Shred or Keep?

Friday, January 26, 2018


Online security is a huge issue these days, and new hacking issues and identity theft cases always seem to be in the news. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices takes extra steps to keep all your information secure with our HomeSAFE program, which you can learn more about here, but there's something you should  be doing to keep yourself safe — shred outdated, important documents! 

Credit Card and Bank Statements

These should always be shredded as soon as they're paid. You might feel like you need to file them away to keep, but  almost every bank offers online statements, so there's no need. On the other side, you should never simply toss these in the trash. 

Medical Bills

It's a good idea to file these away and hold on to them for a year or so in case of disputes, but after that they should be shredded. 

Old Credit and Debit Cards

These should always be shredded rather than thrown away. Even cutting these in half isn't secure enough. 

Used Airline Tickets and Boarding Passes

These generally contain your full name and address and should always be shredded. 

Bottom line, anything with your full name, address, social security number, bank information or other identifying information should always be shredded rather than thrown away. It's better to be safe than sorry! 

Attend our FREE Shredding Event!  

If you have a stash of old documents and other things that need to be shredded, stop by our West Des Moines office for a free, secure shredding event. A licensed shredding company will have trucks in the parking lot, and we'll have coffee and donuts to enjoy inside! Contact your First Realty agent with quesitons. 

Where: Saturday, Feb. 3; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

When: 5500 Westown Pkwy, Suite 100, West Des Moines


New First-time Home Buyers Savings Account: What You Need to Know

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Iowa just passed a law that makes it even easier to save for your first home! Here’s everything you need to know. Get additional information by contacting your First Realty agent or visiting

What is it?

A 10-year tax deductible savings account to go toward the purchase of a first home in Iowa. Annual contributions have no limit, but state income tax deductions are capped at $4,000 for married joint filers and $2,000 for all other filers.

Who’s eligible?

The plan applies to first time buyers and those re-entering the market if they have not owned a home in the past three years. 

Who can contribute?

Buyers can open accounts for themselves, but it’s also a great option for parents and grandparents!

How do you get started?

You can open a First Time Home Buyer Savings Account at any bank, credit union, or other financial institution icensed in the state of Iowa.

What Else? 

Those hoping to buy soon: This is a great option to put you one step closer to your goal of owning your first home!

Parents and grandparents: This is a great way to help your loved ones. Rather than buying another toy or outfit, you can give a gift that will truly impact their future!

5 Great Homes for First-Time Buyers

Friday, January 05, 2018


Is one of your goals for 2018 to finally stop renting and purchase your first home? Our Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty agents will answer all your questions and guide you through every step of the way.

Here are 5 great homes to start your search. Click on each image to get more details, contact the listing agent with quesitons! 

1802 Lincoln Ave., Des Moines

2 Beds | 2 Baths | $99,900 | Call Lovetee Lavelah at (515) 601-0114 or Tynesha Shivers at (515) 525-8251 

1206 65th St., Windsor Heights

3 Beds | 2 Baths | $170,000 | Call Sarah Pesek at (515) 556-7548

7114 Maple Dr., Urbandale

3 Beds | 2 Baths | $179,900 | Call Helen Turner at (515) 681-5319. 

2625 59th St., Des Moines

2 Beds | 1 Bath | $149,900 | Call Joe Spick at (515) 710-6654

3216 York St., Des Moines

3 Beds | 1 Bath | $127,500 | Call Laura Mullin at (515) 306-2027


Bring Some Ultra Violet Into Your Home in 2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Pantone chose Ultra Violet as their color of 2018, saying, "A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future."

Here are a few ways to incorporate the purple tone into your home!

Use throw pillows for a spash 

This is an easy way to bring Ultra Violet into your home without spending a lot of money or making a dramatic change! 

Brighten up a white kitchen

White kitchens are still a huge trend, but bringing some color in with a backsplash or a set of brightly colored dishes can warm the space up.

Invest in a new armchair or couch

If  you want to go all in on the trend, a bright new piece of furniture will make your living room look bright and cheery! 



5 Tips for the First-time Home Buyer

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Buying your first home can be an exciting but also overwhelming process! Here are 5 things you can do to start the process:

1. Figure out how much home you can afford & get pre-approved

Odds are you will need a home loan along with a down payment to be able to purchase a home. To estimate how much home you can afford, use our mortgage calculator to obtain a ballpark figure of what you can manage.

The standard rule of thumb is your monthly housing payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance combined) shouldn't be more than 28 percent of your household income before taxes. For example, if your monthly household income is $5,000, multiply that by 0.28 and you'll see that you shouldn't pay more than $1,400 a month on your home, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

The rules have changed and many lenders allow little or no down payment. Once you know how much you can afford, you can calculate what down payment you need.

For a no obligation assessment and more details, fill out the form at the bottom of this post to contact a lender to get pre-approved.

2. Choose a knowledgeable real estate agent

Purchasing a home requires plenty of paperwork so it's not something you want to try to navigate without an agent. Besides the leg work involved, a knowledgeable agent will be there to help you ask all the right questions. A home may look fine from the outside, but your agent might know what to ask that will reveal it's not as perfect as you thought.

You will want an experienced and knowledgeable agent by your side to explain the process and help you make the best decisions throughout the home buying process. Make sure to find an agent familiar with the area where you're planning on purchasing. Click here to begin your search for the agent who fits your needs.

3. Communicate your wants and needs

Along with determining your price range, you need to assess your wants and needs in a home and list them from first to last. Decide what you are willing to compromise on and what you aren't. Odds are you can't have it all, but you can most likely get your top priorities. Say you want a home with a 2 car garage, a fenced in large yard, and 3 bedrooms. This home exists in your price range but it might not be in the neighborhood you want to be in, or it might not be as new as you would like. Decide what you are willing to compromise on and what you aren't and communicate that to your agent. This will save you both time and energy you might waste on homes you know you won't like.

4. Do  your Research

Once you find a home you love and your offer has been accepted, you'll be anxious to move in. But, don't assume the deal is done. Before moving forward you should make sure you have some contingencies added to your contract such as the home inspection, appraisal and financing. A knowledgeable real estate agent is familiar with these topics and will assist you in including such contingencies in your contract. Click here to begin your search for the agent who fits your needs.

5. Don't forget about unexpected costs

Don't forget to account for closing costs, moving costs, and other additional costs you may need to pay for once you move into your new home, such as a lawnmower and furniture. Home ownership is an exciting and fun endeavor, but it can also come with unexpected costs that you will now cover as opposed to your landlord.

We hope you enjoyed our first time home buyer tips. If you'd like to get pre-approved or just learn more about the home buying process with no obligation, fill out the form below and one of our Mortgage Loan Officers will contact you with more information. Click here to learn more.

Fill out the form below if you'd like to learn more about the home buying process.


Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Realty is an affiliate of HomeServices Lending, LLC.  Please speak to your real estate agent for more information on this affiliation.

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