Buying a Home

Comparison of New Home Options

Overview and Comparison of New Home Options

For the majority of us, homeownership remains an essential element of the American dream. For some, that dream is for a newly constructed home. It’s not difficult to see why some people aspire to live in a new home instead of a pre-owned property.

Buying a new home means not having to live with and correct other people’s choices in décor and style. It means having “smart” home features built-in and building materials that meet the safety standards of today’s regulations. It means all new and clean appliances and fixtures, HVAC systems, roofs, and siding, which keeps the cost of maintaining the home low.

There are three options for those who dream of owning a new home: tract homes, spec homes, and custom homes. They range in price from the starter home level to the “sky’s the limit” luxury housing. So even if your budget is limited, it doesn’t mean you can’t afford a new house.

Tract Homes

The largest category of new homes for sale is tract homes. They are generally built by large residential home construction companies that have a regional, state, or national footprint. The contractor buys a large tract of land, makes streets, puts in utilities, and separates the area into buildable house lots and begins building homes.

Generally, a buyer of a tract home will have a few models available to choose from, each with a set floor plan. Custom choices will include paint colors, flooring, cabinets, and fixtures, but selections will most often be limited to those in the builder’s design center.

Most often, tract builders will have a staged model home in each subdivision. They also will build homes before they have buyers and generally have houses you can see in various stages of construction.

Tract homes are available at lower...

Here's How to Determine Offer Price When Buying a Home

Here's How to Determine Offer Price When Buying a Home/MNpropertyGroup/blog

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...

A Roadmap to Homeownership

A Roadmap to Homeownership/MNPropertyGroup/BlogHomeownership 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

A Buyer Roadmap to Homeownership/MNPropertyGroup.com

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...

Avoid These Homebuyer Mistakes and Live Happily Ever After

Avoid These Homebuyer Mistakes/MNPropertyGroup/Blog

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.

...

The 10 Best of 2019 From Our Twin Cities Home Blog

10 Best of 2019 From Our Twin Cities Home Blog/MNPRopertyGroup

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! 

10 Best from Our Twin Cities Home Blog/MNPropertyGroup ...

Buying a Home in the Twin Cities

How Logic and Emotion Affect Buying a Home/MN Property Group/Blog

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...

Important Stuff Every Homeowner Should Know

Important Stuff Every Homeowner Should Know/MNPropertyGroup/Blog

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.

Important Stuff Every Homeowner Should Know/MNPropertyGroup/BlogThings 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...

Buying a Home in MN

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.

Buying a Home Is a Team Project/MNPropertyGroup/BlogThe 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...

Buying a Home In The Winter

Need a Reason to Buy a Home this Winter? Here's a Few/MNPropertyGroup/blog

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.

Need a Reason to Buy a Home this Winter? Here's a Few/MNPropertyGroup/blogWinter 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...

My Best Advice For First-Time Home Buyers

My Best Advice For First-time Home Buyers/MNPropertyGroup/BlogMy 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

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Home Features That Make Buyers Fall in Love

Home Features That Make Buyers Fall in Love/MNPropertyGroup/Blog

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.

Laundry Room

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.

Hardwood Floors

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...

How to Move to Minnesota

 How to Move Without Losing Your Mind/MNPropertyGroup/Blog

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.

Organize

Good organization is critical to the success of the entire...

Minneapolis North Loop

Itasca Loft North Loop Minneapolis

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. 

Itasca Loft North Loop Minneapolis

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....

Outstanding Plymouth Home Has It All

Outstanding Plymouth Home/MNPropertyGroup blog

This is how Top Plymouth Realtors Sell Homes

Interactive Video Tour

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.

Outstanding Location

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...

How to Write a Winning Offer in a Seller's Market

Writing a Winning Offer/MNPropertyGroup blog

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.

Writing a Winning Offer/MNPropertyGroup blog...

Homebuyers Take a Closer Look Before Making an Offer

Homebuyers Take A Closer Look Before Making an Offer/MNPROPERTYGROUP Blog

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.

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A FICO Score Explained By MN Realtor

What You Should Know About a FICO Score/MNPropertyGroup

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.  

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5 Ways You Should Never Compromise When Buying a Home

5 Ways You Should Never Compromise When Buying a Home|MN Property Group

Buying a Home in Today's Market is a Challenge

You are rooted in the trenches in your quest for home ownership. The last property you toured had the kitchen of your dreams, but it is too close to the highway. The retirement condo you saw on the internet has everything on your wish list, but the building doesn’t have an elevator.

A warning to buyers, especially first-timers, in this market, finding everything you want is rare when there are not many homes to choose from, and properties rarely last a week without an accepted offer. Although you agree that compromise is a given, it’s wise to remember that some factors cannot be changed if you discover the deal you made is not working. You don’t get an opportunity to test drive a home.

In a recent survey by Trulia, 51 percent of homeowners have regrets about some aspect of their home. It is a given with the lack of inventory and the stiff competition for homes, circumstances may call for more compromise than you may want from your sacred wish list. There is nothing wrong with being adaptable. However, there are certain things you should never concede if you're going to be among the 49% without buyer’s remorse. 5 Ways You Should Never Compromise When Buying a Home|MN Property Group

1. Location

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Twin Cities Housing Review May 2019

Twin Cities Housing Review May 2019

Minneapolis-St. Paul Realtor Gives Housing Market Overview

As we look at the middle month of the spring housing market, we observe a trend towards a more balanced and sustainable real estate landscape. With the fed holding steady on interest rates and even suggesting it may lower them, the concerns over rising costs of mortgages are behind us.

The economy, although not growing as rapidly as in previous years, is holding steading and stocks are performing well. All these factors create an atmosphere of consumer confidence in the economy. The real estate market responds well to these conditions.

Although the inventory of homes is rising in the higher pricing tiers, in the lower first-time buyer levels supply remains constrained. The current situation is great for sellers, but for buyers, it is still no bed of roses trying to break into the market and buy a home. It’s not surprising that we see fewer sales at this end of the market.

The MN Real Estate Market Ups and Downs

Comparing May of last year to the current year, new listings are up 2.4 percent. We’ll take it! The Median sales price gained 5.2 percent. While closed sales ticked up 3 percent, pending sales sunk 1.8 percent.  Homes spent less time on the market, down 4.3 percent. We also see a decline of 0.2 in the percentage of sale price received, although it is still sitting at 100 percent, which gives sellers little reason to complain.

A Closer Look...

375 Ferndale Rd N, Orono, MN

375 Ferndale Road Orono Mn listed by Joe Houghton RE/Max/Minnesota Property Group

375 Ferndale Road N, Orono MN

If you are in search of an outstanding family home in the western suburbs, you may fall in love with our newest listing in Orono. This 2,783 square foot walkout rambler is spacious and stylish and offers charm, comfort, and modern functionality.

375 Ferndale Road Orono Mn listed by Joe Houghton RE/Max/Minnesota Property Group

The current owners meticulously and lovingly maintain this beautiful home. The updates and improvements they made will impress you. Since we feel pictures tell the story of a home best, let’s begin our mini-tour and point out some of the features that we love about this home.  

375 Ferndale Road Orono Mn listed by Joe Houghton RE/Max/Minnesota Property Group

Outstanding Location

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