Benefits of Hiring a Moving Company

Hiring a moving company can save you a lot of hassle.

Your house is sold and plans are falling into place for the move to your new home. But what is the best plan for your move? If you’re moving from a dorm room back home, that is simple. Pack it into the back of a truck and drive yourself. Or if you’re moving out of your parent’s basement to your first apartment, you might be able to get away with buying pizza and beer for your friends to help. But if you’re moving your family of five from one home to another that is across town or across the country, you may want to consider hiring a moving company. What are the benefits of hiring a moving company?Hire a Moving Company

When deciding whether or not to hire a moving company, first consider what it would take to do it yourself: your time, proper packing materials (boxes, tape, packing peanuts or bubble wrap), at least one truck, gas $ and plans for childcare and pet-care while you work your tail off.   Can you manage all that? Do you want to do all that?

Or for a modest investment, you can instead hire out the move and have a very different experience. Hiring a moving company has the following benefits:

Time: Selling a home and moving takes over your life – do you have the time to spend wrapping and packing every last knick-knack in your home? Every framed photo, every pot and pan, toy and candle and book? It’s possible, but it requires an enormous amount of time. Hiring a moving company will save you tons of time and free you up to work on other important details involved with a move, like registering for new schools, requesting address changes and finding new doctors and orthodontists.Read More »

Found a Home to Buy but Haven’t Sold your Current One?

Here are some options if haven’t sold your current home and you’ve found a new one.

The perfect house – you’ve found it! It’s got the features you want in the location you desire and at the right price. Isn’t this the happy ending every home-buyer wants? Not if you still have a house to SELL. What can you do when you’ve found a new house to buy, but haven’t yet sold your current home? You do have a few options, some better than others.

Ultimately it comes down to your financial situation. If money is no object, you have all the freedom to buy that home without any worries. For the rest of us, here are some options.Sell Current Home

Buy the house: This clearly holds the greatest risk, as lenders are quite cautious these day about lending a second mortgage to a buyer. And because there is no clear idea on just how long you might have to carry 2 mortgages, it’s a stressful jump for the homebuyer as well. Can you carry these 2 mortgages for 6-9 months? A year or longer?

Buy but rent: If you are able to secure financing and decide to purchase your new home, an option is to move into your new place and rent out the home you intend to sell to help offset your expenses. Some will do this and take their home off the market for a year or longer, depending on the real estate market. Some might attempt to sell it with renters in it, but that can be difficult as well, since renters don’t always understand the concept of keeping a home ‘show-ready’.Read More »

Most Important Rooms to Update

These room updates will give you the most enjoyment for your effort.

If money was no object, we would love to remodel our entire home, but many of us have to pick and choose which remodeling projects we tackle. Certain rooms are used more often and can greatly effect your home price.

The following rooms and spaces are the most important to update for many reasons. Either they are used a lot or they can greatly affect the price of your home and its ability to sell quickly.

KITCHEN: This room is the heart of the home and from an investment standpoint, it’s the most important room to do and one that potentially can recoup a chunk of the costs. A major overhaul (new cabinets, floors, counters and appliances) may get you back about 68 percent of your investment, but if your space needs just a minor remodel (refinishing cabinets, paint and counters), expect about a 72 percent return on your investment. Kitchens need to be updated if you have plans to sell.

Bathroom remodelBATHROOM: It’s a potentially expensive room to repair, but it’s another one that is important to have updated and in great condition. Kitchens and bathrooms are what buyers want, if you are considering placing your house on the market in the near future.Read More »

Timeline for First Time Home Buyers

Buy your first home on time.

There is no magic formula for first time home buyers. There are, however, some general guidelines on how the process should go. Of course all these things can change or vary depending on the type of housing market you’re looking in. An active market might compress your timeline (act a bit faster) but in a slower market, you may be able to take a bit more time. Regardless, here is a basic timeline for first time home buyers.Timeline for first time home buyers

3-4 months prior to preferred move date

At this beginning stage of the home search, you should be doing some serious background work:

  • Make a checklist of your wants and needs for a home, including location and features.
  • Mortgage pre-approval process is imperative. The sooner you get your finances in order the better! You’ll have a clear idea of what your budget is and be in a better position to make an offer and close in a timely fashion.
  • Finding an agent important at this stage of your search. Find a Realtor you can trust and communicate well with. Make sure they know the market you’re interested in living in someday. Ask friends for referrals or visit open houses to meet agents in the area.
  • The fun starts with house shopping! This is when you quickly figure out favorite neighborhoods, styles of homes and things you are willing to compromise on…and things you’re aren’t.

2-3 months out

  • You’re still shopping at this point, but soon you’ll be finding a home you’re interested in purchasing. With the advice of your licensed Realtor, write up an offer and begin negotiations.
  • Once you have a negotiated price, get an inspection by a qualified home inspector and make any repair arrangements with the homeowners to finalize the contract.
  • Make your closing arrangements.
  • Give your moving notice (if necessary) at your current residence.

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In Love with Two Houses?

You have to choose between two great homes. Now what?

After weeks of searching, you’ve fallen in love with that perfect house. But you’re not feeling at all settled. What’s wrong with finding the perfect house? Nothing, unless you’ve actually found 2 perfect houses. Maybe you love the houses equally or you and your spouse each love a different house. Now what do you do? Here are some things to consider when having to choose between 2 houses you love.Two Homes

Emotions Out:

The first rule of thumb it to keep emotions out of the equation – you need to approach this rationally! Many people resort to the good old’ pros and cons list. It’s a concrete list and usually one house will prevail as the ‘better’ house to buy. The list should start with your budget and your ‘must haves’ for the home. If there is no clear winner, dig a little deeper and include…

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Make Your First House the Right House

What should you consider when shopping for your first home?

The first time through a home-buying experience can be both exciting and stressful. Before you let your high hopes, sticker shock and long wish-list blurr your vision, familiarize yourself with common home buyers mistakes here. But how exactly do you make sure that first home purchase is the right one for you? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for your first home.

Work with a licensed Realtor

The first time through, you need a professional to help you navigate the journey. A Realtor can help you save time by fine-tuning your search. They can save you money with their knowledge of the market values and by being your chief negotiator.Make first home the right home Learn the difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent in this blog.

Determine your neighborhood

You’ve heard the saying ‘location, location, location’ – so know the area that you want to live and concentrate your search there.

List the must-haves

What are those things you must have in your home? Is it a certain amount of bedrooms or bathrooms? Perhaps finishes are important to you? Or a fenced yard? Does it need to be near public transportation? Whatever those necessities are, make a concise list of them.

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What’s the Difference between a Townhome, Twin-home and a Condo?

A townhome, twin-home or condo could be perfect for you.

Many people want to own their own place, but don’t necessarily want the responsibility or expense of taking care of the yard or exterior of the home. What are their options? Typically, people turn to townhomes, twin-homes or condos. Aren’t they just about the same? Not really. What is the difference between a townhome, twin-home and condo?Townhome

Townhome

Generally a row of identical or mirror image houses sharing side walls (except for the end units who have just one common wall). They are owned separately and are allowed to maintain their small yard that is in the front or back of their home, but they also pay association dues, which usually cover the costs of shared property (common space, roof and exterior) and snow removal for the common driveways. Townhomes pretty much look just alike.

Twin-home

A twin-home is basically 2 homes that share a common wall, with 2 separate owners and two yards. The property line runs down the center of the home. You can do what you want with your side of the house and yard…they can have different roofs and be different colors and have different landscape designs.

Condos

Condos are in multi-level buildings and not only share walls, but they have units above and below them, as well. They own their own unit and patio or balcony, but don’t own really any land. They pay association dues which covers all the maintenance of the lawn and grounds, parking lot or garage, as well as any recreational areas like workout facilities, tennis courts or a pool.

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How to Find a Qualified Home Inspector

What to consider when looking for a home inspector.

Before you buy and move into that darling colonial house on the corner, it’s imperative to know the house is structurally sound and the systems are in good working condition. You need an expert’s opinion on what issues are a simple fix and what problems might end up as a deal breaker. How do you find an inspector and how can you be confident that the inspector you hire is qualified?Inspector

Recommendations

Your real estate agent has likely worked with many inspectors over the years and has their favorites. That is a good place to start – but it shouldn’t be your only option. Make sure you get not only recommendations, but references, and get them from more than just your agent.

Certification

There isn’t any official licensing to become a home inspector in the state of Minnesota, but you can find inspectors who have taken courses and are certified through the Professional Home Inspection Institute (PHII) and are members of reputable organizations, such as ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) NAHI (National Association of Home Inspectors) and MSHI (Minnesota Society of Home Inspectors). These organizations have rigorous requirements for membership, offer continuing education classes for technical skills and customer service. These organizations offer search engines on their web sites for you to find an inspector in your area by simply plugging in your city or zip code.Read More »

Why it’s a Good Time to Buy in the City

Living in the city could be the perfect fit for you.

City neighborhoods are bustling – not only with new restaurants, clubs and businesses, but with lots of new and renovated housing as well. And it’s no wonder why — recent surveys reflect that homeowners want walkable neighborhoods with loads of amenities, which is what many urban areas have to offer.   City-living isn’t for everyone, but if you’re thinking it might be a good fit for you, here are a few reasons why it’s a good time to buy in the city:

Walkability: Imagine living just steps away from your favorite restaurant or night-spot. Or perhaps just blocks from the river walks or concert halls and theaters? And you still have places nearby to purchase groceries and visit the dentist or doctor as well. Walkability is becoming a bigger factor for many people looking for housing, and moving to the city can offer that and more.

Is living in the city the right choice for you?
Is living in the city the right choice for you?

Housing Options: Historic in-town neighborhoods provide the best models for successful city living.  True townhouses, appropriately scaled condos, and of course, single-family detached homes on smaller lots are all options. So if you want NO yard work, you can find a place that’ll work. If you want a little place to garden, that’s available as well. A room with a view? You bet.

Transportation: City life offers a lot of options to get around. Not only walking, but biking is a popular mode of transportation as well as buses and light rail. It’s convenient, accessible and affordable. Commute times and costs can reduced by living and working in the city as well.

Diversity: Not just in terms of the people nearby, but businesses, shops and restaurants – local mom and pop shops, great independent restaurants…there is something for everyone living in the city.Read More »

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

What to consider when buying a vacation home.

What to consider when purchasing a vacation home.With the unpredictable Minnesota weather, it’s easy to fantasize about that vacation home of our dreams. Maybe for you it’s on the beach somewhere…or in the mountains. Or up north tucked away in the woods. Regardless of where you dream about that vacation home being, you will need to consider a lot of things before pulling the trigger. Here are some tips for buying a vacation home.

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

Location – The majority of second home-buyers choose a vacation home within driving distance of their primary residence and near a metropolitan area (for conveniences). But many too, opt for a place in a warmer climate or in the mountains. Consider the risks regardless of where you choose to look. Beachfront homes obviously have the risk of hurricane or storm damage. Any river or lakeshore property has flooding potential. And picturesque mountain or cliff-side residences have snow removal issues and a mud-season. Just do your research and know the risks before buying.

Rent Before You Buy – You may think you know exactly where you want to be – maybe it’s a special place that you’ve vacationed to every year and you are SURE that is the place for you. But have you spent time there in the off-season? And as a resident vs a vacationer? You need to do that first – many owners of vacation homes rented for an entire season or year prior to purchasing. This allowed them to really determine where they wanted to be and where they didn’t want to be – based on traffic patterns, shopping options, restaurants, etc. You might be surprised what you learn while renting.Read More »