Friday, August 22, 2008

Revisiting the Idea of BUBBA--The Opposite of FSBO

Buying as a BUBBA is down in 2007 though still higher than FSBO. What is a BUBBA you say? It is a Buyer Unrepresented by a Buyer’s Agent. In 2006, almost a quarter of all buyers’ were BUBBAs. In 2007, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2007 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, that percentage has dropped to 16%. Is this possibly due to all of the short sales and foreclosures that started appearing across the country at that time and buyers felt a NEED for the services of a knowledgeable professional? Maybe…I wonder if the number will drop again when NAR’s 2008 survey comes out in November.

At any rate…Buying as a BUBBA is still happening at a higher rate than FSBO (16% vs. 10%). As the real estate market becomes more complicated, professional assistance is more critical than ever when buying a home. Here’s my original post from back in March 2007, where I explained the BUBBA acronym in detail….Enjoy!

****************************************************************************************************************BUBBA—The Flipside of FSBO
Originally posted 3/9/07 by Teri L. Eckholm

Most people, whether in the real estate industry or not, have heard of the FSBO--A For Sale By Owner seller. The acronym has been used for quite awhile as there has always been a segment of the market that chose to sell their home directly to a new buyer. But, there's a new acronym being used by REALTORS® these days--BUBBA or Buyers Unrepresented By a Buyer's Agent. It is making it's way into the real estate agent vocabulary because this market segment is growing.

In 2006, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2006 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly a quarter of all sales (23%) were BUBBAs. Although many of these home buyers did work directly with a builder or at a sheriff's foreclosure sale, 9% purchased directly from the home seller.

The internet is probably the most contributing factor to the growth of this buying segment. Buyers are certainly more educated--shopping on-line for as many as 6 months prior to making their house purchase. The homes are listed on the web. There are guides as to how to purchase a home. The whole process is less mysterious and seemingly simple that many self-educated buyers are foregoing working with a REALTOR®.

Are You Considering BUBBA? Before you move forward unrepresented, here are a few things to consider.

BUBBA can cost more. Buyer's representation does NOT cost anything. But being represented can save thousands. When you sign a contract for buyer representation, your agent owes specific fiduciary duties to you to work in YOUR best interest. They are required to keep your information confidential. A REALTOR® does this as a profession, not once every 10 years like most buyers. They are experienced in negotiating a deal on a home that is in your best interest.
So how does a buyer's agent get paid? Every home listed in the MLS states a commission agreed upon by the seller with his agent to be paid to the buyer's agent of the particular home. Yes, the seller pays the fee for you to your agent.


But this does raise the question, "If I buy directly from the seller and he doesn't pay a commission, won't I get a better price?"

Probably not. Think about it this way, the seller set the price in the first place. If he is not working with an agent, how can you be certain that you received a good price on the home? And why would a seller, who doesn't know you, give you the savings he intended to pocket by not hiring an agent.

In this buyer's market, with so many different homes to choose from, it is easy to be overwhelmed in the purchasing process. So you just wander into a FSBO open house and the seller has an amazing charismatic personality. He is very slick and used a three year old refinancing appraisal to set his price. Is it a good deal?--Probably not.

Buying a home is not as simple as walking into a discount store for a new computer...And that process can be overwhelming. There are details to a purchase that many home buyers just don't anticipate. How old is the roof? When can we take possession after closing? Is the septic system in compliance with current state and local statues or does it require replacement? Are there encroachments, like a neighboring fence or driveway sharing issues? Are there assessments pending and who will pay for them?

All of these are situations an experienced Realtor will try to anticipate and resolve in writing as the transaction moves toward the closing.

Some people are accidental BUBBAS. They start out in a "learning" stage...That time period of six months to years where they are "dreaming" of a new home but don't want to commit to a REALTOR® or be pressured into a contract. They wander into an open house and it "is" their dream home. Since they didn't have an agent when they first came in, they feel uncomfortable informing the seller that they want representation and just move forward without one.

As a REALTOR®, I try to coach potential clients into developing a relationship with an agent early in the process. If you want to see a home, contact that agent and sign a contract for a specific house. That way your interests would be represented, if the house is perfect for your family. But you would not be locked into a 6 month contract, if you are not ready to make a decision.
Before becoming part of this growing trend in home purchasing, do research and carefully consider your options. You may be giving up more than you think to when making the one of the most important financial decisions of your life.



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Don't be a BUBBA! 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, August 20, 2008

Minnesota Mortgage Opinions Please! Is It Harder to get a Home Loan?

With all of the seemingly continuous changes in the mortgage industry recently, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is asking the question, “Are home loans harder to get?”
As part of their Public Insight Network, MPR wants real answers from real people like you. It is an opportunity to share what you know with others about this important financial topic.

I find this question extremely interesting as I am certain other professional REALTORS® will as well. I will be even more interested in tuning in to hear the stories and subsequent discussions that arise from the survey. I want to hear stories from first time buyers and those attempting to buy a second home or investment property. I would love to hear examples from loan officers as to what has changed when qualifying a new client. As home prices have dropped considerably, there are deals out there, but can interested buyers get the loans? This is a very timely topic and a great opportunity for the average person to share their personal view.

Have you or someone you know recently applied for a home loan or tried to refinance?

Whether you are a homeowner, buyer, loan officer or real estate agent, MPR wants your story. Here is a forum to share your experience good or bad.
CLICK HERE to Visit MPR Public Insight Network to complete the form and share your experience. Your opinion and story could be used in an upcoming show and/or you could be contacted to provide additional information and opinions on your experiences. It is a way for the individual to have to have a voice by sharing real world experiences in regard to home loans and mortgages. Rest assured that your opinion and information will be confidential. MPR will not quote you on the radio or web without your permission.

Not familiar with Minnesota Public Radio?
Minnesota Public Radio® is a non profit public radio organization. Headquartered in the heart of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota Public Radio is a premier organization operating a regional network of 37 stations, from Minnesota to areas in Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa and Idaho.

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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, August 17, 2008

CO Detectors Now REQUIRED in ALL Minnesota Homes

It’s August and air conditioning weather. Few Minnesotans are thinking about their furnace and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when windows are open almost daily to let in the fresh summer breezes. This summer, however, Minnesotans need think about CO detectors as a new law went into effect on August 1st requiring that every new and existing single family home have a carbon monoxide detector installed within 10 feet of every room used for sleeping! (Multi-family homes and apartment buildings must comply by August 1,2009.)

Understanding the new law

As with any new law, there is confusion as to where the CO detectors need to be located. The State Fire Marshall gives these directions:
  • Every single family dwelling and every multifamily dwelling unit shall be provided with a minimum of one approved and fully operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten (10) feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.


  • If bedrooms are located on separate floors additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten feet of these areas.

  • If bedrooms are located in separate areas (on the same level), additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten (10) feet of these areas.
If you need further information on Minnesota’s new carbon monoxide detector law, visit the Minnesota Fire Marshall Website at www.fire.state.mn.us
What does this mean for a home seller?
If you do not have CO detectors in your home, you will need to purchase and install them as required or expect any inspector to rate your home as hazardous for not being up to current code. As it just makes good sense to have CO detectors in your home, go out today and make the investment for the safety of yourself and your family members. Not because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.
Carbon Monoxide is a SCARY gas!
The scary thing about CO poisoning is that it has no odor or color. There is no warning that there has been any exposure to anything! Most people die or become seriously ill when exposed to the gas because they think they have the flu or a virus. The initial symptoms are similar to many illnesses: nausea, headache, fatigue. When a person has been seriously exposed, there is confusion. This, combined with severe drowsiness, is often a lethal combination as the affected person or persons cannot think straight and often just lie down and go to sleep without knowing that they are being poisoned.
There are simple and inexpensive ways to protect your family from this deadly poison. The time is now to take those steps!
  • Don't leave a fire to burn out and smolder in your fireplace.


  • Don't use your stove, range, oven or dryer as a heat source.


  • Never leave your car to warm up in your garage-Even with the door open.


  • Never barbecue inside your home or garage.


  • Have furnace and other fuel burning appliances checked regularly by qualified professional and verify that all appliances are adequately ventilated.


  • Check periodically that your vents and chimneys are not blocked by a nest or other debris. (Or two feet of snow that just fell in Minnesota this past week!)


  • Purchase and place Carbon Monoxide detectors that have a loud alarm within 10 feet of every bedroom in your home.
Even if you don't leave in Minnesota, don't wait for your state to enact a law. This law is only on the books in Minnesota because a large number of people have died needlessly. Protect yourself and your family by purchasing a CO detector with an alarm. For under $50, it is one of the best investments you can make in your home.
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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, August 14, 2008

One Week and Counting Down to the GREAT Minnesota State Fair!

It’s Coming! We are just a week away from the great Minnesota get together...better known as the Minnesota State Fair! Preparations for this fabulous event were well underway early this week. Though it looks a bit of a ghost town as of Monday when we were dropping off a few entries at the education building, there were signs of the frantic activity soon to come.

Trailers were parked strategically near displays and buildings still without signage.



Crews of hard working men were pulling up tents and working on other displays.
Though only a lone piece of farm equipment adorned Machinery Hill, there will no doubt be several more tractors on display soon.





The roads were clear of the mass of humanity that blocks every street and corner on a busy day in the last week of summer. In a remote corner of my mind I was certain I heard the echo of a long ago request for a Prontopup with ketchup and another for Tom Thumb Mini Donuts…Or was that a voice of the future? Probably both.

The 2008 Minnesota State Fair starts Thursday, August 21 and runs through Labor Day, September 2. For additional information and schedules, CLICK HERE to visit the MN State Fair website.



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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, August 10, 2008

May the Force Be With You at the Science Museum of MN…Until the Republicans Arrive!

The Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) has played host to several intergalactic visitors this summer—The Science of STAR WARS opened for a very limited engagement this summer. The extremely popular exhibit has been packed morning, noon and night. Last week the SMM announced the tour would be extended three days until August 27. The SMM is located in downtown St. Paul along the banks of the Mississippi River and across from the XCEL Energy Center. The XCEL, home to NHL Minnesota Wild hockey, will be hosting the Republican National Convention and preparations are well underway for the big event that will start days after the close of the STAR WARS event.

Downtown St. Paul was bustling last Friday when my family and I visited the museum. We were there as the SMM opened to pick up our reserved tickets. We were warned that this is an extremely popular exhibit and were pleasantly surprised that there was ample parking and little wait time; But by mid-morning, the place was packed with fans of Yoda, Han and Luke eager to see the models and costumes used in the movies. There was hand’s on fun with opportunities to build a magnetically controlled land speeder out of LEGOS and even ride a simulated land speeder (no open toed shoes allowed!) Fans of 3CPO and R2-D2 were not disappointed as there were exhibits explaining how robots enhance our lives today…though not as animatedly as the beloved STAR WARS robotic characters. My highlight of the day was the Omni film,
Special Effects which gave insights into how many film illusions are created.
All in all, STAR WARS is an event not to be missed! Hurry with the Republicans coming in on September first, there is no doubt that the exhibition won’t be extended further no matter how popular it is!

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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, August 8, 2008

Check Out the Deadliest Rural Roads in Ham Lake, Anoka County, Minnesota and Throughout the US!

Last week a driver’s education car was broadsided on Highway 8 in Chisago County. The student driver was making a legal left hand turn and was hit by another driver who ran a red light. The instructor was killed. In the spring, two drivers perished in a head-on crash just a few miles east of this same intersection.

A few days prior to school ending this past June, a mother and son heading north on Highway 61 through White Bear Township to a graduation party. They were hit in a head-on accident and died at the scene.
 Unfortunately, these two were not the only fatalities on Hwy 61 this past year.

While there is no doubt that two-lane rural roads are deadly, as a REALTOR ® living in Anoka County and working the north and east metro, I have to drive several rural roads that are known to be unsafe. Unsafe, not for any other reason but that they are two lane roads with narrow shoulders and careless drivers. These are well-traveled two lane roads where deer run through the fields and jump into traffic. Busy commuters have no patience for a slower drivers and farmers on these roads and pass without care. There are no hands free laws in Minnesota so texting and talking play a role in unsafe driving. There are some roads known to be more deadly than others and now there is a tool to pinpoint which ones carry the most risk.

The
University of Minnesota in cooperation with the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety has just developed website that shows just how safe our roadways are in Minnesota and across the United States! With a half of all fatal accidents occurring on two lane rural roads, this unique website is worth checking out to see just how dangerous country roads can be. Put in your address and see how many fatalities have occurred on roads within 10 miles of your home. Click the link and see if people were driving carelessly, under-the-influence and whether seat belts were worn. It gives additional specifics on the occupants in each accident with details including age and sex taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.SafeRoadMaps.org is a geographic information system based Mashup with Google Maps used to identify rural and urban road transportation safety issues and statistics through a publicly accessible website. In a nutshell, it is an important new tool to plan a safe commute not only when I have to be showing homes throughout Ham Lake, Columbus, Lino Lakes and Forest Lake but when I have commute safely home from baseball games and speech meets with my family in tow!
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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, August 3, 2008

Inspection? We Don’t Need NO Stinking Home Inspection! Do We?

As a first time homebuyer you spent hours finding scouring the internet for the perfect homes that met the criteria of your dream home. You took the time to find a knowledgeable loan officer to get pre-approved for a mortgage. With good faith estimates now in hand, you diligently searched for a REALTOR® who as your buyer’s representative would be your advocate in the purchase negotiations. After traveling through Anoka and Washington Counties and seeing homes from Forest Lake to Andover and Blaine to Ham Lake, you decide this is THE house to place an offer on. Your agent in preparing your offer asks, “Do you want to do an inspection?” And suddenly, all reason and goes out the window because you answer, “Inspection? We don’t need a Home Inspection. Do We?”In a word, YES!
As a REALTOR® representing clients throughout the north and east Twin Cities metro, I am often surprised that someone would elect not to have an inspection. Buying a home is the single most important purchase most people will make in their lives. It is important to have a non-biased professional inspect the property for defects prior to the final papers being signed. In this market, flooded with foreclosures and short sales where the previous owner may not have been able to afford the necessary home maintenance required to keep a home in tip top shape and don't always give adequate property disclosures, it is essential.

Questions! Boy do I get questions about home inspections!

  • What does the inspector check in a home inspection?

  • Who selects the inspector?

  • Who pays buyer or seller?

  • What is the cost of an inspection?

  • What should really be inspected?
I believe every buyer should inspect every home. But there are different types of inspections because while a home inspection will inspect the total home, often additional experts are required to inspect the total property. And sometimes additional or special testing is required so that the buyer can have a better understanding of the home they are purchasing.
Total Home Inspection
—$300-500 depending on the size of home and company selected for the inspection. The fee it is paid for by the buyer. This is a great starting point for most home buyers and possibly the only inspection necessary for most single family homes. The basic inspection will be a 2-3 hour top to bottom look at the house; usually including a review of the roof, foundation, mechanicals, structure and built in appliances to ascertain if they are in proper working order. Other testing could be recommended by the inspector after the basic inspection is completed if the home inspector notices any particularly unusual situation that will need expert evaluation. Some inspection companies will charge additional fees for inspecting outbuildings and unusual features so verify what is covered under the basic inspection service prior to them arriving at the property.

Septic Compliance Inspection—$300-500 for the inspection plus $200-$300 to pump system before the test can be performed. This test is requested by the buyer but traditionally paid for by the seller as in Minnesota, if the septic system is found incompliant, the state will be notified and the homeowner will have one year to bring it up to code. In the case of a foreclosure or short sale, the property owner may insist that the buyer pay for all inspections including the septic system. The cost of purchasing a home with the septic system AS-IS can be risky as the cost of replacing a failing or non-conforming system is $15,000-$20,000.

Well Inspection—$75-$150 This is an inspection of the well by a licensed well installer to determine if the well is in good operating condition. The fee can be paid for by either the buyer or the seller.

Well Water Testing—$100-$200 depending on which elements the water is tested for. In most cases, this test is paid for by the seller. The water is collected by the independent testing service and some tests will take up to two weeks for results unless additional fees are paid for rush testing. Most often a test is for will require a water test for bacteria and nitrates. Some loans, like FHA and VA loans may have additional testing requirements. It is important to check with the lender to find what would be required for each specific loan. Local governments can have specific point of sale testing requirements so check with the municipality.

Inspection for Radon—$100-200 usually paid for buy the buyer. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. It is found in many Minnesota homes entering through cracks in basement foundations and open tops of block walls. It is colorless and odorless so most homeowners are not aware of a problem unless the home has been tested. It is estimated by the
Minnesota Department of Health Radon Information page, that 1/3 of Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a substantial risk to homeowners.

Inspection for Lead—$150-250 usually paid for buy the buyer. Home seller are required to disclose whether there are any known risks of lead in all homes built prior to 1978. Lead was a common ingredient in paint prior before 1978. Many homeowners have not tested so they are not aware of lead risks in the home. It is important to assume that older painted surfaces used paint containing lead. If these surfaces have been painted the risk is limited. But home buyers do have an option to have additional testing completed on the home they purchase. The
Minnesota Department of Health has additional recommendations for testing a home for lead on their website lead poisoning can cause permanent problems with health, learning and behavior in children and significant health problems with adults.

READ MORE INFO from HUD Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home

Mold Inspections—$200-$1000 Mold testing is costly and according to the
Minnesota Department of Health Mold Information Page, it does not need to be done for most homes unless there is an indication of a problem. Stucco homes built in the late 1990’s with poor air circulation have been known to have significant potential problems. Homeowners with stucco homes will often test the home prior to listing and have a report for the buyer to review. Buyers can also elect to retest the home if the previous report is not acceptable to the buyer. If a foreclosure and short sale owner does not have the funds to do the expensive moisture testing, the buyer may have to pay for the test or accept the home AS IS. This is a risk as repairs for full mold abatement can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and the home would be unlivable during the 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