4 Reasons Your Listing Might Not Be Selling

In our local real estate market, most homes are selling at a brisk pace.  That doesn’t mean however that some aren’t selling at all.  In fact they’re not.  MSN Real Estate recently polled real estate professionals around the nation to find some of the most common reasons why some properties won’t sell, besides trying to overcome a poor location.

Here are four common reasons listings don’t sell in a timely manner, according to the survey:

  1. Unreasonable price: “It’s always price for condition or price for location,” says Kathy Opperman, a broker-owner with Century 21 Alliance in Philadelphia. “That’s one of the main reasons [homes] sit.” Some sellers are just unrealistic about what their house can truly fetch, or they may be underwater and just unable to lower their price tag. “In my market, the only reason a property would stay on the market for longer than three months would be that the price is too high,” Ron Redfern, a real estate professional from Greeley, Colo., told MSN Real Estate. “Price will overcome any objection.” 
  2. Bad decor: Loud patterns, bold colors, and dated decor styles can distract home buyers. For example, agents say that mirrored walls, cheap wood paneling, and 1970s kitchens can be turn-offs. To try to appeal to the widest buying pool, agents advise clients to stay neutral with their design, give buyers a “minimalist canvas” for them to project their own tastes on.
  3. Awkward floor plan or missing necessities: Strange or dated floor plans may also make a home linger, such as older homes where you have to walk through a bedroom to get to a second bedroom, MSN Real Estate notes. One home in Catskill, N.Y., has lingered on the market for more than four years because it’s missing a driveway. 
  4. Awful photos: If your listing has yet to sell, you may want to revisit the photos you’re using to present it on the MLS. For example, one Chicago listing showed dirty clothes and clutter in the photo, which may prompt buyers to question the hygiene of the rest of the home, as well as assume it has a lack of storage. Be choosy about the photos you upload to the MLS, and remember that less can be more, Opperman says. Have photos showcase the best rooms and features of the home. “If a buyer isn’t excited about a home after seeing it online, they won’t want to see it in person,” Opperman says.

Source: “Listing Losers: 8 Reasons Your Home Isn’t Selling and What to do About It,” MSN Real Estate (March 13, 2013)

 

“Buyer Needs” Edina Realty Networking Meeting

Every Tuesday morning real estate agents at Edina Realty meet to discuss current topics relating to the industry and do some internal networking.  The networking consists of announcing “pre-lists”, homes that will be listed in the near future, “buyer needs”, the agent is working with a buyer but the buyer isn’t finding what they’re looking for, price reductions, open houses, broker opens etc.

This open forum is often a good indicator of what’s going on in the market.  This past Tuesday (2/19/13), here is the list of “Buyer Needs”

Edina, Eden Prairie, West Bloomington, Minnetonka – townhome – 1 level walkout – up to $500,000

Edina Dewey Hill, Lewis Ridge, West Bloomington or Minnetonka – condo – 1800+ sq ft – $250,000-400,000

St Louis Park, Minnetonka, Edina, Eden Prairie – rambler, updated – up to $350,000

Shakopee – Pheasant Run n’hood and South of 169 to 17th Ave, West CR 77 East to CR 79 – 3+br/2+ba/2+ car – $225,000-275,000

Edina, SW Mpls – 2 story or rambler – 2500+ sq ft – 3+br/2+ba/2+ car – updated with a t least 3 bdrms on one level – $500,000-750,000

Bloomington, Eden Prairie – 1 level living – 3+br/2+ba/2+ car – built 1994 or newer – $225,000-400,000

Mpls Lake Harriet area – Craftsman Bungalow – 2800+ sq ft – 4+br/3+ba/2+ car – $350,000-800,000

Bloomington – large private lot, can be fixer upper – up to $300,000

SW Mpls, Linden Hills, Edina – 3br/2ba/2 car – ok if needs renovating – $200,000-350,000

St Louis Park, Minnetonka, SW Mpls, Eden Prairie – condo, townhome or single family – up to $250,000

Wayzata, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie schools – 2 story, 2+ story – 2000+ sq ft – 3+br on one level/2+br/2+car – $300,000-375,000

Bloomington, Edina – 1 story – move in condition – $350,000-500,000

Twin Cities area – 800+ sq ft – 2+br/1+ba – $75,000-120,000

Mpls – condo – Carlyle building – facing South and West – about the 25th Floor – 2+br/2+ba/2+ car  – 2500+ sq ft

Mpls, St Louis Park, Edina – $280,000-400,000

North East Edina – up to $1.4 million

Edina, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Chanhassen – 4+br/3+ba – newer build preferred – up to $1 million

Edina townhome – 3 br – $500,000-600,000

Eden Prairie, Edina, West Bloomington – walk out rambler or 2 story with master on main – 3+br/2+ bath – $450,00-600,000

I share this list with you for two reasons. One is that I think it speaks volumes of where the market is headed.  Each one these represents a buyer working with an agent that can’t find the home in the area, style and price category they want.  And that’s just from our one office. Right now there are many more buyers than homes available.  It’s a great time to sell.

Two is that if you have a home that fits one of the descriptions in the list, or know of a home that does, now is a good time to contact me or your agent since we already have a buyer waiting for you.

BBB Tips for Hiring a Locksmith

There are times when everyone needs a locksmith. Sometimes this involves having locks replaced, but usually when people are in need of a locksmith, it’s an emergency or time is of the essence – such as when keys are locked in cars or people are unable to get inside their homes. No matter how stressful the situation, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds people they need to take the time to look after their interests and ensure they won’t be hit with unexpected charges when hiring a locksmith.

“Though locksmiths aren’t near the top of our list in terms of volume of complaints, the resolution rate of complaints we do receive is eye-opening,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Just slightly over 25% of the complaints filed in the last three years against locksmiths in our area have been closed as resolved.” Overall, the BBB complaint resolution rate is just over 90%.

The majority of complaints filed against locksmiths involve situations where consumers allege they were quoted one price and then the final bill proved higher than expected. To help avoid situations like this, the BBB recommends the following:

  • Check with the BBB for a free Business Review on a company before you do business with them.  Our Business Reviews have been optimized for smartphones and are available at bbb.org or by telephone at or (800) 646-6222. Find BBB Accredited locksmiths via our Online Directory (http://www.bbb.org/minnesota/accredited-business-directory).       
  • If there’s time, shop  around.  There are times it may not be feasible to get multiple quotes. Still, it’s always a good idea to do some investigating. When possible, seek estimates from at least three companies. Ask what the price quoted includes: is it just the service call or does it also factor in labor and parts? Make sure there are no hidden fees.  Also, get names from company representatives you speak with on the phone.
  • Ask for a worst-case scenario.  A knowledgeable locksmith will know of any potential circumstances that may arise which would incur extra charges, so always ask for a worst- case scenario estimate. Provide the locksmith with as much information as possible. 
  • Does the locksmith have a shop?  Find out if the locksmith has a shop rather than just a website or an ad in the phone book. Make sure the company has a location listed.  Ask how long he/she has been in business. 
  • Ask about training and experiences.  Experienced locksmiths have the tools and training to provide quality service.       Knowing the “tricks of the trade” can save time and money on labor.   Professional locksmiths know the right hardware for your application; inexperience can cost more when the job is not done right the first time. 
  • Be aware of companies who use an 800 number.  If you are dialing an 800 number, chances are good the company is based in another state.  
  • Ask if the company is insured.  Anyone can make a mistake; if work performed leads to property damage, insurance should cover your losses. 
  • Ask for customer references and follow up on them.
  • Be cautious if a locksmith immediately tells you he has to drill and replace the lock. Make sure you’re comfortable with work the locksmith recommends. If you get an uneasy feeling about their approach, it’s probably best not to proceed. Be aware, though, you may still be charged a service fee, even if you call off the work. 
  • Ask for ID and business card.  When the locksmith arrives, ask for ID and a business card. Make sure you are comfortable with the person you’re entrusting your security with. 
  • Get an itemized estimate.  Never sign a blank form authorizing work. 
  • Beware of ad claims.  Beware of claims such as “We’re locally owned and operated”; “45 years in business”; or “We’re # 1.” Companies may also list certain certifications that are incorrect or old. Ask for details about any such claims. 
  • Be leery of exaggerated claims.  Claims like “Service in 15 minutes” or “We’ll beat any price.” These claims are easy to make but tough to deliver on. 
  • Treat this as a security issue.  Locksmiths have access to your house/car: you are entrusting your security to them. 
  • Pick a company from the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA).  ALOA is an organization of locksmiths who abide by a code of ethics, have professional trainings, are aware of industry news in their area, are able to obtain professional certification levels through standardized testing, agree to analyze security problems and provide best      solutions for their clients, and agree to abstain from using improper or questionable methods of soliciting patronage.  For more information about your local chapter of Associated Locksmiths of America visit www.mnaloa.org.

Contact Patrick if you’d like a list of recommended locksmith’s in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

 

Made In the USA

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, I’ve started thinking about what gifts I’ll be buying for Christmas.  The presidential election is also now past but thoughts about the economy still persist.  When making a list of the gifts I want to buy, I’ve decided that I would like to buy “American Made” where and when possible and contribute as best as I can by keeping my money in the United States of America.

Last year I started making a list of things that are made in theUSA.  It’s not been an easy task. First of all there aren’t that many things that are made here.  When I started this list I went through my closet to see where my clothes were made. China, Mexico, Honduras, India, Thailand, El Salvador, Malaysia, Italy, Colombia, Indonesia and Swaziland??  One or two items were made in the US but not many.

I researched websites and found lists of products that are made here.  However, many of them were outdated or included items that aren’t easily recognizable by the average consumer. 

I had high hopes that there were many items made in the USA that would make good gifts.  A Radio Flyer wagon once made in Illinois is now made in China.  Red Wing boots once made in Red Wing, Minnesota are now made in China.  I was able to compile a list of categories with at least one or two products made in the USA.  Some New Balance shoes for example are made in the US.  Some are not however.

After thinking about things that are made in the USA since last year and coming up short on things that may make good gifts for Christmas, I’ve determined that the ultimate product that’s made in the USA is the home we live in. Whether it be a single family home, condo, town home, apartment or other structure, it’s most likely made out of products made right here in the US. 

Here’s an example of the many products that go into a house, are manufactured in the US, shipped in the US and installed in the US.  All of these products create and support jobs in our country, put constructions workers to work and keep local factories operating.

Air Conditioning
Appliances
Audio Video
Bathroom Fixtures and Tubs
Brick
Burglar Alarms
Cabinets & hardware
Carpet
Caulking and Sealant
Ceiling Fans
Central Vacuum Systems
Ceramic Tile
Closet Systems
Concrete & Concrete Blocks
Countertops
Decks, Porches and Patios
Door Locks
Doors
Driveway
Drywall
Dumpsters (and hauling)
Elevators
Faucets
Fencing
Fire Alarms & Sprinklers
Fireplaces
Fitness Equipment
Flag Poles
Floor Coverings
Floor Heating Systems
Furniture & Accessories
Garage Doors & Openers
Grills
Glass
Granite
Gutters & Downspouts
Heating Systems
Home Automation Systems
Home Theater
House Wrap
Insulation
Landscape Materials
Lawn Sprinkler Systems
Lighting & Light Fixtures
Lumber
Mailboxes
Mirrors
Paint
Plumbing & Plumbing Fixtures
Railings
Roofing Materials
Sewer Pipes
Sheet Metal
Shutters
Siding
Skylights
Stone
Stucco
Swimming Pools & Equipment
Toilets
Wall Coverings
Water Conditioning & Filtration
Water Heaters
Window Treatments
Windows
Wiring
Wood

While these won’t necessarily make good Christmas gifts, they certainly are needed, will keep our economy moving and will help keep the US dollar in the United States.

I’ll still work on finding things to buy this holiday season that are made in the USA but until then, I’m very pleased that I discovered that a home and most of the things in it are made right here.

 

Warren Buffet Just Made a Huge Bet on the US Housing Market

The article by Matthew Boesler in Business Insider indicates a positive trend for home owners, real estate agents and the parent company of Edina Realty, Home Services of America.

Perhaps the most bullish indicator for U.S. housing is Warren Buffett.

The legendary investor has been buying up real-estate brokerages around the country as he bets on a housing turnaround. Now, he is partnering with Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian real-estate investor, to more than double the size of his brokerage business.

Berkshire’s HomeServices of America Inc. unit will be the majority owner of the venture to manage a U.S. residential real-estate affiliate network, according to a statement on the new company’s website. The firms plan to offer a new franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, starting next year. Brookfield’s network has operated under the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate brands.

Berkshire’s managers have been positioning the firm to benefit as the U.S. home market recovers from its worst slump in seven decades. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has bought a brickmaker, won the loan portfolio of bankrupt mortgage lender Residential Capital LLC at auction and built its HomeServices unit by agreeing to acquire real-estate brokerages in states including Oregon and Connecticut.

The press release says the brokerages that will make up the new company did a combined $72 billion in sales in 2011. That’s more than twice the $32 billion in sales that Berkshire did in 2011 without the new brokerages.

More from the release:

 

 

Factors That Affect the Cost of Your Homeowners Insurance

Understanding some basic information on how homeowners insurance rates are determined can help you have an impact on the size of the premium check you write every year.

Your home is one of the biggest investments you can make.  Properly insuring your home is critical to protect this investment.  Like most things in life, you get what you pay for.  So, when insuring your home, you need to be careful and not necessarily settle for the lowest price.  The list below will help you purchase the quality product you need at the lowest cost possible.

Replacement Cost

Insurers determine and file base rates for premiums for their homeowner’s products.  These rates are considered “base rates.”  There are several factors (see below) that influence these base rates.  The amount of replacement cost on the home is the key determinant for the amount of premium charged.

We are in a strange time in real estate valuations.  Replacement cost values are higher than market values for most homes.  Don’t settle for only insuring your home for the market value.  Make sure your agent has completed a replacement cost analysis and that your home is insured to the full cost to replace.

Insurance Scoring

Insurance companies use credit insurance scoring (derived from credit scoring) to significantly modify the base rate.  The premium can fluctuate up to 35% either way depending on your credit score.  Checking, correcting, and/or keeping your good credit as high as possible is very important in keeping your insurance rates as low as possible.

Updates

If your home is older than 20 years, updating the furnace and the roof can save substantial premium dollars.  If you have remodeled your home, premium can be saved on updates to the electrical and plumbing systems.  Make sure your agent is aware of any improvements you have made to your home as they could decrease your premium.

Security

Up to 10% of the total premium per year can be saved just by installing a monitored alarm system in your home.  Other potential premium saving security items include dead bolt locks, fire extinguishers, internal sprinkling systems, back-up generators, etc.  Make sure to check with your agent to find out if you already have premium saving security, and that you are receiving the credit.

Location

The location of your home can alter your premium dramatically.  The further away you are from a fire department will have a significant impact on the amount you pay.  Check with your agent to make sure your home is rated properly in the appropriate protection class.  Protection classes can change, so it is a good idea to check this annually.

Deductibles

The amount of your deductible has a substantial effect on your premium.  The higher the home deductible, the lower the premium.  Most homeowner’s carry a minimum of $1,000 for a deductible.

 

A Guide to Residential Architectural Styles

 

Every house has a style. Sometimes it has two or more; because of renovations and new, eclectic mixes, fitting a home into one specific category can be daunting or even impossible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, there’s no need to memorize complicated architectural terminology. REALTOR® Magazine has compiled a convenient compendium of common styles. Delve in and learn to highlight the details that give a home character, history, and romance.

Read more

 

 

Study Finds Gaps in Online Listing Information

A study done by the WAV Group on behalf of Redfin and first reported in the New York Times explains exactly why Edina Realty doesn’t share it’s listings with non-broker websites like Trulia and Zillow.  They’re inaccurate and can be very misleading to buyers. 

I also advise buyers to consult directly with their realtor about specific properties because even if the listing still shows it as being “Active” it may already have an accepted offer on it so it’s actually “sold pending inspection” or some other contingency.  It will remain in the active category until the contingency listed in MLS is removed at which point it will be classified as “Pending”.  The realtor has access to that information which isn’t available to the public.  Read the article

Determining the Cost and Benefit of a Home Renovation Project

Erin Devine outlined on her blog, DYI Home & Floor Blog, how to evaluate the cost vs. the benefit when doing home renovations.  While I don’t necessarily agree with the percentage of investment that can be recouped from such a renovation, I think she makes some valid points that every homeowner should consider before diving into a renovation project.   Here’s what she had to say.

Often, home owners want to update the kitchen with granite countertops, install new flooring or renovate the basement to make their homes more appealing to buyers. Before you begin planning your renovations, however, come up with a blueprint for how much value these will add to your new home.

Here are some tips on what to consider when calculating the costs and benefits of performing a home renovation project:

Read more

Price Your House to Sell Quickly

Real estate broker, Dian Hymer, wrote an article about how to go about setting a price when selling a home.   Here’s what she had to say in the article published in Inman News on August 20, 2012.

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A first-quarter survey of homebuyers and sellers done by HomeGain.com, a real estate services website, revealed that 76 percent of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent.

Homebuyers usually have a better grasp of current market value in the area where they’re looking to buy than do sellers who own and live there. Buyers look at a lot of new listings. They make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much, and what doesn’t and why. HomeGain reported that homebuyers still think sellers are overpricing their homes.

Read more