My Blog

Some Arthritis advice

Millions of Americans suffer from the effects of arthritis, whether it be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.   Some times daily tasks can be a real challenge.   So if you are thinking of purchasing a different home and this your concern, there are a few things to think about.  

What are the your they include stairs, reaching, and bending?    Identify your road blocks...and here a few ideas.

Be sure your home has limited steps, check to be sure they are manageable if you do have steps,  are they a safe height and offer railing to assist in going up and down .    While in any home you can install slip mats on stairs, guard rails on outdoor steps, make sure the steps are well lit and remove all throw rugs and secure your carpets for better safety in your home.

What does your bathroom have to offer?   Ideally a walk in shower would be best.  To avoid slips and falls add some safety features to your bathroom.  Such as, keep an adjustable transfer bench next to the bathtub to assist in getting in and out.   Use a seat in the shower,   install grab bars by tub, shower and toilet.  Buy a highboy toilet seat if squatting is painful.  And be sure that you have good lights.

And then of course there is the kitchen.   Check your cabinets and drawers to insure they would be easily opened.   Be sure that you have adequate counter space to keep out some ergonomically designed kitchen tools, like an electric can & jar opener.   A few more ideas would be to replace heavier pots with lighter ones, get fruits and vegetables that are already cut up and/or keep a rocker knife handy.     A friend of mine told me to open her water bottles or pop bottles she uses a walnut cracker.   I tried it and it works like a charm.

Next thought, your laundry.   When looking for a new home try to find one with a main floor laundry.   But if this is not available be sure to find a home that you can have the laundry moved to the main level.   

If you have any thoughts or concerns about your home and your arthritis, feel free to give me a call.   I would be glad to visit with you.   Let's Talk Real Estate soon.   Barb Barr   Newton, IA

I think it is SPRING (officially on Wednesday March 20th, 2019)

It is time to get outside finally.  This weekend I got out and cleaned up the yard after the snow melted.  And now I am ready to start hiking, fishing and playing at some of Jasper Counties Parks.   One of my personal favorites is Rock Creek State Park located between Kellogg and Grinnell.  It offers a no wake lake, fishing, approximately 14 miles of trails around the lake, campgrounds with electric, disc golf course, sandy beach with NO lifeguard and several shelter houses.  There are 2 sites with homes near the lake.   I will actually be listing one in the next few days on the west side of the lake.  

Located near my home is Mariposa Park, it is a county park.   This park has had lots of dredging done to the lake, unfortunately for this spring it is still not open to the public.  It is unfortunate they missed all of the rain/snow melt to fill it back up.  But once it is up and going it is a beautiful park for picnics & fishing and primitive camping.     I understand when it reopens you will also be able to kayak on the lake.  

Ashton Wildwood Park is located near Baxter in NW Jasper County.   It offers an astronomical observatory, plus hiking trails, beautiful oak trees and wild flowers.   This park also offers some group camping sites.   A wonderful place to take your scout group.,-93035838,22070&tbm=lcl&ved=2ahUKEwig0_OYrY7hAhVq4IMKHcS0A0cQjGp6BAgAEDI&tbs=lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1&rldoc=1#rlfi=hd:;si:;mv:!1m2!1d41.8952952!2d-92.6928654!2m2!1d41.4920713!2d-93.4215928;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1
Click on the above to get a map of where parks in Jasper County and Nearby are located.

The City of Newton offers a great Parks and Recreation  program.   With 5 city parks, 3 neighborhood parks, 1 public golf course and 2 recreational areas, plus a public swimming pool. 
Open this link to get information about all of the Newton Parks.

So just take time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.   There are many health benefits to getting outside and moving.   
Enjoy your spring!   Let's Talk Real Estate soon!   Barb Barr,   Newton, Iowa  

Is there Radon in Newton, IA homes

The answer is, if tested there is a high potential of the test being over the recommended level, so yes.    According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer following cigarette smoking.   So what is radon, it is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals break down in the rocks, soil and groundwater.    Radon typically comes in through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes.   Radon comes naturally from the ground so people are always exposed to it.   

There are sections of Newton Iowa that are naturally higher than other areas.  From what I have been told some areas of town use to be a mining area, kind of in the central south part of Newton.   These areas seem to run higher.   

First start by testing your home.   I just read that the Jasper County Extension office had 30 kits available for free.   The kits are not expensive, you can purchase a kit up at True Value in Newton if you want.   The long term test kits are more relevant for results as to your home and lifestyle.  

If your results come in higher than the recommended level of 4 picocuries per liter of air there are companies who will install a radon mitigation system.  There are qualified contractors in our area.  Get bids, the actual price of radon mitigation has gone down because there is more providers available.    Some things you can do yourself are, seal cracks in the floors and walls with plaster, caulking or other materials designed for sealing up cracks.

If you are selling your home and the buyer tests, you are not required to mitigate the property.   This is a negotiable cost.   The costs are usually around $1000-$1300 for a professional mitigation system.  

If you have more questions please feel free to give me a call .    Let's Talk Real Estate soon!    Barb Barr   Newton, IA

It's Ugly Outside

Right now in Newton, Iowa making a good impression from the street is hard.   I think this is one of the ugliest times of the year.   The snow is melting and uncovering all the dead decayed leaves, stuff that has blown into the yard, sticks that have fallen from the trees and at my house the 6 dog balls covered by the snow and all of the dog poop:(

Don't despair you can make it look better if you are currently selling your home.  Look at your front door.   Clean the windows, if you have room add a pretty colorful spring wreath.   Clean the sidewalks of the sludge, debris, salt and what have you.   Make that potential buyer feel comfortable when they walk in.   Be sure to keep a rug by the front door.  It will make your buyers more at easy, because no matter what there is a good potential your buyers may have wet feet.  And they won't feel comfortable walking in with no rug.

Pick up the sticks in the yard and if it is fairly dry, even rake the dead leaves.   Clean out the flower beds of left over flowers.   

Check the back yard.  Clean the deck up.  If you have a pet, pick up the dog poop.   Nothing worse than a potential buyer stepping in a bomb.  

It's not going to be spring clean but it is going to look better than doing nothing.   You can sell your home at this time of the year too!

So Let's Talk Real Estate real soon.    Have a great day in Newton, IA and everywhere!  Barb Barr

Check your sump pump

                                                                                OH MY!   It is starting to look like we are going to have a very wet spring in Newton, Iowa!   

    So we need to give our sump pump a test.   Take time to run down the basement and check if your sump pump is still working.   The life expectancy of a sump pump is about 10 years. A major cause is  debris to enter into your pump and can result in interference with the pump's on/off switch or float arm. The leading mechanical cause of sump pump problems is a switch problem. This occurs when the pump shifts from its position inside the basin, rendering the float ineffective.

    Keep your home more protected and just take a minute to look!    Bright side of all of this is that it actually does feel like spring out finally.    Stay dry in Newton, Iowa!    And call me, Let's Talk Real Estate soon!   Barb

Helping our aging parents

  • This morning I was thinking about my home and what would my children have to deal with if I was to leave them tomorrow.   

  • A couple of the hardest things for older home owners is to leave their home and to stop driving.   It is a tough process to give up all the things we have enjoyed for so many years.   If you are the child reading this, be gentle.   I have helped many older home owners go through this transition.   If you are the parent reading this, get rid of stuff before you get to the point of having to move.    An important part of this transition is communication.    Try to understand what both parties are expecting of this process.    Parents let your family know what is really important for you to keep in your downsizing move.   Children let your parents know what you would like and what you are able to do to help and what you aren't able to do.   Most children are still working and are not necessarily able to physically be there to help in the process. 
If this is the year this move is going to happen here are a few starting information helps:

Select an affordable place to move to.  There are different types of senior apartments, condos etc available in Newton, IA  Some are available for lower incomes if needed.  examples of places to move would be:  Park Centre, Newton Village, Newton Place Apartments.   Please click on this to get a direct link to senior living places...

Start sorting and packing.   You can find boxes in places like grocery stores, convenience stores, small businesses, or you can actually buy packing boxes.  

Do you need to have a garage sale, tag sale or an auction to help unload some of your stuff?    A couple tag sale options:   Many Treasures   and  Treasure Finders

A mover that we recommend often in Newton, IA :   Bestell Home Services  641.521.9797

Hopefully this information can be a help to getting started moving.   Please give me a call to help with finding the value of your parents home also.   And we can also talk strategy.   Remember having the home looking lived in is good.   But if you are needing to get them moved totally, then its best to have it cleaned out and spic and span, ready for the buyer to move in.

Have a great day in Newton Iowa!   Let's Talk Real Estate soon.   Sincerely   Barb

Spring Forward

   Did you ever wonder why daylight savings time came around?   The plan was formally adopted in 1918 for use in the United States.   Since World War 1 an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power was needed.  So Germany and Austria started by saving daylight at 11:00 pm on April 30 1916.   They advanced the clock one hour until October.   Other countries started to follow .  
  • So the US had adopted it in 1918.   But it was so unpopular that it was repealed in 1919.  Mostly because people rose earlier and went to bed earlier than we do now.    But the repeal was overrode by President Wilson"s veto.   Daylight Saving Time became a local option and was continued in a few states.

    During World War II President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year round Daylight Savings Time   it was called "War Time"   It lasted from 2/9/42 to 9/30/45 .    From 1945 to 1966 there was no law regarding daylight savings time, so stated could choose if they observed it or not.   This caused terrible confusion  for transportation, such as airlines, buses and trains.    So 1/4/75 President Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conversation Act of 1973.   

    Daylight savings time has been very controversial in the United States.   In 1972 Congress revised the law so if a state was in more than one time zone they could exempt the part of the state that was in one time zone while providing that the part of the state in a different time zone would observe Day Light Savings Time.

    So after all was said and done most recently The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was enacted but with the right to revert to the 1986( DST began at 2am first Sunday of April and ended at 2am last Sunday of October) law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant.   So since 2007 DST in the US is:

  •  begins at 2:00 am on the second Sunday of March
  • ends at 2:00 a.m on the first Sunday of November

So when all is said and done...Don't forget to Spring Forward on Saturday night or you will miss church on Sunday.

Have a wonderful weekend in Newton Iowa.   And if you are thinking of selling your home please give me a call.   Let's Talk Real Estate...Barb Barr

Smells in the house

Today I was getting ready to leave the house and of course saying good bye to my 2 fur babies, Belle and Zoey.   It made me think about dog smells in a house.   We are getting into the time of year when the dogs will be wet when they come back in from being outside.   So if you are thinking about selling your home you will need to be especially mindful of this.  
Scent is a big part of the whole experience in viewing a home.   Often times your buyer will label homes as they look at them.   And unfortunately some are labeled as "the stinky house".   You don't want to be that house.     Research shows smells are easier for humans to recall than visuals and that specific scents are tied to happier experiences.   

So you want to be very careful with the smells you choose to have in your home during showings.   Of course buyers all time favorite smell is fresh baked bread or cookies.   (And if you choose cookies be sure to leave a sample for your prospective buyer. They will remember that too)    If you have a home that no one lives in you will want to be careful of the type of air freshener you put in the house.     Do not use a heavy scent, try to find something with crisp smells or a lovely jasmine, magnolia or cedar wood.     

Look at the style of home you have and try to find one that matches your homes personality.    But truly the best scent you can offer your potential buyer is that of a fresh clean home.   

I know we will be spending more time in the next months scrubbing floors trying to keep the dog odors down...however, we are not selling our home:)

Thanks for taking a minute to read through this.   Give me a call and Let's Talk Real Estate real soon.    Have a delightful day in Newton, IA   Barb

Habitat for Humanity Rock the block program for Jasper County

Do you own your own home?   Have you found it especially difficult to ge the repairs completed that you need done, due to financial stress?    The Greater Des Moines habitat for Humanity has a program called Rock the Block that could possibly help you in this situation.    
  • To be considered for the assistance you and your family must be willing to complete a 2 hour financial course and a minimum of 6 hours of sweat equity.     
       There are five categories where Rock the Block offers services:  Home Preservation, such as exterior painting, window repair, minor trim repair, gutter repair and more
                                                                                                  Critical Home Repair:   includes extensive siding repair, major roof repair or replacement, house services like plumbing, electrical & heating and more.
                                                                                                  Aging in Place:   Senior services for bath conversions, grab bars, ramps etc
                                                                                                  Weatherization:  window, door replacement or weather stripping,  insulation, furnace or water heater replacement
                                                                                                  Neighborhood Resource Improvements:   Building, repairing fences,  building or repairing neighborhood playgrounds and more.
       Program Requirements:

  • Must live in Polk, Dallas or jasper County
  • Must be homeowner of record
  • Must be current on property taxes
  • Must income qualify
  • Must have a need
  • Must be willing to complete sweat equity
  • Must participate in financial competency work session
  • Must pay a modest fee towards the project cost based on AMI table

To learn more about the Rock the Block Neighborhood Revitalization Program  visit this website,  Click link below:

If you have further questions please feel free to give me a call.  I would be glad to help you find the answers you need.   Have a wonderful day in Newton, Iowa!   The sun is shining.   
Give me a call and Lets Talk Real Estate....Barb Barr

Newton IA is alive

Newton is alive with the Sound of Music!    The Newton Community Schools Theatre class is performing Sound of Music on March 1 and 2, 2019.    Tickets are available for $5.   The performance is at 7pm at  Newton High School Center for Performance!
lick here for more information about the Newton High School Theatre and sports

                                           Plus Newton Community Theatre is putting on Mary Poppins on March 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16th at 7:30 pm.   Performances will be at the Theatre located at the Newton YMCA
Click here for more information about the Newton Community Theatre

Newton Iowa is ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC!    Get out of the house and enjoy a little time out!   Our community has so much talent, celebrate with them.
Have a wonderful weekend in Newton, Iowa!   
Contact me,   Let's Talk Real Estate!   Barb Barr

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