Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weekend Happenings: State Fair Grandstand Part 2

Once again, we're highlighting the great events taking place this weekend at the State Fair.  Of course, there are many other stages in the fair offering great entertainment so if none of these sound all that interesting to you, you can always check out those venues as well.

State Fair Grandstand
MN State Fair Grounds
1265 N. Snelling Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Thurs-Sun, Aug 22-25, 2013
Times: 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm
Cost: Varies

Thursday:  Train

Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  $37-$47

Photo of Train

Consisting of the main trio Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood, Train is an American pop rock band. They achieved mainstream success in 1998 with the hit "Meet Virginia." In 2001, their album "Drops of Jupiter" included the lead single "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)," which won two Grammy Awards in 2002. Their 2012 single, "Drive By," reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a Top 10 in the UK. Other recent hits include "50 Ways to Say Goodbye," "Bruises" and "Mermaid."

Friday:  MN Music On-A-Stick featuring Trampled by Turtles, The Suburbs, Mason Jennings, P.O.S and The Chalice

Showtime:  5:00
Tickets:  $28  

 Photo of MN Music On-A-Stick featuring Trampled by Turtles, The Suburbs, Mason Jennings, P.O.S and The Chalice

MN Music On-A-Stick is a one-of-a-kind event celebrating our great state of music. All artists have roots in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The evening features Trampled by Turtles, The Suburbs, Mason Jennings, P.O.S and The Chalice.

Trampled By Turtles

 Photo of Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles, formed in Duluth, Minn. in 2003, is made up of Dave Simonett (guitar, vocals), Tim Saxhaug (bass, vocals), Dave Carroll (banjo, vocals), Erik Berry (mandolin) and Ryan Young (fiddle). They continue to receive praise for their new album Stars and Satellites available now on Thirty Tigers/RED. Esquire said, “Supercharged songs with a hooky playfulness and white-knuckle power…” They have always felt they were able to attain an energy on stage that can’t be found in the studio. For this new album, however, they didn’t want to simply try to recreate a live show. "We wanted to make a record that breathes," explains Simonett, "musically we wanted to step out of our comfort zone."

The Suburbs

 Photo of The Suburbs

The Suburbs were formed in the western suburbs of Minneapolis in 1977. The band's popularity increased during the early-to-mid-1980s, and their new wave dance sound and stage presence gained a following that broke out of the Midwest and reached both coasts. They are especially known for their 1983 hit "Love is the Law," released as an anthem for what they believe is a fundamental truth. Other hit songs include "Urban Guerrilas," "World War III," "Music for Boys," and "Waiting."

Mason Jennings

Photo of Mason Jennings

Mason Jennings is an American pop-folk singer/songwriter from Honolulu, Hawaii. He started playing guitar at age 13 and a few years later, dropped out of school and moved to Minneapolis to pursue his musical career. Jennings produced his self-titled debut album in 1997 on an analog four-track in the living room of a rented home, playing all instruments himself. One year later, he created the Mason Jennings Band. In 2002, Jennings released a studio album, Century Spring, and a "fans only" collection of acoustic songs, Simple Life. Throughout his music career, he has released a total of 15 albums. With his new album, Minnesota, Jennings crafts a collage of love trying to survive the transition into being a grown-up in a complex world.


Photo of P.O.S

P.O.S, also known as Stefon Alexander, is an underground hip hop artist from Minneapolis. He is the founding member of the indie hip hop collective Doomtree, through which his debut EP "Falsehopes" and first solo album "Ipecac Neat" were originally released. Originally a punk rocker in middle school, he started rapping in his mid-teens. Unable to choose between the genres, he combined the two and made his own category. P.O.S also hosts a weekly program on Minnesota's KCMP: 89.3 The Current, where he shares his influences and favorite music.

The Chalice

Photo of The Chalice

The Chalice is an all female hip-hop group from Minneapolis including Lizzo, Claire de Lune and Sophia Eris. The trio is creating some of the most dynamic music in Minnesota, fusing influences like soul, funk, R&B, reggae and straight-up hip-hop. Their first EP, We Are The Chalice, was released in Sept. 2012 to critical acclaim.

Saturday:  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, with Talib Kweli and Chance The Rapper

Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  SOLD OUT

Photo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Sunday:  MSF Amateur Talent Contest Finals Free at the Grandstand!

Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  FREE

Photo of MSF Amateur Talent Contest Finals Free at the Grandstand!

After several rounds of competition, 20 finalists will compete in the State Fair Amateur Talent Contest Finals in hopes of taking home a first place prize in one of three divisions. This is a free Grandstand show, so come out to the fair's premier entertainment venue, grab a seat and be entertained by Minnesota's top talent. Pictured is the 2012 Open Division Winner, Aria Stiles who performed the violin solo, "A Taste of Sarasate."

Monday:  Tim McGraw with Brantley Gilbert

Showtime:  7:30
Tickets:  $56-$71; Very limited seating available

Photo of Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw just released, Two Lanes of Freedom, and is on a 30-city tour. Since the release of his debut album in 1993, he has won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 12 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Music Awards, three People's Choice Awards and numerous other honors. McGraw's hits include "Live Like You Were Dying," "Something Like That," "Don’t Take the Girl" and his current hit "One Of Those Nights." Also an accomplished actor, McGraw has appeared in such films as The Blind Side, Four Christmases, The Kingdom, Flicka and Friday Night Lights.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Keep Home Maintenance Costs Under $300 Per Year

Caulk and other home maintenance products on a table

Cringe at the thought of major repairs to your home? It’s the little preventative maintenance things you do throughout the year that’ll keep big repair bills at bay. In fact, you can keep your entire house fit and healthy for a mere $300 per year. Here’s how.

1. Get up close and personal with your house.

Annual cost: $0-$10

Trust us — you want to be on intimate terms with your house. The more familiar you are, the easier it is to spot potential trouble spots before they get out-of-hand — and expensive to fix.

You don’t have to be a pro inspector; just take the time to stroll around. A DIY inspection costs nothing — and could save you thousands. Look for:

  • Cracks in the foundation. Hairline cracks are fairly normal, but keep an eye on them and note if they’re getting larger. If so, your foundation may be settling unevenly. You can make a small mark with an indelible pen across the crack; over the next few months, if you notice the mark is moving apart, call in a foundation expert.
  • Proper soil grading. Foundation soil should slope away from foundation walls at least 6 inches in 10 feet. More is better.
  • Downspout extensions. They should reach at least 5 feet away from your house. A flexible extension is about $10.
  • Roof damage. Use a pair of binoculars to look for shingles that are curled, torn, or missing, and rust spots on flashing.
  • Shaggy bushes and tree limbs. Keep plants at least 3 feet away from your house. Branches can channel water right to your siding; during a windstorm, they may bang against your house and cause damage.
  • Branches near your roof are squirrel highways; trim them back to prevent critters from reaching your roof. You don’t want pests in your attic.

2. Make caulk your BFF.

Annual cost: $24.

Your home’s No. 1 enemy is water; your home’s best friend is caulk.

Cheap and easy to use, caulk seals openings and prevents water from getting inside your home, where lingering moisture causes rot and mold. Caulk seals air leaks that can rob you of precious heating and cooling energy.

As caulking ages, it may come loose as your house settles slightly. Every year, inspect window and door frames for cracked and missing caulk. Check around exterior dryer vents, hose bibs, and electrical wiring to make sure openings in your siding are sealed tight.

You won’t be caulking the whole enchilada — but bet on using 3-4 tubes of top-quality exterior acrylic latex caulk ($4-$6 per 12-oz. tube) every year.

3. Give your house a facial.

Annual cost: $0-$32

As you make your inspection rounds, look for blemishes — chipped or peeling paint, small chips in stucco, and missing mortar between masonry. A little spot repair prevents moisture from doing more damage.

  • Keep paint in good repair and help your exterior paint job last longer by touching up chipped or peeling areas so water can’t penetrate. Keep a close eye on trim, porch columns, and stair railings. Annual cost: $16 for 1 qt. of color-matched exterior latex paint.
  • Plug holes in stucco with pre-mixed latex stucco patching compound ($7 for a 1 qt. tub).
  • Repair missing mortar using textured, masonry mortar repair compound ($3.50 for a 5-oz. tube)
  • Clean your exterior. All types of siding benefit from an annual cleaning to remove dirt and grime. Use buckets of warm, soapy water (½ cup of trisodium phosphate — $4.95 for a 1 lb. box — dissolved in 1 gallon of water) and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Or, use a homemade green cleaner from ½ cup baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon warm water.

4. Coddle your HVAC.

Annual cost: $50-$164

Change furnace filters. Have you looked at them lately? They’re filthy! They’re cutting down on your heating and cooling efficiency and making your furnace fan work overtime trying to push air through stuffed-up filters. Keep allergy-causing dust to a minimum and give your furnace a break with regular HVAC maintenance that includes changing your high-quality filters every 3-4 months.

Get an HVAC tune-up. For this annual HVAC maintenance chore, bring in a pro to clean out furnace parts and recharge your refrigerant levels. Signing a contract for an annual inspection lowers cost per visit.

5. Show your water heater a little TLC.

Annual cost: $0

Remove sediment and gunk in the bottom of the tank by hooking a garden hose to the drain valve and draining the tank until the water runs clear. That helps your water heater warm up quickly and more cheaply.

Test the pressure relief valve by quickly opening it two or three times (catch the spillage in a small bucket). After testing, watch for any leaks from the valve.

6. Clean your gutters.

Annual cost: $0

Clogged rain gutters cause overflows that damage siding and soak the soils around your foundation. That mean foundation problems that lead to expensive repairs. Clean your gutters at least twice each year to remove clogs and debris. Like you didn’t know that!

Source:  Houselogic

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Weekly Market Update: August 26, 2013

So far this summer, housing has achieved a soft, warm glow. If healing growth in the economy and labor markets persists, housing will be more than ready to weather tapering Fed activity – regardless of when it comes. Both local and national market indicators can't yet contradict any confidence in rising home prices or dwindling inventory supplies. Let's take a look into your locale to see how residential real estate is faring.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 17:

• New Listings increased 27.8% to 1,643
• Pending Sales increased 8.7% to 1,173
• Inventory decreased 10.1% to 16,124

For the month of July:

• Median Sales Price increased 16.8% to $208,000
• Days on Market decreased 31.4% to 72
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.6% to 97.5%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 19.6% to 3.7

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 26, 2013

Make Your Roof Last

A new roof is an expensive proposition — $18,800 on average for composition shingles, according to Remodeling magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report, and as much as $36,000 for high-end materials. Once you’ve made that kind of investment, you’ll want to protect it.

Roof Maintenance information Extend Lifespan Of Your Roof

And even if your roof is years old, maintaining it in good shape will prolong its life and keep you from having to replace it prematurely. Here’s what you need to do to get the most from your roof.

Clean the Gutters

Ruined paint on siding and a wet basement are typical problems caused by clogged gutters, but it might surprise you to learn that the overflow can also go upward. When leaves pile too deeply in gutters, water can wick into roof sheathing and rot it, or even rot roof rafters.

Fixing that kind of damage could run into the thousands of dollars, but you can avoid it by cleaning your gutters each fall and spring. Do it yourself in a few hours if you’re comfortable working on a ladder, or hire a pro for $50-$250, depending on house size.

Remove Leaves

If you have a simple peaked roof surrounded by low landscaping, your roof probably stays clear of leaves on its own. But if the roof is more complicated or if towering trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they will trap moisture and gradually decompose, allowing moisture to accumulate in your roof — or worse, create fertile ground for weeds to grow.

If you have a low-slope roof and a one-story house, you may be able to pull the leaves down with a soft car-washing brush on a telescoping pole. Or you can use a specialty tool like a roof leaf rake, which costs about $20. A leaf blower gets the job done too, especially on dry leaves, but you or a pro needs to go up on the roof to use it.

If leaves are too wet or too deep, you might need to wash them off with a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer, which can force water up under the shingles.

Get Rid of Moss

In much of the country, composition roofs often become covered with black algae. Although unsightly, this filmy growth doesn’t hurt the roof. A little chlorine bleach or detergent mixed with water will kill it, but it’s safer for both you and the roof to just leave it alone.

If you live in the Northwest, you’re likely to find moss growing on your roof, particularly on wood or composition shingles. Moss, which looks more three-dimensional than algae, needs to go because it traps water. If you tackle it early enough, you can just sweep it off.

If there’s a lot of buildup, you may need to kill the moss first. The Washington Toxics Coalition recommends using products based on potassium salts of fatty acids rather than more toxic formulas with zinc sulfate. Even so, apply the soap only where moss is growing, and try to keep the wash water from getting into storm drains.

Once the roof is clean and free of moss, consider investing in zinc strips to keep it from coming back. For about $300, a roofer will install strips near the top of the roof. When it rains, the runoff from the strips inhibits the growth of moss. It’s effective and more environmentally friendly than treating the entire roof with pesticide, as long as you don’t live near a stream or a lake where the runoff can harm aquatic life.

Trim Overhanging Branches

A little prevention in the form of tree-trimming goes a long way toward keeping leaves and moss off your roof and keeping your roof damage-free. Abrasion from limbs and leaves that touch your roof can eventually damage shingles, especially in high winds.

Overhanging branches also give squirrels and other rodents access to your roof. They can gnaw on your roof and siding. Branches need to be 10 feet away from your roof to keep these pests at bay. If that’s not possible, wrap the tree trunk with a sheet-metal bank to prevent them from climbing the tree.

Trimming branches that hang over the roof is a job for a pro, though, or you might cause more damage than you prevent.

Prevent Ice Dams


If you’re plagued by ice buildup on the roof, removing some or all of the snow between storms might forestall leaks into your house. Don’t try to pry off ice that’s already formed, since that could damage the roof. Use a roof rake to dislodge snow within three or four feet of the gutters. Get a telescoping pole and work from the ground, if possible. If you must be on a ladder, work at an angle so the falling snow doesn’t push you over.

Inadequate insulation and air leaks into your attic greatly increase the risk of ice dams, so once the storms pass, address those problems, too.

Look and Listen

After every big wind or hail storm, or if you’ve heard scurrying on the roof at night, give your roof a quick check to make sure everything’s still intact.

Look for:

  • Curling, loose, or missing shingles

  • Damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, skylights, and other openings

If anything seems amiss, ask a roofer to inspect ASAP. Most problems are fairly easy to fix, but if you put them off and water gets in, the damage and costs escalate.

TIP: You don’t have to climb a ladder to inspect your roof. You can use binoculars.

Source:  Houselogic

New listing: 2930 Highland Court - Mound

2930 Highland Ct Mound, MN 55364

New listing just posted:

New listing video just posted:


Home Information:

Beds: 4

Baths: 2.00

Sqft: 3351

Asking Price: $830,000

MLS #: 4405586

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weekend Happenings: State Fair Grandstand

Let's face it.  Nobody wants to go up against the State Fair.  I was trying to find events that one could attend in lieu of going to the State Fair, but there just aren't that many, especially in our neck of the woods.  So, instead of trying to highlight all-things-Fair, I've decided to just highlight some of the great music and entertainment that's going to be at the Grandstand this weekend.  It's a fun date, easier to park, cooler, and you may still get out in time to run over to Martha's Cookie stand for a late night snack.

State Fair Grandstand
MN State Fair Grounds
1265 N. Snelling Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55108
Thurs-Sun, Aug 22-25, 2013
Times: 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm 
Cost:  Varies

Thursday:  Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon from SNL

Showtime:  8:00 pm
Tickets:  $38

Photo of Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon from SNL

With more than 20 years of "Saturday Night Live" experience among them, three huge stars from SNL fame will share the stage for a night of comedy under the stars. Seven-year SNL veteran, Dana Carvey is best-known for his personalities including the Church Lady and Garth from Wayne's World. Dennis Miller served as the Weekend Update correspondent on SNL for six seasons, but is probably best known for his half-hour, live talk show on HBO, "Dennis Miller Live." As one of the longest-running SNL cast members, Kevin Nealon's reccurring role as an anchor on Weekend Update made the sketch a show staple along with his fan-favorite characters The Subliminal Man and Franz of the sketch Hans and Franz.

Friday:  Under The Sun 2013: Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms
Showtime:  8:00 pm
Tickets:  $28

Photo of Gin Blossoms

Sugar Ray is an American rock band formed in 1986, featuring lead singer Mark McGrath, guitarist Rodney Sheppard, bassist Justin Bivona, drummer Jesse Bivona and percussionist Al Keith. Originally started as a funk metal band, they first gained popularity with their song "Fly" in 1997. The song had much more of a pop rock sound and was notable for sounding unlike the rest of their tracks. It led the band to change their genre to mainstream pop music and produce other hits such as "Every Morning," "When It's Over," and "Someday."

Saturday:  Sammy Hagar Four Decades of Rock
Showtime:  7:30 pm
Tickets:  $35

Photo of Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar is the "Red Rocker," former front man of Van Halen and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hagar came to prominence in the 1970s with the hard rock band Montrose. He then launched a successful solo career prior to becoming the lead singer of Van Halen. His current musical endeavor includes the rock band Chickenfoot, which also features former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. In addition to being noted as a hit songwriter and lead vocalist, Hagar is a dedicated philanthropist, entrepreneur of several successful bars and restaurants, and a New York Times best-selling author. In 2011, his autobiography, "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock," reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List as a hardcover and again claimed the same spot upon its release in paperback in 2012.

Opening for Sammy Hagar are Buckcherry and Rival Sons

Sunday:  Sheryl Crow with special guest star Dwight Yokum
Showtime:  7:30 pm
Tickets:  $39

Photo of Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow is a nine-time Grammy award-winning American musician. She has sold more than 17 million albums in the U.S. with hits such as "Soak Up The Sun," "If It Makes You Happy," "Everyday is A Winding Road" and "A Change Would Do You Good." In addition to her own work, she has performed with the Rolling Stones and has sung duets with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett and Sting. Her new hit, "Easy," shows her transition into country music.

Photo of Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam is an American singer/songwriter, actor and film director, most famously known for his country music. He is a two-time Grammy Award winner and was recently nominated for Artist of the Year in the 2013 Americana Honors and Awards. "Vanity Fair" claims that he "strides the divide between rock's lust and country's lament." Yoakam has had more than 30 singles on the "Billboard Hot Country Songs" charts such as "Honky Tonk Man," "Please Please Baby," "Little Ways" and "I Sang Dixie."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Increasing Prices for Twin Cities New Construction

If you're looking to build that dream home, you'd better hurry up.  Construction costs for new homes in the Twin Cities have bypassed their low point and are on the rise according to an article in the Star Tribune.  The price per square foot for new construction in the Twin Cities is $150, a four year high.

The reasons are many and varied.  There is a lack of skilled labor as many construction workers moved to other industries during the recession.  Many lumber mills had to close shop when the housing market's bottom fell out.  Those that stayed in business had to scale back production during the housing bust.  That has led to a current lack of supply for building materials and a backlog on orders from builders. 

With increased consumer confidence, along with the fact that new construction is still a bargain compared to 2007 prices, many consumers are back in the game and looking to build.  This puts builders in the power position of being able to demand more money for new houses.

Another factor in the pricing increase comes from the lack of develpable land in the metro area.  Until more land comes available for building, current lots are going to sell very quickly and at a premium.

With all that said, building a home is still feasible and within your grasp.  If you'd like to build, give us a call and we'll walk you through the options out there.  Call us or e-mail Sharla or Eric for more information.

Source:  Star Tribune, "Prices of New Twin Cities Metro Homes Accelerate"; and Michelle Schwake, Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Weekly Market Update: August 19, 2013

In the world of costs and benefits, no good deed goes unpunished and every rain cloud has a silver lining. The Commerce Department recently reported that consumer retail spending had risen the most in seven months. That bodes well for residential real estate – an industry sensitive to consumer confidence and spending levels. But it could force the Federal Reserve's hand in tapering stimulatory monetary policy sooner than later, something that could push interest rates off their current lows.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 10:

• New Listings increased 19.1% to 1,650
• Pending Sales increased 10.1% to 1,197
• Inventory decreased 11.3% to 15,990

For the month of July:

• Median Sales Price increased 16.8% to $208,000
• Days on Market decreased 31.4% to 72
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.6% to 97.5%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 21.7% to 3.6

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association Of Realtors

Monday, August 19, 2013

Driving Down The Value Of Your Home

Your home is your castle, and you can do what you want with it. Right? Sure. But if you want a good return on the dough — and sweat equity — you pour into Home Sweet Home, you should make sure those changes are smart ones.

Too often, that’s not the case. Real-estate agents and appraisers say they regularly see homeowners make changes that don't increase the value of the home by much, if at all. Some renovations or alterations can even drag down the value of a home. Then, of course, there is all the damage that a lack of upkeep and upgrades can do.

Here are some common Don'ts for maintaining the value in your home.

1.  DON'T Go Overboard For Your Area

Going overboard for the area (© Oote Boe/Getty Images)

The common mistake: A common mistake homeowners make is improving a home too much for the neighborhood, turning the home into a pricey outlier. How much is too much? That depends. "If you're in a really nice neighborhood, it would be hard to over improve something," says Jay Josephs, a certified appraiser for 23 years and the president of the Josephs Appraisal Group in Phoenix. But if you, say, install a $20,000 pool behind a $60,000 house, "you might get $5,000 to $8,000 return," Josephs says.

What you should do: "Pay real close attention to the common denominator in a neighborhood," says Sandra Nickel, the owner of Sandra Nickel Hat Team, a real-estate agency based in Montgomery, Ala. Talk to a trusted real-estate agent or an appraiser, and ask for an appraisal without improvements and another with them. If it doesn't pay off, "it's not a good value," Nickel says.

2.  DON'T Inconsistently Upgrage

2. Inconsistency (© Peter Glass/Getty Images)

The common mistake: Homeowners goof by upgrading inconsistently, which hurts value, says Josephs, who is also a partner at Value Trend Solutions. "I have seen completely remodeled kitchens where people have spent $40,000 or $50,000 on a kitchen, and the rest of the house is untouched — there are vinyl floors, blue shag carpeting," he says.

What you should do: "The best way to get the greatest return on your home is to cure the deficiencies. Find out what's the baseline in your particular neighborhood — and anything you can do to bring your home up to that baseline … is probably an investment worth doing," Josephs says. "One of the things I like to say is, 'Stone floors and vinyl floors should never be touching.'"

3.  DON'T Screw Up The Floorplan

Screwing up the floor plan (© Image Source/Getty Images)

The common mistake: Too many people aren't careful when they add square footage to a home, agents and appraisers say. "Adding a bedroom where you've got to walk through the laundry room to get there — most appraisers would call that 'functional obsolescence,'" Josephs says. Another example: adding a bedroom on the east side of the house when the bathrooms are on the west side of the house. "Those are additions that are probably not going to bring you a return on the investment that you're going to be satisfied with."

What you should do: "Keep in mind the functional integrity of the floor plan," Josephs says. Better yet, hire an architect who is trained to think about the design and flow of spaces.

4.  DON'T Get Too Trendy

Getting too trendy (© Cavan Images/Getty Images)

The common mistake: Everybody wants a fashionable home, but too trendy can be a trap.    

"Something that's real hot today that I think is going to be a problem in a few years? Those skinny tile backsplashes" in kitchens, Nickel says. "It's gonna be like avocado appliances" were a few years ago, Nickel predicts. "Ten years ago, garden tubs and separate showers were all the rage," she says. "Nobody wants a garden tub anymore; we figured out we don't get in them." Homeowners are ripping them out to put in a nice standing shower, she says.

What you should do: "Be very aware of what's trendy, and avoid it at all costs," Nickel says. Steer toward looks that are a bit more timeless, she says — so hip doesn't become dated.

5.  DON'T Hold On To Brass Door Knobs

The common mistake: "One thing I see a lot is that homes that were built in the 1990s still have brass hardware," says real-estate agent Kim Baker with Russ Lyon/Sotheby's International Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It's very noticeable, if you walk into a home that has been updated with counters, cabinets and yet they haven't updated the hardware."

What's wrong with brass? "It's dated; it looks old," Baker says.

What you should do: "The No. 1 thing I tell people to do is change out your brass hardware," Baker says. Try fixtures made of chrome, brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze instead, she suggests. If you can't afford to redo your cabinets, "even changing out the brass will add value."

To read about more DON'TS before you sell, go to "14 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Home's Value" on MSN Real Estate.

Source:  MSN Real Estate

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Volksfest, Fun Run, and Art Crawl

Victoria Volksfest
Downtown Victoria and Steiger Lake
Aug. 16-17, 2013
Fri: 5:00 pm to midnight
Sat:  10:00 am to midnight
Cost:  Free

Great Family Fun Entertainment with bands, lots good food and special features.  Fun events like Bed Races, Adirondack Chair Auction, wine tastings, Arts and Crafts, Kids Games, Kids Fishing Day on Stieger Lake, Dunk Tank, Rock Climbing Wall and much more.  The festival is topped off with Fireworks and the band Rocket Club.

Paint the Pavement Fun Run
Hilde Amphitheater
3450 Plymouth Blvd.
Plymouth, MN
Sat., Aug. 17, 2013
9:00 am to Noon
Cost:  Free to watch, $17 or $20 on site, Ages 9 and under are free to participate  


When you think of running you automatically think of art, right?  Maybe not so much.  But this weekend the city of Plymouth will combine the two in the Paint the Pavement 5 K Fun Run.  Participants will work together to create art with paint at various points along the race. This is a great family event that encourages art, an active lifestyle and loads of fun.  Open to walkers and runners alike, have some fun and "paint" the pavement. Fee includes t-shirt. Ages 3 & older may participate. Registration Check-in at 7:30 a.m.      

Arboretum Art Crawl
MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chanhassen, MN
Aug. 17-18, 2013
Sat. 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sun.  Noon to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free with Gate Admission

Art Crawl Through the Gardens is a unique event for all tastes and is set entirely in the Arboretum's beautiful landscapes and gardens. This event features a wide variety of works displayed by talented artists who will be on hand to meet with visitors and sell their arts and crafts.

Exhibitors and their art will be scattered in intimate clusters along Three-Mile Drive, accessible by foot, car and the Arboretum Circulator. Guests are encouraged to take a stroll, or drive, through the beauty of nature and enjoy handcrafted items from these talented local artists.

Take a break from shopping in the beautiful Nelson Shrub Rose Garden to listen to the BZ Girls on Sunday from noon-4 p.m. Plenty of room for dancing too if the urge strikes!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chanhassen Listed As One Of America's Best Small Towns

Money Magazine recently listed Chanhassen as one of America's Best Small Towns, coming in at number four on the list.  The publication's annual list of best places to live ranked small cities with populations under 50,000 based on the quality of their schools, economies, housing markets, and green spaces, among other factors.


But this comes as no surprise to the residents who live in Chanhassen.  This suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul doesn't necessarily look like your average suburb.  It boasts a charming main street with thriving businesses, many parks and trails, family oriented festivals and activities, beautiful neighborhoods, and great schools.     

Chanhassen is also a wonderful place for tourism with the Chanhassen Dinner Theater drawing huge crowds every weekend, as well as the MN Landscape Arboretum.   


Once thought to be "out in the boonies", Chanhassen now has great access to the downtown Twin Cities area via the recently constructed Hwy 212.  It's never been easier to live outside the city but still have great access to it.  

We have been actively selling homes in this beautiful town for over 10 years and also lived in the Longacres neighborhood for many of those years and our children still attend school in Chanhassen.  We know this town like the back of our hands and are considered "experts" when it comes to real estate in Chanhassen.  So if you are thinking that you'd like to live in one of America's Best Small Towns, give us a call and we'll show you around some of the beautiful neighborhoods in Chanhassen.  

Give us a call at 952-240-2575 or you can e-mail Sharla or Eric directly.  We'll have you living in this great town in no time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Weekly Market Update: August 12, 2013

As we move past the peak spring and summer selling months, one might expect tapering activity compared to last month.  But we can still expect solid year over year improvement. Rates remain affordable despite recent increases. Rising prices should continue to alleviate challenged homeowners, which should lend to increased options for buyers. Items to watch include Federal Reserve policy, a potential debt ceiling standoff and jobs numbers – all of which affect the course of consumer confidence.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 3:

• New Listings increased 18.0% to 1,689
• Pending Sales increased 15.0% to 1,252
• Inventory decreased 11.9% to 15,981

For the month of July:

• Median Sales Price increased 16.8% to $208,000
• Days on Market decreased 31.4% to 72
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.6% to 97.5%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 21.7% to 3.6

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homeowner's Insurance for a Condo

In many ways, buying a condominium offers fewer headaches than owning a single-family home: you don’t need to take care of yard work or snow removal, nor do you have to handle major maintenance issues on the building itself.

However, not everything about condo living is easier. In particular, figuring out how to adequately insure your home is a much more complicated prospect when you own a condominium.

Here’s what you need to know about homeowner’s insurance for condos:

Know the Master Policy

Part of the confusion with condo insurance comes from the fact that the building itself is covered by the condo association’s master policy. These policies are paid for by your association dues, and they cover any part of the complex that’s owned in common — from building exteriors and hallways to common rooms or pool areas.

The master policy doesn’t cover any individual unit, however, since the owner of that unit is expected to have their own insurance for the contents.

How much insurance you need for that depends on what type of master policy your association has. There are two types: bare walls-in, which only covers the structural aspects of any particular condominium unit, and all-in, which covers the structure and any fixtures that come standard in the condo, like countertops and light fixtures.

If your association master policy is a bare walls-in variety, that means you’ll need more coverage, since you’re responsible for everything within your unit other than the bare walls and floor.

Know the Association Deductible

Another piece of the puzzle is how high the master policy deductible is. If there’s an insurance claim through the master policy, the condo residents are expected to equally share in the cost of the deductible for that claim.

Oftentimes, these deductibles can be quite high — between $10,000 and $50,000. Spread across the total number of owners in the building, that becomes much more manageable, but it’s still a cost you’ll have to factor in. You can add a deductible assessment coverage rider to your condo insurance to provide you with enough coverage to handle your portion of the deductible.

In addition, it’s important to understand the bylaws of your condo association when it comes to that deductible. Some condo associations will make individual owners responsible for the entire master policy deductible if the loss began in their unit — for instance, if a pipe bursts in your apartment that then floods the building.

Know the Value of Your Possessions

One aspect of condo insurance that’s similar to homeowner’s insurance is the importance of adequately insuring your belongings. It’s helpful to have your valuable possessions specifically itemized and appraised so that you can know exactly how much coverage you need for the contents of your condo.

In addition, don’t forget to consider the costs of any upgrades you’ve made to your condo. This includes installation of carpet/flooring, cabinetry, countertops, etc. Even if your master policy is an all-in policy, anything that you do to improve your home is on you to insure.

The Bottom Line

The thick sheaf of association documents you receive when you buy a condo is something you really need to hold onto and study. This will help you determine what your insurance needs are. When you meet with your insurance agent, bring along the association documents so that you can make sure you’re getting all of your homeowner’s insurance needs met.

Source:, Do You Need Homeowner's Insurance For Your Condo?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Weekend Happenings: Carver County Fair 2013

Carver County Fair
501 W. 3rd St.
Waconia, MN 55387
Wed. - Sun., Aug. 7-11, 2013
Open 8:00 am to 10:30 pm, Sunday until 8:00 pm
Cost:  $7 ages 7 to adult, kids 6 and under Free


Come and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Carver County Fair.  The weather is beautiful and the people watching is priceless.  Experience the exhibitions, the food, the rides, and the animals.  You'll enjoy lots of entertainment from Wildlife Wendy and her Tropical Birds to the heart pumping adreniline rush of the Buffalo Creek BMX riders.  It's sure to be a great time for the entire family!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stage Your Refrigerator?

No detail is too small for a home buyer. And while you’re making sure the kitchen counters are decluttered and sparkling clean, you might want to take a closer look in the refrigerator too, particularly if it’s staying with the house. The buyer likely will be. And what will they see when they open the doors?

Over-stuffed, sticky shelves? Expired veggies that are growing a friend? Vile smells?

The contents of a seller’s fridge may say a lot about a home owner. It may even have the potential to leave a potential buyer with a negative impression.

The New York Times recently devoted an entire article to a place often overlooked in real estate showings: The refrigerator.

When writer Richard Samson with The New York Times was getting ready to sell his apartment, he suddenly became alarmed at the contents of his refrigerator. “From the perspective of the nervous buyer, I realized that my freezer contents alone had the potential to terrify and repel: vodka; century-old, virtually empty ice cream containers; more vodka, and then those mysterious foil-wrapped parcels of who-knows-what.”

Samson realized he needed to clean up his ways. When prospective buyers opened his refrigerator, he wanted to send a sophisticated vibe: He filled his refrigerator with freshly squeezed orange juice; 9-ounce glass bottles of Ronnybrook milk; bright red watermelon chunks; black olive Tapenade; and two bottles of champagne strategically placed on the bottom shelf.

OK, but there’s limit to just how far he would go. He realized that when contemplating buying burrata for $8 for a small container. “There’s a fine line between appearing cosmopolitan and actually looking like a fool,” Samson wrote. “Besides, I can’t risk buyers’ thinking I have money to burn on mozzarella, unless I’m prepared to attract an array of low-ball bids.”

What’s inside your sellers’ refrigerator? Do your sellers need a fridge intervention? Ask them for a drink and then sneak a peek!

It may be a good time to remind your sellers that if the refrigerator is staying with the house, buyers often will take a look inside, and impressions count. Encourage them to clean out their refrigerator. Toss out the expireds and those items that may have been hiding in the back. Clean off the shelves so they sparkle. And possibly even add a few touches, like a bowl filled with colorful fruit or gourmet mustards and condiments. After all, presentation is everything, even inside the refrigerator.

Source:  Styled, Staged, And Sold Blog

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekly Market Update: August 5, 2013

National news outlets enjoy discussing foreign investment cash and rising interest rates as a determining factor of the housing market. A tapering of high summer sales volume may start to kick in over the next several weeks, but let's attribute that more to parents busily returning to back-to-school schedules, rather than goings-on at the Fed or the Greek debt crisis. Locally, the majority of segments continue to outperform historic activity to the delight of buyers and sellers alike.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 27:

• New Listings increased 19.7% to 1,716
• Pending Sales increased 18.4% to 1,280
• Inventory decreased 12.0% to 15,993

For the month of June:

• Median Sales Price increased 17.5% to $210,000
• Days on Market decreased 34.5% to 74
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 2.5% to 97.5%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 25.0% to 3.6

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, August 5, 2013

Athletic At Home

Here in Minnesota with our weather being either 30 degrees below zero with blizzard conditions or 95 degrees with high humidity and biting mosquitos and flies, it's a wonder people get outside to go to a gym, much less outside to partake in sports.  It's no wonder then, that many people are opting for transforming some of their living space in their homes into a home gym or a sport court of some sort.

We've outlined a few types of sports-minded spaces that you might want to include in your home. 

The Home Gym

Whether you just have enough space for a treadmill or you want to transform your entire basement into a gym, there are a few essentials you'll want to be sure to include:

  • Enough Space - Depending on the type of equipment you are going to include, be sure to allow enough space for that equipment to be used in it's full capacity as well as allowing for movement between your equipment and around the room in general.
  • Accessories - You'll most likely want to include some audio/video devices, storage space for towels, sports equipment, videos, etc.  Some even include refrigerators or water fountains.
  • Mirrors - Full lenth mirrors help visually increase the space and reflect light.  They are also essential for mainting form while you work out.
  • Visual appeal - You will never want to use your gym if it feels like you're walking into a dungeon.  Be sure to make the space visually appealing to your tastes so that it's a space you will want to spend time in.
  • Good ventillation - Let's face're planning on sweating in this gym and in an enclosed space, that can quickly lead to a funky smelling gym.  Be sure you include air return vents, a fan of some sort to cool you off and circulate the air, and if possible, a window that you can open when the weather allows.

Modern Home Gym by Elkridge Design-Build Firms Rule4 Building Group

Modern Home Gym

Eclectic Home Gym by Mooresville Building Supplies Lowe’s Home Improvement

Contemporary Home Gym by Edmonton Home Builders Kanvi Homes

Contemporary Home Gym by Park City Architects & Designers Jaffa Group Design Build

Mediterranean Home Gym by Littleton Home Builders Celebrity Communities

The Yoga Studio

Our hectic lifestyles tend to lead to stressed out living.  Because of this, Yoga and other relaxing and meditative exercising programs, like Tai Chi are on the rise.  While you can do this in your living room, being face to face with all the things that need to be done in your home can defeat the purpose.  Many yoga enthusiasts are transforming spaces in their home for these relaxing, yet challenging activities.  These spaces are usually fairly free of clutter, minimalist in design, and have some element of relaxation such as nature spaces, candels, low lighting, etc.

Modern Home Gym by Cabin John Design-Build Firms Anthony Wilder Design/Build, Inc.

Indoor Sport Courts

Whether your family is into soccer, tennis, basketball, racquetball or all of these, there is a sport court for your home....that is if you have the space for it.  These specialized courts take up a lot of space in a home.  Not only do you need the floor space but you will also need a ceiling height that will accomodate your fave sport.  But if your family loves to participate in their sport year round, this is the ultimate way to go!

Source:  Article by Michelle Schwake, Stafford Family Realtors