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


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.


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 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


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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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 »

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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December 2013 Minnesota Housing Report

December housing numbers see seasonal decline in many areas

If you sell real estate in Minnesota, you know our winter weather isn’t always conducive to selling or buying real estate.  December 2013 appears to follow that pattern in a number of key areas.

New listings statewide were down 9.0 percent over December 2012.  Throughout Minnesota there were fewer than 27,000 properties available, a slight dip when compared to the previous period in 2012. This is the second straight month we’ve seen a decline in new listings which coincides with our winter slowdown.

While buyers had less inventory in December, sellers were watching their values continue to increase; receiving 93.2 percent of their original list price. This is a strong indicator that our market is stabilizing.

Those same sellers are seeing the average sales price remain strong.  A 6.8 percent increase over the same time last year is still positive for homeowners looking to sell.

December housing

“As inventory decreased, prices went up,” said Rod Helm, President of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS®.  “We are seeing more multiple offers on homes for sale in Minnesota and many buyers are starting to put their offers in very quickly to avoid losing out on a property they want to buy.”

The Minnesota Association of 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.