Home is More Important Than Ever
Here on our blog, we write about the buying and selling of homes often. It is what we know, what we do, and what we share. But the concept of what a home means to our families and us is also an important topic.
We frequently refer to home as a safe haven, a place where we share joys and sorrows, raise our children, and plan how to make our dreams for the future come true. So after we help you find the perfect home, we also offer advice on how to make it the safe, comfortable place you want for your family. Now that is more important than we would have imagined just a short time ago.
It’s difficult today to read or hear the news without the words Coronavirus and social distancing being part of the conversation. Schools have closed, and the kids are home. With most social events and activities canceled, retired seniors are staying home too. Those not employed in essential services are mostly working from home.
The structure of both our professional and private lives has changed rapidly. We are told to expect this new norm to continue for weeks and, yes, perhaps even months. We can brood,...
First Steps to Selling Your Home
The first time we reach a milestone in our lives is generally an event we remember for a lifetime. For many of us, the purchase of our first home fits into this category. Just before our marriage, my future wife Kate and I bought our first home! As a surprise for her, I hired a contractor to renovate it while we were on our honeymoon. When we returned, she was tickled pink, and we were both on cloud nine. That first home is associated with many happy memories as we began our life together. Selling it was bittersweet. We needed more space and felt excited about finding our second home. It was the right decision but an emotional process to let go and say adios to that first home.
Best Tips to Selling Your first House in MN
A great deal of advice is available for first-time homebuyers, but for first-time sellers, there is a void. I have helped hundreds of first-time homeowners sell. As a guy who has been there and done that first-time seller gig, I also have some personal insights. Here are my best tips to help you rock selling your first house. Use the internet to learn as much as you can about the process of selling your home. Below are some great topics I might suggest to google. We have a lot of great information on our website, and I have included links to posts you may find helpful.
How to Determine an Offer Price When Buying a House in MN
The moment you have been waiting for has arrived. The home you want to buy has come on the market. You feel like Goldilocks when she lays in the baby bear’s bed that felt just right. Unlike Goldy, who proceeded to take a nap, you are ready to rock and roll. It’s time to write an offer, also know as writing a purchase agreement.
The central theme of the offer is the amount you agree to pay to the seller for the property. Your goal is to reach that magical place where deals come together. It’s that sweet price point where the seller receives the amount he wants, and the buyer knows she is not paying too much.
The starting point is the seller’s asking price. Your real estate agent’s job is to help you decide if it is reasonable or too high. Several factors to consider that will affect your offer price include a comparable market analysis of homes that have recently sold, market conditions, property condition and updates, length of time on the market, and seller motivation.
The Comparative Market Analysis or CMA
Your buyers’ agent will pull several months of data on homes that have sold in the same general location to help you determine a range where your offer price should fall....
Twin Cities Real Estate Review
Even as we advance into the new year, we have one piece of unfinished business to conclude in 2019 before closing the books. The Twin Cities housing market numbers are out for December, and here is the story they told.
It’s a tale that is long in the tooth by now about a market that is struggling to find balance. Limited inventory at lower price points makes the real estate market in the Twin Cities a seller’s dream. Even in the face of strong demand and insufficient inventory, millennial buyers are achieving the dream of buying their first home.
While new listings for December saw a gain of 3.9%, overall inventory levels were down 19.6% compared to December of 2018. The townhouse segment, down 12%, lost the least inventory, while single-family homes were down 20.8% and condos lost 14.2 percent. The month’s supply of inventory for December was dipped 21.2% overall. In the Twin Cities metro, we saw 1.6 months of supply for single-family homes (down 20%), 1.1 months for townhomes (down 8.3%), and 1.5 months of condos (down 11.8%).
Real Estate Sales
Closed sales in the Twin Cities were up 13% in December, and pending sales were up 8.2% when compared to the same time from the previous year. The category with the most significant gain in sales was single-family homes, with the most robust sales falling in $500,001 to $1,000,000 pricing tier, up 17.2%
Homeownership in Minnesota
With interest rates low and predicted to go lower this year, many of you are thinking seriously about buying a home. Am I right? Don’t be shy. Raise your hand if you want to buy a home this year. Wow, look at all the potential homeowners!
Your enthusiasm is inspiring! Buying a home in Minnesota is an adventure. However, before you dive into the housing market, you need a plan. Buying real estate is a journey, and the road to homeownership is rarely a straight line from point A to point B. Often the route is a winding mountain road with hills and valleys, twists and turns but worth the effort to reach the top.
Buying a home in today’s market, especially for first-time home buyers, is challenging. But having your path mapped out from start to finish will help you avoid obstacles and delays. Completing each portion of the journey before proceeding to the next will build confidence in the process. Here are my 7 Steps for a successful home buying experience.
1. Organize Your Finances
2. Shop For a Mortgage and Obtain a Pre-Approval
Now it’s time to find a lender. Of course, your first instinct is to secure a mortgage at the lowest possible rate. Don’t get me wrong that is extremely important. But customer service also matters. The variety of programs offered will make...
Reach Financial Dream of Home Ownership
Chances are if you set goals for the new year, one of them is to improve your financial wellness. According to the 2020 Pinterest 100 Report, improving our relationship with money will be one of the most popular trends of the year. It’s not surprising since, for many of us, managing our money is a challenge.
Save Money to Buy a Home
The challenge is to find the yin and the yang of responsible financial management. You cannot put a value on the ability to drift off to sleep without worrying about paying the bills, crushing credit card debt, finding the money to buy a home, or having a secure retirement. So how do we achieve financial peace of mind? We set goals and then implement a plan to achieve them. According to the Pinterest report, the most popular money goals were budgeting, paying off debt, saving, and investing. Thankfully, there are many tools and tricks available to help us reach those goals and secure our economic future. We can do this! Yea us!
Creating a Budget
The budget is the foundation upon which your financial plan rests. I think of it as the roadmap where I can plan the best route to get where I need to be in terms of my goals. To gain control over your money, you must know how much is coming in and where you spend it. There are several techniques to help you keep track.
There is a particular excitement that surrounds buying a home that makes other major life purchases pale in comparison. Expect to be excited and joyful about the prospect. If by chance, you are lucky enough to find a home that feels perfect as soon as you step through the door, it can be magical.
Don't Overlook Important Considerations
Keep in mind that magic can also be an illusion, and reality may be around the corner, waiting to tap you on the shoulder. Don’t let the euphoria of the moment keep you from delving deeper when you are purchasing a home.
Your relationship with your home is not a superficial one, and neither should your hunt for it be either. Here are mistakes you can easily avoid when buying a home. It will be a small investment in your time in balance to how long you may live there.
Failing to Research the Location
It’s not enough to look at the properties surrounding the home you want to buy; you want to dig into the details. Start by doing a practice run on your commute to work and determine if it is doable or so far away that you will be sure to experience regret from making the drive twice a day.
Top Ten Real Estate Agent Blog Posts
It’s the end of another year, and like mushrooms after a rainfall, 10 best lists pop up everywhere. Best movies. Best music. Best books. Best phones. Best laptops. Best recipes. Best kitchen gadgets and on it goes. I love most of them and thought, why not make a list of the 10 best from our blog?
With an abundance of outstanding content on the blog this year (I know, shameful self-promotion), it was not easy to choose only ten. So what criteria did I use? The choices address topics that continue to be relevant, add value for the target audience, and address questions and concerns about buying and selling real estate we hear from clients.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it was so difficult limiting my selection to ten, I added honorable mentions at the end. Joe wrote some great stuff for Forbes this year, so I included a couple which technically is not from our blog. Ready? Top of 2019 best blog posts coming at you!
Ways to Transition Your Real Estate Business Into the New Year
It’s impossible to think of ending one year without looking ahead to what’s around the corner. I love the mystery that awaits, knowing that I can prepare for events down the road. With that in mind, I anticipate the new year with excitement and optimism, and a dusting of prudent vigilance.
The last couple of weeks of December is the perfect time to review the past twelve months. When the pace of the real estate market slows down, an opportunity to streamline my goals and business plan enables me to be ready for the start of the new year. My words of the day are: review, reorganize, refresh, and recycle. Here are twelve ways to do it.
1. Freshen Up Your Real Estate Bio
Now is the time to bring your bio up to date on your real estate and social media accounts. Elements you want to include when you refresh your bio are awards, achievements, real estate courses completed, professional certifications earned, and milestones reached. It would help if you could also talk about any community service projects or volunteering in which you participate. Connect on a personal level also with marriage and birth announcements, interests or hobbies. Also consider new professional photos, especially if you didn’t take one last year.
2. Evaluate Your Real Estate Tools
Today’s homebuyer is very tech-savvy and expects the same from their...
Buying a Home in the Twin Cities MN
The logistics of buying a home in the Twin Cities can be complicated for most of us. There is a lot of paperwork and steps we take before we arrive at the closing table and are given the keys to our new kingdom. What many buyers are not aware of is the battle between logic and emotion that is part of the homebuying process.
For most of us here in the Twin Cities, the purchase of real estate is the most substantial monetary investment we will make in our life. Given that, we should consider the pros and cons of buying a home logically and make sure the numbers work before making an offer on any property. However, buying a home is more than values on a spreadsheet, and the reason emotion must play a part in the process.
Important things to Consider When Buying a Home in MN
A home is a place we celebrate our lives. It’s where we display family heirlooms and treasured mementos. It’s the place we rock our babies, dry their tears, share their laughter, and help them realize their dreams. It’s where memories are born of family gatherings, where we break bread with friends, toast success, and mourn a loss. When we are considering a home’s potential, if our heart is not singing a little song, it may be wise to take a pass.
Every buyer wants to avoid remorse over the long term, and there are ways to achieve that tricky balance between logic and emotion. Working with a professional whose advice you trust is the first step, but as a buyer, you need to set some ground rules for yourself from the beginning of...
Thanksgiving – a Uniquely American Holiday
The first Thanksgiving celebration was in 1621 in Plymouth Colony, which would later become Massachusetts. The Pilgrim settlers, English refugees fleeing religious persecution, held a feast as an expression of gratitude for a successful harvest and the survival of their community. It was also a celebration of appreciation for the incredible generosity and fullness of spirit shown them by the indigenous Wampanoag people.
The colonists would not have survived the first winter in the new world were it not for the food the tribe shared with the refugees from across the ocean. For those Native American people to display such compassion and kindness to those so different still shines like a beacon of light for almost 400 years! Through the centuries until today, refugees have followed that light-seeking safety and a new life.
A Thanksgiving History Lesson
Thanksgiving did not become an annual celebration until much later. It was not until 1863 that Abraham Lincoln, in an official expression of gratitude for the Union Army victory at Gettysburg, declared the last Thursday of November a national holiday. In 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.
As Thanksgiving became increasingly popular through the years it came to be synonymous with parades, football, turkey, and visits to grandma’s house. Americans love Thanksgiving! ...
13 Ways to Embrace Hygge
When the Weather is Frightful, Hygge is Delightful
As the cold weather settles across the nation, the holiday season is close behind. There is no better time of year to adopt and practice hygge. Hygge? What? For those unfamiliar with the term, hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a lifestyle that embraces simple pleasures like warmth, coziness, good food, enjoying family, friends, and home. First practiced and identified as a “thing” by our friends in Denmark. It’s no wonder Danes are among the world’s happiest humans on earth.
For we who live in the higher latitudes, or as I like to call it, the arctic tundra, embracing hygge can make us happier as we move through the winter months of biting cold and limited daylight. Even those who have never heard of hygge probably practice it. Do you warm up with a cup of hot cocoa after you shovel snow from the walkway? That’s hygge. When you snuggle under a down comforter on a chilly winter morning, hygge again. Or if you enjoy dinner, a glass of wine and conversation with family and friends, you are practicing hygge.
Good stuff, right? If you are intrigued and want more ways to incorporate hygge into your life, I have 13 great suggestions to inspire you.
1. Light a Candle
Burning fragrant scented candles will fill your home with a calming aroma. The warm, soft glow is relaxing and brings a cozy vibe to your living space.
2. Embrace the Season
Take in the beauty of winter. Pull on your boots, grab your mittens, and go for a walk in the new-fallen snow. The air has a crisp, clean scent...
The Fourth Quarter Begins
It seems like last week I was still sporting shorts and flip-flops, yet here we are fully ensconced in fall with winter just around the corner. As we focus on Thanksgiving and gratitude, I am thankful for the strength of the Twin Cities housing market.
The cold months may be the slowest time of the year, but partly in thanks to historically low mortgage rates, housing demand remains strong while home values continue to rise. Buyers should take notice and not let the cold weather stop them from following their dream of homeownership.
The Story of Low Inventory and Strong Demand Continues
If you are looking for a home at the lower price points, you do face competition. There are still not enough homes to satisfy the hunger for homeownership. Although we saw a 3.8 percent increase in new listings compared to October of last year, inventory fell short by 5.8 percent. At the higher-priced end of the market, it is either balanced or leaning in favor of the buyer.
The trend for rising home values began in 2011 and continues. For the month of October, sellers enjoyed a 5.7 percent increase in the median sale price last year at this time. At the same time, homes spent 4.2 percent less time on the market, approximately 46 days. With...
What you should know about your Minnesota Home
You just bought a home! Congratulations! You’re excited and can’t wait to move in, especially if this is your first home. You want to paint and decorate it. Maybe buy some new furniture. Of course, you want to turn your new digs into a home you will appreciate every single minute in the years to come. Kate and I felt the same when we bought our first home.
But in all the enthusiasm, there are some aspects of your home you should familiarize yourself with from your first day, for your safety and peace of mind. There are also a couple of new home chores you want to take care of that need to be on the very top of the to-do list.
Things to do Right After You Buy a Home in MN
I’m often amazed at how many new homeowners do not change the locks before or as soon as possible after they move in. It would be best if you prepared to do this before you close on your house. Even when you have met the former owners and think they would never hold back a key, you have no idea how many other keys may be circulating or who may have them. If you want to save some coin, you can buy a rekeying kit. You could also change the locks yourself (it’s easy) or have a handyman perform the task.
Change the Garage Door Code
Saving Money to Buy a House in MN is not Easy
Let’s be honest. Spending money is fun, and for some, shopping is a sport. But when the packages from Amazon are coming every week, and you’re spending all of your discretionary income, you might want to consider changing the way you handle finances. No one was born with the saving gene. Saving is a behavior we learn. Many of us have been on the saving path since childhood because our parents encouraged us to save. But if that is not the case, as an adult you can modify your spending patterns and experience the joys of saving.
Starting to Save Money for a Down Payment
An excellent starting point is to change how you think and feel about money. Don’t consider saving a sacrifice, but instead think of it as a means to a better future. Once you start practicing some of the savings strategies I’m going to share, you might be surprised to discover how good you are going to feel about having some money in the bank.
Buying a Home in MN Takes a Team
If you have decided to transition from renter to homeowner, you are probably feeling excited and nervous at the same time. That is perfectly normal because it’s a big decision. Some think it is the litmus test for adulthood. While I’m not sure that is true, I will admit that it means taking on a whole new set of responsibilities. Heck by the time I bought my first house, I was already working in real estate but still had the jitters.
While you may find the home buying journey intimidating, thankfully, it’s not a solo adventure. You are going to have lots of real estate professionals helping you along the way. Some of them you’ll interact with regularly and others you will never meet. Yet they will all be doing their part to get you across the finish line. Let me introduce them to you.
The Real Estate Agent
Your agent will scout out homes for you, pointing out the positives and negatives of each one. Once you have found the property you want to buy, he will do a comparative market analysis so you can decide on your offer. He will prepare the purchase agreement and help with the negotiations between you and the seller.
In a nutshell, your licensed real estate professional will answer your questions, provide guidance, make recommendations, advocate in your best interests, provide emotional support, and help keep the whole process of buying your first MN home on track. Your Realtor is a valuable resource in assembling the other professionals...
Numbers to Know Before Buying a Home MN
Recently a friend told me she was never good with finances and never really cared until the day she wanted to buy a home and discovered she didn’t qualify for a mortgage. For her, it was a great wakeup call, and she got up to speed pretty quickly. About a year later, she moved into her condo. Today, she not only knows all her financial statistics, but she tracks them regularly.
So just what are these numbers we should know, and why are they important? As you plan for your future, these vital financial statistics will show you where your finances are healthy and also the areas where your finances need improvement. If your life plan includes buying a home, putting your kids through college, or retiring early, these numbers will be the guideposts along your path.
Before you Buy a Home, Know Your Credit Score
What exactly is a credit score? It a snapshot of an individual’s entire credit history translated into a numeric value. This number is used by lenders to help them determine if you are creditworthy. The score is calculated by FICO (Fair Isacc Corporation) using data provided by the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. In addition to your FICO Score, another commonly used is a Vantage Score.
Why is this score important? Like your shadow, it follows you everywhere. It is not only a major determining factor in getting a mortgage approved, but also getting...
MN Realtor Reviews the Market
Can you believe summer is over, and we are firmly ensconced in fall? Halloween may be right around the corner, but I’m happy to say there is nothing scary about the Twin Cities housing market. Just the opposite.
Although we now head into the slowest time of the year for real estate, currently we are seeing lots of buying and selling activity. This activity is partly due to a dip in mortgage interest rates and a carryover of strong demand for housing.
Currently, you will see fewer homes for sale. However, there are fewer buyers, as well. There seems to be less urgency, generally speaking, allowing buyers to take a deep breath before deciding to make a purchase offer on a home. So if you have been on the fence about to buy or not to buy, this may be a great time to jump into the market.
MN Realtors See Low Inventory
I’m tired of saying it, and likewise, you are tired of hearing it, but lack of affordable inventory of homes is holding back an otherwise vibrant and robust housing market. At the lower price tiers, demand still outstrips supply with inventory falling 5.6 percent from September of 2018 with the most significant declines in prices below $250,000.
Property Values ...
MN Realtor On Buying a House in the Winter
Real estate is not a seasonable business. People are relocating for jobs every month of the year. People are moving out of state and into the state. Others may be moving to another city, across town, or down the street. In the process, they are buying and selling homes.
Without a doubt, spring is the prime season for real estate. Buyers come out of hibernation when the first signs cold-weather spring appear. “For Sale” signs pop up on front lawns like mushrooms after a rain shower. That doesn’t mean that because spring is most popular, that you shouldn’t consider the other alternative of buying a home in the colder months.
Winter is the time that many potential buyers would rather hunker down with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate than spend an afternoon sloshing through the wet and cold. You probably prefer to spend a frosty Sunday watching sports or a movie munching your favorite snack. I get that. But I have some solid reasons why you might want to slip into your favorite cold-weather gear and check out some homes for sale.
Winter Sellers Are Serious Sellers
Often people who sell their homes in the winter are responding to job relocation, financial woes, divorce, estate settlement, or various other compelling circumstances. Because they have a strong motivation to close a deal they may be more flexible on asking price and terms.
There Is Less Competition for Homes in the Winter
In the spirit of full disclosure, there are generally fewer homes...
My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers
Joy. Joy is the first word I think of when I hear the term first-time home buyer. It’s what my wife and I felt moving into our first house. It’s what I always hope my clients feel at closing because buyer remorse has never been on anyone’s bucket list.
The process of buying a house has a lot of moving parts and involves many people. It can be stressful and intimidating even when it’s going well. When the pieces do not fall into place as you expect, it will be frustrating and even overwhelming on occasion.
Over the years, I have shared all those emotions with my clients on their journey to home-ownership. No two experiences are ever the same. However, it becomes glaringly evident that buyers who have the best outcomes are those that are most prepared. Knowledge is power. Here is some of my primo advice if you are buying your first home or even your last.
Make an Appointment with a Mortgage Broker
Before you get serious at looking for a home, you need to know if you qualify for a mortgage and how much the bank will lend you. You will also discuss what type of mortgage will best suit your financial circumstances and how you can receive the best interest rate. Shopping lenders is wise. Some offer better deals and options. A half-point or even a quarter-point less on your rate can generate significant savings over the life of your loan.
Decide How Much You Can Afford