Buying a Home

How Do You Know A Super Real Estate Agent When You Meet One?

 Can You Recognize a Super Real Estate Agent When You Meet One?  Take This Quiz!

You have finally made the big decision to buy a home, and you’re ready to dive headlong into the real estate market! Congratulations!  Given today’s market and the great opportunities that abound in the Twin Cities Metro for homeownership, I applaud your decision.  But, (and yes, there is always a “but,”) before you take the plunge, just like every great athlete needs a coach, or every talented artist needs an agent, you need a Realtor© by your side, advocating for you.

“Why can’t I just advocate for myself?” you say.  Great question, and I am so glad you asked. An honest and ethical real estate agent will steer you in the right direction to not waste time spinning your wheels. He will offer expert advice when called for, even if it might not be what you want to hear, and will put your best interest at the forefront of any transaction.  Not only will he protect your interests, but he will also limit your liabilities and even save you money. 

“Wow,” you say, “having an agent will give me an edge!  I want one, but, with all those agents out there, how will I know a great one when I meet them?” Another great question! That is why I developed this easy, fun, and an easy little quiz to help you with your evaluation process.  Are you ready to answer a few questions?  Then let’s do it!

Finding the best Twin Cities Realtor on the Internet can be Like Attending the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

1. Knowing the internet is the best place to research and gather the information you need to begin your search...

Fall Home Buying Rewards

Fall Home Buying Season

Top Mpls MN Realtor on Buying a Home in the Fall

With summer in the rearview mirror, the fall home buying season is in full swing. As we move into the last quarter of the year, many disappointed summer home shoppers wonder if they should suspend their search to renew efforts in the spring.

As you ponder the question, you should take into consideration that the fall home buying season has some distinct advantages. Instead of taking a break, you may want to stay with the program and intensify your search for a home. Here are some of the perks and rewards you can expect if you decide to stay engaged in the hunt for a home.

Fall Home Buying Means Less Competition

Like most markets, real estate has seasonal adjustments. Fall home buying season is generally less busy than the spring and summer markets. The “must buy a home before school starts” mentality is one reason. Another is that some people do not want to move in the winter months.

Those who have no school-age kiddos or are more flexible about their moving timetable can take advantage of that market slowdown. They will find less competition for homes and less chance of getting into a multiple offer minefield. Let’s face...

Risks vs. Rewards of Homeownership

So You Want To Buy a Home

Taking the step from renting to homeownership is a life-altering event. Many people consider it the litmus test for adulthood. It is both thrilling and scary at the same time. It should be because not only is owning a home in itself a significant responsibility but it is the most significant purchase the majority of people will make in their lifetime. Owning a home is also a source of pride, of achievement, and for millions, still an essential component of the American Dream.

If owning a home is on your bucket list, perhaps you are waiting for the right time. The question is, how will you know when that is?  There is no stock answer. There are many factors to consider, both pro and con on the subject of buying a home. For many first time home buyers, money is an obstacle. But that isn’t always the case. Nor should the considerations of when to purchase a house be strictly limited to the financial ability to do so.

There are outstanding advantages that come along with owning a home and there are detriments as well. Let’s take a look at how the pros and the cons balance each other. When we evaluate both and can get to the intersection where rewards offset risks, we will have a clearer picture of how we can proceed.

Rewards vs. Risks of Buying a Home

Reward: When you walk away from the closing table with the keys to your new home, you get to make the decisions. The world is open to all the ways you can think of to customize your living space to suit your taste and needs. No more landlord is setting the rules...

Is 2018 The Year of the Home?

Advice on Buying a Home in MN

When you make the transition from renter to owner, you become the recipient of many benefits, both practical ones, and emotional ones as well.  For many people, homeownership is an important rite of passage on the highway into adulthood, probably second only to becoming a parent. Why? Because owning a home enables you to assume more control of two very important aspects of your life; your net worth and your personal environment. Most people would find that pretty exciting stuff!  Many of us, when we become adults especially, want to have as much control over our lives as possible, or at least feel that we do!

So if 2018 is your year to purchase that downtown Minneapolis loft, starter home in the burbs, or downsize to the townhome you have always dreamed of, we have some great tips we are dying to share with you.

Prepare Your Finances

If you haven’t already done so, contact a mortgage broker or banker and get pre-approved. This is the only way to know for certain how much house you can afford to buy and what amount of cash you will require for a down payment and closing costs. Online calculators are fine for giving you a ballpark idea but there are too many other factors to consider. If you start looking at properties that are out of your reach, the reality of what you can afford may seem less appealing and sabotage your home buying experience or at the very least, waste your valuable time.

If you...

Should I Buy a Home This Winter or Wait for Spring?

Should I Buy a Home This Winter or Wait for Spring?

If you are a Twin Cities’ buyer that missed out on snaring a deal this past spring or summer, you might be asking yourself, your family, your friends and your realtor whether or not you should keep your search ongoing or simply hunker down for the winter months and venture forth again when the forsythia bloom.  Maybe you just started the process and are thinking of putting it on hold until the new year arrives or wondering if there is an advantage to staying the course.  As a realtor, I can tell you that I am being asked that question from many of my clients, especially the first time buyers.Because everyone has a story and no personal situation is exactly the same, there is no right or wrong answer. But generally speaking, I tell my buyers that nobody is too cool for thermal underwear in Minnesota. Let’s get some and keep looking for that home. Patience is a virtue and tenacity pays off in the end. To those just getting started in the process, if you have your pre-approval letter in hand start your search and if not get that preliminary work completed and then press go! Now before you get out your list of 7 reasons why you shouldn’t go out in the cold, here are my 7 reasons why house hunting this winter is an excellent idea.

Winter Sellers Are Serious Sellers 

Generally speaking, homeowners that choose to put their house up for sale in the winter months have a compelling reason to do so. It may be they are facing a job-related move, a...

3 Things You Should Not Do When Buying a Home

The Twin Cities Are Filled With Real Estate Stories

Real estate is the story of buying and selling a home. Since I’ve been a Realtor for 14 years I have stories. Most end happily even though there may have been challenges along the way. But, every once in a while something goes wrong. Mistakes that could and should have been avoided happen. The only upside to mistakes is learning from them. Even better is learning from someone else’s mistake. Free advice that another paid for is like earning bonus miles.

I’m going to share three stories from three buyers who were on the home stretch to close on their dream home and then did something they shouldn’t. They had a signed contract, they had a loan, they had their closing date and all systems were go. And then they did something unthinkable that blew that deal.

Don’t Buy a Car

Alex was ready to stop renting. He was tired of the cost of his tiny apartment going up every year and knew the tight rental market was not going to loosen up anytime soon. Because he had student loans, it took him 2 years to scrimp and save and pay down his debt to a point where he would qualify for a mortgage on a modest condo.

It was a happy day for Alex when he had a signed contract on the perfect one bedroom in a Minneapolis neighborhood he loved. With the inspection and appraisal completed he had a closing date in a couple of weeks. He wanted to celebrate in some significant way and decided it was also time to start thinking about replacing his old and tired clunker of a car so...

New Construction vs Existing Home

New Construction vs Existing Home

When you bought your charming starter home, it was perfect.  As a newly married couple living in the Twin Cities, the 950 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath felt spacious after living in a one bedroom apartment. Now, two children later and you feel like your once spacious home more closely resembles a hobbit hutch and you know it’s time to move up to something larger. Like many young potential buyers in your position, you are facing the conundrum of should you buy another used home or opt for a shiny new one? Should I buy a new construction home or buy an existing home? According to a Zillow survey, 41% of buyers responded to having a preference for a newly constructed home, but as in every incidence when you are at a crossroad, there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation. When you purchase a home, there is never a one size fits all option and depending on lifestyle and priorities one choice, new vs. existing, may be clearly preferable to the other.

Pros of New Home Construction 

  • Buy or build a new home and you get to make all the choices, every single one! You choose the lot, the style of home, floor plan, colors, cabinets, and flooring. You can decide where you want to splurge and where you feel you can take the standard feature.  
  • New home construction incorporates the latest trends and styles that many home buyers want like open floor plans, island kitchens, master suites and home office space. 
  • Many home builders in MN use much safer materials than ever before. It is common for builders to use flame retardant carpeting,...

Buying vs Renting in the Twin Cities

Buying vs Renting in Mpls and St. Paul, MN

Are you currently a renter in the Twin Cities who is thinking about buying a home but still apprehensive about making that move?  A home is the single largest purchase you will probably make in your life and I applaud you for your careful consideration, that’s a good thing.  In addition, maintaining a house is a large responsibility and you need to determine if you are ready to take that on.  If cutting the lawn and cleaning the gutters is more than you want to deal with, perhaps a condo or townhouse is a good option for you. Let's take a look at a few good reasons which might make you decide to turn you the renter, into you the proud home owner!

Downside of Renting in The Twin Cities, MN

Experience has taught me that the quality of your rental experience is largely based on your neighbors above, below and on either side of you.  If they are inconsiderate and unmindful that they are living in a community where loud music, unruly children, slammed doors, and late night parties will have a detrimental effect on the peace and sanity of their fellow tenants then you are in for an experience resembling the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  You may be unlucky and rent from an apathetic landlord who is slow to respond to maintenance requests or perhaps one only interested in temporary fixes while you, the tenant deal with recurring plumbing issues or appliance breakdowns. As a renter, you will probably not have enough storage area for your stuff and have little or no options to personalize your living space.

Buying a Home In the Twin Cities, MN Feels Good

For most people, home ownership is still a large part of the American Dream. It is a rite of passage and the superhighway into adulthood.  It imparts a feeling of permanence, stability, and security.  Whether home to you is a small condo downtown or a single family home in the suburbs...

5 Painless Ways to Save for a Home

How to Save Money and Buy a Home 

Do you want to buy a home but don't have enough saved for a down payment? For some, saving equals sacrifice. Granted, to save you need to spend less but there are ways you can cut expenditures in the short term that you won’t miss and over the long term can help you realize your dream of home ownership. So whether you are a veteran saver or just getting your down payment fund off the ground, consider my 5 painless, no-anesthesia-necessary ways you can start saving today.

1. The Double Play - Improve Your Credit Score

The health of your FICA or Vantage Score has a direct effect on your interest rates. The higher your score, the lower the rate of interest you will pay to borrow money. Individuals with good scores can often negotiate lower rates on credit cards and generally also pay lower auto insurance rates. As an additional incentive, if you are thinking of buying a home, an excellent credit score will not only save you thousands over the life of your mortgage but make it easier to be approved for a loan when the time comes. So in terms of buying your dream home, this is a double play!

2. Evaluate Your Auto Insurance Coverage

Speaking of auto insurance, if you have not reviewed your policy recently, now is a great time. One way to save on monthly premiums is to raise the deductible limits. If your car is older and you own it, perhaps you should consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage.  It is a good idea to review your auto policy yearly anyway and adjust where necessary.

3. The Hat Trick - Internet, Cable and Phone

Almost all major cable companies today have a purchase plan that combines television, internet and phone service. Combining these 3 services as a bundle will generally lower your monthly costs. An added bonus is simplifying your life with one bill payment instead of three!  Shop around on the internet and also check with...

5 Reasons Home Ownership Should be #1 on your February To-do List

Winter is a Great Time to Buy

Can you believe it's February? It seems the days since we welcomed in 2015 have passed faster than the Starship Enterprise at warp speed!  But the year is still young so If home ownership is one of your New Year's Resolutions, now is a great time to begin the journey.  Yes, I know, it’s darn cold here in the Twin Cities and you are happy enjoying your warm fires and cozy corners but don’t wait until the tulips are in bloom to start looking for a home. Pull on your boots and dig out your scarfs and mittens because here are 5 great reasons to buy a home now.

1. Less Competition

Spring brings droves of buyers out of winter hibernation looking for homes.  As a wiley winter buyer you will face less competition for available homes, tipping the scales in your favor. Even though there are more listings to choose from in spring, chances are the home of your dreams may very likely be the dream home of other buyers as well.  When this happens, you may find yourself in a bidding war or at the very least feel pressured to offer a higher price and make more concessions to the seller than you had planned in order “to get” that house before your competition steps in with a better offer.

2. Winter Buyers Enjoy Lower Prices and More Leverage

Spring rains cause rivers, creeks and home prices to rise. Historical data supports higher listing prices for homes in spring and summer months. It is not uncommon for a seller with a desirable property to receive more than one offer which results in less opportunity for you the buyer to negotiate price and conditions of the sale. In winter however, fewer buyers in the market inspire sellers not to let a good one off the hook by haggling over the price and the small stuff so chances are you can work out a better deal all around. 

3. Buy While Interest Rates are Low

Right now 30 year fixed mortgage interest rates are below 4% (3.75% this morning...