Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tips for Staging, Showing and SELLING a Home at Christmas!



With Thanksgiving's turkey leftovers all but a memory, the holiday season is in full swing. It is the time of year when my clients with their homes on the market, start calling for advice. On or off the market for the holidays? What a great question! My answer is always, if possible, keep it on!

Most home sellers are more inclined to withdraw their home from the market for a few months. This is especially true in Minnesota where a white Christmas is almost a guarantee. Old Jack Frost has been nipping at the nose early this year so sine sellers believe home buyers are too preoccupied with finding a perfect gift instead of being out shopping for their dream home. While there is some truth to this, sellers can be ignoring another more important truth: Buyers looking at houses during the holidays are V-E-R-Y serious buyers.


There are not too many proverbial "tire-kickers" running around with a REALTOR® when there are presents to buy and gifts to wrap. December and January showings are a seller’s opportunity to stand out from the competition. Most homes buyers will visit at this time of the year are vacant. Often a buyer’s choices are down to model homes, empty relocation properties and foreclosures. Just imagine how a buyer perceives a warm home filled with the colorful sights, delightful sounds and wonderful aromas of the season. Staging a home for a sale during the holidays is a unique opportunity giving the traditional home seller the edge!

Tips for Showing & Selling During the Holidays

  •     Decorate! Tastefully of course. This might not be the year to pull out all stops with a million light display but a decorated tree, candles and wreaths can add a special touch.
  •     Bake and Share Gingerbread Men. Leave out a plate to share with potential buyers. Why should Santa have all of the extra calories?
  •    Cozy & Comfortable! Make sure the furnace is set for showing at a comfortable temperature to take off the chill. If you have a fireplace, keep it burning to add to a festive welcoming feel.
  •     Play holiday music. Avoid the annoying versions of Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and go for instrumentals or uniquely Minnesota regional artists like The Blenders.
  •     Shovel and salt the sidewalk and driveway. No one wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room with a broken wrist or worse.
  •     Leave the front light on! Don’t forget it is dark during those early evening showings. Make certain REALTORS® are able to see their way to your front door and open the lockbox.
Need more tips on how to get your home SOLD? If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com


Friday, November 14, 2014

Tips for Buying a Minnesota Hobby Farm Foreclosure


Many people want that very good deal on a big piece of land in the country. Although there aren't as many foreclosures on Minnesota acreage as there were a few years ago, from time to time, there is a deal that might be too good to pass up on a hobby farm in the Minneapolis/St Paul suburbs.  However, buying a foreclosure is different than buying from a more traditional seller. The biggest difference when buying a property from the bank is that buyers are often required to waive their rights to a seller’s disclosure. (This actually does make sense; no one at the bank can properly complete the disclosure because they have not lived in the home.) In most cases, no one from the bank has ever set foot on the property. So when buying a foreclosure on acreage, what are some of the things home buyers should do to be avoid a housing nightmare ? 

First off, find a REALTOR® that works with acreage properties. Your neighborhood agent in the Twin Cities might be the best agent on the block when it comes to selling townhomes, condos and dealing with HOA issues but if they could be over their heads when it comes to dealing with the issues that come up purchasing larger properties. The agent for the bank will not have time to walk a city agent through the necessary paperwork. It is best to find a agent that knows her way around a septic drain field and pole barn. Here are a few more tips that I recommend:  

**Ask for a Compliance Test for the Septic System.

A private sewage or septic system is one of the most costly aspects of a rural home. As a alternative to a public sewer connection used in the city, homes are constructed with a private septic system to handle sewage and waste water. Not all septic systems are the same. Each is designed for the specific property and size of the home. Even a new septic system can fail if not properly maintained. 
How do you know if the septic system is working properly in foreclosed home? Ask the bank to have a third party inspect the septic system and  supply a report of compliance. This MUST be written into the purchase agreement as a contingency of purchase. (i.e. Sale is contingent on the buyer receiving a current compliance certification for the septic system.)
If you have never lived on a home with a private sewage system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain it. Read More information on Septic Systems.

**Well Disclosure is Mandated by State Law
 
In Minnesota, well disclosure at the time of sale is mandated by state law as a part of the Ground Water Protection Act. A seller must provide information on the location and status of all wells on a property at the time of sale. Just because a bank is selling the home, does not change the law. Any known well and its condition must be documented on a disclosure. If this information is known and not provided, the buyer has 6 years in which to file a claim against the seller. Often when purchasing a foreclosure the bank will ask a buyer to waive  the right to a disclosure and purchase the home AS-IS. In this situation, it is a good idea to visit the MN Dept of Health webpage on Finding Abandoned Wells prior to purchase. Abandoned wells can be very expensive to seal properly. Improper sealing is not only illegal, it can be detrimental to the ground water. Read More information on Private Wells.

**Are there any underground fuel tanks?

Often people looking at acreage for the first time will have questions about the huge propane fuel tank located near the home. These tanks are usually only seen in the city at gas stations where homeowners fill their small propane tanks for the weekend BBQ. In the country, the large tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. But what if there is no visible tank? Don’t immediately assume the home is heated with natural gas. Homes on large acreage are rarely heated with natural gas as the cost of bringing the gas line to the home can be cost prohibitive. Check for underground fuel tanks. Even if there is a propane tank visible, there could be an old fuel tank on the property either above or underground. The removal of underground fuel storage tanks can be dangerous and is regulated by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

**Check the Trees! 

Buying a home  AS-IS also applies to the landscaping. Check for dead or dying trees on the property. If any are found, it would be a good idea to assess them to see if they died due to a disease. The most common tree killers in Minnesota are oak wilt, Dutch elm and the emerald ash borer.


Looking for your DEAL on a Minnesota Acreage Home? I can help!  If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, November 7, 2014

Declutter NOW for your 2015 Home Sale…and make a few bucks too!


Step one in selling a home isn’t calling a REALTOR®. It is decluttering your home.  Let’s face it. Most people don’t live in a perfectly “staged” home.  Homes are lived in and full of clutter.  And do you really want to pack and move all that accumulated STUFF to a new home? Probably not.  So if you want to sell a home next spring it might be time to donate unwanted items.  Or better yet, sell all those extras.

I know, I know. It’s hard to have a garage sale at any time of the year. But in Minnesota in the middle of winter, it can be next to impossible. No one wants to have people with their muddy, wet, salt-covered boots tromping through their house and frankly it is too darn cold in the garage! Of course, Craigslist is an option. But did you know there is a new option on Facebook for selling items locally? Many communities have pages for online garage sales. It is a bit safer because it is less anonymous than Craigslist. You see the face of the person on their profile page. (Some people do make fake profiles so be cautious.) There are thousands of people selling and more importantly buying on these boards! I know. I’ve sold a ton of stuff this fall. How does it work? If you have an item to sell, you post a photo, a price and where the buyer would have to pick it up. This can be at your home or a public place. My favorite place is a grocery store parking lot. This way there are lots of people and lights for safety.


Surprisingly, there is a lot a home seller will learn about negotiation and selling a house by selling on a online garage sale site.  Selling is selling after all and people are people no matter how high or low valued an item is. Here are a few similarities that I have encountered.

  1.  The LOWBALL offer   Recently I offered a brand new tool on a local site. Someone messaged “I can buy this online for your asking price so why don’t you sell it to me for half?” Hmmm…It’s brand new and you’d have to pay $20 online plus shipping and tax of around $15. I’m asking $20 and your offer me $10? I said no. I had priced the item right and someone else purchased it the next day at full price.
  2. There will be NO Shows. Just like when there is a showing request for a home, some online buyers will not show up to a scheduled meeting or will have to cancel. Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time with home showings too.
  3. Negotiate the Terms Cash is best in an online transaction. Although there are few cash buyers in real estate, it is important to understand how a buyer will pay for any item.
  4. Condition Affects Value. Something new in the box will always sell for more than something that is well worn.  I clean up all my items before posting a photo online. It sells more quickly if the photos are clear and the item is in its best light. Same is true for a home.  Good photos of a well prepared clean home, will help it sell more quickly too.
  5. Read the Rules Every group has rules to keep things fair for buyers and sellers. Reading and following the rules to selling items on line is very similar to understanding and following all laws when it comes to the sale of real estate.
So if you are planning to move in the spring, there is no reason you cannot start the decluttering/selling  process now. You could even make a few dollars for the upcoming holiday season too!


Looking to Buy or Sell a HomeIf you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners!

Pumpkin Emoticon Halloween Safety Tips! Pumpkin Emoticon 
 Make your house Trick-Or-Treater Friendly!

Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids of all ages. It is FUN to dress up, get together with friends, and go door-to-door in search of the best treats in the neighborhood.

Whether you are in a development full of little ghosts, goblins, superheroes and princesses or you only have a few costumed visitors, you’ll want to be sure your yard and front steps are safe and welcoming. Plan ahead to prevent unfortunate accidents that could ruin a festive evening.

Here are a few pointers to keep your home a safe place for trick-or-treaters on October 31st!

Pumpkin Emoticon Keep Pets in Check. Dogs, cats, and other furry family members can be agitated when oddly dressed strangers approach the front door. Make sure your pet is in a safe and comfortable place away from costumed visitors.
Pumpkin Emoticon Keep Walkway & Steps Clean & Clear. Pack away the toys, rakes and other yard tools, hoses and rake the leaves. Make sure the path to your front door is free of potential hazards like electrical cords and pumpkins.too.
Pumpkin Emoticon Keep it Lit!. Spooky is fun but if it is too dark, it could be dangerous. Make sure the path to your candy bowl is well-lit. 


I hope your family has a frightfully fun-filled, but very safe Halloween with no tricks but many, many treats!


Looking to Buy or Sell a HomeIf you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Luck of the Double Rainbow

 

A few weeks ago I was attending a wedding of the artist I use for my house cards for home buyers. She is a brilliant artist and was having an semi-outdoor wedding in a rustic barn. Storms were in the forecast but the wedding started without a hitch and the bride walked down the aisle to very unusual selection of Rainbow Connection. Maybe it was an omen but shortly after the ceremony, just as everyone moved from the barn to the reception tent, there was a torrential downpour. Spirits were not dampened and the festivities continued and shortly after the winds blew through, the happy couple and all of their guests were blessed with the view of a double rainbow over the barn. Sometimes things are just meant to be.  

Real estate is like that. Sometimes a home buyer will write an offer on the "perfect" house but then there are multiple offers and it becomes the dream home of someone else. Sometimes a seller accepts an offer an the buyer backs out or financing falls through. These things happen in real estate. But in every case where I have seen this happen, down the road there is another home, another buyer, and another often better deal. It is my job to remind my buyers and sellers of that. When the clouds turn dark, we look for the double rainbow! 


Looking to Buy or Sell a HomeIf you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, September 19, 2014

Beyond Raking Leaves--Fall Home Maintenance Tips!



The recent cold blast that brought a blanket of frost this past week has most Minnesotan's embracing the return of fall. Down every street l drive throughout Minneapolis/St Paul's north metro, I am seeing leaves just beginning to turn gold, red and yellow. The fallen acorns and ripe apples have attracted white-tailed deer to our backyard  for their annual autumn feast. And all of these are just signs that we have to speed up the outdoor chores as we prepare our home for the winter ahead.

As a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities metro, I know how important how important continued home maintenance. There's no guarantee whether the upcoming winter will be on the mild side or brutally cold. But it is Minnesota so best to prepare for the worst. Getting your home ready in the fall can prevent damage from the winter ice and snow as well as costly repairs come spring.

Here is a quick list of recommended repairs and preventive maintenance tips for all homeowners to consider this fall:

  1. Clean Gutters of leaves and other debris that might clog the drainage. A blocked gutter can cause an ice dam when the snow flies.
  2. Winterize the lawn tractor or mower and get that snowblower tuned. If you have a plow service, make contact and update your contract prior to the first snowfall.
  3. Change security lightbulbs in hard to reach outlets. It would hazardous to climb ladders to reach the tip of a garage over an icy driveway.
  4. Unhook, coil and remove hoses from water spigots. Turn off and winterize sprinkling systems. Turn off water to outside spigots if not frost-free to prevent burst pipes in subzero temperatures.
  5. Have the annual furnace cleaning and tune-up to be ready for those first cold evenings. Remember to change the furnace filter every month for best efficiency…even if the packaging says “6-month filter”. QUICK TIP: Change filter when you make your monthly mortgage payment so you don’t forget.
  6. Check all windows and doors to see if new caulk or weather-striping is needed.
  7. Fall is the perfect time to paint with the low humidity and crisp breeze. Check deck, siding and trim for peeling paint.
  8. Fall is the last chance to seal the asphalt driveway prior to winter freezing. Fill cracks and topcoat if necessary.
  9. Inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Verify that the flashings are sealed from rain and snow.
  10. Snap a few fall photos while the mums and trees are vibrant with color! Golden yellow oak leaves and vivid red sumacs are a striking contrast to the homes blanketed with white should you choose to list your home in the winter months!
Looking to Buy or Sell a HomeIf you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Results, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com

Monday, August 11, 2014

5 Budget Friendly Activities in Maplewood Minnesota



Looking for some family AND budget friendly activities in Maplewood, Minnesota? Here are a few of my favorites:
  1. Bike the Gateway! The Gateway Trail Cuts right through the heart of Maplewood.  Use the trail head at the Maplewood Community Center to walk, rollerblade or bike along this picturesque route that runs through Ramsey County from Stillwater to St Paul.  CLICK HERE to Download a map at the DNR website.
  2. Picnic at Keller Lake If you haven’t visited Keller Lake Park in years, you haven’t visited Keller Lake Park. In addition to the multiple picnic pavilions, there is a wonderful new wooden trail that expands across the wetland and under Hwy 36 with access to Spoon Lake and Phalen.  Fish, Kayak or walk the trail to see where the bald eagle’s nest is too!  Planning a big picnic? Pavilions might be rented so check with Ramsey County for availability.
  3. Commune with Nature! Visit the Maplewood Nature Center and look for herons. Located just off Hwy 120 this is a hidden gem! Explore by taking a self-guided tour offer or stop in the Visitor’s Center to see snakes, salamanders and other critters.  Best of all…it’s free!
  4. Ride the Carousel Did you know that Maplewood Mall has an indoor carousel? This double decker treasure was built in Venice, Italy but now makes its home in Minnesota. For $2 it is an inexpensive 
  5. Make a Splash! Waterworks at Battle Creek Park is fun and cheap way to have fun and stay cool in the summer.  Admission in 2014 is just $7 per guest.  This water attraction is located in an awesome park so bring a picnic and explore.



FEATURED MAPLEWOOD LISTING
 4+ Bedrooms/2Bath/2 car garage

 400 Kingston Ave, Maplewood, MN 55117 


Need additional information on how to buy this beautiful home? Call or Text me, Teri Eckholm, RE/MAX Specialists, at 651-336-7073 today!OR VISIT MY WEBSITE to download a flyer and take a virtual tour!


Looking to Buy or Sell a Maplewood HomeIf you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of RE/MAX Specialists, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com