Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Minnesota Lakes are NOT Yet Warm Enough for Safe Swimming!

Minnesota's state motto claims we live in the land of 10,000 lakes, yet there is actually over 12,000 in this great northern state. However, one thing is for certain; all MN lakes are all too cold for swimming in the spring.  This March marked several record breaking temperatures in the high 70's and I know more than a few Minnesotan's were tempted to turn on their central air yet a quick jump in the lake could have been deadly. It is normal for air temperatures in April and May to occasionally be as warm and sultry as August, making the water in those 10,000+ lakes look very refreshing. But beware. In order to swim safely, the water temperatures need to be at 70 degrees. Most Minnesota lakes do not reach a 70 degree temperature until late May. Some lakes in the northern part of the state never get that warm during the year!

It is important for all Minnesotans to understand the affects of hypothermia and cold water are not limited to the winter months. Spring temperatures in a Minnesota lake or river are just as problematic. Knowing the exact temperature of body of water is essential before taking a dip to cool off to determine how long a person can safely stay in the water. Low lake water temperatures will affect children more quickly due to their smaller size. Their bodies will not be able to withstand the cold temperatures as long as an adult can. is a website developed in memory of a 9  year old Minnesota boy who died on April 30, 2004 when he chose to swim in a cold Minnesota lake. Brian James Jacobson was a lively little boy and good swimmer. It is believed his abilities were completely stalled in the frigid water. This is a sad reminder of how dangerous cold water swimming can be. 

Minnesota has thousands of beautiful lakes within its borders. But be forewarned, the inviting beauty is best enjoyed from the shore until warm the water has warmed sufficiently for safe swimming.

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bridal Registry Out of the Box! Newlyweds Want Dream Home!

Why can't a bride and groom take that little bar code scanner from Target or Macy's and scan a photo of a new home instead? I know couples need the department store stuff like blenders, coffee makers and blankets but they will need a first home too!  

What if brides and grooms could  browse the internet listings on any real estate website or drop by a neighborhood open house and use a special "dream home scanner" to click on a favorite home. Then they could receive the keys to their dream home just in time to be carried over the threshold. THAT, my friends, would be a fairy tale ending or beginning; a really start to happily ever after.

It may sound off the wall but newlyweds are going to face a tougher time finding a loan without a down payment.  Zero down loans have all but disappeared from the landscape and first time buyers will need cash in their pockets to put toward a new home. As mortgage programs continue to change and evolve, it has become imperative to save for that down payment. Forward thinking young people might want to divert some of their wedding funds and gifts into an investment in real estate.

In this changed real estate market, new home buyers NEED a down payment for a house. Not just a few bucks either. In most cases a buyer will require a minimum of 3-5% to put down. Minnesota starter homes run about $150,000 in the north and east Twin Cities metro. So,  newlyweds today will need to save up a minimum of $5,000-$10,000, plus closing costs before making a first home purchase.

All is not lost for first time buyers, but a little forward thinking is in order. There is a lot of money involved in most weddings; both on the party planning and the gift recipient side. A savvy bride and groom might be able to devise a plan to have the perfect wedding AND a dream home.

New Home Gift Registry Young couples getting married register for gifts to let their friends and family know exactly what they want and need. If you need a house, why not let your guests know? How about adding a note to the invitation stating your gift preference?

“The couple is registered for a small number of necessities at Target and Macys. If you would prefer not to shop, they are also saving for a down payment for a new home and would a appreciate monetary gift toward their dream.”

I don’t know what
Miss Manner’s would say about but I think a financial wiz like Suze Orman would applaud the idea.

Wedding Budget With the average wedding pushing $20,000, maybe a little rearranging of the budget could be a way to find some funds. Those saved dollars from the perfect wedding can go toward that dream home instead. Now, I am not suggesting going the bargain basement route on anything and everything, just economize where it makes sense. Maybe you can go opt for less fancy invitations or choose a less expensive dress. Maybe that cruise to the Caymans would be a better choice for a future anniversary and a honeymoon in Duluth, MN creating newlywed memories along the north shore of Lake Superior would be be a budget friendly change. Whether on wedding details, reception or the honeymoon, saving 25% of an average wedding bill would be $5000 cash toward a new home.

So young couples start planning your future with a plan for your dream home too! While the current technology does not allow a scanner to work outside of a department store, I do! Adjust the budget to come up with the down payment and I can assist you with finding your dream home.

As a professional REALTOR®, I have helped many young couples find their first home.. I know the north and east Twin Cities metro area and can help you spot a dream home deal whether you are looking in Lino Lakes, Blaine, Andover or anywhere in the Forest Lake school district. I can assist you in writing a fair offer and negotiate a deal so your dream can become a reality. And (more budget friendly advice here)....Having your OWN agent doesn't cost you any additional fees--The seller pays my commission! Working with an agent to find your first home, takes the stress out of the home buying process so you can focus on making your wedding day special rather than moving in details too. 

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm 

Monday, April 16, 2012

If We Buy a New House, Can We Get a Horse?

Horse and animal restrictions on Minnesota acreage properties

Last year, during a final walkthrough of an acreage home my buyers were purchasing in Anoka County, one of their daughters ran up to me giggling and said, “Joe thinks you are buying him a pony.”

“Oh…really?” was all I could think to respond.

Mom nodded that yes it was a fact, Joe had it in his three-year-old head that I was going to drop off a four-hoofed pet on move-in day. While I have been known to give a closing gift to my clients, I have never offered a pet as a present…especially a pony!

This particular precocious toddler must have mixed up some of the conversations during our home search outings. As we searched for the perfect Minnesota acreage home throughout Anoka, Chisago and Washington Counties, there was quite a bit of discussion of horses. The reason this city-dwelling-but-soon-to-be-country family was relocating to a more rural property complete with a polebarn, was so his older sisters could get horses.

But acreage alone does not make a horse property. The fact is, many potential acreage homebuyers are surprised to find out that there restrictions on animals in the country. Though leash laws and licenses are expected in most urban environments, many people don’t realize that rural communities also have rules, ordinances, covenants and restrictions regarding animals.

So if you are planning a move to a more rural environment and want to have a horse, raise chickens or just have a couple of dogs and cats, it is important to check the restrictions  before writing an offer to purchase a home.

Each county, city and even specific development will have rules, restrictions and covenants in regard to animal ownership. The current code for the City of Ham Lake, where I live has a number of specific rules for pet ownership. For instance, owners of more than two dogs must obtain a private kennel license. You can raise chickens or pigeons with a temporary conditional use permit. Horses, or other animals with hooves like a pony, can be kept if a permit is obtained from the city prior to obtaining the animal and land is designated R-A or residential agricultural.

Now, a few miles away in the City of Columbus, a homeowner can keep up to four dogs before being required to get a kennel license. And in the City of Wyoming, horses are allowed on properties that are larger than five acres but no more than 1 horse per 2 acres. There can also be restrictions on grazing acres versus wetland or unusable acres. One time I came across a development with 10 acre parcels that had covenants restricting the land use to exclude horses. Bottom line: There is no hard and fast rule regarding whether rural properties will allows animals. Each home must be researched to verify any restrictions.

So what should a home buyer who has promised the kids a pony do?

Work with a REALTOR® that specializes in acreage and knows how to find homes with a place for your pets. Be flexible on areas/communities you want to relocate to. If pets are a priority, write any offer contingent upon being able to have the number of horses, dogs or chickens that will be part of your family household. Make it a practice to call the city and/or county regarding any pet or animal ownership restrictions. Check with the seller regarding all covenants that would restrict pet ownership. So if your move to acreage requires a place for a pony, make sure it is allowed!

Need to know more about buying or selling a Twin Cities home? Let me be your professional guide. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me, Teri Eckholm of Boardman Realty, a call or visit my website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2015 Teri Eckholm 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions--East Bethel Black Bear Against the Clouds!

In East Bethel, Minnesota on the north side of Highway 65 sits this tall carved black bear. It is a beautiful carving and one I am proud to add to my series of Uniquely Minnesota Artful Distractions!

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Love Your Pet! Protect Your Home!

Tips for protecting home from pet damage

Just yesterday I was out showing homes in northern Anoka County. We were at a lovely, well kept home in East Bethel. As we pulled into the driveway, we could hear barking from the garage. The two kenneled dogs did not bother the showing at all. But as I inspected the home with my buyers, we noticed chew marks on the oak door frame near the floor.. In this particular case, my buyers discounted the small flaw in an otherwise meticulously well kept home, Pets do make a difference when selling a home.

Americans LOVE their pets! Dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, name it. Some people let them sleep in the bedroom or eat in their kitchens. Others will cook fresh food for the dog, while nuking a frozen meal for the family. People dress their pets up and treat them like a member of the family (well, they are, aren't they?) But it is important to remember the damage a pet can do to your home.

As a REALTOR® working in the north and east Minneapolis and St Paul metro area, I have seen some strange pets inside of some homes...everything from lizards to a tank of fresh trout and a rabbit with the run of the house. And of course, there are people who have dogs and cats too. Many homeowners take great measures to protect their homes and property but some do not.

A few years ago I walked into a vacant home that was clean to the eye yet the potential buyers who were able to pick out the exact closet where litter box used to be located. Not only have I have seen puppy's teeth marks on the sides of oak door frames, I have seen similar damage to cedar decking and claw marks on wood floors. I have walked through extensively landscaped yards destroyed by holes dug by chained dogs. I have witnessed the family cat of a seller jumping up and attaching itself to the screen apparently to notifiy its owner it was time to come back inside. One home had a huge terrarium full of noisy crickets and a note letting all potential buyers that this was the food for the lizards in the other room. There was a family of sellers with the horse in the front yard leaving droppings by the entrance. But the loose rabbit hopping through the home leaving droppings (that were NOT jelly beans) had to be the worst!

While these "petscapades" are amusing to read about, it's not so funny when you go to sell your home. When if you are trying to sell and haven't addressed pet damage and odor issues, you may find yourself discounting your selling price significantly to attract a buyer.

Odors are the worst. People who keep pets in carpeted rooms even in cages or kennels can have serious problems. Clean any accident immediately with a special cleaner designed to remove pet urine odors. In extreme cases the odor will not be removed with a simple steam cleaning. In this situation the carpet should be replaced. Homeowners with poorly trained pets may find that they are not only replacing the carpet but also the padding and  the sub-flooring to eliminate the smell.

But smells aren't the only problem. Stains from accidents or the ground-in dirt from a favorite sleeping spot can be impossible to remove. Our cats knocked down a just-watered plant onto our light-colored carpeting a few years ago. The damp potting soil never completely was removed from the carpet. We plan to replace that carpet prior to selling our home. When our dog started to stain the carpet by sleeping in the exact same spot day after day, we invested in a few dog beds. By strategically placing the beds around the house, we protected our carpets from further discoloration.

It is possible to love your pet and protect your home!
  • Keep your pet well groomed to reduce odor, hair and nail damage.
  • Get a pet bed for your dogs and cats. Dogs loves the extra comfort and it keeps dirt and sweat from his coat from going into the carpet fibers. We will move his from room to room during the day so he can stay with us. If this is too much trouble, buy several. They are considerably cheaper than replacing carpet. Our cat uses his bed daily too. It is positioned for his easy access in front of his favorite window so he doesn't jump and leave marks on the woodwork.
  • Have a proper sized kennel or cage for exotic pets and clean often.
  • Clear all accidents immediately. Use special pet cleaners to remove odors and stains.
  • Cover all exposed woodwork especially around windows. Pets love to jump up and look out windows. Use gates to limit your pet's access to soft wood floors like birch or cherry wood. Nail marks require the floor to be completely sanded down before refinishing. It can get very costly.
  • Don't chain your dog to the side of your house. Chains and bolts can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to your home.
  • If your dog shows behavior problems such as chewing, clawing etc, address them immediately to avoid damage to your home.

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Vaccinate Your Pet and See the Wolves!

Vaccination Clinic Carlos Avery Wildlife Science Center

The wolf sanctuary in Columbus Minnesota is near and dear to my heart. It is just a few miles as the crow, or better yet, as the hawk flies from my home. On a cool crisp evening when the world is quiet in my Ham Lake front yard, I can easily hear the wolves howling from across the fields. The Wildlife Science Center (The WSC)is not only home to several types of wolves, a number of other animals call the refuge home including bobcats, fox, owls and hawks. A few of the wolves are somewhat celebrities as they were featured in the Animal Planet Series Growing Up Wolf.

This April, The WSC has a special event planned for pet owners, and you don’t have to be from the Ham Lake, Forest Lake, Columbus area either. The Carlos Avery wolf sanctuary or WSC is holding a Pet Vaccination Clinic. Bring in your leashed dog or crated cat for its annual shots and see the wolves and other animals at the refuge.

The event is being held April 28 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

Copyright 2012