Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Time to Pump it Out! Septic Service Provides Comic Relief Too!

It’s a dirty business and somebody’s gotta do it. At least once every three years in the city of Ham Lake. . I’m talking septic pumping and inspection here. Getting your septic pumped and inspected is a requirement of most Twin Cities metro municipalities. State and county codes are not specific on the subject of on-site or individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS or septic systems, leaving it up to each Minnesota city to adopted their own rules for inspection.

We have had Olson’s Sewer Service of Forest Lake maintain and inspect our system since we moved to our Ham Lake acreage. Their slogan, “keeping your sewer in the pink” and hot pink trucks are seen all over Forest Lake, Columbus, Wyoming and Ham Lake. When the pink reminder postcard arrives in the mail, we schedule our inspection right away.

Olson’s slogan while catchy is tame compared to others as septic professionals really have a sense of humor about the role they play in the community. Here is a list of some favorites that have been seen on sewage and plumbing trucks all over the US:

· Yesterday's Meals on Wheels
· We're #1 in the #2 business.
· You Dump It, We Pump It
· After the first whiff, call Cliff.
· A good flush beats a full house
· We do Pump 'N Right
· We'll take crap from anybody.
· Satisfaction guaranteed or your merchandise cheerfully returned.
· Your poop is our bread and butter!
· Your brown is our green.

If you have a
septic system on your property, check with city hall for specific time frames. While once every three years is required in Ham Lake, it is once every two years in Lino Lakes. Most cities require that the tank, drain field and baffles of the system be checked at the same time. The licensed contractor will provide a completed permit to the city to document the inspection.

This is not an optional inspection. If you choose not to inspect your system, most cities will hire a contractor for you and assess the charges on your property taxes.
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. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bad Parenting can Decrease Your Home’s Value!

Long before becoming a Realtor in Anoka County Minnesota, I was a neurotic mom to two very active toddlers. I use the term neurotic because what else would you call a parent who spends hours looking for a missing red permanent marker that disappeared from the counter? It will show up eventually, right? I was frantic because I didn’t want it to show up in the hands of one of my sons as he created a masterpiece on the living room wall!

We had house rules when it came to playtime. Washable markers and crayons only! Finger paint, Silly Putty and Playdoh were kitchen activities where the flooring was vinyl and washable. There was a mandatory foot check when finished to m
ake certain no stray remnant would transfer to the carpet. Water toys were for the bathtub or swimming pool. Nerf toys were (and still are) for the outdoors.

As the boys grew older the list changed. We don’t have air BB guns or paint ball fights at our home, though most Ham Lake acreage is large enough to accommodate these activities. Dirt bike riding must stick to the marked path. No candles or unsupervised fireworks allowed. Baseballs must be hit away from the house not toward it. And water balloons and Super Soakers are filled only with water and played with outdoors.

Parenting is not an easy job. No one said it would be and it isn’t. One of the most important things you can teach a child is respect.

  • Respect of self.
  • Respect of other people.
  • Respect of property.
Every once in a while as a Realtor I will happen upon a family situation where there is little respect for the home and property. It is obvious that the children run the home rather than the parents. Sometimes the kids aren’t even home but I can see evidence of a lack of respect and care. It is easy to tell in some cases because the writing is on the wall, literally.

I have shown half million dollar lake homes that are only a few years old where all of the newly sheet-rocked walls in the basement were “decorated” with the black Sharpie designs of a three year old. The parents didn’t mind as they were planning to finish the basement prior to closing. But what will happen in the new home when Junior tries his hand at marker-art again?

Homes barely a few years old have been ruined not only with Sharpie Markers in a rainbow of colors but by water damage in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Carpeting and hardwood floors are damaged by not taking care with drinks, paints or messy toys. A spill on carpeting never properly cleaned up after leaves ugly discoloration. I have seen homes with cracked windows; holes in doors and walls; bathrooms with water damage from over filled bathtubs; BB holes in siding. Home fires are often started by fireworks or unattended candles…The list really goes on and on in a home with lax parenting.

Certainly, accidents happen from time to time and repairs can be made but teaching children to respect your home and property can save a family thousands of dollars and endless preparation when it becomes time to sell your home. Replacing carpeting and vinyl flooring for most homes will be a minimum of $3000-5000. Hardwood replacement can be triple that amount. Window replacement can run a thousand per window. Holes in siding can be repaired but mismatched colors kill the curb appeal. Laws in Minnesota require that a fire and repairs be disclosed to potential buyers and that will affect the value and ability of new buyers to insure the home.

If you think, so what. A new buyer can make the repairs. Think again. In a buyers market, IF a distressed property sells at all, it is sold at a substantial discount.

So institute family rules that protect your real estate investment! Become a bit neurotic and enforce ALL of them. Your kids will learn more than how to have fun, they will learn how to respect their family’s home.

Other articles on protecting your real estate investment:
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. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Doctor! Doctor! Give Me the News! I’ve got a Bad Case of Real Estate Blues

Have you ever noticed how people out there want a quick fix for everything? Think about how many informercials and products out there guarantee quick and easy weight loss. Consider those who took Fen-Phen or have tried the new Alli fat-blocking product. Trading a heart attack or serious gastro-intestinal problems for a healthy weight, isn’t a good tradeoff. Talk to an educated professional dietician and you will begin to understand there is no magic involved to long term weight loss. Good old fashioned hard work is the secret to success.

Similarly, there is no pill to kill the ills of the real estate market woes. Sell quick schemes and guaranteed sales programs are no replacement for preparation. Consult with a professional Realtor and there will be no gimmicks to replace the good old fashioned hard work that will get your home sold. Partnering with a highly qualified professional to price and prepare your home for sale is essential in this changing market.

If a real estate offer seems too good to be true, you need to look it over carefully and examine that fine print. A claim of “sold in 120 days or I will buy it” doesn’t look so great when you will be selling it to the agent for 80% of the appraised value of the home and the selection of the appraiser is at the sole discretion of the real
estate firm. A company that offers to buy your home directly and will close in days for cash has a certain appeal to those desperate to sell. Again, peruse that fine print very carefully as the fees may be surprising and not such a great deal to the average seller.

The best option is to skip the magic pill mentality and roll up your sleeves! If you really want to sell your home in this market, here is a simple 3 step approach to kick the real estate blues:

Step 1: Partner Up! It is imperative to team up with a professional agent to get your home ready and priced right. Find someone who lists and sells homes in your community. Don’t choose your best friend from college who just got their license or the wife of your coworker who lives on the other side of the Mississippi. Pricing is critical and understanding the marketplace can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Sure, your brother-in-law’s mom who lives and works mostly in Wisconsin may have a Minnesota real estate license, but does she really know anything about Forest Lake?

The selling process still will take time. In the Twin Cities north metro and Anoka County, homes are taking an average of 120 days to sell. Unprepared homes and improperly priced properties can sit for well over a year on the market.

Step 2: Fix everything! Yes, EVERYTHING! The 20 year old roof. The dripping faucets. The missing doors. The dingy carpeting. The outdated wallpaper. Everything needs to be repaired and replaced.

When a buyer has 20-50 homes that they can purchase, if you want them to consider yours, you need to remove every potential deterrent to writing an offer.

Curb Appeal is a Must! Your home must look AWESOME from the street!

Step 3: Pricing is Critical! The most important decision you will make in the process of selling your home will be determining the original list price. If you are too high, you will lose potential clients and increase your time on the market. Pricing a home correctly from the get-go is essential. If your real estate agent shows you sales comparisons from 3 months ago but you insist on using last year’s refinance appraisal, you are not working on the same team.

Most real estate markets have changed since the beginning of 2007. Changes include the amount of foreclosures in the community, new developments that are offering crazy incentives and fewer approved sub-prime buyers, have affected the marketplace drastically. Find a professional Realtor that knows your community and listen to their educated pricing opinion. It might be a bitter pill to swallow but to sell your home; you need to hear the truth.

More Articles to Get YOUR Home SOLD:Top 10 Ideas to Get Your Home Ready to SELL!
What is your Realtor’s List-to-sales Ratio?
Looking "HOT" From the Street—Tips for Curb Appeal
Does "Minnesota Nice" Affect the Real Estate Market? Yeah! 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. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Proud to Live in the Great State of Minnesota—Update on the 35W Bridge Collapse

As a native Minnesotan I have felt fortunate to be a resident of the Twin Cities. I knew the phrase Minnesota Nice was more than a slogan dreamed up by the Explore Minnesota tourism board. Minnesota Nice was a way of life. Sure we have road rage and drunk drivers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our state congress is divided left and right, just like the rest of the states in the union. But as Minnesotans, we face adversity together. And two weeks ago, we had an opportunity to share this wonderful aspect of Minnesota life with the world.
Eyes and cameras from around the world were on one small section of our state where Interstate 35W crossed the mighty Mississippi into Minneapolis two weeks back. It was a tragedy on many levels when the bridge with nearly 100 vehicles in the process of crossing, one a packed school bus, collapsed into the river. News media from around the US sent their top talking heads directly to the scene. The big names like Matt Lauer and Katie Couric stayed for only one day as I am certain the story wasn’t sensational enough. No terrorism. No political bashing. No looting.

The Minnesota 35W Bridge story was of heroism and bravery. It was a model of how a system should work. First responders came from communities all over the Twin Cities to help. Nearby citizens left the safety of homes, businesses and cars. They ran toward the danger to assist people from the water or out of a vehicle. The people affected were from many different social classes and nationalities. There were children and elderly, native Minnesotans and new immigrants. There were children. There were handicapped people. Minnesotans young and old helped each other. Few ran away from the bridge. Most were running toward it.

In the first few days of the tragedy, local, state and federal politicians stood together representing Minnesota as a united front. They continue to work to find the cause and plan to rebuild. Though the political spin is starting, for the most part Minnesotan’s are united in understanding what happened.

Yesterday, a walking bridge near Dinkytown by the UofM campus opened briefly. Many hoped for a glimpse of the bridge that we all drove over without a second thought just weeks ago. At this point, 90+ vehicles have been removed but 2 people are still known to be missing. Just yesterday two more victims were located in vehicles taken from the Mississippi bringing the official death toll to 11. The Hennepin County Sheriff, Rich Staneck, closed the bridge in respect for those still missing. Though he didn’t come out and say it directly, family members shouldn’t have to watch their loved ones recovered on YouTube. The bridge will remain closed until all known missing are recovered. Minnesotans understand and can wait.

If you are considering a move to the great state of Minnesota, you will be welcomed. Remember “Minnesota Nice” is not just a slogan, it is a way of life.

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. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of David Wetzel Photography.

Copyright 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Century College—Community Asset in So Many Ways!

Most people living in the communities of White Bear Lake, Oakdale, Mahtomedi and North St. Paul are aware of Century College and the asset it is to the community. Some long time residents still refer to the college by its original names of 916 Vo-Tech and Lakewood Community College (though now referred to as the east and west campus, respectively). Almost every area residents knows one, if not dozens, of attendees and graduates of this educational facility in northeastern Ramsey County.

Certainly Twin Citians are all aware of the wonderful educational opportunities at Century College. But some may not be as aware of the wonderful services offered on campus to the community. Here is just a sample of how Century College gives back to the communities in the North Metro.

Lunch Anyone? Two campus cafeterias offer affordable and delicious lunch entrees including soups, chili, pizza, beverages, and desserts. The campus setting is alive with people of all ages from around the community as the public is always welcome. If you’re and early riser, breakfast is available too! Having a Party? Check out the catering service. For more information, please call 651-779-3482.

Manicure, Pedicure, Facial or New Hairstyle? All are available without the high salon pricing. Call 651-779-5756 for an appointment.

Brighten Your Smile! Teeth cleaning, whitening, x-rays, sealants and fluoride treatments are available on campus. To make an appointment or for additional information, call 651-779-5794.

Busy Bees Child Care Center Children aged 33 months to 11 years can be enrolled for part-time, full-time or hourly child care in the on-campus center. Care is available during the school year and much of the summer for children of students and members of the community on a space available basis. If space permits, drop-in care can be arranged. Call 651-779-3468 for additional information.

Check Out a Good Book The two campus libraries, one on the east campus and one on the west, are open to the public and books can be checked out with your community library card.

Need a High Quality Video to Promote Your Business? The Media Production Services can assist you to create a high impact ad without the high cost. Consultations are FREE! Call 651-779-3370 to set up an appointment.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side! Or just the Scenic Wood Duck Trail. Skate, jog or stroll down the public nature trail that winds through the wildlife area of the west campus.

Featured Real Estate Listings available near Century College:
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. I specialize in acreage properties! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2007

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minnesota Tragedy—35W Bridge Collapses over Mississippi!

I have traveled over the 35W Bridge into Minneapolis countless times since receiving my drivers license decades ago. When I worked in Edina in the south metro, I commuted from North St. Paul on a daily basis over that bridge. I have been stuck in rush hour traffic inching along that stretch of roadway. As of late, it has only been the periodic trip to Minneapolis for a Twins game or visit to the Guthrie Theater that has had my family on that bridge. Knowing that the Minnesota Twins have a 7:05 start time at the Metrodome, no doubt that the traffic snarl included families headed to a fun evening.

Fortunately, my family was home at 6 pm Wednesday evening. My son and husband were contemplating setting up the pitching machine for a batting practice to get ready for the state baseball tournament this weekend. But as we heard rumbles of thunder and the sky turned dark, I went inside to catch the news for a weather radar map to give us an indication of whether or not we would be getting a much needed rain shower. At first it was just a breaking news note that part of the 35W Bridge collapsed over the Mississippi and updates would follow. I went out to tell my family not to set up the machine as we were in for a storm. And I think they just said that part of 35 had collapsed over the river by Washington Avenue. (It just didn't seem real to me yet.)

When I got back inside to see if they had additional reports. The news helicopters were showing the first pictures of the area. As there were so few vehicles visible, the initial reports were of light traffic on the bridge. There must not have been a baseball game was my inital thought. The reporters noted that it was the tail end of rush hour.
Soon interviews from the survivors painted a different picture with bumper to bumper traffic moving at 10 mph across a bridge with no where to go. When the reporters said that the Twins game was going to continue as scheduled to avoid sending additional vehicles into an already crowded and confused scene, my heart sunk. This was a worst case scenario!

What a tragedy! I know if we had Twins tickets we would have been on that bridge in that traffic along with the hundred or so other vehicles affected. I am proud to be a Minnesotan as so many good Samaritans came from everywhere to assist those in need on the bridge without a thought to their own safety. Now, though thankful that my family is safe, I my thoughts and prayers are with those victims and survivors of this tragic event.