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

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

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

Telling the local story

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

She cites three important stats:

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

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

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

How are rising interest rates impacting buyers?

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

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

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

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

What else should buyers know about the market?

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

How are interest rates impacting sellers?

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

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

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

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

What else should sellers know about the market?

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

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

Need some help navigating this market?

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

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

Why homebuyers and sellers should work with a REALTOR®

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Realtors help buyers pick the right house

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

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

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

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

A Realtor helps buyers and sellers bid and negotiate

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

Specifically, Realtors can help buyers determine:

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

When representing sellers, Realtors will help them:

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

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

A Realtor helps buyers and sellers understand the changing market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to get started?

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

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

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

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

Attract birds to your yard all summer long

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

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

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

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

Enjoy bird watching in fall

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

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

  • Hawks
  • Bald eagles
  • Snow buntings

How to attract birds during winter

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

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

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

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

Calling birds to your yard in spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional birding tips

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

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

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

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

10 organized toy storage ideas

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

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

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

What you’ll need

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

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

10 Ideas for toy storage solutions

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

Clear, labeled bins

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

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

Shelving, shelving, shelving

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

Utilize shoe hangers

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

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

Hang hooks

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

Hooks are great for hanging:

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

… and hangers

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

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

Storage bins for under the bed

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

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

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

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

Stuffed animal storage in a hammock

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

Outdoor toy storage crate

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

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

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

Utilize furniture with built-in storage

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

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

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

Standing cabinets are your friend

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

Need more space?

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

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

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

Why today’s sellers should consider a minor kitchen remodel

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

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

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

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

Here’s how a kitchen remodel could benefit home sellers

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

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

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

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

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

High-ROI kitchen renovation on a budget

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Oven

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

Moving forward with a kitchen upgrade

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

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

If a couple splits, who gets the house?

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

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

Shift into a business mindset

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

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

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

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

Option 1: One partner temporarily stays in the house

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

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

Option 2: One partner buys the other out

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

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

Option 3: Both partners sell the house

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need help?

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

What are the average HOA fees for condos?

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When looking for a condo to buy, it can be exciting to imagine all the amazing amenities you could have access to in the future. But it’s also important to remember that condo owners pay for landscaping services, gym access and more, through monthly fees to the condo’s homeowners’ association, or HOA.

HOA fees aren’t something to glance over. In addition to your mortgage and home-related expenses, the cost of HOA dues will have a monthly impact on your budget.

Here’s an explanation of the average cost of condo association fees in Minnesota and Wisconsin and what they offer you in return.

Who controls what, within a condo?

Before we dive into HOA fees, let’s discuss the details of living in a condo. There are two levels of control within a condo: the individual condo owners and the condo complex’s HOA.

A condo buyer owns and is responsible for their private residential unit. This means that after walking through the doors of a condo, owners have the freedom to make design and maintenance decisions for their space, such as:

  • Painting walls
  • Installing new kitchen faucets
  • Upgrading appliances

Then, each individual unit is surrounded by the complex’s commonly-owned property. In most cases, the HOA is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the jointly-owned spaces, including:

  • Indoors: Hallways, entryways and elevators
  • Outdoors: Parking lots, roof and lawn
  • Amenities: Fitness facilities, pools and hot tubs
  • Reserve funds: Large-scale projects, insurance and unexpected emergencies

The HOA needs to raise money to provide services and amenities, and they do that by charging every condo resident a monthly HOA fee.

How much do typical condo HOA fees cost each month?

Each individual condo owner pays a predetermined amount in HOA fees each month; these fees are determined by the HOA and they are non-negotiable. In general, condo HOA fees are determined by the percentage of the complex you own, which typically ranges from 25 to 75 cents per square foot per month. However, some properties may charge more than this average condo fee estimate, such as:

  • Luxury buildings in downtown Minneapolis.
  • Brand-new complexes with many amenities.
  • Units with breathtaking views of the Mississippi River.

Although most HOAs follow the same general guidelines, condo HOA fees and coverage may fluctuate between properties. Together, we can assess the fairness of the fees you come across as you search for condos.

If a condo’s HOA fees are lower than the average, does it mean the complex is poorly run?

Not necessarily. A well-organized property can function on a modest budget and still preserve the standards of the complex, but it’s important not to cut back so much that the building depreciates.

Modest HOA fees could be the result of motivated tenants and HOA members that help the entire complex save on expenses. A member could act as the property manager rather than hiring an outside management company, or a persistent HOA may renegotiate contracts and find deals (on plowing or HOA insurance) to minimize costs.

Lower association fees for condos could also indicate that the complex has fewer built-in amenities. If a property has low HOA fees, it’s still important to ensure that the HOA:

  • Has secured proper insurance.
  • Is currently maintaining the property’s condition and value.
  • Has future plans for repairs and maintenance.
  • Has saved sufficient reserve funds to pay for future updates.

Key points and next steps

The cost of owning a condo extends beyond the initial sale price. To know where your money is going, make sure to think about:

  • The amount of money you’ll pay to the condo HOA. Does the cost of your condo fee match the services and amenities provided by your HOA?
  • Your financial strategy. Plan in advance to cover monthly HOA dues and possible extra fees requested by the HOA (which are called special assessments).
  • Your involvement in the HOA. Would you want to be an active member of your condo’s association?

Moving forward with a condo, but still have questions? Reach out at any time for specifics on typical HOA fees for our area, or for details on condos within your desired location and budget.

Can I have a pollinator lawn even if my city has yard restrictions?

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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 how homeowners can follow their city’s lawn regulations even as they work to create an environment that is more hospitable for pollinators.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

This spring, I heard a lot about “No Mow May” and now I’m seeing a lot of news about having a pollinator-friendly yard. What does that mean, and am I allowed to create one, even if my city requires me to mow my yard?

This is a great and timely question. “No Mow May” is part of a larger movement to encourage people to maintain their yards in a way that protects the health of pollinators. No Mow May specifically encourages Minnesotans (and our other upper Midwestern neighbors) to avoid mowing their yards during the month of May to allow pollinators the best chance of success in the spring, as they leave winter hibernation and begin to seek food sources and habitation.

Of course, No Mow May is now squarely in the rear-view for this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t commit to creating the healthiest habitats possible for bees and other pollinators. In short, allowing native prairie grasses and other pollinator-friendly vegetation to thrive in your yard can provide a better ecosystem for pollinators than the traditional grass yard.

Exploring lawn regulations for your city

Many cities have nuisance laws that may limit what you can do to make your yard more pollinator-friendly. While regulations can vary, most cities have regulations regarding lawn appearance, and it is common to see ordinances place a maximum height for vegetation in a yard. Additionally, there are restrictions on the types of vegetation allowed. For example, “noxious weeds” are required to be removed under state law, so letting your yard run wild is likely not an option—even if you are doing it to help the pollinators.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be pollinator-friendly and follow the law at the same time. To promote “No Mow May,” for example, some cities took measures to pause the enforcement of grass length ordinances during the month of May. Other cities, including Rochester and Bloomington, have gone even further by adopting ordinances that allow for native prairie vegetation if certain conditions are met.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any comprehensive lists available that state which cities have allowances for native plants or pollinator lawns. However, you can check with your local government to learn what regulations are in place, and if there are any plans or current initiatives to promote pollinator-friendly lawns to local citizens.

Of course, city regulations are only part of the equation. If you live in a Homeowners Association, your HOA might have its own rules regarding the appearance of your yard. In that case, you will want to check your HOA rules before giving away your mower and converting your yard to a pollinator paradise.

Getting started with a pollinator lawn

Ready to get started? Whether you completely transform your lawn, make it more bee-friendly, or simply start with a few native plants, you’ll find that pollinators will be attracted quickly to your yard after the plants begin to grow.

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.

What are mortgage discount points and how can they help today's buyers?

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Key insights:

  • As interest rates rise, buyers may be concerned about their diminished buying power.
  • To combat these rising rates, some buyers are seeking to purchase mortgage discount points, which can lower the overall interest rate on your mortgage.
  • Mortgage discount points can be the right option for buyers who plan to stay in a home past the “break-even point,” but borrowers should speak with their lender about the pros and cons before making a final decision.

After years of historically low interest rates, buyers may be stunned to see that rates are rising quickly. This will not only lead to buyers paying more over the life of their loan, it can also impact the total loan amount for which they could qualify. As we reported earlier this year, a 1% jump in interest rates can be equivalent to an 11% reduction in buying power for an aspiring homeowner.

So, what can hopeful buyers do, aside from maintaining good credit and saving as much as possible for their down payment? Experts say it may also be time to take advantage of mortgage discount points.

What are mortgage discount points?

Mortgage discount points — also called discount points or mortgage points — are fees that a homebuyer pays directly to their lender in exchange for a reduced interest rate.

Each point that a homebuyer purchases typically:

  • Reduces their interest rate by .25%
  • Costs 1% of the total mortgage amount

In other words, if a buyer was taking out a $400,000 mortgage and rates were set at 5%, then they could pay $4,000 for one mortgage point. This investment of $4,000 would (in most cases) reduce their interest rate to 4.75%, allowing them to save on interest over the life of the loan.

How much do you end up saving by purchasing mortgage points?

Purchasing discount points may end up saving you significant money over the loan term. Here is an example of how much a homebuyer would save, over the course of 30 years, by purchasing one (1) point during a time when rates are set at 5.5%.

Loan amount: $300,000

Points and rates

Upfront cost

Monthly payment**

Total savings on a 30-year fixed-rate loan

0 points
5.5%
(5.667% APR*)

$0

$1,703.38

N/A

1 point
5.25%
(5.492% APR)*

$3,000

$1,656.63

$16,832

* Sample points, interest rates, and APRs are for illustrative and educational purposes only and are not an actual rate quote, pre-qualification or commitment to lend. Actual rate buy-down per point varies by loan program and market conditions. Interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR) are based on current market conditions as of 4/25/2022, 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. 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. Contact us for details. Additional loan programs may be available. Accuracy is not guaranteed and all products may not be available in all borrower's geographical areas and are based on their individual situation. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend.

** This is the cost of monthly principal and interest only. Taxes, property insurance, and mortgage insurance are NOT included in this example.

Who should buy mortgage discount points?

Not everyone is a candidate for buying discount points. If you are cash-strapped and unsure how you’ll afford a down payment, for example, then buying mortgage points may be out of the question.

However, it may make the most sense to “buy down the rate” if you are:

  • Buying in an environment where rates are going up and are not expected to go down in the near-term.
  • Taking out a loan with a fixed-rate mortgage. The points may then allow you to reduce your rate for the life of the loan.
  • Planning to own the home after you reach the “break-even” point, or the time it will take to recoup the cost of buying points.

Other common questions about discount points

Can buyers purchase more than one discount point?

Yes, it’s possible to buy more than one discount point, but each lender will have their own limitations for how many discount points they allow.

Should I put more money into a down payment, or buy mortgage discount points?

There’s no easy answer to this question, because your financial situation is so different from every other buyer and borrower out there. Together, we can work with your lender to help evaluate the benefits of putting down a larger down payment (and borrowing less overall) or buying down the rate (so your rate is lower for the life of the loan).

Are mortgage points tax-deductible?

If you itemize your deductions (rather than taking the standard deduction), you may be able to claim a deduction for your discount points. Remember, though, your taxes reflect your personal financial situation, so you are advised to speak to a tax specialist about the tax consequences of discount points.

Get help navigating the mortgage process

As with all mortgage-related activities and decisions, it’s important to get the personalized help of your home mortgage consultant when making a decision about purchasing mortgage discount points. For help getting in touch with a mortgage consultant near you, reach out today.

Points may not be the best option for all borrowers. Contact your mortgage consultant to determine the best loan option for you.

Not all buyers will qualify. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC does not offer financial advice. This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice.

Edina Realty Mortgage is an affiliate of Edina Realty. See Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure Statement

Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC may operate as Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage in Minnesota and Wisconsin. 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. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage is licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC is licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner. Massachusetts Mortgage Lender License ML75164. Licensed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. Also licensed in AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NC, ND, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV and WY. NMLS ID #75164 (NMLS Consumer Access at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/) ©2022 Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC.

Three home improvements with 100% ROI

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Key insights:

  • The market is hot for sellers, but homeowners may still wonder how to put their best foot forward when listing their home for sale.
  • A recent report shares three low-cost home updates that will earn back their money at resale.
  • Soon-to-be home sellers can consider these projects as a way to boost their home’s value and interest among buyers.

If you’ve lived in your home for a few years (or decades), it likely will need a bit of sprucing up before you list it for sale. But it can be hard to know what buyers really want to see when they’re hunting for homes — and what they’re willing to pay for when they make an offer.

The 2022 Remodeling Impact Report

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released a report sharing the home renovation projects with the best return on investment (ROI) upon resale. The organization found that three of the lowest-cost home updates tend to pay off the most, earning a 100% or better ROI for sellers making updates.

Here are three projects that buyers love to see, and that will earn your money back at the closing table.

1. Refinishing hardwood floors

Cost estimate: $3,400

Resale value estimate: $5,000

Cost recouped estimate: 147%

Hardwood floors are in such high demand among buyers that NAR’s data shows that sellers can earn back 147% of the cost of refinishing their floors when they list their home for sale. This makes sense on a few levels: Well-polished floors will help a listing stand out online, which can lead to more buyers visiting in person. Once buyers enter and see the gleaming floors are as advertised, it may help coax an already-eager party into making an offer.

If your hardwood floors are covered in carpet, linoleum or have simply seen better days, the stats show that refinishing them will pay off when you sell your home.

2. Installing new wood flooring

Cost estimate: $5,500

Resale value estimate: $6,500

Cost recouped estimate: 117%

How much do buyers really want hardwood floors? Not only will refinished hardwood pay off at resale, so will brand-new wood flooring! For homeowners who still have carpet, laminate or other flooring in their main living areas, the replacement cost of new wood flooring will likely pay off at resale; NAR estimates these sellers will recoup 117% when closing on their home.

Note: This project includes real hardwood flooring, rather than laminate flooring. As a seller, you can make the determination whether you’d like to go with the “real thing” or a less expensive alternative.

3. Upgrading the home’s insulation

Cost estimate: $2,500

Resale value estimate: $2,500

Cost recouped estimate: 100%

If your home’s insulation is subpar, you likely experience inconsistent temperatures in your home, as well as high energy bills. Further, a home inspector may take note of your faulty insulation during their pre-sale inspection. To mitigate the issues you could face getting to the closing table, it may be worth paying for your home’s trouble areas to be reinsulated before you take it to the market.

NAR’s most recent data shows that this is a relatively low-price project, at just $2,500 on average. Best of all, NAR estimates you’ll break even at resale with a 100% return on investment at the closing table.

Get expert guidance before you sell

Not sure where to start as you consider selling your home? That’s where a local expert can come in handy! By simply reaching out when you’re ready, you’ll receive personalized insights on the most cost-effective, impactful changes you can make as you prepare to list your property for sale.

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