Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Buying a Minnesota Lakehome in the Winter

According to the calendar, winter just started but we all know from the chiropractic visits to tend to our aching, shoveling-afflicted spines that Minnesota’s winter weather blew into town several weeks ago. Unfortunately this means all that picturesque lakeshore that defines our beautiful state is frozen and covered with a thick white blanket of snow.
If you’re considering buying a lakeshore home, that just about cuts off any opportunity of buying for the year; that is unless you assess the quality of the lake using an ice auger and depth finder when freezing your backside off fishing on the ice. Right?
Well, not so fast. Buying a lakeshore home in the winter can make sense…And save lots of money too. If you know the specific lake well or are not concerned about the quality of shoreline, winter can be a great time to write up an offer.
GOOD reasons not to wait:
  1. Motivated Sellers—Any seller that keeps Minnesota lakeshore on the market during the winter most probably needs to sell.
  2. Less Competition—With few buyers on the market there is less change of multiple offers on properties which make for easier negotiations with the sellers.
  3. Low Interest Rates—They keep telling us that these rates won’t stay around forever and they are starting to inch up again. A lower interest rate means more buying power.
BAD  and UGLY situations that could arise:
  1. Shoreline Problems—That picturesque beauty that was covered with snow could reveal low lake levels or weedy shoreline problems rather than the sandy beachfront you imagined.
  2. Septic issues—If the home is on a lake with a private sewage system, it might not be able to be fully assessed for compliance issues which could be costly if a new system is required.
Bottom line, winter can be an tremendous opportunity to get a deal on a Minnesota lake home but be advised if you don’t know the lake well; there are significant risks to making a purchase when the lake is covered with a thick slab of ice. Weigh your options carefully before deciding whether you should put in an offer on that seemingly perfect snow covered home on the lake or wait until April when the waves are once again lapping on the shore to put in your offer.



Copyright 2010 terieckholm.com

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Easement



A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned a new company had opened in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He later realized it was just Fair Isaac now going by the new name, FICO. I was taken aback by the confusion because most people living in the Twin Cities north metro are aware the business analytics company, Fair Isaac Corporation, has been located in Shoreview for decades. What surprised me is that few outside the real estate and mortgage industry may have made the connection that FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation.
Once again, I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday as a REALTOR® would be unknown to others. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next several weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:
Easement—A right given by the landowner for a specific use of a portion of his/her property granted to a third party. Once the right is given and recorded on the title it continues unless vacated by the entity that received it. Common easements include utility and driveway easements. There can be more than one easement on any given property. When buying a home it is important to understand where the easements are as they can dictate what you can and cannot do with the land.
For instance, a new septic system, storage shed or flower garden cannot be constructed in a utility easement as the easement holder uses the easement for access to under and above ground utilities. Likewise a drainage easement could literally wash away your landscaping investment.
Driveway easements allow access to a landlocked property. While such agreements often provide an acceptable solution for access, they can cause headaches for neighbors who aren’t respectful of each others.
Easement holder does not own the land but has a right to use the land as specified in the easement agreement. This differs from an encroachment where a third party uses the land without permission.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost Speechless Sunday--Waves of a Minnesota Winter Snow!


Being a REALTOR® who specializes in Minnesota Lakeshore and acreage, you may have been expecting a frozen lake shot or field sculpted into drifts from the record-breaking, "snow-mageddon" Minnesota blizzard of last weekend. We clocked in with 16-20 inches across the Minneapolis/St Paul metro; in fifth place for the most snow in one storm. To be honest with you, those winter lake and open field shots can be boring as they are often nothing but white.
However the wind did sculpt the first snowfall of the season into perfectly formed snow waves across our newly installed backyard landscaping. This was such a unique sight, I just had to capture it for posterity! Only Mother Nature could provide such a backyard treat!


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, December 13, 2010

After You're Done Shoveling, Start Raking!—Ice Dams are Preventable!

With the 16 plus inches of snow we were blessed with in Anoka County this past weekend (and even more in Washington County to the south and east) it looks like we are in for a good old fashion Minnesota winter. Heading to grandmother’s house this holiday, will take us all over lots and lots of white and drifted snow.

The snow is pretty for photos and fun for snowmobilers, skiers, boarders and sledders but not so great for our houses. With accumulated snow well into the foot range already, there is another necessary chore to add to the list to avoid homeowner headaches that come with the snow melt. We have to remove the snow from our roofs!

Though a shingled roof won’t
pop like the Metrodome did over the weekend (CLICK HERE to View), ceilings have been known to become waterlogged and collapse under the stress of too much snow and ice dams.

Avoid ice dams and rake that roof! Yep pull that funny looking backwards shovel with the extension pole out of the garage and carefully pull off the snow. Ignoring the problem could cost thousands of dollars to repair the damage to roof or interior due to ice and water when that foot of snow starts the freeze/thaw cycle over the next few months!

So how does a roof rake work? Carefully raise the rake over the edge of the roof as far back as the rake will reach and pull down the snow. Be certain to wear a hat, boots and gloves as most of the snow WILL land very close to you….if not right on your head! It’s not hard to do if the snow is fluffy. Even a novice like me can handle a roof rake.

Don’t have a roof rake? This is the year to buy one! It’s only a $20-30 investment and the pole is in two sections for storage. Not a do-it-yourselfer? Or have a two story home where the rake won’t reach? Call in a professional to remove the snow. This is not the year to ignore the snow and hope it won’t be a problem. It looks like we are in for a long snow-filled winter so take action now. Ice dams are preventable!




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful--Ten Reasons Why NOW is a GREAT Time to Buy a Minnesota Home!


A fresh blanket of snow covers the landscape across the Twin Cities from Oakdale to Blaine and Ham Lake to White Bear Lake. There is a chill in the air...who am I kidding, the weather is biting cold this year. But winter is not a time to hide from the elements and wait until spring to make a home buying decision! Although making a move in a Minnesota winter’s snow and ice is not ideal, the timing could not be more perfect to buy a home and get a GREAT DEAL!

Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Home THIS Winter!
Reason 10—Holiday Décor. Visiting homes this time of year will really put you in the holiday spirit. Many homeowners use this opportunity to deck the halls with hopes that there will be a purchase agreement in their Christmas stocking!

Reason 9—Check Window Efficiency. No that frost on the window is not a holiday decoration! Subzero temperatures really put windows to the test. Some windows will fog between the glass panes, others will ice up on the interior and then there are those that stay crystal clear in the cold. This energy efficiency test can only be done when the temperature is extreme outside.

Reason 8—Low Traffic/Less Competition. While most Minnesotans are shopping at the Mall of America for gifts or attending “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater, savvy home buyers are visiting homes with their Realtor!


Reason 7—REALTORS have Tons of Time. Most REALTORs are not juggling several clients like they often have to when the weather is warm. They will be have to spend more time scouring the MLS to find the perfect home for their buyers!

Reason 6—Amazingly Low Mortgage Rates. Though rates have ticked up a bit from the extremely low 4% rate that were available last month, at 4.5 % rates are still at all time record lows. These rates cannot continue forever. A low interest rate translates to being able to afford a higher priced home and/or a lower payment!

Reason 5—Check the Heating System. Whether the home is heated with a forced air furnace or a hot water boiler, checking out the heating system in the summer is hard to do. On a cold Minnesota evening, a furnace problem is very obvious!

Reason 4—Builders Discounts. New Construction developments hoping to clear inventory before the end of the year will often slash prices. Buyers ready to buy non-contingent are in the best position for a deal…Especially when they are accompanied by their agent to assist with the negotiations!

Reason 3—Check that Fireplace. It's hard to determine if that fireplace will be perfect for toasting chestnuts when the temperatures are in the upper 90's on a July summer day. But now is the perfect time to see if that fireplace is operational. A cracked flue can costs thousands if overlooked in the warm weather so buying during the winter is a plus when considering a home with a wood burning fireplace!

Reason 2—Amazing Inventory. Whether you are looking for a starter townhome, a single family home, a private country acreage, a McMansion or a lakeshore paradise, there are probably a slew of properties for you to select from. A search of lakeshore in Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties alone, yields 100's available homes. Now that is a great selection!

And, drumroll please, The Number 1 Reason for Buying in the Winter—Motivated Sellers. Homes that stay on the market in December and January in the Twin Cities are homes that need to be SOLD! If they are motivated enough to suffer through a Christmas Eve showing, they probably are willing to negotiate on the price as well!
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Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Wordless Wednesday (Almost)--lolCat Ready for Winter! Are YOU?


Bundled up in his winter hat, our indoor cat is ready for the elements! This year there was snow on the ground in December and now our winter blast of subzero temps may make it's first appearance this week. (BTW this is WAY to early in my book!)
As Minnesotan's we need to be prepared for this weather with our winter survival kits in the car (in case we slide off the road) and extra supplies in the kitchen cabinets (in case we are snowed-in for few days). As a REALTOR in Minnesota, I know that I have been out in blizzards during past seasons either showing houses or writing up offers. We don't let the snow and cold weather stop us...but we are prepared.
So are you as ready for this early winter season as our "happy" cat?


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A REALTOR® Working Hard to always have that “Little Extra”


Today I was working on pulling a CMA or comparative market analysis for a potential client. When I do a CMA, I spend quite a bit of time selected comparables and figuring out the optimal initial starting price as this is a difficult real estate market. What I do not spend a lot of time with is the collateral information that I put in with every CMA. It is the extra information that tells the new client “how I work”. I spend much time with this information because frankly, the way I work hasn’t changed since I started and wrote up the information several years ago.

For some reason today, the information on the first page just caught my eye. I am not changing a word but I do want to share what my business philosophy is. It is just one quote and 6 sentences. But this short statement gives insight into who I am and how I work.
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”
~Barbara Jordan
As your REALTOR®, it is my job to understand your needs and respond to them promptly, professionally and with integrity. It is my pledge to provide you with sound real estate advice, helping you understand the wisdom of the decisions you make.

By being your REALTOR®, our relationship is built on trust. Value and service will be provided before, during and after the transaction, so that your changing needs are always addressed and satisfied.

It is not only my business philosophy, but also a commitment to provide you with exemplary personalized service beyond your expectations. My practice is to listen, hear and truly understand your needs; a quality of business conduct that often seems to have been forgotten in today’s fast paced, highly automated society.
Whether you are considering buying your first home or selling the home you have lived in for years, it is important to realize that not every REALTOR® works in the same way. While other agents may pay lip service to statements such as these, making promises that cannot always be delivered, I take an honest approach and work with you to find the best way to get the job done. I take time to explain the real estate market and if things change, work with you to adapt to the situation in a way that will work best for you. This is truly how I work; anyone who knows me can tell you this is who I am. If you want to work with me to sell or buy a home, I will be your partner in the process from start to finish.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Encroachment


In a recent episode of the Emmy award winning television show, Cash Cab, several people with stumped by the acronym, FSBO. This is a term often used in the real estate world to describe a person selling their home by owner (For Sale By Owner). As a REALTOR® I was a bit surprised but then I started to remember of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought a glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:
EncroachmentAn encroachment is when something owned or constructed by a neighbor extends beyond the property line and onto another land owner’s property. Examples of common encroachments are fences, paths and branches of overgrown trees. Known encroachments must be disclosed by the seller on the Minnesota Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement (unless the buyer agrees in writing to an alternative inspection report or no disclosure).

Sometimes there is a reason for an encroachment. Trees often grow and will encroach into a neighbor’s yard. This usually isn’t a problem unless a branch was to break and cause damage in the neighboring yard.

There are times when a homeowner may not be aware of the encroachment because at the time of the construction the builder “guessed” at the property line or the survey was incorrect. It is common for an encroachment to be discovered when a new survey has been completed. A conflict can arise when it is discovered that a fence or shed has been constructed “on” or “near” what was thought to be the property line, but is actually over the line and encroaching on the neighbor’s property. The structure owner can then be required to move or remove the structure which can be very costly. Most communities will require a permit before construction and a setback to avoid these situations.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Title Insurance


In a recent episode of the Emmy award winning television show, Cash Cab, several people with stumped by the acronym, FSBO. This is a term often used in the real estate world to describe a person selling their home by owner (For Sale By Owner). As a REALTOR® I was a bit surprised but then I started to remember of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought a glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:


Title Insurance A policy of insurance to protect against losses arising from defects or problems with the title to the property. The premium (fee) is paid at the closing and is a one time charge. Title problems can range from an encroachment of a neighbor’s fence on the wrong side of a property line to an old mortgage that was not paid prior to the sale of the home.

On any home purchase there can be two different types of title insurance; one protecting the lender and one protecting the homeowner. If a homebuyer is taking out a mortgage to purchase the property, the lender will require the home buyer to purchase mortgage insurance to protect the lender’s equity in the property. A home buyer will be asked if they would like to purchase optional coverage to cover their own equity in their new home.

Some first time homebuyers mistakenly think that optional translates to unnecessary. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A homebuyer cannot be forced to purchase an owner's policy. But consider this, if the lender stipulates that you must buy to protect their interests, why wouldn’t you want to protect your own?




Copyright 2010 terieckholm.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Home for Tuffy—How an Older Dog Transitions to a Townhome


When I was contacted a few months ago by senior clients, Ang and Donna, about downsizing from their family home on a half acre lot in Anoka County to a townhome, I knew it would mean bring lots of changes. Downsizing can relieve a lot of stress for a senior couple. No more mowing or raking the huge lawn. No more snow blowing the driveway or shoveling off the steps. Sure there would be less space to store all the treasure and mementos of life…but then less to dust too.

Yes, downsizing was a good option for this couple, but finding a new home for Tuffy was paramount. Tuffy was their little gray wire-haired, terrier-type dog who had the run of the place, if you know what I mean. Every townhome we looked at had to allow dogs in the association by-laws. Since Tuffy was not a large sized canine, breed restrictions were not going to be an issue. But this little guy was a pretty spoiled dog who darted out the door and ran right up to me on every visit barking and jumping. He was a good dog, as he didn’t leave his half acre, but now Tuffy wasn’t going to be able to leave his patio.
Running up and barking at neighbors is a big no-no in a condo association.
My clients found their perfect new home in quick order and, better yet, their beautiful Anoka County home sold in just three weeks. Huge changes were going to take place in a matter of weeks, not the months they had anticipated.

It didn’t take long to get the association documents into my clients' hands. Included was a list of rules that Tuffy must obey in order to be a good townhome canine. His owners had to submit a mug shot of his cute black and gray face, so the association could tell which pets belong in the area and which did not. He was going to have to be on a leash or tie-out at all times. And he would have to have copies of his license and documentation that his shots were up to date on file.

Now that leash thing was going to be a problem. Tuffy, like his owners, fell into the senior citizen category. It was time to teach an old dog some new tricks…or remind him who was boss of the family (and it was no longer Tuffy) so that he could make a good impression on all his new neighbors. Fortunately, Tuffy had been trained previously and though his manners were a bit rusty, Ang and Donna started working with him several weeks before the move. Tuffy had to start wearing his training collar at all times but they didn’t use it often. A reward system of treats helped the little dog remember all his new rules.

Tuffy, along with Ang and Donna, are now happy in their new home. It was a bit of a transition but made much easier since Tuffy’s owners chose to start preparing their spoiled little dog early for the new rules. This made the move as stress-free as possible for both dog and owners. Finding and unpacking all of Tuffy’s little dog toys should be the only worry now!
OldDogPaws offers 7 helpful tips to ease your senior dog’s stress and help him make a smooth, stress-free transition to the condo-lifestyle


1. Start Training EarlyDon’t think of this as a way to punish Fido. A training collar is all about keeping your older pet safe in his new environment. Pull out that training collar and let him know that you mean business. He has to relearn to walk on a leash and not bark at everything and everyone.2. Practice, Practice, PracticeAt least a month before the move, start your daily walk with the leash being attached before exiting the house. Make sure Fido knows that darting out the door will no longer be tolerated.

3. Tied out Trials
Every time you sit on the deck or patio, first hook up Fido to his tie-out so he can get used to being tied-up. Many people don’t use these in fenced yards but most condo associations will have this restriction.

4. Reward Good Behavior
As Fido learns the rules, the training collar can come off and the treats or reward system can begin.
5. Keep License Up-to-Date
Most associations will require all pets to have to have all shots and local licensing up to date and of file.
6. Snap a Good PhotoNot quite a mug shot, but many associations will want a photo of all pets on file so they know which pet belongs to which association member.
7. Find Area Dog Parks
Research your new neighborhood to see if there is a leash-free dog park in the area where Fido can have a quick and safe run once in awhile to burn off all that pent up stress from being good in his new surroundings.

By taking the time to prepare Fido for the change to condo-living, your older dog will enjoy his new home and surroundings as much as you will.
Find more tips on taking care of your older dog at OldDogPaws.com

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, November 1, 2010

Home for Sale During the Holidays? 7 Essential Tips for the Holiday Homeseller!

Summer is long over and with Halloween now come and gone it is time to pack up the pumpkins and fall decor too. Home sellers so excited this spring that this was THE year to downsize from their family home or upgrade to something larger are more concerned over the upcoming holidays than the extremely low interest rates that enticed them to list their home in the first place. Many are now wondering whether they should take a break from potential showings and just enjoy the upcoming holidays without concerns of whether the home is "showing perfect". So,what should a home seller do?

At first inclination most sellers opt to withdraw their home from the market believing that the preoccupation with the holiday season puts few buyers in the market. While there is a bit of truth to this belief, sellers can be ignoring another more important truth: Buyers who look for houses during the holidays are VERY serious buyers. Savvy buyers know that the extremely low interest rates will not be around forever.
And, there are not many tire-kickers running around with a REALTOR® when there are presents to buy and gifts to wrap. November, December and January showings are a traditional homeseller’s opportunity as many homes that buyers visit at this time of the year are vacant. A buyer’s choices are down to model homes, empty relocation properties and foreclosures. A welcome home filled with the colorful sights, delightful sounds, wonderful aromas of the season give a unique opportunity for those wanting to sell. Picture how inviting a warm home with a crackling fire in the hearth and a tree full of twinkling lights will appear to a homebuyer after seeing house after house that is cold, dark and vacant. It will feel like an oasis! Sellers serious about selling, will keep their homes on the market!
Tips for Showing & Selling During the Holidays
  1. Decorate! Tastefully of course. This might not be the year that you do the Griswold display of lights as in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but a decorated tree, candles and wreaths can add a special touch.
  2. Bake and leave out Christmas Cookies. Why should Santa have all of the extra calories?
  3. Make sure the fireplace is burning bright, warm and welcoming!
  4. Play holiday music. Forget the classic kiddie favorites like Jingle Bells and Rudolph. Go for instrumentals or uniquely Minnesota regional artists like The Blenders.
  5. Shovel and salt the driveway. No one wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room with a twisted ankle or broken hip.
  6. Turn the heat up for showings…Show them how well the furnace works. It is such a treat after visiting vacant foreclosed homes!
  7. Leave the front light on! Don’t forget it is dark out during those early evening showings. Make certain buyers and their agents are able to see their way to your front door and lockbox.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“They Don’t Need an Agent!”—How First Time Homebuyers Find their Way Home!

My cell phone rang as I pulled into the parking lot of my RE/MAX real estate office in White Bear Lake one afternoon. The caller said he and his fiancée had just driven by a listing of mine and could I show them the inside. My first question is always, “Are you working with a real estate agent?” “No”, he answered. The meeting was set for the next evening.

The young man and his fiancée arrived with an entourage of parents and assorted other friends and relatives. Being first time buyers, they wanted assistance and approval on their very first home purchase. Looking over the home from top to bottom, they liked what they saw but needed time to think. I asked the question I always ask, “When you are shopping for a home, are you shopping for a REALTOR®?” One of the dads quickly answered. They don’t need an agent and won’t be signing any contract with a buyer’s agent. They will get a better deal working directly with the listing agent.

I explained why this wasn’t true but could tell from the look on this dad’s face, he wasn’t about to believe me.


I avoided the debate but went on to explain agency to the young couple. I asked them to sign the disclosure on agency as required by the State of Minnesota. Buyers need to understand that with any of my broker's listings, I am under contract to work for the seller and protect their interests. However, if the couple decides to sign a buyers’ representation agreement with me, they would be in a DUAL agency when looking at any property currently listed with RE/MAX Specialists. They had seen many homes over the last several weeks with dozens of other REALTORS®, but I was the only listing agent who explained agency to them or asked them to sign the required disclosure.

Days later, a decision was made; the young couple wanted to make an offer on my listing. A contract was signed for buyers’ representation for the specific home only. Dual agency now applies. As an agent working for both parties, I could not do anything that would hurt either the buyer or seller. Because the agreement was only for the specific home, I could not discuss other property options. An offer was presented, but terms could not be agreed upon. The buyers went away.

A few weeks the price was reduced on my listing. I called this young couple to see if the lower price would be enough to renew their interest. It would. But there was also another new construction house in a different area that was being considered.

Another showing. They were sure that they had it down to between the two homes. I could see the indecision and confusion on their faces. I asked about the other home they were considering to help them contrast it to my listing to help my selling clients and put their home in a better light. As with most homes, neither home was a perfect fit. I am a firm believer that after weighing all of the pluses and minuses, homes will sell themselves if they are the right home. A week passed. No offer came forth.

Finally a phone call came from the young man. We have made a decision. We are not going to offer again on your listing. It is not the right home for us. In fact, neither home is right. We are starting over and think we need our own agent. "Would you help us find a home?"

Now as their buyers’ representative, I got to work. For the next few weeks, we visited half a dozen or so homes from the hundreds currently on the MLS that met their criteria. Traveling from Stillwater to White Bear Lake and Hugo to Forest Lake, we narrowed down the field of potential homes to a couple of favorite houses. Finally, one sparked enough interest for a second showing with the parents, but this home also had a few quirks that raised concerns. That same evening, since we were out, I set up another showing for a home in a development that hadn't considered but I knew would be a very good match for their needs. As it turned out, the second home was perfect for these buyers!

With the perfect home, there was no delay or hesitation in signing the offer. Things fell into place. With every visit to the home for the inspection and showings, the young couple became more excited about their first home.

At the final walk-through, with minutes to go before they were to receive the keys to their first home, I asked them, “So, are you glad that you decided to sign with a REALTOR®?”

They answered together, “Yes!! You made it so much easier to find the right home! Especially for first time buyers.” I don’t make this stuff up…Those were their exact words.

After the closing, I received a hug and sincere, “thank you for everything”, from my young clients. As they set off to begin life in their dream home a thought struck me, I absolutely LOVE my job!

Counties in Minnesota.




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Fiduciary


A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned a new company had opened in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. He later realized it was just Fair Isaac now going by the new name, FICO. I was taken aback by the confusion because most people living in the Twin Cities north metro are aware the business analytics company, Fair Isaac Corporation, has been located in Shoreview for decades. What surprised me is that few outside the real estate and mortgage industry may have made the connection that FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation.

Once again, I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday as a REALTOR® would be unknown to others. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next several weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

Fiduciary—A relationship of trust created when a buyer or seller signs a contract with a REALTOR®. After a contract is signed, a real estate agent has several fiduciary duties that protect their client not just through the transaction but beyond it as well. This means as a first time buyer, once you sign a contract with an agent, that agent cannot tell others anything that is private about you or your situation to anyone. In Minnesota, these duties require your agent to be loyal, confidential, and obedient with your instructions. They are accountable to you and must disclose any information they learn that would benefit you in the purchase of a home. Throughout the transaction and afterward, they must use reasonable care to protect you and your interests.

It is important for a first time buyer to understand this term because every seller that is listed with a real estate broker has a contract in place. This means when a buyer calls the listing agent for information or stop by at an open house, the friendly REALTOR® asking you about your ability to buy a home is under contract with and WORKING for the SELLER. This agent has a fiduciary duty to disclose everything you have said to the seller of the home. But it is not a two way street. The friendly agent cannot tell you anything about the seller that the seller doesn’t want you to know. Because of their contract, the agent cannot say why the seller is moving or if a price reduction is in the works.

As a home buyer, it is essential to interview potential agents to assist with the home search as soon as possible in the process. When good match is found, sign a contract with a REALTOR® so that your interests and information are protected. Then REALTOR® can make calls to other agents on homes, set up private showings and assist you through the homebuying process. The agent will work for YOU! The contract does not have to be a long term commitment. I often sign up new clients for a couple of weeks and extend the contract once we have formed a stronger relationship. Rest assured that even if you decide to part ways with your agent, the fiduciary duty to keep your information private continues forever.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Selling an Acreage Home? You have to Walk the Walk or at least the Property!



I met with a potential client awhile back. He was interviewing real estate agents as he was going to be relisting his Anoka County acreage home that had been unsuccessfully under contract for a year. As part of my job as an acreage REALTOR®, I walked with the seller around the house, through the barn and looked out the barn’s backdoor at the 30+ acres of woods and wetland. Looking out the door, I asked if there was a path that goes through to the perimeter of the land so buyers could walk the property. He confirmed that there was but then said something else.

“The previous agent never stepped one foot further beyond where you are standing now to see the land. I don’t think he wanted to get his shoes dirty.”

Wow! I was flabbergasted! How do you sell a home on acreage without walking the land to see what you are selling? And this agent had over 12 months to take that walk too! It was no surprise to me that the home did not sell.

Selling a home on acreage isn’t rocket science. But like rocket science, there is research and work involved. From getting the septic compliance checked to understanding what a Minnesota unique well number is, there are details that need to be reviewed when an acreage home is listed. Preparing the exterior is kind of like staging the inside of the home. Marking a trail for the potential buyer to follow sets the stage for the buyer to fall in love with the entire package. A significant portion of an acreage home’s total value is often tied up in the value of the land. Buyers need to see the land, online and in person, in order for the home to sell.

A few weeks later, I did list that house. When I came to take photos not only did I take the basic interior and exterior shots, I took additional time and walked the land with the seller. During the tour of the land, I took photographs that showed the appeal of the acreage. He pointed out landmarks and details that would buyers would want to know about the property. I took photos from various points along the path. Interestingly, many of the potential buyers who called to see the land also walked the land with me and remarked that they remembered the shots as ones they saw on the internet. These pictures were important as they created excitement about the property and were photos that could never have been seen from the backdoor of the barn or home.

The home was SOLD. Not to a buyer that I brought through the home and property, though I walked several parties through the acreage over the time it was listed. It was sold by another REALTOR® who was able to take his buyer along the mapped and marked trail through the acreage. Whether selling a couple of acres or the back 40 or more, preparation is the key to a successful Anoka County acreage sale!




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attention Homeowners! Essential Fall Maintenance or "Honey Do" List


There was a nip in the air this morning. Leaves have turned gold, red and yellow and now are blowing all over Anoka County. The fallen acorns have attracted white-tailed deer as they feast in Ham Lake, Columbus and Lino Lakes backyards. It is time to get those autumn chores done to protect our home and 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 depending on the year. Whether the Almanac or the weatherman predicts a few snowfalls or many blizzards, getting your home ready in the fall can prevent winter damage and costly repairs in the spring.

Here are a few reminders of repairs and preventive maintenance tips for all homeowners to consider do every fall:



  1. Clean Gutters of leaves and other debris that might clog the drainage. A blocked gutter can cause an ice dam when the snow flies.

  2. Winterize the lawn tractor or mower and get that 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. Have the annual furnace cleaning and tune-up to be ready for those first cold evenings. Remember to change the furnace filter every month for best efficiency…even if the packaging says “6-month filter”. QUICK TIP: Change filter when you make your monthly mortgage payment so you don’t forget.

  6. 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 local MLS if you decide to sell your home over the winter.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Friday, October 15, 2010

Top 10 Reasons People L♥VE to Call OAKDALE, Minnesota HOME!

Oakdale, Minnesota has its roots in agriculture, railroads and resorts. Early settlers to the area in the 1800’s chose the name for the groves of trees that enhanced the landscape. It started as a township organized in the 1850’s but it was over a century before Oakdale became a city. At one point Hudson Road at the south end of the city was an established stagecoach route to Chicago. Two railroads stations were an important part of putting Oakdale on the map. Lake Demontreville was once a popular summer home area for wealthy city dwellers, though it was once a part of Oakdale Township, it is now in neighboring Lake Elmo. From its humble beginnings, Oakdale became a city in 1974 and is noted worldwide for being headquarters for 3M and Imation. It is no longer a farming community. In the 1990’s the city became a growth suburb and expanded in population from just over 18,000 to nearly 27,000 residents which is where the estimates are today.

Here is a top ten list of reasons why Oakdale Minnesota is such a great place to live:

#10—Oakdale Summerfest. The annual event held every June features everything to celebrate summer! Parade, Oakdale royalty coronation, carnival rides, baseball/softball tourney, crafts and more are combined to make this a memory-making event for area residents.

#9—Fish or Swim. Oakdale’s Tanners Lake is fabulous places to share a day with friends at the beach or on the dock! Tanners is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

#8—Tee Off at Oak Marsh. Play 18 holes among the wetlands on this centrally located 70 par course. Not a golfer? The pros at Oak Marsh can help you learn. Even if golf isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a fantastic dinner and view. The
Oak Marsh clubhouse is known for hosting everything from class reunions to wedding receptions as it boasts a full service banquet facility.

#7—Awesome Schools.
Castle, Eagle Point, Oakdale and Skyview are the public elementary schools within the borders of Oakdale. All are part of the North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale District 622 along and Skyview Middle School and Tartan High School. GO Titans! Additionally, there are several private schools in the community including Paidea Child Development Center and Transfiguration Elementary

#6—Parks and Open Spaces. Dozens of
parks and open spaces to explore, picnic and play at are scattered throughout the City of Oakdale. There is one a short walk or bike ride away from nearly every residential community. Explore and enjoy!

#5—Industrial Innovation! Oakdale can celebrate being home to innovative corporations including
Imation and 3M! Okay technically 3M Corporation is on Oakdale/St. Paul border but many Oakdale residents work at this company that is world renown for creating exciting new products.

#4—Entertainment! Looking for a great movie or place to eat? Oakdale has an eclectic variety of choices for every age group.
Yelp and Metromix searches for Oakdale indicate there are culinary choices including Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Lebanese dining options.

#3— Discover Nature. Hands on exhibits and 220 acres of prairieland to explore make
the Oakdale Nature Preserve and Discovery Center a fun family destination. Discover art; learn about nature; hike, bike & cross-country ski along miles of trails; or just sit back and enjoy view of the 28 acre lake from the observation dock. There is much to do at this award winning facility in the heart of Oakdale.

#2—Eclectic Options for Living. Whether you want the convenience of a low-maintenance townhome a 1950’s rambler or bungalow, or a recently constructed, modified two-story, you can find an affordable option to rent or purchase in Oakdale.

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



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Haunted House in Forest Lake, MN? Or Just a Nightmare on Jason Street?

As a REALTOR® I know a Minnesota does not have to disclose paranormal activity when selling their home but this is one haunted house I wanted to share with everyone in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

Paranormal activity runs rampant at this house just north of the lake, but this haunting is only once a year and is all in good fun!


Last Halloween, I had the chance to visit this fantastic (and FREE) haunted house in Washington County just off of North Shore Trail. Chris Costello has set up his home on Jason St., in Forest Lake, MN for the past few years with monsters and creatures that are more treat than trick on Halloween.

I took several photos of the festivities that were part fundraiser for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign but mostly just fun! Everyone’s all time monster movie favorites were there including zombies, mummies and Frankenstein!


Some were stationary displays and more than a few were very dynamic….you never know which characters were going to jump out at you until they do! But all in all it was a very PG and family friendly event.

Hopefully weather will permit and all the festivities will be a go again this Halloween. It is said that the display grows bigger each year!


So if you have already picked up your pumpkin at Lendt’s in Wyoming and Nightmare at Pinehaven Farms is a bit too frightening, maybe a drive over to Jason Street will be perfect activity for your family.

If you want to learn more about Chris’ annual event watch the first installment of the documentary originally produced for LATV Cable Channel 10 below




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Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch—A Not-to-be-Missed Tradition in Wyoming, MN

Fond autumn memories--Holding tightly to my kindergartener’s hand as we stepped off the schoolbus into the Lendt Pumpkin Patch! We walked hand in hand to the tractor for our ride into the field to pick out the perfect orange beauty to carve into a jack-o-lantern for our front porch step. With dozens of other excited children and their parents or grandparents by their sides, we sat on our hay bales for the bumpy ride across the well worn track. A few minutes later tractor pauses and everyone scrambles out to find their idea of perfection. Large or small, every pumpkin was a beauty in the eye of the pumpkin picker! Within minutes, everyone had a golden prize and boasts were heard among the kids as to which pumpkin was more perfect. Wonderful memories were made that day! A couple of years ago, I drove through Wyoming on the way to visit the home of a listed client. The pumpkin patch field abuts an acreage development where I have worked with several buyers and sellers over the years.

It too was a bright sunny October afternoon. As I passed
Lendt’s, I had to stop and snap a few pictures of the beautiful orange fruit peeking out from the greenery along Highway 22. They still are some of my favorite fall photos…so I had to share them again. Every time I see them I am transported back in my memories to that first visit with the tractor full of excited children and their treasured pumpkins. A fall visit to this Wyoming Minnesota pumpkin patch is a wonderful family tradition! And when you can pick your own for only $3 bucks, it is still very affordable too!




















Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Beautiful Minnesota Acreage!


While beautiful farms with rolling fields of grain do come to mind when many think of Minnesota acreage, there are many other options for homebuyers. These photos were taken last weekend as we cruised along I94 near St. Cloud and yes, there were lots of farms along the way. But closer into the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area in Anoka, Washington, Chisago and Ramsey Counties where I do the majority of my sales, Minnesota acreage could be a smaller hobby farm, a mix of woods and wetland perfect for hunting or just a private two-five acre estate where homeowners have more "elbow room" from the neighbors.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Friday, October 1, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Equity


Last week a friend mentioned a new company had opened in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area but later realized it was just Fair Isaac had changed its name to FICO. Most people living in the Twin Cities north metro are aware the business analytics company, Fair Isaac Corporation, has been located in Shoreview for decades. But I hadn't realized that few outside the real estate and mortgage industry have made the leap that FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation. Once again, I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday as a REALTOR® would be unknown to others. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.
There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

EQUITYThe amount of ownership one has in a property is the equity. This means if a home is appraised at $200,000 and the homeowner owes the bank $150,000, he would have $50,000 in equity.

An FHA buyer initially has very little equity because of the very low down payment required for the loan (usually 3.5%). Whereas a conventional buyer, who puts down 20% or more on the home, will have a greater percentage of equity.

It is important for a first time buyer to understand this term because it can be used in property descriptions. A home that is in a “negative equity" position is a short sale. This means the homeowner owes more to the bank than the home is worth in the current real estate market.

Other real estate ads will describe homes as an “equity builder”. This is where a buyer can build equity in the home faster by making improvements like finishing a basement so the home increases in value more quickly than if nothing is done on the home.

Another term used by REALTORS® in advertisements is “sweat equity”. This is similar to an equity builder but often describes a home that could need significant work to bring the property to its full value.




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Escrow



In a recent episode of the Emmy award winning television show, Cash Cab, several people with stumped by the acronym, FSBO. This is a often term often used in the real estate world to describe a person selling their home by owner (For Sale By Owner). As a REALTOR® I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday would be unknown to so many. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

Escrow This term can be confusing as it is used a few different ways. In some states, going into escrow is defined as the period of time after the purchase agreement is signed but prior to closing. In Minnesota we call that time period, pending, not escrow.

In Minnesota, the term escrow means funds held by a third party for a future payment. The most common time a first time buyer hear the term used is in regard to the required funds held in escrow by their mortgage company on a monthly basis to cover the taxes and property insurance for the home. This amount will be added to the monthly payment and the mortgage company will be then responsible for making the payments directly to the insurance company and the county for taxes. Putting funds into escrow is not required for all buyers. If a significant down payment is made at the time of purchase, a lender will not require funds to be placed in escrow for taxes and insurance. A buyer can then pay their insurance company and county directly.

There is another time when funds may be placed in escrow. There are some instances where essential repairs cannot be made prior to closing. In this instance, a mortgage company may allow funds to be place into the title company's escrow account on the date of closing and held there until the repairs are made. It is now rare that a mortgage company will allow this; usually only in the case of off season weather where it would be impossible to make the repair such as installation of a septic system or cement driveway in the winter.




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/


Friday, September 10, 2010

First Time Homebuyer’s Real Estate Word for Today is Earnest Money


In a recent episode of the Emmy award winning television show, Cash Cab, several people with stumped by the acronym, FSBO. This is a often term often used in the real estate world to describe a person selling their home by owner (For Sale By Owner). As a REALTOR® I was a bit surprised that such a simple term I use everyday would be unknown to so many. But then it got me thinking of all the times a glazed look came over a buyer’s eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.

There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. So over the next few weeks I am going to have a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book or attending that
First Time Homebuyer Class and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

Earnest money The funds that a buyer submits with their offer or purchase agreement to demonstrate to the seller their seriousness about buying the property. It should be an amount sufficient enough to indicate to the seller that the buyer will not walk away from the deal without good reason. It is not the same as a down payment. If your offer on the home is accepted, the earnest money check will be cashed and placed into a broker’s trust account. The funds will go toward the purchase price of the home.





Copyright 2010
terieckholm.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

TEN Reasons WYOMING, MN is A GREAT 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. CLICK HERE for additional library information.

#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 2010
terieckholm.com

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Time Buyer Question—Is a Home Still a Good Investment?


Since the economy, in a word, tanked a few years ago and the values of homes in some areas plummeted, I often get asked the question, “Is buying a home really a good investment?" It was for decades considered one of the safest investments a person could make; the epitome of the American Dream. A few years ago, skyrocketing values seemed to put home ownership out of reach for many but with the market downturn many would be first time homebuyers are confused. Does owning a home make sense as a financial investment?

In my opinion, YES, buying a home is a wise investment and not just because I am a REALTOR®, but because I, too, am a homeowner. The key is treating your home like the investment that it truly is. It takes discipline and time for your investment to grow. And like any other investment, if you have to sell when the market is down, there is a chance that you will not realize as much profit as you may have expected.

So what are some of the key points that must be considered when investing in your first home?

  • Buy Smart
**Price **Interest Rate **Type of Mortgage **Resale Potential **Equity Builder?

  • Maintain and Protect Your Investment
**Home maintenance **Insurance
  • Don’t Put in Your Asset in Jeopardy
The best way to have a healthy balance sheet when you decide to sell your home is to Buy Smart in the first place. Buying smart is not just about getting the home at a low price though that is a very important piece to the puzzle. With many homes at rock bottom prices, it is a good time to consider buying a first home. But buying smart also means getting a mortgage that you can afford and that is safe, preferably at a fixed rate rather than an adjustable rate that can fluctuate into something that you cannot afford. Interest rates are at record-breaking low rates. Talking to a knowledgable loan officer is a great way to get started in the home buying process and find out what options are available to first time buyers now.

But buying smart goes beyond the price paid and the loan used to finance a first home. It is also buying with resale in mind. Many, who purchased homes in the price climbing frenzy of a few years ago, snatched up any home they could after submitting multiple purchase agreements on several homes. They didn’t worry about the perfect floor plan or that the home was on a busy road or next railroad tracks or if it had a weird small room that could not be used for anything. Now, if they are faced with trying to relocate, they are frustrated that buyers refuse to compromise on aspects that they overlooked.

As a REALTOR® who works often with first time buyers, I spend time helping my them to understand the positives and negatives of the location of each property they view. I point out how something quirky like having no basement or having a hot tub built in to a bedroom could affect the resale value by limiting potential buyers. Paint and wallpaper can be easily changed but foundation, plumbing and property location are much more expensive to deal with. Oddities it a home can drastically affect value when it is time to sell.

Lastly, buy smart by determining whether equity can be built with good old fashioned hard work! If the home hasn’t been updated, a good sprucing up could raise its value. A house that has an unfinished basement, could build equity if it can be done at a reasonable cost. Don’t take shortcuts and avoid permitting because that can be costly if you go to sell. Is landscaping your forte’? Look for a home with a yard that can be upgraded over the years. Just be frugal and realistic in what your resale will be in the end.

Beyond a smart buy, maintenance is essential as is proper insurance to be certain a home owner can afford the required repairs should the unexpected happen. Time after time I have to bear the bad news when presenting a market analysis at a home where the interior and/or exterior has not been repaired or replaced in decades. These homes are not worth what a neighboring, updated home is worth. Doing several projects over time allows a homeowner to enjoy the improvements while retaining the property value. Likewise, not insuring a home properly can be a huge risk. Worse yet, are the homeowners that make a home insurance claim and receiving payment for a repair but opt to use the money for something else.

Finally, it is important for a homebuyer to not put their investment in jeopardy. Many of the people who lost their homes in the market downturn put their homes in jeopardy but taking risky loans against the equity. Some people took home equity loans at reasonable rates but didn’t use the funds to improve their home. Some of these loans were at very high adjustable rates and as the payment rose, the homeowners just couldn’t make the payment. When I was growing up, I remember learning to never take a risk with anything you couldn’t afford to lose. I think a home falls into this category.

Like any investment, a home’s value will fluctuate. But a house is unique as an investment because it serves a dual purpose: It is a your place to live as well as a way to increase your net worth. By using the money that would be paid for rent and putting it toward a house you can afford with a plan to protect and maintain your property, a home purchase is still a good investment.




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm