Friday, January 30, 2009

Who has the Most Foreclosures in the Twin Cities?

The fourth quarter market data is out for the Twin Cities, featuring market saturation of Lender Mediated sales and inventory. The silver lining from all this data is that for the first time since 2003, quarter to quarter results has declined. In fact, the closing quarter of 2008 saw a decrease of 4.3% in lender mediated listings. Yeah, I know, not a staggering number, but I'll take it.

Want to know who has the most foreclosures? The numbers below are the percentage of homes in the specific area currently either in foreclosure or short sales. Take a look at the report to see where your area falls in the foreclosure mess.

Top Five Areas with the Most Foreclosures:

  1. Brooklyn Center - 65.9%

  2. North Minneapolis - 64.9%

  3. St. Paul - Central - 59.1%

  4. St. Paul - Phalen - 58.8%

  5. Big Lake Township - 56.8%

Bottom Five Areas with the Least Foreclosures:

  1. Edina 5.2%

  2. Minneapolis - Central - 7.9%

  3. St. Paul - Downtown - 10.8%

  4. Minneapolis - Calhoun/Isles - 11.6%

  5. Victoria - 12.5%

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Don't Lose Your Voice

Once again, I am recovering from some evil thing the kids brought home from pre-school. Let me tell you, it has been so much "fun". This one has been a real kicker...I have lost my voice and am going on day four of barely being able to talk. Talking to clients on the phone has proven difficult as no one can understand me. Add to that a transaction that has been trying to close for the last two months and I have to email everyone back and forth (talking is proving too difficult). Of course there are some, like my husband, who might prefer the lack of speech. Unfortunately for him, I can't hear that well either, so what ever "smart" comment he is saying to me is falling on deaf ears. Maybe this illness isn't so bad after all?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Braving the Cold to View Art in Saint Paul

I had some free time in Saint Paul today and thought I would stop by Rice Park to see the ice sculptures done a few days ago in celebration of the Winter Carnival in Saint Paul.

It was really, really cold and my hands were hurting after a couple of minutes. Kind of hard to take a photo with heavy gloves on. I can only imagine how cold the artists became while carving this beautiful pieces of art.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will the Proposed Stimulus Plan Really Work?

CNN released an article today letting us take a peak at where the $825 Billion will go if Barack gets his way with the new stimulus plan he is pushing for acceptance. Looking at the numbers, I see a lot of items that leave me wondering how exactly they are going to stimulate the economy.

Take for instance the $10 Billion going to research facilities. Um, how is that going to stimulate the economy exactly? Or $500 Million going to better airport screening detectors? I guess I am just having a hard time seeing how some of these items are going to help. The only good thing I do see is some money going to help housing, but in the long run, it just isn't enough. I honestly don' t think any of this money is going to stimulate anything but our national debt.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Modular Construction in Minneapolis

In the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, a community filled with historic homes and bungalows built in the 1920s, stands a recently constructed "modern" home. To say it sticks out like a sore thumb is pointless, but it is not so obnoxious that I hate it. In fact, the warm colors and use of wood take away some of the edge found on many homes with the modern style.

Located at 4221 Ewing Ave S in Minneapolis, the original 700 square foot home that graced the lot was torn down and replaced with a pre-fabricated modular building designed by architect Geoffrey Warner. It is comprised of four sections that were made at a factory, shipped to the homesite, and placed atop a concrete foundation.

While modern architecture, at least in residential homes, is not easily embraced in the Twin Cities, you can find it sprinkled about the metro area. This home, known as the WeeHouse, has about 2800 square feet. It was sold early 2008 for a price of $749,900.

Each Monday, I will be featuring a Minneapolis home that I find interesting. The Weehouse is the first featured home, so please visit often to learn more about home styles in Minneapolis!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Best Place to Get an Honest Design Opinion

I ran across an interesting blog this weekend that will take your questions and answer them. Written by designer Annie Elliot, the Bossy Color Blog talks about interior design and what to do about it. We all know the dilemma. You walk into your home, take one look at that white wall, and wonder what in the hell you can do to make it look not so white.

Well, we are all saved because now we can actually get some free advice, turning our homes from boring to posh with some paint and other design techniques. Like I said before, Annie's "you asked..." section, looks at questions posted by her readers, photos included, and finds solutions to their design challenges. I think I need to submit some questions for her myself!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's Fre-Fre-Freez-Freez-Freezing Here!

Wow! It is really cold today. I really don't want to go outside, seeing as my face might get frozen off, but alas, I must bare the -10 degrees and show a home later.

If you are moving to Minneapolis or Saint Paul from the southern states, today might scare you silly. Don't let it. It doesn't get this cold all the time. Just make sure you have all your winter gear, including a pair of long johns (thermal ware to some of you) and you should be fine. Of course if you plan on moving to the northern part of the state, near Canada, well, I think it is 40 below up there right now....see, that is even too cold for me. I'll just stay nice and warm down here in the Twin Cities.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Be Honest to the Listing Agent

The one thing that every transaction needs is honesty, even before anything is written on paper. Listing agents, well, some at least, put a lot of effort into marketing homes. Their time is very precious and worth money. So when a potential buyer calls them to request a showing, most agents will ask if the buyer is working with another agent. (Heaven forbid we get in the way of an agency relationship. )It is a well known courtesy, not to mention good manners, to inform a listing agent if you are currently represented or not.

However it happens every now and then that a buyer calls to inquire about a home and requests a showing and is less than honest about their situation. Just the other day I showed a listing of mine to a buyer who spent an hour in the home. I had asked my questions before hand to make sure I wasn't stepping on a buyer's agents shoes. But just as the buyer was walking out the door, he turned around and let me know that "by the way", if he decided to put in an offer, such and such agent will be sending it over to me. You've got to be kidding me.

See, the whole problem stems from the lack of manners. The buyer's agent should be the one showing the home, not me. Now I am OK with an agent calling me and asking if I could please show her buyer a home because the agent will be out of town. But I am not OK with an agent sending her buyer out to me, unannounced, so that I can do all the work. Trust me, there are plenty of agents out there that would much rather pick up a check then lift a finger or break a sweat, and they really annoy those of us that take this job seriously.

You know who they have met them plenty of times.

One reason you really need to tell another agent if you are represented or not, is the fact we agents are bound by ethical rules. We can't get in the way of another agents relationship with a client, or we might be found in violation of the Code of Ethics. No agent wants that headache.

Another reason is called confidentiality. If you walk into a listing without your buyer's agent, and start gushing out your life story, then the listing agent is obligated to tell the seller anything she might hear. Since no fiduciary duties are owed to the buyer, it is fair game on anything you say. However, if you had been honest about your representation, then the listing agent will not play 20 questions with you during the showing. Well, I don't at least.

Thirdly, time is money. Having to take time out to show a home, and then actively "sell" the home to the buyer, only to have another agent show up after the fact, really gets on a listing agent's nerves. Not only is it bad manners, but it wastes time, energy, and money. We all hate to have our time think about the other party before you lie about having a buyer's agent.

Trust me, it will make for a smoother transaction if you are just upfront and honest from the very beginning. So next time, please let the listing agent know before hand if you are represented or not...for real.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Outdoor Hockey in Minnesota

Throughout the Twin Cities, park after park has outdoor hockey rinks for the public to skate on and warming houses to catch a break from the cold. Rinks are usually open till March, depending on the weather.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Short Sale Does Not Equal Foreclosure

There seems to be a misconception out in the public, and among some real estate agents, that a home being marketed as a short sale will shortly (no pun intended) become a foreclosure. I hate to burst the bubble of anyone waiting for a home they really love to go into foreclosure, just because it is a short sale, but that will not always happen.

Short sale, in the simplest definition, just means that a home is being sold for less than the current mortgage. It has nothing to do with the owners ability to make payments, in most cases. Yes, there are those short sales where the owner is reducing the price to entice a buyer, before the bank forecloses, but many sellers in today's real estate market are selling due to relocation out of the area, downsizing, etc. Not every homeowner out there is having financial trouble.

Case in point, I had an agent present his buyer's offer on one of my listings recently. When the sellers refused to come down to the buyer's price, the agent asked me when the home was going into foreclosure and when the redemption period would start. I laughed out loud and simply stated that the owners are not going into foreclosure, and that the reason the buyer's offer was rejected was due to it being 20% below list price. Obviously, this agent was not well educated, or just had no clue. Anyway, it was good entertainment... most likely influenced by the media.

If you were to listen to the nightly news or read the local paper, you would think that 90% of the homes for sale are bank owned. Many buyers believe they can low ball every seller, because the media says sellers are desperate. Folks, it just isn't true. Just because it is a buyer's market, doesn't mean that sellers have to take any offer that comes across their table.

Now, back to the short sale. With the decline of market value here in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, some home owners who purchased in the last four years are finding their homes are worth less than what they owe. Some do not have the cash to make up the difference when the home sells, so the only solution is negotiating a short sale with the bank. They can however, still afford their monthly mortgage payments.

Bottom line: Don't get sucked into the trap of assuming a short sale, or low priced home is going into foreclosure. Usually, it just isn't so.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Make Sure You are on the Same Page when Purchasing a Home

When shopping for a new home, especially if you are a new home buyer, it is important for you think about what you want before you buy. One thing I have my clients do before we go house hunting is to sit down and make a list of the things they MUST have in the new home, and the things that would be nice to have, but don't really need if it came down to a hard decision. By going through the action of putting something on paper, a home buyer is forced into reality.

One reality often discovered is the fact that two home buyers may not want the same things. Take for instance a couple I worked with recently. The husband was happy with a home that needed a little work because the home was in a good location and would hold its value in the future. Any updating they did would only add more future value to the home. The wife however would rather buy a completely updated home and pay more for it now. Every home we entered was picked apart by one or the other. Needless to say, they were not on the same page.

It came to a point when I stopped the process and asked them to sit down at a meeting. I told them it seemed they were not ready to buy a home because they didn't really know what would work for the BOTH of them. If they cannot agree or compromise on the amenities they want, then what was the point of wasting everyone's time. Funny enough, they both agreed that a huge talk was in order. One week later, they came back to me with a revised list of "have and have-nots"...we found a home with-in a few days that both loved. Once they faced the reality of the decision making process, they found something both could live with.

In other cases, I have shown buyers what they think they wanted, only to find out it was the exact opposite. In instances like this, it works out really well if I show them two extremes in their price range, and then they can tell me which better suits them...kind of like telling them to rate a home between 1-10.

Here are some things to consider when buying your next home:

  • Location - many people just can't compromise on this, but if you can't afford the neighborhood or town you want to live in, then go further out to a neighborhood you like and can afford

  • Price Range - make sure you can afford the homes you view. Don't even think about looking at homes outside your price range that you could only afford with a low ball offer. It wastes every one's time.

  • Lot - think about if you want a large lot, small lot, trees, etc. Do you love to work in the yard? Do you hate to mow grass? Figure this out and you can greatly narrow down the homes to view.

  • Wood - do you hate oak cabinets? Now a days, many home buyers do and want different types of wood in the home. You will have to think about replacement costs for any wood you hate, or if you even want to go through the hassle. I know I hate oak and wouldn't even consider a home with these types of cabinets...unless it was for the right price.

  • New vs. Old - This is a big decision factor. In today's real estate market, new construction home builders are giving some pretty good incentives that rival resale homes. It could be a good way to go, especially if you would like help with closing costs as some builders are offering up to $7500 toward these costs.

So the bottom line is this, KNOW what you want BEFORE you go house hunting. And if there are two or more people involved in the decision making process, take a look at the reality of your situation and find a happy medium in which all of you can live with.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Final Entries in for the 2008 Magnificent 7 Best Consumer Articles

Back in February of 2008, one of my posts was featured in Larry Cragun's Magnificent 7 monthly contest over at the Real Estate Undressed blog. It was an article on how some home owners can't handle the truth about the condition of their home, and thus, blame the agent for an honest opinion.

At the end of the year, Mr. Cragun runs through all these posts and picks the top 7 for 2008. A few weeks ago, he posted the Nominee 7 for the month of November, and will be choosing the Final top 7 for 2008 winners sometime in January. Feel free to read through all the entries and see which Consumer Articles you find to be most helpful. I will let you know who the final winners are when Larry gives us the heads up.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter on Crystal Lake in Burnsville

I was in Burnsville recently shopping and thought I would pop on over to Crystal Lake and see how it looked in the winter snow. No one was there and hardly any foot prints were in the recently fallen snow. Needless to say, the sun was blinding off the snow so I used the trees as a filter.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Here's To a New and Better Year

Don't we all wish for the next year to be better than the last? I know I always do...and I make goals, both business and personal, to help keep me on track to having a better year. I think the real estate market will do better than last, though it will still be "sluggish" compared to years past. But keep your chins up...unless we strive to make our lives better, they never will be.

I look at my kids and wonder how they are going to change, how much they are going to learn and grow in 2009. Call me silly, but I find the unknown exciting. If I knew exactly what was going to happen to the real estate market in the next year or two, the challenge of furthering my experience would cease to exist and I would grow bored. Some things turn out the way we hope, and many others don't. But we pick ourselves up, keeping living and learning.

And of course you still need the humor and fun that goes along with life. I guess that is why, even though I like the unknown, I will still keep my magic 8-Ball around for those emergency, want-to-know future questions.

Happy New Year!