our Loan Analysis tool to help find out what you can afford.

 

Still have questions? For more Home Buying Tips, give our experienced Team a call, visit our website, or check out our Facebook Page. We are here to help if you're considering Buying, Selling, or Investing in Real Estate in the North Iowa. Contact us today at 641-425-4900 or http://www.janefischer.com/.


Master The Art Of The Open House!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Open houses are the most valuable tool you can use during the search for your dream home. They allow you to go beyond the online listing and truly see whether or not the home is the right fit for you. Knowing how to be an effective open house guest can help you get the most out of the process and ensure that you are moving into your new home in no time. Follow these helpful tips to make you the savviest open house guest on the block!

 

Scope Out the Neighborhood

Arrive a bit early for the open house and take a little tour around the neighborhood. Talk to neighbors that are out and about to see whether the area is a good match for you.

 

Arrive Early

Beat the crowd by getting there early. This will allow you more time to talk with the listing agent before you have to compete for their attention.

 

Be Friendly

If you like the house and want to make an offer, you will be entering into negotiations with the listing agent shortly. You want to always make the best first impression so that any part of the process that is yet to come will go smoothly.

 

Don't Overshare

Remember that the listing agent is there for the seller and not you. Be smart about what information you share in order to not weaken your negotiating power.

 

Ask Questions

This is your opportunity to truly see if the house will work for you and find out information beyond what is provided online. Don't be shy about asking questions and take lots of notes. These will help you make your final decision. Important questions to ask include: What offers have been made? What is the seller's timeline? How long has the home been on the market? Has the price changed at all? What recent repairs and renovations have been completed? What are the average utility costs in the summer and winter?

 

Thank the Listing Agent

After you have gotten everything that you need from the open house, be sure to thank the listing agent for their assistance and hospitality. Hopefully you will be seeing them soon as you close on the home!



For more useful home buying tips, visit our Website and follow us on Facebook!

 

Craft A Winning Offer Like A Real Estate Pro!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

The most important part of the home Buying process is crafting your offer. Being prepared for this process and well informed can help ensure that the dream home you find will be yours. Since this is the most technical part of buying, working with the Top Realtor Mason City IA can help ease your stress and help you get the best deal possible. Here is our step to step guide to offers for you to make a successful bid on your future home in Mason City IA!

 

1. Determine your limits. This includes your financial and lifestyle limits (i.e. your must haves). Once you know your limits, you can work with your agent on crafting an offer that is best for you.


2. Understand the documentation. Do some research ahead of time on offer forms so that you can understand the terminology. Ask your realtor to see some of the forms and ask any questions that you might have.


3. Set your price. The listing price is what the seller is opening the negotiation with. It is now your turn to provide an offer price. Work with your realtor to determine whether the asking price is fair based on comparable properties, how long it has been on the market, and other related factors. You want to make sure that you provide an offer price that is comfortably within your range and will also be attractive to the seller.


4. Prepare for your down payment. You should have a clear understanding of your finances before putting in an offer for the home. In order to get your mortgage, you will need to put in a down payment. While 20% is the standard for conventional loans, there are other options out there. Work with your lender to determine the option that work best with your finances.

 

5. Make an EMD. Consider making an earnest money deposit to show the seller you are serious about buying the home. Doing this can help you stand apart if the seller has received other offers. If the deal goes through, the money from the EMD will be applied to your down payment during closing.

 

6. Review contingencies. As a buyer, contingencies are especially important in protecting your investment. There are several contingencies that you might find within an offer, including home inspection, financing, appraisal, clear title, and home sale. Talk to your realtor about which ones need to be included. If there is a lot of competition for the home you are interested in, you might want to only include those contingencies you must have as to not scare the seller away.

 

7. Read all the details. It is important that you read every single detail, including the fine print, of a sales contract to avoid any surprises. Along with the obvious information included in these contracts, there is a property description section where the seller will specificy what items are being left behind with the house.

 

8. Set your settlement date. When you submit your sales contract, you will provide the seller with a proposed settlement date. This is how much time you have to obtain mortgage approval and complete a title search. It also gives the seller time to find their next property and move. Be flexible when you set the closing date to keep both you and the seller happy.

 

9. Write a letter. Along with the legal documentation, consider including a personal letter to the seller. You can comment them on their property and tell them why you personally have fallen in love with it. Adding a personal, emotional touch to your offer can really help set you apart.

 

10. Be ready for a counter offer. Most real estate deals require some negotiation so do not be surprised or discouraged if the seller counters your offer. The preparation you did ahead of time and your relationship with your realtor can help you navigate this process with confidence.



If you are ready to buy your dream home in North Iowa, search our Homes for Sale. Give our experienced Team a call today at 641-425-4900 or visit our website at http://www.janefischer.com/.

Get Your Dancing Shoes Ready For Clear Lake's Winter Dance Party!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Mark your calendars for the biggest party of the year in Clear Lake! It’s time to celebrate three of rock n’ roll’s greatest legends [Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson] at the 2019 WINTER DANCE PARTY in the beautiful, historic Surf Ballroom. The town will be filled with fun, rock n' roll activity from Wednesday, January 30th, through Saturday, February 2nd! Check out the Schedule of Events to find information about recurring events, such as the “Rave On” Art Exhibit, Rockin’ Boppin’ Record Show, Movie: The Real Buddy Holly Story Rockumentary, and Movie: Bohemian Rhapsody, AND SO MUCH MORE!!!! Purchase tickets in advance HERE so you don’t miss out on any of the fun!

Wednesday, January 30th

Family Sock Hop

6:30 pm | Surf Ballroom & Museum

Performances by: Johnny Rogers History of Rock Show

Tickets: $15 in advance, $18 at the door | FREE for youth 5 and under

*Please note that this is a separate ticket from the Thursday-Saturday festival pass!

 

Thursday, January 31st

Winter Dance Party: Thursday Night

6:30 pm | Surf Ballroom & Museum

Performances by: Good Clean Fun Band, Jay and The Americans, Little Anthony and The Imperials, and Robin Luke

Tickets: $150 in advance, $200 at the door (Package ticket valid for Thursday-Saturday evenings)

 

Friday, February 1st

Winter Dance Party: Friday Night

6:30 pm | Surf Ballroom & Museum

Performances by: Austin Allsup, Bobby Cochran, Craig Westover with James Popenhagen, Edan Everly, Frank Avalon, Linda Gail Lewis with Danny & Annie, Mario Ramirez, The Killer Vees, and Wendy & Carnie Nelson

Tickets: $150 in advance, $200 at the door (Package ticket valid for Thursday-Saturday evenings)

 

Saturday, February 2nd

Memorial Site Tour

9:50 am | Surf Ballroom

Tickets: $8 per person (Limited Availability)

Escorted motor coach tour to the crash site. 75 to 90 minute tour.

Ritchie Valens Family Luncheon

11:00 am | Best Western Holiday Lounge

Performances by: Mario Ramirez and The Rivieras

Tickets: $25 in advance (Reservations required)

Join the Valens family for a meal and dancing.

Winter Dance Party: Saturday Night   

6:30 pm | Surf Ballroom & Museum

Performances by: Albert Lee & Friends, Brian Hyland, Chris Montez, Chubby Checker and The Wildcats, Holy Rocka Rollaz, Johnny Tillotson, Shirley Alston Reeves, and The Chiffons

Tickets: $150 in advance, $200 at the door (Package ticket valid for Thursday-Saturday evenings)

 

For more information on great upcoming events throughout North Iowa, visit our Website or follow us on Facebook!

Image Credits: 2019 Winter Dance Party

 

January is Radon Action Month!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

 

 

Keep your family safe in your North Iowa home during National Radon Action Month. Check out all of the EPA’s helpful information and home owner resources regarding radon HERE. For information related specifically for our state, including help finding certified radon mitigation professionals, use these links:

 

 

 

Find more great home safety and home improvement tips on our Website or by following us on Facebook!

How To Find The Perfect Neighborhood For You!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

While the house itself is clearly the most important aspect of the buying process, it is important to remember that you are buying more than just the physical property. You are also “buying” its location! You want to invest in a neighborhood you want to call home. 

 

Clear Lake, Mason City, and the other communities of North Iowa are filled with unique neighborhoods that are sure to fit your particular needs. Unsure how to find the right one for you and your family? These are the important factors when choosing your perfect neighborhood!

 

 

 

1. Home Value: The value of the property is important to understand in terms of what you are paying for right now, but also how the value might change in the future. Make sure you are getting the most for your invest by checking the comps for similar properties within the neighborhood to ensure the home you are interested in is correctly priced. 

 

2. Taxes: Along with your other housing payments, you need to think about and budget for property taxes. You can find out the taxes for the homes you are looking at by checking their listing information. 

 

3. Local Schools: Whether you have children or not, local schools should be a factor you consider. Strong schools have a positive effect on property values, helping increase your profitability were you to ever sell the home in the future. If you have children, living near the best schools possible helps to give them the strongest education you possibily can. Along with schools, also consider if there are any parks or community centers nearby as these can also add value. 

 

4. Crime & Safety: We all want to feel safe and secure at home and in our neighborhood. Check out the crime rates for particular neighborhoods on safety websites, such as City-Data and CrimeReports™. When you do your searches, be sure to include those neighborhoods that surround the one you are considering moving to as well. After you gather the information, you can decide if you are comfortable with the safety of the area. 

 

5. Geography & Topography: Geographic or topographic features can come at an additional cost. Is it important to you to live in a waterfront property or on a hillside? Determine what sort of outdoor features are important to you so you can narrow in on the neighborhoods that offer them. While you do this, be sure to consider the insurance needs that might come along with the particular geography/topography of those neighborhoods. 

 

 

 

Want to learn more about a particular North Iowa neighborhood or interested in Buying a home? Give Jane Fischer & Associates a call today or visit our website at http://www.janefischer.com/.

 

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Jane Fischer
Jane Fischer & Associates | Real Estate Consultants
641-424-HOME (4663)

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