Friday, January 29, 2016

The weekend is here!!! Get out and enjoy the 40 degree temps!

If you are like the Stafford Family Realtors team, you will be running to basketball tournaments, soccer practice and about a million other directions. However, if you have some down time and you are looking to get out and enjoy the weekend, here are some great events to take in!

Eden Prairie Ice Castles
Cost: Child (4-11): $12 General (12+): $18
Where: Miller Park in Eden Prairie

With over 5,000 icicles, harvested and sculpted by hand, these impressive Ice Castles are built in the middle of Miller Park. This family friendly event invites you to explore the impressively crafted structures where you can slide, squeeze, and wander thru.

Some things to remember:
Wear Boots! Every bit of the Ice Castle is made of ice and snow.  The floor is made of crushed ice and snow.  It can be deep and walking through is definitely best in boots.
Dress for the cold!  The Ice Castle is outside. So the temps in the Ice Castle are the same as outside.

Waconia “Ride-In” Snowmobile Show
January 29 – 31st, 2016
Cost: $15/ children under 12 are free
Where: Waconia Lakeside Ballroom, 8155 Paradise Lane, Waconia, MN 55386
If you are feeling adventurous, head out to charming Waconia. The town is hosting the annual Vintage Snowmobile Show. This three day event offers snowmobile racing, a swap meet, judged events, and trail rides!

The Waconia Ride-In started out as the Vintage Snowmobile Club of America’s Midwest Ride-in over 25 years ago.  Today, it has grown to be the single largest and most comprehensive vintage snowmobile ride, show and swap in the world.

U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
January 28-31st, 2016, 8:30 am – 6:00 pm daily
Cost: Free to Spectate
Where: Lake Nakomis, Minneapolis  
Source: USPH Championships Twitter

Pond hockey enthusiasts grew up playing hockey on frozen ponds in their back yards, on a neighborhood creek or in a local park. They cleared the ice with shovels, not zambonis. Instead of $149 pads, they protected their shins with old magazines held with duct tape. Wooden boards with small holes served as goals, eliminating the need for a goalie. No frustrated parents on the sidelines berated the coaches or the kids.

It was hockey the way nature intended –– outside in the elements during the absolute coldest time of year. With 27 rinks, including two family skate rinks, this event draws over 150 teams of different skill levels from all over!

In addition to the four day tournament, Joe Sensor’s will have concessions and there will be a beer garden for those who are 21+. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Get your Garage Ready for Spring!

Spring is just around the corner... at least in real estate, we are fully feeling the effects of spring market! This is the time of year that everyone is thinking about getting their homes ready to sell and planning projects. It is also a great time to get organized! Here is a helpful article by Jan Soults Walker from with some terrific ideas on how to get your garage ready for spring!


Bikes, Skates, and Other Wheels

  • Bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and roller blades -- wheeled belongings can get underfoot and land you on your assets or bang up the car. Protect your paint job (not to mention your backside) with these wily storage solutions for your garage.
  • Hoist bicycles to the rafters with a rope-and-pulley system (starting around $40) that makes it easy to raise the bike and lock safely in place. When you’re ready to ride, release the lock and lower your bike to the garage floor. You’ll need an hour or two and basic tools to secure the pair of pulleys to ceiling joists and thread the ropes. (Similar hoists are available for kayaks or small boats; starting around $25.)
  • Avoid unintentional skateboard “tricks” with a specially designed wall rack that makes it easy for kids to hang up helmets and skateboards together; starting around $20. Secure this one to wall joists in less than an hour.
  • source:
  • Keep scooters and bikes out of the way with tool hooks installed on a length of 1-by-6-inch lumber. You’ll pay $3 for each pair of vinyl-coated screw-in tool hooks and $1 per foot for lumber. You’ll need only an hour or two to secure the lumber to wall joists and screw the hooks into place along the board.

Sporting Goods

  • Active pursuits require a lot of gear that ends up in the garage. These organizers help tidy up all those sports balls, rackets, bats, gloves, clubs, fishing rods, and other outdoor fun-related goodies.
  • Bring together balls and bats on a convenient wire rack equipped with hangers that hold gloves too; starting around $35.
  • To keep your garage organization from going downhill, stash two pairs of snow skis, poles, and boots in one handy steel ski rack; $45. Securing this rack to wall studs helps it hold the weight of the equipment. If you can’t position it on studs, use wall anchors for a secure installation. You can do the task with or without anchors in an hour or two.
  • source:
  • Make a port for your fishing rods by suspending two wire shelves from your garage ceiling about 5 feet apart, then threading the rods through the openings. Use shelves left over from a project or purchase a 4-foot-by-16-inch vinyl-coated wire shelf for less than $9, and saw it in half crosswise (or clip with bolt cutters) to make two 2-foot shelves. Snip additional wires where you need wider slots to accept pole handles or reels.

  • With a little imagination, you won’t need specially designed storage to organize your tools.
  • Conveniently hang wrenches and bungee cords using an ordinary vinyl-coated wire tie-and-belt rack, available at big box stores; $8.
  • Metal tools cling to a magnetized rail, keeping items in view and easy to retrieve; starting around $30. Simply screw the rail to wall studs to safely hold the weight of the tools (it’s an idea you may be drawn to.)
  • Cushion and protect tools by padding your toolbox drawers with a soft, non-slip liner. The open-weave design keeps moisture away and prevents tools from rolling around. Enough material to line eight average-size drawers is $15. Just cut the liner to length to fit and slip it into the drawer.
  • Organize small items -- such as pencils, box cutters, and tape measures -- by stashing them in electrical junction boxes; about $2 each (free if you have spares). Purchase a variety of sizes and shapes and secure them to studs or pegboard.

Yard and Garden Gear

  • Rakes, ladders, clippers, shovels, and sprays — a host of supplies keep your yard and garden looking lush and well-cared-for, but your garage? Not so much. Keep your garden and landscaping tools organized with these novel storage solutions.
  • Transform an old cabinet into a nifty garage storage unit on wheels. Hunt down an old four-drawer filing cabinet for a few dollars at a garage sale. Remove the drawers, turn it on its backside, and use a couple afternoons to apply paint and pegboard sides. Less than $25.
  • Hold heavy tools, long-handled implements, ladders, and more. Long steel rails with extruded holes mount high on the garage wall and secure to studs. Arrange a series of hooks and pegs on the rail to hang big tools. Two 48-inch rails sell for $22.
  • Secure a wooden pallet to wall studs to create a pocket for holding long-handled garden tools. To find free wooden pallets, check with local businesses as well as online classifieds, such as Craigslist. Cost: Free.
  • Keep bottles of fertilizers, repellents, and lubricants upright and easy to retrieve. A can rack ($15) prevents cans and bottles from tumbling off shelves.

Read more:
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Weekly Market Update: For Week Ending January 16, 2016

A pattern is emerging that shows a fresh willingness by sellers to put homes on the market and buyers to enter the market. New listings are on the rise, if not in yearover-year comparison, then certainly in week-over-week views, as we bounce well past the new year. Inventory is seemingly unfazed by the new 2016 calendar on the wall, as the trend line has remained roughly the same for the first weeks in January as the last weeks in December. If sales activity builds on what's happening now and reaches a slow boil, it would be surprising if more inventory mix wasn't added to the water soon.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 16:
 • New Listings decreased 8.8% to 978
 • Pending Sales increased 3.5% to 672
 • Inventory decreased 20.3% to 10,392

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 9.9% to $219,900
 • Days on Market decreased 11.2% to 79
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.3% to 95.4%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 31.3% to 2.2

Publish Date: January 25, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015
Source: Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, January 25, 2016

Taking out the trash? Have you considered composting!

First off: What is composting?

At the simplest level, the process of composting simply requires making a heap of wetted organic matter known as green waste and waiting for the materials to break down after a period of weeks or months. Compost is rich in nutrients and is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, and as a natural pesticide for soil.

What can I compost?

Think about this for a second, its time to take out the garbage and you know you have to clean out your fridge. The thought of tossing out some of those leftovers can be a little hard to process. By simply taking a quick inventory of what has gone bad consider whether or not you can use it to compost instead of toss!

In addition: As you’re going through your drawers and shelves, take a mental note of what is about to go bad. This is the #1 way you can reduce food waste in your day-to-day life! By reminding yourself of what is about to expire, you can make a plan to use those ingredients in your next few meals.

What can’t I compost?

The folks over at have put together this hand list of the Top 10 Items that you don’t want to add to your compost pile. Chief among these are dairy products, meat, and other diseased plant matter.

Composting allows you to turn leftovers into nutrient-rich soil fertilizer, but it’s not a catchall form of disposal! If you put the wrong items inside your compost bin, you’ll wind up attracting unwanted pests and potentially hurting your plants! Become a master composter by keeping these ten items out of your compost bin. – Source:

We just wanted to give you a little something to get you started for when this cold weather finally passes and we can dig in the dirt again! Happy Composting! 

Friday, January 22, 2016

It’s January in Minnesota! Bring on the Pond Hockey! ... or Bean Bag Tournaments!

This weekend kicks off one of Minnesota’s time honored traditions. Pond hockey is back!

North American Pond Hockey (Bag Slush Tournament)
January 22 - 24th
Excelsior, MN


Due to poor ice conditions on Lake Minnetonka, the annual North American Pond Hockey Championship has shifted gears. According to a press release from the organization, “Their goal: to do what’s best while still ensuring that players. Rather than bagging their entire event, they are bean-bagging it. The group announced that the event’s pond hockey tournament will be replaced this year with a weekend of winter fun and other games, featuring quite possibly the world’s largest outdoor winter bean-bag tournament.”

The NAPHC event, including the “bags” tourney, other games, and a Friday evening concert, featuring the Johnny Holm Band, will benefit The Hendrickson Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide the game of hockey to people who are wheelchair bound, amputees, have cognitive issues, or were injured serving our country in the military.

The Saturday evening concert by country singer Tim Sigler will raise money for the Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota chapter of the ALS Association, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides services to assist people with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and their families.

Sunday morning, the Flurry Scurry 5K walk/run in Excelsior will support DinoMights, a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis that aims to equip our urban youth to develop physical, academic, social, and spiritual excellence through hockey.

Excelsior, MN
Downtown Excelsior is a great option for the whole family this weekend. The Club Cambria tent is going to offer all kinds of actvities for kids and families alike along with great food and prizes! Check it out! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Weekly Market Update For Week Ending January 9, 2016

We are just getting started into 2016 residential real estate market activity, but early indicators are pointing to a positive start. Home sales are expected to have a healthy amount of growth in 2016, but along with the rise in sales, modest increases in home prices are also expected. Low mortgage rates are an unexpected ray of sunshine this week, amidst typical winter doldrums.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 9:
 • New Listings increased 11.3% to 1,144
 • Pending Sales increased 15.3% to 708
 • Inventory decreased 20.8% to 10,293

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 9.9% to $219,900
 • Days on Market decreased 12.4% to 78
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.3% to 95.4%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 31.3% to 2.2

Publish Date: January 18, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015
Source: Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to be Productive on a day around the House

The Coldwell Banker Burnet Minnetonka office is currently undergoing a major remodel and Stafford Family Realtors has been working remotely from home in our makeshift office for the last three weeks. We have taken over the homework/music room in our home which we now share with three teenage girls who have school projects and piano lessons. 

Some days we come into the "office" to find that our desk is covered with cut up bits of paper or all our pencils have gone missing but the change of venue has come with some wonderful perks as well. We actually find that we take time to eat lunch at a normal hour and the laundry piles aren't nearly as high as they usually are.

Working from home can sometimes get a bad rap with the assumption that you'll get side tracked and never get anything done! However we have not found that to be the case. The folks over at recently published the article below offering seven tips on how to make a day at home as productive as possible and we have found some of them to be true! So much so, we wanted to share them with you.

source: The Daily Mail UK

7 Ways to Become a Powerfully Productive Homebody

Real talk: When you have a day at home, it can be tough not to binge watch a new series or craft something snazzy. Of course we all deserve these breaks, but probably not every weekend.

We put together some tips and tricks on how to get stuff done at home, so you can feel accomplished before you start your Netflix binge.

Here are 7 seven ways to cultivate productivity at home:

1. Limit Your To-Do List Per Day

Although we’ve all got to-do lists up the wazoo, manageable goals inspire productivity. Give yourself a 3-5 item limit and organize your tasks by day. This way you have the opportunity to finish your to-do list every single day. Boom!
2. Tackle Your Toughest Task First

If you get the hardest part out of the way first, you will be fresh and focused. You will also have a weight off your shoulders for the rest of the day.

3. Exercise

If you don’t have time to make a regular gym routine, bring the gym to your at-home yoga mat. Doing a ten-minute routine is a healthy way to energize yourself for another task that seemed daunting prior to a little sweat and elevated heart rate.

4. Take Proper Breaks

No matter what you’re doing, take a break every two hours. This will strengthen your focus in the long run. Break activities can include lunch, a dance party or a walk outside.

5. Plan to Plan

Reserve some time each day to plan your upcoming week. This could be blocking off an hour to choose your meals or to make your daily to-do list. If you get started with no intention, the task will take longer.

6. Eliminate Distractions

Don’t answer the phone if you’re busy. Ask your roommate or partner to talk later. If it helps to only check your email in the afternoon, implement that routine. When you’re working at home whether professionally or for personal pleasure, take your projects seriously.
7. Reward Yourself

If today’s task is to cook a large meal to eat for lunch all week, that deserves some acknowledgement! Treat yourself to your favorite TV show afterward or a 20-minute break on the couch with a book.

Article originally published by by Amy Thompson on January 12, 2016.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Weekly Market Update: Week Ending January 2nd, 2016

Optimism is in the air as we turn to face a new calendar year. As far as residential real estate goes, there is plenty to feel positive about. Buying and selling activity continued through the final months of 2015, and there's little reason to believe that trend will slow down during the first month of 2016. If anything, the past few years have indicated a tendency for listings and sales to increase in January.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 2:
 • New Listings decreased 24.8% to 416
 • Pending Sales increased 2.2% to 550
 • Inventory decreased 19.5% to 11,175

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 9.9% to $219,900
 • Days on Market decreased 12.4% to 78
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.4% to 95.5%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 34.4% to 2.1

Source: Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors
Publish Date: January 11, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year, New Things to Do!: Events to check out this Weekend!

Happy New Year! We are one full week into 2016 and everyone is settling back into their regular routines. New Year’s resolutions have been made and the gyms are packed, the weather is threatening to get very cold very quickly, and cabin fever is going to set in soon. Never fear! We have some ideas to keep you from going stir crazy!

Candlelit Ski and Walk Event
When: Saturday, 1/9 from 6-9pm 
Cost: $4/person or $15/family (family of 4 or less)
Rentals: Special Event rate of $5/adult & $4/child apply
(Use of personal equipment is also welcome!)
Carver County
Venture out to Baylor Regional Park this Saturday, for a wintery Candlelit Ski (or Walk) adventure! Candlelit Ski/Walk Events are a longstanding tradition for many Carver County families, come check it out with your friends & family!

The Minnesota Astronomical Society opens up the Eagle Lake Observatory for stargazing at Baylor Regional Park Events (Jan. 9 & 23) and the Lake Minnewashta Event (on Feb. 13th) offers dog sledding with Silent Run Adventures! At all event locations and dates you will stride along candlelit trails, take a hay ride and enjoy wintery bonfire treats like cider & s'mores!

The Big Chill!
Chaska Community Winter Party with DJ Skate by Kids Dance Party
Chaska Firemen’s Park
Friday, January 8 • 6:00–7:30 p.m.
All ages! No registration necessary.

Swing by the newly finished Firemen’s Park for an evening of winter fun. Ice skate on the Clayhole to DJ music and participate in fun friendly winter ice activities including glow in the dark bowling and more. Winter entertainment will be in full force!! Enjoy free s’mores over the bon fire, hot chocolate and popcorn sponsored by the Parks & Recreation Department. This event will be a highlight of your winter in Chaska. Bring your skates and come out for some Minnesota fun. Call (952) 227-7742 for more details of this new improved event at the newly renovated Firemen’s Park in downtown Chaska.

Mill City Indoor Winter Farmers Market

Date: January 9, 2016
Time: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Where: 704 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
source: Mill City Farmers Market
If you are looking to escape the cold, check out the Mill City Farmers Market. During the winter months, the market is held every other Saturday inside the Mill City Museum. Take a stroll thru the booths and enjoy fresh produce from local growers, events for kids, handcrafted art and household items, live music and Spoonriver Restaurant will be sampling Hot Rum Toddy’s at their booth in the market. Warm up while you sip one of these delicious cocktails made with dark Norseman rum, Ames honey, and spices. Plus, enjoy a complimentary gift for two Rum Toddy drinks at Spoonriver Restaurant!

Have a great weekend!

Weekly Market Update: Week Ending December 26th, 2015

As another year winds down, we'll be looking toward 2016 with increased interest in changes in trend lines. But as we've seen over the last several months, and now beginning to become multiple years, the trends have been pretty steady. The prevailing thought by national market watchers is that 2016 will largely mirror 2015 but at a more even pace. The continuation of Fed rate increases are expected to keep things in check, but the funny thing about anticipating those increases is that it tends to inspire more activity. Happy New Year!

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending December 26:

• New Listings increased 0.7% to 271

• Pending Sales increased 39.6% to 483

• Inventory decreased 19.3% to 11,519

For the month of November:

• Median Sales Price increased 6.8% to $219,040

• Days on Market decreased 7.6% to 73

• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.2% to 95.8%

• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 28.2% to 2.8

Monday, January 4, 2016

Trending Design Ideas coming in 2016

Stafford Family Realtors are back in the office hard at work now that the New Year is upon us. We all had a wonderful time playing in the snow, visiting with family and enjoying a few too many Christmas cookies. We have come back to full email boxes, numerous voice-mails, and a market that is beginning to pick up the pace.

With every new season, fashion trends change and the same can be said for the way designers craft furnishing and select colors for your home. The people over at have come up with a list of the top 25 trends that they are predicting for 2016. We have picked out a few of our favorite items that you may start seeing in the coming months.

Escape the Tech

Since we are all about family, we are loving the trend of the Techless Family Rooms! Instead of making the TV the focal point of these traditional gathering spaces, designers are opting to leave the gadgets out so that your family can enjoy more quality time for talking, relaxing, and playing games without the digital distractions.

Mix and Match

Not only are we seeing this trend with stripes and prints, we are now starting to see much more mixing in materials. The playful pairing of a butcher block island and brick backsplash or concrete countertops and painted tiles are very on trend at the moment. In addition to these materials, we are beginning to see many more builders adopt the intermixing of different woods in the homes. We are starting to see enameled mill work and cabinetry paired with darker wood cabinetry and rich stains.

Warm up your Foyer
While many have embraced heated tile floors in their bathrooms and even their lower levels, people are choosing to add heated floors to their entry ways. In Minnesota, this would be a welcome option especially in these winter months where we like to leave our shoes at the front door but hate to tread on the cold floor.

Colored Stainless Steel Appliances

Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. Many people are trending towards black stainless steel such as LG’s new collection. If you don’t love the dark look, head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish.

Back to Basics

For quite a while, we saw buyers favoring homes without the formal living and dining spaces saying that they simply don’t entertain that way anymore. However, we are beginning to see a shift back into people hosting sit down dinners and enjoying a separate space where everyone can gather around a table and revel in the company of their friends and family.

Click here to see the complete list of the 25 Design Trends!

If you have been watching the local and national news, you will have seen that 2016 is aiming to be another good year for the housing market with home prices rising and inventory numbers leveling out. This might be a great opportunity to make some of these changes in your home! Happy New Year everyone!