Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 70

Strong Local Schools and the Value of Your Home!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

In today’s blog post we are going to discuss the effect of school ratings on your home value. Strong local schools are obviously a top priority for home owners with children. You want to ensure that your children are educated at the best schools possible. But, ALL homeowners should take into account the quality of schools in the area. Research has shown that it has a dramatic effect on the value of your home!



What are the benefits of strong local schools for buyers and sellers?

Although location has always been an important aspect of home searches, it is now more directly linked with schools in the area. A quality home in a top ranked school district will sell for a higher price and hold a better resale value over the years. So what does this all mean for buyers and sellers? According to a 2016 study by, home values in top ranked school districts were 49% higher than the national median. This doesn't mean that all homes close to the best schools are wildly expensive. Buyers can still find well priced homes within these districts. The best benefit for home buyers that choose to live in excellent school districts is that their home will retain its value. If you ever choose to sell in the future, you know that you will have a better return on your investment thanks to the strong schools! Sellers should use the local school district to their advantage when listing their house. Homes within quality school districts are viewed significantly more often online and sell faster than homes in less sought after districts.


What is the strongest local school district in our North Iowa area?

All of our area's school districts are dedicated to academic excellence and providing our students with a quality education. If a top ranked school district is your upmost priority for your new North Iowa home, however, you should look to the communities of Garner and Ventura! Garner-Hayfield-Ventura Community Schools (605 West Lyons Street, Garner) is a public school district serving 809 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. It has a remarkable student to teacher ratio of 11-1, meaning each student gets the attention they deserve. According to state test scores, 73% of the students are proficient in reading and 83% are proficient in math. Educational review and ranking website recently released their list of the best school districts in Iowa for 2018. Garner-Hayfield Community School District was ranked the 15th best district out of the 312 analyzed. That's in the top 5%! In addition to its overall ranking, it was recognized as the #9 district with the best teachers and the #10 safest school district. Here are all of the individual grades that this district received:



If you are interested in Homes for Sale in Garner-Hayfield-Ventura CSD, 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 North Iowa. Contact us today at 641-425-4900 or


Upcoming Events and Special Giveaway in Clear Lake!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Start your 2018 off right! There are great community events heading your way in CLEAR LAKE! Check out all the information below and find a special giveaway offer at the bottom! Jane Fischer & Associates wishes everyone a fun January with family, friends, and neighbors!


Destination Clear Lake Launch Party & Chamber Annual Awards Ceremony

Date: Thursday, January 18th

Time: 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location: Rookies Rockin Sports Bar (307 Main Avenue)

Celebrate the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce's bigest night of the year! The 2017 Annual Awards will be presented, the 75th Anniversary year will be kicked off, AND the 2018 edition of Destinitation Clear Lake will be unveiled!


"The Jack" Iowa LeMans Snowmobile Championship Jack Helgren Memorial Race

Dates: Friday, January 19th - Saturday, January 20th

Time: Click HERE

Location: Clear Lake State Park

Enjoy snowmobiling fun at the Annual Jack Race weekend! The whole family will love this weekend of festivities. On Friday, enjoy a snowmobile ride around the lake, bonfire, and Welcome Reception. On Saturday, check out all the races, vintage show, and more. Check out the awards banquet and live band at the end of the night. This annual event is a memorial to Jack Helgren, a Clear Lake buisnessman and avid snowmobiler.


Poodle Skirt Workshop

Date: Saturday, January 27th

Time: 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Location: Clear Lake Arts Center (17 South 4th Street)

Make your own poddle skirt for the Winter Dance Party! Join instructor Andrea Evelsizer as she teaches you a qucik, simple pattern. All ages are welcome to attend. The cost is $40 per adult and $30 per child. The cost includes supplies. Register today! Call (641) 357-1998 or email

Boy Scout Chili Supper

Date: Monday, January 29th

Time: 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location: United Methodist Church (508 2nd Avenue North)

Enjoy a delicious vegetable soup and chili soup by Clear Lake Boy Scott Troop 30. Carryouts will be available starting at 4:30 pm. The cost is $8 per adult and $3 per child (ages 12 & under).


The Real Buddy Holly Story Rockumentary

Date: Wednesday, January 31st

Time: 3:00 pm - 4:45 pm

Location: Clear Lake Arts Center (17 South 4th Street)

See Paul McCartney's Rockumentary about rock 'n roll legend Buddy Holly. Beverages will be available to purchase. This event is FREE to the public. Can't make it on the 31st? There are additional screenings February 1st through 3rd (all at 3:00 pm).


Winter Dance Party Family Sock Hop

Date: Wednesday, January 31st

Time: 7:00 pm - 11:55 pm

Location: Surf Ballroom (460 North Shore Drive)

Get a jump start on the rock & roll party with some family friendly fun during the Winter Dance Party Family Sock Hop! Dance the night away to live music by Johnny Rogers! Tickets are $10 advance and $13 at the door. Children 5 and under are FREE! Purchase tickets HERE.


Image Credits: The Jack Race and Winter Dance Party

What to Know About Contingency Offers

by Jane Fischer and Associates

In today’s blog post we are going to discuss contingency offers. 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.



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.



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.



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.


We hope this blog gave you a some helpful insights into contingency offers. However, we realize that you might still have some more 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


Short Film Premier in Lake Mills!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Come celebrate and support incredible local talent at the official premier of Kevin Isaacson's short film Oliver Short! Head to The Mills Theater (216 West Main Street, Lake Mills) on Sunday January 14th, as they host this FREE screening! Doors will open at 1:00 pm and the show begins at 1:30 pm. Grab some soda and popcorn and find your seats for this excellent local film.

Oliver Short stars Carly Neel and Frank Boyd. After losing her father last year, sixteen year old Alex does not know how to handle her grief. She acts out by spraying graffiti on her father's gravestone. While doing so, Oliver Short appears. This mysterious gentleman is in need of her help. Alex soon realizes that Oliver and other individuals she has met in the cemetary are spirits. All of the spirits are unsettled due to unfinished business with their still living family members. Alex chooses to help these spirits and is able to properly let go of her own father's death.

Be sure to stick around after the film for a talk back with the filmmakers! This is a great event that you do not want to miss!


There is always something fun and unique taking place in North Iowa! Be sure to check out website at throughout the year for other great community events like this one!


Photo Credit: I Like Ike Films

Tips For Being A Successful Home Buyer!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Home Buying in North IowaIn today’s blog post we are going to discuss tips for home buying success. Deciding to buy a new home is an exciting venture. And, there is no better place to buy than in North Iowa! Although January is not considered a hot real estate month, buyers can use the timing to their advantage. Less competition from other buyers and the potential for higher savings from sellers eager to close can help you be in your dream home before you know it. Ensure success during your own buying process! Look through the current Home Listings so we can help you begin your exciting journey, and follow these useful tips for being a successful home buyer!



Ensure buying success by teaming up with an experienced real estate agent. You will eliminate a majority of time and stress that can come with house hunting and buying by having someone else in your corner! Jane Fischer and Associates Team is here to help you every step of the way! We understand the North Iowa housing market, know what is currently available to fit your personal housing needs, and can negotiate the best deal for your new home! Learn more About Us in terms of our years of experience and our commitment to serving you!



Let sellers know that you are serious about buying by getting preapproval for a loan from a reputable lender. Having this information ready to present to the seller ensures them that you can afford their home. Learn the important steps of Obtaining a Mortgage. The initial step of preapproval is easy to get out of the way from the very beginning if you have a high credit score and savings.



We understand that buying a home is a major life decision. This can lead to overthinking the process, though. Know exactly what you are looking for from the very start. Prioritize the important factors, such as location, type, and price. Start your house hunting with a clear understanding of exactly what you need in a new home. Once you find a home that meets all of these needs, make an offer! While you should be diligient in your decision making, do not allow over analyzing to get in the way of making an offer. If you wait too long, you risk the chance of losing your dream home!



Always begin with a strong opening offer. In your initial planning stages, you should have set a budget for yourself and know the maximum that you are willing to pay for a home. We all always want to get the best deal possible but be respectiful of the needs of the seller as well. If you offer a price that is too low, you could miss out on your dream home. Ask your realtor for advice based on other homes on the market. Determine an opening offer that you care comfortable with and that will be appealing to the seller.



A bidding war between you and the seller is an added stress. However, do not go into the process with the mindset that you want to avoid this process at all cost. It could mean missing out on a great opportunity. Have a clear understanding of what you can afford and search for homes below your max budget. This will allow you more wiggle room should a bidding war ensue. Trust your realtor during the negotiation process as they are there to help you get the home for the best possible price.



Although we want to make sure you end up in the first home you fall in love with, realize that this might not always work out. If a deal falls through, use it as an opportunity to learn what went wrong with the transaction and avoid it for the next offer. There are so many incredible options in North Iowa that you will find another home to love...perhaps even more so! Just stay true to what you are looking for and let our team help you find it!

We hope this blog gave you a some helpful tips for becoming a succesful home buyer. However, we realize that you might still have some more 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

Avoid These Pricing Mistakes Commonly Made By Home Sellers!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

In today’s blog post we are going to discuss common pricing mistakes made by home sellers. Determining the price you are going to list your home at is the first big decision you will make after deciding to sell your home. It is just as important as the initial decision to list your home. If you price your home to high, you risk the chance that home buyers will not be interested. If you price your home to low, you risk not receiving the full amount that your house is worth. Making sure the price is correct from the very beginning will help avoid either of these scenarios. In order to ensure that your home is priced correctly from the start, work with a knowledgeable and experienced Real Estate Team as soon as you are ready to put your home on the market and avoid these common types of home pricing mistakes!


Mistakes Based on Emotion and the Past

Your house has become a home from your years living in it. It is always an emotional process when you decide to move. The personal memories that have become attached to your home can cause you to value the property more than it is actually worth. While we fully realize that this is easier said than done, you need to remove your emotions from the pricing process. Buyers are not going to pay more based on your emotional attachment. You need to price it based on what is physically in front of the buyers. Along the same vein, you cannot base your current selling price based on what you paid. The housing market at this very moment in time is different than it was when you purchased the home (even if it was in the recent past). Buyers want the best deal on the home based on the current market in the North Iowa area.

Mistakes Based on the Competition

Understanding what homes are selling for in your neighborhood is an important aspect of the pricing process. However, it can also lead to many mistakes made by sellers who do not understand how to properly utilize this information. When you research what similar homes are being sold for, be sure to take into account all the amenities and features of the home. Just because your home has the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms as another home on the market doesn’t mean that it should be priced exactly the same. You need to know if there are any renovations or additional amenities that have been added that need to be taken into account for the selling price. You also need to recognize that other comparable homes might be priced incorrectly. This is where working with an experienced real estate team comes in handy because they can accurately assess the competition. You should also consider how quickly a home might be needing to sell. Other sellers might be pricing their homes lower in order to stand out from the competition and speed the process along. In the end, be diligent in your research. This will allow you to have a profitable and successful sale of your home.

Mistakes Based on the Process

Price negotiations between you and potential buyers is an inevitable part of the process. Today’s buyers are much more informed on the value of homes on the market. You need to make sure you are just as informed. This will allow you to price the home appropriately and attract the kind of home buyers that is perfect for your home right from the start. Another common mistake made by sellers occurs if the home has been sitting on the market for a while. If it has, you have priced the home to high and you need to make an adjustment. Instead of making several, small price cuts, you should make a larger cut (typically $10,000+) to show buyers that you are serious about selling your home.  


We hope this blog gave you a little more insight into pricing your home to sell. However, we realize that you might still have some more questions. For more Home Selling Tips, give our experienced Team a call, visit our website, or visit 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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Our Team!

by Jane Fischer and Associates



The Christmas Season is our favorite time of year! With all of the incredibly festive events taking place throughout Mason City and Clear Lake, it is impossible not to be filled with good cheer and fall even more in love with living in this area. As Christmas quickly approaches, we would to extend a very warm THANK YOU to all of our past and current clients for giving us the opportunity to assist you with all of your North Iowa real estate needs! It has truly been a joy to serve you this year!

We hope your North Iowa home is filled with laughter and love as you celebrate Christmas this weekend!

The new year often brings new goals. If real estate goals are on your 2018 list, our team is here to help you achieve them! Whether you are a Home Buyer or Home Seller, we can assist you every step of the way! Through our years of experience, we love sharing our knowledge of our communities and helping people find their dream home in our area. Work with North Iowa's best real estate team in 2018! Contact us today so we can help you in every way that we can. We look forward to meeting with you!

Jane Fischer & Associates Team Wishes You A Very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year!

Staging Your North Iowa Home to Sell!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

In today’s blog post we are going to talk about the process of staging your North Iowa home to sell. Many home sellers wonder whether this is truly a necessary step when listing their property. We hope to answer some of your questions and show you the benefits of staging your home. If you are interested in selling your North Iowa home, learn more about why you should stage your home in order to receive top value for your property!


Home Staging and its benefits to your home sale


What is Home Staging?

Home staging is the process of getting a home ready to sell on the market. Its goal is to make the home appealing to the largest number of potential homebuyers. Staging helps create the best possible first impression of the home. It turns it into a welcoming site that highlights the property’s features. Professional home stagers eliminate clutter, arrange and eliminate furniture, extentuate the flow of the house, and add decor to broaden the appeal of the property. Staging allows buyers to visualize themselves in the home and imagine how they would utilize the space if they were to live there. As such, staging helps homes sell more quickly and at higher values.


Is Staging a Good Investment?

Home staging does require some capital to do it effectively. Hiring a professional stager is always a wise choice. They are incredibly experienced in the art of staging and know the best ways to highlight your home. If you would prefer to stage your home yourself, you will still likely incur some costs, such as general maintenance and cleaning costs, upgrades, and storage fees for items you want to remove. Although you might not want to put more money into your home right before selling, the Return on Investment (ROI) for staging is well worth it! Any money you spend now, you will see returned to you as your home increases its value through the staging process!


What are the Benefits of Home Staging?

There are many benefits that can come from staging your home. Need some hard facts to convince you? The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2017 Profile of Home Staging. Their collected data shows the benefits from the points of view of both sellers and buyers of home staging.


Buyers’ Agent Perspective

  • 49% of buyers’ agents found staging to have a positive effect on the buyer’s view of the home

  • 77% of buyers’ agents found buyers had an easier time visualizing the home as their own through staging

  • 40% of buyers were willing to see online listings that were staged

  • ⅓ of buyer’s agents found staged homes had an increase offered dollar value of 1% to 5%

Sellers’ Agent Perspective

  • 29% of sellers’ agents saw a 1% to 5% increase in the dollar value offered by buyers for staged homes

  • 21% of sellers' agents saw an even greater increase of dollar value at home 6% to 10%

  • 39% of sellers’ agents found staged homes has less days on the market (DOM)


These numbers highlight that the greatest benefits of staging your home are an increase in offered dollar value for your home, increased competition amongst buyers, and less DOM. Home staging truly is a win-win!


Is Home Staging a Good Investment for your North Iowa Home?

What are some Key Tips for Home Staging?

While far from being an exhaustive list, here are some simple steps you can take to stage your home to sell. Start with paint! Adding a fresh coat of paint throughout the home gives it an instant face lift. Choose a light, neutral color that will appeal to a broad array of people and make the rooms in your home look larger. The next step is to do a deep cleaning. Make sure that dirt has been removed from every nook and cranny and everything is looking shiny and new. Complete any lingering home maintenance projects that you have been putting off. Now, you need to go through your home and declutter and depersonalize. It is imperative that homebuyers can visualize themselves in the space. This can be difficult to do if there are a lot of your personal items and memorabilia throughout. Create clean, open spaces by removing all unnecessary items from counter and table tops. At the same time, pare down the amount of furniture to only those pieces that help showcase the size of the living space. Put furniture in areas that help highlight the flow of your home or accentuate architectural features. Your final step is to make the space homey. Place flowers and candles in rooms throughout the house to create a cozy, inviting atmosphere during showings. The most important rooms to stage, as found in the NAR 2017 Profile of Home Staging, were the kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom.


What Should I Do if I am Interested in Staging My Home to Sell?

We hope this blog gave you a little more insight into benefits of staging your home to sell. However, we realize that you might still have some more questions regarding the topic. That is where we come in! Call our experienced team at Jane Fischer and Associates Team  to answer any questions you have. We are more than happy to come look at your home and give you some helpful staging advice before listing your property. We can also put you in contact with the professional stagers in the area that we trust to get the job done right. We are looking forward to hearing from you today!


TubaChristmas and Tom Fetty Krugerrand Auction this Saturday!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

Head to Mason City's Southbridge Mall (100 South Federal Avenue) this Saturday, December 9th, for some festive fun and holiday good cheer!

The day begins with the annual Tom Fetty Krugerrand Auction from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. All monies raised during the auction are donated to our local Salvation Army. Help support a great cause this holiday season!  

Then, stick around for the 32nd annual North Iowa TubaChristmas concert in the mall’s Center Court at 1:00 pm! TubaChristmas is a live musical performance of everyone’s favorite Christmas carols by local tuba, baritone, euphonium, and sousaphone players. Beginning in 1974 in New York City, TubaChristmas concerts are now held every year throughout the country and around the world. North Iowa is proud to boost one of the largest such concerts in the nation! Enjoy a rousing performance of the greatest Christmas tunes by 100 local musicians!

Are you a musician? Come participate in TubaChristmas! Tuba, baritone, euphonium, and sousaphone players of all ages are welcome. Please head to the Mason City High School band room on Saturday morning at 10:00 am for registration. Cost is $10 per participant. Rehearsal will begin at 10:30 am. Musicians should bring their own instruments, Santa hat, and music stand. Be sure to decorate your instrument for the holiday!

Jane Fischer and Associates Team
wishes everyone a festive holiday season in Mason City and throughout North Iowa!  


Image Credit: Jake Rajewsky/Globe Gazette

Winterize Your Home in 7 Easy Steps!

by Jane Fischer and Associates

The cold winter days are finally upon us in North Iowa! Increase your home's energy efficiency, save money on your heating bill, and keep your family nice and cozy all winter long 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!


Looking for more homeowner, buyer or seller tips? Visit our website!


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Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 70

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Contact Information

Jane Fischer & Associates
Real Estate Consultants
119 2nd Street NW #2
Mason City IA 50401
Cell: 641-425-4900
Office: 641-424-HOME (4663)

2018 Jane Fischer & Associates Real Estate Consultants Logo are registered service marks owned by Jane Fischer & Associates Real Estate Consultants. Equal Housing Opportunity.