Thursday, October 30, 2014

Weekend Happenings: Halloween's Over

Mommy & Me Expo
Ramada Inn Bloomington
2300 American Blvd. E
Bloomington, MN
Sun., Nov. 2, 2014
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free

Mommy & Me Expo

Give a Hoot! Shop to support Taylored To You!!!

WHOOOOOOO'S ready to shop?

Mommy's (and Daddy's too) grab your Lil' one's, or plan an outing with your girlfriends; and join us for some shopping fun! Owl guarantee you will not want to miss out on this amazing event, benefitting 501c3 nonprofit Taylored To You; providing resources and support to families who are experiencing a pregnancy following the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death.

We are planning a fun-filled, family friendly shopping experience for your enjoyment. Showcasing vendors of big name products, as well as local crafters for the perfect blend of “everything and anything you’re looking for”; be it for Mommy or your children. Your attendance and purchases will support the amazing vendors who have stepped forward to contribute to our cause. If you would like to learn more about our organization and the resources we provide to families during subsequent pregnancies following their loss(es) visit our website.

- 2 tickets to Chanhassen Dinner Theater
- MOA coupon booklet, points for Nickelodeon Universe & admission for 2 for Moose Mountain Mini Golf.
- Family bowling Package for Sun Ray lanes
- Wild Mountain
- Gift Certificates & Baskets

Door prizes:
-The first 60 children to enter the event will receive a plush owl. Assorted colors *while supplies last.
-The first 60 Mom’s to enter the event will receive a jeweled owl pendant scarf. Assorted colors. *while supplies last
-Free balloons
-Tattoo & Game Booth
-Inflatable obstacle course from 'All Pumped up Inflatables'

Character Meet & Greets by 'Party FUNdamentals':
Mickey Mouse
Minnie Mouse
Doc McStuffins
Despicable Me Minion

So much more!!

Grace Church
9301 Eden Prairie Road
Eden Prairie, MN
Sat., Nov. 1, 2014
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free

This year is our sixth annual event and the Lioness have worked hard to find quality artists and crafters to bring their unique and hand crafted wares to you. We hope that you will be as delighted as we are with the variety and quality of the items offered.

Xcel Energy Center
199 Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN
Sun., Nov. 2, 2014
Concert begins at 7:30 pm
Cost:  $65 to $89.50

James Taylor

Iconic singer-songwriter James Taylor and his All-Star Band are coming to Saint Paul for one intimate and memorable night. As a recording and touring artist, James Taylor has touched people with his warm baritone voice and distinctive style of guitar-playing for more than 40 years, while setting a precedent to which countless young musicians have aspired. Over the course of his celebrated song-writing and performing career, Taylor has sold more than 100 million albums, earning gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards for classics ranging from "Sweet Baby James" in 1970 to "October Road" in 2002.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Post-Baby Rehab


This post is for all of you who have kids that have graduated beyond the baby stage, which to me means about the time they head into kindergarten.  As much as we try to prevent it, littles can cause havoc on our houses.  From spills on the floor to nicks in the walls, it seems like everything below the 3 foot mark is in need of some serious rehab once those kiddos are past the baby stage.

If left for too long, sometimes these blemishes become fixtures and you don't even notice them anymore...until you go to sell your house and realize all the work that needs to be done.  So why not tackle all that starting now and enjoy the beauty of a revitalized home.

1.  Remove Baby Safety Equipment


Take out all those safety plugs, remove the baby gates, uninstall the safety hinges, and remove all the locks on the cabinets.  Now you can walk right down those steps and open those cabinets with ease.  Be sure to repair any holes left by screws of installed hardware.

2.  Steam Clean Those Carpets


While you should clean your carpets at least once per year, most people don't.  So why not take the time now to get it done.  Choose a weekend, move aside all your furniture, and treat your family to a fun weekend getaway while your carpets are cleaned.  You'll come back to like-new floors, fewer allergies, and the assurance that they probably won't ever look that bad again.

3.  Repair and Repaint The Walls


From crashing scooters to dirty fingers to random acts of art, the lower half of our walls take a beating from little ones.  Find a good cleanser and wash all your walls.  Fill in all the little nicks and scratches with Spackle.  If you have a lot of crayon marks or stains that can't be washed off, be sure to use a heavy duty primer before applying paint.  And before applying your own paint, try it on a small patch of your wall first and let it dry completely to see if it still matches the current paint on the wall.  If it does, then you can just cover the areas that you repaired.  But if it doesn't, you'll need to re-paint the entire wall.

4.  Say Bye Bye to Baby Stuff


Babies come with so much stuff!  Strollers, pack-n-plays, bouncy seats, boppies, baby gyms, and toys, toys, toys.  If you haven't done so already, go room by room and remove things that are fit only for babies.  Keep whatever you want for a keepsake, and donate the rest or hold a garage sale.  You'll be amazed at how much space this reclaims in your house.  Here are some ideas:

Bedroom:  Crib, changing table, baby books, baby clothes, baby blankets, baby/toddler toys.
Kitchen:  Bottles and sippy cups, plastic or coated baby spoons, bibs, high chairs, booster seats, bottle warmer.
Family Room:  Baby scooters, pack-n-play, safety plugs, baby gates, toys.
Mud Room/Garage:  Strollers, diaper bag, baby coats/boots/hats/mittens, car seats (but keep the booster seat until they are 8 yrs old), tricycles, baby scooters, baby pools,

5.  Update Their Bedroom


Is your big kid still looking at teddy bears on the wall and staring at pastel colors everywhere?  Now is a great time to revamp that room with some cool big-kid decor.  Add in some cool features that babies don't get to have like a desk, a bean bag chair, cool artwork, and bookshelves stocked with age-appropriate books.  Include lots of storage areas for the toys that they do still have and that help them know where everything goes when its time to put their stuff away.  You'll both be a lot happier.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekly Market Update: October 27, 2014

Rising home prices and continued housing stability continue to lure new listings and keep inventory at a comfortable level. Although things like student debt and lethargic wage growth may provide some obstacles for first-time home buyers, those on the hunt for homes are still graced by relatively low inflation and low mortgage rates. The seasonal slows may settle in soon, but the market remains mostly content.

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

• New Listings increased 1.6% to 1,310
• Pending Sales increased 5.1% to 912
• Inventory increased 6.1% to 18,094

For the month of September:

• Median Sales Price increased 5.1% to $204,999
• Days on Market remained flat at 71
• Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.9% to 95.6%
• Months Supply of Inventory increased 18.4% to 4.5

Monday, October 27, 2014

Home Improvement Shows: Reality or Fiction?

HGTV's Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott

Have you ever sat down with your cup of coffee on a Saturday morning  with the intent of watching a quick home improvement show, only to find yourself in the same spot, several hours later, having watched several back to back shows? neither.

But if you have seen the supposed "reality" TV shows centered around rehabbing an older home, improving homes to buy or sell, or flipping a home, then you at least know what I'm talking about.  There's one show out there that finds people wandering the isles of a home improvement store and promises to completely renovate a space in their home in just 3 days.  Sounds too good to be true?  Well, you're right, it is.

Don't be misled by these shows into thinking this is how remodeling and renovating work.  Here are some things that they don't tell you about all these shows.

1.  Rushed Time Frames

Alison Victoria of DIY's Kitchen Crashers, photo credit:  Paul Kim

In the show mentioned above, they completely gut a kitchen or some other room, then replace flooring, cabinets, appliances, back splash, and sometimes remove walls to get a completely renovated kitchen in just three days.

What they don't tell you is that the local contractors brought on site to do the work are working practically round-the-clock on that property.  Typically, you see maybe  4-5 people working on the project when in fact there are more like 30 people working in the background.

Materials used are usually items that allow for quick install.  The quality, therefore, is not always the best.  The program directors are just looking for a visual impact and the quality oftentimes suffers.  For instance they will install laminate flooring instead of actual hardwood, and they will use the lowest grade stock cabinets available.

2.  Unrealistic Budgets


Many renovation shows feature homeowners who have a very tight budget but a long list of "Must Haves" (like they must have quartz counter tops and top-end appliances, when they are currently living with laminate and 20 year old appliances...get real, people!)  Somehow the renovators are able to deliver and give them the home of their dreams on this tight budget.

What they don't tell you is that these budgets on reality TV are pure fiction.  So don't expect to accomplish nearly  the amount of work on the same budget if you decide to do the same thing.

Networks often partner with home improvement stores that offer up free materials and contractors who bid on the projects are forced to work at discounted rates in order to get the free publicity.  Additionally many programs do not show some of the behind the scenes work that needs to be done such as testing for lead and asbestos, or replacing a septic system that is many times required when you pull a permit.  These costs can add several thousand dollars to your project.

3.  Buying A Home Is Never That Easy


Many shows feature people who need to purchase a new home.  In TV-land, this process appears to happen in a single day with no worries or hassles involved.

What they don't tell you is that getting approved for a loan is usually a buyers biggest obstacle.  The entire process typically takes 60-90 days at a minimum.  There is endless paperwork, inspections, negotiations, and hoops to jump through, and they still might be turned down for a  loan.

Before you decide to purchase a new home, get your financial ducks in a row, lay aside a good-sized down payment, and have a clear understanding of how much home you can afford.

4.  Flipping Doesn't Pay What It Used To


If you're looking to make a little money by buying a cheap home and flipping it, you might want to re-think that.  There are several programs that show people buying a run-down home, doing a few days work, then making extravagant amounts of money by selling it.

What they don't tell you is that flipping houses doesn't make the money that it did a few years ago and the profits continue to go down.  The cost of homes, even run down ones, are going up, as is the cost of materials and labor needed to renovate.  This leads to lower profits for the homeowner.

There are many factors to consider that determine whether a property is suitable for flipping.  Just because a home is cheap doesn't mean it is a good investment.  You need to thoroughly investigate the neighborhood and the property.  Curb appeal really does help sell a house so if there is too much money needed to boost curb appeal, you'll lose out in the end.  You need to walk the fine line between investing too much and not enough.  Also, if you take too long to complete your renovations your carrying costs could wipe out any profit you may have made.

5.  Dramatic Storylines Are Actually Ho-Hum


We all know a good storyline creates an entertaining TV show.  Many times you'll see homeowners who severely disagree with one another, or something tragic happens that throws a wrench into things.

What they don't tell you is that many producers will fabricate a story to make the homeowners more interesting.  On the popular HGTV show "House Hunters", they typically show people who have already decided on and closed on a house.  On the program, they show the buyers going to three different homes, weighing the pros and cons, and then finally deciding on a home, which of course they qualify for and do not have to do a lot of negotiating for.  Many times the home they eventually choose (which they already own) is the one that they were bashing for something or another or had a major disagreement about.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Weekend Happenings: Can't Wait For Halloween

Wayzata Boo Blast
Lake Street, Wayzata
Sat., Oct. 25, 2014
11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Cost:  Free

Boo Blast 2012 Art with Tagline

Wayzata celebrates Halloween Saturday, October 25 from 11-3 pm! Trick-or-Treat and enjoy spooky specials and family-friendly activities all around town!

The TROLLEY will be back in town!!! Route TBD.
Lunds of Wayzata will be hosting FREE Kids photos, FREE Hot Dogs, FREE Soda, FREE chips, FREE Ice cream, and FREE music and entertainment provided by “Kids Dance”
Get your picture with a Gargoyle and pick-up a FREE Popcorn Ball at Lindblom Jewelers. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Business Discount coupons for adults at the UPS Store of Wayzata
TCF Bank Tent with games & treats
Visit “Newbie” the shoe character at Schuler Shoes
Trick-or-treat up and down the Village Shoppes
FREE ginger snaps & caramels at Judd Frost/Frost & Budd
Scare Hair at Salon Marquee
$25 gift certificates for Moms, along with a FREE Photo shoot and trick-or-treat atMonique of Switzerland
Title Boxing Club Open House with Treats from 12 pm – 3 pm and Special Halloween Class from 1 pm – 2 pm for adults and children of all ages

Terror Trot

Lake Harriet Bandshell
4135 W Lake Harriet Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Sat. Oct. 25, 2014
10:00 am (arrive at 9:15 am)
Cost:  Race Day Registration $40 ($35 cash)


The Terror Trot benefits Childrens Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Come join the inaugural Halloween run around Lake Harriet, and the event will be held at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Families and people of all ages are welcome to join. We highly suggest bringing your best Halloween costume (just make sure you can run in it)!

The Soap Factory
514 2nd St. SE, Mpls
Thurs. Oct. 23rd - Sun., Nov. 2nd, 2014
6:00 pm to 11:10 pm
Cost:  $25-$27


With no map, no guide, and no hope, where will you turn? Who will you trust? Don't worry, you can always say "Uncle"...

Descend into the nightmarish depths of The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement and explore the terrifying world of Unhinged. An annual tradition 8 years running, The Haunted Basement is bigger and better than ever with 2014’s Unhinged production. The creative team at The Soap Factory has outdone themselves, creating an all-new, terrifying experience for visitors.

Can’t muster the courage to descend into The Haunted Basement? Join us October 19th and 26th for ‘Fraidy Cat tours. These lights-on, no-scares tours of The Haunted Basement are part artist talk, part behind-the-scenes tour and an incredible opportunity to see all of the artistry behind 2014’s Unhinged. ‘Fraidy Cat tours on 10/19 and 10/26 from 11am - 1pm, tickets $10 at the door. We recommend coming between 11:30 - 12:30, because the 11:00 tours fill up fast!

7410 Hwy 212, Chaska
Fri-Sat., Oct. 24 & 25, 2014
6:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Cost:  $20-$30

Scream Town is one of the best Haunted Attractions in the Twin Cities. Our attractions are built with quality and the best possible scares in mind. Our location is unbelievable! We didn’t end up here by accident. Scream Town is located just perfectly outside the suburb atmosphere and FEELS like you are in the middle of nowhere. Just the drive onto the property is widely eerie. We hire actors that are crazy about Halloween and scaring the pants off people. We work year round to make this event something guests will talk about for years.

Great Food Available:
Taco in a Bag
Pork Chop on a Stick
Cheese Curds
Hot Cider & Hot Chocolate
and much more!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Housewarming Gift Ideas

People move all the time and for various reasons.  Whether a new family has just moved into your neighborhood, or one of your best friends just bought a new house, it's always great to have a few good housewarming gift ideas in your back pocket.

Next time someone close to you buys a house, stand out from the “standard bottle-of-wine” crowd with one of these useful gifts. They’ll guarantee you barbecue invites for life.

1.  Address Stamp

With e-mail and social media it seems that snail mail has gone the way of the dodo bird.  But eventually people have to send something through the post office, whether it's a package or special invitations.  Order them up an address stamp to make their correspondence stylish and personal.  You can find a ton of great stamp styles on Etsy that will suit just about every style.

2. Hardware Store Gift Card

No matter how many times you've moved, there's always something else you need when you start unpacking because every house is different.  Tuck a gift card to a good local hardware store into a bucket with some home essentials like WD-40, duct tape, superglue, picture hanging kits, and extension cords.  

3.  Favorite Things

This gift comes across as really personal and usually doesn't cost very much money.  Gift them with one of your favorite things that you use around the house, like a special cleaner, a handy device, or a great tool.  Be sure to explain why you love it and where to get more if they find that they love it, too.

4.  Season's Greetings

A bag of tulip bulbs in the fall, a snow shovel in the winter, a pot and some seeds in the spring, or some BBQ tools for the summer.  A seasonal gift allows them to start using your gift immediately to make their home their own.

5.  Help With Dinner, Dessert and a Movie

Swing by with a Papa Murphy's pizza and a jar of cookie ingredients.  Give some popcorn and a Redbox gift card.  Stock a picnic basket with a fun lunch.  Pack all the essentials for cocktails on the deck.  Use your imagination and make the gift suit the people you're giving it too.  They will be so happy to have that night off from unpacking!

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weekly Market Update: October 20, 2014

As we turn toward the final and typically quietest quarter of the year, it is easy to wonder if we are destined to lose the stability that we have worked hard for throughout the U.S. However, gloomy considerations are readily put aside after considering a recent investigation by the International Monetary Fund into the real estate markets of other countries. It turns out that our national housing price-to-income ratio is fairly conservative. At this rate, we will soon stop talking about the process of housing recovery and just call it recovered.

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

• New Listings decreased 6.6% to 1,423
• Pending Sales increased 6.8% to 955
• Inventory increased 7.5% to 18,178

For the month of September:

• Median Sales Price increased 5.1% to $205,000
• Days on Market remained flat at 71
• Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.9% to 95.6%
• Months Supply of Inventory increased 15.8% to 4.4

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day Trip: Waconia Wineries

If you're looking for a great way to spend some of these beautiful fall days that are coming up, why not spend a day at some of the wineries in Waconia.  This quaint lake town boasts three different wineries that all offer up a unique wine list, great ambiance and attractions.  So grab a designated driver and head west.

Parley Lake Winery
8350 Parley Lake Road, Waconia
Hours: Fri-Sun, Noon to 6:00 pm

Located on 125 acres of rolling hills and woods, you'll be mesmerized by the beauty of this land and the flavor of the wines produced there.  Parley Lake Winery's hand-crafted wines have won 84 medals including eighteen Gold in National competitions.  Although the winery is only open on weekends, there are plenty of things to do.  They host food trucks, have bands playing and local artists working on-site.  For $5 you can taste 4 of their wines (and you get to keep the glass).  Wine prices range from $15 to $25 per bottle.

Sovereign Estate Vineyard and Winery
9950 North Shore Road, Waconia
Hours:  Tasting & Wine Sales Only on Tues & Wed, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Tastings, Sales, & Bistro Thurs - Sat., 11:00 am to 8:00 pm; Sun 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

This beautiful vineyard on the shores or Lake Waconia is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon.  With an on-site bistro where all the food pairs perfectly with their wines, you really wouldn't have to leave!  Musicians, artists, wine pairings and tastings, Friday Night Supper Club, and special in-house events will keep you busy at any time of the year.  You can taste 5 of their wines for $5 or try all of them for $10.  But they are best known for their pairings experience ($25) where and experienced staff member guides you through pairing different foods with their wines.  The cost includes a tour through their winery and you get to keep the glass.  You can purchase wines on-site or call to have them shipped to you.

Schram Vineyard
8785 Airport Road, Waconia
Hours:  Thurs., 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Fri., 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Sat. & Sun., 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Wine tastings, food trucks, live bands, bocce ball, cigars, and special events like the Scottish Highland Games make this a place to visit weekend after weekend.  Offering both wines and small-batch brewed beers, this beautiful vineyard is a great place for having fun with friends.  The tasting area overlooks the vineyard and the bocce ball court offering you the chance to relax and take in the view or get up and get moving.  Wines range from $15 to $24 per bottle.  Eight small-batch brews are available on draft Thursdays through Saturdays.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Weekend Happenings: Home Improvement & Design Expo and Eagles Tribute

Home Improvement & Design Expo
Minneapolis Convention Center
1302 2nd Street, Mpls
Sat. & Sun., Oct. 18 & 19, 2014
10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cost:  $6 or FREE with a donation to the food shelf

Explore up to 200 exhibitors featuring the latest products and services for starting your home improvement project right from the start. Talk with the experts and get free tips and ideas. Meet builders, remodelers, landscapers, designers and other home improvement professionals. 2-stages of on-going speakers presentations, demonstrations and entertainment.

Architecture • New Home Building/General Contracting • Additions and Remodeling • Design Consulting • Kitchens and Baths • Windows, Siding and Doors • Spas, Pools and Supplies • Landscaping and Gardening • Interior D├ęcor • Cabinets and Countertops • Entertainment Centers • Decks and Gazebos • Home Improvement • Yard & Garden • Moldings and Wood Trim • Floors • Safety and Preparedness • Storage • Lighting • Driveways, Patios, Walks, Steps, Stairs • Interior and Exterior Products and Services • HVAC • Green Technologies • Healthy Home Resources • Security • and MUCH, MUCH More!

Chanhassen Dinner Theater
501 W 78th St., Chanhassen
Wed. to Fri., Oct. 15 to 17, 2014
8:00 pm
Cost:  $40 show only, $55 dinner and show

Back by popular demand! Two bands, Collective Unconscious and The Fabulous Armadillos, combine talents and return to present this most remarkable tribute concert to The Eagles - the quintessential band of the 70s and 80s. Audiences here have loved every minute of this concert event and are known to sing and even dance along to such hits as: “Take it Easy,” “Life in The Fast Lane,” “Desperado” and so many more. This show played to sold-out houses in 2012 and 2013. Do not miss this return engagement returning for only one weekend in 2014!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Lawn Basics

We tend to spend a lot of time during the warmer months making our lawns look immaculate.  But fall is really the ideal time to boost the health of your lawn before it goes dormant for the winter.  And it will be ready to go in the spring with good roods and ample food.  But be prepared to work hard. Fall lawn care is not walk in the park.


Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.

If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.

A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.

Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.

Banishing Weeds

Fall is the time of year where dandelions are not flowering as much but are putting their energy into their root systems.  Which makes fall an ideal time to use a herbicide to kill them.  The herbicide goes onto the leaves of the plant which are actively sucking up air, water and nutrients (and unknown to them...poison) and pumping that all down to the roots.   Come spring, you'll have far fewer dandelions.  Use a broad based herbicide to kill other weeds as well.

You can buy pre-mixed herbicide that you attach to your hose to spray on your lawn.  But if you have a very large lawn or not enough hose to reach all parts of your lawn, then you'll want to apply the week killer in a granular form with a walk behind broadcaster.  If you go this route, do it in the early morning hours when there is a lot of dew on the ground.  This will allow the herbicide to stick to the weed's leaves.


Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.

Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.

Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.


A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.

Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.


Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.

A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

Source: and Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weekly Market Update: October 13, 2014

Every story needs a hero, and housing's current starlet is (drum roll, please) inventory. More markets continue to see increases in homes for sale, giving buyers more options and keeping prices from trying to overshadow the popularity of inventory with unsustainable stardom. As autumnal extracurriculars pick up and department store decorations trend towards the mustard palate, sales may drop off some, but the subplots of normalization and stabilization should remain popular with year-over-year inventory increases in the leading role.

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

 • New Listings decreased 3.8% to 1,477
 • Pending Sales increased 1.7% to 1,063
 • Inventory increased 10.9% to 18,696

For the month of September:

 • Median Sales Price increased 5.1% to $205,000
 • Days on Market remained flat at 71
 • Percent of Original List Price Received decreased 0.9% to 95.6%
 • Months Supply of Inventory increased 15.8% to 4.4

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, October 13, 2014

Smart Pantry Tips

Unless you are fortunate enough to have a pantry the size of a bedroom, you are probably in search of ways to better organize food storage in your home.  I moved into a 20 year old home last year that has a small (but not tiny) kitchen with short cabinets and no defined pantry.  These 20-year-old cabinets are not the efficient space savers of today, either.  No slide out drawers, no clever pan storage, no full-extension drawers.

Because of this I need to use 7 of my 15 cabinets for food storage.  That's almost half!  We're lucky that we do not live anywhere close to a Costco, or I'd be in a real bind.

I am always on the lookout for ways to better organize the food in my cupboards.  Even if you feel you have ample cabinet space or a separate pantry, you know you can always find better ways to keep everything more organized.

Hang Your Bags

I don't know about you but bags of snacks are the bane of my existence.  They don't store well and they take up a lot of space.  But check out this clever solution.

Simply install a rod at the top of your pantry, and use clips to hang your bags from hangers.  If you have wire shelving you could opt to invest in a bunch of these:
Snack Bins

The hardest shelf to keep clean and organized is the snack shelf.  My kids get home and tear through our snack cabinet until it looks like a tornado went through it. But with a little organization and the help of these clever bins, you can help the kids keep the snack shelf more tidy and accessible.

Use The Door

Many people forget that there is some clearance between the door and where the shelves start.  This is a hidden storage gem.  Check out these ideas for better ways to use your doors.

Lazy Susan's Are Your Friend

Yes, you give up a little bit of space around the Lazy Susan, but you gain a ton of functionality.  And they are perfect for corner cabinets.

Maximize Your Space

Use hanging baskets and shelf dividers to make use of all the space between your shelves.

Baskets, Bins, Jars, and Containers

For smaller items or lots of similar items use baskets or bins to help keep them all in one place.  Store dry goods in jars and containers.  They can be super fancy or utilitarian.  If you can't see through the storage container, then be sure to place a detailed label so you know what's being stored inside.

Customize If You Can

Of course, if you have the time and the money, adding some customization to your cupboards and pantry will help you in the long run.  Here are some great custom-made ideas.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors