Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why Staging is Essential Even when Housing Inventory is Low

 
This adorable little St. Paul home sold in less than three weeks at over list price this fall. In order for this kind of success, my clients started working on their property several weeks prior. They cleaned, decluttered and repaired prior to listing their home. See, it’s a whole new ballgame for home sellers right now. 

True, there is less housing inventory in the greater Minneapolis/St Paul area, which is very good news. But in many communities, sellers can find themselves competing with new construction for buyers. But even cute starter homes like this need to "sparkle" in order to sell fast. A home seller must not only have their home priced properly, which is key to getting a home sold, they also must have their home showing ready.
 

Step one is getting back to basics: unclutter, fix and clean! But what is the second step and third?

Paint Properly
If adjoining rooms are painted in the same color palette, your home will appear more spacious. Don’t take short cuts. If you don’t have time or patience to properly tape trim and ceilings, have a professional painter do the job. Painted woodwork and ceilings are noticed by buyers and in most cases this is worse than had the room not been painted at all.

Go Luxurious
Invest in accessories to accent your home. Big, fluffy coordinating towels and mats warm up the bathroom. Fresh flowers on a beautifully set dining room table look inviting. A color-coordinated rug in the foyer will make a wonderful first impression.

Cush-up the Carpet
Don’t replace the carpet on the cheap. Invest in the BEST padding you can find. Buyers will in most cases have to remove their shoes when walking through your home. In their stocking-feet, they will feel the difference!

Make it Match
Slipcovers are a quick and inexpensive way to update and coordinate mismatched furniture. Put away the old blankets and cozy up the room with a beautiful accent throw and a few pillows.


Empty the Closets

Make certain the closets are neat and organized. Replace and paint any shelves and organizers that appear dingy.


Pay Attention to Details

Handles, knobs and switch plates are inexpensive but often overlooked. Handles that are outdated or missing and switch plates that are dirty give a negative impression.

Pack Personal Items
Collections and knick knacks need to be packed! Likewise, take down the plethora of family photos. Use the “3 in any direction” rule. No more than three accent pieces should be able to be seen in any direction. Any more than three is a distraction.

The Sun Shines in when Windows Sparkle
 Feng shui teaches that windows are considered the “eyes of the home” Make sure your windows are sparkling clean inside and out. Avoid the use of vinegar as a cleaner, as the smell may linger.


Hire a Professional
An expert consultation costs less than many people expect. Having a stager visit your home and guide you in what to pack and what to display takes the guess work out of getting your home picture perfect.

Before scoffing at the idea of spending money on a home being put on the market, remember this...It is still your home until it sells. For many people, this is the biggest financial asset they have. Home staging is an investment for a better pay off on closing day.


READY to Make YOUR Move? 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 2016 terieckholm.com

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fall is a GREAT Time to Sell a Home!


October brings to mind bright orange pumpkins, warm apple cider and the crackle of fallen leaves under your feet. It is a time of change. But few people are  thinking of moving in the Minneapolis/St Paul area...or are they?

This is a common misconception of Minnesota home sellers. Often they think they “missed out” on the busy season in real estate by late summer. But surprisingly, listing a home in October, can be a very wise decision indeed.


The summer and early fall can be very busy months for many things, including vacations and back to school. Many homes listed during this time have lingered on the market, partially due to there being an influx of listings at this “good” time.  Surprisingly, many home buyers are not waiting for the school year to end to make their move. These people can be very busy in the summer months with outdoor activities. But they want to move before the sidewalks get icy and lawns are snow covered so they really get down to the business of home shopping in the fall.

I have watched this trend for several years now. The market seems to pick up when the leaves start to turn through mid-November. It cools off again over the holidays due to busy schedules, but it homes don’t completely stop selling either.  The traditional theory of listing a Minnesota home in May-June to get the best price is simply not true. Homes do sell year round and the fall colors can be a huge boost to your curb appeal too!


READY to Make YOUR Move? 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 2016 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dreaming of Life on Minnesota Acreage? 14 Tips to Make Your Dream a Reality!



Moving from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area where there are buses, trains, sidewalks and bike paths to a more rural area with a quiet relaxed lifestyle is a dream of many city home owners. Undertaking this huge lifestyle change can seem overwhelming to many. As a REALTOR® in the north and east metro, I know there is a trade off with amenities and public utilities for the more laid back life in the country; many of these services are often taken for granted by urban residents. When my family first moved to our Anoka County acreage years ago, we had to learn these differences first hand and quickly. Since then, have guided many hobbyfarm and acreage buyers to more rural communities and found I have to answer many common questions.

Here are 14 important considerations home buyers should ask prior to moving to acreage in Anoka, Chisago and Washington County.

What is a Septic or Private Sewer system?
Most rural homes have a private septic system. Not all systems are created equal. They are 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? Since not all communities require point-of-sale inspection, have your REALTOR® require the seller to supply certification of compliance from a certified septic inspector in your purchase agreement. This certification should be no more than three years old. Also, if you have never lived on a home with a septic system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain and protect your private sewer system.

Is there a city water utility or a private well?  Will I need a water softener or other water treatment system?
Families new to the concept of well water have many questions regarding its safety. Most buyers will request the water be tested for bacteria and nitrates in the purchase agreement. This is usually paid for by the seller. If you want the well test for your property to include tests for other contaminants, like lead, it must be specified in the purchase agreement. Annual water testing is recommended for all home owners with wells. Locate your MN Unique Well Number.

One question often asked by home buyers considering a property with a private well is about water treatment options available. Many homes with private wells have water softeners to treat the water in the home. Some will go one step further and have a reverse osmosis water treatment system in the kitchens as a drinking water supply. Additional information on Water Softeners and Reverse Osmosis Drinking Systems.

Is there a natural gas supply to the home or will a propane tank be located on the property?    
Often people looking at acreage will have questions about the huge propane fuel tank located near the home. People from the city usually only see these tanks outside of the gas stations where they pick up the small refills for their gas grills. In the country, the large propane tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. As a fuel source the differences are not noticeable. Propane is the least expensive cleanest fuel if a home does not have access to natural gas. Additional information on the differences between natural gas and propane.

Does the home have access to cable or high speed internet or will a satellite connection be required?  Which cable services are available to the home? What are the alternatives if DSL is not available through the phone or cable lines? Do I have to have cable or a dish to get television reception? Will I have cell phone reception?
A decade ago, these were not questions that people worried about in the rural communities. Today our interconnected world brings these questions to the forefront but no worries; there are tons of alternatives today to keep you connected. From hot spots to internet cards there are options to keep your family connected even out in the woods. Even today there are  homes in Lino Lakes, Ham Lake, Forest Lake and East Bethel that have limited cable lines and restricted options for high speed internet available. And there are cell phone dead zones no matter how numerous or close those towers seem to be. We have one less than a mile from our house and still have to have a Sprint Airave to get continuous cell phone reception. So if your family is very dependent on their cell phones and cannot survive without a high-speed connection, it is essential ask questions to figure out how to get the best access and reception.

If the road is gravel or unpaved, how often is it maintained by the city/county?
Our road was not paved when we first moved to Ham Lake. We were nearly a mile down a soft, gravel/sand road. When we moved it was late fall and were very surprised when the spring rains and snow melt left the road extremely poor condition. It was treacherous at times. The re-grading was done by the city on a periodic schedule so we had to negotiate the pot-holed road for days. Our road is now paved but the memories still remain.

If you are considering acreage, remember many rural roads are not paved. If the acreage property you are considering is on a gravel or dirt road, try to visit the property on several occasions and under differing conditions. It might be a good idea to talk to the city and county to understand how the road is maintained. Also be sure to ask if there are any plans to pave the road in the future and what would be assessed per property owner for the project.

Is there wildlife?
Well maybe not lions and tigers, but we have had bears and cougars seen near our home in Anoka County. We also have pheasant, hawks, bald eagles, raccoons, foxes, several varieties of squirrels and deer. A flock of wild turkeys have made their home in our neighborhood and continue to nest year after year. And an owl and a hawk have nested in trees in on our property. I rarely saw blue jays, cardinals or hummingbirds in the city, but in our Anoka County acreage home, we see them on a daily basis. While exciting, the downside is sometimes the wildlife comes in. I don't know anyone on Ham Lake acreage that hasn’t had an occasional field mouse enter their home.

Can we have a horse? (Or cow, chickens, goats etc.)
If your move to acreage is for having horses or other farm animals in your backyard, keep in mind that most communities have restrictions on how many, if any, animals are allowed. Whether you can have horses, pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, sheep or goats will be determined by the local city regulations. Even the amount of domesticated dogs and cats can be restricted on acreage property, just as it was in most urban communities. So if you plan to run a dog kennel, breed cats or train horses, for business or pleasure, do your due diligence and make sure it is allowed in your new rural community prior to writing an offer.

Is hunting allowed?
In some rural areas hunting is still allowed depending on the amount of acreage, the development restrictions and city and county rules. It was a rude awakening for us to discover our neighbors were allowed to hunt….and it seemed right outside our door too! Imagine our shock that first deer opener when the hunters came out in blaze orange to hunt in the woods next to our home. The property owner, at our request, posted the land and the hunters left. The land has since been developed but it is something everyone moving should understand before buying any acreage home. Check with the city and county for all ordinances regarding firearms.

Can I ride ATV’s, Snowmobiles and Dirt Bikes?
In many cases, this is allowed on acreage but even rural communities can have noise ordinances. Much will depend on the size of the property, proximity to neighbors and how often the riding takes place. Take time to learn what the rules are before starting up the engines and racing around the yard. On the plus side, there are several snowmobile trails throughout Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties which can be just down the road from many homes.

Can we have a bonfire and burn all this debris?
There are strict states and local restrictions regarding burning of construction debris and yard waste. There are restrictions on the size of the fire and what can be burned. Many construction materials cannot be burned because they release chemicals into the air that pose an environmental hazard. There are times of the year where burning is only allowed by permit and sometimes not at all. Before burning it is best to check the local restrictions as well as the DNR. More information on MN Fire Restrictions.

Where do we shop? How far to the nearest corner store, gas station, shopping center and mall?
Depending on how often you like to shop, this may or may not be a big concern. But it is always nice to know how far you will have to go for a gallon of milk for breakfast, a propane refill for the BBQ or gas for the lawn tractor.

How long does it take to cut the grass?
If your yard is over an acre with few trees, you might consider a lawn tractor. Many people on acreage only cut certain areas leaving the rest to grow to a natural prairie. Another consideration would be whether or not to install an irrigation system for the sod near the home.

Wow! There are a lot of trees! Do I have to worry about oak wilt and emerald Ash Borers?
Oak wilt is a big concern in throughout Minnesota. Many of the communities have information and programs to help protect and save the oak trees from this disease. Additional information regarding oak wilt. Recently people have been extremely concerned with the emerald ash borer that has been found in Ramsey County and now Anoka County too. These insects bored into ash trees and tunnel under the bark eventually killing the tree. There are programs to control the spread of the insects. Additional information on the Emerald Ash Borer

What about emergencies? How far to the nearest hospital? Where is the nearest fire station? Who provides police protection?
No one wants to think about these things when moving but accidents and illnesses do happen. It was a long hour drive to Children's Hospital in St. Paul when my son fell and needed stitches. If the nearest fire station is staffed with volunteers and over five miles away, it will seem like a lifetime during those 5-10 minutes while you wait for the fire truck to show up to YOUR home. And big fires in dry areas will need the water trucked in due to limited water hydrants, if any, like in the city. Many rural communities do not have police officers but are patrolled by the county sheriff's department. Understand your options before an emergency occurs because it will likely take a bit longer if you are in a rural area.


READY to Make YOUR Move? 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 2016 terieckholm.com

Saturday, July 30, 2016

It’s a Seller’s Market in the Twin Cities, so Why should I pay a BUYER’S Closing Costs?


The market is hot and sellers are in the driver’s seat once again in the housing market. So why in the world would any one of them be expected to kick in for a buyer’s closing costs? 

One of the items on the seller’s estimate of proceeds included in every market analysis I do has a place for a “Seller's contribution to a Buyer’s Closing Costs.” I always include several thousand dollars as an estimate to prepare my clients that this could come up at negotiations. A significant portion of buyers, whether using  FHA , VA or conventional financing, will require assistance with their closing costs. 


Just the other day, a potential seller said that he didn’t think he should have to pay a first time buyer’s closing costs.  I had to explain to him that buyers in ALL price points, whether purchasing a first home or moving up to a second property, might ask for seller concessions. You might be asked in negotiations to contribute to a buyer's closing costs so they can BUY your house! 



After our conversation, I decided to see what how often homebuyers are asking for closing costs in the Minneapolis/St Paul north metro. I looked at the sales of single family residential homes in Anoka County during June 2016. Even I was surprised by the results, well over 50% of homebuyers received closing cost assistance during the month. But when I broke it down by price, I was even more surprised. I found that in the price ranges from $100,000-$400,000 more than 60% of buyers negotiated for the seller to pay some closing costs. And from $400K to $500K, over 50% still requested and received assistance. Even with homes sold at over $500,000, 1 in 4 buyers received seller paid assistance. 


I decided to look at all four north metro counties to see if this was just an Anoka County phenomena. Nope….nearly the same results when I reviewed the aggregate of sales for Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties together. 


Why Do So Many Buyers Need Help? Today most buyers are required to put down a minimum of 3% of the purchase price of the home as a down payment. If a buyer wants to avoid private mortgage insurance using conventional financing, this will require 20% down. The closing costs for a buyer include title insurance, home owner’s insurance, appraisals, loan origination fees, name search fees, filing fees and more. As a REALTOR® working throughout communities in Anoka County and the north metro Minneapolis/St Paul area, I see these closing costs will run anywhere from $4000-$8000 and even more for more expensive homes. Add this amount with a required down payment and few buyers will have sufficient funds to purchase a home.


Understanding Closing Cost Assistance Buyers have the option of waiting and saving additional money to cover the down payment and closing costs or asking for seller assistance. In many cases a financial institution will allow a seller to assist a buyer by paying either points to reduce the interest rates and/or closing costs.


How does this work? Let’s say that a home is on the market for $200,000. The buyer writes their offer for $200,000 and their financial institution allows up to 3% seller’s assistance with fees and closing costs. They decide to ask the seller in their purchase agreement for $5000 in seller paid concessions, thus the net offer to purchase the home is $195,000. If the offer is accepted, the seller’s proceeds at closing would then be reduced by the $5000. Sellers do not have to come up with the funds in cash if there is sufficient equity in the home to cover both the buyer's and the seller's costs.


If a seller does not want to pay the closing costs, the buyer in many cases, will not be able to purchase the home. 

Sellers Can Still Receive a Full Priced Offer! Take that example with the home listed at $200,000, if a buyer wants to offer full price but needs $5000 in closing costs, he would just write the offer price at $205,000 . The seller's net offer is full priced.

When a seller looks at their home sale as a business deal where the bottom line is key, being open to assisting a buyer with closing costs is a very smart decision. As long as a seller is happy with the NET number received, it doesn't matter whether some of the proceeds went to pay closing costs or not. 
  
Need to know more about buying or selling a Twin Cities 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 2016 www.terieckholm.com

The Benefits of an Indoor Sport Court in a Minnesota Home




Playing basketball outdoors in the summer has it's advantages.  Especially on  a perfect 75 degree day with puffy white clouds, a slight breeze and no humidity. However, in the dog days of summer when the humidity is tropical, the sun is scorching and the mosquitos are rampant, an indoor game might be preferred. 

This made me think of how awesome it would be to have a personal indoor sport court at home...climate controlled throughout all four seasons.  It is not just a dream idea either. Builders do design them into homes throughout the Minneapolis/St Paul metro. An indoor court at home would be a great place to for kids to blow off steam during torrential summer downpours or after school when snow is piled up along the driveway. It would also be awesome for any  aspiring athlete to have the ability to train on a daily basis for team tryouts? 

Scientific research shows that it takes 3 hours of practice daily over the course of a decade to raise a talented athlete to the elite status. Most aspiring players end up spending countless hours away from home training for their sport but what if those hours could be spent at home instead? This is one of the big appeals of an indoor sport court.

Families I know in the north metro have installed backyard batting cages for their kids with baseball and softball collegiate dreams . It's great for those on acreage with abundant space and for three of four season. But it doesn't provide any advantage in the winter. Spring baseball tryouts are usually well before all the snow has melted. There are few options for playing catch or practicing pitching in January and February. And similar situations arise for those who play golf and hockey.

There is one family I know with a couple of daughters in gymnastics and dance. This family repurposed a huge polebarn into a mini gymnastics practice facility complete with a beam and trampoline indoors. But due to lack of heat,  it lost it's appeal during the winter months. It's hard to warm up and perform when the temps are below zero in the barn.

This is a common issue for Minnesota moms and dads of young athletes. Where does a parent bring a child to get in that very important daily practice without jeopardizing time spent on schoolwork and other activities. Having a gym at home is would be very valuable to many sports minded families. 

This leads many to consider the luxury of an indoor sport court whether for our teens to enjoy a friendly afternoon of basketball or to practice and train for baseball tryouts. Indoor courts are can be designed to be very versatile spaces with something for every member of the household. They are fast becoming  a very attractive selling point in the luxury market but can be incorporated into mainstream homes too.

Is a indoor sport court worth the investment cost? That depends. Like any other home feature, it will only be worth it if it is used. But if you have an active family and it's winter in Minnesota, the odds are good that an indoor court could be the favorite room in the house.

FEATURED LISTING: North Oaks home with an indoor sport court!
A luxurious 4BR/4BA/4Car executive rambler with walkout basement and indoor sport court. Download flyer and take virtual tour here.



Need to know more about buying or selling a Twin Cities 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 2016 www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is the Value of My Ham Lake Home?



The Ham Lake summer market is HOT! Home buyers are still searching for acreage homes but few good, affordable options have listed in the north and east Minneapolis/St. Paul metro this summer. 18 homes have sold and another 26 are in pending within the city of Ham Lake's borders since June 1.  AND 8 of the active homes have an accepted purchase agreement tooCurrently there are 56 active homes listed in Ham Lake (49 previously owned and 7 new construction). About 25% of these properties are priced under $300K while most are priced at well over $500,000.

Are you planning to sell your home in Ham Lake, Minnesota soon? Do you need more information on where to start? 

When you need to sell a home in the Ham Lake area, I will help you get the process started quickly. My innovative marketing and top notch negotiating skills will get your property sold FAST and at the best possible price too.  A market analysis by a professional REALTOR® is your first step in the home selling process. It will give you an ACCURATE VALUE of your current home...not a quick computer generated one. 

Interested? Read testimonials from my sellers

Selling acreage is one of my specialties. I have 15+ years experience with septic systems, compliance tests, well disclosures and other rural real estate issues.

For additional information about working with me, contact me to obtain a FREE Home Value Report. Or better yet call me, Teri Eckholm/Boardman Realty 651-336-7073 and arrange a no cost/obligation market analysis on your home today.

FYI-- I do answer my own phone so when you call, you will be talking directly to me!



Copyright 2016 www.terieckholm.com

Gated Communities in the Twin Cities? Not Quite, but Close.

 
 In many parts of the country, there are gated communities with gate out front where entrance is limited. Some of these communities have a full time guard to watch the entry and allow approved guests in as necessary.

In the community of North Oaks, while not technically gated, the private road/no trespassing signs are not a joke. This unique development is not specifically a "gated community" but the roads are privately owned by the homeowners. Every entrance to the city is posted as a private road and there is a private security guard watching the entrance or patrolling the streets as necessary.  

North Oaks, originally a 5000 acre farm, was developed for upscale, mostly acreage properties, built around Pleasant Lake and the concept of persevering the natural beauty of the area. Though there are 600+ conservancy acres and 500 acres of residential open use land, the city owns no property. All parks, trails and recreational facilities are owned and maintained by the homeowners association. Each homeowner owns the road frontage to the middle of the street, effectively making all roads resident owned and private.

So what does this mean? If you have not been invited into North Oaks by a resident, you are quite simply trespassing. There is a sheriff that patrols the community on an exclusive basis. Interestingly, residents who are selling a home can only have “invitation only” open houses or private scheduled showings. Public invitation open houses are not allowed as residents must know specifically who is coming and going from their homes.


The residents of North Oaks take their privacy and private roads very seriously. With or without gates. 



Featured North Oaks Listing: 
 Stunning Rambler with 4BR/4BA/4+Car on 2 Private Acres.   CLICK HERE to take tour and download a flyer 


Need to know more about buying or selling a Twin Cities 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 2016 www.terieckholm.com