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Home sweet home

Posted May 21, 2014 in Waukee

There’s only one place that Dorothy reminds us is like nowhere else — home. When thinking about purchasing a home, the process can seem overwhelming. There is so much to consider, and each person will have to think carefully about what the most important features are in his or her perfect house. Whether you’re looking for a home with a finished basement, a three-car garage or an amazing yard, there are plenty of professionals in Waukee who can help. Read on as they share their advice for selecting the best home for you in Waukee.

Getting started
Most of the professionals agree — there’s one place to get started, and that’s getting pre-approved for a loan. This important step will help you determine how much you can spend on a home and what your budget will be. It’s important to determine the price point at which you want to start your search.

Amber and Edwin Harris and children Breeya, 1, Cade, 10, and Deven, 4, lived in West Des Moines before moving to Waukee.

Amber and Edwin Harris and children Breeya, 1, Cade, 10, and Deven, 4, lived in West Des Moines before moving to Waukee.

Mortgage consultants recommend that you first determine what fits in your budget as far as a payment. You might be approved for up to $350,000, but your budget might be much less than that. They don’t always correlate. If you want to spend $200,000 and have a monthly payment of $1,500, don’t go out and start looking at higher-priced houses and end up disappointed.

For first-time buyers, it’s also important to remember those checks will be run again before closing. Don’t go out and buy a new car or do other things that will change your qualification numbers.

Right now, rates are still low, and low rates are good news for buyers. What’s also good news is the market in Waukee is also booming. Waukee is a seller’s market. Inventory is low, and if you are thinking about selling, it’s the right time.

“If you’re a buyer, know that things are flying off the market,” says realtor Donna Stall with Iowa Realty. “I have a client, and we might have nine houses lined up to see on Saturday, and I call Friday and tell them it’s down to four. If you’re under $220,000 that’s the hottest market. Inventory is down a lot compared to where we were the last two or three years.”

For those who can’t find what they want, building new can be a bit tricky right now, too. Lots are in short supply, but plans for future development are underway. The unveiling of the new Kettlestone project — a 1,500-acre mixed-use development with housing, shops and offices, all connected with a network of ponds, parks and trails — will mean more land available to build on.

“The landscape here will change dramatically in the next few years,” says Stall. “We’re developing land here that hasn’t been done in the last couple years.”

The development is expected to have 7,000 new homes, apartments and town homes.

“It will be a really nice area, and it will really help with the traffic flow in and out of town, and that will be a big benefit,” says realtor Anne Vaske with Iowa Realty. “It’s a huge thing for Waukee to have all of that development right in our backyards.”

Choosing the right home
Once you’ve determined your budget, and you’re ready to start hunting, it’s time to do a bit of research. Determine where you want to live and what you want in a home.

Anne Vaske

Anne Vaske

“Determine what school district or elementary school you want to be in,” Vaske says. “If they’re retired, what amenities do they want to be close to? It becomes apparent very quickly when we meet what is most important. Then usually we can put them on a search that will match their exact criteria, and we can narrow it down quite a bit.”

What are the most important features you want in a home? Realtors agree it can be next to impossible to find a home with every single thing, but make sure you get the top ones.

“Location, condition and price are the top three things to look at,” says Stall.

Also, be sure you think about all the expenses that go into home ownership. You need to figure in things like property tax when determining if the home is within your budget. If it’s a new home or you’re moving from an apartment, you also need to consider whether the home will have out-of-pocket costs like appliances and window coverings.

You also need to consider resale. If you get a good deal, you have to give a good deal. You also need to make sure the home you choose is the right home for your lifestyle. You might get a good deal, but you have to live with that home after the deal is done.

Donna Stall

Donna Stall

For those who are interested in maintenance-free living and amenities, a condominium or villa offers a great option. Professionals also recommend that an option to hire a professional to inspect the property you wish to purchase is included.

For Stall, she says buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you’re going to make. Even though things are flying off the market in Waukee, you still have to be sure to take your time and make sure you’re getting what you want.

“Don’t feel pressured, but when you do see what you want, be ready to jump on it,” she says. “I just closed yesterday with first-time buyers, and it’s so fun and exciting. The American dream is home ownership. They’ve gotten married, graduated from college, gotten their first jobs and now their first house. It’s the most emotional buy, too, because it’s your home.”

On the selling side, Vaske and Stall say it’s important to get your home prepped before you put it on the market. They recommend decluttering and neutralizing. You want to show your house in the best possible way — and not everyone loves orange walls. Stall says she sees a lot of sellers want to offer things like a carpet allowance, but she recommends having those things taken care of beforehand. The house will show better, and it will also most likely save the seller money in the long run.

Move-in ready
When it came time to look for a home, Amber Harris says she couldn’t imagine looking anywhere other than Waukee. She loves that it still has a small-town feel despite its growth, with the addition of a lot of amenities.

“Ninety-five percent of my family lives in Waukee, and I’ve always wanted to live here,” she says. “We’ve been all over the state, and we decided to move back to this area. We rented an apartment for a while and then moved to West Des Moines, but we decided we wanted to be in Waukee for the school district.”

Realtor Anne Vaske with her client Jessica Keller on the day Jessica closed on her new town home.

Realtor Anne Vaske with her client Jessica Keller on the day Jessica closed on her new town home.

Though they knew they wanted to be in Waukee, Amber says it was difficult for her and her husband Edwin to agree on everything they wanted in a home. There were things she couldn’t stand that didn’t bother him, and vice versa, which made buying a pre-owned home a challenge. Ultimately, they decided to build, and they’re thrilled with their new house.

“We could not be happier for the location and deciding to build,” she says. “Our neighbors instantly came over and became friends. We’ve only been here since September, and we’re already trading babysitting, and it’s so friendly and welcoming.”

Jessica Keller says she also couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. She was born and raised in Waukee, and when it came time to purchase her first home, she knew she wanted to stay in town.

Keller says she ultimately decided to look for a townhome that would fit her budget. She wanted it to be move-in ready, with some high-end finishes.

“I wanted the hardwood floors and updated kitchen and bathrooms, and that’s exactly what this place has,” she says. “I’m so happy with it. I’ve always lived here and have family and friends here, so I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else.”

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