5 Reasons to Sell in the Winter


Selling one’s home typically isn’t the first thing to come to mind during the frigid winter months in Minnesota, especially around the holiday season.  However, if you’re considering selling your home next spring, there are five reasons why you might want to think about selling it this winter instead:

1.  Interest rates are still near record lows.  Buyers are able to afford to borrow more money with the current low rates.  The advantage to you:  they can pay you more for your home!  Of course, if the buyer is obtaining a mortgage to purchase your home, it still must appraise for at least the selling price or the buyer must put more cash down.

2.  Inventory is still low.  That means less competition among sellers.  With less homes on the market for buyers to choose from, you may be able to command a higher sales price for your home.

3.  Buyers are serious.  If a buyer is looking for a home during the winter months, they’re typically a more serious buyer.  The warmer spring and summer months tend to bring out the tire kickers and lookers.  Winter buyers are out braving the cold because they really need to find a home.

4.  Homes do sell in the winter.  Yes they do.  Of course there are more sales in the spring and summer but you’d be surprised at just how many sales occur during the winter months also.

5.  Be settled before next summer.  Summer is the best time to enjoy life in Minnesota.  Why wait and be in the middle of trying to sell your home and relocating to a new home when you should be enjoying yourself?  If you sell now, you can be moved and settled into a new home in time to enjoy the brief but nice summer that we have.  It’s especially important if you’re considering moving to a lake home.  You don’t want to miss any time on the lake!

So there you have it.  No need to wait until the spring rush to sell your home.  If you have any questions or want more info about selling, I’d be happy to help.  Just give me a call or drop me a note.

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Asking Prices Surging in These 10 Markets | Realtor Magazine

Asking Prices Surging in These 10 Markets | Realtor Magazine.

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What You Need to Know about Radon

Radon transformation

Radon transformation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Radon is becoming more and more of a concern to homeowners across the country.  Effective January 1, 2014 a new Minnesota law will require sellers to complete a radon disclosure form that tells whether or not their home has ever been tested for radon and if so, what the test results were.  Buyers are already having radon tests done prior to purchasing a home in many cases.

If you’re a homeowner, or you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, you need to learn the facts about radon.

One of the best places to start is the US EPA website.

Posted in First Time Buyers, Home Buying - General, Miscellaneous, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time for a Confession!

True Confession

True Confession (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might have noticed (then again, you might not have) that I have been somewhat derelict in my posting duties lately.  Yes, sadly it’s true.  My last post was August 2nd.  My my, how time flies when you’re having fun.  But never fear, I do intend to begin writing again soon – providing you with the latest and greatest real estate info you could ever hope for (insert grin here).

So what, you may ask, have I been doing rather than writing articles for the blog?  For one thing, I’ve been working!  This has been a busy year for real estate.  We’ve had several lean years recently, but everything has come together to make this a great year for those of us in the business.  Interest rates hit historic lows, prices were still down, and pent up demand for housing was high.  As a side note, you might have noticed that interest rates are gradually rising again.  While we were down around 3.125% for while, 30 year conventional loans are up around 4.5% now.  Still not a bad deal, just not as good as a few months ago.  I told you back then that you should buy!  On the sellers side, we’ve still got an inventory shortage.  Sellers are seeing rising prices and many are still holding out for prices to recover even more.  What they may not realize it that prices may, or may not, continue to rise.  My prediction (and that’s all it is) is that prices won’t drop drastically without another worldwide financial meltdown, but I don’t think they’ll continue to rise at current rates either.  I do think they’ll rise, just not as fast as they have been lately.  Holding out to sell might not gain you all that much.  As interest rates rise, buyers – especially first-time cash strapped buyers – are finding it harder and harder to qualify for loans.  If you’re thinking of selling, I’d do it right now rather than wait.

I just read an article that says lake homes are selling well again.  If you own a home on a lake, this might just be the perfect time to sell it.

That’s it for today, I must get back to work now.

And don’t forget to ask me questions – I love trying to answer them for you.  I may not know all the answers, but I’ll bet I know more than your next door neighbor – unless they’re another Realtor (and maybe even then!).

As always, happy house buying and/or selling!

Posted in Home Buying - General, Lake Homes, Miscellaneous, Real Estate Market Health, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5 Questions to Ask When Buying A Lakeshore Home



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you set out to buy a waterfront property, don’t forget to ask 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 have 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 a deep drop close to shore.

3. What use do you get out of the lake?
Make sure you can use the lake for your preferred activities. If you want to fish, ask the seller what types of fish can be 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 waves so large they make recreational activity difficult.

4. Does the water level fluctuate?
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?

Courtesy of Edina Realty‘s e-newsletter “Get Advice:  Lakeshore Edition 2013”.  If you’d like to subscribe, just go to my Facebook page and send me a message with your email address.  You can always opt out with a single click of the mouse if you want.  We never sell or share your email information with anyone.

And for the answers to these 5 questions with regards to Prior Lake, just ask.  I know (or know how to find) the answers to all 5 for any home on Prior Lake!

And now for some shameless self-promotion:  please visit my Facebook page and click “Like” (assuming you do of course) – see the box on the right.  Thanks!

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Update: Real Estate Activity on Prior Lake – July 27, 2013

Wagon Bridge, Prior Lake

Lakeshore homes on Prior Lake are always in demand, with price ranges that suit almost any budget.  Here’s the latest real estate activity for homes on the lake:

Currently for sale:

There are 34 homes currently for sale on Prior Lake, ranging from a 1 bedroom home for $359,900 to a nearly 10,000 square foot home for $4,299,000.

Sold (closed) in the last sixty days:

Eleven homes were closed in the last 60 days.  Prices ranged from $340,000 to $1,188,500, with a median price of $685,900.

Listed in the last thirty days:

Six new listings came on the market in the last 30 days with prices from $535,000 to $695,000.  The median price of these new listings is $634,250.  Two of the six have already been sold.

Closed year-to-date 2013:

Twenty homes on the lake have been sold (closed) so far this year, with prices from $340,000 to $1,700,000.  The median price of the sold homes was $631,000.

If you own a home on the lake and are thinking about selling, it still isn’t too late to get it done this season but you shouldn’t wait too much longer.  If you’re thinking of waiting until next spring, there are a few things for you to consider.  No one knows what the market will be like next summer.  Projections are for a continued rebound but that can change quickly.  Interest rates are making a move up but aren’t projected to climb too much in the near future.  Bottom line is, we know the market is good right now but we have no certain way of knowing what it will be next spring.  With that in mind, if you are still sure you want to wait until next season, be sure you start preparing for it well before then, depending on how much you need to do to get your home ready for the market.

While you’re here, please visit my Facebook business page by clicking the link on the right.  If you like it, I’d love for you to click the “Like” button!

As always, I’m here to help so if you have any questions at all, feel free to ask away.

Posted in Exceptional Property, Lake Homes, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Minnesota DNR Lake Classifications

Foggy Lake

Fog over Prior Lake

Has your Realtor ever given you a printout for a lakeshore home that shows the DNR lake classification and you had no idea what it meant?  Here’s an explanation of the lake classifications used by the DNR:

  • Natural Enviroment lakes usually have less than 150 total acres, less than 60 acres per mile of shoreline, and less than three dwellings per mile of shoreline. They may have some winter kill of fish; may have shallow, swampy shoreline; and are less than 15 feet deep.
  • Recreational Development lakes usually have between 60 and 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline, between 3 and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
  • General Development lakes usually have more than 225 acres of water per mile of shoreline and 25 dwellings per mile of shoreline, and are more than 15 feet deep.
  • Not Applicable lakes have not been assigned a DNR Classification.

Hope that clears up the mystery a bit.  Until next time, Happy Home Hunting (or Selling)!  And if you have any other questions regarding lake property, golf course property, or pretty much anything else real estate related, send them my way and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Posted in Exceptional Property, Home Buying - General, Lake Homes, Miscellaneous, Prior Lake (the lake) Info | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Real Estate Agent for FREE????

Can’t be, you never get anything worth having for free these days – right?  Well, in the world of real estate, you actually can get something for free:  the services of a real estate agent dedicated to you and only you for the amazing price of – FREE!  How can that be, you ask????  The agents are called Buyer’s Agents and yes, they will provide their services to you, Mr. Home Buyer, for absolutely no cost to you.  That’s right:  no cost.  So let’s talk a bit about who and what a Buyer’s Agent is.

A Buyer’s Agent can be any licensed real estate agent who represents you, the buyer.  They are paid a portion of the real estate commission that the seller pays.  So how do you get one of these free agents?  Just ask any real estate agent if they want to represent you as a buyer.  Keep in mind that some agents work exclusively as buyer’s agents.  Most agents, however, are willing to represent either buyers or sellers.  There’s yet another tricky category called ‘dual agents’ where one agent (or one brokerage company) represents both the seller and the buyer in a single transaction but that’s the subject for a separate post.  For now it’s sufficient that you know that an agent working on your behalf would be your Buyer’s Agent.

So why would you even need a Buyer’s Agent??  Can’t you just go out and find a home on your own without an agent, especially with all of the resources that are now available on the internet?  Can’t you also just visit open houses until you happen to find one you like?  Can’t you just find a house you like and call the agent on the for sale sign out front?  The answers are yes, yes, and yes.  But there are still several very valid reasons for signing up with a Buyer’s Agent (and yes, they will ask you to sign a contract with them – more about that later).

Here are some of the reasons you should work with a Buyer’s Agent:

(1)  They represent YOU.  Their job is to negotiate the best deal possible for you.  On the other hand, a seller’s agent is just that – they represent the seller, not you.  Their job is to get the best deal possible for the seller, not you.

(2)  They are usually very familiar with the area that they primarily work in.  They know what the prices of homes should be, what amenities are available in the area, where the schools and churches are, where the shopping is, whether airplanes will keep you awake at night, what future plans are for the area (sometimes, not always) etc etc.  An agent on a for sale sign could very well be from the other side of town and might know absolutely nothing about the area that you’re looking in.

(3)  Working with a Buyer’s Agent allows that agent to learn exactly what you’re looking for.  When you work with whatever agent happens to be at an open house or on a for sale sign, you’re constantly dealing with different agents.  It’s far better to develop a rapport with a single agent who knows what you’re looking for.  You’ll also likely develop a sense of trust for the agent when you work with them exclusively.  That’s difficult to do when working with multiple agents.

(4)  They’ll be happy to help you find homes that you might like then take you around to see them.  You don’t have to wait to find an open house that might or might not be right for you.  They won’t mind spending the time it takes to find you a house since they know that if you buy one, they’re going to get paid (that’s in the contract with them).  When you work with multiple agents, they all know that only one of them is going to be paid when you eventually buy a house (if you ever do), therefore none of them have very much incentive to do a good job for you.  Also, since you don’t have  a contract with anyone, they all will feel that you’re not really a serious buyer in the first place.

(5)  A Buyer’s Agent can help you with your purchase even if you’re buying a new construction home.  Remember, the friendly agent in the model home works for the seller, not you.  They have an obligation to get the best deal for the seller, not you.  A Buyer’s Agent will represent you, will strive to get you the best deal, and will work to protect your interests.

(6)  A Buyer’s Agent will save you time.  You might think that you can find everything you need on Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, or any other of the many real estate websites.  The fact is that agents have access to far more info than you do.  Yes they do.  They know when homes are sold pending an inspection or pending an appraisal, therefore you won’t waste your time trying to find out about homes that aren’t really even available.  Also, many of them have info on homes that are coming on the market but aren’t even listed yet.  You won’t find that on the internet.

(7)  A Buyer’s Agent owes you fiduciary duties.  That’s a fancy legal term for what the agent is contractually obligated to provide to you:

(a)  Loyalty – the agent must act solely in the best interests of the principal (you)

(b)  Confidentiality – the agent must protect the principal’s secrets

(c)  Disclosure – the agent must disclose all material facts to the principal

(d)  Obedience – the agent must obey all lawful instructions from the principal

(e)  Reasonable skill and care – the agent must use care and diligence in representing the             principal

(f)  Accounting – the agent must account for all valuables held on behalf of the principal

So there you have it.  With all the things that a Buyer’s Agent can and will do for you, why on earth would you not use one if you’re in the market for a house, especially since the cost to you is ZERO!

So if you’re a serious home buyer, get out there and find yourself a Buyer’s Agent, sign a Buyer’s Agreement with them, and let them get to work to find you that home of your dreams.  And if you happen to be near the Minneapolis or Prior Lake area, I hope you’ll consider ME for your Buyer’s Agent.  I love finding that perfect house for a buyer!

As usual, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I love to help.

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‘Boomerang Buyers’ Are Staging a Comeback

‘Boomerang Buyers’ Are Staging a Comeback.

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Trying to Choose An Agent?

shady-salesmanHere we go again…yet another article on choosing a Realtor (or real estate agent).  Sorry, I just can’t resist.  I see so many people choosing agents based on:  who they party with, who their neighbor is, who their cousin is, who promises the highest price, who charges the lowest commission, etc etc.  In other words, every WRONG reason!  Then they ask me why their house hasn’t sold, or why their agent keeps wanting to lower the price!


So being the naturally helpful fella that I am, here are what I consider to be the important points to look for when choosing an agent:

(1)  Let’s start with Realtor vs real estate agent.  Yes, there is a difference.  A Realtor is an agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.  All agents must abide by the real estate laws in their state but Realtors must also adhere to a very strict code of ethics.   And yes, I’m a Realtor.

(2)  Will they spend THEIR money to sell YOUR house?  And no, their office normally isn’t the one paying for ads, signs, postcards, etc.  Will they pay a fairly significant amount to hire a professional real estate photographer?  I’ll guarantee that most won’t.  All you have to do is look through pictures in the MLS to see for yourself.  And yes, I use a pro real estate photographer who is in demand nationally as well as internationally.  And yes, I pay to send out “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” cards, as well as for ads, signs, and everything else.

(3)  Do they know the area and does their company dominate the area market?  When you hire an agent who mainly works in another area, they typically don’t have buyers for your area, do not know home values, do not know marketing times, or how/where to advertise your property.  If their company has nearly zero market share in your area, don’t count on your home being a fast seller.  Always choose a leading company in your area – they have buyers for your area.  Always choose an agent who works in your area and knows the values.  Ask what your potential agent does for fun.  If they say golf, boating, camping….give ’em the ole boot.  Ask me what I do for fun:  I check MLS each and every day to see what new listings have come on the market, which listings have price reductions or have been cancelled or expired.  I tour homes for sale.  I know, it’s weird, but I love it.  And yes, I know my area because of it (Prior Lake, MN).

(4)  Will they take the time and do the work to ACCURATELY determine the listing price for your home?  Or do they ask you what you want (or need) to get and then go along with anything you say just to get the listing?  I spend several hours reviewing each and every home similar to yours that has sold in the last six months, look at the competing active listings, look at every cancelled and expired listing, look at the average time on market, look at your timeline regarding your sale, etc, etc.  

(5)  Do they offer you a low commission to get your listing?  I don’t.  When the only way an agent can compete with me is to offer you a lower commission, that indicates that they can’t compete with the services I offer or with my ability to sell your home.  If I spend the money and perform the additional work to sell your house faster and likely for a higher price, even with a higher commission, you’re likely to NET more money from the sale.  Isn’t that what you really want in the first place?

(6)  Will they go above and beyond what it takes to sell your home?  For example, yesterday I went to a vacant home that I have listed and washed the glass in the front storm door.  It’s important that the very first thing that a buyer sees looks nice.  Would your potential agent do that?  Some (the good ones) might, most won’t.

(7)  Beware of “specialists”.  For example, there are absolutely ZERO requirements for someone to call themselves a “lakeshore specialist”.  Some agents really do know their stuff – some don’t.  The only real ‘specialists’ have designations and/or certifications to indicate that they are.  Am I a specialist?  Well, I don’t profess to be.  But I do tend to enjoy working with lakeshore and golf course homes.  And I probably know more about either one than most people (insert shameless bragging here).  I also have several designations/certifications from the National Association of Realtors….but I don’t claim to be a “specialist”.

Happy 2So I suppose the bottom line is, if you’re anywhere near Minneapolis, MN and especially Prior Lake, MN why oh why would you ever hire anyone other than ME???  Actually I’m just kidding – sorta.  There are good, professional agents out there – you just have to look for them.  Hopefully now you have a better idea of what to look for.


Until next time, happy home selling or buying.  And as usual, yell if you have any questions.


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