Monday, April 30, 2007

Where's the Playground? A Key to Parks in Ham Lake, MN

When my family first moved to Ham Lake from the city, my boys were the perfect playground age group. They spent hours of time and burned off tons of energy on the swings, slides and money bars in our North St. Paul neighborhood. Of course, Ham Lake being more rural, the playgrounds and parks are well hidden. We drove around for hours and finally just used the McKinley school playground near Constance and Highway 65.


To help your family find a playground more quickly, here is a key to parks and playgrounds in the City of Ham Lake. Hopeful there is one near you so when your little one wants to go play, you can drive right to it!

  • Constance Estates Park
    North of Constance Blvd. on Tippecanoe Street NE
  • Fox Run Park
    East of East Lake Netta Drive on 168th Avenue NE
  • Grandpa Scott Playground
    3556 Interlachen Drive NE
  • Grant Park
    164th Avenue NE west of Guadalcanal Street NE
  • Ham Lake Park
    East of Highway 65 on the north side of 153rd Avenue
  • Heritage Oaks
    West of Radisson Road on 144th Ave to Isanti Street and then to London Street NE
  • Hiawatha Beach
    3500 Interlachen Drive NE
  • Idlewood Park
    17435 Owatonna Street NE
  • Independent Estates Park
    4535 Constance Boulevard NE
  • Kings Wood Estate
    136TH Avenue NE, off Lexington Ave. NE
  • Lions Park
    1220 157th Avenue NE
  • Lund's Pine Creek Estates
    2445 147th Lane NE
  • Marsall Manor
    1654 141st Lane NE
  • Meadow Park
    162nd Avenue and 162nd Lane
  • Netta Shores Park
    165th and Bataan Street NE

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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Prevent Oak Wilt in Anoka County—Don’t Take Down or Trim Oaks Now!


The 2007 oak wilt season is upon us! To prevent the spread of devastating disease, it is imperative to follow the guidelines for oak wilt prevention. Do not prune, damage or cut down oak trees during the growing season from May 1 through September 30.


  • During the Spring and early summer months of May and June, oaks are at especially high risk to this highly contagious, landscape changing disease.

  • Any wood or branches taken down over the winter that is infected with oak wilt, needs to remain covered under black plastic and completely sealed until after July 1.


  • During the summer if you sustain storm damage and lose a limb from an oak on your property, immediately paint the wound with black tree paint to seal the wound and prevent exposure to the oak wilt fungus.
As a Realtor in Anoka County in Minnesota, a question I am often asked by clients as they start searching for a home is, “Are there any trees?” Throughout Forest Lake, Lino Lakes, Ham Lake and Wyoming farms have been developed into single family housing developments. While the flat open land was desirable for farming, it does not have the privacy and up north feel of a wooded lot with mature oaks.

If you are fortunate to have mature oak trees on your property, protect your investment!

What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a disease caused by a fungus which attacks the central system of the tree from the roots to the leaves. The tree attempts to block the fungus, but also blocks all water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. Eventually, the trees leaves wilt and it dies.

Oak wilt spreads through the root systems of near by trees and by fungus beetles that carry the oak wilt spores from tree to tree. For additional information on oak wilt from the
University of MN Extention Service CLICK HERE.
How to Protect Your Trees


The fungus beetles infect trees that have been recently injured or trimmed. These beetles are very active in the spring and summer months. Oaks should be protected from damage and not trimmed from April through July.

Trim large mature oaks now. As a preventative to spring storm damage, have your large oaks trimmed now so that heavy, dead branches won’t fall during tornado season and break other healthy limbs.
Consider Oaks When Planning Construction
If you are planning to built on your property this spring, plan the construction process to protect the trees. Discuss the situation with your builder and fence off the trees from the base of the truck to the branches.

Be prepared with tree paint and apply immediately to any wounds that accidentally occur.

Root System Protection

If an oak is infected on your property or a nearby neighboring property, your trees could be at risk through their intertwined root system. Oak roots travel up to 50 feet out. The fungus can pass underground from tree to tree.

To prevent spread, have the roots cut using a trencher or vibratory plow. The five foot blade severs the roots to protect neighboring trees. Root cutting should be done prior to tree removal.

Many cities in the north metro have tree protection programs and offer a low cost or free root cutting service in the fall.

If you have oak wilt in your neighborhood, doing nothing is not an option. Ignoring oak wilt will cause the lost of trees which directly relates to your property’s value.

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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Friday, April 27, 2007

It’s Arbor Day! Northeast Metro Communities honored with Tree City USA Designation

Arbor Day is celebrated in Minnesota on the last Friday in April. The City of Ham Lake has much to be proud of this Arbor Day after being honored with the title of Tree City USA by The National Arbor Day Foundation. Ham Lake is one of only 77 communities across the state of Minnesota that has achieved this status. Other north and east metro honorees include Anoka (25 years), Columbia Heights (14 years), Columbus (12 years), Coon Rapids (26 years), Lake Elmo (4 years), Lino Lakes (17 years), Moundsview (24 years), New Brighton (24 years), Oakdale (11 years), St. Paul (25 years) and White Bear Lake (19 years).

“The Tree City USA designation recognizes the work of elected officials, staff and citizens who plant and care for the community forest,” says John Rosenow, president of The National Arbor Day Foundation.

As a Realtor working in the northeast metro Twin Cities and citizen of Ham Lake, I know the pride homeowners feel when they take care of the landscape of their property. Trees add beauty and value to every home. As a homeowner, it is important to protect and preserve this wonderful natural resource.

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by
The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. There are four requirements that a community must meet in order to receive the designation, Tree City USA. Each community must have an Arbor Day celebration, a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, and a comprehensive community forestry program.


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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is Your Well Water Safe? Time for a Check Up

Well Water Wise Week, May 7th through 11th, is coming up fast in Ham Lake, MN. All homeowners in Ham Lake get their water supply from a private well since there is no public water and sewer system in the city. Here is an easy way to find out whether your well is producing water that is safe for your family to drink.

It is recommended that all homeowners have the quality of their water tested annually. To make it an easy process, the City of Ham Lake is making test kits available at the city hall. Pick up your kit and fill up the sample. Then drop off the sample on M-TH between 8:00AM and 4:30PM (or Friday before noon) at the Environmental Services Unit in Room 360 of the Anoka County Government Center located at 2100 3rd Ave., Anoka. The kit is free but processing the water is $30. Each sample is tested and you will receive a report with the current levels of coliform bacteria, nitrogen and other contaminants.

Need more information on your well? Need to find your unique well number? Visit my well information webpage.


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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Does "Minnesota Nice" Affect the Real Estate Market? "Yah, You Betcha!"

It is not necessary to be a Realtor in the Twin Cities to be aware of the slow real estate market. The Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area has experienced the same slow down as the rest of the country. It is a buyer’s market and the media has no problem reminding the public of the situation.

As a Realtor, I do find the situation a bit perplexing in Minnesota. After all most of us were instructed by our parents to be what we all know as “Minnesota Nice”. Being “Minnesota Nice” is when a person goes out of their way to open a door or let others go first. It is kind of like “Ms. Manners” on hyperdrive. Some joke that in Minnesota, a person can wait a long time at a 4-way stop sign, because everyone is waving the others to go first.

How does being "Minnesota Nice" affect the real estate market? I have read that currently in the Twin Cities, buyers and sellers are in a stand off, toe-to-toe waiting for the other to make the first move. Buyers are waiting for sellers to lower their prices, while sellers are waiting for an offer to negotiate. As a Realtor working in the
Forest Lake school district and Anoka County areas, I am seeing this situation first hand. So many buyers have indicated they love a particular house but don’t want to make an offer because the price seems too high. I also have sellers asking, “Why doesn’t someone just make an offer?”

This isn’t different that other buyers markets across the country, but when compounded with the “Minnesota Nice” factor, we may have a longer wait to see more houses sell.


As a buyer in this market, it is permissible to NOT be “Minnesota Nice” with your offer. I am not suggesting that
buyers lowball offers willy-nilly. No, I am suggesting that buyers, who are truly interested in a particular property, write that fair offer and justify why it is not at full price.
When I work with a buyer in this market, I help them to determine a fair number to put into the purchase agreement to start the negotiating process. Conversely, when I work with a seller and take a new listing, I make certain they are aware that in a buyers market, even a home that is priced properly, most likely won’t receive a full priced offer.

This is definitely the time to work with an agent that understands and is skilled in the process of negotiation. From the time an offer is received by one agent and presented to the other, the negotiation process begins. Where in a seller’s market, these negotiations were very quick and decisions made in minutes, in a buyer’s market, this process can take hours or even days while parties think over and discuss each offer. There are ways a Realtor with skilled negotiation tactics can move the process along. But the process has to start.

So Buyers, the ball is in your proverbial court! Sellers are waiting for offers. Is it time to stop being “Minnesota Nice”? Yah, you betcha!


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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Relocating to Forest Lake MN? The Schools are Full of Ranger Pride!


Forest Lake School District #831 is a bit of a misnomer. Most people would not realize how many communities and neighborhoods are a part of this north metro Twin Cities school district with the motto: Inspire the Learner…Ignite the Potential!
Located 35 minutes northeast of the downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, the Forest Lake School district is geographically huge. Covering one of the largest areas in the state with over 240 square miles of area, Forest Lake schools are the educational home of 12 communities in 3 different counties. Students come from Columbus, East Bethel, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Linwood in Anoka County. Other attendees are from Wyoming and Stacy in Chisago County. Many children are from homes in New Scandia Township, Forest Lake, Hugo, Marine on the St. Croix or May Township in Washington County.

As a Realtor in the north metro Twin Cities suburbs, I have sold a number of homes within the
District #831. Many residents love the fact that the schools are structured with kindergarten through 6th grade in the elementary schools, 7-9 grades in the junior highs and 10-12th grades in the senior high. It may be “old school” but preferred by many in the area.

There is one high school, Forest Lake High School. Students show Ranger pride by wearing maroon and gold as they attend classes on a four period schedule. There are programs for college bound and vocational students alike. Advanced placement classes, advanced technical/vocational classes and College in the Schools are popular programs at FLHS. To give you an idea of the outstanding programs just check out
the house that Forest Lake High School Students built! With awarding winning sports, theater, speech, music and other extra curricular activities, there is no end to Ranger Pride!
The two junior high schools, Century and Southwest are both located in the heart of Forest Lake. Century Junior High is located across from the high school on highway 97 and Southwest Junior High is on 10th street just south of the business district.

There are 8 traditional community elementary schools and one tuition-free Montessori school that are a part of the Forest Lake district. Columbus Elementary, Forest Lake Elementary, Forest View Elementary, Lino Lakes Elementary, Linwood Elementary, Scandia Elementary and Wyoming Elementary are all schools in district #831. Six of the eight schools have been named Minnesota Schools of Excellence.
Central Montessori is one of the gems of the district. It provides public elementary education based on Montessori teaching methods and is available tuition-free to all elementary students in the Forest Lake district.
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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. (If you would like additional information on the Forest Lake school district please note in the comment section.) Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Our Move is on Hold—Our Senior Dog Just Isn’t Ready

Our family was planning to move to a new home this year…but for several reasons, we decided against it. It is a buyer's market in Minnesota making it a great time to buy a home. With so many options and incredible deals being made on existing homes and new construction all across the Twin Cities, we couldn’t wait to get out there and find our new dream home.

Although there were several reasons we put our move on hold, the biggest one was our dog, Tikki. The Australian Shepard mix we’ve had since he was a pup is now 15 years old and is a bit set in his ways. The Minnesota buyer’s market means that our home must be in tip top shape. As a Realtor in Anoka County of Minnesota, I know this better than anyone.

That means the carpeting and flooring must all be replaced as Tikki has spent many a day on his favorite spots on the rug and discolored them beyond cleaning. It means that the doors that our loveable old dog scratched at when he wanted to go out need replacing. It means that all the yellowed spots in the grass will need to be reseeding. But most of all it means we would have to find a place to put our senior dog during showings.

The home and yard repairs are something would be able to do easily. We have spent a decade with the same flooring so it is time to replace. The yard work would not be difficult. But finding a place for a 75 pound dog for every showing is not an easy task. Tikki is not an outdoor dog and doesn’t live in a kennel. He is not indoor kennel trained either. We used to keep him in our unfinished basement, but he couldn’t see out and damaged our door. So we put him in the garage but he won’t even walk near the garage door anymore--Just sits down and refuses to enter.

When we moved 10 years ago, we would take Tikki for walks during showings, but his days of long walks are over. If he could climb up, we would take him in the car. But at his age, we would need a special ramp and then train him to climb in and out.

Some sellers MUST move. So what should you do with your pets? This is a huge consideration for all pet owners. You must consider how your home will appear to potential buyers. Some of them may be afraid of dogs or allergic to cats. If your friendly cat greets an allergic buyer at the door, the showing will not go well.

Important Things for Sellers with Pets to Consider:

**Your very friendly pet may feel the need to protect your home and not be so nice to intruders viewing the home.

**Pets must be in a safe place. Preferably not at the home.
**If you must keep your pet in the home, put in a kennel.
**Consider having your pet stay with a friend, doggie daycare or petsitter during showings. (

**Pet odors must be eliminated.
**If your pet sheds, make certain that you vacuum prior to every showing.

My family loves our old Tikki-dog and we are not in a position where we have to move. So we decided to wait a few more years before relocating. I guess the buyer’s market isn’t such a bad thing when you have an older dog.

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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.



Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Monday, April 23, 2007

Home Buying 101: How Much Earnest Money Do I Need?

Every home buyer loves the process of visiting homes and finding that perfect place to call home. Sitting down and writing the offer is not always as much fun! For many people, the process of buying a home is something they go through only once or twice in a lifetime. New terms and questions come are the norm as the purchase agreement is prepared. As a Realtor in the northeast Twin Cities metro, whether I am working with first time buyers, move-up buyers or empty-nesters, one question always stops the process for a moment of discussion. How much earnest money are you prepared to offer?

The amount of the earnest money varies with each purchase agreement. A buyer must first understand the purpose of the earnest money to determine the right amount to include with the offer.

Earnest money is the funds that a buyer puts down to demonstrate to the seller their seriousness about buying a home. It should be an amount sufficient enough to indicate to the seller that the buyer will not walk away from the deal without good reason. In Minnesota this is traditionally 1% of the purchase price but it can be up more. A lower amount can also be acceptable with some offers. However it is important to be realistic.

A few years back, a potential buyer wanted to put down $100 earnest money on a $300,000 home I had listed. The seller was not impressed and felt it was an unreasonable amount as the buyer could easily walk away from the deal with only $100 at risk.

Generally the earnest money funds are in the form of a check. That money is deposited into the listing broker’s trust fund or escrow account. In Minnesota, the funds must be deposited within 3 days of an offer having been accepted in writing. Yes, this does mean that the check will be cashed in 3 days or less!
If the offer is accepted, the earnest money will be applied to the down payment and/or the closing fees when the closing takes place. If your offer is not accepted the check is not cashed and the money will come back to you.


However, if the offer is accepted and the check cashed and then for some reason all contingencies are not met or other situation arises where the sale does not proceed, the buyer does not automatically receive a refund of the earnest money. Nor, does the seller automatically keep the down payment. Buyer and seller must reach an agreement for the cancellation of the agreement and disbursement of the funds.



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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Minnesota is In a Buyer’s Market—So Let’s Give a Lowball Offer!

In Minnesota, we are currently experiencing a buyer’s market. There are many more homes for sale than buyers in the Twin Cities market right now.

As a Realtor working in the northeast metro, I can pinpoint homes in neighborhoods throughout Anoka and Chisago Counties that haven’t sold after being on the market for several months. Communities north of the Forest Lake and Ham Lake areas that were booming a few years ago, like Stacy, Linwood and North Branch are experiencing a tremendous slow down. From Hugo to Lino Lakes, acreage properties and lake homes aren’t exempt from the slowdown. There are hundreds of choices for first time buyers and move up buyers alike. Buyers looking in these markets have the upper hand and can offer anything right? So why not go in with a lowball offer and see where it goes?
My position on the subject of lowball offers hasn’t changed with the market. It has been and always will be,
“How much do you want the house?”
There are times where a low offer makes sense and times where it can blow up in the buyer’s face. If you are willing to walk away from the home and there are several others homes you can go to, a low offer on a home could work for you.
If this is your dream home and you have few options, listen up. It might be a mistake to go in too low.
Though a seller may desperately need a buyer and be willing to consider all offers, it was still their “home” with all of the emotions that go with it. They may have raised children there, worked the garden, put in the tile floors, redid the kitchen, etc. There are going to be emotions tied to the property and even after being on the market for months, a seller could be incredibly insulted by an extremely low offer.
Insulted people can do irrational things, like not bothering to counter offer at all.
Now, I am not advocating paying full price on a home in a buyer’s market. This IS the time to get a great deal on a home and some houses are incredibly overpriced. But if you really want a particular home, what do you do?

Work with your Realtor to figure out what the home is worth and write an offer that reflects that analysis. As an experienced agent, I work with my clients to find the right starting point for an offer that might not be accepted as written but doesn’t offend the seller. Be prepared to discuss what needs to be done on the home with estimates for the repairs to justify the offer. As a skilled Realtor, I am able to present my clients’ offer in a positive light so there will be a Win-Win negotiation for all parties involved.

There are times when the Lowball offer works:


  • Corporate owned Relocation Home


  • Bank-owned Foreclosed Homes


  • Investment homes used as Rentals


  • Flipped Homes

In these cases, the sellers are business people. There is little or no emotional attachment to the property. It is all dollars and good sense. This is the perfect time for a “low ball” offer to see where their bottom line really is. Beware on the flipped home though. If it is a first flip and a labor of love, the owner may have developed some emotional ties to the property and they too could be offended by an extremely low offer. Even in a buyers market.
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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

Friday, April 20, 2007

Moving to Minnesota? FREE Relocation Information!

Will you be making a move to the Twin Cities area in the next few months?

As you plan your move to Minnesota, you'll want to be sure to have the right Realtor® representing your interests. I have the training and experience needed to look out for your interests in Twin Cities’ real estate market.

Whether you are considering a move to Blaine, Forest Lake, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Maplewood, North St. Paul, Shoreview, White Bear Lake, Wyoming or any of the surrounding communities, I am ready to assist your family.


With thousands of homes available to you, it's my job to make sure you have all the information you need to save you time and money. I am here and ready to assist you and your family in finding your dream home in Minnesota.


I would love to custom build a relocation package for your family.
Click here and complete the form in its entirety for your FREE package.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hidden Treasures near Ham Lake, Minnesota--Activities and Fun for All Ages!

It is amazing how many unique activities and fun adventures you can have minutes your home. As a Realtor in the north metro Twin Cities, I am often asked, "What can we do for fun?" Here are some of my families’ favorite hidden treasures in Anoka County. All of these places remind us of why we love living in Ham Lake, Minnesota.



  • Who wouldn’t love a pony ride! Bunker Hills Stables is a wonderful place to spend a family day. It is a great opportunity to bond with your younger child or grandchild as you lead them on a pony down the trail. Fun for the older kids and parents too as they can enjoy horseback riding on the trails.

  • Going to the movies at Muller Family Theatres in East Bethel is one of our favorite family activities. Discount tickets everyday before 6 pm, reasonably priced concessions, friendly staff and stadium seating. We love this theatre so much; we hate to go anywhere else.

  • The Wildlife Science Center, better known as the wolf place in Carlos Avery Nature Preserve, is a great place to visit to learn about animals native to Minnesota. If you drive too fast down County Road 18 you will miss it. It is truly one of the best places to learn about wolves. They have many special programs and events throughout the year. Being only about 4 miles away from their home, we can hear the wolves calling from the sanctuary on clear nights. It’s a beautiful sound!

  • Are you ready to fish the biggest lake in Anoka County? Do you want to picnic in a park with beautiful lake views? Here is your opportunity. Coon Lake County Park, Beach and Boat Launch features picnic pavilions, walking trails and a swimming beach in addition to a boat/canoe launch.

  • Is your family seeking an excellent way to cool off in the summer heat? Bunker Beach Water Park—Wave pool and water slides! Could anything be more fun on a hot summer day in Minnesota?


  • Plan a fun family outing Kayaking at Wargo Nature Center. It is a great way to spend an afternoon and explore the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Parks Preserve. Located in Lino Lakes, the Wargo Nature Center offers rentals of kayaks and canoes and lessons for the novice.


  • Families visiting the Coon Creek Dam or Wargo Nature Center can check out an Activity Backpack full of family ideas and activities to make your day at the park fun and educational. Pick up a backpack on your next visit, the cost is absolutely FREE!

  • 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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

    Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Buyers’ Market Dilemma—200+ Homes! How Many Should I See?

    The Twin Cities buyers’ market offers more housing inventory than has been seen in a decade. As a Realtor in the north metro, I have had clients with very loose selection criteria, have hundreds of homes available to choose from. The amount of homes is overwhelming to the buyer going it alone. It is important to formulate a plan of action to get that list of homes down to a manageable level.

    According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, the average buyer sees 15 homes before writing an offer on a home. In my experience this is a very accurate number. Most buyers begin to tire of the whole process after seeing a dozen homes. All of the homes start to look alike and become a jumble. In a buyer’s market, with vast options, how do you narrow down the list and focus on the best homes?

    1. Write down what you must have in a home. Need a 3 car garage? Want a gas fireplace? Can’t live without hardwood floors? Would die without central air conditioning? Write down those must haves and weed out the homes that don’t fit.
    2. Select a neighborhood, area or school district. If you must be within 5 miles of work or your kids want to be in the same school district, use this to define your search area.
    3. Work with an agent. Although the internet searches have become very detailed, they are still not as detailed as the ones used by licensed agents. Real estate agents are able to set up very detailed searches that meet specific wants and needs.
    It doesn’t cost buyers anything to work with an agent in most cases. Our fees are traditionally paid for by the seller. But a Realtor’s service can save the buyer time and frustration.

    As a case in point, I had a client that was looking for homes in wide area. He wanted to be within 15 miles of his work in Blaine but also relatively close to downtown Minneapolis and the airport. When we set his initial search by map search and price point alone, he had over 250 homes to choose from. After first showing four homes, I learned from this client that hardwood floors were a “must have” and foreclosure homes in disrepair were not going to be considered. After setting a search and reviewing the homes, I emailed my client 23 homes that met his needs. He chose ten for showings. After viewing the homes, we had the list down to four homes for second showings and possible offers.

    Had this client chose to go it alone, he would have been overwhelmed, distracted and frustrated running to several homes that would not be considered. By setting specific criteria and working with an experienced agent, the number of homes to see became a manageable amount. The buyer remained focused and was able to narrow down his ideal home rather quickly.

    So what happens if you are in a buyers market and there are no homes that are meeting all of your criteria? The beauty of a buyers market is that buyers have an opportunity to key in on more of their wants and needs for their dream home. But since no home is ever 100% perfect, if too many wants are specified, there may not be a home that measures up. If the list of homes available is too short, see if any of the “must haves” are really necessary.

    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 or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

    Copyright 2007 terieckholm.com

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Appreciation in the Twin Cities Down to Half a Percent But Median Sales Price Up!

    In the fall of 2004, I attended a presentation on mortgages given by a lending group that I worked with on a regular basis. As a Minnesota Realtor, I work to find the best products and options for my clients. One of the presenters started an explanation on zero down interest only loans and what a great opportunity it was for us as agents and our clients. He explained that across the country, people are able to purchase more home than in the past with this innovative loan product.

    The basis of this loan officer’s argument was that interest only loans weren’t a great risk was a statistic that historically, single family homes appreciate at rate of 6%. No arguments there. This is a verifiable statistic. When a homeowner hits the balloon, they will be able to refinance the home using the appreciated value. It is a win-win situation! Real estate agents get to sell a larger ticket home and earn a bigger commission while home buyers get a larger, more luxurious home. Good for everyone, right?

    Wrong! I didn’t buy this argument for one second! The problem with this theory is the Twin Cities had appreciation rates over 6% for several years in a row. In order to average at 6%, there are going to be some years with zeros ahead. I did not like this loan product and could not in good conscience recommend to my clients.

    Of course many agents and homebuyers did like the argument. Thousands and thousands of people did use these loans to buy their dream homes. This is one of the reasons for the widespread foreclosures across the Twin Cities metro. The rate of appreciation in the Twin Cities had a dramatic drop to 0.48% for 2006 in the 13-county metro area. See chart below from the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors (SPAAR).



    The news is not all bad. In the same period, the median value of homes sold in the 13 county metro area has almost doubled. The median price of homes sold in 1997 was $116,500 and in 2006, the median price is $230,000. So homes purchased in the late 1990’s, where owners have not taken an equity loan or refinanced, should have substantial equity.


    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, April 15, 2007

    Land of 10,000 Lakes and None Safe for Spring Swimming!


    Although there seems to be a bit of a debate as to the actual number of lakes in Minnesota, one thing is for certain; all MN lakes are all too cold for swimming in the spring. The air temperature of many April and May days in Minnesota can be as warm as in July. The water in those 10,000+ lakes can look very refreshing. But beware. In order to swim safely, the water temperatures should be around 70 degrees. Minnesota lakes do not reach that temperature until late May. Some lakes in the northern part of the state never reach 70 degrees even in the summer.

    Most Minnesotans are aware of the affects of hypothermia and cold water in the winter. But not as many people are aware that spring lake temperatures are just as problematic. Knowing the water temperature of a lake is essential before diving in to cool off to determine how long a person can safely stay in the water. Remember too that children are often affected more quickly by water temperature. They may not be able to play in cooler water as long as an adult.



    On Saturday April 14, 2007, Ron Jacobson told the story of his 9 year old grandson, Brian James Jacobson at a news conference at Lake Harriet Island. This lively little boy died on April 30, 2004 when he chose to swim in a cold Minnesota lake. He was a good swimmer but it is believed his abilities were completely stalled in the frigid water. This is a sad reminder of how dangerous cold water swimming can be. Coldwaterwarning.com is a website developed in Brian’s memory to warn others of the danger of swimming in cold water.

    Minnesota has thousands of wonderful lakes within its borders. But remember the warning: The inviting beauty needs to be enjoyed from the shore until warm enough to swim.

    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, April 13, 2007

    Mountains Popping up in Your Yard?—Pocket Gophers are a Sure Sign of Spring

    It’s a beautiful day to be out in the garden enjoying the warm Minnesota spring breeze. Suddenly there is a mountain of dirt in your yard. You are certain it wasn’t there a bit ago. What is that huge pile of dirt? And where did it come from?

    You have a pocket gopher!

    Pocket gophers, along with their little mole friends, are the bane of the countryside. These small little rodents cause serious damage to lawns and landscaping across Anoka County. Although they leave huge dirt mounds above ground, pocket gopher burrows crisscross deep beneath the earth. (This differs from their mole counterparts, whose tunnels run closer to the surface.) Spring is a busy reproductive time for these little pesky creatures. And gophers can have several litters in a season. If you do not want your yard overrun with dirt mounds all summer, it is best to address the pocket gopher problem in early spring.


    As a Realtor working in the Twin Cities north metro, I know how buyers get concerned when they see several huge dirt piles in a sellers’ yard. It seems that these creatures have a knack for knowing when a home is listed. I have had several frantic sellers call the day after they have listed with their first ever gopher mound in their yard. Whether you are a buyer, seller or home owner maintaining your landscape, here are ideas to eliminate the mounds from your yard.

    How to get rid of pocket gophers:

    • Get rid of their food supply. Pocket gophers eat grub worms that live in the dirt. If you chemically treat your lawn to kill the grub worms, the pocket gophers move on. Usually to your neighbors’ yard.


    • Mole repellents can also be used to change the taste of the grub worms. This can be purchased at a store or you can mix your own. One cup of dish soap, one ounce of Castor oil and ¼ cup of cayenne pepper mixed together and spread with a garden sprayer should do the trick. Of course this method again just moves the pests to your neighbors’ yard.


    • Ultrasonic Devices. I had a client who had some success with this method last year. The high pitched sound emitted by the unit is designed to sound like another gopher. Since these are territorial animals, they move on. Again, probably to your neighbors’ yard.


    • Use a poison for gophers and moles. This is effective but if you have pets or children, there are risks. Your pet could dig up the poison or the poisoned gopher and become ill or die.


    • Set underground traps. This is an effective method with results that you can see. The wire traps are set underground in near the gopher mound. When a gopher moves through the burrow, he is killed in the trap.

    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, April 12, 2007

    Dinos Replace Peanuts in the Twin Cities this Summer!


    My family along with thousands of others searched for a parade of Peanuts Characters for five straight years. First we searched for Snoopy throughout the city of St. Paul in the summer of 2000. The next spring in 2001, we were at it again finding Charlie Brown all around the town. During the next two summers, we looked for Lucy and Linus in Ramsey County parks, street corners and even at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. The Peanuts parade ended in 2004 with Twin Citians asking “Where’s Woodstock?”, as we searched for Snoopy and his little yellow friend on decorated doghouses for one final summer. It was a tremendously fun way to honor the late Charles Schultz and tour our beautiful capitol city!

    This summer, after a two year hiatus, the plastic statues will once again be gracing the corners of Twin City streets. Only this year the characters are not Charles Schultz creations. Get your walking shoes and cameras ready because starting in May 2007 expertly decorated dinosaurs will be invading the city streets of St. Paul and parks of Minneapolis. (Yes, this year Minneapolis has joined in the fun!)

    The event is to commemorate one of my family’s favorite places, the
    Science Museum of Minnesota’s 100th Anniversary. The public is invited to a “paint off” in mid-May at the St. Paul RiverCentre as the artists transform the plain white statues into works of art. For more information visit www.diggingdinos.org.

    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, April 11, 2007

    Mother Nature Perpetuating the Minnesota Myth


    Whenever I travel or am on the phone with an out-of-state client, I get the weather question: “How cold is it in Minnesota?” or “It must be freezing where you are, right?”

    One July while in New York business trip, a colleague asked if my system was shocked when I arrived to the almost 100 degree heat. I was confused as I had just left a similar heat wave behind in Minnesota.

    It was then I discovered the myth:

    People who have never been to Minnesota believe the state is snow bound and freezing 365 days a year!
    Sure our state has a Canadian border and we do have snow, but our summers are warm and beautiful. April is usually a time of spring showers in preparation for May flowers. Today Mother Nature decided to perpetuate the myth of Minnesota with an April snow event.

    Because we have had little snow this season, a late snow fall is welcome. Rain would have been preferred, but hearty Minnesotans don’t let the flakes get them down. The warm weather is on schedule to return next week and the white stuff will all be but a memory.

    A great memory to have on a sweltering August day!

    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

    Looking "HOT" From the Street—Tips for Curb Appeal

    Selling in a buyer’s market like we currently are experiencing in the Twin Cities metro, is tricky. Your home needs to look HOT from the outside in! As a Realtor, I have been showing homes all over Anoka County, from Blaine to Forest Lake this month. As the snow melts, some yards are looking rather boring. When buyers have hundreds of homes to choose from, decisions are made in a split second from a photo on a computer screen or from the moment a potential buyer drives up to the curb. It takes only a few moments for a buyer to assess a homes potential.

    Stand in the street and look at your property from a buyer’s eyes. If your home is not screaming, “Buy Me” from the curb, now is the time to spice up the exterior!


    Here are a few quick tips and reminders:

    **Flowers add color! If your spring blooms haven’t blossomed yet, buy a dried floral wreath or colorful flag.

    **Spruce up the landscaping with new wood chips. Make certain all of the landscaping bricks in the retaining wall are in place.

    **Pick up trash from the yard!

    **Rake any leaves that have blown in over the winter.

    **Fix up that tattered Mailbox at the end of the driveway.

    **Seal coat the blacktop drive.

    **Move Boats, Trailers and Campers to another location.

    **Wash dirt and cobwebs from front of home paying special attention to door where buyers will enter. Paint door if necessary.

    **Replace tattered American flags with new ones. (Remember proper to dispose of old one properly.)

    **Check for wind damage to gutters, siding, shutters and storm doors has been repaired or replaced. If the shutters or trim has faded, replace or repaint.

    **Paint or stain siding and front deck as necessary.

    Though it may seem like common sense, it is amazing how many homes on the market with lovely interiors, have let the exterior go. It may be a buyers’ market but smart sellers homes are selling. Addressing curb appeal is one way to get them through the door!

    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, April 9, 2007

    First Time Buyers: Helping Define YOUR Dream


    I love assisting first time home buyers! The opportunity to own their home is exciting and that excitement bubbles right out of these buyers. Many have a picture in their head of what their dream home looks like and it is my job to figure out what that picture is and help them find it. Is it the little bungalow with the white picket fence? A new trendy condo with views of the Mississippi? Or a fixer-upper that they can renovate and build equity?

    Everyone has a different dream. As a home buyer’s representative, I work with you to define your dream. It doesn’t cost buyers one cent to have representation but what they receive is priceless!
    In the current buyers’ market, there are so many options in every price range throughout the Twin Cities. I did a search a few days ago for a buyer and in a 15 mile radius from her place of employment, there were over 200 homes she could consider! While it is great to have options, 200 choices are overwhelming. So how do you narrow down your choices? Work with a professional real estate agent. As a Realtor, I work hard to understand your needs and lifestyle so we can find your perfect home.

    To assist buyers, I asked them to define their dream…What was most important their home? Beyond the number of bedrooms and baths or how many garage spaces, how do they really live?

    I take the time to talk with my buyers about their lives and what is important to them. By taking a short, lifestyle inventory I focus in on what makes up their ideal house. Once defined, the list of potential properties can be narrowed quickly to a reasonable amount of serious possibilities. By understanding what the buyers’ picture perfect home is, I can help them stay focused and not waste time with homes that don’t fit the dream. It most cases it only takes a short time to locate several good options and one “perfect” home to make an offer on.

    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, April 8, 2007

    Happy Easter—Tips to Clean up the Fridge after Holiday Surprises!

    If you’re considering moving this spring, a clean refrigerator is essential. Home buyers are very particular about the cleanliness of kitchens. They look inside the refrigerator and stove to check to see how clean they are. Here are quick tips to put your fridge in tip top shape:
    • Remove all food from refrigerator. If anything is past the freshness date, throw away.
    • Remove all drawers and shelves that can be removed. Put on the counter or in sink of soapy water.
    • Using soft cloth or sponge and warm soapy water, wipe down the entire inside of the appliance.
    • Don’t forget to clean the door. Pay extra attention to the top of the door where food can collect.
    • Clean off all of the drawers and shelves on the counter and in the sink.
    • Reassemble the interior parts of the refrigerator.
    • Vacuum coils underneath the appliance. Check to make certain the drip pan is empty.
    • Wipe down the entire exterior. Pay special attention to around the handle.
    • Put in a fresh box of baking soda to keep odors at bay.
    Now your refrigerator as clean and fresh as a Spring Day!

    Happy Easter!




    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, April 7, 2007

    Bird Watching in Off and On-Line in Minnesota—Help Keep Power Lines Clear and the Electricity ON!


    From the windows in our Anoka County home, we have the opportunity to bird watch. There is a falcon that has nested in a catalpa tree in our front yard. There is huge barn owl in one of our back oaks. A male pheasant lives under a towering pine. All year round we see song birds, blue jays, cardinals, and wood peckers. It is great fun to watch and identify different species. We know we are fortunate in Ham Lake. Not everyone can see such an array of birds at home.

    If you like to keep an eye to the sky and watch the birds, you can help keep the power on too! Osprey love to build nests in the spring on tall towers, buildings, poles and other structures. However, when the birds choose a power pole to construct their home, it can be not only be a danger for the birds, it can cause damage to essential equipment. If you notice an osprey starting to nest on a power pole, Xcel asks that you would contact there customer care center at 1-800-895-4999. They will do everything they can to relocate the nest in a safe area nearby.

    Did you know that Xcel Energy has on-line links so you can watch birds’ native to Minnesota build their spring nests? It is a very fun and educational site to see birds of prey up close in their natural nesting habitat. Hurry the eaglets will be hatching in early April!
    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, April 6, 2007

    Wave Goodbye to the Snowman—Hwy 36 is Under Construction!


    East and West bound commuters won’t be able to wave at Frosty this summer. The North St. Paul Snowman located on the south side of Margaret St. on Highway 36 will be tied up in the construction project that will affectively split the town in two for the summer.

    The business community will remain open but the spring Crazy Days festival is cancelled this year. A temporary Detour Days will be celebrated in its place. Antique and custom car enthusiasts may have to find another venue this summer as the Friday Night Car Show which is a huge tradition in North St. Paul, may not be able to go on this summer. No final decisions will be made on the car show until the construction starts and the organizers have a better handle on the traffic situation.

    This will not only cause traffic to detour, the many users of the popular
    Gateway Trail will have to go out of their way as they travel this section of road between Stillwater and Maplewood in Ramsey County.

    Although this project poses a few headaches that will continue through the fall, per the
    Minnesota Department of Transportation website the final outcome includes:


    • A diamond interchange at Hwy 36 and McKnight

    • A diamond interchange at Hwy 36 and McKnight

    • A bridge to carry traffic over Margaret St.

    • A pedestrian bridge over the highway

    • A tunnel for the Gateway Trail at Margaret St.

    • A frontage road from McKnight to First St.Auxiliary lanes for Hwy 36 between White Bear Ave. and McKnight Rd

    The Minnesota DOT has other big projects scheduled for 2007.


    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

    Wednesday, April 4, 2007

    Maintenance Tip: Change YOUR Furnace Filter

    When my husband and I bought our first home in North St. Paul, MN, we had no idea of how to maintain a home. One case in point was our furnace and central air conditioning. We bought our home in September but it wasn’t until a year later when we had our furnace serviced for the first time that we changed the furnace filter! Yes. For an entire heating and cooling season our furnace had to suffer with one of those cheap forty-nine cent filters.

    When I became a Realtor a few years later, I learned that we were not alone with forgetting to change filters. I have attended enough inspections and checked the filters at a few hundred homes in order to make this statement.

    However, all joking aside, not changing your filter on your furnace not only wastes energy, it strains your heating/cooling system which could cause the system to fail. No one wants there air conditioning to fail on a 95 degree, humid Minnesota day. Nor would they want to be without heat on a bitter cold January morning.

    Here is an easy way to remember to change that furnace filter. Filters should be changed monthly. It doesn’t matter if you buy the most expensive filter or the cheapest. The furnace filter should be changed monthly, period. Since most home owners also have a monthly mortgage payment, change the filter when you make your house payment!




    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, April 3, 2007

    Home Owners Guide: Smoke Detector Maintenance

    Smoke detectors are essential in saving lives if there was ever a fire in your home. Most home owners heed the recommendations to test their smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year at the daylight’s saving time switch. But were you aware that smoke detectors will not work forever? Did you know that you should periodically dust or vacuum your smoke detectors?

    Our two-story home built almost ten years ago, has several hard wired smoke detectors located strategically throughout our home. There is one in each upstairs bedroom and one in the upstairs main hallway, one in the main floor hallway near the kitchen and one in the basement. When we added an addition to the home a few years ago another smoke detector was hardwired into the system with the others. We felt protected!

    We always check our smoke detectors and change the batteries but this winter we found out about how smoke detectors can malfunction. And that these malfunctions like to happen around 2 a.m.! Various smoke detectors started to chirp shortly after we had installed the fresh new batteries this past fall. They would chirp and we would get out of bed to check to see which one it was. Then they would just stop. At one point, the smoke detector in the kitchen went off as if there truly was a fire. After a few days of little sleep, I did some research and discovered that it is very important to vacuum the dust off of your smoke detector. Could this be the solution? Possibly, since the chirping seemed to coincide with our forced air furnace turning on.

    So we vacuumed every one of our smoke detectors. A few days later the chirping started up again. Only with one of the detectors the one in the upstairs hallways near the bedrooms. It only chirps four times and stops but still interrupts a good night’s sleep. So I do more research and read that smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years. Well, the time is up for these guys. I need some sleep!

    Important Smoke Detector Facts:


    • Do a Monthly Battery Check

    • Vacuum or dust the smoke detector on a regular basis

    • Change batteries when low and twice annually (Daylight’s Savings Time change is a good way to remember.)

    • Don’t disconnect the chirping alarm—Change the battery.

    • Don’t paint over a smoke detector.

    • Replace all smoke detectors after 10 years

    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, April 2, 2007

    Dreaming of life on MN Acreage? What YOU need to know before YOUR Move!

    About 10 years ago out family came across a home being renovated on 3 acres in the country. It was a bit of a drive from North St. Paul and Maplewood; the quiet little suburbs where we had spent most of our lives. But there was something intriguing about the beautiful landscape with dozens of towering oaks and pines. We loved the idea that our two preschool boys could play hide and seek and ride their bikes right in our own yard. We made the leap without considering all of the differences that faces us switching from a city to a rural life.

    As a Realtor in the north metro, I show homes to other families looking for the same escape from the city that we sought a decade ago. I notice that the same questions continue to come up whether considering a hobby farm in Columbus, an acreage lakeshore home in East Bethel, a horse property in Scandia or an executive estate in Ham Lake. Though the properties that are being considered are only 15-20 miles from the nightlife of downtown Minneapolis, there are significant differences in the way of life out in the country. Here are some important questions and considerations that face my clients as they make their move from the city to the acreage in Anoka and Chisago Counties.

    **Does the home have 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? Require the seller to supply a report of compliance from a certified septic inspector in your purchase agreement. If you have never lived on a home with a septic system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain your system.
    Additional information on Septic Systems.

    **Does the home have access to city water or a private well? Do I need a water softener or other water treatment system?


    Families new to the concept of well water have many questions regarding its safety. Traditionally, well water is tested for bacteria and nitrates at the time of sale by the seller. A lead test for well water is required only for FHA loans. If you want the well test for your property to include other contaminants, it must be specified in the purchase agreement. Annual water testing is recommended for all home owners with wells.. Additional information on Private 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. These tanks are usually see only at gas stations where homeowners fill their small propane tanks for the weekend BBQ. In the country, the large tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. 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? Can I get high speed internet through the phone line? Does the property have cable access? What are the alternatives if DSL is not available through the phone or cable lines?

    A decade ago, these were not questions that few people cared about in the rural communities. Today our interconnected world brings these questions to the forefront. There are many homes in Lino Lakes, Ham Lake, Forest Lake and East Bethel that do not have cable lines or high speed internet available through the phone lines. If your family lives on the internet and could not live without a high-speed connection, it is essential to find out whether a home has access. The alternative of direct satellite high speed internet is significantly more expensive.

    **Is the road frontage paved? If the road is not paved, how often is it maintained by the city/county?
    When our family first moved to our home to a rural area in MN, the road was not paved. We were nearly a mile down this soft, sandy dirt road. We moved in the late fall and had no idea of the extremely poor condition of the road in the April rain of spring. It was treacherous at times. The regrading was done by the city on a schedule so we would have a pot-holed road for days. Our road has been paved for years now but the memories still remain.

    If you are considering acreage, remember many rural roads are not paved. Try to visit the property on several occasions and under differing conditions to determine the condition of any unpaved road. Talk to the city and county to understand the maintenance schedule for the road. 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. We also have pheasant, hawks, bald eagles, raccoons, several varieties of squirrels and deer. A flock of 18 wild turkeys have made their home on our block. And an owl and a hawk both nest in trees in on our property. I rarely saw blue jays, cardinals or hummingbirds in the city, but in our rural home we see them on a daily basis. While exciting, the downside is sometimes the wildlife comes in. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have an occasional field mouse enter their home.

    **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. 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.

    **Where are the schools?

    The public school districts in rural communities can be vast. In Forest Lake District 831 in Minnesota for example, students come from communities as far west as Ham Lake, as far south as Lino Lakes, as far east as Scandia and as far north as Stacy! It you drive from the western border to the eastern border of the district, it takes almost 45 minutes, one way! This particular school district has only one high school so your children’s best friend from school could literally live almost an hour from your home. It pays to research the school district prior to any housing decisions.

    Also school alternatives can be limited. Communities in the city have dozens of private and charter school options. These options are much lower in rural areas due to the smaller population.
    Additional information on Educational Alternatives in the North Metro.

    **Can we have a bonfire and burn all this debris?

    There are strict state 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 or a gallon of gas for the lawn mower.

    **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?
    Oak wilt is a big concern in Anoka and Chisago counties. Many of the communities have information and programs to help protect and save the oak trees from this disease.


    **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 6 year old fell and needed stitches in his upper lip. 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. 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.

    With a little planning your move to a home on acreage can be a great 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

    Sunday, April 1, 2007

    Natural Gas and Propane—What’s the Difference?

    Communities outside the Twin Cities metro area do not always have the infrastructure that home owners in the city take for granted. In rural communities where homeowners live on and own acres of land, they may not have water or sewer systems to the home. The electrical, cable and gas utilities may not provide service to any or all homes in the area. Alternatively, homeowners will have private services where the public utilities do not exist. Homes on acreage will have private wells for water and septic systems for sewage. If the home does not have cable access, they can use a private satellite service. And if there is no natural gas line, they opt for propane.

    As a Realtor in the north metro, I sell many homes on acreage in Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties. Some of the larger properties do not have natural gas utilities available. When they see the big propane tank in the yard, the question arises:
    What is the difference between Natural Gas and Propane?
    The two gases are basically equal in performance in appliances. The differences lie in portability, compression, energy efficiency and cost.


    Propane Tank—The most obvious visible difference is that natural gas comes into the home from an underground pipe with a meter controlled by a utility service while propane will sit in a tank in your yard.. Natural gas is billed monthly by the utility company as it is used. The propane tank’s refill is directed by the homeowner. The tanks come in different sizes and can be owned or rented from a propane provider.

    Propane Provides More BTUs than Natural Gas—Heat is measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs. When an amount of propane provides 2500 BTUs, the same volume of natural gas would provide 1000 BTU’s.

    Natural Gas Burns Cleaner—Propane releases more pollutants into the air when burning due to different chemical properties.

    Propane is Heavier—Both gases will dissipate into the air and can pose the threat of an explosion if enough gas is released and ignited. Propane being heavier than air tends to collect at ground level and pose a greater risk of explosion. If a home has a basement with few windows, there is no way for the heavy gas to dissipate. Natural gas being lighter than air will rise and has the ability to dissipate with time and open windows. A leak of either natural gas or propane is very serious and immediate evacuation is key.



    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