Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Real Estate 101—Eyecatching Advertising if You Do Cows!

The first time I saw this billboard as I travelled the four hours stretch of 94 to Fargo from the Twin Cities earlier this year, I almost died laughing. It was kind of a WTF-moment (or “What The Heck” to non-texters who don’t like bad language). When I stopped laughing enough to catch the small print, for wedocows.com, I realized what a perfect marketing campaign this was! A three word tagline that makes everyone laugh (and never forget it) plus it says exactly what the company does…WeDoCows.com is a veterinarian supply company that has products for the care of farm animals, hence they really DO cows!

Now in real estate, some of the marketing used by agents really can leave something to be desired. Some REALTORS® do come up with things that make us laugh…It seems like every other Monday night Jay Leno is sharing a real estate agent’s ad that was poorly written in his
Headlines segment of The Tonight Show. Once it was a house for sale in the “hysterical” district of town and another time ad showed a dirt yard with one large boulder as professionally landscaped. Typos and puffery can be funny but it is doubtful that these ads sold the homes

The real estate ads that really bother me are the proclamations to “Sell in 90 Days or We Buy It!” Granted, "I'll buy your house," is an attention getting statement in this sloooooow market. But I caution a potential seller to read the fine print. In most cases, the agent/broker making the claim are headed to the poorhouse with a load of deeds to homes that are un-sellable. No, they are getting people to list their houses but don’t expect too many takers on their buyout offers when all is said and done. They simply don’t have to buy too many houses as few sellers choose to sell to the agent at the outlined terms. (i.e. The homeowner must list the home at what the agent/broker believes to be the market value. If not sold in 90 days, the agent/broker will buy the home for 80-90% of appraised value where the appraisal has been done by an appraiser selected by the agent/broker.) The home is listed at a very competitive price from the start because the guaranteed amount is significantly less than what the home owner would comfortable accepting. It is a rare case where the agent/broker has to actually buy the home. It is a great ploy for getting a listing but not always the best deal for a homeowner.
So what as a home seller what would you prefer… A marketing scheme that gets you to list your home? OR A Good Marketing Plan to get YOUR home SOLD!
Don’t take everything at face value. It is important to ask questions, read the fine print and avoid the gimmicks when deciding who you want to market your most prized possession, your home. Make certain that your home is listed with an agent who has a PLAN to get your property priced correctly and marketed with the expertise necessary to SELL your house in this changed market. Because in reality when it is your home on the market a SOLD sign is the only sign you care about!

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lino Lakes, MN Real Estate Market Statistics First Quarter 2010

Looking for a good deal on lakeshore or acreage in the Twin Cities area north metro? Lino Lakes, MN in Anoka County might be just the ticket. Just north of the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Lino Lakes is an eclectic area of real estate with acreage, lake homes, townhomes, single family starter homes and country estates. First quarter sales have been very good in the lower price points with bank owned and lender mediated properties impacting the sales. Homes in higher price points and those offered by traditional sellers had longer market times but some properties were selling.

Lino Lakes has a good mixture of lakeshore, acreage and townhome residences but is more known for having a bit of space between the houses. It conveniently located near the junction of the 35E and 35W split, just north of the Twin Cities, Lino Lakes is a 33 square miles treasure. With 13 lakes and acres of beautiful protected wetland, the community is served by three school districts;
Centennial District #12, Forest Lake District #831, and White Bear Lake District #624. The gem attraction is the pristine 2,700-acre Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve is situated within the heart of the city. Lino Lakes is committed to maintain this treasure and its natural settings and wildlife habitats for years to come.

Lino Lakes single family homes are lingering on the market a couple of weeks less in 2010 than in the first quarter of 2009. The first quarter cumulative days on market (CDOM) statistic is a bit lower than for the average CDOM of 2008 (178 versus 192) Looking at current inventory levels and the rate of sales for homes priced under $300,000, there is about 11-12 months of inventory. This is just a bit higher absorption rate than last year at this time.

While homes under $200,000 in Lino Lakes appear to have about 6 months of inventory, homes in the $200,000- $300,000 price point are looking at 2.5 times the inventory and market time. While homes in the higher price ranges are looking at a couple of years worth of inventory.Townhomes are doing much better than last year with about 5 months of inventory. Last year at this time Lino Lakes had nearly 3 years of townhouse inventory. High inventory combined with continued low interest rates make it a great time to consider buying Lino Lakes home.

1st Quarter 2010 Average Sales Price of all homes sold in Lino Lakes:

· All Homes $204,323
· Single Family Homes $231,710
· Townhomes/Condos $140,422

1st Quarter 2010 Average Cumulative Days on Market in Lino Lakes:
· All Homes 178
· Single Family Homes 191
· Townhomes/Condos 146

1st Quarter Lino Lakes residential real estate statistics for single family homes:

Under $200,000~ 14 Active Listings, 7 Pending Listings, 7 Sold Listings, 122 CDOM

$200,000-$300,000 ~ 51 Active Listings, 13 Pending Listings, 10 Sold Listings, 234 CDOM

$300,000-$400,000 ~ 29 Active Listings, 3 Pending Listings, 3 Sold Listings, 126 CDOM

$400,000-$500,000 ~ 16 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 1 Sold Listings, 297 CDOM

$500,000 and Up~ 12 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings

1st Quarter Lino Lakes residential real estate statistics for townhomes and condos:

Under $200,000~ 16 Active Listings, 9 Pending Listings, 9 Sold Listings, 146 CDOM

$200,000-$300,000 ~ 8 Active Listings, 1 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings

Lakeshore available in Lino Lakes as of 4/20/2010

6 Active Listings
Lino Lakes lakeshore price range: $304,500-$1,118,0001 Home on Amelia Lake
2 Homes on Baldwin Lake
3 Homes on Reshanau Lake
Acreage properties available in Lino Lakes as of 4/20/201016 properties listed on 1-2 Acres priced between $189,900-$595,000.
3 properties listed on 2.1-5 Acres priced between $163,000-$269,900
6 properties listed on 5.1-10 Acres priced between $309,500-$1,118,000
1 property listed on 29 Acres priced at $749,900
1 property listed on 80 Acres priced at $6,000,000

For additional information on any current Lino Lakes real estate listing or for additional information on buying a home in Lino Lakes contact Teri Eckholm directly at 651-336-7073.

**All Statistical information sold based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE of MINNESOTA, INC. for the period of 1/1/09 through 3/31/10.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Decorating 101--Unique Can Devastate YOUR Home's Value!

I read an interesting article this morning…Extreme Makeover is downsizing their dreams after many of their families have begun to lose their homes to foreclosure. (Read Extreme Makeover story HERE.) Of course as a REALTOR® I was not totally surprised. People who were struggling to maintain a small home would have extreme difficulties managing the enormous bills of a super-sized one. It is just logic. And what if someone has to move? Who else would want the over-built house with the very unique and personalized bedrooms?

Reality television home improvement shows are no doubt fun to watch. It is amazing to see a small room or entire home transformed into a show place. I have always taken issue with unique decorating ideas…many hurt the value of your home. And if anything these few years of market value decline has shown us is our homes really are investments.

Some of the most unbelievable transformations are on children's rooms. They will take a theme like the racecars or princesses and make a child's dream come true. My favorite part of an old kid’s show, Trading Places: Boys vs. Girls, is at the very end when the parents arrive to see the redecorated rooms for the first time. Whether there are ropes hanging from the ceiling, a psychedelic paint job or artificial grass on the floor, the reactions are priceless. Sure they are saying "awesome" for the television cameras, but are they really happy with the new rooms? As a parent, I know how quickly kids grow out of favorite toys, colors and activities. A theme-based room could be hard to transform back to a normal room when the fad passes or child grows. And what if you have to sell your home? How will potential buyers view that boat on the ceiling or the chalkboard walls?
This isn't just something that happens on television. People really do crazy things to their homes and it's not always for their children. Whether it is a unique wall treatment or an indoor hot tub, some people's individualism hurts the value of their homes.

Here are a few unbelievable things I have seen in people's Minnesota homes:
Playground Swings in the bedroom. This family removed a wall from two adjoining bedrooms to create one large room and bolted two playground swings to the ceiling. This home was 1700 ft.., split level home with 3 bedrooms prior to removing the wall. It is now an odd two bedroom. Combine this with the possible structural damage to the support beams if heavier people use the swings, this “improvement” has devalued this home considerably.

Crinkled grocery bags glued to the wall instead of wallpaper. It is a unique look and similar to wallpaper but since it will be difficult (if not impossible) to remove, you will need to find a buyer who likes the look as much as you did. And most buyers don’t like wallpaper so this unique décor had a drastic affect on the home’s value.Multi-colored hand painted murals and stenciling painted on walls throughout the home. This can be beautiful to the owner but because it is applied in an uneven way by less than professional painters, it is difficult to repaint. Often sanding and several layers of special primer are required to repaint.

Indoor hot tubs. Unless you are installing your hot tub oasis in a four-season porch, think long and hard about this so called improvement. In a cold weather state like Minnesota, this just doesn't make any sense. I have seen them installed in bedrooms and family rooms. Many were professionally installed but that does not help retain your homes value. Most buyers still didn't like them because they took away living space or a much needed bedroom. Buyers also have concerns about the installation. What if it leaks? Will it wreck the foundation? Does the steam cause mold? Even if the sellers offer to remove the hot tub prior to the closing, most buyers are turned off by the potential problems that they will walk away from the home. Again your improvement reduced the value of your home buy tens of thousands of dollars.

Kid’s Art on Walls. Chalkboard paint on walls is okay as long as you have a plan to repaint prior to resale. But if you are a permissive parent who thinks, “It’s just a closet after all, what difference will it make if the kids go crazy with a rainbow of Sharpies on the walls?”, think again. If you have ever tried to paint over it, you know it can take more than one coat of Kilz to cover over red permanent marker. No buyer will ever consider kiddy graffiti as adding value to a property.

So does this mean a person shouldn't personalize their home at all? Of course not! It is your home after all.

What I am suggesting is that when you are considering a home improvement or trying the next decorating trend, remember that your home is your biggest investment and asset. Put the hot tub on the patio, deck or four-season porch. Swings belong in the backyard. And wall treatments need to be removable and easy to repaint. Make your decisions with this in mind and your home will be beautiful and pocketbook will be protected.


Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ham Lake, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2010

The City of Ham Lake has a rich history. Incorporated in 1974, Ham Lake became a city after over a hundred years of humble but steady growth. The area was first settled in 1855 by a group of Scottish men on the southwest side of Ham Lake. Though, I can only assume that the lake itself got its name due to its unusual “ham hock” shape, the community started out with a different name. The original name of the community was Glen Carey, which is the Scottish translation of “beautiful valley”. Following a prairie fire in 1857, the first settlers moved but the community was resettled again. The new Scandinavian settlers had a hard time with the pronunciation of Glen Carey and soon the fledging community was known as Ham Lake. Anoka County officially was recognized it as a township in 1871. In the early 1900’s Central Avenue (Highway 65) was a slow commute as it was a wagon trail through the sand and swampland. And we think going through stop light after stop light slows traffic. Though it was graveled and paved at some point, it 1954 before was expanded to four lanes.
Those four lanes are in full use now as more and more people look to buying acreage, executive, luxury and lakeshore homes in the Ham Lake area. The real estate market is not quite as sluggish in Ham Lake, MN as it was in early 2009. Homes are selling again. There are bright spots across the board with homes selling in all price categories under $400,000. New construction sales have picked up a bit with 2 sold and 4 pending compared with zero sold in the first quarter of 2009. The average Cumulative Days-on-Market (CDOM) is down for the first quarter in Ham Lake at 181 days compared to 249 for the same time period in 2009 so there are signs of an improving market. However, first quarter average sales prices were much lower at $216,291 compared with an average sales price of $247,748 for all of 2009. (See homes sales snapshots below for additional details.)
Inventory is down in Ham Lake from the levels seen in 2009; most notably in the higher price points. There are currently 101 homes active on the market compared to 110 in January of 2009. Homes listed at higher prices continue to take months to sell but lower priced inventory seems to sell. There still are more Ham Lake homes than Ham Lake buyers but there are only a handful of homes over $500,000 this year compared to 20 last year. Homeowners considering selling a home in the Ham Lake area must consider the average time to sell a home in the Twin Cities north metro is approximately 6-8 months. Right now inventory levels indicate there is about 11 months of inventory in the Ham Lake area and homes are selling again in every price point. But as in 2009, having your home properly priced and prepared for showings is essential to sell a home in this Anoka County community in 2010.
First Quarter 2009 Ham Lake residential real estate statistics for single family homes:
Under $200,000~ 19 Active Listings, 15 Pending Listings, 13 Sold Listings, CDOM 82 (All existing homes)

$200,000-300,000 ~ 41 Active Listings, 10 Pending Listings, 9 Sold Listings, CDOM 295 (New Construction Subgroup ~ 4 Active, 1 Pending, 1 Sold)

$300,000-400,000 ~ 22 Active Listings, 7 Pending Listings, 2 Sold Listings, CDOM 260 (New Construction Subgroup ~ 5 Active, 2 Pending, 0 Sold)

$400,000-$500,000 ~ 13 Active Listings, 2 Pending Listings, 2 Sold Listings, CDOM 174 (New Construction Subgroup ~ 2 Active, 0 Pending, 1 Sold)

$500,000 and Up~ 6 Active Listings, 3 Pending Listings, 1 Sold Listings, CDOM 525 (New Construction Subgroup ~ 1 Active, 1 Pending, 0 Sold)
Lakeshore available in the City of Ham Lake11 Active Listings

Ham Lake lakeshore price range: $135,000-$774,900

5 Homes on Coon Lake
3 Homes on Ham Lake
1 Home on Lake Netta
1 Home on Little Coon Lake

**All Statistical information based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE of MINNESOTA, INC. for the period of 1/1/10 through 3/31/10.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Forest Lake, MN Real Estate Market Statistics 1st Quarter 2010

Forest Lake, Minnesota is well known throughout the Twin Cities area. Many people from the city remember the northeast St. Paul suburb fondly from years gone by as a summer vacation spot, an annual ice fishing tournament tradition or as a destination when going for a Sunday a drive in the country. Today, the lakeside cabins have been replaced with year round residences, the fishing tourney is but a memory and the farms are few and far between in this third ring St. Paul suburb. The northern Washington County and east Anoka County community of Forest Lake is now considered an integral part of the Twin Cities.
Real estate in Forest Lake, MN was still selling close to pace with 2009 in first quarter of 2010 especially in the lower price points. A total of 45 properties sold in the Forest Lake Area between January and March. Of these homes, 28 properties, were single family homes while the other 17 were townhomes, condos or twin homes.
The Cumulative Days on Market (CDOM) Statistic ran at 160 days for all homes sold during the year so it was only slightly higher for first quarter 2010 at 161 CDOM. Once again, the average price of homes did see a significant drop from in the first quarter of 2010 The average price of a home sold in Forest Lake was $176,776 in 2009 but in the first quarter of 2010, that average is now $158,756 which is another 10% lower.
Not surprisingly, the price category of under $200,000 is the high point with 35 properties sold during the first quarter of 2010 (19 Single family homes and 16 townhomes/condos). The $8000 tax credit really made an impact in the Forest Lake market as the first time buyer homes under $200,000 are not staying on the market for very long. Inventory is manageable under $200,000 with about 6 months of currently listed homes available for sale. Inventory levels are rising in other price points as homes in the $200,000-400,000 categories have exploded again to over 3 year’s worth of inventory. In the $400,000-500,000 price range, homes have seen drop in inventory levels to where there is about 18 month’s worth of inventory.
However, as for the past few years, the high end homes continue to struggle into 2010. Homes over $500,000 remain are at a complete standstill with zero homes sold in the over half a million price category in the Forest Lake area during the first quarter of 2010. Add that to the one home sold in all of 2009 and it will is difficult to calculate an absorption rate. As most lakeshore homes fall into this category, there is an abundance of high valued lakeshore homes to select from in the Forest Lake area. With one sold in the past 15 months and 34 active listings over $500,000, it will over four DECADES for all the homes to sell if sales continue at this rate.

What does this mean for the home buyer? Home buyers in 2010 looking for homes under $200,000 will have to make quick decisions on homes in Forest Lake that appear to be good values. Lakeshore and acreage properties priced under $500,000 seem to be attractive to buyers and selling quickly again, so it is important to be prepared to buy when the right property comes onto the market.

A buyer looking to purchase high-end lakeshore in the Forest Lake area, is in the driver’s seat in 2010! With so much inventory, high-end lakeshore sellers must to be flexible on pricing if they want to be the house with the SOLD sign on their yard this summer! NOW might be the perfect time to negotiate a GREAT deal on a lakeshore home! The inventory is awesome…34 homes with are currently active in the Forest Lake area; some are at attractive and affordable price points. Many have been on the market for several months; some have been on the market for years. With the continued low interest rates it could be a great time to negotiate a deal on your piece of Minnesota shoreline!
First Quarter Average Sales Price of all homes sold in Forest Lake:
· All Homes $158,756
· Single Family Homes $182,822
· Townhomes/Condos $119,118
First Quarter Average Cumulative Days on Market in Forest Lake:
· All Homes 161
· Single Family Homes 146
· Townhomes/Condos 186
First Quarter Forest Lake real estate statistics for single family homes:

Under $200,000~ 41 Active Listings, 11 Pending Listings, 19 Sold Listings, 105 CDOM (Lakeshore Subgroup ~ 0 Active, 0 Pending, 0 Sold)

$200,000-$300,000~ 67 Active Listings, 3 Pending Listings, 5 Sold Listings, 134 CDOM (Lakeshore Subgroup ~ 1 Active, 1 Pending, 0 Sold)

$300,000-$400,000 ~ 20 Active Listings, 2 Pending Listings, 2 Sold Listings, 174 CDOM (Lakeshore Subgroup ~ 7 Active, 0 Pending, 0 Sold)

$400,000-$500,000 ~ 13 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 2 Sold Listing, 535 CDOM (Lakeshore Subgroup ~ 5 Active, 0 Pending, 2 Sold)

$500,000 and Up~ 32 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings (Lakeshore Subgroup ~ 34 Active, 0 Pending, 0 Sold)
Year End 2009 Forest Lake residential real estate statistics for townhomes and condos:
Under $200,000~ 30 Active Listings, 11 Pending Listings, 16 Sold Listings, 187 CDOM
$200,000-300,000~8 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 1 Sold Listings, 1 CDOM
$300,000-$400,000 ~ 4 Active Listings, 0 Pending Listings, 0 Sold Listings
For additional information on any current Forest Lake real estate listing or for additional information on buying a home in Forest Lake contact Teri Eckholm/ REMAX Specialists directly at 651-336-7073.
35 Active Lakeshore available in the Forest Lake area:

Price range: $175,000-$2,300,000

  • 43 Homes on Forest Lake
  • 1 Home on Clear Lake
  • 2 Homes on Comfort Lake
  • 1 Home On Shields Lake

    **All Statistical information based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE of MINNESOTA, INC. for the period of 1/1/10 through 3/31/10.

  • Copyright 2010 http://www.terieckholm.com/

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Tough Pill to Swallow--Tax Valuations Arrive in Anoka County

    It’s that time again…Your 2010 Notice of Valuation for property in Anoka County should be arriving in your mailbox any day now!

    Ours arrived just last week and the numbers, surprisingly, did reflect the recent real estate market! I had mixed feelings about the drop in value, happy I didn’t have to argue with the assessor that our home was being overvalued but disappointed in the reality of how foreclosures have affected of all Anoka County homes. As a real estate agent, I know that the sales price of homes has decreased significantly in some areas of Anoka County during the past few years. The decrease in value has been so noticeable that when I received my 2009 Notice of Valuation, I doubted I could sell our home for the value set by the county.

    I have spoken with the Anoka County assessor’s office on a few occasions. They are very nice and explained that they previous year's data and setting the value for the next year. So this 2010 statement contains a valuation based on 2009 values which will be used to assess taxes in 2011. The assessor’s office attempts to stay on top of the real estate market and goes out to review area properties on a regular basis. This process goes year round but starts in the spring and summer. The office diligently watches the property sales amounts with a goal to be within a few percent of the actual market value at that specific period of time. But remember, by the time everything is processed and mailed to tax payers, the information for 2011, which we receive in the spring of 2010, is now 6 months old. I can only imagine that with this fluctuating and changed market, how difficult assessing property values can be.

    It can be a challenge to explain the difference between the county’s property valuation and what I determine to be the optimal list price to the average home owner request a comparative market analysis (CMA). Of the most recent CMA’s I have completed, home owners still have a bit of a reality check. Today a homeowner considering a traditional sale (not a lender mediated short sale) has to spend money to put their home in exceptional condition and then price the home competitively. That is, price the home to compete with the prices of bank-owned and short sale homes. With decreasing property values this can be a tough pill to swallow for many sellers.

    As an Anoka County home owner, I am not concerned by the 10+% reduction in value of my home by Anoka County. Since my valuation directly affects what my property taxes will be, a lower value should equate to somewhat lower taxes. As a REALTOR® I know sellers see things a bit differently. They want to look at the maximum value or an old appraisal for the worth of their home: their asset: their investment. Unfortunately, buyers and appraisers look at the current value in the market today. And though the numbers of homes sold has picked up a bit in the early part of 2010, current SOLD prices sold are still down 15-30% from the values of a few years ago. Homeowners wanting to sell their home this year must list at a price more in line with the tax valuation just received than with what it appraised for or was valued at years ago.

    Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm 

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    I’m not going to give my house away—But do you want to sell it?

    Traditional home sellers are cautiously entering the market again. They have heard the recent news that home sales have rebounded in the Twin Cities area. True, the number of homes sold is up this is a good thing. Homes are selling again in Minnesota.

    I have noticed an uptick on the number of requests for market analyses in the past few weeks. Many sellers are realistic about the housing market and realize that they will not get the price they could have sold for a few years ago. They have witnessed what neighboring foreclosed and short sale properties have sold for. They have received their tax assessed valuation in the mail and know it is 20-40% less than a few years ago. But still some would-be spring home sellers are looking at the recent news reports through rose-colored glasses, forgetting that the average price of a home is still down considerably.

    The internet has changed things. Homebuyers have an abundance of information at their fingertips these days. With a click or two of a mouse, they can discover when a home was last sold, what price it sold for, what the current assessed value is and more. They know what other homes in the neighborhood sold for too. There are websites that will analyze the cost per square foot of all homes currently active on the market in a particular area—Today it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell if your home is over priced. Buyers just won’t consider it at all!

    It is always a tough conversation to have with a seller. They made an investment by when they purchased their home. They worked hard and spend additional money to fix up their property inside and out. And now it is often worth less than the initial investment that they made. To sell for less than what they paid for the home leads some to think, I'm giving my home away.

    But are they really? No buyer wants to overpay for a home. No professional appraiser will overvalue a home. No bank will give a loan to a borrower for more than a home appraises for today. Sadly, traditional sellers that have to sell at these lower values are not giving away their homes; they are starting over and moving on.

    One of the testimonials I recently received for a townhome sold in this market gives an optimistic way to view the market. "We couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. We were very pleased with the attention and effort you put into selling our townhome. The fact that we were able to sell our home in the worst market decades speaks volumes about the way it was marketed." Here is a family that lost tens of thousand dollars on the sale, but was elated with my work as they had to relocate. They priced their house correctly, even though it meant that they would lose money and it sold.

    The truth is homes are selling again, but at much lower prices. A home is only worth what someone wants to pay for it today. Unfortunately, homeowners must choose whether to take a loss now and move on or stay put until values increase. And even a cloudy crystal ball indicates that could be a long wait indeed.

    Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm