How do I know it’s the right time to refinance?

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Key insights:

  • As rates continue to drop, more and more borrowers will refinance in 2021.
  • Homeowners who purchased as recently as last year may benefit from refinancing to today’s rates.
  • Everyone’s finances and loan terms are different, but there are simple charts that can help you determine if refinancing could be a smart move.

Why are homeowners refinancing in 2021?

Feel like everyone is talking about refinancing their mortgage? You’re not imagining it — as mortgage interest rates have continued to dip lower and lower, many homeowners are finding that they can save money by refinancing their mortgage to lower their interest rate.

In fact, a homebuyer with a FICO score of 750 who borrowed $300,000 at an interest rate with a 30 year fixed rate mortgage of 3.625% (APR 3.685) in 2019 may find that they could save $143/month and just over $ 1,716 per year by refinancing at today’s current rates.

**Rates subject to change without notice.

Refinance table

Sounds pretty great, right? Now, let’s dive deeper into the numbers to help you assess if refinancing is right for you.

How much lower are today’s rates?

Rates have been quite low over the last few years, so many recent buyers may wonder if refinancing will really help them. And while this is a better question for your mortgage consultant, who can evaluate your exact loan terms and finances, here is a bit of data from Edina Realty Mortgage to help guide you. Edina Realty Mortgage is an affiliate of Edina Realty.

This is what you should know: Due in large part to the economic fallout caused by COVID-19, already-low interest rates have dropped to their lowest levels since at least 1971, when Freddie Mac began tracking them.

Here’s a quick reference to the average interest rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages over the last few years:

  • December 2018: 4.64%
  • December 2019: 3.72%
  • December 2020: 2.68%

In 2021, rates are expected to hold at around 3%.

That means that even if you got the lowest rate when you bought in 2019, refinancing to a currently lower rate may save you money over time.

What would my monthly payment be if I refinanced?

Wondering what your monthly payments could look like? Check below to find a mortgage loan amount comparable to yours, then compare how different interest rates affect what you owe in monthly principal and interest.

Note that green cells represent the average interest rate for 2019; cells in yellow represent near the 2021 levels, thus far, of 3%. The below calculations are based on a 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loan with a 20% down payment.

Monthly Principal and Interest Payment1

Loan Amount

3.0%

3.5%

4.0%

4.5%

5.0%

$200,000

$843

$926

$955

1,013

1,074

$250,000

$1,054

$1,158

$1,194

$1,267

$1,342

$300,000

$1,256

$1,389

$1,423

$1,520

$1,610

$350,000

$1,475

$1,621

$1,671

1,773

$1,879

$400,000

$1,686

$1,852

$1,910

$2,027

$2,147

$450,000

$1,897

$2,084

$2,148

$2,280

$2,416

$500,000

$2,108

$2,245

$2,387

$2,533

$2,684

What are my refinancing options?

Everyone has the same primary motivation when refinancing: to pay less in interest. But keep in mind that there are a few different ways to refinance, depending on your current financial situation. Here are some scenarios for 30-year conventional loans.

Pay it off at the same pace. You don’t have to start fresh with another 30-year mortgage. If you’ve been in your home seven years, for example, you can request a 23-year loan. In the end, you’ll still pay off your loan in 30 total years. With a lower interest rate on your 23-year mortgage, you can either pay less each month or keep your payment the same to get ahead of your payment schedule.

Pay it off faster. When refinancing, you can also switch to a 15 or 20-year loan term. This will typically increase the amount due on the principal each month, but you’ll pay much less in interest over time.

If your primary goal is to lower your monthly payment, you can also restart your 30-year term. You may benefit from a lower monthly payment and lower interest rates, too. Over time, you can use the savings to help fund retirement or school tuition, or you can overpay your mortgage each month to get ahead of your payoff schedule.

How do I know if it’s the right time to refinance?

Your finances are as unique as your fingerprints, so the best way to know if you should refinance is to speak with a mortgage consultant about your current loan and rate, current and long-term financial goals, how long you plan to remain in your home and the best path forward for you.

Keep in mind, though, that even homeowners who purchased as recently as last year could benefit from refinancing due to today’s low rates. If you need help getting in touch with a home mortgage consultant who can assess your finances and walk you through the best next steps, reach out today.

1. Mortgage amounts are based on 30-year fixed rate conforming loans with a 20% down payment. Interest rates are based on current market conditions, are for informational purposes only, are subject to change without notice and may be subject to pricing add-ons related to property type, loan amount, loan-to-value, credit score and other variables.

Examples are provided for educational and illustrative purposes only. The payment amounts do not include homeowners insurance or property taxes, which must be paid in addition to your loan payment. Your actual payment may be higher. This is an illustration and does not reflect your actual loan information, cost or the exact interest rate for which you may qualify. Please contact us for current interest rates. Your loan’s interest rate will depend upon the specific characteristics of the loan transaction and your credit profile up to the time of closing. Estimated closing costs used in the APR calculation are assumed to be paid by the borrower at closing. If the closing costs are financed, the loan, APR and payment amounts will be higher. If the down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance may be required and could increase the monthly payment and APR. Speak with your mortgage consultant for more information regarding the content contained on this page.

All first mortgage products are provided by Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage. (877) 275-1762. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC products may not be available in all areas. Not all borrowers will qualify. Licensed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. Licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner. Also licensed in AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI, WV and WY.

NMLS #75164 (NMLS Consumer Access at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/)

©2021 Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage. All Rights Reserved.

 

Ultimate guide to the 2021 spring Parade of Homes

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Key insights:

  • Visit the Spring Parade of Homes from Feb. 27 through March 28, 2021 and the Remodelers Showcase from March 26 through March 28, 2021.
  • The Parade of Homes showcases hundreds of luxury, Green Path and new construction homes in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota.
  • Bring your mask. Safety precautions will be exercised at the Parade of Homes to keep all visitors safe, and your agent will be your best resource.
  • Partnering with a Realtor when purchasing a new construction home means you have an advocate looking out for your best interests throughout the building process.

With all the extra hours you’re likely spending indoors these days, do you find yourself dreaming up your next home? Have your household needs shifted due to COVID-19? If so, be sure to check out the highly anticipated Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase events safely and in person this spring.

Here are more details you can use as you plan to attend this one-of-a-kind home tour.

What is the Parade of Homes?

Showcasing some of the finest properties in Minnesota, the Parade of Homes inspires homeowners in and around the Twin Cities. This month-long event features 355 brand-new homes and 43 remodeled homes which are free and open to the public

While touring the Parade of Homes, expect to view the ultimate exhibition of luxury, green, high-tech and new construction homes in Minnesota. This event is “where dream homes come true.”

When is the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes?

The 2021 Spring Parade of Homes spans an entire month, allowing viewers ample time to leisurely and carefully explore properties throughout Minnesota. The concluding days of the spring tour will highlight the area’s most beautifully renovated homes with a special Remodelers Showcase.

2021 Spring Parade of Homes:

  • Feb. 27 through March 28, 2021
  • Weekly, Thursday through Sunday
  • Noon-6 p.m.

2021 Spring Remodelers Showcase:

  • March 26 through March 28, 2021
  • One-weekend event, Friday through Sunday
  • Noon-6 p.m.

Get more details on this spring’s Parade of Homes — including special events, free offerings and other upcoming tours.

Taking precautions during COVID-19

In an effort to maintain a comfortable and healthy environment, the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes will take extra safeguards to keep all attendees well. This year’s event has added extra guidelines and precautions, such as:

  • Limiting a maximum of 10 occupants per home model
  • Requiring the use of face masks
  • Maintaining six feet of social distancing
  • Frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces

Along with these safety measures, the Parade of Homes offers complete virtual home tours on available properties. Those interested in continuing a tour of eligible homes from the safety and comfort of your couch can view all the properties offering virtual tours.

Looking for renovation ideas? Visit the Remodelers Showcase

Deepen your Parade of Homes experience by visiting the Remodelers Showcase. This three-day event offers a unique perspective of over 40 remodeled homes in the area, plus the opportunity to converse with local remodelers.

Contractors and architects have thoughtfully remodeled the featured homes to better align with modern living standards — while maintaining original features and honoring the character of the property. Gather insights from these experts, as you may find them beneficial while planning your own home improvements.

Do I need a real estate agent for new construction?

Yes, it is to your advantage to work with a REALTOR® as you tour the Parade of Homes or build a brand-new home. Your agent will be your best resource and advocate throughout your home search. They can explain the steps and timeline, advise on key decisions, and help with negotiations or other challenges that may arise.

When starting your Parade of Homes experience with your Realtor, you can rest assured that you have an expert guiding you as you navigate the unique path of a new construction purchase. And if you don’t bring your Realtor with you on the Parade of Homes, you’ll still want to mention to potential developers that you are already working with an agent.

Partnering with a local Realtor may be especially beneficial this year, as your agent will advocate for you during COVID-19. Not only will your agent understand the norms of today’s unique housing market, but will also be current with important safety procedures throughout the purchase process.

Are you ready to make your move?

If you’re feeling inspired by the 2021 Spring Parade of Homes, now is the time to move forward. Reach out today to discuss how you’d like to approach and visit the Parade of Homes. Together, we can find the right new construction home or the inspiration you need to renovate your home and make it into a true showcase property.

Spring break staycation ideas for stir-crazy parents and kids

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Key insights:

  • Plan experiences around your hometown this spring break for ultimate family fun.
  • Explore a familiar space in new ways. Movie marathons, camping and archeology activities are all options!
  • Local organizations and events are taking special precautions to safeguard against COVID-19. When attending events, remember to wear your mask or choose virtual options.

This year, many families are opting to stay in town for spring break. But time out of school doesn’t have to be uneventful just because you’re at home. There’s plenty to do right in the vicinity of your home town. Plus, a staycation lets you relax in the comfort of your home while exploring nearby areas that you may not usually have the time to discover.

If you’re starting to feel a bit stir crazy with all of the time spent at home this year, we have you covered! Here we’ve gathered new ideas — both in-person and virtual — to help you explore and experience your community and its offerings in a fresh way.

Nine fun spring break “staycation” activities

#1. Enjoy virtual storytimes. Make storytime part of your staycation routine! Whether you start your day with a story or opt for a post-lunch quiet time with a reading, virtual storytimes are a fun and free resource.

The Dakota County Library offers a variety of virtual storytime opportunities for young ones to participate in from home. For example, the library’s Facebook page hosts virtual events to support early literacy, highlight history and share culture. The YouTube channel has additional resources and activities for children and their families.

#2. Explore a smaller town near you. Have everyone jump in the car and pop over to a main street with small-town charm. Stillwater, Hudson and Red Wing are all great options. After you’ve enjoyed the drive as a family (maybe playing road trip games along the way), warm up in local cafes and window shop. For an extra special treat, give each of your kids some pocket cash to spend however they’d like at one of the kitschy shops.

#3. Learn from home with the Science Museum of Minnesota. Although the Science Museum of Minnesota is taking precautions due to COVID-19 and is temporarily closed, they still offer a variety of online community resources. Take a day to virtually explore the museum through at-home activities that inspire kids to learn about archaeology, have conversations about race or even build an at-home alligator nest.

#4. Have a movie marathon! Get the entire family together to set up a movie marathon at home. Stock the pantry with favorite movie snacks and candies then set up a cozy area to enjoy the movie. Film series such as Harry Potter, The Incredibles or Star Wars are popular family movie choices, and choosing a film franchise to start and finish might help it feel a bit more like an event.

#5. Schedule a virtual get together. Host a virtual dinner party or play date to break up your staycation. Start by sending a virtual invite to your friends or long-distance family members and set up a time to connect. You might plan the event around a meal, game, certain talking points or just a casual conversation.

#6. Camp out (or in)! If you’re in the mood for a cozy night at home, stay in and camp out at your house. Put up a tent (or makeshift fort) in your living room or basement and play camp. You can get a fire going in the fireplace, make s’mores, share campfire stories and have everyone sleep in the same room. For an added element of fun, set an alarm to search for the Northern Lights or stargaze.

#7. Attend a virtual art class or performance. During this unpredictable time, the Minnesota Conservancy for the Arts is offering a handful of virtual classes and access to online performances. Whether you’re interested in enrolling in private music lessons or joining a doodle club, there are plenty of options that cater to everyone’s creativity and skill level.

#8. Plan your “perfect” day. Everyone has different ideas of what the perfect vacation, or staycation, entails. Challenge an older kid to come up with day plans that meet a specific budget, think $30 to $50. Have them plan in advance, so you can help them finalize the details of the day. This exercise will help ensure kiddos can do what they hope throughout the staycation, and it’s a great exercise to practice staying “on budget.”

#9. Visit the zoo. Create a sense of adventure during your staycation by spending the day exploring the zoo. By offering ticketed-only entry, local zoos are taking special precautions against COVID-19 while safely sharing fun learning activities. Make a reservation at the Como Zoo or Minnesota Zoo, or visit their websites for digital programming that brings the animals right to your living room.

Ready, set, go!

Before spring break starts, try to tie up any loose ends that you may have with work or school responsibilities. Then relax and enjoy your spring break! Moving forward, add a few of these experiences to your spring break agenda. Not only are they a blast, but they’ll help foster positive family bonding.

13 best lakes for ice fishing in Minnesota and western Wisconsin

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Whether you’re a first-timer or you’ve ice fished your whole life, find a frozen honey hole in this list of the 13 best lakes for ice fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Ice fishing season: When is the best time to go?

Living in a chilly climate provides an entire season of winter fishing. Throughout the wintry months, typically between December and March, frozen lakes can be fished. However, ice conditions differ every year, and they influence the safety, enjoyment and results of ice fishing.

Additionally, you may have better luck catching certain fish during specific times of the year. For example, walleye and northern pike tend to be active at the beginning of ice fishing season, whereas fishers may have better luck with Saugers later in the season. More information on the best time to go ice fishing in Minnesota — and catch specific fish — can be found here.

When does ice fishing start?

The ice fishing season typically begins in December. With that being said, shifting and melting ice can create safety concerns. It’s important to stay current with ice conditions every time you fish.

When is the last day of ice fishing season?

Ice fishing season usually ends in March. However, the exact date varies by location and ice conditions. Lakes in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin tend to remain safe for ice fishing for a few weeks longer than those in the southern parts of each state.

13 best ice fishing lakes in Minnesota and western Wisconsin

Typically, northern waters offer a more rural experience and deeper water, whereas the southern and metro lakes may be more accessible for a quick ice fishing trip. Additionally, fishers may have the opportunity to catch larger fish in northern lakes, thanks to the geography of the area. Individuals fishing in central to southern areas may find themselves catching a variety of smaller panfish.

In western Wisconsin, you’ll be shouting “flag up!” and watching everything from panfish to sturgeon and walleye by heading south to the La Crosse area or north to Hayward.

If you’re asking where is the best ice fishing near me?, we have you covered. These are the 13 best ice fishing lakes to explore in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Best northern Minnesota ice fishing lakes

  • Lake Winnibigoshish
  • Upper Red Lake
  • Lake Vermillion
  • Lake Bemidji
  • Zippel Bay

Best central Minnesota ice fishing lakes

  • Oak Lake

Best southern Minnesota ice fishing lakes

  • Lake Pepin

Twin Cities / Minneapolis and St. Paul ice fishing lakes

  • Lake Elmo
  • Lake Harriet
  • Lake Phalen

Best northwestern Wisconsin ice fishing lakes

  • Dairyland Reservoir
  • Nelson Lake

Best west central Wisconsin ice fishing lakes

  • Lake Onalaska

Best lakes for ice fishing in northern Minnesota

Best ice fishing lakes in Minnesota

Lake Winnibigoshish

  • Located on the Leech Lake Reservation
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike and perch

Lake Winnibigoshish is the fifth largest lake in the state. The expansive lake reaches depths of 78 feet. Within an hour drive of the lake, fishers enjoy communities such as Bemidji, Cass Lake, and Grand Rapids. These towns host a variety of tourist and family-oriented activities, including historical sites, movie theaters, restaurants, casinos, gift shops and more.

A handful of lodging options are available near Lake Winnibigoshish, including Becker’s Resort, Four Seasons Resort and McArdle’s Resort. If you’re trekking to Lake Winnibigoshish from afar, book a weekend trip to reconnect with nature and relax in northern Minnesota.

Upper Red Lake

  • Located on the Red Lake Reservation, near Kelliher
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike and crappie

Upper Red Lake is one of the best ice fishing destinations in northern Minnesota, especially for those interested in catching walleye. Although Upper Red Lake is a relatively large body of water, it only reaches a maximum depth of 15 feet. The shallow structure of the lake, combined with a sand and mud bottom, create an accessible fishing experience where almost everyone is guaranteed a catch.

Looking to book a stay in the Upper Red Lake? Beacon Harbor Resort, <href="https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/park.html?id=sra00308#homepage" target="_blank">Big Bog State Recreation Area and West Wind Resort are great options in the area. Additionally, Red Lake Ice Fishing Rentals and Resort offers sleeper ice house rentals, which allow you to experience ice fishing at its finest and to its fullest!

Lake Vermilion

  • Located in Cook and Tower, Minnesota
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike, perch and crappie

Lake Vermilion is named after the French translation of Onamuni, an Ojibwe word that translates to“lake of the sunset glow.” This beautiful lake is popular for fishing and other nearby attractions, including the Bois Forte Heritage Center, Fortune Bay Casino and the Howard Wagoner Ski Trail Center.

When staying in the Cook or Tower areas, lodging options include Everett Bay Lodge, Fortune Bay Resort and Glenmore Resort.

Lake Bemidji

  • Located in Bemidji, Minnesota
  • Popular for walleye, perch, crappie and bass

Lake Bemidji is a favorite destination for fishing families across the state. It’s also home to many local restaurants and boutiques. Throughout the snowy winter, the area has plenty of character and feels like a cozy village.

Make a complete trip out of your fishing plans on Lake Bemidji. Lodging ranges from well-known hotels to quaint lodges. To book your stay, check out Visit Bemidji’s roundup of lodging options.

Zippel Bay

  • Located in Williams, Minnesota
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike, perch and sauger

Be sure to make a northern Minnesota ice fishing trip to Zippel Bay, one of the best walleye ice fishing lakes in Minnesota. In addition to being an ice fishing hot spot, Zippel Bay State Park in Williams is home to year-round recreation like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more.

A big draw to the area is the Igloo Bar, a bar located on the ice of Zippel Bay. Simply drive on the marked ice road to the ice bar, and you’re bound to have a fun time. Book a stay near Zippel Bay at Zippel Bay Resort, Lyon Sleepers or Sportsman’s Lodges.

Best lakes for ice fishing in central Minnesota

Best lakes for ice fishing in central Minnesota

Oak Lake

  • Located in Kerrick Township
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike and perch

Oak Lake is a popular ice fishing destination situated in the middle of the state. Whether you’re interested in a daylong fishing trip or you’re planning to head farther north, stop to ice fish on Oak Lake. Planning to stay for the weekend or overnight? Check out nearby accommodations such as the Moose Lake Lodge and Suites and Oak Lake Campground, and be sure to head to Pine City for shopping and dining.

Best lakes for ice fishing in southern Minnesota

Best lakes for ice fishing in southern Minnesota

Lake Pepin

  • Located in Frontenac, Minnesota
  • Popular for walleye, northern pike and crappie

Situated on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin, Lake Pepin’s vast span is dotted with dozens of ice fishing hot spots. Along with fishing, the 26-mile stretch of community around Lake Pepin is filled with incredible eateries and shopping destinations. Additional draws are the local Cheese Factory and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Museum.

Whether you plan a quick day trip to Lake Pepin or stay for the weekend, you’re bound to catch fish and have plenty to explore in Frontenac. If booking a stay, be sure to check out John Hall’s Alaska Lodge, Camp Lacupolis or head to nearby Red Wing additional overnight options, shopping and dining.

Best lakes for ice fishing near the Twin Cities

Best lakes for ice fishing in the Twin Cities

Lake Elmo

  • Located in Lake Elmo, Minnesota
  • Popular for northern pike, perch and bluegill

Just a short drive from the metro area, Lake Elmo offers a rural appearance and wonderful fishing experience. Visitors are likely to catch northern pike along with a range of panfish. The area is also known for the Lake Elmo Park Reserve, and is close enough for most visitors to ice fish near Minneapolis.

Lake Harriet

  • Located in Minneapolis, MN
  • Popular for walleye, perch and crappie

Located in the metro, Lake Harriet is a great ice fishing lake near Minneapolis. This lake is accessible to many nearby residents and it offers a variety of family-friendly winter events. Whether you’re interested in ice fishing, winter markets, nearby ice skating or snowshoeing, Lake Harriet is the ideal destination. After you complete your fishing, head into Linden Hills Village to warm up with a cup of coffee, lunch or some light shopping.

Lake Phalen

  • Located in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Popular for northern pike, perch and crappie

This popular lake holds a variety of fish and is a top choice for metro area fishers. The nearby Phalen Regional Park features a hockey rink, skating rink and cross country ski trail for everyone to enjoy after ice fishing.

Whether you live nearby and can make a day trip or you’re visiting the area for the weekend, Lake Phalen is a great destination for fishers and other outdoor lovers.

Best lakes for ice fishing in northwestern Wisconsin

Dairyland Reservoir

  • Located in Rusk County, Wisconsin
  • Popular for panfish and walleye, with potential for bass, pike and sturgeon

Get ready to yell, “Flag up!” if you head to the Dairyland Reservoir, an 1,800-acre waterway located on the Flambeau River. The reservoir, also known as the Dairyland Flowage, is ranked one of the top spots for catching the most fish per hour in the state.

If you’re planning to stay for a long weekend, consider Flater’s Resort in Holcombe or the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in nearby Ladysmith.

Nelson Lake

  • Located just north of Hayward, Wisconsin
  • Popular for bluegills and crappies

Ice fishing novices might want to head to Nelson Lake, a popular flowage known for its abundance of panfish. Game and Fishing Magazine has noted that technology like fish finders don’t seem to help fishers on this northwestern lake all that much; instead, the best bet to reel in more bluegills or crappies is to keep changing up your bait until you find one that gets them biting.

If you’ll be staying overnight, check out Nelson Lake Lodge or the Tall Pines Resort, both of which are located right on Nelson Lake.

Best lakes for ice fishing in west central Wisconsin

Lake Onalaska

  • Located in La Crosse County, Wisconsin
  • Popular for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike and walleye

Ice fishing enthusiasts shouldn’t overlook Lake Onalaska, an 8,400-acre reservoir located on the Black River and Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Anglers who also wish to do some shopping, dining or other non-fishing activities can head to nearby La Crosse for small-town fun.

 If you’re looking for an overnight stay, consider Clearwater Cabins or one of the many properties listed on direct rental sites like VRBO or Airbnb.

More tips and advice for ice fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin

Although similar to summer fishing, ice fishing does have a unique set of safety considerations and tools you’ll need to pick up. If you’re in the market to ice fish this winter, here are some common questions along with their answers.

How thick does the ice need to be for ice fishing to be safe?

Safety is of utmost importance while ice fishing. To be safe, ice must reach a certain level of thickness before it can be traversed to fish. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends the following ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice:

  • Under 4”: Stay off
  • 4”: Ice fishing on foot
  • 4”–7”: Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8”-12”: Car or small pickup
  • 12”-15”: Medium truck

Fresh ice is stronger than white ice or “snow ice.” If the ice is not newly formed, it is necessary to double the above thickness guidelines. Follow these ice tips from the DNR to learn more about ice guidelines or to check ice thickness.

Driving on the ice

When it comes to driving on the ice, there are additional considerations to keep in mind. In addition to ensuring ice thickness, you’ll want to follow these recommendations:

  • Cars should be parked at least 50 feet apart
  • Vehicles should be moved every two hours
  • Drive slowly (typically under 25 mph)
  • Drive with windows rolled down

What do I need for gear and clothing?

When ice fishing, you’ll want to keep warm in all of your typical winter outdoor gear. In addition to the standard jacket and boots, you’ll also want some gear specific to ice fishing. This list is a great starting place when determining what gear you need to ice fish:

  • Fishing rod, reel, line, lures and bait
  • Heater
  • Ice auger
  • Ice fishing scoop
  • Ice picks
  • Ice shelter
  • Chair

Taking shelter in ice houses

You can find a variety of ice fishing shelters on the market, including:

  • Pop-up ice fishing tent
  • Flip style shelter
  • Portable ice cabins
  • Aluminum fish house
  • Travel trailer

When choosing which ice house is best for you, be sure to think about ice shelter licensing and identification requirements in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Best places for ice fishing in Minnesota

Explore the best cities for ice fishing

Now that you’ve located where to ice fish in Minnesota and Wisconsin, it’s time to decide which area you’d like to call home. Whether you’re moving forward with a new home purchase or sale, reach out today to get on the path to your dream house.

What every seller needs to know about selling this winter

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Key insights:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the 2020 spring market, but this winter’s market appears to be hotter than ever.
  • While many homeowners tend to wait until spring to sell, this winter’s fast-moving market proves that buyer demand will continue all year long.
  • Owners of starter homes and lakeshore homes may hold the highest advantages in this winter’s market.

While many homeowners plan to sell in the spring, recent years show that the winter market remains competitive as motivated buyers and sellers work to get to the closing table. This year, the market is as hot as ever, as homeowners and first-time buyers seek properties that can better accommodate the lifestyle changes experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re considering selling and not sure how to time it right, read on. This analysis of our local market will help you determine if you should sell your Minnesota or western Wisconsin home this winter.

A snapshot of our local market

First, let’s look at what home sellers are experiencing across our 13-county metro area. According to the Northstar MLS, local home prices have been steadily rising over the last year. In November 2020, metro-area homes sold for a median price of $302,500 — a year-over-year increase of 8%.

Moreover, the market doesn’t show any signs of slowing as the winter months set in. The number of days on the market before selling has been dropping since July; in November, homes in the metro sold in a median of 19 days, which is the shortest time frame recorded in more than 10 years.

In short, sellers are still benefiting from high prices and fast-moving buyers. But there’s a lot of variance that these generalized stats don’t highlight, so let’s dive into how specific segments of the market are operating.

Selling a waterfront home this winter

Twin Cities lakeshore homeowners may find that high demand helps them to sell their homes in record time. Even in the fall months, when lakeshore home sales tend to drop, private waterfront homes in our 16-county metro area sold in 28 days in November. That’s the lowest median time on market in the 10 years of data we have on hand.

Here’s another unusual stat: Prices for metro lakeshore homes were rising steadily in the beginning of 2020, and have been surging since June — likely as everyone began to recognize how long COVID-19 may impact their ability to seek entertainment outside the home. Since June, lakeshore home prices have risen from a median price of $400,000 to nearly $430,000. For these numbers to continue rising even into the fall months is fairly unprecedented and indicates that this may continue to be a strong market segment this winter.

Selling a luxury home this winter

Over the last year, luxury home prices in the Twin Cities metro have been hovering between $625,000-$630,000. Meanwhile, the days on market for these homes has fallen from 46 days to 34 days over the same period of time.

This is interesting, because it shows that there is still plenty of buyer interest in the higher price points — but that interest isn’t leading to significant changes in pricing for these homes.

If you’re thinking of selling a home that would be listed for more than $500,000, you may be smart to put your home on the market while this trend of fast-moving buyers persists.

Selling a starter home this winter

For years, there has been a shortage of starter homes on the market, and that trend continues today. Starter homes — or those priced under $250,000 — have been selling in about 20 days for the last two years. That number trended even lower, to 18 days, in November.

Meanwhile, the inventory of starter homes dropped 24% year-over-year, so first-time homebuyers desperately need more starter homes to come on the market this winter. These buyers aren’t hoping for a deal or a discount; they’re currently paying 100% of the listing price at closing.

If you’ve been thinking of moving to a larger home, this winter may be a great time to sell your starter home and move up.

What happens next?

We’ve broken out a few different market segments, but each home is different. Homes on the same block may even have vastly different conditions and values. To sell your home fast and for a fair price, reach out today. Together, we can evaluate your property’s current value and put you on the path to selling success.

Based on information from the REGIONAL MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OF MINNESOTA, INC for the period November 1, 2020, through November 30, 2020.

How to host an amazing virtual housewarming party

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Key insights:

  • Send a virtual invite for your online housewarming party. Guests will appreciate your consistency for keeping everything digital.
  • Virtual housewarming parties can still have gift registries. Best practices include practical gift options for every budget.
  • Have fun while connecting with others and showing off your new space. Home-related games and other entertainment options will keep your virtual party fun and flowing.

Purchasing a home requires a large investment of time, money and emotions. And once you’ve secured your property and made it your own, you’ll be excited to share it with others!

If you’re ready to host a housewarming party but unsure how to go about it virtually, look no further. Here are insights you can use to showcase your new home via video messaging app.

How to host an amazing virtual housewarming party

During these unprecedented times, virtual classes, meetings and yes — housewarming parties — are the new norm. Housewarming parties are important and many benefits can still be gained, even through a virtual gathering.

To help you prepare for this online event, here’swe’re sharing everything you need to know about hosting and attending virtual housewarming parties.

What is a housewarming party?

After moving into a new residence, it’s tradition to host a housewarming party. At the event, you can celebrate your new home with guests — including loved ones, community members, and those who are eager to learn more about your new space.

Not only is a housewarming party the perfect time to showcase your home, but there are also plenty of other benefits, including:

  • Receiving useful house-related gifts.
  • Time to connect with people you care about.
  • The opportunity to talk with new neighbors.
  • The incentive to fully unpack and maintain a tidy home.
  • A dedicated time to notify important contacts of your new address.

What is a virtual housewarming party?

A virtual housewarming party aims to complete the same goals as any other housewarming party. However, attendees for a virtual housewarming party don’t have to be local to your town. There are a handful of pros and cons for this kind of event.

Pros: Virtual housewarming party

  • Guests can tune in from anywhere in the world
  • A COVID-friendly approach to socializing
  • No need for post-party cleanup
  • Cost-effective, as money won’t be spent on food or drinks

Cons: Virtual housewarming party

  • Gifts, if given, must be mailed
  • Potential for technical difficulties or glitches

homeowner on zoom call

Why go virtual for your housewarming party?

During these times especially, health and safety concerns are a driving force behind virtual housewarming parties. Here we’re sharing some of the additional reasons someone might choose to go virtual instead of in-person for their housewarming party.

Reasons to go virtual:

  • Join from anywhere: The most incredible thing about improved technology is its ability to connect people. With a virtual housewarming party, you can invite anyone to join from anywhere in the world. If you have family in another state or a dear friend who lives abroad, a virtual housewarming party is a great way to include them in an event they would have otherwise missed.
  • Health-conscious event: Currently, states have varying rules regarding traveling and socializing. With an online event, it isn’t necessary to coordinate a gathering through a pandemic.
  • Minimal prep and cleanup time: After moving into a new home, you will likely be exhausted from a week or more of cleaning and unpacking. By hosting a virtual open house, you can show off your hard work — without having to worry about the cleanup when the party concludes.
  • Technology makes it simple: Many video conference systems are free and accessible to everyone. Just download the app of your choosing on your phone, give it a quick test in advance, and you’ll be good to go!
  • Save money: After your tenth trip to the store for a broom, closet storage solutions and other new home necessities, you may be a bit strapped for cash. A virtual housewarming party allows you to save money on food, drinks and other party supplies that can add up as the guest list grows.

Homeowner on Facetime call

How to throw a virtual party

Now is the time to plan your virtual housewarming party! Don’t sweat it if you’ve never thrown an online event before. These simple steps will help teach you how to throw a virtual housewarming party that’s entertaining and free of snags.

Virtual housewarming party

Choose a streaming platform

When sorting out how to host a housewarming party, deciding on a streaming platform will be of utmost importance. For a successful video call, choose a trusted website or app that has quality video performance.

Keep in mind, these are some important things to consider when choosing a platform for your online housewarming party:

  • Can everyone see each other on the screen at the same time?
  • Does the platform provide both audio and chat boxes?
  • How many people can join the event?
  • Is the platform free?
  • How secure is the service?
  • Does the service have a mobile app?

Some popular video conferencing apps and streaming platforms that would be perfect for your online party include:

Create a registry (if you want)

Going virtual doesn’t affect whether or not you can receive or request gifts. If you do choose to create a registry, it’s most tasteful to include registry information outside of your primary event invitation. Opt to spread the word about gifts via word of mouth or on your online calendar details for the event.

If you’re looking to lighten the financial load of your new home, here are some ideas to include in your registry:

  • Bedroom, bathroom and kitchen linens
  • Glassware for your kitchen and bar
  • Throw pillows and other decor pieces
  • Houseplants
  • Grilling or gardening accessories
  • Common household tools
  • Storage containers and organizers
  • Gift cards to home goods stores

Virtual housewarming gift ideas

Best practices for housewarming registries

In addition to making sure that your registry isn’t the focal point of your virtual housewarming party invite, be sure to:

  • List gifts at various price points.
  • Create the registry plenty of time in advance.
  • Include both functional items you may need and fun items you want.

Virtual housewarming gift

How to ask for gift cards on a housewarming invitation

It can be tricky to ask for gifts, and it can be even more difficult to find the right balance when you are seeking gift cards. Many registry sites now have the option to include gift cards in various amounts to the registry itself, which will make it obvious to party-goers that you are hoping for some funds to home improvement, paint or big box stores. Use this feature if and when it’s available, to help you avoid direct conversations about gift cards.

You can also write up a short list of places where you’d like to shop for your home. Send this list to anyone who directly asks for gift ideas. By simply saying, “I am getting ready to paint the master bathroom, so I would love some brushes or funds for my next Sherwin Williams visit,” you can make it feel less awkward to ask for cash or a gift card.

Do I have to create a housewarming registry?

If you don’t want to receive physical gifts, consider directing would-be gift givers to a local charity dedicated to housing-related issues. Make it clear that you have all you need but they are welcome to help others instead.

If you’d like to avoid the conversation about gifts all together, simply state in your invitation that you are hoping for their presence, not their presents. You may still receive a few gifts from family or friends who want to celebrate your new purchase — but they will come out of excitement, not obligation.

Invite your guests

Considering how to throw a virtual party and what are some important considerations when it comes to creating invitations? Start by determining who you plan to invite to your housewarming party. Then, organize the invites and send them through.

When inviting guests to a virtual party, opt for an online invitation. In this case, an online invitation or evite is a better option than a physical card. Because the event will be held online, this provides consistency for guests. Plus, just like the virtual housewarming party itself, guests will have the ability to access their online invite details from anywhere and anytime — and, it’s less likely that they lose their invite information.

Email on phone

Decide on entertainment

It may be fun to offer different entertainment options for a virtual party. It can also be helpful to plan housewarming party games, new home party music, and conversation prompts so that your event has a bit of structure and offers a chance for everyone to participate.

When it comes to entertainment for a virtual party, some popular housewarming game ideas include:

  • New town trivia
  • House-themed bingo or word finds
  • New house scavenger hunt
  • Guided virtual tour through the new home

Housewarming party games and ideas should be organized in advance. Make sure you give yourself time to adequately prepare for the type of entertainment that you pick, and don’t be shy when it comes to asking for help in this department.

Trivia night

Prepare your space

Showing your house to friends and family is the whole point of a housewarming party. This can easily be done virtually. Simply complete a live walkthrough of your home during the video call, starting at the front door or entryway.

Be sure to point out your favorite features or spaces of the house — whether they’re the built-ins where you’ve stored your prized book collection or the basement where you’ve set up your new gaming headquarters. Your housewarming party guests will love to see how you’ve put your own spin on your new space.

What is proper housewarming party etiquette?

Proper housewarming party etiquette exists, even for virtual events. When you host your online housewarming party, it’s extra important to consider theses best practices for the:

  • Timing
  • Guest list
  • Duration
  • Registry

Homeowners in a virtual housewarming party Zoom call

When should you have a housewarming party?

Moving homes is a big transition. There’s no reason to rush to have a housewarming party immediately after you’ve moved. However, it’s typically suggested that you host your virtual housewarming event within six months to a year of your move-in date.

Family attending a virtual housewarming party

Who should you invite?

Seeing as your housewarming party will likely be a virtual event, you may have some new concerns and considerations when creating a guest list. Determine whether you’d rather have an intimate party of close friends and family members, or if you’d prefer to also invite acquaintances, coworkers, new neighbors and community members.

Each option is perfectly acceptable for virtual housewarming parties. Just be sure to make everyone feel included on the day of the housewarming event — and to select a platform that can accommodate your entire guest list.

Virtual housewarming party Facetime call

should a housewarming party last?

Unlike in-person events where people can come and go as they please, virtual events may have a designated time allotment (or time limit depending on which provider you use). In this case, etiquette for a housewarming party will require you to be considerate of your guest’s time while also making space to do things like play virtual games or host your quick virtual tour.

The smartest plan is to pre-determine times for specific events, and include them so attendees can plan to tune in for the events or party elements they’re most interested in. (After all, your Aunt Sally may want to join in for the tour and leave before you start blasting your party playlist.)

Here’s a sample schedule you can tweak for your event:

  • 7 p.m. — Party starts
  • 7:30 p.m. — Virtual tour of the new pad
  • 7:45 p.m. — My new town trivia game
  • 8:15 p.m. — Virtual dance party

Keep in mind that some platforms may require you to set a start and end time. In that case, opt for a longer period of time than you’ll need, so that the system doesn’t kick anyone out if your event runs long. Make it clear that everyone is free to come and go as they please.

Best time of day for a housewarming party

Wondering when to have a housewarming party? Or if there is an optimal time of day to host a virtual party? While traditional housewarming parties are better suited for weekends, a virtual event can easily be held on a weeknight.

Just be sure to schedule the event outside of work hours so that guests don’t have professional conflicts.

Need help finding your dream home?

Whether you hope to host a virtual housewarming party or wait until you can safely invite your friends and family over for an in-person shindig, you’ll start in the same place: searching for the perfect place to call home.

Reach out today to get expert, one-to-one assistance on your home buying journey.

Decorate your home with the 2021 Color of the Year

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Key insights:

  • The 2021 Colors of the Year are Ultimate Gray, Illuminating, Aegean Teal and Urbane Bronze.
  • Make an impression by staging your home for sale with the Color of the Year that best complements your space.
  • Homebuyers tend to prefer neutral palettes. Consider Illuminating and Aegean Teal in small accent pieces, like pillows or picture frames.

The Color of the Year is an anticipated announcement, providing artists, designers and decorators with an artistic message and muse. The Color of the Year also tends to impact home trends and furnishings, which is especially important for home sellers.

Here are insights you can use as you decorate or stage your home with the 2021 Color of the Year.

The 2021 Colors of the Year

Pantone, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams all announced 2021 Colors of the Year, each with unique hues and selection explanations.

Pantone: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

Both Ultimate Gray, an elemental gray, and Illuminating, a happy yellow, were selected by Pantone to inform the upcoming year. Pantone describes this pair of colors as “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic.”

Benjamin Moore: Aegean Teal

Described by Benjamin Moore as balanced and comforting, Aegean Teal is a soft hue that subtly upgrades any space. Additionally, Benjamin Moore created a palette of colors that harmonize with Aegean Teal, making it easier than ever for homeowners to work with this color trend.

Sherwin Williams: Urbane Bronze

Urbane Bronze is an organic color providing a gentle reminder to slow down and find your sanctuary, whether in nature or elsewhere. At the same time, this hue creates warmth and sophistication in any space, which is perfect for those looking to remodel or sell their home.

Keep in mind, it’s okay that each entity has different colors touted as the Color of the Year. In fact it’s encouraging to witness the variety of perspectives regarding color and design. Having a variety of trend colors gives homeowners more opportunity as they reimagine their spaces.

Selling and staging your home with the 2021 Color of the Year

When selling a home, it’s important to neutralize the space so the future homeowners can imagine themselves living in the area. With that being said, the occasional bright accent or interesting decor piece can add an element of cheer and charm to the space.

Staging your home with Ultimate Gray

Ultimate Gray is a strong yet neutral color that can create a foundation when staging. Placing Ultimate Gray on large surfaces within your space will emphasize its brilliance while maintaining a sense of practicality.

Looking to add some foundational decor pieces to your home while staging and selling? Couches or chairs in Ultimate Gray can provide a solid base for the rest of the space. If you’re ready to pull out the paint brushes, this elemental shade works well on painted tables, wooden furniture and walls that could use a darker-but-neutral hue.

Staging your home with Illuminating

Bright colors are best used sparingly or for highlights that help freshen up a room. Illuminating is an optimistic color that will help you achieve an element of positivity and light in your space.

Some unique ways to incorporate touches of Illuminating throughout your property include accent pieces like picture frames, vases, lampshades, throw pillows or bathroom accessories. If you are really into this uplifting hue, opt for a larger pop of color and include Illuminating within a patterned rug or on your front door.

Staging your home with Aegean Teal

While not as bright as Illuminating, Aegean Teal makes a statement with a softer tone. This balanced hue is a perfect pop of color that is calm enough to cover expansive spaces, such as accent walls, decorative pillows, large art pieces or rugs.

Given its soothing presence, Aegean Teal could also be used in a bedroom. Try staging your master suite with Aegean Teal walls, bedding, lamp, dressers or drawer pulls.

Staging your home with Urbane Bronze

Urbane Bronze is a deep, regal tone that may be best used in a sophisticated home or room, such as a formal dining area or living room. Other placement options for this color include a home office, study or chef’s kitchen.

Get the full effect of Urbane Bronze by situating it near mixed metals or wooden features in your space; this will highlight both the rich bronze color and the earthy elements.

Painting a successful home sale

If you’re ready to sell your home and aren’t sure which colors, designs or trends to incorporate as you prep for the market, get in touch today. From insights on home staging trends to the closing table, you’ll have help every step of the way.

Homeowners: Embrace these 2021 home and design trends

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Key insights:

  • Design experts are predicting a return to bold color, in direct contrast to the white and minimalist palettes of the last few years.
  • Multi-use spaces, including those for at-home learning and working from home, will continue to be a must-have feature.
  • The trend of intentional living — which can affect everything from air quality to homeowner conservation efforts — will become even more prominent.

As we enter 2021, design experts are predicting major shifts across the home landscape. These changes include a return to color and texture, an increased focus on energy efficiency and air quality, and the desire for separated spaces, even within open concept homes.

Whether you’re buying, selling or hoping to revamp your current space to reflect a more modern vibe, here are the trends you can watch for in 2021 and beyond.

2021 interior design trends

If we have all realized anything over the last year of staying close to home, it is that our residences need to be fully livable — and not just Instagram-ready or Pinterest-perfect. While stark white walls and cabinets, modern furniture and clean lines have been en vogue for the last decade, experts believe that the coming years will firmly put an end to the trend of extreme minimalism.

While the majority of homeowners won’t quite embrace full maximalism — which can include a bevy of contrasting colors, textures and patterns within one space — many will begin incorporating more visual interest into their homes through:

  • Rich or unique colors on larger spaces like walls, cabinets and furniture
  • Wallpaper or other patterned elements
  • Texture components, including mixed media art, plush furniture and rough materials such as rattan

Living room with a rich color scheme

By embracing maximalism, homeowners have the opportunity to use mix-and-match furniture (rather than matching sets) and to personalize their decor with art or photography that holds great meaning — even if it doesn’t quite fit one singular aesthetic. It could also mean that vintage and antique shopping becomes even more popular in coming years.

2021 home layout trends

If you’ve come to love your open layout a lot less over the last year, you’re not alone. Due to the increased amount of time spent in the home, many homeowners have been frustrated by the lack of quiet, dedicated spaces their homes have for distance learning or remote work.

While children will return to school and many businesses are set to reopen in 2021, the precedent of at-home work has been set — and will continue to influence how our homes are designed. In the absence of a closed layout, homeowners may shift their living spaces to designate “a quiet room” that can easily operate as a home office, homework space, reading room or for other leisurely activities.

Home architects are also combatting open floor layouts by:

  • Adding master suites that go above and beyond a bed and bath, to include outdoor space or a private indoor seating area.
  • Creating multi-use spaces, such as a dining room that doubles as a work space during the day.
  • Using furniture or partitions (like barn doors) to create flexible, defined zones.

As you might expect, outdoor space — for private use or for entertaining — will continue to be hugely important to homeowners. Whether it’s adding outdoor seating for large summer gatherings or heaters and overhangs that protect from the winter elements, homeowners in Minnesota and western Wisconsin will continue to prioritize and embrace outdoor settings.

2021 energy efficiency and indoor air trends

As consumers become more conscious of their purchases and environmental impact, experts agree that this heightened focus will create new norms around energy, efficiency, and the desire for a healthier indoor air.

These changes could mean major shifts in our home’s systems, as homeowners consider:

  • Renewable energy, including solar panels and batteries that store excess energy for later use
  • Getting an energy efficiency score, which can help recommend improvements to a home
  • Leveraging smart home technology options that reduce energy consumption
  • Improving indoor air quality through weatherization and upgrades to HVAC systems

Solar panels on roof

2021 plant and garden trends

As many homeowners tried to minimize their grocery store visits and stay close to home, it was no surprise when victory gardens made a comeback in the summer of 2020. And now, newbie gardening enthusiasts are taking their green thumbs indoors until spring arrives.

Houseplants are poised to continue their comeback in 2021 and beyond, which aligns with our collective desire for better indoor air quality.

Whether you incorporate one hard-to-kill potted plant in a heavily trafficked room (lest you forget to water it) or transition a four-season porch into a mini-greenhouse for the winter months, rest assured that your houseplant obsession is very on-trend.

House plant wall

In the later winter months, consider growing some flowers or vegetables from seed, so you can transfer them to your outdoor garden once the ground is ready.

Ready for what’s next?

If you’re hoping to buy a home that incorporates some of these design trends, or update your home to match current trends before selling, let’s talk. Together, we can develop a plan that helps you get the highest return on your investment.

2021 market expectations for buyers and sellers

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Key insights

  • In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market has remained an economic bright spot.
  • The full recovery of the economy will be dependent on relief for lower-income workers, and on a vaccine or other developments that allow for shuttered sectors of the economy to reopen.
  • There is no large surge of inventory expected, so sellers can expect continued moderate price appreciation in 2021.
  • Sustained low interest rates will provide a small boost to buyers, who will face low inventory and higher home prices.

Sharry Schmid, president, Edina Realty

As president of Edina Realty, Sharry Schmid provides guidance and direction to nearly 2,400 REALTORS®.

2020 was, of course, a year that no one could have predicted. But while COVID-19 has impacted most industry sectors, the housing market has remained an economic bright spot. Outside of the spring months, when stay-at-home orders led to a significant drop in listings and sales, the market rebounded and remained steady throughout the summer and fall.

As we move into 2021, many are wondering if the real estate market can continue to flourish, and what else we can expect from our local economy. Though this year was a stark reminder that no one has a magic crystal ball to predict the future, we are able to make a few reasonable projections as to what the next year will hold for housing in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Are we in a bubble?

The housing market’s sustained momentum during COVID-19 is in sharp contrast to the economic downturn we experienced a decade ago — leading many to wonder if we are in the midst of a bubble that has yet to burst.

In fact, the reverse may be true. It’s important to remember that today’s lending practices are sound, which wasn’t always the case prior to the previous recession. Homebuyers are evaluated more stringently in their loan application and approved only when their credit, banking history and employment records indicate that they are on strong financial footing. In other words, borrowers today are evaluated not only on if they can afford to pay their mortgage, but if they can do so responsibly and still have money to save or spend on other expenses.

As a result, even despite the instability in our economy at present, we are not experiencing an overwhelming number of forbearances. Forbearance occurs when a borrower is unable to pay their monthly mortgage payment, and they request that their lender allow for temporarily delayed or lowered payments. While a larger-than-usual percentage of homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments at present, the numbers are not yet alarming to housing-focused economists.

If you need to select an image to represent today’s housing market, then, don’t think of a bubble about to burst. Instead, picture a walking stick that is helping the economy limp along, even as other industries and sectors struggle or remain closed altogether.

We’ll be watching the K-shaped recovery

Next, let’s discuss the sectors that are still struggling in the wake of COVID-19. It’s true that some segments of the economy, like housing, remain strong. For hospitality, travel, tourism, restaurants, live entertainment and other service sectors, earnings remain low and unable to rise until the pandemic is under better control.

The result, when you graph the recovery of these varying sectors, is the shape of a “K”. Some industries (and the employees they represent) are on the rise in terms of earning and stability; other sectors are continuing to fall as the months go by.

This inequity is a stark cause for concern; the economy cannot truly recover if a large segment of the population is unable to regain their earning power. It is widely acknowledged that federal and state support for these groups is necessary. We will be watching to see what level of support is offered in the coming months, keeping in mind that a new incoming administration in Washington may have an impact as well.

The future of work (and working from home)

As people spend more time in their homes than ever before, many are reassessing their needs and wants. Whether it’s adding a home office, creating productivity zones for distance learning or moving to the lake home for a few months out of the year, homeowners are embracing change and the need to work virtually.

We expect that most professional workplaces will be more open to flexible work accommodations in the future, meaning that the need for at-home work spaces will continue even after COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror. As we define and refine the future of residential housing, everyone from homeowners to buyers to builders will be keeping these spaces in mind.

What else lies ahead in 2021

  • Inventory: Unless a larger-than-expected number of homeowners default on their mortgage payments and enter foreclosure, we do not anticipate a surge in inventory in 2021. This means that housing inventory, especially in the lower price points, will remain scarce — giving sellers a continued advantage in the market. As they have in the last several years, buyers will compete over fast-selling listings.
  • Home prices: We anticipate that prices will keep rising moderately in 2021, which means that median home prices in our 13-county metro will remain above $300,000 this coming year.
  • Interest rates: While some economists believe rates could fall to an all-time low of 2.5%, most agree that a slowly improving economy will keep rates between 3-3.5%. In either scenario, the low rates will help to offset rising home prices for buyers.
  • New construction: Perhaps surprisingly, builder confidence is at an all-time high. Due to home price appreciation, the gap between existing home prices and the cost of new construction is narrowing. Economists project that the usual 15-20% variance is down to just 5% in our market1. Builders see a unique opportunity to capitalize on this trend, especially as many would-be buyers grow frustrated with a lack of available or affordable inventory meeting their criteria.

Our local economy

  • Employment: At present, Minnesota’s unemployment rate is 4.6%, which is two points lower than the national average. The development of a COVID-19 vaccine or other impactful legislation will be critical to further lowering the employment rate in our market. Still, it is doubtful that we will reach the peak unemployment rate of the pandemic’s early days, which was 9.9% in May 20202.
  • Income: Minnesota’s 2019 median household income was $74,593, which is higher than the U.S. median of $65,712. Wisconsin’s median household income was just shy of the median, at $64,1682.
  • Public transport progress: Construction continues for the projected 14.5 mile Southwest Light Rail Transit project, slated to begin service in 2023. As the communities along the route begin planning for this new mass transit service, we expect a rise in nearby commercial and residential development.

Looking ahead to a brighter 2021

In many ways, 2020 has been a test of strength. We have witnessed immense fortitude from our healthcare and essential workers, resilience from parents, kids and teachers, and ingenuity from businesses, organizations and families.

While this holiday season may not roll out the way you’d pictured it, I remain optimistic that the coming year will be much brighter than the one we are leaving behind. Today and always, I wish you and your family the very best of health, security and happiness.

Source: Zonda, Economist call November 2020.
US Census 1-year American Community Survey, 2019.

Buying? These nearby amenities may increase your home value faster

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Key insights:

  • Your go-to grocery store may carry your favorite hummus and boost your home value, too!
  • Take advantage of living by green spaces. Not only will you enjoy the nearby nature, but parks can also increase the value of your property.
  • Communities with nearby amenities are in high demand; check a property’s WalkScore to see if it is in close proximity to spaces that can drive up home values.

When buying a home, you’ll ask yourself plenty of questions about the property itself. During your home search, be sure to also inquire about the community and surrounding area.

Parks, local shops and other nearby amenities could be an indicator of an up-and-coming area where home prices may rise faster. Here are some insights you can use as you browse for a home that is projected to increase in value.

Buy near these three grocery stores

Would you have guessed that the grocery store nearest to your home has an impact on a home’s price and desirability? It’s true; grocery stores seem to affect the value of nearby homes.

When comparing popular grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Aldi, proximity to Trader Joe’s has shown to be the best for homeowners, and Whole Foods is a close second. Homes located near Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods stores tend to have better returns on investment and buyers of homes close to the stores tend to have more equity in their property.

Interestingly, investors interested in purchasing rental properties may benefit more from a home near Aldi. The average flipping return on investment and home appreciation are highest near Aldi locations.

Nearby parks and trails may increase home values

Research indicates proximity to parks is also linked to an increased home value. Whether a home is adjacent to a hiking trail or in a community with plenty of green space, homeowners in the area will likely see a positive impact in the appreciation of their home value.

For example, a park next to or facing a home will boost property value by 20%, on average. And, home lots bordering suburban wooded areas tend to be 19% to 35% higher in value.

The impact of public transportation

As green homes and other sustainable practices are increasing in popularity, transit access has become an important factor for homebuyers. Interestingly, a Twin Cities study shows home prices up 24% when located within a half-mile of public transport. During that same time, prices for all properties grew 20%.

Coffee shops and other local retailers impact property prices

Proximity to conveniences is another major asset to homeowners, especially when it comes to coffee. Whether you’re a daily drop-in to your local cafe or prefer brewing from home, consider looking for a property that’s located near a Starbucks.

A long-term study unveiled the so-called Starbucks effect, which shows that, “between 1997 and 2013, homes closer to the coffee shop increase in value by 96%, compared to 65% for all other U.S. homes,” said CNN Money. Another study found that having a local shopping district with wine shops, theaters and garden stores can also be beneficial to property values.

Proximity to amenities is important

All in all, small community districts with walkable or easily accessible shopping and recreation tend to positively impact home prices. Walkable communities remain in high demand, so Edina Realty has incorporated data from WalkScore into its property search. Each property’s WalkScore takes into account a home’s proximity to:

  • Public transit
  • Dining
  • Groceries
  • Shopping
  • Errands
  • Parks
  • Schools
  • Culture
  • Entertainment

The WalkScore provides homeowners and buyers with a clear understanding of how walkable an area is, along with a rating of nearby transit options and bike infrastructure.

Start your property search today!

Whether you’re hoping to hone in on a property with a fast-rising home value, or one that is close to amenities that make day-to-day life a bit easier, we can help. Reach out today to begin looking for the right community and property for your needs.

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