Sales Associates

Welcome HOME to these sales associates!

HOME Real Estate would like to welcome three experienced sales associates to the company. Jeff Fry, Derek Hilgert, and Tracy Baker will be joining the HOME Pine Lake office.

Fry has been licensed since 2002 and has his Broker Associate license and the GRI (Graduate, Realtors Institute) designation. He has three years experience in commercial sales and is able to help clients buy and sell houses, as well as lease, buy, and sell commercial space.
Hilgert has been in real estate for the past 4.5 years and also holds his GRI designation. He has most recently been working with investors and commercial real estate, which he plans to continue, as well as helping clients find new residential homes.
Baker has over 14 years of experience in the new construction and remodeling industry, with eight years in real estate. She knows the ins and outs of building a home, and can help her clients buy or sell existing homes as well.
In addition, the HOME Real Estate Pioneer Greens office would like to welcome Vicki Cox as a new associate. Cox has been involved in real estate for the last 18 years, first as a property manager, then a home builder, and later in land development in a company formed with her sisters called Herbert Development.
These agents can now offer their clients the service, strength and stability that HOME Real Estate is known for. All HOME agents have undergone licensing through the Nebraska Real Estate Commission, as well as completing an additional training program offered by HOME Real Estate. They are all members of the Realtors Association of Lincoln, Nebraska Realtors Association and the National Association of Realtors.
HOME Real Estate, an affiliate of HomeServices of America, is the area’s leading real estate company serving the Lincoln, Seward, and surrounding areas. The company’s agents are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in all stages of the building, buying, and selling process, including real estate, mortgage, title, and insurance. For more information about HOME Real Estate, visit

Sales Associates

October Award Winners

Congratulations to HOME Real Estate’s top agents for October 2009:
Pioneer Greens
Closed Volume  – Kathy Dixon
Sales Written – Mary Stull
Listings Taken – Terry Kraft
Pine Lake
Closed Volume  – Ellen Walsh High
Sales Written – Ellen Walsh High
Listings Taken – Doug Hanna
Closed Volume – John Fink
Sales Written – Jack Gregg
Listing Taken – John Fink
Closed Volume – Merle Jahde
Sales Written – Roger Harre
Listing Taken – Merle Jahde
Total Closed Volume Award – Couple – Paul & Madonna Kardell (Pioneer Greens)
Total Closed Volume Award – Team – Searcy Team (Cotner)

General Real Estate

I Want to Buy a Home – What’s the First Step?

This is a common question, and most people probably think my response would be to say “Start Looking” or “Find a realtor you enjoy working with.” But in all reality, the very first step is to find out how much house you can buy. In the real estate industry, we call this “pre-qualifying.” It is an important first step, because you learn what range of homes you can afford to buy, preventing you from future disappointment.
To get “pre-qualified,” I would recommend that you make an appointment with a lender for a face-to-face meeting, but it can be done over the phone as well. Your lender will ask you for some important financial data. It is crucial that you be honest with them, because once you have a home identified and have an accepted offer, your loan will go to the “underwriting” department, where all the information you gave earlier will be scrutinized to assure the lender that the risk is worth it.
Typically, your lender will require that you bring in the following:

  • 2 current pay stubs
  • Past 2 years W-2 forms
  • Bank statements for checking & savings accounts
  • Statements for investment & retirement accounts
  • Loan numbers on vehicles (and other mortgages, if not a 1st-time buyer)
  • Consumer credit card balances and account numbers

If you are self-employed, add the following:

  • 2 years of tax returns
  • Current Profit & Loss Statement

The lender will look at your credit history and your ability to pay the loan back. This is where your credit score becomes important, as well as job stability. The lender looks at the entire scenario and determines what dollar amount you could qualify for, and will probably recommend the type of loan that would be the best fit for your situation. Often, there are choices available that your lender will discuss with you. At the end of your session with your lender, you will have a pre-qualification letter in hand, and know just how much house you can afford to buy.
Occasionally, a lender will tell the client that he isn’t in a position to buy due to past credit issues. I recommend visiting with your lender about what specific actions you could take to improve your credit score and your ability to get loan approval. If you are pro-active, you can frequently improve your situation within 3 – 6 months.
Your payments will be determined by the amount of the loan, the interest rate, and the term (or number of years used to pay it back). Other factors include the amount of the real estate taxes on the property and the cost of homeowner’s insurance and possibly flood insurance. Your realtor can plug in many scenarios and give you an idea of what your payments will be.
Now that you know how much house to shop for, you can call your favorite real estate agent, let them know your price range, and what other features are important to you, and let the search begin!

General Real Estate Market Information

Home Buyer Tax Credit extended AND expanded

First time home buyers have been feeling the pressure to find a home, get it under contract, and get to closing before Nov. 30. Those who didn’t would miss their opportunity. That opportunity was extended November 6 when President Obama signed an extension and an expansion of the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit.
This is good news for both buyers and sellers. Buyers now have more time to find a home and still qualify for the tax credit; Sellers have the advantage of being in a great market for first time home-buyers, making their home easier to sell, as well as the potential for using the expanded tax credit themselves on the home they buy.
Here is how it works:
If you buy a home before April 30 and close by June 30, 2010, you may qualify for up to $8,000 if you are a first time buyer, and up to $6500 if you have lived at least 5 years in the home you are selling, subject to certain rules. These amounts are the maximum allowable credits, which are based on 10 percent of the purchase price. This money is in the form of a tax credit, so it is applied towards your tax bill. If you don’t owe taxes, you will receive a check from the federal government. This money does not need to be paid back, as long as you stay in your home for at least 3 years. You may use the money however you choose: new carpet, appliances, furniture, maintenance fund, car, or even a vacation.
How you qualify:
First-time buyers cannot have owned a home in the past 36 months. Repeat buyers need to have lived in their home for at least 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 years. Also, there is a newly increased income limit: $125,000 for individuals; $225,000 for joint filers. There are reduced credits if your income is above that, but still below $145,000 for individuals and below $245,000 for joint filers. The credit only applies to primary residences and the purchase price must stay under $800,000. There are other qualifications and exceptions that may apply, including those regarding related persons. Make sure you seek competent tax advice before making any decisions based on whether you may qualify for the credit.
Other questions:
Q: As a repeat buyer, do I need to buy a more expensive home to qualify?
A: No. You just need to have owned your home for at least 5 years, and lived in it for at least 5 of the last 8 years.
Q: I sold my home and have been renting. Would I qualify?
A: If you haven’t owned property for 36 months, you would qualify as a first time buyer. If you owned and resided in your property for at least 5 consecutive years of the past 8 years, you would qualify as a repeat buyer.
 Q: Can I keep my current house as a rental and still qualify as a repeat buyer?
A: If you have lived in your current house for at least 5 consecutive years, want to rent it, and purchase a different primary residence, then you would qualify. You must live in the house you purchase. You may opt to rent out the house you are living in currently, and still qualify for the tax credit.
 Q: Do you think it will keep getting extended?
A: According to the lawmakers, it will not be extended again.
Q: I heard there was a lot of fraud going on. How are they monitoring that?
A: Buyers must attach documentation of the purchase to their tax return.
The winter months are traditionally slower months for home sales, so this tax credit should help by giving a sense of urgency to buyers. It not only helps buyers, but there is a broader economic impact as well. Buyers use inspectors, appraisers, handymen and contractors, and then later shop for furniture, paint, and other home improvement projects. This is why the government calls it an “economic stimulus.” It reaches further than just the sale of homes – it really does stimulate the economy. For more information check out or talk to your tax advisor for specific information regarding your situation.

Market Information

HOME Real Estate to open Milford office

HOME Real Estate plans to open a new real estate office in Milford at 107 A St., formerly a Laundromat.
The company is planning to open the doors to the new storefront in early 2010. Stacy Hartgerink, a Milford HOME Real Estate agent, will work out of the new office.
Theresa Garthright, managing broker at HOME Real Estate’s Pine Lake office, looks forward to further expanding the company’s real estate services in the Milford community.
“We are very lucky and excited to have Stacy Hartgerink as part of the HOME Pine Lake team,” Garthright said. “Because of Stacy joining our company, we saw the need to have a presence in the Milford community.”
A graduate of the Larabee School of Real Estate, Hartgerink received her real estate license in August 2007, having closed over $6 million in sales. She also completed additional training to earn her Graduate, Realtors Institute (GRI) designation, and she’s now working toward her Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation. She has helped over 55 families or individuals buy or sell a home.
“I am thrilled to be able to serve my local community by offering another option for their real estate needs,” Hartgerink said. “I’m looking forward to having a local office for the added convenience of my clients, as well as being in close proximity to my family and their activities.”
HOME Real Estate, an affiliate of HomeServices of America, is the area’s leading real estate company serving the Lincoln, Seward, and surrounding areas. The company’s agents are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in all stages of the building, buying, and selling process, including real estate, mortgage, title, and insurance. For more information about HOME Real Estate, visit

General Real Estate Market Information

Government extension of existing tax credits and creation of new benefits a positive step for residential real estate market

New tax credits will help continue to further activity within Lincoln’s residential real estate market
The extension and expansion of the existing homebuyer tax credit programs are positive steps for the nation’s residential real estate market, says Ron Peltier, Chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and the nation’s second-largest independent residential real estate brokerage (
The existing homebuyer tax credit program, which has been in effect since January 2009, provides up to $8,000 in tax credits for individuals purchasing their first home, as well as for those who have not owned a home for three years has been extended into 2010. Under the new extended legislation, the current Nov. 30, 2009 deadline to close on a home has been expanded to June 30, 2010.
The newly-enacted tax credit provides eligible home buyers who have lived in their current home consecutively for five of the previous eight years with up to $6,500 in tax credits.
Qualified, prospective homebuyers looking to capitalize on either tax incentive will need to have a signed purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and will need to close on their home by June 30, 2010.
“We are very excited about what this can do for the Lincoln market,” said Mike Elgert, managing broker and team leader for HOME Real Estate. “It almost goes without saying that it brings many more home buyers back into the market place and it will stabilize values as we head in to 2010.  Couple this with the unbelievable low interest rates that prevail and it really makes it a great time to buy a home.”
“We view this as an extremely positive step for our industry,” adds Peltier. “The extension of the homebuyer tax credit and, in particular, expanding the tax credit to include current homeowners, creates motivation for those buyers that have been contemplating a home purchase. This creates a tremendous incentive and makes this the perfect opportunity to act now.”
The tax credit is available for the purchase of principal residences only, and the home must cost no more than $800,000. Vacation and second homes are not eligible.
Individual buyers must have an annual income of no more than $125,000, or $225,000 for those who file jointly. Buyers who have served in the military outside of the U.S. for at least 90 days will receive a 12-month extension on the tax credit.
“Our industry is one of the nation’s key economic drivers,” concludes Peltier. “We are confident in its long-term viability and in its chief mission of helping facilitate the American dream of owning a home.”
HOME Real Estate, an affiliate of HomeServices of America, is the area’s leading real estate company serving the Lincoln, Seward, and surrounding areas. The company’s agents are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in all stages of the building, buying, and selling process, including real estate, mortgage, title, and insurance. For more information about HOME Real Estate, visit
About HomeServices of America
HomeServices of America, Inc., based in Minneapolis, Minn., is the second-largest homeownership service provider in the United States. Owned by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., HomeServices’ operating companies offer integrated real estate services, including brokerage services, mortgage originations, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties and other homeownership services. HomeServices Relocation, LLC is the full-service relocation arm of HomeServices of America which provides every aspect of domestic and international relocation to corporations around the world. HomeServices operates in 20 states under the following residential real estate brand names: Carol Jones REALTORS; CBSHOME Real Estate; Champion Realty Inc.; Edina Realty; EWM REALTORS; Harry Norman, REALTORS; HOME Real Estate; Huff Realty; Iowa Realty; Koenig & Strey GMAC Real Estate; Long Companies; Prudential California Realty; Prudential Carolinas Realty; Prudential First Realty; Prudential York Simpson Underwood; RealtySouth; Rector-Hayden REALTORS; Reece & Nichols; Roberts Brothers Inc.; Semonin REALTORS and Woods Bros Realty. Information about HomeServices and the locations of its subsidiary companies is available at

General Real Estate Market Information

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Signs Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension

RISMEDIA, November 6, 2009—President Barack Obama has approved the first-time homebuyer tax credit extension which will extend the tax credit until April 30, 2010.
The extension is part of a $24 billion economic stimulus bill that will extend the $8,000 tax credit for homebuyers who are purchasing their first home from the current November 30 deadline and expands the program to offer a credit of $6,500 to homeowners who have lived in their current home for at least five years and are seeking to relocate.
The following details apply to the homebuyer tax credit expansion:
Who is Eligible

  • First-time homebuyers, who are defined by the law as buyers who have not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase, may be eligible for up to an $8,000 tax credit.
  • Existing homeowners who have been residing in their principal residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight and are purchasing a home to be their principal residence (“repeat buyer”), may be eligible for up to a $6,500 tax credit.
  • All U.S. citizens who file taxes are eligible to participate in the program.

Income Limits
Homebuyers who file as single or head-of-household taxpayers can claim the full credit ($8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers) if their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is less than $125,000.

  • For married couples filing a joint return, the combined income limit is $225,000.
  • Single or head-of-household taxpayers who earn between $125,000 and $145,000, and married couples who earn between $225,000 and $245,000 are eligible to receive a partial credit.
  • The credit is not available for single taxpayers whose MAGI is greater than $145,000 and married couples with a MAGI that exceeds $245,000.

Effective Dates

The eligibility period for the tax credit is for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009, and before May 1, 2010. However, home purchases subject to a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010, will qualify for the tax credit provided closing occurs prior to July 1, 2010.

Types of Homes that Qualify

All homes with a purchase price of less than $800,000 qualify, including newly-constructed or resale, and single-family detached, townhomes or condominiums, provided that the home will be used as their principal residence. Vacation home and rental property purchases do NOT qualify.

Tax Credit is Refundable

A refundable credit means that if the amount of income taxes you owe is less than the credit amount you qualify for, the government will send you a check for the difference.

For example:

  • A first-time buyer who qualifies for the full $8,000 credit who owes $5,000 in federal income taxes would pay nothing to the IRS and receive a $3,000 payment from the government. If you are due to receive a $1,000 refund, you would receive $9,000 ($1,000 plus the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit).
  • A repeat buyer who owes $5,000 would pay nothing to the IRS and receive $1,500 back from the government. If you are due to get a $1,000 refund, you would get $7,500 ($1,000 plus the $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit).
  • All qualified homebuyers can take the tax credit on their 2009 or 2010 income tax return.

Payback Provisions
The tax credit is a true credit. It does not have to be repaid unless the home owner sells or stops using the home as their principal residence within three years after the purchase.
The  site is being updated and should have more detailed information on the new tax credit next week.

General Real Estate Market Information

Breaking News: House votes to expand homebuyer tax credit

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER (View full Associated Press here.)
WASHINGTON — Buying a home is about to get cheaper for a whole new crop of homebuyers — $6,500 cheaper.
First-time homebuyers have been getting tax credits of up to $8,000 since January as part of the economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year. But with the program scheduled to expire at the end of November, the House voted 403-12 Thursday to extend and expand the tax credit to include many buyers who already own homes. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.
Buyers who have owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500. First-time homebuyers — or anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years — would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30.
“This is probably the last extension,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a former real estate executive who championed the credits.

General Real Estate Market Information

Senate Clears Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension to Pass This Week

Published: Nov. 3, 2009
By Steve Cook Real Estate Economy Watch
After two weeks of delay, the Senate last night cleared the way to pass a seven month extension and expansion of the tax credit for homebuyers. By an 85 to 2 roll call vote, the Senate voted to cut off debate on a package of measures that includes the homebuyer credit, making it virtually certain that the legislation will reach President Obama for his signature this week.
The homebuyer tax credit, due to expire in 28 days, would be extended through April 30 of next year. First-time buyers who are in process of making a purchased would not need to worry about qualifying for the $8,000 credit if they close after the November 30 deadline.
For the first time, the legislation cleared last night makes move-up buyers as well as first-time buyers would be eligible for a credit. The $8,000 maximum first-timer credit will continue and will now available to couples with income up to $225,000, a nearly $55,000 increase above the level in existing law. A new $6,500 maximum credit would also be available to move-up homeowners who have lived in their current residence for five of the prior eight years.
For the rest of this article from, click here.

Market Information

Nebraska ranks third lowest in economic stress

ECON STRESS MAPA recent analysis by the Associated Press ranked Nebraska as the state with the third lowest Economic Stress score.
The AP’s Economic Stress Index calculates a score from 1 to 100, based on unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. Nebraska ranked 5.71 in September, after North Dakota (4.07) and South Dakota (5.01).
According to the AP, midwestern and plains states avoided the worst of the housing and financial crises and benefit from a weaker dollar, making agricultural commodities cheaper for foreign buyers.
“Housing still is at the epicenter of this crisis around the country, and places where the cycle was most egregious are also now places that are seeing some of the highest rates of unemployment,” said Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida.
Nebraska was one of 12 states to improve on its Score since the start of 2009.
For more information, see the entire AP article here.