Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Staging a Home for Maximum Return

With an ever-growing number of short sales and bank-owned properties in markets all over the country, sellers of homes in regular price levels are in fierce competition to get their houses sold. One thing that can give you an edge on the competition is to stage your home.

Top 10 Reasons To Stage Your Home
1. You'll Make More Money. U.S. Housing and Urban Development reports that a staged house sells, on average, 17% higher than a non-staged house.

2. Your House Will Sell Faster. Consider that statistics gathered by Stagedhomes.com shows that 94.6 percent of homes staged by an Accredited Staging Professional® sell within 33 days, compared to an average of 196 days for homes that are not staged. Staged homes stay on the market 83 percent less time than a home that has not been staged.

3. It Doesn't Cost You A Dime. In a 2003 HomeGain Survey of over 2,000 Realtors it was discovered that sellers who spent up to $1,000 staging their home recovered almost 200% of the cost in the sale of their home.

4. Most Homeowners Cannot View Their Home Objectively. If you can’t see objectively, you can’t “package” effectively. Have a staging professional give you a detailed enough report based on their extensive knowledge and training to have you “Do It Yourself”.

5. Only 10% of Homebuyers Can Visualize the Potential of a Home. That’s why staging a vacant home is critical! You don’t want the benefits of your beautiful home left up to the buyer’s imagination.

6. The Money You Make is Tax Free. Take advantage of your tax-free capital gain by getting every dollar you can in the selling price of your home.

7. The Cost of Staging a Home is Less than a Price Reduction. Most Staging Consultations cost less than $500.00 – a price reduction is always going to cost you more.

8. Staged Homes Often Have Better Appraisal Values.

9. Staged Homes are Viewed by Buyers as “well cared for” and in “move-in condition”.

10. Staging is Tax Deductible. It is considered a Sales Related Expense.

Isn't staging just another word for decorating?

There’s no doubt staging makes a difference and that certainly speaks to the seller. Yet many people are still reluctant to invest in staging services. Many are not aware of the difference between staging and decorating.

So just what is the difference between staging and decorating?

  • Decorating is personalizing, staging is depersonalizing
  • Decorating is about making your home reflect your personal style, staging is about making your home appealing to the masses
What exactly does staging mean?

You may be wondering what exactly staging is then. Depersonalizing a home does not mean making it boring and lifeless. Consider these main points of staging:

Decluttering - This goes beyond the effort of just picking up and tidying your home. It includes taking out furniture that is crowding a space, clearing off countertops, taking down pictures and art to focus more on the room than on the contents, and even includes making closets and cupboards appear roomier by removing many of the items within them and organizing them to create a sense of order.

Depersonalizing - That beautiful picture of your family above the fireplace? It's gotta go. The goal is to make the home appeal to other people, which might be hard to do with a picture of your family staring them in the face. Personal mementos, family pictures, kid's drawings are all items that should be taken down and put into storage.

Cleaning and Brightening - Cleaning a home so that it is spic and span is one thing that most homeowners understand. No one wants to walk into someone else's dirty mess. But cleaning for staging goes beyond your weekly routine. Clean out cupboards and drawers, wash inside your refrigerator, get down on your hands and knees to get to the baseboards and corners where brooms and mops can't reach, have your carpets and rugs cleaned. A staged home should be spotless. Light is essential to making a home seem cleaner and be more appealing to buyers. Wash all windows, inside and out, hang new curtains that let more light in, clean light fixtures or update them, and remove anything that might be blocking light in your home.

Color - You may love your bright green dining room, but it may not be a color that helps sell your home. This doesn't mean your home has to be all white and beige. Pops of color in small amounts can have a dramatic effect that appeals to many. And if buyers don't like the color, they know that painting one small area is a lot less effort than painting an entire room. If you do go with more neutral shades on the walls, consider using pops of color in small peices of furniture, throw pillows, and art.

Outside - Don't forget the outside of the house when staging for maximum appeal. This is the first impression that people get when they come to your house. Many can be turned away at this point without even entering the home. Overgrown shrubs, poorly placed trees and plants, greenery that obscures the house, and too many weeds are all signs that your landscaping needs an overhaul. Also consider updating your outdoor light fixtures, changing out your mailbox or house numbers and touching up paint and trim. Resurfacing your driveway, adding mulch, keeping your lawn mowed, and adding some flowers in pots all do wonders for the curb appeal of your home.

Vacant homes - With all the talk of cleaning and decluttering adding furniture may seem like a contradiction. But many homes in foreclosure or on short sale, have been empty for some time. And empty home is not nearly as nice as a furnished home. If you have empty rooms, bring in furniture, rugs and artwork to fill out the space.

Stafford Family Realtors Staging Services

When you list your home with Stafford Family Realtors, we offer free staging services. That is a significant savings to the seller! We will work with you to get your home in perfect condition to sell quickly and at top dollar. We also provide staging services for a fee through Twin Cities Interiors, a division of Stafford Family Realtors, for those who are not listed with us. Twin Cities Interiors offers 3 tiers of Staging Services to help you prepare your home and make it stand out on the market: Consultations - for those wanting to do the majority of the work themselves; Staging an Occupied Home; and Staging a Vacant Home. For more information on our staging services please contact Sharla or visit our website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

For Sale: .660 acres Vacant Land in Chanhassen, MN, $155,000

 Presenting Incredible Lake Views from Stafford Family Realtors

517 Big Woods Blvd. - Chanhassen, MN

This is truly a peaceful setting with a private, wooded, walk-out, cul-de-sac lot w/ a creek meandering through the backyard. Located in an exclusive neighborhood.  Get away from it all without leaving home and enjoy long summer days with access to Lotus Lake!!

For more information please visit http://www.StaffordFamilyRealtors.com or for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

For Sale: .360 acres Vacant Land in Chanhassen, MN, $199,900

Presenting A Gorgeous Walk-out Wooded Lot from Stafford Family Realtors
7555 Great Plains Blvd. - Chanhassen, MN

This beautifully wooded lot offers the perfect opportunity to build your dream home!  Nestled on a walkout lot on quiet cul-de-sac in neighborhood of upper bracket homes, enjoy walking to downtown Chanhassen and deeded access on Lotus Lake.

For more information please visit http://StaffordFamilyRealtors.com or for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

For Sale: .792 acres Vacant Land in Chanhassen, MN, $279,000

 Presenting a Tranquil .792 Lot from Stafford Family Realtors

7551 Great Plains Blvd. - Chanhassen, MN 

Looking to build your dream home?  Look no further, this tranquil .792 acre walk- out lot is covered w/mature maple and linden trees.

For more information please visit http://StaffordFamilyRealtors.com or for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

For Sale: 4BR/3+1BA Single Family House in Victoria, MN, $459,000

Presenting a Well Appointed Home from Stafford Family Realtors

2065 Woodstone Court- Victoria, MN

Resort like living on premium cul-de-sac lot on the 5th Fairway of the Deer Run Golf Course. This Well Appointed home features a spacious fully finished Walkout Lower Level with Gas Fireplace and Custom-built Wet Bar along with a Billiards Room.

For more information please visit http://StaffordFamilyRealtors.com or for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Call For Action

As you may know, there is a proposal before regulators to require a minimum of 20% down on all residential transactions. If allowed to take effect, the rule would put home ownership out of reach for middle-income Americans. It would take the average family 14 years to save up the down payment to buy a home. We just don't need more hurdles. So please take time to visit the REALTOR® Action Center to answer the Call for Action and tell Congress this does not work for our industry or our country.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Twin Cities Take Top Ranking for Healthy Living

Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city's high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).

Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul's percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.

Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI's top five slots are the following cities:

•Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8

•Boston, with a score of 69.1

•Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7

•Denver, with a score of 67.6

At the opposite end of the index, Memphis, Tenn., Louisville, Ken. and Oklahoma City ranked lowest. The cities received scores of 32.9, 29 and 24.6, respectively.
Still, the report noted that whether they landed at the top of the list or at the bottom, each city had its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to health and fitness.

"The scores and rankings from the report indicate which metro areas are more fit, and which ones are less fit," Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI advisory board, said in an ACSM news release. "Although Minneapolis ranked first, there is room for improvement. At the same time, even the lowest-ranked areas have healthy residents and community resources supporting health and fitness."

Thompson added the report should serve as either a needed wake-up call or a source of positive re-enforcement for city leaders.

"A regular, scientific evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets, policies and opportunities which encourage healthy and fit lifestyles is imperative for cities wishing to provide a high quality of life for residents," Thompson said. "Community health leaders and advocates in each metro area can use the AFI data report to easily identify their strengths and areas of opportunity."

"There are no quick fixes when it comes to improving the health of an entire metro area," Dr. Wesley Wong, a member of the AFI advisory board, said in the news release.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mortgage Rates Fall 6 Weeks In A Row

Mortgage rates dropped again this week, as the conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate falling to 4.77% with 0.4 discount and origination points, according to Bankrate.com.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage pulled back to 3.95% and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate retreated to 5.22%. Adjustable rate mortgages established new lows, with the average 5-year ARM sinking to 3.48% and the 7-year ARM settling at 3.73%.

Loss of momentum in the economic recovery, and worries that the economy could slow further once the Fed stops pumping money into the markets via bond purchases, have investors nervous. Nervous investors typically move their money into the safe-haven Treasury securities to which mortgage rates are closely related. This has helped keep fixed mortgage rates at historic lows and within striking distance of the all-time lows that were established in November 2010.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6% was Nov. 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33%, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.77%, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,045.71, a difference of $196 per month for anyone refinancing now.

Source: Bankrate, Inc.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Open Houses: May 22, 2011

8792 Horizon Ridge - Victoria
4 bedroom/4 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

Rarely available this is a beautifully updated home loaded with all the amenities & designer finishes of new construction in Deer Run golf community! Enjoy a Gourmet Kitchen, all Updated Baths, 3 Fireplaces, 2 Paver Patios with Firepit & gorgeous views of a glacial pond.

Click HERE for more information on 8792 Horizon Ridge

5965 Eureka Road - Shorewood
4 bedroom/3 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

This charming Shorewood Estate has been beautifully updated, and exudes old world charm mingled with today's amenities. Sited on 1.72 acres covered with mature trees and dotted with English, Shade and Perennial gardens. The grounds include a pool and pool / guest house (not included in FSF). Lovingly restored & brimming with character, you’ll find beautiful rooms for entertaining friends & cozy rooms just perfect for relaxing.

Click HERE for more information on 5965 Eureka Road

2065 Woodstone Court - Victoria
4 bedroom/4 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

Enjoy this like-new walk-out rambler on the beatiful Deer Run Golf Course. This spacious home offers three bedrooms on the main level, a well equipped Gourmet Kitchen that opens to a Great Room with a cozy fireplace and a fully finished lower level with a Billiards room furnished with a custom built Wet-Bar, large Famiy Room with built-in entertainment center, exercise room and 4th bedroom. This is main level living at its best!

Click HERE for more information on 2065 Woodstone Court

For more information on any of our listings, please contact Sharla or Eric or visit StaffordFamilyRealtors.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekend Happenings: Home Building & Remodeling Expo and LEGO KidsFest

Minneapolis Home Building & Remodeling Expo 2011

Whether you're building a new home, planning a remodel of your existing home, or just enjoy seeing the latest and greatest in home building innovations, you'll find something you like at the Minneapolis Home Building & Remodeling Expo taking place this weekend, May 20-May 22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. 

The Expo is the home show to be at in preparation for all your home needs going into the summer and fall. Experts in the areas of heating and air conditioning, landscaping, windows, siding, roofing, insulation and energy efficiency are available to advise homeowners.

LEGO KidsFest Twin Cities

Since you'll already be at the convention center, plan to bring the kids to attend the LEGO KidsFest.  LEGO KidsFest brings all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in one activity- and entertainment-packed family event for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests.

This hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza features billions of LEGO bricks not to mention tons of construction zones, dozens of life-sized LEGO models and displays, LEGO Universe and LEGO Games, group builds such as Creation Nation and the Mystery Mural, live LEGO Master Builders, and so much more in over 175,000 square feet of space.

Chaska Area Taste

Who says you have to wait until July 4th weekend to experience great food?!  Tonight, Wednesday, May 18th from 5:00 to 9:00, visit the Chaska Area Taste. There's food for everybody's taste at this annual event where you'll find sample menu items from area restaurants. Music from local talent, local business expo, kids games and much more!

Hosted by the Southwest Metro Chamber of Commerce, the 26th annual Chaska Area Taste is held in Chaska's beautiful City Square Park.  The weather should be perfect tonight, so bring a blanket or some lawn chairs and enjoy this fun, family friendly community event.

Monday, May 16, 2011

8 Tips to Trim Your Summer Electric Bill

The dog days of summer can really put the heat on electricity bills and put even the best air conditioning systems to the test.

Here are six tips to keep your utility bills down this summer:

1. An air conditioner set at 70 degrees can cost twice as much to operate as one set at 78 degrees. Raise the thermostat by 2 degrees above its normal setting. You’ll still be comfortable, and your pocketbook will thank you.

2. Set the thermostat to 80 degrees when you’ll be out of the house for several hours and lower it when you return. But don’t shut the air conditioner off; it’s less efficient to cool the house back down than to leave it set at a higher temperature.

3. A ceiling fan uses about as much energy as a 100-watt bulb, but it can make a room feel up to eight degrees cooler. In summer, blades should turn counterclockwise, pushing air downward to create a cool breeze.

4. Keeping windows closed and curtains drawn during the day can reduce cooling costs by 30%.

5. Lights, computers, and televisions all generate heat. Turn them off when they’re not in use.

6. Get your air conditioner serviced before you need to turn it on to avoid the rush in service calls made to air-conditioning repair companies on the first hot day of the year.

7. Create shade for the outdoor part of your AC unit, but keep the area around the exterior unit clear of leaves, bushes, and other obstructions to ensure adequate airflow.

8. Clean or replace the air filter monthly. Clogged, dirty filters block air flow and make a unit work much harder. A clean filter can save up to 10% on your bill.

Source: American Home Shield

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Open House: May 15, 2011

2338 Fawn Hill Court - Chanhassen
5 bedroom/4 bath
Open 12:00 to 2:00

Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac, this custom built, one-owner home has been beautifully updated & meticulously maintained. Enjoy a Main floor Office, Gourmet Kitchen with new stainless steel appliances and a beautifully finished lower level with bar, game room and family room. Walk to Sugarbush Park. Residents of this neighborhood attend the new state of the art Chanhassen High School and Bluff Creek Elementary.

Click HERE for more information on Fawn Hill Court

Monday, May 9, 2011

Coldwell Banker Burnet's 2011 Waterfront Home Tour

For twenty years Coldwell Banker Burnet has been promoting its waterfront listings through annual waterfront home tours. No other real estate company has the inventory to mount a tour such as ours. Last year we had 176 waterfront homes on our Spring Waterfront Home Tour with the highest priced home listed at $5,495,000.

We choose a Sunday in mid-May, avoiding Mother’s Day, because we believe the homes look their best with their docks in the water and their gardens starting to bloom. It also is the perfect time to capture the interest of Minnesotans who have been indoors all winter.

Timing of the tour is everything. This year on May 22nd interested buyers will be able to view a number of waterfront properties in one afternoon. They will be able to write an offer, negotiate that offer and close it with summer days to spare!

The highest residential home sale in the greater Twin Cities area in 2008 was 1265 Shoreline Drive in Orono at $4,500,000. The buyer was introduced to that home during one of our Waterfront Home Tours. The highest resale to date on Casco Point at 2599 Casco Point Road is another of our recent waterfront tour success stories.

For more information, please visit StaffordFamilyRealtors.com or contact Eric & Sharla Stafford today for a private showing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weekend Happenings: Race for the Cure, Planting Trees, Garage Sales

The weather is finally starting to act it's season which means we Minnesotan's are more willing to spend time outdoors.  So all of our weekend adventures include events to do outdoors.  Enjoy the sun!

Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. 

This weekend on Mother's Day, May 8th, 2011, join thousands of other Minnesotan's at the Mall of America in Bloomington to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.  There is a 5K run, a 1K walk, and a Kid's Fun Run.

Arbor Day Tree Planting Event

Join the City of Chanhassen and local community groups for the annual Arbor Day event. Help plant trees in Lake Ann Park that will provide shade, clean air and beauty for generations to come. We will meet at the Hilltop Shelter and come prepared (proper shoes and gloves) to have a good time outside in any weather! Refreshments, entertainment and planting supplies will be provided.

100 Mile Garage Sale

Nothing says spring like a Garage Sale.  While we usually highlight events in the Twin Cities area, and I'm sure there are many local sales going on, today we wanted to highlight the 100 Mile Garage Sale. 

Every year, on the first weekend in May, towns along a stretch of the Great River Road (Highway 61, southeast of the Twin Cities) between Red Wing and Winona, Minnesota are a part of the 100-Mile Garage Sale.  Each town along the route will host city-wide garage sales. 

Bargain hunters can start anywhere along the route beginning at about 8AM with closing time set for about 5PM all three days (Friday through Sunday). Rain or Shine!  And when you hit Winona, don't forget to cross the river for the return trip.  Wisconsin towns between Bay City and Hudson will also be hosting garage sales all weekend.  It's a garage saler's dream!  The event is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Partners.  Follow the balloons and ribbons!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pending Home Sales Rise Again in March

March saw another increase in pending home sales, with contract activity rising unevenly in six of the past nine months, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The Pending Home Sales Index, which measures home-sale contract signings, rose 5.1% in March, but was down 11.4% compared to last March 2010, when home buyers were scrambling to meet the deadline for last year’s federal home buyer tax credit.

The data reflect contracts but not closings, which normally occur with a lag time of one or two months.

March’s home sales activity continues a trend of uneven—but notable—improvement in the housing market, said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Since reaching a cyclical bottom last June, pending home sales have posted an overall gain of 24% and demonstrate the market is recovering on its own,” he said. “The index means modest near-term gains in existing-home sales are likely, which would be even stronger if tight mortgage lending criteria returned to normal, safe standards.”

Regional pending home sales

Regionally, pending home sales were mixed:
  • The PHSI in the Northeast fell 3.2% in March and is 18.4% below March 2010.
  • The index rose 3.0% in the Midwest but is 16.6% below a year ago.
  • Southern pending home sales jumped 10.3% but are 10.5% below March 2010.
  • In the West, the index increased 3.1% and is 4.1% below a year ago.
“Based on the current uptrend with very favorable affordability conditions, rising apartment rents, and ongoing job creation, existing-home sales should rise around 5 to 10% this year with sales growth of lower-priced homes likely to outperform high-end homes. That means the price trend will reflect more homes sold in the lower price ranges,” Yun said. “The good news is that recent home buyers are staying well within budget, leading to exceptionally low loan default rates among home buyers over the past two years,” Yun added.