Small Is the New Big for On-the-Go Seniors – By Michael Longsdon

Your little birds have flown the coop, and even the grandkids have aged out of long weekends together and nighttime sofa snuggles. Now, you’re left with rooms you may never use and a lawn too big for your current needs. The good news is that your house has likely gained an impressive amount of value. If boating, golfing, or traveling is on your mind, it might make sense to hightail it out of your big house, grab the equity, and retire in style to a smaller home.

Keep reading for more insight and click on any of the underlined links for helpful resources and additional information. 

Finding the Right Home

When it comes to finding the right home for retirement, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are a few things that are universally true when it comes to picking out a home for your golden years. This Old House underscores the importance of universal design, which includes non-slip flooring, plenty of light, and senior-friendly bathroom features. If a home doesn’t have these features, you should consider these costs. It can cost, for example, anywhere from less than $1,000 to more than $35,000 to remodel a bathroom in Ames. 

If you have your eyes on a retirement community, most of the homes will already have features that make it more attractive for mature homebuyers. Talk to your realtor about the best neighborhoods, and make sure to let them know what activities are important to you. They can help narrow down your selection based on price (the median selling price of homes in the Ames area is $249,900), proximity to amenities, and the quality of the area.

Movers Save the Day

If the physical act of moving has you postponing your decision, it’s time to start looking for a moving company to do the work for you. Many professional moving companies not only handle the heavy lifting, but they can also arrange your furniture for you upon arrival. Hiring a moving company isn’t always cheap, and if you want the best deals, you’ll have to plan ahead. Keep in mind that summer is usually the busy season, and rates may be substantially higher than in the winter. January is considered the least expensive month to move, but it’s also colder, and you may not have the same opportunities to see your new area at its best.

Letting Go

Picking your new home and finding movers is the easy part. The hard work actually happens well before moving day. This is a time when you’ll need to make tough decisions on what personal belongings will go with you to your new, downsized situation. A good rule of thumb is to say your goodbyes to things you haven’t used, worn, or even seen in at least a year. If you have duplicates of small appliances, furniture, and other useful household items, donate them to a local charity. Edgewood Senior Living notes that many charities are willing to pick up from your home, meaning you have one less errand to run and can stay focused on the task at hand.

Family heirlooms, such as jewelry and collectibles, can be passed down to your children and grandchildren. However, many members of Gen X and their Millennial offspring may decline the opportunity to hold onto keepsakes. USA Today reports that those born after 1965 are more likely to value experiences over physical mementos. Don’t let these rebuffs lead to hurt feelings.

Watch Your Back

Speaking of things that hurt, back pain is one of the most common complaints among those in the 60-plus crowd. Even if you hire a moving company, you’ll still be responsible, in most cases, for packing your small items and clothing. Be cautious. Don’t hunch over, and avoid lifting anything that causes strain. Talk to your doctor or chiropractor about using a back brace to provide added support throughout the process. offers helpful tips on how to pack moving boxes to keep your belongings — and your body — safe from harm.

Moving during your senior years offers you the opportunity to start a new chapter in your book of life. The equity in your home may be able to cover the cost of a smaller house, and you can use what’s left to fund the retirement you’ve always wanted.

Homestead Tax Credit


Don’t forget to file for the homestead tax exemption by July 1st if you are a new homeowner in Iowa.

What is homestead tax credit? For those who own and occupy a home in Iowa, the Homestead Tax Credit is intended to provide tax relief for you.

What impact does it have? It reduces taxable value by $4,850

When do you need to file? If you want to receive credit for this year, you must file an application on or before July 1st. If you file after July 1st of this year, you will receive the credit next year.

How/Where do you apply? Your local county assessor’s office.
Story County (Ames)➡️
Story County➡️
Boone County➡️
Polk County➡️

5 Frequently Asked Real Estate Questions

  1. What is earnest money? Earnest money is a deposit made by the buyer to a Seller that represents the buyer’s good faith intention to buy a home. When buying a house, the Buyer gives the earnest money to the Seller once the sales contract or purchase agreement is agreed upon and signed. The money will be held in an escrow account until closing. The earnest money will then be applied to the home sale at closing.
  2. What is the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved? Pre-qualified for a loan means that you are given an estimate of what you may be able to borrow based on limited financial information. The lender will review everything and let you know how much you can expect to borrow. It typically can be done over the phone or online and takes one to three days. Pre-approved means that the lender has agreed to work with you and you will be able to complete an official mortgage application. The lender will then be able to pre-approve you for a specific amount after reviewing your financial data more in depth. During this process, you will also be able to find out the interest rate you will be charged for your home loan. Being pre-approved for a loan before looking at homes typically makes the buying process go smoothly,
  3. What are closing costs? Closing costs are fees associated with your home purchase that are paid when you close on your home. Typical closing costs for Buyers are loan application fees, appraisal fees, courier fees, and attorney fees. Sellers often have commission costs, real estate tax proration, a pest inspection fee, abstracting (in Iowa), etc. There are other types of fees as well that you may see as well. Buyers usually pay around two to five percent of the purchase price of the home in closing costs and Sellers usually pay closer to eight or nine percent.
  4. What is an appraisal? An appraisal is an estimate of a home’s value. It is used to determine if the purchase price of your home is a fair market value given the home’s condition, location, and features. Appraisals are typically done for lenders because they want to know if the house is worth what the Buyer has agreed to pay for it (and to ensure their investment in agreeing to the loan is safe. The appraised value of your home is based off of recent sales of similar properties and current market trends. During the appraisal, a complete evaluation of the interior and exterior of the home will be done, while taking extra note on anything that may affect the home’s value.
  5. What is a contingency? A contingency means that the offer on a home is dependent upon one or more conditions that must be completed before the Buyer purchases the home. Some examples of contingencies are obtaining financing, conducting a satisfactory home inspection, sale of Buyer’s current home, or appraisal contingencies. Contingencies help protect a Buyer acting in good faith if they are unable to complete the sale.

Helpful Hints for Staging your Home

What is staging?

Staging is the process of arranging home furnishings and decor to make a house look its best when trying to sell. This may involve refreshing the furnishings and decor you already have or sometimes even renting items. Staging makes a huge difference when trying to sell your home. When you list with The Engelman Team, we use professional designers to give recommendations and advice for how to best stage your home and get it ready to sell. We also have staging items that can be used depending on our designer’s recommendations for your home.

Helpful Hints

  1. Get Rid of Clutter – Removing your clutter and simply cleaning your house can make a huge difference when staging your home. You should try to remove personal items and any knick-knacks from your home before showing it to potential buyers. Boxing these items up and getting them out of the house is a great first step to staging your home.
  2. Keep it Light and Bright – Proper lighting is an essential part in correctly staging your home. Let that natural light flow in by opening up your blinds or by pulling your curtains back. Make sure that your light fixtures and even lampshades look appealing for the future homeowner. Try to use brighter lightbulbs than usual to help show off your living space.
  3. Stage Important Rooms First – If you are on a budget, consider only staging certain rooms within the house. Rooms that should be staged first are the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom. Doing these rooms first will give you the most bang for your buck.
  4. Curb Appeal – The first impression of your home is of utmost importance. To help make the outside appealing to homebuyers, you can do things such as clean windows, mow your lawn, trim bushes and trees, plant flowers, etc.
  5. Keep it Neutral – Fresh, neutral colors help tone down any dated finishes throughout your rooms. If you are going to paint rooms throughout your home, try painting adjacent rooms the same color or a complementary color. Our designer’s often recommend paint colors that can help you with this process.
  6. Unfinished Projects – Remember to finish those projects that you may have forgotten about. It will typically cost you less to fix them rather than having a reduced offer price because of unfinished items. A few simple hours can make a big difference.
  7. Add Extra Touches – Having fresh flowers or fruit on counters will make your home feel cozy, intimate, and inviting to potential homebuyers. Even having folded towels in bathrooms can add an extra touch. But remember that less is more and keep it basic.

Tips and Tricks of Curb Appeal

What is curb appeal?

Curb appeal is the attractiveness of a property and its surroundings when viewed from the street. It is the first and last impressions that people will have on your home.

Curb appeal tips:

  1. Replace Old Hardware– Replacing things such as house numbers, entry door locksets, mailboxes, and light fixtures can instantly add value to your home’s curb appeal. You should try to have all of these pieces function accordingly with each other rather than having mix-matched hardware. Remember to match your style of home with the hardware you replace.
  2. Install Outdoor Lighting-Try installing solar lights within walkways to provide extra safety and security. It can also add lighting to the overall landscape and house.
  3. Update Landscaping-Just simply pulling weeds out of flower beds, planting flowers, and adding new mulch can add a lot of value to your home’s curb appeal.
  4. Add Window Planters-This is a simple way to add color to your exterior.
  5. Add Outdoor Art-Adding outdoor art is something that can make your home memorable, while adding a little spunk and curb appeal. Choose elements such as birdbaths, metal cutouts sculptures, and wind chimes that complement your home.
  6. Replace Gutters and Downspouts-If your gutters need to be freshened up, a simple gutter and downspout cleaning may be just what you need. You can also consider replacing your old gutter systems. Newer systems have easy installation and can match the exterior of the house. Snap-fit vinyl is easy to put together and requires little to no painting.
  7. Repaint Siding and Trim-Simply repainting the siding and trim can automatically transform the overall look of your home. Chipping paint or cracked and rotting material can immediately be a turn off for potential homebuyers.
  8. Update Home Entrance-Designing a lovely path entrance to your home with something as simple as pavers can add extra flair to your curb appeal. You can impress your visitors and future homebuyers with unique designs and creativity while creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
  9. Update Driveway-Consider fixing cracks or potholes in the concrete, not only to increase curb appeal but also to provide a safe walkway for potential buyers. You should also consider killing the weeds that grow between cracks and on the outside of the driveway. Something as simple as staining the concrete can dress up your driveway as well.
  10. Replace Railings and Fences-If not maintained or built well, railings and fences can deteriorate fast. If you decide to replace the railings, make sure you choose a color and style that fits with the house’s main features. You can upgrade your fence by staining it or cleaning it without hurting your budget.
  11. Garage Door Makeover-The overall look of the garage door can easily affect the look of the entire front part of your house. Putting a bright coat of paint can be cost efficient and make a big difference in your curb appeal.
  12. Refresh Roof-Replacing the whole roof can be extremely expensive and take quite a bit of time. Simply getting your roof cleaned can make a world’s difference and not blow your budget.  

What to Avoid:

  1. A cluttered driveway– Avoid leaving cars parked in your driveway during showings and open houses. This will allow potential buyers to estimate if there is enough driveway or garage space to fit their needs.
  2. Nasty Neighbors– When buyers are viewing your home, they’re also viewing your neighborhood as a whole. If your neighbor’s grass is a little unruly, consider asking if they’d be willing to mow their lawn especially before showings or open houses, or consider lending a hand and offering to mow their lawn for them.
  3. Personal possessions– Along with having your lawn clean cut, do your best to have any extra lawn ornaments or children’s toys picked up and neatly stored in a shed or garage.
  4. Dead leaves/plants– Especially coming out of Winter into the Spring season, it’s important to spend some time cleaning up the dead leaves and plants remaining from the previous season. If you don’t already have some annual flowers or plants, consider planting some in order to boost your curb appeal even more.
  5. Rotted Shutters/Awnings/Peeling Paint– Getting rid of outdated or mismatched features of your home exterior can drastically improve the overall look of your home. This also makes your home more appealing to potential buyers, since it will be less work for them in the future. Don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into your exterior!
  6. Improper Paint Colors– If you’re considering revamping the exterior of your home, consider sticking to neutral colors that match your fixtures and roof.
  7. Outdated Fixtures-Old fixtures can immediately make someone think that your home could be outdated and potentially need renovations upfront. Depending on the buyers, this can be seen as a good thing or bad thing.

Ins and Outs of Home Inspections

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is completed to provide a home buyer an opportunity to identify any major unseen or hidden problems with the home before proceeding to closing. The purchase contract might be written with a home inspection contingency that allows a buyer to ask for remedies if there are “major deficiencies” found on the property. In the case that a home purchase is contingent with a satisfactory inspection, a buyer can ask the seller to remedy any major deficiencies that are found during the inspection.

What happens during the home inspection?

During an inspection, the inspector will thoroughly examine and investigate the home to find anything that might need repaired or replaced. The inspection is intended to find anything that is a safety issue or major defect. Typically the inspection lasts two to three house (the buyer should be present for at least the end of the inspection). Once the inspection is done, a report is produced for the buyer that explains what needs to be repaired or replaced. Most inspectors will also tell you what you should be aware of for the future and what items need routine maintenance, which can be extremely helpful for first time homebuyers. The buyer can then decide with their realtor what steps to take next.

What a home inspection does not cover

A typical home inspection only checks for visual problems. Inspectors generally do not look inside walls, inside pipes or sewer lines, or any other areas that are not readily accessible. If you want these things looked at, you will have to call someone who specializes in those fields. However, if the inspector notices evidence that there may be other hidden concerns they will give you a heads up. Further investigation is not typically included in the scope of their inspection, though, and will typically cost more to have someone else look into it.

What is checked during the inspection?

Exterior items that are commonly checked during the inspection are exterior walls, foundation, grading, garage, and roof. Interior items that are checked are plumbing, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), water heater, kitchen appliances, laundry room, fire safety, and bathrooms.

What happens after the inspection?

After the inspection is done and the seller is aware of the findings, they can request repairs or renegotiate their offer. Typically the seller will not agree to all of the requested repairs from the buyer. The buyer needs to focus on the big ticket items that will affect the home in any major way. The buyer can also renegotiate their initial offer if they want to do the repairs themselves. Ultimately it is important to talk with your realtor when deciding what next steps to take.

Is a home inspection worth the investment?

A home inspection is worth the investment because the buyer is able to be informed and provided the big picture for the future home they are purchasing. The more the buyer knows about the home the better. Knowing the problems that the home may have before purchasing allows the buyer to also budget for future costs on repairs. A home inspection gives the buyer a peace of mind and that alone is worth the investment!

New vs. Used Homes

New Construction Benefits

  1. Create your home, your way: Nothing beats picking your favorite countertops, cabinets and appliances. Along with that, being able to decide how big your shower gets to be or choosing to have heated floors are just some of the bonus items you don’t usually find in a used house. By designing your own home, you get to reflect your own style rather than moving into an already styled home.
  2. Select the floor plan and layout to meet your family’s needs: Being able to select the perfect amounts of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage is a huge deal. You get to choose if you have an entertainment center, a full bar in your basement, or a jacuzzi tub in your bathroom. These are all things that might not be guaranteed with a used home.
  3. Builder Warranty for your new home: A used home is more likely to have older appliances that will eventually need to be replaced. Your new home, including the appliances inside, are brand new and under warranty. Expensive fixes such as the roof, furnace, and appliances can bring costs you didn’t expect when you initially purchased your home.
  4. Energy Efficiency and Savings: Today’s new homes are far more energy efficient than those that were built five to ten years ago. Many new homes offer high efficiency furnaces, an insulated foundation, and insulated vaulted ceilings to make sure that you don’t have to turn your heat up as high during the winter or crank the AC in the summer. All of these things can save you a substantial amount of money over time.
  5. State of the Art Ventilation and Air Quality: With allergies becoming more pronounced, air quality is becoming more important. Whole House Fresh Air Ventilation Systems in a new home make sure there are no drafts and offer a higher all-around air quality.
  6. Minimal Maintenance: Today’s homes are built with the newest and cutting-edge products making them more sustainable for a longer period of time. Because of this, they require less overall maintenance and care. The other bonus is that all of your appliances will be new and under warranty if there should be a problem within the span of the warranty.
  7. Development Amenities: More recently, homes in new developments have been built within associations that provide amenities like pools, a clubhouse, and walking paths. These items are very attractive to some buyers and many older neighborhoods do not have these same amenities.
  8. Full Design Freedom: By building new you will be able to choose what you want from the get-go, instead of buying a used home and changing all of the things you don’t like. Installing granite countertops, replacing windows, and adding insulation can all be expensive. So why not start off with everything you already want?
  9. Safety: State-of-the-Art electrical systems and other new specific product devices make newer homes much safer than used homes. There’s no possibility of lead based paint or asbestos, which is usually a common concern with a used home. This let’s you relax and find comfort in the fact that your home is as safe as possible.
  10. Excitement of a New Home: Buying a new home is similar to buying a new car. It has a new home smell and the overall excitement of seeing months of anticipation and planning finally coming together. Moving into someone else’s home can come with charm and nostalgia, but nothing beats moving into a house and seeing all of your dreams become a reality.

The Flipside of New Construction

  • Commutes may be longer, depending on where your development is located. Recently more and more subdivision have been going out in more rural parts of town.
  • New construction comes with new landscaping which means younger trees, growing sod, and young plants. Mature trees tend to help to provide shade in the summer, protect against wind, and block out noise at night.
  • Unless you are building a custom home, builders tend to pick layouts and finishes that appeal to a wide audience. This could cost some extra to add in some personal touches.
  • Waiting for your custom home to be completed can be difficult. It also provides the uncertainty as to when to put your current home on the market.

Resale Home Benefits

  • Long-standing neighborhoods may be able to protect your home value.
  • Most resale homes already come with window treatments, where new construction homes may not.
  • Resale homes tend to come with more mature trees and landscaping as opposed to baby trees and new landscaping with a new home.
  • Most resale homes have been recently remodeled which means you don’t have to go through the time and effort of remodeling your home until you want to.
  • Resale homes come with more character and charm than new construction homes. Looking back on the history of a 150 year old house can enchant some buyers.
  • Prices are more easily negotiable with a resale home. With new construction, there is very little wiggle room for negotiation.

7 Pitfalls of the Home Buying Experience

  1. Not checking your credit score

Checking your credit score should be the very first thing you do before purchasing a home. You need to know what you’ll be able to expect from the lender. Your credit score can severely affect the amount the bank is able to lend you. If you are considering purchasing a home in the next 18-24 months, we would suggest looking at your credit and seeing how you might be able to improve it.

    2. Not Getting Pre-approval

Getting pre-approved by your lender is one of the first steps in the home buying process. A pre-approval letter is basically getting information from the bank about how much you are able to borrow. This will help determine what price range of houses you will be looking at. This also gives the sellers a confidence that you are serious about purchasing a home. Without a pre-approval letter, it can take longer to secure your loan once you’ve put in an offer and it has been accepted.

   3. Not starting off with a Budget

Having a budget during your home buying process is very important. You want to make sure you establish this before you begin looking at homes. This will help you not get side tracked by homes outside of your price range. Make sure to have a monthly budget for things like your mortgage, utilities, and homeowner association fees. By having a pre-approval letter, this can help you determine what kind of budget you need to set. You may also need to make a budget for home repairs if you plan on doing any renovations after moving in.

   4. Forgetting about Added Cost

When looking at homes, it’s important to remember all of the little things you might not be thinking about such as utilities, property tax, and homeowner association fees. These will all be on either a monthly or yearly basis. Make sure to save some of your budget for these added costs.

   5. Skipping the Inspection

The idea of skipping an inspection sounds like it’ll make life easier – don’t do it! Yes, you would probably save a couple hundred dollars, but in the long run it is not worth it. Inspections are critical to understanding the current condition of the home. They are looking for things that could easily get passed over if you did a quick run through. This might also help you negotiate a lower price on the home or ask for a piece of equipment to be replaced.

   6. Making a Large Purchase during the Home Buying Process

We highly recommend not making any large purchases while you are in the process of purchasing your home. Anything you charge to your credit card goes against your debt to income ratio, which could seriously jeopardize your loan approval. It is best to wait until after you close to buy things such as furniture or other miscellaneous goods. The lender will look at things like furniture, a new car, or a new tv as more payments that might jeopardize you being able to pay off your mortgage first.

   7. Not Visiting the Property Enough Times

We recommend that you try to visit the property at least twice before putting an offer in on the house. You need to make sure that you are going to be purchasing the right home for you. It’s a big life changing decision! While you are waiting to put an offer in on your home, consider driving through the neighborhood during weekends and evenings. Checking out the neighborhood when the majority of the residents are home can help you determine whether the area is a good fit for you and your family. This might not be possible in all situations, but the more information you can gather, the better!

The Process of Selling your Home in 10 Steps

1. Finding the Right Listing Agent: Finding the right listing agent is crucial to the successful sale of your home. One of the best things you can do is ask friends and family who they would recommend. Most of the time they have already worked with someone that they have enjoyed. Once you have decided on a few options, sit down and interview them. Let them tell you about their marketing plans, pricing strategy, and overall vision for the sale of your home. Based on all of the information you receive, you can then decide who you would like to sell your home.

2. Let’s Talk Price: During your interview with your realtor, make sure to talk about their pricing strategy. Ask them what the current market is like. Ask them to do a competitive market analysis (CMA) on your home with other homes in the neighborhood and other homes with similar features. Along with that, feel free to do your own research. Although websites like Zillow and have their pitfalls, they are still a powerful resource that you can use to compare other homes to yours. Figure out a median or average price and discuss it with your realtor.

3. Preparing to Sell: Once you have decided to list your home, it is best to walk through your home with a real estate expert to discuss any improvements you would consider doing before putting it on the market. Our team prefers to hire a professional designer (included in our services, of course) to give you tips and tricks to make your home the most appealing to a potential buyer. As you can imagine, this will help determine the timeline for the sale of the home as well as the initial list price. We will then hire a professional photographer to make sure your home is brought to market with the best marketing photos possible. Pro Tip: While thinking through these things, make arrangements for a place for your pets to go during showings, inspections, and walkthroughs.

4. Getting the Word out there: Word of mouth is always a good place to start. Let people know that your house is for sale. Keep talking to your Realtor about their marketing plan. With The Engelman Team, we make sure to get it out immediately on Facebook, Zillow,, and schedule open houses. Within the first day, we easily reach 1,000 people online with several thousand more soon after that. Marketing is very important because ultimately you want your home to reach as many people as possible.

5. Let the Showings Begin: Most Realtors will put a lockbox on your front door as soon as your home gets listed. Appointments will then start being scheduled for other agents to view your home. You can decide how much time you’d like to know ahead of time for a showing as well. We like to give owners permission to approve their own showings so they can be in full control of their schedule. Don’t forget to move your pets to another location as stated before.

6. Getting an Offer (or two…): Once the showings have begun, depending on the current market trends, your home could be sold within the first day it comes onto the market – so make sure that you are prepared for that. The busiest time in real estate tends to be in the early spring and summer, however, the market is constantly changing. You never know when you will be in the middle of a multiple offer situation. Make sure any offers are being fed from Realtor to Realtor. Your Realtor will have your best interests in mind and can help you think through all of the terms of any offer and help you balance the pros and cons. It also helps to have a third party that is less emotionally involved in the place you’ve called home for so long. Negotiations are a common part of the transaction, that’s why The Engelman listing agents are Certified Negotiation Experts!

7. Offer Accepted: Once you have accepted an offer, your listing agent will walk you through the next steps. They will deliver all listing paperwork as well as the signed Purchase Agreement and SDS to their closing department to start the next phase in the selling process.

8. Inspections: Depending on the terms of the contract with the buyer, they will want to perform a general home inspection. It is the buyer’s responsibility to schedule this. Be prepared to receive a call or email asking you to leave your home for about 2-3 hours so they can perform this inspection. From there, the buyers may ask you to repair anything that has “major deficiencies” that were not already disclosed or known. Another round of negotiations may take place, depending upon what was found in the inspection. In central Iowa, Sellers are also responsible to pay for a pest inspection, but this is a pretty low cost item that rarely poses an issue.

9. Documentation: Once you have made it through all of the inspections and possible addendums, about two weeks before closing your agent will receive the deed packet. This packet will include the Warranty Deed, Declaration of Value, Groundwater Hazard Sheet, and Mortgage Affidavit (if applicable). You will need to sign and have these documents notarized. Practically, these documents are what allows you to transfer the title of the home to the new owners. Then about 2 days prior to closing your agent will receive the ALTA statement (which is from the American Land Title Association and used for title insurance) and the Closing Disclosure. These will review all of the credits and debits throughout the transaction and make sure that you are receiving the correct amount of proceeds from the transaction.

10. Closing!: As the seller you do not have to physically attend closing. The buyer will schedule the closing with their lender or lawyer and once they have finished your proceeds check will be ready. It is good for your agent to be in communication with the other side to know how they will be handling your proceeds. Most often proceeds are hand-delivered or picked up following closing. Occasionally, it will make more sense to have your proceeds mailed or wired to you. Make sure that your agent is aware if this is how you would like to receive your proceeds.

Meet the Engelman Real Estate Team

Hey there! We’re the Engelman Real Estate Team. We’re a family-operated real estate agency based out of Ames. Up until recently, it was just a team of two, Jon and Ben Engelman. Both business owners with a track record of success, we wanted to invest in our community and help others navigate through the homeownership and property investment process.

Now a few years in, we decided to bring in some fresh perspective and young talent to our team. We are re-launching our business with a team approach, and we’re pumped about what that is going to bring to the people we get to work with and help every day.   

Take a minute to meet each of our team members!

Jon Engelman, Residential Resale Listing Agent

AKA Business Strategy Guru, Visionary Mind Reader, Investment Expert

Jon is self described as “the old guy that brings some credibility to the team.” We don’t think he looks that old, but his proven track record of business success and results-oriented approach speaks for itself. He’s the guy you definitely want on your side if you’re hoping to get the most out of the property you’re trying to buy or sell. Plus, he’s just fun to be around!

While Jon credits his intuition to his business experience, sometimes it feel more like he’s a mind reader. While always having the right questions to ask, Jon is able to sense what you need and want, sometimes even before you do! He has an uncanny ability to help guide people to exactly what they are looking for! And as a 40 year Ames native, he’s passionate about this community and brings a deep understanding of the local marketplace.  

Jon views all of life as a classroom, for himself and his family. He and his wife, Patti, have really taken that to heart in a hands-on approach to homeschooling their four children. From building a mowing service together to taking extended “field trip” vacations around the world, to volunteering, they’re always looking to enjoy and “be a light” in their community!

Ben Engelman: Lead Buyers Agent and New Construction Specialist

AKA The House Whisperer, Chief Go-Getter, Head of Comic Relief

Anyone who thinks real estate agents are stuffy clearly hasn’t met Ben Engelman. His enthusiasm for helping people find the perfect house would make you think your on the next episode of an HGTV reality show. Don’t be fooled by his goofball exterior and entertaining Snapchats. He’s a tenacious negotiator, going the extra mile and advocating for his clients and making sure they get the best deal possible. He’s an all around good time, but he also brings an ambitious zeal to get the job done.

Ben started out his career serving our country in the Navy. While this helped him develop the mindset of a workhorse and a systematic approach to projects, after five years, he and his wife Teresa decided it was time to come home to Ames. Before stepping into real estate, Ben owned a building service contracting firm, where he was able to hone his talents in leadership, negotiation, and customer satisfaction.

In his spare time, he loves spending quality time with his family, whether that’s cheering on the Cyclones, going on vacation with his four kiddos, or just hanging out at home. At the center of all Ben does is a love for people. He’s one of the easiest guys to talk to, whether you’re looking to buy a house or just run into him at around town.

Abby Engelman,Transaction Coordinator

AKA Professional i Dotter and t Crosser, Paperwork Streamlining Champion, Manager of Dream Details

Abby is our steady eddie, facilitating the paperwork side of things and making sure every part of the transaction runs smoothly from start to finish. She streamlines the process for both our agents and our clients, making sure we’ve crossed all our t’s and dotted all our i’s and bringing added support where needed. She’s level headed, thorough, and constantly looking to grow, and we love the fresh perspective and balance she brings to our team.

A genuine love for helping people is at the center of all Abby does. From behind the scenes document management to communicating with clients, to showing clients homes, it’s her goal to help people’s dreams of home ownership come true, and make lives easier throughout the process.

When she’s not keeping the boys in line, you’ll likely find Abby exploring Ames with a camera in hand, practicing her photography skills. Or in the kitchen, perfecting yet another cake recipe. In addition to her real estate licence, she also studied at DMAAC’s Iowa Culinary Institute, and bakes orders by request for friends and family.  

Zac Runyon, Buyer’s Agent

AKA Lead Homeowner Advocate, Home Purchasing Streamliner, Chief Networking Officer

Zac is our newest member, and we’re so pumped he joined the Engelman Real Estate Team! His passion for learning, outstanding work ethic, and never-met-a-stranger attitude makes him a perfect fit. His main role in our team is helping buyers find their dream house as quickly as possible. He streamlines the process by curating potential home lists based off of each client’s needs and preferences.

Growing up, Zac’s family moved a lot. His dad was in the Army, so with each new town meant their family of six would get to know a new community and make another house a home. Now, as a real estate agent, he gets how important it is to find the right place to call home. Each person comes with their own unique story and circumstances, and he loves bringing the puzzle pieces together.

As a newly licensed agent, Zac is our resident expert on current regulations and practices. But not in a stuffy, boring way. His conversational skills are so on point, he can make all the nitty gritty details of the buying process sound interesting! In his spare time, Zac loves looking at, driving, or working on anything with a motor.

Tony McFarland, Listing Agent and Certified Negotiation Expert

AKA Negotiator Telepath, Behind the Scenes Ninja, Realtor Extraordinaire

We feel so lucky to have Tony join our team. He’s an experienced Realtor, and Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE). He’s serving as Jon’s right-hand man, helping in both the big picture stuff and nitty-gritty details to make sure folks are getting best price for the properties they’re selling. You definitely want Tony on your side in the negotiation process, his experience as a CNE helps everyone feel like a winner.

Tony has been a Realtor since 2014, and before that, he was an executive director for a property management company in Ames. He loved the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life in a fast-paced environment and serving the rental needs of Ames residents and Iowa State students! He also served in the Army National Guard from 2003-2011 as a M1 Abrams Tank Crewman and later as an Infantryman. He spent 12 months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and received several awards including two Army Commendation Medals for his service.

Tony brings his servant-hearted leadership and can-do attitude into the work he does for clients every day. In his spare time, Tony enjoys spending time with his wife and two kiddos, playing competitive sports, and cheering for his two favorite teams—the ISU Cyclones and the Dallas Cowboys!

Each member of our team brings a unique perspective and rockstar skillset to the team, but we have a lot in common.
  • We all LOVE calling Ames home. For Jon has lived here for over 40 years, and Zac is somewhat new to town, but we all think it’s got a Goldilocks just-rightness to it. It’s small enough to really feel connected, actually know your neighbors and run across people you know as you’re out and about. But it’s big enough to find what you’re looking for and there’s always something new to discover.
  • Helping people is our passion. Community is at the center of why we do what we do. We are all deeply connected to our church communities, and love spending time with our families. And we are honored to be a part of helping people find their place to belong.
  • We think buying a home should be fun, not stressful. It’s probably the biggest investment you’ll make in your life. And finding that dream house should be a blast! Which is why we do everything we can to streamline the process, take care of the mundane stuff and help you enjoy the hunt.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know us. We’d love to get to know you! Leave a message for us below, or contact us today, and let us know about the house you’re dreaming about!