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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

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4