Realtor profile photo
Jay Ettinger | |612-990-7777
Sena Neilitz | |920-428-7232

a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate

What are the benefits of homeownership?

/media/3728/owning-a-home.jpg

When you have a decent rental situation or you’re living with family or friends, it can be tempting to put off the decision to buy. Still, that voice in the back of your head tends to speak up each month as you’re paying your monthly rent and wondering… What if this money benefitted me, instead of someone else?

If you’re wondering about the true benefits of homeownership and how you might calculate them, here are some insights developed just for you.

Equity

The majority of homebuyers take out a loan for the property and pay off their property’s mortgage over time. As you make your monthly mortgage payments on a home with a steady value, your home equity will grow. (Equity is the difference between what you still owe on your mortgage, and the value of your home in the current market.)

When you rent from a landlord, the property asset is in their name — and they benefit from rising equity. When you own your home, equity gains directly benefit you. Whether you decide to keep all the equity in your home and “cash out” at resale, or pull out some funds over time to pay for home updates, college tuition or other worthy expenses, equity is one of the greatest perks of homeownership.

Appreciation

Remember how equity is the calculation of what is owed on your mortgage, compared to the property’s current value? This means that your home equity will grow as you pay off your mortgage, but it will also increase as the value of your home rises.

An increase in property value is called appreciation, and it’s one of the most underrated benefits of homeownership. Provided you select a home in a good location and maintain it over time, you will be likely to benefit from home price appreciation. (Of course, market shifts may slow this growth at times, but stricter lending terms and other dynamics mean that fewer homeowners than in the past have the potential to end up underwater.)

As with equity, appreciation works in favor of the homeowner, not the renter. As a renter, the best case scenario would be that your rent remains steady as the value of the rental property grows. A far more likely scenario is that your landlord would raise your rent, keeping it in line with the “market rate.” In that case, you would be paying more to live in the same property over time.

Steady payments

This leads us to our next point, which is that as a homebuyer, you can take out a loan that allows you to steadily predict your housing costs for the next 10-30 years.

When you take out a mortgage, you as the borrower can determine if you want a fixed-rate mortgage, or an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM). With a fixed-rate mortgage, your loan’s interest rate — and therefore your monthly principal and interest payments — will remain the same for the life of the loan. With an ARM, the interest rate will readjust annually to match current interest rates.

As a renter, you will always be at risk of your landlord increasing your rent, but as a homeowner with a fixed-rate mortgage, you can have peace of mind that you’re relatively insulated from the rising costs of housing.

One final note on this: As a homeowner, you will also be responsible for your annual property taxes and insurance. This means that while your mortgage principal and interest will be set for the life of your fixed-rate loan, your property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase over time.

Freedom, flexibility and control

While the financial benefits of owning a home are very real, it’s also important to consider the mental and emotional perks. Whether you dream of picking out paint colors, planting a vegetable garden or an oversized light fixture above the dining table, it can be difficult to live in a rental once you get the itch to customize your space to your lifestyle. (Who among us hasn’t painted the walls of an apartment a bright color… only to begrudgingly paint them back to “Stark Landlord White” at the end of the lease?)

By owning a home, you’ll have more control over your surroundings, and the freedom to follow your design urges or practical needs. While the upgrades will come out of your own pocket, you’ll also feel a sense of pride as you make almost all of the decisions on your own. (In some cases, you may have to ask for approval on your plans from your homeowners association or the local government.)

Ready to buy?

If you’re on the fence about buying, there are plenty of resources to help you assess if you’re ready to become a homeowner. From pre-approvals that check your credit and financial history to assistance with down payment resources, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out today for no-pressure assistance from a friendly, local market expert.

A-Z home seller dictionary

/media/3729/rent-or-mortgage.jpg

When you purchased your first home, you likely encountered many new terms. When it comes time to sell, you’ll also want to brush up on the terminology used by real estate agents, mortgage and title professionals and more.

Here, we’re sharing the ins and outs of the most frequently used selling terms, so you can confidently move forward with your home sale.

Appraisal

After an offer is accepted on a home, a professional conducts an appraisal, which determines the property’s current value and justifies the loan of the buyer. Throughout the process, the interior and exterior of the home — including amenities, condition of the property and floor plan — will be examined by an appraiser. Their aim is to provide a value estimate for the home, free of bias.

The appraiser also looks at the recent sale prices of similar homes in the area. If the for-sale property is appraised at or above the listed sales price, the home selling process will continue toward closing. If the house doesn’t appraise, it’s possible to challenge the decision or to find other ways to move the sale forward.

Capital gains tax

The profit from a home sale is known as capital gain. In some cases, sellers must pay a capital gains tax on their profits, but this tax can be avoided if certain conditions are met. Generally, most sellers don’t meet the conditions to pay capital gains tax, but it’s best to consult an expert to understand your unique situation.

Closing

The final closing involves transferring ownership of the home through signed paperwork. There is a process involved with closing on a real estate purchase, including: loan application, title commitment, home inspection and due diligence, scheduling a closing date, appraisal process, loan approval, homeowner’s insurance, re-inspection (if necessary), walk-through, transfer of utilities and finally — closing.

Closing costs

Closing costs are a variety of expenses that are paid at the closing of the sale. For a seller, those costs typically range from 6 to 10% of the price of the home sale. Payments associated with closing may include taxes paid on the property transfer or fees paid to the closing company.

Sometimes, buyers ask sellers to pay for some or all of their closing costs, which reduces the amount a seller might receive from the purchase price.

Comparative market analysis (CMA)

When conducting a comparative market analysis, a trained REALTOR® will evaluate a home’s worth based on factors like its location, condition and amenities. In addition, a CMA will compare a home’s value to recently sold and listed homes nearby. It’s important to get a CMA in order to determine a competitive yet reasonable price to list your property.

Contingencies — and active contingent listing status

A property listed as contingent is under contract with a buyer, but the sale is not yet finalized. For the sale to move toward closing, contingencies need to be removed from the contract. A contingency is a condition that needs to be met or an event that must occur before the home sale can go through. Common contingencies include a professional inspection and the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan.

Days on market

This metric describes the number of days a property is on the market. Typically, this count begins when the property is listed and ends after an offer is accepted and the listing status updates to pending. Many listings are labeled as pending after the buyer removes their inspection contingency.

Disclosures

It is your legal obligation to disclose certain details of the property when selling a home. Some necessary disclosures include damage or issues with features of the home, including the plumbing, roofing or electric.

If you are unsure whether to disclose an aspect of the property, even if it’s just a small issue, it’s generally best to disclose it.

Equity

The value a homeowner has in their property is called home equity. To calculate equity, subtract the amount owed in mortgages or loan balances from the home’s current market value.

Increased equity indicates more assets and a higher total net worth of the homeowner. Generally, in order to build equity, loans must be paid down or the property value needs to rise (or both).

Escrow

With a real estate escrow, the buyer and seller agree to having a third party hold money for a period of time after closing. Putting money in an escrow account ensures safekeeping of funds until all obligations of the home sale (such as a negotiated property repair) are met by the buyer and seller. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, escrow is only used after you have purchased your home.

For sale by owner (FSBO)

Homes put up for sale by owner (FSBO) do not involve an agent or broker during the process of selling the property. Due to the complex aspects of selling real estate and the benefits of listing with an agent — like coming out ahead on the final sales price — FSBO homes are dwindling.

iBuyers

iBuyers tend to be larger investment firms that make quick, automated offers on properties based on proprietary algorithms. Sellers hoping to avoid the traditional market or sell quickly may find that using an iBuyer could work to their advantage.

Inspection

The majority of homebuyers request a home inspection prior to signing a purchase agreement. During the home inspection, an examiner will look at the roof, foundation, electrical system and other functional components of the property.

The inspection process ends with a report of the home’s condition, which will inform the potential buyer of defects to the property. A buyer may request for the seller to address issues uncovered in the inspection before closing.

Multiple listing service (MLS)

Real estate agents use the multiple listing service as a tool to share active property listings. When these listings are published, other real estate agents and potential buyers will be able to easily access the details on the property.

This means that when we list your home for sale, listing information will be available to other local agents who don’t work for Edina Realty — and to any buyer who is searching for local homes online.

Multiple offers

Multiple offers occur when home sellers receive multiple bids on their listing. Sellers with homes in desirable areas may be able to draw in multiple offers, which can lead to selling their home at a higher price than listed.

Negotiations

When selling a home, buyers may want to negotiate different aspects of the sale, including price or closing date. We will work together every step of the way to ensure that your final terms and price are negotiated to your satisfaction.

Open house

An open house allows sellers to open their home to potential buyers. During this event, buyers can view the property and ask initial questions. Sellers should showcase the home’s best features to elicit more interest from buyers.

Purchase agreement

A real estate purchase agreement is a contract containing the agreed-upon details of the sale of the home. The purchase agreement sets forth the sale price, contingencies, closing dates and all other important aspects of the deal.

Pending listing status

A pending listing status indicates that the buyer and seller have cleared up most contingencies and are heading toward the closing table. However, final aspects of the sale, like financing, title examination and a final walk-through of the property are likely still in progress.

Radon law

In 2014, the Minnesota legislature passed a radon law. This law requires sellers to explicitly state if their home has been tested for radon, a toxic gas. And, sellers must provide buyers with the results of the test.

Wisconsin does not require a radon test prior to real estate transactions, but a pre-sale radon test is recommended by most experts.

Realtor

A Realtor is a licensed professional who represents the interest of a seller or buyer throughout a home transaction. Unlike a real estate agent, a Realtor must subscribe to a strict code of ethics, including putting the needs of their client ahead of their own financial or personal interests. Becoming a certified Realtor is the highest designation in the field of real estate.

Realtors are supervised by their local association boards and represented by the National Association of REALTORS®. All Edina Realty agents are licensed Realtors.

Reverse contingencies

With the help of their Realtor, sellers may choose to write a reverse contingency into the purchase agreement of their property. This clause allows sellers to make the sale contingent on them finding another home to buy. In other words, a reverse contingency grants sellers a contracted period of time to find a new home before they are legally bound to close on their current sale.

Staging

Sellers may choose to stage their home for sale by themselves or with the help of a Realtor or professional stager. Staging is the process of neutralizing a property so it appeals to the greatest number of buyers once it’s listed on the market.

To stage a property, you’ll want to remove clutter (including photos and knick-knacks), optimize the space with smart-sized furniture and use neutral — but inviting — paint colors on the main walls.

Showings

A showing refers to an individually-scheduled appointment where a potential buyer tours your property with their agent or an open house (which is open to all buyers) hosted by your real estate agent.

Square footage

Square footage refers to the square feet of a home that include the following features: flooring, wallcovering, ceiling and ability to be lived in 365 days of the year. In most cases, areas of your home that meet these criteria will be included in the square footage detailed in your listing. Square footage is a standard piece of information on MLS home listings.

Title

The title (or ownership) of your home will be transferred to the new owner once your property sells. Once the property has been signed, the homebuyer’s title company will transfer the corresponding proceeds to you.

Tax-assessed home value

Tax-assessed home value, or estimated market value, refers to the worth of your home. This number helps calculate property taxes and is determined by the city or county where the property is located.

This value is based on historical sales data and mass appraisal techniques, so you may want to get a second opinion before doing taxes or selling — especially if you’ve recently completed a brand-new luxury kitchen remodel. Keep in mind, tax-assessed values can be lagging indicators of your home’s current market value because assessments may only occur annually or biannually.

Transfer of utilities

After closing, it’s important for both parties to discuss the details of transferring utilities. Planning ahead with utility setup will ease the transition between the seller and buyer and will insure that you don’t incur extra costs after the property transaction.

Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluation (TISH)

A Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluation (TISH) may be required to assess potential health or safety risks in a home before selling. This report typically recommends or requires certain sellers to make home repairs prior to listing.

Depending on the city you live in, you might need to get a TISH inspection before posting your home on the market.

Walk-through

Shortly before closing, a final walk-through is held to ensure good property condition and completed repairs (if they were agreed upon). After a successful walk-through, you’re officially ready for closing!

Zoning

Local governments implement zoning rules that distinguish what properties can be used for in certain areas. When selling, zoning laws may affect how a house can be marketed, including whether or not a remodeled basement can be correctly called a bedroom or if a property can be listed as single-family or multi-family home.

Ready to sell?

By now, you’re well-versed in selling terms. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz!) Reach out at any time for additional help that’s catered to your unique needs as a seller.

Tips to stage and sell your home this fall

/media/3731/sell-in-fall.jpg

Fall is nearly upon us, and with it comes crisp air and beautifully colored autumn leaves. It’s a great time for new beginnings, but if you plan to sell this fall, you’ll want to get started ASAP.

By playing this season to your advantage with refined curb appeal and welcoming interiors, you may draw more interest (and offers) to your property. Here are the top insights for home staging and selling in the fall.

Exterior tips for fall home staging

Boost curb appeal with a well-maintained yard

The first step of staging your home for sale in the fall is curb appeal. Focus on fall lawn care by keeping your grass freshly cut and leaves raked daily. This will deliver a polished first impression to interested buyers, both online and in person.

For added allure, play up autumn by using potted plants and flowers. Mums, which come in gorgeous orange, red and yellow hues, are ideal. In low quantities, pumpkins and gourds can be used to give your front porch or steps more curb appeal.

Remember the basics of home staging

Steer clear of over-the-top seasonal decorations (think scarecrows, mummies, ghosts and goblins) that may turn buyers off and keep them from focusing on the attractive, foundational features of your home.

All in all, staging the exterior of your home in the fall is similar to what you would do in summer. A clean, well-kept lawn and simple embellishments will create an inviting outdoor space that showcases the architecture of the house and the size of the yard.

Interior tips for fall home staging

Neutralize the home

It’s important to put the interest of the buyer first when staging the interior of your home. To ensure the potential buyers can easily picture themselves and their belongings in the space, make an effort to remove family photos, personal mementos and loud seasonal decor.

Add extra comforts to interior spaces

When staging your home for sale, natural design elements will work in your favor. Plants and neutral colors tend to be well received by interested buyers. And, you can make it seasonal. Opt for neutral tones such as creamy off-whites and subtle shades of light brown when picking colors for painted walls, throw blankets and other decor pieces.

Additional seasonal elements can add an inviting charm to an open house or showing. Consider incorporating these fall elements while taking care to maintain a modest space:

  • Use fall flowers and foliage, such as sunflowers, dried grasses or gourds.
  • Light the fireplace.
  • Incorporate autumnal scents, like apple or spice.
  • Replace linens with warm, neutral fall colors.

Simple home upgrades that pay off when selling

Finally, little fixes here and there can have a big impact when selling. By completing small home projects like installing a ceiling fan or adding storage space to your garage, you may put yourself in a better position to attract potential homebuyers.

(If you’re not sure which projects to move forward with, get in touch for a no-pressure consultation.)

Light up your staged space

Today’s homebuyers want lights

The National Association of Home Builders recently conducted a study, What Home Buyers Really Want.They discovered that with over 200 home features to choose from, exterior lighting tied as the first item today’s buyers want. In fact, 87% of homebuyers are specifically looking for a home with exterior lighting.

Lucky for today’s home sellers, lighting can be used to their advantage. Not only will lights speak for themselves as an element sought out by buyers, but also lights can enhance other attributes of the for-sale home.

Showcase your home’s lighting when staging

Fall home staging includes thoughtful lighting that invokes a bright space without looking stark, here’s how:

  • During the day, keep your window treatments open to draw in fall’s natural lighting.
  • At night, turn on side table lamps and overhead lights.

When it comes to evening showings, ensure potential buyers can easily view your home’s exterior and appreciate its appeal. Turn on outdoor lights and add pathway lights to make sure visitors are sure-footed.

Simple tips to add more light to your space

Try not to worry if your home’s lighting currently feels lackluster. Instead, pick one or more of these creative tips to add budget-friendly lighting to your home before selling. Here are some interior and exterior lighting solutions:

  • Replace lighting around the front door and garage.
  • Add uplighting to the porch or deck.
  • Install under cabinet lights in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Add lighting around staircases and walking paths.
  • Illuminate outdoor lounge spaces with cafe lights.

Stage and sell your home this fall

Selling shouldn’t be a solo venture. For assistance with getting your property ready for the market, or detailed analysis of your home’s value and how it stands in the current market, get in touch today.

Ultimate guide to the 2022 Parade of Homes

/media/3730/parade-of-homes-2022.jpg

Whether you’re in the market for a new construction home or you simply enjoy gathering renovation ideas for your current property, be sure to check out the highly anticipated Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Here, we’ve gathered everything you need to know as you plan your visit to the 2022 Fall Parade of Homes.

What is the Parade of Homes?

The Parade of Homes provides home inspiration by featuring the finest properties in the Twin Cities and the surrounding area, including greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Throughout this nearly month-long event, over 340 brand-new homes and 30 remodeled houses are on display and open for the public to tour. While visiting the Parade of Homes, you’ll encounter luxury, green, high-tech and new construction homes. Plus, you’ll get a peek at how homebuilders and remodelers are incorporating the most current design trends in homes today.

When is the 2022 Fall Parade of Homes?

The 2022 Parade of Homes lasts almost a full month, allowing viewers to survey properties throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin at their own convenience. The fall event concludes with a weekend-long Remodelers Showcase, featuring some of the most impressively renovated properties in the region.

2022 Fall Parade of Homes:

  • Sept. 10 – Oct. 2, 2022
  • Weekly, Thursday through Sunday
  • Noon – 6 p.m.

2022 Fall Remodelers Showcase:

  • Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2022
  • One-weekend event, Friday through Sunday
  • Noon – 6 p.m.

Get more information on this year’s Parade of Homes — including special events, free offerings and upcoming tours. And, if you can’t make it to the event this fall, check out the <href="#has_virtual_tour=on">properties with virtual tours.

Renovating your home? Visit the Remodelers Showcase for ideas

This fall, the Remodelers Showcase is offered in addition to the classic Parade of Homes. Over the course of three days, the Remodelers Showcase provides an exclusive look at 30+ remodeled homes in the area.

Attendees of the Remodelers Showcase can learn from contractors and architects who remodel properties to better align with today’s homeowner needs while maintaining the integrity of each unique property. Make note of renovations that catch your eye, as you may find them helpful while completing your own home improvements.

Should I bring my Realtor to the Parade of Homes?

Yes! If you plan to tour the Parade of Homes or build a brand-new home, it’s in your best interest to engage a Realtor early in the process. Here’s why:

  • A Realtor is a housing expert who will thoroughly explain the steps and timeline associated with buying or building a home.
  • Your agent will advocate for you throughout the entire process, providing advice on key decisions and negotiations.
  • If a Parade of Homes property stands out to you, your Realtor can help discover a comparable property in your desired area.
  • Should a challenge arise, your Realtor will help troubleshoot and resolve any bumps in the process.

Together, we can plan a tour that visits the properties that interest you the most, and you’ll have peace of mind that you’re making the right decisions as you narrow down property styles or start the homebuilding process.

Ready to move this year?

Inspired by the Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase? Now’s the time to begin moving forward with your home goals. Call or email today to get expert guidance on the Parade of Homes and the process of buying, selling or owning a home.

What’s going on with the housing market, anyway?

/media/3707/1_2022_market_forecast.jpg

If you’ve seen headlines about the housing market in recent months, you likely have noticed gloom and doom reports about higher interest rates and lower pending sales. And while it’s true that increased interest rates are impacting the buying power of would-be purchasers, Edina Realty president Sharry Schmid says there’s no reason to fret about the lower sales numbers or to begin talking about a housing downturn.

“The sky is not falling,” Schmid said in a recent interview. “In fact, once you put the news and data points into context, it shows that we — especially on a local level — are in a better position than many think. And current market dynamics are much different from the housing crisis of 2008.”

Telling the local story

First, Schmid said, it’s important to take note of a few national trends, and then focus squarely on what’s happening in our market of Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

She cites three important stats:

  • Nationally, homeowners gained an average of $64,000 in equity between the first quarter of 2021 and 20221.
  • Locally, Minnesota homeowners gained an average of $29,000 between Q1 of 2021 and 2022; Wisconsin homeowners gained $28,000 in equity in that same timeframe1.
  • Minnesota currently has the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the country, ever2. (And they’ve been keeping these records for more than 50 years.)

“It’s easy to compare equity gains on the coasts — which in some cases have reached $100,000 or more1 in the last year — to equity gains in Minnesota or Wisconsin and think, ‘This is a problem, our prices aren’t rising as fast.’ But in fact, we are showing a healthy level of appreciation when you consider the cost of housing here. We have our extremely strong job market, driven by a diverse range of major employers,” said Schmid.

“Volatility is a key ingredient for both housing bubbles and recessions, so our strong and stable position should provide homeowners, sellers and buyers with some peace of mind.”

How are rising interest rates impacting buyers?

After historically low rates in the 3-percent range for the last several years, the Fed has been increasing rates in 2022 as a way to attack inflation.

When interest rates rise, it brings down the buying power of house hunters. This means that buyers may have to lower their budgets in order to afford a home. But before assuming that buyers will be priced out of the market, it’s important to look into the details, said Schmid.

Locally, buyers who are purchasing a median-priced home, with an average mortgage rate on a 30-year loan and 10% down would pay about $2,200 for their mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance3.

“Home prices are rising, but rental costs are, too,” said Schmid. “So while it’s true that buyers may have to lower their home budgets, they can take comfort in knowing that they’re making a monthly payment one way or another. It will benefit them greatly if, in the long run, their housing payments are going to a home they own.”

What else should buyers know about the market?

Buyers can finally exhale, Schmid suggests, as the market’s frenetic pace should slow down in coming months. “While homes won’t lag on the market for months at a time, buyers should be able to take more time looking at homes, and have more options to choose from. Overall, they should feel a bit less stress as they find the right home for their future.”

How are interest rates impacting sellers?

When a homeowner has a lower interest rate on their existing mortgage than they would receive for a new mortgage, they may be unsure about selling their home and re-entering the market as a buyer. Recent headlines have indicated that if enough homeowners decide not to sell, it could exacerbate the already low-inventory market.

But that is also an unlikely outcome, said Schmid. In addition to interest rates, sellers have a number of factors to consider, including their equity position and loan options. “Many sellers are in a great position to use their earned equity for a down payment and to buy down interest rates with mortgage discount points,” said Schmid. (Mortgage discount points are fees that a homebuyer pays directly to their lender in exchange for a reduced interest rate.)

“Furthermore, not all homeowners have a 3% interest rate right now; there’s a significant portion of homeowners who are locked in at higher rates.” In Minnesota and Wisconsin, she said, more than 50% of homeowners have a mortgage interest rate of 4% or above. That makes them unlikely to consider rates as an obstacle and to put their plans on hold.

“While buying and selling a home is a financial decision, it’s also an emotional one. There will always be people who need more space, less space, or to move to a town that’s a better fit for them. Interest rates may impact some homeowners’ plans, but it won’t be a primary driver in seller behavior in the long term,” said Schmid.

What else should sellers know about the market?

Sellers should scrap what they heard at the height of the market in 2020 and 2021, said Schmid. Homes will be less likely to sell in one day in multiple offers, or to sell to buyers sight-unseen.

Still, said Schmid, “Many sellers will see their homes go for over asking, even if they shouldn’t expect that outcome. And most importantly, your home will sell, and it will sell for a good and fair price. It’s still a great time to be a seller in Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Need some help navigating this market?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in national headlines about the housing market, but Edina Realty agents are trained experts in the market that matters most — our local market. For help buying or selling, or one-to-one insights on the best path forward for you and your family, reach out today.

Sources
1. Keeping Current Matters
2. Star Tribune
3. Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® and RMLS, Inc. Data pulled in July 2022 using current rates and median-priced homes for the 13-county Twin Cities metro area.

Why homebuyers and sellers should work with a REALTOR®

/media/3708/work-with-realtor.jpg

Whether you’re a prospective buyer searching for your first home or you’re ready to sell and buy a bigger residence, it’s in your best interest to work with a Realtor. A Realtor will help guide you through every phase of your buying or selling journey, from open houses to tough negotiations to the final closing paperwork.

However, not all real estate agents are alike, and not all real estate agents are Realtors. It may seem minor, but the designation of Realtor matters – here’s why.

What is a Realtor? How are they different from a real estate agent?

In order to become a real estate agent, you have to take licensing classes and exams that are prescribed by the state, along with continuing education courses that uphold your certification over time.

Realtors must do all of the above, and more. In fact, every Realtor takes an extra step and pledges to abide by a strict code of shared ethics; this code of ethics is overseen by local, statewide and national Realtor associations.

Why are ethics an essential component of a real estate transaction?

Your real estate professional will be privy to your private information and records as they help you navigate a significant financial transaction. They will also be responsible for helping you make a fair bid and negotiate a final sale. By hiring someone who has gone above and beyond to become a Realtor, you’ll know that your home transaction is represented by a capable professional who, above all, will maintain your best interests and confidentiality.

If you’re wondering how to find a Realtor (and not just a real estate agent), look no further! All Edina Realty agents are Realtors — it’s a non-negotiable when joining the company. This means that if we work together, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re working with a truly local and ethical team of experts.

How Realtors help buyers pick the right house

Realtors often specialize in specific cities or neighborhoods, so we can provide deep insight on the locations where you may want to move. Plus, we have deep knowledge of the types of homes and typical pricing for the area, so we can help you make an accurate bid when buying or get a fair price when selling.

Realtors are also trained to help you find a home that meets your specific requirements in a city that best suits you, including properties that:

  • Are in a specific school district.
  • Are near your favorite local parks and shops.
  • Will make your commute easier.
  • Are ready for move-in, or that need some fixing (depending on your preference and budget).

If you’re buying a new home and having trouble choosing between two properties (or more), we can work together as you make your decision. Even as you’re weighing the pros and cons about each home — from the location, to the layout, to the age of the appliances and roof — you’ll never feel alone.

A Realtor helps buyers and sellers bid and negotiate

Realtors really shine when it’s time to put down or accept an offer on a home. Because we understand the intricacies of the housing market and know the area where you are located, we can help you make final decisions about your home’s listing price.

Specifically, Realtors can help buyers determine:

  • What initial offer or counter offers they should make on a property.
  • What terms a seller may be willing to negotiate, including timelines or inspection.
  • What could make their bid more attractive, like timeline flexibility, guaranteed financing or paying closing costs.

When representing sellers, Realtors will help them:

  • Identify potential pre-sale home updates to generate an even higher offer.
  • Set the best price for a seller to list their home on the market.
  • Determine whether to accept or reject an incoming bid.
  • Make the call to reduce their home’s price if it’s not selling.

Keep in mind, when a market has low inventory — as it does now — it’s common to see bidding wars between competitive buyers. This is when Realtors bring a lot of value, both in helping buyers to stay competitive to win the property and by helping sellers price their home to draw in multiple offers.

A Realtor helps buyers and sellers understand the changing market

Even when the housing market quickly changes, as it has several times over the last few months and even years, Realtors remain in the center of the action. Because we’re so in tune with the current housing market, Realtors can sense shifts before they’re reported on the news – and we can help buyers and sellers successfully navigate the local trends that could impact their purchase or sale.

The housing market is complicated, but Realtors are experts in this space. Whether buying or selling, here are some scenarios where we can help:

  • Navigating how today’s interest rates could impact your buying budget.
  • How to prepare your home for sale in the current market.
  • How to accurately price your home based on real-time sales prices.

A Realtor helps buyers and sellers close quickly and with less stress

In the weeks before closing, we will also work alongside buyers and seller clients to finalize several different processes, including:

  • An official inspection
  • A detailed financial and credit check
  • Final mortgage approval
  • The final title research and approval
  • The disbursement of funds
  • A final buyer walk-through
  • The exchange of keys, manuals and other essential information

In a perfect world, all the pieces of a home purchase or sale would keep moving on their own. More realistically, roadblocks pop up that need to be handled by an expert. Whether your lender has trouble getting access to your down payment accounts, your title agent finds an outstanding lien on the property or the inspector comes in with bad news about the plumbing, we can help keep the home transaction rolling toward the closing table. (In more extreme cases, we can also help you negotiate or terminate your purchase agreement.)

Ready to get started?

No matter if you need help negotiating a sale price or would like an extra set of eyes at an open house, we’re here for you. Get in touch today for one-to-one assistance and insights as you buy or sell your home.

How to attract birds to your Midwestern home, year-round

/media/3709/bring-birds-back-yard.jpg

You may be familiar with popular low-maintenance landscaping tips, like creating a pollinator garden that serves as an oasis for butterflies, bees and other insects. But did you know that you can also make your yard attractive to local birds?

Placing certain foods and feeders in your yard can help call in different bird species. So, whether you want to enjoy an afternoon of bird watching from your outdoor patio or your kitchen window, be sure to follow these homeowner tips to attract birds in each one of our four seasons.

Attract birds to your yard all summer long

After an active spring when birds fly into town, you’ll want to give birds a reason to stick around. Once summer hits, begin including a vast variety of foods available for birds in your yard. Here are summer bird food ideas from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR):

  • Shallow dishes filled with jelly
  • Fruit halves
  • Bowls of mealworm
  • Peanuts and mixed nuts
  • Seeds
  • Sugar water

Keep up with proper feeding, and you’ll likely see these species swooping through your yard this summer:

  • Chickadees
  • Doves
  • Orioles
  • Tree swallows
  • Sandpipers
  • Hummingbirds

Enjoy bird watching in fall

Throughout the fall, seasonal birds begin to migrate while year-round species stay put. Due to the changing patterns throughout the fall, you’ll want to offer a variety of foods, similar to the summer season. In addition, birds are attracted to brush piles, especially when migrating. When trimming your shrubs and trees this fall, save the cut off leaves and limbs to use in a brush pile. Ensure that the brush is placed about 10 feet away from feeders and that the pile measures a few feet in both diameter and height.

As fall approaches, consider making the trek up to Duluth to visit the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Here, bird lovers can bask in the many species migrating through Minnesota while also taking in the beautiful autumn colors. In addition to lingering summer birds, you’ll likely have a chance to view these common fall birds at Hawk Ridge – or in your back yard:

  • Hawks
  • Bald eagles
  • Snow buntings

How to attract birds during winter

Attracting birds to your yard during this season will likely require a combination of seeds and suet. For a DIY feed option, consider smearing peanut butter on pine cones for birds to snack on throughout the winter.

Feeder placement is especially important in winter. You’ll want to place bird feeders in accessible areas that are protected from winter winds, like under the protective cover of trees. If snow accumulation is a concern, try to attach feeders to deck railings – this will also help to keep birds within your viewing range.

In the winter, expect to see these species in your backyard:

  • Chickadees
  • Cardinals
  • Northern owls
  • Woodpeckers
  • Winter finches

Calling birds to your yard in spring

While spring is typically one of the most active times for birds and other migrating or hibernating critters, there are specific tips to calling them into your yard. Check that there is plenty of water, for example in a birdbath, for visiting birds. You’ll also want to increase the amount of millet mix both in feeders and on the ground.

Be sure to disperse bird feeding locations throughout your yard when situating your feeders and food clusters. Offering various points of feeding encourages multiple species to visit your yard – and, this way you can try out different feed at each location to experiment with what food works best to attract birds in your area, too.

Lucky for bird lovers, every season hosts a variety of new birds to look for. And, Bird Watcher’s Digest informs us which species are commonly found in Minnesota and western Wisconsin throughout different times of the year. You’re likely to see these local birds in the spring:

  • Swans
  • Geese
  • Robins
  • Red-winged blackbirds
  • Warblers
  • Cardinals

Note: If a spring is exceptionally cold and rainy, there is a higher risk for birds to contract avian flu, which can be spread by well-meaning bird enthusiasts who fill their feeders and birdbaths early in the season. (When temperatures are up, the virus can't live in those shared spaces, and the risk of this flu tends to go down.)

To protect the flock that comes to your yard, check the University of Minnesota Raptor Center website before you set out your bird attractions each spring.

Additional birding tips

After putting in the effort to select the best seeds and nuts for each season, you’ll want to make sure that you clean your feeders regularly. Birds tend to get sick if old food or moisture causes bacteria and mold to build up in the feeder.

For extra ways to attract birds throughout the entire year, the National Wildlife Federation recommends:

  • Planting native shrubs and flowers – and removing invasive plants
  • Using natural lawn care products without harmful insecticides
  • Having a combination of feeders, nesting boxes and brush piles available

Whether venturing out to explore Minnesota and western Wisconsin’s bird trails and viewpoints or stocking up on food and feeders to enjoy birds in your yard – happy birding! And, get in touch any time for more homeowner and yard tips.

10 organized toy storage ideas

/media/3710/organize-toys.jpg

Let’s face it: Kids may be small, but their toy collections are not. If your home is plagued with toy clutter, we have some of the best toy storage ideas for you!

Whether you love your current home and are hoping to optimize your existing space, or you need to tidy up your property to prepare it for sale, be sure to follow these toy storage and organization tips. From hangers to hooks to hammocks (that’s right, hammocks), there’s a toy storage solution to fit every home’s needs and budget.

Keep reading for easy and organized toy storage options for your home.

What you’ll need

In order to prep your toy storage space, you’ll first need to gather a couple of commonly used items:

  • Assorted toy storage bins and crates
  • All-weather bins or cabinets for outdoor toy storage
  • Label maker or tape
  • Basic hanging devices, like nails or command strips
  • Hooks and hangers

10 Ideas for toy storage solutions

Toy storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes. Let’s talk about the best toy organization ideas for homeowners to consider.

Clear, labeled bins

When beginning to organize your home, pantries and closets, clear storage bins are a great place to start.

When using clear bins, you’ll still be able to see what toys are inside the bin, but everything will be nicely contained. And remember, lids offer the option to stack the bins in a closet or storage room so you can optimize your space even more.

Shelving, shelving, shelving

Shelving is a necessary component of any storage solution. From assembled shelving racks to floating wall shelves to built-in storage cubbies, shelves will help any homeowner optimize their vertical space. Shelving is especially important in homes with minimal closet space or in smaller smaller spaces like condos and apartments.

Utilize shoe hangers

Shoe hangers and racks are perfect for quick storage. Either place a shoe hanger over the back of a kid’s door or place racks in a toy room so little ones can easily pop toys into each “shoe” compartment. Shoe hangers work the best to clean up these toys:

  • Small stuffed animals
  • Legos and blocks
  • Chargers for iPads and other tech gadgets
  • Paint brushes, colored pencils and other craft supplies
  • Fidgets and squishies
  • Collections of plastic figurines

Hang hooks

For another toy storage option, consider hanging hooks on the wall. This will help the room stay tidy, even as the kiddos move from one activity to the next.

Hooks are great for hanging:

  • Purses and jewelry
  • Dress-up clothing items
  • Blankets and towels
  • Bins or baskets filled with lightweight toys

… and hangers

Toy hangers make for another perfect storage option, especially for grab-and-go toys. They are also a great alternative to shelving because they’re easy to set up and can be taken down when kiddos outgrow the need to display stuffed animals or other collections.

When using a toy hanger, look for an organizer that is split up into various sections. Each hanging compartment can be used for a specific toy type. Or, if you have multiple little ones, each kid can utilize a separate hanging compartment for their individual toys.

Storage bins for under the bed

Keeping a home clutter-free may seem impossible with little ones, but under-the-bed storage can help you maintain a tidier aesthetic — without sacrificing any of your kiddo’s most-beloved objects.

To best utilize under-the-bed storage, separate out toys (or toy sets) that aren’t used every day. Think of the toys you have that tend to take up a lot of space once assembled — a tent that folds up, large-scale blocks, a train set, etc.

Next, measure the clearance you have and find bins that are shallow enough to slide under the bed. If the bins have opaque sides, add labels to the outside walls of the bins. This will make it simpler to locate items beneath the bed.

And, one last pro tip: Set a calendar alert to reassess your under-the-bed storage every six months or so. As your kids outgrow their toys over the years, you’ll find that under-bed storage can house their Legos, offseason soccer gear, dance costumes and more.

Stuffed animal storage in a hammock

Storage doesn’t have to be boring! Whether organizing a kid’s room, patio or designated play space, consider storing lightweight toys – like stuffed animals – in a hammock. If you hang it low enough, kids can swing their toys and put them to bed at night… right before they head to sleep themselves.

Outdoor toy storage crate

If your kiddos are excited to try sports, play in sandboxes, use chalk or partake in other outside activities, it could be time to invest in an outdoor storage solution for toys. Some specific ideas for toy storage in the garage and yard include:

  • All-weather toy storage crates
  • Toy boxes for under the deck or in the garage
  • Benches with hidden under-seat storage
  • Outdoor toy bins or a storage shed

You may also just want a simple, short-term solution for when you’re mowing the lawn and, in that case, consider buying a heavy duty plastic laundry basket to keep outdoors. Before you head out to cut the grass, set a timer for five minutes and tell your kids to place all their toys, balls and outdoor items into the basket while you tend to the lawn.

Utilize furniture with built-in storage

When possible, utilize furniture with built-in storage for children’s rooms. (This will also come in handy when you need to stage your home for sale, by minimizing the amount of furniture in the space.)

By nixing toy storage shelves and opting for furniture with built-in storage options, there will be more room for potential buyers to envision their future lives and kids in the space. Here are some common furniture pieces with built-in storage for toys:

  • Platform bed frames with drawers
  • Benches and couches with under-seat storage
  • Console tables
  • Lidded footstools and ottomans

Standing cabinets are your friend

If your home doesn’t offer tons of built-in storage elements or closet space, try stashing toys in standing cabinets. A free-standing toy cabinet can easily be moved around a space to customize a room. Whether you choose a glass-doored storage cabinet or a statement cabinet, this versatile piece of furniture can bring additional toy storage to any space.

Need more space?

If your family is outgrowing your current home, you’ll need more than storage solutions to solve your clutter problem. Reach out any time for help finding a home that’s a better size for your needs – and for additional organization tips, too.

Why a minor kitchen remodel may be a homeowner's best investment

/media/3697/kitchen-update.jpg

If you know your kitchen could use a little more aesthetic charm or an eco-friendly boost, it may be time for a remodel. Rather than committing to an entire renovation, which would be quite costly, opt for a slightly more modest kitchen upgrade that’s more likely to provide a return on investment when selling.

Why today’s sellers should consider a minor kitchen remodel

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released a remodeling report that details the home upgrade projects that provided homeowners with the highest levels of satisfaction. Per the report, the homeowners with a remodeled kitchen reported the following:

  • 78%: An increased sense of enjoyment when they are at home
  • 77%: A major sense of accomplishment when they think of the project
  • 40%: Better functionality and livability

Now, about the homeowners who are planning to sell in a few months or even a few years, how will these improvements impact them at resale? Both the NAR and the recently-released 2022 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) reveal that homeowners tend to recoup 67% of their kitchen remodel investment upon resale.

In short, homeowners who are not ready to sell yet may want to consider a kitchen remodel, as it will pay off both in the short term (in enjoyment) and could help them sell the home for more down the road.

Here’s how a kitchen remodel could benefit home sellers

How can an updated kitchen help you at resale? If you’re planning to sell within a few years, here’s how a facelift for your kitchen could benefit you:

Web appeal. Listing photos are important, and the last thing you’d want to do is turn off buyers before they’ve entered your home. When we list your home for sale, an upgraded kitchen will help your home stand out and could make buyers more likely to book a showing or attend an open house.

Appeal to what buyers are asking for. New appliances are on the top most-wanted list for today’s homebuyers. In fact, 81% of potential buyers listed eco-friendly appliances as an essential or desirable home feature. A renovated kitchen with new appliances can go a long way with buyers.

A customized approach. Adding high-end fixtures, hardware or other touches can give the illusion of a truly transformed and customized kitchen (while keeping you within your budget).

You can enjoy the update, too! If you’re not planning to sell for a few years, you can enjoy the kitchen update in the short term. By getting some use out of the update, you’ll be more likely to justify the cost and stress of the project.

High-ROI kitchen renovation on a budget

The 2022 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com) serves as a guide for sellers interested in completing home upgrades before listing their properties for sale. According to their latest report for the Minneapolis area, a minor kitchen remodel is a smarter bet than a major kitchen remodel, as:

  • A mid-range, major kitchen remodel in the Minneapolis area will only glean a 51% return on investment
  • A mid-range, minor kitchen remodel will boast 67.2% back at resale

In other words, a minor kitchen renovation will still smooth over eyesores while earning sellers 16% more at the closing table when compared to a major remodel. Let’s get into the details of how to revamp your kitchen on a budget – and with a higher return on investment at resale.

  • Cost: $27,948
  • Resale value: $18,773
  • Cost recouped: 67.2%

To start, you’ll need an already-functional kitchen that could use some cosmetic attention and appliance upgrades. Keep 30 feet of existing cabinets, but replace the fronts with new panels. Then, follow suit by replacing drawer fronts to match the fresh cabinet faces. Polish off the area with new hardware and add new countertops.

Next, focus your attention on appliances. This particular renovation budget allocates funds for a new:

  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Oven

The kitchen transformation will conclude with newly painted walls, trim and ceiling, as well as new flooring.

Moving forward with a kitchen upgrade

It’s true that there are a few projects to avoid when selling, but a minor kitchen remodel is not one of them. In addition to bringing you joy (and better functionality) in the short-term, a kitchen upgrade could help you increase buyer interest and the value of your property when it comes time to sell.

Be sure to reach out directly as you move forward with plans of renovating or selling your home.

If a couple splits, who gets the house?

/media/3698/couples-split.jpg

When a significant relationship comes to an end, couples are often so emotionally taxed that the logistics of splitting up assets is the least of their concerns. While this is completely understandable, it is important that both parties advocate for themselves during this time-sensitive division of property and belongings.

Here are some tips that can help couples make a reasonable decision on what to do with their house after a divorce or separation. Keep in mind that this advice is meant for a general audience, and you should reach out directly if you need the help of a REALTOR® as you move forward.

Shift into a business mindset

Whether you and your spouse were planning to buy or sell at the time of divorce, a property is one asset that can be a transparent source of income for both parties involved in a split. Even if you suspect your former partner might conceal other financial information, it’s important that you remain amicable and proactive about the decision you make surrounding your home.

In the following sections, we’ll cover some popular ways to handle property separation, including:

  • One partner staying in the home – for now.
  • One partner buying the other out.
  • Both partners choosing to sell the property.

If you’re experiencing friction or pushback with a fair division of property, it may be time to hire a mediator who can help set ground rules for how to move forward.

Option 1: One partner temporarily stays in the house

It may be best for one partner to remain in the house, especially if kids are involved in the divorce. With one parent staying put, kids can continue to be involved in their usual activities, classes and sports. If this is the case, be sure to work with an attorney who can help guide conversations regarding:

  • How a separated couple can split the current cost of the mortgage.
  • How to share the profits if the home sells after the divorce.
  • What kind of conditions will be required to eventually sell the home (e.g. a new paint job or a replaced furnace).
  • Who will plan to pay for these presale “fix-up” costs, or how the costs can be evened out at the time of sale.

Option 2: One partner buys the other out

Another option is for one partner to buy the other out. You’ll need to work with a mortgage loan officer if, when the home was first purchased, you and your partner were on the title and qualified for the loan together. Today, the partner who intends to stay in the home now will need to qualify for a loan on their own. We can work together to map out the best process, and if the loan approval is given, you can get a lawyer to help advise you on:

  • Examining the home’s new title and policy.
  • Ensuring the updated title only has the buyout partner’s information.
  • The potential strategies and risks of this path.

Option 3: Both partners sell the house

First, you’ll need to discuss if you want to sell the property immediately or if you’d like to rent out your home for a predetermined period of time. If you owe more on your home than it is worth, you and your former partner may wait to sell. Then, when your home has equity, you will be able to break even or (more likely), turn a profit.

If you’re ready to sell now, be sure to follow these important steps:

  • Get in touch directly for a Realtor’s help facilitating the property transaction.
  • Discuss the final sale details with all parties involved.
  • Create a clear plan to divide the post-sale profits.

Next, we’ll work together to have an open conversation with all parties, where we solidify the final details, including:

  • Who will pay for any repairs before listing the home for sale.
  • Agreement on an initial list date.
  • Agreement on an initial list price.
  • A plan for when to lower the listing price.

Last, you’ll come to an agreement on what percentage of the home’s sale each partner will receive upon closing. And, to ease the stress on the buyer, we can make a plan to receive one payment at closing, which will then be distributed to each party as agreed.

Need help?

There’s perhaps no better time to work with a professional Realtor than when you are dealing with the emotional stress of a split and potential move. Working with someone who has your best interests at heart will help ease your mind as you move into your next chapter. Reach out via email or phone today to have the first conversation — no pressure and no obligation.

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