Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weekend Happenings: Renaissance Festival

2011 MN Renaissance Festival
When:  All weekends in September including Labor Day
9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Where:  Just west of Hwy 41 in Shakopee
Cost:  $20.95- Adults, $11.95 - Children, $18.95 - Seniors, 4 and under Free

The 41st Annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival, one of the largest attended themed events in the country. Journey back in time as more than 275 merchants contribute to the atmosphere of this charming 16th century village featuring 22 acres of entertainment, shopping, fun and food fit for a king!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekly Market Update: Week of August 29, 2011

For the week ending August 20, Twin Cities home sellers continued to list fewer properties than last year at this time, as new listings were down 11.8 percent to 1,342. That makes for 11 consecutive weeks of (still welcome) declines. Meanwhile, buyer activity was up 53.3 percent over last year, the largest increase in 12 weeks and the 15th consecutive week of double-digit gains.

Inventory has been a winner all summer, and we haven't broken the positive pattern yet. The number of active listings for sale was down 20.0% from 2010 to 24,183 homes. That's the largest decline since the beginning of 2004 and represents more than 6,000 fewer homes on the market than at this time last year.

A flurry of housing and employment reports due out this week could set the stage for the rest of the year. These two economic indicators are more closely tied than ever.

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 29, 2011

Coldwell Banker Burnet’s Fall Waterfront Home Tour

For twenty years Coldwell Banker Burnet has been showcasing 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 during our Fall Waterfront Home Tour we featured 100 waterfront homes on 23 different bodies of water with the highest priced home listed at $4,995,000.

We choose an autumn Sunday when the leaves are red and gold, the docks are still in the water, and the geese are flying overhead. The homes’ settings are irresistible. It is also the perfect time to capture the interest of Minnesotans before they head south or indoors for the winter.

This year on October 2nd 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, take advantage of current historically low interest rates and be in their new home in time for the holidays.

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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Open Houses: August 28, 2011

2350 Hunter Drive - Chanhassen
4 bedroom/3 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

The unique & desirable Lismore Model from Lundgren is now available! Nestled on a quiet, private drive with pond views, a private yard and mature trees this is the perfect tranquil setting. This home boasts a wonderful array of features including new stainless steel appliances in a Gourmet Kitchen, an executive Office, a private Master Suite with a Sitting Room & a great Play Space in the lower level just waiting for you! This is a must see in demand Longacres!

Click HERE for more information on Hunter Drive.

19885 Andover Place - Deephaven
3 bedroom/3 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

You will enjoy 1-level living in this beautifully appointed "Not So Big Home". Beautifully finished & meticulously maintained, this home is nestled among two peaceful ponds & gardens and features wonderful indoor & outdoor entertaining spaces.

Click HERE for more information on Andover Place

4645 Old Kent Road - Deephaven
3 bedroom/5 bath
Open:  12:000 to 2:00

Nestled on a private lot in North Amesbury, this home offers gracious living! It is beautifully updated & designed with family and entertaining in mind. Enjoy Main Level Living wiht a lower level Guest Suite, Exercise Room & Custom Pub. The 5 Car Finished Garage is the perfect "Man Cave". This home is a must see!

Click HERE for more information on Old Kent Road

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cruisin' Right Along

We couldn't have asked for better weather for our Annual Client Appreciation Cruise!  The day started a little shaky but by boarding time the sun was shining and it was smooth sailing.  We had so much fun visiting with everyone, some that we haven't seen in quite a while.   It all went too quickly, as it always does.  We, along with Brian and Annette Call of Rubicon Mortgage and Regency Title, our co-hosts, want to extend our deepest appreciation to all our clients.  We love working with you and we're already looking forward to next year.

Many Thanks,
Eric & Sharla

Weekend Happenings: The Great Minnnesota Get Together

Minnesota State Fair
Thursday, August 25 to Labor Day, Sept 5, 2011
Open 6:00 am to Midnight, but most buildings open at 8:00 am and close at 10:00 pm
Cost:  $12.00 for Adults, $10 for Seniors 65+, $10 Kids 5-12, 5 and under Free; Check for Pre-fair discount tickets available and discount days

Consistently ranked in the Top 5 State Fairs in the USA, the Minnesota State Fair is one event you will not want to miss!  Attracting close to 2 million visitors annually over it's 10-day stint, it boasts one of the highest, if not the highest, State Fair attendance in the nation. 

Minnesotan's love their Fair.  And for good reason.  There is so much to delight in at the Fair.  There is a high emphasis on education with permanent buildings dedicated to teaching young and old alike all sorts of things from robotics to the water cycle.  Like many Fairs, we have the agricultural buildings with one of the highlights being the Miracle of Birth building where fairgoers can watch live births of cows, pigs and sheep. 

The Grandstand consistently features the biggest acts in the entertainment industry.  This year we'll see the likes of Toby Keith, Maroon 5, Train, Reba MacIntyre, Def Leppard, and of course, our own Garrison Keillor will be hosting A Prairie Home Companion live from the Fair.

Yes, it's a great fair.  Everyone has their favorites:  cheese curds, the arts and crafts building, rows and rows of preserves, all the animals, talent shows, the Midway, the Kidway, live broadcasts for local news stations, food on a stick, Machinery row, Sweet Martha's Cookies followed by unlimited cups of milk, and, of course, the butter heads.

There's something for everyone at the Great Minnesota Get Together.  Visit their website where you can get a smartphone app featuring Food Finder, Merch Search, and Fun Finder Tools that you can use on the go.  They also have a facebook page, Twitter feed, and YouTube videos.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monthly Market Update: August 2011

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Weekly Market Update: Week of August 22, 2011

As the final days of summer start to wane, Twin Cities home buyers posted their 14th consecutive week of double-digit, year-over-year gains. For the week ending August 13, there were 47.4 percent more purchase agreements signed than during the same week last year. A total of 952 buyers entered contract.

Sellers continued their slowdown, introducing only 1,387 new properties to the marketplace. That's 13.7 percent fewer than last year at this time. Slowed listings and comparatively strong sales figures have helped inventory levels post their largest weekly decline on record. The 24,232 active listings for sale were down 19.7 percent from last year. That record will likely be broken next week.

Renewed economic uncertainties combined with the Fed's announcement to maintain low interest rates could motivate some buyers to postpone their purchases. Though apparent in financial markets, the trepidation has yet to show up in local housing numbers. July's monthly data actually brought relief to some critical market indicators. Price declines are shrinking along with seller concessions, and absorption rates are finally moving in the right direction – toward balance.

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cool Decks

Let's face it.  We Minnesotan's live for summer.  Even if we love playing in the snow and all that winter brings, we still yearn for those long sultry days where we can linger outside.  Which is why you will see a deck or patio on almost every house in Minnesota.  There's no better place to enjoy the outdoors than your own back yard.

And yet, many decks are small and unimaginative.  We thought we'd show you some great decks to give you inspiration for building your own or replacing/enhancing the one you already have.

Swirls of light from fiber optic cables, attached below the decking and inserted into small drilled holes, add galaxies underfoot. LED string lights can work similar magic, are cost-effective alternatives to fiber optic cables, and can be battery- or solar-powered. LED strings cost about $1 to $2 per lineal foot.

Credit: Mark Wallinger Landscapes

Put the space underneath your raised deck to good use. A few pieces of painted plywood and siding materials turn not-so-pretty structural posts and supports into a kid-friendly play shelter. A 10-ft. polyethylene play slide costs about $300 and ensures a happy landing for your youngsters.

Credit: Judy White/

Tropical hardwoods, such as ipe, cumaru, and the tigerwood shown here, are increasingly popular decking materials. Besides being beautiful, they’re resistant to moisture, disease, and insect attack. Make sure the wood decking you buy has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as harvested from sustainable forests.

Credit: Birdsmouth Construction, Portland OR

Built-in planters and benches add personality and can substitute for railings (check your local building codes). You’ll spend $150 to $250 per lineal foot for a custom-built redwood or cedar planter that’s 2 ft. high and 2 ft. wide. Wood decking and planters require regular maintenance to retain their natural good looks.

Credit: Kim Katwijk/Deck Builders Inc.

In backyard locations, decks are often open to view from neighbors. Tastefully designed screens can provide privacy with an artistic touch. These tempered glass panels have been etched with sandblasting to create a dreamy mural that blocks views but admits light. This project cost about $2,500.

Credit: ArtDeckCo

Add a shelter or enclosure to enjoy the elements no matter what the weather may bring.  This deck has a protective roof over the hot tub and a privacy screen on one side.

We'd love to hear some of your ideas!  What do you think is a 'must have' on any deck?

Friday, August 19, 2011

For Sale: 4BR/2+2BA Single Family House in Eden Prairie, MN, $550,000

Presenting Another Exceptional Home from Stafford Family Realtors

18948 Explorer Trail ~ Eden Prairie, MN

In Demand Settlers West this beautiful Lennar built home has been loaded with all the amenities of an upper bracket home! The Gourmet Kitchen is well equipped with Commercial Grade Appliances, Jr Bedrooms with Hickory floors & en-suite Baths.  Enjoy 2 Home Offices, Central Vac, Heated Garage and 3 Zone Furnace!

For more information please visit or for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

Open Houses: August 21, 2011

7705 Ridgeview Way - Chanhassen
4 bedroom/4 bath
Open:  12:00 to 2:00

Nestled on a .43 acre lot, this home shows like new construction! With a Great Room floor plan, Office & Gourmet Kitchen, Private Master Suite & Bonus Room. Relax in the private backyard or take a dip in the neighborhood pool.

Click HERE for more information on Ridgeview Way

22310 Bracketts Road - Shorewood
5 bedroom/5 bath
Open 12:00 to 2:00

This beautifully finished center-stair Colonial home is sited on over 130 feet of shoreline on Galpin Lake in the heart of Shorewood. Well appointed, this home offers designer finishes throughout including 3 wood-burning fireplaces, vaulted ceilings, stunning lake views and a true chef's kitchen. Enjoy all that historic downtown Excelsior has to offer from the shores of Lake Minnetonka to the charming shops of Lake Street.

Click HERE for more information on Bracketts Road

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Borrowers Opt for Shorter Loan Terms

Record-reaching low interest rates have prompted more home owners to shorten the terms of their mortgages. Thirty-four percent of refinancers changed their loan to a 20- or 15-year mortgage during the first quarter -- the highest level in seven years, Freddie Mac reports.

Mortgage companies are also reporting a higher demand for shorter-term mortgages. For example, LendingTree reports that 15-year mortgages have increased 30 percent from a year ago.

Quicken Loans recently debuted a product that allows borrowers to select the term of their mortgage. The most popular mortgage term selected is 8 years, followed by 13 years.

"Mortgage-burning parties are back," Bob Walters, chief economist for Quicken Loans, told USA Today.

Shortening the term of a mortgage can save home owners "tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest costs," Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH Associates, told USA Today. Some borrowers are finding that refinancing into a shorter term may not even increase their monthly payments, since 15-year rates are so low.

However, some borrowers who want to refinance are finding they’re being shut out, experts say. Home owners who don’t have a credit score of 720 or higher or don’t have at least 20 percent in home equity may not qualify for the lowest rates.

Source: “More Home Owners Shorten Mortgage Terms,” USA Today (Aug. 15, 2011)

For Sale: 4BR/3+3BA Single Family House in Minnetrista, MN, $1,299,000

Presenting Another Exquisite Home from Stafford Family Realtors

2650 Northview Drive ~ Minnetrista, MN

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. 

For more information please visit for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For Sale: 4BR/2+1BA Single Family House in Chaska, MN, $269,900

Presenting an Exceptionally Finished Former Model Home from Stafford Family Realtors

1150 Ridge Bluff Drive ~ Chaska, MN

A truly, turnkey home in a beautiful, executive neighborhood.  Meticulously maintained and updated w/tiled Baths, new carpet, paint, SS appliances, fixtures & faucets.  Enjoy the Spacious Deck, 3 Season Porch and hot tub. 

For more information please visit for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

Weekend Happenings: Drive-In Movie & Breakfast on the Farm

Drive-In Movie in Cologne
Where:  Hwy 212 & CR 53 in Cologne
 When:  August 19 & 20, 2011
             Shows starting at 6:00 pm
Cost:  Parking Passes available for a $20 donation

Join the Cologne Fire Department Relief Association as they host the 3rd Annual Firehouse Drive-In.  This year's event will include a double movie feature on Friday and a triple movie feature on Saturday, shown on
a massive 30' x 50' outdoor screen. Sound is via AM & FM broadcast that you can tune in through your car . . . or via a portable radio.  Lawn chairs and blankets are also recommended for viewing the movie
 outside of your vehicle.

Kid's activities this year include a bounce house, smoke house, fire truck rides, pony rides, clowns, playground and  more.   So come early for all the activities, and stay for the shows!

Concessions are also available, so bring your appetite and enjoy hamburgers, pork burgers, hotdogs,
popcorn, candy, soda, malts, cotton candy & more!

Breakfast on the Farm
Where:  Gale Woods Farms
             7210 County Road 110 W
             Minnetrista, MN
When:  Sat. August 20, 2011
            8:30 am to 12:00 pm
Cost: 2 & under free, $7 children 2-12, $13 children 13 & up

Start your Saturday with a farm-fresh breakfast made from locally grown foods. Enjoy live music while eating in a beautiful farm setting. Walk around the farm, meet the farm animals, and explore the gardens. REGISTRATION REQUIRED BY AUGUST 18 VIA PHONE ONLY  763-694-2001   

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weekly Market Update: Week of August 15, 2011

While day traders continue along their roller coaster ride, 997 Twin Cities home buyers made the smart investment in real estate. That's 40.0 percent more than those who made the investment last year. As this year's pending sales trend line rounds off its seasonal peak, you'll notice that purchase demand is coming back in line with historical trends.

Sellers were another story. There were 1,433 new listings, 18.7 percent fewer than this time last year. Seller activity has also likely reached its seasonal peak but remains below historical levels for this time of year. Consequently, buyers have effectively absorbed existing supply. That's a good thing. The number of active listings is down 18.5 percent to 24,362 available homes for sale.

With strong sales and less new supply entering the market, the balance is shifting toward neutral. Both the prevalence and magnitude of seller concessions have stabilized, and absorption rates improved in July after 12 months of sizable increases. Though still slightly lower than last summer, prices have increased nearly 18.0 percent from March to June of this year.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Plant Trees to Save Energy and Grow Value

Trees don’t ask for much—dirt, water, sunlight. Yet they provide a wealth of benefits: They improve the air you breathe, cut your energy bills with their shade, provide a home to wildlife, and add beauty and value to your home.

But every year, 3.2 million acres of forest are cut down, according to the Nature Conservancy. Several million more acres are lost to fire, storm, and disease. That’s why planting new trees and protecting the ones we have is so important. You can do your part by:

  • Caring for the trees in your yard
  • Supporting tree-planting activities in your community

Donating to organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, which works to preserve the world’s trees and forests, and American Forests, which offers a unique way to take action. First, use its online Climate Change Calculator to determine your carbon footprint. Then, make up for your emissions by donating to a forest restoration project.

Why should you care about trees? Bankable benefits

The most tangible bang from your bark comes from energy savings. Three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Trees save energy two main ways. Their shade cuts cooling costs in the summer. In winter, they serve as windbreak and help hold down heating costs.

The National Tree Calculator estimates that a 12-inch elm in an Omaha yard can save $32.43 a year on your energy bills; the same tree in Atlanta would save you $11.89 annually. The calculator also breaks down other dollars and cents benefits of your tree, like decreasing storm water runoff, removing carbon dioxide from the air, and increasing property values.

In our elm example, the 12-inch tree adds $40.23 to the Omaha home’s value and a $57.33 to the one in Atlanta. And as trees grow larger, they can add even more value.

A 2002 study by the USDA Forest Service pegs the value a single tree adds to a property of about $630. Of course, tree value depends on size, species, location, and condition.

Adds Frank Lucco, a real estate appraiser with IRR-Residential in Houston, “On a $100,000 home [in my market], as much as $10,000 of its value could be associated with mature trees.”

That’s peanuts compared with the role trees play as the lungs of the planet. A report by the Trust for Public Land estimated that one mature tree takes 48 pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere each year and returns enough oxygen for two human beings.

Plant your tree in the right spot

To get the full benefits from your trees, choose the right one and put it in the right location. Planting a deciduous tree on the west side of a house provides cooling shade in the summer. In winter, after it loses its leaves, the same tree lets in sunlight that cuts heating and lighting bills. On the other hand, an evergreen on the west side blocks sun all year long, making a home colder and darker in winter. Rather plant evergreens, a great choice for blocking icy winter winds, on the north side of your home.

If you’re planting a new tree, think about its fully grown size and shape before you dig. Branches from a tree located below power lines can cause outages as it grows. Roots from a tree located too close to a home can damage the foundation or block sewer lines. The wrong tree in the wrong place could actually lower your home’s appraised value if it’s deemed hazardous, says Frank Lucco, a real estate appraiser with IRR-Residential in Houston.

Tree costs

Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree, such as a katsura or evergreen. The same tree at 15 feet will cost $100 to $200, according to Brad Swank of Molbak’s Nursery in Woodinville, Wash. The Arbor Day Foundation sells saplings for as little as $8-$15, or less if you’re a member.

Since trees cost money, be cautious about any home construction work. “Tree failure can happen seven to 10 years after construction, primarily because the root system fails when the soil is compacted,” says Thomas Hanson, a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists from Kirkland, Wash. Also watch for diseases or pests that can threaten trees in your yard and community.

Become a tree advocate

Ensuring that your community has lots of healthy trees doesn’t have to be more complicated than a trip to the nursery and a hole in your backyard. Dig it twice as wide as deep. Let kids push in the dirt and help water weekly until the tree is two years old. The Arbor Day Foundation will tell you how to select the right tree for your needs and climate, where to plant it, and how to maintain it.

The foundation also is a great place to look for community and educational programs.

Considering everything trees do for you, it’s the least you can do for them.

Brad Broberg is a freelance writer from Federal Way, Wash. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he writes about business, health care, and real estate for REALTOR Magazine, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle Children’s Hospital, among others. He’s lived in the same home for 22 years—a home he shares with seven towering Douglas firs.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Geothermal Heat Pump: Is It Right For Your Home?

Geothermal heat pumps are crazy expensive to install, but they tap an unlimited supply of inexpensive heating and cooling just below the earth’s surface.

Geothermal heat pumps are uber-efficient and can shave 60% from your home heating and cooling costs. But the system, with its “loop field” of pipe extending down 200 feet, is ultra expensive to buy and install—typically $20,000—which is twice the cost of conventional HVAC systems. If you live long enough, the investment will pay off. Here’s the drill.

How geothermal heat pumps work

A geothermal heat pump—a.k.a. geo-exchange heat pump—exploits stable temperatures that occur below ground level, typically 50°F to 65°F year-round. The “pump” moves the hot or cold air in a loop, from the earth to your house and back again.

This heat exchange happens in a “loop field,” plastic pipe buried underground either horizontally or vertically in a series of holes drilled at least 200 feet deep.

In winter, a pump circulates antifreeze fluid through the loop field where it picks up heat. Coils inside the pump extract the heat, and a fan blows this warmth through ductwork in your home. In summer, the cycle is reversed as the system extracts heat from inside a home and deposits it underground.

How a geothermal heat pump saves you money … eventually

Geothermal heat pumps are four times more efficient than 95% efficient natural gas furnaces. For every $1 you spend running a geothermal heat pump, you reap $3.80 worth of heat. “You would have to look a long time before you get a fossil-fuel rate that would be competitive with geothermal,” says Terry Munyon, a director of the Iowa Geothermal Association. “It kicks butt.”

That efficiency translates into savings—eventually. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a geothermal heat system will save 50% to 70% of home energy usage for heating and cooling, which can amount to between $512 and $716 in your pocket every year.

However, a geothermal heat pump for a 2,000 sq. ft. house will cost about $20,000—more than twice a conventional heating and cooling system. You’ll recoup that expense in about 10 years; if you subtract what you would have spent on some other HVAC system, and consider the 30% discount you’ll get from the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. Further deals may be available from energy utilities or your state government; check with the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy.

How geothermal heat makes life better … besides the money thing

  • Geothermal heat pumps have few moving parts and no need for outdoor condensers.

  • Geothermal heat pumps are small, so you don’t have to devote a lot of space to equipment rooms.

  • Geothermal heat systems are easy to zone, so each part of your house can feel comfortable at the same time.

HouseLogic:  James Glave is the author of Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th of a Billionth of the Planet. He has been reporting on the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development full-time since 2005.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fed to Keep Interest Rates Low Until 2013

In an unusual step, the Federal Reserve vowed Tuesday to keep interest rates low for at least the next two years.

The Fed said it’ll keep its key benchmark interest rate near zero through mid-2013. The Fed’s commitment was welcome news to many in the real estate industry who see it as a positive move for the housing industry, allowing buyers more time to take advantage of ultra low mortgage rates.

The Fed said in a statement following its regular policy-setting meeting Tuesday that the overall economy has grown "considerably slower" than it expected and that consumer spending "has flattened out." Some economists in recent days have expressed concerns that the U.S. is heading for a double-dip recession.

Fed officials "are very nervous about the economy," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "This is unprecedented for the Fed to indicate they are ready to keep rates low for two more years."

Still, the Fed continues to forecast a moderate pick-up in growth for the economy in the second half of the year. (Aug. 9, 2011)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For Sale: 5BR/2+2BA Single Family House in Chanhassen, MN, $499,900

Presenting Another Exceptional Home from Stafford Family Realtors


2338 Fawn Hill Court ~ Chanhassen, MN

This Custom Home is nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac lot.  This exceptional home has been beautifully updated & meticulously maintained.  Enjoy a Main floor office, Gourmet kitchen, Fully Finished Lower Level, and a large Paver Patio.

For more information please visit for a private showing please call 952.470.2575

Weekend Happenings: Carver County Fair

Carver County Fair
Waconia Fair Grounds
Wed. August 10-14
Cost:  Ages 7-Adult $6, Under 6 free, Season pass (5 admissions) for $30
Prices vary for ride tickets and entertainment venues

The Carver County Fair is celebrating it's 100th Anniversary this year!  Head on out to Waconia this weekend and take in the sights, sounds, and, ahem, the smells.  There's something for everyone, from tractor pulls and demolition derbies to arts and crafts exhibits and rows upon rows of fruit preserves.  There are the rides in the midway, the animals in the barns, the parade and, of course, the food.  Cheese curds anyone? 

Visit the link above for more information or you can visit the Fair's Facebook page.  See you at the Fair!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekly Market Update: Week of August 8, 2011

Despite the anxiety on Wall Street, home buyers on Main Street continued along their merry way. Twin Citizens entered into 1,029 purchase agreements, up 49.1 percent from the 690 seen during the same week in 2010. Sellers, conversely, introduced only 1,323 new properties to the market for a 15.8 percent decline from last year.

For buyers, that marks 12 consecutive weeks of double-digit increases in activity. For sellers, it marks eight consecutive weeks of declines in activity. Relatively strong sales coupled with subdued new listings has drawn down the inventory of actively marketed properties to 24,734. That’s a 17.9 percent decrease from last year at this time, the largest decline since November 2008.

Stay tuned for a flurry of media attention regarding July’s numbers to be released this week. Competitive pricing, low interest rates and high affordability continue to support a favorable purchase environment for buyers; while strong sales and declining supply should eventually translate into fewer and less dramatic seller concessions. These trends will bring a greater sense of balance and normalcy to the marketplace.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Murphy Bed's Comeback

Home office by day, comfy guest bedroom by night. Murphy beds are making a comeback as home owners seek to maximize their space.  The Murphy bed, which can be flipped up inside a closet or cabinet when not in use, provides versatility in dwellings ranging from studios to country homes.

The Murphy bed got its name from its inventor, William Murphy, a Stockton, Calif., stagecoach driver. He and his wife didn't have enough room to entertain in their small San Francisco home, so he created a way to make his bed disappear when company was over.

Murphy patented his invention in 1912, and the space-saver became instantly popular in apartment buildings nationwide. Architects would design buildings with closets large enough to fit the popular bed. By the 1920s, Murphy had showrooms across the country.

During the Depression, Murphy consolidated his business and moved to New York City. Unfortunately, his wall bed design lost popularity, especially after World War II when Americans moved into large homes in the suburbs. The Murphy, as the bed is sometimes known, didn't see a resurgence until the late 1970s and early 1980s when the oil embargo kicked in and Americans downsized, says Eugene Kolakowski, vice president of Murphy Bed Co. Inc., of Farmingdale, N.Y.

The bed became even more widespread after a 1989 court ruling, in which Murphy beds lost trademark protection. At that point, knock offs entered the market in droves.

By the 1990s, the Murphy bed evolved into a sophisticated system complete with cabinetry. Empty nesters put them in home offices or dens for visiting grandchildren, while landlords began retrofitting 1950s-era originals.

The beauty of a Murphy bed lies in its ease of use and versatility.  Today's models are customizable and very easy to open and close.  They can turn an office or sewing room into guest quarters with just a few minutes of preparation.

We are in the process of building a new home and are including two Murphy beds in our design for when our extended family and friends come to visit.  One will be located in the home office and another in our bonus room above the garage.  We think it's a smart use of space for a home. 

What are your thoughts?  Have you thought of using a Murphy bed in your home or do you own one?  We'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1 Million Foreclosures Delayed Until 2012

An estimated 1 million foreclosure-related notices for defaults, auctions, and home repossessions that should be filed by lenders this year will be pushed back until next year, according to the latest report by RealtyTrac.

While the delays could give home owners more time to catch up on their payments and try to avoid foreclosure, housing experts warn this means the looming shadow inventory of distressed properties likely will continue to plague the real estate market even longer.

"The best-case scenario is we don't get back to normal levels of foreclosure activity until 2015, which means the housing market recovery gets delayed by at least a year," says Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure Notices Drop, Threat Still Looms

Overall, the number of homes repossessed by lenders in the first half of this year dropped 30 percent compared to the same period in 2010. But foreclosure processing delays — with lenders taking longer to take action against delinquent borrowers — is stalling the housing recovery, experts note.

About 1.2 million homes received a foreclosure-related notice in the first six months of this year — in other words, one in every 111 U.S. households, RealtyTrac reports.

Nevada continues to face the most foreclosures; one in every 21 households in that state received a foreclosure notice in the first half of the year.

The foreclosure process continues to lengthen too. From April and June, homes took 318 days on average to go from the first stage of foreclosure to ultimately where it was repossessed by the lender — that’s up from 298 days in the first three months of the year. (In New York, the foreclosure process took the longest at an average of 966 days or 2.6 years; Texas boasted the shortest at 92 days.)

Source: “Delays in Bank Processing Push Likely U.S. Foreclosures Until 2012, Stalling Recovery,” Associated Press (July 14, 2011)

Midwest Home Magazine Listing

This is kind of cool.  We sold a beautiful home on Lake Calhoun last year and it is being featured in the August 2011 edition of Midwest Home Magazine!  Check it out below.

This Lake Calhoun contemporary is all about glamour. From the gleaming granite floors to the sweeping staircase, the home deftly balances old-school elegance with modern simplicity for an effect that is, quite simply, breathtaking. The five-bedroom, five-bath domicile features multiple skylights and a mix of hardwood, stone, and carpeted floors, creating a clean, light-filled space that imbues calm. Built in 1991, the 4,500-square-foot home was extensively renovated in 2009 to create a gourmet, top-of-the-line kitchen. The current owners call the home their “urban oasis,” and with Calhoun, Harriet, and Linden Hills a mere stone’s throw away, the description is apt. A bluestone patio out back makes a space perfect for summertime entertaining, and the proximity of walking paths tempts guests to soak up the sunset during an after-dinner stroll around the lake.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Open Houses: August 7, 2011

7376 Bent Bow Trail - Chanhassen
5 bedroom/4 bath
Open  12:00 to 2:00

A One Acre Lot in the demand Longacres Neighborhood of Chanhassen!
Click HERE for more information on 7376 Bent Bow Trail

7284 Bent Bow Trail - Chanhassen
4 bedroom/3 bath
Open 12:00 to 2:00

A Longacres Gem with a totally Remodeled Gourmet Kitchen.
Click HERE for more information on 7284 Bent Bow Trail

19885 Andover Place - Deephaven
3 bedroom/3 bath
Open 12:00 to 2:00

A Tranquil Oasis in Deephaven's Amesbury North
Click HERE for more information on Andover Place

4645 Old Kent Road - Deephaven
3 bedroom/5 bath
Open 12:00 to 2:00

A North Amesbury Gem offering Main Level Living at its Best
Click HERE for more information on Old Kent Road

2065 Woodstone Court - Victoria
4 bedroom/4 bath
Open 2:30 to 4:00

Demand Deer Run Golf Course - Well appointed walk-out rambler on the 5th Green!
Click HERE for more information on Woodstone Court

22310 Bracketts Road - Shorewood
5 bedroom/5 bath
Open 2:30 to 4:00

Center Stair Colonial on Galpin Lake in Minnetonka Schools! This home is a Short Sale
Click HERE for more information on Bracketts Road