Tips to prep your finances if you’re buying in the next year


Key insights:

  • Evaluate your financial history and credit score, then work to correct any imperfections or mistaken records.
  • Practice better spending habits and clean up your bank accounts (all unverified deposits may require additional documentation).
  • Work with your mortgage consultant to set yourself up for success even if the unexpected (like your car biting the dust) should happen.

Most homebuyers prepare in advance by saving for a down payment, but the down payment is just one of many financial factors to buying a home and getting a mortgage.

If you’re in the process of saving for your first house, there are other financial variables that may help position you favorably for a home mortgage loan. Here are insights you can use to help you reduce expenses, clean up your finances, and get ready to buy a house.

3-12+ months away from buying

During this time frame, you’ll want to focus on your long-term financial plan by:

  • Checking your credit
  • Meeting with a mortgage consultant
  • Paying down any debt
  • Minimizing unnecessary expenses
  • Getting pre-approved

Review your credit report

You’ve probably heard this before — your credit score is important. Whether you’re buying your first condo or upgrading to a new house, lenders will use this score as one way to gauge your creditworthiness. Although it may be possible to get a mortgage even if you have a lower credit score, a lower score can affect your loan terms and may increase your monthly payments. By maintaining the highest credit score possible, you could save a lot of money over the long term.

Paying your bills on time will lead to a higher credit score. So, make it easy on yourself by organizing your payments. Turn on your calendar notifications, set up automatic payments, or highlight important dates in your planner to remind yourself when it's time to pay bills. These small changes will help you avoid late payments.

It’s also a good idea to get a copy of your free credit report. Once the report is in your hands, look for errors — a missed payment that was made on time or an account that is mistakenly listed under your name can be corrected by contacting your credit agency.

The three main credit agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion(1). They recommend that you file any credit disputes with them online:

Meet with a mortgage consultant

It can be smart to meet with a mortgage consultant* well before you’re ready to start the home-buying process. They can help you assess your finances and determine how you can become a more appealing borrower. In some cases, they may recommend specific debts to focus on; in others, they can share strategies for saving for a down payment or even getting down payment assistance.

In short, having a solid relationship with a mortgage consultant early on can help first-time buyers become better prepared for buying down the road.

Focus on paying down debts

Calculating your debt-to-income ratio is paramount to getting the most favorable terms for your loan.

If you’re able, start to improve your debt-to-income ratio by paying down your long-term “installment” debt, which is made up of monthly expenses you owe, including:

  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Auto loans

And remember, even if you have student loans, applying for a mortgage is not out of the question. If you have enough income to cover your bills and potential mortgage payment, you should be in the clear. In fact, those with a high income and typical monthly debt may have a better debt-to-income ratio than people without loans.

You may wonder, how is it possible to have more debt yet have a better debt-to-income ratio? The key word is ratio. Getting approved for a loan is not about how much total debt you have; it’s based on how much you owe monthly as compared to your monthly income.

Save for a down payment

When you’re applying for a mortgage, every penny counts! Be sure to cut down on unnecessary expenses anywhere you can, including dining out and all those unused subscriptions to streaming services.

Although responsible financial habits will play a large part in saving for your down payment, buyers with generous family members or friends can also consider mortgage gift funds. Do you think your family might assist with your down payment? Begin talking about the monetary help they could contribute. There are also low down payment options and down payment assistance available for certain buyers.

Get pre-approved for a loan

Hands down, the best way to financially prepare for a mortgage is to get pre-approved by a lender. Don’t worry, getting a pre-approval doesn't mean you have to buy anything! It’s simply a way to understand how much you could take out in a loan.

Getting pre-approved can also give you general insights into financial weaknesses that you may be able to fix over time. By building a relationship with your mortgage consultant, you’ll have someone to call if you have questions about your finances in the months prior to your mortgage application.

0-3 months away from buying

The 60-day window before you apply for a loan is critical. During this time, you should focus on:

  • Confirming your down payment and financials.
  • Keeping your payments and accounts clean.
  • Staying in close touch with your mortgage consultant.

Verify the down payment and financials

A lender has to verify the assets and other components related to the mortgage transaction (including the down payment) for the 60 days prior to the loan application. If possible, put your entire down payment into one account ahead of this timeframe.

Take Edina Realty Mortgage Consultant Enda Moore’s (NMLSR ID: 1044631) advice:

“One of the more challenging scenarios is for cash assets to be pending between one account and another at the time of a loan application,” says Enda. “If the two bank accounts don’t ‘talk to’ each other, we have to dive into forensic accounting, which is a hassle for everyone and can involve a lot of extra paperwork. If you’re a buyer who is moving toward closing, you’ll want to avoid that kind of last-minute stress by cleaning up your accounts well in advance of applying for a loan.”

Minimize tech-first financial transfer apps

Another part of cleaning up your bank history includes avoiding large transfers from accounts that lack clear records. Lenders must examine transfers that comprise more than 25% of a buyer’s monthly income. Confusing transactions made electronically via Venmo, Zelle or PayPal may “flag” a lender or make it difficult for them to understand where your money is coming from and going to.

While your friends can still pay you back for brunch on your mobile app, stick to collecting larger payments (like rent or your family phone plan) via old-school checks in the months leading up to the mortgage application.

When in doubt, call your mortgage consultant

Mortgage consultants understand that not everyone has perfect credit or crystal-clear financial records and they also know that the unexpected can happen in the months before you apply for a mortgage.

These professionals stress that it’s important to call your mortgage consultant if you run into a situation that could impact your ability to get approved for a loan. Whether your car dies, you have to take on a bit more credit card debt, or you start a new job, it’s best to keep your mortgage consultant in the loop to minimize the impact of these potential financial changes(2).

Ready to apply for a mortgage?

Put your best foot forward. Consider making simple changes — both short-term and long-term — to get your finances in check before applying for a home mortgage loan.

If you’re ready to make the next step, reach out to begin the home-buying process.

(1) Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage is not a credit counselor. Information displayed is not credit advice and should not be relied upon or interpreted as such.
(2) Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC is not a financial or tax advisor and cannot and is not offering tax advice. Please consult a financial advisor or certified public accountant to determine what the tax implications of purchasing real estate may be.

*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. ©2023 Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage. (877) 275-1762. 3060 Williams Drive, Suite 600, Fairfax, VA 22031. All first mortgage products are provided by Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC. Not all mortgage products may be available in all areas. Not all borrowers will qualify. NMLS ID #75164 (For licensing information go to: NMLS Consumer Access at Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. Licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner. Georgia Residential Mortgage Licensee. Massachusetts Mortgage Lender and Mortgage Broker MC75164. Licensed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. Licensed Mortgage Banker-NYS Department of Financial Services. Rhode Island Licensed Lender. Rhode Island Licensed Loan Broker. Rhode Island Licensed Third-Party Loan Servicer. Also licensed in AK, AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV and WY.

Staging a house for sale: A seller’s guide


Key insights

  • Your color scheme should remain mostly neutral when staging. However, some pops of color can add charm.
  • When staging your home, emphasize its best features and remove clutter.
  • Your REALTOR® is an expert on the home transaction process, including staging techniques and how and when to hire a professional stager.

If you’re ready to put your home on the market, you’ll want to create a space that’s appealing to buyers. If someone can imagine themselves living in your curated space, they may be more likely to buy it.

But how much time and money should you spend staging your home? And do you have to renovate every room? We’re here to help answer your questions as you prep your home for sale. When it comes to staging your home, you’ll want to know:

  • The basics: How and why people stage their homes
  • Home staging tips for each room in your house
  • Should I hire a stager or can I do it myself?
  • How can I find the best local home stager?
  • All things considered, should I stage my home when selling?

The basics: How and why to stage your home

Chances are, over the years you’ve created a home that suits your family and your lifestyle. Maybe the traditional living room includes a TV and devices for your video-game-obsessed kids and the basement is your at-home fitness studio.

Everyone develops a home flow that works best for them. But when it comes time to sell, you don’t want to show buyers how you live. You want to show them how they can live their best lives by emphasizing key features and functions of your space.

Staging your home is a process that highlights the property’s potential and minimizes its weaknesses. To stage a home, you’ll want to present the space as a clean slate so that any buyer can picture themselves living there.

The process of staging a home typically includes:

  • Getting rid of clutter. No more baskets of mail to shred or clothes draped on the chair in the bedroom.
  • Neutralizing the space. Paint over bright rooms and rent furniture that doesn’t make a statement.
  • Returning rooms to a more common purpose. The Xbox needs to leave the living room and the space should be reappointed to a more traditional setup.
  • Creating more space. Get rid of bulky furniture, which can make rooms look smaller.

And remember, experts advise sellers to stage their homes because it works. Buyers greatly prefer staged homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 81% of buyers’ agents said “staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”

Home staging tips by room

Although staging a home is important, it’s not necessary to completely redo every nook and cranny. Not all rooms need to be completely staged; per the NAR, the most important rooms to stage for buyers are the:

  • Living room (39%)
  • Primary/main bedroom (36%)
  • Kitchen (30%)

Focusing on key rooms and high-traffic areas is a good idea, but it’s also really important to consider your home’s first impression with online shoppers. Photos of bright and clean spaces will encourage buyers to take a closer look. Here’s how to transform various areas in your home to appeal to a broader set of buyers:

Living room

  • Remove bulky furniture.
  • Put photos and knick-knacks into storage.
  • Remove outdated decor.
  • Use a subtle wall color (re-paint if necessary) and neutral furniture.
  • Add small pops of color for charm — throw pillows, blankets, and baskets work well.
  • Emphasize natural light by opening shades and utilizing side lamps.

Dining room

  • Set up an appropriately sized table.
  • Select four or six chairs to place around the table.
  • Hang a single pendant-style light over the table.
  • Keep open shelving sparse — don’t display every dish or candle.
  • Set the table with chic and simple table settings.

Owner’s suite or main bedroom

  • Make the bed, which should have a bed frame and headboard. Use fresh, neutral bedding.
  • Create texture with plush throw pillows.
  • Make the space look and feel open.
  • Remove all furniture in the room except the bed, side table, and dresser. Desks and couches are not necessary unless the room has more than enough space to accommodate the extra pieces.

Other bedrooms

  • Follow the same “less is more” theme as the main bedroom, keeping the space well-decorated, bright, and airy.
  • Refrain from putting a queen-sized bed in a tiny room.
  • When staging a kid’s room, minimize the number of toys and books that are present.


  • Clean it until it sparkles — inside and out.
  • Pay special attention to cabinets, the top of the fridge and stove, and inside the oven and microwave!
  • Remove clutter and bulky appliances from countertops.
  • Keep four to six place settings in your cupboards, including cups, mugs, bowls, napkins, etc. Remove extras and mismatched sets.
  • Add a plant or some other decorative charm, like a bowl of lemons or apples.


  • Clean, clean, clean, including the shower, counters, toilet, fixtures, and floors.
  • Consider upgrading the vanity or at least the hardware to something more trendy.
  • Revisit the light fixture if outdated.
  • Reconsider your trays, soaps, towels, rugs, and bath mats. Display items that are new and matching.
  • Add candles and other bath items around a soaking tub to remind the buyers of how they could enjoy the space.

Should I hire a stager, or can I do it myself?

It’s important to stage your home for sale. But, when deciding whether to hire a stager:

  • Consult with your agent.
  • Assess the amount of work the space will need.
  • Consider the cost of staging.

Throughout the home sale process, including when staging, your agent will have your best interests in mind. Together, we’ll consider how much effort will need to go into the home in order to have it ready for listing and home tours.

In some cases, a home may only require basic cleaning and reorganizing to be market-ready; in others, the space may need all new furniture and decor. Here, a professional stager’s discretion could come in handy.

Cost is another consideration when determining whether or not to stage a home. Stagers often charge an hourly rate in addition to the cost of renting furniture and decor. Is this something that will fit in your budget?

If you decide to hire a professional stager, interview multiple stagers to determine one who:

  • Fits your style and budget.
  • Maintains positive online reviews.
  • Has furniture or staging items that match your house style.
  • Has experience working with private sellers.

Should I stage my home when selling?

According to 81% of buyers’ agents, staging made it easier for a buyer to visualize themselves in the home.

To stage a house, a home seller or stager should:

  • Neutralize the property so buyers can picture living (and thriving) in the space.
  • Use smaller furniture so that rooms feel larger and more open.
  • Add pops of color and accent walls for an extra punch of cheer and charm.
  • Emphasize the rooms with the most potential.
  • Focus on tidying up the bathroom.
  • Return rooms to their most natural purpose.
  • Use special considerations based on the season.
  • Eliminate potential odors that will hamper the home tour experience.

Moving forward with a staged home

Ready to bring your home to life? Staging is an important part of selling your home, and you’ll want to get the best sale price for the current market. Reach out to get started.

How to cut back perennial plants in the fall


Perennial flowers and plants can add effortless beauty and blossoms to your lawn. To keep these plants healthy for years to come, it may be necessary to cut your perennials in the fall; this will help ensure the most robust blooms come spring.

Although you may associate the season of fall with raking leaves rather than tending to the garden, now is the perfect time to give your landscaping a little extra care. You may find you have more time in the fall than in the spring when you’ll be busy planting annual flowers and rejuvenating your yellowed, post-winter lawn.

Here are tips to help you take advantage of the last bit of nice weather as you prep your garden for spring.

Cut back these perennials in the fall

When left out for winter without being properly cared for, perennials are at risk for decay and disease. However, cleaning and pruning your garden will set up your plants for a successful and healthy bloom in the spring.

To keep your garden in optimal condition, a Master Gardener recommends cutting back these plants in the fall:

  • Plants prone to fungus
  • Bee balm
  • Flowering bulbs
  • Geranium
  • Mint
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Phlox
  • Hosta
  • Leafy plants with little or no flower heads

Of course, different plants require different treatments. Here’s how to cut back three of the most common Midwestern perennial plants by the time the winter frost hits.

Peony: Because peonies are susceptible to foliage diseases and blossom blights, it’s smart to prune the tops of the plants back to near soil level. You’ll decrease your risk of diseased plants by removing these leaves and stems; then you will be greeted by lovely spring flowers.

Daylily: The leaves of the daylily can’t withstand the winter cold. Be sure to cut back daylily foliage after a light frost. This will save you the mess of clearing mushy leaves when spring rolls around. Plus, removing old leaves provides room for new, fresh growth for the plant.

Hosta: Around the first frost, cut hosta leaves down one to two inches above soil level. Not only is this good for the plant, but it will be easier for you as well. If you wait to remove hosta foliage until after winter, the leaves will become mush and difficult to prune.

Plants to leave “as is” through the winter

After you’ve taken care of your perennials that need pruning, the following perennials can be left for the winter:

  • Blue False Indigo
  • Coneflower
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Sedum
  • Native grass and ornamental grass
  • Hydrangea

These plants are hardy. They can withstand the winter, and then blossom again in the spring.

Do you have diseased plants?

Strange spots, discoloration, wilting flowers, and rotting leaves are all signs that you could have a diseased plant in your garden. By pruning back your garden in the fall, you can help prevent further damage and hopefully revive your plants for a healthy spring.

But after you cut down your plants, what should you do with the diseased plant matter? According to the University of Minnesota, you should use an online diagnostic tool or submit a sample and then dispose of it, often by burying or burning it in an area where you will not plant in the future. You will also want to clean all garden tools thoroughly.

Protect your plants for the winter!

The final step to keep your plants safe from winter snow is to cover your perennials. To do this, add a layer of mulch (think shredded leaves, straw, or bark) on top of your perennials. This layer should be about four to eight inches thick. This layer of mulch will protect and insulate your garden’s roots from the bitter cold that winter brings.

Whether you’re preparing your garden to survive winter or getting your landscaping in pristine condition for a move, feel free to reach out for help.

Source: Advice was contributed in 2019 by Master Gardener (and now retired Edina Realty employee) Patti Lauer. Some links and information have since been updated.

Ultimate guide to the 2023 Fall Parade of Homes


Key insights:

  • Visit the 2023 Fall Parade of Homes from Sept. 9 through Oct. 1, 2023
  • Visit the 2023 Fall Remodelers Showcase from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, 2023.
  • Visit the 2023 Fall Artisan Home Tour from Oct. 6 - 22, 2023.
  • The Parade of Homes features luxury, high-tech, green, and new construction properties throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
  • In the market for a new construction home? Partner with a Realtor to have an expert and advocate by your side throughout the building process.

Whether you’re in the market for a new construction home or simply enjoy gathering renovation or decorating ideas for your current property, be sure to check out the highly anticipated Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Here, we’ve gathered everything you need to know as you plan your visit to the 2023 Fall Parade of Homes.

What is the Parade of Homes?

The Parade of Homes provides home inspiration by featuring the finest properties in the Twin Cities and the surrounding area, including greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Throughout this nearly month-long event, more than 380 brand-new homes and nearly 40 remodeled houses are on display and open for the public to tour. While visiting the Parade of Homes, you’ll encounter luxury, green, high-tech and new construction homes. Plus, you’ll get a peek at how homebuilders and remodelers are incorporating the most current design trends in homes today.

When is the 2023 Fall Parade of Homes?

The 2023 Parade of Homes lasts almost a full month, allowing viewers to survey properties throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin at their own convenience. The fall event concludes with a weekend-long Remodelers Showcase, featuring some of the most impressively renovated properties in the region.

2023 Fall Parade of Homes:

  • Sept. 9 – Oct. 1, 2023
  • Weekly, Thursday through Sunday
  • Noon – 6 p.m.

2023 Fall Remodelers Showcase:

  • Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2023
  • One-weekend event, Friday through Sunday
  • Noon – 6 p.m.

2023 Fall Artisan Home Tour (this is a ticketed event):

  • Oct. 6 - 22, 2023
  • Friday - Sunday
  • Noon - 6 p.m.

Get more information on this year’s Parade of Homes — including special events, free offerings and upcoming tours. And, if you can’t make it to the event this fall, check out the properties with virtual tours.

Renovating your home? Visit the Remodelers Showcase for ideas

This fall, the Remodelers Showcase is offered in addition to the classic Parade of Homes. Over the course of three days, the Remodelers Showcase provides an exclusive look at 30+ remodeled homes in the area.

Attendees of the Remodelers Showcase can learn from contractors and architects who remodel properties to better align with today’s homeowner needs while maintaining the integrity of each unique property. Make note of renovations that catch your eye, as you may find them helpful while completing your own home improvements.

Should I bring my Realtor to the Parade of Homes?

Yes! It is in your best interest to work with a Realtor as you tour the Parade of Homes or as you work to build a brand-new home. Here’s why:

  • A Realtor is a housing expert who will thoroughly explain the steps and timeline associated with buying or building a home.
  • Your agent will advocate for you throughout the entire process, providing advice on key decisions and negotiations.
  • If a Parade of Homes property stands out to you, your Realtor can help discover a comparable property in your desired area.
  • Should a challenge arise, your Realtor will help troubleshoot and resolve any bumps in the process.

Be sure to work with your agent to plan a tour that visits the properties that interest you the most. By teaming up with someone who has expertise in the field — and your well-being and best interests at heart — you can rest assured you’re making the right decisions as you purchase a new construction home.

Ready to move this year?

Inspired by the Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase? Now’s the time to begin moving forward with your home goals. Reach out for expert advice and help planning your tour!

Co-owning a cabin: Should I buy a property with family or friends?


Key insights

  • Co-owning a cabin requires extra communication. Be ready and comfortable to discuss details regarding finances and the use of the property.
  • Clearly put the terms of joint ownership in writing now, so you can rest easy and enjoy the cabin for years to come.
  • Hire professionals, like an attorney and REALTOR®, to guide you as you buy or inherit a cabin with friends or family.

Whether you grew up in the area or visited for summer vacation, you’ve likely experienced the joys and peacefulness of lake life in Minnesota and Wisconsin. While you may be dreaming of your perfect lakeside abode to host summer bonfires and family game nights, purchasing a second property on your own may be out of the question.

Luckily, you don’t have to do this solo! Keep the following cabin co-ownership tips in mind if you’re ready to purchase a cabin with friends or family, or if you’ve jointly inherited a lakeshore property.

How to purchase a cabin with friends or family

If you’ve just made the decision to co-own a cabin, it’s easy to skip past the process and begin envisioning weekends on the lake. However, it’s extra important to consider the details of property ownership at this stage. Here are some steps to set you and your co-owners up for success with a shared property.

Choose your partners wisely

First, it’s necessary to establish who might be a good fit for this partnership — and who wouldn’t. Even though you may love hosting certain friends as weekend guests, you’ll also need your co-owners to be seriously reliable and communicative. Most importantly, everyone involved should be open to creating strong rules for the arrangement, even if your relationship is typically more casual.

Here are some standout traits to seek out in a potential co-owner:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Financially responsible
  • Similar views and values on space-sharing

Understand co-owned mortgages

While a co-owned mortgage or joint mortgage may make cabin ownership more accessible to those who aren’t ready or able to buy a property alone, a mortgage is a long-term financial obligation. So, it’s important to thoroughly think through what a shared mortgage would mean for you and your potential co-owners.

When you apply for a co-owned mortgage, lenders will consider the income and credit information of all borrowers involved in the purchase. If you’re planning to co-own a cabin moving forward, get in touch with a home mortgage consultant early on. They can guide you through the process, make sure you are pre-approved and help you make smart decisions as you prepare to buy.

Draft a detailed contract

Now that you and your partners are on board, it’s time to lay out all the technicalities of a co-owned cabin in a contract. You’ll want to go even more in-depth than you think may be necessary within your contract.

By spending the time now to iron out the details, your arrangement is more likely to run smoothly in the future. And that’s crucial, as it will allow you to spend even more time enjoying the cabin, rather than navigating the logistics of ownership. In your official contract, consider:

Legal and financial details

  • Cabin ownership percentages
  • Division of mortgage, down payment and additional costs
  • What happens if someone dies or divorces?
  • What happens if someone can’t pay?
  • What happens if someone wants to sell or terminate their side of ownership?
  • What happens if one owner wants to buy the other out?
  • Who are the beneficiaries of the property, if applicable
  • How do you resolve disputes over whether to make a major repair or upgrade and who should be responsible for the costs?
  • Lake home insurance plans

Expectations for co-owners

  • Division of labor and upkeep, or payments toward upkeep
  • Any rules on conduct on the property (e.g., no smoking)
  • Shared lake equipment, including recreational vehicles and boats
  • Schedule for use, including agreements around guests

Rules for guests and rentals

  • When guest accommodations can be made
  • Whether the property may be rented when not in use by the owners
  • Are pets allowed in the cabin?

Decide on an ownership structure

As part of the contract, co-owners should determine which type of ownership structure they’d like. Some common options include:

  • Joint tenancy
  • Tenancy in common
  • Limited liability companies (LLC)

But, what exactly does all of that mean? To start, when spouses or partners purchase a home, they often take ownership in joint tenancy. This means that if one owner dies, their interest automatically passes to the other owner. But, this structure might not make sense for a co-owned cabin.

In the cabin circumstance, co-owners may want their portion of the property to go to their own heirs, rather than their co-owners. To do this, you can take ownership of real estate as a tenancy in common, which means that each person owns an interest in the property, but if they die, their interest can pass to their heirs.

Another option worth considering is creating an entity, like a limited liability company (LLC), to own the property. Then, the individuals involved would each have a percentage of ownership interest in the LLC. When creating an LLC, the parties can develop all of the necessary agreements and rules to govern the cabin and the parties’ rights. Another benefit of creating an LLC is that it can help reduce everyone’s personal liability in the event that there is an injury on the property.

Hire an attorney

It’s strongly recommended that you hire an attorney to address co-ownership concerns that keep the best interest of all parties in mind. Even if you don’t foresee any issues, it will benefit everyone involved to have peace of mind knowing that a plan exists should anything out of the ordinary happen.

You inherited a cabin with your siblings. Now what?

If you have inherited property with others, you’ll want to carefully consider joint ownership and hire an attorney to assist with a co-ownership.

Oftentimes, inheriting a property is accompanied by the emotional fallout from losing a loved one. If possible, plan a transfer of ownership well in advance. Not only will this help to minimize any confusion associated with the property transfer, but it will also allow for heirs to draw up their own co-owned contract should they want to continue ownership together.

If you or someone in your family is planning to pass down a property in the future, you may want to explore the various methods of passing down property to your loved ones, including setting up a transfer upon death deed.

Daily details of lakeshore co-ownership

After the bigger details have been settled, it’s time to get on the same page regarding the day-to-day aspects of sharing a cabin. Schedule a time to come together with your co-owners regarding general cabin guidelines not outlined in the contract, including:

  • A cabin calendar, especially if families will visit on alternating weeks or weekends.
  • A plan or rules for hosting guests.
  • A schedule for property management, maintenance and improvement, including off-season prep and winter upkeep.
  • The use of boats, jet skis, life vests and other shared equipment.
  • A plan for how and when you’ll communicate changes, issues or concerns (you may want to schedule an annual meeting).

This is where it can start to get really fun and exciting. While sharing a cabin, you’ll likely end up with even more cabin toys to play with — such as kayaks, bikes and more — depending on how you plan to divide everything up. And, you’ll have double the hands to complete exciting cabin projects like building a bonfire pit or a landscaped path from your property to the lake.

Pro tip: Consider keeping a shared notebook or binder in the cabin to communicate things like when water filters or HVAC filters were last changed, what cabin quirks you’re noticing that might need to be addressed or even memories you want to share with each other. This would also be a good place to keep owner’s manuals or instructions.

Moving forward with a co-owned cabin

For folks who can’t afford their own cabin, co-ownership can be a great option. But the bottom line remains that compromise, planning, and good communication will be necessary to a successful and long-lasting lakeside partnership.

Are you moving forward with the purchase of a co-owned property, or are you ready to buy your own lakeshore home? Reach out for assistance.

Organize your garage in seven easy steps


Key Insights

  • Sort and store your belongings by type. Sports equipment and lawn supplies should each have designated spaces in the garage.
  • Invest in a shelving system to safeguard your items up and off the garage floor.
  • For maximum organization, create consistent labels for all your storage bins.

Be sure to follow these garage organization strategies to make the most of your space plus save time, sanity and money by keeping the clutter away.

1. Make a plan and set realistic cleanup goals

Prior to organizing your garage, make a list of what you’d like to achieve throughout the cleaning process. With these benchmarks in mind, you can stick to a clear plan so you don’t get sidetracked as you clear the clutter.

  • Here are some questions to ask yourself when planning a garage cleanup:
  • What do I want to accomplish most by the end of my cleaning?
  • Will I be able to park the car in the garage?
  • Do I want to create a much-desired garage workshop, office, home gym, or other designated workspace?
  • Will I need to discard a lot of items that might require a bagster or dumpster?
  • How will I safely recycle or dispose of items like batteries, old gas or electronics?
  • What will I need to purchase or rent in order to accomplish my goals?

2. Invest in organization supplies

Plastic storage containers can be expensive, but they’re also a good way to deter critters and protect against water damage. Determine in advance what you’ll want fully protected in your garage storage, then check the big box stores and ads for deals.

Investing in air-tight storage containers will aid in arranging your belongings, and they’ll also help prevent damage over the months and years.

You may also consider adding:

  • Shelves
  • Hooks
  • Racks
  • Peg boards
  • Bike hangers or mounts
  • Cabinets

Some homeowners may even consider adding drywall to one area of an unfinished garage in order to accommodate a wall storage system.

3. Sort your belongings

To facilitate a more efficient organization process, make piles or designate areas for different types of garage items, including:

  • Sports equipment
  • Yard and gardening tools
  • Seasonal décor
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Tools
  • Deep freezer or fridge
  • Items to be donated, recycled or discarded

If you find items that haven’t been touched in years, it’s time to part ways. Box up unused things and label them for donation, sale or disposal. If you start to feel indecisive, step aside and let the piles sit overnight. Come back fresh in the morning to make the final call.

4. Split up the space

Designate areas in the garage according to their purpose and sort and store items accordingly. Doing so will help create a functional and efficient space.

For example, use the space closest to the house for items that you access often, including recycling bins. Stow the sports equipment in the areas closest to the outside or door of the garage, as these items will likely travel in and out frequently. You may also create a mini workspace for the projects you tackle inside the garage, keeping your most-used tools handy and grouping similar tools together.

Pro tip: Locate workstations, chargers, and power tools near electrical outlets so you won’t need to move things elsewhere when you need to use them.

5. Go vertical

Simply put, piles and stacks on the floor are a non-starter. Store items off the floor of your garage to protect and maintain them, especially during temperature fluctuations. Shelves or other wall systems increase the stability of your stored belongings while enhancing the garage’s visual appeal and maximizing space.

When organizing your things on shelves, keep accessibility in mind. Start by placing your most-used items within arm’s reach, then stow away seasonal or rarely-used items in higher storage.

6. Label everything

Position clean, easy-to-read labels on all storage bins. You can create labels with masking tape and a marker, or purchase special stickers or a label maker. Whatever method you choose, ensure that you always have supplies on-hand to create labels. If the contents of a bin change, you can stay organized by immediately updating the label on the box.

In addition, label each container consistently with a tag placed on the top and all sides of the box or bin. This will help you locate items in your garage with ease.

7. Take pictures

Although they won’t make the scrapbook, photos that serve as evidence of your belongings may come in handy if you have to file a homeowners insurance claim for lost or damaged goods. If you spend the time organizing your garage, you may as well catalog your items along the way.

It’s garage go time

With these simple tips and some sweat equity, you’ll be well on your way to an organized garage. Get started on your decluttering and cleanup process now for more space and better efficiency.

If you’re cleaning in preparation for a home sale, reach out for help moving forward.

If equity is (way) up, why isn't anyone selling?


Key Insights

  • The market is booming for sellers, and the vast majority of homeowners have record-high equity. Still, inventory remains low.
  • Today’s homeowners have an average of $185,000 in home equity.
  • By planning ahead and working with a local expert, many of today’s homeowners can take advantage of the sellers’ market to sell their current residence and upgrade to a home that better suits their current needs.

What is home equity, and why is it so high?

In simple terms, home equity is the difference between what you owe on your home’s mortgage payment and its current market value. Your home’s equity rises when:

  • You pay off more of your mortgage (and your home value remains steady).
  • Market conditions raise your home’s value, creating a bigger gap between what you owe and what your home is worth.

Due to rising prices over the last several years, most homeowners are in their best equity position in many years–often at record highs.

If equity is so high, why is inventory so low?

Despite this increase in equity, many homeowners across Minnesota and western Wisconsin (and nationally) aren’t selling. Inventory remains low as some homeowners hold out on listing their homes for sale. But why?

Sellers who are also move-up buyers may be temporarily staying put to see what happens with interest rates. This results in a shortage of available homes for sale and has put the squeeze on buyers looking for “the right” property.

Those same sellers may also wonder how much of an upgrade they’ll be able to get, given the tight inventory, buyer competition in the marketplace, and higher interest rates.

What should homeowners do to make a smart selling decision?

Staying on the fence forever isn’t the solution. Here are three main ways that hesitant sellers can protect themselves when listing their homes for sale today.

1. Get a customized, personal home value estimate

When you see your home’s value displayed online, it’s the result of a computer algorithm that’s using county records (which can be up to two years old), recent home sales, and pricing data to determine a general range for your property.

This is a starting point, but it does not consider your home's exact location or condition. By asking a local expert to evaluate your home in person, you will get a true market analysis that goes beyond aggregated data. Reach out today to get one scheduled.

2. Consider the full financial picture of selling, not just interest rates

  • Sellers are typically receiving around 100% of their asking price*, thanks in large part to the supply of homes for sale not meeting the demand from buyers. This means more competitive offers from buyers and less discounting from sellers.
  • According to data published in Q3 of 2022 by Investopedia, homeowners have an average of $185,000 worth of equity.
  • Sellers can take advantage of cash-on-hand for down payments and buying down interest rate points.
  • Sellers may be able to buy a larger home with a similar monthly mortgage payment even with a higher interest rate. How? With a bigger down payment from existing equity.
  • Experts disagree on where interest rates will go (up/down) offering no clear predictions.

3. Add a reverse contingency to your purchase agreement

Today’s market, as you know, favors sellers. That means that if you do place your home on the market, you have some leverage to ensure the transaction works in your favor — from start to finish.

If you’re worried that your home will sell quickly, but you won’t be able to find a new residence by the date of closing, you and your REALTOR® can add a reverse contingency to the purchase agreement. In short, you can request that your home sale be contingent on you and your family finding another home to purchase. You may also require that the home be rented back to you until you secure another home.

4. Consider short-term or transitional housing

If a reverse contingency isn’t an option but you’d still like to sell, you can also consider short-term or transitional housing options. This would allow you to take your time looking for the right house instead of settling for a less-than-perfect new residence.

Short-term housing options include:

  • Short-term rental properties (including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments)
  • Residing in an extended-stay hotel or inn
  • Staying with friends or family members with extra space

Wondering what comes next?

Whether you have enough money to purchase a new home free and clear or get into a larger home with a similar monthly payment, it can help to talk it through with a professional. Reach out anytime for help.

*Data courtesy NorthstarMLS for the 16-County Twin Cities metro area for May 2023.

Avoid these five first-time buyer mistakes


Key Insights

  • First-time homebuyers make up roughly a quarter of homebuyers in the U.S.
  • Partnering with the right professionals can make a big difference when it comes to landing your dream home.
  • Avoiding financial missteps and acting decisively are two key components to success.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, first-time homebuyers made up 26% of all homebuyers in the United States in 2022. That means if you’re just diving into the market for the first time, you’re in good company!

As a first-time homebuyer, it’s important to be both educated and curious when preparing to buy — and to find a trusted, local market expert to represent you. Of course, there are also missteps you should watch out for. Here are five mistakes that first-time buyers commonly make, and how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Relying on online information only

It’s easy to assume that the internet knows all, and we understand the appeal of doing your own research. But the reality is that buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make... and it’s also an extremely personal and often complex one.

Many first-time buyers start out by researching homes online. This is a great introduction to the home-buying process, but it’s also important to have local experts by your side.

Every homebuyer is different, and so are their needs and wishes. At Edina Realty, we have a full array of services and professionals in a variety of areas. Once you’ve completed your initial online research and prep work, reach out for a closer look at your personal situation.

Mistake 2: Not having the right paperwork

To stand out in this low-inventory market, it’s important to get pre-approved by a lender in advance. Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll have a lender-approved estimate of your buying power, and you’ll be able to confidently search for homes in your true budget. Sellers and their agents may also take you more seriously if they know that you can obtain the necessary funding to buy the home.

The pre-approval process is becoming more automated, but you may still be asked to submit financial records, including:

  • Pay stubs or income verification
  • Bank statements
  • Credit report
  • Past taxes and W-2s
  • Savings account or investment account records

In some cases, lenders may be able to offer better rates or terms to buyers with cleaner credit or other indicators of financial security — so it’s important to have these records handy when you are in the pre-approval process.

Your agent can guide you through this process, or you can request to get pre-approved by an Edina Realty Mortgage consultant.

Mistake 3: Focusing on the wrong financial indicators

If you’re planning to buy soon, you likely have a nest egg saved for your down payment. While the down payment is an important part of getting a loan, your lender will also closely scrutinize your debts and how they impact your ability to pay for your mortgage and other home-related expenses. In some cases, the mortgage consultant may require you to lower your debt obligations in order to secure a mortgage.

From there, you’ll work to pay off credit cards, student loans, car loans, child support payments, and other outstanding debt before you can re-apply for a loan. During this time frame, it’s also important that you avoid taking on new debt. Avoid purchasing a new car, large electronics, or other expensive products when applying for a loan or buying a home.

Mistake 4: Moving too slowly

As prices grow and first-time buyers enter the market, low-priced listings (often called “starter homes”) can be scarce. Buyers are typically not advised to rush into the process, but today’s conditions do require buyers to move somewhat quickly. So, what’s a buyer to do in this unique, low-inventory market?

This is where your agent’s advice will come in handy. Together, we can identify the “must-have” features of your future home, then tour a few homes to get a feel for what is realistically available in your price range. When you know what’s most important to you, you’ll be able to quickly disqualify homes that aren’t right, and make a faster offer when you find the home you’ve been waiting for.

Mistake 5: Saving money by forgoing a home inspection

Many buyers start to get sticker shock as they calculate the cost of the closing, home insurance, taxes, and future upgrades. While it can be appealing to nix some home-buying costs, we recommend that buyers go through with a home inspection.

By hiring a professional to inspect the home, buyers can ensure that the systems and appliances are in working order and that the home is likely free from issues relating to the foundation, ventilation, roofing system, water damage, and more. If issues are identified, the buyer and seller will negotiate (via their Realtors) to determine if the seller will handle repairs or replacements before the sale, or credit the buyer for the work at closing. In some cases, the seller may refuse to make the requested repairs and the buyer will have to determine if they want to proceed with the sale.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data shows that the average cost of a home inspection is between $300-500. While that may seem like a lot, most issues or defects identified in the inspection would cost much more than that to fix down the road.

Getting started

The market is competitive for first-time buyers, and playing the game smart is the key to your home-buying success. To get started on buying your first home, reach out.

Tips for moving with dogs, cats, or other pets


Key Insights

  • Purchase pet tags with updated contact information before moving day.
  • Stock your car and accessible moving boxes with pet-friendly gear such as a water dish, food, toys, a leash, and a crate or gates.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area before your big move by locating dog parks and other pet-friendly locales.
  • You can’t spell homeowner without meow (groan!).

After you’ve completed your home closing, there are some things to keep in mind as you move into a new property with your furry friend. Moving homes can be a confusing time for your pets, but there are tips you can implement to make the transition for your animals as seamless as possible.

Here are insights homeowners can use when packing up their lives and their pet’s toys to settle into a new property. Before you know it, a welcoming committee — aka your tail-wagging pup — will be situated and ready to greet you at the steps of your new home.

Prep your pet in advance for a home transition

Whether you move to a nearby town or across the country, there are many ways to prepare for your pet’s house change, including:

  • Order new tags. Include your essential contact information and create a short-term tag if necessary. Pro tip: Consider putting an AirTag or other tracking tag on your pet for the short or long term.
  • Check your new city’s requirements for pet licensing. Complete important paperwork prior to the move to avoid any inconveniences. Homeowner associations may also require pet registration.
  • Make sure all shots are up-to-date. Maintain a copy of your pet’s records (like proof of rabies vaccination or health certificates). Check that your pet meets the new city’s vaccination guidelines.

The final step of your pre-move checklist is to select a new veterinarian. Schedule a welcome visit in your new town and have your pet’s medical history transferred over. Should anything happen to your pet in the first few days after the move, your new provider will be fully ready to help your pooch, kitty or cockatoo.

Create a smooth move-in day for you and your pet

You’ll want to take special precautions to keep your pets comfortable and safe on move-in day. Wherever you choose to have your pet stay on move-in day, make sure that these essentials are stocked and within reach:

  • Food and water
  • Bowls or other dishes
  • Favorite toys or treats
  • Blankets
  • Bags to dispose of pet waste
  • Leash and collar (with proper tags)
  • Carrier or crate
  • Cleaning supplies in case of an accident
  • Medication

If you’re relocating to a home nearby, it may work best to have your pet stay with a dog- or cat-loving friend or relative on moving day. Or, you can board your animal for the day to ensure they won’t be underfoot during the move.

However, if you need to pack up to move further away, it will be easiest to bring your pet right alongside you. Be sure to take breaks every so often throughout the drive to check in on or walk your pet. If your drive is expected to take multiple days or you want to wait to sleep in your home until everything is unpacked and in place, double-check that you book overnight stays with pet-friendly hotels.

Driving with doggo to your new house

Part of keeping the transition more manageable for your pet is to involve them in the move. Here are some ways to have a worry-free moving day with Fido or Fifi along for the ride:

  • Assign a family member to pet duty. Ask someone to tag along with you in the car or moving vehicle, so they can supervise your animals as you drive.
  • Bring a pet carrier. A kennel or crate will help keep your pet safe during the drive and mitigate the possibility of a runaway dog or cat upon arrival.
  • Keep them comfortable. Have plenty of treats and toys nearby to keep your pet at ease — or to encourage them into the car or crate.
  • Try some test runs. If your pet isn’t used to riding in the car, take a drive to the dog park or around the block before the big day.

Get your furry friend familiar with the new property

Once you arrive at your new home, consider that your pet will pick up on your energy. If your dog or cat can sense that you’re feeling overwhelmed by the move, their mood is likely to match yours. Try to make peace with the potentially stressful situation and your pet will feel calmer, too.

Next, you’ll want to make sure that your animal has time to adjust to their new surroundings. To make your pet feel right at home, set up their water bowl and bed or special sleeping area as soon as possible. If you’re planning to have certain pet-free rooms or furniture, be sure to set those parameters immediately so your pet doesn’t get confused or develop unwanted habits.

Once your pet is situated in the new home, it’s important that they stay there. If you have a runner, keep Max leashed up during the first few days — especially when you may be leaving doors open to bring in your belongings. It’s quite common for dogs to run away when they feel unsure of new surroundings, so take extra precautions and leash your pets.

Make a move to a pet-friendly place

Whether you enjoy being surrounded by a dog- and cat-loving community or you want your animal to have access to pet-friendly amenities, consider a home in Minnesota or western Wisconsin. For more information, reach out and we can explore your options.

The down payment: Seven tips and tricks to save more money over less time


Key insights:

  • The down payment on a home may seem daunting, but there are many ways to make it manageable.
  • If you’re serious about saving for your down payment, be proactive about setting up savings accounts and applying for down payment assistance programs.
  • Let technology take over; you can save for your down payment via apps that automate the savings process.

When considering homeownership, the excitement to start your search may be overshadowed by the fear of coming up with the down payment. This lump sum of money is often intimidating for many first-time homebuyers, but it’s important to save as much as possible toward your payment. By making a sizable down payment upfront, you’re likely to save in interest over the life of the loan and you may receive more favorable mortgage loan terms as well.

If you’re not earning as much as you’d like or you have debt you need to pay down, how do you save for a down payment? Here are seven ideas to get you started.

1. Sign up for down payment assistance programs

State-run programs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, known as down payment assistance programs, can help homebuyers foot the cost of their down payments. These programs are available to both first-time homebuyers and seasoned homeowners that meet certain criteria. For example, you may need to meet income limits, have an eligible minimum credit score, or purchase a home within a certain price range.

2. Plan your savings in advance

By planning your savings early, you’ll know where you stand when it’s time to take out a mortgage. While setting money aside, be sure to talk with a lender. These professionals can help you prepare your finances for buying a home. Plus, lenders may advise on how you can adjust your budget or clean up your credit so you’re best positioned for favorable loan terms and a healthier down payment.

3. Save money without thinking twice

When it comes to saving money, it can be easier said than done. So, set yourself up for success by automating a percentage or set amount of each paycheck into a savings account. As the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind — you’ll be less likely to spend the money when you don’t see it sitting in your checking account. Additionally, you might consider opening a high-yield savings account, which can offer a higher interest rate return on your savings!

Some banks offer services that automatically transfer small amounts of money (based on your activity) into savings each day or week, which can also be a helpful tool to save pennies.

You might also consider paying for necessities with cash only, like groceries and gas. Doing so can help potential buyers better understand their finances and budget.

4. There’s an app for that

Love technology? Consider downloading a savings app on your smartphone. This small but meaningful adjustment could provide the extra boost of savings you need to afford your down payment.

Qapital is a savings app that allows you to put a timeline on your money-related goals. Then, it encourages you to put change aside to save within the app. Furthermore, with Qapital, you’re able to set goals and challenges with others. So, if you’re working toward purchasing a home with your partner, this app could be a great option. Oportun, another savings app, analyzes your bank account and estimates how much money you can spare without notice. Then, it tucks these small withdrawals away in a savings stash.

5. Open a dedicated savings account

Minnesota supports first-time buyers with an opportunity to open a savings account dedicated to financing and closing a home purchase. By opening a first-time buyer savings account, you can save toward your down payment while also benefiting from tax incentives. The interest accrued in your first-time buyer savings account will be free from state taxes. Be sure to consider this option when financing your down payment.

6. Be thankful for outside contributions

You may also be fortunate enough to receive mortgage gift funds from generous friends or family. (Be sure to comply with a specific list of steps in order to utilize your mortgage gift funds.)

Another way to gather extra money toward your down payment is through long-term GoFundMe or other crowdfunding-style campaigns. If your friends and family still give birthday presents, you may consider asking your nearest and dearest to contribute to an account dedicated to your down payment. A few hundred dollars here and there can end up making a significant dent in your down payment.

7. Get a side gig

If you have extra time to spend earning money toward your down payment, consider joining the gig economy. Whether you become a rideshare driver or you shop for groceries, you can make extra cash on your own terms through a gig job.

Ready to purchase a home?

Reach out to be connected with someone who can help you analyze your finances. Together, we can work toward moving forward in your home search.

Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings