Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekly Market Update: July 30, 2012

With the Olympics in full swing, many are noting that housing has already medaled in several arenas. Sellers waiting for firmer prices should take a fresh look at the data. Buyers nervous about a declining market should do the same. Key changes continue to take place that set the stage for a more meaningful recovery. And you thought interest rates couldn't get any lower? Mortgage rates hit a fresh record low last week, scraping in at 3.65 percent on a 30-year fixed. That's cheap money, if ever there were such a thing.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 21:

• New Listings increased 1.2% to 1,382
• Pending Sales increased 22.7% to 1,145
• Inventory decreased 30.7% to 17,174

For the month of June:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.3% to $178,750
• Days on Market decreased 22.0% to 113
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 4.0% to 95.1%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 43.0% to 4.5

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 30, 2012

Adding a Sunroom

A sunroom is unlike any other room in the home. By providing a great amount of natural sunlight, this bright space is the perfect addition to your home's livable square footage.

A room for all seasons, you can enjoy the beauty of nature while still getting the benefits of an indoor living room. Many homeowners find a sunroom to be the perfect area for a comfortable TV room, dining room, kids' playroom or even a spot for all that workout equipment that's been stuffed in a closet for years.


High-end quality. In years past, a sunroom was considered an enclosed deck space, similar to a screened-in porch. These days, sunrooms are being built with the same materials as the rest of the home, making them comparable to any other indoor space. Large windows have taken the place of screens, while quality flooring materials have made indoor/outdoor carpeting a thing of the past.


Sunrooms might seem like an easy enough DIY project, but they are, in fact, quite the opposite. According to appraisal expert, Leslie Sellers, president of the Appraisal Institute, nothing kills home value more than poor addition construction or window installation.

"It's important to remember," says Sellers, "that the risk of taking on a sunroom addition to aid in cost can backfire in the long run if something goes wrong." The cost to fix any problems that might arise, such as a bad window installation or an unlevel foundation, are great, and will likely double the cost than if you were to have it installed professionally in the first place.


•On a Budget: Style, function and design do not have to be sacrificed when trying to stay on a budget. Vinyl is a great option and has become more popular in sunroom construction. Highly insulated, durable and virtually maintenance free, vinyl sunrooms are versatile and can be tailored to your personal home style. Although overall a solid material, it is important to remember that in a large space, vinyl needs to be reinforced to keep its strength throughout the entire frame.

•Mid-Range: If you are looking to upgrade from a basic vinyl construction, consider an aluminum sunroom. Aluminum is a superb conductor of heat, extremely durable, resistant to deterioration, and is available in many different colors to fit with your home. Depending on where you live, it is necessary to keep in mind that without thermal breaks, aluminum frames will cause extreme temperatures, so remember this when planning a budget and future use of your sunroom.

•High-End: If you are looking to create a one-of-a-kind sunroom with specific detailing and high-end construction, wood materials are the perfect choice. Wood acts as an excellent insulator, it can be finished to protect against the elements, and is available in various forms such as pine, oak, cedar, hickory, maple, birch and others. With quite a jump in price, wood should be considered if you specifically desire the look and statement the materials bring to the construction of your sunroom.

Source:  HGTV Front Door

Friday, July 27, 2012

For Sale: 4BR/3 1BA Single Family House in Chanhassen, MN, $735,000

For Sale: 4BR/3 1BA Single Family House in Chanhassen, MN, $735,000

Open Houses: July 29, 2012

2021 Edgewood Court - Chanhassen
5 bedroom/6 bath
SqFt:  4,774
OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00

Pulled from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalogue, this beautiful home features upscale amenities and finishes for the most discerning buyer. Enjoy the warm, sun-filled rooms thoughtfully designed with family and entertaining in mind. Perfectly sited on a half acre, private, wooded, cul-de-sac lot. Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and this Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Expertly crafted cabinetry, granite counters, GE Monogram Appliances, a prep island and breakfast island make this the perfect kitchen for the most discerning chef! Complete with an informal, sun-filled dining area, this is truly the heart of the home. The formal Dining Room accommodates many occasions from a simple family meal to a grand celebration with a built-in Butler’s Pantry featuring a granite countertop and beverage fridge. The Kitchen opens to the sun-filled Great Room that features a cozy gas fireplace flanked by a built-in entertainment center and bookshelves. This is the perfect space for relaxing with the family or entertaining with style. French doors open to the main floor office, a spacious and private space to work from home. With its two-story wall of windows, the bright and airy Sun Room is where you can enjoy curling up with your morning coffee. This space can also flex as a kids play room, hobby room or Living Room for the Nanny / Mother-in-law suite which features a ¾ bath, walk-in closet, fridge & microwave. The second floor offers a private Master Suite with a vaulted ceiling and spacious bath with spa finishes including a large soaking tub, walk-in closet, heated tile floors, His & Her elevated vanities and tiled walk in shower. Three Junior Bedrooms, each with a private bath, are also located on the second floor with a Homework Desk tucked between the Bedrooms. There’s also a Bonus Room that’s just perfect for movie night, a good book or playing Wii. The unfinished walkout lower level offers an additional 2000 square feet to finish and use as you’d like. Located in the award winning Minnetonka School District! Excelsior Elementary, Middle School West & Minnetonka High School are within 1-2 miles of the home. The City of Chanhassen is desirable to families and businesses alike. The many festivals and events held throughout the year receive tremendous support from the local businesses; it is these celebrations of community that keep the small town feel alive in Chanhassen. For information on pricing or to schedule a private showing, please call 952.470.2575.

Click HERE for more information on Edgewood Court.

1925 Topaz Drive - Chanhassen
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt: 3,993
OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00

Click HERE for more information on Topaz Drive.

620 10th Avenue South - Hopkins
3 bedroom/3 bath
SqFt:  1,853
OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00

With keen attention to detail, this beautifully finished one story home features gleaming hardwood floors, freshly remodeled bathrooms, crown molding, stainless steel appliances, granite counters & a spacious 3 season porch! Seller spent $90k in 2006 to totally remodel this home including all new windows, and siding. Tenants will be out June 15th - quick close possible. Contact Eric Stafford for more information 952.470.2575.

Click HERE for more information on 10th Avenue South.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WSJ House Of The Day App

Do you just love looking at pictures of luxury homes?  It's a great way to get ideas for your own home from design of spaces to colors on the walls.  Plus, it's just fun to see how the other half lives.

Now you can get a daily tour of luxury homes via your iPad. The Wall Street Journal's House of the Day app takes you inside sleek modern homes, urban renovations, sprawling McMansions and historic estates. Get a close look at the architecture, landscaping and design details that make these houses stand out.

With WSJ House of the Day you can:

- Tour featured homes with vivid slide shows

-Email house photos to your friends

-Save images of your favorite homes to your iPad

-Share the latest houses with Facebook and Twitter

iPad Screenshots

Source:  iTunes

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Market Update: July 23, 2012

It's been a relatively pleasant year for the business of residential real estate. Case in point, the June 2012 NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) rose to its highest level since May 2007. And for the first time since 2005, housing is on track for being a net positive contributor to national GDP in 2012. Speaking on behalf of America, it's about time. Throw in some real price gains, and you can expect holdout buyers to be less afraid of buying and sellers to be less afraid of listing.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 14:

• New Listings increased 6.2% to 1,536
• Pending Sales increased 13.4% to 1,125
• Inventory decreased 30.7% to 17,188

For the month of June:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.4% to $179,000
• Days on Market decreased 21.9% to 113
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 4.1% to 95.1%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 43.3% to 4.5

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 23, 2012

What Gets The Water?

High heat and drought present home owners with a Sophie’s Choice: Which plants deserve to live, and which should die? Here’s how to choose

Drought and community-imposed restrictions that limit the amount of water you can use for landscaping and gardening may force you to make tough decisions about which plants to save and which to sacrifice.

Your choices should depend on your priorities and the purpose your plantings serve, says Sandra Dark, author of Weatherproofing Your Landscaping.

“Drought provides a gut check for your landscape,” says Dark.

To set your priorities during a drought and community water shortage, ask yourself the following 6 questions:

1. Is my lawn really worth it?

No! Lawns take lots of water and fertilizer to stay green. In drought, let your grass die and reseed when (and if) the rain returns. Better yet, replace your lawn with native and drought-resistant plants, and low-maintenance turf grasses.

2. How valuable is this plant?

The longer a tree or shrub takes to grow, the more valuable it is. Fast-growing pines, for instance, can quickly replace older pines sacrificed to drought; slow-growing American beeches take years to mature and are more difficult to replace.

3. Does this plant anchor my landscaping plan?

If a dogwood, for instance, is the focal point of your yard, water it first. Easily replaced foundation plants should fall lower on your watering list.

4. Does this plant save or cost me money?

Save trees or shrubs that shade your home and save energy costs.

Sacrifice annuals that you buy each year anyway.

Let go of water-guzzling perennials and replace them with drought-resistant varieties, such as ornamental grasses and lavender.

5. Does this plant have sentimental value?

Have a tree your kids loved to climb? Water plants and trees that are the stuff of memories.

6. How healthy is this plant?

Sacrifice old and sick plants already close to the end of life. However, newly-planted trees and shrubs require frequent watering. So if water is restricted, you might have to sacrifice them for middle-aged trees that have a fighting chance of survival.

Source:  Houselogic

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open Houses: July 22, 2012

19150 Deerfield Trail - Eden Prairie
4 bedroom/ 2 bath
SqFt:  2,029
OPEN:  12:00 to 2:00

This is a MUST SEE! Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac, this home has been updated with gorgeous new Baths, Paint, Carpet, Hardware and Fixtures! Enjoy the Screen Porch, Patio and spectacular, private backyard. Quick Close Possible!

Click HERE for more information.

1925 Topaz Drive - Chanhassen
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt:  3,993
OPEN:  11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Click HERE for more information on Topaz Drive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

6 Reasons To Reduce Your Home Price

Home not selling? That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price.

These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price.

1. You’re drawing few lookers

You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.

2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers

If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.

3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes

Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price.

4. You have a deadline

If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.

5. You can’t make upgrades

Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.

6. The competition has changed

If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.

Source:  Houselogic

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weekly Market Update: July, 16, 2012

With the second quarter now in the books, seasonal peaks and valleys should start to become apparent. Even if activity begins to slow for the remainder of 2012, gains are still likely when compared to the same time last year. Housing demand has been strong, supply levels have been falling and prices are turning a corner in many local markets. Keep a watchful eye toward market times, percent of list price received at sale and months of supply. Percent of new listings and closed sales that are in foreclosure or short sale status also serve as market indicators.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 7:

• New Listings decreased 21.9% to 970
• Pending Sales increased 24.6% to 892
• Inventory decreased 30.8% to 17,134

For the month of June:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.4% to $179,000
• Days on Market decreased 22.0% to 113
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 4.0% to 95.1%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 44.0% to 4.5

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 16, 2012

Signs of Stress in Trees

Your trees are trying to tell you something - it's easier to listen if you know the signs.  Changes in the tree’s appearance can be a telltale sign that everything is not as it should be.  Below are some common signs of stress in trees.  For help on treating each of these conditions, consult your local arborist.
Premature Fall Colors

We all love the vast array of colors during the fall.  But trees that change their color much sooner than others could be showing signs of stress.  Premature colors can be an indication that a tree isn’t vigorous enough to withstand insects and disease organisms that may attack it, not to mention the usual changes that occur when the weather turns cold.

Occasionally only one or two limbs of the tree will show premature fall color. This could be a sign of a disease at work, weakening only the infected limbs. The more common situation is for the entire tree to exhibit premature fall coloration, which usually points to root related stress.

Mushrooms on or near trees

Fungus structures (mushrooms on trees) and conks indicate decay. It's possible to probe the roots or trunk to determine the presence and extent of decay. Extensive experience is called into play in order to make judgments about the condition of the tree - call your local arborist for a consultation.

Trees should have a flare at the base. If this is not present, soil or mulch may be hiding symptoms of decay in the stem or roots or girdling.

Many symptoms on or above the buttress or flare roots can give an indication of the condition of the rest of the root system.

Any root decay visible near the trunk could indicate extensive root loss, because decay begins in outer sections of roots and works back toward the trunk.

Boring Insects

Identifying boring instects in time may save your trees.  Here's what to look for:  crown die-back, exit holes, wet spots, growth irregularities, breakage, egg deposit sites, frass (insect excrement that looks like dry grains), adult insects or pupea.

The most effective form of borer control is prevention. By monitoring high risk trees and applying the appropriate pesticides to eggs and newly hatched larvae the risk of severe borer damage can be reduced.

The best preventative treatment, however, is fertilization, watering, soil aeration, mulching, and other treatments aimed at increasing tree health. Healthy trees are less likely to be selected as borer hosts and better able to defend themselves from borer attack.

Girdling Roots

Girdling roots can slowly weaken a tree over time and eventually cause its death.  Nutrients, water and food reserves are restricted as the roots encircle the tree and begin to strangle it.

As time progresses, growth is hindered, leaves become smaller and lighter in color. Then the tree begins to produce fewer leaves and eventually you will begin to see die back and breakage.

Many times girdling roots happen on improperly planted trees, where the baskets or planting container have been left on or not totally removed properly.

Salt Damage

Homeowners spread salt near homes and businesses use salt to avoid pedestrian injuries. This is necessary for safety, but, were you aware that excessive road salt can cause widespread damage to trees, possibly leading to permanent decline and even death?

Severe salt damage might not be visible on a tree until the end of summer, leaving home owners wondering what might have caused the problem. In some cases, decline might not be visible for years.

Salt deposits migrate to the stems, buds and roots of trees. This causes disfigured foliage, stunted growth and severe decline in tree health. Salt runoff washes from the pavement into the ground, increasing salt levels in the soil.

Construction Damage

Tree damage from construction sometimes takes years to detect. The construction itself, now long past, isn’t readily suspected. The tree however is suffering and you need a remedy.

Here is a list of some of the potential changes that can occur for a tree due to construction:  soil compaction, altered drainage patterns, decreased grades, reduced root zones, mechanical injury, debris in the soil, increased light, increased competition, increased temperatures, inturrupted nutrient cycling.

A thorough inspection of your property, prior to building or remodeling, (or better yet prior to site planning), may save thousands of dollars and future headaches. And, possibly avoid that tree damage entirely. Sadly, it’s common for homeowners to pay a premium for a beautiful wooded lot - construction begins and ends and the homeowner is faced with trees damaged by construction activities which must now be removed. This removal is always more expensive with the home and landscape in place, than prior to construction.

Source:  Scruggs Tree Service

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Open Houses: July 15, 2012

8205 Kelzer Pond Drive - Victoria
5 bedroom/5 bath
SqFt:  4,856
Open:  12:00 to 1:30

Nestled on the tranquil shores of Kelzer Pond, this custom built Sondergaard Forcier home features designer touches throughout. Enjoy the pond views and warm, sun-filled rooms perfectly designed with family and entertaining in mind. Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and this Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Expertly crafted cabinetry, granite counters and a beautifully tiled backsplash combine to create this kitchen that can truly be called the Heart of the Home. Just off the kitchen is the Three Season Porch with a cozy fireplace. You will enjoy relaxing with your morning coffee or watching the sunset from the privacy of this space. The Great Room features a wall of windows, custom cabinetry and a gas fireplace. This open floor plan is perfect for evenings with the family as well as entertaining. The home office is hidden behind a set of French doors just off the foyer. A wall of custom stained book cases has been built-in and extra storage can be found in a closet. This office will work just the way you do while inspiring creativity and enhancing your productivity. The second floor is where you will find the Master Suite with its tray ceiling and private bath offering spa finishes from the large Jacuzzi tub to the walk-in shower with dual heads and the built-in linen cabinet. In addition to the loft space found on this floor, you will also enjoy a private guest suite and two junior bedrooms with a Jack-and-Jill bath outfitted with enameled wainscoting, private vanities and walk-in closets. Well equipped, the lower level walk out has been expertly finished with a spacious family room featuring a wall of custom built bookshelves, an entertainment center and a stone fireplace. The focal point of this Billiards Room is the antique bar that has been thoughtfully refinished and installed. The large, flat yard is the prime spot for a pool! The Watermark neighborhood enjoys a private estate setting and offers its residents walking and biking trails along with community parks.

Click HERE for more information on Kelzer Pond Drive.

1725 Martingale Lane - Victoria
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt:  3,734
OPEN:  12:00 to 1:30

Pulled from the pages of a Pottery Barn catalogue, this beautifully finished home features custom finishes throughout. Enjoy the warm, sun-filled rooms perfectly designed with family and entertaining in mind. Good food and good company are two of life’s greatest pleasures and this Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Expertly crafted cabinetry, granite counters and slate tiled backsplash finish off this inviting space. This is truly the heart of the home complete with an informal dining area featuring a built-in buffet. You’ll enjoy curling up with your morning coffee in the large nook with bay window. The Great Room features a wall of windows, cozy gas fireplace, cherry wood bookcases & entertainment center making this space perfect for relaxing with the family or entertaining with style. The formal Dining Room is the perfect space for holiday meals with family with its vaulted ceiling and beautiful large windows. Adjacent to the two story foyer is the well appointed home Office. Tucked behind a set of enameled French doors, this office will work the way you do while inspiring creativity and enhancing productivity. The second floor is where you will find the Master Suite with its vaulted ceiling and private bath offering spa finishes from the large soaking tub to the large shower and heated tile floors. There are three Junior Bedrooms located on this floor with a Jack & Jill bath and a private ensuite. In addition, you will also find the spacious Bonus Room perfect for movie night or playing Wii. The unfinished lower level is a blank canvas that is ready for you to finish to your liking. Nothing compares to spending time outside and screen porch and large deck are the perfect additions to this home. Nestled on a private lot within walking distance to Victoria Elementary, you will enjoy the spectacular sunsets and long southerly views 365 days a year.

Click HERE for more information on Martingale Lane.

1655 Field Drive - Victoria
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt:  3,893
OPEN:  12:00 to 1:30

Expertly crafted by Lennar, this Cornell floor plan features designer finishes throughout. Enjoy spacious, warm and inviting rooms built with family and entertaining in mind. With a charm reminiscent of Cape Cod and offering a lovely porch that spans the entire front of the home, this property invites you to slow down and relax. Step into the stunning two story foyer with its cherry hardwood floors and enameled millwork. Adjacent to the foyer, nestled behind a set of French doors is the Home Office with large windows to let in the natural light. The extended Dining Room is perfect for large dinner parties but can be easily converted to a separate Sitting and Dining Room. This Great Room floor plan is where two of life’s greatest pleasures come together; good food and good company. The Gourmet Kitchen features handcrafted cherry cabinetry, a large center island, GE Monogram stainless steel appliances, walk-in pantry, granite countertops & a slate tile backsplash. This is truly the heart of the home complete with an informal dining area, planning desk, and built-in granite buffet with glass-front cabinets. You’ll enjoy watching the sun come up with your morning coffee from the wall of windows offering long, uninterrupted views that overlook a picturesque pond. The Great Room features a cozy gas fireplace and a wall of cherry wood bookcases & entertainment center making this space perfect for relaxing with the family or entertaining with style. The second floor is where you will find the spacious Master Suite with its vaulted ceiling and private bath offering spa finishes from the large soaking tub to the tiled shower and heated tile floors. There are two Junior Bedrooms that share a Jack & Jill bath and a third bedroom with a private en-suite ¾ bath. In addition, the loft offers a homework nook with desk that is perfect for studying. The unfinished lower level walkout offers the opportunity to finish to your liking. Nothing compares to spending time outside and the large deck is the perfect addition to this home. The deck overlooks the peaceful pond creating a wonderful space to entertain or just relax. The owners added additional footings and posts to support a hot tub on the deck (under the pergola). Nestled on a large, family-friendly lot within walking distance to Victoria Elementary, this is truly the perfect place to call home. High School Students attend the new, state of the art Chanhassen High School.

Click HERE for more information on Field Drive.

Weekend Happenings: Minneapolis Aquatennial

Minneapolis Aquatennial
700 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
July 13-July 21
Cost:  Free

Now in its 73rd year, the Minneapolis Aquatennial will take over the city of Minneapolis with fun and games for the next eight days. The event features a wide variety of happenings, including sporting competitions, neighborhood tours, live music, art shows, and parties. The Bakken Museum (3537 Zenith Ave. S., Minneapolis) will be offering new experiences every day at its Ten Best Days of the Bakken. Here you'll find activities celebrating green gardening, talks on the science of food, appearances by Minnesota scientists and inventors, and tributes to electricity and Frankenstein's monster. On Sunday, July 15, folks will want to head over to Lake Calhoun for a beach bash that features the always entertaining milk carton races and a sandcastle competition from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Wednesday, July 18, families can head over to the Family Fun Night at Loring Park from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and pick a primo spot nearby to take in the Torchlight Parade at 8:30 p.m. Things conclude Saturday, July 21, with a large fireworks display along the Mississippi River.

Check it out on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Weekly Market Update: July 9, 2012

Summer heat waves roll across the northland as election season also heats up. Meanwhile, as the mercury and partisan rhetoric both escalate, residential real estate continues to show signs consistent with market recovery. For the current round of numbers, both buyer and seller activity levels were higher than last year at this time. Buyers have been taking advantage of historic affordability levels for some time, but renewed seller confidence is a more recent development and some would even call it an encouraging omen, as long as supply levels don't exceed a prior apex.

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

• New Listings increased 0.1% to 1,414
• Pending Sales increased 20.4% to 1,194
• Inventory decreased 31.0% to 17,417

For the month of June:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.4% to $179,000
• Days on Market decreased 22.0% to 113
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 4.0% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 44.7% to 4.4

Source:  Mineapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, July 9, 2012

Portable Generators

A storm has knocked out power to your neighborhood, but you need to use your computer for work today. A portable generator might be the fastest way to whirl back into action.

Unlike a large, permanently installed standby generator, a portable backup unit requires less money up front — about $500 to $2,000, versus $4,000 and up for standby power. It’s also easier to get up and running. You can purchase one online, from a local lawn-equipment dealer, or at a big-box store. Then simply drive it home and store it in the garage or shed.

In an emergency, wheel it out, gas it up, pull the starter cord, and you’ve got your own mini electric plant. These units are not without their downsides, chief among them that you have to be home to operate them. But if you’re in the market for backup power and trying to decide what kind is right for you, here are the questions to ask.

Is price the deciding factor? If yes, go portable

The main appeal of a portable generator over a standby is savings. You can buy a good 3kW unit for under $500, an 8kW for $1,500 to $2,000 and a 10kW for about $2,000. Prices vary depending on where you buy it and what brand you choose. Leading manufacturers include Briggs & Stratton, Subaru, Honda, and Generac.

Installation and operating costs are minimal—mostly the cost of fuel. Cheapest is “pour and plug”: You haul out the generator, pour in the gas, and plug in extension cords you’ve run from essential appliances like the computer, lamps, and refrigerator.

Slightly more expensive but more convenient is to hire an electrician to run a 220-volt line from your circuit breaker panel to a receptacle installed outside, a task that takes a couple of hours and costs a couple hundred dollars. That way, in the event of an emergency you can plug the generator into the receptacle and switch on the circuits you need.

How much power do you need? If not much, portable’s okay

Portable units for home use provide anywhere for 3kW to10kW of power. That’s enough to run some household essentials—as long as your “essentials” don’t include the plasma TV, central air conditioner, and Jacuzzi tub. “You can probably run a water pump, a heater, some lights, and your refrigerator with a 5kW to 8kW unit,” says Chris Sauer, owner of G & G Lawn and Power in Stone Ridge, NY.

You could go bigger, but operating a high-powered portable can get difficult and carries some risks. Which brings us to the next question:

How much risk are you comfortable with? If some, consider portable

A portable generator sits within extension-cord range of the house, chugging away like a little car. And like a car, it gives off smelly exhaust fumes, heat, and noise. If not properly ventilated, a portable could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

“You’ve got to monitor the system very closely,” says Jack Minick, a field representative with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and specialist in disaster recovery. “I set mine in front of my garage door, where I have limited extension cords, and inside, we’re very careful.”

How much inconvenience can you take? If a fair amount, consider portable

Your generator’s gas tank will hold, on average, from three to six gallons, meaning you’ll need to run outside to refill it, even if it’s 10 degrees below zero and snowing. It can take 34 gallons of gas to run an average-size portable for two days.

Because gasoline can “gum up” if left standing too long, there’s always a chance that your portable generator won’t start, much like that other finicky piece of gas-powered equipment, the lawnmower. Luckily, there’s no such thing as a lawn-mowing emergency. But you’ll have to exercise your generator by starting it up a couple of times a year to make sure it will run when you need it.

Will you be around during a power outage? If not, a portable’s not for you

Unlike a standby generator, a portable requires people power, too. If you’re not home to turn it on after a hurricane, it’s just another hunk of metal in your slowly flooding garage.

Still, with all the inconveniences, a portable generator delivers just what many homeowners want—emergency backup power at a reasonable cost. “I spent $1,000 rather than the $8,000 I’d have spent on a standby unit,” says Sauer. “If the power goes out, I can just wheel it out and get it going.”

Source:  Houselogic

Friday, July 6, 2012

Walkable Areas Fetch Higher Home Prices

More home shoppers say they want to live where there is walkable space, and they’re willing to pay extra for it.

A new study by the Brookings Institution found that the more walkable an area is, the higher the real estate values and rents are there.

Researchers used Washington, D.C., for testing the walkability impact on home values. They found that “every step up the walkability ladder, the price per square foot jumps more than $300 on average for apartment rents, versus $82 for house values, $9 for annual office rents, and $7 for retail rents. Moreover, with each step up the ladder, the average household income climbs $10,000.”

Areas near other walkable areas, which then form an entire walkable district, had higher rents and home values than stand-alone walkable places, according to the study.

“While U.S. home values dropped steadily between 2008 and 2011, distant suburbs experienced the starkest price decreases while more close-in neighborhoods either held steady or in some cases saw price increases,” researchers note in the study. “This distinction in housing proximity is particularly important since it appears that the United States may be at the beginning of a structural real estate market shift. Emerging evidence points to a preference for mixed-use, compact, amenity-rich, transit-accessible neighborhoods or walkable places.

Source:  Realtor Mag:  Styled, Staged & Sold Blog

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Weekly Market Update: July 1, 2012

Another week during the peak selling season has brought further evidence of a market in transition. New listings came in slower than last year but buyer activity has increased over year-ago levels. Buyers are confident in the current affordability picture, and some rents have increased to levels above comparable mortgage payments. Absorption rates, negotiating leverage and market times are all still metrics worth watching carefully. Some agents are reporting that more than half of their clients are in multiple offers. That's nothing to throw dirt at.

 In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending June 23:

 • New Listings decreased 1.6% to 1,395
• Pending Sales increased 15.8% to 1,105
 • Inventory decreased 30.8% to 17,558

 For the month of May:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.5% to $169,000
• Days on Market decreased 19.5% to 125
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 3.8% to 94.6% 
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 43.4% to 4.6

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors