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Lynn VanOrsdale | |651-335-9842
Renee Campbell | |651-247-8883

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Avoid these five first-time buyer mistakes

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According to the National Association of REALTORS®, first-time homebuyers made up one-third of all homebuyers in the United States in both 2018 and 2019. That means if you’re just diving into the market for the first time, you’re in good company!

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

Mistake 1: Relying on online information only

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

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

All agents who represent Edina Realty are professional Realtors, and we pride ourselves on offering a truly customized buying experience for each of our clients. Whether you’re just diving into the market or know exactly what you’re looking for, reach out for personal guidance, not just online calculators and forms.

Mistake 2: Not having the right paperwork

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

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

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

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

Worried about the paperwork or process? We’ll walk through each step if needed. Remember, when you work with a Realtor, you’re working with a home buying advocate.

Mistake 3: Focusing on the wrong financial indicators

While the down payment is an important part of getting a loan, your lender will also closely scrutinize your debts and how they impact your ability to pay for your mortgage and other home-related expenses. In some cases, the loan officer may require you to lower your debt obligations in order to secure a mortgage.

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

Mistake 4: Moving too slowly

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

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

Mistake 5: Saving money by forgoing a home inspection

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

By hiring a professional to inspect the home, you can ensure that the systems and appliances are in working order and that the home is free of issues related to foundation, ventilation, roofing system, water damage and more. If issues are identified, we’ll negotiate with the seller to determine if they will handle repairs or replacements before the sale or provide you with a credit for the work at closing. In some cases, the seller may refuse to make the requested repairs and you will have to determine if you want to proceed with the sale.

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

Getting started

The market is hot for first-time buyers, but playing the game smart is the key to your home buying success. To get started on buying your first home, get in contact today. Together, we can make sure you avoid these common mistakes and stay on the path to buying your dream home.

Five safe ways to enjoy Halloween this year

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It’s spooky season! Although many 2020 events have been put on pause, there are still plenty of fall celebrations to look forward to. Get in the spirit of Halloween, and add these five Minnesota and western Wisconsin festivities to your fall calendar!

Note: Each of the following events or organizations have taken special precautions to support the well-being of event goers.

1. Sever’s Fall Festival

Join the fun at the 24th annual Sever’s Fall Festival. This event hosts the largest corn maze in Minnesota, along with an obstacle course, petting zoo, zip lines, and so much more.

Reserve your spot now via contactless ticketing, keeping in mind the event capacity will be limited due to COVID-19.

Date: Sept. 11-Nov. 1
Time: Fridays 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

2. Halloween Capital of the World

Anoka, Minnesota is celebrating their 100th anniversary as Halloween Capital of the World. This year, the city will host more than 20 safe events, including an outdoor movie night, a virtual Halloween gala and a pumpkin carving contest.

Time: See website for details

3. Deadly Drive-in Haunted House

The Rosedale Center is hosting a socially distant drive-in haunted house event to keep the spirit of Halloween alive. Experience the thrill of a haunted house from the safety of your car. To begin, each vehicle will receive a sanitized radio, then embark on a frightening ride. Note: This event is not recommended for kids under 14.

Date: Oct. 15-31
Time: Thursdays – Sundays from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

4. Hudson Rotary Halloween Day Parade

Dress up in your favorite costume to celebrate Halloween in a safe and exciting way at the Rotary Halloween Day Parade in Hudson, Wisconsin. This family-friendly event features games, prizes and a parade. Be sure to come with a food shelf donation!

Date: Oct. 31

5. Glensheen Mansion Tour

Tour the historic Glensheen Mansion for something to do this fall. While not a Halloween event, you learn about the impressive estate — and it's rumored that the property is haunted! Health is a careful consideration during each tour; all patrons are required to self-screen, keep physical distance and wear a mask.

Date: See website for details

Still in the planning stage?

Whether you’re organizing a masked neighborhood candy hunt or trying to determine what is smart and safe for your family, expert insights and guidelines are available. Check out the Guide for Safe Celebrations and Events from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Hail, storm or winter damage: How to determine if you need a new roof

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Key insights

  • Did your home sustain damage from a hail storm or another weather event? Your first step is to call a licensed roofing contractor.
  • Next, you’ll want to call your insurance company to file a claim.
  • Learn how claims are processed, and what standards may be required in order for your roofing claim to be approved.

After a hail storm or intense weather event, homeowners may worry that their roof has been damaged. “If a roof is in need of repair or replacement, some tell-tale signs are that shingles or granular debris are found in your gutters, yard or driveway,” said Scott Teece, vice president of sales for Edina Realty Insurance.

If you’re seeing debris and damage, you’ll want to see if the damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Here are insights you can use to determine damage and file a claim.

What steps should I take when filing a claim for roof damage from a storm?

The process for filing a claim for roof damage from a hail storm or winter storm is fairly simple.

  1. First, call a contractor who will assess the damage and determine if it was caused by hail, snow damage or another covered event.
  2. If the contractor finds this level of roof damage, call your insurance company to file a claim. Have your policy number and the date of the hail storm ready when you call.
  3. The insurance company will send an adjuster to evaluate the damage and determine if repair or replacement is covered by your policy.

If the adjuster agrees that the damage needs to be fixed and will be covered by your homeowner’s policy, the roofer can begin the process of fixing up the roof.

What if the adjuster and contractor disagree on the damage?

This isn’t uncommon — and it doesn’t necessarily mean your claim will be denied, says Teece. “If the insurance adjuster and contractor aren’t in agreement on the cause or level of damage, the homeowner should request that they speak to one another and try to reach alignment. In some cases, they may reach a consensus that satisfies everyone.”

If the contractor and adjuster cannot reach consensus, Teece said, the homeowner can request a second opinion from a new adjuster.

When can the roofer get started?

Once the claim is approved by the insurance company, your roofer can begin repairs.

  1. Provide the roofer with the document showing the approved claim. In most cases, credible roofers will not begin repair until they see this documentation.
  2. The roofer will provide a timeline and plan for repairs, and begin to fix the damaged roof.
  3. Once the work is completed, the homeowner is responsible for sending proof of the project completion to their insurance company.
  4. The insurance company pays the homeowner, who then pays out the roofer.

Can’t my insurance company pay the roofer directly?

No, your insurance company will not work directly with the contractor. Because the insurance company insures your home, you are the only party who can receive payment for a covered claim. You may, however, be able to sign over the check from your insurance company to the roofer you select.

Why can’t I get a check for the repair before the work is done?

In most cases, your insurance company will send you two checks:

  1. One for the depreciated value of the damaged component
  2. One to cover the replacement or repairs of the damage

The check for the depreciated value may arrive before your roofer has begun or completed the work. But the larger amount — for the roof repair or replacement — will not be sent until your insurance company has received proof that the roofer has finished the job. This protocol is in place to protect the insurance company against fraud.

Roofers and contractors may request a deposit for their services, but they will usually understand that the bulk of the payment is received after the job is complete.

Other common questions about storms and roof damage

What are adjusters looking for when they assess damage?

In addition to looking for obvious signs of damage — like missing or chipped shingles and gutter damage — the adjuster will evaluate if there is enough damage to warrant repair or replacement.

Insurance companies have standardized damage metrics to ensure all clients receive equal coverage and protection. For example, your insurance company’s standard for hail damage may be 10 hail marks within a 10 square foot area. If a property meets the standard criteria, the adjuster would approve the claim.

Two of my neighbors were approved for new roofs. Why was my claim denied?

Storms, especially those that involve hail, are typically quite spotty — and the ensuing property damage is not usually uniform for the entire area of the storm.

“Even if properties in a three-mile radius are all under the same storm cloud or storm system, it doesn’t mean that every house will have the same damage… or be eligible for a new roof,” explains Teece. “I always compare it to a cornfield. If a storm races through farmland, some of the crops may be damaged, but it doesn’t usually wipe out the entire cornfield.”

In other words, your adjuster will not evaluate your damage in comparison to your neighbors’ damage; they will determine if your property is eligible based on the standard criteria of the company and your policy.

Why would only part of my roof be repaired?

Because storm damage can be concentrated and spotty, it’s possible that your insurance company would cover the replacement of one part of your roof, but not the entire thing. “If the slope of the roof was hit hard by the storm but the rest of your roof doesn’t show any damage, your insurance company may repair only the damaged slope,” said Teece.

There is one primary exception to this, and that occurs if the roofer cannot find shingles to match your current roof in color, size or material. “If your roof is unique and matching shingles aren’t available, you may receive approval for the entire house to be re-roofed,” said Teece.

Need more expert insights?

We know houses, and we know how to make them look their very best. Reach out any time to get customized advice on how to make your house shine — whether you're selling now or staying in it for years to come.

The ultimate moving checklist: tips and to-dos

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Do you imagine yourself entertaining guests on the screened porch of your next home, or can you envision yourself baking in your energy-efficient kitchen-to-be? Soon those dreams will become a reality.

Moving is an exciting time, but it can be stressful, too. Most movers find it helpful to be extraordinarily organized as they prepare for a smooth transition from one property to the next.

Not sure where to start? We put together a detailed moving checklist you can use to execute a successful move. This moving to-do list covers everything you need to know from two months pre-move to the actual moving day.

Two months before the move

It’s moving time — woohoo! Whether you’re moving down the block or across the state, now is the time to buckle down and start planning a move. From determining your new living situation to the transitional steps that will get you there, consult this guide for moving tips.

Although researching a new community and scheduling a move may feel intimidating at first, rest assured that by starting to plan two months in advance you’ll be well on your way to a successful move. Here are insights you can use to kickstart the moving process two months before the big day.

Do your research

During this stage of the move, it’s important to generally acquaint yourself with your new area. Not only will this give you a clear expectation of your new home, but it will also help ease any pre-move jitters. You’ll also want to begin keeping a moving checklist of questions and notes related to the move. Then, you can reference your papers later on in the moving process.

To complete your research on a new neighborhood, consider these moving tips:

  • Tour your new community
  • Look into top-rated schools
  • Find a roommate
  • Make a list of questions to ask movers
  • Consider your options for moving services
  • Identify costs for moving services vs. doing it yourself
  • Make a list of all expected expenses
  • Create a budget plan

Plan important dates

Certain services — like scheduling time off work for packing or moving day — need to be planned in advance. Take note of any necessary dates or mandatory meetings and pencil them in on your family’s calendar. Be sure to:

  • Give notice to your landlord of your leaving date
  • Book a garage sale
  • Ask friends and family to help with moving day
  • Request time off work for the move

You may want to mark these important dates on a shared Google Calendar (or another preferred scheduling app), so everyone involved in the move stays up-to-date on the process in real-time.

Six weeks before the move

At this stage in the move, your key priorities may begin to shift and include more concrete details and action items. Although it may feel like you don’t know what to do when moving, remember that six weeks is still plenty of time to complete everything on your moving checklist.

Not sure what to prioritize at this point in your moving journey? Begin by scheduling these services and completing the corresponding tasks on your moving to-do list.

Get estimates and order supplies

For a successful move, determine the way you want to move and execute it. Ultimately, you have control over what you move and how you move it. Whether you want to color-code your boxes individually, or you choose to hire a moving service, it’s necessary to schedule the required services and assemble supplies.

  • Get estimates from at least three moving companies
  • Book a moving truck rental
  • Reserve a storage unit
  • Schedule movers
  • Reserve airline, car or hotel
  • Order boxes, tape, paper and bubble wrap

Organize your stuff and start packing

Once you have boxes or other containers readily available, you can start packing up. If possible, don’t rush this step. By starting now, you’ll be able to ease into the process of clearing out your old space, which will give you time to sort through your items (to potentially donate things you’re no longer interested in) and consciously pack.

During this stage of planning a move, it may also be helpful to focus on packing up items that you won’t miss — and to keep an eye out for documents that may be easy to overlook or toss out. Here are some early packing tips you can follow:

  • Pack non-essential and seasonal items first.
  • Sentimental, decorative items can also be packed early.
  • Gather all warranty information and appliance manuals in one place — then separate them based on if they’ll stay with the home or go to your next residence.
  • Be sure to keep track of all tax-deductible expenses.

Notify others and request time off

Once you feel secure in your moving timeline, it’s time to include others in your plan. During this time, update essential contacts of your move, including:

  • Children’s school
  • Health insurance provider
  • Auto and home insurance agent
  • Housekeepers, landscapers and pool maintenance

You may even need to request time off from work in order to keep up with the move and to physically pack your belongings.

One month before the move

Moving day is just one month away! If you’re feeling bogged down by possessions or unconfirmed moving day details, you may begin experiencing pre-move jitters. Calm your nerves by preparing yourself and your home for the move at the one-month mark.

Use, sell or donate

Paring down your belongings to the most essential items is helpful during the moving process. Work to move fewer items, so your new space will only be filled with possessions that you truly want to keep.

When sorting through your household items, create categories of things to use, sell or donate. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  • Use up perishables
  • Donate unwanted food and items
  • Host a garage sale
  • Sell gently-used items
  • Dispose of hazardous items

Transfer utilities and update addresses

For a seamless transition, you’ll want everything to rollover from one house to the next. Notifying your service providers of your new contact information will ensure that your amenities stay up-to-date.

Let these services know of your address change:

  • Gym or club memberships
  • Bank account and credit card
  • Post office (to forward your mail)
  • Social security and medicare
  • Health care providers (to forward billing information and medical records)
  • Pharmacy
  • Subscriptions

Finally, contact utility companies in your new area to ensure your new property is move-in ready. You’ll also want to notify the providers that serviced your previous house about the move. Common utilities include cable, internet, water, sewer, gas, electricity, security, trash and phone.

Confirm moving day plans

Stress less by hashing out the details of moving day before it arrives. Start by confirming times and dates with the moving company and car shipping service, if you opt to use one.

Additionally, you need to figure out where you and your essential belongings will stay during the move. At this time, figure out temporary housing needs, arrange for child or pet care on moving day, and decide what to do with your beloved house plants.

Two weeks before the move

The move is two weeks away! Time is ticking, but you still have buffer days to orchestrate the move. Everything leading up to this point has focused on the important logistics of the move. Now, have some fun and schedule home improvement services for your new property.

Schedule home improvement services

Whether you’re moving into a turnkey property or a fixer-upper, you want your new space to feel like home. Two weeks prior to the move, take a look at your new home’s blueprint. This will help you identify furniture and decor needs. If a mid-century modern sofa would pair perfectly in your living room, order it now! You may also book a painter or schedule an electrician during this stage.

One week before the move

It’s crunch time! Moving day is just one week out. Shift the focus to your current house to ensure everything is in tip-top shape and you’re ready to walk out and lock the door behind you when moving day arrives.

H3 Clean and inspect your former home

Thoroughly clean your house from top to bottom, including those hard to reach spots. Homeowners are expected to have everything in “broom clean” condition, whereas renters may be expected to scrub every surface, including the pantry and refrigerator — and have one last inspection with their landlord. Once everything is sparkly clean, take a picture of your former home as proof of its status.

Pack last-minute items

Last-minute items, like kitchenware and other essentials, may be packed at this time. Do a final sweep of your home, gathering items to pack, trash or recycle.

Keep room in your schedule for last-minute errands during this time. You may need to drop off nonperishable foods at a local food shelf, defrost your fridge and freezer, pick up prescriptions and schedule dry cleaning.

The day before the move

You have one night left in your old house before taking the next step in your home transition. Buckle down and pack everything you can so you can wake up and dive right into the moving process.

Pack essentials

Locate all essential items and pack them up. These may include:

  • Pajamas
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Medications and prescriptions
  • Pet and baby necessities
  • Important documents and valuables

To stay extra-organized, consider putting everything you need in the coming days into a special moving day bag or box.

Say goodbye

Goodbyes can be challenging. Instead, cherish the memories you had in your home and consider this moment as a “see you later.” Before zooming away in your packed vehicle, stroll around your old neighborhood and take time to say goodbye to old neighbors.

Moving day

The day everyone has been waiting for is here! All of your hard work has led up to this moment and it’s time to move. Wondering what to do when moving? Get an early start. Not only will this give you wiggle room for any bumps in the moving process, but also it will allow you to move into your new place even sooner.

Stay hydrated and take inventory

During the move, keep water bottles on-hand for your family and movers. Staying hydrated will be extra important, given how strenuous moving can be.

In addition, keep inventory of your belongings and any noticeable damage that happens throughout the move.

Final sweep and key handoff

Carefully look in bathtubs, washers, dryers, cabinets and other easy-to-miss spots. Once you feel confident that all your belongings are out and you’ve said your final farewell to the home, it’s time to hit the road.

If you’re moving during the winter or need to travel through construction zones, check the status of the roads you’ll be traveling through before you start the trek to your next home.

Up to one month after moving

You did it! You successfully moved out of one property and into the next. This is such an accomplishment. Now that you’re in your new home, you’ll want to put careful consideration into how you clean, unpack and establish yourself in the new space with a relocation checklist. Here are thoughtful tips to get you through the new home transition.

Clean and unpack

Just like you cleaned and packed at your previous house, you’ll need to clean and unpack at your new property. With a fresh start and a blank canvas, you’ll be in a more comfortable position to organize your belongings in a new space. When cleaning, be sure to do the following:

  • Mop, vacuum, dust and wipe surfaces
  • Do renovations or paint
  • Baby-proof (or pet-proof) the new home

Next, unpack your things beginning with suitcases, kitchenware and other essential items. Then, start to unpack room-by-room. Identify trash pickup days so you can dispose of boxes and other moving day materials properly.

Test locks and alarms

Feeling safe in your new home is of high importance. Test locks, alarms and other home features so you feel confident in your space. Your moving into a new house checklist might include:

  • Changing the locks
  • Installing an additional deadbolt
  • Checking the security system and smoke alarms
  • Purchasing a carbon monoxide detector
  • Scheduling an electrician

Update voter registration and license

You’ll want to update your credentials and contact information on all important documents. As a resident of a new address, you’ll need to change your address on the following paperwork:

  • IRS address
  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance policies
  • Voter registration
  • Pet registration, if needed
  • Establishing state residency (if moving across state lines)

Finally, if you’re crossing state lines, you’ll need to establish domicile in your new state. Don’t miss this step — it’s important for tax purposes!

Ready for a stress-free move?

Moving from one property to the next is a large undertaking, but it’s possible to minimize stress by staying ultra-organized throughout. Set yourself up for success with this local moving checklist, and you’ll be well on your way to a smooth home transition. Through a partnership with Updater, Edina Realty Realtors offer free moving resources, including checklists, discounts and an online solution for changing your address--reach out for details.

20 affordable dream home office ideas to spark brilliance

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For many of us, this year has created a vital need for a home office space. Do you need an environment to hold teleconferences or to run your own business? What about a space for kids to focus on schoolwork or hunker down for distance learning? If so, transforming a dedicated area of your home into a comfortable work center may now be a top priority.

Home offices are a must-have for many buyers, too, as they look for flexible space in their first (or next) home. And it must be said… boring home offices are out. Today’s trends get creative with in-home work areas and explore everything from décor that inspires to organization that helps you focus.

Follow these insights to spark productivity and create the perfect home office setup for any space.

20 affordable home office ideas to spark brilliance

1. Organize your cords

Still don't have a fully wireless set-up? Minimize your cord chaos by purchasing a cord organizer for each desk in the house. A clutter-free environment may foster a more efficient work day.

2. Upgrade your chair

Invest in a chair that can be modified for proper ergonomic height. And while you're at it, choose a fun color, cool design or a swivel chair that can deliver the perfect modern vibe to your area.

3. Built-in UV sterilization

A monitor stand with a self-cleaning component? Score! This Flexispot monitor stand has a built-in UV light that cleans your keyboard overnight, so you won’t have to worry about bacteria or buildup over time.

4. Bike or walk as you work

To offset the number of hours spent sitting at work, consider buying an under-the-desk pedal cycle or treadmill loop. Who knows? Maybe getting your blood pumping before that big meeting will put you in the right mindset to crush your sales goals.

5. Get a full desk setup with monitor, keyboard and mouse

To build a fully ergonomic at-home office, purchase a large-screen monitor with an adjustable stand to keep your neck in proper alignment. Upgrade your keyboard and mouse, too. (The smaller-scale, built-in versions from your laptop can cause pain to your hands and wrists.)

6. Get smart about hydration

Whether you purchase an extra-large water bottle with timed markers on the side, an at-home water cooler or a fun carbonated water system, be sure that you’re taking in adequate fluid throughout the day.

7. Pick up a phone or tablet stand

Consider buying a phone or tablet stand to transform your mobile device into a backup option when needed. (Nothing says unprofessional like someone holding their iPhone unsteadily during that 3 p.m. Zoom meeting.)

8. Visualize your way to increased productivity

Need to boost productivity? Ditch the phone timer and try out a visual option like these hourglass timers, which come in 10, 20 and 30-minute increments. Challenge yourself to not check your email (or Instagram) until your timer is up.

9. Add a subtle whiteboard alternative

Need a whiteboard, but hate the look of them? Consider one that has the appearance of frosted glass, instead. Wipe the surface down at the end of the day and it’ll fade into the background.

10. Build a Kraft paper dispenser

A Kraft paper dispenser is the perfect solution for those of us who can’t move away from hand-written to-do lists. Pre-made options are available for purchase, or you can follow this easy tutorial to make your own.

11. Maximize a small space with shelving and wall storage

If you're making do with a small office nook, position shelves and extra storage above your desk. This setup provides an added bonus for parents; your files and paperwork will be out of reach from little hands.

12. Add a fold-down desk to nearly any room

A fold-down desk can be perfect for a kids’ room that needs to double as a classroom for distance learning. Adult versions exist too, if you need to add a floating desk option to a room that’s tight on space.

13. Delineate your office space with a rug

When you plop a new desk in a corner, it’s easy for it to feel out of place. Make your work area look more intentional by adding a small rug underneath your desk or work table.

14. Pick your audio vibe

Buy a speaker for your office and plan some productivity playlists that help you make it through each day. As the sole home office DJ, you can play Joan Jett and Johann Sebastian Bach back-to-back… and no one can stop you.

15. Invest in a pair of headphones

Of course, if your home is crowded with distance learners and fellow work-from-home comrades, it would be wise to invest in a pair of high-quality, noise cancelling headphones.

16. Create a magnetic visual display

Decorate your kids’ desk area with an easy-to-assemble gallery wall thanks to GoodHangups, a magnetic display system that was featured on Shark Tank. It’s a unique way to make at-home artwork feel special or to reward a good grade on an essay.

17. Save space with side-by-side desks

Consider a side-by-side desk to save space and maintain symmetry. If you have an extra-long wall, create your own dual setup by building a custom option. Select an extra-long tabletop and the legs of your choice, then delineate the two spaces with chairs or cabinets.

18. Create a mobile printer station

If several family members are sharing a printer this year, buy a mobile printer cart and place the printer in a communal area during the workday or schoolday. At the end of the work week, roll the cart into a closet and enjoy the weekend without thinking about work.

19. Foster good energy through bold color

Create a colorful office space that energizes you the moment you walk in each morning. Consider painting your desk a bright shade of red or pink, or add peel-and-stick wallpaper for an instant but temporary boost.

20. Buy an easy-to-stow storage solution

A rolling cabinet can be the perfect catch-all for paperwork you can't throw away or extra office supplies. At the end of the day, you can roll the cart underneath your desk — making it the perfect storage solution for a pop-up micro-office in the corner of a bedroom.

Need a more inspiring home office?

Whether you're a frequent work-from-home warrior or simply need an in-home office for check-ins and internet surfing, this type of dedicated space is in high demand. Homeowners and homebuyers alike are prioritizing residential office space as they redesign their homes and reconsider their long-term housing needs.

If your home feels a bit too small now, reach out any time to discuss your changing needs — today and in the long-term.

Tips to stage and sell your home this fall

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Key insights:

  • Fall curb appeal is important. Focus on creating a welcoming yard by raking leaves and planting seasonal flowers rather than over-decorating for autumn.
  • Ensure potential buyers have a warm experience during showings by staging your home with cozy blankets and fall-scented essential oils.
  • Don’t forget about lighting inside and out. Draw in fall’s natural light and turn on both table lamps and outdoor lights for extra glow.

Stage your home to sell this fall

Fall in Minnesota and western Wisconsin is upon us, and with it comes the fresh autumn air, colorful leaves — and a great opportunity to sell your home.

This year provides a unique window of opportunity for home sellers. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, low interest rates and high buyer demand contribute to rising home market activity. With the housing market moving as fast as ever — especially in lower and mid-level price points — it’s important to get a leg up on the competition. By working together to stage your home this fall, we may even be able to attract multiple offers on your property.

Exterior tips for fall home staging

When staging your home to sell this fall, first focus on the curb appeal of your house. Keep your lawn freshly cut, and rake and bag leaves daily. Play up autumn by using potted plants and flowers such as mums, which come in gorgeous orange, red and yellow hues. You can also use pumpkins and gourds to give your front porch or steps extra curb appeal.

Steer clear of over-the-top seasonal decorations (think scarecrows, mummies, ghosts and goblins) that may turn buyers off and keep them from focusing on the attractive, foundational features of your home.

Interior tips for fall home staging

It’s important to keep your space cozy yet accessible while staging the interior of your home. Remove photos and personal mementos so potential buyers can easily picture themselves and their belongings in the space. To keep your home looking warm and inviting, add soft blankets and pillows to the couch and light the fireplace if you have one.

Autumn temperatures can be unpredictable, so pay attention to forecasts in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. The scents of fall — like apple, cider or pumpkin spice — can be a nice addition to a kitchen or living area as well.

Finally, little fixes here and there can have a big impact when selling. By completing small home projects like installing a ceiling fan or adding storage space to your garage, you may put yourself in a better position to attract potential homebuyers. For example, 91% of buyers want a dedicated laundry room. Knowing this, you might add open shelving, fresh paint color and simple decor pieces to your designated laundry space.

Lighting tips

Fall home staging includes thoughtful lighting that invokes a bright space without looking stark. During the day, keep your window treatments open to draw in fall’s natural light. At night, turn on side table lamps and overhead lights.

When it comes to evening showings, don’t forget to ensure potential buyers can easily view your home’s exterior and appreciate its appeal. Turn on outdoor lights and add pathway lights to make sure visitors are sure-footed.

Getting ready to sell your home this fall?

Now is the time to take action. Together, we can prepare and stage your home so that it can sell quickly and for top dollar. Reach out any time to get started!

Back to school blues? How to navigate the 2020 academic year

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Key insights

  • Whether distance learning or in-person attendance is the plan, keep family members on track by creating a shared schedule or calendar.
  • Too much screen time? Encourage your kids to take a break from digital devices throughout the day, and join them if you can!
  • Household needs are constantly changing. Reach out if it’s the right time to invest in a home that better suits your family’s lifestyle.

As we start a school year like none before, the need for new plans and organization strategies are necessary to make the school year a success for everyone — whether distance learning, in-person schooling or a hybrid system is implemented. Here are back to school tips that will help keep everyone safe, organized, and engaged.

Stick to a schedule

Creating a color-coded schedule may help family members navigate the school day. This schedule can be created virtually via apps such as Google Calendar so it’s accessible on the go, or you might consider hanging a calendar in a shared space for a more tangible approach.

While creating a schedule, double-check that kids have access to the resources they need to complete their assigned tasks. For example, if family members plan to share a computer or tablet throughout the day, ensure that everyone will have the tech they need to attend their classes. You might even consider budgeting for an extra tablet or backup laptop, for when tech needs overlap.

Organize productivity zones

With both distance learners and remote workers in the home, where will everyone go? It’s essential to create designated spaces. Here are some simple ways to transform areas in your home into more productive zones for at-home workers and learners:

  • No lockers, no problem. Create at-home cubbies to store books or other supplies when they’re not in use.
  • Place desks in low-distraction areas, such as dining rooms, living room corners or a spare room. Consider moving kids into the same room for sleeping, and use the free bedroom as the home base for schoolwork.
  • If you’re low on space, convert the kitchen table into a work area during the day. Implement a clean-up time and plan each afternoon to keep learning materials away from food and drinks.
  • Ensure each workspace has ample light, access to outlets and is decluttered.

If your kids are attending school in person, be sure to keep track of their masks, hand sanitizer and other safety items. Place these essentials in labeled baskets for each child near the entryway of your home. This will ensure each student is ready to go when the school day begins. In this space, you can also stow backup masks and materials in case of an emergency. Parent tip: clip a hand sanitizer keychain to your kids’ backpacks for easy access.

The feeding frenzy

Food is fuel! This makes mealtime an important part of any school or workday. If your kids are old enough to plan their own lunch or snack schedules, empower them to do so. If you have little ones that need help preparing meals, consider packing their lunch and snacks even if they’ll be at home doing distance learning. With prepped food on hand, your kids can eat nutritious lunches on their own… without interrupting your workday.

How to reset and refocus

Your kids probably aren’t used to so much screen time, and you don’t want them to be. It’s important to take breaks from laptops and tablets throughout the day, even when the devices are used for school. These screen-free activities will help your kids reset and return energized to learn:

  • Take the dog on a walk around the block or play with pets inside.
  • Draw in a coloring book or chalk the driveway.
  • Complete a guided stretch or meditation.
  • Dance to a favorite playlist.
  • Play solitaire or other favorite card games.

Don't have students?

Whether you have kids learning from home or not, you have the opportunity to support educators, teachers, parents and the community while they adjust to a host of new challenges. Reach out to teacher friends and ask if they need anything from you, or donate supplies that may help less privileged communities. Sticking together can help build a school year that is still a success for everyone.

New year, new home

As our households grow and evolve, so do our household needs. This year, COVID-19 has clarified the spaces we prioritize in our homes.

If you find yourself wishing for a house with a better setup for your kids’ at-home schooling or a more spacious home office, get in touch any time. Together, we can begin the search for a home that fits your current and future needs.

How buyers and sellers can prepare for the closing table

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Key insights:

  • Buyers and sellers are required to bring unique documents to the closing table. Prepare in advance to ensure you’ve organized everything you need for the big day.
  • Remember that you have an advocate in your REALTOR®. In addition to following reminders and paperwork requests, reach out any time you have questions during the buying or selling process.
  • When the closing process is complete, the buyer leaves with access to their new home and the seller earns the net profits of the property sale.

After an offer to purchase a property has been accepted and the negotiations have been finalized, a closing date is set. The closing date is typically scheduled 30 to 90 days after the final offer is accepted. This selected date indicates when you need to move, so you’d better start packing! Here are insights you can use for a smooth closing process.

What happens at the closing table?

Edina Realty Title’s closing process has been updated to incorporate safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In most cases, closings for buyers and sellers will be performed separately with only an Edina Realty Title closer in attendance, and they will be facilitated from behind a sanitary plexiglass screen. Additional precautions include adherence to facemask mandates, frequent cleaning of high-touch areas, and a short health screening checklist. Curbside closings are also available, and sellers have options to pre-sign their documents or close virtually via remote online notary (where available). At the conclusion, the homebuyer walks away with access to their new home and the seller leaves with the net proceeds of the home sale.

Here’s a more specific overview of what happens at the closing table:

  • Final lender requirements will be met.
  • Final Settlement Statement will be reviewed and signed.
  • Closing documents will be reviewed, signed and notarized.
  • Owner's title insurance may be purchased.
  • Funds will be collected and disbursed via a cashier’s check.
  • The deed is submitted, recorded with the county and sent to the buyer.
  • A plan for the buyer to obtain keys, garage door openers, utility information, manuals and other essential property details.

What buyers should bring to the closing table:

Requirements may differ depending on your title company, but buyers should typically bring:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Social security number
  • A cashier’s check (for the amount specified in the most recent Closing Disclosure form you received from your loan officer or lender)
  • A checkbook (in case of other charges)
  • New homeowners/hazard insurance binder and paid receipt if not previously provided to your lender

Must-save documents for buyers:

Keeping a copy of important documents will help you maintain accurate records and stay up-to-date for tax purposes. Here are the pertinent documents that buyers should hold onto after closing on a property:

  • Your first payment letter
  • The payment coupon containing details of when and where your first payment should be mailed, if applicable
  • A copy of your loan closing package
  • Closing Disclosure (CD)
  • Form 1098, sent annually in January from your mortgage servicer
  • Costs of energy-efficient updates

What sellers should bring to the closing table:

As you might expect, sellers have a shorter list of must-haves at the closing table. Be sure to bring:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Social security number
  • Make arrangements with your agent for how the buyer can access all keys, garage door openers and codes, alarm system combinations and manuals.

A note about cyber-security:

Edina Realty Home Services has invested in a number of security measures in order to help protect your assets and prevent fraud throughout your home sale or purchase. We will never use email to request or transfer funds. Instead, your closing documents and information will appear within our secure <href="#/">Edina Realty Title Exchange online portal. You should never wire funds to any party without first verifying the request.

Have more questions about the closing process?

When we work together, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the support and advocacy you need as you move toward the closing table. To get started, call or email any time.

Stay organized with moving checklists, resources and solutions

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It’s no surprise that moving can be stressful. Remembering all those important details, like connecting utilities and forwarding mail, can dampen the thrill of transitioning to your new home. In order to make your move as easy as possible, the Updater app, a digital moving checklist and resource that can save you time and money, is offered free of charge to you when we partner for your home transition.

How long does it take to update your address in all the necessary places? Say you need to make a Minneapolis change of address to forward your mail. You can drive to the post office, find the correct handwritten form, wait in line and turn it in … if you find the time to go during business hours. Or you can try to navigate their less-than-user-friendly website, manually type in all your details and submit the form electronically. That one step, forwarding your mail, usually takes 20-30 minutes alone. With this new moving concierge, this is all done with a couple quick clicks.

What is Updater and how does it work?

Updater concierge moving tools help you save time, money and your sanity. All this is offered at no cost to you! In fact, homeowners who utilize Updater moving resources save an average of five hours, $325 and 21 calls or emails.

This free service allows you to stay organized, get reminders of essential steps and connect you to the resources and services you need, all from one easy-to-use digital dashboard.

The Updater app can help you:

  • Prepare, plan and pack for moving day
  • Transfer utilities and services
  • Update your address
  • Save money on supplies
  • Personalize your new home
  • Settle into your new neighborhood

Updater moving resources

Preparing and packing for moving day

All the resources you need to plan your move are right at your fingertips in your personalized dashboard. Prepare for moving day and easily request estimates, availability, compare prices and more. They curate a customized moving checklist, just for you, and let you know exactly what you need to do and when.

Plus, helpful tools such as guides, checklists and cost calculators help you stay on track and plan ahead for your upcoming move.

  • Find and reserve a mover online
  • Request moving estimates
  • Rent a truck
  • Hire moving labor
  • Throw out your junk
  • Buy or rent boxes
  • Access moving checklists
  • View box size guides
  • Obtain packing lists
  • Use a moving calculator

Transferring utilities and services

Wondering how to transfer utilities? The Updater app makes it easy. No need to waste hours researching companies that serve your new address or sitting on hold waiting for a representative to help. Your moving resources dashboard is curated with your local service providers, your address details and an estimated closing date. Simply request your transfer, confirm your date and Updater will take it from there. You can even see customized offers and plans for setting up a new service or reevaluating your current service provider.

  • Internet
  • Television or streaming services
  • Insurance
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Gas

Updating your address

Think about all the places you need to update your change of address. Did you remember your magazine subscriptions, auto club, rewards programs, travel perks and organizations? The United States Postal Service will only forward your mail for one year, and your magazine subscriptions for 60 days. Time will go by quickly during your home transition so it’s imperative that you provide a change of address to all the businesses that send you mail.

Updater’s database includes mail forwarding service to more than 15,000 businesses, so whether you have a Minnesota change of address or are moving to or from another state, we have you covered. Easily provide your change of address to multiple companies at once and use the time you save to plan your new décor instead.

  • Forward mail
  • Update address everywhere
  • Driver's license
  • Voter registration

Saving money on supplies

Take advantage of exclusive savings with Updater moving solutions. They partner with local businesses and national companies to offer discounts and special offers on everything you need for your new home. Best of all, you don’t have to go on an endless search! These offers are available right in your Updater app. Save on:

  • Furniture
  • Groceries
  • Decor
  • Appliances
  • Specialized services from local businesses

Personalizing your new space

When it comes time to make your new home your own, the Updater app is ready to help. Considering a home alarm system? Want to be able to monitor deliveries? Easily connect to specialized providers so you can customize your space with all the bells and whistles.

  • Home improvement
  • Cleaning services
  • Smart home automation
  • Home security

Settling into your new home

Now that you’re in your new home, are you worried you forgot something important? Edina Realty’s moving concierge, powered by Updater, is helpful even after your move-in date by connecting you to community resources. Wondering about obtaining a dog license in your new city? Need to register the kids for school? Ready to meet the neighbors? You’re covered!

  • Local guides
  • School information
  • Pet requirements
  • Community handbook
  • Neighborhood events

Ready for an easy, affordable, and stress-free move?

Updater moving resources, offered through your Edina Realty agent, splits your move into stress-free, bite-sized tasks and then helps you complete them—saving you time and money. This is one of many advantages you receive when we partner for your successful home transition.

Ready to make a move? Reach out today!

Selling an ultra-luxury home? Follow these best practices

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Key Insights

  • Because the buyer pool for these homes is so limited, luxury sellers should prepare for a longer path to closing.
  • It’s not about bedrooms or bathrooms or even price. High-end buyers usually decide on a home based on the lifestyle the property will afford them.

In our market, luxury homes can begin around the $500,000 price point. But there’s a difference between selling and marketing a home in that range, and listing a home that is valued at one million dollars or above.

If you’re planning to sell your luxury home in the coming months, consider these insights and reach out for customized guidance and marketing plans for showcasing your home in this niche market.

A strong network is key

The first step to selling your high-end home is sharing property highlights with a solid network including other Realtors who may have or know clients interested in purchasing a luxury home. Edina Realty’s network of more than 2,300 agents across Minnesota and western Wisconsin, as well as our global network through our parent company Home Services of America, offers the advantage of connecting buyers and sellers in every market. We meet regularly (in-person, virtually and through our exclusive digital platform) to showcase luxury listings and share buyer needs. We are able to tap into personal connections and long-term relationships with buyers and homeowners to help sell a luxury home to that smaller, qualified buyer pool.

In addition, unique marketing strategies will help get your home in front of luxury buyers who live in and outside our market area. Whether it’s promoting a six-bedroom lake home in Minneapolis-St. Paul Home + Design Magazine or buying a spread in a publication aimed at international buyers, we will work together to craft a unique plan to get in front of buyers with higher budgets.

Set the right price — and a realistic timeline

Top dollar luxury homes can be difficult to price since there may not be dozens of similar recently sold properties for comparison. That is where research, market understanding and experience make a difference. Together we will determine a fair price point that will meet your goals and generate buyer interest.

And while it may be true that homes in lower price points are selling in weeks, days or even hours, luxury home sellers should prepare for a longer path to closing. It sometimes takes time and dedication to find a uniquely qualified buyer looking for the perfect upscale home.

Market the home by selling a lifestyle

Next comes the fun part, highlighting your home’s best features. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms pale in comparison to those inviting elements that make the property unique.

Whether it’s highlighting a house built to entertain the masses, a wine cellar that rivals anything in Napa, or a garage that’s right out of a car collector’s dream, it’s important for high-end homes to have that “something special” that helps to draw in the right buyer.

Luxury buyers want to picture themselves enjoying their favorite things in the home. So when we market your property, we’re not just selling an address, we’re selling a lifestyle.

Update the home to reflect current trends

Last, it’s important for luxury sellers to recognize that tastes may have changed since they built their home or moved in. Some updates or decor changes may be required to better reflect current style or buyer preferences.

Together we will stage your home to play up its best features. Usually this is done with modest rearranging, complimentary design choices and excellent lighting. In some cases, an outdated home may benefit from some strategic upgrades, especially in areas like kitchens and bathrooms. We will talk about options, return on investment updates and other ways to generate the most interest in your top-dollar home.

Get the guidance you need as you sell your luxury home

Whether you’re selling a high-end home or a modest starter home, reach out! Your home and your story are unique, and you deserve a personalized approach to preparing and listing it.

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