Fischer's Finds


Sept. 26, 2016

Author Michele Borba Coming to Mason City On Book Tour

UnSelfie by Michele Borba

Author Dr. Michele Borba will making a stop in Mason City during her book tour on Wednesday, September 28th at 6:30pm in the FEMA Room at the Mason City High School to provide. Michele will be giving a speech entitled Empathy Matters. She is an internationally recognized educational psychologist and parenting, bullying and character expert; her goal is strengthen children's resilience and empathy while working to end youth violence. Michele will outline a community's understanding of the word empathy  and how it can lower the level of bullying and cyberbullying in our society today.

Dr. Michele Borba

Dr. Borba has written 24 books that have been translated into 14 different languages as well as put on workshops around the country to well over one million people. The seminar is free to attend and her book entitled "Unselfie" is available to purchase at Book World in Southbridge Mall here in town; she will be doing a book signing at the end of the evening. 

Don't miss out on this wonderful free community event!

Sept. 20, 2016

Remodeling to "Smart" Homes

Smart Home Remodels

Home owners in the midst of house renovations are starting to lean towards making their updated home "smart" as part of their renovations. Smart technology includes adding systems or devices that are controlled by a smartphone, tablet or computer. Studies have found that it's more likely nowadays for home owners to include the smart system or a device before rather than after renovation. 

A poll of home owners showed that the main reason smart technology is being incorporated into homes is primarily for security and safety, followed by entertainment, climate control, and lighting. Various upgrades can be included as part of your smart device package including voice controlled features. A few of the more popular smart devices include gas and fire alarms, cameras, door sensors, door locks, video doorbells, and motion/glass breakage. Devices for controlling the thermostat and indoor lighting are more rare controls that are added during home renovations. 

A few examples of the benefits "smart" security systems has to offer include:

-the ability to keep a vacant property more secure using smart door lock which can also record the people who enter and exit the property

-being able to see who you're talking to outside the door of the property with the use of video doorbells, the technology can stream from your phone so you don't have to be at home for the devide to work; you're able to snap a photo of the person if the need emerges to report a person to the authorities

-new constructions or vacant homes greatly benefit from the use of motion sensors to avoid squatters, your phone can be sent notifications if movement is sensed on the premises

-smart lighting not only creates a great atmosphere but also when you're away for consecutive days you can make the home appear as though people are home and moving about the house to deter criminals

The trend is showing home owners are including "smart" technology as part of their house renovations as part of improving levels of safety, comfort, energy use, and convenience which is something more home buyers may start to search for when looking for their new home. It is strongly recommended that you disclose any smart device technology to interested buyers up front so as to avoid a buyer complaint later on in the closing process.Although learning about new technology can be challenging in the beginning, home owners will grow to love and appreciate the convenience this new "smart technology has to offer especially when they're away from their home and are able to control things within the home remotely. 

Sept. 16, 2016

The Expensive Epi-Pen Alternative

Expensive Epi-Pen Alternative

Many children and adults alike suffer from various food allergies which require quick use of an Epinephrine pen (Epi-pen for shore) but the Food and Drug Administration is hiking up the price that this emergency treatment will come at a steep price to those who need it the most.

A doctor named Douglas McMahon out of Eagan Minnesota has patent a much cheaper and smaller alternative, called AllergyStop, that he is currently working to get on the market. Dr. McMahon, with the help of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Minnesota, began experimenting in his lab to create a more mobile friendly version since you never know when an allergic reaction may occur. He soon realized that the various parts and actual medicine that goes inside needed to make the Epi-pen were inexpensive, Dr. McMahon saw just how reasonable these life saving pens could be sold at if he duplicated them in a different manner.

AllergyStop Epi-Pen Alternative

Currently a two pack of the original Epi-pens by Mylar sell for $600 but back in 2007 you were able to purchase them for $57. The doctor out of Minnesota is working on raising millions to get AllergyStop out to those patients with food allergies. However, he needs to test his product on patients before hand in order to receive FDA approval and getting it out on the market. In order to ensure the medicine in his product is sterile and potent over a certain time period he will need those with food allergies to test his device. The testing itself will cost millions before ever launching it on the open health market; the current process he's in is getting bids from various manufacturers willing to produce AllergyStop.

Douglas does have a patent on his device but due to the difficulty in passing FDA testing and making it to the market there won't be many competitors trying to duplicate his product. 

Unfortunately, big companies such as Mylar (leading producer of the original expensive Epi-pen) are more worried about catering to investors than taking care of the patient and their needs which is a big reason for the large price increase for the pens. McMahon himself suffers from food allergies and carries an Epi-pen pack on him at all times so he knows both sides of the coin with prescribing and using the device. He hopes to avoid potential investors of his device from skyrocketing the price of his device, he would like to sell his Epi-pen in a two pack for $50 barring any problems with FDA standards.

Sept. 13, 2016

4 Paint Colors to Avoid When Preparing to List your Home

If you're considering putting your house up on the market in the near future there are a few colors to steer clear of when considering updates in your home. Research has found some of the more popular exterior color combinations include slate and black, beige and taupe, and white and gray; neutral tones for interior paint colors are also recommended showing shades of gray and white as popular favorites along with natural looking greens. Sellers should refrain from using paint colors that turn off buyers and could potentially have an effect on a lower listing sales price.

What are the 4 colors you should avoid? 

Slate Gray

Slate Gray Paint Color

Although lighter shades of gray are popular paint choices, dark grays are something buyers are tending to steer away from. Instead of going with a dark gray tone in a dining room area, try a mauve, lavender, or eggplant color.



Terracota Paint Color

The color orange is one of the least liked colors in the world but this dark shade of orange even more so, it's been found to clash more when buyers are looking to try to incorporate their current furniture items.


Dark brown

Dark Brown Paint Color

A paint color this dark may cause any room to appear much smaller than it actually is. Buyers at times struggle to see past the color of the room even when the color it's simply an accent wall.


Off-white or eggshell

Off White Paint Color

Using a white for certain areas of the house can sometimes be a good choice, however, in a smaller or darker space like a kitchen area the color can cause the room to appear to be flat or dead.


For more information regarding home do's and don'ts contact Jane Fischer at 641-424-9400 or It's a great time to get your house on the market!

Sept. 7, 2016

Upcoming Events in North Iowa for the weekend of Sept. 16th, 2016

We have so many fun events coming up this weekend! Here's a brief list of the activities going on around North Iowa:

Saturday, September 17th starting at noon the annual Craft Beer Shindig & Street Food Fair where East State Street will be blocked off for a big party. The party will have 30 of the top beers in the state on tap along with a variety of great food trucks and a few different bands. Stop out and enjoy some good food and fun!

Craft Beer Shindig & Street Food Fair

Don't forget to check out the NIP Golf Outing on Saturday as well starting at 10 am in Nora Springs at Buffalo Run golf club. Kids and adults welcome - come out and help support this great fundraiser to help kids fighting life threatening illnesses!! Stop by the gym or the golf course to sign your team up today!

NIP Golf Fundraising Event

Enjoy a fun ride 2 hour ride around the lake on Sunday, the 11th to benefit the local Humane Society of North Iowa, only $25/ticket to sit back and relax while having a delicious bite to eat. The boat leaves at 4 pm so don't be late!

The Doggy Paddle Clear Lake


Don't miss the BIG college football game! The University of Iowa Hawkeyes play the rival Iowa State Cyclones at 6:30 pm on Saturday evening.

 Hawkeye Cyclone Rivalry

Make sure to get out and take advantage of all the fun events North Iowa has to offer this weekend!!

Sept. 2, 2016

History Behind the Last Standing Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel

Did you know the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel is the last remaining in the world? Back in the early 1900's the hotel was an idea brought by two attorneys named James Blythe and J.E.E. Markley, members serving on the board of directors at the City National Bank, wanting to expand in order to create new offices for their firm, a hotel, and new home for the bank.

The location of the bank at that time was directly across the street from the proposed new site.

Original City National Bank Mason City
It wasn't until 1906/07 that Wright took on the project. The proposed idea contained both the City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel. Wright's partner William Drummond was put in charge of seeing the project through which was completed in 1910 according to original design plans. The bank faced Main Street and gave the appearance similar to a vault with three long low sections and horizontal banding. It was a welcome addition to the downtown area based on the design and curb appeal alone. People didn't expect how quickly the town's growth would cause new renovation ideas to surface.

1910 City National Bank Mason City IA

Due to the farm crisis and bankrupticies across Iowa, the City National Bank moved down the street and the area was transformed into retail stores and other office space. The transformation created a different look for the building and Wright's design as a whole. The 1926 remodel reflects the drastic change the building went through on the lower portion of the building. Due to a leaky skylight, the original design for the lobby portion of the hotel was changed into a mezzanine area. The banking area contained various businesses and then low end apartments but over time was abandoned completely.

1962 City National Bank Remodel Mason City IA

Many of the hotels Wright had designed began to disappear and the Park Inn became the only one left; it was listed on Iowa's Most Endangered historical landmarks for quite a while. The City owned the property by then and they considered putting the property up for sale on eBay to see if there were any interested parties.

Thankfully, a local group of people got together to form Wright on the Park, Inc in order to preserve the hotel and the history behind it. The first part of the plan entailed fundraising in order to restore the hotel back to it's original design as Wright had planned and remove non-historic elements. 

Historic Park Inn Hotel Mason City IA

The largest part of the construction phase began in 2009 and in 2011 (100 years after it's first opening), after both it's interior and exterior were restored to their original design, took on the title of the last standing hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The hotel has 27 hotel rooms and includes a dining and bar area frequented by tourists and local townspeople alike.  The main ballroom is regularly booked out months in advance for various events including wedding receptions, conferences, and other business meetings. If you haven't visited this wonderful piece of history, make it a point to stop by and take the tour. It's a place you'll never forget!

Aug. 30, 2016

Historic Building Tour of Mason City

Mason City has a very rich architectural history as you may be able to see if you take a stroll down Main Street where many buildings have been updated on the inside but maintain a part of history on the outside. Many architectural gems of the city have been destroyed by being knocked down or fires. Let's take a little walk down memory lane here in the River City.

Not many people know that the City Hall building used to be located in the current parking lot of the City Hall Building.

Historic Mason City Hall Building

The location of the local Drive-In Theater was across from where the current Events Center is.

Historic Mason City Drive-In Theater

The first Sears Roebuck store location Mason City was on East State Street in 1956.

Historic Mason City Sears Roebuck

The current Mason City administration building used to be the location of Memorial University that was torn down in 1979.

Memorial University Mason City

The Decker meat packing plant was located in a wooded area along the Winnebago River on the northeast part of town which was built in 1896 and closed in 1975.

Decker Plant Mason City

The downtown Wells Fargo bank building was the site of the Park 70 Theater.

Historic Park 70 Theater Mason City

The west portion of the current Brick & Tile Building was where the Globe Gazette was located, to the east was the First Baptist Church.

Historic Globe Gazette Mason City

Posted in Mason City, North Iowa
Aug. 26, 2016

North Iowa Pool Season Coming to An End

It's that time of year, summer is officially coming to an end. Many aquatic centers have already shut down their pool for the season but not in Clear Lake! Don't miss out on your last chance to take a dip with the family but make sure to get there before 5 pm on Sunday, August 28th! The pool will only be open 1-5 pm both Saturday and Sunday, lap swim will still be available from 12:00 to 12:45 on both days.

Clear Lake Aquatic Center


Aug. 25, 2016

5 Things to Think About When Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home can be very exciting and stressful time. Who do I need to contact? What do I need to do? Can I afford a new house? A few helpful helpful tips on things to think about during your first time home buying experience are listed below to ensure you go in with all the information you need to make the best decision for yourself.

Are you able to afford a new home?

Afford a New Home

In our current economy interest rates are very low which makes for a buyer friendly real estate market. Many people don't think about all the costs when buying a home including moving costs, down payment, closing costs and furnishing your new home. All the extra expenses of owning a home will add up quickly which is why it's important to consider what type of monthly payment you will be able to handle for the life of the loan. In some cases it's easier to start out smaller for your first house than go big and and put yourself in a challenging financial situation. Make sure it's something you can afford.


How soon are you wanting to move?

A big part of owning a home is staying in that home long enough to start building up equity, the first part of your mortgage payments only to towards the interest of the loan not the principal amount itself. Renting is always a good option if you don't believe you're in a desirable financial situation that would allow you to make regular monthly house payments. Sometimes it's easier to be in the area awhile before deciding if you're ready to put down roots there or not.


Will you be buying on your own or with someone?

Buying Alone

One of the easier ways to ensure pre-approval from a bank in regards to getting a loan is teaming up with another person. Whether that person is your spouse, parent, friend, in-law - you're able to buy a home with anyone who has more cash on hand or that has a good credit score. Be extremely cautious if you are buying a home with another person since you both become liable if any payments are defaulted on. A couple important things to ask are do you both have similar future plans, can you both meet the financial obligation, and what would happen if one of you wants out. If you're not certain the person you would be getting the loan with is reliable you're better off trying for pre-approval on your own first before you seek other help.


Fixer Upper vs Ready to Move In

Move in Ready or Fixer Upper

Depending on your budget and pre-approved loan amount you're going to look at a wide array of homes, some that are more move in ready than others. The thing to keep in mind is will you have money left over after you purchase the home to install new carpet or paint or put on a new roof or buy appliances; if the answer is no youmay want to stay away from a fixer upper and search for something that is ready to move right into without any repairs or changes which will more than likely put you at the top end of your budget. If the answer is yes, staying on the lower end of your budget should be one of your target goals in order to allow the extra funds to be spent on repairs and upgrades that you would like (or someone you hire) to make once you own the house. You want to be able to enjoy your new home and being comfortable with all the incurred costs that come with owning a new home are a big part of that.


Create a Budget for Buying

Create a Budget

In order to get a better idea of what you will be able to afford, it's a good rule of thumb to write out your month to month expense to ensure you're able to meet a monthly payment requirement on a new house. When buying a house it's important to consider property taxes, insurance costs, utilities, lawn maintenance equipment (bigger yard will require lawn mower), repair costs (if you're buying a fixer upper), and even in some cases HOA dues. Planning ahead will help ensure your first home buying experience is a positive one.


Now is a GREAT time to buy a home! Give us a call to set up your private showings and let us help you find your first home TODAY!

Aug. 23, 2016

2016 First Day of School in North Iowa

Good news for those of you that have been looking forward to this time of the year... It's time for the kids to start the new school year! Summer flew by as it always does so we want to help ensure you know what day your child's first official day of school is.

First Day of School North Iowa Bus

The Mason City Community School District schools first day of school for 7th, 9th graders, alternative high schoolers, and any student new to the district in grades 10-12th is Tuesday, August 30th. Students in K-4th, 5th, 7th & 8th, and all high school students will start on Wednesday, August 31st. Headstart and 4 year old pre-school will start on Wednesday, September 7th.

Mason City Community School District

Clear Lake schools will start Wednesday, August, 24th for all high school students 9-12th grade. Students K-8th will start Thursday, August 25th.

Clear Lake School District

The Central Springs school district first day of school for all high school students 9-12 is TODAY Tuesday, August 23rd. Wednesday, August 24th will be the first day of classes for all students K-8.

Central Springs School District

West Fork School District's first day of school is also TODAY August 23rd for 9-12th grade with PK-8th starting Wednesday, August 24th. The first day of school for 4 year old preschool will be Friday, August 30th and 3 year old preschool Tuesday, August 30th.

West Fork School District


Be sure to mark your calendars!