Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lives Changed in 30 Seconds--Twin Cities North Metro Memorial Weekend Tornados

In under a minute, life changed for so many residents of the Twin Cities north metro this past Memorial Day weekend. Several of the communities I serve as a Realtor, from Coon Rapids though Blaine, Lino Lakes and Centerville, ending in Hugo, were hit out of the beautiful blue sky by a tornado. Minnesotans were on alert all week from local weather reporters that conditions were ripe for such an event. And the unthinkable happened; the tornado took with it not only dozens homes but the smile of a two-year-old little boy.


On Monday only residents were allowed into Hugo for security and safety reasons. There are many photos of the torn apart housing development online already. We did drive by this Centerville farm that was demolished; the property was hit just moments prior to crossing 35E into Hugo. The debris from the silos is still scattered on the shoulder of the freeway on the other side of the huge farm field today.

From the time we are children, we are taught in Minnesota what to do in severe weather. We participated in tornado drills at schools. We looked to the sky when the sirens are tested on the first Wednesday of the month. We knew intellectually that tornadoes could be devastating but we always thought we would be safe in our basements.

Not so anymore as families across Anoka County and Washington County learned this past weekend. A twister is not a movie or an exciting scene on television. It can be a real event and we cannot be complacent.

We heard the rumble of the storm outside our Ham Lake home before the sirens went off. I thought it was unusual to hear an airplane flying in this weather. I clicked on the TV and heard that the storm had just hit in Coon Rapids and was heading through Blaine with reports of damage near Hwy 65 and Bunker Lake Blvd. Sirens or not, we went to the basement as I was well aware that tornadoes typically move in a northeastern direction and we directly in its path.

The alarms sounded just as we were going down the steps in our usual lackadaisical way. We sat at the bottom of the staircase; in fact I was on the steps, ready to head back up as soon as the event was over. We were just mildly concerned as we watched the minute-by-minute storm report on the portable television. The storm had change direction from its northeastern track and was now headed due east. We were thankful that it was no longer heading toward our home.

Being from the north eastern part of the Twin Cities, growing up in North St. Paul and selling homes throughout this area, I made a mental note of who was now in the storm's path. A few relatives and friends came to mind. A close friend’s business. A cousin and his wife. A young couple who moved into a home I sold last fall.

The storm ripped a line of damage through Anoka and into Washington County and literally blew apart 27 homes in Hugo. From the accounts on the news, the tornado blew through Hugo in 30 seconds. Lives were forever changed in less than a minute.
Over the last couple days, we have found that several of our friends, family members and coworkers were affected by the storm. Most had minor damage. Some lost windows. Many have hail-damaged roofs and siding or fallen trees in their yards. And then there are those who lost everything.

As I hear the stories of where people were as the storm hit, many in the safety of their basement, I began to reassess our preparedness for this event. Something about the sound of the storm was different so this time I had grabbed all of our cell phones as I went down the steps. I won’t feel so foolish about this the next time. My husband and I discussed where we plan to sit in the cellar during the next storm (northeast corner ready to head under a sturdy worktable.) We are somewhat thankful that we don’t have that walkout basement that we always wanted as we have few windows to avoid. We will be safer and more vigilant during the next storm.

It was always someone else, somewhere else…This time the storm was too close and too real for my family to ever be complacent again.


View footage of the tornado and aftermath on
YouTube by Clicking HERE.

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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

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wildlife Encounter in Ham Lake, MN Makes Memorial Day Memories!

Living on acreage can bring encounters with wildlife from time to time. We have hawks, eagles, blue jays and cardinals flying overhead. There are raccoons, skunks and every color of squirrel that run through our yard. We have seen grouse, pheasants and wild turkeys too.

A few of these encounters have been unusual. A few summers ago, a baby blue jay was kicked out of his nest and too frightened to fly. It spent the day in our lilac bush until it bolstered up the nerve to fly away. Two years ago we had a male pheasant that decided to feast along with the smaller birds out of our deck feeders day after day. That year a hawk also decided to make our yard home and we witnessed him feeding on smaller animals as he sat in the catelpa tree outside our home. Last fall we had a wild turkey knocking on our basement window a week before Thanksgiving. (What was that bird thinking?) And earlier this spring we had an opossum living under our back steps.

Yesterday, we had a strange encounter on our acreage with white-tailed deer. Now our property is surrounded by trees and tall grass that are perfect deer habitats and we live very near Coon Lake. We often see does, fawns and an occasional buck run across the yard. Since Anoka County soil is very sandy, my boys loved making plaster casts of their hoof prints when they were younger. But this was different.

Our 16-year-old dog, Tikki, is still with us but requires special care and gets up very early in the morning to go out to do his business. At 5:30 am, he went out to his favorite spot a few yards from the house. At his age he no longer wanders and thank goodness doesn't see well either. By the time I got my jacket on, he was having a stare down with a huge doe! So I clap my hands to distract Tikki. As blind as he is, he didn't chase the white-tailed deer as he would of a few years ago. After getting Tikki inside, I noticed the doe was standing her ground. Odd...but thought, what a great picture. I went in for my camera. With her still posing, I snapped a few shots but the light was very low. The pictures were very grainy...not much to share with my blog readers after all.

An hour later, Tikki had to go out again. I looked out first and saw a younger deer running through the same area of the yard. Figuring that I spooked it when I opened the door, I let the dog out but stayed to watch just in case. When Tikki reached his favorite destination between our back door and grass-infested, overgrown firepit, the deer bound out of the woods just in front of the fire area. Our almost blind dog was again confronted by a deer. But seeing me, this younger animal was skittish and bound right back into the woods.

Yesterday was yard work day. It was a cold spring so this was our first lawn cutting of the year. Weeds, sticks and overgrown grass needed to be addressed...After seeing Indiana Jones of course. So mid-afternoon as we pulled into the driveway my youngest son was given the chore of picking up all of the branches that had fallen over the backyard from the oak trees. These branches are thrown into the firepit for future evening activities including roasting hotdogs and marshmallows.

All of the sudden, my son is streaking across the yard for my camera. He came back and showed me the photo of a fawn in the overgrown grass by the firepit. "Should we call the DNR to have them get him? I think he has been abandoned."

Thinking back to the morning adventures, I think the fawn's mom might have just delivered the little one when Tikki made his first trip out in the morning. When I checked on the baby (and took a photo or two of my own) it appeared the fawn's legs were not yet strong enough to move. I was certain that the others were out there waiting until darkness to coax their new family member into the woods.

As dusk fell we watched from a safe distance inside our home. Just before the thunderstorm hit last night, three larger deer circled the firepit and encouraged the fawn to use his unsteady legs. The young white-tail was off with his family but gave us a Memorial Day experience we will never forget.

Ready for your own Minnesota Wildlife Adventures? 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

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Affordable Beauty and Privacy! Homes on Minnesota Wetlands

While browsing through the Q&A section of the real estate website, Trulia the other day, I ran across a question from a Twin Cities resident who was considering purchasing a home on a Minnesota wetland. This homebuyer was wondering whether buying a home with environmental lakeshore would be a huge mistake.

I found this question very interesting. As a Realtor who works mainly in the Anoka, Chisago and Washington County areas there is an abundance of wetland and lakeshore homes. From Hugo to Wyoming and throughout the communities of Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and Blaine, there are properties abutting wetlands and natural environmental lakeshore. Many Minnesotans find these properties extremely desirable but as with any home it is a personal preference.

So how do you decide if a wetland or natural environmental (NEDS) lake home is for you? Take time to consider some of the positives and negatives.

Positives:

Wildlife—White-tailed deer, raccoons, turtles, ducks, loons, eagles, and a host of other animals have been spotted living near Minnesota wetlands.
Privacy—Whether the wetland is 20 acres or 200, it cannot be built upon so a property with a wetland or NEDS lake shoreline will limit neighbors.
Affordable—NEDS lakeshore and wetland properties are significantly less costly than lakeshore on a full use recreational lake.
Activities—Though there could be some limits on the use, wetland ponds, environmental lakeshore and NEDS Lakes have been used winter skating, summer canoeing or kayaking and more depending on the water depth.

Negatives:

Mosquitoes—Yes, wetlands are known to attract the other Minnesota State bird too.
Drainage Issues—If the home is on a smaller lot, the owner must pay special consideration to the foundation. A drain tile system and sump pump could be required. Also homes on private septic systems would have special DNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) considerations if the system were to fail.

Need to know more about buying home on a Minnesota Wetland? If you are buying, selling or relocating and considering a home on a Minnesota wetland and would like the assistance of 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, May 20, 2008

Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions-Hometown Version: East Bethel’s New Resident Black Bear


I try to avoid driving on Hwy 65 when showing houses in Anoka County. The backroads throughout Ham Lake, Linwood, Blaine and East Bethel are more picturesque. But a shortcut to our favorite movie theater in East Bethel from our Ham Lake home has my family driving down a short stretch of the Hwy 65 service road quite often. About two months ago, we noticed a enormous log standing straight up toward the sky and surrounded by scaffolding. There was the beginnings of a bear head on top of this huge piece of wood in the old Lefty Liquor’s parking lot. Of course, since we were heading to the movies, I had no camera with. So I made a mental note that this chainsaw masterpiece in the making was one to watch.

About a week later, we drove past again. That mental note popped up but too late to remember the camera. Now the giant bear was complete but there appeared to be more to do. A few weeks pass and another can’t miss feature film is showing at the Mueller East Bethel theater. As we pass rush to the movie house not wanting to miss the previews, that mental note once again came into my head as the bear was done. And not just completed but it was masterfully painted from head to toe and beyond. He was surrounded by several smaller bears, eagles and gnomes and a few uncut logs. It looked like a new chainsaw art business was in the making.

Wow—Now I had to get a photo before the bear was sold! So later that day we headed to the parking lot and shot several pictures of the bear. I loved the details as there are realistic stones, okay boulders, and a small pine in the base. Note how extremely tall he is from the shot that was taken from underneath. Using my 6 foot plus son to get perspective, I think this guy is in the 20 foot range!

Last Sunday, as my family packed in the car and headed to see the second Narnia flick, I realized the new chainsaw bear might become a more permanent fixture in East Bethel. Lefty’s is under new ownership and is now Black Bear Liquors. So when people head north on Highway 65 through Anoka County, take a moment to wave and welcome East Bethel’s newest artful roadside distraction!

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

First Time Home Buyer in Minnesota? Low Interest Loans Available!

Anoka County first time homebuyers are in luck. More than $5.1 million dollars of low interest funds have been made available through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) to qualified borrowers.

Qualifying home buyers can use the funds for a new or existing Anoka County home valued at up to $298,125. Additional funds may be available to help with down payments and closing costs too.


The program runs through December 14, 2008 or when the funds are spent.

All buyers must use an MHFA approved lender and are strongly encouraged to attend a home buyer education class.

The Anoka County Community Action Program offers the “Home Stretch” class to explain the buying process and guide potential buyers in the home buying process.


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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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Think You are Ready to Buy a Foreclosed Home?—Take the Quiz!

As a Realtor working in this changed Twin Cities real estate market, I get lots of questions:

  • “Is it REALLY a good time to buy a home?”

  • “With all the foreclosures, there must be some awesome deals?”

  • “What does mean when an offer requires bank approval’?”
The media has lead many first time buyers and investors into believing buying a foreclosure or pre-foreclosure home is a great deal. So I get the questions. Potential buyers and those on the fence often want my expert opinion if buying a foreclosed home is a good idea. Well, my answer is it all depends on the buyer.

There are awesome deals on homes throughout Anoka County. Some of these properties are foreclosures or bank-owned. Others are short sale or upside-down, where the homeowner owes more for the home than the average buyer in the market place will now pay for the property. And then there is the traditional seller or builder who has the controlling ownership of the home, is ready to negotiate and move on to their next home.

Before you jump into buying a home in the changed Twin Cities real estate market, how do you know what type of property makes the most sense for you to buy? Face it—It is hard to pass up the very attractive, low prices on foreclosed and short sale listings. But not everyone has the stomach to handle the roller-coaster ride that accompanies the purchase of these homes. So, I created a 10 question true/false quiz to help you decide what might be your best option.

Is A Foreclosure or Short Sale Home for Me?


  1. My ability to deal with household emergencies and repairs is limited to picking up the Yellow Pages and having a consult with Dex.

  2. I have a huge rainy day fund and don’t know what it means to live on the edge from paycheck to paycheck.

  3. I cheer for the banker in Deal or No Deal.

  4. I expect empathy from the seller not apathy.

  5. I have the patience of a saint.

  6. I love my in-laws and vice versa that my entire family including the dog and two cats are welcome to live in their home for months on end while the deal goes through and the home is made habitable.

  7. I will be purchasing my dream home.

  8. I have expert knowledge in all areas of home construction and/or can afford to hire experts for inspecting the property prior to closing.

  9. I need to be assured that my family won’t be exposed to lead paint, toxic mold, radon, failed septic systems, contaminated well water, rodents, insects and dirt.

  10. This is the biggest personal investment of my life.
So how did you do? Are YOU ready to buy a bank-owned or upside-down property?
Question 1--False. If you answered true here, you might prefer to stick to the traditional seller. Foreclosed and short sale homes are not always in the best repair as the previous owners did not have the funds or desire to keep them in good condition. Paying out of pocket to hire contractors for every little repair can be cost prohibitive.
Question 2--True. If you truly have a considerable nest egg that can be invested in the known and unknown repairs of a foreclosed or short sale home, then it could be worth the risk. However if your budget can not withstand unexpected repairs, you might want to have a better understanding of the home you are buying with a complete seller disclosure and try to negotiate a home warranty with a traditional seller.
Question 3--True. Obviously a true on this one is an indication of a foreclosure and/or short sale buyer. You understand your purchase is just business to the banker. You are in it for the investment and feelings do not enter into the equation.
Question 4--False. Anyone who expects empathy from the seller needs to avoid short sales and foreclosure homes. The banks do not care about your family, your needs or your life. It is strictly a business transaction.
Question 5--True. If you don't believe patience is a virtue and answered false here, don’t even consider a short sale. Most transactions will take a minimum of 8 weeks for the purchase agreement that has been accepted by the seller to be reviewed by the bank. And when the bank finally reviews the agreement, then the negotiation begins. This process can take literally months!
Question 6--True. If your answer is false and your in-laws become out-laws after a day of togetherness, avoid the short sale or foreclosure scenario or find alternative housing prior to submitting your offer. Banks don’t accept contingent offers so if your current home sells and you put in that offer to the bank, your current property can close long before even getting an answer from the bank. Traditional sellers are much more flexible with timing as they are usually in a similar situation an can empathize with the buyers.
Question 7--False. In the best case scenario, the foreclosure/short sale buyer is purchasing a property not a dream. Dreams can become nightmares when buying an AS-IS foreclosure or short sale home. If you are not looking at the property as an investment devoid of emotions, stick with the traditional seller situation.
Question 8--True. If you cannot answer true to this question, be prepared to fork over hundreds of dollars for inspections on the home prior to purchasing it. Inspections and testing can cost into the thousands if the home is on a private well and/or sewer system, if there has been water intrusion/mold or if the home’s age indicates the possibility of lead or asbestos.
Question 9--False. If you need assurances about the condition of the home, stick with the traditional seller. In Minnesota homeowners are required to provide disclosures. Some inspection costs can be negotiated into a purchase agreement with a traditional seller like the well and/or septic system. Banks rarely pay for any type of inspection and buyers are often asked to agree to purchase the home AS-IS and waive their rights to a disclosure.
Question 10--False. If you answered true and this is the biggest investment of your life, as it is for many first time buyers or owner occupied residences, maybe a traditional purchase would make more sense in the long run. First time investors need to heed this warning and give careful consideration to foreclosures and short sales too. Until you can say, it is just another property and you don’t have your heart and sole tied to the investment, it might be more prudent to choose the investment with the least risk.

All kidding aside, these are serious questions to contemplate. Buying a bank owned property is not the right choice for the average buyer. Dealing with a corporation where a home is just numbers on a balance sheet can be frustrating. Buying a dream shouldn’t be a nightmare. The buyer alone is the only one who can decide whether buying a home that requires a bank approval is worth the risk, frustration and effort.


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Featured Ham Lake Listing--An awesome deal that is NOT a short sale or in foreclosure!

15139 E Vermillion Circle NE, Ham Lake, MN 55304

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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, May 9, 2008

Blaine, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2008

Blaine continues to expand and change the north metro of the Twin Cities albeit at a slower pace than in the past few years. The residential real estate construction boom in Blaine during the past decade has slowed but not stopped making new and existing home purchase opportunities very affordable. Conveniently located along 35W and Highway 65 and connected by Highway 10 just north of the Twin Cities, Blaine is an attractive location for both business and residential development. The community is served by three school districts; Anoka Hennepin District #11, Centennial District #12, and Spring Lake Park District #16. Blaine is best known for the National Sports Center a sport and meeting facilility that hosts an annual worldwide soccer event and Tournament Players Club golf course where the PGA Senior tour is played every summer.

Real estate in Blaine, MN in Anoka County is affordable and selling—though admittedly at a slower pace than most sellers would like. The first quarter numbers show area homes are staying on the market an average of 147 days. When broken down to single family homes versus townhomes/ condos, the single family homes have a 150 average CDOM while townhomes/condos are selling a bit faster with a 143 CDOM. This could be do to builder incentives on the abundance of new construction properties making condo starter homes attractive to first time buyers.

The 147 CDOM for Blaine is better than in other areas of the north metro like Forest Lake, Lino Lakes and Ham Lake where homes have a cumulative days-on-market rate (CDOM) of well over 200 days. (Links to statistical reports for these communities are listed below.)



Inventory levels of single family homes under $300,000 in Blaine have remain quite manageable. Higher price homes are not only selling at a slower pace, they have to compete with new construction for the buyers. However the sale of higher priced homes remain stagnant. High priced existing homes are competing with new construction properties in the same category…Tough competition in any market .
1st Quarter Blaine residential real estate statistics for single family homes:

Under $300,000~136 Active Listings, 7 Pending Listings, 62 Sold Listings, CDOM 143(New Construction Subgroup 12 Active, 0 Pending, 3 Sold)

$300,000-$400,000~48 Active Listings, 3 Pending Listings, 9 Sold Listings, CDOM 159(New Construction Subgroup 14 Active, 0 Pending, 1 Sold)

$400,000-$500,000~30 Active Listings, 2 Pending Listings, 7 Sold Listings, CDOM 177(New Construction Subgroup 11 Active, 0 Pending, 2 Sold)

$500,000-$1,000,000~39 Active Listings, 3 Pending Listings, 2 Sold Listings, CDOM 259 (New Construction Subgroup 14 Active, 2 Pending, 0 Sold)

$1,000,000 and Up~4 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings (New Construction Subgroup 1 Active, 0 Pending, 0 Sold)


1st Quarter Blaine residential real estate statistics for townhomes and condos:

Under $300,000~116 Active Listings, 7 Pending Listings, 47 Sold Listings, CDOM 142 (New Construction Subgroup 18 Active, 4 Pending, 9 Sold)


$300,000-$400,000~12 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 1 Sold Listings, CDOM 214 (New Construction Subgroup 7 Active, 0 Pending, 1 Sold)

$400,000-$500,000~8 Active Listings, 1 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings (New Construction Subgroup 6 Active, 1 Pending, 0 Sold)

$500,000-$1,000,000~1 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings (New Construction Subgroup 1 Active, 0 Pending, 0 Sold)

$1,000,000 and Up~1 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings


**All Statistical information based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE of MINNESOTA, INC. for the period of 1/1/08 through 3/31/08.


For additional information on any current Blaine real estate listing or for additional information on buying a home in Blaine contact Teri Eckholm directly at 651-336-7073.


Articles on Lakeshore and Minnesota that might be of interest:
Does "Minnesota Nice" Affect the Real Estate Market? "Yah, You Betcha!"
Anoka County Foreclosures Rate Highest in Metro—How Does this Affect Homeowners?
Dreaming of Life on MN Acreage?--What YOU Need to Know Before YOUR Move!
Affordable Minnesota Lakeshore
Lino Lakes, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2008
Forest Lake, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2008
Ham Lake, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2008

Featured Anoka County Listing (Pictured Above):
15139 E Vermillion Circle NE, Ham Lake, MN 55304

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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

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fearing Foreclosure in Anoka County? Help and Hope is Just a Phone Call or Click Away!

Homeowners fearing foreclosure who live in Anoka County have several options for assistance. Help can be a call, click or workshop away!

The Foreclosure Prevention Hotline directs calls to a certified mortgage prevention foreclosure specialist. Calls are returned on business days usually within 24 hours. This financial counseling has been made available through the Anoka County Community Action Program and is designed to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Foreclosure Prevention Hotline 763-783-4880
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation is another organization designed to help homeowners needing financial counseling information. This free program is available on a 24/7 basis.
Homeownership Preservation Hotline: 1-888-995-HOPE
Homeownership Preservation Website:
www.995hope.org

Attend a FREE Foreclosure Prevention Workshop. Anoka Technical College will be hosting an open house workshop on May 13 to provide information and assistance to Anoka County residents fearing losing their homes. The workshop will provide information on the process of foreclosure, owner’s rights and possible solutions. The information and assistance will be free and confidential. The open house presentation is a drop-in format allowing participants to come in anytime from 4:30pm to 7:30pm.

Visit the Home Ownership Center Website at
www.hocmn.org for additional information.


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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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Set the Stage for a Home Sale in a Buyer’s Market

Before the curtain is raised and the action starts with the first showing, the stage is set for the perfect home sale. Sure the market has changed but you want or need to sell your home! After reviewing websites all winter for the best of the best agent, you have called in the expert. The Realtor has reviewed the comps..actives, solds and expireds…and explained the perfect price point. A condition was noted: Get the home in picture perfect condition.

Here is where the storyline can change: Sellers chose to either embrace the suggestions of the Realtor or balk make excuses. Who will get a SOLD sign on their home first?

There is no magic to this market…Sellers MUST have their home prepared and set the stage for the sale. Homes are selling
every day in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota. And contrary to public opinion, price isn’t everything…Condition and preparation are essential pieces of the puzzle that get that SOLD sign in the yard!

In the past few weeks I have done several pre-listing market analysis plans for potential sellers across Anoka County. Some were home owners who tried to sell their homes last year with a different agent and failed. Others were ready to make their move in this year’s spring market. All were left with my analysis and checklist of what would need to be done to get their home SOLD. Pricing was the easy part...Preparing takes time.

Last year my listing to sales ratio was 100%.



Yep…I sold every home that I listed last year. Half of the homes were relists…homes other agents could not get sold. Many of these sellers were not properly prepared the first time.

My first step in working with a seller is a pre-listing consultation at the client’s home. If they have been listed previously, I have the MLS information and photos from the previous agent. Throughout the visit, I share with the potential sellers, tips and ideas on what is working and what is not from a buyer’s point of view. I arm the home owners with a laundry list of things to do to set the stage for a sale.

If a home owner doesn’t want to do what I suggest, I won’t take the listing. I don’t want to waste a seller’s time or hurt my reputation. Most sellers do want their homes SOLD... so they listen intently, take pages of notes and we get the job done together!
Reasons Homes Don’t Sell
Inventory—Yes, there is a lot of inventory out there! If you decide to put your home on the market you will have a ton of high quality competition and you will need to take these homes into consideration. Depending on a buyer’s criteria for a home, there can be literally hundreds of homes for them to consider.
How do you make your home stand out from the pack?
Price—Some properties will be priced lower for the square footage as there are many bank owned and distressed properties out in the market place. This can work to a seller’s advantage. Many buyers don’t have the stomach to deal with the problems and risk of buying a distressed home. Pricing a home to reflect the competition is essential. Your home doesn't have to be the cheapest home on the market to sell but
it must appear to be a great deal!
Online Photos—There is a statistic being tossed around that estimates 80% of home buyers start their internet search online. In my opinion this is low. I would guess it to be more in the range of 90-95% of home buyers start the buying process online. Whatever the percentage, serious home buyers are scouring the internet and marking their favorites…from the PHOTOS! A bad photo will stop a buyer from viewing your home.

Staging—Some home owners just do not want to do the work to get ready. After visiting with a relisting client, their get ready for market“to-do” list can be just as long as a first time seller. I explain what needs to be done and why. Clean. Paint. Remove and pack belongings. Consult with a professional stager. These things must be done or the photos will look terrible. Since the internet photos are the core of today's successful marketing plan, it pays to do it right from the get go.

Exterior—Don’t ignore the entrance to your home! Add flowers…A wreath…A cute welcome sign…Dress up the entrance,trim back the foliage and clean up the driveway. Store the boat and camper in another location. Let me have a clean, clear, awesome shot of your home for that main internet picture!


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Featured Listing in Ham Lake, MN:
15139 E Vermillion Circle NE, Ham Lake, MN 55304

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Ready to set the stage to sell YOUR Twin Cities home 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 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fireworks in Ham Lake are not Always on July 4th—City Water/Sewer Discussion End with Controversy

Fireworks are not limited to celebrations in July. The City of Ham Lake’s Mayor was at the center of a hullabaloo due to a misused metaphor that was construed as bigoted. The spark of controversy was amplified by local media last week when Mayor, Paul Meuiner as voiced his frustration as the only one on the bandwagon for development proposal including a town center and city water and sewer. Read the full story of Mayor Meunier’s controversial racial comment HERE.
That situation aside, the real news is that city water and sewer and the town center appears to be off the table in Ham Lake’s comprehensive plan that will be presented to the Met Council later this year. The Ham Lake Planning Task Force has completed its mission and the proposed comprehensive plan will be available for community review on May 13, 2008. It appears that the tremulous and emotional meetings filled with Ham Lake residents are at an end.

Residents that are unavailable on May 13, will have a final opportunity to review the plan at another open house on June 9 when the public hearing will be held. Information and maps are also posted on the Ham Lake City Website.

Highlights of the plan include:
  • Residential lot size will remain at one unit per acre.

  • Individual septic systems will be used for waste water treatment.

  • No centralized or municipal sewer system.

The city council is open to the possibility of batched systems paid for by direct users for the businesses at Hwy 65 and Crosstown and residents in the Coon Lake/Hiawatha Beach area to address concerns noted and discussed in the task force meetings.
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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