Saturday, December 31, 2011

Real Estate Resolutions for Minnesota Home Buyers and Sellers in 2012

As 2011 comes to a close, I noticed a change in the real estate market across the north and east Minneapolis/St Paul metro area.  Home sellers were seeing a more active market during the last quarter and many received purchase agreements. Home buyers who for several years had the luxury of the upper hand in negotiations, suddenly found they were in multiple offer situations when they submitted a contract for a seller's consideration. While there still is a good range of inventory in the higher priced categories, first time buyers had less options than a year or two ago.  Yet a tenacious Twin Cities home buyer can still find good options in almost every price range throughout the metro area. Town homes, single family, split levels, ramblers, two stories, remodels, foreclosures, short sales and new construction.

As a REALTOR
® serving Lino Lakes, Ham Lake and communities in the Forest Lake School District, I keep a close eye on the north and east Twin Cities real estate market. During the last few months of the year, I noticed bit of a change in the wind. Activity has continued to improve. Motivated sellers are pricing their homes to be attractive to the more educated home buyers of the current market. Buyers teetering on the edge of the proverbial home buying pool took the plunge and wrote offers as interest rates hit record breaking lows. Negotiations were made and offers accepted. The Minneapolis/St Paul real estate market took one tentative step toward as 2011 came to a close.

So what does that mean for those considering purchasing a home or selling their property in 2012? From Ham Lake to Forest Lake and Lino Lakes to Shoreview, we have begun to build a strong foundation in our real estate market again. Keeping the property value base strong is essential to all Minnesotans.
In 2012, homeowners should  RESOLVE to be Real Estate Savvy!

Resolutions for Home Sellers

*Team up with a professional
REALTOR®
*Set the right price when first listed
*Make all necessary repairs
*Declutter
*Make each showing count by staging the home for sale.
*Be ready and willing to negotiate.

Resolutions for Buyers

*Team up with a professional
REALTOR®
*Get pre-approved for a mortgage  before you start your home search. Check in with your Loan Officer on a regular basis to discuss any change in your financial status or the loan market.
*Write realistic offers that encourage negotiation.
*Understand the foreclosure and short sale process—While prices can seem like a deal, the assumed risk to buyers on an as-is sale is great.

Resolutions for Homeowners


*Even if you do not plan to sell your home in 2012, there are things a homeowner should be doing to maintain and retain property value.
*Keep the interior and exterior of your home in good repair on a continual basis rather than deferring until time of sale.
*Stay current with your mortgage and discuss any financial problems with lender immediately.
*Be a good steward of your neighborhood.

Resolutions for Investors

*Team up with a professional REALTOR®
*If holding the property, offer a safe and maintained residence at a fair price to the renters
*If flipping or repairing/reselling the property, be realistic with the numbers. Don’t over invest in materials and curb enthusiastic inflated resale estimates. 2012 home buyers are educated in the value of real estate and won't over pay!
*Be a good steward of your properties and the communities in which they are located.
*Maintain the properties to retain value for your portfolio as well as the neighborhood.

If buyers, sellers, homeowners, investors and real estate professional alike work together to maintain slight momentum in the market that started at the end of 2011, 2012 could make additional strides toward recovery for the Twin Cities real estate market.



Copyright 2011 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolution for 2012: Resolve to Save for a First Home!


In a few days we will all be turning the calendar page and entering 2012. After the champagne corks pop and the big ball drops in Times Square, it will be time for resolutions. If you want to be a first time home buyer in 2012 maybe it is time to set a financial resolution or goal. If despite all the gloom, doom of the foreclosures during the past several years you still plan to own a homeowner one day soon, it's time to start saving! 

Those dreaming of buying a first home are in very good company. According to a CNNMoney.com article, Housing Bust? So What? We Still Want to Own, over half of Americans still want to own their own home. In fact, over a quarter of Americans indicated are even MORE likely to buy real estate since the foreclosure crisis. 


Does this surprise you? Not me. As a REALTOR® who has sold homes during this entire decade of rising and falling housing prices, one thing has remained constant: People prefer the freedom of owning their own house and piece of land. Whether it is a multi-level on a corner lot in Shoreview, a rambler on acreage in Anoka County or 50 feet of sandy lakeshore on  Forest Lake, people want to OWN! The biggest change (and reason I believe that there has been a rise in wanting to own) is simple. Owing a home is affordable again!
Home prices have started to stabilize and even inch upwards in some communities at the lower price points.  But overall housing prices in the Twin Cities remain at all time lows. This past year we saw first time buyer and starter priced homes start to sell again. Inventory is low for starter homes and demand is picking up. Though most communities are seeing significantly lower housing prices than a few years ago, prices are starting to edge up again. Record low interest rates combined with low prices meant that there was a really opportunity for the first time home buyer in 2011 and it will continue into 2012 too!


But like last year, first time homebuyers  must have a down payment. It is also important to have some cash reserved for repairs, remodeling and of course new furnishings for the new house! So what is the best way for a first time buyer to begin saving?




Thursday, December 8, 2011

The JOY of being a REALTOR®~~Making Homebuyers Dreams Come True!

Late on a Saturday afternoon, I received a phone call. The caller said he and his fiance had just driven by a Forest Lake listing of mine and want to know if I could them the inside. "Are you working with an agent?" I inquired. "No", he said. So we arranged for a showing of the Washington County home the next evening.

The young man and his fiancĂ©e arrived with an entourage of parents and assorted other relatives. Being first time buyers, they wanted assistance and approval from people they trusted when they made a final decision on their first home. Looking over the property 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®?" The young man's dad answered, "They don't need an agent because 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 his face, Dad was not convinced.
I explained agency and asked the young couple to sign the disclosure on agency as required by the State of Minnesota. Buyers need to understand that at any listing for my broker, I am under contract to work for the seller and protect their interests. If the couple decides to sign a buyers' representation agreement with me, they would be in a DUAL agency when looking at homes listed by my broker. They had seen many homes with other real estate agents, but I was the only 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. 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 it 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 moved on to another home.
A few weeks later 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 it is the right home for the buyer. A week passed. No offer came forth.

Finally a phone call 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. "Would you help us find a home?"
Now as their buyers' representative, I got to work. For the next few weeks, we visited 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 two or three. 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. Funny thing was, the home was perfect!

With the perfect home, there were no delay or hesitation in signing the offer; everything just fell into place. With every visit to the home for the inspection and walk-throughs, the young couple became more excited.
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 in unison a resounding, "Yes!! You made it so much easier to find the right home! Especially since for 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, what a fantastic job I have!

Copyright 2011 www.terieckholm.com

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buying a Home Soon? A Good Credit Score Will Save You MONEY!

Thinking of  buying  a house soon? You know you your credit report and FICO Score will affect your new home purchase, but did you ever think of how much an affect it has? I was reading an article by a fellow REALTOR® today who pointed out that a 20-40 point lower credit score will mean you will be paying quite a bit more in closing costs than someone who's FICO score is a bit higher. That is SERIOUS money out of your pocket!


When buying a first home, it is imperative to keep your closing costs as low as possible. That way you can have money in reserve for any repairs, updates and expenses that will come with home ownership. Being aware of your credit score and how it affects the cost of a loan could save you thousands.


Copyright 2011 www.terieckholm.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hey Anoka County Homebuyers! Do you Have your Eye on a Real Estate SLEEPER?


You check the MLS link every day and there it is...sitting on the market day after day. It's your dream home and you have watched it for a couple of months now. It seems to be priced right; in fact, it is a steal of a deal. But the market has you paralyzed into watching and waiting rather than making your move on the perfect home so there you are on the fence still waiting until that perfect moment to call up a REALTOR® and put in your offer on your dream. As you continue to "time the market", waiting to see if seller of that “sleeper” is going to drop the price again, you may be missing out. It is time to WAKE UP! Because, you might not be the only one with an eye on that sleeper and if you wait too long it will be gone.

A real estate “sleeper” is a home that is an amazing deal but few people, if anyone, is paying attention to it. Usually it is a great property, location, structurally sound and priced well but has not sold. In a buyer’s market where there is significant home inventory but few buyers, sleepers are abundant.

Maybe the home was originally over priced and though it is now priced very well it is being overlooked because of high days on the market statistics.

Possibly several very similar homes went on the market at the same time and in the same condition. Picture for a second, three homes listed during the same week in a cookie-cutter development where all the homes have roughly the same floor plan. All the homes are the same age, condition, and priced very well, but only one homebuyer comes through the neighborhood during the next two months. So after 60 days, there are two sleepers left that didn’t sell. Since the houses are essentially the same as the neighboring home that sold, it's not that the homes aren't properly priced. This is another scenario that will cause a sleeper in this changed market.

And then some great homes are "sleeping" on the market because…well, there is just so much darned inventory out there!

But if you are sitting on the sidelines and just watching your perfect home for another price reduction, beware. I have sold a couple of sleepers this past year throughout Anoka, Ramsey and Washington Counties. In each case, nothing was happening on the property then BAM....we had 2-3 qualified parties interested in the home at the same time. In these particular cases, they weren’t the cookie-cutter variety either. One home in Ramsey County in the White Bear Lake/Vadnais Heights area in an ideal location. After months on the market, there were suddenly two offers in one day! Agents and clients were nonchalant when I told stressed that the home had recently seen a sudden surge of interest. Many even “pooh-poohed” the idea and mildly accused me of trying to get them of trying to coerce an offer. When the first offer came in, the seller wasted no time in accepting and I had several parties, buyers and agents alike, shocked, and more than a little miffed, that it was suddenly sold!

If the sleeper phenomena had happened only one time this past year, I would consider it a fluke but I have experienced this situation on homes in Washington and Anoka Counties as well. In some cases I was the listing agent and others I was representing buyers.

So homebuyers heed my warning, if you are on the fence watching a sleeper that is currently listed, now might be the perfect time to make your move...Contact your REALTOR® for a showing, make sure you have your pre-approval from your loan officer ready to go and make your move! Or someone else might beat you to it!


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

My First Question to a HOME BUYER--"Have YOU Talked to a Loan Officer?"



"Hello, this is Teri!"


"Hi Teri! I saw your ad for the home you have listed on 2 acres in Anoka County and would like to set up a showing."

"That is a nice home and it is still available but I have a few questions for you before I can show the home. Are you working currently working with a REALTOR®? No? Well, have you talked to a loan officer yet? "

That is how I begin almost every single conversation with a potential buyer. Have you talked to a loan officer yet? Okay...I realize it is my second question but it is the first real question regarding the buying process. See, there often is no point in setting up a showing on a home unless you have spoken to a loan officer. And this is not just about credit issues and ability to purchase either. You've no doubt heard the proverb about not putting the cart in front of the horse...which means don't get ahead of yourself. You as a home buyer need to understand type of loan you will be using, what payment you would be comfortable making and, yes, whether you have enough income and suitable credit score to get the loan. If you do not know these very important specifics on your home loan, there maybe no point in seeing the property.

An experienced FHA loan officer and blogger, Jeff Belonger, recently wrote a post about what REALTORS® need to know about specific loans in order for the deal to go through.  It is an interesting read that got me thinking about the home buying process and where it really starts. I do know that there are requirements for the sale of an FHA appraisal that would prevent me from showing most foreclosure homes to an FHA buyer. So for instance if a listing  I have is an as-is estate or foreclosed home that needs a  new roof,  but the seller refuses to replace, I know buyers that plan to use an FHA mortgage, will not be able to purchase the home. But if you haven't talked with a loan officer yet, you as a buyer will have no idea whether the type of mortgage you will use will work with the home.

So the conversation with myself and the potential buyer usually continues with the following:

"I would be happy to show you the home as soon as you have met with a loan officer to be pre-approved for a loan. That way, you will know what type of financing you will be using and if the payment is something that will work with your budget. I would be happy to refer you to a loan officer that would be able to assist you."

Please don't think that requesting you speak with a loan officer first is to putting  off showing you a home. This is really about "putting the horse in front of the cart" rather than the other way around. No buyer ever wants to be looking at homes they cannot afford. Knowing what price point for a home is considered affordable to your budget and the type of loan you will be getting will make the home buying process smooth and relatively stress-free!


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holiday Tips for Homesellers—House On the Market for Thanksgiving & Christmas?


The calendar says November and that first snow fall will be blowing in soon. It won't be long before the holidays are upon us. So if your home is currently on the market and has yet to sell or if you just got a job offer out of state and need to list your home, what should a 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 grain of truth to this, sellers can be ignoring another more important situation: Any buyer looking at houses during the holidays  will be VERY serious buyers. 
There are not many tire-kickers running around with a REALTOR® when there are dinners to plan, cookies to bake, and gifts to wrap. November, December and January showings are an opportunity for a traditional seller. Most 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 and wonderful aromas of the season, give a unique opportunity for those wanting to sell.

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. Leave out the barking version of Jingle Bells and go for instrumentals or uniquely Minnesota regional artists like The Blenders.
  5. Shovel and salt the driveway if necessary. No one wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room with a twisted ankle.
  6. Turn the heat up for showings…Let them know the furnace really 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 be able to open the lockbox.

Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

REALTOR® Selection 101—How to Choose the BEST REALTOR® for YOU! (Part Two of Two)

How does the average home buyer or seller find their REALTOR®? Did they meet a friendly person hosting an open house? Call their best friend's brother who just got licensed? Answer an ad on Craigslist? I don't know the percentages but I am certain that most home buyers don't spend any more time researching their real estate agent than they do their groceries. But a home is not an everyday purchase; it is too big of a decision to not have sound advice. So how does one select a good REALTOR® to work with?

The average American will buy or sell property only 2-3 times during their lifetime. It is imperative to have a logical process to select a real estate agent. Purchasing and selling a home for your family is a very emotional situation. If you chose an agent wisely, you will be confident that your REALTOR® is on your side through the entire purchase and/or sale even when your emotions are running high.


As a REALTOR® working in the Twin Cities north metro, I love assisting people to find the perfect home. Many of my clients come from the referrals of past clients but I also meet home buyers at open houses and through various marketing avenues. When I meet a potential client, I expect questions about myself and my business. I answer additional questions about living on acreage, wetlands and lakeshore. I field questions on properties in Anoka, Washington and Ramsey Counties. Sometime the questions are about specifics of homes the buyer is interested in and often the questions are about the real estate market in general. But unfortunately not all of these potential clients ask pertinent questions. Some are already be caught up in the emotional buying process of a major life change.

Here is a great step-by-step approach to selecting the perfect REALTOR® for you. This is Part two of a two part article. In Part One, I discussed how to mentally prepare yourself  for your meeting with potential real estate agents. (To read Part One, CLICK HERE.) in Part two I am going to outline specific questions you can ask of potential agents to help you make a better decision on which one will be the best partner in your home search.

Six questions to ask a potential agent

Do you have an introductory flyer or personal resume that you could send me prior to our meeting?
The way an agent promotes him/herself will give you a good idea of their professionalism. If you receive high quality, well thought out marketing materials in the mail within the next day or two (or immediately via email), the agent is on the ball. A well written, professional personal brochure should be part of a REALTOR®’s marketing materials. If you receive something of less quality or nothing at all, the agent might not be able to pay attention to detail throughout the transaction.

Do you work independently or as part of a team?

And, if the agent is part of a team, ask for more specifics, (i.e. If you are part of a team, who will I be working with most often?)

If you prefer to have someone who can immediately answer the phone and track down an answer, you might like working with an agent that is part of a team. But it is important to understand how the team operates. Some teams will operate with the agents being interchangeable where you will have one agent showing you homes to buy, one agent handling listing your home, and another holding the open houses. Often teams will have unlicensed assistance handling the incoming phone calls. An unlicensed assistant, while often friendly can't always answer specifics on a property or show a house.

If you want to work with the same person throughout the transaction, you may prefer an agent that works independently. Often when you call their office, the agent will pick up the phone. They handle all the details throughout the transaction and can answer your questions directly without waiting to contact another source.

Can you give me the names of past clients?

An experienced REALTOR® will have worked with any number of clients and will be able to provide you with a list of previous clients that you can contact as references. When talking with the references, it would be a good idea to ask if they had any problems during the transaction. If they did, ask how quickly and professionally they were resolved. Also ask how they met their agent. If the agent gives you only a list family members, a list of best friends from high school or no list at all, it may be concerning.

(For Buyers) Can You Help Me Understand My Financing Options?

If you are pre-approved for a mortgage but do not understand the financing paperwork after meeting with your loan officer, a good real estate agent should be able to peruse the documents to note any fees that do not seem correct. Sometimes a phone call by a REALTOR® to the loan officer on your behalf can resolve the issue. If not, most real estate agents have several good mortgage professionals that they have developed professional relationships with they can call upon. It could be in your best interest to visit with another loan officer to verify that all fees charged are necessary and that you are in the best type of loan program for your situation. Any real estate agent unable or unwilling to assist you in finding the tools to understanding your financing options might not be the best choice.

(For Sellers) What is your listings-to-sales ratio?

Some agents seem to have every house on the block or every house in a neighborhood listed. You see their signs in yards throughout the town. Their ads are in your local newspaper and in your mailbox. This is may be an indication of a successful REALTOR®. But the big question is “Did the homes sell?” In this slower buyer’s market, there are many more homes on the market than buyers. Do you want an agent that can successfully get you to list your home or one who will actually help you price and market it properly to get the home sold? If the agent is unsure of their ratio, you can figure it out for them. Ask how many homes they listed last year. Then ask how many listings they sold. (Make sure that the agent doesn’t include sales of homes where they represented the buyers.) Divide the listings sold by the total number of listings to get the ratio. If the ratio of listings-to-sales is less than 30-40%, you might want to select a different agent. Successful agents won’t sell every home they list, but their success ratio will be over 50%, even in a slow year.

(For Sellers) How will you market my home?

A comprehensive marketing plan should be prepared for your specific home prior to signing any contract. Good agents establish a marketing plan for each home they list. Your REALTOR® should provide you with a list of how they intend to market your home. They should outline what websites your home will be promoted on and the timing schedule of updated online ads. If there is going to be a sign in your yard, your agent should tell you whether their will be a brochure box with flyers for potential buyers driving by. Anything from the number of pictures in the MLS or whether there will be a virtual tour, open house or print advertising should be discussed and outlined.

Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Monday, October 31, 2011

REALTOR® Selection 101—How to Choose the BEST REALTOR® for YOU! (Part One of Two)

How does the average home buyer or seller find their REALTOR®? Did they meet a friendly person hosting an open house? Call their best friend's brother who just got licensed? Answer an ad on Craigslist? I don't know the percentages but I am certain that most home buyers don't spend any more time researching their real estate agent than they do their groceries. But a home is not an everyday purchase; it is too big of a decision to not have sound advice. So how does one select a good REALTOR® to work with?

The average American will buy or sell property only 2-3 times during their lifetime. It is imperative to have a logical process to select a real estate agent. Purchasing and selling a home for your family is a very emotional situation. If you chose an agent wisely, you will be confident that your REALTOR® is on your side through the entire purchase and/or sale even when your emotions are running high.

As a REALTOR® working in the Twin Cities north metro, I love assisting people to find the perfect home. Many of my clients come from the referrals of past clients but I also meet home buyers at open houses and through various marketing avenues. When I meet a potential client, I expect questions about myself and my business. I answer additional questions about living on acreage, wetlands and lakeshore. I field questions on properties in Anoka, Washington and Ramsey Counties. Sometime the questions are about specifics of homes the buyer is interested in and often the questions are about the real estate market in general. But unfortunately not all of these potential clients ask pertinent questions. Some are already be caught up in the emotional buying process of a major life change.

Here is a great step-by-step approach to selecting the perfect REALTOR® for you. Part one of this article outlines how you can prepare yourself to set up meetings with potential REALTORS®. Part two (which I will post tomorrow) will give you specific questions you can ask of potential agents so that you can make a good decision.

Step ONE
Ask YOURSELF these few questions



1. Who do you trust for advice?

Is it a parent or grandparent? Maybe a close friend or uncle? Or is it your sibling or boss? Think about the qualities that person possesses and why you look at them as an advisor. If your trusted advisor is your grandfather, you might prefer working with someone older. If you tend to bring your problems to your best friend, you might want a REALTOR® with similar characteristics to your friend.

2. How demanding are you?

If you are an impatient person who needs answers as soon as you think of a question, you will need a REALTOR® that is available to you. If you are more laid back, you might prefer a REALTOR® with a similar style.

3. Do you prefer to use email, text or the phone as your main source of information?

Some REALTORS® are very computer savvy and will answer an email within a few minutes. Some love to text with their clients to provide an immediate answer. Others answer emails once a week and don't even know how to send a text There are REALTORS® who return calls only one time a day or week. There are others that always answer their own phone and others that have an assistant to field calls and answer basic questions.

4. Are you into gadgets?

If you are listening to your Ipod while you surf the net on your wireless tablet, you might prefer working with an agent who presents your market analysis in a Powerpoint presentation or emails it to you in a pdf file. If you prefer a paper document to refer back to and make notes on, a REALTOR® with more a more traditional style might be what you need.

5. Do you have expensive tastes and exclusive brands or do you live more modestly?

If you like the finer things in life, you might have more in common with a REALTOR® who drives a BMW and signs contracts with a Mont Blanc pen. If you have a more relaxed style, a REALTOR® in a Ford or Toyota Sedan that uses personalized ballpoints might be more your style.

Step TWO
Research


Even if you have just made mental notes on your preferences as you read the above questions, you now have a good idea of what type of person you prefer working with. Armed with this information, it is time for the second step. RESEARCH Check out websites of potential agents BEFORE you meet them. Read their blogs and review their profiles to determine what their style is. If you cannot ascertain their style from their site, move to the next agent. There are hundreds of good agents out there. But if they cannot market themselves, how will they be able to market your home? Come up with a list of 4 or 5 potential agents and visit your state’s department of commerce website to check for violations on each potential agent’s record.

Now you are ready to interview potential agents. Get some great questions ready so that you can find the best REALTOR® for you. Having trouble coming up with great questions? REALTOR® Selection 101—How to Choose the BEST REALTOR® for YOU! (Part Two of Two) will provide you with some tools to help with the interview process.


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

It's No Trick--Here's a Halloween Real Estate Treat!


Real estate closings can be fun this time of year and not just because there is a big bowl of candy on the closing table. In Minnesota, when a home is sold by a traditional seller to a new home buyer, all parties sit down in the same room during closings as all the paperwork is done at the same time. After all the signing is done, the closers leave the room to make copies of the documents and to prepare the checks from the final settlement. During this time, sellers often pass over the keys and explain some idiosyncrasies of the home, Often these expected concerns like how to change the code for the electronic door opener or where the water shut off is located. Buyers will question what day the trash is picked up and what the schools are like.

But just before Halloween, the questions and necessary information traded between the seller and the new homeowner become a little more festive. New homeowners from neighborhoods big and small often want to know how many kids are in the neighborhood and consequently, how many bags of candy will be needed. One time an Anoka County seller in a very small neighborhood noted that the 6 year old next store had already come over and let it be known that she prefers Reese's Pieces. Since the little girl was missing a front tooth, the seller made sure to add the necessary lisp for effect. It is good to share a light-hearted moment after all the stress of buying/selling is complete!


Have a festive, fun and safe HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Speechless Sunday (Almost)--Jack Skelllington Reminder to Follow Directions!

In October 2009 on a family vacation to DisneyWorld, I had the opportunity to take a quick drawing class at the Animation exhibit in Disney's Hollywood Studios. My son and I were surprised and delighted to be given step-by-step instructions on how to draw the main character in the Tim Burton classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was a unique opportunity because while the 30 minute drawing classes go on year round, they only give instructions on Jack Skellington a few times a year, just before Halloween.

The fun part about taking this class which is designed for all ages, is that everyone that follows the very simple directions, will leave with a drawing that resembles the instructors.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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

First Time Homebuyer Real Estate Word is Appraisal

In a past episode of Cash Cab, an Emmy award winning television game show that takes place in a NYC taxicab, a carload of contestants were struggled to define 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 look of confusion came over a buyer’s eyes when I mentioned escrow or earnest money. These terms sound so much alike when being bombarded with new terminology like, mortgage, deed, easement, appraisal, and association dues, etc. It is understandable that a buyer who is more interested in room sizes and kitchen counters to be confused with the everyday real estate jargon like down payment or cash to close. Buyer confusion is totally understandable because afterall for most people, buying a home is a once or twice in a lifetime experience.

This is only one of many terms that could possibly confuse a First Time Homebuyer so I thought a glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. For the past several weeks I have presented terms often used by REALTORS® in a series of posts for the first time homebuyer with explanations. 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. I am continuing the series with Today’s Real Estate Term:

Appraisal An appraisal is the process of determining the value of a parcel of real estate at a particular point in time. A real estate appraiser is an independent 3rd party who will assess the property and prepare a valuation report. This is most often ordered by the buyer’s lender and paid for by the home buyer to verify the amount the buyer is requesting for the mortgage is not more than the current value of the home. The appraiser will try to find three to six comparable homes that have been sold in the last few months to compare to the subject home. The process involves comparing the size, structure, age and features of the subject home/land to the comparable sold homes to determine an appraised value.

An appraisal is similar to a market analysis performed by a real estate agent but it does differ in several key ways. A real estate agent does a market analysis at the request of a seller to determine the best price to list a home. It will take into account homes that are currently listed for sale but an appraisal will not. Appraisers are often licensed and trained to do a precise, detailed value analysis while the market comparison done by a real estate agent is used to determine a price. While an appraiser will charge a fee of several hundred dollars to appraise a property, most real estate agents do not charge a fee to provide a market analysis of a home. A market analysis can be a cost effective way for a homeowner to get value of their home if offered for sale but this document is not acceptable to verify value for a mortgage.




Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Maintain a Koi Pond Through a Minnesota Winter

I have often wondered how someone maintains a koi pond thoughout a Minnesota winter. I have sold a few homes with ponds and waterfalls that hold these beautiful fish that resemble a giant goldfish. I did sell one in the winter and the buyers were koi-experts.  They knew if the pond wasn't properly winterized, the fish could all be dead under the ice. Heck...I didn't think they could survive in the pond!

So my curiosity got the best of me today and I did some research. I found this article written by Mickel Mcsuche that explains the process of Maintaining Your Koi Pond During the Winter. Enjoy!

Winter is coming, and this will be the first Winter that you go through with your Koi pond. Think of Winter as a down period for your pond, as less events happen during Winter then any other time. However, there are special precautions that you need to take before Winter arrives, to ensure that your pond and fish survive.

Clean Up- Take about a weekend to completely go over your pond. Clean up and unwanted bulk material in and around your pond. Inside your pond, clean up all leaves, slit, and other material from the bottom. Also, remove any plants or flowers that will not make it through the winter. Around the pond, clean up anything that can blow into your pond, as you are not likely to notice this debris until the end of winter. Taking the time to make sure that as much debris is removed as possible will prevent potentially harmful bacteria and parasites in the future.



Stop Feeding- You must remember to stop feeding your Koi during the winter. When fall begins and the temperatures hover around 55 to 60 degrees, only feed once a day. Once the temperatures drop below 50 degree for the first time, stop feeding completely. Even if the temperature goes above 50 degrees, still reframe from feeding your fish. The majority of Koi, when healthy and the temperature is above 50 degrees, take at least four days to completely digest food. If you mistakenly feed your fish to late the food will not digest and will end up killing your fish. Do not mistake you Koi as hungry when they open to their mouths to you. This is more of a learned reflex then hunger. If you are concerned about not feeding them, remember that fish eat other things besides the food you provide them, especially if your pond contains a large amount of natural plant life. If they are at all hungry and you are not feeding them, they will fill up on this.

Try to do seasonal check up on your koi pond and all of the equipment like your filter and your medication. Since the majority of ponds in the world lie dormant during the Winter, you are less likely to be able to find the products you need.

You also need to prepare for the cold weather by purchasing all the items that you would need during the summer. Koi have been known to withstand constant temperatures as low 39 degrees, and temperatures slightly lower then 39 degrees, for short periods of time. You also need to make sure that your heater is big enough to heat your pond when you are buying one, because if it is not able to heat the whole pond, ice will form which can caused trouble by the gas trapped in the ice. In extreme events, it may be a good idea to have an emergency tank inside available.

Turn Off All Water Sources- In colder temperatures, your heater will be working hard to maintain a water temperature suitable enough to keep your fish alive. If you have water features such as waterfalls, streams, or constant moving fountains, make sure to turn them off during Winter. This is because, this water feature can circulate more cold water into the pond, So, your heater only need to heat the water in the pond without having to do extra work to heat up the circulation of cold water. 




Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Affordable Lake Reshanau—An Anoka County Hidden Gem


Did you know that not all full recreational lakes in Minnesota have public access? 

Yes, most larger lakes have several access points for the public to use boats, jet skis and other motorized water craft. But there are a few hidden gems that only allow homeowners along the lake to launch boats and use the open water for recreational boating and fishing. Lake Reshanau  in Anoka County is one of those hidden gems.

Located in the community of Lino Lakes, Lake Reshanau has about 100 homeowners along its banks. The shoreline also abuts a 22 acre park with picnic tables and a fishing pier but not a boat launch. This keeps traffic down on the lake and limits exposure to invasive species.

Renaushau is a 336 acre lake that reaches depths of 16 feet. If you like to fish, it is known for bluegill, crappie, sunfish and northern pike. It is one of seven lakes in the Rice Creek Chain of Lake Regional Park Preserve.  

Some of the home owners have acreage properties on the northern side of the lake so have private well and septic systems. However many homeowners are fortunate to have approximately half acre lots and city utilities.




Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Buying a Foreclosed Home on Minnesota Acreage


The current prices on Minnesota Acreage are nothing short of astounding. There dozens acreage homes that are currently available throughout the north and eastern suburbs of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. However, buying a foreclosure is different than buying from a more traditional seller. The biggest difference when buying a bank-owned property is that buyers are required to waive their right to a seller’s disclosure. This actually does make sense since no one at the bank actually lived at the home and can properly complete the disclosure. In fact, it is doubtful that anyone at the bank has ever set foot on the property. So when buying a foreclosure on acreage, what other things need to be considered to protect yourself?

**Ask for a Compliance Test for the Septic System.
 
Most rural homes have a private septic system to handle sewage and waste water. Not all systems are created equal. They are designed for the specific property and size of the home. Even a new septic system can fail if not properly maintained. How do you know if the septic system is working? Ask the bank to have a third party inspect the system and  supply a report of compliance. This MUST be written into your purchase agreement as a contingency of purchase. (i.e. Sale is contingent on the buyer reviewing a current compliance certification for the septic system.)

If you have never lived on a home with a septic system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain your system. Additional information on Septic Systems.

**Well Disclosure is Mandated by State Law
 
In Minnesota, well disclosure is mandated by state law as a part of the Ground Water Protection Act. A seller must provide information on the location and status of all wells on a property at the time of sale. If this information is known and not provided, the buyer has 6 years in which to file a claim against the seller. If you chose to waive your rights when buying a foreclosure AS-IS and it is a large acreage parcel of land, it is a good idea to visit the MN Dept of Health webpage on Finding Abandoned Wells prior to purchase. Abandoned wells can be very expensive to seal properly. Improper sealing is not only illegal, it can be detrimental to the ground water. Additional information on Private Wells.

**Are there any underground fuel tanks?

Often people looking at acreage for the first time will have questions about the huge propane fuel tank located near the home. These tanks are usually only seen in the city at gas stations where homeowners fill their small propane tanks for the weekend BBQ. In the country, the large tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. But what if there is no visible tank? Don’t immediately assume the home is heated with natural gas. Homes on large acreage are rarely heated with natural gas as the cost of bringing the gas line to the home can be cost prohibitive. Check for underground fuel tanks. Even if there is a propane tank visible, there could be an old fuel tank on the property either above or underground. The removal of underground fuel storage tanks can be dangerous and is regulated by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  

**Check the Trees! 

Buying a home AS-IS also applies to the landscaping. If there are dead trees on the property, it would be a good idea to assess them to see if they died due to a disease. The big three in Minnesota are oak wilt, Dutch elm and the Emerald Ash Borer.


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Selling an Acreage Home? Mark a TRAIL!


Earlier this month, I was out showing homes to clients looking for acreage that would work for having horses. One home on a 20 acre parcel was perfect so we started to walk the land. On west side of the home was the mound septic system an a bit further west was a large pond that was at the very least 3 acres of the property. The backyard looked dry so we started there. Just a few feet beyond the trees the yard got boggy. So we couldn’t assess how dry the acres were. We assumed this property was mostly wet and made mental notes to check the aerial view from google maps. I noted the problem in the feedback and the agent responded the land had a huge and accessible meadow beyond the pond. My clients, after getting wet feet and seeing lots of swampland on google had no further interest.
This reminded me of a property I sold last year. I met with a homeowner to re-list his 35 acre, Anoka County property after being under contract with another agent 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 35 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! How do you sell a home on acreage without seeing what you are selling? Especially when you have had 12 months to take that walk! 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. It 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.
When I listed that home, the photos I took were not only 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 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.
A short time later, the home was sold. Not to a buyer that I brought through the home and walked the property with. It was sold by another REALTOR® who was able to take his buyer along the mapped and marked trail through the acreage. the buyer’s agent thanked my clients for having a clearly marked trail and for providing a map at the home that showed the trail and property corner markers. He said it was a big help for the buyer to make his decision about the property.

Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Art of the LOWBALL offer on Real Estate—How Low is it Safe for a Home Buyer to Go?

So you have scoured the internet for the perfect home and you found it! But it is tens of thousands overpriced compared to similar homes. Is there an art to submitting a lowball offer in this changed real estate market? Where do you start? 10% less? 20% less? 50% less? And is it the percentage less than the original list price or the current asking price?

Welcome to the reality of the real estate market today! There is no one-size-fits-all answer on this one. It really depends.

As a REALTOR
® working in the north and east Twin Cities metro for several years, I have seen my share of sellers who were insulted by a buyer’s offer. And not just in a market where buyers have the upper hand either. A decade ago, anything but a full priced offer was insulting. Buyers were afraid to request a few thousand toward closing costs lest the sellers would balk and accept the next offer in line. So buyers would skip inspections and write offers thousands more than asking just to get into their "dream" home.

Those days are but a memory now...Sellers throughout Anoka, Washington and Chisago Counties are anxious to sell. They know that they are competing with short sale sellers (those who have to sell and owe much more than their home is currently worth) and foreclosed homes. Few traditional home owners with “for sale” signs in the yard are naive enough to expect a full priced offer in this changed market.


The problem is that there are naive buyers who believe sellers are desperate to take ANY offer. But in reality most sellers can't or won't accept just “ANY” offer. An offensive lowball offer could put the buyers’ dream home purchase in jeopardy.

How to Coming up with an Acceptable Starting Point:

  • Ask Your REALTOR® to do a Market Analysis for the Home. In this market, I always pull the comparables to see what has sold recently in the neighborhood before my buyers decide what to offer on a home. Many sellers are listing homes at or below current market value. If the home is properly priced, anything less than 15% of the current asking price could be considered an insult. Currently, in the Twin Cities market, most homes are selling for about 990-95% of asking price. This percentage does not include seller paid closing costs either which does reduce the net offer. By looking at the neighborhood comparables, my buyers better understand what offer will be considered reasonable.


Keep in mind that if you are working directly with the listing agent who is under contract with the seller, they cannot ethically prepare a market analysis for a buyer. As a dual agent (working for the buyer and the seller) they must remain neutral regarding price negotiations.
  • Consider the Original List Price. If someone has come down 25-30% or more from when they originally put their home on the market, they have made improvements since listing to the condition and now the market analysis shows the home is priced fairly, writing an offer over 10-15% less could be insulting. If this truly is THE home for my buyers, we discuss whether it makes sense to offer closer to the asking price rather than hitting the seller with a lowball offer.
  • The Overpriced Home. If the market analysis shows the home to be significantly overpriced and the offer will be more than 20-25% less than current the current asking price. I provide the comparables to the seller. Sometimes when the offer is accompanied by documentation to back up the offer, the seller is less offender especially when it is explained that these are the same comparables that will be used by an appraiser. If the home doesn't appraise, the offer will have to be renegotiated in most circumstances.

  • Buyer’s Plans to Remodel and Update. Be careful when using documentation for changes that reflect cosmetic and personal taste. Many sellers will be insulted when a buyer’s offer indicates that they are offering tens of thousands less due to paint, carpet and other cosmetic changes that a buyer wants to make. If the updates are necessary due to age or wear, make note of the fact and consider whether the home is currently priced to reflect the condition or not. Slamming a well maintained and updated home to justify a low offer is insulting.

  • Avoid Considering Price Paid for Home. Many buyers think that if someone purchased a home a decade ago they mus have tons of equity. This could be true but it is not a hard and fast rule. Many sellers have taken the equity out of their home for improvements or for other reasons. Keep the negotiations focused on the fair market value of the home.
Most sellers are in waiting impatiently for that non-contingent buyer to write an offer on their home. In most cases, they understand the market and have worked hard to prepare their properties to entice an offer. But buyers must think through their offers; the perfect starting point for negotiations must contemplated thoroughly. Discussions can go south very quickly between buyer and seller when the initial offer is deemed rude. If you want to try a lower offer to see how low a seller will go but are prepared to pay more, make sure a note or letter accompanies the offer saying this is a starting point for negotiating on the beautiful home and property...a little kindness often goes a very long way.


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Moving Day Creates Stress for Senior Dogs


Moving day is very stressful for the entire family even under ideal circumstances. No matter how we plan for that move, things come up. Wallets get lost; moving trucks breakdown; volunteer helpers don't arrive (or worse yet, don't help much). Yes, moving day is stressful but families with pets have special issues. And when the dog is older, sometimes we just have to accommodate the situation.
Today, I had a closing where my clients were moving about a hundred miles south of their current home in Chisago County. They were to give immediate possession to the new buyers after the closing so they had to have the home entirely cleared out prior to the meeting. With temps in the 80’s at 8 AM, it could have been deadly to leave a dog in the car so their terrier-mix, Max, had to accompany my clients into the title office. It was obviously the poor dog was already stressed from the move. He trembled and whined softl as he sat on his owner’s lap while she signed one document after another. Max is not a puppy and the stress of a move can be hard on an older dog. So I thought a few good reminders of what to do on moving day might be in order.
Keeping Your Dog Happy on Moving Day!
Make sure your pet is safe. Keep him in a safe room/kennel or at a trusted neighbor’s or pet sitter’s home while your belongings are being loaded into the truck.  Make sure it is a place your pet is familiar with as to not create additional stress. If you do leave your pet in a room in your home, remember to check in frequently unless you want to have a carpet cleaning and/or replacement bill added to your closing statement..
Identify your pet. Make certain that your pet’s collar or tags have current information with a cell phone number and/or the new home information so you can be contacted in the event of an escape.

Make the Carrier Feel Like Home. Put in your pet’s favorite blanket, toy or bed along with food and water for the trip. Remember a container of additional food and water in case of spills. It is a good idea to pack paper towels and wet wipes to clean up any messes from sickness or accidents during the ride. Don’t leave your pet unattended for more than a few minutes at a time in his transportation kennel.


Copyright 2011www.terieckholm.com

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perfect Timing—In Real Estate, Does it Exist?




Years ago, my then 3 year old son wanted us to videotape him singing a song. He was not like most toddlers, wanting to record Twinkle Twinkle or a quick chorus of Happy Birthday on tape. No, he loved the Hal Ketchum song, Small Town Saturday Night and wanted us to record him singing the entire song.
I can still see him start the first few lines then pause with his blonde head bobbing slowly as he concentrated. We stopped the camera and asked if he forgot the words. He said of course not and started again. But again he paused at the same point. This time we kept taping because we now knew he was still listening to the melody in his head, waiting for the words to start for the next verse. We were amazed that at such a young age, he wanted his timing to be perfect…even without any background music playing.
Whenever I hear that song play, I remember my little boy trying so hard to perfectly time his singing without any assistance and only his memory to guide him. It also makes me think about all those home buyers and sellers hoping to perfectly time their real estate transactions.
Keeping a musical beat for a 3 year old is easier than timing the real estate market…WAAAY Easier! While my son had the memory of a tune to follow, home buyers and sellers really don’t have a road map for this market. Yet time and time again I hear comments similar to these.
“I’m not going to GIVE away my house. I will wait out the market and list when things get better.”
“This home seems perfect but I’ll wait for the next price drop.”
“I don’t think the market has hit bottom yet.”
“Interest rates have been low for quite awhile. I think I will wait to see if home prices drop further too.”
“I love the house but I'm going to wait. I want to make sure I do not overpay.”
Just like the stock market, it is impossible to project and time the real estate market. We can make educated guesses or predictions on the market based on what is currently happening. But know one really knows if you would get more for your home by waiting a year or if you would be paying less for a similar home in the future. By the time prices begin to recover and trend upward, you have missed the bottom of the market. If in your hyper-local community, home prices start selling for higher prices there is no guarantee you will receive more for your home. Like all other aspects of the economy, there are predictions and opportunities but knowing which prediction will perfectly direct you to the right opportunity; that is hazy in the proverbial crystal ball.
It’s Time to Step to the Beat of Your OWN Drummer
I know it's cliche but when investing in real estate one cannot follow the crowd and take a "wait and see" approach. Residential real estate is like no other investment because of the extremely personal aspect. People need a place to live. Deciding to buy or rent in this market is not a cut-and-dry decision. There are several pieces to the "rent vs buy" puzzle, including getting the right mortgage and working with an experienced REALTOR® for the buyer.
While home sellers have to understand how to make their property stand out from the pack with aggressive pricing, thoughtful staging and expert marketing, sometimes it does make sense to wait to move up to a larger home in a market like this. But more often, people make successful and quick transitions to new homes with expert advice. Sellers that “give away” their homes often “steal a home” at a fabulous price on the other end of the transaction when they buy their new property. Buyers opting to move forward now are getting awesome interest rates and bargain home pricing to boot! It is a good time to buy a home and homes are selling at fair prices considering the current economy. People sitting on the fence waiting for the “perfect” time may end up disappointed because nothing is ever perfect.

Copyright 2011 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, June 16, 2011

100% Financing AVAILABLE in Chisago County--USDA Rural Home Development Loans!

You want to own your own home. You know that prices are very affordable and interest rates are extremely attractive. But rising gas prices and a weak economy leaves you struggling to save for that down payment. Sound familiar?

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

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

Now when some people hear "rural", they immediately start to think I will have to buy a broken down old-time farmstead in the middle of nowhere. Nothing could be further from the truth! According to the
USDA Rural Development website, the program was created to "build stronger, more vibrant rural communities across the nation." This unique housing loan program does apply in many counties in the north and east metro that aren't so far from the cities and they don't have to be farmsteads either! Communities in Isanti and Chisago Counties including North Branch, Stacy, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Shafer, Taylors Falls and many others can possibly qualify for this program. If you are considering buying a home in any of these communities, it is a great program to look into. But only a handful of loan officers really know the ins and outs that make a program like this work.
I do work in several of these communities and have shown homes in these areas of the past few weeks. The deals throughout Lindstrom and North Branch are nothing short of amazing. Homes that are 5-6 years old are being sold for $30-50K less than just a few years ago! Amazing properties with 4 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, 3 car garages and ½ acre yards for well under $200K. Beautiful homes in move in condition…And with the USDA program they are available for ZERO DOWN! I have a couple of great loan contacts that do understand USDA and can get you started on your path to home ownership with a USDA loan. These mortgage professional know I work with buyers and sellers all over Chisago County and the north and east metro so have given me a quick lesson on this unique CONVENTIONAL LOAN program. Some of the features and benefits include:

  • NO down payment
  • NO monthly PMI
  • The seller is allowed to pay all reasonable closing cost and prepaids up to 6%
  • NO hit to the interest rate for the zero down
  • NOT just for first time home buyers
  • NO reserves needed
There are income limits to the program that will prevent some buyers from qualifying. These numbers have recently increased to allow more potential buyers to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Household income does include all residents in the home that work so yes, your teenager’s income from a job at the local fastfood chain will be included as would be your retired mother’s social security payment if they are living in the home. These income limitations are guidelines and, in some cases, may be exceeded.

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



Copyright 2011 www.terieckholm.com