Why the seasonal home buying trends don’t apply to you

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Key insights

  • The spring is typically touted as the seasonal high point for the market, but this fall may be a smart time for buyers to enter (or re-enter) the market.
  • While sellers are still at an advantage, the inventory shortage is not as extreme as it was throughout the spring and summer of 2021.
  • If inventory continues to balance out, buyers may experience less competition — and a better chance of having their offer accepted.

We’ve all seen the news stories, where dozens of homebuyers descend onto a just-listed property and make their offers. When homes are selling in mere hours and for over the listing price, it’s easy for would-be buyers to grow frustrated. But as we move further into fall, the market seems to be going through a subtle shift — one that could help frustrated buyers find their dream homes, at last.

A return to a more balanced market?

First, the facts: Home prices are still rising and homes are still selling at a rapid pace. However, the latest local data does show a small bright spot for eager buyers: After a low point last spring, when inventory was down nearly 44%, last month’s data shows that inventory in the 13-county metro area is catching up; it’s now down 20% from 2020 numbers. This is the closest that 2021’s inventory has come to matching 2020’s numbers.

Of course, this data means that there are still many more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale. It could also indicate that buyers will face a bit less competition as they search for homes.

“We are not at a place of balance for buyers and sellers yet. But as inventory gets closer to reaching parity, it could mean that homebuyers feel less pressure to make extremely high bids, or that they are only up against 3 or 4 offers instead of 15,” explains Edina Realty President Sharry Schmid. “This kind of shift won’t give every buyer their pick of homes, but it could help them end a frustrating, months-long search.”

Is fall a smart time to buy a home?

Spring is typically the height of the housing market, and that was certainly true in 2021. Buyers who had been delaying a move were suddenly in desperate need of more space for distance learning, home offices and more — and they entered an already-crowded market with an inventory shortage. The result was a frenzied market, filled with stress and disappointment for some buyers who bid on home after home with no luck.

Now, as some children return to school and parents return to their places of work, it seems likely that the number of buyers will drop as we head into the fall and holiday months. If inventory continues to move toward parity, buyers across Minnesota and Wisconsin could find that this fall is an easier time to buy than last spring or summer. Last, these late-2021 buyers may be the last to take advantage of extremely low interest rates, as some experts predict rates will go up in 2022.

“I know the summer was difficult for many buyers who felt priced out of homes or outbid time and again. With today’s low interest rates, continued gains in inventory and a more manageable pace of sales, this fall could offer a more accessible housing market, even if it’s still not easy,” says Schmid.

What should fall buyers expect?

Buyers may not experience a cutthroat environment this fall, but they should still be prepared to act fast while staying patient.

If you hope to close on a home this fall or early winter, we’ll work together to:

  • Narrow down our search and even look at pre-list properties accessible only to Edina Realty agents.
  • Book a showing as soon as you are able.
  • Attend open houses of homes that have just been listed.
  • Make a fast, fair offer if you are interested in a property.
  • Have a backup offer ready, if you are able.
  • Discuss the contingencies we will include or exclude in your offer.
  • Be prepared to move on quickly, if your offer isn’t accepted.

Ready to get in the game?

With a smart strategy and the right Realtor, buyers may find this fall is the right time to buy. If you’d like to get into the market before the spring’s big rush, get in touch today.

Staging? Play up your storage to sell faster

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Key insights

  • Functional storage spaces might win over the hearts — and pockets — of millennial homebuyers.
  • Sellers should showcase their effective storage spaces, while taking care not to overfill them. Balance is key.
  • Utilize additional spaces like the garage or a storage rental to tuck away items you can wait until after the home sale to use.

Homebuyers are updating their home search criteria with a surprising property feature: storage. Storage has become a major concern among homebuyers, especially millennials who have been squeezing into too-small rentals for more than a decade.

In fact, a report published by the National Association of Home Builders indicates that 79% of millennials want a walk-in pantry and 73% want a linen closet in the owner’s suite bath.

Sellers with these storage areas should be sure to showcase them when they list their home for sale. In some cases, this may even mean “staging” your home’s storage.

Creative ways to stage your storage

Here are five tips to stage your storage creatively — whether you’re listing your home for sale or simply want to tidy your current living space.

1. Store items neatly, in plain sight

70% of millennial buyers desire built-in shelving, so be sure to take advantage of these existing features! Start by filling each shelf with approximately 30% fewer books than the shelf can handle. In the remaining space, create balance and visual interest with candles, picture frames or nothing at all.

Tidy up other noticeable storage spaces, including your:

  • Open kitchen shelving
  • Glass-front cabinets or pantry doors
  • Open credenzas

If your home doesn’t have built-in cabinets or shelving, upgrade your space with other functional storage options. For example, hanging pot storage can help free up space in the kitchen cabinets. Multi-purpose furniture — like bar carts, tiered coffee tables and storage benches — can house other loose items. These items wouldn’t be sold alongside your home, but they do show buyers that your property is spacious enough to accommodate pop-up storage options.

2. Thoughtfully arrange your belongings

While it may seem like items stashed behind closed doors don’t need to be rearranged, it’s actually important to keep “hidden” storage in tip-top shape. Whether browsing photos online or peeking at an open house, potential buyers will be curious about the size and status of the home’s storage closets and rooms. In these spaces, nix the knick-knacks and keep shelves filled and organized at about 50% capacity.

It’s also important to thoughtfully consider where to place items in hidden storage. We all have unique storage tendencies, but items that appear misplaced could indicate to a buyer that your home doesn't have ideal storage space. Go through with a critical eye and remove items that don’t make sense for the space, such as AA batteries in the bathroom linen closet or the Costco-sized paper towel stash in the owner’s bedroom closet.

3. Focus on the aesthetics as you organize

Staging your home — and your clutter — doesn’t need to involve buying anything new. It’s possible to make use of what you already have as you smartly store your items.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Roll your towels instead of folding them, to make your storage look more like a spa than a closet.
  • Organize soaps and other toiletries into an old basket, instead of just stacking them.
  • Repurpose mason jars to hold office supplies or bathroom essentials.
  • Use a retro label maker to cohesively mark pantry staples like spices, nuts and grains.

4. Add storage to your garage

It may seem silly to stage your garage. But 80% of millennials want garage storage, which means that enhancing this space could be an easy way to win over potential buyers. Reform your garage storage with the following:

  • Permanent shelving
  • Ceiling storage racks
  • Organizational cubbies
  • Built-in storage shelves and hooks

Even if you decide not to spend a dime on garage storage, you can still categorize things by usage — lawn tools on one side, auto repair on another. If it’s clear that you use the space well and still have plenty of room to park a car or two inside, that could be a boon to buyers who have a garage on their must-have checklist.

5. Rent a short-term storage unit

If you’re still overwhelmed with stuff after decluttering your home and thoughtfully staging your belongings, it may be time to look into an external storage unit. Renting a separate storage space can be a smart solution if you’re ready to sell your home, but you’re not yet ready to part with some of your home goods.

The final step: Hire an expert

Whether you’ve already organized your storage or you’re looking for more insights about your home’s price, condition and likelihood to sell, reach out any time. Together, we can make the right selling plan for you, your family and your home.

Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: How do I legally get rid of fall leaves?

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Homeownership can be complicated, but we also think it’s one of the most rewarding ventures out there. In our series, Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer, we are hoping to demystify some of the trickier aspects of buying, selling and owning a home.

In this edition, one of our lawyers discusses how homeowners can legally dispose of the leaf piles overtaking their yards.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

Fall is here and I need to do something with all the leaves piling up in my yard. Can I burn them? Or push them into the street for the street sweeper?

Burning leaves used to be quite common, but many municipalities now ban or discourage leaf burning for a variety of reasons, including safety, air pollution and health impacts. In fact, most cities have adopted regulations regarding leaf disposal and leaf burning.

Let’s explore how to legally dispose of all those leaves overtaking your front and back yards.

Minnesota state law on leaf burning

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) requires open burning permits for any fire that is more than three feet high and three feet in diameter, unless the ground is covered in three inches of snow or the fire is contained in an approved burner or similar device.

A permit will allow you to burn vegetative materials including grass, leaves and other brush. So if you do want to burn your fall leaf piles, you can obtain a permit from any MDNR Forestry office, fire warden, or through the MDNR's website.

Wisconsin state law on leaf burning

For Wisconsin residents, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) also offers burning permits; the need for an open burning permit is dependent upon the location of your proposed burn. If you live in Wisconsin, you can both check your location’s permit requirements, and obtain a permit:

  • Through the WDNR’s website.
  • By visiting a WDNR office or an emergency fire warden.

Local regulations on leaf burning

Getting a permit may be just the first step to legally burning your leaves, though. You should also check with your local government authority to ensure you’re not breaking a local ordinance.

Many cities have adopted stricter regulations regarding open burning; cities from Edina to Aurora, Minnesota, have prohibited leaf burning entirely. And while open burning is likely acceptable (and quite common) in rural areas, you should still check your county, township, or village regulations if you reside outside city limits. You’ll also want to consider the environmental impact and health and safety risks that can accompany leaf burning.

If I can’t burn my leaves, what are my disposal options?

If you cannot burn your leaves, can you rake them into the street and wait for the street sweeper to pick them up? Probably not.

While some cities, like Mankato, offer a leaf vacuum service for residents, most cities prohibit pushing leaves or other yard waste into the street; the buildup could have a potentially damaging impact on natural bodies of water and can plug sewer drains.

However, your garbage hauler may offer an easy yard waste pick-up service. Typically, the company will require you to bag up the leaves in a yard waste bag, then they pick it up curbside with your usual trash and recycling.

If that’s not an option, many local governments have yard waste disposal sites. Contact your local government authority to see if there is a disposal site nearby.

And of course, there are other ways to repurpose leaves! You could begin composting or using your leaves as mulch to protect your plants over our long Midwestern winters.

The Edina Realty Legal Department serves as in-house counsel for Edina Realty and does not represent private clients. This Insight is not intended to provide legal advice.

Can I sell my haunted house?

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Key insights:

  • Minnesota disclosure laws do not require sellers to disclose “perceived paranormal activity” to buyers.
  • Before assuming your house is haunted, check for carbon monoxide leaks and electricity shorts; they can cause surprising (and spooky) disruptions.
  • Still think your home is haunted? Look into your property’s history to determine what could be causing the slamming doors or drafty areas.

Have you ever felt a draft that can’t be explained, or watched a door in your house slam shut when you’re home alone? Do you sometimes wake up in the morning to find that a cabinet is open… even though you could have sworn you closed them all?

It’s more common than you think! In fact, 28% of surveyed Realtors once said they’ve had to sell a home or help a buyer who believes that their current home is haunted.

If you think your house is haunted, you may be wondering: Are there ways to scientifically explain (and debunk) the spooky goings-on in my home? Will “perceived paranormal activity” affect my ability to sell the property?

Here’s everything you need to know about living in a spooky home — and how to sell a house you suspect is haunted.

Do sellers in Minnesota and Wisconsin have to disclose that their house is haunted?

When it comes to selling a haunted property, what are the rules of disclosure?

Minnesota disclosure laws

Per Minnesota’s disclosure laws, sellers must state if there are any “material facts” that could affect the buyers’ use or enjoyment of the property. But there is one exception to this law.

Home sellers do not have to disclose “perceived paranormal activity” to any homebuyers. This law was put into effect after a homeowner in New York sued when they found out they were about to buy a “haunted” house.

Wisconsin disclosure laws

Wisconsin does not have a specific exemption for paranormal activity, but a Wisconsin seller normally would not need to disclose that a home is believed to be haunted. In Wisconsin, a seller must disclose all “defects”, which are defined as a condition that would:

  • Have a significant adverse effect on the value of the property.
  • Significantly impair the health or safety of future occupants; or
  • Significantly shorten or adversely affect the normal life of the premises if not fixed.

While the thought that a Wisconsin home is haunted would not typically fall within one of those categories, it is possible to imagine a home so stigmatized by perceived paranormal activity that it significantly affects the home’s value.

The short answer, then, is that if you want to sell your house, you normally do not have to disclose to potential buyers that you believe your house is haunted.

Is your house haunted — or in need of repairs?

There’s a longstanding feud between scientists who believe they can explain away most paranormal activities and the real-life ghostbusters who spend their time communicating with the other side.

And while we’re a no-judgment zone, we do know that some drafts, sounds and light flashes can be explained logically. So before you decide that you have to sell your haunted house, try looking into these alternative causes for haunted happenings.

What’s causing that draft?

If your home has unexplained cold areas or the doors keep slamming shut, don’t immediately assume there’s a ghost in your house, upset that you replaced her vintage door knocker. Check windows, doors and your chimney to ensure they are all properly sealed and see if the drafts are eliminated once the gaps are filled in.

What’s that noise?

Before you decide that the noises in your walls or attic are due to paranormal activity, put out traps or hire a professional to check for rodents, bats and squirrels. Even small critters can make deceivingly loud noises that are easy to mistake for an intruder or apparition.

Seeing flickering?

Whether your lights flicker on and off or the bulbs burn out quickly without explanation, consider hiring an electrician to check for electricity shorts in your home.

Spotting orbs in photos?

Do your photos tend to include orbs or flashes of light that don’t come from your interior lighting? Make sure that your camera lens is clean of dust, debris and hair particles. If the orbs only show up occasionally, keep in mind that they could be from floating dust particles — which is especially common in attics, basements and other rooms with low traffic and minimal upkeep.

Having visions?

If you suddenly start to have persistent visions of paranormal figures or scenes inside your house, be sure to check carbon monoxide levels immediately. After prolonged exposure, the toxic gas can lead to hallucinations that are even more dangerous than they appear.

Top tips for selling a haunted house

If you check the above and still believe that your house is haunted, you’ll want to behave like any typical home seller would as they list their home for sale. Get to work fixing up the small issues your house has, taking special care to:

  • Trim up overgrown vines, shrubs and trees.
  • Repair cracks in the walls.
  • Light the pathways and driveway for nighttime visitors.
  • Brighten the home’s interior with a light, neutral paint color.
  • Fix creaky floorboards.
  • Close up drafts near windows or doors.
  • Clean out storage areas in your attic and basement.

Is there anything else I can do about my haunted house?

If logical explanations fail, and you’re not ready to move on, consider doing some research on your home’s history. The property’s location and past owners may be able to help clarify what you are seeing and hearing. If it would give you peace of mind, you can also hire a paranormal team to assess the home.

And if it’s time to meet with a professional about selling your home, reach out today for help. Together, we can make the right selling plan, whether your home is haunted by ghosts, too many belongings… or you just want a fresh start.

Keep, toss or ask: What homeowners should leave behind when selling their home

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Key insights

  • When selling, it’s important not to burden the new owners by leaving behind items they didn’t ask for.
  • Some items, like manuals, warranties and spare parts, can be left behind as a convenience to the new owners.
  • Reach out any time if you’re in doubt about what to leave behind.

Your home’s headed off the market and you’re headed to the closing table. As you pack up your belongings, you may wonder how tidy you should leave the property — and what you can leave behind as you pack up for good.

Here are tips to ensure a no-drama handoff to your home’s new owners.

Don’t leave anything behind without asking

After years in one place, some items can feel like they belong in a certain room or space — but they really just belong to you. Consider the fabric laundry room cubbies that fit just so on the shelves, the stand-up toilet paper dispenser in the basement bathroom, the twinkly lights you hung in the backyard a few summers ago.

If you haven’t specifically received notice that the buyers want to keep those items, you should take special care to remove them. In Minnesota and Wisconsin real estate contracts, you are required to remove all debris and personal property. If you’re unsure whether an item counts as a fixture to the property or should be removed, you can always reach out directly to ask — that’s exactly what REALTORS® are here for!

To ensure you don’t miss anything:

  • Look through cabinets, drawers and closets in every room.
  • Remember to check the attic, basement and overhead garage storage.
  • Have 2-3 people check each room before it’s given the final signoff.

Leave behind device- and repair-specific extras

Unless you have explicit instructions from the buyer, you can usually leave behind device- or repair-specific items, including:

  • Manuals and warranties for appliances and systems
  • Extra filters for your furnace or central air system
  • Leftover bathroom, kitchen or roofing tiles
  • Light bulbs that fit certain light fixtures
  • Extra cabinet hardware

The idea behind leaving these items is that they will be a help, not a burden, to the new buyer. While a few spare paver stones are a nice offering to a buyer who may someday need to repair a cracking patio, a pile of 200 paver stones you didn’t want to dispose of is not. Use your best judgment when you are leaving any items behind.

What to do with extra paint cans

It’s hard to know if a homebuyer is planning to keep the paint color that you used for the home’s exterior or interior. But because paint samples must be properly disposed of, you don’t want to burden the new owner with paint samples they don’t plan to use.

If you have extra paint cans, we can ask in advance (via their agent) if they’d like for them to remain in the house. If you don’t have extra paint, but you do have a reference of the brands and colors used throughout your home, it’s always kind to leave behind that guide so the new owner can touch up certain rooms or areas.

The final cleanup and lawn etiquette

Most purchase agreements — and all of them in the state of Wisconsin — require that the home is left in “broom-clean condition.” This phrase can have varying interpretations but in general, it’s considerate to pass on a home that doesn’t need to be cleaned from top to bottom upon move-in.

Minimally, you’ll want to:

  • Sweep and vacuum all floors, including inside closets and smaller storage spaces.
  • Wipe down all cabinets and counters, inside and out.
  • Clean kitchen appliances, including the tops and inside of the refrigerator, freezer, oven and microwave.
  • Clean the bathrooms, including the shower, bathtub, toilet, sink and vanity.
  • Remove any signs of pets — including fur, stains and odors.
  • Sweep the garage floor to remove all debris.

In the winter, consider plowing the driveway and sidewalks one final time before closing. In warmer months, mow your lawn in the days before closing so the new owner doesn’t have to trudge through tall grass during move-in.

Ready to move on?

If you’re hoping to sell your home, we can get you on your way. Get in touch at any time for assistance on selling, moving and finding what’s next.

The pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper

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Key insights:

  • A fixer-upper may require attention, but it also gives you more control over a home’s style and function.
  • If you have a tight budget, you may want to consider a renovation loan.
  • Be sure to budget responsibly when buying a fixer-upper; repairs can cost more than they show on TV shows.

The housing market is currently facing low inventory and a shortage of lower-priced “starter homes”. While a turnkey home is preferable for some owners, it may be the optimal time to consider homes that aren’t in perfect shape instead. Here are the pros and cons buyers can consider as they look at purchasing a fixer-upper.

Comparing the price of a fixer-upper

Pro: Fixer-upper homes tend to be priced lower than homes that are updated and move-in ready. This means that you may save money at closing if you purchase a fixer-upper. Additionally, a home in need of repair may not generate as much buyer interest, which means that you may be less likely to see intense buyer competition if you choose one of these homes.

Con: Although a fixer-upper home may save you money at closing, you may end up putting the money you saved back into the home through renovations and other improvements. Despite saving money up front, you could end up spending the same amount (or even a bit more) in the long run.

Customizing the house to your needs

Pro: When you’re fixing up the space, you can make the home entirely yours. Although fully renovated houses are great upon move-in, over time you may wish the space were different. With a fixer-upper, you can ensure that the kitchen layout matches your lifestyle or that the main floor has a small bathroom and laundry room instead of an oversized mudroom.

In short, you’ll have more control of the home design and can make decisions that benefit your lifestyle and needs.

Con: Remember that some features that seem fabulous to you may not be at the top of the next buyer’s list. If you’re not going to be in your house for a long time, or you plan to flip it, be sure to consider your desires and which home renovation projects might be most appealing to buyers down the road.

Using a renovation loan for a fixer-upper

Pro: If you choose to purchase a fixer-upper, you may be able to take advantage of renovation loans. A renovation loan bundles up your home mortgage loan and the cost of any needed repairs — meaning that you won’t have to pay for repairs out of pocket.

Con: When approving a renovation loan, lenders require the borrower to lay out a very specific project plan with set deadlines for selecting a contractor and completing the work. The process of getting approved for a renovation loan — while working to secure a contractor who agrees to the work — can be stressful. Be sure to consider the potential stress and stipulations that can come with renovation loans, and commit to a fast renovation plan if you go this route.

Making the most of a small budget

Pro: When purchasing a fixer-upper, you might be able to make more of a small budget. With thoughtful consideration and planning, you can stretch your budget to get meaningful results on a house with “good bones” in need of big updates.

Con: If you’re funding house updates with a renovation loan, know that your lender may limit your renovations to take up a certain percent of your total loan limit. That means that the type of renovations you see on reality TV shows — where the buyer pays $100,000 for the house and then puts in $200,000 worth of updates — may not be possible for you.

And in general, remember not to gauge your renovation costs off what you see on HGTV or home fix-up blogs. Many of these folks benefit from partnerships to get discounted materials, low-cost (or free) contractor labor and other items that aren’t factored into the budget you see on the screen.

Final considerations for fixer-uppers

You must consider your personal preferences when determining whether a fixer-upper is right for you. A turnkey property can be extremely convenient, and can require fewer immediate repairs or issues post-closing. However, a fixer-upper home may better fit within your budget and give you the chance to customize your space.

If you’re ready to search for homes in your area, reach out today for personalized help. Together, we can find the home of your dreams — whether it’s a fixer-upper house or an already pristine property.

7 fall lawn care tips for a lush yard all year long

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While most of your yard’s care and watering probably occurs during spring and summer months, fall is an important time for lawn care, too. Throughout the autumn months, nutrients are stored in grass and plant roots so they can survive the winter. To best prepare your lawn for the colder months, schedule some time to do your fall lawn care.

These fall landscaping tips — including essential guidelines for watering, fertilizing and aerating — will be the key to maintaining an eye-catching yard now and for seasons to come.

Prepare your yard for winter with these professional lawn care tips

Let’s break down the whys and hows of fall lawn care — including how to do a fall lawn care treatment.

Test your soil

Good soil health provides the foundation for overall yard health. Before you begin any yard or lawn maintenance, it’s helpful to assess the fertility of your soil. To receive the most comprehensive analysis, send a soil sample to a lab, like this soil testing laboratory at the University of Minnesota.

To collect your sample, scoop dirt from several areas in your yard and place it into a clean bucket, avoiding all grass and litter. After you have two to three cups of soil, package and ship your sample into the lab. More detailed instructions on how to take a soil sample are available here.

Reports typically take a week or two to complete. The report will offer vital soil information, including soil fertility, pH and organic matter details. Plus, each report highlights recommendations for how to improve the nutrition of your soil and the health of your yard.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Garden trowel or spade
  • Clean bucket
  • Leakproof container
  • Packing and mailing supplies

Fertilize your grass

If your soil test indicates your soil has specific deficits or you notice your lawn is a little lackluster, it may be time to implement some grass care with fertilizer. Fertilizer boosts the availability of certain nutrients in the soil, allowing your yard to flourish.

Fertilizer can be spread or sprayed on your lawn. Whatever option you choose, make sure to clean up excess fertilizer, wear protective gear and follow all safety precautions. For a more organic approach, you may be able to use your at-home compost to help fertilize your soil and feed your plants.

Remember, it’s best to fertilize your lawn from early August through mid-October.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Fertilizer spreader machine or spray canister
  • Fertilizer or liquid fertilizer

Mulch your leaves

As the fall colors begin to fade and trees drop their leaves, you might consider mulching them. Not only will mulching your leaves help organize the debris in your yard, but the mulched leaves are also beneficial for your lawn health. Mulch made from leaves creates an organic solution for soil nutrition, and it can even help prevent erosion in your yard and garden.

To mulch the leaves in your yard, you’ll simply need a mulching mower, which trims your grass into finer remnants so that your clippings can act as mulch. By trimming your dry grass regularly using a mulching mower, you should be able to avoid clumps and buildup. If you do find that your trimmings are clumping, use a rake to spread the mulch around your yard until your grass is clearly visible.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Mulching mower

Aerate the soil

Aeration is the process of removing soil cores from the lawn to promote healthy grass growth. By aerating your soil, you will help loosen your soil and allow air, water and other nutrients to be fed directly into the grass roots.

A few days before aerating your lawn, water the grass; this will help the aerator penetrate deeper into your lawn. Then, mark any sprinkler heads, landscaping lights or other lawn fixtures with flags. Finally, aerate your yard with your tool of choice, taking extra care around marked areas.

The best time to complete this yard care is from mid-August through mid-October.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Water hose
  • Flags or other markers
  • Aerator device

Ambush weeds

Eradicating weeds in your yard can be achieved by various methods. A few DIY tactics include:

  • Spraying vinegar on the weed
  • Pouring boiling water on the weed
  • Smothering the weed in mulch

Alternatively, you can opt for a store-bought weed killer. Keep in mind, these chemicals may be dangerous for your respiratory health, so spray sparingly and carefully. To avoid damaging your lawn, perform all spraying when temperatures cool down.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Spray bottle
  • Weed-killer of choice
  • Mulch

Fill in dead patches

Seeding and sodding are excellent solutions to repair bald spots on your lawn. However, each method comes with its own set of pros and cons. Typically seeding is less expensive and can work well to fill in small patches of dead grass over time. On the other hand, sodding provides “instant” grass, but it can be expensive.

If opting to seed your lawn, do so mid-August to mid-September. Sodding can be laid any time during the growing season, but September is ideal.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Learn more about grass seeding and sodding options here.

Need more help?

REALTORS® know everything you need to sell your home — from the market conditions that will help us price it right, to the lawn care and curb appeal you need to sell a home for top dollar.

If you’re thinking about selling in the next year or two, get in touch for a no-cost, no-obligation analysis of how to fix up your lawn and home so they’re in peak selling condition.

6 ways to incorporate natural design elements into your home

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Key insights

  • Utilize natural fibers and textures to instantly bring the beauty of the outdoors into your home.
  • Make your home look and feel good. The addition of live plants and flowers is shown to boost your well-being, too.
  • Organic home decor often comes in subtle colors, making it easy to incorporate new pieces into your existing space.

With the rise of sustainable design, organic home elements are becoming increasingly sought-after. Here, we will discuss six of the best materials to incorporate in your space to help keep your home feeling alive throughout the seasons.

1. Raffia

While wicker and rattan have been staples in the natural design space for a while, raffia is now having a moment. Derived from a tropical palm tree, the fiber from raffia leaves is woven to make baskets, hats and other textiles. In the home decor realm, raffia is typically wrapped around wooden furniture, creating an earthy yet luxurious look.

Opt for raffia to achieve a refined look with organic elements. There are all kinds of raffia home decor and furniture items, including:

  • Nightstands and side tables
  • Pendant light covers
  • Area rugs
  • Placemats, wrapped vases and other small design elements

2. Linen

Frequently used in warm climate upholstery and dress, linen is a durable choice for home fabrics. This textile provides a soft and cool sensation to the touch, making it ideal for bedding. Linen gives off island vibes, so you’ll feel like you’re living in a luxe destination every day while in the comfort of your home.

3. Live plants

Fiddle fig and olive trees have been coming to the fore thanks to the rise in popularity of the modern farmhouse style. Adding these plants or similar foliage to your space will keep you in line with current trends.

When used in the home, live plants may create the therapeutic effects of increased well-being and minimized stress. And they can benefit your physical health, too. Indoor air can become increasingly dry throughout the chillier months, which may lead to cracked lips, respiratory irritation and static. But certain plants can help mitigate the effects of dry air by naturally humidifying your home.

4. Raw-edged wood

By showcasing the tree, raw-edged wood creates a focal point in any room while adding an element of nature to the space. Thanks to the near-natural form of raw-edged furniture, this style of wooden decor may help to bring the liveliness of nature into your space.

Plus, each slab of wood used in raw-edged furniture is unique. A thoughtfully crafted desk, side table or dining table made from raw-edged wood will undoubtedly upgrade any room.

5. Stone

Whether adding to your fireplace, flooring, accent wall or veneer, stone is the ideal way to link your luxe indoor space with the organic elements of nature. If you’re hoping to add stone to your home on a more modest budget, opt for unexpected stone accent pieces, such as:

  • Vases
  • Bookends
  • Coasters
  • Lamps

6. Recycled materials

Now more than ever, homeowners are finding goods made from sustainable and recycled materials. The priority placed on ethical and eco-friendly home decor is increasing the availability and popularity of this style.

Whether you choose to up-cycle items yourself or purchase them from your favorite home goods store, there are plenty of options for sustainable decorations. Some favored items include:

  • Dinner glasses from recycled glass
  • Recycled cotton or wool throw blankets
  • Rugs and mats made from recycled plastic
  • Recycled plastic furniture

Moving forward, naturally

The beauty of nature doesn’t have to remain outdoors. Bring the comfort of natural materials inside your home with organic textiles, recycled furniture, plants and more.

Incorporating these six elements in your space will enhance the style and comfort of your house — and it can also help your home stand out if you choose to sell it. For more design styles that can appeal to today’s buyers, reach out any time.

Why today’s sellers need a Plan B

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Key insights:

  • The market is great for sellers, but headlines overlook how sellers-turned-buyers may have a hard time finding a house in a limited time frame.
  • By setting up a Plan A, which includes smart budgeting and strategic negotiation, sellers may be able to properly time their home purchase.
  • If timing doesn’t align, having a Plan B with temporary housing can help sellers minimize stress as they continue their long-term search for the perfect home.

You’ve seen the headlines saying what a great time it is to sell. “Inventory is tight and prices are rising. List now to sell fast and for a great price!” But this leaves many sellers wondering, “What happens when I sell my home fast… and then enter the market as a buyer?”

It’s a good question, and one you’ll have to answer for yourself. What Edina Realty agents can tell you, after helping thousands of Minnesota and Wisconsin homeowners sell their homes this year, is that if you work smartly and set yourself up with both a “Plan A” and a “Plan B,” you’ll be well-equipped to face today’s imbalanced market.

Here are some insights on how to do just that.

Aim for Plan A: Budget and proceed with confidence

In an ideal world, we’ll work together to ensure that you can find your dream home and align the closing timeline with your home sale.

Set a budget for your next home

The first step is to get pre-approved with a home mortgage consultant. A pre-approval is a lender’s estimate of how much you can afford to buy. Together with our estimate of your home’s value, we can begin creating the right budget parameters for your future home search.

Take control of the timeline

As a seller today, you hold the advantage. That means you have a few options when it comes to your timeline for closing and moving. Once we’ve listed your home and gotten a solid offer, we can:

  • Request a slower closing timeline from the buyer, which will give us more time to find a new property.
  • Ask the buyer if you can lease back your property for 1-2 months as we search for your next home. Some buyers may resist this, while others may agree to a quicker closing and slower moving date.
  • Include a reverse contingency in the purchase agreement, which states that the home sale is contingent upon your finding another home to buy.

However, keep in mind that buyers nationwide searched on average for eight weeks before they found the home they purchased in 2020. Even the most understanding buyer may not be willing to wait that long. If we end up in a position where you have a pending home sale, but not a pending home purchase, it’s time to move on to Plan B.

Plan B: Have temporary housing available

When you’ve sold your house but haven’t found the right one to move into,we’ll consider your transitional housing options. Home buyers often report that finding an alternative place to stay helps them reduce their stress and focus on their long-term housing needs.

Together, we can find the best temporary housing plan for you and your family. This may be:

  • Renting a single-family home or townhome on a short-term basis.
  • Renting an apartment month-to-month.
  • Staying at an “extended stay” hotel or inn, which typically has a kitchen area.
  • Staying with friends or family who have extra space.

Remember, you won’t be alone during this time. As we prioritize your home search, we can also work in tandem to help you find a soft (and temporary) place to land even if Plan A goes awry.

Need help developing your Plan A and Plan B?

The job of a great agent is to advise sellers as they make important decisions about timing, budgeting and negotiations. Get in touch for personalized guidance throughout the selling process.

Ask a Lawyer: What should I know before becoming a landlord?

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Homeownership can be complicated, but we also think it’s one of the most rewarding ventures out there. In our series, Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer, we are hoping to demystify some of the trickier aspects of buying, selling and owning a home.

In this edition, our lawyers provide insights on issues that arise when you become a residential landlord.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

I am being temporarily relocated for my job, but I don’t want to sell my home. I’m considering renting it while I’m away. Are there any issues I should be thinking about if I want to lease out my home?

Whether you’re becoming a landlord out of necessity or simply looking to make some additional income, there are a number of issues you’ll need to navigate. The first decision you’ll need to make is determining who will deal with the rental issues.

Many individuals manage their own rental properties. But for others, the idea of finding tenants, collecting rents and maintaining the property is just too much. For those landlords, there are REALTORS® and companies that will — for a fee — manage your rental.

Be aware of local regulations

Whether you manage your rental or hire someone to do it, you’ll need to comply with local ordinances. Many cities regulate rental properties to ensure they are safe for occupancy, and one of the more common forms of regulation is through rental license requirements.

A common requirement of obtaining a license is to allow a local official into your property to determine if it satisfies local safety regulations and the local housing code.

These requirements may include:

  • Working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Specific railing heights
  • Egress window sizes

You may also learn that your home is smaller than you think, at least for rental purposes. Not all of the rooms you’ve identified as bedrooms may conform with local code, meaning your maximum tenant capacity could be smaller than you anticipated. You might need to perform some repairs and upgrades to get your home up to the appropriate standard for renting it out.

On top of making sure your property satisfies code regulations, some cities have requirements for the rental process, including requirements for tenant screening, and specific, required lease terms. Be sure to familiarize yourself with your local government’s rules early, to avoid a situation where a tenant is ready to move in, but you are still waiting to receive your rental license.

Talk to your insurance agent

Your homeowners insurance policy — that’s the insurance that protects you if there is damage from fire, storms, or other causes — is typically dependent on the property being owner-occupied. If you are renting out your home, you’ll want to contact your insurance agent about switching over to landlord’s insurance.

Landlord’s insurance provides coverage for casualty damage and also covers you for liability that might occur if your tenant or someone else is injured on the property. The last thing you want is for your property to suffer catastrophic damage and to discover that you don’t have proper insurance coverage.

Securing a tenant, legally

Once you’ve got your rental license (if needed) and landlord’s insurance set up, it’s time to find a tenant. Again, you’ll have some legal waters to navigate. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have various regulations that apply to residential rentals — including laws about screening, fees and lease requirements.

Before becoming a landlord, be sure to carefully review these government publications that outline landlord obligations and tenant’s rights in your state:

As you consider potential tenants, keep in mind various laws that prevent against discrimination in housing, including the federal Fair Housing Act, Minnesota’s Human Rights Act and Wisconsin’s Fair Housing Act. All of these laws prohibit rental discrimination based on a variety of protected classes, including race, ethnicity, familial status, sexual orientation, and others. These laws apply to an individual renting out their own home, although there are some very limited exceptions if you are renting part of a property that you will continue to occupy yourself (like if you’re renting a room in your home or the other half of a duplex you own and live in).

When you do find a tenant, you will want to have a written lease that spells out your agreement with the tenant in full detail. Although you may be able to find lease forms online, each state has its own legal requirements. Realtors in Minnesota and Wisconsin have access to lease forms created by their state Realtor associations, so you may want to work with an attorney or a Realtor to put a lease together.

Understand the risks

Lastly, you need to understand that there are risks to being a landlord. Perhaps more than any other, there is a risk that the tenant will violate your lease, whether that means damaging the property, not paying rent or some other misconduct. A security deposit can mitigate some of those risks, but it won’t protect you against other issues. If you have a tenant who is not paying rent, for example, you can’t simply change the locks on the house or turn off the utilities. Instead, you would need to go to court to evict the tenant, which can cost time and money.

Still, if you need to rent your home during your short-term move out of state or are considering buying an investment property, becoming a landlord can be a worthwhile and financially beneficial decision.

The Edina Realty Legal Department serves as in-house counsel for Edina Realty and does not represent private clients. This Insight is not intended to provide legal advice.

Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings