Friday, June 26, 2009

June 2009 Video Update—Local Real Estate Market Continues on Positive Path Out of the Woods!

Continued low interest rates and the $8000 first time home buyer tax credit continue to build on the more positive trend and path out of the proverbial real estate woods for the Minneapolis/St. Paul real estate market. According to the Minneapolis REALTORS® Association's June Monthly Skinny, the positive signs continue that the Twin Cities market is moving out of the woods. Overall inventory is at 7.6 months currently (a balanced market would be 5.6 months). But while lender-mediated inventory stands at 5 months, traditional homesellers face double the competition with 9.9 months of inventory. The supply of bank-owned and short sale homes is down considerably. Another indicator that we are marking a path to recovery is that pending sales have increased for the eleventh month in a row….up 17% in May 2009 compared to May 2008. No doubt the $8000 first time homebuyer tax credit has played a role in energizing the Twin Cities real estate market.



Not to be out done by our friends on the west side of the Mississippi, the St Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR) has a premier edition of their own Twin Cities real estate market video. In the just released, Market Beat, SPAAR indicates this is the perfect time for first time home buyers due to the trifecta of affordability, low interest rates and the $8000 tax credit! Lower inventory and more pending sales has had a positive effect on the sales price of area homes.
On the right side of the page look for the “Related Media” heading and click to view the entire video. (Hopefully SPAAR will be posting their informational videos on YouTube soon so I can embed and make it easier to watch…until then, this is the process.)

The positive signs in the real estate market are the entire 13-county area and the north metro is no exception. First time buyers have been in the market for the last couple of months and multiple offers on well priced homes under $200,000 has become common place. Just yesterday, I tried to set up several homes in the Hugo and Forest Lake area for a first time buyer….6 of 10 homes that they wanted to see were under contract, had offers or were sold pending inspection. 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.)


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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Testimonials from Home Buyers& Sellers…Best Thing Since Sliced Bread for a REALTOR®!




In the past, I have received numerous testimonials from home buyers ecstatic with their new dream home and happy parents of first time homebuyers. I love receiving these notes from clients…as most real estate agents do.

I recently started handing out a client satisfaction questionnaire. In addition to a 1-5 rating scale for service, I have some open ended questions on what my clients had to say about working with me. Here are a couple of responses that I received this past month. I LOVE this type of feedback…best thing since sliced bread, as they say.

“We were very satisfied with your service when we bought our home and will recommend you to our friends and relatives. The best thing about working with you is that you were very likable and NOT pushy!”
Bob and Gail W. of North Branch
“After a period of internet research, I was impressed by the type of feedback you were giving everyone on selling their home.

You were straightforward, honest, down to earth and extremely hard-working. The fact that you were able to sell our townhome in the worst market in decades speaks volumes about the way it was marketed.

Teri, we couldn’t have chosen a better person to work with us. We were very pleased with the attention and effort you put into selling our townhome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank You!”
Brian and Dawn O. of Chaska, MN

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Tornado Season! Understand the Risk of Loss Clause--Know WHEN a Contract be Cancelled!

Imagine for a moment the following scenario: After months of searching for the perfect place to call home, you wrote an offer on a picture perfect lakeshore rambler in Ham Lake, Minnesota. After a little negotiation, the offer was accepted and with the inspection over, you are on schedule to close in 60 days.

Three weeks prior to the closing, straight-line winds blow through Anoka County. Concerned, you drive up to your dream home and see that the picturesque oak trees that had given the home character have been uprooted. Worse yet, one of the huge trees fell onto the house severely damaging the roofline. You are devastated as this was no longer the dream home you wrote an offer on a few weeks ago. So, what happens now?
Risk of Loss is one of those "boiler plate" clauses on page four of the purchase agreement used most often in the State of Minnesota. Being preprinted, some agents and/or their clients will gloss over this clause but it is very important to understand, as is every other line in the document you sign to buy a home.


Line 147 clearly states that the risk of loss due to any reason whether an act of God or the acts of vandals will be the responsibility of the seller from the time the purchase agreement is signed until the date of closing. That means if there is a fire or accident the seller is required to bring the home into the condition that it was in at the time the contract was written and signed.

So if that temperamental decade old dishwasher goes out, the seller would replace it. If a neighbor backs over the mailbox at the end of your driveway, it is the seller who must repair the post and replace with a new one. Final walkthroughs are essential to ascertain the condition of the home prior to signing the closing documents. But what happens to those irreplaceable picturesque trees that have fallen on the roof?

Three weeks prior to a closing, there could be plenty of time for the seller to call their insurance company and have the home repaired. But is it the same house? And more importantly, does the buyer still have to buy the home? In a word, no.

The clause goes on to say that in the case where there is substantial damage to the home or property, it is the buyer's option to cancel or continue with the purchase agreement. In the situation outlined above, which was a real situation that occurred last summer, the landscaping was changed and could not be replaced. The damage to the home caused an insurance claim that would now be reflected in a CLUE insurance report that could affect the ability to insure the home. The buyers opted to cancel the contract as was their option in the clause with all earnest money refunded.

Risk of loss can come up when buying or selling a home during severe weather season in Minnesota. In most cases the repairs are made quickly to both the buyer's and seller's satisfaction and the contract will close on time. But when the property sustains significant damage, the buyer has the option of continuing to closing or walking away from the deal. Boilerplate or not, Risk of Loss is an important clause to understand when buying or selling a home.

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dreaming of Life on Affordable Minnesota Acreage? Acreage Foreclosures in Anoka, Chisago, Washington and Ramsey Counties

In the late 1990's, before home prices went crazy, my family came across a home being renovated on 3 acres in the country. It was a bit of a drive from North St. Paul and Maplewood, the quiet little suburbs where we had spent most of our lives. But there was something intriguing about the beautiful landscape with dozens of towering oaks and pines. We loved the idea that our children would grow up in an area where they could climb trees without the worry of power lines and could play hide and seek and capture the flag in the woods in our own yard. We were fortunate that we made the leap to rural life affordably. Suddenly, the price of Minnesota acreage skyrocketed. Many of our friends wanted to join us in the country but it was cost prohibitive.

Not anymore. Living on acreage is affordable once again. Hobby farms and acreage properties were not immune to the mortgage crisis and subsequent foreclosure fallout. Currently there are some amazing values on Minnesota acreage that might coax a few more city-dwellers to make the leap.


As of today, I found 42 bank-owned acreage properties in southeast Anoka County, southern Chisago County, northern Ramsey County and Washington County with homes and at least 2 acres. There were 22 homes on 2.5 to 4.9 acre parcels, 11 homes on 5-9.9 acres and more homes on 10+ acres. Some were as close in to the city as Maplewood and Lake Elmo. Others were a bit further off the beaten track in communities including St. Francis and Shafer. But if you are looking for a deal on acreage, now is the time to buy.

Here are some of the deals I noted:

· Turn of the Century classic home on 6.4 acres in North Branch for under $50K.
· 2005 Blt home on 75 acres in Shafer for under $290K
· 5BR/3BA built in 99 on 11+ acres located in East Bethel priced at $274,900
· 1983 Columbus Rambler set on just over 10 Acres for $171K
· 5Acres in Hugo with late 60’s multi-level…bank-priced less than $180K.
· Almost 7 Acres in Maplewood with 3BR/1BA 1970’s home for $309,900.
· Stillwater turn of the century classic home on 2.75 acres for under $190K
· 4+Acres in Ham Lake with 70’s rambler for $144,900.
· 6 Bedrooms and 5 Acres in Blaine for $300K.
· 1999 Rambler on 10 Acres in North Branch bank-priced at less than $125K


The astounding prices are enticing but many who consider leaving the city have questions about life in the country. For those who have never lived in on acreage, here are answers to the Top Ten most commonly asked questions regarding rural life.
  1. What is a Septic or Private Sewer system?Most rural homes have a private septic system. Not all systems are created equal. They are designed for the specific property and size of the home. Even a new septic system can fail if not properly maintained. How do you know if the septic system is working? Require the seller to supply a report of compliance from a certified septic inspector in your purchase agreement. If you have never lived on a home with a septic system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain your system. Additional information on Septic Systems.

  2. Does the home have access to city water or a private well? Do I need a water softener or other water treatment system?Families new to the concept of well water have many questions regarding its safety. Traditionally, well water is tested for bacteria and nitrates at the time of sale by the seller. A lead test for well water is required only for FHA loans. If you want the well test for your property to include other contaminants, it must be specified in the purchase agreement. Annual water testing is recommended for all home owners with wells. Additional information on Private Wells.
    One question often asked by home buyers considering a property with a private well is about water treatment options available. Many homes with private wells have water softeners to treat the water in the home. Some will go one step further and have a reverse osmosis water treatment system in the kitchens as a drinking water supply. 

  3. Is there a natural gas supply to the home or will a propane tank be located on the property?
    Often people looking at acreage will have questions about the huge propane fuel tank located near the home. These tanks are usually see only at gas stations where homeowners fill their small propane tanks for the weekend BBQ. In the country, the large tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. As a fuel source the differences are not noticeable. Propane is the least expensive cleanest fuel if a home does not have access to natural gas.

  4. Does the home have access to cable or high speed internet or will a satellite connection be required? Can I get high speed internet through the phone line? Does the property have cable access? What are the alternatives if DSL is not available through the phone or cable lines? Will the new Digital Television come in or will I require an antenna?A few years ago, these were not questions that few people cared about in the rural communities. Today our interconnected world brings these questions to the forefront. There are many homes in Lino Lakes, Ham Lake, Forest Lake and East Bethel that do not have cable lines or high speed internet available through the phone lines. If your family lives on the internet and could not live without a high-speed connection, it is essential to find out whether a home has access. Also, the new digital television can require additional antennas in areas too far from the signal or on a property with dense trees. Ask questions prior to writing an offer if being connected is important to you. The alternatives can be significantly more expensive.

  5. Is the road frontage paved? If the road is not paved, how often is it maintained by the city/county?
    When our family first moved to our home to a rural area in MN, the road was not paved. We were nearly a mile down this soft, sandy dirt road. We moved in the late fall and had no idea of the extremely poor condition of the road in the April rain of spring. It was treacherous at times. The regrading was done by the city on a schedule so we would have a pot-holed road for days. Our road has been paved for years now but the memories still remain.
    If you are considering acreage, remember many rural roads are not paved. Try to visit the property on several occasions and under differing conditions to determine the condition of any unpaved road. Talk to the city and county to understand the maintenance schedule for the road. Also be sure to ask if there are any plans to pave the road in the future and what would be assessed per property owner for the project.

  6. Is hunting allowed?In some rural areas hunting is still allowed depending on the amount of acreage, the development restrictions and city and county rules. It was a rude awakening for us to discover our neighbors were allowed to hunt. Imagine our shock that first deer opener when the hunters came out in blaze orange to hunt in the woods next to our home. The property owner, at our request, posted the land and the hunters left. The land has since been developed but it is something everyone moving should understand before buying any acreage home. Check with the city and county for all ordinances regarding firearms.

  7. Where are the schools?
    The public school districts in rural communities can be vast. In the
    Forest Lake School District 831, students come from communities as far west as Ham Lake, as far south as Lino Lakes, as far east as Scandia and as far north as Stacy! It you drive from the western border to the eastern border of the district, it takes almost 45 minutes, one way! There is only one high school in the district, so your children's best friend from school could literally live almost an hour from your home. But the opportunities to get to know kids from all areas can outweigh any negatives. Bottom line, it pays to research the school district prior to any housing decisions.
    Also school alternatives can be limited. Communities in the city have dozens of private and charter school options. These options are much lower in rural areas due to the smaller population. 

  8. Can we have a bonfire and burn all this debris?There are strict state and local restrictions regarding burning of construction debris and yard waste. There are restrictions on the size of the fire and what can be burned. Many construction materials cannot be burned because they release chemicals into the air that pose an environmental hazard. There are times of the year where burning is only allowed by permit and sometimes not at all. Before burning it is best to check the local restrictions as well as the DNR. 

  9. What about emergencies? How far to the nearest hospital? Where is the nearest fire station? Who provides police protection?
    No one wants to think about these things when moving but accidents and illnesses do happen. It was a long hour drive to Children's Hospital in St. Paul when my then 6 year old son fell and needed stitches in his upper lip. If the nearest fire station is staffed with volunteers and over five miles away, it will seem like a lifetime during those 5-10 minutes while you wait for the fire truck to show up to YOUR home. Many rural communities do not have police officers but are patrolled by the county sheriff's department. Understand your options before an emergency occurs because it will likely take a bit longer if you are in a rural area.

  10. Wow! There are a lot of trees! Do I have to worry about oak wilt?Oak wilt is a big concern in Anoka and Chisago counties. Many of the communities have information and programs to help protect and save the oak trees from this disease. our search for your perfect and affordable country dreamhome.


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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unexpectedly Amazing Bank-Owned Homes on Lakeshore, Acreage and throughout Anoka County!



Looking for a foreclosure, bank-owned or short sale but need to be able to live in the home immediately after closing?

Good news is that foreclosures are no longer always trashed, fixer-uppers. Today's foreclosures can be simply AWESOME! This economy has forced builders and responsible homeowners alike to let amazing properties go back to the bank. Many are still in pristine condition. Some still may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many in move in condition too.Here are a few of the treasures I noted on the Twin Cities MLS in Anoka County this weekend:

  • New Construction Foreclosure on Coon Lake! 60ft of shoreline and brandnew 4BR/2BA on north side of Coon Lake in East Bethel. Builder listed at $600K;bank prices nearly ½ off at $309K.
  • Bank-owned New Construction 5BR/4BA Rambler in Ham Lake. Executive home with 5 car attached garage. Tax valued at $589K bank asking $499K includes heated garage, wet bar, landscaping!
  • East Bethel Acreage with underground sprinklers, master suite and 4BR on one level. 4BR/3BA with 3 car built in 2005 and sold for $393K just listed this weekend by bank for $238K!
  • Brand NEW 2BR/2BA/3CAR Rambler Twinhome in Andover. Master suite, vaults, walk-in closets. Builder priced $265K...Bank asking over $100K less at $150,000!
  • Just Listed 2004 Modified 2 story in St Francis with 3BR/2BA/3Car on 1/4 acre with open floor plan. Sold for $243K in 2005...Bank asking $169K.
If you are in the market for a great deal on a foreclosed home, time to get organized because the rules to buy are a bit different than when working with a traditional seller.
Seven Tips for homebuyers considering a foreclosed home:
  1. Banks LOVE clean offers. Buyers MUST be preapproved with credit checked and employment and funds verified. Documentation must accompany the offer or it won't be considered.

  2. Banks reject lowball offers...often with no negotiation. They are a business and know the value of the asset they are selling.

  3. Well priced foreclosed homes get multiple offers. Serious buyers put in their best bid first.

  4. Banks sell homes AS-IS. What you see is what you get. Buyers must be prepared to make all necessary repairs out of their own pocket after closing.

  5. Banks will not pay for inspections in most cases. This includes the septic system and/or well. Be prepared as all inspections could end up being the buyer's responsibility. If you chose to inspect the septic or the county requires a septic compliance test, expect to pay $400-$500 for this inspection. A well test will run around $150. A whole house inspection is $350-$500.

  6. Personal property is not included as part of the sale. So if the appliances are at the home when you close, they are a bonus. The bank will not remove. But they don't guarantee will remain at the home or that they are in working order. This means if someone breaks in the home prior to the closing and takes them, the bank will not replace.

  7. Having your own REALTOR® to represent your interests is essential. The listing agent is under contract to represent the bank. In many cases, the bank will not allow a dual agency so if a buyer contacts the listing agent to write the offer, the buyer does not have representation. This means all of your information goes to the bank...the listing agent is required to tell the bank everything that you say about your financing and the amount you are able or willing to pay. But the agent is not required to tell you anything in return. The agent works only for the bank.

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

Washington County Lakeshore, Acreage and New Construction Foreclosures that are Move-In Ready for Homebuyers!


Looking for a foreclosure, bank-owned or short sale but need to be able to live in the home immediately after closing?

Good news is that foreclosures are no longer always trashed, fixer-uppers. Today's foreclosures can be simply AWESOME! This economy has forced builders and responsible homeowners alike to let amazing properties go back to the bank. Many are still in pristine condition. Some still may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many in move in condition too.Here are a few of the treasures I noted on the Twin Cities MLS in Washington County this weekend:

  • 2003 Built Forest Lake 2 Story. Picture-perfect 3BR/3BA/3Car home with over 2100 square feet of living space finished and unfinished basement. Last year listed at $425K bankpriced at $255K.

  • 4BR on one level 2Story in Landings of Summerfield Forest Lake. Built in 2006 with all the bells and whistles…Master suite, granite counters, maple cabinets. Tax valued $430K…Bank asking $309K.

  • Lakeshore Beauty!! Almost 4700 sq ft finished, 6BR, 2 story with bank of windows to view Forest Lake. Previously listed at 700K, bank listed for under $460K.

  • 2BR/2BA end unit townhome with vaulted ceilings in Forest Lake. Originally sold in 2005 for $173K…Bank asking $119K.

  • Rambler on 1/2Acre with Egg Lake View in Hugo! 4BR/3BA with 3 car built in 2005 and sold for $539K now asking $449K and not even in foreclosure!

  • 4BR/2BA on 5Acres in Hugo. Sold in 2006 for $345K bank asking $180K includes seller pd new septic system!

  • New Construction Home in Victor Gardens Hugo with 2100 sq ft finished tudor with creek view priced originally at just under ½ a million but bank has listed for $369K.

  • West Lakeland Executive 2.8 acre Estate. 4BR/4BA/3car 2story home with nanny’s quarters and inground pool. Originally asked $900K, bank priced $580K.

If you are in the market for a great deal on a foreclosed home, time to get organized because the rules to buy are a bit different than when working with a traditional seller.

Seven Tips for homebuyers considering a foreclosed home:
  1. Banks LOVE clean offers. Buyers MUST be preapproved with credit checked and employment and funds verified. Documentation must accompany the offer or it won't be considered.

  2. Banks reject lowball offers...often with no negotiation. They are a business and know the value of the asset they are selling.

  3. Well priced foreclosed homes get multiple offers. Serious buyers put in their best bid first.

  4. Banks sell homes AS-IS. What you see is what you get. Buyers must be prepared to make all necessary repairs out of their own pocket after closing.

  5. Banks will not pay for inspections in most cases. This includes the septic system and/or well. Be prepared as all inspections could end up being the buyer's responsibility. If you chose to inspect the septic or the county requires a septic compliance test, expect to pay $400-$500 for this inspection. A well test will run around $150. A whole house inspection is $350-$500.

  6. Personal property is not included as part of the sale. So if the appliances are at the home when you close, they are a bonus. The bank will not remove. But they don't guarantee will remain at the home or that they are in working order. This means if someone breaks in the home prior to the closing and takes them, the bank will not replace.

  7. Having your own REALTOR® to represent your interests is essential. The listing agent is under contract to represent the bank. In many cases, the bank will not allow a dual agency so if a buyer contacts the listing agent to write the offer, the buyer does not have representation. This means all of your information goes to the bank...the listing agent is required to tell the bank everything that you say about your financing and the amount you are able or willing to pay. But the agent is not required to tell you anything in return. The agent works only for the bank.


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

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How to Choose a REALTOR®—Don’t Focus on Fee. Service is the KEY!

I love a bargain! I always want the best deals on any products I buy. I scour the internet, clip coupons and negotiate with sales people for better prices on everything from groceries to clothing to vacations to new cars.

One place I do not negotiate is on professional services. My hairstylist was referred to me by a friend. She does an awesome job and is worth every penny I pay her (including the tip!). Likewise, our doctors and dentist came to us by recommendation. They are out-of-network from our HMO which means that we pay an increased co-pay for each visit. We could change our doctors and dentist to providers that are in-network and reduce our fees, but we would never consider giving up the quality of care we receive to save a few bucks.

Every time our family needs a new service professional, we use the same process: think for a moment which friend has been in a similar situation and call that trusted friend for a referral. A few years ago our family was in a car accident a few years ago and needed both and attorney and auto body shop. After two phone calls, we were in the hands of trusted professionals. Our son needed braces and we didn't shop around for the best price, we contacted a friend whose daughter was completing the process with a beautiful smile. We made an appointment for a consultation with the recommended orthodontist and a week later, my son had his braces. Not once did we try to negotiate a better fee with any of these professionals. We wanted the best possible service. We had no intention of compromising on quality for a lower price.

So what does this have to do with real estate?

Many times when I receive a phone call regarding listing a home, the first question from that potential listing client is "What is your fee?" as opposed to what will I do for them to sell their home. No matter what I answer, some of these clients will insist it is too high. I wonder how many of these people ask that of other professional service providers they use. It is just as important to understand WHAT service will be provided as it is to know HOW MUCH you will pay. In this slower buyers market, getting the home SOLD is the key to success. As a seller you need to ask questions regarding what quality of service will be provided prior to negotiating a listing fee.

My real estate service is full service.

From the time you contact me, I go to work.

**I consult with you and advise on how to prepare your home to get the best possible price.

**I analyze the market and assist you in properly pricing your home.

**I take the time to research to see if your city requires any point-of-sale inspections and recommend service providers for those inspections on your home, well or septic system.

**It is my job to prepare marketing materials, provide signs and hold open houses.

**I use my resources to develop an online presence for your property specific to your homes location and amenities. Lakeshore, acreage, townhomes, condos and single family homes all have unique qualities and need to be marketed online differently to attract specific buyers.

**I review offers with you and provide expert advice on the pluses and minuses of each purchase agreement so that you know when to make a good counteroffer and/or when to accept the deal.

**I work with the buyer's agent to negotiate the best possible terms as directed by you.

**If the purchase agreement included contingencies for other inspections or repairs, I assist you through the process.

From your initial phone call through the final paperwork, I am by your side as a professional REALTOR®, providing high quality service. From the amount of referrals I receive, I know that my fee is fair for the service I provide.



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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

USDA Rural Development Program Means 100% Financing IS AVAILABLE for Chisago County Buyers


Home buyers with limited funds for a down payment are in most cases required to scrimp and save for that first house again. Conventional mortgages can require 5, 10 or 20% for a down payment. Even government backed FHA loans will require that buyers have a minimum of 3.5% of their own funds to invest in their home. Our veterans have always had a wonderful zero down program available and the VA loan program is still a great option to those who have served our country. But for other buyers trying to come up with the minimum 3.5% down payment required by FHA or 5% down for a conventional loan is a road block to in their path to a new home.

There is good news for those considering buying a home in Chisago County. Most communities in Chisago County are designated rural areas and qualify for the zero down option, Rural Development Program through the USDA. Best of all this is NOT a program just for first time home buyers…Anyone can take advantage of the program if the home and your income meet the requirements.

Now when some people hear "rural", they immediately conjure up a picture in there head of an old-time farm in the middle of nowhere. Nothing could be further from the truth! According to the
USDA Rural Development website, the program was created to "build stronger, more vibrant rural communities across the nation." This unique housing loan program does apply in many counties in the north and east metro that aren't so far from the cities and they don't have to be farmsteads either! Communities in Isanti and Chisago Counties including North Branch, Stacy, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Shafer, Taylors Falls and many others can possibly qualify for this program. If you are considering buying a home in any of these communities, it is a great program to look into. But very few loan officers really know the ins and outs that make a program like this work.

I do work in several of these communities and have shown homes in these areas of the past few weeks. The deals throughout Lindstrom and North Branch are nothing short of amazing. Homes that are 5-6 years old are being sold for $30-50K less than just a year ago! In Lindstrom this week I have seen a number of 5-6 year old homes with 4 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, 3 car garages and ½ acre yards for well under $200K. Beautiful homes in move in condition…And with the USDA program they are available for ZERO DOWN!



· NO down payment


· NO monthly PMI


· The seller is allowed to pay all reasonable closing cost and prepaids up to 6%


· NO hit to the interest rate for the zero down


· NOT just for first time home buyers


· No reserves needed
There are income limits to the program. These numbers have recently increased to allow more potential buyers to take advantage of this unique opportunity. For households in non-high cost areas, with up to four people, the income limit is $70,750. (Yes, your teenager’s income from a job at the local fastfood chain will be included as would be your retired mother’s social security payment if they are living in the home.) In households where 5-8 people reside, the income limitation is $93,400. These income limitations are guidelines and, in some cases, may be exceeded.

Understanding the restrictions is essential but the benefits to the program are enormous! If you are considering a home in Chisago County, plan on speaking with a qualified loan officer that understands the rural development loan program before starting your home search. You could be able to afford more home than you expect. Likewise, working with a REALTOR ® that knows understands the current market conditions of the communities within this program are just as critical to your dream home becoming a reality.




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

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wyoming, MN—A Perfect Place to Call Home

People love living in Wyoming. And I am not talking about the state; I am referring to the City of Wyoming, located just three miles north of Forest Lake, Minnesota. Though some may think the area was named after the state out west, it was named by Dutch and German immigrants who settled the area when they arrived in the late 1800’s. They had relocated from the east coast and their new Minnesota home reminded them of Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.

With the recent annexation of Wyoming Township, approximately 7000 people call the city of Wyoming, Minnesota home. Here is a top ten list of reasons why this small town is such a great place to live.

#10—The Wyoming Library. Giese Memorial Library is a full service library open 6 days a week (closed Mondays). Located in the center of the community on Forest Blvd (Hwy 61) there is always something special to do…story time, author readings, computer classes.


#9—Local Police and Fire. The City of Wyoming is proud to have its own
police department and volunteer fire department.

#8—Wyoming Elementary. Grade school aged children living in Wyoming do not have to travel far to class as Wyoming Elementary is located in the heart of the community on Forest Blvd. The school is an integral part of the
Forest Lake Area School District 831.

#7—Parks, Playgrounds and Trails. “Where can I play?” is hardly ever an issue for residents in Wyoming. With
17 playgrounds, parks and trails located throughout the community, there is always somewhere to have fun!

#6—Natural Resources. Wyoming, MN encompasses a large portion of the
Carlos Avery Wildlife Management area which is a gem of lakes and wetland for hiking, bird watching and hunting. The Wyoming community is on the south end of the Sunrise River and several residents make their homes on the shores of Comfort and Ashton Lakes.

#5—Employers. Fire trucks and fiberglass are two of the many things manufactured in the Wyoming community. Several companies including AllSafe, Artifex Millwork, Hallberg Marine, Polaris, Rosenbauch General Safety, Sunrise Fiberglass and URSA Major call Wyoming home.

#4—Hospital. Most suburban residents have a bit of a drive when there is a medical emergency but not the residents of Wyoming.
Fairview Lakes Medical Center is a full service hospital with 24/7 urgent and/or emergency care.

#3—Conveniently Located. Just off 35E and north of the 35E/35W split makes getting to Minneapolis, St. Paul or Duluth a breeze.

#2—Eclectic Options for Living. Whether you want the convenience of a low-maintenance detached townhome or the wide open spaces of a 10+ acre hobby farm, you can find an affordable option in Wyoming.

#1—Friendly People. The number one reason for living in Wyoming is the welcoming community atmosphere. Isn’t that what most people search for in a place to call home?




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

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Anoka County Lakeshore and Acreage Foreclosures—Write NOW or Regret Later!


Stop thinking of foreclosures as the proverbial money-pit that will sit on the market forever! In many instances, that is just not the case. People are snapping up deals all over Anoka County on homes that are in great condition and priced to sell. Some are bank-owned foreclosures but many are sellers just pricing their homes properly to sell in this changed real estate market. As a buyer, you have to be ready as the good homes are selling FAST!

Here are a few north Twin Cities metro homes that I noted that sold in DAYS:

  • Ham Lake 1992 built home on 1.5 acres with an additional garage. Totally rehabbed with cherry cabinets & brand new stainless appliances listed at $209K. Sold in 11 days.

  • Forest Lake home 4BR/3BA on ½ acre with extra garage. Bank owned price at $154K sold in 8 days.

  • Hugo new construction REO executive built rambler on 10 Acres for $439K sold in 42 days.

  • North Branch 2003 built, 4BR/3BA split w/4 attached garage and detached garage on acre lot for $242K sold in 16 days.
This economy has forced builders and responsible homeowners alike to let amazing properties go back to the bank. Many are still in pristine condition. Some may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many in move in condition too.

There are more deals out there too…Here are a few of the treasures I noted on the Twin Cities MLS in Anoka County today:

  • New Construction 4BR/3BA Rambler in Fridley w/master suite, upgraded flooring/lighting and appliances included for under $250K

  • Lender-owned brand-new St. Francis townhome with 3BR/2BA/2Car for $99,900…A price drop of over $80K!

  • 5BR/4BA two story new construction executive estate in Ham Lake on 2+Wooded acres original list just over $1 Million…bank asking less than $780K

  • Bankowned 4BR/4BA executive two-story with all the bells and whistles in the TPC Golf community in Blaine. Builder listed at $619K…Bank priced at $499K

  • TWO Executive Blaine REO Beauties in The Lakes. A 3BR/3BA rambler that originally sold for over $640K in 2005 bank priced today at $415K. AND a 5BR/5BA brick two story lakeshore home sold for over $1 million in 2005 just listed at under $615K!

  • Andover home on 2.4 acres on the Rum River with indoor heated pool. 4BR/3BA/5Car assessed by county at over $700K. Bank priced at $374K.
If you are in the market for a great deal on a foreclosed home, get your ducks in a row because homes are being offered at rock bottom prices. Here are a few tips for those considering offering on a foreclosed home.
  • Banks LOVE clean offers. Buyers MUST be preapproved with credit checked and employment and funds verified. Documentation must accompany the offer or it won’t be considered.

  • Banks will reject lowball offers…no negotiation. They are a business and know the value of the asset they are selling.

  • Well priced foreclosed homes get multiple offers. Serious buyers put in their best bid first and quickly.

  • Banks sell homes AS-IS. What you see is what you get. In most cases repairs will not be made.

  • In most cases a banks will not pay for inspecting the septic system or well. Those will be the buyer’s responsibility along with all other inspections. If you chose to inspect the septic or the county requires a septic compliance test, expect to pay $400-$500 for this inspection. A well test will run around $150. A whole house inspection is $350-$500.

  • Personal property is not included as part of the sale. So if the appliances are at the home when you close, they are a bonus. The bank will not remove. But they don’t guarantee will remain at the home or that they are in working order. This means if someone breaks in the home prior to the closing and takes them, the bank will not replace.

  • Having your own REALTOR® to represent your interests is essential. The listing agent is under contract to represent the bank. In many cases, the bank will not allow a dual agency so if a buyer contacts the listing agent to write the offer, the buyer does not have representation. This means all of your information goes to the bank…the listing agent is required to tell the bank everything that you say about your financing and the amount you are able or willing to pay. But the agent is not required to tell you anything in return. The agent works only for the bank.



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

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pohlad Funding Update…Plan Ahead when Planning to Use this Funding

6/2/2009 UPDATE: Application is on-line as of today!

Buyers that want to take advantage of the up to $8000 in special funds available for the 55106 and 55411 zip codes made available by the Pohlad Family Giving Foundation need to do their homework and plan ahead.

As of today, the funding is NOT yet available at the Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services of St. Paul (DBNHS). I spoke with a representative of DBNHS last week who said that the funding should be in place any day now but applications cannot be accepted for the program until the funds are received.

Once the funds are in place DBNHS will start accepting on-line applications but be advised it will take 30 days to process the application and first time homeowners are required to take a class before the funds are distributed. The funds will be distributed as a seven year forgivable loan so it cannot be retroactive to your purchase. If you were planning to close on your property at the end of June or first part of July, this may be a problem if you expect to use these funds.

The representative at the DBNHS advised to keep watch on the website as the link to the application will be posted as soon as the funds are available. Also remember there are limited funds available and this is a first come, first served program. When the funds are gone, the program is over so it will pay to stay vigilant if you want to take advantage of this unique opportunity.




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

Creativity in Forest Lake, Minnesota—Arts in the Park, Community and Schools!

When considering a relocation to a smaller suburb of the Twin Cities some will wonder, what is there to do for entertainment? Is there a cultural side to a community like Forest Lake, MN? Absolutely, YES!

While the community of Forest Lake is well known for water adventures on its lakes, there is shore side element of fun too. There is a strong tradition of theater in the schools, churches and community that has several productions keeping residents entertained year round. Musical options are also part of the mix with a in-the-park concert series. Arts in the Park, is a tradition that keeps Forest Lake families and visitors entertained all summer long.

While perusing YouTube, I came across a video produced by a group of young film makers from the
Forest Lake High School. This was created a while back but as it was shot in the Forest Lake community it showcases much of the town (and some great area talent too)! Take a look…It is a very good short film.


This summer, Masquers Theatre Company, a community dinner theater located in Forest Lake, will be presenting Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in July. Tickets for the show are on sale now.
Click here to check out Masquers website for all of the details.


Don’t miss any of the concerts in the great summer tradition of Arts in the Park! The much loved event will kickoff in 2009 with
The Rockin’ Hollywoods on a special Friday night concert June 19th.
2009 Tuesday Night Schedule at the Lakeside Park Gazebo:
  • June 9 The Contenders
  • June 16 The Wonderful World of Woody - 6:00 p.m./Root 66 - 7:00 p.m.
  • June 23 North Star Concertina ClubJune 30 Brio Brass
  • July 7 Teddy Bear Band - 6:00 p.m./Rich and the Resisters - 7:00 p.m.
  • July 14 Riverside Swing Band - 7:00 p.m.July 21 Savannah Blue - 7:00 p.m.
  • July 28 Lehto & Wright - 7:00 p.m.
  • August 4 Alphabits - 6:00 p.m./Gallactic Cowboy Orchestra - 7:00 p.m.
  • August 11 Bavarian Musikmeisters - 7:00 p.m.
  • August 18 Jeff Brooks - 7:00 p.m.
  • August 25 Fresh Squeezed Country - 7:00 p.m.


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