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...
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...
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.
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,...
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...
What Home Buyers in Minnesota Want
For most people, their home is not only the roof over their heads; it is the most valuable financial asset they possess. As such, sellers should expect to make the most profit possible from its sale. With this goal in mind, if you are a seller preparing to put your house on the market, it is essential to consider what features buyers view most favorably.
Things for Home Sellers in MN to Consider
In the process of getting your home in tip-top shape for the market, you may plan to do some upgrades. That’s a good idea, providing you do not go overboard on improvements. To spend your money wisely, it pays to know what features make a buyer’s heart beat faster when they are looking at homes. Here are some of the features that turn lookers into buyers.
Color me surprised, but a separate laundry room has become a game-changer with homebuyers in recent years. A dedicated laundry room was the number one feature in a National Association of Home Builders survey, with 91 percent of buyers saying, “I need one!” If you have the washer and dryer in the basement as many people do, consider kicking the space up a notch with some cabinetry, shelving and a folding table.
According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 83% of buyers prefer wood floors. If you are selling a home that has hardwood floors under wall to wall carpeting, it makes sense to rip it out and refinish the floors. If your carpeting is begging for a replacement, upgrade to wood, engineered wood or laminate...
Moving to Minnesota
It’s a sure bet that we can all agree that moving is a stressful life event. However, there is a process that will make a move emotionally and physically easier. With the correct attitude, you can transform moving day from a potentially stressful experience into a fun event. Yes, it is true. I know these things because I have moved 22 different times in my life and five times over the last eleven years. Sounds exhausting right? Not really. Most of the time, I like to move and I was excited and optimistic. It was an adventure, and I was up for the challenge. Stressful? Some stress is to be expected but it can be rewarding if you focus on the positive change ahead be it a new job, a new city, a new neighborhood, or a newly purchased home.
Advice from a Top Team of Relocation Realtors in MN
In addition to having a positive attitude, there are other steps you can take to make a move go smoothly. Here are my best tips for moving without losing your mind in the process.
Good organization is critical to the success of the entire...
MN Realtor Reflections
It’s mid-September, and I find myself emersed in end of summer reflections and at the same time, feeling the excitement of a new season soon unfolding. But first, to be clear; I am in no hurry to kick summer out the door like a discarded lover because I prefer fall's embrace. Autumn is a spectacular season, and I adore crackling fires, the nip of crisp air, steaming bowls of soup, and pumpkin everything. However, each season deserves its full measure and summer is short enough. We’ll know when it’s time to pull out the favorite turtleneck and crockpot, but with temps still in the 70’s and low 80’s, fall needs to wait its turn.
Real Estate Agents in MN
Lucky us in The Twin Cities we celebrate all four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. However, the lines between when one ends and the next begins are often blurry. I decided to take a casual survey of friends and neighbors on when it’s time let go of summer and move on.
- Labor Day weekend is the end of summer
- Summer ends when the kids go back to school
- End of the Minnesota State Fair means the end of summer
- Meteorological summer is over August 31st
Itasca Lofts in The North Loop of Minneapolis
Virtual 3D Tour
When you enter this remarkable loft at 708 N 1st Street in the Historic and award winning Itasca Building you immediately notice the blend of natural light, dramatic timber and brick. The unique architectural blend of modern design and historic elements create an atmosphere that is both dramatic and intimate.
A True Minneapolis Loft
Do you crave the urban lifestyle? Does exposed brick, wood floors, soaring ceilings, lots of light, views of the city, the romance of the Mississippi Riverfront, and the North Loop right outside your door make your heart beat faster? Then you might fall in love with this fabulous loft too.
Location – The North Loop
The North Loop is known as the trendiest neighborhood in Minneapolis. It has excellent restaurants like the Spoon and Stable and Bachelor Farmer. Beautiful boutiques, hip bars, and Whole Foods. The Mississippi River outside your door with walking and biking trails. It’s also a neighborhood steeped in historical significance....
Twin Cities Housing Market Review From Top Local Realtor
There are currently numerous factors that affect the housing market. However, right now more than anything, it is the consistent lack of homes available for buyers in the lower pricing tiers. This fact holds true both in the Twins and in most markets across the nation.
It’s significant that while home values are still increasing, it is at a slower rate more closely matching income and wage growth. While you may be frowning if you are thinking about selling your home in the future, the alignment is healthy for the market. We all knew that sharply escalating prices for homes could not continue indefinitely.
MN Housing Market Trends Have Been Consistent
While we continue to see constraints on available homes for sale in the first-time buyer level, the market is becoming more balanced as we move up to higher price ranges. So sellers are still enjoying a market that favors them under $500,000.
Meanwhile, lower interest rates are helping to continue to make housing affordable in spite of the rising prices. Even though new listings were up 1.8 percent over July of 2018, inventory levels in the Twin Cities fell 4.4 percent. In spite of the fact, demand remains strong with closed sales up 4.5 percent and pending sales up 3.2 percent.
Although prices are not rising as quickly and steeply, the median selling price was up 5.9 percent over July of last year and up 7 percent as a rolling 12-month comparison....
This is how Top Plymouth Realtors Sell Homes
We found a treasure of a home in Plymouth, and we are excited to share it with you. This 2700 square foot residence sprawls lavishly along a circular drive, surrounded by enchanting gardens of flowering perennials, shrubs, and trees.
This home is meticulous and lovingly maintained by the current owners since 1973. It’s easy to see why they moved in and never wanted to leave. This property has so much to offer in terms of lifestyle, comfort, and location. Let us tell you some of the features we love about this home.
Plymouth, MN has been on America’s Best Places to Live list on three occasions and once including winning the #1 spot in 2008. With an outstanding location 12 miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, extensive parks and trails, several bodies of water for recreation, convenient shopping and entertainment, excellent public and private school options, it is not surprising that it is one of the sought after western suburbs.
Right around the corner from this home, you will find a wide variety of shopping and dining options. The expressway is 2.5 minutes away, which lays open the entire metro access. Medicine Lake is a 10-minute drive to the west, and downtown Wayzata and Lake Minnetonka are 10 minutes to the south. Did we mention that your kiddos would...
Saving to Buy a House in MN
For some of us, taking control of our finances is a challenge. One crucial element of the process is saving money. Americans are not very good savers. According to Bankrate, 58 percent of us have less than $1000 in savings. Many of us are in that 58 percent because saving was not a habit we learned as children, but it is one we can embrace as adults. We can develop and nurture positive saving habits with the right motivation and inspiration.
Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving. – Warren Buffet
If you have a 401K benefit with a company match from your employer, make sure you have the maximum amount deducted from your paycheck to take full advantage of the matching funds. Your 401K should be one of the significant elements of your retirement savings. The added benefit of the 401K savings is the money is not taxed until you take it out of your account.
Take Saving For your First Home in MN up a Notch
Deduct a fixed amount from your salary to your emergency fund, down payment for a home fund, vacation fund, or whatever other goals you have established for your money. Consider saving as a bill you pay to yourself first. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness....
How to Write a Winning Offer in a Seller's Market
Forget the spin. Take off the rose-colored glasses too. Let’s be honest. Most buyers hoping to score a home at the lower pricing tiers of the current real estate market, face fierce competition, creating a process fraught with disappointment.
That’s the bad news. But I am by nature a confident guy, a problem solver and a believer in the philosophy that winners never quit. So here is the good news. A buyer with a savvy agent can write an offer that a seller will find hard to refuse.
Be Ready to Act Fast
Desirable properties often have multiple offers a couple of days after hitting the market. There is no margin of error for indecisiveness or being unprepared to make an offer on a hot property as quickly as possible. That means you should not even consider making an offer on a home if you do not have a preapproval letter from an accredited lender.
Don’t Be Coy
In this market, you can feel reasonably confident that if you have fallen in love with a home so have other buyers. The occasion calls for an assertive approach, not a timid one. Open with your best offer which should at least equal the asking price or higher. Your real estate professional will provide insights based on competitive properties also for sale in the neighborhood as well as homes that have already sold.
Prepare Now to Sell Your MN Home in the Spring
If you are planning to sell your home in the spring, now is an excellent time to begin the process. I know what you are thinking. Now? Really? Spring is seven months in the future? I wasn’t planning to even think about the logistics of putting my home on the market until after the winter holidays. Has Joe lost his mind!
Believe me when I say my sanity is not at risk. There is logic at the heart of what appears to be madness. For those organized, pulled together people who prefer to plan for major events, this is going to resonate with you. For others who feel they perform best under pressure, I’m hoping to convert you. Here are several reasons that make the argument for getting a head start on the spring competition.
Give Yourself the Gift of Time
Selling a home, even facing the best of circumstances, is a life-altering, stressful experience. The luxury of time goes a long way to reducing the pressure of working against the clock when there may be many more demands on your time. Starting the process sooner provides you the grace to prioritize work and family responsibilities over home-selling tasks when necessary. This alone is a huge stress reducer and worth its weight in bitcoin!
Get a Headstart on the Spring Competition
In the Twin Cities, the spring market will burst on the scene sometime after the Superbowl. The weather is the key. If it is a mild winter without...
Use a Budget to Control Your Money
When we gain control over our finances, lots of positive outcomes will follow. The door to new opportunities will open to us, and we will have more lifestyle choices to consider. How exactly do we control our money? We set financial goals, and then we monitor our spending, keep a limit on debt, save regularly, and invest wisely to achieve those goals. The very first step on the journey is following a budget.
A Budget is Powerful
A budget is a map we follow on the road to establishing a positive relationship with our money. With a budget, we can better plan how to spend if we know how much we have left after we pay all the bills. When we have a snapshot of our spending habits, we will be more likely to use discrimination in our purchases.
We need a budget because it is critical to keep our financial house in order as we build our future. Budgeting can help you rent and furnish your first apartment, or buy your first home, take a vacation, and begin planning for retirement. (Honestly, it’s never too soon) That is powerful stuff!
We all need a tool to keep track of income and expenses because it’s critical to know where our money goes every month. There is a richness of apps available to help you monitor your finances, such as Mint, Wally, and ...
Look Past the Pretty Package
At times when a buyer looks at a beautifully staged home that fits their criteria, emotions rule. Fall in love with a particular house, and almost immediately, the heart works against our own best interest by suppressing our better judgment. You know what I mean, that little voice inside your head saying, “but what about those battered floors?”
Consider the facts first.
The more you know about a home before making an offer the better. The condition of the home should be a major consideration. Hopefully, unless expensive, unforeseen repairs are part of your plan, you are going to have a professional home inspection as a contingency in the offer. But, before you even make that offer, you can do your preliminary evaluation of the condition of the home yourself.
Don’t set the stage today for financial regrets later.
Now there is no way I am saying that refinishing floors, painting or other minor repairs should be dealbreakers. But if there are too many items that fall on the fix list, added all together they may prove to be a tipping point on the no-sale side or affect the dollar amount of your offer. Even when a home checks off all the needs boxes and many of the nice-to-haves as well, costly repairs can quickly lead to regret.
Look before you leap.
5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Money
Our relationship with money generally begins at a very young age. That connection is very simplistic. We want stuff. We use money to get stuff. We get the money that gets us the stuff from our parents, grandparents, or any family member that happens to be handy at the moment with a few bucks in hand. We are not particular.
Fast forward, and we grow up. Hopefully, along the way, our parents teach us some fundamental money management skills because if as adults, we don’t have some control over our finances, they will control us. The result is mounting debt and sleepless nights worrying how we are going to pay it down.
Money Management is an Acquired Skill
If I’ve just described your situation, don’t take it as a personal judgment. You are not alone. Americans have a problem with handling their finances. Need proof? Look at the 2008-2009 real estate market crash where 3.9 million Americans faced foreclosure. We collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loans and another $1.4 trillion in credit card debt. To make matters worse, 60 percent of Americans cannot cover a $1000 emergency expense, and nearly 45 percent of baby boomers (aged 55-73) have no retirement savings.
Maybe you are a rock star at handling your money, and you feel a bit smug. Kudos to you and I say that with respect and sincerity. Adulting is hard work. But if you feel like inserting your head in a gallon of chocolate ice-cream right now, please read on. The development of a fiscally responsible lifestyle is an acquired skill. Let’s get started right...
MN Realtor Reviews the Housing Market
As we look at June and the end of the second quarter, we observe a continuing trend of a more equitable and viable real estate market emerging. We also continue to enjoy strong housing market performance in part due to low unemployment, strong retail sales and the longest US economic expansion in history.
Overall, the dynamics of the market have not changed noticeably this year. Although new listings fell by 3.1 percent when compared to last June, the median sale price increased by 7.2 percent while days on the market flat-lined at 40. We are slowly approaching balance in the price range of $350K to $500K, but certainly not there yet. When we go above that range, we do reach a balance between buyer and seller. The highest price range is a buyer's market. Meanwhile, back in lower price land, inventory is scarce. I know, I know. You have been hearing this story for a long time now.
The High’s and Low’s of the Twin Cities MN Housing Market
Looking at June of this year compared to 2018, new listings are down 3.1 percent. That decrease also brought pending sales down 2.9 percent and inventory levels down 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, the Median sales price increased by 7.2 percent, which is causing sellers to smile. Closed sales decreased 8.2 percent as did a percentage of list price received slightly by 0.3 percent. Time on the market until sold flatlined.
A Deeper Dive into the Numbers
The most significant gain in sales rests at the highest end of the market above $1,000,001with a 13.8 percent increase over last year at this time. The most significant price gains were in the condo market, with a median price of $182,900, up 11.5 percent. The fastest-selling...
A FICO Score Explained By MN Realtor
By the time you experience initiation into the adult world, you've probably heard the term credit score. It’s a number you should be concerned about because other’s will be. They will use it to judge your ability to pay back a loan.
So who cares about your credit score exactly? Credit card companies, banks, mortgage brokers, cell phone companies, insurance companies, and landlords, to name a few. Some companies even want to look at your credit score before offering you a job to see how responsible you are.
How is Your Credit Score Calculated
Your credit score is a number that captures your creditworthiness based on your credit history. Three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, track your financial information. The Fair Isaac Corporation takes this data and uses a model to assign a number known as a FICO score. Most creditors use this score to evaluate you when you apply for a loan such as a mortgage.