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Monday, 15 April 2013
KARE 11 news had a positive report about the current housing market a few weeks ago. You can read the article here: http://www.kare11.com/news/article/1018733/396/Home-sellers-receiving-multiple-offers-to-buy
Things are looking up.
Friday, 05 April 2013
Homes Prices Get a Lift
This was the title of an article in Money Magazine in January 2013. The real
question is, will it be a lift as in a “U” shaped recovery, or a sustaining bounce,
as in “V” shaped recovery? My belief is we are having a “V” shaped recovery that may surprise everyone in its strength and duration. As they say on Wall Street, “Let’s
do the numbers on a national basis.”
Home prices overall in the nation have consistently gone up month by month for the last eight months. In some locations they are up over 12-15%.
Home sales continue to show improvement with roughly, 4.28 million a year ago and now annual sales of 4.75 million. This is for single family homes and condos.
Sales of new homes are increasing month after month. The only concern I have here is lot inventory. It takes anywhere from
two to six months to build a home. It can take two to six years to purchase, get plat approval, finance and build the infrastructure of a finished building site.
Home inventory continues to decline. A year ago, we may have had an eight-month supply. Today it is about half of that, at four months. It is not uncommon in some price ranges and locations for there to bidding wars.
Fewer homes are under water. The rough figure nationally a year ago was 25% of home owners had a mortgage balance that exceeded the market value of their home. Today, with the ongoing market conditions, at most 20% are short the difference between what they owe and what they can sell their home for.
Home foreclosures continue to decline. This is happening for two reasons. The good news is fewer people are losing jobs and, yes, slowly but surely, employment is improving. The other reason home foreclosures are declining is the banks are getting stronger and smarter. They do not have the Feds breathing down their neck as often and the balance sheets are looking better.
Interest rates are still at the bottom of the cycle. We see fixed rates at 3% to 4%. It is an incredible rate which gives everyone, modest to rich, super buying power. We should see the higher-end homes, which have been the lagging sector of the housing market, begin to take off with these rates. As the S&P 500 and Dow move into record territory, the public will feel rich again. They will consider the benefits of borrowing money at 4% versus 8% to “invest” in housing.
So, there are some of the stats and reasons why my bet is on a “V” shaped recovery versus the “U” shaped. Either way it is a recovery and great news for the economy.
Friday, 15 March 2013
COST TO BUILD IN MINNESOTA
In my 25 plus years of helping people design and build new homes, I cannot count the number of times I have been asked, “What is the builder’s cost per square foot?” This is a fair question and appears to be able to establish a base line for the consumer to purchase. Unfortunately, it really is worth next to nothing. The simple response I have often given is, “We don’t decide which vehicle to buy according to the amount of tonnage we get for the dollar.” It is like saying a Maserati and a Ford Escort are the same.
If this is true for wheels, it is 100 times more important for our home and/or investment. Note the add-on here of investment, because once again, we are moving into potentially another long term trend where real estate may beat other investments of bonds, stocks or precious metals: gold and silver. More on investment real estate 1031 tax exchanges in a separate blog.
In looking at the cost per square foot, there will be both subjective and objective calculations. Let’s start with one simple objective factor, driveways, to explore various ways a builder creates their costs per square foot. One builder may have asphalt and another may have concrete for the driveway. And what is the length and width? What about the base under the driveway? Is it cut out and filled two inches, three inches or four? Is the fill sand or gravel and is it watered down and compacted? If it is concrete, is there any fiberglass or fly ash added, and how many expansion grooves are cut in the mud?
So you see, before we even get to the front door we can have a wide variety of options. Another example is the front door size. How many hinges: three or four? What is the material, steel, wood, or fiberglass? Is the lock name brand, such as Schlage, with a lifetime warranty for the first owner? Is the lock one, two or a three point for security? A third example, which is easier to compare, are allowances. Allowances can be for lighting, cabinets, flooring, landscaping, sod or appliances. Sod allowance can mean exactly that: sod dollar amount without installation cost.
So now we have a taste for why, on an objective basis, there is such a wide range from builder to builder in cost per square foot. Here again we have objective and subjective. The objective could be 22-square yard flooring or a subjective floor type, such as the Pergo name brand with a better warranty.
Let’s explore a bit of the subjective costs on building a new home. First, are the design fees included? Some builders have a dollar amount built in and other builders send you to their designer for plans and specs. Your cost for designers will depend, in part, on the education level. Caution, my personal experience is higher levels of education do not necessarily correlate with better work. This part of the building process is the most important, according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). LEED is an internationally recognized organization in directing commercial and residential green construction all over the world. So finding a designer that listens to your wants and needs and respects your budget really is a crucial subjective first step.
Another subjective example is change orders. Are you allowed one, three or an unlimited amount? If there is a limit, what are the costs once you exceed the amount? How about follow-up service? All homes are perfect, and we all know perfectly well anything we make, can break. Some builders have a punch list prior to closing, a 30 day check-in, and expect a call back in the first year.
Perhaps one of the most important subjective items is listening. Does the builder really listen to your wants and needs or hears a bit of what you say, and direct the conversation and decisions? This is a three-to-six month project for the builder but an investment for you in your life style, potentially for years. Listening to all of your requests is pivotal.
Monday, 11 March 2013
The Year to Finally Buy
Wall Street Journal Sunday, February 24, 2013: For Many, 2013 Will Be the Year to Finally Buy a Home; Coombes, Andrea
In January this year, the number of homes for sale fell to a 13-year low, leaving a short supply of homes in inventory for the buyer. Greg McBride, of Bankrate.com states the market is "clearly rebounding", and buyers outnumber the number of available homes for sale.
With an average of 4.8 months left of inventory still on the market in the 4th quarter,(meaning it would take about 4.8 months to sell what is currently on the market), prices are still about 30% below their peak, according to Celia Chen, housing economist with Mooduy's Analytics, an economic research firm. But "prices are starting to rise as a result of the strong demand relative to the low supplies."
The real estate market is local. Some locations aren't as tight as others. But if you are in a tight market, here are some strategies that could ease the process:
1: Stay Calm. Don't spend more than you can afford.
2: Make your best offer. Be realistic. If there are multiple offers, make your offer stand out.
3: Check your credit. Check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com (you can get one report free annually).
4: Account for assets. Buyers need a lender's pre-approval before even looking at homes. Be prepared for strict underwriting process.
5: Bring a big down payment. At least 20% is recommended.
6: Be Nice. If competing with other buyers on a house, be flexible with the closing date and make life easier on the seller.
7: Find a good agent. And experienced real estate agent will alert you to homes before they come on the market.
Wednesday, 06 February 2013
Just ¼ Point
Well, what an interesting two weeks with interest rates. About two weeks ago I was quoted 4% on a refinance by Citibank on a refinance with one of my investment properties. Yes, we do own real estate as a long-term investment. I promise a blog post on real estate as a long-term investment in the near future. Citibank had done an excellent job of completing the refinance in a much shorter time frame than expected and with less paperwork. We have gotten so time warped with short sales that we lost sight of the “normal” banking world. So they asked if I wanted to “lock”? In today’s world, I’m going to share my age or perhaps wisdom: you lock to be safe. In a heartbeat, they can start another war in Africa or blow up another embassy. Sometimes these events can cause big enough waves to unsettle the financial markets. As an aside, my belief is the next bang to rattle the markets will be in the Middle East and will drive up the price of oil further. “Lock,” I said, “and what’s the rate at zero points?” “4-1/4%.” Whoa. So what happened, when for the last few years they barely moved 1/8th of a point up and down?
As in any discussion of interest rates, there will be as many answers as opinions. Working from an “integral philosophical mindset,” i.e., Ken Wilbur, there is some validity to all of them. I did see an interesting article on Yahoo Finance this week titled “Interest Rates Climbing, but May Not Last Long” by Patti Domm. I do not know Patti, but believe she was smart to use in the pivotal word “may” in the title. We have highlighted what we believe to be some of the key notes to the interest rate change, or fluctuation, depending on your interpretation.
“The sudden rise in interest rates to nine-month highs doesn’t yet signal a turn, but that could change if Congress resolves the fiscal crisis hanging over the markets.
"With stocks hitting multi-year highs and economic data surprising to the upside, investors have been selling Treasurys – which pushes up the yields – and going into riskier assets.
"But two things are keeping a lid on rates: worries about the automatic spending cuts – known as sequestration – if Congress doesn’t resolve the budget impasse, and the Fed’s continued purchase of Treasurys and mortgage bonds.
"On Monday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury briefly rose above two percent for the first time since April, in part due to the stronger than expected report on durable goods orders.
“We’ve been more negative on the Treasury market ever since we cleared the debt ceiling debate,” said John Briggs of RBS. “We felt it gave risk assets a green light to continue to advance and that money would be coming from safe haven instruments, notably Treasurys.” Last week, congress approved an increase in the debt ceiling to May, giving it time to hash out spending and the budget.”
“Briggs and others say the market focus should turn more bullish for bonds, when Congress addresses “sequestration”or automatic budget cuts that take effect March 1st. While Congress wrangles, investors could rush once more to the safety of Treasurys.
"But if Congress does deliver a reasonable plan to cut spending, it could be negative for bonds since it would eliminate some uncertainties for the economy. Economists say the automatic “sequester” cuts could be about a half percent haircut to GDP growth if allowed to occur.
“Rates may not skyrocket higher because of what the Fed is doing, but I think over time we’re going to have a slowly increasing rate range,” said Briggs. “You have this improving, continued-healing economy against the Fed purchasing of so much of the net supply. These things are going to be juxtaposed against each other.”
The long and short of this interest rate discussion is, "think long, not short." Does a quarter-point change from 4% to 4-1/4% make a difference? Absolutely. Note, I decided to buy it down from 4-1/4% to 4% for $400.00 as this will not be a 1031 tax exchange property soon in our real estate portfolio.
We want to have that Warren Buffet long-term view of an investment. If it is a good investment at a fair price, with strong long-term potential, do it. We know, in theory, we have a maximum of four percentage points we could go down. The flip side is, I have seen 18% adjustable interest rates. Again, I'm showing my age, and many lessons in interest rate cycles. Take away, we are at record lows, someday the rates will be higher. No one knows how far or how fast.
Monday, 04 February 2013
Easy Ways to Transform a Room
Updating a living room or family room doesn’t have to mean giving it a complete makeover. A few simple changes can transform a tired room into a fresh space in no time.
Give your windows better treatment
• Replace heavy draperies, which can look outdated, with a more contemporary alternative. Faux wood, honeycomb blinds, roman or vertical shades—there are a lot of options to dress up your windows. Many online companies will send you samples so you can see how the different options will look in your particular space.
• Lighten things up with sheers. The soft folds of billowy sheers allow more light to come into the room, but still offer some privacy. Sheers in lighter colors also make the room appear larger and serve as a color-coordinated highlight at the same time.
Use mirrors to add visual interest
• Instead of the hanging a large mirror in a traditional space, such as above a couch or fireplace, modernize by hanging several smaller mirrors. Create a grouping of mirrors with frames that have the same color, but different sizes, shapes and textures.
• Hang a large mirror between two windows to give the illusion of having more windows in the room.
Replace an outdated furniture item
• Update your coffee table or entertainment center. These larger pieces are often the focal point of the room, so changing them out can put the entire room in a whole new light.
• Look for items that are both functional and easy to assemble. For example, Z-Line Designs furniture includes an instructional DVD with each item, so you can easily assemble pieces that are traditionally complicated to put together. Their ready-to-assemble mounts and stands for flat panel TVs can update any room in a flash. For more information, visit www.z-linedesigns.com.
Freshen up accessories
• There’s no need to re-upholster a sofa or its matching chairs. Swap the current accent pillows out for some new ones. Try a new, complementary color or add a pattern or fun texture to a solid background.
• Switch out your centerpieces. Replace a silk flower arrangement for a tray with pillar candles on it. Update the framed photos with new pictures and new frames. Look around the house for a few interesting pieces that can be put to new use—what can you do with a stack of interesting books or a grouping of pretty bowls?
For more information visit www.realtor.org .
Article printed from RISMedia: http://rismedia.com
Posted By susanne Best Practices,Business Development,Consumer News and Advice,Homeowner's Toolkit,Real Estate,Real Estate Consultants,Real Estate Information,Real Estate News,Real Estate Trends,REALTOR Marketing,Today's Marketplace,Your Guide to Home Improvement |
URL to article: http://rismedia.com/2011-03-22/easy-ways-to-transform-a-room/
Monday, 28 January 2013
THE DIRT IS STARTING TO FLY
“Buy land, they are not making any more of it.” - Will Rogers
“We are continuing to buy land. We have the largest land supply of any major builders.” - Doug Yearly, CEO Toll Brothers, from Barron’s, January 28, 2013.
“We sold 3 home site parcels this week and expect to do 4-5 more parcels in the 1st week of February, 2013.” - Chuck Hartell, partner of Jon Hartell – The Dirt Guys.
So you see what is happening now in our back yard. What is especially important about my sales are two features. First of all, the parcels purchased were in Wright County, Minnesota. This is especially note-worthy, as during the recession, Wright and Sherburne counties were hit the hardest in Minnesota with foreclosures and short sales. So when we see the very hardest hit areas recovering, I will explain recover in a minute, it shows we really have bottomed and are on the up swing. The second feature to note is the type of home site/land parcels being purchased. These range from a five acre wooded parcel, suitable for one building entitlement, to a quarter acre city lot. Note-city lot connotates it has access to city sewer and city water, as opposed to rural lots. The rural lot will require a private well and holding tanks or private septic system. The take away here is people are buying all kinds of land in Wright County, one of the hardest hit areas in Minnesota.
I mentioned the recovery in the above paragraph. The public, whether it is the guy in the sauna at the health club, or the bank president, they all are starting to talk to me about improving prices – the recovery. The facts, according to NAR, the National Association of Realtors, housing starts remain below historical averages, even with new construction expected to rise from 776,000 units last year to more than 1.1 million in 2013. In addition, NAR is forecasting 3 percent growth in U.S. gross domestic product by 2014, along with steady increase in national median home price. After years of tepid performance, both existing-home sales and new-home sales are expected to see significant gains this year and next, despite a gradual rise in interest rates. Note the comment “a gradual rise in interest rates”. This will be the gasoline on the fire for housing. We will talk about this in a future blog.
If you are looking for a parcel of land, no matter what the size, give us a call. I have a tenth of an acre on a lake that was under water half the time and hundreds of acres worth millions. I like dirt.
Realtor Mag. REALTOR.org. January/February 2013
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
WHAT THE STREET IS TELLING US ABOUT THE HOUSING RECOVERY
Probably one of the most universal and easiest ways to track what Wall Street thinks is going to happen or is happening to housing is to look at one of their indexes. My favorite has always been the SPDR-S & P Homebuilders with the symbol XHB. Its top 10 holdings are shown below.* This is a diverse group of companies all primarily involved in the housing industry. It includes builders, e.g. Hovnanian, M.D.C., and Pulte; and suppliers such as Standard Pacific Corp, Mohawk Industries and Select Comfort Corporation. The facts are the index was up 57.33% in 2012. It is currently in a range of the high 20s, with its all-time high being 46.14. Yes, the high came at the end of 2006. The point here is that when the housing was just starting to turn downward, it was the professionals on the street who started selling/shorting anything to do with housing. In 2012, the professionals made a solid statement that housing was improving by buying/going long the XHB housing index.
So why do we care about Spyder’s, indexes, and guys making a gazillion dollars? It tells us it’s the time to buy and do it now. It doesn’t matter if it is your 1st home, your 3rd home, your investment property, or farm land; the cycle up has started and is here to stay until the government says that’s enough potential inflation activity. Note that housing is one of the key inflation indicators for the U.S. economy. They will then turn the tap water off of low interest rates currently assisting the housing recovery.
The funny - well, not really funny - part of when they raise rates is that once the public realizes what is going on with rates, there is a rush to buy, which just adds fuel to the inflationary fire. This usually translates into a rapid increase in housing prices - with much less selection and, in turn, even higher rates.
So where do you want to be in this cycle? I have been through these cycles myself many times. The first was when I was farming in Wisconsin. One year they offered – no, begged – to loan me money at 8% and two years later, did not want to give me a dime at 18%. I would suggest the cycle has bottomed and we are within one year or two years, at the max, of rates increasing. In regards to housing prices, in many price ranges and locations, we are already experiencing multiple offers/bidding wars. This last week I had one buyer try for three different lots before he was able to secure one due to builder activity.
Warren Buffet always says, “Timing the stock market is a fool’s game.” I say, “Not being aware of the housing cycle can make you foolish if and when you want to own a home, land, or investment property.”
TOP 10 HOLDINGS (34.23% OF TOTAL ASSETS)
COMPANY SYMBOL % ASSETS
Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. CLA HOV 4.09
Standard Pacific Corp Common St SPF 3.47
Mohawk Industries, Inc. Common MHK 3.44
Ryland Group, Inc. (The) Common RYL 3.36
Lumber Liquidators Holdings, In LL 3.34
M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., Common St MDC 3.33
USG Corporation, Common Stock USG 3.32
Select Comfort Corporation SCSS 3.31
Armstrong World Industries Inc AWI 3.29
PulteGroup, Inc., Common Stock PHM 3.28
Monday, 21 January 2013
5 Inexpensive Home Updates to Complete before Listing Your Home
There is no perfect formula for selling your home efficiently, but by following these five tips prior to listing you can increase your chances to close quickly at a higher price.
1.) Update your old garage door(s). Garage doors seem like a non-issue, but many times they make up a significant percentage of the front of a home. Because of this, they are one of the first things that buyers notice when they pull in the drive way. Replacing, or even just painting, these central fixtures will do wonders when it comes to instantly impressing perspective buyers and standing apart from your competition. The market has changed drastically since many of us purchased our homes here in town. I frequently hear buyers say that they have taken a house off their list because of the lack of curb appeal. This issue is especially important to people on busier streets, corner lots, or near a neighborhood eyesore.
2.) Replace old windows. Outdated windows age a home significantly, and you can often upgrade standard windows to vinyl for a reasonable $300 per window. The average home has 8 windows, so this upgrade doesn’t cost nearly as much as you might think and it will make a huge difference to the value perceived by prospective buyers. Key point to remember is that when buyers view a home they love, if they see it has older windows, they consider it a time consuming and costly headache. First time buyers have never replaced windows and often dramatically overestimate the cost to cure this issue. By replacing pre-listing you an actually save money. A well priced, move-in condition home will sell for far more than one with windows in need of repair.
3.) Assess your floors . If you have hardwood flooring, it’s worth the investment to have them refinished considering buyers put an extremely high value on them; you’ll get the most bang for your buck if they are refurbished. Carpets should be shampooed and replaced if they are stained or look worn. You don’t need to spend large amounts of money on the highest grade or most modern name but something inexpensive and neutral will certainly bring you a return on the investment. Even the smell of new carpet will make buyers set your home apart from the comparables.
4.) Paint the trim. If you can’t afford the daunting task of painting your entire house, painting just the trim will still make a big difference when it comes to curb appeal. Painting the whole house can be expensive, time consuming, and delayed by weather conditions; painting just the trim will give your home a fresher look. Interior trim is equally as important.
5.) Update fixtures. Keep an eye out for sales at home improvement stores and replace outdated lighting, plumbing and hardware fixtures. Simple replacing lighting fixtures and knobs in the bathroom or kitchen can update the entire look of the room. You can find many modern brand name fixtures online on contractor supply websites by just searching for terms like sale faucets, sale plumbing fixtures etc.
Lisa Johnson Sevajian is Vice President of a real estate firm in Andover, MA.
Posted By susanne On August 10, 2011 @ 4:04 pm In Consumer News and Advice,Home Owner News,Homeowner's Toolkit,How to Sell Your Home,Today's Top Story - Consumer,Your Guide to Home Improvement |
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Monday, 26 November 2012
About 17% of today's homeowners with a mortgage believe their home is worth far less than the amount they owe.
A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of US homeowners shows that 39% say their home is not worth more than what they still owe on their mortgages. Another 47% say their home is worth more than they owe. 14% are undecided.
Despite what homeowners may believe about the value of their homes, 22.3% of all residential properties with a mortgage are actually in negative equity at the end of the 2nd quarter in 2012. Home values are improving even though homeowners perceptions are negative. The CEO of Rasmussen Reports states the company has been asking homeowners the question regarding home values & mortgages for years. It has never before fallen below the 50% mark. "This represents a sea change in personal finances that challenges core assumptions about the way our economy works, says Scott Rasmussen.
Negative equity is improving by more than 1.3 million households regaining a positive equity position since the beginning of 2012.
Monday, 19 November 2012
A Housing Shortage?
Lawrence Yun, Chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, recently published an entry in Realtor magazine, November/December 2012 issue entitled SEEDS OF A HOUSING SHORTAGE.
Sellers will be pleased to know that homes sales and prices are improving. But buyers beware: inventory is decreasing. "The inventory of existing homes is at its lowest level in seven years, while newly constructed home inventory has hit a 50 year low mark." The falling inventory is causing home prices to increase, with the national median price up 9.5% in August.
Winter typically means even fewer homes newly listed after Thanksgiving. Last year it dropped 25%. Fewer homeowners are behind or delinquent on their mortgage, which means less distressed homes on the market, less short sales, foreclosures, etc. And rising home prices means possibly less home affordability.
The number of homes forsale should pick up around March, but if the current trend continues, we could be looking at a housing shortage across the country.
Realtormag.REALTOR.org, Realtor November/December 2012,page14.
Monday, 12 November 2012
Avoid These Design Mistakes When Planning Your Kitchen
Your kitchen is most likely the most used, visited, gathering point of your home. Whether grabbing a snack, cooking, or baking, it is the one place that needs to be not only beautiful, but highly functional as well. Design specialists offer tips to avoid when creating a plan for a new kitchen, whether a remodel or a new construction, which helps create a smoothly running workspace.
1: Kitchen Triangle The sink, stove and refrigerator is the area of greatest activity. Experts like to call this the kitchen triangle. This area requires careful planning for unobstructed access. The sink will be used the most and should be easily accessible from the stove and refrigerator, as well as worktop space on the counter.
Consider hiring a plumber to relocate drains and plumbing, if necessary, to create the best placement for the sink. There should be no less than 10 feet and not more than 25 feet in the kitchen triangle, regardless of the size and shape of your kitchen. If the space is too small, people are tripping over each other. If too large, any food prep could become a tiresome task.
2. Storage Space Most kitchens house a lot of "stuff", expecially stuff that requires a lot of space, such as food processors, stand mixers, coffee machines, toasters, etc. Finding a place for everything but still making it easily accessible can be tricky.
If you have a small kitchen, consider installing taller upper cabinets with molding to create more storage. Always install cabinets over the refrigerator for seasonal kitchen items. For the lower cabinets, install shelves across teh back, which offers about four more feet of potential storage.
3. Countertop Workspace Consider all the activities that require countertop space, plus the appliances that have a permanent place. To create more workspace, consider adding a breakfast bar or island.
4. Poor Lighting Kitchens need good lighting, if nothing else than for safety when handling sharp kitchenware. Evaluate your work areas and what you typically use those areas for. Consider lighting directly above the workspaces, using pendant lights or mini pendant lights. This not only enhances the lighting, it adds beauty to your kitchen. Install under-cabinet lighting. The more light, the better able to show off your beautiful kitchen.
5. Backsplash Don't skip the backsplash. All the steam, splatter, and grease that happens in the kitchen will reach the walls, penetrating through paint. Installing a backsplash behind the oven and above the counters throughout the kitchen allows for much easier cleaning, and can offer a beautiful accent.
6. Ventilation Unless you like the smell of yesterday's fish and chips, or onions lingering in the air, you'll definitely want good ventilation. Not only does this improve the quality of your indoor air but it also keeps your kitchen cleaner. Good ventilation can also help extend the life of your appliances.
7. Kitchen Island Kitchen islands offer storage, food preparation space and even serving space. But choosing the wrong island or putting it in the wrong spot can be a disaster. Islands can obstruct the flow of traffic to & from your kitchen triangle and primary workstations.
Islands should be at least 4 feet long and about 2 feet deep, but people should be able to move and work around it. If your kitchen is not at least 8 feet by 12 feet, don't install an island.
8. Recyclables It is more common and convenient to include cabinet space for dealing with trash and recyclables.
9. Latest Trends Choosing a design style is important, but be caring of choosing a style that may have a short "life". Red cabinets or lots of chrome may be exactly the style, but it can also "date" your home much quicker.
10. Professionals Creating your own kitchen design can save you money, but it can be a very costly mistake. Kitchen designers can help identify your specific needs and create a kitchen that offers efficiency.
Friday, 26 October 2012
Credit Union Consumer Facts www.creditunion.coop
Energy Guide www.energyguide.com Provides an easy way to assess energy use and get quick tips on saving energy.
Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov One-stop shop advice on testing for and mitigating pollutants, from lead paint to radon to mold.
Equifax www.eqifax.com A source of credit reports.
Experian www.experian.com A source of credit reports
Fannie mae www.fanniemae.com Provide financial products & services that make it possible for low, moderate and middle-income families to buy homes of their own.
Federal Citizen Information Center www.pueblo.gsa.gov/results Click Houseing. Offers a list of consumver articles about home sales, financing, and maintenance.
Homeownership Center www.hocmn.org Designed for Minnesotans interested in locating support & services to be successful homeowners.
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency www.mhfa.state.mn.us Offers products & services to help Minnesotans buy & fix up their homes through low interest rate loans & assistance programs.
U.S. Dept of Housing & Urban Affairs www.hudgov/buying Offers advice to buyers on finance, fair housing and more.
REALTOR.com Offers consumer information for buyers and sellers as well as home listings and links to service providers.
Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council (REBAC) www.rebac.net Offers a homeowner's kit with useful information and checklists.
Tran Union Corporation www.transunion.com A source of credit reports.
Monday, 30 July 2012
PRICE REDUCED! C/D TERMS AVAILABLE!
Reduced today to $99,000
20 Secluded Acres in Becker on a dead end street, across from Sherburne County Wildlife Refuge!
If you are seeking peace, quiet and privacy, this is it! 20 acres to build your dream home!
Seller is offering Contract for Deed terms.
Call Chuck or Jon Hartell Today!
Monday, 23 July 2012
3287 122nd Ave
Lakes of Radisson
Villas of Emerald Bay
Now Offered at $362,400!
Built by Accent Homes
Call or Email Chuck Hartell Today for Your Private Showing!
763-295-0912 or Chuck@ChuckHartell.com
Friday, 20 July 2012
Staging your lakeshore property to sell
When you sell a home, it’s important to stage the property – and this is no different when you are selling a waterfront home. Follow these tips to showcase the best qualities of your lakeshore listing and entice potential buyers.
When staging your lakeshore property, it’s best to start from the water and move your way in. For most, that means beginning at the docks. Replace any broken or aging boards, and paint or stain the dock to give it a little more appeal. If your boats are docked, make sure they are sparkling clean and properly secured in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Second, make your way to your beach area. Get rid of any weeds in the shallow areas of the water and the shore. If you have sand, rake it before every showing.
Next, stage the waterfront itself. Create as many social areas as possible by rearranging lawn furniture and deck furniture into small groupings. Give the areas a little more color by adding outdoor potted plants to each area.
Once you have finished staging your lakeshore area, move indoors. Follow our basic home staging tips to ensure the interior of your home is looking sharp. Emphasize the views by washing the windows that overlook the water, and keep the curtains open during showings.
Think about what a buyer would want to know about the area. In the main entrance, place an overhead map of the lake with your property circled so they can get a better indication of the layout. Include additional brochures or information about the nearest town, including directions and/or mileage to nearby grocery stores, shops and other local attractions. People who are purchasing a waterfront property are often prioritizing leisure – give them an indication of the lifestyle they’d enjoy if they purchased your home.
Selling a waterfront home isn’t all that different from selling a regular home. Consider your property’s best attributes, likely the access to water and the views, and showcase these attributes for any potential buyers.
Lakeshore Property Tips-Edina Realty
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Five question to ask when buying a waterfront property
You’ll always have questions to ask as you set out to buy a new home. When buying a waterfront property, don’t forget to ask the seller and the seller’s agent these specific questions.
1. Who manages the lake weed?
Does the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) control the lake weed? If no, then ask the seller how they controlled the lake weed in their area of the water, and how much they spent annually on these efforts.
2. What is the lakeshore like?
Is the shoreline rocky, mucky, sandy? Does the depth of the water progress naturally, or is there a steep drop-off after a few feet. When buying a lakefront property, consider who will be enjoying your new home - if you want to spend time sitting right on the beach, you’ll want it to be sandy and flat. If you have small children, you won’t want too deep a drop close to shore.
3. What use do you get out of the lake?
Are you an avid skier? Fisher? Do you live for your jet skis? Make sure you can use the lake for your preferred activities. If you want to fish, ask the seller what types of fish they’ve caught on the lake, and where (if any) the quiet areas for fishing are located. If you know that speed boating and skiing will be your primary reason for buying a waterfront property, ask the seller about the traffic on the lake. Remember that it’s difficult to ski on lakes that are under 150 acres. Swimmers should ask again about weed control to ensure they can swim freely without getting caught in the greenery below. Last, ask how big the waves get on windy days – extremely large lakes can generate huge waves that make recreational water activity difficult.
4. Does the water level fluctuate?
Your REALTOR® will be able to help ask the right questions when discussing potential flooding issues with the seller and the seller’s agent. Be sure to ask if the water level has ever fluctuated dangerously when the winter runoff melts. How does a fluctuation in water level affect access to the lake? Has the property ever been in danger of flooding? Does the area have flood plains restrictions, which make it difficult to secure flood insurance? Do the owners currently have flood insurance in place? Do your due diligence on the issue of water levels – it’s easy to fall in love with a property mid-summer, but you must consider what the property is like year-round.
5. Are we buying the dock, too?
If the seller is moving from one waterfront property to another, they may plan on taking their dock with them. Ask if the dock is included, and then ask for further information on installing and taking the dock out. Is the dock on posts or wheels? How many people does the deck installation require? Is there a place on the land that can easily store the dock in the winter, or did they previously rent a storage locker?
Lake Front Property Tips-Edina Realty
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
LAKE VIEW AND LAKE FRONT
22498 159th St NW, Big Lake Twp, MN 55330
MLS # 4151766
Located just across the road from Birch Lake, nearly an acre of land for that "up north" feel. Heavily wooded, gorgeous views, this cabin is even suited for winter weekends!
PREFER LAKE FRONTAGE?
MLS # 4154875
Is just across the street! Potential Awesome Build Site!
Wednesday, 02 May 2012
Environmentally Friendly Deck Building Materials
Spring is upon us, which can mean time to build that deck, or maybe replace the existing deck, or patio. But what type of materials should you use? Pressure treated wood can be a popular choice for its resistance to rot and termites, but it cannot be recycled or burned. Obviously, most people want a deck that will withstand the environment and elements and time. There are better options for materials that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Tropical Hardwoods: Tropical hardwoods like ipe and tigerwood are more resistant to decay and termites than some redwoods and cedars. These woods are incredibly dense and durable. The downside is that these materials typically travel further to reach the U.S. and concern over rainforest deforestation is a real issue, making it even more important to purchase tropical hardwoods that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Redwood and Western Red Cedar: Redwood and cedar are naturally resistant to insects and rot, making it a great option for outdoor decks. Unlike tropical hardwoods, these species are often harvested in North America, reducing transportation costs (look for options that are FSC-certified).
Reclaimed Wood: Reclaimed wood is typically recycled from old barn structures, railroad trestles and "sinker" logs from the days of river-based log drives. Not only does it prevent deforestation, but reclaimed wood is usually from old growth trees, making it stronger and more stable than new wood.
Composite Decking: This type of decking is often made from a combination of wood and plastic and depending on the manufacturer can include everything from recycled wood fibers, bamboo, rice hulls, HDPE and PVC. The appeal of composite decking is its durability and low-maintenance, but while it is usually made from recycled content, composite products cannot be further recycled and ultimately end up in the landfill.
When looking for earth-friendly products, do your homework. Shop around.
Now that the deck is built, let's talk about the outdoor furniture:
If you REALLY use your backyard often, you need furniture that is comfortable, attractive and strong enough to withstand the climate. If that furniture is made of wood, it should measure up in other ways, too. Will it give off toxic fumes? Is it FSC certifed?
Before you buy new, ask yourself if you can repair or recycle in some how your existing furniture?Protect and defend the natural look. Wood furniture needs protection from rain and sun. If possible, bring the furniture inside during winter to protect it. To shield softwoods from the elements, use a low-toxicity antifungal (and anti-termite) borate salt such as disodium octaborate tetrahydrate. Maybe a fresh coat of low-fume paint will bring a new life to old furniture.
If you want to buy new, look for:
Products with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label come from forestry operations that meet strong environmental, social, and economic performance standards.
Recycled plastic is now being made into attractive, durable outdoor furniture. You can even find a reasonable facsimile of that old favorite, the Adirondack chair.
f you choose furniture made from environmentally sound wood, you help slow down global warming by maintaining the healthy forests that soak up carbon dioxide.
One-fourth of the world’s global-warming greenhouse gases are emitted because of reckless slashing and burning of tropical forests. Wood from well-managed forests in the Tropics, however, provides income for loggers while protecting forests.Ppreserve enough of the forest environment to enable forest creatures to thrive. Sound forestry practices even require healthy growth of lichens, fungi, and insects, which are a vital part of the food chain in a forest.
Prevent erosion and floods by leaving enough trees to absorb water and hold the soil in place.
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Signs of Recovery of Mortgage Defaults
A recent article in RISMedia's Real Estate magazine discussed a possible change in the current real estate market. The default rate of mortgages originated is currently only 31 percent higher than the average of loans originated in the 1990s because of the local and national economic environment.
Ross School Business at the University of Michigan professor, Dennis Capozza, says "Despite continuing high unemployment & the threat of contagion from Europe, our Default Risk Index has improved. With consumer balance sheets improving & mortgage rates at record lows, the stage is set for a recovery in the housing market. We await the catalyst."
The UFA Default Risk Index measure the risk of default on newly originated, nonprime mortgages. Their analysis is based on a loan with the same borrower, loan and collateral characteristics. The index reflects only changes in current & expected future economic conditions, which are less favorable currently than in prior years.
Each quarter, UFA evaluates economic conditions in the US & assess how these conditions will impact expected future defaults, prepayments, loss recoveries and loan values for prime & nonprime loans. Many factors affect the expected defaults. Most important facotrs are worsening economic conditions. Borrowers are more likely to be subjected to financial shock, like unemployment and will be less able to withstand the shock. Easing of the interest rates has the opposite effect.
RISMedia's Real Estate January 2012, page 23.
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
Hobby Farm for Sale!
9540 30th St NW
MLS # 4142980
8.21 acre hobby farm with 2 outbuildings and large barn. Perfect set up for the small farmer. 1900 built home has been renovated & remodeled yet still maintains the "old home" charm. Possible 5th bedroom on upper level. 30x45 barn with 28 ft hay loft, 12x23 pig shed, 15x32 lean to. Black walnut and apple trees throughout the property. Next to 141 acres of DNR waterfowl production area. Give Chuck a call today!
Friday, 13 April 2012
3287 122nd Ave NE, Blaine, MN
MLS # 4141075
The Lakes of Radisson-Villas of Emerald Bay community offers luxury detached townhomes. This is a gorgeous community within the Anoka-Hennepin school district.
Quality construction built by Accent Homes.
Wednesday, 01 February 2012
Monday, 30 January 2012
2012 Interior Design Trends
By Beasley & Henley Interior Design
Beasley & Henley Interior Designs, of Naples, Florida, recently distributed a press release defining the interior design trends of 2012. Some designs are high end, some are more contemporary, and some could possibly be found in homes & remodes in Edina, South Minneapolis, Linden Hill, Lake Minnetonka, etc.
Color: Grey is the dominate color this year, from artwork to furnishings, window treatments, everywhere. Another strong color will be yellow, which can give a bright & cheeriness feel to any room. You may notice indigo blues, grass green, beige/green, black & white will also be popular.
Purples and browns are on the way out.
Furnishings: The theme will be Paris Flea Market meets Driftwood Salvage. Natural, reclaimed, rustic furniture with wire brushed finished or bleached oak and grey washes.
An industrial style will also be prevalent this year, as well as antiques. For some, antiques never did go out of style.
Fabrics: Woven, hemp like texture, nubby cottons, loose weaves in soft earth tones will be the style to look for in 2012. Also coming on strong will be environmentally conscious fabrics. Oversized prints will still continue to be hot in 2012 as well.
Light Fixtures: Making lamps and lighting from other pieces was a trend that started a few years ago and continues to make its mark in 2012. Funky items with unique industrial fixtures will making lighting "art" as much as a light source.
Hardware: Chrome, polished & satin brass hardware with a modern flair are the trend this year.
Artwork: Oversized photography in sepia's, black & white, and computer enhanced pictures will rule the walls in 2012.
http://www.johnmurphyhomes.com/Blog/, December 2, 2011
Friday, 16 December 2011
Renters now spend 5% more of their household budgets on housing costs than homeowners, and the difference is growing as rents rise. Since 2005, homeowners' expenditures for housing have risen from 31.9% of their household budget to 33.2%, but renters' costs have risen even more, from 35.6% to 38.4%, according to the October CoreLogic U.S. Housing and Mortgage Trends.
Taken from RISMedia's REAL ESTATE December 2011
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