Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 2009 Video Update—In or Out of the Woods? That is a Big Question!

It appears that the Twin Cities housing market is continuing to move forward to recovery as we head into the summer. According to the Minneapolis Realtors Association's May Monthly Skinny, there continue to be positive signs that we are moving out of the woods. Inventory did not inflate this spring as it usually does when the snow melts so the housing inventory levels that have been extremely high are starting to level off and come down. A major share of the homes sold 46%, continue to be lender-owned or lender-mediated sales. These homes are selling at 21% less than in 2008 but traditional sellers home sales prices are only down about 8%. Distressed homes are moving out of the market and that is a good thing.No doubt the $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit has continued to fuel the spring market throughout the Twin Cities as things really kicked into high gear just after the credit was announced.

A major coup for the most two neighborhoods most affected by the foreclosure crisis was the
Pohlad Family Foundation Grants allowing for $8000 grants in the form of a forgivable loan to homebuyers in the 55411 in Minneapolis and 55106 zip code in St. Paul. Suddenly a surge of homebuyers became interested and now once over looked areas are seeing multiple offers on homes.
These positive signs are not just limited to Minneapolis/St. Paul and first ring suburbs. The entire north metro is seeing activity and homes selling. First time buyers have been in the market for several weeks now. As those first time homes sell, move-up buyers are finally able to take advantage of the market. I am continuing to field questions daily from excited first time Anoka County buyers on the specifics of this unique $8000 Tax Refund opportunity. (If you have a question call on the program, just let me know with a call or text to 651-336-7073 or just send a quick email.) Take a peek at the entire May video for a quick update on the Twin Cities housing move toward the edge of the woods as we make our way out…

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 , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. 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 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Buying a home on St Paul’s East Side? Understanding the Pohlad Family Foundation Homebuyer Program

The Homebuyer Assistance Incentive Program from the Pohlad Family Giving Foundation is the program that everyone is talking about on the east side of St Paul! It is a great program for homebuyers looking to buy in St. Paul’s 55106 zip code and available through the Pohlad Family Giving Foundation. I am currently working with several buyers who are interested in this program and boy are the homes selling quickly in these communities! Every other listing agent makes a point of reminding me about the "$8000 Pohlad money" for the buyer, as if we had not heard of the program. But few ot these agents have delved into the details. Some of the stories about the program are a bit exaggerated or misunderstood. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as a homebuyer purchasing a house and walking in to the Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services of St. Paul to collect an $8000 check. That said, this is still an awesome opportunity if you want to live on the east side of St. Paul!
Here are some of the program's highlights:
*The funds up to $8000 are distributed in the form of a 7 year forgivable deferred loan.

*The loan will have an interest rate of 0%.

*Homebuyers must occupy the property as their principle residence for 7 years.

*Single family homes and duplexes purchases are eligible.

*The funds will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

*It is only available in the 55106 zip code in St. Paul or 55411 zip code in Minneapolis.

* The funds can be used for down payment and/or closing costs including prepaids.

*First time homebuyers will have to take an approved homebuyer education class.

*Successful, prior homeowners will not have to take a homebuyer class.

*Funds are available to both first time homebuyers and previous homeowners alike.

*There is no maximum household income for the program.

*All homes must close prior to December 31, 2009.

If you are a home buyer interested in buying a home in the Dayton’s Bluff area and want to take advantage of this program, you NEED to be working with a REALTOR® and loan officer that understand the details of how the funding will best work for you. Must of the application process is supplemented by information provided from the mortgage lender or loan officer. Be certain that the people you select to work with really understand how the program works so you don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Monday, May 11, 2009

RE/MAX Specialists Literally Flying Above the Crowd in White Bear Lake!

I never miss an opportunity to take a great photo. Years before we were married, my husband and I ventured out to take photos of the hot air balloon race during the St. Paul Winter Carnival. We froze our fingers that day but took some awesome photos so of course I jumped at the chance to photo the RE/MAX balloon as it took off from the White Bear Lake.

I thought I had missed out on the flight as it was suppose to fly over the
Governor’s Fishing Opener on White Bear Lake this past weekend. I was busy showing homes in Chisago County on Saturday so figured the balloon fly over was just a memory.
On Sunday afternoon, my colleague Rose Hildebrand dropped by my Wyoming open house. She also was holding an open in the same neighborhood and wanted to see my listing. When she casually mentioned the RE/MAX balloon was a go for Sunday evening, I couldn't wait!

The takeoff point was Benson Field just south of Hugo in White Bear Township. It was a beautiful evening. It was a good thing my husband was there, the balloon team needed a bit of help to get the balloon off the ground. There is a bit of work to getting the balloon set up and put away. My fellow RE/MAX Specialist REALTOR®'s Julie Jarvis and Rose Hildebrand were allowed to go along for the ride of their lives. I chose to keep both feet firmly on the ground and capture the adventure in photos.

When asked where they planned to land the balloon, the answer was, wherever the wind takes us. (This wasn't a joke.) We followed the van to assist the team in putting the balloon back in the van and had to chase after the balloon; stopping and assessing along the way. They tried to set down in the Mahtomedi practice field but the wind had other ideas.
They literally ended up landing on the front yard of a home in Mahtomedi. Before landing, the van driver did ask the homeowners permission...Her teenager thought the hot air balloon was amazing and took out a cell phone to snap a few pictures of his own. But their dog, Daisy, who is afraid of regular balloons, was having her worst nightmare. For me however, it was just a fabulous adventure! If you ever have a chance to assist in a RE/MAX hot air balloon adventure of your own, don't turn it down. It was a great way to spend a Sunday evening!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Homebuyers--Listen to that Little Voice Inside Your Head!

A few days ago I received a call from a past client. She excitedly told me that she was helping a very good friend who was in the process of buying his first home. The friend was enticed into the market by a Parade of Homes advertisement a couple weeks ago. It was for a new construction home in the Lindstrom/Chisago area that was for sale for around $150,000 with a zero down financing option. The friend was intrigued and asked my past client to tag along to see the home. At the model they were told that this particular home would qualify for one of the only zero down programs still available. From the conversation, the first time buyer thought the lending program was only available on this particular home, with this particular builder so he met with the builder’s recommended loan officer and was approved to buy the home at full price. He was seriously considering buying the home. But before signing, this first time buyer and my past client started talking and thinking, maybe we should run this by a trusted professional, a REALTOR®. Since the friend had never purchased or sold a home, my client called me.

Whatever prevented this young man from signing the document, a gut feeling or voice inside his head, it doesn’t matter. The instinct was right. He hadn't looked at enough homes to know if this was a good deal. See, it is in the builder’s best interest to make a sale at the most possible profit. So, this first time homebuyer wasn’t told a few things that really changed the picture:

  1. The USDA program can be used to purchase almost any home in Chisago County including Lindstrom, Chisago, North Branch, Shafer, Center City and several other communities as well. (It isn’t available in Wyoming though.)

  2. A buyer does not have to pay full price on a home even from the builder. They can negotiate the sale price the same as on any other property.

  3. If you walk into a model home without your REALTOR®, the builder is under no obligation to pay out a commission to your agent. This means if the friend now decides buyer’s representation is necessary and signs a buyer’s representation agreement with me, the seller/builder is not obligated to pay any commission to me as their agent. The buyer would end up paying a commission to me out of pocket or buy the home without representation.

  4. The builder, or builder’s representative, in a model home is not going to tell you if there is a better deal down the street. Even if there is a REALTOR® hosting the open house, that agent represents the builder of the home. They work for the builder and have fiduciary duties to work in the builder’s best interest to make the sale of the model home….Even if it is overpriced.
Again, thank goodness for that little voice; that pull in the gut. No contracts had been signed with this builder.

I explained that the
USDA program was available in several areas, including some that would be a quicker commute to work for the buyer than the home in Lindstrom. After I did my MLS search, I found several well priced homes that would qualify for the USDA zero down program. In fact one almost brand new home that had gone back to the bank 8 miles closer in with 4BR/4BA that was almost $60K less than the builder’s model. There were almost 20 homes that I sent over to this first time buyer this morning that I felt were a significantly better value than the home they were looking at with the builder.
My exact words were that had he bought this new home at full price it would have been like paying sticker price for a brand new car and discovering that as soon as you drove off the lot, the value dropped. Previously owned homes in this area are selling for significantly lower prices per finished square foot than this home.
My past client's friend is now my new client and he is very excited with all the housing options he now knows he has. He has reviewed the listings online and determine a half dozen that seem to be a good value for a first home. I, as his buyer’s representative, will show these homes over this weekend. Thanks to that little voice, that uneasy feeling, this is one first time buyer who won’t be overpaying for a home in this amazing buyer's market!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Friday, May 1, 2009

16,000 of the Best Reasons to Buy a Home on St Paul's Eastside in 2009!

How did that old gum commercial go? “Double the pleasure. Double the Fun.” How about “Double the Savings” with an $8000 grant AND an $8000 tax credit, if you buy a home this year on St. Paul’s east side?

Earlier this year the $8000 Tax Credit to first time homebuyers was announced as part of the stimulus plan. For those who may not have been paying attention, here is a quick rundown of the criteria to qualify for the government housing tax credit:
  • The tax credit is for homebuyers buying their first home only. (But buyers are considered first time buyers if they haven’t owned a home in the past three years.)
  • The money does not have to be repaid.
  • The credit is capped at 10 percent of the home's purchase price with a maximum of $8,000.
  • Homes must be purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. (Note not the credit is NOT available until the end of the year. Plan accordingly!)
  • Income caps to apply...Single taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 and married couples with incomes up to $150,000 qualify for the full tax credit.
  • Additional questions on the $8000 can be answered by CLICKING HERE
Now for the exciting news for Twin Cities homebuyers. In mid-April, the Pohlad Family Foundation pledged up to $20 million to support two Twin Cities neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing and foreclosure crisis. Part of that funding is being allocated in the form of grants to homebuyers in the 55106 zip code in St. Paul and 55411 zip code in Minneapolis. These areas are considered to be the hardest hit by foreclosures statewide, according to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.

Anyone who purchases a single-family home or duplex in either of these neighborhoods by the end of the 2009 calendar year will receive $8,000 from the Pohlad Foundation Charity. The money will not have to be repaid if the home is kept for seven years. Also the homebuyer would have to live in the home to qualify for the grant but there are no limits on income.

Here’s where “Double the Fun” comes into play: The funding would be in addition to an $8,000 federal tax credit that is part of this year's federal stimulus package. Distribution of the funds will be through the following agencies:
  • Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services of St. Paul Phone 651-774-6995
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Minneapolis Phone 612-521-3581
As many of the homes in these neighborhoods are in foreclosure, first time homebuyers need to be savvy when making there purchase. Get educated on how to buy a home by contacting a REALTOR® that knows this part of St. Paul (or Minneapolis) and how to best negotiate a good deal on a foreclosed or bank-owned home.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/