Highlights of The Year
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!
What Home Buyers 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.
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.
July Kicks Off the 3rd Quarter
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.
Housing Market Trends 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...
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, ...
Minneapolis-St. Paul 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 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.
Curb Appeal Works Magic on Buyers
If your curb appeal is missing that certain something that takes it from so-so to wow, I dedicate this post to you. If you are selling your home, you should already know how critical making that positive first impression is to potential buyers. You want to hit them with your best before they walk in the front door.
Even if you are not selling your home, boosting your curb appeal adds value to your property. You will also win the admiration of your neighbors and become the most popular house on the block. After you finish my list of suggestions, it will amaze you that such a small investment of money, time, and creativity will result in such a noticeable uptick of curb appeal.
Here are my best, inexpensive tips for upping your curb appeal game. So put on your sunscreen and let’s get outside!
1. Up Your Front Door Mojo
True story. Several years ago, I was having difficulty selling my home in Rhode Island. It was a newer home, a colonial replica in an association of like homes. Great location and landscaping but not getting the attention from buyers my agent and I anticipated.
I decided to paint the two yellow front doors, turquoise over the objections of my realtor, who was reminding me that my choice wasn’t a traditional colonial era color. A few days later, we had several showings and an offer. I’m convinced...
The Best Advice - Listen to the Expert
Listen to your agent is probably the #1 best piece of home selling advice you will ever hear. Consider the reasons you hired him in the first place. You were impressed with his years of experience. Over his career, he has sold thousands of homes, and he knows what works and what does not. When a house doesn’t sell, he can tell you why and what to do to fix it. He can also tell you what not to do from the beginning.
Here are some great pieces of advice that you should hear from your agent when you list your home. Please take it seriously. The sale of a home is a stressful process, but a few easy steps can lead to a smooth and seamless experience. Listen to your agent. He wants what’s best for you.
To put you on the inside track, here are three examples of home selling advice that are universally true.
Price Your Home to the Market
During your listing presentation, the agent should include a market analysis on your home. The evaluation should have a recommendation...
Minneapolis-St. Paul Big Picture
The Spring Housing Market is in play. Prices are on the rise as inventory levels continue to decline. Hopeful buyers in the lower price range are jumping on desirable properties hoping their offers rise to the top of the heap.
Months supply of inventory is improving in the mid-price housing range. We see steady sales activity in the higher price ranges while in the lower tiers buyers are still finding that landing a deal on a home to be a challenge especially for desirable homes in sought after locations.
What’s Up and What’s Down
Compare new listings to April of last year; we see an increase across the 16 county Twin Cities region of 4.5%. Closed sales were down 6.9% while the median sale price rose 5.2%. Pending sales were also down 1.1% and inventory levels 1.2% lower.
April weather was wintery at times, which discouraged buyer traffic and slowed sales. This trend was seen across Minneapolis as well as other parts of the nation. Higher prices, less affordability, and low inventory combined forces to dampen sales.
Let’s Dig a Little Deeper into the Housing Stats
While the median sale price rose...
375 Ferndale Road N, Orono MN
5 BEDROOMS, 3 BATHS, OFFERED at $584,900
OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY MAY 5, 12:30 – 2:00 PM
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.
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.
First Impressions Matter - A Lot
Anyone that has sold a home before will tell you that it can be an intense and stressful experience. Strangers coming through and looking in your closets, judging your décor and housekeeping habits is an invasion of privacy. Not to mention that at times you will get those requests that fly in the face of that 24-hour notice you want.
Both as a Realtor and a former home seller myself believe me I feel your pain. With 4 active young boys and a dog, I am aware of the personal challenges families face to keep their homes ready to show when on the market. But when that short notice request from an out-of-towner pops up, it’s hard to take a pass because you know an eager buyer when you see one.
Because you get one shot at making an excellent first impression, I put together this list of quick, easy pre-showing tips for sellers. These tips have proven successful personally and for many of my clients over the years. Make your home shine and put a gleam in the eye of the most critical buyer by following my simple checklist....
The Goal - Ready to Show at All Times
When your home is for sale, the most significant challenge is keeping it ready for people who want to drop in on short notice. I’m not talking about a neighbor that might pop over unexpectedly to borrow a cup of flour. She won’t think twice about the dirty dishes in the sink and your unfolded laundry occupying prime real estate in the living room.
But those other people will care. They will look in all your corners, open all your cabinets, peer into your closets and they will judge. They are picky and often quick to find fault and not shy about voicing their opinions about the condition of your home or your housekeeping habits. They are called buyers.
Before you listed your home, you developed a plan for preparing for this event with your Realtor. You got rid of clutter, you organized, and you cleaned. You repaired, refurbished and recycled. You gave up a month of precious weekends, your book club night, and Netflix to get it done and never hardly ever did a complaint escape your lips.
Now you have to do one thing. Keep it tidy, ...
Home Staging is Now Mainstream
Just a few years ago staging a home for sale was rare. It was also generally for homes on the higher end of the pricing scale, new homes or empty homes. Today the story of home staging is entirely different.
The National Association of Realtors study conducted in 2017 found that 58% of real estate professionals said that when you stage the sale price can increase as much as 20%. This same study found that 39% said staged homes sell much faster. The message of staging a house and selling it quickly and for more money resonates with today’s home sellers at all price points and for all types of housing options.
Even sellers with starter homes or small condos with a limited budget can stage their property to make it more desirable to buyers. I’m going to share some great tips that I guarantee will make your home more marketable and cost very little as long as you are prepared to invest some time into the project.
The Five Basic Building Blocks of Home Staging
9 Reasons Your Home is Not Selling in a Hot Market
When your home is not getting offers in a seller’s market, it is no surprise that you are not in your happy place. It’s not how you expected things to go. You thought it would sell quickly. Now you are asking your realtor why other properties are selling while your listing is growing moss.
Taking more time to sell a home happens all too often. As an agent who has been in the business for 16 years, I have been in this scenario. Here are what I’ve found to be the seven most common reasons a home isn’t selling.
The Price is Too High
The most common reason a home is not moving even in a market favorable to sellers is incorrect pricing. At the listing time, your realtor should do a market analysis of properties comparable to yours that recently sold. The price comparison is the best method to determine the asking price.
There are times sellers don’t agree and insist their home is worth more. There are often factors that the seller didn’t take into consideration that affect the value. To neutralize the adverse effect of imperfections a price adjustment is necessary. The...
The Ups and Downs of the 2018 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%...
Minneapolis-St Paul Housing Data
As we say adios to 2018 and move into the new year, expectations include some long-awaited changes. The last half of the year we saw increases in new listings, decreases in sales, and median sales prices on homes rise more slowly.
The increases we are experiencing in no way is enough to balance the market at the lower pricing tiers. However, first-time buyers and downsizing boomers will begin to find more home buying options in the coming year. That fact alone will make buyers smile.
A Look at December Housing Numbers
Looking at a comparison of December 2018 to the same time last year, we see new listings up 3.5 percent, closed sales down 9.9 percent, list price received down 0.2 percent, and the median sale price of $258,000 up 4 percent. Pending sales showed a decline of 3.3 percent, while the month’s supply of inventory rose 13.3 percent. Days on the market decreased by 6.6 percent.
What story do these numbers tell us about the housing market in Minneapolis and Saint Paul? Pretty good news. We are finally starting to see more housing choices at lower pricing levels. Sellers are more flexible when they receive less than full price offers. This situation takes some pressure off of buyers.
Sellers also have reason to smile. Property values continue to rise with median sales prices up 4% over December of 2017. Additionally, sales of homes are still brisk as we see days on the market drop to 57 from last year’s 61 days....
According to the American Pet Products Association survey taken in 2018, 68% of households have at least one pet. People love their pets. That same APPA survey found that those millions of pet owners spent billions of dollars to prove it, $72.13 billion give or take a couple of mils. That’s a lot of puppy chow and catnip!
Many pet owners consider their fuzzy wards children, and often refer to them as “fur babies.” Being a dog owner, I understand completely. Our Doodle is an integral part of our family, and we all love him. However, when the time arrives to sell your home, beloved pets can present logistic problems. As much as I hate to have to say it, there are times that pets can present issues that sellers must resolve before listing the property.
The Challenges of Selling a Home with Pets
Some of the issues sellers faces when they have pets include:
- funky smells and odors
- what to do with pets during showings
- keeping the home free of fur...
Did you know that Sperling’s Best Places named Minneapolis the third best city for hygge in America? Now you do. Don’t get me wrong; we are not turning our nose up at the third place award to Seattle #1 and Portland #2. However, some of us think with more people of Scandinavian heritage in the Twin Cities and colder winters we should be #1 when it comes to getting our hygge mojo working.
What does hygge even mean and how do you pronounce it?
By now, you have probably at least heard the term hygge. It is a Danish concept that has created a considerable buzz in the home décor market. But it is not just about decorating; it’s a lifestyle.
It is a concept of embracing simple pleasures. The Danes, being awesome people, created hygge in the 18 century and it remains an integral part of their culture today.
The word is pronounced “hue-gah.” Frequently defined as coziness, and in the Oxford English Dictionary as “to keep or make oneself snug.” So hygge also reflects a feeling of safeness and warmth.
The critical thing to note is that even with long winters and limited hours of daylight, Danes are considered to be the world’s happiest people. Since you want buyers to be the happiest people when they tour your home, let’s hit them with some hygge.
Soft, Warm, Snug Cozy
Minneapolis-St Paul Housing Overview
As we approach years’ end, we see some subtle changes in the Twin Cities Metro housing market. The increase in inventory of homes for sale was10.5 percent over last month giving home buyers something to rejoice. This inventory boost by is by no means enough to bring the market into balance but does bring us closer. For consumers who have been trying to buy a home for several months, it was welcome news.
What’s Up and What’s Down
As we compare November of this year to November 2017, we find new listings up 12.6 percent, closed sales down 0.9 percent, the percentage of list price received down 0.1, and the median sale price of $265,150 up 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, pending sales were down 5.2 percent, inventory levels rose 2.3 percent with months supply up 10.5 percent. Days on the market fell 7.1 percent.
So while inventory is increasing and sales are decreasing, we are seeing more price reductions and fewer deals closing for full price offers. Although housing prices are still higher than last year, they appear to be slowing down. Properties for sale are still spending less time on the market than last year, an indication that demand is still robust, and buyers are scooping up homes quickly.
Staging for The Holidays
Let’s face it, selling your home over the Christmas Holiday can be a challenge. It goes over, and above the usual inconveniences you must endure and the compromises to the rhythm of your family’s routine you must make when you sell. For most, it happens to be the busiest time of the year regarding shopping, family activities, and entertaining. A string of strangers looking in all your nooks and crannies is not at the top of your wish list.
Many sellers temporarily take their home off the market in December while others wait until January to list. However, there are buyers out there, and most of them that are house shopping in December are serious buyers. So for those sellers with a high level of motivation, the holidays can provide a unique opportunity for your home to shine. You can also get a step ahead of the competition who decide to fast forward to January.
Once you decide to market your home when bells on bobtails ring, the next question is should you decorate and if so what are the rules? Here, the basic rules of staging your home for any season apply. Keep everything clean, eliminate clutter and avoid the personal items in your choice of holiday decorations.
The Minneapolis-St Paul Housing Market Overview
As we look at the Twin Cities Housing Market Statistics for the first month of the final quarter of 2018 the one thing that hasn’t changed for months is the shortage of properties for sale in the lower end of the market. With so few homes that fit their budget, coupled with rising home prices and interest rates, would-be buyers continue to struggle with fulfilling their dream of ownership. Homes at this price range are still selling quickly, but we are finally starting to see that shift we have been talking about, in market conditions overall as we look at narrowing gaps in year over year data for sales, inventory, and price.
What’s Up Doc?
As we compare October of this year to October 2017, we find new listings up 9.2 percent, closed sales rose 3.4 percent, the percentage of list price received up 0.2, and the median sale price of $265,000 up 8.6 percent. Meanwhile, pending sales were down 1.7 percent, inventory levels dropped 2.2 percent, days on the market fell 7.7 percent. In summary, in the Twin Cities 16 county metro at least, we are still experiencing fewer homes on the market taking less time to sell with prices even on an upward trajectory.
What About the Economy?
Our local economy remains strong. The unemployment...