Archive for June, 2010

Projects that Pay (and Improvements to Avoid)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

How to spend money wisely on remodeling and increase the value of your home…

If you would like to increase the value of your home while increasing the beauty and functionality, remodeling is a great solution. However, not all renovations are created equal: Some bring great returns, others can actually be a liability.

The Dos:

Do invest in the most important rooms of the home, namely kitchens, bathrooms, and master bedrooms. New flooring, updated paint, new cabinetry and upgraded countertops are functional for you and will appeal to future buyers, bringing greater value to your home. Large expenditures, such as cabinetry, flooring, and tile work, will provide the most return when popular neutral options are chosen. This doesn’t mean boring- paint and accessories provide character, but are easily changed later to meet anyone’s taste.

Adding on rooms such as master suites, bathrooms, sunrooms, and family rooms add value only when it brings your home up to the standards of the neighborhood. When adding on rooms, consider the flow of the home and making the addition blend seamlessly into the original home.

The Don’ts :

If you plan on moving in the next couple of years, here is one crucial consideration: You will get much lower returns on the improvements if they do not make sense for your market. It is always good to keep up with the Joneses but not to exceed them, because buyers compare prices within neighborhoods. A general way to estimate whether an improvement is a financial asset or not is to add up your home value and the improvement cost, If the total is more than 20% over average price of homes in your neighborhood, you will probably take a loss when you try to sell your home.

If this is the case, you may want to consider purchasing a new home with the amenities you want rather than improving what you have, as many renovations don’t bring a full return of their cost when the home is sold.

If you make improvements, try to make improvements that are useful and attractive to a variety of buyers. For example, swimming pools or overly ornate gardens may turn off buyers because they require too much maintenance. Additionally, consider more timeless options for permanent fixtures, and add your own flair with things that are easily removed or changed.

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern

Terrible neighbors? Make them better!

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Whether your neighbors are nosy, noisy, messy, or just plain annoying, bad neighbors are always a little too close for comfort.  If you need an effective solution to- and a little more separation from- your neighbors, consider the words of Robert Frost, “Good fences make good neighbors.”.

Fences provide privacy, keep kids or pets in, keep animals out of landscaping and gardens, provide character, and increase property values. However, to avoid starting a neighborhood feud (or a lawsuit), consider the following:

  • It is best to discuss your plans for fencing with your neighbors since they have to live with your fencing decisions as well. Talking to them at first will make it less likely they will be offended when the fence starts to go up. In some cases neighbors who both want a fence agree to share the cost for the portion of the fence they will share.
  • Determine exactly where property boundaries lie by finding the lot pins or hiring a surveyor.
  • Obtain all permits and check on legal requirements for your area. Many places have placement restrictions, height restrictions, material restrictions, requirements on picket spacing, and minimum setback distances from sidewalks or streets.
  • Consider how much maintenance you want to put into the fencing. There are a variety of materials available for fencing, some of which require much more time and money to care for than others.

As you install…

  • To ensure the best coverage, finish the fencing before installing it.  Make sure to do your homework on the best product for your needs and your material, including climate and maintenance specifications.
  • If you have children or pets you want to keep in or out, take into consideration the opening mechanism (or a lock). Additionally, certain products allow the gate to swing closed automatically.
  • To avoid rotting wood and insect infestation, keep the fence from dragging or getting too near the ground. A general rule is fencing should be raised 4 to 6 inches, as the fence will settle some over time.

Good relationships between neighbors is part of what makes our communities great. And sometimes a little fencing makes it easier to maintain a good relationship.

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Creating Curb Appeal: A Before and After Video

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Is the exterior of your home boring, out-of-date, or just plain bad? You are certainly not the only one suffering from a less-than-appealing facade. Check out this home makeover for some inspiration!

Video source:

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern

Ames High Receives High Praise!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Newsweek just revealed its list of the top schools in the nation, and Ames made the cut! 1600 schools were chosen, representing the top 6 percent of schools nationwide. Ames ranked #869 in the US, and third out of the six Iowa schools recognized. Ames followed closely behind Washington and Kennedy High Schools, both of Cedar Rapids. Iowa City West, Mid-Prairie, and Valley were also on the list.

For the full article and ranking, follow this link:

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern

Imagination and Innovation: The Home of the Future

Friday, June 11th, 2010

What will our homes look like in the future? Kitchen computers and digital wallpaper? Mirrors that tell you how to care for fabrics? Check out this video to see what is coming next in home technology! There is also a look to the past; a similar video from the 1960’s predicting how plastics will change new home construction. Have a fun Friday, and enjoy the video!

Hunziker Welcomes Megan Bark!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Hunziker & Associates, REALTORS® wishes to welcome and announce the addition of Megan Bark to its Ames office. Bark, who recently completed her Real Estate licensing, is very excited about the new opportunity. A Nevada, Iowa native, Bark is very familiar with the area and all Iowa has to offer. Bark graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Horticulture and Management, giving her expertise in marketing, finance, and great advice for adding curb appeal to your home. Bark lives in Ames with her husband Jarod, a paramedic at Mary Greeley Hospital. Bark spends her time biking, spending time with friends and family, and volunteering for Bead for Life, an organization that helps Ugandan women gain a sustainable income by creating and selling jewelry.

“I’m really excited to be a part of people’s lives during such a significant time,” noted Bark. “Whether they are purchasing a new home or leaving one, I would be honored to help make it the best experience for them it can be.”

To contact Bark, or for more information, please call: 515-460-6262 or visit

Word-Day Wednesday: Assessed Value

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Do you ever wonder what all of that real estate jargon really means? Wednesday is the day where we take those crazy phrases, tell you what they mean, and explain how they are relevant to you!

Today’s Wednesday Word: Assessed Value

When it comes to home values, there is often confusion about the terms and what comprises a home’s assessed worth. Let’s clear the waters for those who find the issue a bit murky.

The purpose of assessed value is to determine how much property tax you should pay (based on the value of your property).  This property tax is used to fund counties, cities, school districts, and other local community services. In Iowa, assessing takes place every other year (the next time will be 2011). The county assessor estimates the value of each property, taking into account the value of the land, constructions on the land, fences, paving, and other improvements. The assessor is trying to get an estimate of  fair market value, so the assessor also compares recently sold properties to find the most probable sales price of the property.

Assessed value should not be confused with appraised value. An appraisal is completed for a fee, usually for a bank when they are deciding how much money to lend on a property. Appraisals also estimate the fair market value, but they include a greater level of in-depth analysis and a tour of the inside of the property.

Ideally, the two values should be similar. If they are not, one possible explanation is time lag: Assessed values are only conducted every other year, so the value may not reflect market changes or  recent home improvements. If you feel that an error has been made by the assessor, you may protest the assessment from April 16 to May 5 every year.

Many sellers are confused when their REALTOR® estimates the value and it is different than the assessed value. It is essential to remember that a REALTORS’® market analysis is more precise and timely, and considers more factors than the assessor. These factors include market trends, desirability of the property, and the interior condition of the home (assessors generally do not enter homes). If you would like to know the market value of your home, contact a REALTOR®, as they will be able to tell you the most accurate value for today’s market.

For more information about assessed value, visit Iowa’s assessor and property taxes page at:

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern

Dont Miss the 2010 Ames Parade of Homes!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

If you are thinking about purchasing a new home, building a home, or just enjoy seeing the newest trends in residential homes, we invite you to join us for the 2010 Parade of Homes. The tour, which is put on by the Ames Home Builders Association (ABHA) will be held from Wednesday, June 9 to Sunday, June 13, and will feature eight new construction homes in a variety of price points and neighborhoods. Two of the featured homes were built by HCS Builders, a sister company of Hunziker & Associates, REALTORS®.

Not only will you enjoy the homes and decor on display, but you will also have a chance to win prizes! Hunziker & Associates, REALTORS® will be giving away 5 themed prize bags, valued at a minimum of $25 each. The bags will be featured at the HCS Builders homes. Additionally, if you visit all eight homes, you will be in the running for a raffle prize.

Tickets for the event are $5.00, and are good for all eight homes on all five days. Tickets will be available on or before the days of the Parade of Homes at the Greater Iowa Credit Union (Somerset location) as well as the Hunziker & Associates, REALTORS® office at 105 South 16th Street. On the days of the Parade of Homes, tickets will also be available at a ticket tent located on the corner of Stange Road and Northridge Parkway in Somerset Village. Hours of the ticket tent are 4-8pm Wednesday through Friday, 12-7pm on Saturday, and 12-3pm on Sunday. All proceeds go to community projects and the AHBA scholarship fund

 The Parade of Homes schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, June 9: 5pm to 8pm

Thursday, June 10: 5pm to 8pm

Friday, June 11: 5pm to 9pm

Saturday, June 12: 1pm to 8pm

Sunday, June 13: 1pm to 5pm

For a list of homes featured, visit

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern

June 2010 Newsletter: New Construction Issue

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Hunziker & Associates, REALTORS® has all of the required resources at our disposal to make your dream home come to life. Besides selling existing homes, we also sell lots and build new homes through our affiliated companies: Hunziker Land Development and HCS Builders. In this newsletter we highlight these companies and the homes they have featured in the 2010 Ames Parade of Homes.

View our June 2010 newsletter at the link below to see the Parade of Homes schedule, a quick video about the United Way Food Drive, information on increasing curb appeal, and a snapshot of market numbers from May.

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Comunications Intern

Celebrate Scandinavian-Style!

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Story City’s Scandinavian Days

 Are you looking for something fun to do this weekend? Head out to Story City for some educational family-friendly entertainment during their Scandinavian Days, taking place Friday, June 4, through Sunday, June 6. Entertainment includes food, music, parades, a circus, historical events, carousel rides, plays, a craft show, and various games for kids and adults. The festival even includes fireworks, which will take place Friday evening!

 The event, which is a 45-year tradition in Story City, is a great way to immerse yourself in some Scandinavian culture without the hassle of  traveling all the way to Europe.

 In case of inclement weather, most events will be held inside at the Factory Stores of America Outlet Mall.

For complete details, visit

Post by Lyndsey Van Soelen, Communications Intern