Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Most Important Summer Home Maintenance Projects

Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money! Focus on maintaining these 5 areas.

With the bright sunlight and warm temperatures that accompany summer, you may be spending more time outside — and you may be noticing areas of your home’s exterior that need repair. But there’s more reason to tackle your home maintenance projects this summer than simply cosmetic appearance. Maintaining your home will prevent major leaks and damage that may eventually require professional help, usually when its most expensive and inconvenient for you.
Being proactive when it comes to your home’s maintenance can save you time and money, and it makes sense to do it when you’re more likely to be outdoors in the comfortable summer months. Here are five areas of your house that are most important to keep updated.
  1. Windows

Start by cleaning the exterior of your windows with hot soapy water and a sponge or squeegee. If you’ll need a ladder, make sure to review safety guidelines.
While you’re washing, inspect each window pane for cracks. Double or triple glazed windows with damaged seals or cracks may need to be replaced. Think back: Have your windows had excessive condensation inside through the winter and spring? That’s another sign that the seal might have been compromised and that your window might need to be replaced.
You’ll also want to inspect caulking and weatherstripping around your windows. Recaulk any spots where the caulk is loose or chipping away, or consider applying new caulk for a tight seal. Summer is a perfect time to do this because the warm temperatures and low humidity will help the caulk set perfectly.
Finally, wash window screens and replace any screens that have rips or holes. 
  1. Roof

Visually inspect your roof every summer for missing or broken shingles, shakes and panels. Again, if you’ll be using a ladder and climbing up to your roof, make sure you follow safety guidelines. If you have any concerns about using a ladder or moving around on your roof, or if you’re unsteady on your feet, call your roofing company. Most roofers will make inspections and do basic maintenance for you.
While you’re up on your roof, you’ll also want to check flashing and seals around vents, chimneys and skylights. Apply caulk around any areas that haven’t been re-sealed in the past year.
Algae and moss can plague even new and well-maintained roofs. Apply a moss killer designed for roofs or install zinc strips that can help keep algae and moss from taking hold.
Your gutters should be cleaned and checked for holes or other damage. Look for water stains around your gutters and downspouts that indicate a problem.
  1. Exterior

Check high and low over your exterior and look for holes, gaps and cracks in your siding. It’s less expensive to replace siding that is just starting to deteriorate than to wait until it’s broken down completely and impacted your home’s structure, insulation and inside walls.
While you’re walking around your home, look for any signs of pests. Termites and carpenter ants can be devastating to your home’s structure, while ants and wasps can be a nuisance and cause minor damage to your home’s exterior. Check vents and crawl-space access doors to make sure rodents and other wildlife can’t get in.
  1. Foundation

Check your foundation for any cracks and signs that there has been a leak, such as water stains. Any small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks should be inspected by a pro. Once you repair small cracks, re-seal the foundation with a good waterproof masonry sealer.
Pull out any larger plants growing close to your home that might impact the foundation. Besides the risks of roots growing into your foundation, watering plants close to your home can cause water to pool around the foundation and lead to damage.
  1. Heating and Cooling

You’re going to want to make sure your air conditioning is ready for the heat ahead, so replace filters and remove and clean your unit’s fan and condenser. Make sure you turn off power to the unit before you tackle any work.
At the same time, your furnace should be checked and readied for use again at summer’s end. Vacuum out the burner and blower cavities, and vacuum and brush the blower blades. Change the filter so the furnace is all ready to go when it’s time to turn it on again.
Your home is a big investment, and it’s important to keep it in good “health.” Spend some of your summer days inspecting and making minor repairs and you’ll reduce your chances of needing a big repair later.

Chelsea McGrath is an Editor at HomeAdvisor with a love for all things home, health, sports and nature.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending July 7, 2018

As prices persistently rise and months of supply decrease in year-over-year comparisons, it continues to be an ideal time for more sellers to enter the market. Across the U.S., inventory levels are still lagging behind last year, but new listings have perked up nicely so far this year. This has been coupled with many announced new home-building projects across the nation and a more positive tone from the building community.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 7:
• New Listings decreased 14.6% to 1,192
• Pending Sales decreased 10.6% to 1,018
• Inventory decreased 14.6% to 11,344

For the month of June:
• Median Sales Price increased 5.3% to $271,000
• Days on Market decreased 16.7% to 40
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 100.3%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 14.8% to 2.3

Publish Date: July 16, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

Each season has something different to offer to a potential home buyer. Read the pros and cons of buying a home during the summer versus the winter.

You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.
Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer

Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.
If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.
It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.
If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.
Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.
What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter
There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.
What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.
They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.
Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.
While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.
Considerations for Both SeasonsThere are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.
Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.
On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.
Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.
At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.
Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending June 30, 2018

The unemployment rate rose to 4.0 percent in June 2018, marking the first increase in nearly a year. Economic forecasters are calling this a healthy increase indicative of more people being counted as entering the work force in an exceptional job market that added more than 213,000 paying jobs in June. Strong demand for workers combined with low supply creates upward pressure on wages. Employed people with higher wages are generally good for residential real estate.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending June 30:
 • New Listings increased 15.1% to 1,864
 • Pending Sales increased 1.1% to 1,519
 • Inventory decreased 16.5% to 11,374

For the month of May:
 • Median Sales Price increased 8.3% to $270,750
 • Days on Market decreased 9.6% to 47
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.7% to 10

Publish Date: July 9, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017. All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime

Thursday, July 5, 2018

What Is the Difference Between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent?

A real estate agent, realtor, and broker are three separate individuals with differing levels of education, experience, and affiliation. In terms of their qualifications and the services they offer, you might be best suited with a realtor VS a real estate agent, or vice versa.

Are you working with a Realtor or a real estate agent? Often, people use the words interchangeably to refer to any individual who handles real estate transactions, but that’s not correct.
A real estate professional can be classified as a real estate agent, realtor, and/or broker.  The difference between these titles are the levels of education, experience, and affiliation. So, who are these individuals and what do they offer? Are all real estate agents realtors or is there more required to be one or the other? We’ve got the inside scoop.

Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a person who is licensed to represent buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction. The steps to becoming licensed vary by state but typically include a minimum number of instructional hours and the passing of a real estate licensing exam. Additionally, many real estate agents have also passed a state background check and have business insurance.
Agents are the most common real estate professionals that you’ll run across. All real estate brokers and realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are brokers or realtors.

Real Estate Broker
The differences between a real estate agent and broker have to do with education. A real estate broker has pursued a higher level of licensing after working in the industry for a set amount of time. In addition, to become a broker you should be verified by a principal broker and pass a broker exam specific to your state.
In the end, the most telling differences between a real estate agent and broker are their level of experience. A broker has at least worked in the industry buying and selling homes for a few years.

Realtor
The final title is that of a realtor. A real estate agent and a real estate broker can both be realtors. The key to being a realtor vs. a real estate agent is belonging to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only members of this association can be identified as a realtor.
What makes a realtor unique? members of the NAR have all taken a pledge to follow a set of ethics and guidelines that ensure their integrity. These codes of ethics carry weight for a realtor in their day-to-day business practices and cover a wide range of pledges:
  1. Shall put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own.
  2. Shall cooperate with other brokers and agents if it’s in the best interest of the client.
  3. Shall refuse fees from more than one party without consent.
  4. Shall not discriminate in any fashion.
  5. Shall always present the truth in advertising.
All in all, the REALTOR® Code of Ethics offers a very specific outline for how an agent or broker should think, act, and perform their duties. This is not to say that the main broker and realtor difference is the type of individual—an ethical or non-ethical person. A broker can follow these same ethics guidelines without being a member of the National Association of Realtors. However, being a member of the NAR does offer a course of action if you have a complaint; you can contact your local board of realtors.

Choosing Your Real Estate Professional
So, how do you choose the right real estate professional for you? The right individual will be different for every transaction, homebuyer, and seller. You need to decide if having a few extra years of experience and education or adherence to a specific code of ethics makes you feel more comfortable hiring one person over another.
No matter whom you decide, we recommend carefully vetting all your candidates and reviewing their qualifications before making your choice. A realtor isn’t necessarily better than a broker, and an agent isn’t necessarily less experienced than a broker. It all depends on their qualifications. Vet wisely.

Victoria Keichinger is the Senior Manager, Brand Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending June 23, 2018

The first half of the year in residential real estate fared as expected, with the most obvious markers continuing to be low inventory and higher prices. We are also seeing decreased affordability in many markets coupled with more urgency (lower days on market) and increased purchase offers (higher pending sales) ahead of perceived future rate increases that have not yet materialized in the wake of the 0.25 percent increase in the federal funds rate. All of this makes for a busy summer. Let's examine the local market.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending June 23:
 • New Listings increased 1.3% to 1,987
 • Pending Sales decreased 3.7% to 1,437
 • Inventory decreased 16.8% to 11,171

For the month of May:
 • Median Sales Price increased 8.4% to $271,000
 • Days on Market decreased 9.6% to 47
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.7% to 100.2%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 12.0% to 2.2

Publish Date: July 2, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017
All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime.