Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekly Market Update: April 29, 2013

Less supply, more demand and rising prices are being seen in residential markets across the nation. Although grumpy cats using national data sometimes grouse about the housing recovery's fragility, housing trends have remained positive for well over a year now, and the road ahead looks bright with better lending standards in place. Ominous headlines may benefit advertisers and search engine optimization, but local consumers informed of local situations are in a better position to leverage the market.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending April 20:

• New Listings decreased 4.5% to 1,601
• Pending Sales increased 9.7% to 1,337
• Inventory decreased 28.4% to 13,258

For the month of March:

• Median Sales Price increased 17.8% to $176,575
• Days on Market decreased 24.3% to 109
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 3.1% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 38.0% to 3.1

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Best Time of Year to Buy Household Items

Who doesn’t love a deal? I loved this article at Realty Times, which recently revealed the best time of year to buy certain household items in order to score the biggest bargains, based on research from AARP and LifeHacker.






January: Furniture, new flooring, and bedding and linens

February: Air conditioners and older model televisions that will soon be moving out for newer models

March: Gardening tools, china, and flatware

April: Vacuum cleaners

May: Barbecue equipment, patio furniture, and home office furniture

June: Tools

July: Kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators and ranges

August: Linens and storage containers

September: Grills and lawn mowers

October: Appliances and clearance patio furniture and outdoor items

November: Electronics, appliances, and tools

December: Televisions, electronics, and small appliances like toasters and blenders

Source:  Styled, Staged and Sold Blog

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New listing: 2141 Pinehurst Drive - Chanhassen

2141 Pinehurst Dr Chanhassen, MN 55317



New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/AA6LQB

New listing video just posted:  http://video.circlepix.com/AA6LQB/138/442


  Description:



Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4117

Asking Price: $860,000

MLS #: 4359386

Friday, April 26, 2013

New Home Advice: Choosing the Best Upgrades

Upgraded bathroom in newly built home

When choosing upgrades, think about the things that would make your new house feel like home. Image: John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods


When I think of building a new home for myself and my family, the first thing that comes to mind is a big, honking, six-burner, stainless steel commercial-style range with dual ovens, a warming drawer, and more knobs and dials than the cockpit of a 747.

But that’s me.

You’ve got your own vision of Shangri-La: A totally kicking laundry room with plenty of storage and — oh yes — a skylight! Or a master bedroom blissfully isolated from the hubbub of everyday family life.

That’s what’s great about buying a home before it’s actually built. You can dream big, and your options are almost limitless.

But your budget isn’t.

So what to choose?

After years as a builder and cabinetmaker, I’ve learned a thing or two about upgrades. So here’s my advice on choosing upgrades:



Go for Higher-End Kitchen Cabinets


Cabinets
Credit: Standard Pacific Homes

Put your upgrade money here and you’ll never regret it. After all, your kitchen is where you and your family spend lots of time, and you’ll want it to be functional, durable, and a joy to be in.

Moving up from standard cabinets to semi-custom gives you way-better construction and longer-lasting finishes. You’ll get a wide range of colors and styles to choose from, lots of storage options, and long-lasting details such as dovetailed drawer joinery and cool hardware.

For bells and whistles, you can get extra-tall upper cabinets that reach all the way to the ceiling. You’ll nab extra storage space, plus you won’t have to dust the tops.

Spring for premium hinges and drawer slides. Soft-close door and drawer hardware stands up to abuse for many years, and will help keep your upgraded cabinets in top shape.



Choose Wool Carpeting

Wool carpet
Credit: Standard Pacific Homes


The better the carpet, the better it’ll stand up to traffic and maintain its good looks. You’ll also get a wider choice of styles and colors. Wool is my favorite; it’s a little less forgiving of red wine spills (been there), but it’s long-lasting and feels great.

While you’re at it, you’ll want to upgrade your carpet pad, too. Standard pads have minimal cushioning; better pads increase the lifespan of your carpeting. Frothed polyurethane, slab rubber, and natural fiber pads are considered non-toxic pads with low VOCs.



Add More Wood Flooring


Wood floors
Credit: Ryland Homes

You can’t go wrong with wood flooring — it’s one of the few materials that just refuse to go out of style. It has warmth, blends with any d├ęcor, and makes you feel like Lord (or Lady) Grantham just looking at it. Put it where everyone can appreciate it — living room, great room, and your kitchen.

Oak is a failsafe option that’ll always look good and tends to be lower cost than more exotic woods.



Don’t Overlook Ceiling Fans



Sometimes overlooked amid all the new house options, ceiling fans are a smart, low-cost upgrade that add lots of energy-saving comfort. They’ll help keep you cool so you don’t need to use your AC as much, saving you as much as $165 in energy costs over the life of the fan.

Ceiling fans come in lots of styles — from sleek futuristic designs to Victorian reproductions — so they even can be a room focal point. They’re great in bedrooms and family rooms.



Install Skylights

Skylight
Credit: Wasco Skylights

The skylights in our house are family favorites. They’re “feel good” features that work quietly in the background of daily life, bathing the interior with a soft, natural light.

A skylight adds about 30% more light than a window of comparable size.

No need to worry about too much sunlight — you can get skylights that have built-in shades that you can operate manually or by remote control. Fancier skylights open up (great for air circulation) and have auto sensors that close the canopy if rain is detected.



And, Finally, Invest in the Upgrade That Makes You Happy

Range
Credit: William Ryan Homes — Chicago Division

This is your chance to really make your house your home. So ask yourself: What upgrade would really make your new home yours?

That commercial range I want? It’s on my upgrade list.

What’s on yours?

Source:  Houselogic, article by  John Riha

New listing: 7064 Autumn Terrace - Eden Prairie

7064 Autumn Terrace Eden Prairie, MN 55346


New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/CRQW77

New listing video just posted:  http://video.circlepix.com/CRQW77/138/459



Description:




Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 2395

Asking Price: $329000

MLS #: 4358638

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weekly Market Update: April 22, 2013

Positive news about the housing market has permeated the headlines for several months now, and it's not just a case of less supply and more demand. It's also a function of product mix. When there is a transition from a 50 percent foreclosure market to a 25 percent foreclosure market, prices inevitably rise because there are fewer low-priced homes in the sales mix. Of course, this is not the case in all submarkets, so here's what else is happening around town.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending April 13:

• New Listings decreased 2.0% to 1,605
• Pending Sales increased 6.1% to 1,186
• Inventory decreased 28.7% to 13,145

For the month of March:

• Median Sales Price increased 17.8% to $176,650
• Days on Market decreased 24.3% to 109
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 3.1% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 38.0% to 3.1

New listing: 2373 Highover Trail - Chanhassen

2373 Highover Trail Chanhassen, MN 55317


New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/5AKT6S

Description:  This spectacular two story home will be crafted by custom builder Gestach & Paulson Constitutions. Sited on a premier walkout lot nested on a quiet cul-de-sac, this home features an open floor plan with designer finishes & high quality amenities. Home features a main floor Office & Study, finished lower level & stunning Master Suite. Other floor plans available. Please contact us today for more information or to schedule a private appointment: Eric Stafford - 952.470.2575 Dave Gilmore - 612.750.8411




Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4651

Asking Price: $899900

MLS #: 4343151

New listing: 15388 Sunrise Circle West - Eden Prairie

15388 Sunrise Circle West Eden Prairie, MN 55347



New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/ACYWQ6

Description:  Nestled on a quiet street in the heart of Eden Prairie, this picturesque .84 acre lot offers the ideal opportunity to build your dream home! Located within the boundaries of the new Oak Point & Eagle Heights Spanish immersion school, this property is perfectly situated to allow for easy access to parks, highway 212 and the Eden Prairie Shopping Center. The City of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has been recognized as a great place to work and raise a family for many years and is currently one of MONEY magazine's "Best Places to Live" in America. Eden Prairie provides a wonderful environment for living well. In addition to attractive residential neighborhoods and affordable housing options, the City boasts nearly 10,000 acres of land designated for parks and open spaces, miles of scenic views and a multitude of breathtaking lakes and beaches. With a multitude of award-winning restaurants, a super-regional shopping center, top-ranked schools and a myriad of entertainment and lifestyle options, it’s no wonder 98 percent of residents rate the quality of life in Eden Prairie above average. The City of Eden Prairie is a welcoming community with a thriving economy, and is truly a great place to Live, Work and Dream! Bring your builder! For more information, please contact Eric Stafford at 952.221.7751.




Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 2800

Asking Price: $549900

MLS #: 4328096

New listing: 74XX Dogwood Road - Chanhassen

74Xx Dogwood Rd Chanhassen, MN 55331



New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/EC5DLZ

Description: Come build your Dream Home on this beautiful .8 acre lot on Lake Minnewashta. Enjoy 120 feet of west facing lake shore on this private property.

These photos are an example of the quality and finish level offered by custom home builder Gonyea.

For more information, floor plans or to schedule a private showing, please contact Stafford Family Realtors at 952.470.2575.




Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4675

Asking Price: $1299000

MLS #: 4330231

New listing: 7210 Gunflint Trail - Chanhassen

7210 Gunflint Trail Chanhassen, MN 55317


 
New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/6SNV8J

Description:  Nestled on a private lot, this home features a Great Room floor plan with a beautiful kitchen featuring cherry cabinetry & millwork, a main floor office & Master Suite with Sitting room. Walk to neighborhood parks! Please contact Eric Stafford at 952.470.2575 for more information on the short sale.




Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 3074

Asking Price: $395000

MLS #: 4314879

New listing: 2650 Northview Drive - Minnetrista

2650 Northview Dr Minnetrista, MN 55364



New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/92ZBWU

Description:  Enjoy the tranquil "Up North" setting of this private estate. Nestled on 45+ acres of maple forest with 1500 feet of lakeshore on Whaletail Lake. This stunning home was thoughtfully designed by Michael Huber & built by Erotas. Offering breath taking spaces, long views and an amazing attention to detail, this home is truly a Northwoods retreat. Offering many opportunities for recreational boating, fishing & hunting.






Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 3.00

Sqft: 5547

Asking Price: $1199000

MLS #: 4171571

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Makes You Unmortgageable?


What makes you unmortgageable (© Andy Dean Photography)

If you have applied for a mortgage recently, you know how onerous this once-breezy task has become. Ah, "zero down" and "instant, online approval" — those were the days.

Then again, the ease with which mortgages were obtained until 2008 also helped fuel the U.S. housing crisis. Now, nearly a quarter of the people who apply for home loans are denied, the Federal Reserve says.

Thinking about buying? You may be in for a rude awakening that includes mountains of documents to prove your financial suitability, plus sometimes-invasive questions from your would-be lender — "Say, who is this Uncle Johnny guy who gave you $2,000 for your birthday? Was that a loan?"

Here are 10 factors that can put your mortgage hunt in jeopardy or kill it outright. If you're about to go house hunting, know these well and, if possible, try to avoid them.


1. You're self-employed


Being your own boss lets dictate your day and work when you want. Nice. But it also creates two major issues for lenders, says Todd Huettner, a mortgage broker and head of Huettner Capital in Denver.

The income you earn from owning your own business can arrive in gushes or trickles, compared with the steady, reliable pay from a salaried job. Those fluctuations can create a higher apparent risk of default in lenders' eyes, Huettner says.

"Also, documenting small-business income is more difficult (for a mortgage company) than simply looking at a base salary," he says.

Lenders often require at least two years of tax returns to judge the income of a self-employed borrower. Then, they stick with the most conservative calculations when crunching the numbers.

Bonuses and commissions also fall into a similar category of wage "variability" and are equally challenging to document.


2. You have a subpar credit score


The average U.S. credit score is now 750, up from 720 a few years ago, according to a study earlier this year by credit reporting agency Experian. It's higher in some areas, too, as consumers have become far more careful about their money amid the recent lean times.

"Technically, you can get a loan with a credit score under 620, but you won't want it, Huettner says. "The rate and fees will be very high."

Most lenders, he says, require a credit score of 640 or higher to give you the money you need for your home purchase.

But, if other factors are favorable — such as a high, documented income and a long track record of paying your bills on time — some Federal Housing Administration-approved lenders will allow mortgages for consumers with credit scores of as low as 580, says Mike Premny, owner of Icon Capital Group Inc., a mortgage brokerage in San Francisco.


3. You have little money for a down payment




You have little money for a down payment (© Angel_Vasilev77)

Compared with past years, lenders are asking buyers to put more money down in relation to the amount of the loan. If you don't have enough cash or cannot qualify for down-payment assistance, you may look risky to lenders and they may turn you down.

The down payment doesn't necessarily have to be 15% to 20% of the home's value, as many consumers seem to believe these days, Huettner says. For example, you can still buy a primary residence with an FHA loan with only 3.5% down, if you qualify, and you can secure a standard loan through a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac program with just 5% down, he says.

"The difference (with putting less money down) is you will now pay higher mortgage-insurance rates and have to have higher credit scores than you used to need," he says.


4. You're new to the housing market


Squeezing into the market is trickier now for folks who have never owned or rented a home. Most lenders require all borrowers to have at least a two-year housing history, Premny says. This can include verifiable rent payments.

"In cases where the borrower is a newly graduated student, (a rental history) may not be required," Premny says. "First-time borrowers are often required to pass a 'rental shock' formula; if a young consumer's projected new mortgage payment is too much higher than their present housing payment, it may create an issue."

Typically, buyers must at least be able to document 12 consecutive months of rent payments to get a loan, Huettner says.

"If you lived rent-free with a family member, this requirement is waived," he says.

This tighter rule could be affecting the market. The National Association of Realtors says first-time buyers accounted for 32% of all buyers in the third quarter of this year. Historically, they comprise about 40% of buyers.


5. You are a new employee


These days, most lenders ask potential homebuyers to show at least a two-year employment history in the same field of work before they'll write a loan, Premny says. Mortgage companies simply can't ignore the high unemployment rates that have dogged much of the country for four or five years.

People re-entering the workforce must have a job for six months to use that income to qualify for a loan, Huettner says. Technically, if you are a full-time, W-2 employee with a verifiable base salary or hourly income, you need only one pay stub to obtain a mortgage. But in reality, "gaps in employment can be problematic," he says.

If you graduated recently and have a job in your field of study, lenders generally will waive that requirement, Huettner says.


6. Your income isn't high enough


If your monthly debt payments make up 45% of your gross monthly income, some lenders may see you as a worthwhile risk and write you a mortgage. Any extra debt, however, will likely take you out of the running, experts say.

"A debt-to-income ratio of 45% is really the highest threshold for approval for most borrowers," says Atlanta-based Gary Parkes, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate.

Lenders may breathe easier about grabbing you as a customer if your debt ratio is below 40%, Parkes says. But if you have other positive factors — such as a long, stable work history, a high credit score and lots of money for a down payment, "getting a loan approval (at) up to 45% is possible," Parkes says.


7. You've applied too often


Borrowers in distress typically contact many lenders, thinking it takes just one company for mortgage approval. But how many is too many? Numerous loan applications can pull down a credit score, experts say.

"Multiple credit inquiries for mortgage shopping are not supposed to count against you if they are done within a week or two of each other," Huettner says. "Less than five inquiries should not have a huge impact." The problem, he says, is that even for someone with a credit score of 740, losing a single point "can make the difference in cost or even getting a loan."

"First and foremost," Parkes says, "borrowers should try and get a referral to a mortgage professional that a friend, family member or colleague has used and been pleased with."

He offers a different limit when it comes to mortgage shopping: "It is recommended that you contact no more than three potential lenders at one time."


8. You have too much debt


You have too much debt (© Jeff Metzger)

Your bills truly add up when lenders are giving you a close look. Auto payments, credit cards and student loans all can reduce your odds of obtaining a mortgage, depending on how much you owe, experts say.

Even if your student loans are in deferment, those balances aren't always removed from your debt-to-income ratio. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, for example, do not exclude deferred student loans, Parkes says.

"An FHA loan might allow for the exclusion of the monthly (student loan) obligation, provided there is sufficient proof that the deferment will be for at least one year after closing," he says.

Meanwhile, payments that you receive for child support or alimony can offset your debt load, if you can prove they will continue for at least three years, Parkes says.


9. You just bought a car — or something big


Beware of those large, last-minute purchases before or during the loan-approval process.

"It is important to keep your credit history as stable as possible during the time following application until closing," Parkes says. "A borrower's credit report will be repulled anywhere from the day of closing to 15 days prior to confirm that there has been no substantial change to the credit profile since the time of application. Changes to the credit report can impact closing."

This is one of the more common mistakes consumers make when house-hunting, Huettner says.

"Don't apply for any new credit, don't let anyone pull your credit and don't make any large purchases without speaking to your lender first," Huettner says. "Any new credit inquiry, large balance increase or new account will have to be explained and documented."


10. You picked the wrong bank


The lender you choose for your potential home purchase can make a large difference in the process, some experts say. Big national banks may scrutinize you more.

On the other hand: "A local mortgage company will typically have access to many national investors and their guidelines and can determine the one that best suits your needs," Parkes says. "If you go to one large national bank, you are typically bound by their guidelines only."

Still, different banks, no matter their size, have different rules on lending criteria, Huettner says.


Source:  MSN Real Estate, article by Bill Briggs of SwitchYard Media

Sunday, April 21, 2013

New Listing: 239 Tristan Drive - Victoria

239 Tristan Dr., Victoria, MN 55331

Main Photo



New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/KGGVZX

New listing video just posted:  http://video.circlepix.com/KGGVZX/138/459

Description: A gorgeous home - and hard-to-find walkout Rambler - providing one-level living on a private lot with long, wetland views. Spic and span clean & shows like a model. Sellers have invested over $30,000 in new carpet, paint, decks, patios & landscaping.




Home Information:

Beds: 3

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 3431

Asking Price: $539,000

MLS #: 4356327

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Junk Bonanza - Spring 2013

Junk Bonanza
Canterbury Park
1100 Canterbury Park Rd.
Shakopee, MN 55379
Thurs. April 18 - Sat. April 20, 2013
 Doors open at 10:00 am
Cost:  $25 on Thursday, Free on Fri. and Sat.


 Junk Bonanza

The Bonanza hosts more than 140 juried "junk" vendors of vintage finds, beautiful antiques, architectural salvage and one-of-a-kind and artisan-repurposed pieces. The 2012 gathering included more than 12,000 visitors who found their special treasure at the three-day, indoor event at Canterbury Park, south of the Twin Cities. We're hard at work planning this year's fun -- with a Spring show for the first time! The Bonanza is now twice a year! Among the special activities: a "Weddings Lab"… More featuring displays and resources for vintage-themed weddings, "Lucky Friday" giveaways with thousands of dollars of certificates from sponsors and junk vendors to be spent on goods during the Bonanza, Flea Market Style and Flea Market Style Weddings mag signings by Ki Nassauer, the executive editor of those publications and the Bonanza founder!

You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Home Construction Considerations

When I was designing our dream home 15 years ago, I was chasing around our toddler while laying out rooms and selecting finishes.



Back then, I didn’t let Ben out of my sight and couldn’t imagine a time when we wouldn’t be attached at the hip. So, I selected new-home options perfect for parents of a 16-month-old, never questioning if they’d work for parents of a 6-year-old, or 16-year-old.

Here are things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Kitchen/great room combo: I figured one big space would be great for watching tiny Ben while I was cooking; he’d drum on a pot while I fixed him buttered noodles. But Ben grew up and now likes to watch “Law & Order” on TV while I talk on the phone with my mom, and my husband runs the disposal after dinner. The room sometimes sounds like Grand Central, and I now dream of a separate family room and a little less togetherness.

Two main-floor bedrooms: We downsized our master suite to squeeze in a second bedroom next to us — perfect for soothing a preschooler’s nightmares. Turns out kids outgrow nightmares, but skimpy closet space is forever.

A pass-through instead of cabinets: I gave up two kitchen cabinets to cut a pass-through from the kitchen to our mud-cum-crafts room so I could keep an eye on Ben’s finger-painting sessions. Ben hasn’t dipped a finger in paint in 12 years, and I could really use that storage now.

The Future is Now

If I were buying a new home today, I’d do things differently: I’d crystal-ball my thinking and plan for my future needs. That’s the beauty of buying new construction: You can focus on want-to-dos, rather than to-dos — even if you can’t anticipate all your wants.

Luckily, builders know the life of a new home is a journey, and have consultants who help you fast-forward your thinking about features you can install now that will make life easier later.

I brainstormed with a couple of executives from Toll Brothers and Ryland Homes about some forward-thinking, new-home options.

  • A main floor den that could be converted into another bedroom as your family grows.
 
  • Bedroom soundproofing to ensure privacy.

  • Roughed-in plumbing and electric for an eventual attic or basement bathroom and kitchenette. If you don’t have the resources now, this is a great way to plan ahead. This extra living space not only could accommodate elderly parents or boomerang kids, but will increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell.

  • A double-deep, tandem garage that can fit three cars now, but can be walled-off later to add indoor space for an extra bedroom or bathroom.

  • Upgraded structured wiring throughout that can handle a souped-up Internet connection and other tech revolutions. Handy if you telecommute.

  • Temporary partition walls that attach to hardwood flooring, rather than subflooring. If you eventually want to combine bedrooms — kids move out — you’ll only have to do a floor repair and refinishing, rather than patch a gaping hole.

  • Plywood sheathing behind drywall and tile in bathrooms. These sheets of plywood let you attach grab bars anywhere without hunting for studs.  Grab bars aren’t just for our later years. They’re also good for kids and aching weekend warriors who need a little help getting into and out of a tub.
Grab bar
Credit: Mosby Building Arts
  • An addition. If you can site your home to accommodate a bigger footprint later, plan to run conduit through exterior walls for future electrical and plumbing needs.
Property line
Credit: CQ Surveying

Unless you’re psychic …

You’ll never know today exactly what you’ll need in the future: It’s hard for me to imagine life beyond next Tuesday.

But choosing options for tomorrow is one perk of buying new. These forward-thinking selections can mean years of enjoyment as your family changes, and can make it easier to sell if moving — and buying new again — turns out to be the best alternative.

Source:  Houselogic

New listing: 5210 Meadville St, Greenwood, MN

5210 Meadville St Greenwood, MN 55331

Main Photo


New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/XJAK3F

Description:   Welcome to Lake Minnetonka, this custom masterpiece built by Stonewood features the highest quality of craftsmanship and materials. The Cottage style design offers warm, sun-filled rooms perfectly designed with family and entertaining in mind. Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and this open floor plan with its Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Expertly crafted antiqued cabinetry, butcher-block counters and enameled bead board ceiling finish off this inviting space. Enjoy stunning sunsets all year long from curved wall of windows in the dining room, this is truly the heart of the home. You’ll enjoy curling up with your morning coffee on the large window seat. The open floor plan also included a spacious Family Room featuring coffered ceilings, a cozy gas fireplace and enameled bookcases & entertainment center; making this space perfect for relaxing with the family or entertaining with style. The custom built see-through aquarium inspires creativity while the Home Office will also enhance your productivity. The second floor is where you will find the Master Suite with another curved wall of windows overlooking the lake. The private master bath offering spa finishes from the large pedestal tub to the custom mirrors and lighting fixtures. In addition to the two Junior Suites located on this floor, you will also find the spacious Bonus Room perfect for a guest suite, movie night or playing Wii. The third floor has recently been finished to accommodate an additional family room with large windows for natural light and features a rough-in for a future bath. Location, Location, Location! Sited on a premium, southwest facing lot on grade-A Excelsior Bay, this property enjoys a sandy bottom lakeshore. Originally a major tourist destination during the late 19th century, Excelsior exudes a Nantucket style atmosphere with the unique blend of old and new. Antique shops, an authentic Irish Pub, a movie theatre as well as a variety of specialty shops restaurants and lakeside park & commons create a special community. For information on pricing or to schedule a private showing, please call 952.470.2575.




Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4154

Asking Price: $2100000

MLS #: 4333027

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Weekly Market Update: April 15, 2013

The unpredictable season of spring is here. Wily snowstorms, thunderous rain and summer-like heat waves strike across the U.S. It's a good thing that we can count on at least one thing – a steadily improving housing market. Even the few naysayers left can't ignore the cherry blossom blooms within the market metrics. So get out your umbrella, sunscreen and snow boots because, no matter the weather, we are watching a burgeoning market take form. With scarf, shorts and galoshes on, let's wade into this week's local housing stats.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending April 6:

• New Listings increased 22.6% to 1,731
• Pending Sales increased 17.1% to 1,158
• Inventory decreased 30.1% to 12,821

For the month of March:

• Median Sales Price increased 18.0% to $176,840
• Days on Market decreased 24.3% to 109
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 3.1% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 38.0% to 3.1

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, April 15, 2013

Say No To The Cookies!

A favorite real estate tip: When prepping a home for a showing, whip up some chocolate chip cookies to fill the home with that rich, inviting, tasty smell. Who wouldn’t want to sit back and stay awhile?



Well, you may want to put down the mixing bowl and turn off the oven. Research now says that chocolate chip cookies are one of the worst scents to have in a real estate open house.Researchers used a sample size of 402 people in a home decor store in Switzerland to find out which scents were the most pleasing to customers. The researchers say the findings could provide some insights into the most pleasing smells during open houses too.

One of the author’s of the study, Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, recently told The Wall Street Journal that baked goods are a complex scent that can distract potential home buyers, even if the scent is pleasant. Buyers will subconsciously devote time to trying to figure out the scent, instead of devoting the time to determining if this is a place they really want to live. (Or maybe it’s really that they devote time and energy to finding where in the world you stashed all those cookies!)

Other distracting complex smells that researchers also suggest could distract customers: Potpourri, gourmet foods, and baked goods.

So if you want an inviting smell to fill a home for your open house, what home scents should you reach for? Simple scents — like pine, lemon, cedar, and vanilla — all which can be easier for buyers to process and less distracting, Spangenberg says.




Source:  Styled, Staged, and Sold blog, article by Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New listing: 2373 Highover Trail, Chanhassen, MN 55317

2373 Highover Trail Chanhassen, MN 55317

Main Photo

New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/5AKT6S

New listing video just posted:  http://video.circlepix.com/5AKT6S/138/459




Description:  This spectacular two story home will be crafted by custom builder Gestach & Paulson Constitutions. Sited on a premier walkout lot nested on a quiet cul-de-sac, this home features an open floor plan with designer finishes & high quality amenities. Home features a main floor Office & Study, finished lower level & stunning Master Suite. Other floor plans available. Please contact us today for more information or to schedule a private appointment: Eric Stafford - 952.470.2575 Dave Gilmore - 612.750.8411




Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4651

Asking Price: $899900

MLS #: 4343151

Friday, April 12, 2013

Open Houses: April 14, 2013

7242 Fawn Hill Road - Chanhassen
$575,000
4 bedroom/5 bath
OPEN: 12:00 to 2:00


Beautiful Longacres Home on Private Lot

Click HERE for more information.



4694 Woodridge Road - Minnetonka
$549,000
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt: 3,500
OPEN: 12:00 to 1:30



Perfectly situated in the heart of the Forest Hills neighborhood of Minnetonka, this well-appointed home offers sun-filled rooms & designer finishes throughout, it has been perfectly designed with family and entertaining in mind. Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and the open floor plan with Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Offering professional grade appliances, custom enameled cabinetry, granite counters and tiled backsplash complete this inviting space. Gleaming hardwood floors make a seamless transition from the kitchen with a vaulted informal dining area to the spacious family room. Curl up with a good book in front of the gas fireplace with enameled mantle and designer light fixtures. The formal Dining Room is a wonderful, inviting space for any gathering with original built-in china cabinets. Adjacent to the foyer is the well-appointed home Office with gas fireplace. This office will work the way you do while inspiring creativity and enhancing productivity. Alternately, this space can function as a main floor bedroom. The Master Suite offers lots of closet space and remodeled ¾ bath with subway tiled shower and picture frame mirror. Three additional bedrooms and a fully remodeled full bath complete the second floor. The spacious lower level is fully finished with a large family room, ¾ bath and exercise room. Perfectly situated on a .39 acre lot enjoy the privacy and tranquility of this masterfully landscaped property. Located close to parks, shopping and dining – and a short walk to Glen Lake Elementary - this is the perfect place to call home. For information or to schedule a private showing, please call 952.470.2575.

Click HERE for more information.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New listing: 4694 Woodridge Road, Minnetonka, MN 55345

4694 Woodridge Rd Minnetonka, MN 55345

Main Photo


New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/8SJHBA

Description: Perfectly situated in the heart of the Forest Hills neighborhood of Minnetonka, this well-appointed home offers sun-filled rooms & designer finishes throughout, it has been perfectly designed with family and entertaining in mind.

Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and the open floor plan with Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Offering professional grade appliances, custom enameled cabinetry, granite counters and tiled backsplash complete this inviting space.

Gleaming hardwood floors make a seamless transition from the kitchen with a vaulted informal dining area to the spacious family room. Curl up with a good book in front of the gas fireplace with enameled mantle and designer light fixtures.

The formal Dining Room is a wonderful, inviting space for any gathering with original built-in china cabinets.

Adjacent to the foyer is the well-appointed home Office with gas fireplace. This office will work the way you do while inspiring creativity and enhancing productivity. Alternately, this space can function as a main floor bedroom.

The Master Suite offers lots of closet space and remodeled ¾ bath with subway tiled shower and picture frame mirror. Three additional bedrooms and a fully remodeled full bath complete the second floor.

The spacious lower level is fully finished with a large family room, ¾ bath and exercise room.

Perfectly situated on a .39 acre lot enjoy the privacy and tranquility of this masterfully landscaped property. Located close to parks, shopping and dining – and a short walk to Glen Lake Elementary - this is the perfect place to call home.

For information or to schedule a private showing, please call 952.470.2575.




Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 3500

Asking Price: $549900

MLS #: 4330546

The Five Year Rule for Buying a House

When I first considered buying a house, my entire family got involved. I have the luck of being related to real estate agents, investors, and other experts that are more than happy to give advice about buying a property — even before you ask.

The first thing they asked me was exactly how long I expected to stay in the house. Though I didn’t know the exact amount of time, they wanted to make sure that I’d own the house for at least five years.

Why’s that? What’s the five year rule for buying a house?



The Upgrade Cycle

It definitely varies by geographic area — if not by specific neighborhood — but a lot of folks near me will buy a townhouse or condo as their starter home. After about three years, they’ll start looking for a bigger place to upgrade to, either a bigger townhouse or a single family home. This upgrade cycle will repeat itself a few times, as people work their way up to a house that they are happy with and that is big enough for their family.

The thought seems to be that if you’re making a little more money every year, you’ll be in a position to afford a bigger house in three years time. And everyone knows assumes that buying is more cost-effective than renting — as long as you’re paying down the principal on your mortgage, you’re going to come out ahead.

But with an upgrade cycle of about three years, there’s a good chance that you will lose money.

The Five Year Rule

When you purchase a house, the general rule is that you want to be sure you’ll be in the same location for at least five years. Otherwise, you’re probably going to take a hit financially.

The first hit is your closing costs. Every time you go through closing — buying and selling — money hits the table. Depending on where your house happens to be, the buyers and sellers pay different amounts, but everyone pays something. This can easily add up to thousands of dollars, and limiting how often you have to pay that kind of money is always a good idea.

And you take a second hit when you look at your mortgage statement to see exactly where your monthly payments are going. The way mortgages are structured, you pay much more interest in the first few years that you own a house. Usually, it isn’t until you’re about five years into paying down your mortgage that you’ve made enough progress on the principal to make it a better deal than paying rent each month.

David’s Note: When you take out a mortgage, you are paying an interest rate on what you owe. So, in the first year, when the principal is highest, the interest you need to pay is also the highest. However, since the monthly payment is the same throughout the term of the loan (at least with a fixed rate mortgage), more of the payment will be used to cover the interest payments, meaning less is going towards the principal. As your principal goes down, your interest payments will go down, leaving more of your check to go towards the principal.

If you can wait at least five years to move, you’re in a better position to be ahead of the game.

Defeating the Five Year Rule

Five years is a generality. If you add in a couple of other factors, you can make buying a house that you don’t plan to stay in long-term a better choice.

The biggest factor is how much you’re going to pay on your mortgage. A lot of people buy as much house as they can afford, according to what lenders offer them. That’s usually the upper end of what you can financially manage. If, however, you buy at the lower end of what you can afford and make extra payments, you can pay off a bigger chunk of the principal. You need to run the numbers for the specific house you’ve got your eye on, but you can often come out ahead.

You may also consider buying a house that you won’t stay in for five years — but that you also won’t turn around and sell. It’s not out of the question to purchase a house, start paying it down, and fix it up so that you can turn rent it out. You do need to be careful that you’re choosing a house that you can afford in addition to a mortgage for your next home, even if you can’t find a renter,. There are plenty of other arrangements that can work out similarly, but you need to study up on real estate before making such a choice.

Bottom line: if you know you’re going to buy a house based on what the bank says you can afford, and you don’t want to think about renting it out, don’t purchase a house until you’re ready to spend at least five years in it.

David’s Note: Here’s a quick and dirty formula that you can use to help you figure out whether it’s better to buy or rent, which works with any duration of ownership. Try to calculate: Seller and Buyer Agent Fees When You Sell + Purchase Price + Maintenance Cost for the Time of Occupancy + Interest Paid on Mortgage + Investment Gains from Your Down Payment + Taxes Paid (Such as Property Tax) + Closing Costs – Selling Price. This number could come out negative or positive, but if it’s lower than the rent you would have paid during the same time frame, then you would be better off buying. If the number is higher, meaning that the selling price wasn’t high enough to cover all those costs, then renting would be the more cost-effective choice.

Source:  Moneyning


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prep Your Home's Exterior for Spring Market

Spring is in the air in some parts of Canada and the U.S., although it hasn’t quite reached my little corner of the world yet. This is the time of year when thoughts turn to spring cleaning; whether or not you’re selling your home. Of course, if you are listing anytime soon, you’ll want to be even more meticulous.

 

The busy spring market will be upon us before you know it, so here are some tips for getting the exterior of your home shipshape:

1. Remove glass from light fixtures and take out any little critters that may have found a home over the winter. Be sure to use glass cleaner on the panes before replacing them in your fixtures.

2. Clean your mailbox. If it hasn’t weathered well over the winter, it’s probably time to replace it.

3. Clean and polish, if necessary, your front door’s hardware. Replace it as well if necessary.

4. Check your house numbers. Are they still in good shape and visible from the street? If not, replace them.

5. Wash down your front door and garage door. If you find that the previous summer’s sun has faded the paint, consider repainting. (Your garage door should be painted a color that blends in with the brick or vinyl siding on your home.) Before painting, check with the paint manufacturer to see what the optimal outdoor temperature should be. You don’t want to paint when it’s still too cold outside.

6. Wash the windows. If this isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional.

7. Hose down the porch and driveway to remove any excess salt left over from de-icing.

8. Sweep the porch, driveway and patio to get rid of any rogue leaves etc. left over from the fall.

9. Check your porch, driveway, and patio for any cracking or lifting of patio stones that may have taken place during a deep freeze.

10. Check your roof to make sure no shingles are missing or were damaged during the winter.

11. Remove debris from your gutters and drain spouts.

12. Rake the lawn. However, before doing that it’s very important to check with your local garden center first to be sure it’s not too early. If raked too soon before the ground thoroughly dries, you could potentially damage your lawn.

13. Remove winter displays from your urns. For a burst of color, plant spring flowers as soon as weather permits.

14. Tidy up your gardens in preparation for planting season.

15. Organize the garage. Put away shovels, snow blowers, toboggans, and any other items that made their way into your garage over the winter.

16. If you don’t use your barbeque year round, it’s time to bring it out. If it’s a built-in unit that will be staying with the house, be sure to clean the grills and wash down the lid. If you have a cover for it, replace it if it’s worn.

17. Remove the cover from your swimming pool and clean your pool as soon as your pool service company advises that it’s OK to do so.

18. Bring out your patio furniture and set it up. Although it may be too cold to sit outside just yet, you want potential buyers to see your outdoor living space’s potential.

Source:    Styled, Staged and Sold Blog, by Charlene Storozuk of Dezigner Digz

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Weekly Market Update: April 8, 2013

The housing market continues to assert itself, often changing the hearts and minds of housing bears, skeptical politicians, curmudgeonly economists and buyers and sellers alike. Over the past six to eighteen months, we've seen real estate stabilize, turn around and even start to recover. But it can sometimes feel like a moving target. With diminished inventory levels, cheap finance options, strong sales and rising prices, the prudent market participant will remain vigilant in monitoring his or her local real estate activity. That should be an easy task; start by simply turning the page!

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending March 30:

• New Listings decreased 12.1% to 1,349
• Pending Sales increased 12.0% to 1,210
• Inventory decreased 29.6% to 12,909

For the month of March:

• Median Sales Price increased 17.4% to $176,000
• Days on Market decreased 24.3% to 109
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 3.1% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 40.0% to 3.0

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, April 8, 2013

Give Your Downspouts a Makeover

Most downspouts simply aren’t good-looking. Here’s how to transform the system that protects your foundation into an eye-catching asset.

A Nose for Drainage
 
Elephants love playing in water, and this pair of pachyderms is no exception. Made of copper and featuring tusks made of bull (cow) horns and glass eyes, these fully functional downspouts (about $2,000 each) will channel rain water in high style. Hook ‘em up to your gutters or leave ‘em as exterior wall ornaments that show your wild (life) side.





Credit: Art of Rain



Modern Aesthetic
 
In the Pacific Northwest, dealing with rain is a key component of house design. The architects of this residence on Puget Sound created pairs of sleek galvanized steel tubes that look more like structural elements than downspouts. This pair of downspouts empties well away from the house foundation to avoid any drainage problems.



Credit: Jim Van Gundy
 
 
 
Direct Deposit
 
Here’s one way to put nature’s free water to good use — let downspouts dump directly into a planter. This handsome copper gutter and downspout empties into a sizeable stone patio planter full of hostas and ornamental grasses. Built-in planters should have a drain hole facing away from your house to keep excess water from soaking the soils around your foundation.





Credit: Judy White/GardenPhotos.com



Living Rain Storage
 
What appears to be a column of ivy growing up a wall trellis is actually a rain harvesting system designed to capture gutter runoff. A tank concealed by the greenery stores water and slowly releases it for use by climbing plants that scale the stainless steel framework. A 70-inch-high system with a 60-gallon capacity is $1,107. Additional 30-gallon add-ons are $429.




Credit: Moss Sund Architects

 
 
Custom Metal Work
 
A specially-made gutter and downspout system from a sheet metal fabricator adds architectural flair to your home. The flared opening at the top of the downspout is called a leader box; this one is made of copper and costs about $150. A complementary 2-by-3-inch copper downspout runs about $16 per foot.




Credit: Liberty Sheet Metal
 
 
 
Singin’ In the Rain
 
Downspout rainwater sluicing through this giant, 14-foot-high copper treble clef turns a water wheel, which powers a music box that plays Canon in D major. Don’t fret — you can choose other musical backgrounds as well. The base price is $3,000.




Credit: Art of Rain
 

Grand Opening
 
Give your rainwater a proper sendoff with a cast-resin gargoyle downspout ($50). This mouthy fellow has a 3-by-5-inch opening so it won’t get clogged. Make sure your downspout sends water away from your foundation; this one opens onto a sloped tile patio that carries water away from the house.



Credit: Rain Water Systems
 

The Wright Way
 
The Darwin Martin house in Buffalo, N.Y., is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s best examples of Prairie School architecture. Wright wasn’t about to let practicality get in the way of the strong horizontal lines of his design, so he made the downspouts disappear into the support columns and exit out the base of the foundation walls. Good for visual appeal; tough when it comes to replacing downspouts.




Credit: Michael Dailey
 

A Cup of Rain, Anyone?
 
Originating in Japan hundreds of years ago, rain chains are a decorative alternative to the humble (and usually boring!) downspout. Rainwater clings to the chain links and dances its way down to the ground, where a splash block channels water away from your foundation. This imaginative polished copper tea set is $111 for an 80-inch chain, teapot, and four cups.



Credit: Mike Lodato
 

Harvesting Rain
 
Part of an urban Seattle project called “Growing Vine Street,” this apartment downspout system channels rainwater through built-in planters. The planters act as bio-filters to remove pollutants before runoff can enter natural waterways. Hardy grasses and succulents that grow in the planters also help evaporate storm water, reducing the amount of runoff.



Credit: Downspout art by Buster Simpson

Source:  Houselogic

Sunday, April 7, 2013

New listing: 14070 37th Place North, Plymouth 55447

14070 37th Place North Plymouth, MN 55447




New listing just posted: http://circlepix.com/PYEBGS

New listing video just posted:  http://video.circlepix.com/PYEBGS/138/442

Description:




Home Information:

Beds: 3

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 1440

Asking Price: $192500

MLS #: 4351889

Friday, April 5, 2013

Open Houses: April 7, 2013

18458 Erin Bay - Eden Prairie, MN 55347
$549,000
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt:  4,066
OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00


Single Family Home in heart of Eden Prairie with a Pool!


Click HERE for more information.       729 Tilia Lane - Victoria, MN 55386 $373,000 4 bedroom/3 bath SqFt:  2,726 OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00    
  This beautifully finished home is nestled in the heart of the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Victoria. Totally turn key, this home features sun-filled rooms, designer finishes & gracious room sizes. Enjoy 4 bedrooms up including the spacious master with a private sitting room. The updated kitchen features granite counter tops, maple cabinetry with pull-out drawers & stainless steel appliances. An unfinished basement is ready for you to finish with room for a 5th bedroom. Relax in the tranquility of the private backyard, masterfully landscaped with lush gardens, paver patio & 3 season porch. This home is a must see!   Click HERE for more information.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 2013 Home Trends: Beds!

Once again we're taking a quick peek at Pinterest to see what is happening in the here and now for home trends.  It looks as though everyone is sleepy and dreaming of the most beautiful beds.  From elegant to simple, beds of all kinds are abounding on Pinterest.  Let's take a look at what is moving the hearts of the masses this April.

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See you in May for more Pinterest fun!