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Matt Loskota | |612-750-9988
Martha Webb | |612-384-4413

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Why a higher property value benefits you, even if you don't plan to sell

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Getting outbid? What buyers can do to stay in the game (and win)

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Buyers today are feeling the squeeze. As home prices and interest rates rise, inventory continues to remain low. Even the most hopeful home seekers may be feeling pessimistic, and wondering if the right home will ever be theirs to keep.

Here are some top insights for navigating today’s market as a buyer. Whether you’re just dipping your toes in or have lost in multiple offers a few times, these tips should help you determine the right path forward.

Have the hard conversations

First, it’s time to take a peek at the offers you’ve placed and how you’ve stacked up against the other bids and winning buyer. Together, we’ll work to determine the answers to the following questions:

  • Have we ever been close to winning an offer? Or are we being heavily outbid every time?
  • How many offers are typically being placed on the properties we like best?
  • How much did they end up going for, compared to our offer or budget? Were we close or quite far off?

If you’re in the running for the houses you like best, then it may just be a matter of being patient. If you tend to be in the bottom half every time, it may be time to adjust your expectations or look to other neighborhoods or cities for houses that better fit your budget.

Think through your timeline

Today’s sellers have a keen advantage in the market… until they sell and have to re-enter the market as a buyer! If you have flexibility in your timeline, then you may want to add that into your offer. Whether you end up closing in 90 days to allow the seller more time to find their new home, or renting it back to them before you move in, offering more time to the seller can help your offer stand out — even if your monetary bid comes up a bit short.

Reassess your “must-haves”

“It’s pretty common for buyers to have a long list of non-negotiables… until they find a house that just feels right,” said Edina Realty President Sharry Schmid. “Then, suddenly, having laundry in the basement isn’t such a big deal.”

Of course, it’s fine to have standards. But if you have been ultra-picky about the homes you’ll consider, and you’re losing bid after bid, you may want to take stock in the amenities or features you really need… and let some of the others go.

Try touring a few homes that wouldn’t have passed your original requirements. Discuss the pros and cons of buying a home with only two garage stalls instead of three, or a split-level design, or one that doesn’t have an owner’s suite with an attached bathroom. If you decide to hold strong to your original must-haves, that’s just fine. On the other hand, you may encounter a home that has 90% of your desires, and you might just decide it’s worth it after all.

Reconsider your down payment, if possible

You’ve likely been saving for years for a down payment, so it’s unlikely that you have an extra bank account you haven’t tapped into yet. However, if you’re lucky enough to have family or friends who are willing to provide mortgage gift funds, it may be time to ask for a financial favor. There are regulations in place for how you can legally obtain these funds, so be sure to speak with your home mortgage consultant to follow the proper process.

Alternatively, we can determine if you are eligible for down payment assistance. In Minnesota, funding assistance up to $17,000 may be available; in Wisconsin, the maximum assistance amount is 6% of the home’s purchase price.

Consider other home types

While many buyers are looking for single-family homes with a yard and garage, other housing options are available and can offer just as many advantages. Condos and townhomes tend to have lower price points, while requiring less maintenance.

Plus, multi-family housing is a lot different than it used to be. Condos are no longer available in only the swankiest parts of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul; they can also be found in most suburbs and neighborhoods. Townhomes are not only being built in large developments, but also in smaller communities near parks, walkable retail and more.

Need help entering the market as a buyer?

If you haven’t hired an agent to represent you in the home buying process, get in touch any time for an honest, open conversation. It’s a tricky time to buy, but having the right professional on your side can make all the difference.

iBuyers: What to know about selling your home for an immediate cash offer

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If you read or watch the news, you may have heard about a non-traditional home buying model known as “iBuying.” iBuyers tend to be larger investment firms that make fast offers to home sellers, based on a home value that’s generated by their proprietary algorithms.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of using an iBuyer to sell your home? Let’s dive in.

Understanding an iBuyer’s automated valuation

When iBuyers make an offer, it’s usually based on their algorithm’s analysis of local market values and nearby, recently sold homes. So if your neighbor with an identical bed and bath count sold last year, the iBuyer may rely heavily on that sale price to determine their offer.

But what if your neighbor’s house still boasted 1970s era shag carpet, while your decor is inspired by the newest trends on HGTV? What about the return on investment of your new roof, picture-perfect landscaping and energy-efficient windows?

While algorithms might get an iBuyer in the general vicinity of the value of a property, they can’t take into account the work you’ve put into your home. That’s why it’s always beneficial to have a live, local expert determine the price of your home before selling. Your perfect rows of petunias and your bright, modern decor have real value in the marketplace, and could lead to more buyers and a higher offer than if you go with an online analysis.

Which homeowners benefit from selling with an iBuyer?

For the right seller, using an iBuyer can be advantageous. Homeowners who opt for selling with an iBuyer typically fit into one of the following scenarios:

  • They want to move without staging or updating the house.
  • They need to sell quickly due to a professional move or personal reasons.
  • They want to avoid the hassle of showings, open houses and buyer foot traffic.

In today’s fast-moving market, though, many sellers are concerned about finding the right home to purchase after they sell. For these folks, working with a certain iBuyer can help provide more flexibility for their move.

QuickBuy, a modern option for sellers who need certainty and flexibility

At Edina Realty, we represent sellers in every neighborhood across Minnesota and western Wisconsin, offering full-service real estate solutions for sellers who want a more traditional home sale. But we also recognize that not every seller does want to go that route.

Edina Realty has now partnered with QuickBuy, a financial partner that allows us to offer homeowners a larger variety of options when they sell. These services include:

  • The full-service real estate solution we’ve been providing (and improving upon) for more than 60 years.
  • An immediate “Quick Buy” offer that allows the homeowner to avoid showings and home prep, work with a cash buyer and close in just 14 days if desired.
  • A QuickBuy “lock,” which allows sellers to lock in an offer that they can accept at any time in the next 150 days while the home is traditionally listed on the market (provided the home stays on the market).
  • The ability to sell the home and then lease it back for a short time. This option gives sellers the sales proceeds they need to fund their next home, and allows them to avoid short-term rentals or other transitional housing as they look for their next property.

Here’s one more important difference about our partnership with QuickBuy: Prior to getting the cash offer from QuickBuy, we can meet and do a qualified market analysis of your home’s value, should you list it on the traditional market. Then, whether you choose to sell on the traditional market or accept the QuickBuy offer (and service), you’ll have peace of mind that you’ve made an informed decision

Still not sure which path you want to take when selling your home?

It’s a big decision, and it’s smart that you are not taking it lightly. At Edina Realty, we are here for you whether you want to sell quickly to a cash buyer or position yourself for multiple offers on the traditional market. We even offer a pre-market option for sellers, so we can begin marketing your home among fellow Edina Realty agents who may just know the right buyer. No matter what, you’ll want to get started by securing the help of a professional real estate agent you can trust.

Reach out today to talk through your options and find the best selling path for you.

What’s the difference between a condo, loft and apartment?

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You’re ready to make the next step in your homeownership journey. You can even picture yourself shopping for new decor to furnish your new condo — or will it be an apartment? Or a townhome? Or a loft?

The differences between these four types of homes are distinct. And you will want to carefully consider the type of property that you will live in. Here are tips to help you make a confident decision about whether a condo, apartment, townhouse or loft is right for you.

What is a condo and how does it differ from an apartment?

A condo, also known as a condominium, is a private residential unit that is surrounded by commonly-owned areas. Condo owners have the freedom to make decisions within the space they own, including:

  • Painting the interior walls
  • Replacing appliances
  • Changing the flooring

Although a condo owner has creative and legal ownership over their individual unit, the space surrounding their unit is jointly owned. Shared spaces and amenities such as hallways, fitness facilities and security systems are maintained by the homeowner’s association (HOA). The HOA also enforces special condo rules or regulations within the complex. Keep in mind, condo residents pay monthly fees to their HOA in exchange for these conveniences.

Outwardly, condos and apartments can appear very similar. However, the difference between a condo and an apartment is how they are owned and managed:

  • Condos are sold to individuals who have complete ownership of their condo units; the entire condo complex is overseen by the HOA.
  • An apartment complex is owned by an individual or group that rents apartment units to tenants; each unit is rented for a period of time agreed upon in a lease.

What is the difference between a townhome and a condo?

Townhome and condo owners both have ownership over their personal housing units, and they both pay monthly fees toward general maintenance and upkeep of common areas. The distinction between a townhome and a condo lies in the boundaries of ownership.

As previously explained, a condo owner can expect to have ownership over the elements that are found solely within the interior walls of their unit.

In a townhome:

  • Ownership typically includes the housing unit and the ground beneath the unit.
  • In many townhouse properties, the owner also has control over exterior components like the roof, driveway and yard.

What are the benefits of living in a condo or a townhouse?

A condo may be the best purchase for you if:

  • You’re community focused. Condo entrances may be shared and condo units are often in close proximity. Whether you wave hello to your neighbor while picking up the mail or get to know a fellow resident in the elevator, condo living can provide an instant sense of community that other types of housing can’t.
  • You want to explore a variety of styles. Another exciting condo trait is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Unlike townhouses (which are typically constructed as a series of units linked together by common walls), condos tend to come in a variety of architectural styles ranging from skyrise units to renovated old mansions to detached, single-level properties.
  • You like low-maintenance living. When living in a condo, you won’t typically be responsible for mowing the lawn, shoveling the walkways or vacuuming the shared property spaces.

Meanwhile, a townhouse could be the right choice if:

  • You want to have a bit of green space. Most townhouses will have a small yard that you can call your own. Whether you want to grow your own flowers and vegetables or have a backyard fit for grilling, townhouses offer the outdoor lawn that condos typically can’t.
  • You want a dedicated entrance, but don’t mind living in close proximity. Many townhome communities have shared amenities and even shared walls, so you may meet fellow residents at the pool or clubhouse, or as you enter and exit your property — but you typically won’t share an elevator ride or garage with anyone.

What is a loft? Where are they typically located?

Lofts are large, open, adaptable spaces that have been converted for residential use. Many lofts have exposed fixtures, huge natural light sources and flexible layouts with minimal walls. These apartment-like units are typically, but not always, found in urban settings.

Lofts can be apartments or condos — meaning they can be available for purchase or for rent. In recent years, old warehouses, factories and mills have been rezoned as apartments and condos in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other towns with a history of industry.

You’ll have to do a bit of research to buy and live in one of these unique units, but you can start by looking at available properties in the following areas where lofts are commonly found:

  • North Loop
  • Downtown St. Paul
  • Northeast Minneapolis

Find the features that are right for you

Committing to a property is filled with choices. Do you prefer a community-oriented condo? An apartment with a renewable lease? A townhome with a yard to call your own? Or a quirky loft with the original brick as a focal point?

No matter where you’d like to live, you’ll want to start your home buying journey the same way: by reaching out to a local, professional expert you trust. Get in touch by phone or email today.

Buying and selling a house — how to time it perfectly

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Need to sell your current home and buy another? Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or you’re ready to move into a different property, it can be challenging to time a move so the sales perfectly align. While every property transaction is unique, we’ve outlined the common pros and cons of selling a home first versus buying a home first.

Selling a home first

Congratulations, you sold your house! Now what? Here’s the inside scoop on the pros and cons of selling your home first.

  • Upside: By selling first, you’ll likely feel more financially secure as you begin searching for homes to buy. It can be helpful to know what kind of money you’ll walk away with at closing so you can set a responsible budget for house #2 and feel confident that you can get approved for your next mortgage loan.
  • Downside: There’s more to think about than just the money you’d acquire from a sale, though. Consider this: The current inventory of homes for sale is low and it may take longer than you think to find your next home. This means you may have to consider transitional housing or other creative solutions while you search for the perfect place to plant roots.

If you’re in the process of selling your home, and you’re concerned that you might close on your sale before finding your new home, you’re not without options. Together, we can try to negotiate for a later closing date when accepting a buyer’s offer. This will help you gain more time to find your next property.

Buying a home first

It’s also possible to buy a new home before you list your current home for sale.

  • Upside: By buying a new home before you sell your current home, you can search on your own terms and put an offer on the home of your dreams — rather than being tied to a timeline.
  • Downside: If you buy a new home before selling your current property, you’ll need to have enough cash on hand to cover the down payment for house #2, and you may end up paying two mortgages until your original home sells.

If you choose to buy first, be sure to prepare your finances and save as much money as possible in order to get approved for a second mortgage. This will also give you peace of mind as you commit to paying two mortgages for the short term (or possibly longer). And of course, you’ll want to hire a real estate agent who has strategies to help you sell quickly.

In some cases, homebuyers can use the equity of their existing home to fund their down payment for house #2, even if they haven’t closed on their first property sale yet. This kind of mortgage home equity loan* may be an option for those who are intending to sell, but it’s important to consult a home mortgage expert for tailored guidance.

Adding a contingency when buying

If you want to buy first, but avoid two mortgage payments, you can try to add a buyer’s home sale contingency in the purchase agreement of your new home. This contingency states that the transaction for the new house is dependent on the sale of your current property.

Consider that a seller may perceive a contingent offer as weaker than a non-contingent offer. And, in a housing market that favors sellers (like we have today), you may have a more difficult time getting a seller to accept a contingent deal.

Should I buy and sell a home at the same time?

This is a pretty common scenario, especially for homeowners who don’t have a “backup plan,” like the option to move in with family or friends for a few weeks or months.

At first, it may seem like the best-case scenario to both buy and sell at the same time. Here are a couple of considerations for you as you decide if this is the right path for you.

  • Upside: You can time your moves to coincide. This will allow for a seamless transition from one house to the next. Packing up a van and relocating a few miles away is about as easy as a move can get.
  • Downside: It can be a challenge to stage your for-sale home and keep it clean for showings, all while touring other homes, making offers and negotiating coinciding closings. If you think this would be too overwhelming, staggering your purchase and sale may be a better option.

So, what’s the best plan?

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question. All homeowners are different, with unique finances, timelines and other logistical factors (like school and work schedules, family trips, short-term living options, etc.) to consider.

And, all homes are different, too! In an area without many homes for sale, sellers might accept an offer on a home in just a few days or even hours — while a seller with a less appealing property may wait months for just one offer.

All in all, the perfect option for one seller might not work for a different seller, even if they live on the same block. Together, we can weigh your personal and financial factors to determine if you should sell your home first, buy a home first or buy and sell at the same time.

Key points and next steps

Because the current housing market is full of demand, you’ll want to formulate a game plan in advance to organize the timing of your home sale, purchase, and a “Plan B” option. Reach out any time to get started on your journey of buying and selling.

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

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

Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC may operate as Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage in Minnesota and Wisconsin. All first mortgage products are provided by Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC. dba Edina Realty Mortgage. (877) 275-1762. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC products may not be available in all areas. Not all borrowers will qualify. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC dba Edina Realty Mortgage is licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC is licensed by the Delaware State Bank Commissioner. Massachusetts Mortgage Lender License ML75164. Licensed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. Also licensed in AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NC, ND, NH, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV and WY. NMLS ID #75164 (NMLS Consumer Access at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/) ©2022 Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC.

11 Packing and moving tips for the big move

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While it may seem like an enormous task to pack up your entire life, try not to overthink the process of packing and moving. Here are hot tips from moving experts that will ensure your move from one residence to another goes off without a hitch. Plus money-saving tips so you don’t have to pay an extra dime!

From the moving timeline to tips on bubble wrap alternatives, here’s everything to consider when packing and moving.

6 Moving tips

If possible, prepare for the big move as early as possible. By prepping your family members and space in advance, you’ll set everyone up for success and avoid the potential headaches that could come from a lack of planning.

Plus, keep in mind that getting ready for a move includes more than just packing. For example, garage sales and utility transfers are also important steps. Keep reading as we dive into the top moving hacks and tips.

Have a garage sale

Even before you begin packing your belongings, consider hosting a garage sale where you can flip items that you no longer use. This will help you pare down the amount of stuff that you need to pack and transfer, which ultimately simplifies your moving process.

Here’s how to have a successful pre-move garage sale:

  • Advertise your sale around the neighborhood and on social media.
  • Offer items sold in bundles.
  • Set fair prices to get more sales.
  • Prepare plenty of change, or offer online payment options like Venmo or Paypal.

Start packing early

Once you’ve gotten rid of any excess items that won’t be coming along for the move, it’s time to pack up the belongings that will trek from one home to the next. While it’s best to start packing as soon as possible, you’ll want to keep your most-used items out until closer to your move date. Experts agree it’s ideal to start the packing process around six weeks before the move.

Finish packing the day before the big move

While gathering boxes to pack your belongings, remember that you won’t want to pack up your favorite kitchen utensils, daily toiletries, or beloved jackets until much closer to the move. It’s okay to still be packing all the way up until the day before the move, as long as you don’t leave the bulk of the packing to the last minute.

Schedule your utilities

Most utility companies can process a request for new services quickly, but it’s a smart idea to plan your utilities — both a service termination and initiation – a couple of weeks prior to your move. Making the extra call or completing an online application for utilities now will make the transition of moving much smoother later. And, the good news is, this step should only take a few minutes out of your day, but the payoff is substantial. All you have to do is:

  • Make a list of all of the utilities you currently use.
  • Contact your providers and update them with your change of address.
  • Pay off any current balances.
  • Schedule your new service to begin a day prior to your move, and your previous service to end a day after your move (so you don’t have a lapse of time without water or electricity at either place).

However, if this sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry! Because of Edina Realty’s partnership with a company called Updater, we can automatically get your address and utilities changed when you move. Reach out today for more information!

Set a moving budget

When moving, some homeowners start to rack up significant bills. It’s a good idea to prepare your finances in advance so you’re ready when the moving day comes. The price of the following tends to add up to a few thousand dollars for most movers:

  • Base fee with a moving company
  • Extra fee for specialty items (think oversized or extra fragile pieces)
  • Renting your own moving truck
  • Purchasing moving equipment, including boxes and tape
  • Transportation from your sold house to your newly purchased home
  • Storage units (especially if you opt for temporary transitional housing)
  • Booking a sitter for your pets or children

Eat what’s in your cupboards

Aside from purchasing a light amount of produce and other perishables, try to hold off on grocery shopping before your move. Eating what’s in your cupboards will mean you have fewer items to transport on moving day.

However, if you have a large spice collection or are hoping to move everything in your kitchen and pantry, you still can. Here are some food packing hacks for moving:

  • Pack dry food goods in plastic boxes to keep pests out.
  • Move refrigerated items only if your new location is less than 2 hours away.
  • Donate any food that can’t be taken with you, rather than throwing it out.

5 Packing tips

Packing can seem daunting. These methods to pack for moving will help simplify your process, while making sure all of your belongings make it to your new property safely.

Label everything

Attach a label to every box you pack. Not only will this help you identify what’s in each box, but it will also help your movers (whether a professional company or helpful friends) know where in your home to organize the boxes.

You can also come up with an easy color-coded system for each room in your new house, then label each box or bag with the correct color. Here are some materials that you likely have around your home already that work well for color-coding boxes:

  • Washi tape
  • Colored markers
  • Pieces of colored paper
  • Stickers

The best way to pack clothes for moving

Most of us don’t have enough garment bags to house all the clothing items in our closets, but it’s a waste of time to pack up each button-down shirt, dress and pair of pants into boxes. Instead, the best way to pack clothes for moving is to turn a plastic garbage bag upside down and make a small hole in the middle. Hook a group of 10 hangers into the opening, then seal the “top” of the bag using the bag’s original strings.

Voila! Now you can transport closet items with ease.

Switch peanuts and bubble wrap for clothes

When packing up your dinnerware, picture frames or other breakable items, you’ll want to protect them. And, it’s possible to keep these fragile items safe without spending a fortune on bubble wrap.

If you have unused Styrofoam party plates, layer them between breakables as you pack. Or, consider separating and wrapping fragile items with the following:

  • Clothes
  • Cloth napkins
  • Tablecloths
  • Placemats
  • Towels

The best way to pack shoes for moving

To maintain the condition of your shoes, you’ll want to follow these moving tips and tricks for shoes:

  • Place heavier shoes at the bottom of the box.
  • Wrap nicer shoes in a plastic bag, or keep them separated in their own box.
  • Tie pairs with laces together.
  • Stuff shoes with socks to maintain their shape — and save room.

How to pack a TV for moving

A television is typically a higher-ticket item, so you’ll want to take care when packing it. Ensure the screen doesn’t crack throughout the move by wrapping the TV generously with bubble wrap, packing paper or a blanket. Then, place the TV in the original box if you have it. Otherwise, use both a packing blanket and stretch wrap to secure the device.

Before you dismantle your TVs, computers or other electronics, take pictures of the cords behind them and how they interact with one another. Setup at your new home is a breeze when you have a visual guide for how to best connect your devices.

Ready to get moving?

These moving and packing hacks are bound to make your moving experience flow with ease. But moving is about more than just packing up — you’ll also want the insights and guidance of a local specialist who has your best interests in mind. Reach out today for tailored help from start to finish.

Ask an Edina Realty Lawyer: What do I do if my home has a discriminatory covenant on it?

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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, our lawyers discuss discriminatory restrictive covenants that appear on the title of some properties.

Dear Edina Realty Legal,

My mother recently passed away. When I was going through some paperwork on her home, I found a legal document that says that minorities are not allowed to own the property. What is this and is it even legal?

You’ve actually stumbled across documentation of one of the darker chapters in the history of housing in America. You’re likely looking at what’s called a restrictive covenant. Restrictive covenants are essentially rules recorded against a property that limit how the property can be used. If you live in a development, perhaps one with a homeowners association, you may have restrictive covenants that apply to your property with rules about whether you can put up a fence or operate a business in the home.

Of course, the restrictive covenant you have found is much more sinister than that. These discriminatory covenants first appeared in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the early 1900s. They were created by developers as a means of keeping minorities out of entire areas within cities, usually based on race, but sometimes also prohibiting Jewish persons from homeownership. These restrictive covenants were extremely prevalent and resulted in the segregation we see today in many large cities.

Are these covenants legal?

No, they are not. In 1948, the United States Supreme Court declared that these restrictive covenants were unenforceable. Later, the Minnesota Legislature adopted a law prohibiting restrictions based on race and religion (and more recently, national origin) and making existing ones void. So, if you happen to have a discriminatory restrictive covenant on your property, know that it has no effect.

Despite the fact that these covenants are not legally effective, their mere existence may be troubling to you. If so, there is something you can do about it.

What can I do about it?

Locally, the University of Minnesota has created the Mapping Prejudice project, which is engaging in a massive research project to map the locations of various discriminatory restrictive covenants. If you live in Hennepin County, you can actually search their data online to see if a restriction like this was found on your home.

The Just Deeds Project, which was co-founded by Edina Realty Title, is a group of community stakeholders, including a number of cities, city attorneys and REALTORS®, to assist, at no cost to you, in discharging a discriminatory restrictive covenant from your property in Minnesota. They can also advise you if your home is outside of Hennepin County, and you are unsure if there is a discriminatory covenant on the property. If you are interested, you can start here.

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.

Ultimate homeowner spring cleaning checklist

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As the sun begins to shine and the cold is replaced by milder weather, you’ll know it’s time to begin your spring cleaning and home maintenance routine. To ensure your home is ready for the warmer months ahead, follow this homeowner checklist that covers everything from energy savings to the latest landscaping trends.

Check your systems and energy usage

Before that first 90-degree day hits, you’ll want to check in on your air conditioning unit. Hire a professional to make sure everything is in working order. Alternatively, you can follow these five DIY steps, courtesy of Bob Vila:

  • Check for any leaks in the hose connections.
  • Ensure drain pans are draining freely.
  • Vacuum dust and debris from the unit and its base.
  • Be sure to change your HVAC filter every 1-3 months.

The Ultimate homeowner spring cleaning checklist

Clean up your gutters, eaves and roof

Even if you cleaned your gutters last fall, it’s still possible that debris accumulated over the winter. Set aside time during the weekend to clear your gutters or hire a professional to do the job. Pricing for this task can depend on the size of your house, so get an estimate first to secure a price you’re comfortable with.

Spring is also a great time to have your roof inspected and repaired. If you suspect winter snowstorms may have damaged shingles or seals on your roof, now’s the time to set up an appointment with an expert.

Freshen up your landscaping

Is yellowed grass bringing you down? In just a few short weeks, you can bring it back to life again! Follow these simple lawn care tips to save your lawn from the effects of our harsh midwestern winters:

  • After the ground is fully dry, rake the lawn to aerate the soil.
  • Spread lawn seed in patchy areas.
  • Sprinkle water on the seeds weekly until they sprout.
  • Aerate soil three times once new grass appears.

Give your home’s exterior a facelift

Spring is an ideal time to get rid of grime on the exterior of your home. Pressure washing the outside siding of your home can help remove dirt and other stains that may have accumulated throughout the winter. Hire professionals to do the job, or save money by renting a pressure washer and making it a do-it-yourself project.

In addition, these mild-weather months are an optimal time to repair cracks or holes in your driveway or sidewalks. Concrete repair kits can be relatively inexpensive, but you may need help from a professional if you are working with asphalt.

Pay attention to your garage

Now is a good time to take a look at your garage door, too. Whether the face of your garage simply needs a good washing or it’s time to replace your garage door entirely, you’ll want to make sure it’s looking sparkly clean for spring.

Once the outside of your home is ready to go, spend some time organizing your garage. This may be especially necessary if you have extra tools laying around from your spring yard work. Here are some quick tips to approaching garage organization:

  • Sort your items by category, such as sports, gardening, cleaning, etc.
  • Pick all belongings off of the ground and rehome them in labeled bins.
  • Invest in shelving or extra storage containers to create more space.

Considering selling?

If you hope to sell in the spring, this spring homeowner checklist will help set you up for success. Even in a digital world, curb appeal is still super important to buyers. For more specialized advice on how to renovate your home or get it ready for the market, get in touch today.

If I sell my house, do I pay capital gains taxes?

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It may surprise you to know that many homeowners who sell their properties don’t end up having to pay capital gains taxes on the sale — even if they walk away from the closing table with a large sum of money.

While taxes can be complicated, and you should consult with your own tax advisor for your specific circumstances, there’s a general rule to help you determine if there will be tax implications when you sell your house, or if you will be able to keep the total amount earned. Read along for more insights you can use as you navigate the taxes associated with selling a home.

Note: While this article covers the capital gains taxes that may be paid after a home sale, there are other taxes paid in connection with a sale, including a deed tax and certain property taxes. Consult your tax advisor for more information on these payments.

If I sell my house, do I pay capital gains tax?

After selling a home, the profit from the transaction is known as the capital gain. Sellers who wish to avoid paying capital gains taxes must:

  • Have owned the property for at least two of the last five years.
  • Have lived in the home for two of the last five years.
  • Not have taken advantage of capital gain exclusion from another property sale in at least two years.

If all of these stipulations are met, home sellers can exclude capital gains up to $250,000 for solo owners (or for married couples who file separate tax returns) and $500,000 for married couples who file taxes jointly.

Even with our market’s fast-rising property prices, most property sales don’t net more than these maximums. So, many home sellers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin don’t end up paying taxes on the gains they earned from selling.

How to calculate your capital gain

Wondering how to calculate your capital gain? Let’s explore the basic math. Keep in mind that this is a generalized estimate, and it’s important for you to work with a tax or accounting expert to ensure you accurately calculate your capital gain.

  1. Start with the original purchase price of the home.
  1. Next, add the cost of any “capital improvements,” which are defined by the IRS as large-scale projects that add value to your home, prolong its life or adapt it to new uses. Keep in mind that a new roof or an addition would qualify, while improvements that return the home to its original value (such as replacing a few shingles or broken window panes) would not.
  1. Now, subtract any tax credits or insurance proceeds you got for making these improvements.
  1. Add the cost of any special tax assessments you paid for local improvements — not routine assessments — or any amount you paid to restore the property after a natural disaster. This number is your cost basis.
  1. Calculate the amount you earned at the closing table,subtracting your closing costs and the commission that you paid your real estate agent.
  1. Last, subtract your cost basis from your calculation in Step 5. This number represents your capital gain.

 

Infographic: How to calculate capital gains tax

If at the end of this calculation, you’ve earned less than $250,000 (individual filing) or $500,000 (joint filing), the final amount isn’t taxable — it’s just an asset that you’ve earned! You can use these funds to finance your retirement, put toward a new down payment or travel the world. See? The IRS isn’t always the enemy.

Keep in mind that when you are seeking to exclude your capital gains from tax obligations, you will need to have documentation of every number you submit to the IRS — from proof of the original purchase price and final sale price, to the capital improvements and sale expenses you are claiming.

Be sure to keep receipts for any large repairs you take on yourself, and official documentation of the payments made to contractors, plumbers, roofers, HVAC companies, etc., who have helped you with capital improvements or restoration efforts made after natural disasters.

What if my capital gain is above the maximum allowed?

If your capital gain is above $250,000 (or $500,000 for a couple filing jointly), then you will have to pay capital gains taxes on the sale of your home for the amount above the exclusion. The amount you owe will be determined based on your capital gain, as well as what tax bracket you fall into.

Remember, calculating capital gains taxes can be a complicated process — especially if you are selling a home for the first time or aren’t sure what updates count toward home improvements. Be sure to consult a tax advisor to help you ensure you calculate and pay the correct amount.

Are there any deductions I can take advantage of if I sell my home at a loss?

Unfortunately, losses incurred from the ownership of a private residence aren’t tax-deductible. So while you won’t have to pay taxes on the sale of your home, you also won’t earn anything back in the form of a tax deduction or credit.

Is there a way to avoid paying capital gains taxes when selling an investment or vacation property?

The capital gains exclusion only applies if you meet the three criteria mentioned above, which would not apply to an investment or vacation property. Some homeowners who own rental properties or vacation homes do avoid paying capital gains taxes when selling their property by moving into their home permanently for the two years before they sell it and making sure to spread their home sales out by two years. Also, if you are selling an investment or business property and are planning to purchase a similar property, you may qualify to defer the capital gain under what is called a 1031 exchange.

Other than that, you may have to pay a capital gains tax on the sale of a secondary property. Remember, tax fraud is a serious crime — so you should never claim that you lived permanently in a home if you didn’t.

Key points and next steps

Do these hypothetical numbers have you calculating your own home sale or considering what you’d do with the profits? Don’t go it alone! Get in contact any time for a no-pressure home value estimate.

How buyers can choose between two great homes

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Key insights

  • When choosing between two great homes, start by considering what you can’t change about the house — like its overall style or location.
  • Be honest about your future needs. Don’t be afraid to consider the resale value of the home, or to disregard that in favor of finding the right “forever home.”
  • Still in doubt? Nothing beats an old-school pros and cons list to make the final choice.

Today’s market has low inventory, and many buyers are worried about finding even one home that suits all their needs. But other buyers are having the opposite problem: they are having a difficult time choosing which home they should put an offer on.

Here are insights you can use as you choose between multiple properties for sale in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Measure the perks of each location

The saying, "Location, location, location" is a cliché for a reason. While you can change many things about a home, you cannot alter its proximity to the places you visit most often.

Few things can add or reduce stress more than the length of your daily commute, so consider the total time you’ll spend driving, walking or biking to your usual destinations from each home. Conversely, if you now work from home or have a hybrid work schedule, your work commute may be less of a factor than it was a few years ago. In that case, pay attention to the distance from each home to common destinations like schools, grocery stores, workout facilities and key family members or friends.

Focus on style and permanence

As HGTV has taught us, there are many things you can change about a home, but some elements will remain the same no matter how much money or effort you put in. As you look at both homes, evaluate the amount of work each will need — and how much that will change the overall feel once the renovations are complete.

For example, you may be torn between two homes: the first, an older home with great bones and style, but in need of a new kitchen. The second, a fully-updated home that doesn’t match your vibe. While a kitchen remodel on House #1 will be expensive and time-consuming, you could end up with your dream house after only a few months — rather than settling for Home #2 that doesn’t feel “quite right” even after years of smaller tweaks.

Stay true to yourself

Buying a fixer-upper has never been more en vogue, but there’s no shame in wanting a turnkey house where you can settle in easily. If you aren’t a do-it-yourself enthusiast, don’t be afraid to choose the higher-priced, move-in ready home that matches all your criteria, as long as it fits in your budget.

Look ahead to the resale value… or don’t?

While it can seem strange to consider selling a house you haven’t even bought yet, the potential resale value of a home may be an important factor in your decision. If you plan to live in the home for only a few years, you may wish to buy a house that is in an up-and-coming area, so you position yourself to make more when you sell.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a “forever home,” you should consider the neighborhood that works best for you today and down the road… without considering how much the home will be worth in a decade or more. For buyers who plan to stay in place, the return-on-investment won’t be translated into easy dollars and cents, but rather into the life they’re able to create after picking a house and area they love.

Write up the pros and cons

Still unsure? When in doubt, begin making a pros and cons list of each house. Then, rank each item in order of importance. Ask yourself questions that may seem a bit ridiculous: What’s more important, a home with an original claw-foot tub, or a house that’s just five minutes from a highway?

Tally up the totals and see if one is clearly on top of the other. Remember that instinct counts double! If you have a good gut feeling about one house, don’t be afraid to add that to the list of “pros” as you evaluate.

Need help with your home buying journey?

If you’re in the early stages of buying, reach out to get help setting expectations with an educated neighborhood specialist. Together, we’ll get you on the path to buying the perfect home.

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