Saturday, March 31, 2007

What is a Reverse Osmosis Drinking System?

As a Realtor in the northern suburbs of Minnesota, I get a fair number of city dwelling clients that consider moving to acreage in the country. The idea of a little elbow room from their neighbors or a small hobby farm appeals to many Twin City residents. And the beauty of it is, is that in Anoka and Chisago counties there are numerous, affordable homes on acreage that have a reasonable commute to employment in the cities.

Although there are several considerations when making a move to an acreage home, one important one is that acreage homes most often do not have a city sewer and water supply. These homes have private water and sewer systems or
wells and septic systems. The quality of the water can vary from property to property even on the same block or community.

Living in the city, most people do not give their water supply little thought. As long as a home owner can turn on the tap and receive water, they have few concerns. There is an assumption that the city is monitoring the safety of the water that flows through the system. Occasionally, a news story will run regarding a community with contamination in the water supply. When that happens, city officials are called on to take care of the situation. However home owners with a private water supply or well, have to maintain the quality of their drinking water by themselves.

There are two types of treatment systems available to homeowners:


  1. Water Softener
  2. Reverse Osmosis
A water softener is designed to remove the calcium and magnesium in the water supply of the entire house. They can also reduce some of the iron but are not designed to remove all iron deposits. Hard water contains high levels of these minerals which cause a build up of scale inside pipes and make it difficult to for soap products to lather and clean. A water softener replaces the unwanted minerals with sodium (salt) which significantly reduces these problems.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a treatment system for drinking water. Unlike a water softener, an RO system is used only in one fixture usually located in the kitchen rather than treating the water in the entire house. It is used to remove substances that occur naturally or have contaminated the water supply. Basically it uses pressure to move the water through a membrane that allows the water molecules to past through but not the contaminants. It could be considered as “ultra filtration” because the holes in the membrane are so tiny that only water molecules, not contaminants, can fit through. The slow process effectively removes nitrates, sulfates, sodium and other contaminants that discolor and/or make your water smell and taste bad.

Typically the system is located in the cabinet below the kitchen sink. The system includes a particle filter, a R/O membrane unit, a carbon absorption post filter and a storage tank for the treated water. It does not replace your hot/cold kitchen faucet. The storage tank is connected to an additional auxiliary faucet located at the sink level.

Reverse Osmosis is a slow process that uses a lot of water. Typically five gallons of treated water will dump over 40 gallons of waste water into your sewage system. Since most well owners have private sewers or septic systems, this is something to keep in mind when considering a RO system.



If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Friday, March 30, 2007

How Does a Water Softener Work?

As a Realtor in the northern suburbs of Minnesota, I get a fair number of city dwelling clients that consider moving to acreage in the country. The idea of a little elbow room from their neighbors or a small hobby farm appeals to many Twin City residents. And the beauty of it is, is that in Anoka and Chisago counties there are numerous, affordable homes on acreage that have a reasonable commute to employment in the cities.

Although there are several considerations when making a move to an acreage home, one important one is that acreage homes most often do not have a city sewer and water s
upply. These homes have private water and sewer systems or wells and septic systems. The quality of the water can vary from property to property even on the same block or community.

Living in the city, most people do not give their water supply little thought. As long as a home owner can turn on the tap and receive water, they have few concerns. There is an assumption that the city is monitoring the safety of the water that flows through the system. Occasionally, a news story will run regarding a community with contamination in the water supply. When that happens, city officials are called on to take care of the situation. However home owners with a private water supply or well, have to maintain the quality of their drinking water by themselves.

There are two types of treatment systems available to homeowners:

  1. Water Softener
  2. Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a treatment system for drinking water. It is used to remove substances that occur naturally or have contaminated the water supply. Basically it uses pressure to move the water through a membrane that allows the water molecules to past through but not the contaminants. The process removes nitrates, sulfates, sodium and other contaminants that discolor and/or make your water smell and taste bad.

The other alternative, a water softener, is designed to remove calcium and magnesium from the water supply of the whole house. Hard water contains both of these minerals which cause two basic problems for homeowners:

Build-up or scale inside of pipes, water heaters and plumbing systems.
Reacts with the chemicals in soap that reduces lathering and causes soap scum

A third problem…too much iron in the water can be addressed with a water softener to a minor degree. A normal water softener is not designed to remove high levels of iron that cause rust colored stains on fixtures and clothing. But some of the mineral can be reduced with the use of a water softener for homes with well water. If the iron levels in your water are significant you can consider a
special treatment system designed to remove iron.



The concept of a water softener is simple. The calcium and magnesium ions are replace with sodium ions. Sodium works well with soap and detergents and does not cause scale build-up in pipes. To exchange the ions, the untreated water runs through a bed of small plastic zeolite beads that are covered with sodium ions. The calcium and magnesium ions stick to the beads and the water captures the sodium ions. Eventually the beads are completely covered with the calcium and magnesium ions and need to be regenerated with the sodium ions. Here is where those bags of salt come in…The water softener unit mixes up a brine solution of sodium chloride (salt water_ which is flushed over the beads to recharge them. Once recharged, the process begins again.

This process does discharge a large amount of waste water into the sewer system; approximately 25 gallons per cycle. If you are located on acreage with a private sewer system, additional water into your septic system is a consideration that should be weighted against the damage of hard water.


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gloom and Doom for MN Real Estate? Maybe not…Check the Numbers

It is easy to get caught up in believing the hype of the tragic situation in today’s real estate market. Every day in the national and local news there is a new story of a housing development or community somewhere in the United States that has been affected by the sub-prime lending debacle that has taken place with zero-down and piggyback financing. But is it really that bad in Minnesota? Maybe and maybe not.

According to a study that was done through collaboration between the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® and the Shenehon Center for Real Estate Education at the University of St. Thomas the current situation is not dire. Their assessment is as follows: “Strong economic conditions, historically low interest rates and affordable prices help keep housing values strong in Minnesota.”

I was intrigued by this assessment so I reviewed the most current
MN Housing Report for 4th Quarter 2006 myself to check the status of the Minnesota real estate market. While there are some numbers that have dropped sharply in the housing prices, the historical number of the past few years is still up dramatically.









In Minnesota we have experienced double digit increases in property values for several years in a row. While this “Hot” market was exciting, it was not sustainable. But these numbers while leveling off, do not indicate the bottom has dropped out. The price change in home values across Minnesota since 2002 is still up significantly at 20% or higher.

So how will this affect the average Minnesota homeowner? If you bought a home in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, your home has most likely appreciated in value. If you just bought a home in the past year, your home may not have appreciated at all. A home is a
smart investment but a long term one.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Realtors’ Code of Ethics--The Rules I Live By


From the time we are children we learn right from wrong. As a child, our parents guide us and help us to establish an internal compass that directs us throughout our lives. I have always abided by the Golden Rule; Do unto others as you would have done to you.
The Realtor’s Code of Ethics is based on this same principle. It is an outline as to how we as Realtors conduct our real estate business. It defines how we are to treat our clients. It specifies how we are to treat the public. And it further directs how we as Realtors should treat other real estate professionals.

Not all real estate practitioners are Realtors. In order to use the Realtor name you must join the National Association of Realtors and abide by their code.

In my Minnesota real estate practice, I take these rules very seriously. It is considered the standard of practice that I work under as I truly believe it is the right way to do business.

Although there are many details to the complete code of ethics, here are a few points I would like to highlight:


  • Realtors pledge to protect and promote the interests of their client.

  • Realtors do not mislead on property value.

  • Realtors preserve the confidential information of their clients.

  • Realtors must disclose material defects and facts on properties.

  • Realtors must not discriminate.

  • Realtors must disclose dual agency.

  • Realtors are required to be accountable for funds.

  • Realtors must disclose accepted offers.

  • Realtors are required to provide competent service.

  • Realtors are not lawyers and cannot offer legal advice.

As a Minnesota real estate professional, I am proud to be a Realtor. And this is a sampling of the rules that I live by.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring Fire Restrictions in Minnesota

Spring is in the air! The signs are all around us and not just the budding trees and spring tulips peeking out from the ground. The Smokey Bear sign at the Carlos Avery Nature Preserve has changed it’s winter “Drive Safely” sign to the blue, green, yellow, orange and red fire danger warning signs too! Grass fire season is here and 2007 has the potential to be very active. The drought predictions started in January when there was very little if any snow cover across the northern metro. Even with the two big March snow storms, we are at a major deficit for moisture in the area which leaves Minnesota vulnerable for grass fires.

Living near Carlos Avery Wildlife Management area, I won’t soon forget how quickly a small fire that was improperly extinguished turned into a major fire that burned for days and destroyed several homes in Linwood. The smoke in the air and blazing orange nighttime skyline is burned into many Anoka and Chisago County residents.

A few years back while my own house was under construction, the inattentive subcontractors lost control of a fire on what was soon to be my property. Thank goodness it was noticed and put out quickly with the assistance of several friends who were nearby.


Fire Facts According to a 3/21/2007 news release from the Minnesota DNR:






  • April and May are months when agencies respond to the highest number of wildfires.

  • Approximately 80 percent of all wildfires in MN occur during April and May.
  • The burning of yard debris is a major cause of wildfires in Minnesota.
Open burning will be restricted in April and May, but even after the restrictions are removed remember to be vigilant when having that backyard bonfire. Also don’t discard cigarettes out of car windows.

It is no fun to watch the fire fighting water planes flying low over my home on their way to Coon Lake for another load, especially knowing that a friend or neighbor’s home could be in jeopardy. Help protect your home, neighborhood and community by being careful with fire.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Very Bright Staging Idea! Compact Florescents Light Dim Areas with ONE Bulb!



Yesterday, I bought several packages of the new compact florescent bulbs for our home. Not necessarily with the altruistic idea to save the planet with a green bulb, although that is definitely and added value. (See CNN’s story: Building a Better Greener Light Bulb.) No, our kitchen ceiling fan has light bulbs that tend to blow out several times a month. The fixture has four sockets and our family has been eating breakfast in the dim light of two or three 60 watt-ers for several years. We had tried the special incandescent bulbs made with better filaments for ceiling fans at 3 times the price but those “special” bulbs didn’t last any longer than the cheap ones.

So yesterday we made the “green” move to a total different bulb and got more than we bargained for! Not only did all four bulbs work…They were BRIGHT! The kitchen was so well lit, that my 13-year-old’s eyes literally started to water. What an incredible difference!

As a real estate agent, this new bulb is revolutionary. I am going to have to talk to my sellers about the benefits of using these new bulbs as a way to brighten up some usually dim areas. Yes, the light is a bit harsher and the bulbs are more expensive, but there are definitely positives to these bulbs besides the obviously environmental ones. Here is a list of some of the places that a seller might consider replacing a regular bulb with a compact florescent.
  • Garages—Older garages tend to have only one bulb and it can be accidentally left on during showings. A compact florescent will last much longer if left on accidentally. And will brighten up the dim garage. Also consider replacing that bulb on the garage door opener that is cumbersome to replace and gives minimal light.

  • Front porches—What Realtor wouldn’t appreciate a bit more light when retrieving the key and unlocking a front door? This also tends to be a light that gets left on, until it burns out, following showings.
  • Basements—Like older garages, many older and unfinished basements have only one or two bulbs to light large areas. Brighter bulbs are a good investment for all of the basement sockets.
  • Stairwells—Everyone appreciates better lighting as they go up and downstairs in unfamiliar homes.

  • Closets—That one small bulb can really light up a small area so that the buyers can see the space and potential.
If your home is on the market, walk around and flip those switches to assess your dim areas. With a few compact fluorescents, you can quickly and affectively brighten up your home prior to your next showing!
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Property Valuations Are Arriving in Anoka County!


It’s that time again…Your 2007 Notice of Valuation for property in Anoka County should be arriving in your mailbox any day now!


What a pleasant surprise! My property value did not go up again this year. Of course many homeowners would be shocked to hear a Realtor make such a statement. But as a real estate agent, I know that the sales price of homes has leveled off and even decreased in some areas of Anoka County during the past couple of years.




The decrease in value has been so noticeable that when I received my 2006 Notice of Valuation, I called the assessor and questioned my statement because my property value had increased in the eyes of Anoka County. The assessor was very nice and explained that they are using the past year's data that shows the Ham Lake area as continuing to increase in value. She really stays on top of things and would be going to be out to review area properties. She tries to diligently watch the property sales amounts to be within a few percent of the actual market value. I can only image that with a changing market, how difficult assessing property values can be.

It is a challenge to explain the difference between the rising Property Valuation to the average home owner when they want my expert opinion of their property value with a competitive market analysis or CMA. Of the most recent CMA’s I have completed, home owners have had a bit of a reality check when I don’t add in for appreciation. With so many homes currently on the market, a home owner has to spend money to put their home in optimal condition and then price the home competitively. Property values are currently not appreciating but are remaining flat or slightly decreasing.

As an Anoka County home owner, I am not concerned by the 2.5% reduction in value of my home by Anoka County. Since my valuation directly affects what my property taxes will be, a lower value will equate to lower taxes. Also, as a Realtor, I know that this is just a leveling off period after a significantly long run of rising values. The current
buyers market is the result of the past 7+ years of increased values. No, I know there is no reason to be concerned over a market correction. Real estate is still one of the best investments a person can make.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007terieckholm.com 


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mortgage Options are Changing


Did you know that over three dozen subprime lenders have gone out of business since the beginning of 2007?

The mortgage industry is changing and if you are in the market to purchase a home, it is imperative to understand what is going on. Pre-approval with a trusted, experienced loan officer will be more important than ever in the coming months as the industry deals with the fallout.


Don't be frightened out of the home buying market. Be informed and get pre-approved. It is still a buyers' market in Minnesota. There a large number of good homes at the best prices the Twin Cities has seen in years. It is still a great time to buy a home.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com


Monday, March 19, 2007

What is a Truth-In-Sale Housing Disclosure? How does that differ from Pre-Inspection?


I was speaking with potential clients about listing their home in Blaine, Minnesota a few weeks ago. They had beautiful home with many updates that they taken wonderful care of. As they were filling out the disclosure, they brought up the subject of pre-inspection. A friend of theirs had recently sold a home and had it pre-inspected. When the offers came in, the buyers opted to forego the inspection, choosing to just read the report. My clients were wondering if this was a common practice and if a pre-inspection was required.

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. It is the homeowners 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
St. Louis Park
St. Paul
South St. Paul

City Inspectors
Crystal
New Hope
Richfield

Can I still have my home pre-inspected if my community does not have a truth-in-sale requirement?

Absolutely! Having you property pre-inspected and an inspection report available to potential buyers can speed along the buying process 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?
If you have lived in the home, yes! It is required to disclose what you know about the home. However, in the case of an estate or rental property where the owner did not live in the home, the owner will have limited information regarding the property to disclose. In this case, an inspector’s report can be offered in lieu of the completed disclosure.




If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Home Buyers Guide: Important Checklist for a Final Walk-Through

What an exciting day; the day you close on your new home! A few days before, your Realtor had called to schedule the date and time of the final walk-through. You thought, “This is great! I needed to check the paint color in the bedroom and measure the windows for blinds.” But that is not what the final walk-through is for. This is the last opportunity for you to see the home prior to closing. It is an appointment not to be missed or glossed over. It is a time to stay focused on your investment and examine the condition of the property one last time.

The purchase agreement that you sign in the state of Minnesota requires the seller to warrant that the central air conditioning, heating, plumbing and wiring systems on the property are in working order on the date of closing. It also insures you the rights to a “walk-through” review of the property prior to closing. This is not something to forego.

Last year there was a news report of first-time buyers who headed with all of their belongings directly to their new home after closing. They intended to move right in and enjoy their dream home, but arrived to find a nightmare. Sometime since seeing the home and writing a purchase agreement, a pipe had burst and flooded the entire home. These buyers had considered the final walk-through unnecessary since they had just seen the home a couple of weeks ago. Now they were the proud but frustrated owners of a huge mess. Although they do have legal remedies for having the home repaired, these buyers would have been in a much better position if they negotiated with the seller prior to closing. Or in the case of this extreme damage, the buyers could have not signed the final documents to purchase the home.

Every buyer should do a final walk-through on the home as close to the closing as possible. I suggest to my clients that we schedule the walk-through immediately prior to the closing. We meet one hour before at the home to review the condition of the property and then go directly to the closing. Any problems are noted and I immediately contact the seller’s agent so they have time to discuss the situation with their seller before our arrival.

The walk-through just prior to closing doesn’t eliminate every surprise that a new buyer might face. But it significantly reduces the chance of closing on an unknown disaster. Here is a checklist you can use as a guide to remind you of the things to check during your final inspection of the home.




Final Walk-Through Checklist

Double Check the Paperwork**Do you have a copy of the sellers’ disclosure?
**Do you have all required/requested inspection reports?
**Have you checked with the city to verify that all permits were issued for repairs and other information on the home’s history?
**Are all work orders complete? Are you satisfied with the results?

Exterior Review
**Check steps, sidewalks, driveways and patios for any noticeable change.
**Review drains, downspouts and gutters for change.
**Look at all doors and windows to verify they are in the same condition.
**Check the roof for changes…do any shingles appear loose or missing?
**Check the garage door? Do the openers work? Is the auto-reverse functional?
**Check for any noticeable leaking in garage.
**Double check garage and exterior lights.
Plumbing Review**Flush all toilets.
**Check all faucets both hot and cold for water pressure and temperature.
**Watch all traps and drains for proper drainage.
**Check operation of all appliances:

  • Washer/Dryer
  • Stove
  • Dishwasher
  • Water Heater
  • Water Softener
  • Refrigerator
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Trash Compactor
**If there is a in-ground sprinkling system or swimming pool, verify that it is in proper working order.
Interior Rooms Review
**Check that all doors, windows and screens are operational.
**Check ceilings, walls and floors for stains or other signs of damage.
**Check all handrails.

Electrical Review
**Check all lights, outlets, bathroom fans and kitchen fans.
**Verify that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, security systems and door bells are functioning.
Furnace and Air Conditioning Review**Increase home thermostat on furnace to verify proper operation.
**Test air conditioning by lowering thermostat if outdoor temperature is above 65 degrees to verify air conditioning is operating.
**Check that gas fireplaces are operating properly.
Attic and Basement Review**Check for changes in any stained, damp or wet areas.
**Verify that there are no new wall or floor cracks.
**Is the sump pump operational?


A quick review of the home inside and out with a checklist will get you back to exciting part of that final walk-through…Will the couch look better here or there?


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!




Growing up Irish in St. Paul, Minnesota made March 17th an official holiday! (Okay...only a quarter Irish but on St. Pat's day, whose counting?) We attended the big downtown parade and walked under the “Flaherty” banner. Our dinner was home cooked corned beef and cabbage. We didn’t dance, but sang the “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” all day! It was fun to celebrate our heritage.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to share some fun Minnesota Irish websites. Enjoy!
Meet St. Patrick
Irish Songs and their lyrics
Irish Recipes



May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.Traditional Irish Toast

Friday, March 16, 2007

How to Choose a Realtor—Don't Focus on Fee!

I love a bargain! I always want the best deals on any products I buy. I scour the internet, clip coupons and negotiate with sales people for better prices on everything from groceries to new cars.

One place I do not negotiate is on professional services. My hairstylist was referred to me by a friend. She does an awesome job and is worth every penny I pay her (including the tip!). Likewise, our doctors and dentist came to us by recommendation. They are out-of-network from our HMO which means that we pay an increased co-pay for each visit. We could change our doctors and dentist to providers that are in-network and reduce our fees, but we would never consider giving up the quality of care we receive to save a few bucks.

Every time our family needs a new service professional, we use the same process: think for a moment which friend has been in a similar situation and call that trusted friend for a referral. A few years ago our family was in a car accident a few years ago and needed both and attorney and auto body shop. After two phone calls, we were in the hands of trusted professionals. Our son needed braces and we didn’t shop around for the best price, we contacted a friend whose daughter was completing the process with a beautiful smile. We made an appointment for a consultation with the recommended orthodontist and a week later, my son had his braces. Not once did we try to negotiate a better fee with any of these professionals. We wanted the best possible service. We had no intention of compromising on quality for a lower price.

So what does this have to do with real estate?

Many times when I receive a phone call regarding listing a home, the first question from that potential listing client is “What is your fee?” as opposed to what will I do for them to sell their home. No matter what I answer, some of these clients will insist it is too high. I wonder how many of these people ask that of other professional service providers they use. It is just as important to understand WHAT service will be provided as it is to know HOW MUCH you will pay. In this slower buyers market, getting the home SOLD is the key to success. As a seller you need to ask questions regarding what quality of service will be provided prior to negotiating a listing fee.

My real estate service is full service.
From the time you contact me, I go to work.

**I consult with you and advise on how to prepare your home to get the best possible price.

**I analyze the market and assist you in properly pricing your home.

**I take the time to research to see if your city requires any point-of-sale inspections and recommend service providers for those inspections on your home, well or septic system.

**It is my job to prepare marketing materials, provide signs and hold open houses.

**I review offers with you and provide expert advice on the pluses and minuses of each purchase agreement so that you know when to make a good counteroffer and/or when to accept the deal.

**I work with the buyer’s agent to negotiate the best possible terms as directed by you.

**If the purchase agreement included contingencies for other inspections or repairs, I assist you through the process.


From your initial phone call through the final paperwork, I am by your side as a professional Realtor, providing high quality service. From the amount of referrals I receive, I know that my fee is fair for the service I provide.


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Twin Cities Market Affordability is Improving--March 2007 Update

According to a press release this week from the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors (SPAAR), real estate is becoming more affordable in the 13 county Twin Cities metro area. This is due to predicted market correction which is a cause of concern to some homeowners who hoped property values would continue to rise indefinitely. Reality has hit with the slowest start in home sales in the past eight years. For the 7th month in a row, the Twin Cities has seen the median price of homes closed drop in comparison to the previous month.

Properties are staying on the market for longer periods of time and the housing inventory levels remain high with over 27,400 active homes on the market as of March 1. This is up 9.27 percent in just one month. But compared to last year's numbers, the statistics are relatively unchanged. 
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released news of its own yesterday, predicting that a recovery of the housing market is likely but the timing is hard to predict. Recent problems in the sub-prime lending market and unusual weather patterns are pointed to as some of the reasons for the inability to forecast an upswing. A 1.2% projected rise to the median existing home price is bringing the median value to $224,500 this year and even stronger gains are predicted for 2008. 

It's not all gloom and doom on the horizon for the housing market. In a buyers market, prices are being adjusted by sellers to intice buyers. After years of exploding house values a little market dip or flatline should not be too concerning to the average homeowner.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007

Remodeling Investments: Bathrooms are a Good BET!

Considering a remodel but are concerned that the investment might outweigh the value added to your home? If you are considering a bathroom remodel, it could be a great investment.

I have always told my clients considering putting their homes on the market, that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. A recent report from National Association of Realtors (NAR) agrees. In late December, the NAR released the 2006 Cost VS Value Report for home remodels. This study looked at cost data, resale value and percentage recouped for 25 different projects in 60 housing markets across the United States. With mid-range bath remodel, a homeowner can expect to recoup a good portion of their expenses with a 84.9 percent return on investment. This is up from 87.5 percent in a similar study in 2002. 

Before a considering a bathroom remodel, you need to understand “Why” you are undertaking this project. Do you need a new bathroom because the old layout is not functional? Not enough bathrooms in your home? Or is it because you plan to move and the maroon ceramic tile and pink fixtures from the 1950’s are too ugly to get the best price for the home?

To design the perfect bathroom for your home a lifestyle inventory will need to be taken. This is a process where you ask yourself questions to determine the needs and expectations specific to your family for your family. Here some questions to consider:


Who and how the bath will be used?

One sink or two?

Shower and tub combination or just a shower?
What are the storage, electrical outlets and counter space needs?

Private areas or completely open?

Will there be handicap accessibility needs now or in the future?


If you are looking for resale value, trends are important in bathrooms. Here are some of today’s hot bathroom trends:


  • Pedestal sinks


  • White Fixtures


  • Extra-Large Showers with multiple faucets


  • Heated, ceramic flooring


  • Glass Block and decorative moldings


  • Furniture-look to cabinetry


  • Solid surface countertops (Corian)
Another important consideration is handicap accessibility needs whether now or in the future. Options today go way beyond a raised toilet and grab bars in the shower. Larger doorways, easy access lighting, easy entry tubs, roll in showers, sinks that raise and lower with the touch of a button are just some of the new options available to persons with special needs. If you are planning to stay in your home for a significant length of time, it might pay to review some of the exciting new products available. In Minnesota, there is an excellent builder/remodeler, Dave Regel who specializes in totally accessible housing. He has model homes that feature unique products that make life easier and more enjoyable to persons will special needs.


If remodeling specifically to put your home on the market, take into consideration the quality and condition of the home. A good Realtor who knows your market can assist you here. If you are in an upscale neighborhood where homebuyers will expect high-end quality, don’t make discount-store decisions. Likewise, if your home is in an area of modest or lower value homes, skip the heated tile flooring and solid surface countertop. Understanding the market place you are in will help you to recoup the most from your investment.

Spending a little extra time in the planning stage can reduce the headaches and heartaches of a construction project that does not meet expectations. Taking your time will allow you to make the wise decisions that add value to your most important financial investment, your home.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Remodeling Investments: Kitchens are HOT!

Considering a remodel but are concerned that the investment might outweigh the value added to your home? If you are considering a kitchen remodel, it could be an excellent investment.

I have always told my clients considering putting their homes on the market, that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. A recent report from National Association of Realtors (NAR) agrees. In late December, the NAR released the 2006 Cost VS Value Report for home remodels. This study looked at cost data, resale value and percentage recouped for 25 different projects in 60 housing markets across the United States. With major, mid-range kitchen remodel, a homeowner can expect to recoup almost all of their expenses with an average 80-85 percent return on investment. (Major Kitchen Remodel: 80.4% and Minor Kitchen Remodel: 85.2 %.) This is up from 66 percent in a similar study in 2002. 

Before a considering remodeling your kitchen, you need to understand “Why” you are undertaking this project. Is it because you trip over yourselves in the kitchen in a home you love and plan to stay in forever? Or is it because you plan to move and the 1970’s orange counter and olive green appliances are too ugly to get the best price for the home. The approach to the perfect remodel will be different if you are planning to stay in the home for the long term.

Family Lifestyle Inventory

If you are designing the perfect kitchen for your family, take a lifestyle inventory. This is a process where you answer questions to understand what will be the most important needs specific to your family for the new space. It will help you and your designer to incorporate important details into your plan.

Consider cooking habits: One cook or two? Baker? Left-handed? Do you do dishes as you cook? Lots of Gadgets? Buy in Bulk? One oven or two?

Consider eating habits: Family gatherings? Everyone for themselves? Eat outdoors? Need morning sunshine? Entertaining?

Other Considerations: TV in kitchen? Computer or home office needs? Homework? Laundry? Will the family grow? Older relatives? Handicap Accessibility requirements?

All of these are things to consider when making a decision on whether and how to remodel your kitchen. Work with a designer or use a remodeling design software that will take into account the important specific needs of your family.

Trends for Today’s Kitchens

For a remodel to add value at resale, you must consider current needs and trends. So what are the hot for trends for kitchens today?

**Open to Family Room or Great Room
**Maple cabinetry is a first choice. Cherry is a close second. Painted or enameled are also desirable. A variety of heights, lots of moldings, cabinetry looks and no soffits are the trends.
**Modern Stainless Steel Appliances. Cook tops separate from ovens
**Breakfast Bar/Informal Eating Area and multi-level counter tops
**Office/Communication area
**Access to Deck or Patio for Outdoor Entertaining
**Stainless steel sinks with instant hot water systems
**Pantry or Other Easy Access Storage
**Multiple types of Lighting (Bright for tasks, Indirect for mood)
**Windows for Natural Light
**For natural wood flooring oak is the first choice for durability. Laminates are also very popular.
**Granite or Quartz-based granite clones for counters or islands (Zodiac, Cambria, Silstone). Too expensive to do the whole kitchen in granite? Consider just the island in granite and the bulk of the counter in a complimentary colored laminate.
**Ceramic tile back splashes.
Stick to Your Budget
It is easy to get caught up in the remodeling process and go over budget. Take time from the start to reflect on your family’s needs and reasons for the remodel. Consider options that make the most sense for your family, budget and neighborhood. Make certain that the kitchen isn’t build way beyond the quality and value of the rest of the home. Remember remodeling for family use will cost more than a remodel for resale.
If remodeling specifically to put your home on the market, take into consideration the quality and condition of the home. A good Realtor who knows your market can assist you here. If you are in an upscale neighborhood where homebuyers will expect high-end quality, don’t make discount-store decisions. Likewise, if your home is in an area of modest or lower value homes, skip the cherry cupboards and granite counters. Understanding the market place you are in will help you to recoup the most from your investment.
Spending a little extra time in the planning stage can reduce the headaches and heartaches of a construction project that does not meet expectations. Taking your time will allow you to make the wise decisions that add value to your most important financial investment, your home.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avoid Being SOLD by a Credit Bureau!

Did you know that for as little as $25 a credit bureau can buy your personal information after you apply for credit?

When you apply for a loan, you are required to fill out an application with personal information including name, address, and phone number. Based on the information you supply, the loan officer will pull your credit and mortgage history including you FICO score and other details. There is no law that prevents the credit bureaus from making a profit on the sale of this collected data. And there are many mortgage companies and other financial vendors that will pay top dollar for the opportunity to solicit your business.


Credit bureaus sell names, addresses, phone numbers, mortgage histories andFICO scores for as little as $25 to $100 to financial institutions and mortgage firms as a way for loan officers to solicit your business.


There is a way to prevent your information from being sold. Prior to applying for any loan program, opt out. Visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com which will provide you with a convenient and easy way to prevent your information from being sold by credit bureaus.


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Charter Schools in the Twin Cities North Metro: Educational Alternatives without Private School Price

When my eldest son was in first grade, we were approached by a teacher in the KidU summer school program in Anoka, Minnesota, regarding his potential. During the regular school year, this teacher coordinated the gifted and talented program in a neighboring district. He wanted to make certain that we were aware of our son’s abilities and high potential. Though aware of our son’s language ability (he was reading at two after all), we were at a loss as to educational options. We had just moved to Ham Lake after living our entire lives in the North St. Paul/St. Paul area and were afraid that our alternatives might be limited as there were few private schools in the area. So we began to research our options and discovered some unique educational opportunities in the Twin Cities North Metro.

The Charter School Option


In 1991, Minnesota was the first state in the nation to open a charter school. Unlike a private school, charter schools are publicly funded and tuition free. In fact, two charter schools were opened that year. Since then over 3000 schools are now operating nationwide. These schools provide an alternative environment that is unique to each charter with a specific purpose of focus. Although many of these schools come and go, there are several in the north and east Twin Cities metro that have operated for several years and could be the perfect option for your family.Lakes International Language Academy, Forest Lake, MN
Grades: K-4 (currently)
Enrollment: 175

The Lakes International Language Academy is affectionately known as the “Forest Lake Spanish Immersion” school. Chartered in 2004 this elementary school has plans to expand to 6th grade and grow with its current student. Its program teaches a traditional curriculum while immersing students in the Spanish language to establish a high level efficiency in both spoken and written Spanish.
Math and Science Academy, Woodbury, MN
Grades 6-12
Enrollment: 300

Opened in 1999, the Math and Science Academy is, as its name suggests, a charter middle and high school with an emphasis on math and science classes along with the traditional required curriculum. MSA requires six years of Spanish for all students. Class sizes are approximately 20 students per class.
North Lakes Academy, Forest Lake, MN
Grades 6-9
Enrollment: 200

North Lakes Academy Charter Middle School is designed to provide a challenging academic opportunity with the rigor of a liberal art curriculum. Small classes are the cornerstone of the school with 20 or less students per class. All students are required to study music with a choice of band or choir, art and Spanish in addition to the traditional required subjects.
PACT , Ramsey, MN
Grades: K-12
Enrollment: 540 Students

Chartered in 1994 this is one of the originals and is still going strong. Now offering education for kindergarten through high school, PACT mission is to partner with parents, students and teachers to work collaboratively to attain a quality education. The educational program includes strong academics, a focus on character and a welcoming community
St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, MN
Grades 9-12
Enrollment: 150

This newer charter school option has really taken off since opening its doors in the historic Landmark Center in 2005. It’s unique forte is a combination of traditional high school curriculum with an emphasis on dance, drama and the performing arts. It location allows the use of the Ordway Center for theatrical instruction and the RiverCentre for dance instruction.

While these are the notable charter schools in the north and east metro Twin Cities, there are many other options throughout the Twin Cities metro. 


Alternatives within the Public Schools

Distance Learning through North Branch District #138

North Branch school district offers a distance learning option to students who would like a home-school environment with the assistance and guidance of a full-time teacher. In this program, the teacher would visit the student at his/her home once a month to provide materials and assignments for the month’s curriculum. During the month the teacher is available by email and telephone to assist the learning process. Weekly assignments are emailed to be reviewed and graded by the instructor.
Distance Learning in North Branch K-12

Montessori Education through Forest Lake District #831
Central Montessori Elementary School provides kindergarten through 6th grade students a Montessori based education as an option of the Forest Lake public school district. Montessori learning provides multiple ages within classes so students can learn at their own pace and move on to higher level material as they individually progress.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Friday, March 9, 2007

What is your Realtor’s List-to-sales Ratio?


As many of you have noticed, Minnesota’s real estate market has changed. Throughout the late 1990’s and into the early 2000’s it was a seller’s dream market. It seemed like as soon as a sign was posted in the yard, a SOLD sign was attached. Not so anymore, Minnesota is in a full fledged buyers market. So what does this mean for sellers? Although many things have to be considered, there is a new important question to ask your prospective real estate agent: What’s your List-to Sales Ratio?

Some agents seem to have every house on the block or in a neighborhood listed. Their signs are posted in yards throughout the town. Their ads are in your local newspaper and in your mailbox. This is may be an indication of a successful Realtor. But the big question is “Did the homes sell?”

In this slower buyer’s market, there are many more homes on the market than buyers. Do you want an agent that can successfully get you to sign on the dotted line to list your home or would you prefer one who will actually get the home sold? If a potential agent is unsure of their ratio, work with them to figure it out.

Ask how many homes they listed last year.
Next, ask how many listings they sold. (Make sure that the agent doesn’t include sales of homes to buyers.)
Divide the listings sold by the total number of listings to get the ratio.

If the ratio of listings-to-sales is less than 50%, you might want to select a different agent. Successful agents won’t sell every home they list, but their success ratio will be over 70%, even in a slow year.

More tips on how to select a real estate agent. Part One. Part Two.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor who has a sale-to-list ratio of above 70%, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com



Thursday, March 8, 2007

Reminder—Daylight Savings Time Change Helps Sell Homes!

Spring has sprung early this year. Or at least we will be springing our clocks forward three weeks earlier. Due to new law enacted, The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which goes into effect this year, we will move our clocks ahead one hour on Sunday, March 11. (Or make the change on Saturday evening before you go to bed, as it will take effect at 2:00 A.M.) Starting in 2007, US and Canadian clocks will be moved forward on the second Sunday in March and moved back on the first Sunday in November.

With all of the
electronic concerns aside, it is great for real estate. The spring marketing season will get a jump start on later showings. The winter is tough for weekday showings. People get off work at dusk and it is dark before many potential buyers can make an evening showing. Frankly, it is hard to assess the outside of a home in the dark.

So as you home buyers, sellers and agents grumble about having to manually update your computer, consider one bright spot; an extra hour of daylight during the week for driving by and showing homes.

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Foreclosure Disclosure—Do I Really Need An Inspection?

The local news investigators recently did a story on foreclosed homes that banks are putting on the market in the Twin Cities area. The story had an ominous tone. The reporter visited a home with a hidden camera in tow posing as a potential buyer. Questions were asked about the condition of the home and regarding disclosures available. This particular home did have evidence of a mold problem, dark spots on a sheet rocked wall. A few days later, the reporter returned to the home and the area with the mold had been repainted.

The angle of the story in the voice over was that in Minnesota there is a “loophole” where banks and other financial entities would not have to fill out a disclosure form that is required to be completed by all other home owners in the state. The reporter indicated that a new buyer would not be aware of the painted-over mold. She had a home inspector with her as an expert who said that it was his opinion that the law is flawed; financial institutions should be required to provide potential buyers with a report from an independent licensed inspector.

Though interesting to watch, there were many inaccuracies in this investigation. True, the state of Minnesota does not require financial institutions to provide a disclosure. But I don’t think this is a “loophole”. When the reporter first visited the home posing as a potential buyer, she was shown the home by the listing agent. The listing agent is working for the seller. Since the news reporter was trying to make a point about disclosure, it may have been cut out where the agent recommends that the buyer get an independent inspection. When under contract as a listing agent, the agent is working for the seller not a buyer but still must disclose any known information about the property. Although on the return trip, the wall was bleached and repainted, that does not mean that the agent wasn’t informing potential buyers of the situation.

Buyers considering foreclosed properties must go into these homes with their eyes wide open! The best advice is for buyers to sign a buyer’s representation agreement with an agent prior to visiting any listings. Your agent will advise an independent inspector on all properties, not just foreclosed homes, because the average homeowner may not be aware of all defects in their own property. Most listing agents on foreclosed homes will recommend an independent inspector as well. The reporter did say that the agent had done nothing wrong so they did not show his face. This makes me wonder if the agent had been explaining why inspections are necessary.

Most foreclosed homes have notices posted in the MLS and at the home to “Get an Inspection”. This inspector when hired by the buyer walks through the entire home with the buyer in a systematic two-three hour process explaining the defects and potential problems and repairs of the home. The buyer has an in-depth understanding of the property they are buying. If the state had required that financial institutions provide inspections, many buyers might forego having an independent inspection.

The current real estate market includes many foreclosed, bank owned homes. These properties can be a great investment resource or “fixer-upper” first home. But buyers must be smart. Smart buyers with have their own representation and hire their own independent inspectors. On a purchase this big, you owe it to yourself not to take someone’s word for the property’s condition.



If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Monday, March 5, 2007

Top 10 Ideas to Get Your Home Ready to SELL!

Get ready! With the spring sale season just around the corner, now is the time to get your home ready to put on the market. As a Minnesota Realtor, I have seen many homes go on the market that simply are not ready. This decreases the amount a buyer is willing to pay buy thousands of dollars.
These are my Top 10 ideas for sellers to get their homes in top condition for a quick sale.


1. Make the Front Entrance SPARKLE!
You need to make a great first impression! A coat of paint and a new brass kick plate or doorknocker says "welcome home". Remove any personalized doorknockers or signs from the front of the home. Remember to trim bushes and shrubs and keep walkways clear. A blooming plant or festive wreath is a nice touch.

2. Organize the Kitchen
Kitchens sell homes—make yours appear more large and inviting! Clean off counters and organize cupboards and drawers. Store or pack seldom used appliances and large pans. Consider replacing the counter if it is worn or has an unusual color. Repair or replace leaky kitchen faucets and dated florescent light fixtures.

3. Reduce Clutter Inside and Out
Sort out E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Throw away anything you do not need and organize the rest. Too much stuff? Consider an off-site storage facility during the move. Donate unwanted items to a local charity. Campers, boats and old cars should be parked at a different location.

4. Clean
Your home should be spotless and smell clean too! Remember to give attention to the yard and garage too. Buyers want to see the size of your garage not where you dumped all the stuff from the house. If you have a dog, make certain that the yard has been picked up before every showing and it is completely free of debris.


5. Paint
Light neutral colors make small rooms appear larger. That cute personalization you painstakingly painted on your child’s wall is a paint-over project to a new buyer. Do them a favor and paint over before the first showing. Remove dated wallpaper and borders and paint walls. Use premium quality paint and remember to patch holes properly and tape woodwork prior to starting. A sloppy paint job can be more detrimental to your bottom line than no paint job at all.


6. Update Bath
If cleaning and painting cannot help a dingy bath, consider replacing vanity, counter and sink. Look at the faucets and light fixtures. If they are vintage, consider replacing. Also consider installing new flooring or buy nice plush floor mats to make the bathroom cozy. If the tub is nasty and stained, look into having it resurfaced.


7. Make Minor Repairs

Tighten knobs, fix leaky faucets, oil squeaking hinges, replace dirty filters, repair cracked windows and holes in screens. If it can be fixed, fix it! Buyers do not pay top dollar for a “project house”.


8. Fix Roof Leaks
One tiny water stain on the ceiling will cause a buyer to question the entire roof. Find and fix the leak at the source. This may be the time to call in an expert. Repair any ceiling damage. Disclose any information on repairs made to potential buyers.



9. Explain a Wet Basement
Do what you can to make repairs but be prepared to explain all existing and repaired problems to the potential buyers. Never try to cover signs of a wet basement.

10. Exterminate
Call a professional to get rid of the pests, repair any damage, and allow time for any pesticide smells to dissipate before showing. One bug, dead or alive, can make a bad impression on a buyer. If you have periodic mice, remove the traps and bait before showings. Again, disclose any pest infestations to potential buyers before the sale.


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in Forest Lake and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties real estate in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007
terieckholm.com

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Something Smells Funny! Is YOUR Pet Destroying Your Home?

We Americans LOVE our Pets. Dogs, Cats, Bunnies, Monkeys, Rats…you name it. We let them sleep in our beds and eat in our kitchens. We buy and cook them special foods. We dress them up and treat them like the members of the family that they are. But have you ever considered the damage pets can do to your most important investment, your home?

As a real estate agent working in Minnesota, I have seen some strange pets inside of some homes…everything from pot-bellied pigs to monkeys and bunnies with the run of the house. Oh, yeah and then there are the people who have dogs and cats too. Many homeowners take great measures to protected their homes and property but some do not.

I have walked into vacant homes and had potential buyers pick out the exact location of where the previous owner had the litter box. I have seen puppy’s teeth marks on the sides of oak cupboards and cedar decking and claw marks on wood floors. I have walked through extensively landscaped yards destroyed by holes dug by chained dogs. I have witnessed a family whose cat jumps up and hangs on screens to notify their owner that they want to come inside. One seller had a sign posted in the furnace room on a terrarium full of large, noisy crickets announcing that it was food for the lizards and snakes that were kept in the bedrooms and family rooms of the home. And then there was the family that let the horse wander in the front yard and let the bunny have the entire house to roam…you can just imagine the damage left behind on that one.


While amusing to read about, pets can be hard on your home. When you go to sell, you could have to make extensive repairs or discount your selling price to reflect the condition.

The smells are the worst. People who keep pets in carpeted rooms even in cages or kennels can have serious problems. Often the odors will not be removed with a simple steam cleaning. In most cases, I recommend that the carpet be replaced. But homeowners with serious damage find that they are not only replacing the carpet, the padding and sometimes even the sub-flooring needs to be removed to eliminate the smell.

It is possible to have your beloved pet and to protect your home.

  • Keep your pet well groomed to reduce odor, hair and nail damage.


  • Get a pet bed for your dogs and cats. (Several are available at www.olddogpaws.com). Our dog loves the extra comfort and it keeps dirt and sweat from his coat from going into the carpet fibers. We will move his from room to room during the day so he can stay with us. If this is too much trouble, buy several. They are considerably cheaper than replacing carpet. Our cat uses his bed daily too. It is positioned for his easy access in front of his favorite window so he doesn’t jump and leave marks on the woodwork.


  • Have a proper sized kennel or cage for exotic pets and clean often.


  • Clear all accidents immediately. Use special pet cleaners to remove odors and stains.


  • Cover all exposed woodwork especially around windows. Pets love to jump up and look out windows. Use gates to limit your pet’s access to soft wood floors like birch or cherry wood. Nail marks require the floor to be completely sanded down before refinishing. It can get very costly.


  • Don’t chain your dog to the side of your house. Chains and bolts can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to your home.
If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in Forest Lake and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties real estate in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Is Moving Making YOU Crazy?--How to Lower the Stress

Change is difficult. Especially when the change is so big and personal as moving to a new home. While difficult, it is also an exciting time. Change opens doors and provides opportunities that staying put doesn’t allow. But when your children are leaving the only home they have ever known, no matter what positive spin you put on it, there is bound to be some stress. So how to you make a move without your entire family going crazy?





Educate Yourself—It is important for you to realize that when making a move there are some unknowns that will come into play. Sometimes things will seem out of your control as appraisers, inspectors and real estate agents enter your life and home. The sellers of your new home, the buyers of your home and your mortgage broker will make requests and decisions that will directly affect your life.



Understanding the process of purchasing a home and the steps to a smooth transaction will help considerably. A caring, experienced Realtor will lead you through the home buying/selling process while tying up the loose ends. Your Realtor can’t prevent all of the stress but a good agent can predict some of the common situations that arise. By explaining each possible scenario in a timely manner and providing options and alternatives, your Realtor will keep the process moving forward with minimal stress to you.



Prepare the Kids—If you have been in your home for even a few years, this may be the only home your children have ever known or can easily remember. As tough as the change is for you, it will be more difficult on them. It will take some time to adjust to the thought of coming “home” to a new house.



Be positive when announcing the move! Show excitement when talking about the new neighborhood and school. Don’t expect that to be mirrored in your children right away but stay upbeat. If possible, arrange a tour of the new school and visit to the neighborhood and home. If your children will be changing schools mid-year, find out the new teachers name and email address. (We are a very connected society now and all teachers have email!) Email the new teacher and ask that he/she email your child about fun things that are going on in the classroom.



Let the kids help pack their important belongings. Reassure them that all of their precious things will be safe until they are unpacked at the new house.



Email will work great for staying connected to old friends and neighbors too. Have a neighborhood going away party and take photos so your children remember their old friends. Have an address book available for everyone to write down his or her email as well as current mailing address.



Don’t Panic—Moving is a H-U-G-E change in anyone’s life. It ranks up there as one of the most stressful situations families face. Moving has caused the most levelheaded person to go a little crazy. Working with an experience Realtor in your corner can be quite calming. Just knowing that this is a professional who helps families buy and sell homes every day can relieve some stress. Realtors have been through this many times before and understand what a major change it is for your family. It is their job and goal for you to have a successful closing and move.



Be Flexible—Sometimes it may become hard to remember that there is another family on the other side of the transaction. Things will come up that weren’t foreseen by either party. Inspections reveal unknown concerns. Moving trucks arrive late. Appliances suddenly stop working.



We don’t live in a perfect world and things can, do and will change. To keep the process moving forward and stress to a minimum, you may be asked to be flexible. Remind yourself to take a step back and look at the big picture. By reviewing the entire problem with logic, not just emotion, a win-win outcome can be achieved for most situations.



Reward and Pamper Yourself—This is a tough process! When things start feeling totally out of control, it is ok to walk away for a few hours, literally. Take a walk with the kids to the playground. Go to a movie or out to dinner with friends. Order a pizza and sit outside on the deck visiting with neighbors. Head to the gym and relax in the whirlpool. After an hour or two, you will be ready to face that packing or project with renewed energy!

If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in Forest Lake and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties real estate in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Friday, March 2, 2007

What is a Septic System? How does it differ from a city sewer system?

Considering moving to a home on acreage? Often country homes are too far away from public sewer lines and require an individual sewage or septic system to handle wastewater and material. These systems are an integral part of your new home and need to be cared for properly. Having the system replaced can cost between $8,000 and $20,000. Since the tank is underground and cannot always be located in the same location, your yard and landscaping is usually changed when a new system is require.


If you are considering a move to a country or acreage home with a septic system, there are some basic things you should know about how to care for and preserve your septic tank. Rather than outline all the information here, I will direct you to the best resource I have found. It is the Septic Systems Owner’s Guide published by the Minnesota Extension Service. The complete guide is available on-line using the following link: Complete Septic Owners Guide


If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in Forest Lake and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties real estate in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Mortgage Fraud—Important Reminders For Buyers, Sellers and Agents

Last summer while driving home from an appointment, I received a call on my cell from an agent who had just shown one of my listings. The listing was a little town home in the north metro of the Twin Cities. Since there were several other properties listed in the development, my seller had just reduced the price by nearly 10% to generate activity. This particular buyer’s agent was very excited. Her client loved the property and they were going to sit down that afternoon to write an offer. Before the did, the agent had a question: “Since buyer had some financing issues, could the seller do a contract for the down payment?”

My seller was not in a position to do that and I said so. She then asked if the property would appraise for $10,000 over the amount. If it could, then we could write the offer for $10,000 more than the asking price if the seller could agree to write up a contract for deed that would be immediately forgiven at the closing. As I maneuvered down the road to a stoplight, I paused a second. After taking a breath I asked the other agent, “Do you realize that what you just suggested is Fraud?!”

The buyer’s agent said that the loan officer had suggested this method and it was perfectly legal. The agent didn’t sound very experienced so I suggested that she check with her broker regarding the situation and call back. When the phone rang again, a few minutes later, there was a nervous, distraught agent on the other end of the line. She would not be writing an offer after all. She was distraught because she was a brand new agent and had just closed on a similar deal a month ago. She was at risk of losing her license.

This is not an isolated case. Mortgage fraud is not common but it is out there.

According to the FBI webpage on mortgage fraud, there are two specific types: Fraud for Property and Fraud for Profit

The scenario outlined above was Fraud for Property or Fraud for Housing. This is where a specific borrower misrepresents information on the loan application, appraisal, property or other document for the purchase of a specific property. Often buyer’s really want to be home owners but are not able to qualify through the correct channels. This type of fraud accounts for an estimated 20% of all mortgage fraud.

Fraud for Profit is more newsworthy. It is when industry professionals, real estate, title and mortgage agents, generate multiple loans for multiple properties. There are many different scenarios where unsuspecting individuals have signed documents and given social security numbers for a variety of reasons. Then realize months down the road that their information was used to fraudulently purchase properties.

To learn more about the different types of mortgage fraud schemes visit the FBI mortgage fraud
webpage .

So how do you protect yourself?

Know your Realtor—Check out all credentials with local board of Realtors. Check with the state and local licensing board. Ask and check references.

Know your Loan Officer—Just as with your real estate agent. Check credentials, licensing and references. Deal directly with the loan officer and don’t arrange loans through third party services.

Don’t Sign ANY Blank Documents—Or any documents with omitted, incorrect or blank information Make certain you understand everything you sign. If you are unsure of any document, check with your attorney or legal representative before you put your name on the bottom of the page.

Do not agree to refund any money to the Buyer after closing—This is a common mistake. Often at the final walk through, a buyer will notice something they would like repaired, but the closing is in an hour. In order to facilitate the closing, the seller will agree to an amount to pay the buyer to have the repair made. If the mortgage company is not informed, it could be considered fraud. How should the situation be handled? The seller could agree to pay the service person directly. If a repair needs to be made, make it. If something needs replacing, replace it. If the funds can be escrowed for the repair, escrow the funds. All documents and agreements must be approved by the lender.

Get Copies of Everything you Sign—Protect yourself. Make certain when you leave the office you are given a complete set of documents including everything you have signed.

Copyright 2007—Teri Eckholm