What buyers and sellers should know about COVID-19

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We understand that there is a vital need for many to purchase and sell homes during this busy time of year, even amidst the current COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic that is affecting everyone on both a local and global scale. Our entire network of REALTORS®, along with Edina Realty Home Services, are committed to serving your real estate needs, now and always.

Your safety is a top priority. Across the real estate industry, we are taking a number of precautions and will continue to provide you with the highest level of service during this unprecedented time.

What is COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that is rapidly evolving, affecting 134 countries and now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) urges the practice of social distancing by staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible.

Steps our offices and staff are taking to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus

Our offices are being diligent about cleaning, reporting illness and taking any and all necessary steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • We have assembled a task force to stay current on rapidly changing developments; protect our clients, agents and employees; and to keep our business running smoothly.
  • We remain open for business, but our offices have temporarily closed. Edina Realty Home Services agents and employees continue working remotely to assist you. Simply reach out at any time for help with your home buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance and warranty needs.
  • We are cleaning continuously with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces, areas and objects.
  • Meetings and trainings are being held via teleconferencing, video conference and through the use of various technologies to avoid the need for in-person group gatherings.
  • At this time, we will continue to perform closings and have several precautionary measures in place to limit interactions and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Changes you may see when working with an agent

Edina Realty agents maintain a strong foundation in ethics. Our core values of honesty, integrity, commitment, innovation and community are constant in all we do. We believe in treating all clients and potential clients equally and fairly.

In order to protect our clients and ourselves, agent practices may adjust slightly during this time. Here are a few adjustments that you may experience:

  • We may ask you about recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. We will be asking all our clients the same questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities and is in no way intended to make you feel uncomfortable or singled out.
  • We may request that we meet you at a property instead of offering to drive you or we may decline to drive you if you show signs of illness or have recently traveled to areas of increased risk of coronavirus
  • If we continue to drive healthy clients, we may ask you to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.
  • You may notice us cleaning and disinfecting surfaces frequently. Some of these popular touchpoints will include door handles, doorknobs, seat belt latches, dashboards, countertops, lockboxes and similar areas.

What buyers and sellers should know about open houses and showings

At this time, all in-person Edina Realty open houses are suspended until safety recommendations are lifted. Agents will be conducting virtual open houses, video tours and careful private showings.

We will speak openly and honestly about the pros and cons of private in-home showings. By partnering with an Edina Realty agent, you have access to a variety of alternative options including Edina Realty’s strong network, expert marketing solutions, high quality listing photographs and details, video tours and other methods to virtually explore a property.

If you plan to allow or attend private in-home showings, the following precautions may be required:

  • All visitors may be asked to disinfect their hands upon entering the home
  • The hosting agent may limit the amount of people in the home
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be offered at the entryway
  • Sellers may be asked to leave lights on and doors and cabinets open.
  • Visitors will be asked not to touch any surfaces.

Sellers will be asked to clean and disinfect their home after each showing, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

As of March 16, the current recommendation is that all in-person events consisting of 10 or more people be cancelled, postponed or modified to virtual events.

What you can do to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus

Here is a list of CDC precautions to help prevent the spread:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social distancing by staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.

Stay informed, don’t panic and use good judgment. Refer to the CDC’s website for up-to-date information, recommendations, travel precautions and the latest impact of the coronavirus.

Reach out with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your housing needs during this unprecedented time.

Six questions to ask before selling your home

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Key insights:

  • Understand the difference and benefit of partnering with a REALTOR® — and not just a real estate agent.
  • Work with your Realtor to discuss how a strategic listing price can result in a successful and profitable home sale.
  • Consider what you’re looking for in your next home before selling your current property — what comes next for you?

Hoping to sell your current home in the coming months? Whether you’re upsizing, downsizing or merging households, there are some things you should ask yourself before you list your home for sale.

Here are insights you can use when considering selling your home. Not only will these six questions guide your first steps, but they’ll also help ensure that you’re getting the best price at closing.

1. Who can help me sell my home?

When it comes to selling your home, you have a few options. You can list your home for sale by owner (FSBO), or you can choose to work with a REALTOR®.

A Realtor is educated, trained and committed to helping facilitate all aspects of buying and selling a home. In order to become a Realtor, a licensed real estate agent must pledge to follow a code of ethics from the National Association of REALTORS®.

While it may just sound like an easy task to check off, the Realtor’s pledge is a key credential that sets Realtors apart from other real estate agents. The pledge is a strict commitment to put the needs of the client above the financial or personal interests of the Realtor, which is extremely important when selling your home.

Keep in mind, Edina Realty requires all its agents to be Realtors and to work according to the Code of Ethics. That means that if we work together, you can rest assured that you’re being represented by a Realtor who has your best interests at heart.

2. How much is my home worth?

It’s important to carefully consider how much to price your home for sale. You don’t want to price your home too high, as this might discourage buyers and the home could end up on the market for longer than you wish. And, you don’t want to list your property too low, and risk losing money that you could have earned back at closing.

Together, we can review recent sold prices in your area and get an understanding of the general price range that comparable homes are listed for. From there, we’ll determine the “sweet spot” price for your home in today’s market.

3. What repairs or upgrades should I make to my house?

You may want to complete some interior and exterior home projects prior to listing your home for sale. Although investing money in your home before selling may seem counterintuitive, there are notable advantages to listing your home after completing necessary repairs or upgrades. From updating paint colors, to upgrading your laundry space, to sprucing up your landscaping, there are inexpensive ways that will help your property stand out with online buyers and in-person house hunters. Together, we’ll discuss the updates or repairs that could earn you the most bang for your buck at closing.

4. How much will it cost to sell my home?

Between necessary repairs, closing costs, hiring a Realtor and staging your home for sale, it can cost you money to sell your home.

But, keep in mind that these costs may also help you earn more at closing. For example, staging a home leads to a faster home sale by decreasing the amount of time a property is listed on the market. Recognize that when buyers can imagine themselves in a home, they may be more comfortable making a higher offer that ensures they land the property.

5. Will we sell first, then buy?

There is no set answer to the common seller question, “Should we sell first, then buy?” or vice versa. Instead, when determining whether it’s best to buy or sell your home first, you must think about your unique situation. Then, determine the order of operations that will work best for you and your family.

For example, selling your home first may be a smart option if you have a “plan B” housing arrangement, like living with family or renting a nearby apartment until you find your next property. Or, you might unexpectedly come across the home of your dreams and choose to buy a new house, then sell your existing home.

If this is the case, you have a few options on how to proceed. You can:

  • Include language in your offer stating that the home purchase is contingent on the sale of your existing property.
  • Contact a mortgage consultant about bridge loan options.
  • Set aside extra money to pay for both mortgages until you’re able to sell your old property.

6. Where will we move next?

Currently, we are in a market that favors sellers — especially those with homes priced under $500k. It’s important to be prepared in the event that your home sells quickly and you’ll want to have a plan in place for where you want to go next. Whether it’s testing out a new family-oriented community, upsizing to a new construction lake home or moving into a retirement community, now is the time to do your research on your desired property style and location.

Do you have more questions about selling?

At Edina Realty, we pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop for home sellers. Reach out any time to get customized, no-pressure insights you can use throughout the home selling process and beyond.

How long does a water heater or HVAC system last?

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Does it take forever for your shower to heat up in the morning? Are your utility bills skyrocketing? It can be difficult to know when your home’s systems are in need of repair vs. replacement.

Here are insights you can use to determine how long your water heater and HVAC systems will last — and how you can tell it’s time to replace your furnace, central air and water heater.

How long does a water heater last?

Even with regular maintenance and servicing, your water heater will need to be replaced over time. Typically, tankless water heaters last 20 years or longer, while tank water heaters (which are powered by electricity or gas) last around 10 years.

Keep in mind, these numbers provide an estimated lifespan for your water heater. However, with due diligence (and possibly a little luck) your water heater could last much longer than this average life expectancy.

Signs that a water heater needs to be replaced

As with any appliance, your water heater will require replacement after years of work. Keep an eye out for the most common ways to tell if your water heater is on its last legs even before your showers run cold.

Possible signs that your water heater needs to be replaced include:

  • The age of your appliance
  • Signs of rust or oxidation
  • Improper draining
  • A leaking tank
  • Water that never gets hot, even when it runs for an extended period of time

What to know if you’re replacing your water heater

Is your water heater nearing the age of replacement? Whether your water heater is completely out of order or you think it’s about to go kaput, there are some things you should know when replacing your water heater:

Consider whether a tank or tankless water heater is right for you.

  • Keep in mind that tankless water heaters may be more efficient than tank water heaters — they may take up less space, last longer and save energy.
  • If you’re building a new construction home or adding on to your existing property, a tankless water heater could also be less expensive.

Ensure your new water heater requires the same type of fuel as your previous model.

  • Generally, you’ll want to replace an electric water heater with a new electric model; the same applies for replacing a gas water heater with a new gas model.
  • Sticking with the same fuel and type will minimize your expenses and avoid the need to retrofit your plumbing and electrical systems.

Search for an appliance with a longer warranty period.

  • Water heater warranty coverage typically spans 3 to 12 years.
  • Choose an appliance with a longer warranty period for extended protection.
  • You might spend more upfront for a longer-warranty model; determine whether the warranty benefits are worth the cost for your home.

How long does a furnace last?

Changing your furnace filters and keeping the unit clean will help to increase the longevity of your central heating system. However, the average furnace needs to be replaced after about 15 to 20 years — depending on the model, maintenance and usage.

Remember, this data is an overview of a typical furnace lifespan and your unit may exceed these numbers or need to be replaced sooner. Every furnace is unique, but during the first 15 years of a furnace’s life, it’s usually more cost-effective to repair than replace the appliance. Over time, furnaces tend to wear down. So, around the 15 to 20-year mark, most furnaces are due for a complete replacement.

Signs that a furnace needs to be replaced

Aside from just noting the age of your furnace, pay attention to these key indicators that your furnace needs to be replaced:

  • Rising utility bills
  • Difficulty finding replacement parts
  • Uncomfortable temperature or uneven air distribution
  • Strange noises
  • Presence of carbon monoxide
  • Dry or dusty home

What to know if you’re replacing your furnace

Are you ready to replace your furnace today, or are you just planning for the future? Take these recommendations into consideration before your heating system dies out — and as you shop around for a furnace replacement.

Choose the right size furnace for optimal efficiency.

  • The right size furnace will produce and distribute heat more evenly throughout your home.
  • A furnace that’s too small won’t be able to heat your home during the colder months, whereas a furnace that’s too large for your space will likely cost more and waste energy.
  • Choose a furnace with size specifications that meet your space. A reputable contractor can help calculate this number.
  • Check the annual fuel-utilization-efficiency (AFUE) rating to determine how efficient a gas furnace is — a larger number (measured in a percentage) reflects a more efficient furnace.

Consider green appliances and watch your utility bills go down.

  • Modern furnaces generally pollute less than older models.
  • A new furnace can help offset previously high energy bills, as they are now manufactured to be more energy-efficient.

How long does an air conditioning system last?

Typically, the most reliable air conditioning systems last an average of 15 years, assuming the air conditioner is used for about five months out of the year. With this in mind, it remains important for homeowners to properly maintain their air conditioning systems in order to optimize the lifespan of the device.

To keep your home comfortable and cool throughout the warmer months, it’s necessary to invest in a quality air conditioning system. And you’ll want to know the common signs that your air conditioner needs to be replaced before your current system goes out.

Signs that an air conditioning system needs to be replaced

If you have an aging air conditioning system, look out for key signs that your air conditioner needs to be replaced. In addition to reaching the 15-year-mark, your air conditioning system could be hinting at replacement with these signals:

  • Growing energy bills
  • Repair or spare parts cost nearly half the amount of a new air conditioner
  • Uncomfortable temperature or uneven air distribution
  • Strange noises like grinding or squealing
  • Unusual smells from dust or mold buildup
  • Poor indoor air quality

What to know if you’re replacing your air conditioning system

Modern air conditioners are built to last, which could result in a longer lifespan than their older counterparts. If you’re ready to switch over to a newer air conditioner, be sure to consider these central air conditioning insights.

Find an air conditioner that meets your home’s requirements.

  • As with a new furnace, you’ll want to select an air conditioning system that is the right size for your house. (Keep in mind that because of technology advancements, it may not be the same-sized system that you already have.)
  • You might purchase a smaller air conditioner if your home is more efficient than it used to be, or you may need to invest in a larger air conditioning system if you’ve made home additions.

Negotiate an air conditioning maintenance plan.

  • All air conditioners require regular inspections and occasional services.
  • Settle on a repair discount or warranty agreement when getting a quote for your new air conditioning system.

Don’t just replace your air conditioner, upgrade it!

  • Search for a more efficient air conditioning system to cool your home and relieve your wallet.
  • A higher SEER (seasonal energy-efficiency rating) typically indicates lower energy costs; aim for an air conditioner with a SEER of 15 or more.
  • To further minimize your energy bills, program a smart thermostat to work in conjunction with your air conditioning unit. Adjust your temperature to a warmer setting during work or school hours, when your home is unoccupied.

Ready to protect your systems (and your sanity)?

Your home systems provide necessary comforts to allow you to enjoy your living space year-round. But when your furnace, central air or water heater go out, it can cause stress and financial strain.

To better protect against unexpected repairs or replacement costs, you may want to consider a home warranty. Reach out if you’d like to be put in touch with a warranty expert from Edina Realty who can help you keep your home protected — and your mind at ease.

Tips for opening your cabin or lake home after a long winter

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Key insights

  • Check your insurance, registration and utilities before heading up for the first cabin weekend of the year.
  • Know what to look for before you turn on systems, appliances and electricity after a long winter away.
  • Spend a few hours taking inventory of all the basics you’ll need to enjoy a perfect season on the water.

You’ve been looking forward to it all dreary winter and now the time has come to open up your cabin for the spring and summer! Follow these insights to get your lake home in peak warm-weather condition, while still leaving time to enjoy those first perfect weeks of cabin season.

opening lake home infographic

Make a plan before you leave home

While it can be tempting to wing it, it’s best to give this first weekend a little bit of thought. Don’t forget to:

  • Call to turn on any services you shut off over the winter, including electricity, water and trash collection.
  • Check the insurance policies on your lake home and boat. Contact your insurance company if you’ve purchased a new jet ski, boat or wave runner that you’d like to insure — or to confirm your policy has been renewed for 2020.
  • Check your boating registration and renew it if necessary. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, watercraft licenses must be renewed every three years.
  • In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, you’ll need a fishing license if you’re 16+ and plan to catch your dinner. Be sure to renew your license before you head out with your rod and reel.
  • If you plan to put in a dock, and you need help, call your crew a few weeks in advance to see if they’re available.

Focus on systems and safety

After a long winter away, you’ll need to be sure that your home is safe to inhabit again before you turn on your water and other systems.

  • Check the furnace and put in a new filter.
  • Check pipes for rust or damage before you turn on your plumbing and water heater. If you’re not sure what to look for, hire a plumber to do a basic assessment.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of critters. Check screens and windows for holes and gaps, electrical cords for fraying or bite marks and cupboards, pantry and other areas for mouse activity.
  • Inspect your deck and eaves for signs of rotting.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test and replace the batteries in motion sensor lights on the front door, deck and on the way down to the lake. If you don’t have motion sensors, consider adding them for extra safety.

Check in on basic necessities

Whether you’ll spend the whole summer or special weekends at your lake home, you’ll want to be sure it’s stocked with the basics. Run a quick inventory review before heading to the store for replenishments.

  • Go through your pantry and throw out any expired food, as well as anything that looks like it may have been subjected to a critter invasion.
  • Turn on the refrigerator and freezer for several hours before stocking it with perishable items.
  • Check that you’re stocked up on sunscreen and bug spray. Remember that sunscreen lasts at its original potency for up to three years. If you’re not sure when your bottles were purchased, buy a new set and label the purchase date so you can avoid tossing out bottles in the future.
  • Check the stock of your bathroom toiletries. To save money and stay green, buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash in bulk bottles rather than using travel samples.

Plan for next year

Even with the best-laid plans, you’re likely to forget the exact size of batteries you need, or the magic solution that helps spruce up your rusty showerhead. At the end of your first weekend up north, write out a cabin-opening supplies checklist that you can use for years to come. Include:

  • Battery sizes for smoke, carbon monoxide and outdoor motion detectors
  • Furnace and air filter specifics
  • Vacuum bag sizes
  • Tools you need to check or turn on specific systems
  • Rags and cleaning cloths
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Toiletry basics
  • Critter traps or deterrents

You’ll thank yourself next year when your organizational habits give you even more time on the lake on that first perfect cabin weekend.

Hoping to buy a lake home this summer?

Buyers don’t want to miss one day on the water, and the market is already heating up! Get in touch today to start narrowing down the perfect lake for your recreational needs.

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.

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