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Christine Savard | |952-210-9047
Greg Cutshall | |651-324-6999

a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate

What every seller needs to know about selling this winter

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Key insights:

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

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

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

A snapshot of our local market

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

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

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

Selling a waterfront home this winter

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

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

Selling a luxury home this winter

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

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

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

Selling a starter home this winter

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

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

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

What happens next?

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

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

How to host an amazing virtual housewarming party

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Key insights:

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

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

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

How to host an amazing virtual housewarming party

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

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

What is a housewarming party?

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

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

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

What is a virtual housewarming party?

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

Pros: Virtual housewarming party

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

Cons: Virtual housewarming party

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

homeowner on zoom call

Why go virtual for your housewarming party?

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

Reasons to go virtual:

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

Homeowner on Facetime call

How to throw a virtual party

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

Virtual housewarming party

Choose a streaming platform

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

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

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

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

Create a registry (if you want)

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

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

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

Virtual housewarming gift ideas

Best practices for housewarming registries

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

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

Virtual housewarming gift

How to ask for gift cards on a housewarming invitation

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

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

Do I have to create a housewarming registry?

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

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

Invite your guests

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

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

Email on phone

Decide on entertainment

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

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

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

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

Trivia night

Prepare your space

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

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

What is proper housewarming party etiquette?

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

  • Timing
  • Guest list
  • Duration
  • Registry

Homeowners in a virtual housewarming party Zoom call

When should you have a housewarming party?

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

Family attending a virtual housewarming party

Who should you invite?

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

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

Virtual housewarming party Facetime call

should a housewarming party last?

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

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

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

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

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

Best time of day for a housewarming party

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

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

Need help finding your dream home?

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

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

Decorate your home with the 2021 Color of the Year

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Key insights:

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

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

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

The 2021 Colors of the Year

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

Pantone: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

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

Benjamin Moore: Aegean Teal

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

Sherwin Williams: Urbane Bronze

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

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

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

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

Staging your home with Ultimate Gray

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

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

Staging your home with Illuminating

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

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

Staging your home with Aegean Teal

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

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

Staging your home with Urbane Bronze

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

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

Painting a successful home sale

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

Homeowners: Embrace these 2021 home and design trends

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Key insights:

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

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

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

2021 interior design trends

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

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

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

Living room with a rich color scheme

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

2021 home layout trends

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

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

Home architects are also combatting open floor layouts by:

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

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

2021 energy efficiency and indoor air trends

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

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

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

Solar panels on roof

2021 plant and garden trends

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

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

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

House plant wall

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

Ready for what’s next?

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

2021 market expectations for buyers and sellers

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Key insights

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

Sharry Schmid, president, Edina Realty

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

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

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

Are we in a bubble?

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

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

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

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

We’ll be watching the K-shaped recovery

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

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

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

The future of work (and working from home)

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

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

What else lies ahead in 2021

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

Our local economy

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

Looking ahead to a brighter 2021

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

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

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

Buying? These nearby amenities may increase your home value faster

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Key insights:

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

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

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

Buy near these three grocery stores

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

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

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

Nearby parks and trails may increase home values

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

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

The impact of public transportation

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

Coffee shops and other local retailers impact property prices

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

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

Proximity to amenities is important

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

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

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

Start your property search today!

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

Got the winter blues? How your house can help you cope with seasonal depression

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Key insights:

  • Even in a non-COVID year, many of the hardiest of Minnesotans can get the winter blues. Some even have seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression.
  • There are a few clever ways that homeowners can boost their exposure to natural light sources, including taking screens off their home’s windows.
  • Other emerging technology, like the "happy light,” can help those with the winter blues boost their energy and minimize mood swings.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

For homeowners in the Midwest, the winter brings low temperatures, strong storms and less sunlight. Due to the shorter days and seemingly endless snow and subzero forecasts, many people feel sluggish during these colder months. But for some midwestern residents, this drop in motivation and well-being can be a much more serious condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is the result of a biological urge to hibernate, and symptoms can include:

  • Low energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Overeating

Let’s quickly address the elephant in the room.

This year, our collective need to stay close to home means that everyone, no matter how well-adjusted, will be “hibernating” and seeing fewer people than usual. This could make winter even more difficult for those who experience SAD, as some of the recommended natural remedies may not be possible.

Let’s discuss how homeowners can safely fight the winter blues before it escalates to a more serious condition like seasonal affective disorder.

Combat seasonal depression with natural light

One way to counteract SAD is to get plenty of natural light. Just as you can get sunburnt on a cloudy July day, it’s possible to get sun exposure on an overcast winter day. Make a habit of opening up your window treatments right away when you get up in the morning and only close them when you leave for the day or go to bed. Houselogic also recommends removing screens from your windows during the winter, which can boost sunlight by 30%.

You can even get an extra dose of sunshine by opening up your sunroof cover when you drive. Every minute counts!

Add soothing elements to your home

Once you have natural light streaming in, take inventory of how your home operates in the winter. Does your dimly-lit living room need an extra lamp or two, or can you add brighter bulbs to your existing light fixtures? Is the lack of fresh air making your home smell musty or feel stuffy?

Consider small updates to your interior, including:

  • Adding more natural plants or buying a new bouquet of fresh flowers each week
  • Changing up your paint or accent colors to something bright and energetic
  • Incorporating smart home features like dimming lights or soothing sounds/music
  • Adding essential oil diffusers around your home

And of course, don’t forget that between the holidays and the cold, winter is a time when clutter tends to build up. Spend a weekend decluttering your home — from the Amazon boxes you’ve been meaning to break down, to the unworn clothes hanging in your closet — and you should emerge with a renewed sense of love for the space you call home.

Get outside and get your heart pumping

You know that we're bonafide Midwesterners when you hear our next piece of advice: Get outside when you can! Set a challenge to go on a 20-minute walk on any day that the high reaches above 20-25 degrees. Bundle up from head to toe and consider bringing a cup of coffee or hot cocoa to keep you extra warm. We promise, you'll never be so grateful for your warm house as when you re-enter it after a winter walk!

Short bursts of exposure can help, too. Rather than looking for the closest parking spot at work or the grocery store, challenge yourself to park in the last row so you get a few more minutes of sunshine on your entry and exit.

Not only will the light exposure from these activities help, exercising is a proven way of relieving stress and anxiety, two common factors that the Mayo Clinic says can elevate seasonal depression.

Fake it with light therapy or Vitamin D

Many health professionals recommend that Midwesterners combat their winter blues by incorporating higher levels of Vitamin D into their diet or by taking Vitamin D supplements. Consult your doctor for the right recommended dosage.

You may also want to consider buying a light therapy box. Light therapy boxes are relatively inexpensive devices that promise to boost energy and minimize mood swings that can occur as a result of low exposure to natural light. These boxes have also been shown to help regulate sleep schedules, which can sometimes get off-balance when daylight hours are scarce. Medical professionals recommend using a light therapy box right away in the morning.

Light boxes are available at different price points at many retailers and online at Amazon.

Seek professional help for seasonal depression

Boosting your sun exposure and physical activity may help aid a mild case of the winter blues, but SAD is a more complex medical diagnosis that requires professional treatment. Be sure to contact your doctor if you notice intense mood swings, the need to isolate, severe exhaustion or low energy.

If you are professionally diagnosed with SAD, your doctor will advise you on the best treatment plan.

Last, keep in mind that SAD can grow stronger as the winter progresses. So while you may be dealing with an isolating or dark winter just fine in December, you should continue to check in on your mental health, energy and motivation as we enter the later winter months.

What should I do if I inherit property?

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Key insights:

  • Losing a loved one can be even more emotionally fraught when you inherit property.
  • Those who inherit property must decide if they can and should accept or refuse the inheritance, and whether to rent out, live in or sell the property.
  • If you inherit a property with other family members or friends, there are more factors to consider.

When you inherit a home or other real estate from a lost loved one, it can be tricky to navigate the emotional waters ahead. Here are insights you can use as you decide how to accept or refuse the inheritance, and whether to live in, rent out or sell the property.

Does the estate need to go through probate?

Before you decide a plan for the property that has been left to you, it’s important that you follow proper legal process. If you have been granted real estate through a will, you don’t automatically become the record owner. You will likely have to go through the process of probate, which requires getting court approval.

There are a few ways to avoid probate, including:

  • Joint tenancy, which happens most typically if the deceased is married or partnered to someone who co-owns the home and automatically transfers the property to the surviving owner.
  • Setting up a trust which holds or controls the property, instead of the estate.
  • Transfer on Death Deed, which transfers the property upon the death of the owner

These decisions must be made before the property owner passes. To determine the best course of action, consult with a lawyer who focuses on probate matters.

Should I accept or refuse the inheritance?

It may seem cruel to refuse an inheritance, but when someone puts you as an heir to their property — whether that property be the family hunting land or a single-family home — the intention is for you to benefit in some way. In some instances, if the deceased owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth or there are other taxes or liens on the property, you could end up losing money by accepting your inheritance.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, you’ll want to work with the personal representative for the estate and a trusted real estate expert to determine some factors about the home, including:

  • the condition of the property
  • its likely value
  • any money that may be owed on the home

Once you understand these variables, you can determine if you want to accept or refuse the inheritance. Keep in mind that there are time limitations and other requirements to refuse an inheritance, so you should consult with an attorney if this is something you want to do.

Selling the property

If you do not plan to live in the home or rent it out, you’ll likely want to list it for sale. In this case, it’s critical to determine if you want to fix the home up or sell it in its current condition.

Inherited homes run the gamut. In some cases, grandma was an interior decorator who updated constantly. For others, dust is collecting on the pillow shams from 1967. And while condition matters, location can make an even bigger difference; even a hopelessly outdated home can stand out on the market if it’s in a hot neighborhood.

To determine the best path to selling, work with your fellow heirs to hire a REALTOR® who understands your selling intent, timeline and overall dynamic.

Renting the property

If the property is in good condition and you’re not ready to sell, consider renting it out to earn a monthly income.

If you plan to rent a home that you have inherited with others, be sure to:

  • Determine an initial rental period.
  • Discuss the assumed cost of taxes and maintenance.
  • Create a plan for managing tenants and repair requests.
  • Reassess when that time period has ended.
  • Determine whether the city where the property is located has any licensing or other requirements for rentals.

Living in the property

For some, inheriting a property means they get to live in a home where they have fond memories. If you do move into a home you have inherited, it’s important to get the home appraised so you understand its value. You’ll also want to take a look at the expected annual property taxes — especially if the home was one you wouldn’t have been able to afford on your own.

If you inherited the home alongside other heirs, you’ll have to discuss buying out their share of the home so you are the sole property owner. To do this, you’ll likely want an official appraisal and you may want to hire an attorney to draw up the paperwork (which is usually accomplished by what is called a quitclaim deed). Once the money is exchanged and the deed is notarized, you’ll file the deed with the county recorder’s office.

Need a real estate expert?

Inheriting a property is a special gift that may come at a difficult time, so it’s important to hire a Realtor you trust. Get in touch today for dedicated help from a reliable expert.

Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: What should I do if I am experiencing problems with my new construction home?

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Homeownership can be complicated, but we also think it’s one of the most rewarding ventures out there. In our series, Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer, we are hoping to demystify some of the trickier aspects of buying, selling and owning a home.

In this edition, one of our lawyers discusses homeowner’s rights and responsibilities when addressing a defect in the construction of a new home.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

I purchased a newly constructed home a few years ago. Recently, I discovered that I have water coming into the basement. Do I have any recourse to get this fixed?

When you purchase a new construction home, you know that the home has not experienced the wear and tear of a “used” home, some of which have been standing for more than a century. But new homes are not completely immune from issues. If the home was not constructed properly or if there are defective materials, you could run into an issue like this water intrusion problem.

Whether you have some recourse for the issue depends on a variety of factors, including the location of the property, the cause and extent of the issue, when the problem first arose and what you have done to try to resolve the issue. For our purposes, we’ll focus on the law for Edina Realty’s major market areas of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota’s statutory new construction warranties

In Minnesota, when builders sell new construction homes, a state law requires that the builder warrant that the home will be free from defects caused by faulty workmanship or defective materials. The law provides varying warranty periods depending on the type of issue:

  • For a period of one year (usually starting on the date of closing), the builder warrants that the home will be free from defects (as that term is defined by law) in general.
  • The plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems are warranted from defects for two years.
  • Finally, the builder must warrant that the home will be free from major structural defects for 10 years.

These warranties automatically come with the property and they will pass to future owners if there is still time remaining in the warranty periods.

If you experience a problem that you believe is covered by the warranty, there are a number of steps you must take in order to protect your rights, including:

  • You must notify the builder in writing within six months of when you discover (or should have reasonably discovered) the issue.
  • You must give the builder an opportunity to inspect the property and make an offer to repair the problem.
  • If the builder will not agree to make the repairs, you may need to engage in a dispute resolution process or wait for 60 days before commencing legal action. This process is administered by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and can be helpful in resolving disputes.
  • If the builder has gone out of business, you may still be able to get compensation from a fund administered by the state.

Wisconsin new construction issues

Wisconsin does not have the same statutory warranty as Minnesota. But for custom-built homes, Wisconsin law implies a promise that the construction will be done in a workmanlike manner. Like in Minnesota, Wisconsin has specific requirements prior to commencing legal action for a construction defect.

  • You must give the builder written notice of the defect and an opportunity to inspect.
  • The builder may offer to resolve the issue, either by repair or monetary compensation or a combination of both.
  • If the offer is unacceptable, you must give notice to that effect along with your reasons for rejecting the offer.
  • The builder is entitled to make a supplemental offer. If that supplemental offer is not acceptable, you must provide written notice of your rejection.

All of these requirements have tight deadlines that must be met.

Other warranties and remedies

Builders can, and often do, provide their own warranties in lieu of the warranties mentioned above. In Minnesota, the warranty program offered by a builder must provide substantially the same protection as that found in the statutory warranty.

The builder’s warranty may have different notice requirements and other procedures that you will need to follow, so be sure to carefully review any material they provide. In addition to warranties, a homeowner dealing with a construction defect may have a claim for breach of contract, negligence or even misrepresentation.

As you can see, in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, the law surrounding construction defects is complicated. To ensure that you have properly preserved any claim, you would be well-served by consulting with your own attorney.

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

Selling? How to prep for virtual open houses and safe in-home showings

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Key insights

  • Many sellers have questions about how to safely allow guests into their home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • We can work together to help establish smart virtual tours or open houses that minimize the number of in-person guests to your home.
  • It’s also important to reinforce safety standards for interested buyers who would like to tour your home in person.

If you’re hoping to sell your home in the coming months, you may have doubts about the safety of having buyers visit your property in person. Edina Realty Realtors and staff have been working for the last 7+ months to minimize COVID-19 spread, while still helping buyers and sellers facilitate home sales (which have been deemed essential to the economy).

We have developed guidelines that are in line with the CDC and other recommended public health protocols. Here are some considerations that sellers can keep in mind as they list their homes and prepare for virtual tours and open houses or in-person showings.

Best practices for virtual open houses or showings

While buyers will likely want to see your home in person before making an offer, they may be open to viewing the home via virtual tour as a first step. Alternatively, we can host a “virtual open house” that takes place on Facebook or another popular platform. Here are best practices for these virtual selling events.

1. Offer up a strong connection

A successful virtual open house or showing requires a strong and stable connection. We can work together to connect to your wifi well before the event, and do a test drive to ensure the connection is secure.

2. Minimize the glare

As you have likely seen on many Zoom meetings, glare from a window or light fixture can really ruin a virtual setting. We can test the lighting to ensure that your home looks as fantastic as it does in your listing photos. We may also have to play with the curtains, blinds, overhead lights and side lamps to get the right virtual vibe.

3. Help your agent make it extra-special

When buyers can’t control their own visit, they may miss out on elements that would intrigue or delight them in person. Before the virtual tour begins, we can discuss your favorite home features. Whether you’re most proud of your vintage brass door knocker, your laundry room’s custom cabinets or the USB ports you added to every room, we’ll be sure to highlight these special areas or elements to the audience once we’re live.

Hosting potential buyers in person? Here’s how to do it safely

If an interested buyer is ready to visit your home in person, there are ways to mitigate (though not fully eradicate) your risk. The first step is to communicate upfront. Together, we can determine guidelines that make you most comfortable. Then, as your Realtor, we will reinforce these guidelines with in-person buyers and their agents.

1. Provide PPE and sanitizer

Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer and masks. Leave a sign at the front entrance, asking buyers and their agents to wear the provided masks (or their own) and to apply hand sanitizer before entering your home. If any masks are left in your home, discard them after the showing or open house is over.

2. Request that visitors self-screen

You can also ask that each visitor self-screen by answering “No” to the following questions before entering.

  • In the last 48 hours, have you had any of the common symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, chills, cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat, runny nose? (The full symptom list is available here.)
  • Have you had contact with anyone that you know had COVID-19 or COVID-like symptoms in the last 14 days?
  • Have you had a positive COVID-19 test for active virus in the past 10 days?
  • Within the past 14 days, have you had to self-monitor, self-isolate, or self-quarantine because of concerns about COVID-19 infection?

3. Minimize surface touch

You can ask visitors not to touch any surfaces in your home, but you also want to give them the opportunity to see your entire home. Lower the need for guests to touch anything by:

  • Leaving lights on in every room (and in your garage, too)
  • Opening up kitchen cabinets and pantry
  • Leaving hall closets and bedroom closets slightly ajar
  • Opening interior doors that connect rooms or floor levels

You can also include hand sanitizer in each room to help guests reapply if they do end up touching a surface or door.

4. Be smart about numbers

Edina Realty has advised their Realtors to have a maximum of 10 guests at one time during an in-person open house (including the agent showing the home). If you prefer, we can also further limit the attendees or reinforce your preferred visiting guidelines. To ensure that guests don’t exceed the maximum, we can hang a sign on the front door, asking guests to wait until they have been greeted and invited in. Upon entry, guests will be asked to maintain at least six feet of social distance from other attendees.

safe, sell fast

For many homebuyers and homeowners, the COVID-19 pandemic has clarified their immediate living needs. And as a result, the market is continuing to move fast, with many desirable homes selling in a matter of days.

If you are hoping to sell in the coming months, but have concerns or questions about what to expect, we are here for you. Reach out any time for personal, respectful guidance.

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