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Alan Hoekstra
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Alan Hoekstra

(763) 614-4444

AlHoekstra@edinarealty.com

Untitled Document

Get advice

Your no-nonsense real estate guide

April 2012

Is your home worth more than you think? 


Today’s market may be good news for sellers who have been waiting on the sidelines. Low inventory and pent-up demand means that if you sell your home, you could benefit from increased competition among buyers.

“The reason this is a good time to sell, especially for traditional sellers, is that there is a shortage of homes for sale right now. Sellers are finding that their homes are selling more quickly, and many are experiencing multiple offers, which can increase the sales price of a home,” said Edina Realty president Barb Jandric.

Additionally, there is a pent-up demand for quality homes. Throughout the downturn, buyers have been cautiously waiting for the right time to buy. With the lowest unemployment numbers since 2008 in Minnesota, many buyers are now confident enough to take advantage of the historically low interest rates and home prices. 

“Minnesota was one of the first markets to go into the housing correction, and we really feel that we are one of the first to come out. We have as favorable a market for a seller as we have experienced in the last eight years,” said Jandric.

Click here for additional information on selling a home in this market.

Tax breaks for homeowners 


The tax breaks available for homeowners can help make up for money spent on your home's down payment and other up-front expenses. Here is a list of tax breaks every homeowner should take into consideration.

The mortgage interest deduction tax break is one of the most popular for homeowners. During the first months of owning a home, much of your monthly mortgage payments account for loan interest, which can be deducted from your mortgage when filing taxes. Deductions will vary depending on your lender, but Form 1098 will verify the amount and should be kept for auditing purposes.

New homeowners generally have low equity, and if your adjusted gross income is lower than $100,000 with a married, filing-together status, you may be allowed to deduct paid private mortgage insurance. Generally, homes with more than 20 percent equity aren't required to pay PMI. Combined incomes that are over $100,000 but under $109,000 may qualify for a lower deduction.

If you installed energy-efficient features in your home, you may be able to receive a tax credit of 10 percent of the products' costs. The improvements must have been made before the new year and there are caps on costs. There are also other green energy tax deductions available for eco-friendly homeowners.

The best questions to ask at an open house 


When looking at homes for sale, you will likely have a list of features you are looking for, as well as some that may prevent the purchase. You should also consider asking the following questions when touring an open house.

First, it is acceptable to ask if there have been any other offers on the property. This may reveal your competition for the residence while also offering insight on any offers the sellers rejected – both of which can help you adjust your offer. 

Next, you may want to ask if the house has ever been in escrow, which could mean it had previous issues with appraisals or inspections. Before moving forward with a home that has been in escrow, obtain copies from reports that can reveal any damages, and request a secondary inspection before making an offer.

It is also important to ask how long the home has been listed for sale. If the home has been on the market for a while and hasn’t recently decreased in price, you may be able to make a lower offer.

While many real estate agents may hesitate to answer, consider asking why the current homeowners are selling. If the owners are under financial pressure or already have a moving date set for another property, you can create a better timeline for yourself for making an offer and closing.

How to determine your need for flood insurance 


After purchasing your home, you may be wondering what steps you should take to ensure that your new investment remains protected. When determining whether you should purchase flood insurance, consider the following advice from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

According to the NFIP, anywhere it rains has the potential to experience flooding. Flooding can be started by a variety of weather conditions, including hurricanes, or can result from outdated drainage systems and severe rainfalls or spring snowmelt.

The NFIP also reports that even areas that have never experienced a flood are still at risk for future incidences, as flood risk is not solely based on history. Minnesota homeowners are urged to check flood-hazard maps produced by the agency for help determining the need for, and cost of, flood insurance.

As a homeowner, when determining the risks in your property's location, you may find your area listed as either having a moderate-to-low risk or high-risk, and the NFIP says your insurance premiums are dependent upon your area's level of risk. If you live in a moderate-to-low risk area, you may qualify for coverage at a lower rate.

To determine the cost and coverage of flood insurance for your home, contact an Edina Realty Insurance representative.

Searching is easier on edinarealty.com 


Searching for a new home online should be easy, and with edinarealty.com’s recently updated property search, it is.

Now when you are house hunting on edinarealty.com, all your search criteria is logged and appears above the search results display in the center of the page. To widen your results, delete search terms by clicking the “x” next to each selection.

Once you find the search that’s right for you, save it by clicking “Save this search” under the summary of your selections.

As always, you can also save specific properties that stand out to you. Your MyEdinaRealty account will keep track of changes to your saved searches and properties, even sending you email updates if requested.

Test out our updated property search now!

2012 paint color trends 


Whether you recently purchased a home or are just looking to give your walls new life, a fresh coat of paint can give any home a new look. The Paint Quality Institute (PQI) has come up with what is believed to be the hottest paint color trends in 2012.

According to the institute, many of the soon-to-be popular colors will reflect hues found in nature. After gaining popularity in 2011, blue will continue to be trendy. One color expert says that there are different shades of blue that are fitting for any living space. Bright sea blues are great for bedrooms, while muted blue-greys work well as neutrals for communal living areas.

Greens are also expected to remain popular and will likely work best in kitchens and dining rooms. Natural greens can help brighten up or dim down many rooms throughout your home, depending on the shade or hue you select. Darker shades found in ferns and firs will be popular accents, while lighter greens like celery and asparagus can set the tone for full walls and rooms.

Majestic purples, which reflect the color of mountain scenery, are also expected to gain popularity. Depending on the shade chosen, purple can act as a neutral canvas or a bright accent color.

Homeowners looking for something other than bright colors may like the combination of black and white, which will also make a comeback in 2012. The classic pairing is perfect for homeowners with simple yet chic décor.

If solid colors aren't your idea of a new look, the institute says patterned paint, including lacy designs and color blocking, will continue to be popular in 2012.

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