Ask the Patch Pro: Your Real Estate Questions

'Tis the season for buying and selling homes. Do you have questions? Post them and you'll get answers.

Last month, I sold my house and bought another. Looking back, there are several questions I should have asked.

When is the best time to put a house on the market? Is it still a buyers' market? What are the best last-minute updates to do before listing a house?

After the success of a forum on Patch last week, in which readers posed to Urbandale Fire Chief Jerry Holt, it got me thinking that it would be perfect timing to bring in a Realtor to field questions about real estate. 

Robin Sueppel of in Iowa City has graciously agreed to monitor the thread and answer your questions.

You can start posting your questions in the comment section below at any time. I asked Robin to start monitoring the thread beginning Thursday morning.

We also have a number of real estate-themed bloggers across the state on our Iowa Patch sites who are invited to chip in with advice as well, if they wish. 

In case you aren't familiar with our fantastic real estate bloggers, here they are:

  • , with , blogs in Marion.
  • , with , blogs in Ankeny.  
  • , with RE/MAX Innovations, blogs in Waukee. 
  • , with , blogs in Ankeny.
  • , with Pro Homes Solutions, flips and sells houses in Iowa City.
John Norwood April 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM
@ Mark, Very interesting. Your compound annual rate is 9.5% which, I agree, is very high. My home in WDM has gone from $3,900 (2007) to $4,967 (2011). This is a compound annual rate of 4.95%. I also agree there is a limit to what folks can pay, and generally speaking if cities are doing a good job they should be growing their budgets at about the rate of inflation, or maybe less (2-3% per year). What I'd suggest to you is the problem isn't so much with the state system of how to allocate the taxes between classes of property, it's with your cities growth and spending/subsidy policies. I bet you may find the reason why your taxes are growing so fast is your taxes are being used to pay for city overhead while the city uses taxes from new growth areas financed by TIF to support new roads and sewers to those areas vs. paying for fire, snow plowing and the like. That is generally how TIF works. The taxes paid go to new infrastructure vs. overhead. The R plan to cut commercial taxes rates is going to do one of two things; a) cut services; b) shift more taxes to your home in the form of property taxes or other user taxes. I agree the state needs to work with the cities to fix runaway health care and pension costs. Those are the other principle drivers of runaway city costs. But in terms of your situation, I think that's primary an Ankeny problem. To what extent should you and other existing homes and businesses be expected to finance the city's expansion?
Mark Charter April 13, 2012 at 08:30 PM
@Anne, Bold colors are fine in moderation. An accent wall here or there is totally acceptable. Where I see the most problems is kid's rooms. That is where you see the bright pinks and purples or any number of weird color choices. If I am asking a client about their thoughts after seeing ten homes and they say something like "oh was that the one with the purple room", that is a bad thing if you are the seller. You do not want buyers focusing on negatives like paint colors. Yes, it is an easy fix for them, but buyers can be fickle so tread lightly. My thought is this. when you are an owner and are not selling, do whatever you want to the place. it is yours so enjoy it. However, when you go to sell it, you are no longer just a homeowner, you are now a home seller and different rules apply. Since you are now moving, do you really care if you have to stare at beige walls for a few months? Paint them a neutral and eliminate the reason a buyer might pass up your home.
Laurie Culp April 13, 2012 at 10:30 PM
The window between Thanksgiving and January 31st is a great time to buy!
Laurie Culp April 13, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Surprisingly, beige has fallen out of favor as a neutral in homes these days. Buyers gravitate towards a more saturated color like taupe or a darker khaki. If in doubt, go to open houses on the weekends and see how sellers stage their homes.
Robin Sueppel April 15, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Anne, I find the bold colors are selling well here in Iowa City. If you watch color trends on pottery barn you will probably stay consistent with trends here. Personal feeling, enjoy your kitchen, that is the beauty of home ownership, you get to choose the color. Paint is fairly cheap, when you are ready to sell, readdress this issue with your Realtor.


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