Posted: 05/08/2013 12:38 PM
Bettendorf is the fastest growing city of the Quad Cities Area with a population of 33,327 in 2012, according to City-Data.com. That is up 6.6% from 2000. The housing value has gone up considerably. By 2011, the median house/condo value skyrocketed near $190,000, up from $114,000 in 2000. These numbers are both staggering and impressive. If you live, work, or wish to join the real estate profession, then you must jump in on the growth of Bettendorf.
Bettendorf has become the most desirable city of the QC to live in. While Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline all have benefits to being a resident of their cities, Bettendorf seems to have the most to offer if you look at the data. There are many different features that attract people to the Bettendorf area, perhaps the most significant are the schools. Home to both the Bettendorf Bulldogs and Pleasant Valley Spartans, these districts are always on the cutting edge of education, technology, pushing students to be better, and have great athletic programs. Both programs send kids to D-I colleges every year on academic and athletic scholarships. One notable athlete to play for Iowa and the Indianapolis Colts is Pat Anger.
Outside of the rich educational programs Bettendorf has, there are many other desirable features to the area. Bettendorf has several excellent parks which are always well maintained and have copious amounts of clean playground equipment. The pavilions are clean, trash pulled, and the grass is cut. Softball and soccer fields provided by the city, such as Crow Creek, are some of the best fields in the area and provide hours of entertainment to hundreds of people nearly every night of the week. Bettendorf also has another less common yet popular park, a dog park. Dog and dog owners gather here to let their canines run free and to socialize themselves with other dog lovers.
Bettendorf is a growing city that looks to continue their growth with new housing expansion. Bettendorf is land locked to the east by Davenport and to the south by the Mississippi River, so real estate growth is primarily in the North Western region of the city. The housing market within the current city is still very strong, as the numbers above prove. This is all great news if your Bettendorf home is for sale, but there is also great news for investors. Rental prices are up, and the length of time a rental is on the market is down. Real estate is good in the Quad Cities, but at its best in Bettendorf.
Posted: 05/01/2013 03:12 PM
Curb Appeal, that simple phrase which can make or break any home selling deal. The allure of curb appeal has people investing more money and time into their yards, namely the front yard. The outside of your home is a reflection of the home owners themselves and what the house will probably look like on the inside. Not everyone is a DIY master or has a green thumb, so I have created a list of 5 simple ways to improve the curb appeal of your middle class mansion.
1. Pressure Wash: Perhaps the easiest improvement on the list. Do not reach for the garden hose and expect to get the same results as a pressure washer. It’s like comparing a squirt gun to a fire hose. A pressure washer gives you the water pressure you need to wash away years of dirt and mildew that has been neglected for years or even decades. Many pressure washers also have the option to use chemicals for cleaning and mildew prevention. I have never used any of the soaps or mildew preventers on my house, patio, driveway, or retaining wall, but have been entertaining the idea over the last year. I have power washed all of these critical areas, and it will take years off of your property. It gives the property that clean zest appeal buyers are looking for.
2. Fertilize, Water, and Mow: To me, one of the biggest curb appeal impressions comes from the front lawn. When people drive up to the home you are selling they want to see a lush, full, and well groomed front yard, not some janky yard that has been used for boarding dogs. To obtain this desired look you will need to take the time every year to spread fertilizer and weed control during spring. If needed over-seed your lawn as well. The time it takes to do this is literally less than an hour for homes sitting on a half-acre or less. If going through a dry spell in your area square feet, that’s a lot. Finally, remember to mow your lawn as needed. Depending on the amount of rain you receive, or how often you water your lawn, this could be once every 4 days or once every two weeks. I prefer a longer cut because it allows for stronger root growth and healthier grass.
3. Mulching and Flower Beds: Many people mulch around trees, flower beds around the house, and around walkways. If you do use mulch, have your 3”-4” base of mulch and every year after add an additional 1”-2”s of mulch for that fresh vibrant look. For flower beds, make sure the boarders are clearly defined with bricks, stones, vinyl, or any other type of small barrier. These clean edges are a small detail that will really make your curb appeal pop. Replant you annuals in mid to late spring to allow the flowers to bloom and show their colors. I like to wait and address pruning trees and hedges once they are green, so I can shape the plants better as I make my cuts.
4. Outdoor Lighting: Many people forget what their house looks like at night or feel like it is not important. Well, it is important, and outdoor lighting can really take you to the upper epsilon of curb appeal. There are some really simple ways to improve outdoor lighting, for example using solar walkway markers for your sidewalk. A slightly more involved outdoor lighting is using low voltage lighting. This is a more professional look and will ultimately yield better results. More can be seen about outdoor lighting here.
5. Paint Doors, Shutters For Windows: Finally, we have every homes flippers dream product, paint. Why do house flippers like paint so much? Because it is an inexpensive way to give a house a new look or make any feature stand out. A well designed and inviting entryway could mean thousands in your pocket. Fresh paint or stain on an entry door will revitalize your home. With the addition of updated light fixtures and couple unique potted plants can give the front of your home the focal point it has been missing. Another good way to use some paint is on shutters, if you have them. Updating the trim colors of your home leaves one less task for a potential buyer to address when they move in. Freshly painted shutters and trim will give your home a new look and can bring back potential buyers if they already passed on your house once.
Posted: 05/01/2013 10:52 AM
The Quad Cities is made of four major metropolitan areas, these are: Rock Island, Moline, Davenport, and Bettendorf. The QC also extends out to smaller outlying towns areas such as; Buffalo, Eldridge, Muscatine, Port Byron, Andalusia, Geneseo, and Milan. The For Sale By Owner (FSBO) force is strong with these areas and has been for the past decade. So what has changed with this process? Well, 10 years ago you may have seen a newspaper advertisement that says, “Moline home for sale” or “Bettendorf home for sale." Today, you are more likely to see these advertisement banners on the Internet. This has been a huge benefit, and even more so to the smaller outlying towns like Park View’s homes for sale or Andalusia’s homes for sale.
Businesses, such as FSBOFox, have sprung up helping people sell their own home. A for sale by owner business acts like a marketer for your property, and they also give buyers a single Internet location to review multiple homes for sale by owner. What is the benefit to a central location for FSBO homes? Well, homes being sold by owner will not appear on the multiple listing service (MLS), as this is strictly a real estate agents tool. Agents from Mel Foster, Remax, and Keller & Williams will list their homes on the MLS. Because a FSBO home cannot be listed on the MLS, it is very important you list your Davenport home for sale on a FSBO website.
Another benefit to using Quad City’s FSBO services is the use of a high quality yard sign combined with your personal Internet listing. The yard sign will let passerby’s know your Bettendorf home is for sale. Especially if you are located on a busy street with speed limits excess of 25 mph or higher. Buyers still know your home is for sale, and if they like what curb appeal, you offer then they know where to go to find out more information on the house such as: price, number of bedrooms & bathrooms, and additional interior pictures. The combination of good signage and a HIGH QUALITY QCFSBO service will substantially increase your odds of selling your own home and moving into your next dream house.
Posted: 04/28/2013 03:19 PM
How many times have you Googled, "Davenport home for sale," hoping to find the house you just listed on Mel Foster or FSBOFox? If you are anything like me and finding ways to kill time on the computer, then I am sure you have tried it at least once. You probably did not see your house on the first couple results pages either. The truth is, people do not find for their next home with Google alone. There are a number of different ways people use the Internet to search for next house, and actually 60% of homes bought are first seen via the Internet.
If you live in Davenport, take the time to get to know your area well, if you haven’t already. Knowing the area can help you sell your Quad City home on the Internet. Buyers are looking for more than just a house. They want to buy a home in a neighborhood that will fit their needs. Neighborhoods can range from family friendly editions to the growing downtown lofts. When marketing your home, decide who you think will most likely buy your property. Is it a bachelor/bacherlotte, family, or a couple looking to downsize since their kids have moved out? Once you have decided who your audience will be, plan your staging, open houses, and listing descriptions to appeal to these people as they should be the most likely interested in purchasing your house.
Living in Davenport, everything is within a 15 minute drive. So lace up the sneakers and hit the pavement. Start walking around your neighborhood and find features which would be desirable to buyers. Look for parks, pools, golf courses, restaurants, stores, bars, and any other form of entertainment or necessity. The attractions around your house can be what closes a deal, or can be a decision maker fot a buyer who is interested in multiple properties.
If you don’t have the time to get out and learn more about your area, or are unable to get outside for a walk, then turn to Google Maps to see what is located in your area. Google Maps work great on computers and mobile devices. This tool can give you a bird’s eye view of all the attractions in your area and will give you more real estate tools when selling your home FSBO.
Posted: 04/24/2013 07:53 PM
Winter is fighting tooth and nail to let go, but spring is upon us, and now is the time to start addressing your home's lawn. I have been looking at Bettendorf and Moline homes for sale. What catches my eye first? The lawn. Many of the photos were taken with snow on the ground or grass that is still dormant. Then, I came across a Davenport home for sale that has outdoor pictures which show off their lush, green lawn and bloomed flowers. Getting your lawn to look fuller and thicker is not hard at all. You will need grass seed, Scott’s 4-step lawn care plan, spreader, and water.
Before beginning, take the time to measure out your lawn to figure out what the square footage is, (length x width = area). Having this number will guide you in how much material you will need to treat your yard. Next, visit your local, gardening, hardware, or even department store. If you are unsure what grass seed to buy, I suggest a sun & shade mix. This mixture is good for a novice gardener. For fertilizer, pick up Scott’s 4-step plan for seeding. This is very important you get the plan for seeding as the original 4 step plan will not allow your seed to grow because of the crab grass blocker. I have asked friends, professionals, and scoured the Internet, and this is the best choice for a full season’s treatment.
I began the 4-step plan last weekend, and the whole process took me less an hour to treat over 3,000 sq. feet. It took me a little longer to treat the yard since there were some pretty bad bare spots I had to cultivate first using the garden weasel for a better chance of seed germination.
First, make sure your lawn is mostly debris free. If you did not rake you leaves last fall, then you will need to do this step first. Second, you will over seed your lawn to increase the thickness. On the back of the grass seed package, you will find where to set your spreader for proper seeding, and how much seed you will need to pour into the spreader. If using Scott’s Sun & Shade, you will need to set your batch spreader to 8.5. The spreader will cover a 4-8 foot diameter. Do a small test run in the middle of your yard to see how far the seeds will fly. Once the diameter is covered make passes across your yard moving along the longest path possible and overlapping seeds six to eight inches until you have covered your entire lawn.
The next step is fertilizing. This is very similar to seeding. Read the package for quantities needed and spreader settings. Begin covering your yard making passes using the longest direction of your yard. Be sure your freshly seeded & fertilized lawn gets water within a day or two to prevent burning. Water, as needed, for the remainder of the season.
Posted: 04/20/2013 12:28 PM
Still trying to decide if a realtor is for you, or not? Good news, we will finish up our 2 part series on the perks of using a realtor. Before covering what else a realtor can offer you, let’s take the time to share how to choose a realtor.
When hiring a realtor to list your home, begin with asking family and friends who they used in the past and what their impressions were of those realtors. You will have the advantage of choosing a realtor rather than having one assigned to you. Make a list of possible realtors and set up a time to share your house with them and have a set of interview questions. Some questions you may want to include are:
What makes you stand out from other realtors?
How do you plan to market my home?
What is your average selling price to listing price ratio?
How long have you been with your current broker?
Essentially, each realtor is self-employed, but by law they must use a brokerage, such as Ruhl & Ruhl, to sell homes as a real estate agent. While conducting your interviews you may come across some realtors that you just don’t get a good vibe from, do not let this discourage you from using that particular broker at all. Instead, keep looking at what each realtor may offer you and what additional perks they have with their parent broker. For example; you may have three interviews set up with realtors from three different brokers and you like them all. So, your decision might come down to what benefits a broker has to offer. You may decide to use Ruhl Homes because they are more popular in your area.
Onto the benefits of using a Quad Cities realtor to sell your Davenport home. Your realtor should be keeping an eye on the market and should be able to tell you about any trends they have noticed over the past weeks, months, and even years. This can be very helpful when planning to buy or sell a Quad Cities home.
Do you have a hard time deciding what updates need to be done to help your house sell more quickly? Maybe you need an outsider’s opinion on what colors or furniture will look best in your home before you list it. If this is the case, then this is another area a realtor can help. Real estate agents are in, and around, dozens of houses each month, and they are hearing what people like. If you do not have the time to research what changes need to be made, this is another area an agent may help with.
Finally, FSBOFox has conducted surveys, and the number one concern is legal issues connected with closing. The real estate lawyer you use will do most of the talking and clarifying at the closing. This experience may still be a little overwhelming for you. Your realtor can help calm your nerves and coach you along the way.
Posted: 04/18/2013 08:02 PM
Selling your Davenport or Bettendorf home can be a fun and engaging learning experience. Selling your very own home can have a real sense of accomplishment, seeing the whole process through from the beginning to the end. Typically, the people who take on the exciting task of selling their home are motivated do-it-yourselfers, someone looking to save money by not having to pay realtor fees, or they simply do not have the financial flexibility to use a realtor. To be honest, sometimes homes do not sell like you would expect. For one reason or another, a home may sell better as a FSBO property or by using a realtor. Some people do not have the time or interest to sell on their own, so what can a realtor offer you? Thanks to Twitter, I have gotten in touch will a reputable real estate company, Ruhl Homes, a.k.a. Ruhl & Ruhl, and they shared some tips for using a realtor to sell your Quad City home.
If you are looking to buy a home, maybe in the Rock Island or Moline area, you may consider using a realtor. Some people have a hard time narrowing down a group of houses they like best. This is a time to call in a realtor. They have resources and the know how to help you narrow down your house hunt using objective information on each property. Realtors may also help you find a property on a short sale or a foreclosure.
Realtors can provide you with financial information. These questions can really vary, from wanting to know what you can afford to insurance or tax costs. They can also point you in the right direction of a good mortgage lender. I would recommend Valley Bank or National Bank. Some realtors are also knowledgeable about housing assistance programs. I remember working with my Ruhl & Ruhl agent and they provided me information which led to thousands in purchase savings and home improvements.
If looking to use a realtor to purchase a home they can help negotiate a buying price. They can look at home values in the area (market analysis), if there is a potential in increased property value, what inspections need to be done, and give you the comfort of having to organize all of the inspections.
There are other services a realtor may provide in a housing transaction. Look for these perks in part 2 of my blog.
Posted: 04/13/2013 11:25 AM
Did you know the Quad Cities is the largest metropolitan area along the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Louis? Spanning across two states, the Quad Cites has much to be desired for singles and families. One of the biggest attractions is the Mississippi River, the 4th largest river in the world, stretching 2,320 miles. The Mississippi also makes up the largest watershed in North America, draining 40% of the 48 contiguous United States.
The Mississippi River offer Quad City Area (QCA) homeowners entertainment and employment. Thousands of residents enjoy recreational boating in calm water sloughs, or sun bathing on beaches, and the occasional sand bar. The Mississippi offers diverse fishing, from largemouth bass to spoonbill snagging, but there is no question catfish is the most sought after fish. Campgrounds also surround this beautiful river. So, when you do buy a house in the Quad Cities you might focus your search for an Iowa home in Davenport, Bettendorf, Princeton, or Buffalo. If you are looking to buy a home in Illinois you can find great views of the Mississippi in Port Byron, Moline, Rock Island, and Andalusia. There are countless bars, restaurants, distilleries, and shopping centers along the river. Le Claire, Iowa, has all of these, plus is the home of History Channel’,“American Pickers” and is great couples get away for a day.
Home ownership in the Quad Cities is also great for those looking for golf, softball, movies, museums, night life and much more. When buying or selling a home, keep your surroundings and interests in mind. Whether you are looking for great night life or time with the family, the Quad Cities has much to be desired. Good luck finding your next home, and don’t forget how great the QC really is.
Posted: 04/10/2013 09:11 PM
Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like if you never had a monthly rent payment, or even better no mortgage? This idea may seem so farfetched that it has never crossed your mind. I remember the first house I bought, the day I became a broke man. It was a proud moment in the life and times of Tim Riley. I was just a young guy just starting his career, and owned a new car. It is a fact the number one purchase of all college graduates is a vehicle. I had great friends, and now I owned my own home. Sayonara landlords and rent payments, I had officially joined the ranks of a lifetime of debt… I actually broke the news of homeownership to my friends by saying, "I joined the club of forever in debt.”
I was a blind idiot to accept the fact of being in debt my whole life. A young and irresponsible twenty something kid who didn't have a clue about finances. The reality of it is, you do not have to live a life of debt just because you buy a house. I did not realize this until I read Dave Ramsey’s, “Total Money Makeover.” His lessons are old school and simple to explain but harder to follow because you need to change your behaviors.
I could step on my soap box a praise Dave for an amazing program and how it is the best thing since balloon mortgages, insert sarcasm here. Reality is, I do not follow Dave’s baby steps to a "T." He did give me an avenue to travel down, and more importantly gave me hope to one day keep the money I make, or spend it as I see fit. Imagine having an extra $500 to $2,000 every month! It would be like winning the lotto every month.
There are different methods to paying your house off early, ALL of which require you to pay extra towards your principal amount. Be sure to specify this with each payment otherwise the lender may apply the extra cash to principal and interest, which will not help you out much. Ask your lender for a Amortization Schedule to become familiar with your mortage situation. All the mortage plans I have read aim to attack this schedule by throwing extra cash at it. The easiest way to pay your loan off early is by making at least one extra monthly payment every year. This could knock 4-6 years of your loan alone. Another popular route people take is refinancing their home from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan. You will pay your house off in half the time and pay a fraction in interest. The downside is you will payout more money each month, but you will also receive a lower interest rate. There are many methods to choose from to help pay your house off early, so find what works for you, and remember someday you will live mortgage free.
Posted: 04/06/2013 10:35 AM
Most of my blogs circle around selling your home FSBO (For Sale by Owner) style in the QC and QCA, however with spring finally arriving, I find myself looking at houses to buy. The problem is, I am by no means in the need of a house. I simply enjoy looking at houses for sale and seeing what they have to offer for décor, style, size, and of course price.I’m not sure why I have such an interest in the housing market.
I suspect it goes back to my childhood when my dad would take me out to homes being built in our area. This might be frowned upon in today’s society where thieves and vandals break into houses to throw a party or steal the copper, but back in “the good ol’days” nobody thought twice about this, or maybe they did... Anyways, he would study how each carpenter was constructing their middle class mansion. He was always looking for ideas and critiquing their work, building his knowledge of home construction. It soon would pay off for him as he built most of our house on his own. Being just a little tike, I followed in my dad’s footsteps soaking up the unique fabrication of each home.
I still love to see how each home takes on the personality of the builder, yet lends itself to be customized and updated to each new owner. This is why I love my job and love studying real-estate. I am guilty of taking a Sunday stroll in Bettendorf, Davenport, Buffalo, or Parkview to see what Quad Cities’ homes are for sale and take a glimpse of what the inside looks like on a flyer. Have you ever found yourself driving by a house and notice a For Sale sign stuck in the front yard, and say, “Wow, I wonder what the inside looks like?” This is quickly followed up with, “I wonder how much it is?” Of course, this ends as if you are on Price’s Right’s final showdown trying to guess the asking price.
As you take your Sunday stroll this spring I hope you find yourself discovering the house of your dreams, or maybe grab a flyer for a friend or family member looking for their dream home.