Friday, May 31, 2013

New listing: 2976 Canyon Road - Chaska

2976 Canyon Rd, Chaska, MN 55318

New listing just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 3.00

Sqft: 4088

Asking Price: $499,000

MLS #: 4371204

New listing: 986 Carver Bluffs Parkway - Carver

986 Carver Bluffs Parkway Carver, MN 55315

Main Photo

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 2368

Asking Price: $359,000

MLS #: 4369937

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Neighborhood Homebuying Magnets

According to a National Association of Realtors survey, homebuyers say that the quality of a neighborhood (cited by 67% of respondents) was the biggest factor in determining where in a given area they would buy. The next top responses were affordability (45%) and convenience to family and friends (39%).

If you're a home seller, you should know that certain neighborhood features are like magnets for some homebuyers, generating interest in your house even if it's the ugliest one on the block.

According to an article on MSN Real Estate, here are some of the top neighborhood magnets:

Good Schools

Good schools (© carroteater)
©  carroteater
School-district quality influenced the neighborhood choice of 27% of homebuyers in the NAR survey. That jumped to 55% for buyers with children younger than 18 but dropped to 13% for buyers without kids.

Nearby Amentities

Nearby amenities (© Kenneth Sponsler)
© Kenneth Sponsler
In a recent Coldwell Banker survey of real-estate agents, 68% say that their baby boomer clients sought proximity to restaurants and shops when looking for a home.

Access to staples such as grocery stores and dry cleaners is important in suburban and exurban neighborhoods, as well.

Area Architecture

Area architecture (© Konstantin L)
© Konstantin L
In some neighborhoods, historical or architecturally significant homes can be a big draw for certain homebuyers.

The NAR survey found that home design in a neighborhood is a consideration for 32% of homebuyers.


Reputation (© Jorg Hackemann)
© Jorg Hackemann

Buzz about a neighborhood can translate into buyer interest and higher sale prices, real-estate agents say.

"It's an interesting marketing phenomenon," says Tre Pryor, a real-estate agent in Louisville, Ky. "When an area becomes branded as the hot neighborhood, that reputation tends to stick, even though often it's only 80% based on reality and 20% based on what people have heard or read."

In Louisville, this is the case in the Highlands neighborhood, Pryor says. "It's amazingly popular, and because of that, some neighboring communities have co-opted the brand and use it for themselves, even though they're not technically part of the same area. It's gotten to the point that the Highlands has started calling itself the 'original Highlands.'"

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

Parks and outdoor spaces (© OlegD)
© OlegD
The NAR survey found that 18% of homebuyers say proximity to parks and recreation facilities influence their neighborhood choice. Among households with children, the number increases to 23%. For people buying homes in urban and central-city areas, it's 22%.

Proximity to parks and recreation also has been deemed important by 34% of baby boomer homebuyers, according to Coldwell Banker's survey of real-estate agents.

 Source:  MSN Real Estate

New listing: 4640 Mounthall Terrace - Minnetonka

4640 Mounthall Terrace, Minnetonka, MN 55345

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 3

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 4409

Asking Price: $799,900

MLS #: 4371952

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Weekly Market Update: May 27, 2013

Monitoring weekly data can feel like watching grass grow, especially during a busy sales environment. Most housing markets are at or near their seasonal activity apexes, so it can be difficult to remain interested in statistical lawn care. But paired with a broad perspective and overarching trends, weekly housing numbers can sharpen the keen observer’s competitive edge. As you look through this week's most current real estate activity, keep an eye open for signs of job growth, changing interest rates and relevant policy initiatives.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending May 18:

• New Listings increased 20.9% to 1,855
• Pending Sales increased 24.1% to 1,313
• Inventory decreased 25.9% to 13,866

For the month of April:

• Median Sales Price increased 12.0% to $182,000
• Days on Market decreased 28.1% to 97
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.7% to 95.9%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 36.0% to 3.2

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Four and a Half Years Since Prices Have Been This High

The last time the median home price for the Twin Cities 13-county metropolitan area was higher than it was in April 2013 was September 2008, marking the 14th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. New listings were up 7.7 percent over April 2012 to 7,057 properties, and signed purchase agreements were up 16.0 percent to 5,507. This is the highest pending sales count since May 2006. For the same time period, there were 4,138 closed sales, and inventory levels declined 29.3 percent to 13,113 active listings. Driven by the changing mix of sales, solid demand and falling supply, the median home price for the Twin Cities metro rose 12.2 percent to $182,312. The percentage of all new listings that were traditional, non-distressed homes rose to 77.9 percent, its highest level since October 2007. For closed sales, that figure rose to 68.4 percent, its highest level since July 2008.

"Improvement in the sales mix has boosted the Twin Cities housing market toward recovery," said Andy Fazendin, President of the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR). "Consumers are yearning for inventory, and traditional sellers are finally starting to offer up some new opportunities."

Seller activity was up 7.7 percent overall, while traditional new listings were up 28.0 percent, foreclosure new listings were down 25.6 percent and short sale new listings were down 39.5 percent. The 10K Housing Value Index – which controls for data variability – showed an 8.5 percent increase to $181,381. With only 3.1 months supply of inventory, more seller participation in the market is important to continued recovery.

The traditional median sales price was up 8.5 percent to $216,000; the foreclosure median sales price was up 11.7 percent to $134,000; the short sale median sales price was up 5.1 percent to $135,000. Traditional sales sold in 90 days; foreclosures sold in 94 days; short sales sold in 178 days, on average.

"With the return of the traditional seller, buyers are seeing better quality houses and a much smoother process, said Emily Green, MAAR President-Elect. "However, the shortage of these houses is creating fierce competition that can be frustrating. Negotiating with a seller has now turned into competing with other buyers."

Source:  Minneapolis Area Assocation of Realtors

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New listing: 2976 Canyon Road - Chaska

2976 Canyon Rd., Chaska, MN 55318

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 3.00

Sqft: 4088

Asking Price: $499,000

MLS #: 4371204

New listing: 986 Carver Bluffs Parkway - Carver

986 Carver Bluffs Parkway, Carver, MN 55315

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 2368

Asking Price: $359,000

MLS #: 4369937

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Drop Zone & Other Functional Spaces

We're living in the era of "The Great Room" when it comes to housing design.  Many families love the concept of all the functional areas of the home being open to each other so that family members can interact together in all aspects of living.  There are some drawbacks to this approach to design, however.  When everything is out in the open, that includes all the clutter of your life as well, such as keys, mail, cell phones charging, homework, etc.  This not-so-loved aspect of open living is causing many people to include a drop zone in their design, either in the planning stages of a new home or in creating a new area to handle all the clutter.

A drop zone incorporates storage nooks where home owners can stow keys, mail, and all the other items that so easily fill up the living space when occupants come home for the day.  It can be as elaborate as a multi-functional mudroom, or as simple as a small table with a drawer, a mail organizer, key hooks, and a charging station in your entryway.


Still, not everything can be left in the drop zone. Instead of allowing the great room to become a place for everything, designers are trying to put each thing in its place. They’re carving out small spaces such as homework nooks for kids, food prep stations in the pantry, and other spots that allow a delineated area for common household activities.  These “lifestyle spaces” help home owners break up larger great rooms into usable, well-defined areas.

Homework Nook

Multi-functional Pantry

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Top Threats To Your Home's Value

Do you know what your home is worth? To you, it may be priceless. Those are probably the rooms where your children grew up, where memories were made. But a potential buyer may only notice whether or not there are granite countertops, an open floor plan or a well-groomed lawn when deciding whether to buy and what to pay.

To get top dollar, it helps to know what could hurt your home's value, whether you're looking to sell now or later. Some factors are out of your control, while others have simple solutions.

Here are the top threats to your home's value and a rough sense of their potential impact — high, medium or low — according to the professionals we interviewed. Keep in mind, though, that every market, neighborhood and home is different, so the actual impact on each home's value can vary considerably.


Location (© Kimberly White/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
© Kimberly White/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Threat to value: Could be high; in some cases, 50% or more

What are the three most important factors in determining a home's value? You guessed it: location, location and location.

"If you build (an expensive) home in a location where it will be unique for the area," says Danny Wiley, a Tennessee appraiser, "there is a good chance that the value will be much less than if you build that same home in an area where it is more typical."

Although you likely considered location when you bought or built your home, something may have changed since then: rezoning, an increase in crime or a new city dump.

Unless you plan to uproot your house and move it elsewhere, there's not much you can do about your home's location. But it is important. For example, a home near a freeway or railroad can see a 10% to 15% reduction in value, Wiley says.

So what can you do? Well, that depends on what about your location is bringing down the value. If you have a view of the city dump, for instance, you can plant some privacy hedges to make it less of an issue. Play up your home's strengths; make sure every interior and exterior detail is perfect and be patient.

Lack of updates

Lack of updates (© Patti McConville/Getty Images)
© Patti McConville/Getty Images

Threat to value: Low to medium; usually, at least 10%

An oversupply of homes right now means that buyers can be picky — and they definitely are. Rather than seeing the potential in an outdated kitchen and bathroom, a buyer will just move on to another home that won't require as much work and vision.

"If you don't have granite countertops, someone wants to know what's wrong," Wiley says.

The same goes for new appliances and a modern kitchen and bathroom, says Amy Downs, a Dallas real-estate agent.

"If your house is not updated, you might as well not sell it," Downs says.

Fortunately, you can fix this easily. For between $5,000 and $8,000, you can install those granite countertops, update the light fixtures and add fresh paint and carpet, Downs says. You'll likely get a return of $15,000 to $20,000 when it is time to sell.

Bad floor plan

Bad floor plan (© Image Source/Getty Images)
© Image Source/Getty Images

Threat to value: Medium to high; up to 25%

"An open floor plan is huge," Downs says. "If you've got a long hallway, and all the bedrooms are off that hallway, no buyer I've shown homes to has ever wanted a house like that."

Appraisers such as Wiley consider odd floor plans when appraising homes. One home, priced at more than $2 million, had an unusual floor plan with only a back stairway and no formal foyer, he says.

"The market would have probably accepted that in '06 or '07," he says. "Now buyers are more critical. Everybody hates the fact that there's not this big, easy access upstairs."

Appraisers classify that as a functional problem and determine value based on the market. Wiley says he has seen a bad floor plan reduce an appraised value by as much as 25% compared with similarly sized homes, "particularly right now, because of oversupply."

Major systems and structures

Major systems (roof, HVAC, electrical) (© Comstock Images/Getty Images)
© Comstock Images/Getty Images

Threat to value: Medium to high; up to 20%

"A buyer wants to be able to walk in and say, 'I could move right in,'" says Downs, who adds that she has seen major system and structure issues kill potential deals in high-end neighborhoods. "Have an inspection done before you list your house and fix the major things."

A roof that needs to be replaced could knock 15% off the value, she says. A heating and air-conditioning system that needs repairs could cut the value by as much as 20%, and an electrical-system problem is probably somewhere between 8% and 10%.

Rental properties

Rental properties (© Dana Hoff/Beateworks/Corbis)
© Dana Hoff/Beateworks/Corbis

 Threat to value: Medium; up to 15%

"People don't want to live near a bunch of rental properties," Downs says.

As an agent, Downs says she lets potential buyers know if an area is saturated with renters. This can affect a home's value by as much as 15%, she says.

But it's not the fact that there are rentals in the area that turns off buyers, Wiley says.

"People who rent tend not to maintain the properties as well," he says. "And absentee owners tend to not maintain properties as well."

You can't change the number of rentals in your neighborhood, but you can maintain a good relationship with landlords and tenants, and you can volunteer to help with upkeep and maintenance of those properties.

To read about more threats to your home's value, read the article "13 Big Threats To Your Home's Value" on MSN Real Estate.
Source:  MSN Real Estate

New listing: 6357 Cliffwood Circle - Excelsior

6357 Cliffwood Circle, Excelsior, MN 55331

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 3.00

Sqft: 4867

Asking Price: $815,000

MLS #: 4369179

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weekly Market Update: May 20, 2013

You’re busy – planes to catch, open homes to see and little league games to coach. But in less time than it takes to lint roll a favorite set of slacks, you can catch up on the most up-to-date and local housing market trends. Don’t clutter your brain with big data that has muddled together home sales from across the county. Get ahead of the curve by zeroing in on your region’s market and nothing else. Read on for the good stuff.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending May 11:

• New Listings increased 25.1% to 1,858
• Pending Sales increased 16.2% to 1,305
• Inventory decreased 27.5% to 13,556

For the month of April:

• Median Sales Price increased 12.0% to $182,000
• Days on Market decreased 28.1% to 97
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.7% to 95.9%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 36.0% to 3.2

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fabulous Fakes

Every homeowner wants an upscale look for less. But saving money comes at a price; sometimes you sacrifice quality and lifespan.

What’s a value-conscious homeowner to do?

We’ve selected four faux products that look like their upscale counterparts, but have lower price tags and, in some cases, identical lifetimes.

Synthetic Slate Roofing

Synthetic slate roof great fake

Credit: All Weather Products Ltd./Ken Lillejord, photo

Real slate tiles are an elegant roofing material and can last several lifetimes — sometimes more than 150 years. But real stone is heavy, expensive, and becoming so rare that it’s hard to find a craftsman to install it.

That’s why synthetic stone tiles are good substitutes for the real thing. Synthetic slate, made from rubber, plastic, or a combination of both, won’t have the all the color and shape variations of the real stuff. But because it’s way up on a roof, synthetic will fool all but the most discriminating eye.

Plus, faux slate is:

  • About a third cheaper than real stone.
  • Lots lighter (so you don’t have to install extra structural support).
  • Is typically guaranteed for 50 years.
  • Often contains recycled materials.

  • Real slate installed: $7.82-$10.52/ sq. ft.
  • Synthetic slate installed: $4.33-$6.31/ sq. ft.

  • Real slate: 100 years to forever.
  • Synthetic slate: 50 years.

Artificial Lawn

Artificial grass

Credit: Easy Turf

A perfect lawn is hard to grow, even harder to maintain. Unless it’s fake.

Today’s artificial grass looks like fescue or zoysia, but it’s not prey to weeds, drought, and root-eating grubs. Install it and you’ll have a lawn that neighbors will believe is real — from a distance. It’s essentially maintenance-free — no watering, weeding, and mowing.

Of course, artificial grass doesn’t feel, smell, or totally look like real lawn. Fake grass heats up in summer and can’t absorb and break down pest waste like real grass can.

Some HOAs ban fake grass; but some water-starving towns ban new lawns — so it’s a draw on that point.

Price (for a 500-sq.-ft. yard):

  • Real turf: 37 cents per sq. ft. to install: $840 per year to maintain.
  • Artificial turf: $12.50 per sq. ft. to install: $0 to maintain. You’ll recoup install costs in about 7 years.

  • Real turf: Forever if you water, weed, fertilize, aerate, and dethatch.
  • Artificial turf: 15-25 years.

Faux Crown Moulding

Synthetic crown moulding great fake


Crown moulding gives any room an elegant, finished look. But wood crown moulding is expensive and heavy, usually requiring a two-person, hold-and-nail team, jacking up the price to $8 to $35/ft. installed. Ouch!

Synthetic crown moulding is made from polystyrene or polyurethane high-density foam. It is:

  • Lightweight and easy to work with — cutting down on installation time.
  • Good for DIY projects.

Best of all, synthetic crown is typically 15-30% cheaper than wood. The more elaborate the detail, the more you’ll save over a comparable all-wood counterpart.

However, synthetic crown moulding has some drawbacks:

  • It’s relatively fragile; long pieces can break if not supported.
  • It dents easily.
Price (3½-inch-wide simple crown):

  • Poplar: $1.37/linear ft.
  • Faux: $1.08/linear ft.


  • Wood: As long as the room stands.
  • Faux: Ditto.
Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertop great fake

Credit: Formica Corporation

Laminate countertops come in hundreds of styles and colors that give your kitchen the high-end look of marble or granite for about one-third the price.

Until recently, the ugly, black, telltale edges of laminate sheets were giveaways that your stone countertop was a fake. But today’s manufacturers have created seamless-edge technology that looks like the bullnosed or ogee edge treatments found on stone.

Of course, laminates don’t have the durability of stone. They can scorch and scratch, and repairs are cumbersome. However, laminates are stain-resistant and will shrug off wine spills that porous marble and some granites suck up.


  • Stone installed (marble, granite): $60-$100/sq. ft.
  • Laminate installed: $7-$30/sq. ft.


  • Stone: Forever, although it can chip, and you should seal it periodically.
  • Laminate: Decades if you’re careful not to scratch or burn countertops.
Source:  Houselogic

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New listing: 8375 Kelzer Pond Drive - Victoria

8375 Kelzer Pond Dr., Victoria, MN 55386

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 2310

Asking Price: $400,000

MLS #: 4368566

Friday, May 17, 2013

Open House: May 19, 2013

5210 Meadville Street - Greenwood
4 bedroom/4 bath
SqFt:  4,154
OPEN:  1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Welcome to Lake Minnetonka, this custom masterpiece built by Stonewood features the highest quality of craftsmanship and materials. The Cottage style design offers 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 open floor plan with its Gourmet Kitchen is where it all comes together. Expertly crafted antiqued cabinetry, butcher-block counters and enameled bead board ceiling finish off this inviting space. Enjoy stunning sunsets all year long from curved wall of windows in the dining room, this is truly the heart of the home. You’ll enjoy curling up with your morning coffee on the large window seat. The open floor plan also included a spacious Family Room featuring coffered ceilings, a cozy gas fireplace and enameled bookcases & entertainment center; making this space perfect for relaxing with the family or entertaining with style. The custom built see-through aquarium inspires creativity while the Home Office will also enhance your productivity. The second floor is where you will find the Master Suite with another curved wall of windows overlooking the lake. The private master bath offering spa finishes from the large pedestal tub to the custom mirrors and lighting fixtures. In addition to the two Junior Suites located on this floor, you will also find the spacious Bonus Room perfect for a guest suite, movie night or playing Wii. The third floor has recently been finished to accommodate an additional family room with large windows for natural light and features a rough-in for a future bath. Location, Location, Location! Sited on a premium, southwest facing lot on grade-A Excelsior Bay, this property enjoys a sandy bottom lakeshore. Originally a major tourist destination during the late 19th century, Excelsior exudes a Nantucket style atmosphere with the unique blend of old and new. Antique shops, an authentic Irish Pub, a movie theatre as well as a variety of specialty shops restaurants and lakeside park & commons create a special community. For information on pricing or to schedule a private showing, please call 952.470.2575.

Click HERE for more information.

New listing: 4694 Woodridge Road - Minnetonka

4694 Woodridge Rd Minnetonka, MN 55345

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 3500

Asking Price: $529000

MLS #: 4357447

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How To Price Your Home In A Seller's Market

By all accounts, the housing market is in full recovery mode.  Twin Cities home prices have reached a 7 year high benchmark.  This is good news for all.  But with a low housing inventory we find ourselves in a seller's market.  So how can you price your home to take full advantage of this seller's market?  Read on to see.

1. Study Recent Sale Prices of Comparable Homes - A good way to determine the best dollar figure is to study recent sale prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood. Local Realtors can access Minneapolis "comps" for you and suggest a fair value. Web sites such as and also provide data on recent sales. Resist the urge to ask for more than what your home is worth. When a real estate buyer feels like you are being fair, they may be more inclined to work with you.

2. Urgency To Sell May Impact Home's Selling Price - If the home seller must relocate immediately due to a job transfer, death in the family, or some other reason, the sense of urgency to sell quickly may determine a lower asking price. When a home's price point is higher than it should be, it may do more to help everybody else in the neighborhood first.

3. Price Should Reflect A Home's Value - Prove the value of your home. Recent home renovations and upgrades should be highlighted. For example most buyers won't know that cost of granite countertops improvements unless told.

4. Understand List Price and Home Sales Price - Know the a meaningful relationship between a home's list price and sales price. Perhaps most homes are selling for 5% less than the list price, or above the list price due to multiple offers. A local agent who has deep inside experience will be in the best position to find the tipping point between a list price and what a seller is willing to take in an offer.

5. Compare Sales Price of Foreclosed Homes - A foreclosure usually has a different feel from a move-in ready home, so it will probably be priced a little lower.

6.Use Current Comparable Home Sales - Finding sale prices on comparable homes, and recent property sales in the same neighborhood will ensure a home's asking price will be a close match to a home appraisers price.


New listing: 7290 Fawn Hill Road - Chanhassen

7290 Fawn Hill Rd, Chanhassen, MN 55317

Main Photo

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:

Description:  The unique & desirable Lismore Model-now available! Sited on a private lot with pond views this beautifully finished home features gracious, sun-filled rooms, an executive Office, Master BR with Sitting Room & finished walk-out lower level!

Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 4820

Asking Price: $599,000

MLS #: 4366056

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Weekly Market Update: May 13, 2013

Housing data also encompasses economics, politics, sociology, geography, labor markets and more. Even the largest transaction most people will ever make is susceptible to the same kinds of market forces that affect clothing choices at your favorite department store, the cost of your vacation, public transportation projects and where the next Starbucks is placed (or closed). Be watching the jobs numbers, fuel prices and election results. And keep using the best source of housing data around: your local MLS.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending May 4:

• New Listings increased 10.7% to 1,825
• Pending Sales increased 17.2% to 1,404
• Inventory decreased 28.0% to 13,361

For the month of April:

• Median Sales Price increased 12.0% to $182,000
• Days on Market decreased 28.1% to 97
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.7% to 95.9%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 38.0% to 3.1

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, May 13, 2013

6 Ways To Craft An Offer A Seller Can't Refuse

Common sense tells you that when it comes to buying your dream home, offering a lot of money helps.

6 ways to craft an offer a seller can't refuse (© Mark Scott/Getty Images)

Knowledge that's not so common: Even in real estate, money isn't everything. Buyers with the biggest offers don't always prevail.

If you sweeten your offer with intangibles, your bid will stand out in neon lights, say three noted real-estate experts.

The success of this strategy hinges on thinking carefully about the needs of a seller. Each is different. For example:

  • The moving seller: Sellers in the midst of purchasing and moving into a new home may want to close the sale of their old house quickly.
  • The burned seller: A seller who was stiffed by a previous buyer who sounded committed and then abandoned the deal may need to trust that this sale will truly close.
  • The busy seller: These sellers may love the relief of letting their home go "as is," freeing them from worries over inspections and repairs.
  • The sentimental seller: People relinquishing a longtime family home often want assurance that the new owners will treasure it as they had.
We asked three noted real-estate experts for their tips on crafting an offer that a seller will find irresistible. They are: sales trainer Floyd Wickman, founder of Floyd Wickman Team and one of Realtor Magazine's "25 most influential people in real estate" in 2000; sales trainer Tom Hayman, co-founder of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute; and Ilyce Glink, real-estate expert and author of "Buy, Close, Move In!: How to Navigate the New World of Real Estate — Safely and Profitably — and End Up with the Home of Your Dreams."

6 steps to 'yes'

Here's how our experts say it's done:

1. Hire a skilled negotiator.

You might think that with today's market saturated with homes for sale there'd be little competition among buyers. But you'd be wrong. At least in some markets, the stand-out entry-level homes that are priced right are generating multiple offers. (Read "House hunting? Time for homebuying negotiation boot camp.")

Your secret weapon against such competition is an experienced, well-trained real-estate agent. Buyers who don't use an agent "are shorting themselves the knowledge and experience," Glink says. Sellers pay agent fees so there's no DIY discount. "If you don't use a broker, you are not going to get the house for 3% less," Glink says.

Screen several agents. Ask about any advanced training. Hayman advises asking how many years they've been in real estate, how many buyers they've represented and if they specialize in the geographical area you're interested in. (Avoid agents who try to work the whole town.) Look for credentials from institutes such as Wickman's and Hayman's and the National Association of Realtors' "accredited buyers' representative" designation.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Before you make an offer, get approved for a loan. This gives you almost as much power as a buyer with cash, Hayman says. (Caution: Don't confuse this with "prequalifying," a quick chat in which you tell a lender how much you make and where you work.)

Get started by printing and filling out a Uniform Residential Loan Application and Statement of Assets and Liabilities, here, at Freddie Mac. Take the package to lenders to shop for price and terms. Ask your lender to write a letter you can show sellers saying you're approved to borrow up to, say, $200,000.

"If they know you have a loan commitment in place, they'll treat you as a very serious buyer, even if your initial bid comes in below what they were expecting," Glink says.
Your pre-approval offers a seller confidence:

  • Your bid won't fall through (as some do) because you can't get financing;
  • Sellers get their money more quickly, in 10 days to two weeks instead of the 30 days a bank typically requires to approve a loan. "That could make or break the deal in some cases," Hayman says.
Even better, suggests Wickman: Show a seller that your lender will let you borrow even more than the home costs. This is not to signal that you'll pay more but that your offer is less risky than others.

Get into the seller's head

3. Learn all you can about the seller.

This job is tricky. But it's crucial. "If we want make an offer that a seller is going to be attracted to, we have to understand what is important to the sellers," Wickman explains.

However, it's commonly the agents, not the buyer and seller, who do the communicating. So your agent will need to be a super sleuth.

Wickman, for example, starts his reconnaissance the minute he walks into a home for sale, long before any of his buyers are thinking of making an offer. He chats up the seller's agent, casually asking why the owners are selling, where they're going next, whether they've made an offer on another home and even if they've missed any mortgage payments. With his friendly chatter, Wickman tries to learn if the seller is pressed for time or money, whether they're working against a deadline to close on another house or get children into a new home before school starts. He's listening for clues about how deeply the home's owner is attached to the house, how badly they want to sell and what it would take to make them happy.

Hayman says he'll ask a seller's representative directly, "Is this going to come down to price alone, or are there other factors important to your seller?"

A seller's agent doesn't have to disclose any of this information, but many will. At this point, before the dealing starts, a seller's agent is most likely to share information freely while respecting her client's confidentiality.

"It's amazing the answers you can get," Hayman says. "Any time you can create the opportunity to dialog with the other side, that's part of the job of negotiating."

Although it's not often done, you can also consider calling or visiting the sellers to ask them directly what they most need from the transaction.

However, be prepared for resistance from your agent. Agents are trained to believe it's a bad idea for buyers and sellers to meet. They worry, Hayman says, that their clients might:

  • Disclose information that could ruin the sale.
  • Dislike each other, souring the deal.
  • Or hit it off fabulously, ditch the agents and work out a deal on their own.
4. Make concessions up front.

Armed with whatever you've learned about the sellers, you're ready, with your agent, to imagine any objections the seller might make to your offer. Decide how to neutralize each objection and make life easier for the seller.

Here are some convincing concessions to consider:

  • Make a "clean offer:" Buyers frequently ask sellers for help paying their closing costs. Make a "clean" offer with no request for help.
  • Include an automatic escalation clause: In a competitive environment, offer to automatically increase your offer by a specified amount – say, $500 — over the highest bid. You can put a limit on how high you'll go or not. Be sure your offer requires the seller to show you any other offers in writing.
  • Time: When sellers want to move quickly, jump, if you can. Sellers often are grateful to save a mortgage payment, storage costs or rent on interim storage or accommodations. Or, if sellers need to wait until a new home is free, or because they need time to pack, let children finish school or say goodbye to friends, offer to delay your move-in date. You can always charge rent. You can also use this tactic in reverse to get your own needs met: When Glink and her husband bought a home long ago, they sweetened the offer with a $3,000 bonus if the deal could be done quickly, by a specific date. This got their deal closed quickly.
  • Earnest money: The (refundable) deposit for $2,000 or $3,000 that you attach to a bid to bind the offer is called "earnest money." "The bigger the deposit, the more serious you are," Hayman says. To make a good impression, offer more, up to 10% of the purchase price. To further sweeten the deal, Wickman suggests making part or all of the deposit non-refundable after the home has passed inspection, to demonstrate that you want to stay in the deal.
  • Accelerate the deal: A purchase offer is typically contingent on certain milestones that are set by state law: The buyer has a certain number of days to get financing and an appraisal, the seller has a time frame to have an inspection done. Where the law allows it, you can shorten or eliminate deadlines to raise your offer's appeal.
  • Waive the appraisal: Appraisals have become a source of anxiety for sellers, and deals often fall apart because the appraiser finds the home is not worth the purchase price that the buyer and seller have agreed on. Banks will only loan you a percentage of the home's appraised value. But, if you're able, you can include in your offer the promise to pay any difference in cash — up to, say, $5,000 over the appraised value.
  • Waive the inspection: Here's how this enticement works: Some sellers will take a lower price if you offer to buy the house "as is." You, however, reserve the right to back out of the deal if you don't like what the inspection turns up. Some sellers love this because it allows them to close quickly, free of the cost and burden of correcting unforeseen problems. Says Wickman: "To buy a house 'as is,' to say to a seller, 'You won't have to do anything, no matter what the appraisal is, no matter what the inspection,' that could be a huge difference."
  • Wave money: Never underestimate the sweetening effect of money. Offering the full list price or more is the traditional way of getting a seller's attention.
  • Wave cash: If you've got the wherewithal, offer to pay in cash. For a seller, cash signals your financial solidity and promises a quick closing and no waiting for you to get financing.

Pull out all the stops

5. Write a love letter to the sellers.

When you really want a place, you'll go to some special lengths. "Sellers care deeply," Glink says, when you explain with sincerity what owning their home would mean to you, who you are and how you envision your life there.

"If I were a buyer, I would say to the seller: 'I would take care of your home. It looks like you've got a lot of love in the home and we love it,'" Wickman says. "I think I'd humble myself. I'd say, 'If it was possible that we could pay more, we would.'"

Hayman tells of Phoenix-area clients searching for a one-level home with tile floors and wide hallways in the $200,000 price range. "Lo and behold, we found the perfect house," Hayman says. "It was owned by an investor and was vacant, but there was another (higher) offer. I had my buyer's wife write a letter from her heart. She said, 'I have lupus. I'll be in a wheelchair soon. I can't tell you how much it will mean to me to be able to get this house.'"

Within an hour after Hayman personally presented the offer to the sellers, their agent called to accept. The woman's letter had persuaded the seller to forgo a competing bid $15,000 higher.

6. Get your offer presented in person.

Finally, the expert sales trainers say your offer has a far better chance when your agent presents it to the sellers in person. Not all agents will do this. And not all sellers' agents will let them. But, as a buyer, you can sure try. Start by asking, when you're interviewing agents, "Are you going to present my offer in person to the seller?"

It's an old-fashioned practice that's been largely abandoned in favor of sending a fax. "To me, that's a) lazy and b) less effective in terms of representing your client," Hayman says.

The advantage of personally delivering your offer:

  • Your case is presented directly, heading off any misinterpretations.
  • Your agent can directly address any questions or objections.
  • The chance to "humanize" your offer and convey something about you can help tip the deal in your favor.

As Wickman puts it, "people buy people."

Source:  MSN Real Estate, article by Marilyn Lewis

Sunday, May 12, 2013

New listing: 219 Carver Creek Place - Carver

219 Carver Creek Place Carver, MN 55315

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 5

Baths: 3.00

Sqft: 3769

Asking Price: $389,900

MLS #: 4365497

Friday, May 10, 2013

New listing: 3975 Hunters Hill Way - Minnetonka

3975 Hunters Hill Way, Minnetonka, MN 55345

Main Photo

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 4.00

Sqft: 4850

Asking Price: $595,000

MLS #: 4363974

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Sister Saturday
209 South Vine Street
Waconia, MN 55387
Sat., May 11, 2013
All Day
Cost:  Free

sister saturday

Great way to celebrate the fishing opener! Special sales and events at participating shops and restaurants throughout Waconia. Don't miss the Fashion Show! Spend the night!

Sister Saturday At The Farm
8880 East Highway 5
Waconia MN 55387
Sat., May 11, 2013
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free


Junk Market, Book Signing, Weather Mobile, containerized gardening along with all the great produce and fun that we have at the Farm. 

MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318
Sun., May 12, 2013
Seatings at 10:00 am, 11:30 am and 1:30 pm
Cost:  $23.49 per person, $9 for ages 4-8, 3 and under free

Treat Mom to a delicious brunch amid the spring beauty of the Arboretum.

Lowry Nature Center
7025 Victoria Drive
Victoria, MN 55386
Sun., May 12, 2013
Seatings available every halfhour from 10:30 AM-12:30 PM.
Cost:  $15/ages 9+; $8/ages 3-8. Children 2 and under free.


Treat mom and the whole family to a special brunch. The all-you-can-eat buffet catered from B's on the River will include ham and sausage egg bake, vegetable egg bake, cheesy hash browns, assorted breakfast pastries and muffins, fresh fruit, coffee, tea and orange juice. Dine indoors or outdoors and enjoy a wonderful view of birds, trees and spring wildflowers. Complete the day with a craft, guided walk through flowered woodlands and meadows, and enjoy the sights and songs of migrating birds. Reservations by phone only; 763.559.6700.

Craftstravaganza 2013
MN State Fairgrounds - Progress Center
1265 Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108
Sat., May 11, 2013
10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cost:  Free

Once again, the ever-popular Craftstravaganza will be taking over the Progress Center of the Minnesota Fairgrounds. Here, guests will find an eclectic collection of work from over 90 artists, including gig posters from DIY screenprint groups, giraffe plushies and onsies for babies, natural beauty products, jewelry shaped like miniature waffles (complete with butter and syrup), log-shaped pillows, and adorable knitted goods. Folks looking for gifts for Mother's Day, a baby shower, birthday, or wedding won't be disappointed by the selection offered. Meanwhile, those interested in learning about techniques or getting creative themselves will be able to watch demonstrations and partake in workshops such as weaving and spinning demos from the Minnesota Weavers Guild, food-shaped jewelry making with Tiny Hands, and a talk offering tips on how to sell your goods to boutiques around town.  Source:  Jessica Armbruster

New listing: 3975 Hunters Hill Way - Minnetonka

3975 Hunters Hill Way, Minnetonka, MN 55345

New listing just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 3

Baths: 4.00

Sqft: 4850

Asking Price: $595000

MLS #: 4363974

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Smart Deck Lighting

Star Floors

Fiber optic lighting uses only a single light source, typically a 5-15 watt LED housed in a small fan-cooled box sheltered from the elements. Light travels on slender, flexible cables that end in points of light — small emitters that you insert into holes drilled in your decking. Because there’s no electricity or heat conducted, the cables and light are safe in any type of weather. Installing fiber optic lighting is a good DIY project. A kit with 120 emitters and cables is about $325.

Credit: Starscape Fibre Optic & LED Lighting

Lighting the Way

Deck lighting extends party time on your deck, and adds safety, too. Fixtures on posts offer ambient lighting and signal the railing location. Low-voltage LED light fixtures run on 12-volt current that’s much safer than regular 120-volt household current, making installation DIY-friendly. Make the posts from pieces of lumber so there’s a hollow channel inside; run low-voltage wiring in the channel. A lighting kit with 8 fixtures, wire, and a 12-volt transformer is $587.

Credit: Highpoint Deck Lighting

Moveable Lighting

An oversize floor lamp made for outdoor use will light up an entire deck seating area with its 250-watt halogen bulb. A plastic shade, galvanized steel frame, and aluminum base make this fixture weatherproof. Six lead weights keep it stable in windy conditions. It’s a plug-in lamp, so you’ll need a weatherproof outdoor outlet — a minor concession for this $13,750 outdoor fixture.

Credit: SuperArchiMoon/Designed by Philippe Starck for DEDON/Photo courtesy of Dedon

Low-Voltage Wonderland

Most exterior landscape lighting — including railing lights and uplighting for trees — is low-voltage. A low-voltage system uses a transformer to convert regular 120-volt household current into 12-volt current. With less power, however, exterior lights may be dimmer than you expect. That’s why it’s important that your transformer is sized for your lighting scheme. Buy a transformer ($100-$200) that plugs into an outdoor outlet, or have an electrician install one for about $400.

Credit: Kichler

Way-Easy Deck Lighting

String lights offer versatility and style — they go up in any location, there’s no need to conceal wiring (it’s part of the lights), and they come in tons of styles and sizes. You can choose standard lights that plug directly into an outlet, or low-voltage lights that use 12-volt current. Outdoor solar-powered lights cost a bit more initially but don’t use household power and aren’t dependent on a nearby power source. A 14-ft.-long string with 20 solar-powered LED lights is about $20.

Credit: Taylor de Cordoba

Keepin’ it Cool

A combination light and ceiling fan brings a welcome cooling breeze to the warmest days. You’ll need to run a 120-volt circuit to power your outdoor fan; use the juice to power other outdoor lights as well. Concealing the wires isn’t difficult with the solid ceiling shown here; for an open pergola or arbor, run wires on top of or alongside framing members and paint them to match the woodwork.

Credit: Peachtree Decks and Porches LLC

A Light Meal

An outdoor kitchen adds a lot of enjoyment to your deck or patio, but be sure to include lighting that lets you flip burgers when the sun goes down. Almost every type of fixture is available in a weatherproof outdoor version — wall sconces, track lights, and recessed lighting. Putting your outdoor lights on dimmers helps you adjust for mood and tasks.

Credit: Phil Kean Designs/James Wilson, photo/Courtesy BUILDER

Practical Safety

In some municipalities, lighting exterior stairways for entrances, decks, and patios is required by building codes. An easy way to add this sensible safety measure is with motion-activated lighting. The battery-operated lights shown here install anywhere using screws or double-sided tape. A bright LED light comes on when motion is detected up to 8 feet away, and stays on for 30 seconds. Battery life is good for about a year. $40 for a set of 3 lights; the AAA batteries aren’t included.

Credit: Improvements Catalog / HSN

Directional Lighting That’s Sea Turtle Safe

When illuminating stairs and walkways, fixtures should cast light downward at the walking surface — not upward into eyes. These low-voltage railing lights have hoods that project light down for safety. Because they’re in use at the seashore, these particular fixtures feature amber LED bulbs that won’t attract and confuse endangered baby sea turtles. The lights ($218 each) feature solid brass hoods and marine-grade wiring to resist corrosion.

Credit: CAST Lighting

Today, You’re Purple

Express your every mood, color-wise, with RGB LED lighting. The RGB stands for red, green, and blue. By using a computerized controller, you can mix the RGB output to produce any color in the rainbow — and a few that aren’t. Outdoor RGB LED light fixtures come as waterproof strips and bars. You’ll need a transformer to provide the low-voltage current needed for your LED lights, and a waterproof location for the controller. A kit with 8 feet of strip lights costs about $275.

Credit: Robert Krten

See-Through Lighting

Tempered safety glass has been used for deck balusters for years, but these glass panels go one step further. LED lights in the top and bottom caps illuminate the glass surface and cast a gentle ambient light. The panels ($230 each) feature etchings that catch the light to create a unique, decorative touch. Most glass balusters are compliant with building codes, but check your local codes to be sure.

Credit: Dekor

Source:  HouseLogic

New listing: 4351 Parklawn Ave #104E - Edina

4351 Parklawn Ave #104E Edina, MN 55435

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:

Home Information:

Beds: 1

Baths: 1.00

Sqft: 700

Asking Price: $69000

MLS #: 4363537