Friday, December 20, 2013

Does staging really help your home sell for more money?

Does staging really help your home sell for more money?
By +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Heck yes!

Staging isn't just moving a little furniture around, it's helping a buyer picture themselves living there. This means taking YOUR personal touches out and creating a neutral, welcoming atmosphere that highlights the best features of the home.
Buying is triggered by the emotions of the buyer.  You might be attached to the photos of your dog and your favorite arm chair but the buyer can't see past it to imagine their cat and precious antiques there. The faster you can get a buyer "attached" to your house, the faster it will sell and the more money you will get for your house. So again, YES, staging will get you more money for your home!

Check out THESE before and after pics or THESE.
 Staging Before and After Photos
 It works, right? :)

Everyone wants to get the best price for their home. Let me help!

Since it is your stuff and your house, it's often hard to stage it yourself. Call me and I will help you get started.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sell Now or Wait?

Are you timing the market?
By +Sarah Marrinan

Generally, though agents don't like to admit it, the housing market slows at the beginning of winter, and doesn't pick back up until the spring market begins.

This year, experts believe that our local market might keep booming straight through the coldest months.


Mortgage rates are low

Last spring, as buyer demand soared, rates began to slide up. In September, the Federal Reserve committed to buy $85 billion a month in bonds – a move that should keep rates low for buyers in the near future.

Rents are rising

Despite a major boom in multi-family housing developments, rental prices in the Twin Cities continue to rise. Nationwide, vacancy rates are at an eleven-year low of 4.5 percent; in the Twin Cities, the vacancy rate is at 2.5 percent. As mortgage payments begin to rival monthly rental rates, frustrated renters are encouraged to look into their homeownership options.

Sellers are finally in a position to sell

Median sales prices were up 11 percent in October 2013 over the previous year, and days on the market decreased 27 percent. As more and more sellers come out from underwater and see buyers competing over quality listings, they are entering the market. New listings were up 15 percent in October, showing seller confidence is increasing, too.

Whether you’re buying, selling or considering both, let us help – no obligation and no expectation. Reach out today to talk about mortgage rates, your home value and more.

Connect with me and get more great content!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Your Home Maintenance Toolkit

Basic Home Maintenance Toolkit compliments of Sarah Marrinan
Your Home Maintenance Toolkit
By +Sarah Marrinan
Have you just purchased a new home?  Here is an excellent idea for your housewarming warming gift registry! Run through these lists to ensure that you have all the tools you need:

Basic Equipment

  • Bucket, 5-gallon
  • Caulking gun
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Claw hammer
  • Combination square or speed square
  • Drill, cordless, 3/8-inch variable-speed reversible
  • Drill bit set
  • Flashlight
  • Flat scraper or putty knife
  • Glue, wood and all-materials (not Super Glue)
  • Hand saw, small, multipurpose
  • Ladder, 6-foot fiberglass
  • Level, 36- or 48-inch aluminum
  • Pliers, standard (slip-joint), 
    • long-nose, 
    • Channellock, 
    • and wire-cutter (diagonal)
  • Prybar
  • Gloves, rubber gloves and leather
  • Safety goggles
  • Sandpaper and sanding block
  • Sawhorse
  • Scissors, utility
  • Screwdrivers, several sizes of both flathead and Phillips
  • Tape measure, 25-foot
  • Utility knife and extra blades
  • Wrenches, 
    • basic set of open-ended crescent wrenches, 
    • set of ratcheting socket wrenches, 
    • and set Allen wrenches
Now that you have all the tools, what do you do with them?  Check out this Basic Home Maintenance Checklist.

 Cleaning or Organizing supplies make great gift ideas for new home owners too!

Sarah Marrinan, Realtor, Keller Williams,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Grandma's Goes Hawaiian" Recipe

jar of Grandma's Goes Hawaiian marinade and barbecue sauce
It's possible that if you've been in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin at a craft show or similar event you've seen the booth for Grandmas Favorite Recipes.

You probably sampled some of their sauces on hamburger meat, little Smokies, chicken or other meets. I did and they tasted good so I purchased some of the marinade and BBQ sauce they had for sale. The trouble didn't start until I was home...
I guess I assumed I could simply search the web and find the recipes using the sauces I bought. But it wasn't really that easy.

So I decided that I would simply start putting the marinade over things I had in the freezer.

So far, I have found that Grandma's Goes Hawaiian works great on chicken.

I'll post updates here as I continue to use some of the other marinades and barbecue sauce from Grandma's.

Happy cooking!

Monday, December 2, 2013

How To Save Money for Buying a Home

Unfortunately the down payment remains among the greatest obstacles to buying a home, so start planning for it... Along with closing costs, moving expenses, insurance and incidentals. 

The larger down payment remains the industry-underwriting staple. Lenders prefer to loan money to borrowers who share as much of the risk as possible. A larger down payment generally means better interest rates and less (or zero) mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance is money you'll never get back...

Here are a few ways to save more money, faster.
  • Stop impulsive and compulsive spending habits. Skip the fancy drive-thru coffee and use a coffee maker at home. 
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines, the gym (get a friend and a video and do it at home), reduce your cable television channels and cut back on other services you can buy for less.
  • Stream movies or grab a Red Box and microwave your popcorn at home or have a game night at home instead of going out every Friday night.
  • Bag your lunch, go generic at the supermarket, reduce data gigabytes from 10 to 5 on your smart phone and wait until you have with-fi to Tweet and share.
  • Plan to save. You won't know where you can cut costs if you don't know where your money goes. Make a budget to track your income and your expenditures.
  • Auto-Save. Transfer that money directly from your paycheck into a savings or other interest bearing account using an automatic program at your bank or credit union.
  • Bonus: The more you save, the more options you'll have to diversify savings into investments for a better return on your money.
  • Dump credit accounts. Stop the "emergencies only credit card" nonsense. If you are saving money, there's your emergency fund. Any kind of credit allows you to spend more than you have and then pay through the nose for high credit card interest rates.
  • Liquidate valuable hobby assets. What's more important? Buying a home or hockey gear? Something's got to give.
  • De-clutter your garage, attic and closets. Gain a little cash plus when you move, you'll have less stuff to move and a smaller mortgage to boot.
  • Get a(nother) job. A second job, maybe even a third. Finding additional sources of income can really help speed up that home buy.   Seasonal work, a home-based business, working half a night shift. If you're working you're not as likely to be spending. 
  • Stop loaning money to the federal government. A tax rebate is nothing more than a loan to Uncle Sam, until tax return filing time, but you get zero interest. Adjust your W-4 to match your true tax liability and save the difference.

Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams -

See Also: Home Buying Tips  |  Homes for Sale  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baby it's cold outside! Invite the buyers in!

Think of your buyers as your most desired guests.  Roll out the red carpet treatment and you will create a lasting impression!

By +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

 Make your home seem warm and welcoming to potential buyers with an inviting atmosphere. This will encourage them to stick around, giving them more time to admire the space. Here are some tips to help your home make a lasting impression in even the coldest months.

Crank up the heat. When it’s cold outside, buyers will be grateful for a place to warm up. Turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees to make it extra toasty, or light a fire in the fireplace for an extra homey touch. Just be sure not to leave a fire unattended.

Let in the light. To make your home look bright and open when it’s a bit dreary outside, turn on all the lights and open all the shades and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible. Use amber-colored light bulbs to give your home a warm glow.

Create appealing aromas. The scent of freshly baked cookies, cinnamon rolls or apple pie is almost universally appealing. Avoid artificial fragrances like sprays and scented candles, which might affect buyers' allergies. If your house has been closed up tightly, you may want to open all the windows and doors for just a few minutes each day to freshen things up.

Offer warm treats. If delicious aromas are wafting through your home, follow through by having food and drinks available for buyers, such as cookies, hot chocolate or apple cider set out.

Play soothing sounds. Classical or jazz music playing softly in the background can add to your home’s inviting atmosphere. An acoustical holiday music CD may be seasonally appropriate.

Add seasonal adornments. While overly large decorations or an abundance of decorations can distract buyers from your home, tasteful wintry accents can complement your decor. Consider a simple wreath on the door, a vase filled with poinsettias on an end table, or a centerpiece made of pine cones on the dining room table. Simple or professionally done exterior holiday lights will help light a buyer's way on those winter months when the sun sets early.

Emphasize cozy comfort. As a finishing touch, emphasize the comfort of your home with luxurious and inviting fabrics, like soft blankets, plush towels or a silky tablecloth.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Should I Care About Radon?

The latest buzz in the housing market... and activist groups... and cancer research is radon.  But what do we know about radon?
Well, here is what the government wants us to know:
 View the Full Radon Gas Brochure


How does this pertain to the sale or purchase of a home in Minnesota?

Effective January 1, 2014, the Minnesota Radon Awareness Act requires additional disclosure and education be provided to potential home buyers during residential real estate transactions in Minnesota. Before signing a purchase agreement to sell or transfer residential real property, the seller shall disclose in writing to the buyer any knowledge the seller has of radon concentrations in the dwelling.

Need help buying, selling or investing?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NEW LISTING: 5905 135th Street N

What a great home in Hugo!

This wonderful home is in a quiet neighborhood of Hugo and is situated on a beautiful lot on a dead-end street. This home features a large master bedroom w/2 closets, eat-in kitchen plus a dining room and family room that walks out to the private back yard. This home has a  3 car insulated, attached garage plus shop with electricity!
New roof, siding and windows within the last 5 years and new carpet in 2013! 
Request a showing:
See the Virtual Tour

Other posts related to 5905 135th St N:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

9 Reasons to List Your Home for The Holidays

Need a reason to put your house on the market now versus waiting until the spring? Here are nine of them!
By +Sarah Marrinan

9. You can sell now and delay closing or extend occupancy to keep you in your home until next year when you will have more buying choices of your own! 
8.  Many homes and yards photograph beautifully with snow cover.
7.  Less competition! Buyers have fewer homes to choose over the holidays giving you the opportunity to get more money for your home.
6. January is traditionally the month from place to begin new job since transferase cannot wait until spring to buy you need to be on the market during holidays to capture that market!
5. Some people must buy before the end of the year for tax reasons!
4. Buyers are more emotional during the holidays so they're more likely to pay a better price for your home.
3. Houses often show better when they are decorated for the holidays. 
2. Since the supply of listings dramatically increases in January there will be less demand for your particular home and more competition! Less demand means less money!
And the number one reason to list over the holidays is...
1. People who look for homes during the holiday season are the most serious buyers!

Even though your house will be on the market you still have the option to restrict showings during the six or seven days around the holidays.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Smart Homebuyers Are Locking In Ultra Low Rates Before The Fed Hike

Are you a smart home buyer?
By +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 
The recent mini spike in mortgage rates has homeowners scrambling to save thousands over the next several years by locking in a rate today. Many homeowners are just now recuperating from seeing their home values plummet in the past, to finally seeing positive equity, so now is the time to take advantage of low-rate mortgages before rates begin climbing higher.
The Fed lowered short term rates several years ago to near zero in an effort to revive the economy. Now that we are seeing a recovery it's expected we will begin to see rates escalate to normal levels. Historically, rates on 30 year loans are usually between 5.50%-7.25% and higher. Below is the difference on a $200,000 mortgage for a 30 year term at an available rate today of 3.25% vs 6.75%.
 Search for homes now!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What will the appraiser look at?

  You may have heard, when putting your house up for sale you house is not sold to just one person but two, three maybe more! The buyer is the obvious one but most buyers have agents and lenders that need to be "sold" too.

Planning or preparing to place your house up for sale requires you make sure everything is in the best condition possible, as your house will need to be appraised. The appraisal is a mandatory step required by financial institutions to help determine the actual value of the property in the current market. Both sellers and buyers need to have an interest in ensuring that the best possible sales price is agreed upon and backed by the final home appraisal report.

So what will the appraiser look at? Though it is always subject to opinion, here are some basics.

Location, Facts and Features
The geographical location of a house impacts the appraisal amount, as homes located in good communities, close to good transportation routes and near basic services such as hospitals, schools, churches and shopping centers fare better in appraisals. The specific location within a neighborhood is also important. For example, a cul-de-sac home will pull a slightly higher appraisal amount compared to one on a thru street or busy in the neighborhood. Having neighbors with well maintained homes and yards will also prove positive in the appraisal of a property.

Age plus the lot size and square footage are the basis of how "comps" (comparable properties) are chosen in the area. Adjustments are made for some key features of the home such as fireplaces and decks.

How can I be "better" than my comps?
"Functional obsolescence" or "End of life" are terms you do NOT want to see in and appraisal report.  Ask yourself about the following areas of your home with these phrases in mind? 

Exterior Condition and Appearance
The outside of a house is one of the first things the home appraiser takes note of when determining the value of the property. Repairing siding/stucco issues and the roof are huge.  Making sure the grass is cut, shrubs are trimmed, weeds are pulled and the yard is landscaped also helps to increase the value. Making sure all trash and debris have been removed from the front of the house also makes the home look better. Remove cobwebs, clean windows, clear gutters and wash the house if it has vinyl siding. This shows good maintenance of the home.

Heating, Plumbing and Wiring
The main systems within a home include the heating, cooling, water and electrical systems. The appraiser will review and assess these items as they are some of the most costly items to repair and remaining "life" of these items is considered. Make sure the appraiser can easily access the main areas of the home so he can arrive at accurate figures. Before a home appraisal, you may wish to have certified technicians inspect major systems to alert you to any problems that might be developing and if you receive a good inspection report of these items, leave it out for the appraiser!

Kitchens and Bathrooms
Repairing or replacing broken, damaged or obsolete fixtures, cabinets and appliances are very important  BUT (there is always a but) be careful not to over-improve. If your neighborhood is "middle range" putting in a gourmet kitchen will not get you the return on your investment you were hoping for so stay consistent with the level of finishes commonly found in your area.

Cleanliness and Overall Appearance
The house itself needs to be clean and organized. Though an appraiser is not overtly concerned about "stuff" like piles of paperwork or dishes in he sink, he does need to be able to take pictures of all rooms and see all areas of the house. Clutter and/or empty can both pose problems. Damaged walls and heavily worn carpet could hurt you more than the cost to patch, paint, clean and arrange. A house that's well-maintained and in move-in condition is more likely to get a higher appraisal.


Overwhelmed? Need help? Call me and we can talk about your best options. :)

MSN Real Estate: 10 Tips to Boost Your Home's Appraisal
CNN Money: Buying? Selling? Don't Undervalue the Home
The Appraisal Institute: How to Get the Most out of a Home Appraisal
Resources Myths and Facts About Appraisals

Sunday, October 20, 2013

BTA Pasta Salad (Bacon Tomato Avocado)

With spring in the air I always get an itch to find new pasta salads and recipes for summer barbecues. My criteria usually includes recipes that are easy, have commonly found ingredients and are generally healthy. Here's my twist on a BLT salad recipe I found that is sure to be a hit!

BTA  Pasta Salad (Bacon Tomato Avocado) Ingredients:

8 slices turkey bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped into pieces
1/2 pound bow tie pasta, cooked according to package instructions and rinsed under cold water
1/2 cup lowfat mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 avocado peeled, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
Salt to taste

-While your bacon and pasta are cooking, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper and dill together in a bowl.
-Gently stir cooled pasta, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado and bacon into the dressing.  
-Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving.

October 2013 Real Estate Update

Here is the link to watch the full update (just over 1 minute long): 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce

Whether it's a time of year that you are craving comfort foods or you just want to add variety to your traditional red sauce/white sauce pasta choices, this recipe fits the bill!
Important note: If you haven't cooked squash before, it's NOT all the same!  Different varieties have distinctive flavors.  This recipe calls for BUTTERNUT squash.

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
coarse salt and pepper
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup milk
1-2 cups broth
Pasta, for serving (such as ravioli or any short pasta - NOT Spaghetti noodles)
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Using a large, sharp knife, trim the squash ends, then halve the squash crosswise to separate the bulb from the neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard. Cut squash into 2-inch chunks.

Transfer chunks of squash to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor. Puree. With motor running, add milk through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups broth. Continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again with salt. (To freeze, see below).

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary.

Once you've tossed the pasta with the sauce, serve it topped with any or all of the following: Toasted Walnuts, additional parmesan cheese, Torn fresh sage leaves.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What to do with that mess of chargers?

A mess of chargers

Let's face it. That pile of chargers on your [desk, night stand, counter, etc] is ugly. 

So how are you going to fix it?

Here are some ideas! 
Decorative grass hidden power stationBinder clip cord keepers

Phone holder and charger cord keeper Power strip and chargers hidden in decorative box Power strip hidden in bread box

Power strip, charges and devices hidden in drawer

 If you scrolled down this far, here's your chance for a FREE solution!

Here is a video of thingCHARGER:

P.S. I have ZERO affiliation with any of these companies. I take credit for none of these photos or ideas.

P.P.S. Always take your electronics and other valuables with you when you have showings scheduled at you home! (Or put them in a safe...)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

What is more important? Credit Score or Down Payment?

So, is your credit score more important or the size of your down payment when it comes to getting a mortgage on a house?  

Let's take a look. You down payment determines your Loan to Value ratio.  Your LTV and credit score are primary factors in determining your mortgage qualification and the rate your will receive.

To demonstrate how Loan To Value and credit score impact APR, consider these three buyer profile scenarios.
  • Jenny has managed to save up a sizable down payment of 30% on her dream home, but she has always paid for everything in cash and has no credit history so her credit score is only 635.  
  • Amy has a good credit score at 745, but she only has enough for a 5% down payment.  
  • John also has a credit score of 745 but has saved enough to put 20% down. 

Despite their very different profiles, Jenny and Amy would get nearly the same APR (4.98%) on their mortgage, indicating they pose equal risk to the mortgage underwriters. John, however, would get the best rate, nearly 60 basis points lower at 4.41%.
Assuming they have all have $1,000 per month for their monthly mortgage payment, Jenny would be able afford a house of $265,000; John a house of $250,000; and Amy a house of $195,000.

Want to see what your specific situation qualifies for? Contact Paul Johnston today!

Already qualified and ready to buy?  I'm here for ya' as always!

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Program for Home Buyers with Checkered Credit

 Commonly, people who people who experienced a “Negative Credit Event” like a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy would have experienced an extended delay of anywhere between two and seven years before they could purchase a home. But now there is a new program called “The Back to Work Extenuating Circumstances Program,” that is designed to allow these people that were impacted during the housing crisis to purchase a home!  Through this program, they have an opportunity to qualify to buy within as little as 12 months. The program is going to remain in effect for any applications that have a case number through September of 2016.

Getting back to the “Back to Work Extenuating Circumstances Program,” what are the standards that would allow someone to qualify for it?

In order to be eligible for this program, applicants are going to need to prove four things.
  1. First, they need to prove that they’re income declined by 20 percent or more for a six month period and that those circumstances were the result of a negative credit event.
  2. Second, they’ll need to be able to provide documentation if the negative credit event qualifies under the “Job lost beyond applicant’s control” category. This might include publicly available information on a reduction in workforce or that a company closed. Applicants can also look to see if they had unemployment compensation.
  3. Next, they have to prove that, over the course of the last twelve months, they haven’t had any credit hiccups like a late installment or any new collections or judgments. They also have to have a clean credit record for the last 12 months. So, they’ll need to show that they have had a positive rental history or that if they’re living with their parents they haven’t had any other credit issues.
  4. The last criteria is that applicants will have to go through Housing Counseling with an approved counselor no later than six months from the application date and no sooner than 30 days from the application date.
Here is the August 15th, 2013 letter from U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT:

Want to find out if you qualify?  Contact Curt Smith!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Three Must-Dos for Selling a House

Three Key Tips for Selling Your Home

Knowing the value of your house and exercising patience and restraint are key. A good real estate agent can help you determine the market value of your home but you may want to go a step further and get your home appraised as well; it’s worth the $250 to $500 price tag. In a good market, the sale price may be above the appraisal with the right buyer. In a weaker market, the sale price may be around or below the appraisal figure. Either way, you can use it to defend your equity.

Remember, patience is key. Yes, it's true there is concern that homes can go “stale” after being on the market for too long, meaning they are no longer attracting interest from buyers. But a stale sale usually results from a seller overvaluing his or her home. The opposite can also occur: in a rush to sell a home, or to sell in time so as to move into a new house, a home can be undervalued.  This is another reason the appraisal and your real estate agent are important.

A home inspection is also important in avoiding complications during your sale. The buyer will get an inspection, but discovering problems during a pre-sale home inspection allows you to have more control over how to handle them. If your home inspection does uncover problems with your home, it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with your state’s disclosure laws to avoid future litigation. Generally, they require you to disclose the presence of any hazardous materials in your home or significant flaws in construction. If you’re unsure of what you have to disclose, consult a real estate agent, attorney or your local housing authority.

Finally, try to put your home on the market before buying a new one unless you are qualified and can afford paying two mortgages or your first home is own free and clear. If you do end up finding a house that you can’t wait to buy before selling your own, you can ask your lender for a bridge loan. A bridge loan is a special type of loan that, if you have enough equity in your current home, allows you to pay the down payment on a new home. You may also be able to get a home equity loan in order to help with the dual mortgage payments. Please consult a lender (or attorney) for further information.

Connect with me and get more great content!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free real estate app. Go get it!

It is just this easy.
Go to your App Store or Google Play and search KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY
Download the App
Enter My Code: KW1Z62GIH as your local agent so you can email me directly from the app.


Friday, August 23, 2013

What color should I paint my ___________ ?

Whether you are getting ready to sell your house, just bought a new home or you just need a change in scenery, painting is a great way to freshen up a room or create a new feel in a room.  But how do you choose the right color?  A good place to start is knowing what "impression" each color makes. 

Keep in mind, darker colors, for example, will make a room look smaller, but they also make a statement, are more dramatic, and can be a great option for a room that doesn’t need to feel roomy. Lighter colors are just the opposite.

Happy painting!