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Displaying blog entries 141-150 of 177

The Des Moines Farmers' Market

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

While the forecast for this weekend might leave a little to be desired in the weather department, I can assure you that a little rain won’t keep many folks away from opening day of the DES MOINES FARMERS’ MARKET, this Saturday (May 3, 2014)!  We’re guessing most locals know exactly how exciting and important this is to Central Iowans.  But just in case you’re new to town (or completely out-of-touch!), we figured that a quick briefing on the Des Moines Farmers’ Market was in order! Now before you new-to-towners start to scoff and shake with skepticism based on your previous experiences at farmers’ markets, you should know that Des Moines’ Farmers’ Market is unlike any other you’ve ever been to.

 

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Launched in 1976 and with only 15 vendors, this produce pushing market has since expanded and now proudly boasts nearly 300 vendors from all over Iowa and weekly attendance averaging over 18,00 visitors.  That’s big time!  What’s more?  The open-air market spans the entire Court Avenue District, is in season from May through October, and offers much, much more than just the freshest locally grown produce. (As if that isn’t enough?!?) On any given Saturday, you will find meats, baked goods, cut flowers, starter veggie plants, and hanging baskets.

 

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Still not sold that the Des Moines Farmers’ Market is the place to be on Saturday mornings?  Well, let us entice you with lots of prepared food vendors (mmmm, papusas…), local artist galore, and fun entertainers to keep you…well…entertained! So, whether you’re shopping, people watching, needing a good breakfast, or looking for something fun to do, the Des Moines Farmers’ Market offers something for everyone and is the place for you.

 

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Find out more at www.desmoinesfarmersmarket.com

Gearing Up Your {Gas} Grill For Spring

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Longer days and warmer evenings tend to put us all in the mood for a good barbeque.  And, while we certainly don’t consider ourselves grill masters, we do know a thing or two about getting that GAS GRILL prepped for perfectly cooked cuisine this spring!  Here are our best suggestions for breaking in that BBQ.

 

 

●  Get ‘er clean!  A dirty grill will smoke incessantly, leaving a not-so-pleasant taste on your food, so take control and give it a good cleaning.  Start with a wire brush and soapy rag to wipe down any areas -- both inside and out -- where gunk has began to accumulate.  Don’t forget the burner covers, grates, grilling chamber and lid! Once your scrubbing is sufficient, grab a towel and get it dry. 

●  New grills should, not only be cleaned, but cured!  The easiest way to season a new grill is to coat all of the interior surfaces and the cooking grate with a thin layer of vegetable oil or grilling spray.  Next, fire it up on medium heat (300 degrees ) and let ‘er sit for 1 to 2 hours.  This process will ensure that all of the solvents and impurities from the manufacturing process will burn off the grill and its heating elements.

●  Stock up on fuel!  No one wants to run out of gas mid-barbeque!  Talk about putting a damper on dinner and fun with friends/family!  We recommend filling your tank at the start of grill season, then checking it regularly.  But the only way to ensure that you’ll never have to run out on hungry guests or let the food get cold is to keep an extra pre-filled tank handy.  Easy enough, eh?

●  Clean the grease traps.  Simply put -- fat collects in these and can easily ignite to set not only your grill on fire (oh, the irony!), but your home, too!  Be smart.  Be safe.

●  Grill maintenance.  This one is a no-brainer.  You have something nice, take care of it!  And by “take care if it” we mean -- scrape off burnt-on food bits after each use, preven rust with rust-proof paint, and cover your grill between uses to keep it from harsh weather that can wreak havoc on your beloved BBQ!

 

And there you have it!  Good luck, grill masters!  Keep on cooking on!

Things To Consider When Buying A New Lawnmower

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Spring is here!!  And so is the resurgence of growing grass!  Most of us are giddy to see green again, but those needing to BUY A NEW LAWNMOWER likely do not share in our excitement.  However, aside from the financial aspect, purchasing a new mower doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming!  Let us help!  We’ve put together a list of considerations to keep in mind when you’re ready to re-invest in your yard with a good lawnmower!

 

 

1.  Size of your yard!  The square footage of the your lawn will determine how big of mower you’ll need.  Common sense says, the more grass you have to mow, the more mower you’ll need to buy!  A relatively small lawn (half acre or less), likely only require a walk-behind mower.  Larger lawns (15,000 square feet or more than half of an acre) can justify the expense and prestige of a riding lawn mower, also known as a lawn tractor.  A couple of other factors to keep in mind: your yard’s terrain (rough or hilly will be additionally challenging) AND, if you decide a walk-behind mower is the way to go, you’ll need to choose between the self-propelled or standard push style variety.  If you’re looking for an easy job, self-propelled is the way to go, but if exercise is your ulterior motive, a push mower is where the workout is!

 

As a general rule of thumb, if your mowing sessions are between 45 to 60 minutes in length, once a week, your mower should last approximately 8 years.  After that, it is time to consider a replacement!

 

Tip: Regardless of mower size, always make sure you have sufficient space to store it!

 

2.  The frequency with which you will need to mow.  Depending on where you live, grass can grow at a very rapid pace, necessitating a bi-weekly mow.  OR, in hotter/drier regions, you may only need to bust out the mower once every week.  Therefore, the question becomes: Give the frequency with which I plan on mowing, will a riding lawn mower ease the burden?  Or can I “tough it out” with a walk-behind because I’m only doing it once a week?  Only YOU can answer that.

 

3.  Gas-powered versus electric-powered mower.  This is a decision applicable to push mowers.  Gas engines tend to have more power and, conversely, electric-powered mowers are more energy efficient.  Ask yourself exactly how important conserving energy and money is to you when it comes to lawn care.  In reality, for a very small lawn, an electric mower might be practical.  However, with the majority of yards, a gasoline-powered pusher will be the preferential choice.

 

4.  Consider your mower purchase to be a long-term investment and don’t be afraid to spend a little extra money on feature that might make your life (lawn care!) easier.  After all, a $100 upgrade over an 8-year lifespan seems like a pretty good investment.

 

5.  Research features and figure out which are must-haves/favorites.  From swivel front wheels (for easier turning), safety options, and drive speed control, to electric start, cruise control, cup holders, and attachments, there are many extras to be considered!  We recommend making a list and prioritizing your wants vs needs.

 

6.  Where to shop! While the big-name home improvement stores may be a logical choice for purchasing your new mower, don’t be afraid to shop around and do some price comparisons.  Some dealers even offer seasonal check-ups and/or storage!  Other dealers have been known to price-match and offer fantastic service and repair packages.  Go with a realistic price range in mind and don’t be afraid to make a deal!

 

Finally, perhaps the most important question to ask before investing in a new mower is: How much will this save me over the life of the product? Comparing the cost of a new mower to the average cost of professional lawn care, it's easy to see that the scales tip in favor of doing your own mowing. Choosing the right mower with a quality engine can help ensure your mowing experience is productive and positive. 

The Importance Of Pre-Approval In The Home Buying Process

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Buying a home is a BIG deal.  And what’s more?  It’s a BIG deal that not many people fully understand.  There are laws, processes, intricacies, and ideals that need to/should be followed. It’s for this reason, that we think it is especially important to answer all the questions that we can regarding the home searching/buying/selling process in an effort to inform and empower you. So, here is a commonly asked question that we, as realtors, often hear from our first time home buyers.

 

 

Q: We’re ready to buy a home!  What is our first step? 

 

A: This is a great question and the answer is simple: The very first thing you should do even if you’re just entertaining the idea of buying, is to get pre-approved by a lender.  There are many reasons that a pre-approval letter is important, but we will highlight just a few.

 

  • Pre-approval letters are proof that you are actually able to buy a home.  Unless you’re planning on paying cash for your home, you will need some sort of financing.  And if you cannot show that you are able to obtain said financing, you can kiss that home buying dream good-bye...at least for now.  There are few things more frustrating, for both a realtor AND as a buyer, than beginning the home searching process, only to find out in the end that you’re unable to secure financing necessary to make the purchase.  By getting pre-approved, both of us (realtors and home buyers alike!) can search for your home with a peace of mind and confidence knowing that you CAN afford it.

 

  • Pre-approval letters help define your search.  Those million dollar listings may be fun to look at, what is the point of looking at something that you don’t have the means to buy? Being pre-approved lets us know what you can spend, which in the end will save you valuable time and energy because we won’t be looking at houses out of your price range.  Knowing what you can spend and being realistic from the beginning is in the best interests of all parties involved. 

 

  • Pre-approval letters can potentially give you leverage with the seller. Being pre-approved looks good to sellers and can position you above other potential offers. What’s more is that pre-approval letters can be great negotiation tools between yourself and sellers.  It is a symbol of your seriousness and shows sellers that their home is within your budget. 

 

  • Pre-approval letters can result in smoother transactions. After you find your dream home is NOT the time to apply for pre-approval.  If your desire is for seamless purchase, then do yourself a favor and apply for financing before starting the search, as to not slow the process once you are ready to make an offer.

 

  • Pre-approval letters trump pre-qualification.  Pre-approval and pre-qualification are NOT the same thing. Pre-qualification is simply an estimate and an opinion from the bank on what you could afford.  Alternatively, pre-approval is factual and holds much more weight than its counterpart.  Granted, getting pre-approved is more work, but in the end it will be well worth it when you present yourself as a strong, qualified buyer.

 

Now that you know the importance of pre-approval, we’d love to help get the ball rolling.  Contact us at 515-964-3662 and we will set you up with a fantastic lender who wants to see you in your dream home just as badly as we do!

Wondering Whether {Weather} Or Not Now Is The Time To Buy?

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Let’s talk about the weather, shall we? Yes, the weather.  We’re Iowans, we LOVE to talk weather – good weather, bad weather, impending weather, and patterns of weather.  Whether (hardy har har!) you realize it or not, WEATHER plays a significant role in the real estate market.

 

 

Sales trends can vary largely based on seasonal temperatures and precipitation, as can the perspective with which prospective buyers are looking.  Studies have shown that, generally, the spring and summer months are optimum times to market a home and winter is the worst (duh!).  It’s a no brainer to say that homes just show better on bright, sunny days.  Even some not-so-pretty properties tend to look nicer when the sun is shining and birds are chirping.  Like wise, cold temps, wind, rain, and snow can be major deterrents for buyers.

 

As a potential buyer it is important to remember a couple things with regards to weather and your home shopping search.  First of all, dreary winter days and moist spring months might just be the *perfect* time to capitalize on fast closing times or other negotiation strategies offered by motivated sellers. Secondly, professional inspections are, in our opinion, always worth the investment.  A high quality inspector will pay special attention to “off-season” items or potential problems.  For example, in the middle of winter, it is easy to pinpoint heating related issues, but a competent inspection will ensure the HVAC is functioning properly, as well.  Fireplaces, pools, irrigation systems, and windows are all other “seasonal” items that can often be overlooked.  Finally, if you’re in the market for a home, remember that not all homes are listed in just the nice weather months.  There are many (many!) circumstances that dictate when a seller needs to sell and regardless of season, there are always great opportunities out there and beautiful homes to be bought!

 

Looking to get a head start on the spring temps?  Want to take advantage of interest rates that are still below average? NEED to find a home now, even in these less than ideal weather conditions?  We’d be happy to help! Let’s work together despite this dreary weather!  Call us today! 515.964.3662

6 Easy Steps For Decluttering Your Home

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Whether you’re in the spring cleaning mood or readying your home for sale, DECLUTTERING your space can be difficult and downright overwhelming.  That is why we’ve put together a list of 6 easy steps to help ease the stress of cleaning out your stuff!  Well, what are you waiting for?  Clear that clutter!

 

1.  Make A Plan, Man! Whether it be a weekend’s worth of work, or many months, start with a written out strategy.  Begin with a list of areas of the home that need decluttered, then set dates to tackle those spaces, and stick with it! Oh, and one other must-do to boost morale and increase motivation?  Tackle your most dreaded/cluttered areas first.  See the payoff from those cleaned out spaces will be enough to keep you going!  And don’t forget to the enlist the help of your family/housemates. 

 

This is just one example of how your declutter calendar/plan could look:

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Or try this method:

 

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Find what works for you!

 

2.  Ready yourself...both mentally and physically.  Once you have your decluttering added to the calendar, you’ll be more likely to actually do it AND be prepared for it!  Give yourself no excuses to skip the stress by having the necessary supplies, such as trash bags, laundry baskets (keep reading), boxes, music, food, and a clear mind.

 

3.  Give yourself a set amount of time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up on clearing things out midway through, so we suggest working in blocks of time.  Whether it is 15 minutes, twice a day, or 3 hours on the weekend, set yourself up to succeed! And remember, slow and steady sometimes wins the race.  Commit to one room, drawer, closet, or area per day and see a BIG impact in no time at all!

 

4.  Make 3 Piles: Keep, Donate, Trash.  This is an easy system for your big stuff sort and, likely, everything you come across can be categorized in one of these 3 areas.  We recommend using large laundry baskets that can easily be moved from room to room or space to space.  Label your baskets, and don’t second guess your initial reaction! 

 

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Questions to ask yourself when deciding how to sort objects:

● Do I use this?

● Do I need this?

● Will I even know it is gone?

 

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5. Get creative with storage and use what you have!  Storage ottomans, cubes, boxes and baskets all make for useful clutter keepers. Think outside the box and, if necessary, invest in storage solutions -- but NOT before assessing your need!

 

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6. Designate a spot for everything AND a system for paper clutter.  This is the key to keeping clutter at bay.  Taking the time to organize after you’ve sorted all the stuff, will pay off HUGE when the doesn’t come back!  Check out our previous post on Home Organization for easy, applicable ideas!

 

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Bottom line when it comes to streamlining your stuff? Decluttering can be done effectively and with minimal stress if you have a plan and stick with it!  

Ankeny Listing Coming Soon: Pool House Preview!

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With spring and summer just around the corner, NOW is the time to start thinking about making the most of warmer weather that is sure to be here soon!  And what better way to spend your summer than swimming and lounging poolside?!?  BUT, as we all know, pool properties in Ankeny are hard to come by...which is why we’re excited to share this soon-to-be listing, coming in mid-May, and complete with an IN-GROUND SWIMMING POOL.

 

 

 

This all brick 1,900 square foot ranch home not only boasts an in-ground pool, but also has an extensive party deck, patio area, significant landscaping, sliders from the large master suite with access to the hot tub deck, and many home updates. 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a well-priced pool property perfect for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors, this might just be the home for you!  Stay tuned for additional details and pictures coming soon.  This home will not last long!  Call us (515-964-3662) today for more information!

 

Trending: Man Caves

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Today’s real estate market has brought with it some often hard-to-find house hunter requests -- theatre rooms, scrapbooking spaces, and master bedroom laundry rooms -- just to name a few!  However, perhaps one of our favorites is the coveted MAN CAVE!  Not really a cave at all, this masculine metaphor is one of the most popular requests to top the list of “must-haves” on a man’s list.

 

So, what is a man cave?

 

man cave

noun Informal.

 

: a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities.

 

For many (if not the majority!) of our male clients, a Man Cave is not just a space where they can watch endless hours of sports on an outrageously large television, it is a place where they can be free of female decorating influences!  And just because you’re not in the market for a new home (& especially if you are!), doesn’t mean that you can’t make your own man cave.  That’s right!  All you need is a room (think: basement, garage, attic, spare bedroom, media room, or den) and a few essentials!

 

Below you will find a list of our favorite Man Cave essentials to get you started on a room sure to make every man envious!

 

1. Television.  Every functional Man Cave should, without a doubt, have a well-functioning TV.  Bigger is NOT always better, however.  Buy what your budget and space allow.  And if we might offer one more piece of advice?  Ensure that your tube is high-definition AND that your cable/dish provider offers the channels important to you!

 

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2. Funny signs.  Humorous or not, signs can add character to your space.  Decorate with items that show-off your interests and personality!

 

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3. Refrigerator. Bonus points if you keep it stocked!

 

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4. Snack area. Again, a fully stocked snack section scores major points with friends.  And remember that something as simple as a snack table can also be multifunctional, finding uses for meals, poker, and other games.

 

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5. Plenty of {comfy} seating.  Word of advice: don’t skimp on the seating.  Work within your budget (& space), but we encourage sofas, chairs, bar stools, and a place to put up your feet.

 

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6. Sports memorabilia and/or movie posters.  This is a great way to decorate your room and it doesn’t have to be pricey!  Use what you have or score some free posters from your local high school or college teams.  Movie posters are also relatively inexpensive way to add a little life to those otherwise boring walls!

 

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All joking aside, your newly created Man Cave might serve as a fun space to hang out, but it can certainly also add to the value of your home.  Curious about the value of your home -- Man Cave and all?  Call us today to have an analysis of your home’s value emailed to you directly!

Easy Ways to Add Character to a Newer Home

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

 

It’s been said that your home reflects who you are.  But what if you’re a full-of-personality-ambiance-loving-architectural-adoring-vintage-craving homeowner with a perfectly nice, newer, somewhat characterless home that just doesn’t fit your nature?  Well, we have good news!  We want you to love where you live and feel like your home is a reflection of you, which is why we’re here with 5 fairly easy, relatively inexpensive ideas to up the charm-factor of your newer home! 

 

Upgrade Fixtures

 

While, generally small in nature, updating things like lighting, hardware, door knobs, and outlet panels, make a BIG difference.  Chandeliers and pendant light fixtures, along with dimming lights and lamps, will give that moody ambiance often overlooked in newer homes.

 

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Update Doors

 

Here is an AWESOME post from Beneath My Heart on how to replace builder-grade doors with paneled ones.  I mean, who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned, solid-wood, 5-panel door?  Rid yourself of the builder-grade hollow-core doors by making the switch to something with a little more style.

 

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Add Molding/Trimwork

 

Much of the character in older homes is due to the attention paid to the detailing of woodwork.  You can recreate this architectural look by adding base or crown molding, bead board or board and batten to walls, or even faux vintage ceiling beams.

 

 

 

Vinyl Decals

 

From letters and numbers to sayings and simple graphics, vinyl wall decals are an easy, extremely inexpensive way to add character and personality to a boring wall or piece of furniture.

 

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Wood Flooring

 

The look of original, restored hardwood floors is a timeless feature and can easily be recreated.

 

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Quick Winter Getaways

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Don’t let the frigid forecast keep you home this winter!  While you might not have the time, money, or ability to take a trip to the beach, there are plenty of fun getaway options that are just a quick car ride away!  So, whether you want a relaxing weekend to remember or a “kick-out-the-cabin-fever-jam-packed” adventure, we’ve got you covered!  Here are a few in-and-around Iowa ideas for your winter weather getaway!

 

1.  Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark, Dubuque, Iowa - Located in the Port of Dubuque, Grand Harbor is the perfect spot for enjoying this beautiful and exciting destination area.  With over 25,000 square feet of indoor waterpark and a Watersquirts Kids Club as the hub of great family activities, this location is sure to rank high among even the hard-to-please family members!

 

 

2.  Minneapolis, MN - Our neighbors to the north offer an abundance of winter activities and attractions.  Because, after all, no one does winter like Minnesotans (said in our best accent!).  Explore Minnesota is your one-stop shop for easy getaway ideas!  From the Mall Of America and skiing to dining out and nightlife, Minneapolis can’t be beat (well, maybe only by Des Moines!).

 

 

3.  Adventureland Resort - This year round destination offers a sunlit tropical courtyard, surrounded by lush plants and sparkling blue water!  Don’t let the closure of their amusement park keep you away!  This resort with three pools, a swim-up bar, hot tubs, and a restaurant is plenty of fun on its own!

 

 

4.  Ramada Tropics Resort, Des Moines, Iowa - The recently renovated Ramada Tropics Resort & Conference Center offers something for every traveler, boasting 8,000 square feet of meeting space as well as an 18,000-square-foot indoor water park, the only such amusement park of its kind in Des Moines. This family resort also offers an excellent bar and grill, plus a poolside tiki bar for adults. The kids (or kids at heart!) will love the park's three pools, pirate ship, and water slides.

 

 

5.  Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden - The Des Moines Botanical Center is one of the most popular attractions in Iowa (especially during the winter months!), providing educational, recreational, and community resources to thousands!  It is located on 14 acres along the east bank of the Des Moines River, close to downtown and is a definite “to-do” during the cold days of winter!

 

 

6.  Honey Creek Resort, Moravia, Iowa - By itself the Honey Creek Resort indoor water park (Buccaneer Bay) would be plenty of fun for a quick winter trip, but their offerings don’t stop there! There are winter rentals, hikes, tours, cooking demonstrations, games, a library, and much more!

 

 

7.  Lakeside Hotel and Casino, Osceola, Iowa - An adult adventure, for sure, Lakeside Hotel and Casino offers accommodations, gambling (duh!), dining, and plenty of entertainment.  

 

Displaying blog entries 141-150 of 177