What is an MLS listing?

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Buyers and sellers look at online MLS listings every day. But what exactly does it mean for a home to be posted on the MLS? And, what does MLS stand for?

The MLS, also known as the multiple listing service, is a service REALTORS® use to publish property listings so the listings can be found by other agents and potential buyers. In other words, the MLS can help you on your hunt for a new home by providing credible housing data and insights on available properties.

Whether searching for a new property to purchase or selling your current home, it’s important to utilize the MLS. In the meantime, here are some questions and answers that you may have about the MLS:

  • What is an MLS listing in real estate?
  • What are the benefits of an MLS?
  • How does an MLS work?
  • How do I use an MLS?

Multiple listing service: What it means and why it matters

The MLS provides a database of available and sold properties in a given area. This online service constantly updates property information and notifies MLS members, such as Realtors and brokers. There is no single MLS that serves the entirety of the U.S.; instead, over 800 MLSs across the country work to provide housing data for their defined market areas.

Because housing information is tailored to certain regions throughout the country, each MLS is specific to the area that it encompasses. The goal of an MLS is to make it easier for homebuyers, sellers and Realtors to find what they are searching for in a given market.

MLSs are membership-only, and their members tend to be the Realtors and brokers who support the service. This means that MLSs are not usually directly accessible to the public; however, they do license their data to be used by home search websites. So while most consumers will not log into their local MLS, they will view MLS listings on local or national websites that are powered by MLS data. For example, Edina Realty is a member of seven local MLSs, which allows edinarealty.com to publish virtually every listing available in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.

What is an MLS number?

The MLS utilizes a system to assign a number to every home within the database. A new number is attributed to each new home sale. Because listings acquire numbers in sequence, it’s possible to tell which listings are newer and older based on their MLS number.

Keep in mind, if a home sells or is withdrawn from the market, it will receive a new MLS number if it is ever listed again. However, if a pending sale falls through but the home remains on the market, the property will retain its MLS number until the sale is complete.

In short, the MLS number helps keep track of how recently a home was listed for sale and it provides a quick way to reference properties in the system.

How is an MLS real estate listing different from other listings?

To list a home on the MLS, you must be a member of that MLS. Typically, Realtors and brokers pay a membership fee to their local MLS (or to more than one MLS) in exchange for the ability to list and view properties in the system. To get a home listed on the MLS, it is typically necessary to work with an agent who pays dues to that MLS.

Aside from the MLS, other potential home listings include:

  • Pre-list properties. These “pre-market” homes can be marketed internally by agents who are networking with other agents within their brokerage. At Edina Realty, we have access to a network of 2,300-plus agents and the properties they represent for sale. By working together, we may be able to find homes that fit your criteria, even before they are listed on the MLS. If you’re interested in discussing or touring pre-list properties, get in touch.
  • Other withheld properties. Certain high-value and high-profile homes may be listed off the MLS in order to maintain seller safety and privacy. Networking agents may have access to this more exclusive sale information.
  • For sale by owner or FSBO homes. While there are websites that list FSBO properties via the MLS, many self-sellers choose to market their properties independently, if at all.

Benefits of multiple listing services

Thanks to the MLS system, real estate professionals can easily network and share housing information. At the same time, this platform is beneficial to homebuyers and sellers. The MLS makes listings more accessible to buyers and provides a place for sellers and their properties to gain exposure. Additional benefits to utilizing the MLS for your home purchase or sale include the ability to:

  • Access property status. Each MLS listing will include the status of a given property. So, you’ll have up-to-date information including whether a certain home is available, has an active contingent status or is in a pending sale.
  • Display a wide variety of homes. The MLS provides equal access to all members. Buyers and sellers can feel confident that they have access to all active available homes while working with an agent that has MLS access.
  • Showcase a home while maintaining privacy. While the MLS will display a home for sale to all members, and typically the public, certain details will be kept private. This allows the property to be advertised while safeguarding details like the seller’s contact information and whether a property is vacant.

How does an MLS work?

The MLS is paid for and created by real estate professionals as a way to cooperatively market and sell properties across various brokerages. Although there are different MLSs for different geographic areas, the breadth and reputation of the MLS as a whole make it the primary data source for all home listings.

Edina Realty is a member of seven local MLSs, providing access to all available home listings in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

What does an MLS listing include?

Properties listed on the MLS typically include the following details:

  • Photos
  • Number of rooms
  • Unique home amenities
  • Asking price
  • Status of property (e.g. “coming soon,” “pending” or “contingent”)
  • Availability for showings

MLS listings exist for both sale and rental properties, but the MLS post may look different depending on whether the property is for sale or rent. For instance, a rental property may include monthly costs, duration of the lease and a clear indication that the property is being leased. In some circumstances, a home may be listed for sale and rent simultaneously.

How do I use an MLS?

Buyers and sellers can both use the MLS to their advantage, although they won’t normally use it directly. According to the National Association of Realtors, “MLSs are private databases that are created, maintained and paid for by real estate professionals to help their clients buy and sell property.” There are a few MLSs around the country that allow for public access, but none in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.

Therefore, homebuyers and sellers will use a website or property search tool that is powered by MLS data, such as edinarealty.com, rather than using the MLS directly. To ensure that they are accessing accurate listing information, buyers should confirm their preferred property search is using reputable information from MLS data, and not data that is aggregated from less reputable sources.

How do I find my local MLS?

In our market area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, only members can see MLS information directly. So, unless you are a member of a local MLS, you will not be able to access the database directly. Nonetheless, property information that has been approved for public view — such as the number of bedrooms, asking price, square footage and listing photos — will be available on any website that has MLS affiliation.

How does Edina Realty use the MLS?

Edina Realty utilizes the MLS to showcase home sellers’ listings and to help home buyers find their next dream home. Edina Realty provides information on properties represented by our brokerage, but also by other brokerages through a system called broker reciprocity.

By participating in broker reciprocity, Edina Realty displays the details of virtually every active and available, coming soon or sold property listing via the property search on edinarealty.com. Simply use the home search feature to see available homes near you, along with their MLS-approved details and features.

What makes Edina Realty different?

When you work with any Edina Realty agent, you’ll have the reassurance that you are working with a licensed Realtor who has agreed to work by the shared code (and high standard) of Realtor ethics.

Additionally, Edina Realty as a company goes above and beyond to ensure that our clients are always receiving the highest quality service.

  • Our MLS listings are updated every 15 minutes, so you know you’re always looking at the most up-to-date property information and availability.
  • Edina Realty is a part of seven local MLS services, allowing us to display every active, available property for sale in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, as well as coming soon listings and sold properties.

Access local MLSs; find your dream home with Edina Realty

In a fast-moving housing market like we’re in today, buyers can rest assured that they're receiving accurate, up-to-date information about homes when they search on websites powered by MLS data. These sites, like edinarealty.com, will include detailed information on the property’s status, price and availability for showings.

If you’re ready to buy, sell or have more questions about how the MLS works for you, reach out any time. Together, we can determine the right step forward.

How and when to cancel your mortgage insurance

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Key insights

  • Conventional loan borrowers are required to pay private mortgage insurance until their loan-to-value ratio reaches 80%.
  • To get their mortgage insurance canceled, borrowers should contact their loan servicer in writing.
  • To get their insurance removed faster, borrowers can also make accelerated payments or get their home re-appraised.

When are borrowers required to pay mortgage insurance?

In order to understand the need for mortgage insurance, it’s important to first discuss the concept of a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. Your LTV ratio is the total amount you borrowed in your loan, divided by the value of the property that you purchased. As you make contributions to your loan premium, your LTV ratio will decrease.

How loan-to-value ratios are calculated for a $400,000 house:

Percent down

Money down

Total loan amount

LTV ratio at closing

20%

$80,000

$320,000

80%

15%

$60,000

$340,000

85%

10%

$40,000

$360,000

90%

Here’s a faster way to think of it:

  • If you put 20% down at closing, your LTV ratio would be 80%.
  • If you put down 15% at closing, your LTV ratio would be 85%.
  • If you put 10% down at closing, your LTV ratio would be 90%.

If a borrower’s LTV ratio is above 80% at closing, lenders require monthly mortgage insurance premiums. Because borrowers who put down 20% or more at closing are less likely to default on their loan, lenders typically do not require them to pay mortgage insurance.

Conventional loan borrowers will pay private mortgage insurance payments (PMI) until their LTV ratio reaches 80% at minimum. FHA borrowers, on the other hand, will pay an up-front mortgage insurance premium at closing; they will also be expected to pay monthly premiums for the life of their loan.

Read more about mortgage insurance for FHA loans.

When does private mortgage insurance get canceled?

On closing day, conventional loan borrowers will be given two dates to keep in mind. Assuming the new homeowners make all payments on time and do not accelerate their mortgage payments, they’ll be informed of:

  1. The date when the LTV ratio will reach 80%, and their loan servicer is allowed to cancel their mortgage insurance.
  2. The date at which their LTV ratio will reach 78%, and their loan servicer is required by the government to cancel their mortgage insurance.

In most cases, loan servicers drop the insurance requirement at a 78% LTV ratio. If a borrower wishes to request mortgage insurance cancellation at 80%, they can do so in writing to their loan servicer.

What steps can borrowers take to cancel their PMI?

After closing, it’s likely that your loan was sold by your original lender. The vast majority of loans are sold to loan servicers after closing. Your loan servicer is who you currently send your monthly mortgage payments to; this is also the entity that may be able to cancel your mortgage insurance upon request.

At 80% LTV, you can contact your loan servicer to request that they drop your monthly mortgage insurance premiums. To be considered, you must:

  • Put your request in writing.
  • Have a history of on-time payments (though this may be waived if a few payments were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Not have any outstanding liens on your property.

Your servicer will be in touch to inform you of their decision. Keep in mind that if you aren’t sure if you’re eligible for cancellation, there’s no harm in contacting them. “My guidance is, always call your loan servicer and talk to them,” said Edina Realty home mortgage consultant Enda Moore. “They will be able to guide you through the necessary steps to determine if you are eligible to have your monthly insurance premiums removed. The worst thing they’ll say is, ‘No, it’s not time yet.’”

How else can borrowers get their mortgage insurance requirements removed?

There are a few other ways that you can get your mortgage insurance requirements removed even before the dates you are given at closing.

1. Make accelerated payments to remove PMI

If you make accelerated mortgage payments, you’ll begin paying off your loan premium faster than the schedule set by your lender. This means that your LTV ratio should drop to 80% before the original date you were given at closing. If you have accelerated payments but aren’t sure of your current LTV ratio, divide your current loan balance (which can be found on your latest statement) by your home’s appraised value. Multiply this number by 100 to get your current LTV percentage.

2. Refinance your loan to remove PMI

While most borrowers refinance to take advantage of lower interest rates, it’s also possible to refinance as a way to get your mortgage insurance requirement eliminated. This is especially possible in a housing market with fast-rising home values, like the one we have today.

If your home’s appreciation rises to the point when you have 20% equity, then refinancing could be a smart option to remove your mortgage insurance. Your lender can help you calculate if the cost of refinancing will save you money in the long term, after the cost of closing is factored in.

“If you’re currently financed at a higher rate than what we’re seeing today, and you think your home price has risen over the last few years, it’s worth looking into refinancing,” says Enda Moore. “Even if you don’t remove your insurance altogether, you may see a reduction in your monthly insurance payment, and a lower monthly premium as well.”

3. Get an appraisal to remove PMI

Last, you may be able to get your PMI requirements removed if you get a home appraisal showing your home has increased in value. If your home’s value has risen significantly (either due to the market or updates you’ve made to the property), that could allow you to request an early cancellation of your mortgage insurance from your loan servicer. Be sure to contact your servicer before you go down this path, as they may have special requirements or rules for you to follow.

Ready to get started?

Mortgage and mortgage insurance can be tricky topics, but you don’t have to go it alone. The best way to determine your eligibility for removing PMI is to contact your loan servicer. If you need other help understanding your loan, you can also reach out any time for one-to-one guidance.

*Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC does not offer financial advice. This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Not all borrowers will qualify.

How sellers can stage their home for sale

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Key insights

  • Your color scheme should remain mostly neutral when staging. However, some pops of color can add charm.
  • When staging your home, emphasize the high points of each unique room and space.
  • s your expert in the home transaction process, your REALTOR® can provide insights on staging techniques and how and when to hire a professional stager.

If you’re ready to put your home on the market, you’ll want to create a space that’s appealing to buyers. If someone can imagine themselves living in your curated space, they may be more likely to buy it.

But how much time and money should you spend staging your home? And do you have to renovate every room? Here are answers to your questions as you prep your home for sale.

When it comes to staging your home, you’ll want to know:

  • The basics: How and why people stage their homes
  • Home staging tips for each room in your house
  • Should I hire a stager or can I do it myself?
  • How can I find the best local home stager?
  • All things considered, should I stage my home when selling?

The basics: How and why to stage your home

Over the years, your family has created a home that perfectly suits you. Maybe the traditional living room has transformed into a TV room for your video-game-obsessed kids and the basement is your at-home fitness studio.

Everyone develops a home flow that works best for them. But when it comes time to sell, you don’t want to show buyers how you live. You want to showcase the features of your space and offer potential homebuyers a peek into how their lives can fit into your house.

Staging your home is a process that highlights the property’s potential and minimizes its weaknesses. To stage a home, you’ll want to present the space as a clean slate so that any buyer can picture themselves living there.

The process of staging a home typically includes:

  • Getting rid of clutter. No more baskets of mail to shred or clothes on “that chair” in the bedroom.
  • Neutralizing the space. Paint over bright rooms and rent furniture that doesn’t make a statement.
  • Returning rooms to a more common purpose. The Xbox needs to leave the living room and the space should be reappointed to a more traditional setup.
  • Creating more space. Get rid of bulky furniture, which can make rooms look smaller.

And remember, experts advise sellers to stage their homes because it works. Buyers greatly prefer staged homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 83% of buyers’ agents said “staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Home staging tips by room

Although staging a home is important, it’s not necessary to completely redo every nook and cranny. Not every room needs to be completely staged; per the NAR, the most popular rooms to stage are the:

  • Living room (93%)
  • Kitchen (84%)
  • Main bedroom (78%)
  • Dining room (72%)

In your case, you’ll want to stage the most highly-trafficked rooms, and the spaces that have the most potential for “web appeal” to online buyers. Here’s how to transform various areas in your home to appeal to a broader set of buyers:

Living room

  • Remove bulky furniture.
  • Put photos and knick-knacks into storage.
  • Remove outdated decor.
  • Use a subtle wall color (re-paint if necessary) and neutral furniture.
  • Add small pops of color for charm — throw pillows, blankets and baskets work well.
  • Emphasize natural light by opening shades and utilizing side lamps.

Dining room

  • Set up an appropriately-sized table.
  • Select four or six chairs to place around the table.
  • Hang a single pendant-style light over the table.
  • Keep open shelving sparse — don’t display every piece of Granny’s china.
  • Set the table with chic and simple table settings.

Owner’s suite or main bedroom

  • Make the bed, which should have a bed frame and headboard. Use fresh, neutral bedding.
  • Create texture with plush throw pillows.
  • Make the space look and feel open.
  • Remove all furniture in the room except the bed, side table and dresser. Desks and couches are not necessary unless the room has more than enough space to accommodate the extra pieces.

Other bedrooms

  • Follow the same “less is more” theme as the main bedroom, keeping the space well-decorated, bright and airy.
  • Refrain from putting a queen-sized bed in a tiny room.
  • When staging a kid’s room, minimize the number of toys and books that are present.

Kitchen

  • Clean it until it sparkles — inside and out.
  • Pay special attention to cabinets, the top of the fridge and stove, inside the oven and more!
  • Remove clutter and appliances from counters so all surfaces appear spacious.
  • Keep four to six place settings in your cupboards, including cups, mugs, bowls, napkins, etc. Remove extras and mismatched sets.
  • Add a plant or some other decorative charm, like a bowl of lemons or apples.

Bathrooms

  • Clean, clean, clean, including the shower, counters, toilet, fixtures and floors.
  • Consider upgrading the vanity or at least the hardware to something more trendy.
  • Revisit the light fixture if outdated.
  • Reconsider your trays, soaps, towels, rugs and bath mats. Display items that are new and matching.
  • Add candles and other bath items around a soaking tub to remind the buyers of how they could end each day.

Should I hire a stager, or can I do it myself?

It’s important to stage your home for sale. But, when deciding whether to hire a stager:

  • Consult with your agent.
  • Assess the amount of work the space will need.
  • Consider the cost of staging.

Of course, you’ll never be making the staging decision alone. We’ll work together to determine how much effort will need to go into your home in order to have it ready for listing and home tours.

In some cases, a home may only require basic cleaning and reorganizing to be market-ready; in others, the space may need all new furniture and decor. Here, a stager’s discretion could come in handy.

If we do decide to hire a professional stager, we’ll be sure to find the one who:

  • Fits the style and budget.
  • Maintains positive online reviews.
  • Has furniture or staging items that match your house style.
  • Has experience working with private sellers.

Should I stage my home when selling?

In short, absolutely. Fifty-three percent of listing agents say that staging a home decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, because it increases buyer interest and in-person traffic to the property.

To stage a house perfectly, a home seller or stager must:

  • Neutralize the property so buyers can picture living (and thriving) in the space.
  • Use smaller furniture so that rooms feel more open.
  • Add pops of color and accent walls for an extra punch of cheer and charm.
  • Emphasize the rooms with the most potential.
  • Focus on tidying up the bathroom.
  • Return rooms to their most natural purpose.
  • Use special considerations based on the season.
  • Eliminate potential odors that will hamper the home tour experience.

Moving forward with a staged home

taging is an important part of selling your home, and even in today’s fast-paced market, great staging can be critical for obtaining the highest offer. Let’s meet to discuss how we can help make your house shine. Reach out to get started.

7 ways to make your home more eco-friendly

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Key insights

  • Reusable household items like beeswax food wraps and wool dryer balls can help save money and reduce waste.
  • Composting is a smart and easy way to minimize food waste and bolster your garden’s fertilization.
  • Technology is on your side! Smart home features can help automate more eco-friendly practices in your home.

Green homes save money, are healthier for you and help support the environment. It’s no wonder why many homeowners have the goal of going green, but where does one start? Making the changes to have a more eco-friendly home can feel intimidating, but these seven practical energy and waste-saving tips are easy to implement.

1. Assess your space

When going green, start by assessing your space and analyzing what you have to work with. After determining your baseline, you can make plans for improvement. To begin your green makeover, we recommend starting with a DIY home energy audit and then decluttering your home.

The self-energy-audit will help you identify what areas of your home could use improvement, whereas decluttering will create space for the changes you’d like to implement.

2. Switch to reusable household items

An average person uses 500 plastic sandwich bags throughout the year. Now imagine the accumulation of waste due to single-use household items every year.

The initial investment in reusable household items can seem expensive, but with repetitive use, you typically save money over time. These items can also help you cut down on trips to the store. Of course, the primary benefit is that you are reducing your own input to landfills when you reduce your reliance on single-use items.

Here are some reusable items that can seamlessly be added to your household:

3. Install energy-efficient appliances

Over the years, home appliances begin to wear down and may need to be replaced. In fact, most appliances last around 10 years before an upgrade is needed. While the waste from replacing these appliances can be frustrating, it is possible to purchase green appliances that will help your home grow more energy-efficient.

Search your local home improvement store for an eco-friendly appliance that matches your budget and home style. And remember, another green practice is to continually get your appliances serviced to ensure they last as long as possible.

4. Start to compost

Composting helps eliminate the production of some greenhouse gases and the burden of waste that enters landfills. Start by designating a food scrap bucket or using compostable trash bags. Then, decide whether you want your compost removed by a local service, added to a compost pile in your yard or put in a designated compost bin.

5. Reassess your cleaning products

What you use in your home impacts the health and safety of your space. Opt for more eco-friendly cleaning products or even DIY cleaning solutions; they’re better for both you and the environment. When picking out your new products, be sure to look for sustainable brands, low-waste or refillable packaging and simple ingredients.

6. Walk to nearby parks and stores

Rather than driving a mile down the road to pick up your Sunday morning coffee, try walking! Walking to parks, trails, stores, events and nearby amenities can help decrease your carbon footprint and fossil fuel emissions. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a little fresh air around your neighborhood — it’s a win-win.

7. Use technology to your advantage

When establishing a more eco-friendly home, take some of the work off of your back and pass it on to technology! These days, there are plenty of ways to automate greener systems in your home.

  • Set up online bill payment to eliminate paper mail.
  • Invest in smart home features for higher efficiency.
  • Set timed lights so you never have to worry about an “on” switch while at work.
  • Program your thermostat to match your work and school schedule.

Moving forward, go green!

Looking to implement eco-friendly practices in your home for today or hoping to find a green home moving forward? Agents know more than just buying and selling and are always available to talk about your home energy goals or other housing needs. Reach out any time for an honest, no-obligation discussion.

The five best reasons to downsize your home

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Key Insights

  • Downsizing can save you money, with the potential to eliminate your mortgage payment and decrease utility spending.
  • A smaller house can bring bigger opportunities. Free up your space and time with a more manageable property.
  • Start your downsizing journey now; today’s market favors sellers.

As the market continues to favor sellers, and baby boomers enter retirement, it’s no surprise that the nation’s seniors are beginning to sell their homes in larger numbers. In 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that sellers over the age of 55 accounted for more than half of the homes sold across the country.

Below, we explore five reasons downsizing to a smaller home can be the best plan of action for homeowners holding on to expensive (and expansive) homes they’ve owned for decades.

1. Buy your next home in cash (and be mortgage-free!)

Some homeowners find that by downsizing, they can earn enough at closing to buy a less expensive home in cash and end up mortgage-free in a new abode. NAR indicates this is a very common route for those nearing retirement. In 2020, sellers aged 65 to 73 sold their homes for a median price of $289,000 and bought for a median price of $279,500. (Keep in mind that in the Twin Cities metro area, the median home price in 2020 was $305,000*. Local downsizers may find that the sales prices of the homes they sell or buy are higher than the national averages.)

Not only will downsizing homeowners save money by decreasing — or eliminating — their monthly mortgage payments, but they may spend less on utilities in a smaller space. It’s a win-win situation for any wallet.

2. Minimize your upkeep, maximize your time

Larger family homes can take up several hours each week to keep up, and those who raised families may find that the three-story home they needed in the past is impractical now. Moving forward, a more manageable property can reduce the hours homeowners spend maintaining their homes, and free up leisure time to enjoy the space.

NAR’s data supports this, showing that the median size home purchased by those over the age of 65 was between 1,800 and 1,950 square feet. By comparison, homeowners aged 40 to 54 tended to buy homes that were an average of 2,300 square feet.

3. Move closer to family and friends

While sellers of this age do tend to downsize, it isn’t always their primary reason for selling. Instead, 28 percent of sellers aged 65 to 73 reported that proximity to family and friends was their number one motivator for selling and moving. During this season of life, situate yourself near those who are most important to you. And consider these additional top reasons for moving:

  • 14 percent state they are moving due to retirement.
  • 10 percent state their home has become too large.
  • 10 percent state they are moving to a more desirable neighborhood.

4. Embrace a long-term solution

Last year, NAR reported that 13 percent of buyers over the age of 50 purchased senior-friendly homes or units in planned communities. In many cases, this age group is not only planning for the “now,” but they are also planning to remain independent and accommodated for the upcoming years of their lives.

Many downsizers look for one-level homes with open floor plans, larger rooms and wider hallways. Not only do these homes prove to be great for entertaining guests, they can also provide wheelchair and senior accessibility for the future.

5. Gain freedom and flexibility

Last, and perhaps most importantly, homeowners who downsize are acknowledging that it’s finally their time to choose. Among last year’s sellers over the age of 65, more than 35 percent had lived in their homes for more than 21 years. By selling their home, they can regain the flexibility they may have given up as they previously pursued career and family aspirations over their preferred property.

Whether it’s finally time for a home on the water, a condo in the city or something else altogether, downsizers may be excited that they finally get to call the shots.

Ready to move forward and downsize?

f you’re preparing to downsize, get in touch. Together, we can discuss how today’s market favors sellers and determine your plan moving forward after the sale of your house.

*Data courtesy NorthstarMLS for the 16-County Twin Cities metro area for January 2020-December 2020.

Co-owning a cabin: Should I buy a property with family or friends?

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Key Insights

  • Communication is key. This saying rings more true than ever when it comes to co-owning a property.
  • Outline the logistical details of joint ownership now so you can rest easy and enjoy the cabin for years to come.
  • Hire professionals, like an attorney and REALTOR®, to guide you as you buy or inherit a cabin with friends or family.

Whether you grew up in Minnesota or Wisconsin, or have vacationed in the area, you’ve likely experienced the joy and peacefulness of lake life. Memories of roasting marshmallows, canoeing across the lake and laughing through family game nights are abundant when summering at a cabin or renting one for the week.

While you may be dreaming of your perfect lakeside abode, purchasing a second property can feel burdensome to some budgets. Luckily, you don’t have to do this solo. If you are ready to purchase a cabin with friends or family, or have jointly inherited a lakeshore property, here are considerations to keep in mind as you move forward with cabin co-ownership.

How to purchase a cabin with friends or family

The excitement of a cabin purchase is likely to prevail at the beginning of your decision to co-own a cabin. While everything may easily align at this stage, it’s important to consider the details of property ownership and potential complications that could arise later down the road. Here are some steps to set you and your co-owners up for a successful shared property — plus, establishing rules now will help safeguard everyone in the future should an issue arise.

Decide on an ownership structure

When spouses or partners purchase a home, they often take ownership in joint tenancy. This means that if one owner dies, their interest automatically passes to the other owner. That might not make sense when we’re talking about a co-owned cabin. In this circumstance, the owners may want to have their interest pass on to their own heirs and not their co-owners. To do this, you can take ownership of real estate as a tenancy in common, which means that each person owns an interest in the property, but if they die, their interest can pass to their heirs.

Another option worth considering is creating an entity, like a limited liability company (LLC), to own the property. The individuals would each have an ownership interest in the LLC. When creating an LLC, the parties can develop all of the necessary agreements and rules to govern the cabin and the parties’ rights. Another benefit of creating an LLC is that it can help reduce everyone’s personal liability in the event that there is an injury on the property. That may be particularly appealing when you don’t have full control over the use of the property.

Choose your partners wisely

It’s important to establish who might be a good fit for this partnership in your life and who wouldn’t — even though you may love hosting them as weekend guests. Apart from sharing laughs and getting along, you’ll need your co-owners to be reliable and communicative. Most importantly, everyone involved should be open to creating strong rules for the arrangement, even if your relationship is typically more casual.

Draft a detailed contract

Take the time to lay out all the technicalities of a co-owned cabin — even more than you think may be necessary — within your contract. By spending the time now to iron out the details, your arrangement is more likely to run smoothly in the future. And that’s important, as it will allow you to spend even more time enjoying the cabin, rather than navigating the logistics of ownership.

In your official contract, consider including these details:

  • Cabin ownership percentages
  • Division of mortgage, down payment and additional costs
  • What happens if someone dies or divorces?
  • What happens if someone can’t pay?
  • What happens if someone wants to sell, or terminate their side of ownership?
  • Who are the beneficiaries of the property, if applicable
  • How do you resolve disputes over whether to make a major repair or upgrade and who should be responsible for the costs?
  • Lake home insurance plans
  • Division of labor and upkeep (financial and labor)
  • Any rules for conduct on the property (e.g., no smoking)
  • Shared lake equipment, including recreational vehicles and boats
  • Schedule for use, including agreements around guests
  • Whether the property may be rented when not in use by the owners

Hire an attorney

Hiring an attorney to address co-ownership issues up front is strongly recommended. An attorney can help draft a contract that protects everyone’s assets and keeps the best interests of all parties in mind. When working with a knowledgeable professional, be sure to include a game plan for if one owner hopes to buy the other out, or if one owner would like to end the ownership and sell the property. Even if you don’t foresee this outcome, it will benefit everyone involved to have peace of mind knowing that a plan exists should anything out of the ordinary happen.

Understand co-owned mortgages

A co-owned mortgage or joint mortgage may make cabin ownership more accessible to those who aren’t ready or able to buy a property alone. However, a mortgage is a long-term financial obligation that needs to be thoroughly thought through by all parties.

Comparable to qualifying for a single mortgage, lenders will consider the income and credit information of all parties involved when approving the joint mortgage.

You inherited a cabin with your siblings. Now what?

Similar to purchasing a cabin with others, you’ll want to carefully consider joint ownership and hire an attorney to assist with a co-ownership contract of an inherited property.

Inheriting a property is often accompanied with the emotional fallout from losing a loved one. If possible, plan a transfer of ownership well in advance. Not only will this help to minimize any confusion associated with the property transfer, it will also allow for heirs to draw up their own co-owned contract should they want to continue ownership together.

If you or someone in your family is planning to pass down a property in the future, no matter how soon or far out, you may want to look into the details of a transfer upon death deed.

Daily details of lakeshore co-ownership

After the bigger details have been settled, it’s time to get on the same page regarding the day-to-day aspects of sharing a cabin. Schedule a time to come together with your co-owners regarding general cabin guidelines not outlined in the contract. Considerations for this list might include:

  • A cabin calendar, including who gets the property when.
  • A plan for hosting guests.
  • A schedule for property management, maintenance and improvement, including off-season prep and winter upkeep.
  • The use of boats, jet skis, life vests and other shared equipment.
  • A plan for how and when you’ll communicate changes, issues or concerns (you may want to schedule an annual meeting).

This is where it can start to get really fun and exciting. While sharing a cabin, you’ll likely end up with even more cabin toys to play with — such as kayaks, bikes and more — depending on how you plan to divide everything up. And, you’ll have double the hands to complete exciting cabin projects like building a bonfire pit or a landscaped path from your property to the lake.

Pro tip: Consider keeping a shared notebook or binder in the cabin to communicate things like when water filters or HVAC filters were last changed, what cabin quirks you’re noticing that might need to be addressed or even memories you want to share with each other. This would also be a good place to keep owner’s manuals or instructions.

Moving forward with a co-owned cabin

For folks who can’t afford their own cabin, co-ownership can be a great option. But the bottom line remains that compromise and good communication will be necessary to a successful and long-lasting lakeside partnership.

Are you moving forward with the purchase of a co-owned property, or are you ready to buy your own lakeshore home? Call or email today, so we can get you on the water early this summer.

Seven top tips for searching for your first home

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Key Insights

  • The road to homeownership is a complicated process. Be prepared to take your time when purchasing a home.
  • Your REALTOR® will be your advocate from the start of your search until the closing table.
  • Determine your must-have home features while maintaining an open mind when viewing new properties.

As you dive into the process of buying a home, remember that the current housing market is more competitive than ever. An ever-growing pool of buyers (many of whom are taking advantage of low interest rates) continues to battle over a shortage of homes for sale, creating a lightning-fast market and high sale prices. First-time buyers, especially those searching for a starter home, should take special care to prep their finances so they can move quickly when they find a home that suits their needs.

Here are seven tips to help prepare first-time homebuyers like you for today’s fast-paced market.

1. Take your time

As the adage says, all good things take time and buying a home will likely be the biggest purchase of your lifetime. While you may get lucky and find your dream home (and also get an offer accepted) immediately, you should be prepared to spend several months searching for and closing on a home. The buying process includes many essential (and sometimes time-consuming) steps. Remember, we can work together every step of the way to:

  • Organize your financials
  • Research and tour homes
  • Make offers on properties
  • Negotiate your offer
  • Get an offer accepted
  • Close on a house

2. Gain financial footing

Financial experts recommend that you shouldn’t spend more than 28% of your total income on housing, but the numbers vary for each person and lifestyle.

When determining how much you can spend on your first home, you’ll work with a lender to check your debt-to-income ratio. This number estimates your ability to pay your mortgage (and other housing costs and recurring bills) when compared to your income.

Why is this necessary? Well, two potential homebuyers who draw the same annual salary (say, $60,000) may have significantly different recurring monthly payments and debts to pay down. One may be able to pay the mortgage on a $300,000 house, while another may wish to stay in the $240,000 range due to recurring payments on student loans, child support or other bills. While it’s smart to keep your housing payments below 28% of your income, knowing your debt-to-income ratio will help you make an even smarter budgeting decision.

3. Hire the right REALTOR®

Hiring a Realtor is an ultra-important step in the buying process. Agents help potential homebuyers in every market, but they are especially important when buyers need an advocate in a competitive market like we have today.

We can work together through every step of the home purchase process — which may be slightly longer than usual given the current atmosphere.

4. Enjoy the hunt

Now for the fun stuff — the home search! Just 20 years ago, buyers had to search through thick listing books to find homes that matched their price and location. Luckily, your search can begin from your couch, the bus or while in line at Caribou Coffee.

Plus, the Edina Realty home search app allows potential homebuyers to search for properties and to save searches and homes that best fit your criteria. After saving homes or searches to your list, share your favorite home styles and neighborhoods with your agent.

5. Determine your must-haves

Unless you’re an extremely decisive person, you’ll likely find yourself falling in love with many of the homes you tour. While it may seem challenging to narrow down which home styles, features and locations you like best, this is actually a good thing. In today’s competitive market, it may be necessary to keep your mind open to a variety of home options.

Together, we can sift through which home features are “nice to have” and which are requirements for your first home. Keep in mind, too, that some qualities can change. While a neighborhood’s walkability or proximity to the highway is set, you can always tear up old shag carpet and put in wood floors.

6. Start touring and remain cautiously optimistic

Now that you’ve established your list of essential home needs, it’s time to attend in-person home showings. Today’s market is extremely tight, so it’s best to prepare for a few lost deals before you end up at the closing table. When you find a home that you’re interested in, be ready to:

  • Make a fast offer (generally your best and highest).
  • Compete in multiple offers.
  • Potentially lose a home (or two, or three) before an offer is accepted.
  • Have lots of patience, especially if you are buying at a lower price point.

7. Ask your agent about pre-list properties

By working with an Edina Realty Realtor, you gain access to a large network of 2,400-plus agents and the properties they represent. That means you can find out about homes that might fit your criteria before they are even ready to come on the market.

When housing inventory is tight, having a large network of connections can increase your options and provide an expanded search. Take advantage of this network when searching for a home.

Find your first home!

If you’re as excited as we are about finding a home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin, reach out today to begin your home search. It’s a great time to start looking for your home – and with this competitive market, the earlier you begin, the better.

Modern farmhouse design ideas for homeowners

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Key Insights

  • Modern farmhouse design is a blend of traditional-yet-contemporary, and cozy-yet-clean styles.
  • Modern farmhouse decor is extremely accessible and can be found in nearly all furniture stores and home goods boutiques.
  • Whether staging your home to sell or elevating your space for yourself, modern farmhouse is an attractive design option.

While extreme minimalism has been popular over the past few years, 2021 home trends are switching up the design space. Now, the emphasis is on contrasting color palettes and the incorporation of plants in the home — both of which are common in modern farmhouse decor.

Now more than ever, this style is accessible to homeowners, buyers and sellers, as it trends across social media platforms and is available at most home retailers. Be sure to keep the modern farmhouse vibe in mind whether you’re staging your home for sale or simply ready to upgrade your space.

What is modern farmhouse design?

While the farmhouse style has been around as long as the American family farm, the updated modern farmhouse style is often attributed to HGTV darlings Chip and Joanna Gaines, who have incorporated it into dozens of homes they've flipped in their hometown of Waco, Texas. No matter who you credit for the look, modern farmhouse decor emphasizes elements that will continue to have a timeless look over the years, making it a trendy yet practical choice for homeowners and buyers today.

To identify a modern farmhouse style, look for elements with a classic, but liveable appearance. In a modern farmhouse home, every piece of furniture, blanket and space appears inviting. While nothing is “off-limits,” this cozy ambiance remains balanced by clean and crisp elements. Here are some key features of the modern farmhouse style:

  • Emphasis on soft and organic textures
  • Charming yet practical space
  • Use of light neutral and deep natural colors
  • A hint of antique components, without overdoing it

Modern farmhouse design elements

If you’re ready to upgrade your space with a modern farmhouse style, begin by searching for decor pieces that incorporate these elements:

  • Linen, flannel or velvet throw blankets
  • Metal fixtures with patina or weathered finishes
  • Porcelain apron sinks
  • Barn doors
  • Houseplants
  • Use of black and other deep colors to offset mostly neutral tones
  • Vintage accessories
  • Exposed beams and wooden elements
  • Modest wicker or rattan details, such as storage bins or chairs
  • Comfortable sofas and other furniture
  • Worn-in textures, such as chipped paint on a side table

Where to shop for modern farmhouse pieces

As modern farmhouse design is a popular style among homeowners, everything from furniture to smaller decor pieces can be found in the retail and decor stores that you likely already frequent. Shopping for modern farmhouse pieces is extremely convenient, with big box stores such as Target and Walmart and online options such as Etsy and Amazon all stocked with this design style. And don’t forget to shop local — plenty of boutiques stock this look with unique, curated and even upcycled pieces.

Additionally, you may score an accent piece at a local flea market or vintage store. Or if you’re feeling crafty, you can easily create many modern farmhouse decor pieces yourself. There’s even an entire Instagram account dedicated to modern farmhouse DIY projects.

Incorporating modern farmhouse style in your home

Whether you’re making large-scale changes to revamp the decor in your entire home or you’d like to add some pops of modern farmhouse throughout, this design style can easily be incorporated into the spaces where you spend the most time. Modern farmhouse is perfect for your living area, kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. You may also find that you wish to incorporate some farmhouse elements in winter months; the style will fit in nicely with an already warm home, or it can provide a happy contrast to a more refined space.

If you are considering selling and aren’t sure how to update your home’s decor to appeal to buyers, modern farmhouse decor can be a smart addition. In a recent survey, modern farmhouse style was preferred in 42 of the 50 US states. (Minnesota and Wisconsin residents continue to rank mid-century modern as their top choice, though modern farmhouse is a healthy competitor.)

Moving forward with modern farmhouse

Now that you’ve created the modern farmhouse home of your dreams, it’s time to savor the space. Whether you plan to kick back and relax, get productive in your home office or host dinner party guests, your fresh decor is bound to be appreciated.

If you’ve renovated your space so it’s ready to sell, you’ll want to work with a professional who can help you list and sell your property for top dollar. Reach out today to begin the home selling process.

How do I know it’s the right time to refinance?

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Key insights:

  • As rates continue to drop, more and more borrowers will refinance in 2021.
  • Homeowners who purchased as recently as last year may benefit from refinancing to today’s rates.
  • Everyone’s finances and loan terms are different, but there are simple charts that can help you determine if refinancing could be a smart move.

Why are homeowners refinancing in 2021?

Feel like everyone is talking about refinancing their mortgage? You’re not imagining it — as mortgage interest rates have continued to dip lower and lower, many homeowners are finding that they can save money by refinancing their mortgage to lower their interest rate.

In fact, a homebuyer with a FICO score of 750 who borrowed $300,000 at an interest rate with a 30 year fixed rate mortgage of 3.625% (APR 3.685) in 2019 may find that they could save $143/month and just over $ 1,716 per year by refinancing at today’s current rates.

**Rates subject to change without notice.

Refinance table

Sounds pretty great, right? Now, let’s dive deeper into the numbers to help you assess if refinancing is right for you.

How much lower are today’s rates?

Rates have been quite low over the last few years, so many recent buyers may wonder if refinancing will really help them. And while this is a better question for your mortgage consultant, who can evaluate your exact loan terms and finances, here is a bit of data from Edina Realty Mortgage to help guide you. Edina Realty Mortgage is an affiliate of Edina Realty.

This is what you should know: Due in large part to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, already-low interest rates have dropped to their lowest levels since at least 1971, when Freddie Mac began tracking them.

Here’s a quick reference to the average interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages over the last few years:

  • December 2018: 4.64%
  • December 2019: 3.72%
  • December 2020: 2.68%

In 2021, rates are expected to hold at around 3%.

That means that even if you got the lowest rate when you bought in 2019, refinancing to a currently lower rate may save you money over time.

What would my monthly payment be if I refinanced?

Wondering what your monthly payments could look like? Check below to find a mortgage loan amount comparable to yours, then compare how different interest rates affect what you owe in monthly principal and interest.

Note that green cells represent the average interest rate for 2019; cells in yellow represent near the 2021 levels, thus far, of 3%. The below calculations are based on a 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loan with a 20% down payment.

Monthly Principal and Interest Payment1

Loan Amount

3.0%

3.5%

4.0%

4.5%

5.0%

$200,000

$843

$926

$955

1,013

1,074

$250,000

$1,054

$1,158

$1,194

$1,267

$1,342

$300,000

$1,256

$1,389

$1,423

$1,520

$1,610

$350,000

$1,475

$1,621

$1,671

1,773

$1,879

$400,000

$1,686

$1,852

$1,910

$2,027

$2,147

$450,000

$1,897

$2,084

$2,148

$2,280

$2,416

$500,000

$2,108

$2,245

$2,387

$2,533

$2,684

What are my refinancing options?

Everyone has the same primary motivation when refinancing: to pay less in interest. But keep in mind that there are a few different ways to refinance, depending on your current financial situation. Here are some scenarios for 30-year conventional loans.

Pay it off at the same pace. You don’t have to start fresh with another 30-year mortgage. If you’ve been in your home seven years, for example, you can request a 23-year loan. In the end, you’ll still pay off your loan in 30 total years. With a lower interest rate on your 23-year mortgage, you can either pay less each month or keep your payment the same to get ahead of your payment schedule.

Pay it off faster. When refinancing, you can also switch to a 15 or 20-year loan term. This will typically increase the amount due on the principal each month, but you’ll pay much less in interest over time.

If your primary goal is to lower your monthly payment, you can also restart your 30-year term. You may benefit from a lower monthly payment and lower interest rates, too. Over time, you can use the savings to help fund retirement or school tuition, or you can overpay your mortgage each month to get ahead of your payoff schedule.

How do I know if it’s the right time to refinance?

Your finances are as unique as your fingerprints, so the best way to know if you should refinance is to speak with a mortgage consultant about your current loan and rate, current and long-term financial goals, how long you plan to remain in your home and the best path forward for you.

Keep in mind, though, that even homeowners who purchased as recently as last year could benefit from refinancing due to today’s low rates. If you need help getting in touch with a home mortgage consultant who can assess your finances and walk you through the best next steps, reach out today.

1. Mortgage amounts are based on 30-year fixed rate conforming loans with a 20% down payment. Interest rates are based on current market conditions, are for informational purposes only, are subject to change without notice and may be subject to pricing add-ons related to property type, loan amount, loan-to-value, credit score and other variables.

Examples are provided for educational and illustrative purposes only. The payment amounts do not include homeowners insurance or property taxes, which must be paid in addition to your loan payment. Your actual payment may be higher. This is an illustration and does not reflect your actual loan information, cost or the exact interest rate for which you may qualify. Please contact us for current interest rates. Your loan’s interest rate will depend upon the specific characteristics of the loan transaction and your credit profile up to the time of closing. Estimated closing costs used in the APR calculation are assumed to be paid by the borrower at closing. If the closing costs are financed, the loan, APR and payment amounts will be higher. If the down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance may be required and could increase the monthly payment and APR. Speak with your mortgage consultant for more information regarding the content contained on this page.

All first mortgage products are provided by Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage. (877) 275-1762. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC products may not be available in all areas. Not all borrowers will qualify. Licensed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. Licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner. Also licensed in AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV and WY.

NMLS #75164 (NMLS Consumer Access at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/)

©2021 Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ultimate guide to the 2021 spring Parade of Homes

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Key insights:

  • Visit the Spring Parade of Homes from Feb. 27 through March 28, 2021 and the Remodelers Showcase from March 26 through March 28, 2021.
  • The Parade of Homes showcases hundreds of luxury, Green Path and new construction homes in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota.
  • Bring your mask. Safety precautions will be exercised at the Parade of Homes to keep all visitors safe, and your agent will be your best resource.
  • Partnering with a Realtor when purchasing a new construction home means you have an advocate looking out for your best interests throughout the building process.

With all the extra hours you’re likely spending indoors these days, do you find yourself dreaming up your next home? Have your household needs shifted due to COVID-19? If so, be sure to check out the highly anticipated Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase events safely and in person this spring.

Here are more details you can use as you plan to attend this one-of-a-kind home tour.

What is the Parade of Homes?

Showcasing some of the finest properties in Minnesota, the Parade of Homes inspires homeowners in and around the Twin Cities. This month-long event features 355 brand-new homes and 43 remodeled homes which are free and open to the public

While touring the Parade of Homes, expect to view the ultimate exhibition of luxury, green, high-tech and new construction homes in Minnesota. This event is “where dream homes come true.”

When is the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes?

The 2021 Spring Parade of Homes spans an entire month, allowing viewers ample time to leisurely and carefully explore properties throughout Minnesota. The concluding days of the spring tour will highlight the area’s most beautifully renovated homes with a special Remodelers Showcase.

2021 Spring Parade of Homes:

  • Feb. 27 through March 28, 2021
  • Weekly, Thursday through Sunday
  • Noon-6 p.m.

2021 Spring Remodelers Showcase:

  • March 26 through March 28, 2021
  • One-weekend event, Friday through Sunday
  • Noon-6 p.m.

Get more details on this spring’s Parade of Homes — including special events, free offerings and other upcoming tours.

Taking precautions during COVID-19

In an effort to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment, the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes will take extra safeguards to keep all attendees well. This year’s event has added extra guidelines and precautions, such as:

  • Limiting a maximum of 10 occupants per home model
  • Requiring the use of face masks
  • Maintaining six feet of social distancing
  • Frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces

Along with these safety measures, the Parade of Homes offers complete virtual home tours on available properties. Those interested in continuing a tour of eligible homes from the safety and comfort of your couch can view all the properties offering virtual tours.

Looking for renovation ideas? Visit the Remodelers Showcase

Deepen your Parade of Homes experience by visiting the Remodelers Showcase. This three-day event offers a unique perspective of over 40 remodeled homes in the area, plus the opportunity to converse with local remodelers.

Contractors and architects have thoughtfully remodeled the featured homes to better align with modern living standards — while maintaining original features and honoring the character of the property. Gather insights from these experts, as you may find them beneficial while planning your own home improvements.

Do I need a real estate agent for new construction?

Yes, it is to your advantage to work with a REALTOR® as you tour the Parade of Homes or build a brand-new home. Your agent will be your best resource and advocate throughout your home search. They can explain the steps and timeline, advise on key decisions, and help with negotiations or other challenges that may arise.

When starting your Parade of Homes experience with your Realtor, you can rest assured that you have an expert guiding you as you navigate the unique path of a new construction purchase. And if you don’t bring your Realtor with you on the Parade of Homes, you’ll still want to mention to potential developers that you are already working with an agent.

Partnering with a local Realtor may be especially beneficial this year, as your agent will advocate for you during COVID-19. Not only will your agent understand the norms of today’s unique housing market, but will also be current with important safety procedures throughout the purchase process.

Are you ready to make your move?

If you’re feeling inspired by the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes, now is the time to move forward. Reach out today to discuss how you’d like to approach and visit the Parade of Homes. Together, we can find the right new construction home or the inspiration you need to renovate your home and make it into a true showcase property.

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