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.

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

Resolutions for Buyers

*Team up with a professional
*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

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 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