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Scott Skjei
Michele Skjei

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Scott and Michele Skjei


October 2015


Is fall the best time to buy and sell a home?

While you’ve undoubtedly heard about spring market frenzy, you may not know what to expect when buying or selling a home in the fall. Many find that buying and selling in autumn is less stressful and allows them to use the winter to build a feeling of home. Below are insights you can use as you consider buying or selling a home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin this fall.

Something’s in the air

Before we get into the market numbers, let’s discuss what Edina Realty regional manager Marge Kane calls “the fall feeling.” Whether you’ve lived in the Midwest your whole life or recently moved here, you’ll notice that as the air and leaves get crisper, everything seems a little smoother than it did in the summer. (Even attending three soccer games on the weekend feels refreshing when you have a flannel blanket and a warm cup of coffee on the sidelines.)

Similarly, fall just feels like a great time to start over in a new home. “Many buyers have mentioned that they love moving into a new home in fall because it’s the right time for a fresh start. Plus, when you move in the fall, you get to spend your winter ‘nesting’ and really making a home your own. If you buy in the spring, you’re more likely to be outside and less likely to paint, decorate or organize for the long-term during your first few months of homeownership,” explains Kane.

Looky-loos need not apply

When there’s an open house on every corner in the spring, dozens of “looky-loos” may attend just out of curiosity. In most cases, they plan to buy eventually, but are just starting to dip their toes in the water and aren’t ready to make an offer. This kind of interest can be hard for both buyers and sellers. Buyers may assume a home is going to get dozens of offers, even if that’s not the case. Sellers might think the same—and may be less excited if they only get one offer instead of multiples.

Because fall may be a less popular time to buy or sell a home, open houses and showings are usually for serious buyers. This could mean a less competitive market for buyers. Together, we’ll walk through deep insights so you know what to expect given the inventory and desirability of your selected neighborhood.

For sellers, selling in the fall could mean a faster path to closing, as your buyers likely have a reason to be entering the market in this less common time.

Digging into the numbers

Of course, we know that buying and selling in the fall is also greatly affected by inventory and buyer demand, so let’s look into the data trends.

The numbers show that sellers have a great opportunity to sell in the fall. In 2014, an average of about 5,000 homes were sold in the 13-county metro area during each summer month of June, July and August. Comparably, an average of 3,700 homes were sold in each fall month—September, October and November. 2013 pending sales numbers showed a similar trend (Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS). While spring and summer are known as the peak times in the market, the housing market doesn’t hibernate when the leaves start to turn colors.

Additionally, home sales have been on the rise in 2015, hitting a near 10-year high in April. Typically in autumn months, there are still many great choices for buyers, and sellers often find themselves competing against fewer listings, so it’s a great time to be on either side of the closing table.

This fall, inventory has been building to offer more choices for buyers, but some popular cities and neighborhoods may still attract multiple offers as buyers compete over the same property. To best prepare for the buying conditions, we can review market statistics specific to an area, so you have insights you can use during your home search. We’ll also set expectations surrounding selection and competition.

Thinking of getting started?

As you can see, the fall is about more than pumpkin-flavored treats and bagging up that ever-growing leaf pile. If you’re thinking of buying a home or are ready to put your property on the market, reach out today to get started.reach out today to get started. Our local experts have all the insights and expertise you need to close during the fall season.

For even more insights on the process of home buying or selling, follow #BuyerInsights and #SellerInsights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


Three ways to make sure you get the best mortgage interest rate

Everyone is talking about mortgage interest rates, and borrowers are especially eager to get the lowest rate possible. Here are insights you can use as you work to secure a mortgage loan in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.

1. Be a an ideal borrower

In order to take advantage of today’s low interest rates, it’s important to demonstrate that you have the ability to repay your mortgage. When looking over your loan application, your lender will closely review your credit score and history, income history, savings and other financial factors.

Typically, the ideal borrower needs proof of stable income, preferably a tenure of two or more years at the same employer, a high FICO score and a verifiable down payment—plus cash reserves.

Remember, if you don’t fit the above description (and many borrowers don’t), it’s still possible to secure a loan that fits you and your financial goals. There are options for first-time buyers or those who don’t meet the ideal borrower standards.

2. Be cautious with your down payment and mortgage loan total

Mortgage loans can now be approved with as little as 3 percent down, but borrowers who put down more than the requirement may secure a lower interest rate. Similarly, if a borrower is approved for a $300,000 loan, but only takes out a loan for $250,000, they may receive a lower interest rate.

Why is this? When a buyer voluntarily takes out less than what they qualify for—either because they increase their down payment or select a less expensive home—it shows they are very serious about their financial responsibility. When your lender sees that you are doing everything you can to minimize your borrowing risk, they may offer a lower rate.

3. Wait to shop for loans until you’re ready

If you plan to shop for loans to get the best rate, wait until you’re ready to buy. When you apply for a mortgage, each lender will inquire about your credit. If these inquiries continue over a long period of time, your credit score could temporarily be lowered, impacting your interest rate once you do finalize a loan application. Experts recommend confining your mortgage shopping to less than 14 days to protect against this. Through Oct 31, 2015, get a second opinion by presenting your good faith estimate to Edina Realty Mortgage (NMLS ID# 490683), and you can get a $50 reward card.

Getting started

Securing a home mortgage loan doesn’t have to be a long, complicated process. Together, we’ll work with your lender to help you determine your loan limit, how much you want to put down and which loan type works best for you. Reach out todayReach out today to get no-pressure insights you can use to secure a loan and start the home buying process.

For more insights on borrowing and buying, follow #BuyerInsights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Don’t forget to look at #BuyerInsights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more insights you can use to navigate the first-time home buying process.


Should you renovate your bathroom before selling?

When it comes to prepping your Minnesota or western Wisconsin home for sale, you may wonder what renovations will bring in buyer attention and if you will get a high return on investment (ROI). Home staging is always recommended, but bathroom remodels are also a popular upgrade for homes in all price points.

Here, we break out some insights on how much a bathroom remodel costs in Minneapolis and surrounding areas, how much of the cost you can expect to recoup and what questions you might ask when considering this project.

The cost and ROI of a bathroom remodel

According to the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report (, a midrange bathroom remodel in the Minneapolis area will cost $77,878 and recoup $54,597 (about 70 percent) upon resale. Specifically, the project begins with a 5-foot by 7-foot existing bathroom and all fixtures are replaced, including:

  • Porcelain-on-steel tub with ceramic tile
  • Single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control
  • Standard white toilet
  • Vanity counter with integral sink
  • Lighted medicine cabinet
  • Ceramic tile floor
  • Vinyl wallpaper

The 2015 Cost vs. Value Report was determined by existing local projects, so the cost breakout is said to be realistic for local homeowners undertaking renovations. Handy homeowners may be able to lower the cost significantly by performing some of the installations, rather than hiring a contractor or plumber. Be sure to check with your city’s ordinances for home renovations to ensure a professional isn’t required for certain tasks, and be careful to assess the risk and the cost when deciding to hire or manage the remodel on your own.

Is a bathroom remodel worth it?

The ROI of a bathroom remodel in the Minneapolis area is relatively high, at 70 percent. Still, the remaining 30 percent calculates out to more than $23,000. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a bathroom remodel:

What does your current bathroom look like?

If your bathroom hasn’t been updated at all since 1968, it may be time to replace everything from the pea-green countertops to the dingy bathtub. However, if the bathroom was given a facelift in the 1990s, you may be able to get away with new wallpaper or paint, an updated vanity and medicine cabinet. In short, think about what upgrades are needed for buyers to view the room as a bright point instead of a sore spot.

Are buyers circling?

If you live in a popular neighborhood with low housing inventory, remodeling may not be worth it. When buyers are competing over a shortage of homes, even a house with a Brady Bunch bathroom can be a hot commodity. Together, we can work together to decide if you need to take on a full remodel.

Will the bathroom pass an inspection as-is?

It may seem obvious, but if your bathroom won’t currently pass an inspection, it’s imperative that you make the necessary fixes. Even the lowest inventory may not make a difference when you have significant plumbing issues.

When is the best time of year to remodel a bathroom?

Any time of year is an okay time to renovate, but many homeowners prefer to update their interior in the cooler months of fall and winter. These months tend to be slower paced and repairs won’t be marred by the humidity of our Midwestern summers. Last, it’s a great idea to make home improvements before the spring selling season is upon you. If you want to make other updates to your home, start by checking out the five home improvement projects with the best return on investment in the Minneapolis area.

Looking for more advice as you prep your home to sell? Follow #SellerInsights on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to get more insights you can use.

© 2015 Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2015 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at


Buying? The lending process will change on Oct. 3, 2015

Owning a home is a significant component of the “American Dream,” and millions of real estate agents, and lending and title professionals work together every day to help buyers achieve that dream. In the last few years, the industry and our nation’s leaders have worked to offer additional transparency and efficiency for homebuyers. As part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created to integrate and improve existing lending and closing forms so homebuyers were fully informed and given enough time to make responsible decisions.

Below, we outline the changes and benefits for buyers that will apply to loan applications taken on or after Oct. 3, 2015.

New timelines and forms

Within three days of applying for a loan, homebuyers will receive a Loan Estimate. The new loan estimate will help buyers understand key features of the mortgage including interest rates, monthly payments and whether or not there is a penalty for early pay off. The three-day requirement gives buyers additional time to review the loan terms and ask questions.

At least three days prior to closing, the homebuyers will also receive a new document called the Closing Disclosure Form (CDF). The CDF provides buyers with a preview of their closing costs so they are informed at an earlier stage in the process.

At closing, as usual, all parties will receive a Settlement Statement, which presents all charges and credits to the buyer and to the seller.

Benefits of the new process

The new forms offer clear language and design, and highlight the information that matters most to buyers. Buyers can also see information about the costs of taxes and insurance, and how their interest rate and payments could change in the future. Last, the new guidelines give homebuyers more time to review their lending information and make the best decisions for their needs.

What happens if I’ve already applied for a loan?

The new CFPB guidelines go into effect for loan applications taken on or after Oct. 3, 2015. Since you’ve already applied, your loan won’t require the new timelines and forms, but you can always work with your real estate agent and mortgage loan officer to fully understand the financials of your home purchase, including your interest rate, total loan amount, closing costs and more.

Still have questions?

Our team at Edina Realty is always here for you. Whether you’d like to chat about mortgage rates or the new closing process, don't hesitate to reach outdon't hesitate to reach out to get deep insights you can use throughout your home search.

Don’t forget to look at #BuyerInsights on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for more insights you can use to navigate the home buying process.


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