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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

House needed ASAP in White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, Hugo Area!

HOUSE NEEDED in the Northwest Metro Area 

Buyers looking to purchase WITHIN 3 WEEKS!  

This Single Family Home Must be: 
Move-in Condition, 
3+ bedroom, 
1+ full bathroom, 
1+ car garage 
White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights, Hugo area. 

**CALL 651-964-0289**
Or submit your information at:

Monday, September 29, 2014

HOUSE NEEDED in Forest Lake area!


Buyers looking to purchase before the snow flies!!  

Here are their desired criteria:
3+ bedrooms
2+ bathrooms
2+ garage 
Move in ready
Private yard preferred
Walk out basement/patio preferred
Desired Locations: Wyoming, Forest Lake, Columbus, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Hugo

**CALL 651-964-0289**
Or submit your information at:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where Should You Meet a New Real Estate Agent?

Meeting Your Real Estate Agent

Meeting your twin cities real estate agent
In light of another news story about Beverly Carter, I wanted to quickly remind and emphasize to both agents and the general public that it's important to have your first meeting in a public place for the safety of both parties.
Beverly Carter was abducted from Scott, AR on Thursday, September 25 approximately 5:30pm.

For your safety:

  • You can quickly check with your local associations if the person you are meeting is a licensed REALTOR. Licensed agents have had background checks.
  • An agent that meets you at their office is showing professionalism and will have the best tools readily available to help you.

For the safety of the agent:

  • They may ask for your State issues ID.
  • They SHOULD ask you for proof of funds or an approval letter from a lender showing you are qualified to purchase a home at this time.
  • There are likely other staff members on site that will be eye witnesses or serve as escorts if you will be going out on showings directly from the meeting.

If you are ready to buy or sell real estate in the Twin Cities area, I am more than happy to schedule a meeting at our Vadnais Heights or Forest Lake Keller Williams Office.

Twin Cities Real Estate Market Forecast - Fall 2014

Fall 2014 Twin Cities Housing Market Forecast
Twin Cities Real Estate Market Forecast
September historically starts the fall season with good sales and activity. We think it should be so again this year. The Parade of Homes has had good traffic indicating there are still plenty of people thinking of moving. Political and world affairs may give pause for some, but a very attractive local economic picture should give comfort to homeowners and buyers alike. Interest rates will remain fairly stable.

For some reason, more people like to move in fair weather than cold weather. If you are one, we think you should be in full selling or buying mode. The process takes about two to four months from start to finish to complete itself. The real estate market this year, and going forward as far as we can see, is solid. 

Low interest rates increase buying power. Interest rates are holding steady at 4 percent for a 30-year loan and close to 3 percent for a 15-year mortgage. How long can rates stay this low?

 Home values this year have bounced around a little, with fairly strong increases in new construction leading the way. Existing home values for the most part are flat for the year; some are slightly higher in the lower brackets, and some are are actually lower in the mid-upper brackets.

We think this is as good an opportunity for buyers as we have seen during any other time in the past 50 years. A combination of low mortgage rates and lower prices is a winning ticket for most.
 We also believe opportunities like this won’t last forever. If you are thinking about a new home, this is a great opportunity and I invite you to call me for a visit.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What home selling tips are the most important for sellers to know?

Trulia surveyed 500 real estate agents about the importance of two dozen top home selling tips. Each tip was then ranked based on the survey responses. Those viewed as being “very important” by 80 percent of agents or more are represented in the infographic here, “Home Selling Tips Every Seller Should Know.”
What home selling tips are the most important for Hugo home sellers to know?

Here is the full list of important home selling tips from agents across the country in order of top ranked importance (MAKE SURE YOU READ MY FINAL THOUGHT BELOW!):

Price Your Home Realistically From the Start

Keep Your House Clean, Tidy and De-cluttered

Work With an Agent Who Excels at Online Marketing

Make It Easy to Show Your Home

Don’t Sign With an Unqualified Buyer

Listen to Your Agent!

Make Small Upgrades to Your Home

Work With an Agent Who Follows the Competition

Stage Your Home’s Exterior

Don’t Insist on the Asking Price

Alert Family and Friends That You Are Selling Your Home

Make Your Home Move-In Ready

Brighten Up Your Home - Maximize Light

Clear Out Your Closets

Don’t Take the First Offer - (Counter Offer!)

De-Personalize Your Home

Don’t Over-Upgrade

Conceal Your Pets

Don’t Work With the First Agent You Find

Hire a Professional Listing Photographer

Throw Buyers a Bone to Close Escrow Quickly (only 29.5 percent of agents say this is a very important tip)

Offer Up Extras to the Buyers

Keep in mind, we don't know the success level of all the agents interviewed for this survey - or the intentions of their answers.
For example, I noticed that hiring a professional photographer was near the bottom of the recommendation list but top agents across the country say this is a must, especially the higher you get in home value.
I do agree that listing your home for a realistic price from the start is the MOST important thing you can do. Listing high thinking that someone will offer lower just results in getting skipped over altogether.

Remember, for most people, selling (or buying) a home is the largest transaction of their life.  Make sure that you choose and agent that is both qualified and understanding of your needs.

10 Things that Negatively Affect Your Home's Value

Monday, September 22, 2014

Enter to Win $100 Gift Card!

Enter to Win!
Visit the US Bank Location in Little Canada to submit your entry OR request a FREE HOME BUYER AND SELLER EVALUATIONS online at to enter.
HURRY! Drawing ends October 5th, 2014!

1st Prize: $100 Gift Card, 2nd Prize: CUTCO Knife, 3rd Prize: Chocolate Package

The US Bank address is: 2850 Rice Street, Little Canada, MN 55113


*See official rules at the US Bank location or contact me to receive them by email.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

55038 Current Market Insight (Hugo, MN/Lino Lakes, MN)


Here is the current market low down straight from the MLS (not from commonly inaccurate public websites).  

Here are some current MLS stats 55025:

  • There are 125 properties currently listed for sale in 55038; 14 of these homes are distressed (short sale or foreclosure) and 12 of them are listed as waterfront property. 14 are new construction. New constructions homes are currently listed between $200,000 and $650,000.
  • 16 of the homes for sale in 55038 have accepted contingent offers. 
  • Additionally, 36 homes are pending sale (contingencies removed but haven't officially closed yet); 14 of these homes are townhouses/condos or twin homes.
  • There are 37 townhouses on the market and 8 of them have accepted contingent offers. Of the 29 available townhouses, 8 are $150,000 or less. None are less than $109,900

Here are some more stats from the last year for 55038:

  • 378 properties have sold (or are pending sale) in the last year. 209 of those were single family homes (the remaining were townhouses, condos, and twinhomes)
  • 97 of these single family homes were between $200,00 and $300,000; 
  • Of the 97 homes that sold in this price range: 
  • 55 of those homes were built between 1990 and 2000
  • 3 of those 55 homes were on 1-10 acres (23 homes with between 1 and 10 acres sold in the last year) 
  • 199 homes (non-waterfront) sold for under $200,000. 50 of these homes were single family homes. 33 of those 199 homes were distressed sales. 
  • 7 waterfront homes sold in the past year; 1 sold under $200,000.
  • 48 homes sold for over $500,000
  • 169 of the properties sold were townhouses. 38 of them sold for $125,00 or less but some new construction detached townhomes sold for as much at $573,654!
Want to know how these numbers affect your plans to buy, sell or invest in real estate?  Call me or Email me!

Sarah Marrinan, Keller Williams,, 651-964-0289

55025 Current Market Insight (Forest Lake, MN)

Forest Lake, 55025, Homes For Sale

Are you thinking about buying or selling a home in the 55025 (Forest Lake) zip code?

Here is the current market low down straight from the MLS (not from commonly inaccurate public websites).  

Here are some current MLS stats 55025:

  • There are 180 properties currently listed for sale in 55025; 9 of these homes are distressed (short sale or foreclosure) and 48 of them are listed as waterfront property. 38 are new construction. New constructions homes are currently listed between $200,000 and $650,000.
  • 15 of the homes for sale in 55025 have accepted contingent offers. 
  • Additionally, 25 homes are pending sale (contingencies removed but haven't officially closed yet); 6 of these home are waterfront properties.
  • There are 28 townhouses on the market and 4 of them have accepted contingent offers. Of the 24 available townhouses, 16 are $150,000 or less. None are less than $107,000

Here are some more stats from the last year for 55025:

  • 347 properties have sold (or are pending sale) in the last year. 266 of those were single family homes (the remaining were townhouses, condos, and twinhomes)
  • 107 of these single family homes were between $200,00 and $300,000; 
  • Of the 107 homes that sold in this price range, 
  • 27 of those homes were built between 1990 and 2000 (3 of these were lake homes)
  • 10 of those 24 homes were on 1-10 acres (2 of these homes are still pending closing) 
  • 5 of these homes sold in the last 6 months.
  • 141 homes (non-waterfront) sold for under $200,000. 82 of these homes were single family homes. 35 of those 141 homes were distressed sales. 
  • 6 waterfront homes sold under $200,000 and 2 of those were distressed sales.
  • More than half of the waterfront home that sold this past year were over $300,000
  • 73 of the properties sold were townhouses. 39 of them sold for $150,00 or less but 4 of those townhouses sold for over $300,000 
Want to know how these numbers affect your plans to buy, sell or invest in real estate?  Call me or Email me!

Sarah Marrinan, Keller Williams,, 651-964-0289

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

15 Easy Steps to Buying A Home in the Twin Cities

15 Easy Steps to Buying a Home in the Twin Cities

15 Easy Steps to Buying A Home in the Twin Cities

Buying a home is often confusing for those who haven't purchased a home in the twin cities recently. First time buyers are often especially confused so it helps to know what to expect. Though there is a lot that goes into each step, here are basic 15 steps to help you understand the home purchase process. (Most of these apply to NEW CONSTRUCTION homes too!)

Initial Buyer Consultation 

At this VERY IMPORTANT first meeting we will discuss Agency Relationships, a required disclosure in MN. We will also review everything from the time frame of your purchase to the details of your wants, needs and desires for a new home.
We will also discuss the importance of having a MN Buyer's Representation Agreement to protect your interests as a buyer. If you are going to be financing the home and have not already secured a pre-approval, we can assist you in securing a mortgage lender.

Home Search

We will take the information learned during your consultation and search for all the available homes meeting your established criteria and set up instant alert from the MLS where agents enter their new listings. We can research all types of homes for you including For Sale by Owners, new construction, expired listings, withdrawn listings and "pocket listings" (homes not on the market yet).

Schedule showings 

After we have determined which homes best meet your criteria, we will schedule showings.

Review a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA)

This information gives the buyer the assurance that he is offering the seller a competitive price for his home. This is especially useful if the buyer hasn't been looking long enough to feel comfortable with the home's value or in multiple offer situations.

Secure Additional Home Purchase Information

Prior to writing an offer, we will contact the listing agent to determine if there is anything else we should know about this property sale before sitting down with a buyer to write an offer.

Discuss Price and Contract Terms

The price is only one facet of an offer to a seller. We will discuss the other terms such as closing date, contingencies, tax assessments, title search, and closing costs associated with your new home purchase.

Prepare Offer

We will prepare your offer to be submitted to the listing agent with all necessary contingencies and disclosures in place to protect the buyer's home purchase. Discussing terms and preparing an offer on a home generally takes one-two hours (contracts can be complicated, you'll want to ask questions).

Negotiate the Offer

While our goal is to prepare a strong offer the first time, it may become necessary to further negotiate on the buyer's behalf to get the sales price and terms/contingencies he requires.

Schedule Home Inspections

We will schedule and consult for any and all home inspections. We will discuss with the buyer any adverse findings uncovered during the home inspection.

Negotiate Repair Requests

It may become necessary to request further compensation from the seller on behalf of the buyer if undisclosed problems or expensive repairs are uncovered as the result of a home inspection.

Coordinate Closing

We will forward all necessary paperwork to a Title Company of your choice and coordinate closing.

Coordinate Continuous Correspondence

This keeps the transaction moving forward by communicating with the lender, (appraiser if required), title company and listing agent to make sure all the stipulations in the contract are being satisfied.

Schedule Final Walk-Through

The final walk through is set up just before closing and gives the buyer a chance to walk through the home to ensure the home is reasonably in the same condition it was in when the offer was made and any agreed repairs have been completed.

Review Final Documents

Once the lender has prepared the loan package, a HUD-1 Statement will be sent to the Buyer's Agent for review. We review this document to make sure basic offer details have been recorded properly. Once the lender and agent have reviewed, the title company (or attorney) forwards it to the buyer for review.

Attend Closing with Buyer

This gives our buyers the added comfort of knowing they will have an advocate present during the closing if something unexpected should arise.

Thanks for reviewing the 15 Steps to buying a home in the Twin Cities. Contact Sarah Marrinan today at (651) 964-0289 to get started with the home buying process!

Check out the additional Home Buying Tips.
If you have a home to sell, these 7 steps will help you!

Get More Great Content!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is It A Good Time To Buy A Home?

Is it the Right Time to Buy a home in the Twin Cities?

Did you start off the year with plans to be in a new home by the end of summer? Think it’s too late now to find a great home and get settled by the holidays?

Stop worrying and start looking for your new home now!

All the conditions are right to buy a home in the Twin Cities this fall.

History tells us  that NOW is a great time to buy a home! We know what today’s interest rate is. We know where home prices are. What we do not know is the future!

Why is it important to start your search now?
There’s some evidence that home prices take a dip in the fall and winter, but not drastically.  People are not "giving away" their homes like they were in 2010-2011 so don't expect a steal but homes will be reasonably priced and most likely lower than the spring market.

The housing market generally cools down starting in September, so fewer people are shopping for homes and fewer homes are on the market. The closer we get to the holidays, the lower the inventory will get. Right now, your choice of homes is the best it will be for the rest of the year.

Get Your Home Search Started Today

Dave Ramsey's Home Buying Tips
So far this year, home prices have increased modestly while interest rates for those who plan to buy their home with a mortgage have remained low. So from a financing standpoint, now is a great time to buy a home.

What About a Newly Built Home?
If your goal is to buy a newly constructed home your best new construction buys in the twin cities at this time of year are completed homes. Once a builder finishes a home, their profit starts to dwindle. The longer the home sits, the more interest, taxes, insurance and utility costs add up. The builder will be more willing to make a deal so he can still make money.

Don’t try to wheel and deal on a home that’s not yet built. A builder won’t bother building a home if he won’t make his regular mark-up.

All that boils down to a couple of important points for home shoppers to remember:

1. Market conditions are favorable—home prices are stable, interest rates are low, and you still have plenty of homes to choose from.

2. You may face some challenges finding your perfect home and negotiating a good deal with sellers or builders.

An experienced real estate agent who’s an expert in your local market can help you search for the
right home for your family and work on your behalf to get the best deal possible.
Call me today to start your search with an agent who’s willing to do what it takes to get you into your new home before the end of the year!

Searching for a home in the North and East Metro?  Visit
Hugo, MN; Stillwater, MN; Lino Lakes, MN; Vadnais Heights, MN; Woodbury, MN; Shoreview, MN; Blaine, MN; Maplewood, MN; Oak Grove, MN 

Monday, September 8, 2014

4 Horrible Real Estate Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid costly mistakes. Ask a professional.
Most people make horrible mistakes simply based on a lack of knowledge. That means you can avoid mistakes by simply getting information from a credible source BEFORE you make decisions.

Here are four mistakes in real estate you can avoid by simply having a little information.

When Selling a Home

1) Don't hire just any agent to sell your house:
All real estate agents are not the same. You want to look for those who are familiar with your neighborhood and are top producers. Ask the agent how they plan to market your house, what you can do to make the place more attractive to prospects and how much you should ask. Don't simply choose an agent because they offer the lowest commission or give you the highest listing price.  After all, none of that matters if your home doesn't sell.

When Buying a Home

2) Don't skip a home inspection:
Failing to make your purchase contingent on a satisfactory home inspection could be a costly mistake. Independent home inspectors examine houses inside and out. They'll be able to tell you whether the roof or basement leaks, whether the mechanical systems are in good shape and how long the appliances should last. They can't report on things they can't see, but at least their trained eyes are better than yours and they are not emotionally attached to the home like you are. So don't pass just to save $300-$500; that's money well spent.

When Remodeling a Home

3) Don't fail to check out a remodeler:
Never, ever hire a contractor who knocks on your door or says his prices are good for only a few days. Reputable remodelers don't solicit door-to-door, and they don't cut prices just because they happen to be in your neighborhood. Check out a potential contractor thoroughly by calling several of his past clients, your local better business bureau, his bankers and suppliers, and your local consumer affairs agency.

If a contractor asks for more than a third of the contract price as a downpayment, chances are something's wrong. At worst, he's a scam artist who has no intention of returning after he cashes your check. At best, he's undercapitalized and can't afford to purchase materials on his own. Or, in between, he could be using your money to pay workers on another job. Never give a contractor cash, either.

TIP: Before you choose a remodeling project, consult a real estate professional.  Some projects increase resale value and some are just for your personal enjoyment. It's good to know which are which.

When Refinancing a Home (or Obtaining a New Mortgage)

4)  Don't grab the first low rate you see:
Promotional ads are designed to lure you in and there is often a lot of fine print. Make sure you know the terms of your current loan before you go shopping for a mortgage and take notes to compare at least three lender programs.

When purchasing a home, a good loan officer will help you find the best program based on the area and type of home you are looking to purchase in additional to your personal finances.

TIP: Occasionally, a slight boost in your credit or better debt ratios can get you a better loan.  Be sure to ask the lender if this applies to your situation.

What Causes Closing Delays  |  Housing Market Updates  |  10 Things That Might Negatively Affect Your Home's Value  |  Build a New Home

About the author:

Friday, September 5, 2014

2014 Fall Parade of Homes and Remodelers Showcase - Twin Cities

2014 Fall Parade of Homes Magazine -BATC

In its 27th year, the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) is proud to present the Parade of Homes and Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase® 

  • Parade of Homes runs September 6-28 (Thurs-Sun. noon-6pm), 
  • Remodelers Showcase is on Fri. Sept. 26 from 1-7pm; Sat/Sun Sept.27-28 from noon-6pm. 

More info:

Searching for an existing home to buy?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't Make These 7 Home Mortgage Loan Mistakes

Are you making mortgage mistakes?

There are a number of mistakes you can make along the way of getting your mortgage loan approved and once you have a loan.  Buying a home is complex enough but when it comes to financing, you need to make sure you are as prepared as possible in order to get a loan and make the payments.

1. Don't lie on your loan application: 

Exaggerating your income on a mortgage application or putting down other untruths can be a federal offense. Lenders rarely prosecute liars but if they find out later, they can call your loan due and payable. Don't ever sign your name to a loan application that is not completely filled out, either. Loan officers have been known to stretch the truth to get a client approved, but it's the borrowers who end up paying the price, often in the form of monthly loan payments they can't afford.

2. Don't confuse "pre-approved" and "pre-qualified" with a loan commitment: 

When you are "pre-qualified," the lender is making an educated guess about how much you can borrow based on information you've provided. When you are "pre-approved," the lender has verified everything you've provided and is offering to lend you up to a given amount at current interest rates -- under certain conditions. It's much better to be pre-approved when shopping for a home because both you, your real estate agent and the seller know what you can afford. Whether pre-qualified or pre-approved, final clearance and a check at closing -- a loan commitment -- are subject to an appraisal satisfactory to the lender, good title, a last-minute credit check, and other verifications. When meeting with lenders, always ask what additional steps will be required to obtain a loan.

3. Don't have too much credit: 

Excessive credit is almost as bad as no credit or even bad credit. Even if you pay your bills on time, lenders tend to focus just as much on how much credit you have available to you and your debt-to-income ratio as they do on timeliness. So being up to your ears in car loans and credit cards is a sure way to be turned down for a mortgage. Postpone any big-ticket purchases until after you buy your house.

4. Don't choose the wrong mortgage: 

Home loans may no longer be the lifetime obligations they used to be but still -- you don't want to be saddled for even a short period of time with the wrong one. Investigate all of your options, then lay your choices side-by-side and do the math, making sure to compare worst-case scenarios. Be sure to look at down payment, initial interest rates, future interest rates and payments (if different), mortgage insurance, and the possibility, though now rare, of prepayment penalties.

5. Don't burn your mortgage: 

It's a wonderful feeling when you make your last house payment. After all, the place is now yours, all yours. Many people celebrate by holding a mortgage burning party. But they torch the original document. Don't. Make a copy and burn that instead. Keep all your loan docs in a safe place.

6. Don't dodge the lender if you can't make your payments: 

Lenders have many options at their disposal to help keep borrowers from losing their homes to foreclosure. But they can't do anything for you unless they can talk to you about your difficulties. Lenders are the enemy only if you give them no other choice. The worst thing you can do is ignore phone calls and letters from your lender when you are behind on your payments.

7. Don't refinance just to get a lower interest rate unless you plan to stay long term:

Every time you get a new loan, which is what refinancing is, you have to "close" again. Every closing comes with closing costs.  High loan closing costs can outweigh the benefits of lower rates if you plan to move soon.

If you are refinancing to pull equity out of your home or roll in some other debt, think twice.  Without any equity, you could be in a world of trouble if a life change forces you to need to sell quickly.

Looking for a reputable mortgage professional to help you through the process?

Have more questions?  Call me!

Coming Soon and Hot New Listings