Planning to buy this spring? How to prepare and what to keep in mind

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Key insights

  • Today’s buyers are reporting a longer-than-expected home buying timeline due to low inventory and a crowded marketplace.
  • By doing their research and being ready to bid quickly (and repeatedly), buyers can move toward the closing table in upcoming months.
  • Buyers who get pre-approved can have a better understanding of their budget and their place in our local market.

You’ve likely heard that the housing market is hot, hot, hot — but many buyers are still unprepared for how competitive the landscape is. Even if you don’t plan to buy until April or May, we recommend that you start preparing today so that you don’t fall behind once the spring market arrives.

Prepare yourself for a three-month home search

A recent stat from the National Association of Home Builders says that the typical buyer is shopping for more than three months before finding the home that’s right for them.

While it may go against everything you hope for (and have seen on tv shows like House Hunters), keep in mind that you may need more than a few weekends of open houses and home showings to find the house you’ll eventually purchase.

Ease into the market by checking off early-stage buyer tasks, including:

  • Hiring a REALTOR® to represent you in your home purchase. (Reach out today to get the ball rolling!)
  • Setting a smart budget by getting pre-approved for a home mortgage loan
  • Researching and narrowing down neighborhoods or cities where you might like to live
  • Setting up listing alerts in your desired area and within your identified budget
  • Visiting open houses to get a better sense of market inventory and pricing

Be ready to bid

While it may take you some time to find the perfect home, homes in low- to mid-tier price points and in-demand locations are selling fast, fast, fast. Even in January, a historically slow month for home sales, we saw the market moving quickly:

  • Twin Cities metro homes priced under $250,000 sold in just 37 median days1
  • Metro homes priced between $250,000-$500,000 sold in just 46 median days1

That means buyers like you must be ready to move quickly and may need to bid aggressively. As you prepare to tour homes or begin checking out open houses, create a list of what you like and don’t like — and a list of “must-haves” vs. “nice-to-haves.” Once you find a house that meets all your criteria, you may want to make a fast offer — even if it’s a little sooner than the spring timing you’d planned.

If you don’t feel ready to make an offer, we can work together to determine what’s holding you back. No one should be rushed into a home purchase, but today’s market does require fast thinking and fast action. Together, we can set up a smart, strategic plan to view houses and follow a timeline that doesn’t feel too rushed.

Don’t expect a bargain

We’ll just cut to the chase here: In both December 2019 and January 2020, sellers in the 13-county Twin Cities metro area received an average of 98.8% of their original list price at closing2. In our low-inventory, high-demand market, sellers still hold the advantage. That means that in addition to homes selling quickly, most buyers are also bidding the full list price (or very close to it) when they make an offer.

If a home has been on the market for a long time, you may have a case for making a lower offer — but you shouldn’t go in expecting a bargain. That’s why it pays off to hire an agent who understands local market conditions. We’ll work together to determine a smart bid — and how to proceed if the seller makes a counteroffer.

Celebrate today’s low, low rates

We believe interest rates should remain low for all of 2020. This is great news for today’s buyers, because when rates are low, buying power goes up! Even a small hike in interest rates can end up costing a borrower thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

By getting pre-approved early in the buying process, you’ll have a better understanding of the rate for which you qualify — and how that affects your buying budget and payments over time. Having a pre-approval letter can also help you get taken more seriously by sellers when you make an offer.

Ready for summer in your new house?

No matter where you hope to buy, you’ll want to be unpacked before the first few days of summer arrive.

That means you’ll have to get started on your buying journey now. Get in touch today to get the conversation started.

  1. Based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OF MINNESOTA, INC for the period January 1, 2020 through January 31, 2020.
  2. Based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OF MINNESOTA, INC for the period December 1, 2019 through January 31, 2020.

Selling? How to establish a price for your property

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Key insights

  • Be sure to work with a professional when generating the price (and value) of the home you wish to sell.
  • Be wary of automated assessments or online offers that may minimize your home’s value or overlook features that could help you sell for more in the traditional marketplace.
  • Don’t overprice your home in hopes of netting an offer from a buyer who doesn’t know better. It usually doesn’t pay off.

It’s great to establish a price for your home early on, but we don’t recommend you go in with a specific price in mind. Instead, it’s important that you work with your trusted agent to review market conditions, recently sold homes in your area, and even evaluate how the condition of your home stacks up with other local listings.

Here are insights you can use as you establish a fair, market-driven price for your property.

How do you determine a home’s true value?

When selling a home, it’s important not to base your listing price off of what you paid for the home or how much is left on the mortgage. A home’s true value is what a buyer in today’s market will pay for it.

To determine the right listing price for your property, Edina Realty Realtors evaluate a home by:

  • Reviewing its tax-assessed value, keeping in mind that this is often a lagging indicator and not typically reflective of a property’s current value
  • Checking how your home compares to recently sold, comparable and nearby properties
  • Analyzing how your home’s features, upgrades or condition may improve or lower its value

This unique process is called a comparative market analysis, or CMA. A CMA is the most comprehensive way to assess a home’s value and thereby, its best listing price.

Reach out today for a no-obligation CMA.

Is a CMA the same as an online estimate?

In recent years, online estimates have popped up all over real estate search sites, and they often set an early tone for buyers and sellers about what a home is worth. However, online estimates are produced via computer-generated models, and they often miss unique attributes and information about a home’s current condition.

For example, if you bought a three-bedroom home 10 years ago but have since added two bedrooms and egress windows to the previously unfinished basement, an online estimate may base the property value off other three-bedroom homes in the area. By assessing your home in person, an agent would know to price it higher due to the added bedrooms and buyer demand for homes with more finished living space.

To get the best, most accurate assessment of your property, steer clear of automated estimates and make sure that an agent views (and analyzes) your property in person.

What about the values that come from online companies offering to sell my home?

In recent years, “iBuyers” have come into our local market. An iBuyer tends to be a large investment firm that offers automated offers to home sellers, who then bypass the traditional home sale process.

Not surprisingly, iBuyers may not be able to take into account your home’s best features and upgrades; instead, they often operate via automated assessments that are generated through an algorithm. These algorithms base their price analysis (and ensuing offer) off similarly-sized homes that have sold in recent months in your area. If your house is in better condition than those homes, an iBuyer’s automated tools may be unable to see the difference — and they may not compensate you appropriately.

Additionally, iBuyers have to recoup their cost (and risk) somewhere. So while they may boast that they sell your home commission-free, a recent study shows that iBuyers more than make up for it in “convenience fees” and closing costs. In fact, data from that study shows that selling to an iBuyer could cost the seller 2-3 times more than when they sell with a traditional real estate agent who earns a commission.

Why shouldn’t I price my home high, then lower it over time if it doesn’t sell?

It can be tempting to over-price your home and hope to attract a naive buyer, but today’s buyers are savvy (and often work with savvy agents), and they set up online search parameters based on typical home prices for the area. By pricing your home too high, you may jeopardize not only the website visits to your listing, but also in-person showings where buyers can fall in love with your house.

Last, buyers tend to be wary of homes that stay on the market for long periods of time. Even the best homes begin to look unappealing to buyers who will wonder why such a great home isn’t selling. In short, you’ll risk losing money or the opportunity for a fast closing by pricing your home too high.

Getting started on the home selling process

Setting a price for your property can be tricky, but we can work together to assess your home’s current value, based on its location and condition. Reach out today to get a customized CMA — with absolutely no strings attached.

Five home improvements with the best ROI upon resale

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Key insights:

  • Prepare in advance. Many home sellers invest in improvement projects before listing to generate interest in their property.
  • Soon-to-be sellers should consider improvements with an expected high return on investment (ROI) at resale — and avoid projects that have a low ROI.
  • Data shows that some of the least expensive projects have the greatest impact on a sale, such as a garage door or entry door replacement.

Many homeowners dream of making improvements and upgrades to their homes before selling, but they don’t always look into how much of their upfront cost will be recouped when selling.

When you sell your home, you want to get the best value possible. That’s why we dove into the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report (costvs.value.com) to find the top five home improvement projects with the best ROI for the Minneapolis area. Follow along for insights you can use as you determine which home improvements will earn you the most bang for your buck.

1. Garage door replacement

Cost: $3,911
Resale value: $3,757
Cost recouped: 96.1%

If your garage door has dings and dents, it may be time to replace it. For this project, you’ll remove and properly dispose of your existing garage door and its tracks. You’ll then install a new steel garage door (16x7 feet) on fresh galvanized steel tracks. You can continue to use your current motorized opener. The cost of this project includes a lifetime warranty on the garage door.

When buying the door, pay attention to your own moving plans and timeline. A long-term warranty will be beneficial if you’re not planning to sell imminently; in that case, the upgraded door will remain an attractive, functional feature for future buyers — and you can enjoy the benefits of the exterior upgrade now.

However, you may find that you can get the cost of the door down if you choose to forgo the lifetime warranty or opt for a one-year warranty, which is more common.

2. Siding replacement (fiber-cement)

Cost: $19,964
Resale value: $13,667
Cost recouped: 68.5%

Siding works to shield your home from exterior elements while also providing structure to your house. If your current siding is getting damaged or starting to look dingy, replace it with new fiber-cement siding. The new siding should be factory primed and painted with trim pieces for all openings and corners. Be sure to install new siding in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications to have siding that performs well over the years.

In addition to protecting your home, the right siding can add an extra burst of curb appeal to your property. And if you’re aiming to sell, this upgrade is bound to catch the eyes of potential buyers.

Prefer to use vinyl siding? This is a popular option and it’s actually a bit cheaper; the typical project cost to replace vinyl siding in Minneapolis is just shy of $17,000. However, the ROI is quite a bit lower, at 56.4%.

3. Manufactured stone veneer

Cost: $10,777
Resale value: $7,300
Cost recouped: 67.7%

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

To complete this project, you’ll first remove the bottom third of siding from the street-facing side of your home exterior (a 300 square foot continuous band). Begin by removing the existing siding from the garage and around the main entry, and end near the corner of the side addition. Next, you’ll replace this area with a stone veneer, including 36 linear feet of sills, 40 linear feet of corners and one address block. The installation also includes protection against water damage and corrosion.

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

4. Entry door replacement

Cost: $2,023
Resale value: $1,359
Cost recouped: 67.2%

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

For this project, you’ll replace your current door with a new 20-gauge steel door that includes a double window panel. The door’s factory finish-color is the same on both sides, and the project also includes a new casing (either brick mold or popular casing) that matches the door color. The cost for this project includes a budget for a brand-new lockset to accompany the door.

5. Window replacement (vinyl)

Cost: $19,139
Resale value: $12,524
Cost recouped: 65.4%

Quality windows are built to last around 15 to 20 years. If you’re coming up on that timeframe, it may be worth it to consider a vinyl window replacement — and considering the expected lifetime of windows, you can rest assured that this project will remain beneficial for years to come.

If you’re ready to exchange your old windows for a new set, begin by replacing 10 existing windows (3x5 feet) with new, insulated, vinyl windows. This project accounts for custom-color exterior finish and exterior trim. Note: The interior trim can remain in place.

Note that if you’d prefer to replace your existing windows with wood windows, the cost over vinyl is just a bit higher, at $22,829. The ROI at resale is also a bit lower, at 63.1%.

Interested in more home improvement projects?

Wondering what other remodeling projects were reviewed for the Minneapolis region? Check out the complete Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report for our areas.

Got the winter blues? How your house can help you cope with seasonal depression

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Key insights:

  • Even the hardiest of Minnesotans can get the winter blues and some even have seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression.
  • There are a few clever ways that homeowners can boost their exposure to natural light sources, including taking screens off their home’s windows.
  • Other emerging technology, like the "happy light,” can help those with the winter blues boost their energy and minimize mood swings.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

For homeowners in the Midwest, the winter brings low temperatures, strong storms and less sunlight. Due to the shorter days and seemingly endless snow and subzero forecasts, many people feel sluggish during these colder months. But for some midwestern residents, this drop in motivation and well-being can be a much more serious condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is the result of a biological urge to hibernate, and symptoms can include:

  • Low energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Overeating

Let’s quickly address the elephant in the room. Most of us are guilty of canceling plans on a super-frigid day, or of indulging in too many mugs of hot cocoa after shoveling the driveway. Because we tend to spend more time indoors in winter months, it can be difficult to identify if you’re simply leaning into the realities of the season or suffering from seasonal depression.

Keep in mind that SAD can grow stronger as the winter progresses, so you’ll want to check in on your mental health, energy and motivation as we enter the later winter months. Below are three ways homeowners can fight the winter blues before it escalates to a more serious condition.

Combat seasonal depression with natural light

One way to counteract SAD is to get plenty of natural light. Just as you can get sunburnt on a cloudy July day, it’s possible to get sun exposure on an overcast winter day. Make a habit of opening up your window treatments right away when you get up in the morning and only close them when you leave for the day. Houselogic also recommends removing screens from your windows during the winter, which can boost sunlight by 30%.

You can even get an extra dose of sunshine by opening up your sunroof cover on your morning commute. Every minute counts!

Add soothing elements to your home

Once you have natural light streaming in, take inventory of how your home operates in the winter. Does your dimly-lit living room need an extra lamp or two, or can you add brighter bulbs to your existing light fixtures? Is the lack of fresh air making your home smell musty or feel stuffy?

Consider small updates to your interior, including:

  • Adding more natural plants or buying a new bouquet of fresh flowers each week
  • Changing up your paint or accent colors to something bright and energetic
  • Incorporating smart home features like dimming lights or soothing sounds/music
  • Adding essential oil diffusers around your home

And of course, don’t forget that between the holidays and the cold, winter is a time when clutter tends to build up. Spend a weekend decluttering your home — from the Amazon boxes you’ve been meaning to break down, to the unworn clothes hanging in your closet — and you should emerge with a renewed sense of love for the space you call home.

Get outside and get your heart pumping

You know that we're bonafide Minnesotans or Wisconsinites when you hear our next piece of advice: Get outside when you can! Set a challenge to go on a 20-minute walk on any day that the high reaches above 20-25 degrees. Bundle up from head to toe and consider bringing a cup of coffee or hot cocoa to keep you extra warm. Not only will the light exposure help, exercising is a proven way of relieving stress and anxiety, two common factors that the Mayo Clinic says can elevate seasonal depression.

If you’re not sure you can do it alone, ask a family member or neighbor to take the challenge with you and hold each other accountable. We promise, you'll never be so grateful for your warm house as when you re-enter it after a winter walk!

Short bursts of exposure can help, too. Rather than looking for the closest parking spot at work, the grocery store or your gym, challenge yourself to park in the last row so you get a few more minutes of sunshine on your entry and exit.

Fake it with light therapy or Vitamin D

Many health professionals recommend that midwesterners combat their winter blues by incorporating higher levels of Vitamin D into their diet or by taking Vitamin D supplements. Consult your doctor for the right recommended dosage.

You may also want to consider buying a light therapy box. Light therapy boxes are relatively inexpensive devices that promise to boost energy and minimize mood swings that can occur as a result of low exposure to natural light. These boxes have also been shown to help regulate sleep schedules, which can sometimes get off-balance when daylight hours are scarce. Medical professionals recommend using a light therapy box right away in the morning.

Light boxes are available at different price points at many retailers and online at Amazon.

Seek professional help for seasonal depression

Boosting your sun exposure and physical activity may help aid a mild case of the winter blues, but SAD is a more complex medical diagnosis that requires professional treatment. Be sure to contact your doctor if you notice intense mood swings, the need to isolate, severe exhaustion or low energy.

If you are professionally diagnosed with SAD, your doctor will advise you on the best treatment plan.

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.

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