Monday, August 27, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending August 18, 2018

It has been another busy summer for residential real estate. The lower supply, higher prices, faster sales mantra has remained in place for most of the nation for the entirety of the year – which heightened in intensity during the summer sales season – but there has been some conversation about the possibility of more supply and lower prices. Presently, it is just conversation, as the numbers are not reflective of a shift in trend lines anytime soon.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 18:
• New Listings increased 6.2% to 1,759
• Pending Sales decreased 10.2% to 1,215
• Inventory decreased 10.9% to 12,207

For the month of July:
• Median Sales Price increased 6.6% to $268,000
• Days on Market decreased 17.4% to 38
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.7% to 99.8%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 11.1% to 2.4

Publish Date: August 27, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017
All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

10 Easy Fixes for That Nearly Perfect House You Want to Buy

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill
From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!
Coastal Views Custom Home
1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing.
Sonoma new construction
2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope.
Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.
Fair Haven
3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new — especially something as fresh and fun as the colorful carpet tiles shown here — can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.
Fair Haven
4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue, like the lovely silvery blue shown here.
Knoll House
5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants (like the saucer version shown here) to Edison-bulb chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.
Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail.
Pacific Heights Home
6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sun room.
Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.
Turn of the Century Craftsman in Los Angeles
7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.
Cape Cod Coastal
8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.
Contemporary Renovation
9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.
Modern Prarie
10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day.
Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog via Houzz

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending August 11, 2018

The U.S. housing market is becoming a tale of regions. Consumers in high-priced markets in the West are pushing back with fewer showings and sales. The Midwest is marked mostly by stability of new listings and sales with gently improving inventory. Many Northeast markets have routinely struggled to keep pace with the overall U.S. economic recovery. And the South is enjoying more showings and sales than the rest of the nation. Here's what's happening in the local market.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending August 11:
• New Listings increased 7.5% to 1,825
• Pending Sales decreased 2.5% to 1,242
• Inventory decreased 10.7% to 12,095

For the month of July:
• Median Sales Price increased 6.6% to $268,000
• Days on Market decreased 17.4% to 38
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.7% to 99.8%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 11.1% to 2.4

Publish Date: August 20, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017. All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime

Thursday, August 16, 2018

8 Popular Tips That Cost Homeowners More in the Long Run

You’re always on the lookout for smart ideas and hacks to manage your home (and save money!) — whether that means listening to the wisdom of your parents who’ve owned a home longer than you’ve been alive, or scouring every corner of the internet for savvy tips.
But just because a tip has been pinned, shared, and Instagrammed thousands of times doesn’t make it smart. Here are eight tips (myths, really) that most people believe are good advice, but instead will cost you cash you don’t need to spend:

Myth #1: Lemons Are Great for Cleaning Garbage Disposals

What it could cost you: A plumber’s visit (and maybe a new disposal)
Proceed with caution when it comes to this well-circulated DIY fix. Citric acid is a natural deodorizer, but plumbing experts say it can corrode the metal in your disposal. That tough lemon peel can also damage the grinding components and clog your pipes. Next thing you know you’re Googling reviews for plumbers.
The better way: Turn on the disposal and, while running cold water, dump in two or more trays of ice cubes. Despite the clamor, this will safely dislodge buildup on the walls and the impellers, which grind up the food.

Myth #2: Use Duct Tape to Seal Ductwork

What it could cost you: Pricier energy bills
Despite its name, don’t rely on duct tape to seal leaks in your HVAC’s ductwork. Testing by the U.S. Department of Energy found it deteriorates over just a few years (hot air from the HVAC system degrades the glue), letting conditioned air escape without doing its job.
The better way: Use duct mastic (a gooey substance kind of like caulk that dries after applied) to seal metal and flexible ductwork, and use it along with a layer of fiberglass mesh for gaps larger than 1/16 of an inch wide. Use gloves with metal ducts because the edges can be sharp, and mastic is messy stuff.

Myth #3: Bleach Will Banish Mold

What it could cost you: A threat to your health, plus hundreds of $ (even thousands)
Although bleach can kill mold on non-porous surfaces, it isn’t effective on absorbent or porous materials — you know, the places it loves to lurk, like grout, caulk, drywall, insulation, and carpet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead, it just bleaches it so you can’t see it. And diluted bleach can feed future mold growth (yikes!) because only the water will be absorbed, which mold just loves.
The better way: Use a commercial anti-fungal product to take out mold at its roots. And only tackle mold removal yourself if the area is less than 10 square feet and you use protective gear, such as a respirator and chemical-resistant gloves. Otherwise, call in a mold remediation specialist who’ll know how to remove it without spreading it’s yucky (and potentially harmful) spores.

Myth #4: Change Your HVAC Filter Every Month

What it could cost you: Around $100 a year
Although the air filter should be changed regularly to keep your home’s HVAC system operating efficiently, this piece of advice is more of a convenient general rule that could cause you to throw away perfectly good filters (and money!).
“The harsh truth is that it’s easier to say, ‘Do it every month’ and know that means people might do it every three or four months,” says homeowner advocate Tina Gleisner of Home Tips for Women.
The better way: The Department of Energy recommends checking, but not necessarily changing, your air filter every month. Change it if it looks dirty, replacing it at least once every three months.

Myth #5: Buy a Rinse Aid for Spot-Free Dishes

What it could cost you: Dollars instead of cents
Most dishwashers now come with a built-in dispenser for commercial rinse aids, plus a free sample to get you started. So now you’re hooked (spot-free glasses every time!), and it has become a regular item on your shopping list, even if it does cost almost $4 for 8 ounces.
The better way: If you’ve never tried, run your dishwasher without a rinse aid. If your water is soft, your dishwasher may deliver spot-free sparkle without any extra help. But if you’re still seeing spots, just fill the rinse-aid dispenser with plain white vinegar (less than a 50 cents for 8 ounces).
Money Tip: Rinse aid does help dishes dry faster, which stops those annoying wet drips from top rack to bottom when you unload. But instead of spending money, unload the bottom rack first while letting the top rack air dry.

Myth #6: Home Improvement is Always a Good Investment

What it could cost you: Thousands of dollars in disappointment
Dreaming of diving into your own pool or adding a second bath to put an end to those morning squabbles? That’s the beauty of owning your own home, you can renovate to make all your dreams come true. And you’ll get money back on most any improvement you do, but don’t expect it for all improvements. FYI: A new bath returns 52% of its cost.
The better way: First off, your own happiness matters, so by all means, follow your remodeling bliss if you’re financially able. But if payback is important, do some research and talk to a REALTOR® who knows what buyers are seeking in your market. The Remodeling Impact Report from The National Association of REALTORS® (the sponsor of HouseLogic) is a fantastic resource to get the scoop on what projects will boost your equity the most. For example, it points out that small projects such as an insulation upgrade, refinishing floors, and even seeding your lawn will recoup almost all, and in some cases more than, your original investment.

Myth #7: Put Dryer Sheets in Air Vents for a Sweet Smell

What it could cost you: Higher energy bills and a potential fire hazard
Social media PSA: Thousands of pins and shares do not mean a remedy is smart or safe. If you follow this popular hack, you’ll block the flow of air in your vents, making your HVAC system work harder and increasing your energy costs. The blockage even can pose a fire risk when the furnace is pumping out hot air.
The better way: If fragrant air is what you’re after, there are no shortage of options available that won’t burn your house down. Give each room — or each day — a signature scent with all-natural scented candles, sprays, oils, and aromatherapy devices. If you’re seeking a scent to mask an offensive odor, however, it’s important to find and remove the source. Some stinky suspects — like mold, mildew, sewage, and gas leaks — can carry health risks.

Myth #8: Product Warranties Will Save on Repair Costs

What it could cost you: $50 to $100 or more
The last time you bought a major appliance or even a hand mixer, you were probably offered a warranty or service plan. While marketed to cover repair costs, these contracts typically cost more than you would ever spend to fix an item. And keep in mind that most manufacturers offer at least a 90-day warranty anyway.
The better way: Maintain the appliance as recommended by the manufacturer, and smartly stash the dollars you would spend on a warranty in a repair fund instead. Also, buy with a major credit card, such as AmEx or Visa. Many credit card companies extend product warranties (for free!) up to a year or so. Might be worth checking to see if yours does.

originally posted by Coldwell Banker Bambu

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

5 Housewarming Gift Ideas for Small Homes and Spaces

Living in a small apartment requires serious Tetris skills to store items that you don’t use every day.  We can’t give the gift of extra space to our friends who move into small apartments, but we can certainly be more thoughtful when it comes to housewarming gifts. So ditch the candles and give a housewarming gift that won’t get regifted.

Gift Cards to Local Stores

Do some research on Yelp for brunch, coffee, dessert, spa, dry cleaning, gym, art classes or whatever your friend loves or may need. Check out the reviews and give a gift card to the top-rated business in the local area. If you are feeling generous, give your friend a tour of the new neighborhood by providing a list of things to do along with the gift cards to the top-rated businesses for each of the things to do.


Trend alert! Flowers are gorgeous, but these tiny succulent plants last a long time and are easy to take care of. These charming plants can be placed on bookshelves, windowsills, coffee tables or you can even keep them floating in a hanging terrarium. These succulents have become a staple in home d├ęcor and are sold pretty much anywhere! You can find them at your local garden stores, pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens, grocery stores like Whole Foods or ShopRite and online.

Blankets or Slippers

Give the gift of leisure. Nothing can replace the awesome feeling of lounging on a couch under a soft blanket or walking around in fuzzy slippers. Placing a blanket on a couch or a bed is a good trick to make the room look cozier. And they can be folded and put away easily.

Gift Cards to Print Pictures

Giving a picture frame can be risky. What looks great on a store display may not necessarily look great with the (new) style your friend is going for. Give a gift card to a store that prints photos so your friend can finally print the pictures on his or her phone. Snapfish and Shutterfly are two websites that allow you to upload pictures and print. You can also print pictures on coasters, books, mugs, calendars and many other products that your friend can decorate the new apartment with!

Smart Plugs and Switches

Smart plugs connect the electrical outlet with the device you are plugging in and lets you turn the device on or off remotely or at a scheduled time.  Perfect for the chronic “did-I-leave-my-curling-iron-on” worrier or the globe trotter who wants to turn the light on and off when he or she is traveling. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending July 28, 2018

The U.S. Labor Department reported that the economy added 157,000 jobs in July, marking 93 months in a row of job additions. Beginning in October 2010, that is the longest streak of monthly employment growth on record. The unemployment rate dropped to a historically low 3.9 percent, and wage growth remained at an annual rate of 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, escalating tariff conflicts with U.S. trade partners have not yet impacted the day-to-day housing market, but builders have indicated that lumber tariffs are increasing prices for new homes.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 28:
• New Listings increased 6.1% to 1,814
• Pending Sales increased 2.0% to 1,401
• Inventory decreased 12.5% to 11,959

For the month of June:
• Median Sales Price increased 5.3% to $271,000
• Days on Market decreased 16.7% to 40
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 100.3%
• Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 11.1% to 2.4

All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime. Publish Date: August 6, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Grilling Guide for your next Backyard BBQ

Main Event
Let’s start with the meat. For the ultimate BBQ, you’ll need to give your guests a few options. Whether you go with classic burgers & dogs, chicken & steak, pulled pork, or tofu & a big platter of grilled veggies, you’re sure to please a crowd! Remember to prep and marinate meat in advance so that when your guests arrive, you can relax and sip one of these delicious watermelon cocktails with them.
Classic burger
Image Source: Food & Wine
Savory Sides
For me, a summer barbecue is not complete without the side salads: potato, pasta, greens. Here are 16 great BBQ sides to give you plenty of ideas for dishes to round out your menu.  One of the easiest side dishes is buttery corn on the cob. Soak husks in water for 10 minutes before throwing on the grill to avoid burning.
Image Source: Real Simple
Get Saucy
There are about as many varieties of BBQ sauce as there are stars in the sky. Depending on your tastes, you can go sweet, spicy, smokey, tangy and even mustard-y. Check out this clever guide to American Barbecue Sauce Styles to find one that’s right for you.
Neely's BBQ Sauce
Image Source: Food Network
Sweet Freedom
Dessert is the way to go! Check out these patriotic dessert ideas.  When in doubt, throw some sweet like peaches or pineapple on the grill for an easy, healthy treat.
4th cake

Originally published by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter by Victoria Keichinger

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending July 21, 2018

Although talk of another real estate pricing bubble poised to burst is premature, pundits are nevertheless beginning to point toward the common markers that caused the last housing market downturn. As prices continue to rise while wages don't rise as quickly, a new situation could be an eventuality. Yet today's market is quite different than the last recession. The economy is growing, lending practices are more in line with economic fundamentals and inventory appears to be improving in many markets, which would help alleviate price pressure.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending July 21:
 • New Listings increased 2.2% to 1,927
 • Pending Sales decreased 3.1% to 1,336
 • Inventory decreased 13.6% to 11,728

For the month of June:
 • Median Sales Price increased 5.3% to $271,000
 • Days on Market decreased 16.7% to 40
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.8% to 100.3%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale decreased 11.1% to 2.4

Publish Date: July 30, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017
All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime

How to Make Your Home Smell Great Before an Open House

Give your prospective buyers extra incentive to purchase your house by making it smell like a home they can see themselves in.

Smell is one of our most important senses. Psychologically speaking, it’s the sense that is most closely linked with memory, meaning that good smells can evoke happy memories and experiences while bad smells can do just the opposite. Smell is also highly emotive; different fragrances can convey a vast array of emotions and feelings. So, it’s no surprise that smell can come into play when you’re trying to sell your home.
There’s a reason why real estate agents always think about the best scent for home staging before a showing. A house that smells like freshly baked cookies can evoke a warm and homey feeling while a refreshing and clean smelling house can evoke feelings of potential and new opportunities.
The question is what scent sells a house and what can you do to ensure that you create a wonderful smelling home for potential buyers?
Use Baking Soda
First and foremost, you want to get rid of any current smells in your home. Baking soda, when spread on your carpets and soda, can help remove tough smells and leave you with a neutral pallet. All you have to do is let the baking soda sit for 10-15 minutes before vacuuming it up. It even works great in trashcans, sinks, toilets, and more.
Take Advantage of Your Stove
The best way to make your house smell good is to use your stove. All you need is a pot of boiling water, and then you can make your own essential oils for selling your house with the right spices.
During the winter, we recommend using spicy and warm flavors such as cinnamon and/or cloves, which evoke a sense of the holidays. During the spring and summer, you can use lemon or orange rind for a fresh citrus scent instead. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but make sure you try out each scent before your open house.
Add Plants
Not only do plants add life to a home, but the right plants can also release wonderful fragrances that are highly compelling. When it comes to plants, the best scent for home staging includes some type of flowers such as roses, eucalyptus, rosemary, or lavender. The key is to choose plants that have a universally appealing smell and to make sure they’re always well groomed and lively.
Diffuse Essential Oils
If you don’t want to use your stove to make your own essential oils for selling your house, you can diffuse bottled essential oils instead. All you need to do is purchase an affordable diffuser, add a few drops of essential oil, and run it for a few hours before your open house. Just make sure you use the right oils.
Avoid using strong scents that can have a polarizing effect such as patchouli, sandalwood, or ylang-ylang. Instead, go with relaxing and simple scents such as lavender, grapefruit, rose, or bergamot. These smells evoke the atmosphere of a luxury spa.
Give your prospective buyers extra incentive to purchase your house by making it smell like a home they can see themselves in. Your goal is to make every guest feel like they belong. Just be sure you use scents that evoke only the best memories and feelings. It can be the added factor you need to make the sell. For more tips on selling your home, contact a real estate agent in your area.

Originally published by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter - SHARON LEE