Friday, September 26, 2008

Inspection, Pre-Inspection, Truth-In-Housing and Disclosures! What is Required?


As a Minnesota REALTOR®, my real estate clients, both buyers and sellers, are sometimes confused by inspections and disclosure requirements in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. Sellers want to know what they have to disclose which in short is, every material fact a buyer would want to know. A handful of Twin Cities communities require a home to be inspected prior to listing it for sale. Buyers, especially in a changed market full of foreclosures and short sales want to what their rights are in regard to disclosures and inspections.

Recently while listing a home for clients in Anoka County, a first-time selling couple asked about pre-inspections. There home was beautiful with many updates and it was obviously well maintained. As they filled out the required disclosure, they brought up the subject of pre-inspection. A friend of theirs had recently sold a home and had it pre-inspected. When the offers came in, the buyers on their friends’ home opted to forego the inspection, choosing to just read the report. My clients were wondering if this was a common practice and if a pre-inspection was required.
In Minnesota, there is no Truth-In-Housing inspection requirement to sell your home at the state or county level. There are however a number of communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that do require a pre-inspection report. These go by many names: Truth-in-Sale of Housing Disclosure, Time-of Sale, Time-of-Sale Code Compliance, Dwelling Maintenance and Occupancy Code Compliance, Housing Code Compliance Inspection or Housing Maintenance Code Inspection. Some of these inspections are done by inspectors that are city employees while other communities have licensed private inspectors to perform the inspection of the home. But in most cases, it is the home owners responsibility to select a private inspector to perform the inspection prior to listing the home for sale.

The Twin Cities communities that currently require a home inspection are:Private Inspectors (Selected by Homeowner)

City Inspectors
Can I still have my home pre-inspected if my community does not have a truth-in-sale requirement?

Absolutely! Having you property pre-inspected and an inspection report available to potential buyers can speed along the buying process for many buyers. Some buyers will choose to review the report and not have another inspection completed making the offer not-contingent on an inspection. Other buyers will choose to have the inspector who did the pre-inspection come out to the home to explain the details in the report. This is often completed for a reduced fee to the buyer since the work has been completed and it is not as time consuming to the inspector. However a pre-inspection does not guarantee that the buyer will not opt to hire their own independent inspector to give another report on the home.

If I give an Inspection or Truth-In-Housing Report, do I have to complete a seller's disclosure?

If you have lived in the home, yes! It is required to disclose any material facts that you know about the home. However, in the case of an estate or rental property where the owner did not live in the home, the owner will have limited information regarding the property to disclose. In this case, an inspector's report can be offered in lieu of the completed disclosure to meet the state disclosure requirement. A buyer may also agree to waive their right to the required seller’s disclosure. In either of these cases, this will not exempt a seller from any local or federal statutes (i.e. for septic or lead based paint).

What if it is a bank owned home? Does the bank have to provide a seller’s disclosure on a foreclosure?

Minnesota state law does not have different rules for a bank or other financial entity. They must disclose material facts on a seller’s disclosure, offer an inspection in lieu of foreclosure or have the buyer agree to waive their rights to a disclosure.

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, September 25, 2008

Whose Home Would YOU Buy in the Hundred Acre Wood?


Imagine you were going to buy a home in the Hundred Acre Wood. Let's pretend that for a minute that Pooh and all his friends have their homes up for sale. Whose home would you choose?
  • Eeyore’s? Not a chance. An A-Frame built of sticks without a proper foundation that a butterfly could knock down in a second isn’t worth consideration.

  • Gopher’s? Though Gopher’s actual home is never shown, it would appear to be underground. Underground, earth berm homes lack the curb appeal necessary for most buyers.

  • Owl’s? The tree Owl’s house is built in doesn’t seem to support the weight of the home. On a very blustery day, the whole thing could be blown down.

  • Pooh’s? Now at first glance, Pooh’s place looks sturdy but I’d question the upkeep of a home maintained by a bear of very little brain. When a homeowner cannot even take down the name plaque of the previous owner, Mr. Saunders, it is doubtful that he would have the ability to do the upkeep on the interior. Besides when the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down, much of it was inside Pooh’s house.

  • Rabbit’s? Now this is a character that cares for his property! Rabbit always seems to have a rake or broom in his hand. His garden is fenced and laid out perfectly, but he does seem to have a egress problem with his door. If a guest cannot have dinner, or several pots of honey, without getting stuck on the way out, there is a problem.

  • Tigger’s? It seems that Tigger may be the homeless resident of the Hundred Acre Wood as he is always bouncing up to his neighbor’s homes but never appears to be at his own.

  • Christopher Robin’s? Though probably the best choice of a home as it is currently being occupied by humans, Christopher Robin’s home is not located in the Hundred Acre Woods and so it does not meet your buyer criteria.

  • Kanga's? Given this specific buying criteria, I would choose Kanga’s home. She seems to have a lovely, well maintained rambler with a covered front porch. We know it is a two bedroom because Roo has his own bedroom. All other homes appear to be one room efficiency dwellings. To me, Kanga’s two bedroom gem appears to be a perfect little cabin in the woods.
The question above is whimsical and not unlike what an actual buyer might go through when considering homes for sale currently listed in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

I have shown a few foreclosures this past year that were not much better than Eeyore’s pile of sticks. This is especially true of a few unmaintained decks. Several are so rickety, clients and I avoid being on at the same time if at all.

There have also been homes with narrow hallways and doorways. Though, I only recall one home where a full grown person could have gotten stuck in the floor opening of a spiral stairway, there were several others where I had to recommend that buyers consider how furniture would get in and out due to tight corners and narrow spaces.

And maintenance, or lack there of, by people whose heads seem to be a little “stuffed with fluff” is a common occurrence. I have seen homes where repairs were quite literally made with duct tape rather than a proper replacement.

Most home buyers strive to find the well maintained gem similar to Kanga’s house. Buyer’s dream homes usually are properties where all repairs and replacements have been made to code with proper materials. It is a house that is usable and accessible to everyone in the family without ducking their heads or turning sideways to squeeze through a doorway. Sometimes a buyer will even choose to look outside their original location parameters and consider a home on the edge of the preferred community to buy the exceptional home of their dreams.

Finding and buying the perfect home takes time but the process is made much easier when working with a knowledgeable REALTOR® that can tell an Eeyore pile of sticks from a comfortable cabin like Kanga’s.

*Note All Character Photos were shots of Disney® Pins in a personal collection.

Are you searching for a perfect little Minnesota home and need help from a professional REALTOR ® to tell Kanga’s Gem from Eeyore’s A-frame? 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, September 21, 2008

FREE List of Twin Cities Foreclosed Homes in North and East Metro!

In the past few weeks I have noticed many people doing internet searches for a resource for lists of bank owned homes. With the volume of new foreclosures coming onto the market, there will be more buyers specifically interested in these types of properties. Whether you are an investor or first time homebuyer, obtaining a listing of current foreclosures to meet your needs can be time consuming when searching through listings on many of the current internet sites.


Let me help you cut through the redtape. Get a specific list of all the foreclosed and REO properties currently listed on the MLS from me with no obligation. Complete the form below and add your detailed criteria and I will set up a quick MLS search and email the list to with your specific properties for FREE.


In the open area specify what you are looking for in a home including:


  • BEDROOMS

  • BATHROOMS

  • SCHOOL DISTRICT

  • TOWNS/CITIES

  • ACRES

  • LAKESHORE

  • PRICE RANGE


There is no obligation for this service. I email the list one time and will only contact you further if you request an additional list or more information.




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, September 19, 2008

Extremely Affordable Minnesota Lakeshore!

Last week I wrote about the deals that can be found on Minnesota Lakeshore in the north and east metro Counties of Anoka, Washington, Ramsey and Chisago. Lakehomes are selling for tens of thousands less than just a few years ago. Click Here to read Think Now is a GREAT Time to Make a DEAL on a MN Lakeshore Home? I Do!

A few years back, when prices were seemingly out of reach, I wrote another article, Affordable Minnesota Lakeshore, that remains to this day one of the most popular pages on my website. It was written for those dreaming of a lake home but unable to afford the rising costs MN shoreline. Now with real estate values correcting from the inflated pricing of the past few years, these variations on traditional lakeshore are now extremely affordable—usually not much higher than a home without water’s edge. With this in mind, it is once again time to review some of the lakeshore options in the Land of 10,000 Lakes to get the average Joe (or Josephine) into an extremely affordable lakehome!
  • Channel Shore Shoreline along a channel is a great option for a full recreational lake. Many large lakes will have channels or narrow extensions that lead to other lakes or ponds. Usually there is not a place for a beach but you can have a slip or short dock for your boat. The channel will provide access to the main lake. The view will probably include homes on the opposite shore of the channel but if your goal is affordable use of a full recreational lake, this is a great alternative.

  • Smaller Lake with Channel to Full Recreational Lake Often the lakes in Minnesota are connected to one or several smaller lakes. This can be a great opportunity. Shoreline that is shallow or weedy is not considered prime but if it has access to a larger lake, it could provide the same enjoyment at a much lower price.

  • Small Acreage Lake Smaller lakes can be of interest to the more laidback water lover. Often there will be restrictions disallowing motors or only small motors. These smaller lakes can still be great for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Some will allow docks and beaches but check with the DNR for specific restrictions. A small lake will still offer wonderful natural views at a significantly lower price than a full recreational lake.

  • Environmental Lakes and Wetlands (Sometimes referred to as a NEDS Lake) These are very shallow lakes that are wonderful for privacy but not great for recreation. If you are looking for a home with awesome views of wildlife, this may be something to consider.

  • Deeded Access Many homes and associations near a full recreational lake have been developed with deeded access providing use of the lake. The ability to have a dock, use the beach, or moor a boat, will be outlined in a legal agreement specifying what uses are allowed. Not all deeded access is created equal! Request a copy of all of the specific uses and rules before writing an offer so you can fully understand the access available as a home owner.

  • Lake View A home with a beautiful lake view but no shoreline or lake access, can provide the wonderful picturesque views everyone dreams of without the high lakeshore taxes.

  • Location with Public Access Nearby A final option is to look for a home that is near a park with public lake access. I sold one such home where the public access to a good-sized full recreational lake was about a quarter mile down the street. This family uses the lake to canoe, cross country ski and fish without driving or trailers. There was none of the additional cost or taxes associated with lakeshore property but all of the benefits!
LAKE RESOURCES
Department of Natural Resources Lake Finder Comprehensive search engine to find information regarding the size, depth and condition of Minnesota lakes by county and lake name. There is even information on approximate numbers and types of fish found in the listed lakes.
Need to know if you can have a dock? Put in a beach? If the water is safe? This site offers a directory of who to call for the most often asked water, lake and shoreline questions.
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, September 16, 2008

Weekend "Honey Do" List! Checklist to get Your Home Winterized!


The overnight temperatures have been dipping down into the range where all Minnesotan’s realize that the cold weather is coming soon. Fall is just around the corner. I noticed the first yellow leaves on the black walnut tree in my yard just beginning to turn. Soon the golds, reds and yellows of autumn will cover the landscape throughout Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties. Before the snow, ice and winter winds arrive, homeowners in the north know it is time take care of the autumn chores to protect our biggest investment from the winter ahead.

As a Realtor in the Twin Cities metro, I know how important periodic home maintenance is. We have a mixed bag of weather in MN, some winters can be mild but others are brutal. Taking one weekend in the fall to get your home ready can prevent damage from the Minnesota Winter elements. An unprepared home can require costly repairs in the spring.

Here are a few important autumn reminders of repairs and preventive maintenance tips for all homeowners:
  1. Clean Gutters of leaves and other debris that might clog the drainage. A blocked gutter can cause an ice dam when the snow flies.
  2. Winterize the lawn tractor or mower and get that snow blower tuned. If you have a plow service, make contact and update your contract prior to the first snowfall.
  3. Change security lightbulbs in hard to reach places. It is hazardous to climb ladders to reach the tip of a garage over an icy driveway.
  4. Unhook, coil and remove hoses from water spigots. Turn off and winterize sprinkling systems. Turn off water to outside spigots if not frost-free to prevent burst pipes in subzero temperatures.
  5. Have the annual furnace cleaning and tune-up to be ready for those first cold evenings. Remember to change the furnace filter every month for best efficiency...even if the packaging says "6-month filter". QUICK TIP: Change filter when you make your monthly mortgage payment so you don't forget.
  6. Caulk all windows and doors and check to see if new weather-striping is needed.
  7. Touch up peeling paint. Fall is the perfect time to paint with the low humidity and crisp breeze. Check deck, siding and trim for peeling paint.
  8. Seal the asphalt driveway prior to winter freezing. Fill cracks and topcoat if necessary.
  9. Inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Verify that the flashings are sealed from rain and snow.
  10. Snap a few fall photos while the fall perennials and trees are vibrant with color! Golden yellow oak leaves and vivid red sumacs will look awesome in the local MLS if you decide to sell your home over the winter.

Featured Homes in the Forest Lake, Centennial and Anoka-Hennepin School Districts:

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, September 11, 2008

Think Now is a GREAT Time to Make a DEAL on a MN Lakeshore Home? I Do!


As recently as five years ago, the prices on Minnesota lakeshore were out of reach for many buyers. Prices shot up in the late 1990’s. Lake lots on Coon Lake in Anoka County that went on the market in 1998 for $60,000 were re-sold three years later for over three times that at $200,000. Homes on lakeshore saw similar increases. At the time, there didn’t seem to be an end in sight to what someone would pay for lakeshore in the Twin Cities. Well times have certainly changed.

A couple of years ago, “The Buyer’s Market” hit the Twin Cities and communities in the north metro. If there is one silver lining to the real estate woes of late it is the newly affordable prices for would-be lake home owners. As the buyer’s market has continued for several years, the price of lakeshore properties is once again within reach of many average Minnesotans. For years, lake-lovers only affordable options were
channel shore and deeded access. Now actual shoreline is affordable again.
The affect the buyer’s market has had on the prices of lakeshore in Minnesota is nothing short of drastic. With so many homes available, buyers have had a selection of properties that hasn’t been seen for nearly a decade. This array of homes includes the wonderful lakeshore homes coveted by Minnesota sportsmen and nature lovers.


To see what kind of an impact the buyer’s market has had Minnesota lakes, I did some research on lake homes sold in first eight months of 2008. As a Realtor working in the north east metro for several years, I knew it was difficult to find reasonably priced Minnesota lakeshore in just a few years ago…especially properties located in areas with a quick commute to downtown. I wanted to see if the change in the market had made lakeshore more affordable. What I found is that an in-town lake home is not only affordable, there are several lakeshore properties available at ALL price ranges.
Focusing on the north east metro counties of Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington, I discovered some interesting facts. I set up a search for lakeshore homes SOLD that had at least 3BR/2BA and a garage and closed after January 1, 2008. The homes had to be a single family dwelling, not a town home or condo. There were 94 homes that met these criteria. I then took a closer look homes that sold for the lowest and highest price in each county. Since most homes sat on the market for several months, there were some unbelievable price concessions by sellers. The 94 listings were on the market an average of 233 days. But when I looked closer at the listings, I realized the cumulative days on the market was significantly higher. Many of the homes were cancelled and re-listed so the DOM would start again at zero. (In my estimation, the average time on the market for north metro lakeshore is 18 months to 2 years.)

So where are the deals on Minnesota Lakeshore? All over the north metro!
Here are some of the highlights:

Anoka County
Lowest Sold Price $203,000
Highest Sold Price $750,000
Average $380,348
Total Homes Sold 23

The lowest priced lakeshore home sold to date in 2008 was in southern Anoka County in Spring Lake Park. It was a 1988 three level split in foreclosure on Spring Lake with 5BR/3BA and a 3 car garage. It sold for $203,000.

On the other end of the spectrum, just to the north in Blaine, a 2005 built home sold with picturesque views of Sunrise Lake. It originally listed over 2 years ago for $974,900 but sold for just $750,000. This newly constructed home is a two-story home with 4BR/4BA and a 3 car garage.

Chisago County
Lowest Sold Price $150,000
Highest Sold Price $640,000
Average $366,057
Total Homes Sold 15

Both the lowest and highest priced sold homes were located in Chisago Township about 45 minutes northeast of downtown St. Paul. The lower priced home boasted 200 ft of shoreline on South Center Lake. It was a 20BR/9BA former group home built in 1900 and sold for just $150,000 after being on the market for over two years. Its original list price was $495,000. On the high end, there was a 2004 built lake home on Spider Lake with 211 ft. of shore. It was bankowned new construction with 4BR/5BA, a 4-Car garage on 3.28 acres and originally listed in 2005 at $999,900.

Ramsey County
Lowest Sold Price $229,900
Highest Sold Price $2,275,000
Average $705,370
Total Homes Sold 24

Ramsey County is the heart of the east metro and is home to the capital city, St. Paul. Surprisingly, there were some lakeshore bargains here as well. On the low end of the spectrum, there was a 3BR/4BA/2Car Moundsview home built in 1974on White Oak Lake. It originally listed in early 2007 for $295,000 but after a year on the market sold for $229,900, over $60K less!

On the more expensive side was a North Oaks executive home Black Lake. The home is on a 6.64 acre parcel in a private community. The brick rambler was built in 2005 with 4BR/5BA/6Car and 6300+ finished square footage. After being on the market for just 30 days, it sold for $220,000 less than asking price.

Washington CountyLowest Sold Price $216,284
Highest Sold Price $2,400,000
Average $594,628
Total Homes Sold 32

The average price of a lakeshore home took quite a tumble since 2007 in Washington County as there were many homes sold at very good prices.. At the low end a corporate-owned lakeshore home in Scandia, on Lake Sylvan sold $216,284 with a $12,000 seller paid contribution. This home originally listed four years ago for $309,900. The Washington County high ticket home sold so far in 2008 is located in Dellwood. The unique executive home with 140 ft of sandy beach on White Bear Lake sold after 175 days for $305,000 less than asking price. The home has 3BR/3BA/3Car and 3 fireplaces!

**All Statistical information based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE of MINNESOTA, INC. for the period of 1 /1/08 through 9/10/08.

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