August Housing Report

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In Minnesota, the August housing numbers continued to stay strong and keep REALTORS® busy during the last month of summer.

The pending and closed sales numbers continued to increase 6.7% and 9.0% respectively, which is representative of the positive early summer activity that we saw statewide. Sellers received 96.7% of the original list price and sold their homes in about 55 days. This is down 11.3% over the same time period in 2015.

The median sales price jumped 8.0% to $215,000, while the average sales price rose 6.2% to $252,329. The median sales price is the midpoint, indicating as many transactions above as below the stated price.

Inventory remains to be a problem and is still sitting at 16.4% less than the same time last year.

“There are still buyers in the marketplace taking advantage of the low interest rates that are still available,” said Chris Galler, CEO of the Minnesota REALTORS®. “Minnesota REALTORS® continue to be busy as we enter the fall market.”

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The Minnesota REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Improve your credit score with these tips.

Credit Scores affect people in so many ways – it impacts either positively or negatively their approval for car loans, credit cards and mortgages, AND at what interest rate/terms they’ll get on that loan. If you are considering buying a home, you know this. Most credit scores fall in the 300-900 range, with higher numbers being the better credit score. Over the course of time, poor credit scores can cost thousands of dollars in fees and interest — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Check out the following tips to help improve your credit score.Realtors improve your credit score

Know your score

Regularly check your credit score and make sure it’s accurate. Any discrepancies on your report should be disputed with the credit bureau and reporting agency. You don’t want to let errors remain on your credit report!

Don’t be late

Late payments are one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score. Set up a payment reminder system or use an auto-pay option to make sure your bills get paid on time. Always pay something and always be on time!Read More »

Will My Home Reach its Value Again?

The value of your home could be rising.

Historically, homes have been a smart investment. Owners lived in a house, then got their money back when they sold…it was a better deal than renting. Borrowers got tax breaks, too, and built equity that could be leveraged into bigger houses as their incomes grew.Will my home reach it's value again

But there have been hiccups over the years where home values have dropped significantly and many homeowners found themselves underwater or with a drastic loss of value in their property. Many families today are still waiting for their homes to regain some of its losses so they can move on. When will that home reach its value again?

All key indicators are showing that there is confidence in Minnesota’s economy, which is translating to a positive trend in housing, according to the year end housing report from the Minnesota Association of REALTORS®.

With the continued addition of employment opportunities coupled with low mortgage rates and a tight rental market, many people made the homeownership choice in 2013.  Prices are on the rise in Minnesota and inventory is low, so many of those homeowners who found themselves underwater a few years ago, can now consider making a move.Read More »

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 »

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 »

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 »