Saturday, June 29, 2013

Do you have a C.L.U.E.?

Do you have a C.L.U.E?  What's it worth to you?
By +Sarah Marrinan

In addition to a home inspection and the seller's disclosure paperwork, there is yet another way to find out about potential damage history on a home, a CLUE report.

A C.L.U.E.® Home Seller's Disclosure Report is an independent source of information about insurance losses at your home address within the past five years. If your home has not experienced a loss within the past 5 years, the report can provide comfort to a potential buyer. When there are no losses are associated with a property the report would state that no losses were found for the address shown.

For Home Sellers:
More homebuyers are requiring home sellers to provide a C.L.U.E.® Home Seller's Disclosure Report as a contingency to a purchase offer. By ordering the C.L.U.E.® Home Seller's Disclosure Report at the time of listing, the smart seller and his/her agent are ready for the first potential buyer to walk in the door. At the same time, a potential buyer will achieve a greater comfort level when making an offer on a property for which the loss history is known.  FOLLOW THIS LINK TO ORDER:
It is available immediately via online delivery for your primary address or by mail for other properties you own.

For Real Estate Agents:
Providing information to a potential buyer that makes the home you are selling more attractive is to your advantage. More homebuyers are requiring home sellers to provide a C.L.U.E.® Home Seller's Disclosure Report as a contingency to a purchase offer. By ordering the C.L.U.E.® Home Seller's Disclosure Report at the time of listing, the smart seller and his/her agent are ready for the first potential buyer to walk in the door. At the same time, a potential buyer will achieve a greater comfort level when making an offer on a property for which the loss history is known.

Buyers and Sellers may also be curious about Lead Paint, Radon or even is somebody died in a home. There is so much information out there, it's crucial to have an experienced professional to help you weed through it all!

Ready to talk about buying or selling?  Call me!
*I do not endorse C.L.U.E.®  or nor was I paid to provide this information post.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Home Layout Style House Fits You?

What Home Layout Style House Fits You?

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Over time, home styles have evolved.  In real estate, we classify interior layouts as follows. Do you have a favorite? Are you ready to GET YOUR SEARCH STARTED?

1. One Story - Often called a Rambler or Ranch home
One story single-family house

2.  One 1/2 Stories
One 1/2 story single-family house. Second floor only has adequate ceiling height in a portion of it.

3.  Two Stories
Two story single-family house. Has adequate ceiling height throughout upper story.

4.  More Than Two Stories
Single-Family house with more than two stories.

5.  Modified Two Story
Two story single-family house where the second story has full ceiling height throughout but has less square feet of finished space than the first level, leaving a portion of the structure without the second story. However, there is a full set of stair risers to the second story. (Does not include multi-level homes with a half set of risers but not a shorter full set.).

6.  Three Level Split
Three level split home. Most commonly, there is main level living space such as a kitchen and dining room and there are generally shorter sets of stairs between the levels.

7.  Four or More Level Split
Built like a three level split, except it has a basement level and/or additional levels.

8.  Split Entry (Bi-Level)
Upon entering, go up or down a set of stairs. May be front-back or side split.

9.  Other
Any single family dwelling that does not fit into the preceding categories.

Want to see great pics and descriptions of American House Styles? Check out this gallery from This Old House featuring American architectural styles from the 17th century through modern, including Georgian, Colonial, Greek Revival, Foursquare, Craftsman, and Queen Anne Victorians!

Learn more about Townhouses, Twin homes and Condos!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where can I find tons of information on a City?

Want to know too much information about a certain city?

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Look no further!  Visit:  Here you can research any city, zip code, or neighborhood for any reason!  If you want to register, you can even join the forum discussions and add your input. Score.

Yes, please also use the city website for the area your are interested in and contact the city for the most current accurate information but this website is cool for those who like lots of facts, graphs and numbers.

Always ask a professional to help you evaluate this data if using it to make a major decision; like selling a house. (I'm here for ya!)

Maybe you have found the areas you are interested in moving to, call me for help buying your new home or start by becoming a Market Insider and get great local market info!

(I have no affiliation with City Data.  I make no warranty for the accuracy of the information you will find on the website or any other websites I have shared.)

You may also be interested in:

Start dreaming!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Seller Wake-Up Call

The Hard Truths Every Home Seller Must Know

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

The Hard Truth Every Home Seller Must Know
First, please excuse my directness (and any sarcasm). These are not personal attacks, just the most straightforward advice to home sellers.

Dear homeowner, if you want to sell your house, know these things:

  • You have too much stuff. Get rid of it. It's easier to sell an empty house than one with too much stuff.
  • If you are moving, there is no need to leave all the family pictures up.  If you do, you are not serious about moving.
  • Your house smells like you (and your pets) and you can't smell it because it's you. Clean it. I mean professionally clean it. Including the carpet and the windows. Open the windows and air it out. Stop it with the perfume and air sprays.  If you are masking an odor that is worse. Clean again. Maybe paint too. Don't cook pungent foods in your house while your home is on the market.
  • Saving a couple hundred bucks on upfront repairs is likely to cost a couple thousand in sale price. If it's broken, fix it.
  • Staging doesn't get you more money for your house, it prevents buyers from passing it over. More buyers looking may translate to a quicker sale which would result in more money but you can't ask more because you staged it.
  • You are emotional about your house. Finances are emotional. Your house is likely the biggest financial transaction of your life. Of course you love your home more than the neighbor's (identical) house so you think it's worth more. Make a plan in advance so that your decisions are not strictly emotional. 
  • Buyers want showings on their time, not yours.  Plan to be very busy away from your house while your home is on the market.  Don't plan to have people over while your home is on the market you are just asking for extra cleaning and your are bound to get a showing request while they are there.  If you don't have real things to do, here is a list of suggestions: Go drive around neighborhoods you would like to move into. Hang out at a dog park or coffee shop. Go to the movies or bring dinner to a friend. Better yet, volunteer somewhere. Go to the gym. Get a temporary second job. Bring your clothes to the laundromat and read a book and wait. Just get out and stay away.  Don't park down the street and stalk your potential buyers. That makes them feel uncomfortable and rushed.
  • Lock up your valuables.  Every criminal had a first. Don't tempt them. 
  • The feedback you receive from showings is telling you something. Are you listening?
  • Buyers might use your bathroom. Leave out the soap and towel and hope they use those too.
  • Don't hide material defects. Chances are your buyer will have an inspection and the inspector will find them. If the inspector doesn't find them but the buyer does after they move in, you may have a legal problem.
  • Leave the curtains open unless you are home... or you plan to rush home and open them for EVERY showing.  Remember, there are photos of your house online. People can see inside without even driving by.
  • Was there work done on the house without a permit? Get the work inspected.
  • Keep your home at a comfortable temperature at ALL times. Buyer's need to be comfortable there. 
  • Lighting. Install light bulbs that come on quickly. Bulbs that take time to warm up are gloomy and annoying. Yes, buyers understand some energy efficient bulbs do that but do they want to stand around waiting for the bulb to warm up so they can see a bathroom?  
  • Is there someone that can watch your dog/cat while your home is on the market?  That barking during the showing is distracting. That sign on the the door "don't let the cat out" may mean the door never gets opened.
  • Litter boxes should never be in kitchens or (gasp) your bedroom closet.
  • The peeling caulk and the yellow grout in your kitchen and bathroom make people grossed out. See above about hiring a cleaning person and a handyman. 
  • All personal hygiene products need to be removed from "display" in your shower (and anywhere else).
OK real estate pros... what did I miss?

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Townhouses, Twin Homes and Condos... What's the Difference?

Confused about the difference between townhouse and twin homes? Wondering about condos?  

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Let's look at the official definitions from the NorthstarMLS.


Quad/4 Corners 
Usually split entry design. Each unit in one corner.
Side x Side 
Commonly has two to six units connected with common walls side by side. Also called rowhouse.
Single family stand alone unit with a townhouse-type homeowner association (building exterior maintenance, snow removal, sanitation, etc.).

Twin Home 

Zero lot line ownership, double side by side. May have a homeowner association. Common wall agreement necessary as part of purchase agreement.

Condos and Coops

High Rise (4+ Levels)
Four or more levels. Has common entrance and hallways. Includes converted apartment buildings.
Low Rise (3- Levels)
Three or fewer levels. Common entrance and hallways. Includes converted apartment buildings.
A manor has one entry hall for four units, two units on first floor and two units on second floor. The village is similar to the manor style plus added units on each end with private entrances. Other village designs have two or three stories with stairways and shared hallways, or two stories with outside entrances for each unit and no shared hallways.
Two Unit 
May be side x side or up and down. Often a duplex converted to a condominium or coop.
Converted Mansion
Converted single-family home with three or more units.

Are you (or someone you know) interested in purchasing one of these style homes? Call me!

Learn more about a Home Layout that fits you!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do I have Buying Power?

You may have probably heard the term "buying power" floating around in today's housing market. Buying power, also called purchasing power, is the value of money, as measured by the quantity and quality of products (and services) it can buy.

Buying power helps you get more house for your money!
Buying Power!
In real estate, this term is primarily based on a couple things, interest rates and home prices; getting more home for your money.

Current Interest Rates
When interest rates are low, a buyer has the ability to purchase more home for their money than when interest rates are higher.

Home Prices
In addition to great interest rates, home prices are still low but they are rising! 

When you couple awesome low interest rates with an improving market, it's a great time to invest in a new home! 

*There is no crystal ball for the housing market.  We can't guarantee the results of an individual buyer or market area.  Please consult a real estate professional to find the best plan for you.

Low interest rates = more buying power!

Monday, June 10, 2013

You're going to LOVE your home! PROJECT # 10: Go Techie

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

All the techies have been waiting patiently for this advice... It was probably #1 on their list!

PROJECT # 10. Connect your home.
When so-called “smart home” systems first came out, they were the stuff of an MTV Cribs episode, costing tens of thousands of dollars to put various home systems on a remote control. But as with all technologies, costs of connecting your home have come down – a lot. For anywhere from $200 to $2,000, you might be able to have your home’s systems wired so that you can:
  • Control lighting, heating and AC remotely
  • Have your HVAC systems and window coverings, for example, work in sync
  • Monitor your home via video and sensors for security and other home crises (e.g., flood, etc.), no matter where you are.
The best part? Even the least expensive of these systems now is able to be run via a smartphone app. Home security providers are increasingly offering these options, and even some home internet/telephone providers have also gotten into the business of affordably connecting your home.

If you’re considering making a modest investment in a home you plan to own for a while, you’re increasingly in the norm. Studies show that over 50% of homeowners are now focusing on smaller home improvement projects that increase their enjoyment of their homes - even if they don't increase its value.

Have you recently done any of these things? I would love to see your before and after pictures if you are willing to share them with me!

Thanks for reading!

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me at 651-964-0289 for a personal consultation!
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How are my property taxes calculated?

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Just wanted to give Washington county in MN kudos for providing a great online document with an example that lays out the tax calculation step by step. Totally cool for those that like an explanation of these things!

Tax rates vary depending on the City/Town, School District, and Watershed District that
the property is located in. See here:

Then check the "How to Calculate a Property Tax" example out here:

Don't want to do that math? No worries!  They have a calculator!

Happy geeking out on this one! :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

You're going to LOVE your home! PROJECT #9: PAINT

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 
Maybe some of the more recent projects have sounded out of your comfort zone... or maybe you just couldn't believe I didn't come to this on earlier! :)

PROJECT # 9. Paint.
One of the most affordable ways to feel better about your home is to simply paint the rooms of your home in colors that fostered the target emotions that map to the function of the room. For instance, painting a bedroom a soft blue or green fosters tranquility and rest, while painting a kitchen or dining room a warmer shade might promote the cozy fuzzy feelings of family togetherness.

Painting can be very affordable, depending on your home’s size and details, and is a great starter do-it-yourself project, to boot.

Visit next week for the final tip in this You're going to LOVE your home series!!

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me at 651-964-0289 for a personal consultation!
Follow Me on Twitter!