Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What is a Low Ball Offer in a Hot Real Estate Market?



In a hot real estate market, what initial offer can insulting to a home seller? 10% less than asking? 5% less? A full priced offer with 3% of buyer's closing costs paid by the seller?

When housing inventory is as tight as it is currently in many north and east Minneapolis/St. Paul metro communities, what is considered a "lowball offer" might be less than you think.

 
As a REALTOR
®, I have seen my share of sellers who were insulted by a buyer’s offer over the years. There are times when anything less than a full priced offer is insulting. But should a buyer be afraid to request a few thousand toward closing costs with a fear that the seller will balk and accept the next offer in line?
 

A lot depends on the price and location within the Twin Cities. In some neighborhoods, it could be insulting to offer less than full price especially if it is a home priced under $200,000. There are an abundance of first time buyers out there looking for affordable, move-in ready homes. There are so many buyers out there that a well prepared and priced property can get an offer (or 2, 3 or more) in a matter of hours and be in pending in a matter of days. There are many neighborhoods and communities throughout Anoka, Washington, Ramsey and Chisago Counties with a very small number of homes for sale. Well priced homes do not stay on the market long.  It can be tough being a home buyer with a limited budget in  this changed market.

In fact some situations buyers will feel frustrated and that they might never get a home. The get advice from friends and relatives to never pay full price. Sellers always negotiate. But in reality, many sellers will not negotiate significantly. And a perceived offensive or  "lowball" offer could put the buyers’ dream home purchase in jeopardy.

How to Coming up with an Acceptable Starting Point:

  • Request that your REALTOR® to do a market analysis. When representing a buyer, I will look up the recent comparable homes sold in the neighborhood before the "what to offer" discussion begins. In this low inventory market, a seller that lists at market value but could still be in a multiple offer situation due to demand. If the home is properly priced and in high-demand area, anything that is not close to full price could mean that the seller will wait for another offer. By looking at the neighborhood comparables, my buyers better understand what offer will be considered reasonable.

  • Consider the original list price. If a seller started off too high and adjusted the price of the home it could be priced right now. If a market analysis shows the current price of the home is fair, offering 5-10% less could be considered insulting. When a buyer has found "THE: house and fallen in love with it, it might make sense to make an offer closer to the asking price rather than haggle and risk losing it.

  • The Overpriced Home. If the market analysis shows the home to be significantly overpriced and the offer will be more than 10% less than current the current asking price, it may be helpful to provide the comparables to the seller and his/her agent. Sometimes when the offer is accompanied by documentation to back up the offer, the seller is less offended.But be careful not to overlook good comps to justify your offer. This strategy can be worse that not providing documentation at all.

  • Buyer’s Plans to Remodel and Update. Some buyers think sending a long list of planned updates complete with associated estimates is a good strategy to negotiate for a price reduction. Often these lists include changes that reflect cosmetic and personal taste. Most sellers are not impressed when a buyer’s offer indicates that they are offering tens of thousands less due to paint, carpet and other cosmetic changes. If the updates are necessary due to age or wear, make note of the fact. But slamming a well maintained and updated home to justify a low offer is insulting and make continued negotiations difficult if not impossible.

  • Avoid Considering Price Paid for Home. I have come across a few buyers who research tax records to determine the price the seller paid for the property. They assume if someone purchased a home at a very low price, they have a ton of equity. This can be true but not always. Some sellers have taken the equity out of their home for improvements or for other reasons. And well sellers do have equity, they usually don't intend to give it away either. Keep the negotiations focused on the fair market value of the home.
Right now, sellers are in excitedly anticipating a non-contingent, pre-approved home buyer to write an offer on their home. In most cases, they understand the market and have worked hard to prepare their properties to entice a written purchase agreement (or several). But buyers must think through their offers; the perfect starting point for negotiations must contemplated thoroughly. Discussions can go south very quickly between buyer and seller when the initial offer is deemed rude.

Need help coming up with that perfect starting point for your home offer? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Speechless Sunday (Almost)--Mold-A-Rama Flashback at Como Zoo


 
Flashback to elementary school field trips in the 1970's when a visit to Como Park Zoo just wasn't complete as a kid without stopping for a hot wax molded animal from a Mold-A-Rama machine. These machines were a favorite stop for kids with extra change for a inexpensive souvenir back during a grade school field trip in the 1960's and 1970's. (I can still smell acrid scent of that weird hot wax.) The price was only a couple of quarters back then...way less than anything in the gift shop as I remember.  

A decade or so later, in the mid-80's, I remember taking my nieces to the zoo. They too were intrigued by the squished hot wax mold of a Como Park lion or gorilla to take home.  Though we also took our boys to Como on countless occasions in the 1990's, I don't remember every buying them a molded animal to take home. I thought the machines were just a memory.  On a recent visit, I was surprised that the machines in operation again today...but less surprised by the price increase. But at $2, it is still a bargain just to watch the machine in motion creating your hot wax trinket.

Como Park is still one of my favorite places to visit year round. Whether you want to have a family picnic, play a round of mini golf, ride the carousel, walk around the lake, see the animals or the flowers, there is literally something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Looking for a home with something for everyone in your family near Como Park? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Pre-Inspection, Truth-In-Housing, Point-of Sale--What's The Diffence?



 
During a pre-listing visit with home sellers I am often asked whether there is a state or county requirement for pre-inspecting a home.  On occasion a seller will mention a friend or relative that had their home inspected prior to the first potential buyer walking in the door. 

Having a home inspection before the sale can be beneficial and optional but can also be required in some Twin Cities communities. The benefit comes at the time of  the offer, when some buyers will actually opt to forgo the inspection, choosing to just read the report. Buyers can also contact the inspector of the initial report for a private walk-though at a discounted rate. I am often asked if this is a common practice in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

In Minnesota, there is no Truth-In-Housing inspection requirement to sell your home at the state or county level. There is however several communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that do require a pre-inspection report. These go by many names: Truth-in-Sale of Housing Disclosure, Time-of Sale, Time-of-Sale Code Compliance, Dwelling Maintenance and Occupancy Code Compliance, Housing Code Compliance Inspection or Housing Maintenance Code Inspection. Some of these inspections are done by inspectors that are city employees while other communities have licensed, private inspectors to perform the inspection of the home to meet the city requirements. In this instance it would be the homeowner’s responsibility to select a private inspector to perform the inspection prior to listing the home for sale.


The Twin Cities communities that currently require a home inspection are:
 
Private Inspectors (Selected by Homeowner)
  • Bloomington
  • Hopkins
  • Maplewood
  • Minneapolis
  • Robbinsdale
  • St. Paul
  • South St. Paul

City Inspectors
  • Crystal
  • New Hope
  • Osseo
  • Richfield
  • St Louis Park


Can a home seller have a home pre-inspected even if the city does not have a point of sale requirement?
Absolutely! Having your property pre-inspected with a written inspection report available to potential buyers can speed along the negotiations for many buyers. Some buyers will choose to review the report and not have another inspection completed making the offer not-contingent on an inspection. Other buyers will choose to have the inspector who did the pre-inspection come out to the home to explain the details in the report. This is often completed for a reduced fee to the buyer since the work has been completed and it is not as time consuming to the inspector. However a pre-inspection does not guarantee that the buyer will not opt to hire their own independent inspector of the home.


If I give an Inspection or Truth-In-Housing Report, do I have to complete a seller’s disclosure?
That depends.  State law requires that you disclose what you know about the condition of the home so in most cases, a full seller’s property disclosure would be completed by the home owner even if an inspection report is available. However, in the case of an estate or rental property where the owner did not live in the home and has limited information regarding the property to disclose, an inspector’s report can be provided along with an alternative, minimized disclosure that meets all state requirements.


Another note on wells and septic systems: 
Many communities and some counties have point of sale inspection requirements for the septic system and/or private well serving the property in addition to disclosures required as part of a purchase agreement.  Contact me for additional details


Ready to list your Minneapolis/St Paul Home?  Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Searching for Snoopy in St Paul Minnesota


Spring is in the air and this week was the baseball season opener. So Snoopy in his Paul Molitor #4 Twin's Uniform is the perfect throwback Thursday photo for this week. 

My family joined with thousands of other Minnesotans back in 2000 search for Snoopy. But the fun didn't end there. A parade of Peanuts Characters followed for five straight years. After we searched for Snoopy throughout the city of St. Paul, in the spring in 2001, we all tried finding Charlie Brown around town. During subsequent summers, we looked for Lucy and then Linus in Ramsey County parks, on street corners and even at the Minnesota State Fair. The Peanuts parade ended in 2004 whenTwin Citians asked, “Where’s Woodstock?”.  That summer we searched for Snoopy and his little yellow friend on decorated doghouses. The statues were auctioned off and the funds used to commission permanent bronze statues that have been installed in downtown St. Paul.  

While the searches have ended over a decade ago, these treasures can still be found throughout the city. Every time I stop at the Shoreview community center, I am greeted by Linus with a brightly colored beach ball.  And when I have to visit St. John's hospital in Maplewood, there's Lucy to greet me at the entrance. While some are in private collections, many are still on display. Check out more sightings of the Peanuts gang on a Facebook page dedicated to these iconic treasures.

Now I spend much more time searching for a perfect homes for buyers than Snoopy's but I do enjoy seeing a Peanuts statute pop up during my travels. It brings back great family memories.

Ready to Search for your Perfect St Paul North or East Metro Home? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When Bigger isn't Better--It's Time for a Change

 
A week or so ago, without much fanfare, I made a decision to change real estate brokers. I had been with a "big box" broker for my entire career. It was important years ago to have a brand and tools to support my real estate business and give my seller's listings a boost in the market. But now I'm going boutique--Yep, I've made a big change to a smaller brokerage.

The internet has been a great equalizer in real estate. In the past few years our local associations and MLS have provided EVERY broker and agent (big and small) with  a number of  dynamic tools to get homes sold. With reciprocity, homes are shared with other websites like Realtor.com, Zillow and every big box site, so a listing on the MLS will be seen on every site. I was faced with the question, "Why continue to pay for the big box brand?" And, more importantly, why have my clients pay the higher big box fees with little added benefit?

Those two questions helped make my decision and I made my big change to a smaller more dynamic, boutique realty company. At Boardman Realty, I work directly with the broker, Teresa Boardman, not an office manager. T is not only an excellent REALTOR®, expert photographer and blogger, she is my friend. We work well together. It is my goal to exceed the expectations of my clients and with a smaller "box", innovative marketing and lower fees, I am sure to be able to continue to do that.

Interested in working with a boutique broker to sell your Minneapolis/St Paul Home? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Selling your Ham Lake Home—What You NEED to Know about Septic Systems



So you plan to sell your Ham Lake acreage home soon. Whether you have one acre or 10, you have a private sewer or septic system to get rid of sewage. This will require a disclosure and quite possibly a compliance test. Do you know what these are? Even if you do not, make sure the REALTOR® you choose, does.

Surprisingly, not all Minnesota real estate agents are familiar with septic systems.  And the lack of knowledge can be costly to a seller. Living in area where private wells and sewage treatment is the norm, has given me the opportunity to work with these properties on a daily basis.  I put this knowledge to use to reduce headaches and surprises down the road in the sales process. 


As of today, Ham Lake does not require a point of sale inspection for septic when selling your home.  This means the city will not require you to have a compliance test on the septic. But it can be advantageous for a seller to consider having the test done prior to listing the home. Why? Because most buyers will make offers contingent on the inspection of the septic system.  If a seller has pre-inspected the system to ascertain it is in compliance, he can provide a copy to potential buyers thus avoiding a contingency being attached to the offer. Also if the system is found to be non-compliant, a seller may be required to upgrade the system. If the buyer has negotiated a sales price prior to the compliance test, he will not want to pay additional for the property even with a new septic. But if a seller pre-inspects and it is determined an upgrade is required, the home can often be sold for a higher price due to the new private sewage system.   

Have more questions about your selling your Ham Lake home? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com
 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Checklist to Get Your Home Ready to Sell in 30 Days



Home buyers are poised and ready to purchase in the Twin Cities but there is very little housing inventory right now. I am really surprised at how few listings I am seeing in the north and east metro right now. It is spring after all. And, spring is one of the best time to sell a home in Minnesota. 

Home buyers are ready, but are you? Preparing a home for sale is not an easy task but it can be done quickly if necessary. If the perfect place to move comes on the market next week, would you be ready to have your home on the market in 30 days?

I have several tips I share with my selling clients when I do a market analysis for a home. Many of my past clients refer to this as their check list of things to do to get your home in tip top shape before selling.  All are simple tasks and inexpensive ways to get your home ready so that first potential buyer is impressed. Following this list won’t take the place of hiring a professional home stager, but it does seem to get my seller’s on the right track to a quick sale.

Teri’s Tips for a Quick Home Sale

  1. Pump Up the Curb Appeal—Jazz up the front entrance with a coat of paint and new hardware on the front door.  Remove any personalized signs or doorknockers. Trim trees, bushes and keep the walkway to the front door clear.  Once the weather is warm, invest in bright, colorful flowering plants to welcome visitors. 
  2.  Prep the Kitchen—The Kitchen can sell the home so make it appear as large and inviting as possible!  Clean off counter and organize cabinets and drawers.  Store, pack or discard seldom used appliances and large pans. Large kitchen appliances should be in a matching color. Consider replacing the counter if worn or outdated. Replace dated faucets and light fixtures. 
  3.  Update the Bathrooms—Bathrooms also can make or break a sale. Sometimes cleaning, painting and re-caulking is not enough to help a dingy bathroom.   Consider replacing a dated vanity, counter and sink. Look closely at the faucets and light fixtures. If they are dated, consider replacing.  A nasty discolored tub, might need resurfacing professionally or use a DIY product like Rustoleum. Likewise, the flooring needs to be scrutinized. If it is out of date or worn, replace. As a final touch, stage the room with colorful floor mats and fluffy coordinated towels to make cozy.
  4.  Reduce Clutter—Sort out EVERYTHING! Throw away what you don’t need and pack the rest. Too much stuff? Consider an off-site storage locker or pod during the move. Donate unwanted items to charity. If you have big “toys” like a camper, boat or classic car, consider storing at another location until after the move. 
  5.  Clean Inside and Out!—Your home needs to be spotless and smell wonderful. This goes for the garage and yard too. Don’t just dump everything from the house into the garage. A buyer will want to assess the size of the garage and won’t be able to do that if it is too cluttered. If you have pets, the yard, litter box and cages, must be clean and odor-free for every showing. 
  6.  Paint—Light and neutral colors will make smaller rooms appear larger. Personalized painting of children’s names or cute designs should be painted over prior to the first showing.  Remove any wall paper. Almost every buyer I have worked with groans when they see wall paper in a house. Use premium quality paint, patch holes properly and tape woodwork prior to starting. A sloppy paint job is counterproductive and can hurt your bottom-line. 
  7.  Make Minor Repairs—Tighten knobs, fix leaks, oil squeaks, replace dirty filters, repair cracked windows and holes in screens. Anything that can be fixed, should be fixed. Buyers will not pay top dollar for a “project house”. 
  8.  Fix a Leaking Roof—Buyers look at ceilings for water stains. One small stain could cause a buyer to question the entire roof. Find and fix the leak at its source. This might be the time to call in a professional.  Make sure to have a permit for the work whether DIY or professional roofer. Repair any ceiling damage and be prepared to fully disclose the work done. 
  9.  Explain a Wet Basement—Do what you can to make repairs and minimize moisture in the basement. Be prepared to fully disclosure any water intrusion issues past and present. 
  10.  Exterminate—Call a professional to get rid of any rodent or insect intrusion. One bug, alive or dead, can scare away a potential buyer. If you get periodic mice in the home, remove traps and bait before showings. Again, honestly and fully disclose any pest issues to potential buyers before the sale.
Need more help to sell your Minneapolis/St Paul Home? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, 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 2015 www.terieckholm.com