Get Insights April 2015 | Earl Novotney
Earl Novotney
(715) 577-9292

Licensed in WI (Broker)
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Earl Novotney

(715) 577-9292


Why this year’s lakefront market will be hot for buyers

As the nation adjusts to life after the downturn, some luxuries are becoming realities again. In the housing market, vacation homes saw a massive surge in sales, rising 57 percent in 2014 over the year before. This stat, from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), came from a bigger survey of vacation and investment home buyers.

NAR’s survey also showed that vacation homes accounted for 21 percent of total home sale transactions in 2014, which is the largest share recorded since it was first conducted in 2003.

But what does that mean for our local market? For starters, our “vacation home” market is largely relegated to lakeshore homes across Minnesota and western Wisconsin, so we’re predicting that the waterfront home market will continue to see an upswing. For local buyers, this could mean an increase in competition, as their neighbors enter the vacation home market, too.

Below, we remind buyers what they can expect as they enter the lakeshore home buying market.

Knowing what price to expect

Waterfront homes are traditionally more expensive than non-waterfront homes, but today’s pent up demand may widen the gap. Buyers who are searching Brainerd lake homes, for example, will find that the median sale price is $280,000 for a property with a private waterfront. If that’s higher than your budget, you could consider a home with lake access, which means that you can still launch your boat from a public access, but you won’t have a private waterfront lot. In Brainerd, buying a lake access home lowers the median price to $167,500, which may be more in line with what you can spend (Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors®, MAAR).

The good news about these prices? They are still far below what we saw prior to the economic downturn and will continue to appreciate with continued market improvement.

Be ready to buy

With the rise in demand for lake homes, we anticipate that buyers may scoop up high-quality listings that come on the market within the next few months, so they can enjoy a full summer “Up North” or due west, in Wisconsin.

If you’re looking to buy a lake house or cabin in Minnesota or western Wisconsin—and be all moved in by the fourth of July—we advise you to work with one of our local lakeshore experts to determine your desired location, budget and home type upfront. Then, whether you’re in the market for an Alexandria lakeshore home or a Spooner, Wis. lake cabin, you’ll be ready to move when the right property is listed. Reach out todayReach out today to start your waterfront home search.

Lake home or cabin?

There’s a big difference between the price of a modest lake home and a waterfront luxury home with accommodations for your entire extended family. Test out some online searches to see what kind of property looks right for you, and is in your budget.

We can work together to determine where the big rise in prices occurs for your local market. For example, private three-bedroom lakefront homes in Crow Wing County have a median home price of $290,000. But when you increase to four bedrooms or more, the median price jumps to $420,000 (MAAR). That makes sense when you think of some of the really large estates you see along the Whitefish chain of lakes. But our market offers an array of choices, from properties on lakes large, small and in between, and in different price points. It’s all about knowing your needs and doing your research until you find the right home in the right place.

Ready to begin your search?

It may be a busy season for lakefront home buyers, but we are here to help!

Edina Realty has the best lakeshore home search in the market, and we can help you search in every market across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Begin your lake home search hereBegin your lake home search here, or reach out todayreach out today to start your search in person.

Plus, keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook, where we’re sharing exclusive #BuyerInsights.

Homebuyers shaking hands of realtor in front of open house

Is it time to sell your lakeshore home?

If you’ve been holding onto your lakeshore home, it may be time to consider selling. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), vacation home sales were up 57 percent last year. 2014 also marked the highest amount of vacation home sales since NAR began surveying the data in 2003.

Locally, we can confirm that buyers are circling and are ready to purchase lakeshore properties. The low inventory we are seeing across the traditional market is seeping into the waterfront home sale market — even as our local economy improves and buyers are looking for a new vacation home in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Below, we’ve outlined a few of the top markets for lakeshore home sales, with data provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR).

Market snapshot: Brainerd

Waterfront home sales in the Brainerd area are up, and so are prices. In March 2015, waterfront properties in the Brainerd statistical area reached an average sales price of $280,000; this is the highest point in more than two years for Brainerd lake homes.

Meanwhile, new waterfront listings in Brainerd rose 7 percent, pending sales increased 6 percent and the average days on market decreased 6 percent to 183 days.

The lesson here? If you’re considering offloading your Brainerd home on the water, start the process now. We’re anticipating an onslaught of early summer buyers, so high-quality waterfront homes in Brainerd may sell faster and for more money than they have in the last two years.

Market snapshot: Alexandria

In Alexandria, Minn., lakefront home prices increased 5 percent in March 2015 over the previous year. Alexandria waterfront homes are now selling for a median price of $262,659. Sellers are also getting what they ask for, averaging 95 percent of their last listing price at the closing table.

With these indications of buyer demand, it’s not surprising that new lakeshore listings in Alexandria increased 15 percent in March. The good news is that pending sales are exceeding this new inventory, at an 18 percent increase over last year. Whether you have an Alexandria lake cabin or a larger Alexandria luxury waterfront home, it may be a great time to sell the property to eager buyers who are already in the market.

Market snapshot: Siren, Wisconsin

Siren, Wis., is always a desired spot, but in looking at the town of Siren’s waterfront home stats, we are seeing a clear upward trend. After two years of stagnant prices, lakefront home prices in Siren surged up 19 percent in March over the previous year. Siren lake homes and cabins now have a median sale price of $193,450.

Additionally, new listings are coming on the market more slowly and increased only 7 percent last month even as pending sales increased by more than 200 percent. Waterfront home sellers in Siren are also receiving more than 95 percent of their last list price at the closing table.

The message? Your Siren lakefront home may be in high demand. By listing in the next month or two, you can still catch the summer buyers who are hoping to close a deal quickly.

Market snapshot: The Twin Cities

Of course, not all lakeshore homes are up north or in western Wisconsin. Many of them are within the thirteen-county metro area. Right now, this local market area is seeing the highest lakeshore home sale prices since April 2009, at $363,500. While that’s already great news for our local market, the real celebration is taking place at the closing table.

Local lakeshore home sellers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are garnering 97 percent of their last listing price and average days on market has decreased 10 percent from last year, to just 84 days. That means in most cases, homes are selling faster and buyers are willing to pay a fair price. If you’re selling your waterfront home in Minneapolis, St. Paul or the surrounding suburbs this spring, you’re likely to get the list price you’re asking for.

Getting ready to list

Remember, we’ve broken out only a few areas and every county, city and even lake or river, can vary in its conditions for local sellers. The best way to get started on the process of selling your waterfront home is to get a professional home value estimate.

Reach out todayReach out today to get an expert opinion of what your waterfront home is worth today, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more #SellerInsights.

Pssst! Can’t wait to get started? To prep your waterfront home for sale, follow these expert staging and selling tips for lakeshore homeowners.


Five tips for finding your first perfect lake house

Whether you grew up with a lakefront cabin or home in your family, or have spent weekends and holidays at resorts or friends’ homes “Up North,” it’s a common dream to wish for a lake house of your own. If you’re ready to start making fantastic memories like early morning fishing trips, sandcastle building and sunset happy hours, follow this easy guide for #BuyerInsights into lakeside living in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

1. Choose the right lake for your needs

Start by asking yourself why you are buying a waterfront house. The possibilities for waterfront fun are endless, says Jim Eisler, the sales manager for the Edina Realty Brainerd, Garrison, Crosslake and Hackensack offices. “How do you intend to use the lake on an ideal weekend? Are you looking for water activities and a lake conducive to water skiing and wakeboarding? Do you envision long pontoon rides, and the call of the loons? Do you fish for walleye, northern or the elusive muskie? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask and answer before you start your search.”

Keep in mind what is static and what can be modified when it comes to lakes and lakefront properties. “Elevation and lakeshore quality have been created by nature and cannot usually be changed or modified, but the waterfront structures generally can be—subject to zoning ordinances,” says Eisler.

2. Consider locations

Once you’ve figured out the kind of lake property you want, it’s time to consider the best location for your new adventure. Think of your starting point—either your primary residence, or your work. If you live and work in the eastern suburbs, for example, you may be interested in looking at lake homes in western Wisconsin. Burnett County is full of great properties, including in the popular cities of Siren, Spooner and Webster. Closer to the border, you may find you love St. Croix Valley riverfront homes.

If you work in downtown Minneapolis, consider exploring the Brainerd and Baxter areas, which are just two short hours away. Alexandria, another popular area for lake cabins and homes, is also only two hours northwest of the metro area.

If you’re in the southern suburbs, you could head east to the Chippewa Valley of Wisconsin. Menomonie has plenty of great waterfront homes and Chippewa Falls is known for its beautiful lakefront properties on Lake Wissota.

Of course, when you have a fabulous lake home to retreat to on the weekends and holidays, any area can be the one you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you’ve settled on your desired lake home and its location or need a little help finding the right spot, we can help. We’ll ask the right questions so you can enjoy your new property for years to come. After all, we live here. We’re lake experts.

3. Think local

If you’re thinking of buying a waterfront home, we’d be remiss not to remind you that there are plenty of great bodies of water right where you live! Don’t forget to consider changing up your primary residence to be on a lake year-round.

Lake Minnetonka, White Bear Lake, Lino Lakes and Lake Waconia are a few of the most well-known metro lakes, but there are plenty more lakefront and riverfront homes available in Chanhassen, Woodbury, Maple Grove, Bloomington, St. Cloud, Rochester and more.

4. Know the rules

As one of our most precious natural resources, it’s important that lake property owners take great care of the lake or river where they live. In many cases, there are building ordinances that protect the water, and also protect homeowners from building too close to the shore. If you’re planning to build on an empty lot, or to tear down an existing home and rebuild, we can walk you through the exact guidelines of each lake in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and put you in touch with developers who specialize in waterfront building.

Plus, to learn about how the lake is being protected for the future, see if the lake in question has an association that oversees the area. Many associations can give you the history of the lake and tell you how governing bodies like the county and DNR monitor the lake for clarity, fish and safety.

5. Financing a lakefront home

Oh yes, there’s still that little question of money. Whether you’re buying a waterfront primary home or a weekend lake cabin, you should connect with a mortgage loan officer early in the process.

If you’re buying this lake home as a second property, you’ll work together to determine if you are able to (and want to) use the equity from your primary residence to help pay for the down payment or closing costs of the new lake home. Your mortgage loan officer will work together with you to find the best loan option as you buy your lakefront property.

Another option might be to secure financing directly from the seller. This is called a contract for deed or land contract. Together, we can discuss the pros and cons of this method of financing.

One last note: if you plan to rent out this property, we can check with your mortgage loan officer on how it could impact your loan.

Getting started

With our early spring and the success of our local economy, lake property sales are on the rise! If you’re hoping to enjoy a waterfront property this summer, get started now so you have plenty of time for backyard barbecues, boat cruises and bonfires.

Reach out todayReach out today to get started on the process of buying a lake home, or start searching waterfront properties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin todaystart searching waterfront properties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin today. If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, follow #BuyerInsights for more great tips.


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