Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It Might Not be Santa's Workshop...But it Could be YOURS!

Available in Plymouth MN, a workshop that would make Santa envious...and a 4BR/3BA home too! Lots of space for making toys, double doors that open for easy sleigh loading, adjoining office for checking the list, this home has a lot to offer. Perfect home to entertain too...Spacious open kitchen for baking cookies, formal and informal dining rooms for serving cocoa & cider to the elves, 3 living spaces (one formal & two family rooms), a traditional brick fireplace for toasting chestnuts and a 2nd gas fireplace to warm up quickly after a day of sledding or making snow angels. This is a traditional two story home with 4 bedrooms on the upper level with a newly remodeled private master bath. There's a brand new roof for reindeer to land as well as new siding, water heater and kitchen appliances. Located just a few miles from Arbor Lakes shopping center in case Mrs. Claus wants to do a little shopping too. 

You might not want to wait though, Santa will be dropping by in a couple of weeks and may just want to relocate.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let Jack Frost Nip Your Nose—Winter IS a Great Time to BUY a Home!

Brutal subzero temperatures came early to Minnesota this year. This is the first time in nearly 20 years the Minneapolis/St Paul metro has had to deal with bone chilling weather in December. Add a fresh blanket of snow covering the landscape from North St. Paul to East Bethel and Lino Lakes to Scandia and most home buyers will jump in bed and cover up their heads until spring. 
But wait, winter is not the time to hide from the elements if you are pre-approved and ready to buy a home. Although making a move in a Minnesota winter’s snow and ice is not ideal, the timing could not be more perfect to buy a home and get a GREAT DEAL!

Here are the Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Home THIS Winter!
Reason 10—Holiday Décor. Touring homes during December really puts a home buyer into the holiday spirit. Many homeowners take this opportunity to deck the halls with hopes that there will be a purchase agreement in their Christmas stockings!

Reason 9—Check Window Efficiency. Frost on the window sill is not a holiday decoration! Subzero temperatures really put windows to the test. Some windows will fog between the glass panes, others will ice up on the interior and then there are those that stay crystal clear despite the cold outdoors. This energy efficiency test can only be done when the temperatures are extreme outside.

Reason 8—Less Competition. While many Minnesotans seeking the perfect gift at the Mall of America for gifts or attending “A Christmas Carol” at the Guthrie Theater, savvy home buyers are visiting homes with their REALTOR

Reason 7—Your REALTOR® has Time. Most real estate agents are not juggling several clients during the holiday season and can spend more time scouring the MLS to find the perfect home for the ones that want to be in a new home in January.

Reason 6—Assess the Community. Home buyers touring houses in the winter will get a good idea of how well various communities maintain roads and keep the streets free from ice and snow.

Reason 5—Check the Heating System. Whether the home is heated with a forced air furnace or a hot water boiler, checking out the heating system in the summer is hard to do. With our current subzero temps, a furnace problem would be very obvious!

Reason 4—Icicles. Snow on a roof can create icicles that might appear festive but also are an indicator of improper attic insulation. A home with significant ice dams might require additional maintenance and/or repairs.

Reason 3—Affordable Interest Rates. Rates continue to be very affordable but as the market heats up in the spring, rates could go higher too.

Reason 2—Significant Inventory Though the number of homes coming on the market is not as high as in the spring, the market is pretty balanced and new homes continue to hit the market every day. Whether you are looking for a starter town home, a single family home, a private country estate, a McMansion or a lakeshore paradise, there is a good selection of properties for a buyer to select from. 

And, drumroll please, The Number 1 Reason for Buying in the Winter—Motivated Sellers. Homes that stay on the market in December and January in Minnesota are homes that need to be SOLD! If sellers are motivated enough to suffer through a Christmas Eve showing, they probably are willing to negotiate on the price as well!

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Waiting Until Spring to Sell Your Home? This Could be a Mistake.

There was a big improvement in the real estate market in 2013 across the nation. And, while all real estate is local, the Minneapolis/St Paul market was no exception. We also saw prices rebound quite a bit in communities on both sides of the Mississippi. But when where sellers able to score the best deals? Let me give you a hint. It wasn't in the spring.

Many people do think that spring is the best time to sell a home. And yes, it is a good time to buy and sell a home. More home buyers are out looking to make a move when the weather warms up. But surprisingly buyers also move in the winter. And because most sellers are waiting for spring, there are less options for them. 

Early in 2013 is when most home sellers were seeing multiple offers in the Twin Cities. There were few good homes on the market in January and tons of home buyers, pre-approved and hoping to take advantage of the low interest rates. This created a seller's market, where the seller had the upper hand in the negotiations. Home sellers scrambled to get their homes listed and by April, inventory was abundant in most price points. Great news for home buyers, but not for home sellers hoping for a quick sale at asking price.

Not Just a 2013 Phenomena

Low housing inventory after the holidays has been a trend I have noticed over the last several years. Homes that were overlooked by buyers in the fall market, suddenly had offers in January/February. And sellers didn't have to "give away" their homes either. It was just simple supply and demand. The lower housing supply combined with a strong buyer demand as soon as the holidays are over, makes it an ideal situation for a home seller listed at the beginning of the year. But the scales almost always are balanced again by late March. So a savvy home seller  might think twice about waiting until spring. If you are ready to sell, now might be the best time to put your home on the market to make the best deal.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quick Tips for Home Sellers--Show and SELL during the Holidays!

We just had the first measurable Minnesota snowfall so that means the winter holidays are just around the corner. But if what if the house hasn’t sold yet? What should a seller do?

At first inclination many sellers opt to cancel their listing and withdraw their home from the multiple listing service believing that the preoccupation with the holiday season puts the brakes on most home purchases. While many home buyers will be distracted, sellers can be ignoring a real opportunity: ANY buyer looking at houses during the holidays is VERY serious about buying a home.
There are not many tire-kickers running around with a REALTOR® when there are presents to buy, cookies to bake and gifts to wrap. November, December and January showings are a seller’s opportunity as most homes that buyers visit at this time of the year are vacant. Quite often, a buyer’s choices are down to model homes, vacated relocation properties and foreclosures. Providing the opportunity for a buyer to visit a home filled with the colorful sights, delightful sounds and wonderful aromas of the season is a great option for those wanting to sell.

Tips for Showing and  Selling During the Holidays
  1. Decorate! But don't go overboard with the lights and decor! This is not the time for a Griswold inspired display of lights as in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but a decorated tree, candles and wreaths can add a special touch.
  2. Bake Christmas Cookies. Share a few with the buyers and agents viewing your home. 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 nerve-grating "Santa got Run Over by a Reindeer" type carols and go for instrumentals or uniquely Minnesota regional artists like The Blenders.
  5. Shovel and salt the driveway as necessary. No one wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room with a twisted ankle and bruised tailbone.
  6. Turn the heat up for showings…Show visitors how well the furnace works. Warmth is such a treat after visiting vacant homes with the thermostat turned way down!
  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 open the lockbox.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, November 1, 2013

Selling a Home AS-IS can Cost Thousands

Most home sellers today do their homework. There is a vast array of information on how to prep a home to sell for top dollar on the internet and cable TV. Most savvy sellers have watched an occasional HGTV program or YouTube video showing how to stage a home and flip a house. They know that to get the highest price possible for their home, it will take a bit of elbow grease and organization. Sellers expecting optimal dollars need to understand that buyers want optimal condition.

Sometimes I still run into someone who balks at making repairs to their home. They say, “Let the buyer tackle that project. I want the home sold AS-IS.” 

Sometimes it does make sense to hold off on an expensive repair that would be nice but not necessary. These are more expensive cosmetic repairs like new siding or windows. However anything that would prevent a buyer from getting financing or insurance is a must like a new roof if the shingles are showing extensive wear or septic system if it is not compliant. These issues will not be overlooked by any buyer. 

Cosmetic and minor repairs will definitely reflect in what a home buyer offers on a property. Replacing doors with holes, broken glass in windows and settling cracks in a ceiling make a huge difference in a buyer’s perception of a home. Damage like this is always noticed by the buyers 

4 Reasons to Make Home Repairs Before Listing

  1. Less Buyer Distraction. Buyers will be able to focus on the positive attributes of your home rather than needed repairs.
  2. Homebuyers Inflate Repair Costs. My rule of thumb is: If it will cost a seller $100 to fix an issue, the buyer will ask for a $1000!
  3. Easier Negotiations. When a purchase agreement comes in, it doesn’t come with a “laundry list” of things the buyer will have to repair to justify the low offer.
  4. Faster to SOLD! Homes that are in optimal condition do sell quickly. Homes that need repairs often can sit on the mark for weeks or months longer waiting for a buyer willing to accept the home in its current condition. Longer market time can mean having to reduce the price significantly to keep buyers interested.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't Wait Until Spring! Minnesota Homes Sell in the Fall and Winter too!

Think it is too late to sell your home because snowflakes are in the forecast? Think Again!

As a REALTOR® who lists and sells homes in the north and east Minneapolis/St Paul area, I come across this every fall. Potential home sellers complain that it is too late in the year to sell their Minnesota home. "It’s almost November and soon the snow will fly. No one will be buying a home now. We will have to wait until spring to get the best price for our home now.”

Most are surprised when I tell them they are wrong. “If you can list your home now, you REALLY should.”  

Why? Well the reasons are very simple:
  1. Low Inventory
  2. Continued Demand

The Minneapolis/St Paul metro area has become a year round market. Sure, more people do move in spring and summer but traditional sellers have an opportunity to shine if they list their homes in the fall and winter, when there are mostly distressed homes on the market. Interest rates are still low and projected to go higher in 2014.   This has home buyers off the proverbial fence and into the real estate market. Home buyers look for well maintained and well priced homes and jump on them quickly when they hit the market. This is an opportunity few Minnesota home sellers will take advantage of because they think people do not want to move in the winter slush and snow. And some people don’t want the inconvenience of showings during the holidays. 

But in my experience, the buyers looking in the fall and winter months are very serious about buying a home. Home buyers are tired of viewing bank-owned properties that need work and have no disclosures. They are frustrated with short sale homes that they will have to wait months for possession. Most buyers prefer to buy from a traditional seller….and buyers do worry that prices and interest rates will continue to edge up come spring. So home buyers are looking in late October and will be looking in November, December and January too. 

However, well prepared home sellers might not have to wait until January for an offer. I have seen well maintained, staged and priced homes receive offers within days of hitting the market in the fall and winter. Remember though pricing and preparation are always key to getting the quick offers at any time of year. 

Quick Staging Tips for Selling Your Home this Fall:

  1. Rake leaves (or shovel snow) and clean gutters—Unfortunately, outdoor tasks will  need to be done every day you have a showing. Buyers cannot assess the condition of the lawn, sidewalk and roof if it is covered with leaves and even a dusting of snow can make sidewalks slick and dangerous.
  2. Heat up cinnamon sticks—Put a few cinnamon sticks in a pan on the stove or in a microwave dish with water just before a showing so it smells like an autumn festival!
  3. Turn on the gas fireplace—If you've got it, flaunt it! A crackling fire adds ambiance and makes a house feel like home!
  4. Pumpkins and mums—Accent the entry with a pumpkin, colorful mum or other fall décor to give seasonal curb appeal. 

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Buying a Home in October in the Halloween Capital of the World!

It is almost time for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, and it is not just because I live in Anoka County, Minnesota either.  Anoka, Minnesota is the  "Halloween Capital of the World" which puts tricks and treats on the minds of many young people (and those young at heart) in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". 

Minnesotans are often referred to as "Minnesota Nice" and when a home closing is closed to a holiday it does put the buyers and sellers in festive moods. Halloween is no exception. As an Anoka County REALTOR®, I have witnessed many a late October closing with "interesting" and topical questions asked by the new buyer of the home seller to a new home buyer. 

In Minnesota it is traditional for all parties to sit down in the same room for the closing transaction. After all the signing is done, the title company representatives  leave the room to make copies of the documents and to prepare the checks from the final settlement. During this time,  home sellers take a few minutes to share some idiosyncrasies of the home and pass over the keys, Often these are expected concerns like how to change the code for the electronic garage door opener, has the sprinkling system been blown out for the season or where the water shut off is located.

In late October the questions are often a bit more "festive". New homeowners buying into  neighborhoods big and small often want to know how many kids are in the neighborhood  which quickly translates to how many bags of candy will be needed.

A few years ago I attended a closing for a home in Anoka, County. The seller lived on a dead end street with only a handful of neighbors as is quite normal in this area filled with acreage homes. The seller made share the wants of young neighbor girl who had recently lost a front tooth (or two). She had stopped over with a request for "Reethe's Pee-thes" as her preferred Halloween Candy. 
Have a festive, fun and safe HALLOWEEN!

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Real Estate Word of the Day: Assessed Value

First Time Homebuyer Real Estate Word is Assessed Value

So many real estate terms can be confusing to home buyers and sellers alike whether it is an acronym like FSBO or an often used word like equity or foreclosure. As a REALTOR® I am not surprised when that look of confusion comes 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 homebuyers that are more interested in room sizes and kitchen counters to be confused with the everyday real estate jargon like down payment or cash to close. This confusion is very understandable because for most people, buying a home is a once in a lifetime experience.

This REALTOR® jargon is so prevalent, I thought a First Time Homebuyer glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. From time to time I have been adding to this list of terms used often by REALTORS® in a series of posts. 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:

Assessed Value (or Tax Value) Every home has a value assigned to it by the county assessor which is the assessed value. This value is updated on regular basis (usually once a year) and it is used for determining your property tax. This value should not be confused with an appraised value (value determined by an appraiser) or market value (value determined when listed on the market), since it is often a year or two out of date. Usually the assessor will determine a separate value for the land and the structures. This value does not add for landscaping which would be included in a values determined by appraisers and homebuyers.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, October 11, 2013

Buying a First Home? Define YOUR Dream!

Minnesotans are fortunate to live in an area where housing is affordable. Couple that with the low interest rates and first time buyers who live in the Minneapolis/St Paul metro have opportunities to buy that aren't available in other parts of the US.

However affordable, buying a first home can be quite intimidating. Understanding the difference between a lender mediated short sale,  a bank-owned foreclosure and traditional sale is essential. The Twin Cities market still has some distressed homes in the market but there are abundantly more traditional and new construction sellers too.  From Forest Lake to Blaine to Hugo and White Bear Lake, there are homes in all shapes, sizes, price ranges and conditions. 

Savvy home buyers will educate themselves using the wealth of information that is available online, but there will come a time to view the home in person too and many first time home buyers get stuck on what is the first step to buying a home. But I can help...and surprisingly, it is commission FREE!

I love assisting first time home buyers!

The thought of owning a first home is exciting and that excitement bubbles right out of these home buyers. Most will have a picture in their heads of what their dream home should look like.  Part of my job is to help draw out that picture and locate a home that will fit their dream. But each dream is different.

  • Is it a little bungalow with the white picket fence?
  • A new trendy condo in the heart of downtown St. Paul?
  • Or maybe a vintage, fixer-upper to renovate and build equity?

As a REALTOR® working for home buyers, I work with you to define YOUR dream. But my service while invaluable is FREE!  It doesn't cost buyers one cent in commission to have representation but and is received is priceless!

As the real estate market in the metro becomes more balanced, there still are options in almost every price range for a homebuyer to consider. So how does a buyer narrow down the choices? 

Working with a professional real estate agent can help. The first step is always to get pre-approved for a mortgage to define an affordable price range and mortgage program. As a REALTOR®, I work with loan officers and can direct you to someone who is experienced and professional. Once we understand the financial parameters, my job really begins. I work hard to understand my client's needs and lifestyle so we can find the perfect home.

One of my favorite ways to assist buyers is to ask questions that help define their dream...What is most important their home? I take this beyond the number of bedrooms and baths or how many garage spaces. I want to know how do they really plan to live. By taking the time to talk with my buyers about their lives and what is important to them, I better understand their needs and wants in a property.  By taking a short, lifestyle inventory, I focus in on what makes up an ideal house. 

Once home buyers have outlined their needs and wants, putting a priority on the NEEDS of course, the list of potential properties can be narrowed down to good potential options. By understanding what my buyers' picture perfect home is, I help them stay focused and avoid wasting time with homes that don't fit the dream. It most cases it's not long before one house will stand out as the "perfect" home to make an offer on.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tips for Buying a Foreclosure on Minnesota Acreage

Even as prices rose in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro this spring and summer, there were still deals to be had on Minnesota Acreage. There are dozens acreage homes that currently listed  throughout the north and eastern suburbs of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Not all are foreclosures or short sales either. But if you do decided to attempt to purchase a distressed property, you need to be aware it has vast differences than buying from a more traditional seller. For instance, when buying a bank-owned property most 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.) Be aware however that often times a bank will say the testing is the responsibility of the buyer. This testing can cost several hundred dollars. But replacing a failing septic will cost thousands!

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, even if it is a bank, 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 propaneMinnesota State Fire Marshal as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
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 or an fuel oil tank in the basement. 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

**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.

Not every question about buying an acreage property is unique to bank-owned homes. CLICK HERE for more answers to common questions buyers have when purchasing a home on Minnesota acreage. Also, keep in mind to consider all options. Many buyers have found after weighing all the pros and cons that the best deal on a home with acreage may not be a foreclosure or short sale!

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, October 4, 2013

Playing Words with Friends and Selling Real Estate with Ethics

I have always loved to play Scrabble; so much so that my family will groan at the mere mention of this game as a potential pastime.When I received a Kindle last Christmas, I quickly installed and became hooked on Words with Friends and my family rejoiced!

I have a few people I play games with every evening. Some of the other players are really my friends and some are random opponents who are apparently as hooked as I am. (FYI—I refuse to put this or any other game on my phone or I would never get anything done.)

The other day my college student son saw me playing and said, “You know people cheat at that game, right?”

I said that yes, I did know. I know there are apps that will give the best words and online resources to find words ending with x or z. I could play that way too, but I don’t. There’s more sport in a game if you don’t cheat, plain and simple.   

Because it comes down to one word, ethics. But I am not naive; I do realize not everyone has the same ethics as I do...whether playing online or working in the real world.

When I do a market analysis, I play fair. A past selling client recently referred me to a friend of theirs by saying I was a “straight shooter”. I kind of liked that label. 

Even though these particular clients didn’t like all of the things I told them in regard to getting their Forest Lake home sold, I laid it all on the table, the good and the bad. And with work on both of our parts, their house did sell. It was sold within their time frame, budget and they now happily relocated out west.

With their strong recommendation, I was called in along with several very good agents that work the north metro to do a market to do a market analysis for another property. As always, I was honest with my market analysis and recommendations. A week later, I got the call. These sellers went with another agent. I was not surprised or upset by this…it happens when we are all good agents. So, I asked how the final decision was made and who they went with.

The wife’s answer floored me. They chose an agent from out of the area but who said she worked in the north metro. This agent also told them she “sells most of her listings in a day or two via word of mouth”.

Though were selling very quickly this spring certain metro communities, was an anomaly in the Forest Lake area when there are several new construction developments within a few miles selling brand new houses in the same price point. Most homes in this particular development stay on the market 3-4 months at the very least before receiving an offer. This was true even as the market activity increased because the builders in the area had really ramped up their construction efforts.

Telling a seller what they want to hear, whether it is price, timing or any other over promise is not the way I do business. My ethics just don’t allow me to puff up my abilities in that regard to get a listing.

When I was interviewed, I did say I had sold a couple of homes in a matter of days this past spring, but I also said the circumstances were very different. I could not guarantee the same results for their home. If I had over-promised or lead a seller to believe that I could work miracles when it came to their home sale, I would have to deal with their eventual disappointment. An upset client is never a positive in a service business. So I was up front and honest but lost the listing. I was not upset by this…it is the only way to “play the game” in my book. It is not about winning a listing. When it comes to my sellers expectations, I don’t play around.

So if you call me to do a market analysis of your home or list your house, rest assured, I will shoot straight. You might not like everything you hear, but I will be honest. Using this information, we can devise a plan together that will get your home sold. Like I said, it is all about ethics (and a lot of hard work too!)


Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

5 Features of Vintage Homes that Buyers Love!

Age of a home is often a big deal for buyers. Yet not all home buyers want a “brand new” house. In fact, many home buyers seek out vintage homes for features that are too expensive to install in new construction today. Any home built in pre-1960 could possibly fit the bill...even smaller "affordable" homes will have unique details that give the home character.

Top 5 Features of Vintage Homes

Hardwood Floors—Of course new homes can have hardwood floors too but vintage hardwood is usually a smaller board with a very distinctive look to it. It really has character that you cannot find in the recently installed wood floors of today.

Coved ceilings and Plaster Walls —Beautifully rounded corners of a coved ceiling were used in the formal rooms to show elegance. Often these corners were paired with decoratively, swirled ceilings. Similarly, most walls in homes built in the 1960’s and earlier were plaster. This type of wall has a texture and is much more attractive than plain sheetrock.  This type of hand craftsmanship is has become too expensive to build into homes.  

Leaded Windows—Many of these windows will have colorful stainglass type inserts which give a home style inside and out.

Built-ins—Buffets, pillars, cabinets and other architectural details were common in many older homes. Often ornate and expertly crafted a built in cabinet can add to the appeal of a vintage home, especially if well maintained.

Crafted Wood Doors and Mouldings—Often the wood work in an historic home is of significantly better quality than in a comparably priced new home. Solid wood paneled doors were common in the construction of homes pre-1960. And mouldings were larger and thicker than what is used on a home today.

Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.
Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, September 27, 2013

Embrace Viking Purple, But Don’t Put THAT Color on Your Front Door!

Not if you want to sell your house that is. Home buyers gravitate toward certain colors. And unfortunately, purple is one of the top five turn offs as a front door color.

In an article by Angie’s List “What are the best front door colors to sell your home? color choices were put to the test. Home buyer surveys nixed purple as a favorite.

Believe it or not, I have seen Viking purple used on front doors of Minnesota homes. In our family we have an old family saying that “it looked better on the paint chip” when we see any unusual color choice on a house.  But purple isn’t the worst choice for a front door hue. Pink takes that spot with gray, orange and yellow also scoring low. Yellow is a bit of a surprise to me to be a low scorer because it IS appealing for siding, just not the front door.

Top colors are red and white. But white can be hard to keep clean. If you are going to put you home on the market and have a white front door, keep it sparkling. A dirty white door will be a huge turn off too!

Another caution if you choose to paint the front door red to attract buyers to your home; be careful with the shades. If the shade tends to look on the orangey side in the evening under a porch light, this could be a turn off to a home buyer viewing in the evening hours. 

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Septic Systems Maintenance is No Joke! But they do have funny slogans

Every three years like clockwork, I put in a call to Olson's to have our septic pumped out. It’s a dirty business and somebody’s gotta do it. The City of Ham Lake where we live, does not have a public sewer system. We all have individual sewage disposal or septic systems in our yards. The septic pumping and inspection is mandatory every three years. Getting your septic pumped and inspected is a requirement of most Twin Cities metro municipalities. State and county codes are not specific on the subject of on-site or individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS) or septic systems, leaving it up to each Minnesota city to adopted their own rules for inspection.

We have had Olson’s Sewer Service of Forest Lake maintain and inspect our system since we moved to our Ham Lake acreage. Their slogan, “keeping your sewer in the pink” and hot pink trucks are seen all over Forest Lake, Columbus, Lino Lakes, Wyoming and Ham Lake. When the pink reminder postcard arrives in the mail, we schedule our inspection right away.

Olson’s slogan while catchy is tame compared to others as septic professionals really have a sense of humor about the role they play in the community. Here is a list of some favorites that have been seen on sewage and plumbing trucks all over the US:

· Yesterday's Meals on Wheels
· We're #1 in the #2 business.
· You Dump It, We Pump It
· After the first whiff, call Cliff.
· A good flush beats a full house
· We do Pump 'N Right
· We'll take crap from anybody.
· Satisfaction guaranteed or your merchandise cheerfully returned.
· Your poop is our bread and butter!
· Your brown is our green.

If you have a
septic system on your property, check with city hall for specific time frames. While once every three years is required in Ham Lake, it is once every two years in Lino Lakes. Most cities require that the tank, drain field and baffles of the system be checked at the same time. The licensed contractor will provide a completed permit to the city to document the inspection.

This is not an optional inspection. If you choose not to inspect your system, the city might do it for you. Then you could be on the hook for additional fines and charges from your city.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Backyard Pond? Take Steps Now so YOUR Koi Survive the Minnesota Winter!

Koi ponds are beautiful additions to a Minnesota backyard in the summertime. But how do the fish survive a Minnesota winter?

I have sold a few homes with ponds and waterfalls that hold beautiful koi, a fish that resembles a giant goldfish. One sale took place in the dead of a Minnesota winter. Thank goodness the buyers were “koi-experts”.  They knew if the pond wasn't properly winterized, the fish could all be dead under the ice.

Of course when I looked at the pond, I figured they had to be goners already. It can get very cold in January and February and we hit some brutally low temps that year. But the pond and fish did survive because the seller did take proper steps in the fall.

Well it’s that time of year again and if you do have a koi pond in your Minnesota backyard, it’s time to prepare your pond for the winter ahead.

 Here are a few important tips to help your Koi Survive the Minnesota Winters.

Clean the Pond—Before the water temperature of the pond drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, vacuum all sludge and debris from the bottom of the pond.  Test and treat for parasites and bacteria.

Shut off Water—When temps drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit make sure all water sources are off and pipes drained. The water must cool to keep reduce the body temperatures of the fish.

Don’t Allow to Freeze—Use a de-icer or aerator to maintain a small hole in the ice to remove toxic gases like ammonia that will accumulate under the ice.

Don’t Feed—Once pond water hits 55 degrees Fahrenheit and stays at that temp day and night for 10 days, it is time to stop feeding and shut off the water.

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Real Estate Word of the Day: Equity

From time to time I will be working with  home buyers and be struck by the confusion in their eyes when I talked about escrow or earnest money. These can easily be confused with other real estate and mortgage terms like down payment or cash to close. This confusion is a reminder that simple terms I use everyday as a REALTOR® might be unknown to others. It is totally understandable because most homebuyers do not buy houses everyday.
There are so many terms that could possibly confuse a first time home buyers and repeat home buyers alike, that I thought an online glossary of real estate terms might be helpful. From time to time, I have written about these essential terms. It is a series of posts for the first time home buyers where I explain some of the most often used (and sometimes confusing) real estate terms. This way you can skip buying that big “how to buy a house” book and have a quick resource at your fingertips. Today’s Real Estate Term is:

EQUITYThe amount of ownership one has in a property is the equity. This means if a home is appraised at $200,000 and the homeowner owes the bank $150,000, he would have $50,000 in equity.

An FHA buyer initially has very little equity because of the very low down payment required for the loan (usually 3.5%). Whereas a conventional buyer, who puts down 20% or more on the home, will have a greater percentage of equity.

It is important for a first time buyer to understand this term because it can be used in property descriptions. A home that is in a “negative equity" position is a short sale. This means the homeowner owes more to the bank than the home is worth in the current real estate market.

Other real estate ads will describe homes as an “equity builder”. This is where a buyer can build equity in the home faster by making improvements like finishing a basement so the home increases in value more quickly than if nothing is done on the home.

Another term used by REALTORS® in advertisements is “sweat equity”. This is similar to an equity builder but often describes a home that could need significant work to bring the property to its full value.


Copyright 2014 www.terieckholm.com


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Speechless Sunday (Almost)--It's Hard to Hide an Elephant

You know the old saying about ignoring the elephant in the room, right? It goes to say, that an elephant can be hard to hide too.

This translates to real estate when selling your home. If you need to make a repair, don't just gloss over it. A buyer (or buyer's inspector) will find it. I have shown homes where substandard repairs were made by unskilled homeowners. It doesn't help. You have to make the repair correctly or "the elephant" will be easy to spot!

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tips for the First Time Homebuyer—Get a Home Inspection!

Yea!! You just found home the perfect place to call home—Your DREAM HOME!  As you sit with your REALTOR®  to write up your offer, she asks, “Do you want to do an inspection?” And suddenly, all reason and goes out the window because you answer, “Inspection? Do we really NEED an inspection? The house looks perfect!”

As a REALTOR® representing clients throughout the north and east Minneapolis and St Paul metro, I am surprised when someone opts to forgo an inspection. Buying a home is the single most important purchase most people will make in their lives. It is important to have a non-biased professional inspect the property for defects prior to the final papers being signed.

Homebuyers can have a number of questions about a home inspection. Frequently I hear, what does the inspector check in a home inspection? Who selects the inspector? Who pays buyer or seller? What is the cost of an inspection? What really needs to be inspected?

I believe every buyer, first time or not, should inspect a home they purchasing. But there are different types of few different types of inspections. A total home inspection does cover the house, but often additional experts are required to inspect the total property. And sometimes additional or special testing is required so that the buyer can have a better understanding of the home they are purchasing.

Total Home Inspection—$400-600 depending on the size of home and company selected for the inspection. The fee it is paid for by the buyer.  This is a great starting point for most home buyers and it may be the only inspection necessary for most single family homes.  The basic inspection will be a 2-3 hour top to bottom look at the house; usually including a review of the roof, foundation, mechanicals, structure and built in appliances to ascertain if they are in proper working order. Other testing could be recommended if the home inspector notices any particularly unusual situation that will need expert evaluation. Some inspection companies will charge additional fees for checking outbuildings and unusual features so verify what is covered under the basic service prior the scheduled appointment.

Septic Compliance Inspection—$400-500 for the inspection plus $300-$500 to pump the septic system before the test can be performed. This test is requested by the buyer but traditionally paid for by the seller. In Minnesota, if the septic system is found incompliant, the state will be notified and the homeowner will have one year to bring it up to code. In the case of a foreclosure or short sale, the property owner may insist that the buyer pay for all inspections including the septic system. The cost of purchasing a home with the septic system AS-IS can be risky as the cost of replacing a failing or non-conforming system is $15,000-$20,000.

Well Inspection—$150-$250 This is an inspection of the well by a licensed well installer to determine if the well is in good operating condition. The fee can be paid for by either the buyer or the seller.

Well Water Testing—$100-$200 depending on which elements the water is tested for. In most cases, this test is paid for by the seller. The water is collected by the independent testing service and some tests will take up to two weeks for results unless additional fees are paid for rush testing. Most often a test is for will require a water test for bacteria and nitrates. Some buyers will also request a test for lead.

Inspection for Radon—$150-250 usually paid for buy the buyer. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas which is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. It is found in many Minnesota homes entering through cracks in basement foundations and open tops of block walls. It is colorless and odorless so most homeowners are not aware of a problem unless the home has been tested. It is estimated by the Minnesota Department of Health Radon Information page, that 1/3 of Minnesota homes have radon levels that pose a substantial risk to homeowners.  As of January 1, 2014, sellers in Minnesota will have to disclose if there is a known radon risk in the home.

Inspection for Lead—$200-300 usually paid for buy the buyer. Home sellers are required to disclose whether there are any known risks of lead in all homes built prior to 1978. Lead was a common ingredient in paint prior before 1978. Many homeowners have not tested so they are not aware of lead risks in the home. It is important to assume that older painted surfaces used paint containing lead. If these surfaces have been painted the risk is limited. But home buyers do have an option to have additional testing completed on the home they purchase. The Minnesota Department of Health has additional recommendations for testing a home for lead on their website lead poisoning can cause permanent problems with health, learning and behavior in children and significant health problems with adults. 


Mold Inspections—$200-$1000 Mold testing is costly and according to the Minnesota Department of Health Mold Information Page, it does not need to be done for most homes unless there is an indication of a problem. Stucco homes built in the late 1990’s with poor air circulation have been known to have significant potential problems. Homeowners with stucco homes will often test the home prior to listing and have a report for the buyer to review. Buyers can also elect to retest the home if the previous report is not acceptable to the buyer.  If a foreclosure and short sale owner does not have the funds to do the expensive moisture testing, the buyer may have to pay for the test or accept the home AS IS. This is a risk as repairs for full mold abatement can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and the home would be unlivable during the process. 

Copyright 2013 www.terieckholm.com