Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Minnesota REALTOR®, Teri Eckholm Explains Short Sales


Ring—Ring! There’s another call…Since, interest rates dropped to an all time a few weeks ago, buyers are again asking questions and getting in a buying frame of mind. As a Minnesota REALTOR®, many of the calls I have received lately are from excited first time buyers and/or the parents of young people as they assist their children looking for their first home. A lot has changed since mom and dad bought a home so there can be many questions.

This time the call is from an excited first time buyer who has been scouring the internet for the perfect home at the ideal price. He calls and wants to set up some showings for the homes he has found. With a quick email, he forwards the dozen MLS listings and I bring up an array of his dream homes. With five of the six properties there is an agent note that indicates the home is in short sale. When I pass on the information, I hear a puzzled silence and pause.

Time for Real Estate 101What exactly is a Short Sale and why should I care?
After months, going on years now, of the media coverage of the mortgage crisis, many people still do not understand what a short sale is…And more importantly, how it affects the home buying process. In a nutshell, a short sale is when the seller owes more on the home than it can be sold for in today’s market. To sell the home, the seller must ask the bank to approve the sale of the home for the lower price. It is also know as a pre-foreclosure home and can be a way for a homeowner to avoid being foreclosed upon if they can no longer pay their mortgage.

Why should a buyer care if a home is in short sale? A buyer will submit and offer with earnest money just as in any other real estate transaction. The sales price and terms are negotiated and agreed upon by the seller who then signs the purchase agreement, contingent upon the bank agreeing to the lower sales price. Some larger banks have hundreds, if not thousands, of these files waiting for approval. It is the norm to wait 8-12 weeks for an answer from the bank. Adding to the problem, many sellers will have more than mortgage on their home and therefore more than one bank can be involved in the approval process. An offer can give the first bank most of its money back so it will be willing to approve but the second bank, who is in a subordinate position, will get nothing and not approve the deal. It can be frustrating for a buyer to wait for an answer when there is no guarantee of when you will hear back from the bank.

How does a short sale compare to a foreclosure? In a foreclosure, the bank has taken back the home from the owner. The seller is now the bank and a buyer is dealing directly with the bank when an offer is written. A bank representative did not reside at the home so cannot disclose or tell you information about the condition of the home. While negotiations are easier and much faster, buyers must accept the risk and purchase the home in as-is condition. It is extremely important to have a home thoroughly inspected when buying a bank owned property.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a
FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Forest Lake Minnesota’s Jazz and Blues Music Connection

Music is a known eclectic force in throughout the Midwest. Notably, Minnesota is the home to Prince, Jonny Lang and Soul Asylum to name just a few. There always seems to be a new band on the horizon just waiting to be discovered in the undercurrent of talent in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. In the area where I live and sell real estate, few would consider looking in Forest Lake or Taylors Falls for an upcoming Jazz/Blues/Rock sound but thanks to a musical profile on local cable access programming, I found one that deserves to be heard.

Many who move to the Forest Lake area will eventually stop into
Music Connection to rent an instrument for school band or to sign up for music lessons. On a Saturday morning, I have run into more than one past homebuyer and friend stopping in to peruse the sheet music, pick up drum sticks or drop off someone for a lesson. The store offers a talented group of musicians that teach piano, drums, voice, guitar and more. We discovered the store several years back when our sons began lessons with an energetic yet quiet, young electric guitar instructor, Tony Berning. Though we knew Tony played in a band and wrote music, we were unaware of the depth of his musical talent as he presents himself with an unassuming daytime demeanor. But surprisingly we recently discovered that inside there beat the heart of a true blues and jazz musician just waiting to explode on stage as lead singer of The Juizy Blazz Shake-Up.
Fortunately, this fall I was able to tag along during a photo shoot and filming of the band’s profile at the Red Bird Music in the picturesque St. Croix Valley. Just across the river from Taylors F
alls, the community of St. Croix Falls offers a unique atmosphere for local bands. I met the members of JBSU on a stage in the basement of the main street store, where local musicians hone their talents every weekend. It was only a photo shoot so no music was played that night. Intrigued by their story after hearing they had played at The Fine Line Music Café and First Avenue in Minneapolis, I later tagged along again to Wisconsin to hear the band in action.

Unbelievable! Awesome vocal and guitar talent that was so unexpected from the guitar teacher we knew so well.

If you have a chance, you will want to catch Juizy Blazz Shake Up in person. In the meantime you can check out the band's story and sound on the complete band profile created by film production talent,
Pyromaniac Studios .




Intriqued and want to see where the Juizy Blazz Shake-Up is playing next? Or maybe you want to ask if they are available to play at your Twin Cities event? Visit The Juizy Blazz Shake Up MySpace page. The band plays periodically throughout the Twin Cities...and for many of the venues, there is NO Cover Charge!
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Foreclosures! Not Just for Investors Anymore…First Time Buyers also get DEALS!

This past spring I asked readers if they were ready to take on the challenge of buying a foreclosure or short sale home. Test Yourself--See If YOU are Ready to buy a Foreclosed Home! was a tongue-in-cheek look at the average homebuyer purchasing a pre-foreclosure or bank owned property. I have thought of that post often in the past few months …At the time, I was seeing overpriced pre-foreclosures and trashed REO houses, in many cases buyers were better negotiating with traditional sellers for their dream homes. But, as they say, that was then and this is now. NOW, I think it is time to take a serious look at foreclosure properties.

In the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to visit several dozen bank owned properties in the $100,000 to $150,000 price range throughout Anoka County. Though several were trashed, my buyers and I were pleasantly surprised to find many REO homes in move-in condition. The fear of AS-IS purchasing was still a concern, but not so dramatic as when the homes literally had holes where the appliances should have been.

Now, I am finding tremendous deals on bank-owned homes throughout the north and east metro on a daily basis. Many properties are going back to the bank in extremely good condition and being put back on the market quickly and at unbelievably affordable pricing.

So what do you need to know if considering purchasing a foreclosed home? Here are a few key points to consider….

Understand the difference between short sale and REO. A short sale or pre-foreclosure is a home where the seller is selling but owes more to the bank than the home is worth. A REO property has been returned to the bank and is now bank-owned.

In a short sale, the seller lists the home on the multiple listing service, MLS, for what they believe the home to be worth even if the list price is less than they owe. When an offer is received on the property, the bank is sent the offer for approval as they will have to write off thousands of dollars to attract a buyer. It can take months to receive an answer from a bank (or banks if there is a second or third mortgage on the home) and the answer is not always positive.

I recommend to most buyers that it is better to keep looking at other properties and wait and see if a particular short sale home goes back to the bank. If it becomes an REO property, it is usually relisted at a much lower price. Because the bank now knows exactly what it wants for the home and only one bank or division of a bank is involved, answers come much more quickly; usually within days, if not hours. This is a much smoother process.

Get Representation. Dealing directly with the bank is extremely risky. If you are going to be looking at foreclosures, find an agent you trust and sign a buyer’s representation contract. Then that REALTOR is working for you! When I represent a buyer, it costs nothing to that buyer because my commission is paid for by the seller. I can help a buyer understand if the list price by the bank is a fair price for the property and in its current condition.

When you find that perfect foreclosure, I, as your agent, assist you in putting together the best offer for the situation and negotiate on your behalf. Good homes are seeing multiple offers. If you find an almost perfect foreclosure, chances are several other buyers will like the home too. In November, I wrote offers on three move-in condition foreclosed homes. All three had multiple offers just days after the home listed. A listing agent is working for the bank. Don’t you think you deserve to have a professional REALTOR working directly for you?

Get Ready to Waive Goodbye to your Right to a Disclosure. Minnesota requires that the seller of a home disclose all known defects to the property. Most banks will require you to sign a seller’s alternative to the disclosure where you will waive your rights to receiving a homeowner’s disclosure. This is not negotiable as the bank representative did not live at the home and does not have any way of knowing the condition of the property.

Inspections are Critical. Buying a foreclosed home means buying a home in AS-IS condition. That means the bank will not warranty that anything in the home is working and will not make repairs to any part of the home. A complete home inspection is designed to give you a picture of the current condition of the property and if any major repairs will be required to make the home habitable.

Rethink a Home Warranty. Many buyers do not want to spend the additional dollars on a home warranty. However in the case of an as-is purchase from a bank or other corporate-owned property it could be a smart investment for that first year. If something is missed at the inspection or is not visible, a home warranty might be able to cover the defect. For example, central air conditioning cannot be tested during a Minnesota winter so come spring, you might find your home full of hot air and no blower to help you cool down. Most home warranties will cover central air conditioning.

Don’t Overlook Traditional Sellers. Homes being sold by a traditional home seller in this market are in most cases priced to sell! This is good news for FHA and VA buyers as many foreclosed homes will not qualify for these programs due to the poor condition of most properties. Sellers understand they are competing with banks that have only a financial not emotional interest in the property. So homeowners needing to sell have to check their emotions at the door and price their home accordingly. A lovingly maintained property with a full disclosure at a rock bottom price could still be the best deal for a buyer.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Thursday, December 18, 2008

December Video Update on the Twin Cities Real Estate Market

The Minneapolis Association of Realtors just posted their December Twin Cities real estate market update video today on YouTube. This month's snapshot talks of the phenomenal affordability of homes in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Housing affordability combined with amazing low mortgage rates is quite a story for first time homebuyers. Additionally, the association provides an explanation of how bankowned and foreclosed homes compare to the sales of the homes sold by traditional sellers. It is a quick fun snapshot of real estate market conditions in the Twin Cities. Take a look...


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions—Hometown Version: GIANT Pizza Chef in Linwood, MN

Last week as I drove a car full of teenagers to go skiing at Trollhaugen through Lindstrom and Center City, my son mentioned our excursions to get photos of unique giant hometown art. We were passing the giant hotdog and miniature statue of liberty (small compared to NYC standards anyway) in Lindstrom, when the subject came up. As we drove past the Lindstrom teapot water tower, his friend mentioned how the giant chef outside of Linwood Pizza always cracks him up as they drive by. My son told his friend about my photo blogs and I said the pizza man was going uup as soon as I had time.

Okay…I have been keeping this guy in my camera since October and now it is time to share! Along County Road 22 about half way between I35 in Wyoming and Hwy 65 in East Bethel, stands this rotating pizza chef outside of Linwood Pizza. You can’t miss him and I’d bet he puts a smile on your face too!

Other Uniquely Minnesota Hometown Artful Distractions:
Don't be distracted when making YOUR important real estate decisions! If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy First Anniversary to “The Parlour” in Andover/Ham Lake--A Dream Come True

A year ago last summer, I was in my favorite Blaine hair salon getting my hair expertly cut and colored by my stylist and friend, Jill Jarvi. As she worked to make me look my best, she told me she was about to embark on her dream of opening her own salon and boutique. It was going open before the end of the year in the Ham Lake/Andover area. Her excitement and drive was evident as she described her dream of an upscale, full service hair salon for women and men. And by the fall of 2007, her dream had come true.
The Parlour is in a word, beautiful! Located in a brand new building just west of the Hanson/Bunker Lake intersection, it is convenient too. Luxurious fixtures and surroundings with style make one feel welcome from the moment you walk in the door. It is a northern oasis for pampering at very affordable prices! The staff is always dressed professionally and greets everyone as a special guest.

Guest comfort is important to Jill. At her previous salon, the old chairs were poorly designed and uncomfortable for clients to sit in for long periods of time while hair processed with a perm, color or foil. (I know because I had actually hurt my lower back and was in severe pain requiring several months of therapy from these old chairs.) This is no longer an issue at The Parlour! Every piece of furniture was selected with the guest in mind. The chairs in the hair washing station are adjusted via remote and glide soothingly into several comfortable positions.

Stylists were hand picked by Jill with the same care and consideration. When the Northern Escape Salon closed last spring, Jill interviewed several of the stylists and selected only a handful of the most talented that would embrace the essence of The Parlour. I have had the spoken with several of these stylists and they are very enthusiastic about their opportunity to work in such a dynamic environment.

Now after surviving the first year in a slow economy and the major construction at the corner of Hanson and Bunker Lake Blvd, The Parlour has something to celebrate! Jill, being the wonderful person that she is, has generously offered an Anniversary special of 50% of any service to a first time guest. She was telling me about this special and I offered to get the word out on her great new salon in the Ham Lake/Andover area. And yes, you can even request the owner herself and receive the deal. Just print out a copy of this blog and bring in with you. Current customers are not forgotten as they can bring in my blog and receive a special gift.
Click here for additional information on The Parlour Hair Salon.

I will be in next week to be picture perfect in time for the holidays Maybe I will see you there. We can talk real estate…or just relax!

Are you ready to have your dream of owning a house come true? If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ham Lake Firefighters Transported a COLD Santa!

It was the coldest night yet this season but that didn't keep Santa from making his holiday rounds in the firetruck throught the northern tier of Ham Lake last Saturday evening. Riding in the basket of the extention truck, Santa cheerfully greeted residents as he collected canned goods and donations for the local food shelf. A windchill of a few degrees below zero couldn't keep the jolly old elf and his Ham Lake helpers from their appointed rounds. Hopefully they collected a ton of food for their efforts. I know they brought more than a few smiles to faces...though they may have stayed frozen on for awhile.
Happy Holidays!

Third Qtr House Price Index Released--Minnesota NOT at Bottom but Too Close for Comfort!

The report released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency in late November was not expected to hold great news. The House Price Index (HPI) report showed that across the United States the average appreciation was -4.00 during the past year. Minnesota’s appreciation rate was -4.33 just slightly worse than the national average. It ranked 41st out of 51 (states plus the District of Columbia). Though several other states were exhibited higher depreciation rates, there is no cause for celebration. The affect of foreclosures on the market are evident.

The bottom of the list states are no surprise either. Four states showed double digit depreciation; Nevada with -20.92, California with -20.79, Florida with -16.04 and Arizona with -13.49.

Our neighboring states faired somewhat better than we did in Minnesota. Wisconsin, though feeling the strain of the mortgage meltdown, came in with a -1.30 which was ranked 28 of 51. While Iowa and both Dakotas showed positive appreciation, Iowa with 0.67 was 14th from the top, while South Dakota and North Dakota held the number 2 and 1 spots with 3.89 and 4.02 respectively.

Interestingly, not one city in Minnesota made the list of communities with the lowest appreciation nor did any city in North Dakota make the top listing.

One reason for the high numbers in Minnesota comparatively to neighboring states like the Dakotas can be attributed to the limited use of subprime mortgages in the Dakotas and Iowa. North Dakota natural gas reserves may be another contributing factor for the increasing real estate values.


Home buyers in Minnesota can benefit from the situation as the Affordability Index is significantly better than in nearly a decade. First time buyers can really benefit as houses in some communities are selling at tens of thousands less than they had just a few years ago.


Need help understanding today's changed real estate market? If you are buying or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I LOVE Being a REALTOR®~~Making Homebuyers Dreams Come True!

Back in October, I was asked by Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist to write about why I love my profession. I put this off for quite awhile. At first, I was going to write about what my Dream job would have been...We had just returned from Disney World and had the opportunity to meet a few of the Dream Team. These are people who spent the last two years walking up to visitors at the park and making dreams come true by letting families stay over night in Cinderella's Castle or giving them a unique behind the scenes tour or other special gift.

I have to admit, as part of a family of Disney Fanatics passing out dreams at Disneyland or Walt Disney World would be the epitome of a perfect job in my book...even if it was only a two year stint (Disney's Year of a Million Dreams ends in a few weeks...sigh.)

Every day making dreams come true...THAT would be an awesome job! But as I thought more about it, I realized that what I do makes others dreams come true too...First homes. Relocations. Move up homes. I love my job because I make dreams come true...not Disney Dreams but dreams just the same.

Today. I ran across this post from earlier this year where I wrote of helping first time homebuyers find their way home. The story gives an example of how I make dreams come true...one happy homebuyer at a time.

*****Best Part of Being a REALTOR®~ Helping First Time Buyers Find Their Way Home
Originally posted 3/8/2008 by Teri Eckholm/REALTOR®


Late on a Saturday afternoon, I received a phone call. The caller said he and his fiance had just driven by a listing of mine and could I show them the inside. "Are you working with an agent?" I inquired. "No", he said. The meeting was set for the next evening.


The young man and his fiancée arrived with an entourage of parents and assorted other relatives. Being first time buyers, they wanted assistance and approval on their first home. Looking over the home from top to bottom, they liked what they saw but needed time to think. I asked the question I always ask, "When you are shopping for a home, are you shopping for a REALTOR®?" The young man's dad answered, "They don't need an agent because they could get a better deal working directly with the listing agent." I explained why this wasn't true but could tell from the look on his face, Dad was not convinced.
I explained agency and asked the young couple to sign the disclosure on agency as required by the State of Minnesota. Buyers need to understand that at any listing for my broker, I am under contract to work for the seller and protect their interests. If the couple decides to sign a buyers' representation agreement with me, they would be in a DUAL agency when looking at homes listed by my broker. They had seen many homes with other real estate agents, but I was the only agent who explained agency to them or asked them to sign the required disclosure.

Days later, a decision was made; the young couple wanted to make an offer. A contract was signed for buyers' representation for the specific home only. Dual agency now applies. As an agent working for both parties, I could not do anything that would hurt either the buyer or seller. Because it was only for the specific home, I could not discuss other property options. An offer was presented, but terms could not be agreed upon. The buyers went away.

A few weeks later the price was reduced on my listing. I called this young couple to see if the lower price would be enough to renew their interest. It would. But there was also another new construction house in a different area that was being considered.

Another showing. They were sure that they had it down to between the two homes. I could see the indecision and confusion on their faces. I asked about the other home they were considering to help them contrast it to my listing to help my selling clients and put their home in a better light. As with most homes, neither home was a perfect fit. I am a firm believer that after weighing all of the pluses and minuses, homes will sell themselves if it is the right home for the buyer. A week passed. No offer came forth.


Finally a phone call from the young man. We have made a decision. We are not going to offer again on your listing. It is not the right home for us. In fact, neither home is right. We are starting over. "Would you help us find a home?"

Now as their buyers' representative, I got to work. For the next few weeks, we visited a dozen or so homes from the hundreds currently on the MLS that met their criteria. Traveling from Stillwater to White Bear Lake and Hugo to Forest Lake we narrowed down the field of potential homes to two or three. Finally, one sparked enough interest for a second showing with the parents, but this home also had a few quirks that raised concerns. That same evening, since we were out, I set up another showing for a home in a development that hadn't considered. Funny thing was, the home was perfect!


With the perfect home, there were no delay or hesitation in signing the offer; everything just fell into place. With every visit to the home for the inspection and walk-throughs, the young couple became more excited.

At the final walk-through, with minutes to go before they were to receive the keys to their first home, I asked them, "So, are you glad that you decided to sign with a REALTOR®?"

They answered in unison a resounding, "Yes!! You made it so much easier to find the right home! Especially for first time buyers." I don't make this stuff up...Those were their exact words.


After the closing, I received a hug and sincere, "Thank you for everything", from my young clients. As they set off to begin life in their dream home a thought struck me, what a great job I have!


Do you need an expert Buyer's Representative to help you find your Dream Home? If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR ®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or Homebuyers Success Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Buying a Home?



Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!


Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

HO HO HO! Santa is Coming to YOUR Ham Lake Neighborhood!

You’d better watch out and better not cry—Santa Claus is coming to OUR Town! The big guy himself will be coming through a Ham Lake neighborhood on his annual firetruck/food drive.
One of the most fun and unique experiences that our family looks forward to every December is when Santa rides through the city on a fire truck, passing out candy canes to the good little (and big) residents of Ham Lake. Santa’s fireman helpers use this opportunity to collect non- perishable food items to stock the Ham Lake food shelf for the holidays. This trip to the end of the driveway or road is not just for the kiddies; Santa passes candy canes, donated by the Ham Lake Chamber of Commerce, out to the young and young at heart.

As Ham Lake is a rather large area geographically and the fire truck is not as swift as flying reindeer, Santa makes his pre-Christmas visit on a 3-day schedule from 6PM to 9PM.

Thursday December 4: The width of the city from the south border to 145th Lane.

Friday, December 5: The width of the city from 145th Avenue to Constance Blvd.

Saturday, December 6: The width of the city from Constance to the city’s north boundary.

New homeowners and past residents alike enjoy this unique Ham Lake Christmas tradition. Don’t miss out on the fun! Mark your calendar, listen for the sirens and bring the food donations to the end of the driveway. It is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Looking for a new home for the holidays? If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet or FREE Buyer’s Success Package. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Monday, December 1, 2008

Finding a GREAL Deal on Real Estate on Cyber Monday

Everyone knows that today is the day all computer lines will be buzzing with online shoppers trying to get the best deals on Christmas bargains from online retailers. Websites will be slow as millions surf the web to take advantage of discounted prices. So while millions are overloading shopping sites looking for deals on electronics and holiday gifts, now would be the perfect time to search out a great real estate deal.

No I am not kidding. Real estate sites often have tons of widgets, photos and video links that can slow searches. But while others flock to save a few bucks, a savvy homebuyer can save tens of thousands by looking for a home to buy now. Not only are there bank owned properties, pre-foreclosures and short sales on the market, there are homes owned by families that have relocated, there are estates that must be sold and there are houses that are being sold due to family changes such as a new baby, marriage or on the downside, divorce. These homes won’t be removed from the market due to the holiday season. But you can bet that the owners don’t want to face a winter of maintenance on an empty property.

These homes are featuring drastically reduced pricing. Yep, I am seeing listings on homes, tens of thousands off the price from even a few weeks ago. Whether you are looking at a starter home, a town home or lakeshore, great deals can be found! And with the masses of other people buying holiday gifts, a home buyer won’t be faced with as many multiple offer situations. (Yes, there can be multiple offers on a home in this market when the home is priced well!) So home buyers, take advantage of Cyber Monday as a time to shop till you drop for a home bargain! Come January, those distracted buyers will be back in the game.


Here are a few GREAT Deals on Anoka and Chisago County Real Estate:

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November Video Update on the Twin Cities Real Estate Market

November's video Twin Cities real estate market update was just posted this past week on YouTube from the Minneapolis Association of Realtors. It gives a very good snapshot of condition of the Twin Cities real estate market and explanation of where it is today. It is cautiously optimistic about the housing market conditions this fall. Take a look...




If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a
FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Minnesota Real Estate Market Shows Similar Trends to Nation in October

For the past year or so, I have been fortunate to be taking part in a monthly nationwide real estate market research project with the investment firm, Credit Suisse. As a thank you, I receive a copy of the report in exchange for my views of what is happening in the home construction and sales market in Minnesota.

“Fear Grips Buyers in October” was the headline of this month’s report. It is not just a Minnesota trend that had real estate agents phones not ringing. The report indicated that this was a nationwide trend. “Nearly all markets are impacted by buyers worries.” And how could they not be with talks of bailouts and massive economic meltdowns.

There are indications that foreclosure heavy markets are seeing traffic and demand is weak at high price points. Some buyers are buying but cautiously. Funny thing was as I read this report; I could have written most of what has been presented. This information is what I have observed in the Minnesota market right down the line. September buyers were stopped in their tracks by the economic news. Very few calls came into my office and even fewer were scheduled. October is usually a time where the phone will start ringing with buyers excited about getting into that new home before the Minnesota snow starts to fly.

On a positive note, the Monday following the election, my phone has started to ring. My listings are getting showings and buyers have started to ask to see homes again. Maybe with all the political focus on the economy over, the public is ready to start venturing out to see all the great deals on Minnesota lakeshore and acreage homes in the north and east metro. Buyers wanting to be in by Christmas better hurry as the forecast indicates the snow will be flying soon.


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Revamped Foreclosure Alternatives—Can the Buyer Pay Back the Money?


Simple question. Granted, had it been asked when many initial loans were taken out and the answer acted responsibly on, we might not be in the mortgage mess that our economy finds itself today. It seems the question is being finally being asked again. Not only to new borrowers, but a modified question, “HOW can the buyer pay back the money?”, is being asked to assist homeowners at risk of foreclosure.

Earlier this week, I read a Newsweek article posted by Daniel McGinn,
Focusing on Foreclosures. In the article, McGinn discusses how after the summer takeover of IndyMac, the FDIC introduced a loan modification program that looks at a homeowner’s current situation and what they are able to pay first, then tweaks the loan to keep the homeowner in their house. Note they first look at what the homeowner can pay. Then using a standard formula, they try to set up a payment that will not exceed that amount. This starts by lowering the interest rate or extending the length of the loan. If that doesn’t work, the principle of the loan could be decreased.

While this does cause a loss to the bank on the books, it is in many cases a much lower lost than the cost of foreclosing on the home. And as most people now realize, the total impact of the loss is not just for the bank, many others are affected starting with the homeowner and extending throughout the community.

Finally, things are starting to snowball in a good way. Early yesterday, Citibank announced an expanded moratorium on foreclosures. By the afternoon, the FHFA was announcing an expanded Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac program to keep more people in their homes by reducing there payments to not more than 38% of their gross monthly income. 

While questions the logic of the bailout continue to swirl, I do think banks working to keep homeowners in their houses on affordable payment schedules does make sense. Too bad this simple question wasn’t asked sooner and consistently.
CLICK HERE for additional information on HUD Foreclosure Assistance.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hey Homebuyers—Do you Have your Eye on a Real Estate SLEEPER?


You know what I mean…There is a home you have been watching for a couple of months and it is priced right. In fact, it is a steal of a deal. But you are still on the fence about buying a home and want to wait until that perfect moment. You are timing the market so to speak and waiting to see if seller of that “sleeper” is going to drop the price again. Well wake up bargain hunters…You might not be the only one with an eye on that sleeper and if you wait too long it will be gone.

A real estate “sleeper” is a home that is an amazing deal but few people, if anyone, is paying attention to it. Usually it is a great property, location, structurally sound and priced well but has not sold. In a buyer’s market where there is significant home inventory but few buyers, sleepers are abundant.

Maybe the home was originally over priced and though it is now priced very well it is being overlooked because of high days on the market statistics.

Possibly several very similar homes went on the market at the same time and in the same condition. Picture for a second, three homes listed during the same week in a cookie-cutter development where all the homes have roughly the same floor plan. All the home are the same age, condition, and priced very well, but only one homebuyer comes through the neighborhood during the next two months. So after 60 days, there are two sleepers left that didn’t sell. Since the houses are essentially the same as the neighboring home that sold, it's not that the homes aren't properly priced. This is another scenerio that will cause a sleeper in this changed market.

And then some great homes are "sleeping" on the market because…well, there is just so much darned inventory out there!

But if you are sitting on the sidelines and just watching your perfect home for another price reduction, beware. I have sold a couple of sleepers this past year throughout the north and east metro. In each case, nothing was happening on the property then BAM....we had 4-5 qualified parties interested in the home at the same time. In these particular cases, they weren’t the cookie-cutter variety either. One home in Washington County/Forest Lake area had a one-of-a-kind wooded lot and was in a perfect location. After months on the market, without an additional price reduction, over half a dozen serious buyers suddenly appeared. People were nonchalant when I told stressed that the home had recently seen a sudden surge of interest. Many even “pooh-poohed” the idea and mildly accused me of trying to get them of trying to coerce an offer. When the first offer came in, the seller wasted no time in accepting and I had several parties, buyers and agents alike, shocked, and more than a little miffed, that it was suddenly sold!

If the sleeper phenomena had happened only one time this past year, I would consider it a fluke but I have experienced this situation on homes in Chisago and Anoka Counties as well. In some cases I was the listing agent and others I was representing buyers.

So homebuyers heed my warning, if you are on the fence watching a sleeper, now might be the perfect time to make your move...Or someone else might beat you to it!
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If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Friday, October 31, 2008

Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions—Homeowner Version: Pumpkins Year Round in Wyoming, MN


While visiting one of the favorite pumpkin patches in Wyoming, MN last month, I noticed a bit of permanent décor among the display for the festivities. Long after October, people will be able to drive down County Road 22 and know from this Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distraction where the pumpkins will be next fall.

This carved set of pumpkins is in the front yard of the Lendt Pumpkin patch year greeting the family and friends of the owners year round while providing a bit of artful roadside distraction for those passing by. No doubt left in anyone’s mind what grows in these fields, even in the dead of winter.

Have a VERY Happy and Safe Halloween!

Other Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions:
Don't be distracted when making YOUR important real estate decisions! If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October Video Update on Twin Cities Real Estate Market

I came across this market update posted on YouTube from the Minneapolis Association of Realtors which is a very good explanation snapshot of condition of the Twin Cities real estate market today. It is cautiously optimistic about the housing market conditions this fall. Take a look...









If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

The Frugal File—Halloween Horror: Old Candy Alert!

Thrifty times call for drastic measures. I myself have been known to pinch pennies with the best of them so that our family could splurge on other things. But there is being frugal and being down right cheap. Trick-or Treaters beware…

Last March, my job as a REALTOR had me showing several homes to buying clients throughout Blaine, East Bethel, Andover, Ham Lake and even a few in as far south as Fridley and north to St. Francis. I can no longer pinpoint where this home was located but I will never forget what we saw stored in the closet under the stairs. A clear 38 gallon tote full of 10-20 bags of snack sized chocolate bars. All the favorites were there…Reese’s, Snickers, Hershey’s, you get the picture. It was clearly labeled “Halloween candy for 2008”. Keep in mind this is March now. After my client pointed it out it and I took a minute to process it...Yuck! Some poor kids are going to get a not so tasty surprise on Halloween because that is going to be
very old chocolate!
If you want to be thrifty and pre-buy something for next year’s trick-or-treaters at the half price sales on November 1st, stick to the non-edible treats. Pencils, Play-doh and small toys are usually available. Now if you like to give small gifts at Thanksgiving, by all means get the candy that is 50% off and wrapped in fall colors. I like to buy these and put an assortment into small gift bags for teachers and other service professionals as a Thanksgiving thank you. The chocolate is fresh and will taste good for several more weeks. I will even stock up on Hershey Kisses Kisses for making peanut blossom cookies that we have at Christmas. But saving chocolate under the stairs for a year and distributing to the neighborhood kids is not recommended as a way to save money. In fact it’s kind of gross.

Have a Very Safe and Happy Halloween!


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ham Lake City Council Candidates Embracing Rural Character or City Utilities? Better Find Out Before Voting!


Four options on the ticket, two seats up for grabs, do you know enough about the candidates to make an educated decision on whom to vote for next Tuesday? To be honest with you, I did not until this past Saturday. A copy of Lakes and Loons arrived in our mailbox this week with information regarding our four choices. I know quite a bit about the incumbent, council member, Gary Kirkeide. He has never waivered in his dedication to maintaining the rural character in Ham Lake and keeping our taxes low while continuing to provide excellent services. It was a pleasure to have information on Tom Johnson published so that I knew more about him than previously. He outlined many of his policies in the paper. I personally like that he also wants to preserve our rural character.

I found out less about the other two candidates, Farrell Touhy and Tom Paulson. They chose not to answer the survey that was published in Lakes and Loons as the other two candidates had. This bothers me a bit as candidates in at any level of government should participate in all forums and types of media. How can we make a decision?

I decided to check online for additional information on the other two candidates and was pleased to find that all four candidates chose to participate in the
ABC Newspaper Voter Guide questionnaire. I read through all of four candidates’ answers and I am now better informed but I still have questions and concerns about Ham Lake.

It seems that there is a feeling by one of the candidates that there is dissention among the current council and that our community is unwilling to work together with each other and surrounding communities. Mr. Touhy states that we need to “partner with neighboring cities”. When did Ham Lake not partner with neighboring cities? Is this about East Bethel, the Met Council and city sewer and water again?

In reading Mr. Paulson’s answer to the city utilities question, I became more concerned and fear that we have not seen the last of the city sewer, water and dense housing proposals in Ham Lake. He states that the approved comprehensive plan was “a good start and our plan should be amended to address these issues”. What issues?
Our city council listened to its constituents earlier this year and voted 4-1 to approve a comprehensive plan that embraced our rural character, kept a 1 acre minimum lot requirement and opted to only use batch septic paid for by end users in the commercial areas. A 4-1 vote doesn’t sound like dissention. It sounds like a council that listened to the residents rather than the mayor.

Several things that affect our community and our pocketbooks could be readdressed in the coming year. One of the big concerns that I note is the “push by members of the Ham Lake Charter Commission to remove a rule in our city charter requiring a citizen vote on the issue of bonds for spending over $1 million”. If this rule is removed, the council would in essence be given a blank check to spend millions without citizen approval. Candidates Kirkeide and Johnson were adamant about preserving the rule. But the other two candidates were open to discussing changes on charter.

Ham Lakers I urge you to read carefully what all four candidates have written. These issues will affect our taxes and the future of Ham Lake. I urge all residents to become educated on the issues and candidates prior to making a choice on November 4th.

Not Sure Where to Vote?
Click HERE to Find Your Polling Place!

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2008
terieckholm.com

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Defining Dreams—How a REALTOR® Helps Today's First Time Homebuyer

It continues to be a tumultuous real estate market out there. For a first time buyer this can be quite intimidating. More than ever before buyers need to be educated as short sales, foreclosures and bank owned homes continue to be an increasing part of the real estate landscape throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul's northern suburbs. From Forest Lake to Blaine to Ham Lake, there are homes in all shapes, sizes, price ranges and conditions. Though there is a wealth of information on the web, when buyers get to looking at actual homes in person, they can be overwhelmed not knowing what to do next. Is it really priced right? Will I be happy with my decision if I buy on price alone? It may be a great deal but is it the home of YOUR dreams?

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 draw out that picture is and help my first time home buyers find it.

Is it a little bungalow with the white picket fence?
A new trendy condo with views of the St. Croix River?
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 375+ homes she could consider! While it is great to have options, having over 375+ choices is 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 questions that help them 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 a buyers' dream is 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 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...even in a real estate market with hundreds of options.

Let me help you define your dream...If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins--An Alternative Housing Mantra?

Okay, I am not a metal-head but I do enjoy alternative rock from time to time and have teenagers so 93X is one of the preset stations on our family vehicle. Yesterday, while driving through Forest Lake, MN and flipping stations away from the annoying recorded political ads, I paused on the rock station and heard these lyrics: “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage”. It was the chorus so the mantra was repeated a few times. Although catchy, I know from experience, the rest of the song might not be as lyrical so I laughed as I switched the station, but the line stuck in my head.

It started me thinking about all of the rage I have been hearing lately. Not teenaged angst but rage at the housing market. It’s in all the papers and on the news, hundreds of thousands of people enraged at the current financial crisis and the housing/mortgage mess that was the catalyst of it all. I get calls from potential home sellers who are frustrated when they hear the number in their market analysis and realize their homes are not worth as much as they thought. There are homeowners contact me angry at the low value received on an appraisal for a refinance and wonder where these numbers are coming from. There are upset foreclosure buyers who didn’t do their homework prior to closing on a “deal” and realize the “As-Is” bargain of a property has problems that were not fully disclosed. And there are those homeowners who are panicked, frustrated and resigned at the reality of being foreclosed upon.

So I started thinking, maybe these alternative rockers are on to something here. Because despite all the rage that surrounds us, many people are feeling caged in a situation they cannot control.

When I reached my office, the first thing I did was Google search the lyrics and discovered
The Smashing Pumpkins and their song, “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” was the catalyst of my muse. (October is the perfect time to showcase the song of a band with the name Smashing Pumpkins too, don’t cha think?) According to Wikipedia this song was a Grammy award winner in 1997, but this part of the song lyrics speaks to me a decade later regarding the financial situation of today. It was very ironic that the chorus also included the line, “someone will say what is lost can never be saved”. How profound. Consider this, some seniors facing retirement will not have time to wait out the current financial crisis for their biggest investments: real estate, usually the family home and the stock market, usually in a 401K or mutual fund to comeback. What has been lost cannot be saved.

So as rats in our cages, what can we do? It’s time to rethink rather than be enraged. Anger does not solve any problem. We need to refocus; to shift our way of thinking. Pick up that much acclaimed self-help book,
“Who Moved My Cheese?” and change how to think about your life.
  • Sellers forget what you think your home is worth…It is only worth what a buyer will pay today.
  • Buyers need to do their homework with their REALTOR® and trusted mortgage professional to find the right home and right loan.
  • Homeowners facing foreclosure cannot stick their heads in the sand. Take a realistic look at your situation and contact professional agencies to come up with a solution that fits your specific needs.
  • Buyers looking at foreclosures and short sales need to be patient and do their due diligence on every purchase because some of those bargains have “skeletons-in-the closet”.
Rage and anger gets us nowhere. It is impossible to move forward if you are angrily looking in the rearview mirror. Look at where you are today and make a move to pull yourself out of that financial cage you feel trapped in. The sooner you assess your current situation and make moves to change and improve it, the sooner you will recover from the crisis. By taking one positive step at a time, one person at a time, we as a nation will find a way out of this crisis.
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2008 terieckholm.com