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First Time Home Buyers Savings Account

Ready to leave apartment life behind? Or maybe it is time to leave home - for a home of your own.

Thanks to a new law that recently passed in Iowa, people can now save for their down payment with a First Time Home Buyer Savings account. This savings account is dedicated for the purchase of a home in Iowa.

Starting in January 2018, people saving for a down payment on a new home in Iowa will be able to take advantage of the First Time Home Buyer Savings Account. This new program lets individuals or couples SAVE MONEY in a 10-year tax deductible savings account to go toward the purchase of a home in Iowa.
  • Individuals and couples qualify for this loan as long as they have not owned a home for the past three years.
  • Individuals or couples can open a dedicated savings account at any local bank, credit union, or any savings and loan institution for the purchase of a first home in Iowa.
  • Parents or grandparents can open an account for their children or grandchildren.
  • Interest earned on the account is not taxable, and the yearly tax deduction can be taken up to 10 times (max of 10 years).
  • Annual contributions have no limit, however, state income tax deductions are capped at contribution totals of $4,000 for married joint filers and $2,000 for all other filers.
Many people believe that they need to put 20% down to purchase a home. The average down payment is actually closer to 11%. In many cases, the down payment can be even lower than that.

This is not the only program available to assist with the purchase of your first home. Check out all options before deciding which fits you the best. Before you even start to look for a home - speak with a potential lender to find out what your credit score is and how much you can truly afford to spend on a home.

If you want to own a home, opening a First Time Home Buyer Savings Account is an important first step in making your dream a reality. To learn more about the First Time home Buyer Savings Account visit IowaFirstHome.com or contact me for help.

 

Home Automation, the IOT.

IOTDevices.png This holiday saw an abundance of home automation devices make their way into homes across America. These devices fall into a new category called IOT or the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is defined by Google as "the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data." These may be small voice activated speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot or the Google Home Mini, or they could be devices connected to your garage door and windows. This is a large category that can potentially make your life simpler and increase the appeal of your home to buyers.

Let's discuss a few of these items and how they can help you at home.
  • Hubs and Controllers: These devices offer the central interface for connecting all your home gadgets. Amazon, Google, and Apple all have voice-operated devices that can play music, check the weather, set timers, and even order pizza from your favorite restaurant if you set them up correctly.
  • Thermostats: Wifi enabled thermostats have been on the market for a while now. The Nest, Ecobee, and other thermostats allow programming to raise and lower the temperature throughout the day, but also provide remote access to manage your HVAC system from your phone. These systems can connect to your hub giving you the ability to voice control your system. You don't even need to get up from your chair to change the temperature!
  • Smart locks, doorbells, and garage openers: Smart doorbells, locks, and openers prevent lockouts and increase convenience by allowing you to lock/unlock and open garage doors remotely, as well as see who rang the doorbell or left a package. You can set up these devices to notify you whenever the door is unlocked. August Smart Lock, Ring Doorbell, and My Q garage door opener are all in this category.
  • Lighting: Even lights are smart these days. Phillips Hue lights can be linked together in zones to turn off and on with a remote or a smartphone. Want to dim the lights in the living room? Simply tell your hub to dim the lights.
  • IFTTT: This stands for If This Then That. IFTTT is a free platform that helps you do more with all your apps and devices. Here's where all this automation can come together to form a series of events. For instance: If the garage door goes up, then the kitchen lights turn on. Oh, the possibilities!
 

Home Maintenance Checklist for January

The New Year is now upon us. Let's start off on the right foot and do some home maintenance to keep everything in tip-top shape.
  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Check pipes and add insulation to prevent freezing.
  • Change furnace filters every 6 weeks.
  • Check your roof for ice dams and icicles that can damage the roof and gutters.
  • Replace any light blubs that are burnt out, both inside and outside.
  • Change refrigerator and ice maker filters every 6 months.
  • Clean your range hood fan to keep it free from grease build-up.
For a more complete room-by-room checklist of home maintenance tasks visit Safewise.com.

 
 

January 2018 Area Events

ELEPHANT & PIGGIE’S “WE ARE IN A PLAY!”
January 5-21
Des Moines Community Playhouse

Family Movies in the Gardens
Saturday January 6 at 10:00am & 1pm
Saturday January 13 at 10:00am & 1pm
Saturday January 20 at 10:00am & 1pm
Saturday January 27 at 10:00am & 1pm
Reiman Gardens, Ames

Ankeny Community Ice Rink
Monday January 8 at Dawn-Noon for Hockey and Noon to Dusk for Open Skating
January 10-31
AMP, 715 W. First St., Ankeny

Ankeny Holiday Tree Pick-up
January 9-12
Curbside pick-up of trees for Ankeny residents

Pint Size Science: Toddler Edition
Wednesday January 10 at 9:00 am
Science Center, Des Moines

2018 Iowa Home Show
Friday January 12 at 1:00-7:00 pm
Saturday January 13 at 10:00 am-7:00 pm
Sunday January 14 at 11:00 am-4:00 pm
Varied Industries Building, Iowa

Snowshoe Owl Prowl
Friday January 12 at 5:00-6:30 pm
McFarland Park, Ames

SKATE TIPS CLASS
Saturday January 13 at 10:30 am
Brenton Skating Plaza, Des Moines

White Keys
Saturday January 13 at 8:00 pm
Prairie Meadows, Altoona

Country River Band
Tuesday January 16 at 11:00 am
Prairie Meadows, Altoona

JFK & Me
Friday January 19 at 7:30 pm
Fisher Theater, Ames

Harry Potter Yule Ball
Saturday January 20 at 6:30 & 8:00 pm
Ames Public Library

Central Iowa Kennel Club All Breed Dog Show
January 20-21 8:00 am-5:00 pm
4H Exhibits Hall, Iowa State Fairgrounds

Music Appreciation for All Ages: Fats Domino
Wednesday January 24 at 12:15 pm & 7:00 pm
Kirkendall Public Library, Ankeny

Crafty Cocktail Night: Fired Ink Art
Thursday January 25 at 6:00-8:00 pm
Reiman Gardens, Ames

Moscow Festival Ballet - Giselle
Thursday January 25 at 7:30 pm
Stephens Auditorium, Ames

Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Circus
Friday January 26 at 7:00-9:00 pm
January 27-28 All Day
Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center iowa State Fairgrounds

The Murder Room
January 26-27 7:30 pm
February 1-3 7:30 pm
Sunday February 4 at 2:00 pm
Ames Community Theater

Cabin Fever: Farms Uncorked
Saturday January 27 at 3:00-6:00 pm
Living History Farms, Urbandale

Yaro Dance Company Winter Showcase
Saturday January 27 at 6:30 pm
Hoyt Sherman Place, Des Moines

Richie Lee & The Fabulous 50's
Saturday January 27 at 7:00 pm
Iowa Talent Factory, Nevada

The Wizard of Oz
Tuesday January 30 at 7:30 pm
Stephens Auditorium, Ames

Bike Ride to Rippey
Saturday February 3 at 10:00 am
Perry, IA - Hotel Pattee

Tea & Talk / Impresario Michael Egel
Saturday February 3 at 2:00 pm
Terrace Hill, Des Moines

Dancing with the Stars: LIVE! - Light Up the Night
Monday February 5 at 7:30 pm
Stephens Auditorium, Ames



 

Market Numbers

Ames 2018 2017
Jan. 1 Active listings 136 95
Previous Year 2017 2016
Homes SOLD 648 652
Average Sale Price $250,508 $231,537
Average Days on Market 45 43
Sale Price to List Price Ratio 96.8% 96.6%
Story County 2018 2017
Jan. 1 Active listings 60 68
Previous Year 2017 2016
Homes SOLD 356 354
Average Sale Price $174,190 $174,431
Average Days on Market 53 57
Sale Price to List Price Ratio 95.3% 96.1%
Based on Sales information as reported to the Central Iowa Multiple Listing Service as of 1/1/2018
Ames - Ames Residential and Rural Subdivisions
Story County - Residential, excluding Ames Residential and Ames Rural Subdivisions