Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life on a Minnesota Wetland—Beautiful and Affordable!




Cattails! The sign of a wetland, natural lake, pond or a just a swamp?  The answer often will depend on who you ask. Many buyers of acreage properties whether a large 10+ acre parcel or less than an acre, will ask themselves this question.  And just like with houses, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Minnesota wetlands can be very beautiful indeed.


I find many home buyers love the idea of living on a wetland. They can be pleasantly surprised when the backyard has this feature.  Wetland properties are abundant in Anoka County, Washington County, Chisago County and even in some parts of the more urban, Ramsey County. In the MLS, multiple listing service, a wetland property could be noted as NEDS lakeshore (natural, environmental lake) or a pond.  However, it might not be noted at all. When viewing property, especially in times of drought like this spring, look for cattails as a sign of lower land that can be wet from time to time. 


So how do you decide if a wetland or natural environmental (NEDS) lake home is for you? Take time to consider some of the positives and negatives before making a final decision.


Positives:


Wildlife—White-tailed deer, raccoons, turtles, bears, ducks, loons, eagles, and a host of other animals have been spotted living near Minnesota wetlands.

Privacy—Whether the wetland is 2 acres or 200, it is not buildable in most cases. So a property with a wetland or NEDS lake shoreline will limit neighbors.

Affordable—NEDS lakeshore and wetland properties are significantly less costly than lakeshore on a full use recreational lake.

Activities—Though there could be some restrictions on the uses by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), wetland ponds, environmental lakeshore and NEDS Lakes have been used winter skating, summer canoeing or kayaking and more depending on the water depth.


Negatives:


Mosquitoes—Yes, wetlands are known to attract the other Minnesota State bird too. But Minnesota does have a very good program for keeping these pests under control.

Drainage Issues—If the home is on a smaller lot, the owner must pay special consideration to the foundation. A drain tile system and sump pump could be required. Also homes on private septic systems would have special DNR considerations if the system were to fail.


Need to know more about buying home on a Minnesota Wetland?
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 www.terieckholm.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dreaming of Life on a Minnesota Lake? This Could be the Year to Make YOUR Move!

 
Is spending the summer on a Minnesota lakeshore your dream? What if you could walk out your backdoor and in a few steps be in at the lake? With well over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, it is not just a dream but reality for many homeowners. Living in a lakehome.  Whether you are in Anoka, Ramsey, Chisago, Washington, Hennepin or any other county in our great state lakeshore is a plentiful and beautiful but sadly it is not always affordable. 

How do you find affordable lakeshore in Minnesota and which lake is best for you? That really depends on your needs and how your family will make use of the water. If you want to dock a speedboat or need room to set sail in a larger sailboat, your dream might be to live on a large acreage full recreational lake. But many love the idea of waking in the morning to the calls of nesting loons and or sitting on the deck in the evening to view a brilliant rosy sunset. This buyer might prefer an affordable natural wetland shore. A home with this type of shoreline is can be much less expensive than a home on lakeshore with a sandy beach to swim in and dock for a boat.

 A few years back, when lakeshore prices were seemingly out of reach, I wrote another article, Affordable Minnesota Lakeshore, that remains to this day one of the most popular pages on my website. It was written for those dreaming of a lake home but unable to afford the rising costs on shoreline property in Minnesota. (A full recreational lake will have few, if any, restrictions by the Minnesota DNR for usage of the lake…meaning you can have a speed boat, jet ski, etc.) Because not everyone needs, wants or can afford a home on a full recreational lake, I outlined the best affordable options and alternatives to a full recreational lakehome with shoreline. But with the changed real estate market, these variations on traditional lakeshore are now extremely affordable—usually not much higher than a home without water’s edge. And when you combine these affordable options with frigid temps, a home buyer with lakeshore dreams can find they can afford to live on Minnesota lakeshore!

Channel Shore Shoreline along a channel is a great option for a full recreational lake. Many large lakes will have channels or narrow extensions that lead to other lakes or ponds. Usually there is not a place for a beach but you can have a slip or short dock for your boat. The channel will provide access to the main lake. The view will probably include homes on the opposite shore of the channel but if your goal is affordable use of a full recreational lake, this is a great alternative.

Smaller Lake with Channel to Full Recreational Lake Often the lakes in Minnesota are connected to one or several smaller lakes. This can be a great opportunity. Shoreline that is shallow or weedy is not considered prime but if it has access to a larger lake, it could provide the same enjoyment at a much lower price.

Small Acreage Lake Smaller lakes can be of interest to the more laidback water lover. Often there will be restrictions disallowing motors or only small motors. These smaller lakes can still be great for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. Some will allow docks and beaches but check with the DNR for specific restrictions. A small lake will still offer wonderful natural views at a significantly lower price than a full recreational lake.

Environmental Lakes and Wetlands Very shallow lakes wonderful for privacy but not great for recreation. If you are looking for a home with awesome views of wildlife, this may be something to consider.Deeded AccessMany homes and associations near a full recreational lake have been developed with deeded access providing use of the lake. The ability to have a dock, use the beach, or moor a boat, will be outlined in a legal agreement specifying what uses are allowed. Not all deeded access is created equal! Request a copy of all of the specific uses and rules before writing an offer so you can fully understand the access available as a home owner.

Lake View A home with a beautiful lake view but no shoreline or lake access, can provide the wonderful picturesque views everyone dreams of without the high lakeshore taxes.Location with Public Access NearbyA final option is to look for a home that is near park with public lake access. I sold one such home where the public access to a good-sized full recreational lake was about a quarter mile down the street. This family uses the lake to canoe, cross country ski and fish without driving or trailers. There was none of the additional cost or taxes associated with lakeshore property but all of the benefits!

LINKS LAKE RESOURCES:
  •  Department of Natural Resources Lake Finder Comprehensive search engine to find information regarding the size, depth and condition of Minnesota lakes by county and lake name. There is even information on approximate numbers and types of fish found in the listed lakes. 
  • Shoreland Education   Need to know if you can have a dock? Put in a beach? If the water is safe? This site provides videos and resources to help answer for the most often asked water, lake and shoreline questions

Search for lakeshore Homes in the north and east Twin Cities metro by county on my website. Note the lakeshore county search is below the regular search midway down the page. 


Ready to buy a Minnesota Lakehome and need help from a professional REALTOR®? 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 www.terieckholm.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What is a Low Ball Offer in a Hot Real Estate Market?



In a hot real estate market, what initial offer can insulting to a home seller? 10% less than asking? 5% less? A full priced offer with 3% of buyer's closing costs paid by the seller?

When housing inventory is as tight as it is currently in many north and east Minneapolis/St. Paul metro communities, what is considered a "lowball offer" might be less than you think.

 
As a REALTOR
®, I have seen my share of sellers who were insulted by a buyer’s offer over the years. There are times when anything less than a full priced offer is insulting. But should a buyer be afraid to request a few thousand toward closing costs with a fear that the seller will balk and accept the next offer in line?
 

A lot depends on the price and location within the Twin Cities. In some neighborhoods, it could be insulting to offer less than full price especially if it is a home priced under $200,000. There are an abundance of first time buyers out there looking for affordable, move-in ready homes. There are so many buyers out there that a well prepared and priced property can get an offer (or 2, 3 or more) in a matter of hours and be in pending in a matter of days. There are many neighborhoods and communities throughout Anoka, Washington, Ramsey and Chisago Counties with a very small number of homes for sale. Well priced homes do not stay on the market long.  It can be tough being a home buyer with a limited budget in  this changed market.

In fact some situations buyers will feel frustrated and that they might never get a home. The get advice from friends and relatives to never pay full price. Sellers always negotiate. But in reality, many sellers will not negotiate significantly. And a perceived offensive or  "lowball" offer could put the buyers’ dream home purchase in jeopardy.

How to Coming up with an Acceptable Starting Point:

  • Request that your REALTOR® to do a market analysis. When representing a buyer, I will look up the recent comparable homes sold in the neighborhood before the "what to offer" discussion begins. In this low inventory market, a seller that lists at market value but could still be in a multiple offer situation due to demand. If the home is properly priced and in high-demand area, anything that is not close to full price could mean that the seller will wait for another offer. By looking at the neighborhood comparables, my buyers better understand what offer will be considered reasonable.

  • Consider the original list price. If a seller started off too high and adjusted the price of the home it could be priced right now. If a market analysis shows the current price of the home is fair, offering 5-10% less could be considered insulting. When a buyer has found "THE: house and fallen in love with it, it might make sense to make an offer closer to the asking price rather than haggle and risk losing it.

  • The Overpriced Home. If the market analysis shows the home to be significantly overpriced and the offer will be more than 10% less than current the current asking price, it may be helpful to provide the comparables to the seller and his/her agent. Sometimes when the offer is accompanied by documentation to back up the offer, the seller is less offended.But be careful not to overlook good comps to justify your offer. This strategy can be worse that not providing documentation at all.

  • Buyer’s Plans to Remodel and Update. Some buyers think sending a long list of planned updates complete with associated estimates is a good strategy to negotiate for a price reduction. Often these lists include changes that reflect cosmetic and personal taste. Most sellers are not impressed when a buyer’s offer indicates that they are offering tens of thousands less due to paint, carpet and other cosmetic changes. If the updates are necessary due to age or wear, make note of the fact. But slamming a well maintained and updated home to justify a low offer is insulting and make continued negotiations difficult if not impossible.

  • Avoid Considering Price Paid for Home. I have come across a few buyers who research tax records to determine the price the seller paid for the property. They assume if someone purchased a home at a very low price, they have a ton of equity. This can be true but not always. Some sellers have taken the equity out of their home for improvements or for other reasons. And well sellers do have equity, they usually don't intend to give it away either. Keep the negotiations focused on the fair market value of the home.
Right now, sellers are in excitedly anticipating a non-contingent, pre-approved home 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 a written purchase agreement (or several). 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.

Need help coming up with that perfect starting point for your home offer? 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 www.terieckholm.com
 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Speechless Sunday (Almost)--Mold-A-Rama Flashback at Como Zoo


 
Flashback to elementary school field trips in the 1970's when a visit to Como Park Zoo just wasn't complete as a kid without stopping for a hot wax molded animal from a Mold-A-Rama machine. These machines were a favorite stop for kids with extra change for a inexpensive souvenir back during a grade school field trip in the 1960's and 1970's. (I can still smell acrid scent of that weird hot wax.) The price was only a couple of quarters back then...way less than anything in the gift shop as I remember.  

A decade or so later, in the mid-80's, I remember taking my nieces to the zoo. They too were intrigued by the squished hot wax mold of a Como Park lion or gorilla to take home.  Though we also took our boys to Como on countless occasions in the 1990's, I don't remember every buying them a molded animal to take home. I thought the machines were just a memory.  On a recent visit, I was surprised that the machines in operation again today...but less surprised by the price increase. But at $2, it is still a bargain just to watch the machine in motion creating your hot wax trinket.

Como Park is still one of my favorite places to visit year round. Whether you want to have a family picnic, play a round of mini golf, ride the carousel, walk around the lake, see the animals or the flowers, there is literally something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Looking for a home with something for everyone in your family near Como Park? 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 www.terieckholm.com
 


Friday, April 10, 2015

Pre-Inspection, Truth-In-Housing, Point-of Sale--What's The Diffence?



 
During a pre-listing visit with home sellers I am often asked whether there is a state or county requirement for pre-inspecting a home.  On occasion a seller will mention a friend or relative that had their home inspected prior to the first potential buyer walking in the door. 

Having a home inspection before the sale can be beneficial and optional but can also be required in some Twin Cities communities. The benefit comes at the time of  the offer, when some buyers will actually opt to forgo the inspection, choosing to just read the report. Buyers can also contact the inspector of the initial report for a private walk-though at a discounted rate. I am often asked if this is a common practice in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

In Minnesota, there is no Truth-In-Housing inspection requirement to sell your home at the state or county level. There is however several communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area that do require a pre-inspection report. These go by many names: Truth-in-Sale of Housing Disclosure, Time-of Sale, Time-of-Sale Code Compliance, Dwelling Maintenance and Occupancy Code Compliance, Housing Code Compliance Inspection or Housing Maintenance Code Inspection. Some of these inspections are done by inspectors that are city employees while other communities have licensed, private inspectors to perform the inspection of the home to meet the city requirements. In this instance it would be the homeowner’s responsibility to select a private inspector to perform the inspection prior to listing the home for sale.


The Twin Cities communities that currently require a home inspection are:
 
Private Inspectors (Selected by Homeowner)
  • Bloomington
  • Hopkins
  • Maplewood
  • Minneapolis
  • Robbinsdale
  • St. Paul
  • South St. Paul

City Inspectors
  • Crystal
  • New Hope
  • Osseo
  • Richfield
  • St Louis Park


Can a home seller have a home pre-inspected even if the city does not have a point of sale requirement?
Absolutely! Having your property pre-inspected with a written inspection report available to potential buyers can speed along the negotiations for many buyers. Some buyers will choose to review the report and not have another inspection completed making the offer not-contingent on an inspection. Other buyers will choose to have the inspector who did the pre-inspection come out to the home to explain the details in the report. This is often completed for a reduced fee to the buyer since the work has been completed and it is not as time consuming to the inspector. However a pre-inspection does not guarantee that the buyer will not opt to hire their own independent inspector of the home.


If I give an Inspection or Truth-In-Housing Report, do I have to complete a seller’s disclosure?
That depends.  State law requires that you disclose what you know about the condition of the home so in most cases, a full seller’s property disclosure would be completed by the home owner even if an inspection report is available. However, in the case of an estate or rental property where the owner did not live in the home and has limited information regarding the property to disclose, an inspector’s report can be provided along with an alternative, minimized disclosure that meets all state requirements.


Another note on wells and septic systems: 
Many communities and some counties have point of sale inspection requirements for the septic system and/or private well serving the property in addition to disclosures required as part of a purchase agreement.  Contact me for additional details


Ready to list your Minneapolis/St Paul 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 www.terieckholm.com
 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday--Searching for Snoopy in St Paul Minnesota


Spring is in the air and this week was the baseball season opener. So Snoopy in his Paul Molitor #4 Twin's Uniform is the perfect throwback Thursday photo for this week. 

My family joined with thousands of other Minnesotans back in 2000 search for Snoopy. But the fun didn't end there. A parade of Peanuts Characters followed for five straight years. After we searched for Snoopy throughout the city of St. Paul, in the spring in 2001, we all tried finding Charlie Brown around town. During subsequent summers, we looked for Lucy and then Linus in Ramsey County parks, on street corners and even at the Minnesota State Fair. The Peanuts parade ended in 2004 whenTwin Citians asked, “Where’s Woodstock?”.  That summer we searched for Snoopy and his little yellow friend on decorated doghouses. The statues were auctioned off and the funds used to commission permanent bronze statues that have been installed in downtown St. Paul.  

While the searches have ended over a decade ago, these treasures can still be found throughout the city. Every time I stop at the Shoreview community center, I am greeted by Linus with a brightly colored beach ball.  And when I have to visit St. John's hospital in Maplewood, there's Lucy to greet me at the entrance. While some are in private collections, many are still on display. Check out more sightings of the Peanuts gang on a Facebook page dedicated to these iconic treasures.

Now I spend much more time searching for a perfect homes for buyers than Snoopy's but I do enjoy seeing a Peanuts statute pop up during my travels. It brings back great family memories.

Ready to Search for your Perfect St Paul North or East Metro 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 www.terieckholm.com
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When Bigger isn't Better--It's Time for a Change

 
A week or so ago, without much fanfare, I made a decision to change real estate brokers. I had been with a "big box" broker for my entire career. It was important years ago to have a brand and tools to support my real estate business and give my seller's listings a boost in the market. But now I'm going boutique--Yep, I've made a big change to a smaller brokerage.

The internet has been a great equalizer in real estate. In the past few years our local associations and MLS have provided EVERY broker and agent (big and small) with  a number of  dynamic tools to get homes sold. With reciprocity, homes are shared with other websites like Realtor.com, Zillow and every big box site, so a listing on the MLS will be seen on every site. I was faced with the question, "Why continue to pay for the big box brand?" And, more importantly, why have my clients pay the higher big box fees with little added benefit?

Those two questions helped make my decision and I made my big change to a smaller more dynamic, boutique realty company. At Boardman Realty, I work directly with the broker, Teresa Boardman, not an office manager. T is not only an excellent REALTOR®, expert photographer and blogger, she is my friend. We work well together. It is my goal to exceed the expectations of my clients and with a smaller "box", innovative marketing and lower fees, I am sure to be able to continue to do that.

Interested in working with a boutique broker to sell your Minneapolis/St Paul 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 www.terieckholm.com
 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Selling your Ham Lake Home—What You NEED to Know about Septic Systems



So you plan to sell your Ham Lake acreage home soon. Whether you have one acre or 10, you have a private sewer or septic system to get rid of sewage. This will require a disclosure and quite possibly a compliance test. Do you know what these are? Even if you do not, make sure the REALTOR® you choose, does.

Surprisingly, not all Minnesota real estate agents are familiar with septic systems.  And the lack of knowledge can be costly to a seller. Living in area where private wells and sewage treatment is the norm, has given me the opportunity to work with these properties on a daily basis.  I put this knowledge to use to reduce headaches and surprises down the road in the sales process. 


As of today, Ham Lake does not require a point of sale inspection for septic when selling your home.  This means the city will not require you to have a compliance test on the septic. But it can be advantageous for a seller to consider having the test done prior to listing the home. Why? Because most buyers will make offers contingent on the inspection of the septic system.  If a seller has pre-inspected the system to ascertain it is in compliance, he can provide a copy to potential buyers thus avoiding a contingency being attached to the offer. Also if the system is found to be non-compliant, a seller may be required to upgrade the system. If the buyer has negotiated a sales price prior to the compliance test, he will not want to pay additional for the property even with a new septic. But if a seller pre-inspects and it is determined an upgrade is required, the home can often be sold for a higher price due to the new private sewage system.   

Have more questions about your selling your Ham Lake 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 www.terieckholm.com