Tips for Buying Vacation Property with Family 

What are some tips for buying vacation property with family?

Oh, to own a vacation home – some quaint place not too far away to spend weekends fishing, boating and relaxing.   Or perhaps it’s in the mountains for skiing and hiking. Regardless where your fantasy vacation home is, you have to find a way to afford it. Some people opt to buy vacation properties with family, to share the expense, work and fun. And that can be a successful venture…but it has some risks, as well. What are some tips for buying vacation property with family?Vacation Home

Set Guidelines: You need to, together, set guidelines ahead of time on certain expectations. Family members have varying personalities and those personalities come with the joint agreement, so expect differences in styles, opinions and ways of handling conflict. There will for sure, be healthy banter in the process of buying and sharing a vacation home.

Create Property/Family Boundaries: It’s important to make the purchase of a vacation property a business agreement. Define how often you will meet to discuss property matters but don’t bring conversations or conflicts into family time – resist the temptation to discuss the new dock while at a family birthday gathering or around the Christmas tree.

Communication is Key: Make sure you have opportunities to express yourself and then LISTEN to others as well. Don’t assume anything – talk things out, work through things. There is bound to be one person who is SURE they work harder or put more $ into the property, so listen to each other and figure it out.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 »

5 Most Expensive Home Repairs

Expensive home repairs can be worth it in the long run.

As a homeowner you have probably had to make a decision on how to spend your repair or remodeling dollars. Many times that decision is made simply out of necessity (you NEED a working bathroom). Other times you have to choose where the dollars and time will be best spent based on a combination of needs and desires, and which ones might have the best return on your investment. What are the most expensive home repairs and which rooms are probably most important to update?

Most Expensive Home Repairs

POOL: If you have one, you know why. Liners, filters, heating units, general maintenance and then there is the surrounding pool deck area as well. If a major repair is needed, you can be sure to spend a nice chunk of change.Most Expensive Rooms To Upgrade

WINDOWS: This can vary greatly in price, but if you need to replace all the windows in your home, you are looking at a big price tag. Windows and sliding doors have a multitude of options to choose from with a wide range of prices as well, from standard to super-efficient or custom-made (high price).

ROOF: Once a roof is shot, the replacement is costly and not very satisfying as a homeowner. Really, who notices your new shingles? Roofing materials also come in a variety of styles and prices. Hire a reputable contractor for a job as important as your roof.

KITCHEN: Major repairs to a kitchen can be costly if new appliances, cupboards and surfaces are needed. The good news is that a new kitchen IS a repair expense that is easier to swallow, because you will enjoy the new space every day.

BATHROOOM: Like a kitchen, bathroom repairs can add up fast. If the room needs to be gutted or if mold exists behind the walls, you will need a decent budget to fix it up. Having a safe and updated bathroom is worth the money.Read More »

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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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


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.


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 »

Considerations for Painting the Exterior of your Home

Painting the exterior of your home can make it feel brand new.

One of the most dramatic ways to change the curb appeal of your home is to paint it. But you don’t want the drama to be in a negative way…to be known as the “pink house” – instead you want the paint job to beautify your home. There are many things to do before the transformation can take place. What are some things to consider when painting the exterior of your home?

Whether you hope to accomplish this paint job yourself, or you plan to hire a contractor, you need to make sure the following things are discussed, planned for and/or included in your bid.Yellow House

Prep Work

The worst part of the painting experience, but probably the most important, is what happens before the painting ever begins. Are there woodpecker holes in your siding, rotted siding or damaged door trim and window sills? These problems need to be replaced or repaired before any painting begins. Sanding and scraping to ensure the surface is clean and smooth is also a must.

Color Choices

Are you going with the same color palette or are you up for something new? Using the same color will take less time, paint and money. But changing the color can really make a giant difference in the curb appeal of your home. Before you pick a new color, consider the following:

  • How will a new color work with your roofing, sidewalk and driveway? How will it work with your plantings and surroundings? What about your neighbors? You don’t want it to be like every other house on the block, but it shouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb either.
  • Dark colors can make a home appear smaller and dark colors absorb more heat. Lighter colors tend to make a home look a touch bigger and reflect heat. Is that something for you to consider as well?
  • Painting a new color will cost you more in terms of time, paint and money and will require proper priming as well.

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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 »

The Difference Between a “Fixer-Upper” and a “Money-Pit”

How to Know When It’s Worth it to Buy a Fixer-Upper

How to know if a home is a fixer-upper.We’ve all watched those flipping shows, where a burly guy and his beautiful designer spouse buy a dump and turn it into the perfect home. They sell it fast and make a ton of cash. That’s just a TV show, right? Obviously flipping houses does occur, just usually not to that level of success. And yet a lot of people shopping for real estate are looking for a solid home at a decent price that they can put their own sweat and tears into, and add to the value of the property in the process. How do you avoid getting burned financially by buying the wrong house? There is a difference between a fixer-upper and a money-pit. Read on.

A Fixer-Upper is generally a home that’s in a decent location, structurally sound, but needs general maintenance, a lot of cosmetic changes and design improvements. The homeowner can usually reside in the home while the work is being done…so it’s not THAT bad of a place. Many times the projects can be DIY, too. The projects often include:

  • Walls – fill holes, repair damaged areas, remove and update wallpaper and paint. The exterior may need some repair and painting as well.
  • Floors – refinish hardwood floors, clean or replace carpet and upgrade other flooring materials.
  • Lighting – update fixtures throughout the interior and exterior of the home.
  • Wood – replace damaged trim, repair doors and cabinets.
  • Kitchen and bathroom – new hardware, painting or refinishing cupboards if necessary.

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What to do with the Family Home after the Parents Pass Away

There are many difficult choices to be made following the death of a parent.

Home for SaleLosing your parents is clearly a very difficult time for all the loved ones involved. Many survivors don’t know where to start when it comes to finalizing the wishes of their parents. There are so many things to consider and emotions are running high. What are some of the things you should do with the family home after your parents pass away?

Appoint an Executor
First off, an executor should be named who will be in charge of all the upcoming decisions. This executor is either named in a will, or if a will wasn’t prepared, the process goes through the courts and an executor is appointed. Although the executor is the one in charge, ideally that executor will work with other survivors, as well. If the affairs are complicated, or family relations are particularly prickly, hiring an estate attorney for additional assistance may be worth looking into.

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