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


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


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


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


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


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?


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.

Is it time to sell your lakeshore home?


Key insights:

  • It’s a great time to be a lakeshore owner — and an even better time to be a seller. Many areas are seeing spikes in vacation home sales and prices.
  • Selling your home doesn’t mean you need to leave lake life behind. Check out other lakeshore homes and cabins that may better fit your needs.
  • Still contemplating whether or not it’s the right time to sell? Gain confidence in your decision with guidance from local housing experts.

If you’ve been holding on to your lakeshore home, it may be time to consider selling. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, vacation home sales were up 16% in 2020, as more people sought out safe retreats and took advantage of remote work opportunities due to COVID-19.

Locally, the trend is similar; buyers are circling and are ready to purchase lakeshore properties, and the low inventory in the traditional market is extending into the waterfront home sale market.

Outlined below are a few of the top markets for lakeshore home sales, with data provided by Multiple Listing Services in Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. But remember, everything is hyper-local, so get in touch to hear about the lakeshore trends in your area.

Market snapshot: Brainerd Area

Waterfront home sales in the Brainerd area are up over 6%, and so are prices. In July 2021, waterfront properties in the Brainerd statistical area reached an average sales price of $509,000. That’s the highest prices have been in the 15 years our data covers.

Meanwhile, new waterfront listings in Brainerd are not coming on the market fast enough, and all indications point to a very strong sellers’ market. New listings are down 5%, but sales are up 14% and the average days on market is down to just 88 days, a decrease of 43% from last year.*

The lesson here? If you’re considering offloading your Brainerd home on the water, start the process now. If the steady flow of hopeful buyers continues, high-quality waterfront homes in Brainerd may sell faster and for more money than they have in the last 15 years.

Market snapshot: Alexandria Area

In Alexandria, lakefront home prices increased 21% in July 2021 over the previous year. Alexandria waterfront homes are now selling for a median price of $380,000. Sellers are also getting what they ask for, averaging 99% of their last listing price at the closing table.

Buyer demand is surpassing inventory, and the number of new lakeshore listings in Alexandria decreased 12% in July, even as pending sales increased by 7%*. Whether you have an Alexandria lake cabin or a larger Alexandria luxury waterfront home, it may be a great time to sell to eager buyers who are already in the market.

Market snapshot: Siren, Wisconsin Area

Siren, Wisconsin has always been a desired spot, but this year’s stats show a clear surge. Lakefront home prices in Siren increased 19% in July over the previous year, giving Siren lake homes and cabins a median sales price of $277,500.

While new listings are increasing, with a 16% increase in July, they aren’t keeping up with the pace of sales, which were up 24%. Waterfront home sellers in Siren are also receiving more than 102% of their last list price at the closing table.*

The message? Your Siren-area lakefront home may be in high demand. By listing in the next month or two, you can still catch 2021 buyers who are hoping to close a deal quickly.

Market snapshot: The Twin Cities

Of course, not all lakeshore homes are up north or in western Wisconsin. Many of them are within the 13-county metro area. Right now, this area is seeing its highest median lakeshore home sale price in over 15 years, at $622,500. While that’s already great news for the local market, the real celebration is taking place at the closing table.

Lakeshore home sellers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are garnering 100% of their last listing price and average days on market has decreased 33% from last year, down to just 60 days*. That means in most cases, homes are selling faster and buyers are willing to pay a fair price. If you’re thinking of selling your waterfront home in Minneapolis, St. Paul or the surrounding suburbs this year, you’re likely to get the list price you’re asking for — and a faster path to the closing table.

Other considerations for lake home sellers

While market data is important, you might want to reflect on other aspects of your lake home when making your selling decision. Ask yourself these questions if you’re still on the fence about selling.

Does the size of my lake home fit my needs, including hosting guests? If your family or friend group has expanded since you first bought your lakeshore property, it may be a tight squeeze when all the guests come for the weekend. Outside of selling, your best options are to limit your guest list or expand your current property’s footprint.

Is it too difficult to maintain my lake home throughout the year? Whether your property is higher maintenance than you were expecting, or you simply don’t get to the lake home as often as you hoped, the maintenance may begin to overwhelm your weekend trips. If you’re not ready to sell, you could consider hiring a year-round resident or maintenance worker who can do some of the upkeep so your weekends away are more relaxing and less work-intensive.

Am I spending enough time at my lake home? No matter how much you prioritize life at the lake, there are plenty of close-to-home summer activities that can keep you from heading lakeside each weekend. If you’re starting to feel that your lakeshore property isn’t being used as much as you’d like, you may want to consider renting it out on off-weekends or even think about co-owning a property with family or friends.

Is the location of my lake home ideal? Consider your commute time and access to shopping, entertainment and other amenities. If you’re spending too much time getting to and from your cabin each weekend, or heading into town for basic errands, you may want to consider a location that works better for you.

Is this the right lake for me? Whether you’re a wakeboarder, an avid fisher, a kayak enthusiast or simply want to boat to a dockside restaurant every weekend, there is a right lake for your needs. If you’ve realized that your lake doesn’t match with your interests, it may be time to look into other bodies of water that could be the right fit.

Keep in mind, wanting a home that better meets your needs doesn’t mean you have to give up living by the lake. However, it could indicate that it’s time to move to a different lakeshore property.

Prepare to list your lake home for sale

Remember, highlighted were market details for a few areas in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. But every county, city, lake or river can vary in its conditions for local sellers. The best way to get started on the process of selling your waterfront home is to get a professional home value estimate. Get in touch today to see what your lake home is worth in today’s market.

* Based on information from NorthstarMLS for the period 2020-2021. Data is based on 12 months of activity ending July 2021

5 all-new laundry hacks for homeowners


Key insights:

  • Laundry stripping may make your sheets and towels even cleaner. Learn more about this recipe and viral cleaning hack.
  • Get great-smelling laundry without synthetic fragrances, by using essential oils and white vinegar.
  • Give your washer a deep clean and scrub to get even fresher clothes.

While many people put off doing their laundry, you don’t need to be intimidated by piles of clothes. Here are five easy, inexpensive ways you can get the clean clothes and linens you deserve.

1. Strip your linens and towels

While routine washing of your bed sheets and bath towels is sufficient to maintain fabric freshness, sometimes a deep clean is needed. Recently the idea of “laundry stripping” went viral on TikTok. While the practice of laundry stripping has been around for years, many are unfamiliar with how — and why — to strip your laundry.

In short, laundry stripping aims to remove buildup from your laundry (like residue from excess detergent, body oils and minerals from hard water) that may have accumulated over time. Here’s an effective guide for laundry stripping:

  1. Fill a tub with hot water.
  2. Add ¼ cup borax, ¼ cup washing soda and ½ cup laundry detergent.
  3. Stir until the powders dissolve.
  4. Submerge clean sheets and towels in the tub.
  5. Leave linens in the tub until the water has cooled (may take four to five hours).
  6. Agitate the items in the tub every hour.
  7. Drain water and transfer laundry to the washing machine. There is no need to add additional detergent.
  8. Run sheets and towels through your washing machine, and dry items without using dryer sheets.

The laundry-stripping practice works best on bed linens and towels, and should be performed once or twice a year. Think of laundry stripping as an addition to your typical washing routine.

2. Fluff up your towels and dry everything faster

Everybody appreciates a soft set of towels to wrap up in post-shower. To keep your towels feeling cozy well after you’ve purchased them, be sure to:

  • Load towels into the dryer right after washing.
  • Shake out each piece of laundry before adding it to the dryer.
  • Ensure the dryer isn’t overfilled. Aim for medium-size loads.
  • Choose a lower heat setting to maintain the integrity of fabrics.

These guidelines will speed up the time you spend drying laundry, and they’ll help keep your towels soft and scratch-free.

3. Get great-smelling laundry

In lieu of traditional laundry sheets, which create waste and may contain harmful chemicals, opt for natural options that produce fresh-smelling laundry. Try adding one to two drops of essential oils on wool balls or even clean socks to get your laundry smelling like your favorite scent. Lavender and lemon are popular options.

For persistent odors – like pet smells on throw blankets or pillowcases — mix ½ cup of vinegar in with your laundry. Plus, be sure to leave the washer door open for a few hours after each wash cycle, especially if you have a front-loading washer. This will help reduce the chance of any mildew formation and eliminate musty smells.

4. Green your routine

Approximately 90% of the energy used to operate your washing machine is attributed to water heating. To establish a more eco-friendly approach to your laundry routine, wash your clothes in cold or lukewarm water.

The low heat setting can also be used on your dryer to reduce energy consumption. If your dryer has a high spin speed option, turn it on to decrease drying time. Last, always clean your lint filter between loads of laundry to maximize efficiency.

5. Don’t forget to clean your washer

To get your clothes to their cleanest, it’s important to clean your washing machine. Over time, soap and residues may build up in the machine, and the cleaning agents in your detergent may not be enough to keep your washer squeaky clean.

If your washer has a self-clean cycle, use that along with any machine-specific instructions. For a DIY clean, follow these steps:

  1. Run an empty cycle with hot water and two cups of white vinegar.
  2. With a cleaning sponge and toothbrush, scrub the inside of the machine with a mixture of one quart warm water and ¼ cup vinegar.
  3. Be sure to clean the detergent dispensers, and in and around the door of the machine.
  4. Run a second empty cycle with only hot water.
  5. Wipe out the inside of the machine.

Upgrade your laundry routine and room

While revamping your laundry routine, you may also consider renovating your laundry room. This won’t only benefit you now, it could also pay off when you sell your property down the road; 91% of today’s homebuyers want a designated laundry space.

Wondering how to upgrade your home or laundry space to appeal to today’s buyers? Reach out any time for insights tailored to your property and potential home sale.

Pre-qualified vs. pre-approved: What’s the difference?


What is the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval? What type of mortgage loan should I apply for? How can I work with a lender to get the best interest rate? As a first-time homebuyer, you may be overwhelmed by the home loan process — and by all the terms that you encounter as you work to secure mortgage approval.

First, let’s discuss the difference between two important terms: mortgage pre-qualification vs. pre-approval. These are the two most common preliminary steps in applying for a home mortgage loan, but they each have different requirements and unique benefits.

Pre-approval vs. pre-qualification at a glance

Getting pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage are both important steps in the homebuying process. While pre-qualification and pre-approval may seem intimidating, they don’t have to be!

Main differences between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved

First of all, let’s be perfectly clear: pre-approval is not the same as pre-qualification. These two terms refer to separate processes when applying for a home mortgage loan.

A pre-qualification is a rough estimate of what you might be able to borrow for your mortgage. Pre-qualification is based on your “best guess” of information, which hasn’t been verified by the lender.

In contrast, mortgage pre-approval is the most comprehensive step a buyer can take toward attaining a home mortgage. To get pre-approved for a mortgage, the buyer will submit an official mortgage application and document their financial history for their lender. Once the lender verifies the information, they will offer a pre-approval letter to the buyer, stating that the buyer is “pre-approved” for a mortgage loan of a certain amount, with specific terms.

Key similarities between pre-qualification and pre-approval

Pre-qualification and pre-approval both help you determine your search parameters and the amount of money you will likely be able to borrow for a mortgage. However, sellers tend to take pre-approved buyers more seriously than pre-qualified buyers, because only pre-approved buyers have been truly vetted by a lender.

What does pre-qualified mean?

Pre-qualification can be the first step in the mortgage process. In a pre-qualification, buyers can provide their own financial information, and the lender returns a general evaluation of the loan amount that the buyer can likely secure. Most lenders provide pre-qualifications for free, and they can be completed in a short time over the phone or online.

The pre-qualification amount is mainly for the buyer’s personal reference. Because the buyer’s finances were self-reported and not evaluated directly by a lender, a pre-qualification shouldn’t be submitted to a home seller as evidence of a buyer’s creditworthiness.

Primary benefits of being pre-qualified for a mortgage

The benefits of pre-qualification are for the buyers. A pre-qualification:

  • Can be the first step in the house-hunting process.
  • Can help establish a preliminary home buying budget.

What does pre-approval mean?

The second step towards obtaining a mortgage, pre-approval, is a much more involved and thorough process. Here, the buyer turns in an official mortgage application and provides the lender with an extensive financial history. In return, the lender provides a more specific intended loan amount as well as the estimated interest rate the buyer can expect (assuming rates hold).

In short, a home loan pre-approval can offer the borrower peace of mind as they determine their budget and buying power. And because sellers and their agents recognize the effort it takes to get pre-approved for a mortgage, they may take buyers with a pre-approval letter more seriously. In a multiple-offer scenario, sellers and their agents may not even consider an offer that doesn’t come with a pre-approval letter.

Advantages of pre-approval

The benefits of pre-approval can be for both the buyer and the seller. A pre-approval:

  • Can be the first step in the home purchase process.
  • Provides the buyer with an estimate of their likely budget and buying power.
  • May provide an estimated interest rate, should current rates hold.
  • Can help buyers stand out in a competitive market.
  • Demonstrates that a buyer is serious, and ready to move quickly.

Which is better for you?

If you’re planning to buy a home and trying to decide between getting pre-qualified or pre-approved, we recommend that you get pre-approved for a mortgage. It takes a bit more time, but getting pre-approved provides many more benefits once you begin the home buying process.

A pre-approved buyer can feel confident that (assuming their finances and employment don’t drastically change during their home search), they can search and bid for homes that are priced within their budget.

And while getting pre-approved doesn’t automatically mean your offer will be accepted, it does signal to the seller and their agent that you are a serious buyer who has taken comprehensive steps to get pre-approved for a specific loan amount.

Secure your mortgage and start shopping for your next home

Securing a home loan may seem complicated, but you don’t have to go through the steps alone. Whether you’re pre-qualified, pre-approved, or still at the starting line, work with a professional you can trust. Reach out today to begin your home buying process.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, or financial advice.
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.
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Five home improvements with the best ROI


Key insights:

  • Historically, home sellers have invested in improvement projects before listing to generate more interest in their property.
  • Today’s sellers hold a keen advantage in the market, so they should be sure to update only what is necessary before listing their home for sale.
  • Data shows that some of the least expensive projects — such as a new garage door or a new front door — can have the greatest impact on a sale.

You’ve likely seen the headlines: Today’s sellers are getting 103% of their asking price, which means that they hold a big advantage in today’s market. With this news, you may not plan to update anything on your property before you list it for sale. If your home is in the right neighborhood and in good condition, this may be just fine! But if your home is outdated, you may get an even higher bid if you give it a little polish before selling.

But which projects can have the biggest impact for sellers? Shouldn’t some updates be reserved for homeowners who plan to stay in their homes and enjoy them for a few years?

These are the questions we asked as we dove into the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report ( This exhaustive report details the cost and value of home improvement projects across the country, and they even break the data out by region and city.

Here are the projects Twin Cities homeowners and others in our region should take on if they want to recoup the most on their initial investment.

1. Manufactured stone veneer

Cost: $10,923

Resale value: $10,158

Cost recouped: 93.0%

If you’ve seen new construction homes over the last few years, you know that partial stone veneers are all the rage. Current homeowners can also freshen up an aging exterior by adding a stone veneer accent to the bottom third of their home.

To complete this project, you’ll first remove the bottom third of siding from the street-facing side of your home exterior (a 300-square-foot continuous band). Next, you’ll replace this area with a stone veneer, including 36 linear feet of sills, 40 linear feet of corners, one address block and a detailed faux-stone archway around the front door. The installation also includes protection against water damage and corrosion.

You’ll be amazed at how this easy stone addition gives your home’s exterior a modern facelift!

2. Garage door replacement

Cost: $3,930

Resale value: $3,537

Cost recouped: 90.0%

If your garage door has dings and dents, it may pay off to replace it; the average homeowner sees a return on investment of 90% when they replace their garage door.

For this project, you’ll remove and properly dispose of your existing garage door (16x7 feet) and its tracks. You’ll then install a new steel garage door with top-panel windows on new, galvanized steel tracks. You can continue to use your current motorized opener. The cost of this project includes a lifetime warranty on the garage door.

When buying the door, pay attention to your own moving plans and timeline. You may be able to pay less if you forgo the lifetime warranty or opt for a one-year warranty, which is more common.

3. Steel entry door replacement

Cost: $2,107

Resale value: $1,500

Cost recouped: 71.2%

You’ve probably heard of painting a front door an exciting color to add interest to the front of your property when selling your home. But if your door is made of wood or another outdated material, it may be time to consider an upgrade.

For this project, you’ll replace your current door with a new 20-gauge steel door that includes a dual-pane, half-glass panel. The door’s factory finish-color is the same on both sides, and the project also includes a new casing that matches the door color. Last, the cost for this project includes a budget for a brand-new lockset to accompany the door.

4. Window replacement (vinyl)

Cost: $19,516

Resale value: $13,615

Cost recouped: 69.8%

Quality windows are built to last 15 to 20 years. If you’re coming up on that timeframe, you may want to consider a vinyl window replacement. Begin by replacing 10 existing windows (3x5 feet) with new, insulated vinyl windows. This project accounts for custom-color exterior finish and exterior trim. The interior trim can remain in place.

If you’d prefer to replace your existing windows with wood windows, the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report shows a slightly higher cost of $23,324, and an ROI of 68.2%. However, with today’s rapidly-rising cost of wood, we think this estimated pricing may now be out of date; it seems likely that vinyl windows will be significantly less expensive for all of 2021.

5. Minor, mid-range kitchen remodel

Cost: $26,839

Resale value: $18,345

Cost recouped: 68.4%

To take this project on, you’ll need to start with a functional kitchen in need of some cosmetic updates and appliance upgrades. Keep 30 feet of cabinets in place, replacing only the fronts with new wood panels, drawer fronts and fresh hardware.

A few major appliances — refrigerator, stove and oven — will be replaced, while the dishwasher (if you have one) is not included in this budget. Floors and countertops can be replaced with new laminate options. Finally, freshen the space by painting the walls, trim and ceiling. Voila! A not-too-expensive update that saves you the cost of all new cabinetry.

Want more info on the ROI of home projects?

We’ve detailed the five projects with the highest return on investment, but the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report also shared the five projects with the lowest ROI in the Twin Cities. If you plan to move soon, you may want to avoid adding an owner’s suite or a brand-new bathroom.

Here are the home improvement projects with the lowest ROI locally:

  • Upscale owner’s suite addition (45% recouped from budget of $338,083)
  • Upscale bathroom addition (47.6% of $108,912)
  • Asphalt roofing replacement (48.8% of $35,946)
  • Mid-range bathroom addition (49.1% of $61,026)
  • Mid-range owner’s suite addition (50.3% of $166,011)

Wondering what other remodeling projects were reviewed for Minneapolis and the surrounding region? Check out the complete 2021 Cost vs. Value Report.

Get expert guidance before you sell

Keep in mind that it may be smartest to take on higher-cost, lower-ROI projects only if you plan to be in the home for a few more years. After all, your own enjoyment of these projects can certainly count as a return on your investment!

However, if your updates are solely intended to sell your home faster or for more money, be sure to get in touch before you begin renovations. Together, we can determine the most cost-effective, impactful changes you can make to your property before we list it for sale.

©2021 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation. Complete data from the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report can

be downloaded free at

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