In this episode Misty and Heather chat about the advantages of NEW CONSTRUCTION with guest John Leto from Leto Built Homes.

It’s time for the Central Iowa Real Estate Scoreboard right here on 1460 AM and 106.3 FM, KXnO. Now Misty SOLDwisch and Heather Burnside.

Good morning and welcome to another edition of the Central Iowa Real Estate Scoreboard. I’m Heather. She’s Misty. Good morning.

Hey, Heather.

There’s never a detail that gets by Misty. You would think that on Thursday, the impetus would be on me to remember this, but you were the one that knew that it was National Radio Day, and you wished me a happy National Radio Day first.

I did.

These are the kind of details that you get with Misty SOLDwisch when you hire her, people.

I do my research.

Yes. She knows even more about you and maybe even your industry than you do. She beat me to the punch. But anyway, I really appreciated you wishing me a Happy National Radio Day first. Love doing the show with you on Sunday mornings.

Well, you’re amazing, so I had to celebrate it for you.

Well, Thank you so much.

Of course, a lot of the time when we’re doing this, we’re not alone. We will be joined a little later in the show by John Leto of Leto Built Homes. Good morning, John.

Good morning. Nice to be here.

Yeah, I can’t wait to talk about some of your properties, because in addition to talking about John’s business, his building, what he’s doing, one of his homes is also the featured property coming up later in the show, Misty.

Our home of the week.

Yes, our home of the week. But in the meantime, I love that not only does Misty do all the research, she knows everything, she also knows what’s hot, what’s going viral. There were a couple of properties that went viral recently in the last week, including the Golden Girls home.


Yeah. The Golden Girls home went on the market. I guess this is where you just need to let the market decide or let the demand decide how much this home is going to sell for.

That’s right.

Because they missed the selling price by just a skosh.

Just a skosh, just $1 million.

The Golden Girls home sold for a million dollars over the asking price.

I loved the quote that the listing agent said. “I had no idea there were this many Golden Girls fans.”

Are you serious?

Obviously he doesn’t hang out with many gay men.

Or many kids. What is just amazing to me about the Golden Girls is, thanks to YouTube and all these on demand things that we have now, and in addition to networks that still run reruns, people of all ages still watch Golden Girls.

Well, and Betty White. Who doesn’t …

Yes. National treasure.

National treasure.

So yeah, this was a 3,000 foot square foot, four bedroom home, Brentwood area of Los Angeles, asking 2.9 million. It went for $4 million.


20 offers in 14 days.

Bidding war.

140 showings. Yes. How many buyers were in the bidding war?

Well, 20. 20 offers.

Oh, 20 offers.


Oh, and then it says nine buyers were in a bidding war for the home.


Now, the home’s exterior was used in the first season of Golden Girls. After the first season though, an exact replica of the home was built at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in South Florida, and they didn’t use that exterior again. But because it was still the original home, what the Golden Girls home was based on, that’s what ended up happening when it hit the real estate market.

It was the inspiration, for sure.

Now, the other thing that I saw that went viral that was really weird, and it was somebody did it the right way too, because when I saw this home pop up on Twitter, they just said, “Just start clicking through the pictures and wait for it.” They didn’t give you any other indication of what was happening, but there is a home on the market … Where is this again?

It’s in Missouri. In Fayette, Missouri, is that right? Yeah.

The home has a jail attached to it.

Yeah. They have 70 photos online. They really wanted to highlight that jail too, but they didn’t until later.

Yeah. You probably clicked through a good 25 pictures of the exterior of the regular part of the home.


Which was beautiful, by the way.


It’s an old historic home that had had a lot of updates and renovations done to it. Yes, it was gorgeous. Then as you’re looking at the kitchen and thinking, “Oh, I love the tile, the paint, the new cabinets. That door opened. What’s back there? Why is there a staircase? What is going on here?” Then that’s basically a door to the kitchen leads you into a 10 cell jail.

How convenient.

Is it?


I would love to know how you, as a real estate agent, would sit there and say, “Well, this home is lovely. Think of the things you could do with an entire jail attached to your house.”

Right. I guess I didn’t realize this, but maybe this is a Wild West thing or something, but they were saying that in the 1800s, it was really typical for a sheriff and their family to live in the home where the jail was located.

I didn’t know that.

Not really an Iowa thing, to my knowledge.

Right. I would love to know what the sheriff’s wife thought about this.

She would make the meals, the gruel.

Yeah, exactly. “Do I have to do all their laundry too? It’s the 1800s. I’m not liking this.” But yeah, I would have to think that a unique feature like that on home, obviously whoever buys the home is going to end up being … That’s to be probably one of the selling points, or they have a great vision for what they could do with it if they decide not to keep it a jail.

Yeah. What a great place to have a haunted house, like a little business thing.

True. Maybe you could turn it into a wine cellar or some sort of … Although it’s not underground. I don’t know. It was really weird.

Dog kennels.

I guess that leads me to a question about buying historic homes too, because there are some instances where you may buy a home, and you’re not going to be allowed to make too many changes to it, because it’s on the historic registry.

Right. That is something that, when you buy a property that is part of some sort of renown like that, there are restrictions. There’s different neighborhoods that have restrictions on, throughout the country, but we certainly see that in Des Moines, like Sherman Hill, as an example, where there are different things that you have to keep in mind that you’re not able to do, or you need to do, if you’re wanting to make alterations.

Now, on the other hand, there also can be assistance if you buy an historic home that’s in need of updating or renovating or restoring.

Right, yeah.

It can end up actually being a good deal as well.

Right, yeah. It’s a great way to be able to make those changes, if there are resources like that, for sure.

Right. There’s other good news on the horizon too. It looks like new homes are hotter than ever. We have been talking and talking and talking about this, but single family home construction, for instance, going through the roof right now.

Yeah, nationwide. That’s such a positive indicator for the economy. It’s very much, because there has been a shortage of inventory throughout the country because of the amazing interest rates. So it’s nice to see. That’s really a great indicator of people are wanting to do things, and new construction is a great way to go.

Now, how many people have come in to see you saying, “We’d like to buy a home,” and they maybe have something in mind, but not even thinking about a new home, and you end up steering them in that direction because of the high demand for current homes that already exist, and just the overall market picture, and maybe people that didn’t think they could even afford to get into a new home?

Yeah. Well, it’s part of the consultation process. When we have a buyer that meets with us, just talking about what their lifestyle needs are for the foreseeable timeframe that they think they’re going to be in this home, it’s so common that they just didn’t even realize that that was something in their reach, and that was something that there’s neighborhoods that meet their needs that hadn’t even been on their radar.

What are some of the advantages of new construction?

Well, first of all, it’s the latest finishes, gorgeous colors, decor, all of that. Not having to make changes to personalize it for you. It’s already the paint and the cabinetry and the latest appliances and all of that. That’s a huge one.

I imagine too that it’s probably a lot of advances have been made in efficiency, so when you buy a new home, it’s going to be very energy efficient.

Oh my gosh. The materials that are used now are so dramatically different than the materials that were used in the 70s and 80s or prior to that. So a lot of times, people are so surprised that even in a more expensive home, their utility cost is much lower. That makes your net cost of being in a home more affordable.

Are there any tax advantages to getting into a new home?

Well, we’ve talked on earlier episodes about there’s many, many communities in the metro that have tax abatement offered. But even if it’s an area that doesn’t have tax abatement, in Iowa, our property taxes run in arrears, meaning that we pay after the fact.

In the last week or so, you probably got a statement, if you’re a homeowner, from the assessor’s office. In August is when they put homes on the assessor’s rolls for the next fiscal year. So in a new construction home, you can go often 12 to 18 months before your property taxes kick in, and only paying for that lot underneath. That can save you 250 to 350 in monthly payment. That’s really great when you’re getting settled into a new place.

Right. Speaking of new homes, coming up after the break, we are going to be talking to John Leto of Leto Built Homes. One of his homes is the featured property. Again, he will be able to answer all of your questions, and we can talk about new construction.

In the meantime, my mom, that was the ding you heard a little bit ago, Mom texted me that Centerville, where they live, has an old sheriff residence with a jail attached. It’s being renovated right now. It was a scary haunted house several years ago.

All those things we talked about.

Right. And it’s much closer than Missouri. There’s apparently a home like this that exists-

You just have to go to Southern Iowa.

… in Centerville, Iowa.

Love it.

284-5966. You can tweet at me @heatherRadio. Coming up, we will break it down, the Central Iowa real estate market with Misty. Then we’ll be talking to our guest. It’s the Central Iowa Real Estate Scoreboard on 1460 KXnO, now on 106.3 FM.

Hi. I’m Barbara Corcoran. Are you thinking of selling your home, but you’re not sure which agent to hire? You have a lot of choices, but really the choice is simple, because there’s only one agent I would trust to sell my home.

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All right. It’s time to get Misty with it, as Misty breaks down the real estate picture here in Central Iowa. I’m assuming, based on what all we’ve been talking about already this morning, things are still cooking right along.

Things are still cooking. In the past week, 313 new homes hit the market. It’s gone down the last couple of weeks though. We need to get those sellers motivated so that we can have more inventory out there, because 439 homes went under contract. Then we had 552 closings.

The other thing I thought was really interesting and timely, because of John from Leto Built Homes being here, the new construction market in Des Moines, as of the end of last month represented … There were around 1,184 new construction, single family home closings in Central Iowa. So it represented almost 16% of the single family home market, which is really significant.

Wow. Do you think that maybe with school getting started, or there’s some uncertainty around that, that maybe this is why we’re seeing just a slight slowdown? Like, “I just want to stay put where I’m at until we figure out what’s going on, and then we can maybe get our home on the market.”

Yeah. I think that everyone that has kids that are starting school, there’s a lot of overall, “How is this going to work?”


“How long are we going to be here?” All of that.


So yeah. I could totally see that being a factor.

You did mention that new homes are greatly in demand. That’s one reason why we have John Leto from Leto Built Homes in. Good morning, John.

Good morning.

I always like to know what motivates someone to get into the business. I think we all know why Misty is doing what she’s doing. How did you get into home building?

What motivated me is, I believe, my father. Growing up, my dad owned rental properties, built a few homes. He was self employed man. I admired that in him. I just looked forward to doing what he did someday.

How long have you been building then? It sounds like you basically knew this is what you wanted to do for a long time.

Well, I’ve actually been building homes since 2004. I’ve been in the construction industry most of my adult life though. I probably, since 2004, I average maybe 10 to 15 homes a year.

Oh, wow. That’s quite a bit.


Who’s part of your company too? It just you? How many people do you have working with you? Any other family members?

I do. My daughter, Allie is my partner. I guess we’re in this together, so anything I do, she does it too. We’re both out there every day, making sure that the quality we want is getting done. Sometimes my wife might get involved to help select some paint colors or some flooring or something like that. But primarily just me and my daughter, Allie.

Well, I will say I love the fact that …. There’s not that many home builders out there that have a woman that is in charge the way Allie is. I just think that’s a great combo.

Well, and if you watch any of those home improvement shows, it’s always like, you have the nuts and bolts, and here’s the groundwork, but then you have to have somebody come in to make sure it has all the right touches.


Backsplashes, flooring.

You can tell when a builder did not ask a woman’s opinion, you really can.

Especially when it comes to the kitchen, I’m assuming too, and walk in closets, things like that.

All that is Allie’s decision making there.

Honestly, when I was looking at, and where I’m just looking at the featured home, because it’s Leto Built Home, but I did notice that there are lots of built ins, and things that I notice, like trim and things like that. That just seems like it’s an attention to detail that not every builder would offer.

Right. I think I put more executive trim, I would call it, in my houses. I do bigger casing, a bigger base. I’ll always do some sort of a shiplap or wainscoting. I’ll do high ceilings. I believe a couple of those houses have 11 foot ceilings in the entry.


I loved … We had featured a couple of your homes a while back that … They sold right away, so they’re no longer available. But we actually are building a custom one for another client right now. But doing details like transoms over doors, and the neat little cubbies under the stairs, just really being creative. Those are the things that make a home memorable. When someone’s looking at lots of different new construction choices, Leto Built Homes’ details really make them stand out.

Well, yeah. For instance, I’m looking at, it looks like an entryway. There’s beautiful cabinetry, wainscoting, storage, a bench to sit on when you come in the back door.

Right. I actually, when I build my spec houses, whatever’s in them is in my own personal house. So each house I build, I try to build it as if, “If I’m going to live here, I need this bench, or the extra woodwork or the details.”

What a great approach.

Yeah. Now, I’m assuming that you obviously have a lot of homes that you’re building, and they’re almost done or finished and on the market, and you’re going to find buyers. Obviously, the demand is high.

But there’s some homes that you’re building with input from the buyer or the owner. What do you think is important for, like if you have a price point in mind that you could cut on that wouldn’t sacrifice the quality or comfort of your home?

Right. Well, a price point really wouldn’t sacrifice quality to me. You might not get the 11 foot ceiling or the wainscoting, all those touches, but I’m sure I would come up with something to make them happy.


I always would like to give just a little bit of extra in each house that I do.

What are some things that you think people don’t think about when they’re looking and comparing that maybe they should keep in mind?

Well, I think a lot of people just look at square footage and price. They don’t really look at what they’re getting. My houses, I do bigger garages than normal. These featured homes have 26 foot, third car garages. I always do eight foot doors. I also always do a covered porch, which is at least 12 by 12. It’s just the little, the things that I put into those, where maybe others might not, that I think are noticeable.

Right. I love what you said though, that people will look at square footage and price, and calculate that. But if it’s not a thoughtful floor plan, it can be 200 square feet larger, and appear to be a great value, but it’s actually not very functional.

Yeah. I imagine there’s a lot of homes out there that have lots and lots of square footage that is not very useful at all.

What exactly were they thinking?

Right. You had my attention as soon as you said something about cubby holes underneath the stairs.

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Yeah. That’s something you don’t really see too often. I guess I got to give kudos to my daughter, Allie, her and Pinterest. She’s on there to get ideas from there. I’ve done that on quite a few homes. Everyone that looks at it just absolutely loves it.


Yeah. If you’re trying to sit there and figure out which new home you’re going to buy, and you’re only looking at price and footage, and you’re not looking at the fact you have a covered porch or an oversized garage …

I’m also assuming that there’s other smaller details that could end up adding up to a lot of money down the road, like what material was used on the roof, what kind of windows does this home have, the siding, the HVAC. There’s probably also other factors that would maybe not matter now, but would definitely matter down the road a little bit, and would end up being worth the price, something to pay attention to.

Well, I always use … All my subs are local. I really pay attention to my windows especially. I could probably save 50% on a cheaper window, but I know that I would just have problems down the road with it. My heating and cooling guy is a local guy. If you did have an issue, I could get it taken care of within a day or two.

Right. Where are you building now?

Right now, we’ve got some homes in Greens at Woodland Hills, north side of Des Moines, south of Ankeny. I’ve got four houses there. Two of them are just about done, and two more will be done in about 30 days.

Yeah. We just had one sell in the last few days. Just as soon as they get completed, people just fall in love with them.

I’ve looked at some pictures. I can see why. What kind of challenges have you seen home building in the last six months, with everything that’s been going on, basically building during a pandemic?

Yeah. Well, COVID has really caused some issues as far as getting product. When I used to order my cabinets, it would take two weeks. Now, it takes eight weeks. With the production lines at 50% …

Yeah, your supply line is suffering right now, it sounds like.

Big time. You got to really be prepared at the beginning stages. When I’m ready to start digging the hole, the basement, is when I start to buy all my product, so it’s there when I need it.

Do you have any special causes that you’re involved in too that you’d like to talk about?

I am. I’m proud to say that I’m friends with Jim and Beth Blessman of Blessman International. I met them through a mission trip through my church, Hope Church in Ankeny. The first time I went to South Africa was two years ago. They’re over there and they feed children. I went for 14 days. They also build toilets for schools.

Wow. Yeah. Never take indoor plumbing for granted, ever.

That’s for sure. The things that we do take for granted here, these people have nothing but faith. It’s a pretty good organization. I met them, like I said, two years ago. I just think it’s a good thing to be involved with., if you want to check it out and learn more.


Yeah. I love working with a builder that their why behind doing things is beyond just making money. Being able to be involved in something like that, people appreciate that right now, that they’re working with someone that has an important cause.

Right. Also just the attention to detail … You have a lot of motivations that are all very well intended, and it shows in your work too.

Yes, absolutely.

Thank you.

Let’s talk a little bit about his work, because a Leto Built Home is the featured home at 6292 Northeast Court, Des Moines. This is in the Woodland Hills area, unincorporated part of … or no. Is it Woodland? Yeah.

The Greens.

The Greens at Woodland Hills.


It’s an unincorporated part of Des Moines, correct?

Yeah. It’s Saydel schools. You have lower property taxes. You have the conveniences of being so close to everything in Ankeny, and a hop, skip and a jump from the interstate. Fantastic, beautiful location.

Is it right along the golf course? Are you going to be able to go out your door and look at the fairways?

Oh yeah. You can look right out your backyard, and I can’t remember what hole it is, I think it’s hole number five, you can watch them putt.

Oh, wow. I haven’t been out there in a while. Is there a lot of development now around Woodland Hills, or this is a nice little cozy neighborhood now?

Yeah. I’m building on the south side of Woodland Hills. That development is just about full. There might be about five or six slots left. But the north side, they just opened up, so there’s a lot of opportunity there.

You know when a builder really believes in the location, he’s not just building homes there. He built his own home there.

Oh, you live there too?

I will. I’m in the middle of building my own house there, yeah.

What is your house like?

My house is really similar to these homes that I’m building right now, other than I’ve got a bigger garage than most people.

Okay. Yeah. It sounds like you may have some special needs of your own.


What is the price point of this home, the featured home? We haven’t talked about that yet.

335,500, but everything that we have there is right in the low to mid 330s range. Just so much home for the money. But yeah. Really affordable.

Right. It is. I’m looking at the pictures, and you can already see some of the details that John has talked about, like wainscoting in the hallway. It looks like beautiful flooring.

Yeah. It’s going to be open from 12:00 to 2:00 today too.

Oh. 6292 Northeast Court, Des Moines, open house. What was it? Noon to 2:00, 2:00 to 4:00?

12 to 2:00.

12 to 2:00. Make sure you check it out. And you can look at it, of course, at as well.

John, Misty, thank you so much.

Thank you.

We’ll be back next week with another edition of the Central Iowa Real Estate Scoreboard on 1460 KXnO, now on 106.3 FM.

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