First Time Home Buyer

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...

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.

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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...

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...

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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Twin Cities Housing Review July 2019

July 2019 Twin Cities Housing Market Review/MNPropertyGroup Blog

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...

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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Get Ready to Buy A House MN

Are You Financially Ready for Homeownership?

Get Ready to Buy A House MN

The decision to buy your first home is a major, life-changing event and should never be taken lightly or made quickly. Not only is it the most significant financial purchase you will likely ever make, but it’s also a commitment to your lifestyle and personal sense of well-being.

Certainly, a home is a valuable asset, but it is much more than a number we see on a financial spreadsheet. It’s our haven. It’s where we plan to raise our children. It’s where we will dream about our future. It’s where we will celebrate our victories and cope with the setbacks of life. There is the whole story of homeownership.

Yes, buying real estate is a big deal, and I won’t lie to you, it can be a stressful and intimidating process, especially for a first-time buyer. However, it isn’t written in stone that it will be this way for everyone. It can and should be an exciting and joy-filled process. Being financially ready is critical in making it work in your favor.

Let’s look at five positive signs that say you may be in the financial position to become a homeowner.  

1. Your Finances Are Solid

Are You Financially Ready for Homeownership?One of the critical factors...

Home Buying Advice MSP

Home Buying Advice

Home Buying Advice MSP

One thing I know for sure is the passage of time always brings change in its wake. Fashion, food, hairstyles, home décor, and lifestyles have become extremely sensitive to trends. Some embrace change and others fight it.  Whichever the case, a constant we can depend on is trends are going to come and go regardless.

Sifting Through  Home Buyers Advice

Along with changes in style, there is an incredible amount of advice available about what we should hold on to and what we should let go. Real estate is no different, and it is essential that we weed through all the bits and pieces of information and discover what is still meaningful and what no longer serves us when we decide to put a roof over our heads.

Purchasing a house is the most expensive buy of a lifetime for most of us. It is predominately a joyful experience, but a certain amount of stress is inherent in the process, especially for first-time homebuyers. We want to make the right choices, so we look for advice from family, friends and the internet. But with so many tips out there, how do we know which are keepers and which we should ignore? Here are several pieces of home buying advice that have not met the test of time.

You Will Always Be Better Off Owning Than Renting

Home Buying Advice...

Realtor Reviews Minneapolis Housing Market

Twin Cities 2019 Housing Market Forecast Realtor Reviews Minneapolis Housing Market

The 2018 housing market has sure been a wild ride. The year began with rapidly rising home prices and low mortgage interest rates. Bidding wars were the norm for highly desirable homes. It was not unusual for sellers to find a buyer in the first few days after putting their house up for sale, generally at full asking price or even above. Sellers were riding high while buyers struggled to close a deal on a home.

But in the last few months of the year, we begin to see a shift in the market. Prices are finally stabilizing or increasing at a slower pace. Interest rates reach 5.2 percent, an 8-year high. Though now rates have fallen back to 4.59 as a benchmark for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The market still favors sellers but to a lesser degree.

2017 compared to 2018

  • new listings down -0.3%
  • pending sales down -3.6%
  • closed sales down -3.4%
  • overall median sales price up +7.7%

Now what you have all been waiting to hear. What are the takeaways for the 2019 market?

The Economy

The economy right now is still vibrant, but showing signs of moderating. Everything that happens going forward is going to hinge on the trade war.

If the US and China reach a trade agreement by March, that should send the stock market soaring and consumer confidence along with it. However, if the trade war continues and the tariffs become even more punitive, that is going to slow down the world economy and the US along with it.

Now you might ask, why do we care and how does China affect the housing market?  It’s about interest rates, and how often...

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 it, “I want to be in a bidding...

August 2018 Twin Cities Housing Snapshot

Centennial Lake Park August 2018 Housing Stats

The Minneapolis-St Paul Housing Market Overview

As we look at the end of the summer real estate season, things have not changed very much. We see new listings up 7.6 percent over August of last year, which is a bright spot. However, for first-time home buyers, the story is still one of the limited housing choices facing continued strong demand. The situation when we look at listings under $300,000 is still critical regarding supply. The higher we go up the price tiers, the more balance we see. Properties priced from $500,000 up to $1,000,000, offer a more balanced market in which buyers have more options compared to the over $1,000,000, strata, which is a buyers market.

Looking deeper into the data gives us some reason to be optimistic but cautiously so. Even though we saw an increase in new listings, inventory levels fell 8 percent from last year. Pending sales were down 2.9 percent and closed sales ticked slightly upward at 0.2 percent over the same time last year. Home values continue to move upward to the tune of 6.3 percent while spending less time on the market. Buyers at the lower price range are making full price offers or engage in bidding wars to close a deal.   

New Construction in the Mpls St Paul Metro

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First-Time Buyer Mortgage Myths

First Time Home Buyer Mortgage Myths

First Time Home Buyer Options in the Twin Cities

It’s an indisputable fact that buying a home today is a complicated process. It can be especially intimidating for a first-time buyer. Also, there is a severe shortage of inventory in the category of entry-level homes making the transition into homeowner a challenge. The home buying process in the Twin Cities Metro is not as simple as searching for a house, finding one that suits you, making an offer and going to closing. Although these are indeed the basics, it is not the complete picture. There are a lot of pesky details that are not understood and become fertile ground for the seeds of mistaken beliefs.  The topic that seems to represent the most confusion is obtaining a mortgage. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common myths about mortgage eligibility.

First Time Home Buyer Mortgages and Myths

Many people still believe you need a 20% down payment to buy a home in MN. No, you don't. Although a buyer needs to put 20 percent down on a home to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance, most can buy a house with much less money. When you look at real estate market statistics for home buyers in MN, the medium down payment is actually 10 percent. In addition, the statistics for first time home buyers in the Twin Cities is closer to 5 percent.

Zero Down Mortgage Options in Minnesota...

Risks vs. Rewards of Homeownership

Minnesota Property Group Homeownership Risks vs Rewards

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.

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Is 2018 The Year of the Home?

The Minnesota Property Group of RE/MAX ResultsAdvice 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 FinancesThe Minnesota Property Group of RE/MAX Results

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...

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

Minnesota Property Group

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....

August Twin Cities Housing Market Episode – Another Rerun!

Minnesota Property Group

August Twin Cities Housing Market Episode – Another Rerun!  

Most of us want to see a new episode of The Twin Cities Housing Saga but I am afraid August is another rerun. Over the course of the last 3 years the dominant theme of the housing story in Minneapolis-St. Paul is an ever-shrinking inventory and rising prices. Sellers have been in their glory days while buyers, facing a highly competitive marketplace, have struggled to close a deal month after month with a couple of variations. We’ll talk about these later in this post. Like most of the country, here in the Twin Cities metro inventories continue to shrink while prices continue to move upward. As long as the economy continues to grow and add jobs and interest rates remain low there is no reason to believe this market situation is going to change course anytime soon.

A deeper dive into the numbers for August of this year versus last year reveals new listings increased  7% while the inventory of homes available for sale fell 16.7% from 15,137 in 2016 to 12,206 this year. The month's supply of inventory remained at 2.5. but compared to last year, it dropped 16.7%. Lucky buyers in the metro successfully purchased 6513 homes but they were not quite as fortunate as buyers in August of last year when 6,606 home sales closed. Additionally, this year buyers paid 6.8% more when you compare median sales prices in the Twin Cities last August.  Minnesota Property Group - August 2017 Housing Market Stats...

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