Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending February 6, 2016

The typical winter humdrum has hit the U.S. real estate market, with the same trends from late January continuing into February. Fewer home choices means less competition for sellers, and buyers are still in the housing game with federal rate hikes not anticipated to deter home buying in 2016, as mortgage rates are expected to stay low.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending February 6:
 • New Listings decreased 17.6% to 1,235
 • Pending Sales increased 3.4% to 890
 • Inventory decreased 21.0% to 10,257

For the month of January:
 • Median Sales Price increased 10.3% to $215,000
 • Days on Market decreased 15.8% to 85
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.5% to 95.0%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 32.3% to 2.1

Publish Date: February 15, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Tiny House Movement

You may have noticed the new-ish trend of Tiny Houses. It seems that you can’t turn on the TV or open a housing magazine without seeing a piece about Tiny or Small homes. But where did this movement come from? Who does it? How can I get one?!?

Here’s some background for you:
Back in 1978, the average size of a new, single family home was 1,780 square feet. Jump ahead to 2013 and that home size also increases to 2,662 square foot. While the average family size has decreased in that time, homes kept getting bigger.

The small house movement seeks to return to simpler living with homes that are less than 1,000 square feet. And, if you really want to split hairs, there is a special distincition between “Small” homes which are 400 to 1,000 square feet and “Tiny” homes which are anything smaller than 400 square feet.
Sarah Susanka has been credited with starting the recent countermovement toward smaller houses when she published The Not So Big House in 1997.

Tiny houses on wheels were popularized by Jay Shafer who designed and lived in a 96 sq ft house and later went on to offer the first plans for tiny houses on wheels, initially founding Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, and then Four Lights Tiny House Company.

In 2002, the Small House Society was founded as “a cooperatively managed organization dedicated to the promotion of smaller housing alternatives which can be more affordable and ecological.”

Hurricane Katrina was a catalyst for more attention to be driven towards the movement on a nation scale. Marianne Custato developed Katrina Cottages as an alternative to the FEMA trailers that were offered to people who were affected by the hurricane.

The movement continues to receive increasing media coverage with television shows such as Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters.  In addition, the possibility of building your own home has added to the movement, with builders/buyers option to craft their dwellings out of reclaimed or found objects which allows the builder to save money on supplies and materials. A particularly niche for tiny houses is to build them on wheels. Tiny houses on wheels are often compared to RVs; however, tiny houses are built to last as long as traditional homes, they use traditional building techniques and materials, and they are aesthetically similar to larger homes.

On the whole, tiny homes only make up a very minimal subset of real estate transactions where the dwelling is the primary living unit. The majority of these tiny structures are purchased and built for use as guest cottages, offices, or play houses.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending January 30, 2016

At the close of January, we see the same market steadiness from last year continue into 2016. Higher home prices are predicted for the year, and there has been a continuing shortage of inventory. However, we should also see a strengthening labor market and further interest in purchasing a home by millennials, keeping things relatively unwavering and balanced.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 30:
• New Listings increased 0.7% to 1,017
• Pending Sales increased 0.2% to 873
• Inventory decreased 21.6% to 10,285

For the month of January:
• Median Sales Price increased 10.3% to $215,000
• Days on Market decreased 15.8% to 85
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.5% to 95.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 32.3% to 2.1

Publish Date: February 8, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015

Friday, February 5, 2016

Loppet and Lakes! There is so much going on around town this weekend! Here is your guide…

The City of Lakes Loppet
February 5-7th, 2016
Where: Lake Calhoun and Theodore Wirth Park
Cost: Depending on the event you want to participate in $20-130

What exactly is a Loppet??? It is a large, long distance cross country skiing event. The City of Lakes Loppet is one of the most iconic Twin Cities events to take place every year. Thousands gather to participate in this three day festival of Nordic skiing which includes events for all ages. Enjoy a vendor village where you can purchase new gear or donate winter items to the KIND drive. There will be tons of Food Trucks and a Surly Beer Garden to tickle your taste buds. There are numerous races of varying lengths and skill levels throughout the weekend to participate in. Check the website above for more information.

Other events include a winter carnival, snow sculpture contest, luminary party, fireworks display, a Kubb tournament and awards ceremony. Whether you are participating or just spectating, this is a great family friendly event!

Wayzata Chili Open
February 5-6th
Where: Wayzata Bay, Lake Minnetonka
Cost: Some events are free
Golfer Tee Off At Hole #4

For the last 32 years, hearty Minnesotans head to Lake Minnetonka for this unique frozen golf event to celebrate the “chili” winter season. Hundreds of golfers grab their clubs or hockey sticks and come out to play one of three 9-hole courses with tennis balls on the frozen lake. The weekend starts off with a free Family Skate and viewing of The Incredibles! Saturday morning kicks off with the Minnesota version of Hot Yoga, except this one is cold, and takes place on the ice. While the golf tournament is full, you can still come out to watch the events, along with the Chili Competition at 1:30 pm.

February Festival
February 6th, 1:00 –3:00 pm
Where: Lake Ann Park, Chanhassen
Cost: $10 per hole/line

This year marks the 23rd annual February Festival. Please join us in celebrating winter at this fun-filled event. There will be sleigh rides, ice skating, sledding, ice fishing contest, and the popular medallion hunt. Food, beverages, and live bait will be available to purchase. Prizes will be awarded to the 50 largest fish by weight, of any legal species.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Simple Kitchen Updates that Won’t Break the Bank

When getting ready to put your home one the market, sellers will do a myriad of project to help show their home in its best light. These updates include everything from changing out old brass hardware and fixtures, fresh paint and new flooring to kitchen and bath remodels.

The first thing clients say when their projects are done is “I wish we would have done it sooner!” It can be a total bummer to finally update those countertops with your long-wished for granite, only to turn around and sell your home.

Don’t fret! There are some great ideas out there to update, upgrade, and repurpose your kitchens!

The current trend is to use found objects that are either salvaged or reclaimed to put a more personal spin on your dining space.

Websites like EBay and salvage stores offer brilliant options for materials. This homeowner saved some old chalkboards from an elementary school and repurposed them as countertops. According to, "The blackboard’s smooth, honed surface is ideal for a countertop, but slate must be sealed periodically to prevent staining.”

Chalkboard Kitchen Counters | Used Building Materials
Credit: Fivedot design build / Kerf Design, photo

Here is another whimsical option! Bowling alley lane boards:

Bowling Alley Countertops | Used Building Materials
Credit: Simply Sofie
The tips here are: "Give your kitchen a playful spin with hard maple countertops made from reconditioned bowling alleys. They’re made with edge-laminated boards so they’re especially tough; you can find them at reclaimed lumber specialists. A section 42 inches wide, 60 inches long, and 2.5 inches thick is about $250 (be sure to ask for sections with arrows and other bowling marks). Measure counter height carefully to account for the thickness."

Everyone is loving the farmhouse sink trend right now! Here's how you can get the look: "A double-bowl, industrial-sized, stainless steel sink is a hard-working addition to this light and airy kitchen. The home owner bought it on eBay for $150. An item this big will dominate your kitchen (it’s 4 feet long) so make sure it’ll fit your kitchen design before you buy. Heads up: Take careful measurements to ensure any built-in backsplash fits beneath your window sills."

Industrial Sink in a Kitchen | Used Building Materials
Credit: Interior Design by Pippa Gore

Aren't in love with your kitchen cabinets anymore? The golden oak getting to you? Resurfacing them is much more cost-effective. Current trends are leaning towards two toned options like this:

After kitchen cabinets painted
Image: Nicole Duff
Nicole Duff had this to say about her DIY project, "“All in all, we ended up spending about $300 on everything,” she says. And when the gray and white cabinets are no longer trendy? “We can just paint them again!”

What have you done to update your space?!?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Weekly Market Update For Week Ending January 23, 2016

We're just breaking into 2016, so it's a bit early to say how the spring and summer markets are going to fare based on a few weeks of trend analysis, but for the most part, things are happening the way we expected to start the year. There are some nibbles of new listings being added to the market, and sales are taking root, but the overall number of homes for sale has some work to do in order to give this year the real steam it deserves.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending January 23:
 • New Listings decreased 14.2% to 908
 • Pending Sales increased 12.1% to 725
 • Inventory decreased 20.7% to 10,403

For the month of December:
 • Median Sales Price increased 9.9% to $219,900
 • Days on Market decreased 11.2% to 79
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.3% to 95.4%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 31.3% to 2.2

Publish Date: February 1, 2016 • All comparisons are to 2015
Source: Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors