Joe Houghton

July - Celebrate Twin Cities Style

July at the Minnesota Arboretum

Let's Hear It for July

It’s July in Minnesota and Twin Cities Metro folk couldn’t be happier! We hate to brag, but seriously, our summers are fabulous! Everywhere we look the landscape is bursting with color. Flower beds are strutting their stuff, geraniums and petunias are outgrowing the confines of their window boxes and daylilies are spots of color on a green background of lush lawns. 

July music and magic are in the air. Fairs, festivals, art, concerts, food and drink await us from one end of the Metro to the other!  Here is a short list that piqued my interest for this month. Hope they give you some ideas and help make this summer the best since Grandma won the Blue Ribbon for her apple pie at the state fair!

July Activity Calendar Twin Cities

The Minneapolis Pops - Every Weekend in July

Can you believe it? This year marks the 66th year our own Minneapolis Pops has been providing free concerts in the Twin Cities. Every year I look forward to this well-performed music at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.  Concerts begin at 7:30 pm on Saturday and 5:30 pm on Sunday and they are free.  Pack a picnic basket and arrive early for dinner al fresco and a choice spot for the concert.  Visit the Minneapolis...

June Has Arrived – Let’s Give Her a Warm Twin Cities Style Welcome!

June Event Calendar Minneapolis-St. Paul

June is Bustin' Out All Over

June is bustin’ out in the Twin Cities, and the moon is shining on our beautiful lakes and rivers! We have a lot to celebrate! The entire summer spreads out ahead of us, and we are enjoying more daylight than any other month of the year. The weather is warm but isn't hot and the June nights are made for romance! It’s green as far as the eye can see except for the flower beds bursting with colorful blooms. June is roses, strawberries melting with sweetness on the vine, weddings, the ending of the school year, cookouts, baseball, and the beginning of summer with the Solstice occurring on Sunday, June 21.

The citizens of Minneapolis-St. Paul are celebrating the kickoff of summer in grand style. There is certainly no shortage of activities and things to do in the Metro this month.  Fairs, festivals, art, music, food, and drink, abound from one end of the Twin Cities to the other. Here is the short list of events that intrigue me and of course, I want to share.

The 49th Annual Edina MN Art Fair

It’s All About the Art

The 49th Annual Edina Art Fair

Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 7, 50th and France, Edina Minnesota

The first...

May in the Twin Cities - What's Happening?

Tra La, It's May!

Check out May events in the Twin CIties

May in the Cities

It’s May in the Twin Cities Metro, and spring is busting out all over! And what a spring it is!  Not a kinda spring, or a sorta spring as we are known to experience most years here, but it’s an honest to goodness spring!  The days are warm but not hot, perfect weather for planting a garden.  We are enjoying lots of sunshine, the grass is green, the trees are wearing leaves, daffodils, magnolias and even a few tulips are in bloom at the Arboretum. If you doubt me, check out the bloom report or better yet, head out to Chanhassen and see for yourself.  Having witnessed the Tulips in bloom in previous years, I can tell you the display is magnificent and will not disappoint! 

It's May in the Twin Cities and the tulips are in bloom

Mother’s Day is just ahead, and we are looking forward to Memorial Day at the end of the month which many consider the official kickoff of summer.  We are planning our gardens, and some overachievers have begun planting.  Gardening for me is low key these days since all I only have a small deck, but the outdoor furniture is washed, the wind chimes hung,...

California Here I Am

Post and Photos by Kay Nelson

The ocean at Santa Monica California

I am a native Minnesotan and have never lived any other place. Finding myself in the now or never stage of life, I decided to experiment with living in another part of the country. Since I love the ocean, the mountains and I have family in the Los Angeles area, California seemed a logical and desirable choice. It was time to sample the lifestyle of a snowbird and escape the end of our Minnesota winter.

Citrus Suites Santa Monica CA

After sifting through the Vacation Rental by Owner website, I narrowed my choices to Santa Monica and Ventura. Since I didn’t want to deal with the challenge of driving and parking my car, my requirements included being within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean and being able to bring my cat Beau along as well. Success! Citrus Suites in Santa Monica fit the bill perfectly and I rented a 1 bedroom apartment for the month of March.

Cat in California

California...

3 Dos and 3 Don’ts for Home Buyers

In Spring thoughts turn to buying a home

Spring has arrived in the Twin Cities Metro and the housing market is in full swing! The onset of warmer temperatures has caused buyers to shed their boots and mittens and start house hunting in earnest.  Traffic at Minnesota Property Group Open Houses has been brisk. We are seeing many more first time buyers, move up buyers, and buyers who are coming back after going through foreclosure or short sale experiences, (dubbed boomerang buyers) as well. 

with real estate values on the rise, buying a home is a good idea

According to data published by The Minneapolis Association of REALTORS©, March showed an increase in pending sales of 30% over last year and was the highest level for that month since 2005. Additionally new listings were up 21% over March 2014, but due to avid buyer activity the market advantage is still tipping towards sellers. So, it’s a strong market, an active market, and what I would describe as a “snooze and you lose market” with desirable properties often selling within days or even hours of being listed.

Incredibly low mortgage interest rates are holding steady at least for now, so this is really an awesome time to make your move.  However be aware that competition among buyers for desirable properties can be stiff, so as a buyer, to get the edge you need to be prepared to make your move when you find that dream property.  Here are my 3 best...

Top Realtors in Plymouth Minnesota Know Why This City is so Great

Beautiful Home located in Plymouth MN

Top Realtors in Plymouth, MN 

Discuss the 10 Best Reasons to Live in Plymouth

Plymouth is the 7th largest city in Minnesota.  The land mass is 32.68 square miles, water covers a 2.64 square mile area,  population according to the 2012 census is 72928, median home price as of July 2015 is $300,700 up 8% from the previous year according to Zillow. Prices are predicted to rise another 2% within the next year.

Why is Plymouth a great community?  Let us count the ways!

1. Plymouth, MN is a Nationally Recognized Best Place to Live

Chosen by Money Magazine as the number 1 best place to live in 2008, and again featured in the top 12 for 2011.

Turtle Lake Park in Plymouth MN

2.  The City of Plymouth has easy access to the Twin Cities Metro

Whether traveling to downtown Minneapolis for work or play, just hop on Interstate 394 and head west 12 miles to reach your destination.  Should you want to enjoy the shopping and dining experience of Uptown, or enjoy a free concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell you can be there in about 22 minutes.

Plymouth MN was chosen Best Place to Live by Money Magazine in 2008 and made the top list again in 2012...

New Homes in Medina MN

Home buying, Medina Real Estate

Buying a New Home in Medina MN 

Medina is a small but charming community with a rural flavor.  It is located on the western edge of Hennepin County.  The area of the city is 27 square miles, 1.55 square miles of that area is water.  The population as of 2010 was 4,892 people.   As of July 2015, the median home value is $551,200 up 4% over the last year and predicted to rise another 1.2 % in 2016, according to Zillow. 

Top 7 Reasons buy a new home in Medina

1.  New homes in Medina have easy access to Downtown Minneapolis

Want to hear the symphony, watch a play, visit a museum, or plan a special evening of dining? Downtown Minneapolis is an easy 20-mile drive heading east on the expressway. Hop on 494 in nearby Plymouth and access the entire Metro! 

Beautiful Minneapolis

2. New home developments in Medina are close to shopping & restaurants

Just 12 miles south you find Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka which offers endless options in fashion for yourself and for your home in a mall setting.  Also to the south a mere 7 miles is the chic and charming Wayzata shopping district.  There you will find dozens of high-quality retail shops featuring fashions, art, and antiques.  Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking Lake Minnetonka for a leisurely meal and a stunning water view. 

Hamel Lion's Club Flea Market...

7 Reasons Selling Your Home Is Not a DIY Project

When the time comes to sell your home, you may be tempted to forego hiring a Realtor and do it alone.  After all, DIY is the hot trend these days and who doesn't like to save a few dollars? Being a great fan of saving money with DIY projects, I totally understand. But, before you pound a “For Sale” sign in your front yard and start counting the money you’ll save on a Realtor’s commission, there are a few facts you should consider because this may be a DIY project that ends up costing you money rather than saving you money over the long run.

To buy and sell a house is no simple task. In fact, national statistics show that only 9% of all “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) efforts are successful. Only one out of every twelve people who attempt to sell their own home actually end up with a closed deal and approximately 24% of those transactions involved a sale to a friend or relative, 15% involved a buyer directly contacting a seller, and 1% when the owner was a licensed agent.  

Selling your home is not a great DIY project

When DIY sellers were surveyed by The National Association of Realtors, the most difficult aspects of going FSBO were cited as follows:

  1. Understanding and performing paperwork: 18%
  2. Getting the right price: 13%
  3. Preparing/fixing up home for sale: 12%
  4. Helping buyer obtain financing: 3%...

Top 7 Reasons to Live in Orono Minnesota

Orono, Minnesota is a commanding presence on the north Shore of Lake Minnetonka.  Named after a city in Maine by settlers who emigrated from there, the city is 24 square miles in area, boasting 8 square miles of that area in water.  Population based on the 2010 census is 7,437, median home value as of January 2015 is 633,800 according to Zillow.

Orono is a friendly and warm community with small town charm yet convenient access to downtown Minneapolis. WIth a nationally recognized school system and great access to recreation, it's a great place to live and raise children. Here are 7 reasons I think Orono is an outstanding city! 

1.  Easy Access to the Big City from Orono

Want to attend the symphony, watch a play, visit a museum, or plan a special evening of dining in Minneapolis? Hop on the expressway, head east and in 16 miles you can be in the heart of downtown. If you work in the Metro easy access to 394 east and west or 494 north and south makes for a good commute. If you prefer public transportation to downtown, a Metro Transit bus service runs every 28 minutes. .

2. Local Shopping and Restaurants

...

5 Painless Ways to Save for a Home

saving for 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!

FICO score

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,...

7 Family Fun Activities to Beat Back the Winter Doldrums

Bird in Winter MN Property Group

Winter Sings the Blues

Being in the doldrums has been a condition of my life every winter since childhood. Can you relate? Are you experiencing cabin fever?  Are these cold winter nights looming long, with the adults feeling bored and the kids restless?  What to do, what to do!  How about a throw-back evening? Light up the fireplace, pop some corn and check out my 7 old-fashioned ideas re-purposed suggestions for family night.  Did I mention television or computers are not allowed?

1. Get out the Monopoly

Game MN PropertyGroup

Remember when Parker Bros and Milton Bradley were the “names” in board games?  Many of the old favorites are still around like Monopoly, Life, Yahtzee, Jenga, Clue, Risk, Sorry, Scrabble and Battleship.  Revive those enduring games of Checkers, Chess, Backgammon and Dominos.  Invite some friends and neighbors to join in for an evening of Charades.  You can find all these games and more on ...

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...

Let's Go Dogsledding!

To tell the truth, I never thought a dogsledding trek would be my cup of tea.  It conjures up images for me of too cold, too uncomfortable and too wet. So, then my intrepid friend Kay went dogsledding and had the time of her life, and she doesn't relish cold either!  So I thought well maybe, just maybe, I'm not getting the complete picture.  Maybe I am missing something here. 

I was winging my way to fulfill another childhood dream:  a dogsledding trek in the beautiful mountains of Montana. For years I had visions of white powder transforming the world into a winter wonderland. However, climate change had another agenda in mind. As the wheels were lowered for our descent at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport I noticed the Bridger, Crazy and Gallatin mountains had plenty of snow, but the ground in the valley was bare brown. Crap!  My childhood friend who lives in the area had called Chico Hot Springs Resort ahead of time and yes, there was snow on the trails, and the ride would go on as scheduled. Phew!

Greeted by owner Hannah.

The morning of December 12, four of us piled into a van and started down Paradise Valley to hook up with Absaroka Dogsled Treks. Owner, Hannah greeted us, had us sign releases, and checked our wardrobe to make certain we were dressed appropriately.  If we weren’t, there was an ample supply of winter gear in many sizes that could be borrowed.  It was a sunny day, probably in the 40’s so we sat out at the picnic tables and pulled on our snow pants and boots.  We were ready for our adventure.

Harnessing up the team....

Get Ready for Good Things to Happen in 2015

The New Year is freshly fallen snow the morning after a storm...free of footprints and markings of travel...as each day unfolds, so, too will be your path into the New Year, footprints in the snow.

Who doesn’t love a new beginning, a fresh start, or a clean slate? So pour the bubbly and welcome in the New Year as you escort 2014 out the door! Welcome 2015 with your 12 months of new opportunities, 52 weeks of success stories, and 365 days to dream bigger, sparkle more and shine brighter than we did last year! 

Predictions for the 2015 Real Estate market are positive and point to a better year for both buyers and sellers. Home values will continue to rise. Interest rates will remain low at least in the first part of the year. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will now back mortgages with as little as 3% down.  Banks will be easing up on credit requirements.  All of these factors combined with high rents make home ownership financially more desirable inspiring Millenniums to finally be enter the market as first time home buyers.  Current owners will be anxious to trade up and take advantage of historically low interest rates. Baby Boomers who have been waiting for home values to increase will sell the large family home and downsize. Folks who got hit with foreclosures in 2008 will have them falling off their credit reports and be entering the market again.  It’s going to be a good year!

Team leader Joe Houghton is ready! “I believe 2015 is going to be my best year ever, personally and for the whole Minnesota Property Group! I’m excited about our ambitious marketing approach and about the team!”  Better yet, here’s Joe speaking for himself as only he does best! ...

Sell Your Home Now

Selling a home, Real Estate Market Conditions, Minneapolis-Saint Paul Housing Market

Selling your Twin Cities Minnesota Home

6 Reasons to Sell Your Home Now

The last several years have been tough for some families who wanted to sell and move up to a bigger home. Often they found they owed more on their property than it would bring on the current market. Perhaps they did not find themselves “underwater” but needed more equity to finance that purchase.

There are empty nesters who no longer want the responsibility or expense that comes with the 4 or 5 bedroom property and are ready to downsize to a smaller house, a townhouse, or even that trendy chic loft downtown they have always wanted.

Are you a potential seller waiting for the right time to list your house for sale? Let’s take a look at current market conditions because now may be the time to make a move!

1. Current inventories of properties for sale are lowSelling a home, Real Estate Market conditions, Minneapolis-Saint Paul Housing Market

Inventory levels of houses for sale continue to remain low.  The Market Activity Report published by the Minnesota Area Association of Realtors for the month of March reported that new listings had increased 5.5%, inventory decreased 4.1% and month’s...

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