Monday, August 31, 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 very good condition. Some still may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many homes that you can move right into 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 priced ½ off at $299K.

  • East Bethel Acreage with underground sprinklers, master suite and 4BR on one level. 4BR/3BA with 3 car built in 2001 and EXTRA garage sold for $393K just listed this weekend by bank for $222K!

  • 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!

  • 3BR/2BA/3Car 2004 built splitlevel on 3 acres in Burns Township. Just listed this weekend for $139K. Originally sold in 2004 for $265K.

  • Modified 2 story 3BR/2BA/3 Car on 1/4 ac in St. Francis. Just listed this weekend for $169,900 by bank. Anoka County tax value $219K--$50,000 higher than asking!

  • Brand NEW Andover One-Story Twin Home! 2BR/2BA/3Car with master suite. Builder priced at $265K...Bank asking $150,000!
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

The Sumac is Starting to Turn---10 Fall Maintenance Tips for Minnesota Homeowners!

I could hardly believe it when I saw it…The sumac is starting to turn in Anoka County and all over the north metro. Combine that with an over night temperature in the mid-40’s and we know that summer is almost over. Okay sumac is the first to turn colors and on most trees the leaves are still green but fall will be upon us soon. In a few more weeks we will need to wrap up all those summer projects and get the house ready for the winter season.

As I walk around my Ham Lake backyard and see the few leaves that have just begun their transformation from vibrant green to brilliant red I wonder where the summer went. It was the usual blur of activity baseball, summer classes, weekend excursions, trips to
Bunker Beach and Valleyfair with an occasional evening on the patio enjoying family time around a blazing fire in the firepit. All good things eventually come to an end...I realize it is time begin the autumn chores to protect our investment from the winter ahead.

As a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities metro, I know how important it is to maintain a home in throughout the year. Winters can be mild or brutal in Minnesota. Despite what the
Old Farmer’s Almanac might predict there is no guarantee which type of weather will come our way this year. Getting your home ready in the fall can prevent winter damage and costly repairs in the spring. And for any homeowner thinking the spring of 2010 will be the time to make a move, taking late summer and fall photos is a great asset to a winter listing to show how beautiful your landscaping is all year round!

Here are TEN essential tips and reminders of repairs and preventive maintenance all homeowners should consider in the fall:

  1. Clear 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 snowblower 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 outlets. It would 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. Schedule 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. Check all windows and doors to see if new caulk or weather-striping is needed.

  7. Fall is the perfect time to paint with the low humidity and crisp breeze. Check deck, siding and trim for peeling paint.

  8. Fall is the last chance to 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 mums and trees are vibrant with color! Golden yellow oak leaves and vivid red sumacs will look awesome in the Twin Cities MLS if you decide to sell your home over the winter. Beautiful, green photos are a refreshing change when you consider that all of your competition will be snow covered!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Thinking about Moving Up to a Larger Home? Why NOW Could be the PERFECT Time to Make Your Move!

So, you have been in your cute and cozy 1950’s one and a half story bungalow for a few years now. It was perfect for a young, just married couple when you bought it. The bedrooms were on the small side but the huge upper level made a great master suite and it worked perfectly when there were just two of you. Then came the puppy who grew into a huge licking Labrador. And later one baby, then two. Now suddenly 1200 square feet is overrun with chew toys, Little Tikes and Duplos. That cozy little bungalow is now cramping your lifestyle. But with real estate prices, can you afford to move? In many cases, YES!

If the scenario above describes your situation, listen up. Though ineligible for
the $8000 tax credit for first time buyers, you can benefit from the situation that it has created. The first time buyer tax credit has affected the starter home market in a very positive way. In the north metro areas including Lino Lakes, Blaine, Ham Lake, White Bear and Forest Lake, people are scrambling to find good starter homes for first time buyers prior to the expiration of the first time home credit. Many well priced, single family homes are seeing multiple offers within days of hitting the Twin Cities MLS. The demand for single family homes under $150K is the highest it has been in the past few years.

And better still, there is an amazing selection of homes in the move up category to select from. Historically, if a single family home was sold, that owner had to buy another home creating a chain effect into all different price points. But today’s real estate market offers a unique opportunity as many of the homes being purchased are bank-owned. No one is buying home on the other end. So there move up buyers are seeing a better selection of inventory in the higher price points at great prices.

So why move now? To take advantage of the tax credit, first time buyers must close on their new home by November 30, 2009. When the incentive is over, the demand for first time homes could level off again. So listing your home this fall could make sense as
there is a significant demand for starter homes NOW while the deadline for the expiring tax credit is on the horizon.
Are you ready to take advantage of this perfect opportunity to purchase a larger home for your growing family? As a local north metro real estate specialist I can help you assess your current situation and see if is the right time for your family to make a move up!

Note: A special thank you to author and illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba for allowing me to use her copyrighted family coloring page as art for my post. If you would like to see more of her coloring pages or her full color art for the children’s books she writes and illustrates, visit her website and blog at

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Almost Speechless Sunday--Found the 3 Bears But Where's Goldilocks?

Anyone that knows and loves White Bear Lake, Minnesota knows that you cannot be a long time resident of the city without at least considering buying a statue of a white bear. (Note these are NOT statues of Polar Bears...They are WHITE Bears as Polars live in North St. Paul!) It seems that almost every other house in White Bear Lake has a cement statue or some sort of tribute to the city and high school mascot!

Heck even the Chevy dealer has had a giant statue above its cars for decades (but that is a Polar...Remember it is Polar Chev!)

Sometimes you need to do a double (or triple) take when you drive through the area at the number of statues gracing the front lawns and hiding in the landscape of this north metro community!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 2009 Twin Cities Real Estate Market Video Update—Assessing the Seesawing Real Estate Statistics

The supply and demand seesaw is showing more positive indicators in the Twin Cities housing market according to the Minneapolis Association of Realtors® monthly skinny for August 2009. Pending sales numbers are the best they have looked since 2005…up for the 13 consecutive month in a row. Inventory is down 22% since July 2008…another great indicator of a recovering market. Days on the Market are also down significantly. But a significant amount of the sales continue to be lender mediated short sales and foreclosures so while we can be optimistic, it is best to remain cautiously optimistic when considering the Twin Cities real estate market.

If you are a first time buyer interested in taking advantage of the $8000 tax credit, don’t delay! I am continuing to field questions daily from excited first time Twin Cities north and east metro homebuyers 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

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Monday, August 24, 2009

This Twin Cities North Metro Condo is for the Birds…

While this beautiful multi dwelling condo located on acreage in Ham Lake, Minnesota is definitely for the birds, I have another lovely property listed in New Brighton that is a wonderful place for people to call home. Click below to see a virtual tour of a 2bedroom condo in Birch Pond at 20 Windsor Lane listed for $159,900. It features one garage space, two full baths, an in-unit laundry and a view of the pond. Check out a virtual tour of this wonderful New Brighton Condo below:

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Granite and Stainless Steel Appliances are Over-Rated (and not required) in all Anoka County Kitchens!

As a REALTOR® I have fun watching the HGTV’s remodeling, staging and sell-your-house-now shows but not all the advice is going to make sense for every home and every market. Case in point, kitchen remodels. You’d think watching these shows that the only way a real estate agent can sell a house with a new kitchen is if it has been remodeled with granite and stainless steel appliances. It seems that every real estate agent that walks through a newly remodeled kitchen is either gushing about the “perfect” choice of granite or lamenting about how the new white appliances were the wrong choice.

Here’s the problem…Each show has one agent in a particular town giving a personal opinion based on their knowledge of their market. Time after time I see these REALTOR’s® crestfallen faces as they enter the kitchen as eager sellers show off their beautifully remodeled space where they have chosen…can you believe it…WHITE appliances! The agent will gush over the granite and maybe the tile backsplash or light fixtures then question the choice of appliances. “Why, oh why did you not choose stainless steel?” they often lament. “But you did make an excellent choice with the granite counters.”

Now add in that some of these shows are reruns from a few years back and one has to ask the question, does it always make sense to always use granite and stainless in a kitchen remodel? My answer is no.

A few weeks ago, I showed late 1980’s built four level split in Ham Lake just a few miles north of Blaine. The selling features included a couple of acres with mature trees, a polebarn garage, a just completed four season sunroom and remodeled kitchen. The kitchen had beautiful granite counters and island accented by high end stainless appliances. Unfortunately, it also had the original 1980’s windows that had seen better days. The wood rot was evident and progressing to a point where the windows would require replacing throughout the original part of the home. Add to this the complete lack of window treatments in the new family room which meant there was zero privacy as the bank of floor to ceiling glass faced the street. If the homeowners had gone with good quality appliances and high end laminate counters instead, they could have diverted the thousands of dollars from the kitchen remodel to replace windows and purchase window treatments for the sunroom.

Here’s another point….Even if the home was in pristine condition, it is doubtful that the sellers would ever see a positive return on their granite investment. In fact, in the Twin Cities the average homeowner will see a return of about 72% on their investment on a kitchen remodel…NOT 100%! If homeowners overpay for the materials used, that percentage will no doubt drop like a chunk of granite used in the remodel! If the homeowner intends to eventually sell, upgrades like granite might help the home to sell faster in a slow market, but dollar for dollar return in most cases would be lower than going with high quality laminate in an older north metro Twin Cities home. (For more information on return on remodeling investments see the
Cost vs. Value Report 2008 for the Mpls/St Paul area.)

Now had the home been a bit newer and located just to the south in one of the Blaine neighborhoods near the Tournament Player’s Club golf course where everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has granite and stainless, you bet, that not having these features would be a big negative when the owners went to sell. But this was not the case in a mid-range 1980's Ham Lake neighborhood.

Here’s the bottomline on remodeling your home…If you plan to move in the near future, make required repairs first and be certain your upgrades fit YOUR neighborhood. As a local REALTOR® who knows the Twin Cities North and East Metro, I am here to help!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Summer Listings on AFFORDABLE Minnesota Lakeshore! GREAT PRICES throughout Anoka County

Are Minnesota lakeshore owners hoping the real estate market has turned a corner? Maybe.

I spotted an unusual trend this past July. Lakeshore homes, that traditionally list as soon as the the frozen lakeshore shows signs of spring, were being listed mid-summer and now into August. And they are not just the usual handful of sellers that just couldn't get ready in time for the spring market. There were several lake properties listed in Anoka County after July 1st this year. These are not "cancel and relist as new" homes…You know the ones that just give you the feeling of deja'vu because they get a new MLS number every 6-8 months. Over a dozen new lakeshore listings hit the market as bona fide new listings in the past six weeks.

Here are a few of Anoka County “priced-to-sell” Lakeshore Listings that just hit the market:

  • Otter Lake 4BR/3BA/2car split on ¾+ acre under $350K

  • 1998 built 2-Story 4BR/4BA/5Car on Coon Lake. Additional garage with studio/office above on paved road priced under $660K (Almost $70K below tax value!)

  • 2BR/3BA/2car 2000 blt townhome in the Lakes of Raddison. Pd $230K in 2005, asking $189,900

  • 5BR 2-story on Linwood Lake with pole barn! Updated Gourmet Ktn and awesome lakeviews! Listed at $435K

Need to learn more about the size, depth and water quality of Anoka County lakes? Check out these links to a few popular lakes in Anoka County. For other lakes in the Twin Cities, check the Minnesota DNR Lake Finder.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dreaming of life on AFFORDABLE Minnesota Lakeshore? New Listings at GREAT PRICES throughout Washington County

Are Minnesota lakeshore owners hoping the real estate market has turned a corner? Maybe. Or is it just a mid-summer night's dream for lakeshore owners?

I noticed an interesting phenomenon in early July that is continuing into August. Lakeshore homes that traditionally list as soon as the ice drops in April were being listed after Independence Day in July. And it was not just the usual handful of slowpokes that added a late summer listing…several lake properties listed in Washington County after July 1st. These are not relisted homes either…You know the ones that are cancelled so they "look new on the market" with a different MLS number every 3-6 months. About a dozen new lakeshore listings hit the market as bona fide new listings in the past six weeks.

Now there are a few newly listed homes where are still dreaming of yesteryear's pricing. But a good number of the new listings were priced competitively...And these are not foreclosures either.

Here are some Washington County "priced-to-sell" Lakeshore Listings that just hit the market:
  • Lake Sylvan 1BR/2BA/2car rambler under $155K

  • 70’s built Split-level 4BR/3BA/2Car on Forest Lake for $199,900 ($50K below tax value!)

  • 2 Heated Cottages on huge lot on Forest Lake’s 3rd Lake. Adorable and priced at $320K.

  • Stunning executive home on 100 ft of Forest Lake’s 2nd Lake shoreline. 3400 sq ft 2 story priced in the $770’s

  • Affordable 3BR rambler with 132 ft of lakeshore on Lily Lake in Stillwater listed for under $225K.

So those who have lakeshore dreams, this may be the year to take a look at what has listed at the end of the season. There is still time to enjoy a fall campfire on your own piece of shoreline. And, that ice fishing excursion could be much closer to home this winter...right out your own backdoor!

Need to learn more about the size, depth and water quality of Washington County lakes? Check out these links to a few of the most popular lakes in Washington County. For other lakes in the Twin Cities, check the Minnesota DNR Lake Finder.

More Articles on Buying a Minnesota Lakeshore property that might be of interest:

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.

Buying a Home? Check out my new HOME BUYER'S BLOG!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Buying a Home and Avoiding a Wild Goose Chase!

“Hi! We are looking for a REALTOR® who works in Hugo. Can you help us?”
“Absolutely! What can I do for you?”

“We are relocating from St. Cloud and want to be in a home before school starts, is that going to be a problem?”
“Are you a first time buyer or do you have a home to sell?”

“We are first time buyers and are currently renting month-to-month.”
“There should be no problem. Have you talked to a loan officer?”

“Not since last year.”
“The first step is getting preapproved and then we can start looking at homes.”

So began my relationship with a new first time buying couple early in July. They were on a tight time schedule and were a bit of a distance from Hugo so planning was key. I wish I could say everything turned out perfectly for them but it didn’t. Chasing wild geese is a fun activity for dogs not for serious homebuyers. Here’s what happened:

I set up Christy and Mike in my
Listingbook system so they could view new listings as soon as they hit the internet. Their price point put them in tight competition with many other first time buyers as there are few nice single family homes under $160,000 with three bedrooms on one level in move in condition in Hugo.

Christy selected a dozen homes to see on their first trip out. Of the homes selected, only four were still available. From the preliminary discussion with the loan officer, they were qualified to purchase FHA. That meant that a home would need to pass an FHA inspection. Unfortunately neither of the two single family homes we saw would pass as the were both foreclosures in very questionable condition but the two townhomes were a match. Christy and Matt loved the townhomes, BUT…

“We really need a yard for the kids to play.”

Not a problem…Maybe we should expand the search area. Are you okay with White Bear Lake? It is the same school district as Hugo? What about Forest Lake, Lino Lakes or Blaine?

The search was expanded to include Chisago City as the young couple was interested in the zero down
USDA financing in Chisago County.

Another trip down and another dozen…down to half dozen…showings scheduled. Two of the homes were a perfect fit. Huge yard. Well priced. Move-in perfect. BUT…

“The thirty mile commute to downtown St. Paul is too long after all.”

Not a problem. Christy and Mike decided to expand the search to include Blaine, Spring Lake Park and Coon Rapids. These areas were closer to work for Mike and in school districts that were appealing to the young family.

A third trip down. Third time’s the charm right? It was! They found a perfect home with a 20 minute commute in Spring Lake Park. BUT…

“We don’t think they will accept our offer.”

“Why don’t we write up an offer and find out if it works for the sellers?”

“Maybe…we will think about it.”

Now with the Listingbook system I can see the homes my clients view. Christy and Mike didn’t call over the weekend to write an offer but starting to search in some pretty out of the way areas while skipping over many closer in and better options. They wanted a newer home with all the bells and whistles for $150K or less. This can be done in a suburb of St. Cloud but not a suburb of St. Paul.

Christy and Mike began a hunt for an elusive wild goose. No matter how hard I tried to explain the situation and point them back toward their goal, they just kept heading off in unusual directions.
I saw the couple had now started to search for homes in Otsego about an hour northwest of St. Paul and Farmington, another long commute to downtown to the south of the cities. Sure, in these communities a person can find a newer home at a lower price, just like in Chisago City, but they said no to a long commute a few weeks earlier on a home that fit all their criteria AND that had a zero down financing option available. A short commute time was one of their top “must haves in a home.” These communities are both well beyond the commute to Chisago City that was vetoed earlier.

Another day of searching was set this time in Blaine. They decided an end unit quad home would have more yard to play for their children and again found a perfect place. They were ready to write again BUT…

“The association fees are too high.”

Now we are into the last week of July and their timeframe is next to nil if they want to get in to a new home before school and the new job starts. I remind them of their timeframe and the several homes that were still available that they loved but didn’t write an offer on. BUT…

“We decided we want to see some homes in Otsego.”

“Sorry. I don’t think I am going to be able to help you buy a home after all.”
I don’t know if Christy and Mike ever found a home or ever will find one as I decided I wasn’t the right agent for them. I did hear through their loan officer that they found a “perfect” home in Otsego but something went wrong and they never wrote an offer. Now they were searching in Farmington.

What went wrong? Being focused is essential to buying a home!
Sometimes a client’s criteria will need to be adjusted to fit what is currently available on the market. The first time buyer’s $8000 tax credit has created a big demand for Twin Cities starter homes. This couple’s inability to make a decision on what they were looking for and inability to accept the market conditions had them running in too many different directions—Chasing a wild goose!

It is not often that I have to say “goodbye” to a client that hasn’t walked away with a good buy on a house! I have successfully assisted numerous
first time homebuyers find their way home. In this case, we found several “Good Buys” but in the end, Christy and Mike ended up without a house.

In my
homebuyer’s success guide, I outline how important it is for buyers to stay focused on what they really want in a home. As a REALTOR® it is my job to help my clients stay on track throughout the home buying process; from the first showing of a property to the handing over of the keys at the closing table. Too many options can cause confusion. Combined this with an inability to regroup and make a decision, buyers can let good homes to be sold out from under them. Changes will come up and if as a team we can refocus and start again, the unending wild goose chase is avoided.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Selling a Home with Oak Wilt—Diseased Trees are a Deal Breaker!

Last week I was out showing acreage homes to a family who loves the privacy of a tree-filled lot. After an extensive internet search and driving by many homes, my clients narrowed their options to a handful of must-see properties. Full of excited anticipation my buyers were concerned by dead and dying trees in several yards. OAK WILT!

As a REALTOR® in Anoka County in Minnesota and owner of my own oak-filled acreage I at first had no worries when I saw the diseased towering overhead. Most saavy t homeowners in the process of selling their Anoka or Chisago County home would know that though oak wilt will spread, proper and early treatment can curtail this devastating disease and retain the beauty of a tree filled yard. Surely any acreage owner, if aware of the problem, would address it promptly and provide a remedy to mediate further potential damage.

We entered the first home in search of the sellers’ disclosure to see what the homeowner would share regarding the treatment of the affected trees on the property. This particular Linwood home had several trees that were dead and a few more dying scattered around the back and sides of the home. The sellers did document that they were aware of oak wilt on the property. But rather than offer a serious solution to the spreading problem, their answer was dismissive; sort of “pooh-poohing” the problem. Their comment said “oak wilt is common in Anoka County but there are several other varieties of trees that will fill in any loss of oak trees in time.”
What?!! No prevention? No removing of dead trees? Just let these hundred year old oaks die and deal with it?
I advised my buyers that the landscape would be forever changed as the oak wilt would continue to spread through the several dozen oaks on the 4+ acres of land. It would be a significant negative affect the value of the property. With lack of treatment it is a certainty that eventually all the towering shady oaks would die.

Unfortunately, that was not the only property that we saw that day where the owners had a cavalier attitude toward oak wilt; a disease that claims thousands of beautiful trees every year. At another home in Chisago County, there was a beautiful newer rambler that had remarkable landscaping. In the front of the property a small grove of oaks was infected and had just started to die from oak wilt. With root cutting and treatment, the hundreds of oaks on the back acreage could be spared. Did the seller address this and offer a treatment plan on the disclosure?

Nope; just a mention of “oak wilt” in response to the question about diseased trees.

Sellers…Oak wilt has to be addressed when selling an acreage home.

Writing "oak wilt" on the sellers' disclosure is an important first step but sellers must do more than just disclose the problem if they want to sell their home. Anoka County is still in an unbalanced buyer-driven real estate market. Buyers want to know what you have done and are doing prevent the spread to other trees. If you have not done anything, buyers have no choice but to assume all the oak trees on the property will die. If your home is surrounded by oaks, a buyer imagines a tree-free landscape in the future…and thousands in expense to remove the trees, there will not be a purchase agreement in most cases. In this buyer-controlled market, those looking for beautiful, lush wooded acreage will cross your oak wilt-infested property off their list of favorites and move on to another house.

Homeowners in
Ham Lake are fortunate that the city has an on-staff forester who inspects oak trees throughout the city and offers prevention suggestions. Once a year, they provide free root cutting for anyone who is concerned about the spread of oak wilt to healthy trees. The forester will come out and inspect your trees, free of charge if you have any concerns about oak wilt on your property.

Here are a few important reminders to prevent the spread of Oak Wilt:

  • To prevent the spread of devastating disease, it is imperative to follow the guidelines for oak wilt prevention. Do not prune, damage or cut down oak trees during the growing season from May 1 through September 30.
  • During the spring and early summer months of May and June, oaks are at especially high risk to this highly contagious, landscape changing disease.
  • Any wood or branches taken down over the winter that is infected with oak wilt needs to remain covered under black plastic and completely sealed until after July 1.
  • During the summer if you sustain storm damage and lose a limb from an oak on your property, immediately paint the wound with black tree paint to seal the wound and prevent exposure to the oak wilt fungus.
What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a disease caused by a fungus which attacks the central system of the tree from the roots to the leaves. The tree attempts to block the fungus, but also blocks all water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. Eventually, the trees leaves wilt and it dies.

Oak wilt spreads through the root systems of near by trees and by fungus beetles that carry the oak wilt spores from tree to tree. For additional information on oak wilt from the
University of MN Extention Service CLICK HERE.

How to Protect Your Trees

The fungus beetles infect trees that have been recently injured or trimmed. These beetles are very active in the spring and summer months. Oaks should be protected from damage and not trimmed from April through July.

Trim large mature oaks now. As a preventative to spring storm damage, have your large oaks trimmed now so that heavy, dead branches won't fall during tornado season and break other healthy limbs.
Consider Oaks When Planning Construction
  • If you are planning to build on your property this spring, plan the construction process to protect the trees. Discuss the situation with your builder and fence off the trees from the base of the truck to the branches.
  • Be prepared with tree paint and apply immediately to any wounds that accidentally occur.
    Root System Protection
  • If an oak is infected on your property or a nearby neighboring property, your trees could be at risk through their intertwined root system. Oak roots travel up to 50 feet out. The fungus can pass underground from tree to tree.
  • To prevent spread, have the roots cut using a trencher or vibratory plow. The five foot blade severs the roots to protect neighboring trees. Root cutting should be done prior to tree removal. If you want to sell your acreage home and there is oak wilt on the property, address the problem and outline a remedy. Ignoring oak wilt will cause the disease to spread and kill more trees. This will directly affect your property's value.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm