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Scott Danielson | |651-341-0464
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Why list now? Tips for a quick summer sale

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Key Insights

  • The price of your home can make a big difference in the success of your sale.
  • Home equity is up, buyers are competing, and homes are in short supply.
  • From repairs to inspections, there are things you can do now to make for a quicker sale later.

Across Minnesota and western Wisconsin, buyer demand and home prices continue to rise while the supply of homes for sale is growing at a slower pace. This mismatch of supply and demand creates a market that gives sellers a significant advantage, especially at lower price points.

It’s clear this summer will continue to be a sellers’ market in most areas. Many of today’s homeowners have record-high equity in their homes, so if you’ve been considering putting your home on the market in the coming months, here is what you need to know to move forward and attract the highest price possible to take advantage of today’s market.

Price your home right the first time

The majority of showing activity occurs within the first two weeks after a home is listed for sale on the market. By pricing your home competitively, you may get more showings and bids upfront – and multiple offers can mean a higher closing price.

While it might be tempting to price your house high, the reality is that if you price your home too high, the listing may suffer from low traffic and fewer bids. Plus, when a buyer sees a home has been on the market for months, they are more likely to underbid in hopes of securing a bargain. To get the best offer, you’ll want to price your home right from day one.

Together, you and your REALTOR® can work to assess your home’s current market value by taking into account:

  • The property’s condition and any upgrades you’ve made
  • The prices of recently sold properties nearby
  • Local market trends and buyer demand

Give buyers what they want

We already talked about getting the price right from the start, but other factors will also influence your home sale's success. Common pitfalls might include:

  • An unwelcoming exterior: Consult our curb appeal checklist for help.
  • An interior that feels too “lived in”: Stage your home to appeal to buyers.
  • A home that needs major updates: See what home improvements pay off, and which to skip.
  • Too much stuff: Declutter and increase your storage.

Need to add appeal on a small budget? Focus on these updates so your home stands out:

  • Clean and declutter
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on the walls (neutral colors are best)
  • Make minor repairs like fixing drips, squeaks, stains, scratches and dents
  • Swap dated light fixtures and hardware for more modern pieces
  • Refresh your mulch and landscaping

Be prepared for inspections

Some cities in Minnesota (around the Twin Cities metro) require a home inspection before the home can be sold. Often referred to as the “Truth-in-Sale-of-Housing” or TISH inspection, the TISH report usually includes a list of fixes sellers will need to complete; it’s focused on risks to life or health that might include plumbing elements and smoke detectors.

When considering offers from buyers, you may see contingencies like a buyer making an offer contingent upon it passing a home inspection. It’s important to understand what a buyer’s home inspection might include so you can prepare in advance.

Stay plugged in

An informed seller is an empowered seller. Whether it’s your first time selling, you’re helping a family member or trying to time a sale and a purchase, your REALTOR can play an instrumental part in getting the price and terms you want as you move forward.

Reach out to begin the process of selling your home for top dollar.

Three ways to avoid homebuyer’s remorse

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Key Insights

  • Make sure your potential property meets all your must-have features.
  • Weigh the pros and cons to ensure you’re happy with your home.
  • Once you’ve made a decision, stop looking! It’s easy to let regret take root when you’re looking at what could have been.

Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you'll ever make, and you’ll want to take the appropriate steps to prep your finances before you begin your search. And while there are a lot of things to consider when buying, here are three top insights you can use to ensure you get it right and don’t end up with homebuyer’s remorse.

1. Create a preliminary list of “must-have” criteria

The first step to buying a home is to list out the criteria you must have, and then create a secondary list of features that would be nice to have. Keep in mind that you’ll have additional considerations if you’re buying a condo or townhome.

Consider:

  • Standard features like bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage and garage stalls
  • Amenities like an updated kitchen, hardwood floors, central heating and cooling
  • Cities, neighborhoods and school districts
  • Commute times, proximity to major thoroughfares
  • Distance to grocery stores, gyms and commercial areas
  • Distance to parks, trails and nature areas

2. Fine-tune your search

While it’s critical that buyers make a move when they find a home that meets their needs, one surefire way to have homebuyer’s remorse is to make an offer when you’re not sure it’s the right fit.

Once you’ve listed your preliminary criteria, work with your agent to:

  • See how your criteria and budget match up to today’s inventory
  • Rework and rank your criteria and budget accordingly
  • Open up your search to include new home types or areas
  • Tour homes and assess their pros and cons

You may feel pressure to move quickly in today’s competitive market, but you should still assess each decision carefully and weigh the pros and cons. If your heart was set on Golden Valley because of its proximity to your downtown Minneapolis job, would you be happy living a bit further west in Plymouth? Would you prefer a smaller three-bedroom home, or a larger two-bedroom home with a fully finished basement that could be converted?

Realistically, you may be “stuck” in this phase for a while, but it’s important to consider any potential pitfalls of the property before you start your negotiations. You want to be confident in your decision, and that means walking into the deal with your eyes wide open (getting a home inspection can also help with this).

3. Once your offer is accepted, stop looking

After months of searching, it may be habitual to search for homes on EdinaRealty.com, even after your offer has been accepted. Don't do it! There will always be new homes for sale, but as you’ll learn from touring homes, what you see online is not always what you get in person.

Once your offer is accepted, delete your saved searches and properties and focus on your new home – the one you loved when you put in your offer. If you need an outlet for your new-home excitement, start planning out your new home’s layout, decor and yard.

Get started!

Ready to see what’s out there? Begin your search to see what homes match your desired features and neighborhoods and reach out for expert guidance.

The ins and outs of estate sales

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Key Insights

  • An estate sale is like a large-scale garage sale that can sell high-end, new, expensive or sentimental personal items.
  • You can hire an estate sale company to manage your estate sale for you.
  • Managing an estate sale is a multi-step process.

You might have seen signs haphazardly placed around your neighborhood with “estate sale” written in big, bold letters. But until you’ve been to one–or have had to plan one–it’s hard to comprehend how large of an operation it is and how it differs from any other types of second-hand sales.

What is an estate sale?

To put it simply, an estate sale is a way of selling personal items. Think of it like a large-scale, more formalized garage sale. Similar to a garage sale, estate sales often take place on the person’s property (though an estate sale will typically leave items inside the home for viewing rather than lugging them onto the front lawn).

The biggest difference between a garage sale and an estate sale is that a garage sale is held because people have unwanted items they’d like to get rid of, but an estate sale occurs because the items need to be sold. This often means that well-loved items go up for sale, even if they are high-end, new, or represent a significant purchase.

Estate sales can be held for a variety of reasons. Boomers moving into senior living, empty nesters downsizing, moving to warmer weather or to be closer to family, and workers relocating for jobs are just a few groups who might engage in an estate sale. However, for most, an estate sale is brought on by the death of a loved one.

When to bring in a third party

Estate sales are a lot of work, and for those who are unable, unwilling or working with other beneficiaries, bringing in a third-party estate sale company to manage the sale might be a good idea. Not only does hiring an estate sale company take the burden off, but estate sale companies can often plan estate sales more quickly and more accurately appraise items for sale to ensure beneficiaries are getting top dollar. This is especially helpful if you’re handling an estate sale for a loved one who didn’t follow an estate planning process before passing.

Estate sale companies may charge 30-50% of the gross sales, but often don’t charge a flat fee or require you to pay upfront. They may also deal with other aspects of clearing a property, but you’d need to talk with the company to see what services they offer.

If you choose to go with an estate sale company, be sure to ask the right questions and do your research to avoid getting scammed.

How to plan for an estate sale

If you inherited a property and want to run your own estate sale, there are a number of steps to take and things to keep in mind.

Establish the items you want to sell and price them strategically: Look at eBay, thrift stores and consignment shops to get prices, or (as a rule of thumb) mark them at about 50-70% of their retail value. For special items, you might want to get an appraisal. Either way, establish the lowest price you’re willing to take and remember that negotiating prices is a big part of estate sales.

Advertise the sale and check with local ordinances: Advertise your sale by hanging flyers, buying ads in the local paper, establishing a website (list your best items with pictures, descriptions and prices), posting on social media, and placing plenty of those yard signs. Be sure to check your local county ordinances for rules and regulations and obtain any permits you may need to host an estate sale.

Stage to sell: Clear out the space for buyers, clean up the items you're selling and price them clearly, and organize the items so they’re easy to find and poised for maximum sales.

Make a clean-up plan: Decide what to do with the items that don’t sell–are they worth bringing to a consignment shop or an auction house, or is it better suited to the donation pile? Keep in mind that some items may not be accepted by donation centers and may have to be sent to a recycling center or dumpster.

Think about what will happen after the sale

Once the estate sale ends, you’ll be left with an empty space. If your plan is to sell, it’s better to work with a REALTOR® early on and take advantage of their expertise. Reach out to get started on selling your property so you have plans in place to move forward.

Take control of rising insurance costs

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Key Insights

  • Home insurance rates have seen historic rises over the past few years due to increased claims, severe weather and rising repair costs.
  • There are many factors that carriers take into consideration when determining your coverage and rates.
  • While insurance costs aren’t what they used to be, there are ways you can help lower your premiums.
  • Partnering with an independent insurance agency like Edina Realty Insurance* can help you find the coverage you need for the lowest price and best coverage possible.

Scott Teece, Vice President of Sales, Edina Realty Insurance

It’s not just you, and it’s not in your head; insurance pricing and premiums have been rising rapidly over the past few years—some in the double digits. These historic rate increases mean some homeowners aren’t able to afford the same coverage as before. Or, even if they can afford the increases, in many cases the coverage has lessened. There are a few reasons for these increases—and some steps you can take to manage your insurance costs.

Why insurance is changing

2022 and 2023 held the most insurance claims seen in years. While this is true across the insurance industry, for home insurance, an increased frequency and severity of storms, natural disasters and wildfires have put a significant strain on insurance carriers who weren’t anticipating fulfilling the exorbitant amount of claims filed. Outside of the rise in claims, inflation has also caused repair costs to increase (both in labor and materials), making it more expensive to return properties to their previous state.

As a result, insurance companies are raising rates and lowering coverage for two primary reasons:

  1. To recoup their losses from claims filed over the last few years.
  2. To return to a position of profitability (rate adequacy).

Some insurance companies have even begun using technology like drones to survey homes and determine if they are in good enough condition to insure. It’s not uncommon for inspections to occur before coverage is offered, and a refusal to renew coverage has become more mainstream.

What impacts your coverage

There are a lot of factors that a carrier may consider when determining your premium and contract, but they primarily fall into three categories: home, owner and coverage.

Home factors: What is being insured

  • Location: Coverage can vary wildly by location, even as targeted as a neighborhood. If the location of your home has a history of losses, is close to water, has severe weather, vandalism or theft, it can increase costs. On the flip side, factors like living near a fire station could lower costs.
  • Age of home—especially the roof: The condition of the roof is a huge concern to insurers. It’s the #1 indicator of future claims.
  • Size of home: The more there is, the more that can need repair.
  • Safety features: This includes home security, as well as yards clear of debris, well-lit paths and steps with railings.
  • Condition of home/Construction of home: The better condition the home is in, and the higher the quality of construction, the less likely a claim will be filed. Your home doesn’t have to be new, but the upkeep of the home should be evident.
  • Attractive nuisances: These are potentially dangerous features that might look attractive. For example, a pool, trampoline or tree house. Most HOAs have regulations that negate any worries a carrier may have (like a net around the trampoline or fence around the pool), but they could still be a factor in your coverage.

Owner factors: Who is being insured

  • Credit history: Some states will use your credit score as an indicator of your reliability to pay, however, other states prohibit carriers from using this information. (In MN and WI, carriers can use credit history.)
  • Previous claims history: Insurance companies tend to believe that if you’ve filed a claim in the past, you’re more likely to file one in the future.
  • Marital status: Statistics tend to show that married couples file claims less often than singles. It also helps if there are two incomes and/or two sets of eyes to manage home upkeep.
  • If you own or finance: Most lenders require you to have a certain amount of coverage, but if you own your home, you have control over how much coverage you want to have.
  • Pets in the home (especially certain dog breeds and exotic animals): The risk for injury that could result from a pet (like a dog bite) can be a factor for some carriers.

Coverage factors: How it’s being insured

  • Your deductible: A high deductible usually means a lower premium. The reverse is also true. (Though higher rates for both have been common recently.)
  • Type of insurance policy: The more coverage your policy provides, the more money you can expect to pay out to your insurance company.

What homeowners can do

The situation might seem discouraging, but there are ways you as a homeowner can help keep costs lower.

Be proactive

Check on your renewal date and start comparing options about 45 days before your renewal. You’ll need to make your decision two to three weeks before your renewal date to ensure consistent coverage. Switching carriers isn’t a difficult or lengthy process, but you want to make sure you don’t have any gaps in your coverage.

Be diligent about reviewing your contract and pay special attention to any language that’s changed. Call your agent for clarification about any changes you don’t understand. Ask if increasing your deductible would help with costs and if that’d be the right move for your home.

Shop around

There is no reason you shouldn’t be shopping around for insurance. Even those who have been with a company for a long time may benefit from switching by getting new customer discounts. Rates from two or three years ago are unheard of now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a better rate or more coverage with another carrier.

Ask about the different discounts you could get, like bundling home and auto, veteran’s discounts, new member discounts, senior discounts, etc. Every little bit helps.

Again, there’s no reason not to shop around, so look around and see who’s competitive.

Be upfront

The more information you can give upfront to an insurance company, the better. They’ll ask for your personal identifying information (birthday, history at location, etc.), the square footage of your home, the age of your roof, if you have a finished basement, pets, fences, railings, a pool, etc.

Be prepared that your home will be inspected and make sure your yard is clean and free of debris. You may even decide that it’s time to get rid of some of your attractive nuisances. Ask for the inspection results and any recommendations the company may have so you can make improvements and get a feel of how insurable your home is.

Start saving

The reality of the situation is that coverage and cost just aren’t what they used to be. You’d be wise to start saving for big item repairs like a roof to avoid additional cost increases. It will help you with general upkeep to file fewer claims and help meet those high deductibles when you can’t.

Partner with a broker who looks out for you

Insurance companies are about their bottom line, but insurance brokers like Edina Realty Insurance are about getting you the coverage you need at an affordable rate. As an independent broker, Edina Realty Insurance works with A-ranked insurance providers that you can trust and they advocate for your interests.

Edina Realty Insurance consults with each consumer to make sure they know what they're buying and what they need, and your partnership with them doesn’t end once you’ve chosen a carrier. They’re there to help you figure out everything about insurance like what makes the most financial sense when debating to pay out of pocket or file a claim for a repair.

A great bonus of working with Edina Realty Insurance is that if you’ve bought a home using an Edina Realty agent, they already have much of your information on file so you don’t have to dig up facts like square footage or age of the roof.

There’s no reason not to reach out for a quote. A quick conversation with an Edina Realty Insurance agent can help take the work out of getting quotes and finding the right coverage at the right price. Reach out today for a quick conversation about your insurance needs.

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

10 Luxury home features to have in a modern luxury home

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Key Insights

  • Luxury can be in the eye of the beholder, but these are the most popular 10 luxury home features we’re seeing.
  • Dedicated spaces like a state-of-the-art home theater, wine cellars and tasting rooms and private gyms and yoga studios meet the needs of busy professionals and enthusiasts.
  • Luxury home amenities such as a smart home automation system, heated floors and towel racks, indoor pools and spas and panoramic views with floor-to-ceiling windows are important to luxury living.
  • Outdoor kitchens and entertainment spaces, expansive walk-in closets and rooftop gardens and terraces all add a touch of lux to homes.

If a homeowner is the king or queen of the castle, shouldn’t the home be full of little luxuries? Luxury home features aren’t reserved for mansions; they can be part of even modest homes. Some of the most popular trends include:

  • Smart home automation systems
  • Heated floors and towel racks
  • Outdoor kitchens and entertainment spaces
  • Indoor pools and spas
  • State-of-the-art home theaters
  • Wine cellars and tasting rooms
  • Private gyms and yoga studios
  • Expansive walk-in closets
  • Rooftop gardens and terraces
  • Panoramic views with floor-to-ceiling windows

A modern luxury home shows a level of care and attention to detail that’s hard to ignore. But as times change, what are considered luxury house amenities change too. Advancements in technology and the aftermath of COVID-19 have had major impacts on what luxury house items are craved by buyers.

Here are the top 10 luxury house features that you’ll be seeing in listings all over Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Smart home automation systems

A smart home automation system is like having your own butler. Integrating cooking appliances, lighting, heating and cooling, security and entertainment can turn basic homes into contemporary luxury homes. Imagine your blinds rising in the morning to allow the sun to gently wake you up, your oven to start preheating on your way home from work, or your entertainment system incorporating surround sound and specialty lighting effects for an immersive experience.

A smart home automation system offers convenience and efficiency. It can also save you money by adjusting temperatures and turning off lights. A smart home can add a layer of security by implementing safety features like turning off electricity to an iron after a set amount of time has passed and locking doors at bedtime.

Heated floors and towel racks

Any bathroom can turn into a spa with heated floors and towel racks. Luxury home amenities like these might seem like indulgences, but they make mornings so much more tolerable when you live in a cold climate. Heated floors can be used in other areas of the home, too. Laundry rooms, kitchens and other high-traffic areas are great candidates for heated floors.

If you’re a seller making some fixes, consider incorporating heated flooring during your updates for a truly luxurious home.

Outdoor kitchens and entertainment spaces

After being cooped up indoors during a long, harsh winter, there’s nothing better than enjoying the great outdoors when warmer weather finally arrives. Having an outdoor kitchen and entertainment space allows for maximum outdoor time with friends and family. For those who own beautiful luxury homes, being able to host social gatherings both indoors and outdoors is a great bonus that increases the functionality of their outdoor space and makes the most of our Minnesota and Wisconsin summers.

Indoor pools and spas

A pool and spa appeal to people at all stages in life, whether they’re used for fun, exercise or health benefits. Add in the opportunity for year-round use and it’s no surprise that indoor pools and spas often feature prominently in luxurious houses. Having a privately owned pool and spa allows for customization you can’t get elsewhere, like the materials and style as well as the temperature and chemicals used. Not to mention the convenience of having it right at home, the ability to use it whenever you want and the privacy you’ll enjoy.

State-of-the-art home theaters

A dedicated home theater is all the rage these days, with big, oversized chairs, wall-sized screens and integrated sound and lighting. With many blockbusters streaming right after release, people across the country are forgoing trekking to the theater for a night in–and not missing out on the theater experience.

Wine cellars and tasting rooms

Any wine connoisseur would love to have a wine cellar and tasting room in their luxury property. Valuable wines need to be stored in specific climates to best preserve the taste, color and quality, and a dedicated space that offers temperature and humidity control allows a wine investment to stay in peak condition to be enjoyed with family and friends.

A luxury home isn’t just about the rooms—it’s about lifestyle and a luxurious house with a wine cellar and tasting room delivers on both.

Private gyms and yoga studios

Busy professionals and fitness enthusiasts love having a private gym and yoga studio in their own home. Designed to motivate and inspire, a dedicated space with all the essentials and favorite high-end equipment allows for convenience and customization. Luxury home features like a private gym and yoga studio are perfectly on trend with the focus on health and wellness seen in the last few years.

Expansive walk-in closets

Luxury contemporary homes wouldn’t be complete without an expansive walk-in closet. Bespoke organizational systems not only provide storage, but they also allow an owner to showcase beloved accessories like sunglasses, purses, shoes and more. Large closets can be broken up to include additional spaces, like a dressing area, vanity or seating area to personalize the space and utilize it for optimal functionality. Lighting and personalization are also key components of upscale walk-in closets.

Storage is a highly desired benefit for any homeowner, and expansive closets featuring quality materials can set a luxury property apart.

Rooftop gardens and terraces

For a modern luxury house in an urban setting like Minneapolis, a slice of outdoor greenery via a rooftop garden and terrace is a welcome respite from big-city living. Rooftop gardens and terraces can suit a large range of styles and purposes from zen gardens to outdoor kitchens, and they can be a private oasis for entertaining or relaxing. Regardless of the landscaping, rooftop gardens and terraces provide a unique opportunity to bring the indoors outside–while enjoying the view.

Panoramic views with floor-to-ceiling windows

With more than 10,000 lakes, Minnesota has no shortage of cities with beautiful luxury homes with equally beautiful views. Architectural marvels like floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of scenery all from the comfort of your home. Bringing in natural light and nature through large windows is a known mood booster and ties the outdoor space and indoor space together for a seamless experience.

Invest in your next luxurious home with Edina Realty

This list is by no means exhaustive, especially as luxury can be in the eye of the beholder. Luxury home features like a sports court may appeal to one family while another seeks a chef’s kitchen or a five-car garage. However, these 10 luxury house items have stood the test of time and are very desirable to buyers seeking contemporary luxury homes.

Finding the perfect modern luxury home that suits your lifestyle requires a discerning eye and a professional agent who is well-connected, knows the local area and has experience with luxury properties. Reach out today to learn more about the beautiful luxury homes available in your area.

Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: As a seller, can I have hidden cameras on during a showing of my home?

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Key Insights

  • Recording laws are different across states.
  • In Minnesota and western Wisconsin, it’s legal to secretly video record in your home, but you are not allowed to record audio.
  • If you intend to video record during a showing, be sure to turn the audio recording function off.
  • Keep in mind that it’s illegal to videotape a person where there is likelihood of recording them in a state of undress (for instance, a bathroom).

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 the legality of sellers using hidden cameras or other recording devices while a potential buyer tours their property.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

My home is currently listed for sale. I have a couple of hidden cameras for security purposes but have been told that it is illegal for me to have the cameras on when I have open houses or showings. Is that true?

Well, that’s partly true and partly not. When it comes to hidden cameras and other recording devices, each state has its own rules. For this article, we’ll just focus on those rules applicable to Edina Realty’s primary areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In Minnesota and Wisconsin (and many other states) it’s important to distinguish between the recording of video only and the capturing of audio of conversations.

As a general rule, you are allowed to videotape (even secretly) in your own home.

There are a number of legitimate reasons a homeowner may want to install a hidden camera in their home. A camera could capture video evidence in case of a burglary, or the homeowner might want to keep an eye on their kids or pets.

For the most part, it is perfectly legal to have a camera taking video of what occurs within your home. This is true even if the camera is capturing video of someone without their knowledge. One big caveat to that general rule is that you are not permitted to place a camera with the intention or likelihood of capturing a person taking their clothes off — for example, in a bathroom.

However, you can’t typically record audio without the speaker’s knowledge or consent.

While it is generally permissible to record video, state regulations treat the recording of audio differently. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, it is against the law to use electronic means to intercept an oral communication when it is made with the reasonable expectation of privacy. These laws are generally focused on wiretapping but can be applied more broadly.

An oral communication can be a conversation between two or more people, so a conversation between prospective buyers of your home and their agents would appear to fall into the definition of an oral communication.

So, in short, it’s generally ok to have a video camera in your home. However, if you’re going to have showings and open houses, you should adjust your camera settings to not record the audio.

Note: There is an exception to the law that allows a party to a conversation to secretly record a conversation — but you are not a party to the conversations between potential buyers and their agents.

The Edina Realty legal department serves as in-house counsel for Edina Realty and does not represent private clients. This article is not intended to provide legal advice.

Five home improvements with the best ROI

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Key insights:

  • Historically, home sellers invested in improvement projects before listing to generate more interest in their property.
  • Today’s sellers hold a keen advantage in the market, so they should be sure to update only what is necessary before listing their home for sale.
  • Data shows that some of the least expensive projects — such as a new garage door or a new front door — can have the greatest impact on a sale.

You’ve likely seen the headlines: Today’s sellers are getting 99.3% of their asking price in the past 12 months, which means that they hold a big advantage in today’s market. With this news, you may not plan to update anything on your property before you list it for sale. If your home is in the right neighborhood and in good condition, this may be just fine! But if your home is outdated, you may get an even higher bid if you give it a little polish before selling.

But which projects can have the biggest impact for sellers? Shouldn’t some updates be reserved for homeowners who plan to stay in their homes and enjoy them for a few years?

These are the questions we asked as we dove into the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com). This exhaustive report details the cost and value of home improvement projects across the country, and they even break the data out by region and city.

Based on that report, here are the projects Twin Cities homeowners should take on if they want to recoup the most on their initial investment.

1. Fiberglass grand entrance

Grand entrance

Cost: $10,823

Resale value: $5,238

Cost recouped: 97.5%

Replacing a standard entry door with a more grand entrance can add a lot of curb appeal to your property. Fiberglass’ unique material keeps it energy-efficient and durable while being highly customizable, even able to mimic wood grain.

Start by removing the standard entry door and then cut and reframe the door opening for a larger door with dual sidelights. Customize the entrance with upscale finishes like color, threshold, lockset and decorative half-glass with sidelights.

An upscale fiberglass entry adds a big “wow” and should only take a day to complete.

2. HVAC conversion to electric

HVAC

Cost: $18,328

Resale value: $17,615

Cost recouped: 96.1%

If your system is in need of an update, converting to an electric HVAC operating system may be a sound investment.

While not the most glamorous home update, a new HVAC system that runs on electric instead of gas can offer a big return when it comes to home resale. An electric HVAC system improves air quality and lowers energy bills over time. Switching to an electrically-powered system provides greater safety and peace of mind than their gas-powered counterparts, which produce carbon monoxide. They also have a longer life span and are energy-efficient while operating quietly and providing lower maintenance costs.

In addition to having lower upfront costs to install, tax incentives and rebates may help lower your initial bills.

3. Manufactured stone veneer

Stone veneer

Cost: $11,463

Resale value: $10,582

Cost recouped: 92.3%

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

To complete this project, you’ll first remove the bottom third of siding from the street-facing side of your home exterior then replace this area with a stone veneer, including sills, 40 corners, an address block and a detailed faux-stone archway around the front door. The installation also includes protection against water damage and corrosion.

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

4. Siding replacement (vinyl)

Vinyl siding

Cost: $17,813

Resale value: $15,950

Cost recouped: 89.5%

New siding can be a big selling point to potential buyers. It not only aesthetically updates a home and adds curb appeal, but when using vinyl, can add additional benefits like preventing pests and adding insulation for more energy efficiency.

Installing vinyl can mean years of maintenance-free living for owners. Vinyl is durable, low-maintenance and comes in a wide variety of colors and textures to best showcase a home.

As a benefit to sellers, it’s also cost-effective and easy to install. Note that not all vinyl siding is the same, and you’ll want to pay close attention to creating a water-resistant barrier.

5. Minor, mid-range kitchen remodel

Remodeled kitchen

Cost: $27,009

Resale value: $22,784

Cost recouped: 84.4%

A modest kitchen upgrade can better maximize space, increase accessibility and provide enough of a cosmetic improvement to bring a dated kitchen back to life.

Replacing a number of key appliances, cabinet/drawer faces and hardware, along with cost-effective flooring and counters and a fresh coat of paint on walls, trim and ceiling can offer buyers a blank slate that showcases the functionality of a crucial space.

Voila! A not-too-expensive update that saves you the cost of all new cabinetry or high-end finishes.

Want more info on the ROI of home projects?

We’ve detailed the five projects with the highest return on investment, but the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report also shared the five projects with the lowest ROI in the Twin Cities. If you plan to move soon, you may want to avoid adding an owner’s suite or a brand-new bathroom.

Here are the home improvement projects with the lowest ROI locally:

  • Upscale owner’s suite addition (22.8% recouped from budget of $338,195)
  • Upscale bathroom addition (25.6% of $109,772)
  • Mid-range bathroom addition (27.2% of $60,592)
  • Mid-range owner’s suite addition (30.0% of $163,887)
  • Upscale major kitchen remodel (31.1% of $152,918)

Wondering what other remodeling projects were reviewed for the Minneapolis region? Check out the complete 2023 Cost vs. Value Report for our area.

Get expert guidance before you sell

Keep in mind that it may be smartest to take on higher-cost, lower-ROI projects only if you plan to be in the home for a few more years. After all, your own enjoyment of these projects can certainly count as a return on your investment!

However, if your updates are solely intended to sell your home faster or for more money, let’s talk before you begin renovations. Reach out for advice on the most cost-effective, impactful changes you can make to your property.

Complete data from the 2023 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at www.costvsvalue.com, Distributed by Remodeling by JLC, ©2024 Zonda Media, a Delaware corporation.

Four questions to ask when buying a condo or townhouse

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Key Insights

  • Carefully review HOA fees and how the budget is spent when considering a townhouse or condo.
  • Ask for a copy of HOA rules and regulations so you can fully understand the benefits and deterrents of a space.
  • Make sure your unit is adequately soundproof before making an offer.
  • Consider parking and additional storage spaces.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer hoping to buy a starter home, or a downsizer looking for a fresh start, a condo or townhouse could be just what you need. Here are four questions you can ask as you tour condos and townhouses with your REALTOR®.

1. What are the HOA fees? How is the budget spent?

Homeowners associations (HOA) can be a plus for condo and townhouse owners who don’t want to arrange for trash pick-up or snow removal. Different HOAs cover different items—some HOA fees might include water and sewage, while others expect dwellers to cover that cost separately. It’s important to review what the HOA costs cover so you can budget appropriately. Remember, HOA fees are technically a part of your housing cost, and they should be considered when you are determining your budget.

When inquiring about your HOA fees, be sure to ask how the budget is allocated, who controls the purse strings, and how much is currently available in cash reserves. If the building is 10 to 20 years old, for example, experts recommend that 25-30% of the incoming fees be earmarked for future major repairs. It’d also be wise to ask about past special assessments and if there are any on the horizon. Be sure to look at the insurance policy and see if the coverage is robust enough for your area.

2. What are the HOA rules and regulations, and the perks or community resources?

Every homeowners association is different, so be sure to ask if the townhouse or condo:

  • Allows pets or has size and breed restrictions
  • Has regulations about upkeep of private property (including balconies)
  • Requires your unit to be owner-occupied
  • Charges fines—and what fines are most common
  • Has quiet hours or noise restrictions
  • Offers security measures (security personnel, cameras, entry fobs, lighting, etc.)

Much of this information can be found in the HOA rules and regulations, and most management companies will give you a copy to review if you ask. If you can, ask about who manages the property and how accessible they are to residents.

On the other hand, condos and townhomes can have plenty of perks. Ask if they have:

  • A pool, Jacuzzi or sauna
  • Tennis courts or a community gym
  • Indoor or outdoor party rooms
  • A community-gardening area
  • Walking paths or outdoor space

3. What is the parking and storage availability?

While almost all condos (especially complexes) and townhouses offer parking, asking if you get a complimentary parking spot or if you’ll have to pay for parking is important. Be sure to check out the parking in person and see how much space is allotted. A townhouse garage may say it fits two cars but realistically cannot accommodate two SUVs. For condos, the difference between covered parking and underground parking is a game-changer when winter rolls around. Plus, a separate building may mean additional property taxes.

For those with multiple vehicles or who like to entertain, you may want to consider what the extra parking is like. Are there plenty of spaces? Do you need a permit to park in that area? Are there restrictions when it snows or on trash days?

You should also consider any larger items you have, like bicycles, skis, luggage, camping equipment and more. Your parking space may accommodate some extra items, but it’s good to ask if the condo or townhouse comes with a private storage space and be sure to check out the storage in person to see if it matches your needs.

4. What’s the community like?

In condo and townhouse living, getting along with your neighbors can be important. With closer quarters and community-shared spaces, you could be seeing (and hearing) a lot of them.

First, check if the unit has been soundproofed. This may seem silly, but one of the top complaints of condo and townhouse owners is that they can hear their neighbors’ comings, goings and everything in between. Be sure to inquire about any soundproofing that has been done to the space and consider stopping by at different times of the day or week to get a feel for how sound travels and what the “busy” times are (for instance, if you work nights, a community with heavy foot traffic in the morning might not be the best fit).

Consider the amount of privacy you’ll have. Ask questions like:

  • Are patios/balconies blocked off from your neighbors?
  • Are there multiple elevators and entrances?
  • Are common spaces heavily used?

Depending on the amount of privacy the space has, you might want to pay attention to the lifestyle of your neighbors and see if it matches your own.

Ready for a condo or townhouse?

The questions above are just a few of the important factors you should consider when buying a condo or townhouse, but a seasoned REALTOR can help you fully understand all the advantages and disadvantages of communal living. Learn more about condos and townhouses for sale or reach out today for help on the path to homeownership.

What is an appraisal, and how can sellers “pass” it?

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Key Insights

  • An appraisal is an evaluation of a property's value that is done to ensure that the home justifies the loan amount.
  • Appraisals are done by an appraiser, who generally does an in-person inspection and notes amenities and the state of the home, finds relevant comps and evaluates neighborhood statistics to determine a home’s value.
  • A seller and their agent can help the process go smoothly by compiling all relevant information and getting the home in tip-top shape.
  • If a home appraises as expected, you go to the closing table. If it doesn’t, you can ask for a reconsideration.

Getting an offer accepted in today's competitive market can be exhilarating for both buyers and sellers. But an agreement between these two parties is only part of a longer process. The home also needs to appraise at the agreed-upon sales price so the lender can justify the loan amount. So how does this process work and what influences it? If you're selling your home, here are insights you can use to get a fair, informed appraisal for your property.

What does an appraiser do?

In short, an appraiser determines the current value of a property. They generally do this by performing a walk-through of the interior and exterior of the property and making note of any amenities such as a finished basement or swimming pool. They will also note health and safety code violations or other areas of concern. Most appraisers will utilize comparable home data (often referred to as comps) of nearby recent sales and neighborhood statistics to help determine a home's value.

Understanding an appraiser’s work style

Since appraisers are independent contractors (hired by the lender and typically billed back to the buyer), it's important to understand that they have their own preferences and work styles. While they are on your property, it’s essential to allow them one to two hours to complete the inspection without interruption. However, there are things you can do to make the appraiser's job easier — and help your home get an accurate valuation.

How can the seller help?

  • Make sure all utilities are on.
  • Ensure spaces and mechanicals are clean, functioning and free of debris.
  • Replace burned-out lights and make needed repairs.
  • Make sure crawl spaces, attics and outbuildings are accessible.
  • Provide your agent’s contact information early on. (The appraiser typically expects to speak with the listing agent.)

How can your REALTOR® help?

Your REALTOR can communicate relevant information to the appraiser and help make the process go smoothly. Here are a few ways your agent will assist:

  • Report upgrades and the dates they occurred.
  • Tell the story of how you arrived at the anticipated closing price. For example, explain if the property attracted multiple offers.
  • Provide value trends, including closed comps, recent transactions and neighborhood data.

Before the appraiser leaves, you or your REALTOR may ask whether there are any needed repairs or known concerns but understand that the appraiser may choose not to share this information with you.

What happens if the home appraises?

Hooray, your property appraised at the sales price! All systems go and you’re on your way to the closing table. Now the buyer's financial and credit history will likely be verified, the lender will likely approve the home mortgage loan and the loan package will be submitted to the title company to prepare the documents for closing.

What happens if the home doesn’t appraise?

If a property appraises under the sales price, your REALTOR can request a reconsideration of value. In this case, your agent and lender would guide the process, listing factors that should warrant adjustments, such as additional comps or alternate data. It’s possible that the appraisal could be reconsidered and you could still close at the price agreed upon by you and the buyer.

Ready to sell?

If you haven't yet put your home on the market or need help preparing your home to sell, reach out today and get in touch with an experienced professional who can assist you throughout the selling (or buying!) journey.

Five expert tips for negotiating a home purchase

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Key Insights

  • It’s important to know what the market conditions are and what (if any) leverage you have when buying a home.
  • Discuss how high you’re willing to go before making an offer so you can quickly respond to counteroffers.
  • Carefully read the terms of purchase and determine what terms are most important to you.
  • Work with a REALTOR who understands the market, language and negotiation techniques to protect your interests and help you get the best terms.

You know it’s important to hire an expert negotiator when buying a home, but did you know that by doing your research, you can also keep the sale on track? Here are five insights you can use when negotiating a home purchase.

1. Determine leverage

Sometimes, leverage is based on local market conditions. When there is a shortage of homes for sale (as there is now in many areas), sellers may expect to get their listed price because buyers are competing over a small pool of homes for sale. When homes are abundant on the market, buyers hold the advantage and may be able to secure their desired property for less..

Of course, there are other factors that can give a buyer or seller an advantage. Buyers may benefit if sellers need a swift path to closing or can’t afford their monthly mortgage payments. And even in a buyers’ market, in-demand homes in trendy neighborhoods may fetch multiple bids and a higher sales price. If you find a home you love and aren’t sure who has the leverage, talk with your REALTOR® for insights and context.

2. Leverage comparable sales

Your REALTOR will have access to comparable sales, often called “comps,” in your desired neighborhood. Comps will show you the average sales price and time on the market of similar homes. These numbers can be invaluable as you determine your bidding and negotiation strategy.

Think of it this way: If you were bartering for a $50 lamp at a flea market, you might have no idea what to make as a starting offer. However, if you knew that a friend had bought a similar lamp from the same vendor for $45 last week, you could safely assume that a $45 offer would be reasonable. This same idea can be applied on a grand scale when putting together an initial bid based on comps in your desired area.

3. Respond immediately to counteroffers

If a seller responds to your offer with a counteroffer, it’s important to work with your REALTOR to respond to it quickly. In fact, you may even want to discuss how high you’ll go in a counter before you make your initial offer. That way, if a counteroffer comes in, your agent can verify that the number you previously discussed still holds and move the negotiation forward quickly.

4. Understand the terms of purchase

When your offer is accepted, you and your REALTOR will review the purchase agreement to see if you’ll agree to the seller’s terms. Some sellers may add special clauses saying that the sale does not include a prized chandelier or brand-new stacking washer and dryer units, and you’ll have to determine if these terms are deal-breakers. They could also include other terms, such as contingencies, proposed closing dates, provisions on inspections and more.

Remember, the party with leverage may not see the need to budge, so it’s important to enter negotiations with open eyes. Once the purchase agreement has been drawn up, it’s up to the buyer and their REALTOR to determine what’s worth fighting for and what can be accepted.

5. Never cut out the “middle man”

Keep in mind that while it may be tempting to directly negotiate terms with the seller, you should avoid this path. First, negotiations are about staying closely guarded without appearing too closed off, and REALTORS know how to expertly navigate these conversations. If you appear too eager to settle a term, you may give up any leverage you have. Plus, by calling the seller directly, you may be cutting out your expert while the seller is still consulting with their listing agent to get the best terms.

Last, the language of real estate contracts is complicated and requires the eye and experience of a professional. By negotiating a contract verbally (and outside the terms of the listing agreement), you may not end up with a contract that reflects your handshake deal. Your REALTOR will ensure everything is legally sound and in writing.

Start your home search

Before you can begin bidding or negotiating, reach out and get the help of a local expert who specializes in getting to the closing table.

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