Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: Do I really have to shovel my city-owned sidewalk?

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

In this edition, one of our lawyers discusses why homeowners may be legally required to shovel the sidewalk in front of their house — even if it’s technically owned by the city where they live.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

I’ve heard that I don’t own the sidewalk in front of my house. Apparently, the city owns it. If that’s the case, why do I have to shovel it?

What you’ve heard is most likely correct. Most sidewalks that are adjacent to city streets are actually public property. Cities typically own a right of way that includes not only the street itself, but also the land adjacent to the roadway. This usually includes the sidewalk and, in some municipalities, even extends some distance past the sidewalk.

So, why do homeowners have to shovel a city-owned sidewalk?

State law provides cities with the authority to require the owners of property next to the sidewalk to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice. Most cities have used this authority by adopting local laws, called ordinances, to require property owners to shovel adjacent sidewalks.

Despite the authority found in state law, some cities choose to be responsible for the plowing of all, or at least some, of the public sidewalks. You should check with your city government to determine the local ordinance, but here are some common stipulations:

  • Generally, a snow removal ordinance will require the homeowner to remove snow within a specific period, such as 24 hours after the end of a snowfall event.
  • If the homeowner fails to clear the sidewalk in a timely manner, the city may take action to remove the snow and ice itself and charge the owner for the cost. On top of that cost, municipalities may issue a fine. If unpaid, the costs for removing the snow and ice can be assessed to the property and collected with the homeowner’s property taxes.
  • Pay attention to where you place the snow as you clear it from your driveway and sidewalk. It is against Minnesota law, as well as many local ordinances, to push snow or ice onto the road. Make sure that any piling of snow does not obstruct the view of drivers on the road — or your view as you leave your driveway.
  • Because the sidewalk is public property, a homeowner might not be responsible for injuries occurring on it. But beyond legal liability, it’s important to be a good neighbor and local citizen. You don’t want to be the cause of a friend or a neighbor getting injured.

More winter tips for your driveway and walkways

Keep kids near the house

Plows can come through quickly and they can throw snow several feet. Whether your kids prefer snowball fights or constructing forts, teach them to play close to the house and far away from the street.

Watch for snow emergency alerts

If you park on the street or have guests over after a snowfall, be sure to pay attention to the snow emergency alerts issued from your city. Not only can you get ticketed and/or towed if your car is parked on a snow emergency route, you can also interrupt the flow of street traffic for weeks to come if your street isn’t effectively plowed.

Clear a path to your trash and recycling bins

Have you ever dealt with your trash can’s lid freezing closed in the winter months? Imagine if you were a garbage collector dealing with that hundreds of times each day. Be sure to follow your city’s guidelines for preparing your refuse and recycling, which may include shoveling out a path for your trash collectors and ensuring the bins open and close easily. And of course, you’ll want to be sure that you keep them near the end of your driveway, but out of the path of the plows.

Keep your walkways clear

While you might not face liability for an injury on a sidewalk owned by the city, the same cannot be said for the walkways located on your property and your driveway. Aside from guests visiting your home, you may also have mail carriers and other delivery service personnel walking up to your door each day. It’s crucial that all paths are safe for visitors, so in addition to shoveling, use salt or ice melt to keep your walkways clear and safe.

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.

Winter home tips: How to survive and thrive on the coldest days

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Key Insights

  • At the very top of our list of winter home tips is the need for a roof rake, which can help prevent ice dams and other winter storm damage.
  • Stock up on essentials that can make starting your car and driving to work a little easier.
  • Don’t forget about easy insulation kits, which can help to minimize even the chilliest drafts from old windows.

Ready to survive and thrive this winter? We are here to help! Here are our best cold weather tips for home and car. Be sure to stock up on these winter products early, before they’re sold out at local stores!

Clear your roof after heavy storms

As January rolls into February, the volatile winter weather begins to take a toll on our homes. As the snow on your roof melts and freezes, ice dams can begin to accumulate, causing damage to your roof and your insulation, eaves and attic. Once the snow has melted for good, you can work to repair the primary causes of ice dams, which include blocked gutters or a poorly insulated attic.

But for now, you should invest in an aluminum roof rake with a telescoping pole. Use the roof rake to pull down large snow accumulations after major winter storms. By getting rid of excess snow, you can help minimize the damage from snowmelt that can’t drain through your gutters and downspouts.

Keep in mind that you should buy a roof rake before you think you’ll need it. They tend to go fast once the cold-warm-cold weather patterns of late winter roll through.

Prevent ice build-up on your walkways

As the winter drags on, the ice on our sidewalks and walkways begins to accumulate. While you can sprinkle the ice with salt or sand, or even try to chip away at it, another solution is to prevent the ice from building up at all.

Heated mats are available for sidewalks and stairs, making your early morning rush to the car a whole lot less stressful (and less dangerous). Beware that the convenience of free-and-clear walkways may lead you to explore the cost of installing a heated driveway in the years to come.

Make your car commute a little easier

Whether it’s shoveling yourself out, scraping the windshield or begging your car to warm up faster, many folks find that cars create the majority of their winter weather woes. To get through your winter commute unscathed, consider buying:

And if you don’t invest in a windshield mat, we have another low-cost solution to recommend. Vinegar can help to prevent the buildup of frost and ice. By spraying a 3-parts vinegar to 1-part water solution onto your car’s windshield and windows before you head to bed at night, you can cut down on your morning scraping time. (Just remember to keep the solution indoors so it doesn’t freeze inside your car.)

Insulate your windows with a quick kit

Yes, you meant to check your window seals before the snow started rolling in. Yes, you know it’s important to minimize drafts during the winter. We’re not here to judge. Fixing up or replacing windows can be super-expensive and time-consuming and sometimes, all you can afford is a fast fix.

Window insulator kits are perennially popular for a reason! They’re inexpensive, easy to install and they work like a charm to seal up drafts and keep your house air-tight even when the temperatures outside keep dropping.

Check out 3M’s window insulator kit, which includes five sheets to fit over standard-sized (3’ x 5’) windows.

Need help finding the perfect home this winter?

Ready to move south and ditch this crazy weather for good? Or maybe it’s time for a house that offers an easier commute, an auto-start fireplace or other cozy features that make winter a little easier to bear.

Whether you’re on your way out or ready to hunker down, reach out for help as you plan your next step.

Staging your home with Classic Blue, Pantone's 2020 Color of the Year

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Key Insights

  • The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is Classic Blue.
  • Home sellers can stage their home with Classic Blue decor to create a calm yet confident atmosphere.
  • Don’t overlook the potential for incorporating Classic Blue into your home’s exterior color.

For the past 20 years, Pantone has selected a Color of the Year to represent the culture and values associated with that time period. This year, the standout color is Classic Blue. Classic Blue is viewed as a relaxing hue with a solid foundation.

From film to home decor, you are bound to see Classic Blue incorporated into the world around you. If you want to join the trend, you’re in luck. In this article, we’re sharing insights you can use to add Classic Blue to your home as you prepare to sell your property.

Why is Classic Blue the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year?

The year 2020 marks the beginning of the decade. During this time, individuals are welcoming new ideas and possibilities. According to Pantone, Classic Blue is representative of the “vast and infinite evening sky.” The comparison of the shade to the sky evokes sentiments of deepened thought and elegance.

As the world continues to speed up day by day, technology moves faster than we can handle and everyone has smart devices at their fingertips. Classic Blue aims to calmly balance this tech-fever with its simple and foundational color.

All in all, Classic Blue makes people feel good while still keeping their goals well-defined.

Use Classic Blue as a home exterior color

In previous years, Pantone selected two vibrant colors as their Color of the Year. In 2018, they chose Ultra Violet, an electric purple and the 2019 color was an orangey-pink, Living Coral. Those hues were best suited for interior arrangements or decor pieces that could easily be swapped in and out of rooms as the seasons (and styles) change. This year, however, Classic Blue makes for the perfect indoor or outdoor option.

While preparing to list your home on the market, curb appeal is extremely important. Although prepping the exterior of your home and landscaping may seem like a daunting task, it can be made easier when you have a color guide to point you in the right direction. Here are some ways you can add Classic Blue to the exterior of your property:

  • Paint the entire exterior of your home in Classic Blue, with bright or white trim
  • For a more neutral look, paint your trim, front door or shutters in Classic Blue
  • Plant flowers or pots that resemble the Classic Blue hue
  • Add Classic Blue pillows, cushions or umbrellas to your outdoor furniture once spring arrives

Leverage Classic Blue’s versatility

As the name suggests, Classic Blue is a simple, elegant and timeless color, making it the ideal shade for any home decor style. Whether you prefer to style your home as farmhouse chic or something more modern, there are many ways to incorporate Classic Blue throughout your home. Try adding pops of Classic Blue in each room, including:

  • Rugs
  • Wall art
  • Dinnerware, including bowls, cups or linens
  • Flowers and vases

Furthermore, Classic Blue works wonderfully as an accent color throughout the entire year. So, if you invest in quality Classic Blue pillow covers, they will last all year round. In the wintertime, combine Classic Blue with other silver elements to create a snowy and cozy ambiance. In the summertime, alternate decor items in Classic Blue and bright green; these colors accompany the feelings of livelihood and prosperity that come with warmer months. No matter what time of year you’re hoping to sell, Classic Blue is a fan-favorite color that will work to win over potential buyers.

Brighten up all-white kitchens or bathrooms

Recently, it’s become popular to have all-white rooms, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. White walls, subway tiles and shiplap create a sense of openness in each room. We have found Classic Blue highlights are the perfect solution to keep the open and bright floor plan feeling while trying something new.

You can also add blue accents to the rooms you’ll be staging, such as dish or hand towels, shower curtains, throw pillows, photo frames and more. Interested homebuyers are certain to notice these details — and be impressed by them — as they tour your home.

Ready to sell?

Whether you lean into Classic Blue or choose a different color scheme as you stage your home, be sure to reach out for ideas and insights on how to make your home shine online and in-person.

Buying in a blizzard? Five things winter buyers should watch out for

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Key Insights:

  • Whether you get the winter blues or love the Midwest snow, there are questions to ask when buying a house in the winter.
  • Winter buyers should watch for issues related to accessibility, including how snow buildup affects their parking and commutes.
  • Look ahead to see how the home’s location and placement may put it at risk for spring flooding.

Whether you’re looking for a no-shoveling-required condo or a single-family home with a bit of necessary winter maintenance, there are important things to consider when searching for a new home during the coldest months of the year.

If you’re hoping to buy a house this winter, these five questions may help guide your search.

1. Is this house at its best in the summer or winter?

In the summer, you may love an airy, modern house where the tall ceiling fans run full-blast. In the winter, though, you may be more interested in a super-cozy house that offers refuge from the cold outside temperatures.

While there’s nothing wrong with being drawn in by a gas fireplace in the master suite, you do want to be sure you’re not giving too many bonus points to houses with seasonal features. Together, we can determine the house style that best fits your personality and needs year-round.

2. Will this house keep me warm?

When you walk into a home that you’re touring, you may delight in its toasty indoor temperature. Maybe they even have a fire going! We don’t want to promote skepticism, but we do recommend that you check the thermostat when touring a house on a cold winter day.

If an aging house has old windows or poor insulation, the home seller may have turned the heat way up to compensate. A house that needs some insulation work may not be a deal-breaker, but you should know in advance what to expect. Check to be sure that the house you’re touring hasn’t been set to a balmy 78 degrees.

3. How hard will it be to access the house or garage in the winter?

Depending on where the home is located and the layout of the house and garage, you may notice some accessibility issues in the winter that would go unnoticed in warmer days.

As you tour houses this winter, consider:

  • How and when the streets are plowed after a snowstorm
  • How accessible the driveway is — is it too steep to walk or drive up easily?
  • If snow buildup would affect your ability to park in the garage
  • Parking restrictions during snow emergencies, if you plan to do any on-street parking
  • If runoff from melting snow pools in areas, it could cause dangerous slick spots during a freeze

And if you’re looking in rural areas, be sure to ask what roads are plowed by the town or municipality and which are the responsibility of local homeowners. You might also check with current residents to find out just how quickly those roads are plowed...or plan to factor snow tires and all-wheel drive into your budget.

4. What will my commute look like?

The issue of accessibility brings up another important consideration: your work commute. Be sure to research commute times — and fire up your maps feature during a snowstorm to see how winter weather would slow down your morning or evening drive.

Consider, too, how flexible or inflexible your job is. If working from home is an option, then you may be able to avoid many of those longer winter drives on super-snowy days. If it’s not, then you may wish to prioritize a faster or more efficient commute route.

5. Will this house be affected by flooding in the spring?

Last year was one of the snowiest winters on record in Minnesota and many homeowners experienced flooding from the ensuing spring snow melt. In addition to checking flood plains, be sure to pay close attention to the seller disclosures. If they mention the need for sump pumps, issues with water in the basement or other flood-related terms, ask for clarification and additional information. You may also wish to alert your inspector to double-check for signs of past flooding or indications the property could have water issues in the future.

Ready to start house hunting?

Put on your boots and let’s get started! Together, we can set up tours of picture-perfect winter homes in your favorite neighborhoods. Call or email today to begin your search.

2020 market expectations for buyers and sellers

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Key insights

  • Emerging trends are arising across age demographics, and they could help illuminate what our market will look like for years to come.
  • Low inventory in key segments will persist in 2020, as more buyers enter the market and homeowners remain in their current houses for longer tenures.
  • Though the Fed isn’t expected to lower rates again next year, interest rates are likely to remain extremely low for all of 2020.

Sharry Schmid, president, Edina Realty

As president of Edina Realty, Sharry Schmid provides guidance and direction to nearly 2,500 REALTORS®.

Consumer confidence is relatively high and unemployment remains low, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about a looming recession. The housing market and economy are cyclical in nature, so it’s natural for economists and consumers to look ahead and try to spot changes on the horizon. While we can’t predict the future, we do have a good sense of what 2020 is likely to look like for home buyers and sellers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, and we’ll do our best to explain what you can expect in the year ahead.

But before we forecast the year to come, let’s take a look back at how our local housing market performed in 2019.

The 2019 housing market overview

Buyers were (still) competing

If you were a 2019 buyer with a budget under the (luxury) price point of $500,000, you likely felt the pinch of competition. You weren’t imagining it! According to a fall briefing from Zonda and Metrostudy, Minneapolis and St. Paul were each among the top 15 most competitive housing markets in the country last year. Whether you were facing multiple offers or felt pressure to waive contingencies, you weren’t alone.

And while 2019’s extremely low interest rates did help to boost affordability, many buyers still felt squeezed due to fast-rising home prices and slower wage growth. The bottom line is this: 2019 buyers will pay less in interest over time, but their home buying budget may not have stretched as far as they’d hoped.

Sellers were (still) celebrating… mostly

Meanwhile, sellers in the lower- and mid-tiered local market had plenty of reasons to celebrate. According to NorthstarMLS, 2019 sellers in the Twin Cities metro recouped more than 98% of their original list price when they sold homes priced under $500,000. They also received those offers quickly; the median days on market for homes in this pricing tier reached 43 days in January and fell as low as 15 days in June.

The luxury buyer pool tends to be quite a bit smaller, but this year’s high-end sellers still benefited from higher-than-usual competition. Homeowners who sold for above $500,000 recouped more than 96% of their original list price throughout 2019, meaning they very rarely had to discount their luxe properties. A slowdown did occur in February and March, when homes remained on the market for 100 days before selling. But luxury homes have been selling at a faster clip in recent months, with days on market remaining under seven weeks since May.*

A primary issue for 2019 sellers is that once they entered the market as a buyer, they saw the other side of the competitive market and high prices.

What’s ahead in 2020

Home sales do tend to slow down during the fall of a general election, but the housing market should still be buzzing for most of 2020. While there won’t be a significant shift in the market next year, new trends are emerging. Here’s what we predict for next year’s buyers and sellers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

  • Rates to remain steady and low. The Fed lowered rates three times in the second half of 2019 and experts don’t expect 2020 rates to change significantly in either direction. Freddie Mac’s research team predicts that 30-year fixed rate mortgages will average a rate of 3.8% in 2020. Overall, buyers can still anticipate more buying power than in years past.
  • Supply and demand will remain at odds. In the coming years, as both Gen Y and Gen Z continue to enter the housing market, buyer demand is expected to rise. That means that in order to reach a balanced market, a continuous rise in inventory is needed, too. Unfortunately, we aren’t expecting a major increase in housing supply in 2020. Buyers in those low- to-mid-tier price ranges should expect continued competition.
  • New construction is on the rise, but it won’t solve our inventory issue. While new housing starts are on the rise, high permit costs and a continued labor shortage mean that new housing stock still won’t be able to keep up with demand in 2020. Moreover, builders are still concentrating on luxury homes, so new construction will remain out of reach for a large subset of buyers.
  • Appreciation will continue to rise. Sellers and current homeowners will love to hear that experts project home prices to rise 5.6% by September of 2020, outpacing 2019’s slower gains but still remaining low enough to be considered moderate. Chalk it up, again, to high demand and low supply — the perfect recipe for home price appreciation.
  • Unemployment will remain low in 2020, wages to rise slightly. Experts predict that monthly job growth may slow next year, but that’s not necessarily bad news. In fact, it’s likely due to our low unemployment numbers. When so few people are unemployed, there are fewer workers available for hire. Full-time base salaries are expected to increase 3%, the same rate as they have for the nine years since the recession recovery began.

For different demographics, different needs

In 2020, the biggest shifts in our market may occur not due to interest rates, or even inventory — but due to the changing landscape of buyers and sellers. Here’s how different demographics are expected to act (and react) in 2020.

Gen Z (aged 0-21)

Think it’s impossible to buy a house at age 18 or 20? A recent report shows that mortgages by Gen Z buyers doubled last year. So while this generation isn’t expected to take over the housing market for another decade, the first Gen Z homebuyers are on record.

Millennials / Gen Y (aged 22-37)

Much has been made of this generation and their delayed entry into the housing market. But after years of boosting their credit and savings, their time has come. In September, nearly 50% of the country’s mortgage originations were initiated on behalf of millennials, who have stated that homeownership is a goal that outranks even marriage and children.

In 2020, first-time buyer millennials may be the generation most heavily impacted by the low supply, high-demand dynamic of the market. Here’s why: After years of renting or living with parents, many millennials may hope to skip the starter home phase and move straight toward long-term homeownership in a “forever home.” With prices still on the rise and competition fierce among buyers, they may have to adjust their expectations or go after a fixer-upper they can turn into their preferred long-term abode.

Gen X (aged 38-53)

As Gen X reaches career highs and their kids grow older, they may be prepping for a housing upgrade. And, they may find that the equity they’ve built up means that they’ll cash out for more than they’d ever hoped for (especially if they white-knuckled it through the market downturn).

Once they enter the buy-side, though, they may have sticker shock at the houses that truly fit their needs. Higher-end houses don’t always reflect current tastes and trends, so Gen X move-up buyers may want to enter the market knowing that they’ll have to knock down some walls in order to create the master suite or open floor plan they’ve been dreaming of. Another option is to go for a fully-customized new construction home — so you can call the shots and upgrade in style.

Baby Boomers (aged 54-72)

The generation that reshaped the nation is, once again, bucking trends. Many baby boomers are nixing retirement communities in favor of aging in place — either in their long-term residence or in a smaller, accessible home that will suit them as their needs change. Whether it’s a one-story villa in a robust new construction community or revamping their family home to include a main-floor master suite with laundry, boomers are doing it their way.

The Silent Generation (aged 73-91)

According to the Census Bureau, just 5% of U.S. residents over the age of 70 moved in 2019. Like boomers, some members of the Silent Generation are choosing to age in place while others have already moved to senior communities or in with relatives.

There’s also a third path — the homeowners who are overwhelmed by the process of downsizing or selecting their next residence. Many are relying on family members or a trusted friend or REALTOR® to help them with their housing transition.

Need real estate help in 2020?

If you’re preparing to buy or sell this year, get in touch any time. Together, we can determine the right path forward in this unique housing market.

* Based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OF MINNESOTA, INC for the period January 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019.

How long do today’s home appliances last?

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Key Insights:

  • Most household appliances tend to last around a decade, though gas and electric ranges have a slightly longer lifecycle.
  • There are basic preventative maintenance tasks you can perform regularly to extend the lifespan of your appliances.
  • To avoid the sticker shock that comes with buying a new major appliance, homeowners can protect themselves with a home warranty plan.

We have all heard our parents and grandparents lament, “They just don’t make them like they used to.” And while today’s home appliances do tend to require more frequent replacement, there are ways to extend the lifespans of your dishwasher, laundry machines, kitchen range and refrigerator.

How long do dishwashers last?

According to Consumer Reports, you can expect the average dishwasher to last about 10 years before it needs to be replaced, but small issues may crop up during that decade. To keep your dishwasher running in peak form, perform these regular maintenance tasks:

  • Clean out the dishwasher filter regularly — or if you notice remaining food particles even after the dishwasher has been run.
  • If you have hard water, clean the interior of the dishwasher regularly to keep hard water stains and buildup from accumulating.
  • Check to make sure the door is sealed and does not allow any water to leak out during a wash cycle. Regularly wipe down the gasket on the seal to ensure the door can close fully.
  • Check your dishwasher’s owner manual for detailed cleaning instructions and follow them to the letter.

How long do washing machines and dryers last?

Like dishwashers, most homeowners can expect their laundry set up — washer and dryer — to have an average lifespan of about 10 years. Of course, this is dependent on who is using the machines. Empty nesters may find that their slower laundry schedule allows them to keep a washer and dryer operating for years longer while a large, busy family going through a dozen loads a week may find their washer or dryer on the fritz before the decade is up.

So, how can you keep laundry machines running optimally for longer? Let’s start with the washer.

Washer maintenance and upkeep

Does the laundry room or closet shake once the spin cycle kicks on? That’s not a sign of a hard-working machine; it means that your washing machine isn’t level to the ground. Don’t just eyeball a fix. Consumer Reports recommends that you test each leg one at a time. “Once the washer feels stable, use a level to check it front to back and side to side, adjust as necessary, then tighten the lock nuts on the feet.”

Additionally, be sure:

  • To use only the recommended amount of laundry soap for each load.
  • Not to overload the washer with more than it can handle.
  • To use washer bags for delicate items or items that have long straps, hooks or wires — especially if you have a top-loader with a drum.
  • Cut down on your laundry loads by using some items — such as bath towels, denim and sweatshirts — a few times between washings.

Extending the life cycle of your dryer

To keep your dryer running longer, focus on keeping the ducts free and clear of lint and dust. And if you have an older accordion foil duct, Consumer Reports recommends replacing it with a smooth metal option. Be sure to clean out the lint trap after each dryer cycle, as well.

As with the washing machine, it’s critical that you don’t fill your dryer with oversized loads. Take your time to wash and dry your clothes with similarly-colored items, in batches that your machines can handle.

How long do gas ranges and electric ranges last?

The National Association of Home Builders estimates that gas ranges have an average life expectancy of about 15 years, while electric ranges are just a few years behind at 13 years, according to info on bobvila.com. To avoid calling for an appliance repair specialist on your range, homeowners should focus on these basic clean-up tasks:

  • Wipe down the smooth cooktop — or clean under and around the stovetop grates after each use.
  • Don’t wait for a gooey cheese drip from a pizza to remind you it’s been awhile since you last ran the self-clean cycle on your oven. Set it on a weekend day when you’ll be in your house for several hours.
  • As you did with the dishwasher seal, check to make sure that your oven’s door fully closes. Wipe down the seal regularly.

How long do refrigerators last?

Our final major appliance is the refrigerator, which homeowners can expect to last 10 years or more. Here are two easy ways you can extend your refrigerator’s lifespan:

  • Check regularly to make sure that food debris isn’t accumulating in the refrigerator’s door seal.
  • Don’t overload your refrigerator. If the freezer vents get blocked, the motor will need to work overtime to keep the refrigerator cool.
  • Regularly change the air and water filters on newer models when prompted.

Last, move your refrigerator out from the wall on occasion. Clean behind and under your fridge, then vacuum the coils to keep them free and clear of buildup that can limit their efficacy.

Wish your home appliances could last longer?

When a household appliance starts to degrade or stops working altogether, it can be stressful to consider the immediate replacement cost. To avoid that frantic moment of checking your savings account, consider purchasing a home warranty. The Edina Realty home warranty plan covers all the appliances we have discussed today, in addition to larger systems like water heaters, plumbing and more.

Reach out today and I can get you in touch with a home warranty specialist who can help protect you from unexpected replacement costs on your home’s appliances.

The ultimate winter moving guide

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Key Insights:

  • Check out your vehicle and road conditions. Be sure to plan in advance for any needed maintenance or potential backup plans.
  • The way you pack your belongings is important. Think about color-coding boxes for a hassle-free move.
  • Don’t forget to savor the moment! Take a minute to appreciate your previous space and to embrace your new home.

Whether you’re moving long-distance or down the street, moving during the winter presents a unique set of challenges and considerations. Be sure to follow these six tips as you pack up your home and prepare to move into a new property this winter.

1. Ensure your vehicles and new home are operating properly

Prep your vehicles

When it comes to your car or moving truck, first make sure that the tires, brakes and battery are in top condition. You’ll also want to check all fluid levels and fill them if needed.

If you’re moving long-distance and don’t already have roadside assistance, consider purchasing it. This service will keep you covered should your vehicle break down on the trek to your new house. And, if you plan to drive your own moving truck, ask the rental company if they provide any kind of emergency assistance.

Finally, create an emergency car kit that includes bottled water, non-perishable snacks, blankets, a windshield scraper, a flashlight, sand or salt and some road flares to deploy if your car breaks down on the side of the road. Don’t skip this step! Not only is this kit perfect for a winter move, but also it’s smart to keep in your car all winter long.

Flip the “on” switch at your new home

Before you hop in the car to drive to your new home, you’ll also want to ensure that the property is ready for move-in. Do this by transferring all utilities into your name in advance, so they are on and functioning a day or two before your move, if possible. The days are shorter, darker and colder during the winter, so it’s extra important that the lights and heat are working as you settle in.

2. Take your time to pack well

Color-code your boxes

While packing for your new home, be intentional. Color-coding your move is a great way to stay organized. By using colored tape or labels on your boxes, you’ll take the guesswork out of unpacking your items and you can easily divvy them out into the rooms where they belong.

Discard liquids

As you’re color-coding your boxes, try to discard any liquids. While moving, these liquids (like shampoo, detergent or other cleaning supplies) could freeze or leak. So, avoid packing liquids if you can help it. Additionally, be sure to drain fluids from larger items like lawnmowers, motorcycles and boats before loading them. This process is especially important if you’re hiring movers who will take multiple days to get to your new abode.

Bring extra clothes

If you’re moving or relocating to Minnesota or western Wisconsin, wear warm, climate-appropriate items. Dress yourself in layers and clothes that are easy to remove as you change temperatures throughout the day. If possible, avoid wearing hoodies or other clothing with strings, which may catch on doorways or the moving truck.

As for outerwear, wear a pair of boots with good traction to avoid slipping on icy or slushy ground. You’ll also want to keep a hat or earmuffs handy throughout the day and to find gloves with gripping power so you don’t drop boxes or heavy furniture.

On the other hand, if you’re moving somewhere warmer, pack a spare set of clothes to change into when you arrive in your new climate.

3. Ask for help!

Hire a babysitter for your kids and pets

As much as you want to share this family moment together, you may want to hire a babysitter for move-in day if you have younger children. Not only will this will allow you to give your undivided attention to the moving process, but it will also ensure that little fingers aren’t pinched by heavy moving boxes.

Moving with pets may pose a different challenge. While unloading boxes, the last thing you want to think about is if Rex is running across the road or tracking snow into your new home. To prevent this, think about sending your pets to a boarding service or a friend’s house for the duration of your move.

Get a moving team

Enlisting the help of a moving team — whether professional or not — will prove to be extremely helpful as you transfer your life from one property to the next.

To thank the group of people helping your family move, think ahead to have water, soda, coffee or hot cocoa on hand. Then, once you arrive at your new home, you can plan to order pizza from a highly-rated local place. Your first meal in your new home will be stress-free and delicious. (Mention you’re new to the area while placing your order and you may even get a discount!)

If you hire a professional moving crew, they may expect a tip instead of a pizza dinner. Consumer Reports recommends a standard tip of 15-20% of the total cost of a long-distance move, and 5-10% of a local move.

4. Assess the road conditions

Check road conditions early and often

Be sure to visit and bookmark your state’s Department of Transportation website for travel advisories and updates on road conditions. Here are the sites for Minnesota and Wisconsin. If you’re moving outside our area, you can find your state’s DOT website here. Be prepared with a backup plan in case road conditions change suddenly or become unsafe.

Start early in the day

On moving day, leave early and be prepared to arrive late. Always allow for more time than you think you’ll need. If you’re moving locally, it’s smart to get started very early in the day so you don’t have to move in icy conditions after the sun has gone down. If you’re moving across state lines, be sure to add in an extra travel day in case you unexpectedly need to pull off and stay in a hotel overnight.

Keep sidewalks and driveway clear

Whatever you do, don’t pack away the shovels! As you move in and out of a new home you’ll need to keep your sidewalks and driveways clear so your moving crew can enter and exit safely. Additionally, keep an extra bag of sand or salt handy and apply it liberally to any slippery walkways.

5. Protect your home and belongings from the elements

Maintain a clean and dry home

You can’t expect your moving crew to remove their heavy winter boots every time they come in and out, but you can protect your floors or carpet by lining your home with flat cardboard. If you’re moving to another wintry area, don’t forget to purchase cardboard for both ends of your move.

Keeping a handful of towels near the entry and exit doorways and in the moving truck will also help keep your home and items dry. You can use the towels to wipe down the dolly or wet boxes as they come in and out of the house.

Finally, cover items if it’s snowing or wet outside. Wrap anything from furniture to large TVs in plastic wrap to protect them from the harsh winter climate.

Create a system

As you leave your old residence, ask the crew to exit through the garage and enter through the front door. By designating this system for entrance and exit, you’ll minimize collisions and allow the outgoing furniture and boxes to stay covered in the garage if the moving truck is occupied with another set of helpers.

When moving into your new home, reverse this process. Movers should bring furniture or boxes in through the garage and exit through the front door. If any furniture is too wet to bring in, you can leave it in the garage for a few hours or longer to dry off before bringing it inside.

6. Take a moment to enjoy it

Moving can be extraordinarily draining, so be sure to take a deep breath as you leave your old home for the new. While the day may have been snowy and stressful, you won’t regret taking a moment to say goodbye as you enter the next phase of your life. You may even want to snap a few photos to document the day (and your new home).

Are you ready to take the next step in your home move? Get in touch any time for one-on-one help.

Tips for pet owners — from pet anxiety to the best gifts

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Key Insights:

  • Maintain your floors and furniture with routine maintenance, like shampooing your carpets and covering your couches.
  • If your houseguests bring pets, be prepared to partition off areas of your home or stock up on puppy chew toys.
  • If your house is too full, send your pup to doggy daycare or kitty to a cat hotel. You can also consider hiring a neighbor or friend to help until your guests are gone.

Calling all pet owners! We know you love your furry friend with all your heart, but when it comes time to have houseguests or maintain a brand new hardwood floor, you might have to make special arrangements for your pet.

From dealing with pet anxiety to choosing the best gift for your dog or cat, keep reading to learn our top tips for pet owners.

How to keep a new home fresh with pets

Whether you’ve recently moved into a home with new renovations or you simply want to maintain the condition of the features in your existing home, there are a handful of ways to keep your property in ideal shape — even with pets.

Everyday pet tips

If you plan on being out of the house during work hours or you’re hosting guests in your home, it’s possible that your pets could become restless and get into mischief. Luckily, there are simple ways for you to minimize pet damage to your home on a daily basis. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep doors to bedrooms and bathrooms closed
  • Tuck garbage cans in the pantry or under the kitchen sink
  • Keep countertops clear and food-free (especially if your pet can jump!)
  • Ensure that your pet has enough food and water for the day
  • Have pet-friendly toys available
  • Offer your pet treats when they behave especially well

How to protect and preserve your home features

Other long-term measures may be needed to keep your home in tip-top shape while having your own pets or hosting guests with animals.

It’s imperative to consider your floors when pets are around. No matter what kind of floor your house has, you’ll want to avoid stains and smells by keeping the floor clean. After pets drag in dirt or debris from outside (or if they have an accident inside), be sure to vacuum and wash your flooring.

If you have wood floors, consider covering your floors with area rugs (with rug pads underneath to keep them in place). This will help avoid potential scratches on your floor from pet nails and claws. You may also consider applying a sealant to your hardwood floors. Sealants help to protect against pet accidents and other household spills too.

In addition, think about placing a couch cover or throw blanket on top of your furniture and other fabrics to maintain a fresh smell and appearance. These items can easily and regularly be tossed in the laundry. Of course, if you want Fido to stay off the sofa, avoid inviting dogs to sit next to you on your furniture; you may even want to invest in an extra comfy dog bed so your pet isn’t tempted to jump on the couch as you curl up to watch Netflix each night.

Handling houseguests with dogs

Your game plan for a houseguest with dogs

When hosting friends and family for the holidays or throughout the year, your houseguests may bring their furry friends over too. When in this situation, set ground rules right away. It’s important that your guests understand where Fido is and isn’t allowed in the house.

Consider partitioning off areas of your home or creating a safe and fun pet play area in the basement, laundry room or other spare room that is free of breakables. You can also mitigate pet problems by keeping the animals occupied. In addition to taking dogs on walks and playing with other animals, you can consider purchasing a gift for your guests’ pets.

Gifts for their pets

Your guests will adore you for picking up a gift for their dog. And, as much as their appreciation means to you, by purchasing a present for their animals, you’ll also help their dogs chew on toys rather than your molding or favorite coffee table.

Some great, entertaining pet gifts include:

  • Treats (natural dog treats, jerky, etc.)
  • Plush toys
  • Dog bones
  • Rubber chew toys
  • Tennis balls

Where to send pets when you have a full house

Whether you have a house full of guests, or you’re visiting friends and family that don’t have room to host you and your pets, here are some ideas on where you can send your furry friends.

Make a reservation at a boutique dog “hotel”

Boarding your dog doesn’t have to be boring. Nowadays, the options for taking care of dogs and cats have expanded. Try booking a stay for your pet at a boutique dog “hotel,” also known as a luxury dog resort, cat hotel or spa. These accommodations will take ultimate care of your animal, paying attention to each and every detail.

Post on social media

Posting on Nextdoor or Facebook is another great way to solicit help for your pets. It’s likely that your friends on these sites already know you, so you can rest assured that your animals are in good hands. And you can offer to repay the favor, when appropriate.

Download a pet app

Downloading a pet care app, like Rover or Wag, also can help you get real-time walking or care assistance for your pets. Simply make a profile and begin your search for the right individual to care for your pets.

Managing pet anxiety

How to deal with pet anxiety when guests arrive

You may notice that your pets become antsy or irritable when guests arrive. This could be a sign of pet anxiety. Before your guests walk in the door, place your pets in a separate room. This will give everyone the space they need to get situated. Then, once jackets are off and your guests are settled in, you can begin to introduce your pets into the mix.

Day-to-day remedies for the duration of the stay

There are a variety of day-to-day methods to manage pet anxiety. For example, the American Kennel Club recognizes anxiety training, prescribed medication, and CBD oil to assist with dog anxiety. These methods can be used regularly to comfort and calm your pets. Pet owners also report success with “thundershirts” for dogs and cats experiencing anxiety.

Cats, on the other hand, may suffer from separation anxiety even if you remain in the house but are busy entertaining guests. Don’t worry if they seem a little more aloof than usual, but try your best to give them some private, undivided attention when you can. If you find that they’re especially irritable, you can also create a safe room where they can lounge in peace as your family or friends take over their house. (The bedroom where you’re staying is probably the easiest solution--just make sure it’s equipped with a litter box.)

Another daily task that can keep any pet feeling calm is to maintain a reliable routine. Whether you have a dog, cat, guinea pig or lizard, try to keep your pet’s routine as stable as possible. That way, your pet is able to predict and count on everyday activities, rather than worrying about them. When possible, stock up on your pet’s typical foods and favorite treats, and keep their routine and sleeping location the same, if possible.

Want a better home for your furry friends?

Considering a move for your family and Fido? Reach out any time for help finding a pet-friendly property.

7 winter energy saving tips for Midwest homeowners

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Key Insights

  • It doesn’t take big money to reduce your winter heating bills, but it can require a bit of up-front work.
  • Replacing just one aging device on your fireplace can reduce your home’s energy loss by 75%.
  • Not everything needs a full replacement! Keep your furnace running efficiently with simple filter replacements over the winter.

Winter is coming… and so are those astronomical heating bills. As you stay warm and dry, here are seven winter energy saving tips that can help you reduce heat loss and increase your home’s energy efficiency.

1. Replace an aging water heater

Most folks don’t think about replacing their water heater until they go to take a shower and…. Brrrr! But if your water heater is more than 8-10 years old, its energy efficiency could be lacking. Depending on your heat source and your household’s water needs, it may be smart to look into a new option. Consider:

  • A storage water heater that offers better insulation and efficiency
  • A demand water heater, which produces hot water on demand

This excellent guide from Smarter House can help you better understand which type of water heater will work best for your household.

2. Get an energy-efficient fireplace damper

Of all the winter energy saving tips we researched, this one was the most surprising to us. Even more than a drafty window, a faulty fireplace damper — the device that seals up your fireplace when it’s not being used — can lead to major heat loss and higher energy bills.

If a fireplace damper cracks, rusts or warps over time, the device can stop closing properly. And that means that on the nights when a fire isn’t roaring, the warm air from your furnace or radiators can flow directly up your chimney and out into the frigid winter air. (That sound you hear is your dad yelling, “Close the door — you’re heating the whole neighborhood!”)

In recent years, energy-efficient fireplace dampers have come on the market and they can be easily installed by a reputable chimney service or on your own if you’re handy. No matter how you choose to do it, be sure to replace your fireplace damper early in the winter months; according to HomeSaver, a study shows that closing up those fireplace leaks can reduce heat loss by more than 75%.

3. Invest in a programmable thermostat

Smart thermostats have been on the market for nearly a decade, but many homeowners are still manually updating their heat settings each day — or not changing them at all during the cold winter months.

This is a mistake that directly affects your heating costs, says the U.S. Department of Energy, which states that homeowners can “save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning [their] thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.”

A programmable thermostat makes it easy to automatically save money on your monthly heating bills; you can simply adjust the settings so that the temperature drops when everyone is at work or school, then rises as everyone returns home. You can even have it turn down the temperature overnight as everyone sleeps soundly under a plethora of blankets.

And if you’re in a constant battle over the exact temperature that should be set during those in-house hours, let this be the final word: the Department of Energy recommends that you program it to “68°F while you're awake and set it lower while you're asleep or away from home.”

4. Replace your furnace filters

If your home is heated by a furnace, be sure to check the filter monthly and replace it when you notice it is dirty and dusty. Generally, you should plan to replace the filter every three months to ensure that it’s running in tip-top condition. Think of your filter like the lint trap on a dryer: If it’s full and clogged up, it has to work harder to run. A new filter helps your heating system run more efficiently right away and can prevent expensive maintenance down the road.

5. Upgrade to LED holiday lights

While the holiday season comes and goes quickly, the ensuing energy bills can be surprisingly high. Whether you’re decorating a simple tree or going for a neighborhood-best holiday light display, keep in mind that your aging lights may be costing you more than you think.

According to the Edison Electric Institute, it can cost homeowners up to 8.68 cents per hour to light just one 100-count string of large, traditional holiday lights; the mini-lights you’d use on a tree cost just under a half-penny per hour.

We know that it might seem like overkill to replace all your holiday lights with brand-new LED offerings, when the hourly cost is less than half of a penny. But what if we told you that LED lights are ten times as energy efficient, meaning that you’d pay just a half a penny for ten hours of usage? According to the institute’s research, LED mini-lights cost just 0.0496 per hour.

The initial investment into LED holiday lights will be higher than the traditional lights, but they also tend to last longer. Just imagine how delightful it would be to plug in your holiday lights and have them work on the first try!

6. Check for air leaks and prevent drafts

From drafty windows to eaves to doorways and more, it’s likely that you have air leaks somewhere in your house. And during our ice-cold winter months, those air leaks can lead to quite a tidy profit for your utility company.

Here’s an exhaustive guide on how to check your home for air leaks. If you have an older home or one that seems particularly drafty as the weather cools, you may want to pay for a professional energy audit.

Even the tiniest of gaps in windows and door frames can lead to major heat loss over time. The Department of Energy recommends this simple test when checking them: “Shut a door or window on a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar bill out without it dragging, you're losing energy.”

Once you’ve identified the gaps, break out the caulk and weatherstripping to help seal the gaps and promote energy savings this winter. And don’t underestimate the power of those plastic window sealing kits if you need to cover drafty windows. After all these years, they’re still popular for a reason

On a larger scale, leaks from your attic can not only have a large impact on your heating bills — they can also lead to treacherous ice dams. By fixing the leaks early in the winter, you can save energy while also protecting your roof from severe damage.

7. Use the ceiling fan all year

Using a ceiling fan during summer months to create a cool breeze is a no-brainer. But did you know that many ceiling fans offer the option to reverse their rotation (from counterclockwise during summer months to clockwise during winter) in order to force warm air down from the ceiling into your room? Energy Star recommends operating it at a low speed to realize additional energy and dollar savings.

Still have questions?

Need more help upgrading your house? Or maybe you’re ready to buy a newer house with energy-efficient features built right in! Either way, reach out for help strategizing the best home choices for you and your family.

How to prepare your home for holiday guests

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Key insights:

  • When hosting holiday house guests, go beyond their basic needs to offer maximum comfort in their sleeping spaces and bathroom accommodations.
  • In charge of a feast for 12? Be sure to mark anything that's off-limits in the refrigerator to ensure your eggnog doesn't go missing before the big meal.
  • If you're hosting the next generation, the holidays are a great time to dig out old games and toys.

'Tis the season for house guests! Whether you've been hosting holiday guests for years or you’re a first-timer, follow these tips to ensure your overnight visitors feel warm and welcome in your home over the holidays.

The sleeping spaces

Whether your guests have a bed or will be relegated to a space on the floor, provide an assortment of blankets and pillows to ensure maximum comfort. While many people now use their cell phones as their alarm, you can also provide an easily programmable travel alarm clock on a small side table. Last, put out a small tray or bowl where guests can store their wallet, keys and other personal items.

If you want to go the extra mile to make your guests feel special, consider adding a welcome basket to each room. This assortment could include some or all of the following:

  • Mints or candy canes
  • Chocolates
  • Water bottles
  • Phone chargers
  • Earplugs
  • Linen spray

The bathing basics

Be sure to show guests which bathroom they should use during their stay, along with how to operate any complicated bathroom appliances (a tricky shower nozzle or a special heated floor system). At this time, you may also let guests know about hair dryers, towel warmers or other gadgets that they can use.

On the counter, provide easily forgotten essentials like shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste. And, if the bathroom isn't connected to your guests' sleeping space, consider lighting the hallway with a nightlight.

Traveling and eating rich foods can take their toll, so consider offering some or all of the following as well:

  • Pain medication
  • Antacids
  • Melatonin or other sleep aids
  • Bandages
  • Moisturizers and lip care
  • A nail file and clipper

The fridge factor

Most houseguests won't touch the cupboards or refrigerator without asking. Still, you should be sure to label anything that's “off-limits” – lest you end up with Aunt Franny drinking all the eggnog before the party starts!

Conversely, try to have a few easy-to-access snacks on hand to tide your guests over as you prepare for the big holiday meal. Some quick and simple snacks are:

  • Vegetables and hummus
  • Crackers and cheese
  • Fruit
  • Olives
  • Holiday cookies
  • Nut mix

It's all relative

You know your guests and relatives better than anyone, so take them into account as you prepare your home. If your sister is a coffee drinker, be sure you can offer her some in the morning, taking into consideration how she likes it (with extra cream and sugar!). If your cousin is bringing their three children, set out your own kids' long-forgotten favorite toys and books to occupy them. These thoughtful additions can make all the difference and create a pleasant atmosphere for everyone.

A hygge house

Hygge is the Danish lifestyle of warmth, coziness and simplicity. This holiday season is the perfect time to embrace hygge. To fully encapsulate a house full of hygge, consider the following:

  • Baking a family recipe and letting the aroma fill the house
  • Enjoying the golden glow of the fireplace or decorative lanterns
  • Watching a movie or playing board games as a family, without cellphones
  • Cozying up in knit blankets or sweaters

A house full of hygge is bound to elicit positive interactions and memorable moments. After all, who isn’t happy wrapped up in a blanket with a mug of hot cocoa?

Above all, enjoy the holidays

Holiday house guests come but once a year. By being proactive, you can ensure their visit is pleasant, not stressful.

Hoping to upgrade your space so you can host next year’s holiday festivities? Get in touch any time and we can begin your search.

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