The Twin Cities Real Estate News


May 24, 2019

Satisfaction Is Found Living in St. Paul

Foodies living in St. Paul are licking their lips in anticipation. On a quest for new delicious destinations Twin Cities Food Tours uncovers hidden culinary gems for folks on the go. Two tours trek about the Twin Cities real estate region introducing residents and visitors to new favorite spots to eat.

Both tours bring folks up close and personal to the areas they explore. Locals lead the way and their inner knowledge of the neighborhoods comes through loud and clear. Focus is not only placed on the history of the landscape but also on the personal stories of the restaurateurs and chefs in town.

Take a Bite Out of Twin Cities Real Estate

The Cathedral Hill St. Paul Tour delves deeply into Minnesota history. On the way to satisfying hunger tour takers walk through one of the oldest neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. Participants view examples of historic architecture by exploring the Cathedral of St. Paul as well as other significant buildings. Stops along the way are almost too tasty to put into words. An eclectic menu features a selection of tasty tidbits. Locations vary but are sure to include WA Frost, Moscow on the Hill, The Commodore Restaurant and Bar, Nina’s Coffee Cafe and the Happy Gnome.

The Historic Northeast Minneapolis tour covers a lot of ground. Pathways traverse over 20 possible neighborhoods. Walkers devour the same sausages sold at Minnesota Twins Stadium, Napolian pizza pies, gourmet cheeses, homemade gelato and more. Other highlights include learning the vibrant history of Chute Square.

Natives living in St. Paul and Minneapolis along with Twin Cities newbies all agree that taking a food tour is the easiest way to uncovering hidden culinary hot spots while learning about the area. Tours occur rain or shine so dress appropriately. Athletic foot apparel is suggested. Tastings are as filling as a hearty lunch so come hungry. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advanced notice. Get out and explore the scrumptious scenery. Reservations can be booked online or by calling 800.656.0713. Bon Appetit!


Posted in News
May 24, 2019

Flutter About Minneapolis Real Estate

Minneapolis real estate has gone to the birds and our local feathered friends are thrilled. Birds of a feather flock together in the region’s plentiful parks. While all parks are great places to spot birds, numerous spaces were specifically designed to help them thrive.

Bird watchers frequently find what they are looking for in the Eloise Butler Wildlife Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Found in Theodore Wirth Park, the roots grow deep. And, the history here is as rich as the soil, with origins dating back to the early 1900’s. Paths meander from the front gate to the back. There is a birding terrace along the way to the mallard pool. Beautiful blooms attract hummingbirds and they can easily be seen when strolling Prairie Path and Violet Way.

Ponder the Ways of Life on Minneapolis Property

Benches are scattered about with plenty of places to ponder life, watch birds, bees and butterflies or even read a good book. Spring and summer recreation programs in the Eloise Butler Wildlife Garden and Bird Sanctuary feature educational opportunities. Hikes and walks are casual and carefree. Themed strolls dig a bit deeper and include birding basics and wildflower identification. Storytimes and youth programs encourage younger generations to embrace nature.

Also in the Minneapolis real estate region, the Lyndale Park Butterfly and Hummingbird Perennial and Border Gardens shine bright. Flora and fauna was planted especially for both butterflies and hummingbirds. These delicately winged creatures flutter about the yard charming everyone in their midst.

The Roberts Bird Sanctuary sits next to the garden with over 30 acres designated as an “important bird area” by the National Audubon Society. Bird walks and other gatherings take place on the grounds teaching about favorite species of wildlife. Popular times to visit the sanctuary are in April and May when spring bird migratory season is at its peak.

Take time to smell the flowers in a Minneapolis property garden. Stop in for a quick visit or spend the day. Those blessed with green thumbs may even be interested in volunteering. Minneapolis wildflower and bird gardens are perfect places for local hobbyists and experts to lend a hand. Learn more about visiting or volunteering in the city’s bird sanctuaries and gardens by calling 612.230.6400.


Posted in News
May 24, 2019

Walk on the Wild Side on Apple Valley Property

Wild times are happening on Apple Valley property. The world’s animals are all gathered together at the Minnesota Zoo. Hundreds of species are scattered about the landscape. Visitors discover favorite exotic critters with habitats mirroring those found in the wild. An amazing array of animals to view includes mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and more.

With a mission “to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife” the organization places a focus on education. Daily activities teach visitors about the animals in their midst. Feathers are ruffled in the World of Birds Show which features owls, hawks and other winged beings. At the Lakeside Terrace trainers put animal ambassadors in the spotlight during the daily Creature Feature. Over in the Discovery Bay Hawaiian monk seal trainings take place along with penguin and shark feedings.

Families Living in Apple Valley Spend the Day Just Monkey Around

There’s plenty of monkeying around to be found on the Apple Valley property. Special events flood the calendar. Locals look forward each summer to Music in the Zoo where concerts are center stage. Llama Trek lets folks walk amongst the llamas and really get to know them. Things speed up during the Tiger Tracks 5K and Family Fun Run/Walk when guests race around the park. The Beastly Bash fundraiser pairs fine dining and signature cocktails with exotic and endangered species for a wild time. Parents put the kiddos to bed and escape to the zoo after hours for an Adults Night Out. Thousands of twinkling lights illuminate the Minnesota Zoo with the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

Families living in Apple Valley make the most of visits by purchasing memberships. Minnesota Zoo members enjoy valuable perks including unlimited admission, member only events and discounts. Grab the kids and get to the zoo! Plan your trip ahead by downloading a copy of the zoo map and deciding which animals to see first. Save some more time by purchasing tickets online and skipping the admission line.


Posted in News
May 20, 2019

For Military Members and Their Families: 10 Things to Consider Before Getting Into Home Ownership

For active-duty military members and their families, purchasing a family home is a complex and weighty decision.

Following their Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move, the decision to buy a piece of the American dream they fought to protect could be affected by numerous financial and personal factors. Here are some things military members and their families should consider before deciding to buy their next home:

Financial Considerations

#1 Cost and Monthly Payment

Among many active military families, there is a great debate regarding the cost of renting vs buying a home and paying the monthly mortgage. Rental costs and average home prices may vary greatly depending on where you are moving in the US.

#2 Market Prices

Aside from mortgage and downpayment, military homebuyers must also consider other factors such as the average price within the local area, the rate of foreclosure, and the condition of the local market.

It is best to consult a local military-friendly real estate agent, whom you can discuss with other factors that will increase your monthly cost, including real estate taxes, HOA fees, and the cost of insurance, among others.

#3 Tax Benefits

When you own a home, you get to deduct the mortgage interest you pay on your loan from your taxes. This tax benefit lowers your monthly home expenses. You should consider calculating your tax benefits vs your actual costs for you to determine your cost of ownership.

Likewise, when it comes to property taxes, you know you’re paying for a home that you really own. Those property taxes are also deductible from taxable income on your federal income tax return and some state income tax returns, and thus offer you additional income tax savings.

#4 Using Your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)

Many military members receive a monthly housing allowance, and what most of them don't know is that they can use this money to qualify for a home loan. Especially in higher-cost areas where the service member wants to move, BAH can help them make that big transition.

BAH is a tool that can help lenders gauge what kind of mortgage payment an eligible veteran can handle. This housing allowance is based on several factors and can change on an annual basis, so it’s important to consider this as well.

#5 Eligibility for a VA Home Loan

If you've chosen to finance your home using Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans, be aware of the eligibility requirements and how it may impact your future relocation.

VA home loans are flexible loans that come with outstanding benefits like no down payment, no mortgage insurance, and more lenient credit requirements. VA loans are best for the purchase of your family’s primary residence.

#6 Expected Time in Current Duty Station

Because military members may be called upon to deploy or change duty stations at any moment, there should be a compelling reason to buy a home. You'll want to consider closing costs ahead of time when you buy and sell. It may help to also assess the expected costs of purchasing and subsequently selling your home.

#7 Potential For Renting Or Selling The Property

There is a need to ensure that a purchased home is one that can be very marketable for the purposes of selling or renting. It's important to know the best type of home that people are buying or renting in a certain area.

Moreover, if you’re considering purchasing a home near a military base of operations, chances are you’ll be able to rent or sell the property to other military personnel who wants a home of their own.

Personal and Emotional Considerations

#8 Personal Concerns

Even before all financial considerations, you should know yourself whether you are ready to buy or not. Are you ready to call yourself a homeowner or a landlord? Are you ready to have another responsibility? Will you be able to handle the necessary repairs and maintenance associated with home ownership? Are you looking at it as part of an investment? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before making that big decision to buy.

#9 Proximity to Family and Friends

Your family, friends and loved ones are your support system. If you're used to living near them, you probably don't want to be stuck in a place where you're all alone or where it may take a long ride for you to visit them. However, compared to renting, even owning a home in a new neighborhood could give you a sense of belonging and stability.

#10 Retirement Considerations and Future Plans

This may be connected to your financial concerns and stability, but it can be personal as well. If you are stationed in an area where you may soon want to retire, consider the state tax rates, treatment of military pay and benefits, and whether your potential home is near any military healthcare facilities. Thinking of these things ahead of time is also taking care of your physical and financial health in the future.

Posted in Buyer, Military
May 20, 2019

5 Most Common Misconceptions About VA Loans

The Veterans Affairs home loans are unique mortgage options that allow current and former members of the military to own a piece of the American dream by potentially qualifying for homes that they might have thought to be out of reach.

Veterans, active-duty service personnel, and select Reservists or National Guard members are among those who can qualify for VA loans. These flexible loans come with outstanding benefits like no down payment, no mortgage insurance, more lenient credit requirements, and also have the lowest average interest rates on the market.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that 18 percent of recent home buyers are veterans, while three percent are active-duty service members.

However, misinformation and misconceptions about VA loans continue to hinder many veterans from actually benefiting from this program, which is a tangible way of showing gratitude towards their service to the people and the nation.

#1 Misconception: It is a one-time benefit.

FACT: Getting a VA loan is a lifetime benefit.

Some veterans think that they must use the benefit immediately or lose it, or that if they used it once, they can’t use it again. The reality is that it is a lifetime benefit. You can use it again to purchase another property, as long as you have paid off your previous VA loan.

#2 Misconception: VA loans take longer to close than FHA or conventional loans.

FACT: There's not much time difference when closing VA loans compared to any loans.

Many home buyers think that VA loans take more than 60 days to close, but it certainly isn't true. The process has become much more automated and efficient with the Guaranty Program, and it can now be closed in 30 days or less.

Similarly, the average VA mortgage closes in 45 days, according to mortgage industry analysts Ellie Mae. While the average closing time for all loans is 42 days, which only has a three-day difference.

#3 Misconception: The VA appraisal is quite a nightmare.

FACT: The VA appraisal isn't really different from the average conventional appraisal.

Unless the buyer pursues a home in a very poor condition, then the appraisal process could really be terrible. The truth is that only VA-approved appraisers inspect the homes to make sure they meet minimum property requirements, and to make sure that they are “safe, sound and sanitary.” VA appraisers also tend to have stricter standards than a typical home appraiser. Otherwise, if the service member chooses a home that is in good condition, then the VA appraisal will be a breeze.

#4 Misconception: You can’t get a VA loan if you’ve had a foreclosure or bankruptcy.

FACT: VA loans only require that there has not been a foreclosure or bankruptcy in the past two years.

VA loans are more lenient than other loan products when it comes to bankruptcy and foreclosure. In some cases, it is also possible to get a loan within a year. This is a much shorter period compared to what FHA loans and conventional mortgages require, which includes a 3-year waiting period.

#5 Misconception: Hiring any real estate agent will do.

FACT: An agent who's had experience working with military buyers can help you better navigate the process.

While any realtor can technically help you, finding a military-friendly real estate agent who particularly had experienced working with military buyers before — and have the time to focus on your needs — can make a world of difference. For many veterans, housing needs go far beyond the usual housing criteria, such as the number of bedrooms, price range and location. An agent who specializes in VA loans can help save you an awful lot of headaches as they better understand the loan process, the VA appraisal, and has a special eye and heart towards your specific situation.

Posted in Buyer, Military
May 20, 2019

7 Expert Tips For Buying Your Dream Luxury Home

Planning to buy your first luxury home? Best be prepared by following these seven expert tips!

1. Build your dream team of experts.

When buying a luxury house, it is highly recommended that you employ the help of an excellent real estate agent, a trusted financial advisor and accountant, and a lawyer who will be ready to walk you through local tax and property law.

Choose a real estate agent that has a solid track record in the luxury housing market. While it is fine to call your trusted agent, your first luxury home purchase may need the expertise of someone who has already had success in dealing with this unique sector. The right real estate agent will have gleaming testimonials and reviews from satisfied luxury home buyers, preferably from the area where you are planning to purchase your luxury home.

Look for a trusted financial advisor and accountant who will truly have your best interests at heart. Hiring a lawyer who is familiar with local tax and property law will also save you a lot of time and headache down the line.

When you successfully put together a great team that will guide you through this luxury home-buying process, you can expect to have the keys to your dream luxury home in the quickest possible time.


2. Make sure your dream luxury home is also in a dream location.

Research the entire vicinity of the home you are eyeing. If you're planning to purchase a luxury home to retire in, you may want to choose one that is located in a sparsely populated area, or one that will offer you a stunning view of the city that surrounds it.

Since location has a significant impact on taxes, travel time, schooling, and other areas of your lifestyle - you may want to take your time researching which luxury home location suits your purposes best. If you're planning to add more features to your home such as a large veranda, pool, or a massive garden, you have to make sure that the house you're going to buy is not in a densely populated area. Which is to say that you can't rely on online listings alone; getting a feel of the house itself, as well as its surrounding community is the best way to gauge the quality of a home's location.


3. Familiarize yourself with the pre-approval process.

The process of applying for a mortgage to buy a luxury home is entirely different from getting a conventional mortgage. Lenders may require a credit score of 680 or better - and the better your credit score is, the lower your interest rate will be. Your team of experts will know about this so do not hesitate to talk to them about your concerns. Being knowledgeable of the differences between getting standard mortgages and luxury home mortgages will better prepare you for the home buying process.


4. Keep an eye on "pocket listings"

A lot of high net worth individuals do not market their listings publicly. Their listings are only shown to pre-screened, qualified buyers who can show proof of financial capacity to make a multi-million dollar purchase. As you won't find their homes listed in the MLS, it is best to make sure that your realtor is in contact with other luxury agents who can help show you pocket listings that may suit your standards.


5. Take note of the resale value of the luxury home you're planning to buy.

While your decision to purchase a luxury home must align with your unique tastes, you must always consider how a particular home will appeal to future buyers should you decide to resell. If you think you'll be having resale challenges due to the unique nature of a luxury home, it is best to negotiate an excellent price to offset said challenges.


6. Have a checklist of your priority features.

When looking for the perfect luxury home, it is best to know exactly what you want. Having a checklist of features you want to have in a home will keep your priorities in check, and will prevent you from making an emotional purchase (i.e., when you get lured into buying a house with a massive pool that you don't need). Is your privacy the most valuable thing to you? Make sure your potential home isn't located in an area where passersby can't easily take a peek into your home. Do you spend most of your free time cooking? You may want a house with a beautiful, Tuscan-style kitchen. Knowing what you want from the get-go will make it easier for you to narrow down your options.


7. Consider foreclosure listings.

If you want to purchase a luxury home that is being sold considerably below its actual value, checking out foreclosed properties can be your best bet. Roughly 60% of foreclosed homes can be financed through your lender of choice, so you don't have to worry about buying with cash. Consult with a home mortgage consultant to determine whether it would serve you better to use financing or to buy with cash.

Keep in mind though, that buying foreclosed homes means that you're buying it at its current state, and no upgrades will be made available to you before the big purchase. While you'll be able to save money by buying a foreclosed home, you have to factor in the amount you'll be spending on repairs and upgrades. Hire a trusted home inspector to check whether you're overspending by purchasing a foreclosure.


Posted in Buyer, Luxury Home
May 14, 2019

The 5 Biggest Challenges of Buying A Home When You Have Student Loans

What's the biggest barrier to purchasing a home that requires a mortgage? For millions of college graduates — both older and younger millennials — it isn’t their credit card debt. Rather, it’s their student loans that are preventing them from fulfilling their dream of homeownership.

To explain it further, here’s the summary of the latest student loan debt statistics:

Statistics from personal finance site Make Lemonade reported that over 44 million people carry a collective debt of $1.5 trillion.

  • According to Student Loan Debt and Housing Report 2017: When Debt Holds You Back by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 17% of borrowers owe more than $100,000 in student loans.

  • More than 7 in 10 student loan borrowers believe their debt has impacted their ability to purchase a home.

  • Student loan debt has now become the second highest consumer debt category - second only to mortgages.

Moreover, paying off their student loans isn’t the only challenge they encounter when qualifying for a mortgage.

The 5 Biggest Challenges of Buying A Home When You Have Student Loans

Nonetheless, if you're a student loan borrower, there are steps you can take to overcome these hurdles. Homeownership doesn’t happen overnight, but anyone can make it happen with ample planning and preparation.

Challenge #1: Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

According to the NAR report, 52% of younger millennials don’t qualify for mortgages due to their debt-to-income ratios, which includes student loan debt. It’s one of the main things that delays a home purchase.

Your DTI ratio is simply what you owe compared to how much you make or the amount of recurring debt you have versus your monthly income. Most of the time, lenders focus on this ratio, more than your credit score, or even how much you have set aside for a down payment. They assess whether you can still balance your living expenses while paying off your debt obligations. As a rule of thumb, they want to see a low DTI, with a ratio, ideally, falling below 36%.

Your lender will also calculate both your front-end and back-end DTI to determine if you qualify for a mortgage loan. The front-end DTI is known as the housing ratio, which is the amount of monthly gross income spent on housing expenses. On the other hand, the back-end ratio includes all of your debt obligations, such as student debt, car payments, and credit card bills.

Pro tip: Control and reduce your DTI.

Before house-hunting, try to reduce your DTI by paying existing debt and/or increasing your income. If you have credit card debt, remember that most lenders will use the minimum payment balance when calculating your ratio. With that said, it's ideal to pay off your debt every month to reduce the amount of money paid in interest.

Challenge #2: Credit score

While a high percentage of student loan borrowers are denied mortgages because of steep DTI ratios, your credit score plays a role as well. Your ranking affects whether you get a low mortgage interest rate, although only 8% of millennials were denied because of a low credit score.

The average FICO credit score is 700. A credit score of 750 or higher is considered excellent while a score of 649 below is considered poor.

Pro tip: Build up your credit score—the higher, the better!

If you're hoping to get a mortgage, paying your debts on time will help boost your credit score. Keep your score healthy by not skipping or missing any of your payments. Check your credit report every year and if you find any errors, take the necessary steps to resolve them.

Challenge #3: Establishing a good record of paying bills on time

The most important factor in your credit score is your payment history. It must show that you are not only financially capable but also responsible when making payments. Lenders prefer to lend their money to a borrower who has a solid financial reputation.

Pro tip: Avoid skipping any payments and always pay on time.

To avoid being late, you can set up auto-pay for all your accounts to ensure you'll make full and on-time payments. If you have a delinquent payment, pay the balance so you don’t damage your credit score and can start to build a good payment history.

Challenge #4: Credit utilization

Aside from your credit score and DTI, lenders will also evaluate your credit card utilization. It is your monthly credit card spending as a percentage of your credit limit, which should be less than 30%.

Pro tip: Keep it low.

The ideal way to manage your credit utilization is by using as little of your available credit as possible. For example, if you have a $3,000 credit limit and you spent $1,000 in one month, your credit utilization is 30%. It's even better if you can keep your utilization at less than 10%. You can set up automatic balance alerts to monitor your credit utilization and pay off your balance multiple times a month to reduce it.

Challenge #5: Saving for a down payment

Whether you're a student loan borrower or not, it’s understandable that the biggest challenge of purchasing a home is saving for a down payment. At least 85% of non-homeowners say their inability to save for a down payment has delayed their ability to buy a home.

Pro tip: Look for down payment assistance and other ways of saving.

Look out for government assistance programs available to first-time buyers and student loan borrowers. Federal programs, such as the FHA or USDA loans, will allow you to purchase a home with less than 3.5% down. Likewise, there are existing local programs where you might qualify. Don't be afraid to check out their eligibility requirements or talk to a mortgage lender to help you understand the process.

Another thing you can do is to look for creative ways to save for a down payment. Even if that means delaying your dream of homeownership for a few years, try saving all “found” money that comes down your way. To achieve this, you can save any money you got from bonuses, overtime pay, and cash gifts from relatives and friends or even allocate income tax refunds to be used specifically for your down payment and closing costs when it comes time for you to buy a home.

Bottom Line

To get a lower monthly payment so you can manage your finances better, see if you can refinance or consolidate your student loans. However, it still depends on your circumstances and if you're confident in handling your monthly payments. Before you start house-hunting, just remember to set a realistic budget and focus on your financial goals to finally achieve the American Dream.

Posted in Buyer
April 24, 2019

Notice Of Intent to Foreclose: Know Your Options

As a homeowner, there's an f-word that is avoided as much as possible. Even though we don’t want to say it we have to talk about it. Why? Because like most problems, that’s how it’s handled. So say it with us, foreclosure.

Most of the time, when people find out that their dream house is facing foreclosure, their world stops. No one buys a house and puts in all the effort into making it a home only to one day realize that it will be taken away from them. Getting a Notice of Foreclosure is something that people dread, and even ignore in the hopes that the problem will go away.

Notice Of Intent to Foreclose: Know Your Options

Ignoring Your Foreclosure Notice

What happens if you don't respond to the notice of intent for foreclosure?

When you receive a notice of foreclosure, the best thing to do is take charge. Getting a notice of foreclosure doesn’t mean that the world has stopped because there are many options for you!

Even when you get the notice, you can still avoid having foreclosure and bankruptcy on your record. So, to answer the question, ignoring your foreclosure notice will only limit your options and ultimately lead to losing your home.

If you’re reading this, and you still haven’t received a notice of foreclosure—in which case you’re at the stage of dreading it—what can you do?

Foreclosure Avoidance Plan

Banks offer Foreclosure Avoidance Plans for those who want to be extra-sure about their home loans.

Always consult with your lender about this first. It will seem like a fair deal, but don't forget that this is actually an additional loan. So now, you’re paying for your mortgage and an additional foreclosure plan.

If this is something you can handle, then by all means, go for it!  If you’d rather work on your primary loan before adding another one into the equation, it’s also okay not to enter into a foreclosure plan.

Filing for Bankruptcy

What if you just totally forget the foreclosure of your house, and file for bankruptcy instead?

The good news is, yes, you can do that. Your foreclosure will be curbed if you do this. What happens when you file for bankruptcy is that your lender will not be able to collect the debt from you. The bad news is, courts cannot discharge secured debts that include mortgage payments.

What happens here is that since you are filing for bankruptcy, you don't have to pay for your mortgages yet.  However, as soon as your bankruptcy process is complete, your lenders will definitely be back for your debt.

In cases like this, homeowners usually struggle with paying for their mortgages after filing in the courts. The worst part is that, most times, these homeowners end up with not just a bankruptcy but also a foreclosure on their record.

Your Financial Status

Let's say you don’t go with bankruptcy and are looking at simply foreclosing your home. How does this affect your financial status?

Your foreclosure report will be on your record for seven years.  Not only that, after those seven years, you may also have to write a report to three major credit agencies to have the foreclosure removed from your record.

Although lenders have been more lenient over recent years, those who are approved for new loans, and even credit lines, have to pay higher interest rates. You can’t really blame them, though. They see those who have a record of foreclosure, with or without bankruptcy, as more of a liability than those who have a clean record.

You're Not Alone

Yes, getting a Foreclosure Notice is something you might have never thought would happen to you. It has been found that this has actually become more common recently.

A 2013 study found that over 4.1 million foreclosures were completed in the United States during September 2008-December 2012. This is quite a big number and does not even include those who avoided foreclosure through some of the methods mentioned above, those who opted to sell their homes, or those who found ways to work things out with their lenders.

Posted in Buyer, Homeowner, Seller
April 10, 2019

5 Ways To Look For A Great School District When Buying A Home

Proximity to good quality schools is one of the most important factors considered when purchasing a home, especially for young families or young couples who are planning to have children. Homes that are located near top-quality school districts generally have higher property values and huge resale potential. Many home buyers are willing to forgo certain home amenities just to have access to quality schools.

5 Ways To Look For A Great School District When Buying A Home

Here are some things you can do to choose a good school district when searching for a home:

1. Create a checklist of the qualities and values that are important to you and your child's education.

If you consider a good school district as one of the major factors in your home-buying decision, contemplating what values matter to you most when it comes to your child’s education is also relevant. A school will be your child’s second home, so you need to be clear about your preferences. Do you want a traditional or an alternative style of learning? How important are extracurricular and skill enhancement activities to you and your child’s development? What are your child’s skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and how can these be improved? What sort of contributions are you willing to make to improve your child’s learning? These are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself when deciding what type of school you would like your children to attend.

2. Do your online research.

Most schools and school districts have respective websites where anyone can get extensive information. Spend some time checking the sites of each school you're considering and read local reviews. Also, check out other resources that provide valuable information, such as, NeighborhoodScout, and the National Center for Education Statistics, among others. Take time reading downloadable school newsletters and calendars to familiarize yourself with local news and events. It is also worth looking at some of the following information:

  • Standardized test scores

  • The offered curriculum

  • The latest rate of students attending higher education

  • Awards and certifications the school has recently received

  • Student-to-teacher ratio

  • The educational qualifications of most teachers

  • Languages offered

  • Any specialized programs for gifted students or students who need extra assistance

3. Consult your local real estate agent.

The next best resource for neighborhood and nearby school knowledge is your local real estate agent. They have a good understanding of the local school districts and can provide you with an objective opinion. Consider their tips and recommendations, as in many cases, data and rankings may not properly guide you to the school that's truly the right fit for you and your child.

4. Learn from other parents whose children already attend the school system.

You may have done your online research about particular schools and their reputation, but hearing about the personal experience of local parents whose children already attend the school system is more valuable. Speak to them or read reviews so you can get a general understanding of what a specific school is really like to attend. This way, you may also learn whether their children attend any amazing after-school programs or individualized education programs that could also be great for your children.

5. Get the real picture by actually visiting the school.

Once you've narrowed down your choices, actually visit the school so you can see how it operates and how interactions are taking place. Is the school generally clean and orderly? Are you confident about campus security? Learn more about the school’s culture and values by observing its people and surroundings. How well does the front office interact with the kids? How are the students’ works and achievements being displayed? Is the school secretary good-natured and professional? And don’t forget to ask enough questions to make sure you’re comfortable about the school you choose. Just make sure to call first and ask permission before visiting as some schools may have certain visitor restrictions.

Posted in Buyer
April 2, 2019

7 Reasons You'll Love Selling Your Home in the Spring

Ah, spring! When the trees blossom, the lovely tulips and daffodils bloom, and everyone's mood brightens. But aside from our daily dose of sunshine during spring, we also see the high season for real estate. As the temperature rises, the housing market starts to heat up.  Even in areas where the weather is great all year long, spring remains the most active time for house buyers and sellers alike.

While there are plenty of reasons to consider selling in the spring, here’s a few examples as to why it’s so worthwhile:

7 Reasons You'll Love Selling Your Home in the Spring

1. You can show a better-looking home.

Unlike selling in the colder months, which can be stressful because of the snow and harsh weather, you can go to greater lengths in spring to prepare your home for sale. If you list your home in the spring, you can take advantage of the warmer weather and elevate your home's curb appeal.

Show your home at its best to draw the attention of potential buyers. Maximize your curb appeal by cleaning the walkways, strategically placing colorful plants and flower boxes, maintaining the lawn, and making it as green and lush as possible. Allowing the natural sunshine to stream through the windows of your home helps showcase it in its best light. Additionally, don’t forget to address parts of your home that are in need of repair or upkeep, especially if you haven’t done annual maintenance yet.

2. The longer days and better weather make it easier for buyers to go looking for homes.

When the clocks sprang forward in March, the days became longer. More daylight hours means more potential buyers can view your home. Likewise, the good weather gives people a boost to go outside and search for the picture-perfect home just like yours. Unlike home shopping in winter, where buyers need to drive through crappy weather in their soggy boots just to visit an open house, springtime brings in a fresh pool of potential buyers who've done their homework and want to use the longer days wisely. This improves your odds of landing a desirable offer for your home.

3. It's a perfect time for families who want to move before the new school year.

Many home buyers with families are looking to move before the summer and the start of a new school year. This way, their children will still have a couple of months to get settled in their new neighborhood. If you put your home on the market early enough in the spring, your pool of buyers won’t have the same sense of urgency seen in summer or winter sales. Parents who buy in the spring can move during the summer, avoiding juggling their time between school pickup and packing up their stuff to get ready for their new home.

4. The buyer's demand is higher and could spark bidding wars.

It’s no surprise that the months of March, April, and May are the best months for sellers to list their homes as many people are ready to enter the housing market to purchase. More buyers means more potential offers. Sellers can even expect to receive multiple offers, often sparking bidding wars. Buyers will always be competing for homes, especially if the home is in a good location and is listed at a reasonable price. If a bidding war occurs, the cost of the house is most likely to increase, putting the seller in a stronger position to receive more money for the home.

In those months, there’s also a greater chance that you’ll encounter an all-cash offer. This could speed up the entire home selling process. A cash buyer won’t have to rely on mortgage financing or on the sale of their current home, the so-called contingencies, in order to close the deal.

5. Higher home valuation

Since prices tend to be higher and more homes are being sold this season, the data for comparable homes that were recently sold in your neighborhood can also work in your favor. Your agent will have access to more of these comps when setting a price for your home. Likewise, when your home's value is assessed by an appraiser, he or she will look at these comps, so your house is more likely to pass the appraisal if you’re selling it at fair market value.

6. You can be a bit more selective about who you sell your home to.

With more people getting into the market, you can afford to choose who you sell your home to. You don't have to sell your house to the first buyer that gives you an offer, and you can stay firm on your price. The increase in demand affords you the opportunity to receive your asking price and close on the offer with which you are most comfortable. You can also decide whether to sell to an individual owner, joint owners, or even corporate buyers.

7. It's also easier for you to move.

Even though your primary goal is to sell your home, chances are you are also planning to buy and move to a new home yourself. Since entering a real estate transaction can be stressful (not to mention chaotic), it’s another good reason why spring is the best time for you to sell. The weather is more convenient, you can take advantage of the longer days to accommodate home showings and also do your own house-hunting. There’s a greater chance you can sell your home quickly and for a higher price due to the higher demand in the spring.

Posted in Buyer, Seller