Wednesday, July 24, 2019

5 New Homeowner Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid (And How to Avoid Them)

The following is a guest post from Jessica Thiefels
Become a first-time homeowner is one of the most exciting and stressful times of your life, even after the closing papers have been signed and key is in hand. Suddenly, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges: how to manage a home that’s yours, not your landlord’s. There are a lot of opportunities to learn—and as you learn, mistakes will be made.
Luckily, many new homeowner mistakes can be easily avoided with a little preparation. Don’t let the following potential mistakes damper your excitement. Instead, plan ahead and keep these tips and tricks in mind as you learn the ropes of being a homeowner.
Ignoring Routine Maintenance
You likely just did a walk-through with a licensed inspector during the homebuying process, so you’re aware of what issues need attention and which can wait. That’s not where home maintenance stops. Home maintenance includes tasks you may have never thought of before, like cleaning the gutters, power-washing the house, prepping your pipes for winter and much more.
The best way to avoid missing these critical tasks, which could lead to costly damage, is to set up a quarterly or monthly maintenance schedule for all of the areas of your home. This should include indoor and outdoor maintenance as well as details like plumbing and electrical. Use this checklist from Better Homes and Gardens as a starting point to creating one that’s specific to your home’s unique needs.
Not Budgeting for Additional Expenses
Moving can be expensive but any veteran homeowner will tell you that there’s always more to budget for—and these issues seem to pop-up out of nowhere, like a broken washer right after you need to patch a leak in the roof. Plan for the unexpected by putting away extra money for emergency house needs.
Experts at HGTV suggest putting away 1 to 3 percent of your home’s purchase price each year to develop an emergency fund. They give the example, “For example, if your home cost $300,000, set aside at least $3,000 each year. Make one large deposit or spread the amount out in monthly deposits.”
Getting Locked Out
Being a new homeowner can make you more susceptible to being locked out: you have the new keys, you run out to get something and realize that the new key isn’t on your old keyring. You walk outside with the trash, forgetting that the new door locks behind you.
This mistake can lead to another one: choosing a locksmith that’s not reputable. In your hurry to get back into the house, it’s easy to forget to do your research and listen for clues that something’s not right.
That’s why experts from Lokology Locksmith share an important tip, “Ask the locksmith for an estimate prior to their arrival. If the locksmith cannot give you a quote or a price range over the phone—that should be a red flag.” This is a simple way to test whether a company is reputable to reinforce the quick research you did.
Making Major Renovations Right Away
It’s exciting to think about how you’ll make your new home feel more like yours with renovation projects. While small changes are to be expected, major renovations should wait. Give yourself time to live in the home, see how it feels, and determine what larger renovations will look like as needs arise.
For example, you may find the location of your fridge makes it hard to move around the kitchen seamlessly. This might be a focus of your kitchen renovation that would have otherwise not been considered.
Making Major Life Changes at the Same Time
 As you can see, becoming a first-time homeowner is a lot of work. Adding to that by having a baby or getting married at the same time only increases the likelihood that you’ll make mistakes or become overly stressed. If possible, leave yourself time to get to know what it’s like to be a homeowner and avoid making costly mistakes that come with being stressed, and in-turn, overlooking simple details.
Avoid New Homeowner Mistakes
There are some mistakes you can’t avoid—but many others that you can. As you get familiar with your role as a homeowner, keep these simple mistakes in mind. If you plan ahead as best you can, you’ll be able to enjoy all the excitement of owning your first home with less stress and frustration.

Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

6 Tips for Summer Lawn Care

Don’t you hate it when the grass is greener at your next door neighbor’s place? Follow these tips to manifest the lawn of your life.

Don’t you hate it when the grass is greener at your next door neighbor’s place? This summer you could have the lawn that turns everyone’s eyes green with envy and admiration, but you’ve got to get on it right now! Follow these tips to manifest the lawn of your life.

BEFORE SUMMER

1. Inspect

Inspect your lawn and note any spots that need special attention. If you notice brown patches, you need to act quickly to identify the disease so you can treat it. If the entire lawn is somewhat flattened from winter weather, call in an aeration service. Those little holes in the lawn will last just long enough to loosen up the soil and allow better water and nutrient absorption.

2. Rake

Rake any dead spots and reseed using a variety of grass seed to match the rest of your lawn. For larger areas that may have been damaged by snow plows, for example, you can remove entire sections and replace with sod. If you notice areas where there has been a lot of soil erosion, mulch beds are a good way to shore up future runoffs.

3. Fertilize

Apply a slow-release fertilizer to feed the grass over weeks. Pick a day that’s not windy and check to make sure there’s no rain in the immediate forecast to keep the fertilizer where you want it. Dispose of any leftover fertilizer appropriately, as you would household chemicals like paint.

DURING SUMMER

4. Water

Make sure to water deeply, not daily. Deep watering will encourage a healthy root system. Whether you drag the hose out in the morning or have an automatic sprinkler system, set a watering schedule. Your lawn needs an inch to an inch and a half of water a week.

5. Lawnmower Maintenace

Keep mower blades sharp and balanced for clean cuts, and change the pattern every time you mow so grass blades will stand up straight. Remember to let your grass clippings fall where they may, and remain there. “Grasscycling” returns nutrients to the soil, allowing them to fertilize the lawn.
Proper lawn care prevents the most common lawn problems from getting out of control. Keeping the grass at the right length will help keep it healthy and keep weeds at bay.

AFTER SUMMER

6. Rake & Weed

When autumn arrives, and the leaves begin to fall, don’t wait for large amounts to pile up. Remove leaves often, so they don’t get a chance to become wet and sticky. Blankets of wet leaves can create a fungal problem that will plague your lawn long after the last snow falls.
Set yourself up for another lovely lawn the following spring and summer by doing some weed control now, and an application of fertilizer for nutrients to feed your grass throughout the cold season.
Keep in mind, if you plan to sell your home, having a nice lawn is crucial. But the homes that show the best have more than just end-to-end grass. According to a recent survey in Turf Magazine, the landscapes that have the best value are those with “a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen and annual color plants and colored hardscape.” The right shade trees will also protect your lawn and keep your house cooler this summer.
Notice summer lawn care doesn’t just cover June through September. By preparing your lawn well in advance of the summer heat, you’ll have a yard that will withstand the stress of summer and thrive through the fall.
Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter and written by 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

4 Ways to Help Make Moving with Kids Easier

No one likes to move and that includes kids! These 4 things to keep in mind should help make the transition to a new home and neighborhood easier for the entire family.



The following is a guest post by Laura McHolm, Co-Founder of NorthStar Moving.
Summer is here! For families, it’s the most popular time to move to a new home because school is out. If there is any comfort in togetherness, nearly 40 million of us move in the summer. Don’t feel alone, we’re here to guide you! 
It’s no secret, no one likes to move and that includes your kids. Moving is one of the most stressful times in life, and it brings lots of change. For your kids, it means making new friends, and maybe, adjusting to a new school. If you have a little mover in tow, moving your home certainly adds to the baby adventures!
Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps, the trek through the moving process will become a walk in the park (well, maybe not, but it can be a manageable stroll up hill.) Way before you break out those card board boxes, use these pointers to help your kids, toddlers and babies get through the moving process.
Here are four steps to a successful move with a young family. It’s all about: timingtransition, getting the kids involved, and an adjustment period.
Timing:
1. First consider the timing of your move, this is probably the most important element:
– What grades are your children in? If your eldest is about to be a senior in high school, it may be best to let them live with a trusted relative to finish up high school with their friends. If your youngest is about to enter middle school, this is an ideal time to move since they will be entering a new school either way. Is school on a break? Much better to time a move with kids when school’s out.
– Babies and kids love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!
Transition:
2. Second, make the transition into the new home as easy as possible for your kids and little ones. Try these tips to make the transition a smooth one:
– Make the new home the kids’ own. Allow them to walk through the new house before the move. Let them feel that they are part of the decision. Allow them (as much as possible) to choose their own bedroom, paint colors (“Here, let’s pick the paint color for your new room: which do you choose between these two.”), and play the imagination game with them: “Let’s imagine what this room will be like when it’s yours? Where will your stuffed animals go? Where will the bed go?” etc.
– In the old house, talk about how their favorite toys, games, etc. are going to be in the new house too. This is not the time to clean out the closet and discard unwanted clothes and toys. You don’t want your kids associating loss with the move. If you need to de-clutter your kid’s room, do that way before the subject of the move comes up. De-cluttering is an excellent pre-move activity and really doesn’t have to involve the word “moving” at all.
– TALK and LISTEN to your kids. Ask them what they are excited about and what things they are going to miss. Address their concerns: “What are we going to do about that? How about…”
– During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your kids and bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are greatnanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.
– Stay connected to friends, neighbors and family back home. Arrange facetime appointments with the children’s friends before you move to the new home, it will help make the transition easier when they know they can keep in touch with their old friends. And, set up a play date for the old friends to come over for a sleep over.
Involve Your Kids:
3. There is no easier way to keep kids happy than giving them a feeling of control – get them involved!
– Have them arrange their own room. Draw out a floor plan of the rooms in the new house and let the children make paper doll furniture and arrange what they want in their room.
– Encourage your kids to pack themselves so they are involved in the moving process. They can have their own boxes and suitcases that they are responsible for. Give them color codes or fun stickers to stick on their boxes that belong in their room. You can oversee this. But, give them one box to pack freely with the stuff they want, it will be the first box they open in their new room.
– Give each child a backpack to fill with overnight items so you don’t have to dig through boxes. Include their toothbrush, pjs, stuffed animal, favorite bedtime story, remember to put the children’s medications in mommy’s purse or back pack for safe keeping.
– Pack a baby bag with all of your needs for three days. If you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck. Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the all important security blanket, you’ll be happy that you know just where to look for those items.
Adjustment:
4. Last, is the adjustment to the new home and neighborhood. It’s an extremely important phase of a move; it sets the stage for your new life in your new home. Here are suggestions to make the adjustment period a great one:
– When moving in, set up the nursery first. This will allow you to easily change your baby’s clothes and diapers. You’ll have a nice space for that first bedtime story when you put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.
– Host a party in your new neighborhood and invite children of the same age as your own kid(s) over so that they can make new friends. It’s as easy as a pool party, pizza party, or cookout. Try to host the party the first weeks of being in your new home.
– Take them for a drive by their new school, the local ice cream place, playground, if they have a hobby such as dancing, show them that there is a dance studio here too, so they can see their new neighborhood has all the same things as the old.
– Set up a tour of the new school and to meet their new teacher before school starts.
– If you move in the beginning of the summer, sign them up for camp or other local activities where they can meet new kids before school starts. It also keeps them out of the house so you can continue the unpacking!

By taking these four points into consideration, your next chapter in your new home will start out with ease – giving every member of your family time to make the new house home. Wishing you and your family happiness in your new home!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending June 29, 2019

The summer selling season is progressing with plenty of buying and selling activity thus far, thanks to a healthy economy that has consumers willing to spend their hard-earned money on the things they desire, even if it's more expensive than it was a few years ago. This has proven to be true in several sectors, whether retail, travel or even housing, the most expensive purchase most people will ever make in their lives.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending June 29:
• New Listings increased 0.4% to 1,878
• Pending Sales decreased 5.0% to 1,498
• Inventory decreased 0.3% to 12,083

For the month of May:
• Median Sales Price increased 5.2% to $285,000
• Days on Market decreased 4.3% to 45
• Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 100.0%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 4.3% to 2.4

Minneapolis Area Assosiciation of Realtors

Publish Date: July 8, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending June 22, 2019

Persistently low mortgage rates and slower price increases have combined with economic growth, low unemployment, wage improvement and consumer confidence to keep home buyers in the market, despite insufficient supply. Builders have not made enough new homes for several years, and, thus, national housing inventory is extremely tight. The vacancy rate for owner-occupied homes in 2018 was the lowest since 1995. If the economy begins to slow, this situation is unlikely to improve.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending June 22:
 • New Listings increased 1.9% to 2,028
 • Pending Sales increased 1.2% to 1,494
 • Inventory increased 1.1% to 12,008

For the month of May:
 • Median Sales Price increased 5.2% to $285,000
 • Days on Market decreased 4.3% to 45
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.2% to 100.0%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale increased 4.3% to 2.4


Minneapolis Area Assosiciation of Realtors



Publish Date: July 1, 2019 • All comparisons are to 2018. All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2019 ShowingTime.

Friday, April 26, 2019

8 Guides That Make You a Better Homeowner

Being a homeowner is exciting and rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Luckily, there are many tools and guides available to help you be the best homeowner you can be.

The following is a guest post written by Jessica Thiefels.
Homeownership in the U.S. in increasing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, the Q2 2018 U.S. homeownership rate was 64.3 percent, up from 64.2 percent in Q1 2018 and 63.7 percent in Q2 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Being a homeowner is exciting and rewarding—not to mention it comes with a lot of perks. No more landlord, no more renting, and no more leases. While owning a home has a long list of benefits, it also comes with great responsibility and hard work. Being a good homeowner means retaining the value of your home with continuous maintenance, keeping your financial health in check and much more.
Luckily, there are many tools and guides available to help you be the best homeowner you can be. Below are eight of our favorite guides and tools to help you be a better homeowner.
If you plan on renovating your home, head over to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide. This tool gives you accurate estimates for common home renovation and repair costs.
Whether you are planning on remodeling your bathroom or installing a new garage door, True Cost can help. The tool takes real costs from real home projects and combines it with local and national cost data to give you the closest estimate for what you can expect.
Use this estimate to vet potential contractors and companies so you can avoid working with someone who will charge too much.
Homeowners insurance is critical, as the protection for your most valuable and expensive asset—your home. However, not all homeowner insurance policies are created equal, and with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is best for you.
Consumer Report’s Homeowners Insurance Buying Guide not only gives homeowners tips on how to choose the best insurance but it also provides ratings for the top homeowners insurance companies such as Allstate, Amica and State Farm.
If you’ve already signed up with homeowner’s insurance, use this guide as a way to evaluate whether now is a good time to switch to a new provider, negotiate rates, or update your current coverage.
With TV’s being part of the modern home, more and more people are mounting them to make space and create a cleaner look. However, mounting your TV isn’t the easiest homeowner task and one that can lead to a lot of damage, both to your home and your TV.
Puls’s guide is a great resource if you want to mount your television without ripping out a wall or making one too many holes—you own that wall afterall, so you want to take good care of it. The Puls blog is also filled with homeowner guides for your garage door, kitchen and more, so keep it bookmarked.
CrimeReports is an online tool that provides up-to-date information on crimes within your neighborhood. All you have to do is type in your zip code to see what’s happening or what has happened recently. 
The tool also allows you to set update alerts, so you always know if something is going on in your neighborhood. You can even register your security camera as a resource for local law enforcement, keeping your home and your neighbors safe.
When deciding what to remodel in your house, consider both use and need within the house, in addition to return on investment (ROI). The Cost Vs. Value report is put out each year and tells you which renovations will lead to the greatest and lowest return.
For example, the 2018 report found that a garage door replacement has the greatest return. Consider this data as you embark on new home projects to make sure you’re getting the most for your time and money.
Are you the handy type who likes to take on home renovation and d├ęcor projects yourself? Home Depot has a robust selection of DIY and how-to guides on a variety of home projects, including lawn and garden ideas, shower door configuration and kitchen backsplash guides.
These how-to guides and helpful DIY videos provide step by step instructions as well as material recommendations pulled straight from their shelves. It’s a one-stop-shop for those looking to start a home passion project.
Being an eco-friendly homeowner doesn’t have to be expensive. EnergySavvy is an online tool that helps homeowners minimize wasted energy and save money. Create a profile and get a score based on your current energy efficiency. Once you’ve done that, the tool then finds different ways you can improve your energy efficiency. The tool even suggests contractors to help you implement the improvements and find rebates to make it cost-effective.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Top Tips to Make Your Offer Stick



WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRIPOSTED ONTUESDAY, 09 APRIL 2019


It’s that time again, when the Spring real estate market starts to get hot (or gets even hotter, depending on how steamy your particular corner of the world is). Multiple-offer situations and selling prices that soar over asking prices are great for sellers, not so much for buyers.

If you’re looking for an edge to ensure you get the home you want, we have some tips.

Work with the right real estate agent

You can’t underestimate the experience and skills of a quality real estate agent. Not only will a great agent be able to guide you toward the best properties for you, but also may be able to use their network to identify homes that aren’t even be on the market yet or to work closely with an agent to get your offer accepted.

Make sure your offer is first

Some sellers will hold off on accepting an offer to see if they get more offers. There might not be anything you can do to entice them unless you’re planning to make an offer that’s over their asking price. But being the early bird can have its benefits. That may mean being ready to run to a listing at a moment’s notice, or giving the thumbs up via Facetime if one of you can’t leave work the minute the perfect home hits the MLS.

Go without an inspection

This is risky, and your real estate agent may advise you against this. We would only offer it as an option in cases where you’re being shut out of home after home and are looking to do extensive renovations anyway.

Up your budget

If you’ve made several offers on homes and have thus far been unsuccessful, you’ve probably already had a discussion with your real estate agent about increasing your budget. Here’s another really good reason to go ahead and put more money toward your home purchase: It could allow you to move into another price bracket. If you’re a first-time buyer who is looking in a lower price range, you’re in the most competitive market there is. Adding even a few thousand dollars could make the difference, and the change to your monthly mortgage payment will be negligible.

Consider the associated expenses

If you’re worried about upping your budget, think about how you can save on associated expenses, and put that money into your mortgage, instead. Look for homes without a homeowner’s association. That could save you up to several hundred dollars per month. Look at areas where you don’t have to pay a toll for your daily commute. That adds up. If you’re looking at attached properties, front-yard maintenance may be included, and there may also be an on-site gym. There are two monthly expenses you can get rid of.

Watch the contingencies

“Sellers have the upper hand in a multiple-bid situation, and they want offers that are clean and concise,” said NerdWallet. Bruce Ailion, Atlanta-based Re/Max Town & Country Agent, told them, “Don’t include things like needing to wait for a spouse or partner’s approval, asking the seller to purchase a home warranty or requesting that the seller leaves or repairs certain items. You also don’t want to ask the seller to pay your closing costs; find an affordable attorney or title company to represent you. Having too many of these items in your contract will make it likely that a seller tells you ‘no’ over another offer.”
Be flexible
In a multiple-offer situation, the seller is looking for the easiest path to closing. Provide that, and you just might be the home’s new owner. The trick is finding out what they really want—beyond the right price, of course. It could be that a shorter closing would do the trick. Or maybe you can offer them the opportunity to rent back until school gets out so their child can finish up the year.

Write a letter

Yes, writing a sappy letter to the seller telling them all about you and why you love their home so much is shameless pandering, but sometimes shameless pandering works. Don’t forget to include pictures, and the cuter your kids look, the better.