Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What is a Minnesota Unique Well Number?

Much of the property and homes I sell are on acreage. These homes have special forms and disclosure requirements for their private sewer and water systems. The well disclosure form requires a seller to indicate what wells are on the property...sealed and unsealed....and to provide a map of where each is located.

As you can imagine, on a old farm property this might be a huge task as farmers were known to dig shallow wells as needed for irrigation.

However, I am often astounded that these forms are blank when I visit a home that was built during the last 20 years. The unique well number assigned at the time of well construction is easily located on the well or in a internet database from the MN Department of Health. With a few minutes of time invested, a seller (or seller's agent) can find this data so the new buyers have accurate information.

Why is this important and tracked in the state of Minnesota? Our 10,000 lakes, rivers and drinking water are so interconnected that it is imperative for the MN Department of Health to regulate the construction and proper sealing of known wells.

For additional information please visit the well information page on my website:


Monday, January 29, 2007

Is the Twin Cities Market Turning? A Closer Look at 2006 MN Homes Sales Statistics

Despite some of the negative slant the media coverage has given the 2006 Housing Statistics, there is actually some good news to report. According to the St Paul Area Association of Realtors Public Policy site, some of the changes were expected and not all the news is bad for the Twin Cities real estate market.

Here is an excerpt of the article.

Twin Cities, Minnesota (January 17, 2007) – Following five consecutive years of record or near-record home sales and strong home price appreciation, 2006 was the year that the Twin Cities housing market took an expected breather. The pause will ensure long-term stability and accessibility.

Buyer activity finally calmed and the year ended with 47,906 closed sales, a decline of 16.3 percent from 2005, according to the four Twin Cities-area REALTOR® associations. Newly signed purchase agreements—pending sales—showed a similar decline of 17.7 percent, posting 51,526 units.

Conversely, seller activity was robust. There were 108,022 new listings placed on the market in 2006, up 8.9 percent from the previous year. Despite a trail-off as the year progressed and new construction inventory was absorbed, sellers were active enough in 2006 to easily set a record for new listings.

All that supply colliding with lowered demand meant that the buyer gained more control over the process in 2006, and it showed in home prices. The median sales price in 2006 was $230,000, an increase of 0.5 percent compared to 2005. Total sales volume was $13,339,983,209, down 14.6 percent from last year.

“Since 1998, price growth has been extraordinarily high, between 6 and 12 percent each year,” said Wayne Gilbert, 2007 president of the Southern Twin Cities Association of REALTORS®. “The calm in appreciation was expected and is a natural byproduct of the market shift.”

As prices moderated and interest rates softened in the latter part of 2006, affordability conditions have improved significantly in recent months.

“The changes in the market during 2006 are often painted in a negative light, but they’re helping lay a solid and necessary foundation for the future,” said Jeff Dotseth, 2007 president for North Metro REALTORS® Association.

“Interest rates are still low, there’s a lot of inventory to choose from and housing is getting more affordable,” Steve Hyland said, 2007 president of the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS®. “It all adds up—2007 should be a great year to buy and sell real estate.”

But before sellers start to celebrate it is important to remember that the Twin Cities is a big area. Some areas did see a bump in the median sales price in 2006, some markets were flat and others did see a drastic decrease in the sales price of a home.

My clients in the the areas of St. Paul and to the north and east know this all too well. Ramsey and Washington Counties did post modest increases in the median sales price of homes. However there are neighborhoods that are not faring as well as others. While North St. Paul/Maplewood have modest increases in value (1.0%), the east side of St. Paul is not faring as well (Phalen -0.7% and Hillcrest -1.6%). Further north in Anoka County, the median sales price was flat. The Blaine area did see modest increases (2.2%) but most communities like Andover, Ham Lake and Lino Lakes saw as much as a 7.5% decrease. The median home price in Chisago County has decreased as a whole (-3.6%). Communities including Forest Lake, Wyoming and North Branch are in Chisago county and post similar results.

What does this mean to Sellers and Buyers in the North East Twin Cities Metro for 2007? Pricing is going to continue to be key. It is more important than ever to look at current sales, within the past 3-4 month, to determine what to sell your home at. Buyers still have plenty of options and are taking their time to find a great home at a GREAT price.

Signs point to a good year for the 2007 Twin Cities real estate market as a whole. But, keep in mind that "Location, Location, Location" is a huge consideration and some market adjustments will take longer in some areas.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Minnesota Real Estate—The Buyer’s Market Continues in 2007!By: Teri Eckholm

Minnesotans can’t deny it any longer. It is a tried and true buyers market! Some homes are taking so long to sell that the elements are causing real estate signs to rust and the paint to chip of the wooden posts. There is little hope for a complete market turn around in 2007 but all is not lost. There are positive indicators on the horizon. At least there is hope for market-smart sellers who properly prepare and price their home to SELL.

So what is a Buyer’s Market? For many Minnesotan’s it may be hard to remember. The Twin Cities (and greater Minnesota) now has an inventory of homes on the market that is expected to last 3-4 months, with no new listings. In a typical area, a buyer might have 10-20 homes that will meet their needs and price parameters. If the buyer is flexible on location and amenities, they can have upwards of 50 homes to choose from. With so many options, home buyers are taking their time, becoming educated, and being very picky before making a home purchase.

There are some positive indicators out there. According to the Monthly Market Indicators from the Minneapolis Board of Realtors, the housing affordability index is very favorable with low interest rates and flat prices. The Fed stopped increasing the short-term interest rate at 5.25 percent and we are seeing 30-year mortgage rates at a very favorable 6 to 6 ½ percent.

So what should Minnesota homeowners do if they are considering selling their home?
Waiting is NOT a short-term option! It may be hard to wait out; a typical market swing can last 5-7 years. In fact, the Chief Economist David Lereah predicts “a sluggish housing market until 2008” due to a stand off between home sellers and potential buyers waiting for the market to turn in their favor. The best advise for selling in 2007 is to become market savvy, get your home ready and bring a sharp pencil to price your home to sell!

*Get your home in tiptop shape! Fix everything! Yes, that does mean you need to put on a new roof or fix the shower and strip off the ugly wallpaper in the kitchen. Whatever needs repair or is outdated needs to be addressed BEFORE the 1st Showing. Project houses do not sell well in a buyer’s market unless they are deeply discounted below appraised value.

*Work with an experienced Realtor to price your home realistically. The refinance appraisal you received last year will not be applicable. It is best to only consider SOLD comparables from your neighborhood during the past 3-6 months. Be mindful of what is for sale down the block and compare all of the amenities. Pricing a little higher than the home down the block because yours is a little better has backfired for most sellers this past year. Buyers are knowledgeable and taking their time to make a decision. If your home is overpriced, the buyer won’t consider it at all. In fact, Pricing to undercut the competition is one of the best strategies in this market.

*Keep in mind you do have competition for a buyer and be aware of who that competition is. It is not just the neighbor down the block. You are also competing with builders who have taken drastic measures by giving deep discounts and gifts to entice buyers to their models and spec homes. There are also many foreclosed homes that are owned by banks on the market. These homes are also priced very aggressively to generate a quick sale.

*Consider FSBO only as a last resort. This is not a market where an MLS listing and a sign in the yard will sell your home. Work with a professional Realtor to get the most from your investment. As part of their service, Realtors will outline a marketing plan including advertising and Internet promotions. But not all real estate agents are alike…Ask for specifics on how they intend to market your home.

*Be Patient! Even with professional marketing, it will take time but homes do sell in Buyer’s markets. It just takes longer both in preparation and duration.

Copyright 2007 Teri Eckholm

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New and Exciting...

So what is new and exciting in Minnesota real estate for 2007? I hope to answer that question for you on a regular basis.
It is still a BUYER's market but are their signs on the horizon of hope for sellers? If you sold a home this past year, you know there are buyers out there. Of course you had to have your home ready. Clean and in very good repair. AND priced to sell. But there were buyers.
So are you ready to be more informed on trends in the Twin Cities market? Are you ready for more ideas to get your home in tip top shape? Are you ready for ideas on how to buy your first home?
Great! Visit often as I will update the blog on a regular basis.

And if you are ready to buy or sell...Or you know someone I can assist. Call or email me today!