Who Sold My Home?

“Who, exactly, sold my home?” is a question many sellers have asked. There are probably two people both claiming to have sold the house: the listing agent (who worked with the sellers) and the selling agent (who worked with the buyers).

Technically speaking, the selling agent sold the house as they wrote the purchase agreement and it was their clients who submitted the accepted offer. The listing agent worked with the sellers who signed the listing agreement. Two separate actions, two separate contracts.

In the real estate agent world, both sides will claim to have sold the property. The statistics compiled by our Iowa City local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) give credit to both sides for the sale of home. So if a home sells for $350,000, the listing agent as well as the selling agent will both receive $350,000 credit when the statistics are compiled for the listing and selling volume.

Personally, however, I tend to draw the line regarding bragging rights. I think listing agents shouldn’t claim that “they sold” the home when referring to that house. They should say they were the listing agent – which as any listing agent can attest – is no small feat. There is so much work that goes into listing a property to market it to its full advantage: from staging to pictures, to text descriptions, to promotional materials, to open houses, to providing neighborhood covenants, to having complete paperwork, to negotiations, to getting everything done in order to bring the transaction to a successful close. It’s a lot of work to list a home. And if it’s not done well, the sale of the home is hampered. So a good listing agent will take care of so many details (that no one is really aware of) so the home will be positioned to sell.

The selling agent, however, has often worked with his/her buyers extensively, having shown them many. many homes. The selling agent should be listening to their buyers, trying to find just the right home – the agent should have no personal agenda. Many hours can be spent trying to sort through the homes on the market in order to find the right fit. After the contract is written and accepted, the agent guides the process through inspections and financing. There is a considerable amount of work that the agent must perform to make sure the buyer is protected and their interests are represented and negotiated.

Knowing the housing territory in and around the Iowa City area is the job of both real estate agents. In order to properly list a home, the listing agent should know what the heck is going on. In order to advise the buyer correctly, the selling agent needs to know what the heck is going on. That’s the agent’s job – to keep the train on the right track, making sure that there are no derailments.

If you have any questions, please let me know. We real estate agents learn something new every day, as no two homes or home sales are ever the same. That’s the beauty and complexity of our world – and we love it!

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Springing into Spring!

With the new year just beginning, many are gearing up to buy and/or list this spring of 2016. And now is the time to start preparing! Getting ready to sell a home is, for most, a royal pain. We do not live in our homes in the condition they need to be in when we sell our homes. While the Iowa City market is strong, it is still a competitive selling market – you will have competition for buyers.

Here are some helpful hints to get your home ready to sell.
1. Clean, clean, clean. This includes closets, inside cupboards, cold air returns, the tracks of sliding doors, the caulk around tubs and showers. Every little nook and cranny will be noticed.
2. Make sure your home is in good repair. If you’re selling because you think you need a new roof, then the buyer and their lender will also wonder about your roof. Most every buyer has a home inspection. So head off the issue with a roof inspection of your own first. If the roofer says you need a new roof, get a second opinion. If the second roofer says you need a new roof, ask how much life is left on your roof. If the life span is less than 3 years, any buyer’s lender will also ask for a new roof to be put on before the buyer is allowed to buy. Every lenders major premise is that the buyer will default and they’ll get the home back. They do not want a home back which needs a new roof.
3. If you have a wood burning fireplace, get it cleaned and inspected. If you haven’t had your furnace and cooling systems recently serviced, get that done. These are simple maintenance items every home owner should be checking. With regular maintenance, most HVAC systems (heating and cooling) can last a long time.
4. Touch up paint, or repaint. Grab a recent copy of a Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, or Better Homes and Gardens. Look at what color schemes are current. Buyers like “fresh.”

The above are a start – I could go on and on about what buyers are looking for. If you’d like me to continue and help you get your home ready for the spring market – give me a call or message me.

If you’re a buyer looking to purchase a home in 2016, there are some things you can also do to make the process as smooth as possible.
1. Visit with a lender and get pre-approved. If you’re not sure who to use, send me an email at stlarson77@gmail.com and I’ll see where you currently bank and make a recommendation. My first advice will be to use a local lender – you’ll find other interest rate deals out there, but high closing costs will eat up the difference between internet financing and local financing. I’ve never had a client say, “I wish I hadn’t gone local.” but I have had many wish they had.
2. Start to think about your wish list for a home, and divide your thoughts into what you “need” and what you “want.” There is a difference. smile emoticon
3. When the world is your oyster, it’s hard to make a decision. When you don’t have to move but think you might want to move, it’s hard to make a decision. One simple rule I believe in when it comes to home buying is: if you feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall trying to make something happen, you’re hitting your head against a brick wall and should stop. When everything just seems to be falling into place, and you’re nervous and not sure why, go with the flow. I guess I’m a bit of a fatalist, but my 20 years of experience has proven this philosophy over and over again.
4. It won’t make any difference to me what home you buy – I have no agenda other than … it needs to be the right house for YOU. The more you say, the more I’ll hear what it is that you want. Sometimes buyers aren’t sure what they want. They think they know, but after listening to them, I find out what it really is that they want. Read my reviews on Zillow.com.

I work very hard in this real estate profession, because I really love what I do. I’ve met some of the most amazing people and have helped them either sell their homes and move forward, or buy a home and settle down. When you’re ready, I’ll do the same for you.

Take care,


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To Rent or to Buy? That is a great question!


As a young pup REALTOR®, I watched and helped parents from Chicago, in particular, buy properties for their children to live in as they attended school.  I’ve also watched and tried to assist adults get out of the renting cycle.  For some reason, it seems so much safer to rent than to buy.  When I ask what makes a first time buyer so nervous, they generally say the same thing:  I’m afraid I’ll lose money when it’s time to sell.  So let’s take an honest dollar to dollar look at the renting versus owning proposition.


Let’s suppose a person is paying $750 per month in rent for a two bedroom condo, with plans to live in the rental unit for at least three years.  The total amount paid in rent is $27,000 over that three year period.  There are no property tax or interest payment deductions.  At the end of the lease period, the renter walks away free and clear after paying $27,000 in rent.


Contrast this to a person who purchases a 2 bedroom condo for $110,000.  At 4.0% interest and a 100% mortgage, the monthly payment breaks down as follows:

$525 Principal and Interest

$103 Property Taxes

$ 67  Homeowner’s Insurance

$ 90  Mortgage Insurance

$785/month  x 36 months equals $28,260 spent in house payments

At the end of the third year, the principle balance will be $103,948, and the approximate interest deducted on income taxes each of the three years would be $4,272 per year, for a total of $12,816 over the three year period.  You’d also be able to deduct property taxes each year, roughly $1236 per year, $3,708 for the three year period.


The difference between three years of rent and three years of house payments is ($1,260).  Adding together the interest and taxes paid over the three year period, $16,524 times 25% tax bracket equals a savings of $4,131 in Federal Income Taxes paid.


Safely assuming the seller sells in three years for $115,000, minus the principle still owed of $103,948, the difference is $11,052.  Approximate costs to sell, including the REALTORS® commission equals $7490, and difference from $11,052 is $3,562.  Add that to the $4,131 in income tax savings and over three years (and subtracting the $1,260 difference between rent and house payments) and the benefit to own is approximately $6,433 compared to having spent $27,000 in rent with no benefits.  Using this apple to apple scenario, there’s a $33,433 swing between owning and renting.  The housing market would have to turn so upside down to lose $33,000 on a $110,000 condo, that selling a condo would be the least of anyone’s problems.  Even in the down market of the last five years we didn’t see that type of decline.  And there’s plenty of room in this swing for minor household repairs or improvements.


Housing is an emotional subject, but as a REALTOR® it’s my job to look at real estate from the perspective of you investing your dollars.  Just as we look at what is the best use of the land, which is under us all, we also look at real estate as an investment – an investment in normal times that does not depreciate but typically appreciates.


My business survives because of you:  your kind words and your wonderful referrals.  If you personally know of anyone thinking of buying or selling, send them my way and I’ll take good care of them!  If you are in contact with people at your workplace who are in contact with people newly moving to town, I’d appreciate you putting my name out there.  I work hard to earn your trust and respect, and like anyone else, I appreciate loyalty.  You’ve been great!


As always,



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Terri Larson – both for listing and buying.

Terri is everything we could have hoped for in a Realtor.  Her knowledge and dedication made purchasing our dream home a reality.  Terri always made us feel we were her number one priority.

Kind regards,

Kristen and Jordan DeG.

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Great Listing Agent – Terri Larson

Terri was very responsive to us and creative in her approach to selling our home.  She worked hard and was persistent in locating the right buyer for our property.  We would recommend Terri to anyone buying or selling a home.


Kevin and Julie M.

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Referral for Realtor Terri Larson

Terri was a great help when I was moving to the Iowa City area! She was professional and very knowledgeable about the area and homes. I was looking for an older home and she knew an amazing amount of information on how the homes in the area were built. She knew what to look for structurally and was aware of problems, particularly in basements. I had to handle a lot of the process long distance and every t was crossed and i was dotted before closing. It was by far the easiest closing I have ever been a part of. I would highly recommend Terri Larson for you real estate needs!

Sincerely,  Janet D.

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Testimony for Terri Larson 10/2011

Testimony for Terri Larson


We had the privilege of having Terri recommended to us when we were anticipating a move to Iowa City. She worked closely with us from a distance, updating us on recent properties that fit our interest. We made several trips to Iowa over the year before we moved and Terri always made time to meet with us and show us various areas of the city. She was not only incredibly organized with the details of all the properties and neighborhoods that she showed us, but she was very knowledgeable about the schools and local activities that we would be interested in. Terri was approachable and candid. She was honest and shared her expertise about some of the more hidden important facts in buying a home (the type of windows, the builder, the type of exterior, etc.). I think we must have looked at over 50 properties or at least close to that and Terri, never made us feel rushed into making a decision. She truly wanted what was best for our family and she worked diligently to find us the right home. She went above and beyond what was expected. We are blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Terri. We feel that not only did we have one of the finest realtors in the area, we also developed a trusted friendship on our journey to finding a beautiful new home.


Matt and Holly Bolger

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Referral for Terri Larson – 10/2012

Referral from Jane McMullen



Finding a house for my husband and me would present a challenge for the most experienced and hardened Realtor.  We were buying our very first home, not as a young couple but after 29 years of marriage.  Having lived in 14 different houses and apartments in four states and seven foreign countries, we had definite likes and dislikes.  We wanted a home to showcase the many “souvenirs” we’d amassed overseas.  Now we were looking for our own place back in our native Iowa and we did not know the first thing about home buying.  House hunting would have been daunting had it not been for Terri Larson.  Her knowledge of the housing market and neighborhoods in Iowa City and the Corridor was invaluable.  She asked questions and listened to our answers to get a realistic sense of our wants and needs.  We were impressed with how organized, efficient and thorough Terri was on the numerous house visits she set up.  Her vast expertise in house construction and mechanicals helped educate us to important features to look for.  We benefitted from Terri’s keen eye as she pointed out details we would have missed.  Terri recognized and was sensitive to my husband’s and my different emotional reactions, especially when the house hunt seemed to stall.  She deftly handled our frustrations in a reassuring and calm manner and knew just when to inject humor.  Terri quickly earned our utmost confidence and trust.  Above all, she made finding the right house an adventure.  Dedicated, hardworking, tireless, cheerful, patient, perceptive, understanding, and fun are qualities that sum up Terri’s character and professionalism.  It was our good fortune and wise choice to enlist Terri Larson to find the wonderful house we now call home.

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Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity Fundraiser

Queen Terri with Jane McCune, Habitat Honoree     The Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity will hold its annual competition for Mr. and Ms. Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity from 6 to 8:30 p.m Tuesday at the Clarion Highlander.

While IVHH calls this competition the Hammers and Hardhats Bash, I’m going to refer to it as Of Hammering Hardhats and a Tiara.

IVHH did not spring for a tiara when I won the competition last year, which I am generously overlooking, but given the austere company against whom I will be defending my crown, I have spent an unbelievable amount of money on suitable jewels and will place this lovely tiara upon the head of the newly crowned 2012 Ms. Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity queen.

Whoever wins the male competition can have the hardhat.

The austere company of which I earlier spoke is of such noble blood, the event is not one to miss.

Competing for the hardhat will be John Bacon, Iowa City’s born and raised City High principal; Tim Dwight, former Iowa City High and Iowa Hawk and NFL jousting expert; Bart Floyd, financier exemplar at Great Western Bank; and Bill Nusser, guardian of many crown jewels at Hands Jewelers.

Competing for the sparkling faux-jeweled tiara will be Catherine Champion, dedicated Iowa City activist and owner of the clothier Catherine’s; Jody Hovland, renown actress and artistic director of Riverside Theater; Nancy Quellhorst, reigning president of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce; and alas, me, the soon-to-be deposed queen.

(This queen hopes the court understands the difference between deposed and disposed …)

In addition to our royal competition, there will be auction items available, all donated to the Habitat home. A list of items to be auctioned can be found at www.iowavalleyhabitat.org. With the holidays implausibly around the corner, you should spend your shopping dollars on these great gifts for a very worthwhile cause.

This year’s Habitat Home is honoring Jackie Blank and Jane McCune, two wise women who defied criticism and naysayers by opening their own real estate company in 1979. At that time, women owners were not commonly in the real estate profession, and these two proved without doubt that the best revenge (against their critics) was success.

Past and present clients, who by sheer numbers could fill a great hall, are encouraged to come and support the passion for home ownership these two women have shown.

Habitat for Humanity has long understood the value of home ownership, and believes every person deserves to have a decent, safe, and affordable place to live. Founded outside of Americus, Ga., in 1942, Clarence and Florence Jordan stopped living an affluent lifestyle and began investing in people.

Side by side with those in need, the Jordans began building homes and fulfilling dreams. Their vision has blossomed into Habitat for Humanity, an international organization that has built more than 500,000 homes that shelter more than 2.5 million people.

Tickets for this fun evening are $40 and can be purchased online atwww.iowavalleyhabitat.org or by calling Heather at 337-8949. The evening will be filled with fun, food and frolic. No matter how humble or magnificent your abode, everyone feels their home is their castle.

Help Habitat help others realize the home ownership dream, and join us Tuesday for what promises to be a worthwhile evening.

And I hope very much that I am allowed to leave with my head still attached. The night will be a once-in-a-lifetime event if I’m not.

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Email blues…

Email can be a very dangerous thing, and in today’s world email is used for many communications. The following was sent to me in an email – and whether true or not, you can envision it happening.

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: October 16, 2009

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in.

I’ve seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is hot down here!
Not so long ago I committed an email faux pas, but not as amusing as the tale told above. Instead, I hit reply and sent an email back to the sender with a rather cryptic message. Of course, I didn’t realize my error until I’d hit the send button and saw it’d gone to a different person than I had intended. I about gagged on my Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie, and quickly sent a second email explaining the first.
A few hours later I received an email filled with wonderment and a little annoyance. A few days later, over two cups of great hot chocolate, I was able to explain myself in person, which is still perhaps the best way to communicate. In person, you can hear the speaker’s tone and inflections, read their verbal and non-verbal cues, and ask questions immediately to make sure everyone is on the same page.
I learned several lessons from all of this: 1. Rethink hitting reply. Perhaps it’s best to just compose a new email to the person with whom you want to communicate. 2. Write every correspondence as if others might read it. Carrying on a running conversation, as I was doing, has great potential to be misconstrued when read by the wrong set of eyes because the message alone is out of context. 3. When there is a miscommunication, meeting face to face should be the preferred choice. Words are impossible to take back, and when in written form and out of context, with no non-verbal cues to help the receiver interpret the message, it’s easy to dig a pretty big hole. Having the opportunity to explain can’t take the words back, but does allow the other person to see what your intent actually was, and both can walk away feeling better.
And last but not least, have an understanding nature if you’re the receiver of a mis-addressed email. The widow in Houston will not have the advantage of an explanation – luckily, I did.

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