Monday, December 31, 2012

Facts about the Minnesota Homebuyer in 2012

Here are a few quick facts to show how Minnesota's real estate market compares to the national home sales. In the 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers complied by the National Association of REALTORS®, there were a number of interesting facts about our local Minnesota market. When information is reported by the media, it is often the national averages. But real estate is local. Here are few more facts from the 2012 report:

Facts about the Minnesota Real Estate Market in 2012

  • 41% of recent home buyers were first-time buyers in Minnesota, compared to a national level of 39%.
  • The average age of a home buyer in Minnesota was 37 years old. Nationally the typical buyer was a bit older at 42 years of age.
  • Household income of typical Minnesota buyers was $80.600; $2K higher than the national average. 
  • 58% of 2012 Minnesota home buyers were married couples compared to a national average of 65%.  
  • Interestingly 19% of buyers were single females in Minnesota which is higher than the national average of 16%.
  •   In Minnesota, 90% of buyers financed their recent purchase compared to 87% nationally. In both cases the average amount financed was 91% of the purchase price of the home.
  • Of Minnesota buyers who financed their homes, 27% found the loan process somewhat difficult and an additional 10% found it very difficult. Comparatively nationwide the numbers were 23% and 17% respectively.
  • 88% of Minnesotan's would refer their agent or use them again.
  • Minnesota home buyers used a real estate agent 95% of the time; this is 6% higher than the national average.
  • 93% of Minnesota home buyers used the internet. This number rises to 97% if under 44. This is higher than the national averages of 90% and 96% respectively.
  • Only 10% of Minnesotan home buyers bought new construction homes. This is much lower than the 16% sold last year nationally.
  • Detached single family homes made up 73% of homes sold in Minnesota compared to 79% nationally.
So what do these facts show? 

Home buyers in Minnesota are continuing to educate themselves on the real estate market. They are increasingly using the internet for their home search but will retain the services of an agent for the actual purchase. If a home buyer plans to finance their Minnesota home purchase, they know if may be a bit more difficult than it was in years past. They are open to buying townhomes, twin homes and condos but are still cautious on new construction. If their agent does a good job, they will refer them to their friends. 

As a Minnesota REALTOR®, I am not surprised by any of the results in this report. I know home buyers in this area of the country are very astute in the process.  They use the internet in combination with their agent to make informed, thought out decisions on their new home whether is it a first purchase or not. They are loyal and reward good service. And I for one, enjoy helping fellow Minnesotan's navigate the process of buying and/or selling their homes.

Copyright 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pack It Up! Test your Moving Skills

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to drop off one of my Christmas packages in person. I have been taking the easy way out and letting the postal service do the bulk of the work but I do like to add a personal delivery where it makes sense.

This client just sold his east Twin Cities metro home and after a month of packing and unpacking was down to the very last box. I said, “You know if you don’t get that one done, it will remain unpacked until you move again.” (I’m speaking from experience as there is one unpacked box from our move 16 years ago on a shelf in our basement.)

He responded, “I’m not moving again for a very long time!”

Funny…when we listed his house, he and his new fiancĂ©e had planned to sell her home too and start their new life in a brand new neighborhood. It is funny how quickly thinks can change...I just smiled.

Packing is a chore but it is a very big part of moving. This morning I ran across a fun interactive game that might be of interest to anyone planning a move soon. It gives the player a chance to test his/her packing skills by loading a simulated moving van, which is actually just a cube, with boxes as they come off the conveyor belt. So far, the men are getting higher scores than the ladies, even though many more women have tried playing the YOU-PACK-A-CUBE Game. It's on Facebook so you have to have a Facebook Account to play. I wasn't very good at the game but it was fun to try...and a bit addictive. My excuse...I do better when packing boxes, cars and vans in person.

So take a break from wrapping presents and baking cookies to test your packing skills…And when you are ready to make that move, give me a call!

Copyright 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Seasonal Scents can Help Sell Your Home!

Whether your home is on the market before, after or during the holidays, scents can affect the sale. A beautiful home staged wonderfully can be overlooked if the family cat is front and center…especially when the buyers don’t even see the feline. Often one whiff of an unemptied litter box can be enough to send a carload of potential buyers rushing out the door. 

So what can a cat loving, home seller do? 

Beyond the obvious of emptying the box prior to a showing, there are a few things that could be helpful. One option is to light scented candles but there is a potential fire hazard, especially with kitties in the house. Another is to use plug-in air fresheners but that can seem artificial and bother some home buyers with sensitive noses. I prefer a natural air freshener. Here’s a great seasonal recipe for a natural potpourri that can be stored and used for a few weeks. I have the basics to the recipe below. 

And if you are looking for a budget-friendly DIY present to give to family and friends this year; natural holiday potpourri can be packaged as a gift too!

Natural Stove Top Potpourri for the Holidays

  • 1 orange quartered (Fresh is not required)

  • 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries

  • 1 Tablespoon. whole cloves

  • 2-3 sticks of cinnamon

  • a dash of grated nutmeg

Place ingredients in saucepan. Add ½ cup water and simmer on low heat until house smells wonderful.

Cool and store in refrigerator until next use.

Copyright 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Avoid Working with an Imposter REALTOR®!

No, I’m not suggesting that your agent has forged their real estate credentials…let me explain. Years ago I was out at Maplewood Mall in the upstairs food court eating lunch with my sons and teenaged niece (she’s a 30 something now so it was awhile back). As we shared our fast food fare, an attractive middle-aged woman dressed in very trendy clothing passed by but she was simply trying to hard to appear youthful. My niece mumbled under her breath, “Imposter Mom”. I had never heard such a thing but found it rather funny. Especially when the gal was well out of earshot, my niece emphatically added, “Imposter Grandma’s are the worst!”

My niece explained to me that an “imposter mom” was someone her mom’s age who impersonated a teenager in dress, hairstyle, make up etc. It’s a 40-something who steals her daughter’s latest issue of Seventeen Magazine and tries to be cool. It really doesn’t work. I thought it was hilarious and begged my niece to let me know if I ever was to cross that line.

So this conversation came to mind recently as I hear from people regarding working with real estate agents that are somewhat lacking in the professional department. These agents appear to be REALTORS®. They have real estate licenses, business cards and most even have that handy dandy key that opens those fancy electronic Supra lockboxes. But something is missing and it will come to light soon after the buyer or seller signs the contract. They discover their agent isn’t working full time in real estate. Some don’t want to pay the fees to get access to the electronic lockboxes. Some just don’t work enough to understand how to write a contract clearly as the forms change annually.

I have had the opportunity to work on the other side of a few deals with these imposters. There was the contract with a teacher who only planned to sell in the summer but took listings all year round anyway. Another deal was with a daycare owner who could only return calls after 6 or at naptime. And then there was the agent who worked full time retail who was impossible to get a hold of because of a constantly changing schedule. There are also agents who call or cancel appointments of properties with secure Supra lockboxes because they do not own an electronic key and cannot get into a listing.

As a cooperative agent, it is frustrating to work with an imposter real estate agent, but as a client, it could be down right infuriating! When a buyer signs a listing agreement or contract for buyer’s representation, it is important to ask a few questions regarding how much time and effort your REALTOR® will be putting into your sale or purchase. Finding a home or buyer for your home will take time and hard work on the part of your agent. Your REALTOR® should make the process easier from the time you sign your contract to closing day.

  • How long have you been licensed to sell real estate?
  • How many homes have you sold this past year? In your career?
  • What percentage of your business comes from past client referrals?
  • Are you a real estate agent or a REALTOR®?
  • Do you work full time in real estate?
  • Do you work individually or as part of a team? If part of a team, are do all team members have similar expertise and quality of service?
  • How many clients, buyers and sellers, do you currently represent?

Did you know? Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and abides by their code of ethics.

Finding the right real estate agent to work with means you will have to take the time to weed out the imposters. See I can overlook the bad styling of an imposter grandma, in fact sometimes they can provide a good chuckle. But in my mind, an imposter REALTOR® is the worst! Buying and selling a home is too important to be represented by someone who is less than 100% a professional.

Copyright 2012 Teri Eckholm

Monday, December 3, 2012

Having Breakfast at Keys? Save the Hash Browns!

I usually keep most of my posts to real estate and buying homes in the north and east Minneapolis/St Paul metro but I came across a photo of  potato soup made in a crock pot a few weeks ago that looked oh so good that I thought I might give it a try. The main ingredient was frozen hash browns…not a staple in our house. I love well made hash browns from restaurants but the ones from home are usually less than edible. So I kind of stored away the idea in my computer…because well, at this time of year the back of my head gets a bit full.

So a week or so ago we were having breakfast at Keys Cafe in Forest Lake. If you have ever ordered a Keys breakfast whether at the original restaurant in St Paul or one of the 8 other locations across the Twin Cities, you know you’d better be hungry. Their servings of hash browns are enough to feed most families for a week. Unfortunately, we are never THAT hungry and we usually just have to throw the leftovers out. (Reheated breakfast food falls in the inedible category too.)

This time we boxed the potatoes up, took them home and I found that online recipe. After reading the comments, I made a few changes to make sure there was sufficient flavor. We don’t like celery flavoring so switched it up with broccoli. It turned out fantastic! So give Keys a try…and bring home those hash browns as the secret ingredient for dinner tomorrow!

Cheesy Potato Broccoli Crockpot Soup Recipe

1 -32 oz package of frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed or frozen (add any leftovers from breakfast too)
1/2 cup fresh chopped onion
1 cup frozen broccoli
1-32oz carton chicken broth
1 cup water
3 tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 -8oz pkg shredded three cheddar blend with Philadelphia Cream Cheese flavoring (or any Cheddar blend)
1/4 cup real bacon pieces (from jar or homemade)
1/4 cup chopped green onions

1. In 3-4 quart crockpot or slow cooker, mix potatoes, onion, broccoli, broth and water.

2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours.

3. In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 20 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish with shredded cheddar, bacon pieces,green onions and pepper.

Copyright 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Coved Ceiling? What the Heck is That?

I was recently asked this question by a friend after posting a description of a new listing I have in Como area of St Paul. This home is a typical 1950’s one and a half story bungalow but it is loaded with details only seen in the finest homes constructed today. Coved ceilings and other vintage details are not unique to homes in St Paul. They can be found in many homes across the north and east Twin Cities metro. But they are rarely seen outside the 1940-1960 construction period. The craftsmanship of homes built in the 50’s was in the details….the hardwood, the arched doorways and the coved ceilings.

So what is a coved ceiling anyway? In a nutshell, it is an architectural detail where the ceiling is rounded instead of coming to a 90 degree angle at the edge. Many of these 50's era ceilings also featured detailed swirled finishes rather than blown popcorn look finish of the 70’s and 80’s or the knock-down look (flattened popcorn) seen in homes today. I did a quick bit of research and coved ceilings can be added to a home today; but it is labor intensive and will add to the cost of construction. That is what makes a well maintained older home so desirable. Touches like coved ceilings, built-in cabinetry and arched doorways are only affordable when buying a vintage home.

Copyright 2012