Friday, January 29, 2010

JOB Fair

The recent recession has scorched the best of us. Erik Paulsen is hosting a Job Fair bursting with great community resources that will connect employers and potential employees

Date and Time:
Monday, February 8, 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Normandale Community College (Cafeteria)

If you're looking to hire or know a business hiring, learn more about this free opportunity to connect with the public. There are no fees associated with participation or admission. Submissions due on January 29, 2009.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Housing Components Don't Last Forever

Many aspects of a home last little more than a decade. Home buyers should be especially vigilant about inspecting these household components because they have a relatively short lifespan, says the National Association of Home Builders.

• Aluminum roof coating: 3-7 years
• Enameled steel sinks: 5-7 years
• Security systems: 5-10 years
• Carpet: 8-10 years
• Smoke detectors: fewer than 10 years
• Faucets: 10-15 years
• Garage door openers:10-15 years
• Air conditioners: 10-15 years
• Asphalt: 12-15 years
• Termite-proofing during construction: 12 years

Source:, Marcie Geffner (01/22/2010)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Minneapolis is in the Top 10 Smartest Places to Buy!

10 Cities Where It's Smarter to Buy

For people who want to own a home, the premium to buy—the spread between what they’d spend to rent and what they’d pay for a mortgage—is much lower than the 15-year average in many cities.

To determine what cities are smart buys, Forbes magazine computed the premium and also identified locales where economists predict home prices will go up the most over the next five years.

Here are the top 10 cities the magazine chose as the best places to buy right now.

  1. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.
  2. Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, N.C.-S.C.
  3. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.-Ind.-Wis.
  4. Cincinnati-Middletown, Ohio-Ky.-Ind.
  5. Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, Colo
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.
  7. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.
  8. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash.
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
  10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V.

Contact Eric & Sharla Stafford for information on Relocation, Buying or Selling in the Twin Cities!

Great Tips as we head into Tax Season

With tax season approaching, here are a few tax incentives you'll definitely want to discuss with your tax professional.

Up first is the popular $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. Originally scheduled to expire on November 30th, 2009, this valuable tax credit of up to 10% of the purchase price or up to $8,000 was extended into 2010 (purchase agreements must be signed by April 30, 2010, and closings must be final by June 30, 2010). The new program was also expanded to include a tax credit of up to $6,500 (or up to 10% of the purchase price) for qualified buyers of a second or "replacement" home under the same deadlines. To qualify, home purchasers must have owned and occupied a primary residence for five consecutive years during the last eight years. Most importantly, the new program significantly increases previous income requirements. There are other important guidelines to meet in order to qualify, so be sure to discuss your situation with a tax professional.

Property-Tax Deduction for Non-itemizers

You don't have to be a new homeowner in 2009 to deduct qualifying property taxes, but prior to 2008, you did have to itemize your taxes in order to receive the benefit – not anymore. Under the new rule, homeowners who don't itemize can boost their standard-deduction amount by up to $500 if they're single and up to $1,000 if they're married and file a joint return to account for property taxes paid during 2009. You'll need to include a Schedule L with your 2009 tax return, but it's definitely worth it if you qualify. Talk to your tax preparer and don't be one of the millions of taxpayers who will claim the standard deduction and miss out on the savings. Refinancing Points – When you buy a house, you get to deduct (all at once) the points paid to get your mortgage. When you refinance a mortgage, though, you have to deduct the points over the life of the loan. That means you can deduct 1/30th of the points per year if it's a 30-year mortgage. It's not a lot of savings, but everything helps when you're legally trying to lower your tax bill.

Energy and Home Improvements Credits

Homeowners can make energy-conscious purchases that will provide tax benefits when filling out their tax returns for 2009. The new law provides tax credits for making your principal residence more energy efficient and for buying certain energy efficient items. Residential Energy Property Credit – The new law increases the energy tax credit to 30% of the cost of all qualifying energy-efficient improvements to existing homes. It also raises the maximum credit limit to $1,500 for improvements placed in service in 2009 and 2010. Qualified improvements include adding insulation, energy efficient exterior windows, energy-efficient heating, air conditioning systems, and more. A similar credit was available for 2007, but was not available in 2008. Ask your tax professional about the IRS' issued guidance, deadlines, and other important qualifying factors for this and the following tax credit. Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit – You can receive a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of qualified energy-efficient products installed in the taxpayer's main home in the United States. The tax credit for home improvement purchases is limited to $500 and applies to the total credit you can claim for all years combined.

Other 2009 Tax Breaks

New Car Purchases – If you bought a qualifying new car or truck ($49,500 or less) between February 16 and December 31st, you may be able to deduct the sales or excise tax. Your income must be less than $125,000 for a single taxpayer or $250,000 for a couple to get the full deduction. The benefit applies to more than one vehicle, as long as all of them qualify and delivery was taken by Dec. 31.

Unemployment Benefits – Unemployment benefits are usually fully taxable. If you received any unemployment benefits at any time during 2009, however, you are eligible to exclude the first $2,400 of these benefits when you file your tax return. For a married couple, the exclusion applies to each spouse separately.

Moving expenses – If you were unemployed in 2009 but you got a new job, moving expenses may be deductible, if you moved more than 50 miles away – and you don't have to itemize to get it. For 2009, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to that new area 50+ miles away, this includes 24 cents per mile for driving your own vehicle, plus parking fees and tolls.

For more information please contact Eric & Sharla Stafford or John Skoglund of PHH Home Loans.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Listings are on the Rise!

The Holidays are over and everyone has returned to their regularaly scheduled lives, as evident by the number of cars on the road during rush hour, but we are also seeing the number of new listings coming to market rising.

New listings rose to 688 for the week— while pending sales posted a number of 378.

A few additional stats for the New Year:

Housing Affordability continues at historic levels: rising to 208 for January, an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year and a good sign for buyers in the year to come.

The Months’ Supply of Inventory is back in balanced market territory at 5.0 months. This is a dramatic 34.2 percent under the supply at the beginning of last year.

For the full market report visit

Can Stafford Family Realtors help you find your new home in this buyer's market? Let us know how we can assist you!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Very Exciting News!!!

I have never seen Sharla & Eric Stafford this excited!

The team ventured out to Bayside on Lake Minnetonka Sunday afternoon for free Sloppy Joe’s, Beer and the VIKINGS game! It was a great game to watch. Sharla got so excited that she knocked over her chair during Rice’s touch down.

Should anyone be in the area next Sunday evening, come down and join us as the Vikes take on the Saints (and win, because we ARE going to the Super Bowl).

We will also be hosting open houses on Sunday so check back here or at for times and addresses.


Friday, January 15, 2010

SKOL Vikes and Open Houses

Stafford Family Realtors are opting to host an open house this Saturday since we all plan to cheer on the Minnesota Vikings at Floyd’s in Victoria this Sunday. If you are in the area, please come on out and share your purple pride and enjoy a Free Beer for every quarter the Vikes score a touch down during and chili with all the fixing’s! SKOL VIKES!!!

Open Saturday 1:00pm - 3:00pm

This beautiful home in the demand neighborhood of Bellavista, located on the beautiful Chaska Town Course, offers a spacious yard with tons of room to play. Other amenities include an open floor plan, Gourmet Kitchen with granite counters, a Main Floor Office, Private Master Suite with large Walk-In Closet and a large soaking tub. The basement is unfinished – a great chance to build equity. This home is subject to a short sale.

1632 Isabella Parkway, Chaska ~ MLS # 3650507

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fed says "it's time the Market Stands on its Own"

April 1 will be the first day that the Federal Reserve will end its debt purchase program and allow the struggling U.S. mortgage market to operate unassisted. As a result, the Fed believes mortgage rates will rise about three-quarters of a percent to about 6 percent, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said Saturday.

Fear of a worldwide perception that the U.S. government is simply printing money to use to purchase mortgage-related securities is a big reason the Fed has pulled back, analysts say. If that fear caused a sell-off of U.S. government bonds, it would push borrowing costs substantially higher and derail the economic recovery.

"We are still in uncharted waters," Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn said in an unrelated speech Saturday. "We will need to be flexible and adjust as we gain experience."

Source: Reuters News, Pedro Nicolaci da Costa (01/08/2010)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tips for Choosing a Home Inspector

Purchasing a home can be an exciting and worrisome experience but along with a professional Realtor, a good Home Inspector can help make your purchase a smooth transion.

There are several factors you should consider when looking for a good inspector:
  • Look for inspectors who offer General Liability Insurance - An inspector who doesn't carry general liability insurance does not protect against property damage in the event the inspector damages the property before or after inspecting the home.
  • Ask about their training qualifications - Training is key to a proper home inspection. Many inspectors may not have received formal training. Training limitations can lead to potential problems in the event something is not properly inspected.
  • Look for an inspector who meet industry and state standards - Hiring an inspector who does not adhere to industry or state standards could result in missing thousands of dollars in problems, costing you additional money, time, and aggravation.
  • Ask if your inspector if they provide services outside of a general home inspection - Among other areas, we like to have our inspectors test for Radon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

7 Helpful Home Tips for January

Ring in the New Year with a few helpful home tips that will help you keep your home running smoothly and avoid potentially costly issues later:

1. Clean or replace furnace filter.
2. Check and clean mechanical ventilation system (HRV/ERV).
3. Clean snow from air intakes, exhausts and meters. (we had to do this other day at our house, our gas fireplace wouldn’t turn on… whoops!)
4. Clean range hood filter. (goes along with #2)
5. Remove excess snow from roof to prevent ice dams.
6. Inspect water heater (check the temperature valves).
7. Observe humidity levels and adjust the setting on the humidistat or air exchanger controller as needed to eliminate condensation or frost on windows.

For more tips, visit the Home Energy Resource website and may you have a great 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Coldwell Banker Ranks highest for home sellers!

According to J. D. Power and Associates Home Buyer/Seller Study, Coldwell Banker ranked highest for home sellers.

For both buyers and sellers, the agent is the most important driver of overall satisfaction. The importance of additional services provided by companies and agents has risen by 8 percent among sellers.

“Among home sellers, Coldwell Banker ranks highest with a score of 815 (out of 1,000) and performs particularly well in all four factors. (Four factors are examined for the home-selling experience: agent (34%); marketing (34%); office (17%); and package of additional services (15%).)”

The 2009 Home Buyer/Seller Study includes more than 3,100 evaluations from 2,801 respondents who bought or sold a home between April 2008 and June 2009. The study was fielded between April and June 2009.

For more information on Stafford Family Realtors and the exceptional home services we provide, please visit or call us today to see how we can help you.