Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dropping Calls at Home? Raving about AIRAVE in Ham Lake MN!

Sometimes living in “the sticks” can be frustrating. The area of Ham Lake where we live (near Carlos Avery and Coon Lake is a virtual dead zone for most cell phone service. When we moved here years ago, few people had cell phones or needed to be so “connected”. But as a REALTOR®, it is very difficult to keep in contact with buyers and sellers when you have poor cell phone service. And I have noticed that I am not the only one that finds a good connection on the MUST HAVE list for a home either. I have noticed over the years of selling acreage throughout that things have changed. These days it is a common occurrence to see buyer flip out their phone in during a showing in communities like Ham Lake, Linwood, Wyoming or Columbus to see how many bars of service they will receive at a particular home.
When I switched over to Sprint from previous wireless provider about a decade ago, it was because the sale person handed me a Twin Cities coverage map that included Ham Lake. I happily headed home with my new phone but soon discovered I had NO service. I remember calling tech support and having a smart-mouthed tech quip, “What do you expect us to do? Put a tower in your yard?” Not missing a beat, I answered, “YES!” He responded that my neighbors might not be too pleased. (Actually, they would have been ecstatic as they need answer their phones at home from time to time too.)
Okay…so there is no tower in our yard. And our unenhanced service is still less than perfect but Sprint did finally come up with a solution—The AIRAVE. It’s like a mini cell tower for your home. It takes about 5 minutes to set up through your broadband connection and it really works! Now I no longer have to stand in the middle of my driveway facing east without moving to have enough of a signal to use my cell phone.
So homebuyers if you find the perfect home at the perfect price but there aren’t enough bars to make a call on your cell phone, the Sprint AIRAVE might be the perfect solution!


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Forest Lake Boys Basketball Team Heads to State Tourney!


CONGRATULATIONS to the Boys
Basketball team who have qualified for the Minnesota State High School Basketball Tournament!

The Forest Lake Rangers are scheduled to play at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at the Target Center in Minneapolis.


ARE YOU a RANGER Fan?
Ride the Fan Bus! Forest Lake Area Schools Community Education will be selling adult tickets for the game and providing bus service to Target Center in Minneapolis for the 10AM game. No need to mess with downtown parking or a rush hour commute!When: Wednesday, March 24. Board the bus starting at 8am. Bus leaves at 8:15am. Game starts at 10am. Bus will leave the Target Center and return to Century Jr. High immediately following the game.
Where: Board the bus at Century Jr. High (21395 Goodview Ave N, Forest Lake). You may park in the parking lot. Bus will be in the front of the school.

How To Sign Up: Complete the registration form and drop off with payment at the District Office, 6100 N 210th St, or register by phone with a credit/debit card at (651) 982-8110. Registration ends today at 4:30pm.

Cost: $17.00 ($12.00 Adult Ticket and $5 bus)
GO RANGERS!




Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 2010 Twin Cities Real Estate Market Video Update—Good News Continues Despite the Snow!

The Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® just released the March monthly skinny video a few days ago. From the information provided it appears that snowy weather didn't slow down the home buyers in the Twin Cities market. Over 3500 purchase agreements were written during the last month. And which sellers were on the receiving end of those purchase agreements? Traditional sellers at lower price points (as opposed to lender-mediated or bank-owned properties). This is no doubt due to buyers wanting to get an agreement accepted or countered in a timely manner combined with traditional sellers willingness to negotiate as the deadline to the $8000/$6500 tax credit looms nearer. Check out the video for a full recap of the housing market in the Twin Cities area.



Looking for home sales statistics on a specific community? Check out this link to see snapshots and detailed reports on 20 different north metro communities including Ham Lake, Blaine, Forest Lake and White Bear Lake:

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Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Minnesota Traditions for St. Patrick's Day Fun!


Growing up Irish in Minnesota made March 17th an official holiday! (Okay...I'm only a quarter Irish but on St. Pat's day, whose counting?) From time to time we attended the big parade in downtown St Paul and once even walked under the “Flaherty” banner. But it was much more fun to watch the festivities from the safety of the curb.

I think my mom tried to feed us a dinner of home cooked corned beef and cabbage once...not a big success in our house. We didn’t dance, but sang the “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” all day (my Prussian grandmother's favorite song)! It was fun to celebrate our heritage.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day,I wanted to share some fun Minnesota Irish websites. Enjoy!

and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold. Traditional Irish Toast


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Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, March 15, 2010

Unexpectedly Amazing Bank-Owned Homes on Lakeshore & Acreage throughout Anoka County!! (And some by traditional sellers too!)


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

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

Here are a few of the treasures I noted on the Twin Cities MLS in Anoka County today:


  • New Construction Foreclosure Brick Rambler in Ham Lake! Acre lot, 6 car attached garage, executive 4BR/3BA with hardwood, tile, vaults and more. 80% complete. Builder price $480K, bank asking $279,900.

  • 3500 Sq ft Executive Rambler on Ham Lake acreage. 4BR/3BA/4Car on 1.8 acre lot. Cherry cabinets. Hwd floors, media room, 2 decks +++ Builder listed for $799K in 2007. Bank asking $499K.

  • 4+ Beautiful Acres 5BR/2BA/3Car in Columbus. Originally sold in 2005 for $322K…Bank asking $175K.

  • 1996 Built Modified 2 Story on 25+Acres in St Francis 4BR/2BA with 3 car, wooded setting, Hwd floors, Master suite, gas fpl in finished family room listed by bank for $239K!

  • Coon Lake Shoreline 4BR/5BA/5Car in Ham Lake 85+ft shoreline and 2+Acres. Entertainers dream 2 Story w/2 full kitchens &Master suites! w/o basement. Original list $650K now priced to sell at $454,900.

  • 2 story on Pet Lake in Linwood! Not a foreclosure, but priced like one! Just listed today at $180K ($40K under tax value)! Well maintained 2BR/3BA/2Car w/Hickory cabinets and SS Appliances.

  • New Construction Foreclosure 5BR Two Story in Ham Lake! Acre lot, Completely finished with upgrades: Cherry cabinets, upstairs laundry, private master suite. Builder price $570K, bank asking $369,900
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...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. Repairs will not be made.

  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.
Are YOU ready to get a great deal on a foreclosed home? Let me be your professional REALTOR®! If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Time to Buy a Home? Terrible Time? That is a GREAT Question!

Several ads are running in all forms of media lately about what a great opportunity it is to buy a home right now. It’s hard to turn on the television, radio or computer without being exposed to an advertisement from the National Association of REALTORS® announcing the expiring tax credit and why this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a home. But is it really a good time to buy? Yes, but maybe not for everyone.


Here are a few facts about the current Twin Cities real estate market:

  1. There are many affordable homes across the Twin Cities metro area.
  2. Interest rates are still historically low.
  3. And, there is that $6500-$8000 tax credit that is going to expire very soon.
But do these reasons alone make it a good time to buy a house?

I ran into an old colleague of mine in a Forest Lake parking lot earlier this week. We used to work for the same real estate broker a few years ago and chat from time to time. This day was no different. After the initial hellos, the conversation drifted to the real estate market. He is not selling much these days as he hates working as an agent in this market. He doesn’t think it is a good time to buy for most buyers. However, he did make a couple of personal investments this past year, choosing to ride out the market by taking advantage of the foreclosures in northern Washington County and rehabbing them for resale. He offered his view of the market as a “terrible time to buy for a first time buyer”. When I questioned his logic he said, First time buyers have to compete with buyers like me. There were seven offers written in a few days on one of the homes I purchased. I didn’t finance the home. I could close in a week for cash. How can a first time buyer ever compete with that?”
How indeed! That is a good question. But then again I have talked to two other investor/agents this past year with a different view of this current market. These guys were rehabbing homes long before the market took a dive. They paint a picture of the market as a terrible time for a rehabber to buy a home. First time buyers and first time investors are driving up the prices on bank owned properties so they cannot buy at a reasonable price to turn a decent profit.

I find it interesting that three people who have all worked in real estate for years have such differing views on the current housing market.

So, do I think NOW is a good time for a homebuyer to buy?
First, let's turn back the clock a few years to the late 1980’s when my husband and I purchased our first home. According to history, it was a terrible time to buy a home…but we didn’t know any better. We needed a place to live and didn’t want to rent. Interest rates were in double digits at the time and we still had student and car loans so what we could afford versus what we wanted was not quite in line. We ended up purchasing a house from relatives by assuming their 9%, 15 year loan.

We purchased at the time not because someone said the real estate market was good or bad but because it made sense for us to buy rather than rent. We didn’t buy our “ideal” home, we bought an adequate starter home that we could afford. We knew we wouldn’t live in this home forever but it was priced fairly and it was a place to start. We lived there for eight years. Though it wasn’t a good time to buy for many home buyers, the purchase made sense for us.

Many people will be rushing to write a purchase agreement in the next month in order to take advantage of the expiring homebuyer’s tax credit. That should not be the ONLY reason to buy a home. Buying a home in any market is a personal decision and whether it is a good time to buy will really depend on the buyer, the home, the price and what happens in the future. While no one has a crystal ball on the future, a good REALTOR® and loan officer can help potential buyers determine if NOW is a good time to buy depending on their unique situation.

So...In my opinion, it really IS a good time for many people to buy a home…but might not be the right time for all.
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Vintage Como Park Polar Bear Circa 1980


2010 could be the year to move to a new home for many Twin Cities families. But people aren't the only ones that will be checking into new digs, Como Park will be opening its Polar Bear Odyssey on June 3, 2010. The polar bears’ new home is a definite move up from their starter-home caves of days gone by. I took this photo in for a college photography class in the early 1980’s. This was even before the cement cave with the attached pool where you could see the bears swim right up to the glass.

Looking for MORE photos of Como Park? Check out these posts:
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Staging to Sell--It Looked Better on the Paint Chip!


Years ago, my sister and her husband built a new home in an Oakdale development. We lived in a mile away in North St. Paul at the time so we drove by often and watched as several homes were constructed in the neighborhood. This development didn’t have restrictive covenants so there were various styles of homes with differing colors and types of siding giving the area a very eclectic look. As one home we passed by often was starting to look more like a home than a construction project, we noticed the PURPLE door! The house itself, mind you, was a beautiful slate blue, but the door was a striking shade of purple. We were certain it was a mistake!
As it turned out, we had a mutual friend in common with the homeowner of the house with the purple door. So we asked about the very unusual color choice. We were told that it wasn’t a mistake, the owner LIKES purple…Okay we live in Minnesota and it was the 1980’s, Prince was big at time and then there is the Purple & Gold Viking colors so whatever floats someones boat is okay with me. But from that day on, whenever we drove by the house, we remarked, “It must have looked better on the paint chip”.

And over the years, this saying has become code between my husband and I when we visit a friend’s home who has a love for flamboyant or unusual colors.

As a REALTOR® I have to view many homes and from time to time when I am asked to do a market analysis, I come across a “better on the paint chip” room, door or house. When marketing your home, it is essential to make certain your own personality does not prevent the buyer from seeing the details of your home. If a bright orange kitchen counter, hot pink bathroom or lime green playroom is the way you have made your home your own, I do think that is an awesome way to personalize your space. But, you are going to be moving and your favorite colors choices are too wild, it could hamper your sale. Bold colors in internet photos could knock your home right off many potential buyers’ favorite homes lists. And in this slowly recovering real estate market, you don’t want to lose any potential buyers over something as simple to change as paint.
Stage your home with neutrals to bring out the details and style of your home. You want the buyers to feel welcome in your home. That can be difficult as people are quickly often turned off a home by colors they view as a mistake.

Not sure if your home has a “better on the paint chip” colored room? Let me help you get your home picture-perfect ready for a quick sale.
If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.



Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2009 Real Estate Sales Statistics for the North and East Metro—Snapshot VS Detailed Report


Real estate marketing statistics can be confusing. Local television news reports can seem to be conflicting and if you are a home owner or home buyer, you may have trouble understanding what you hear. On one channel there will be a news report proclaiming good news with rising average sales prices for several consecutive months in the Twin Cities metro area flip channels and there another talking head giving gloomy report of how foreclosures and short sales are causing a significant decline in the market value of homes in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Since January, I have been posting real estate market statistics for the communities in the north metro where I do the bulk of my business. While I work in Anoka County, Southern Chisago County, North and Eastern Ramsey County and North Washington County, the focus of my business is Ham Lake, Blaine, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake and Centennial school districts. That does include a good number of communities so it takes a bit of time to pull all of the information together.

There are two types of reports that I post. The first is a quick snapshot that includes information taken directly from the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® website’s Top 100+ Report (a comprehensive database with statistics for 205 different Twin Cities communities). I pull these stats into a chart and post along with a quick synopsis of what happened during the past year. I have done quite a few of these "short and sweet" looks into the basic real estate housing stats for several north and east metro communities.

Housing Statistic Snapshots


  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Andover, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Blaine, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Centerville Market Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Chisago City, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Circle Pines, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Columbus, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Coon Rapids Market Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of East Bethel, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Forest Lake MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Ham Lake, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Hugo, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Lino Lakes, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Linwood, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Mahtomedi, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of North St. Paul, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Oakdale, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of White Bear Lake, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of White Bear Township, MN Home Sales Statistics

  • 2009 Year End Snapshot of Wyoming, MN Home Sales Statistics
But as is said, the devil is in the details . I have another version of market reports for specific communities are not snapshots. In the communities that I work in on a daily basis, I want to really help people to understand the market so I take good hard look at the real estate sales on a quarterly basis and post a more detailed report. I also post a year end review several communities I work in and know well.
Detailed Statistic Reports
Blaine, MN Year End Real Estate Market Statistics 2009
Forest Lake, MN Year End Real Estate Market Statistics for 2009
Ham Lake, MN Year End Real Estate Market Statistics for 2009
Lino Lakes, MN Year End Real Estate Market Statistics 2009
White Bear Lake, MN Year End Real Estate Market Statistics 2009
When I take the time to pull statistics directly from the Twin Cities Multiple Listing Service (MLS) I look for specific details like cumulative days on the market (CDOM). This comes into play every time a home is relisted as a new listing in the MLS. The snapshots DOM do not take relisting into account so the time on the market appears to be much shorter than it really is in some area.
I also look at CDOM by price point. Homes in the lower price ranges are selling much more quickly that in the higher price points. A quick overview does not get that specific.
Since each community is so different, I will examine different things in different areas. Blaine has an abundance of townhomes. Since townhomes are lingering on the market in all price points, this does have an affect on the CDOM if the sales are looked as an aggregate. But if the townhomes and single family homes are looked at separately, the details give home buyers and sellers more useful information than a one-size-fits-all quick look at the market. Now in Forest Lake, lakeshore homes are a focus while in Ham Lake and Lino Lakes, acreage comes into play.
Knowing how to pull the right comparables and read the market comes from knowing a specific area and what makes the community different. Finding a REALTOR® that knows the details is imperative when buying or selling in this topsy-turvey, continually changing real estate market. There is no one-size-fits-all agent when buying or selling a home today. It is necessary to work with an expert.


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, March 1, 2010

Year End 2009 Snapshot of Mahtomedi, MN Home Sales Statistics



In this northern Washington County community, just east of White Bear Lake, closed home sales were down in 2009 by over 21%. With few starter priced homes in Mahtomedi, the tax credit did not jumpstart sales as it had in many other metro suburbs. The average sales price of sold homes was down as the foreclosure and lender-mediated homes are everywhere. New listings are also down significantly in Mahtomedi so the market is starting to become more balanced. Sellers are still getting 92% of their asking price though the average sales price dropped significantly to $265,705. Time on the market to sell a home, has remained flat at just over four months. It appears that the Mahtomedi market is still working toward becoming balanced again but home buyers may still have an edge in this community.


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm