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Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 2015 Housing Trends eNewsletter - Twin Cities

Welcome to the December Housing Trends eNewsletter 

This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local twin cities housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

Please click on this link to view the Housing Trends December 2015 Newsletter 

The Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau, reports and other sources.

Housing Trends eNewsletter is filled with local and national real estate sales and price activity provided by MLSs and the National Association of Realtors, U.S. Census Bureau key market indicators, consumer videos, blogs, real estate glossary, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, and local community reports.

If you are interested in determining the value of your home, click the “Home Evaluator” link for a free evaluation report.

Sound decisions can only be made with accurate and reliable information, and I am happy to be a trusted resource for you. Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with this monthly eNewsletter, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have and to the opportunity to be your REALTOR® in the future.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

1014 2nd Street SE Melrose, MN 56352

Property Site:
Main level living! Updated kitchen w/newer stainless steel appliances, breakfast bar. Large mud/laundry room. Newer deck and mature landscaping/trees. LL SAUNA, family room, bar area, large 3/4 bath, plus den! Reverse osmosis system. Quick closing possible.
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.00
Square feet: 2,204
Price: $155,999

For more information about this property, please contact Sarah Marrinan at 651-964-0289 or You can also text 3244515 to 67299.

See more listings at:

MLS ID: 4668444

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

26279 4th St W Zimmerman, MN 55398

Property Site:
COMING SOON! 26279 4th St W, Zimmerman
Great opportunity with a Mother-in-law suite or renter! Freshly painted and ready for a quick closing!
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.00
Square feet: 2,040

For more information about this property, please contact Sarah Marrinan at 651-964-0289 or You can also text 3228248 to 67299.

See more listings at:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

47 Home Inspection Issues in Under 3 Minutes

Home inspection issues are EVERYWHERE!  Check out three minute video featuring 47 home inspection issues.  Some will make you laugh, some might make your jaw drop and others will cause you to shake your head.

Thanks to Structure Tech for this great compilation video!

If you need more information on home inspections or the home buying process, I am happy to help!

Search Homes      Request your house value   


Friday, November 27, 2015

Did You See This Press Release?

2015 Best of St Paul in the REAL ESTATE AGENCY Category is:

Sarah Marrinan

An agent of Keller Williams Premier Realty and owner of Call Sarah First, Inc

Each year, the Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. 
These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the area a great place to live, work and play. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

Learn More about Sarah Marrinan

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

704 Lake View Dr Woodbury, MN 55129

Property Site:
This is affordable one-level living in a prime Woodbury location! Quick closing possible!
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.00
Price: $209,999

For more information about this property, please contact Sarah Marrinan at 651-964-0289 or You can also text 3201937 to 67299.

See more listings at:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

301 Cherry Street W Stillwater, MN 55082

Property Site:
This beautiful home has been updated throughout from mechanicals to insulation! Freshly painted throughout with soothing colors.

The updated kitchen including granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances will be sure to impress. Enjoy your morning coffee, grilling or just relaxing on the deck off the kitchen.

Just off the main living room is a room perfectly suited for an office, toy area or sitting room and a formal dining room.

The upper level features 3 bedrooms and an updated bath. The main level full bath has also been updated with fixtures and tile that complement the beautiful era in which this home originated.

The cozy unfinished basement is currently used as a TV and reading area and storage as well as laundry.
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 1.75
Square feet: 1,920
Price: $299,999

For more information about this property, please contact Sarah Marrinan at 651-964-0289. You can also text 3200071 to 67299.

See more listings at:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Chisago schools, Built in 2014, Lots of Extras and Upgrades!

10773 251st St Scandia, MN 55073

Come and visit this home!

MLS Number: 4640950
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2 full and 1 half
Garage: 3 Car

Open layout

Gourmet kitchen

Main floor laundry

Walk-in pantry

Gas fireplace

Main floor den
Fenced yard

3 Bedrooms upstairs

Private master bath

Double vanity main bath

Walk-in closet
Walk-out basement
Skip the headaches of building, your NEW home is ready! This 2014 custom home with open main level layout features a gourmet kitchen with granite countertops, walk-in pantry, and stainless steel farm sink! Cozy up in front of the gas fireplace in the living room or gaze out into the expansive backyard through the dining area patio doors. The laundry/mud room has custom lockers. A level, fenced yard with space for a garden, yard games & more! OVERSIZED GARAGE! See supplements!


Sarah Marrinan
Keller Williams Premier Realty


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Real Estate Gimmicks

GUARANTEED - Your home sold
Good advertising is good for sales.  It's marketing 101 really.  But when it comes to real estate advertising, who is being sold?

Let's look at some programs (a.k.a. gimmicks) that are presented to home sellers.

GUARANTEED SALE in XX DAYS: a.k.a. Guaranteed price reduction that you must pre-approve them to do when you list and the reductions happen quickly - like every week or two and they are often large - like 10-20%.
So, if you really do take a hard look at the data real estate agents have and you are removed from the history you have with your house, you will know if it's possible for you home to sell in your timeframe and the most probable price and that information is more important than any guarantee.

GUARANTEED SALE or WE BUY IT: a.k.a. First off, the “guaranteed sale” will not be at the price you expect. The Realtor who markets this type of plan is backed by investors who will purchase your home at a wholesale discounted price. Meaning that you may get $.60 to $.70 on the dollar.  That puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it? I mean, isn’t the phrase “acceptable price” extremely ambiguous. Acceptable to whom? The truth is that the “acceptable price” will be determined by the real estate agent, and it will be a price that is WAY below market value. If you do not agree to the “acceptable price” then you do not qualify for the guaranteed program. Most sellers that have looked at the market data know the "we buy it" price is BELOW the market value so they don't agree to the program and and therefore they don’t ever buy homes. Many of the so called “guru” real estate trainers around the country who recommend this marketing method tell agents how to structure their guarantee so that no informed person would even want to take the “guarantee.”

“I HAVE A BUYER FOR YOUR HOME”  a.k.a. If you would just talk to me I would love to list your house and then if I market it right, I will have a buyer.

OPEN HOUSES EVERY [SUNDAY]: a.k.a. Buyer Bait. Listing Bait.  The agent is HOPING that the neighbors come by so they can recruit future listings. They are also hoping that potential buyers without agents stop by so they can pick up some new buyer leads.  If one likes the house (according to the latest survey, less that 10% do) and they want to buy it, that's a double bonus as they get paid on both sides of the deal!

Let's look at some offers (a.k.a. gimmicks) that are presented to home buyers.

LOVE YOUR HOME GUARANTEED: a.k.a. If you don't love it, we will sell it for you and if find you another home to buy through us. And while we may waive our sale side of the professional fee (commission), you will still need to pay the buyer commission and we will need to hold Open Houses (see above).

MY SERVICES ARE FREE TO THE BUYER: Well, almost, a lot of the time.  The buyer representation contract almost ALWAYS include an admin fee or retainer fee and there is a possibility the seller doesn't agree to pay the buyer's agent's commission (though in most cases they do).  83% of agents are independent contractors which means they are self-employed/own their own business.  How would they stay in business if their services were free?  Ask them to explain how they get paid.

If you’ve considered calling on a “Guarantee” like these, be aware. Do you want to work with a residential real estate firm who is selling on gimmicks instead of truth and value from the start?

So, are there any guarantees you SHOULD take?

100% GUARANTEED Authentic
This is probably the biggest transaction you will have in your life. Trust is a vital part of an agent's value. The guarantee that you should be looking for is honest advice - even when the truth is hard. And a guarantee that they will follow up as promised.
Agents promising the world (high sale prices, fast sales, hot deals, etc) without data and plan to support the promise most likely are on the "sign now, explain later plan." Meaning they will be asking for price reductions or back pedaling when things don't go as planned.
Take the time to let your agent educate you to make a good decision instead of looking for the best gimmick. Review the agent's marketing plan.  Find an agent that asks a lot of questions and really understands your situation and goals. You will thank yourself!
See another version of this article at:

Other articles you may enjoy:
Home Seller FAQs
Why are all those home search sites free?
Feng Shui 101

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Will You Save Money if You Go Straight to the Builder?

Can you save money if you skip the real estate buyer's agent and go straight to the builder?

Save money building a new home
The better question might be, why would you want to use a real estate agent when you can tour models yourself and go straight to the builder to build a new home?

A Realtor is a professional who is on your side in the transaction. No other person represents you -- not the builder, or architect, or the GC. The agent in the sales office ONLY represents the builder, not you. The agent in the sales office is often trained to tell buyer's agents that they will "take it from here" and work directly with the buyer while still paying the buyer's agent so that they have more opportunities to upsell the buyer without a buyer's agent looking over their shoulder.

A good Realtor should be able to provide you with comparable sales to make sure you are not overpaying. They can point out possible issues with resale of your planned home which you might not be aware of and help you determine if you are "getting what you pay for" when it comes to quality.

Not only can I help buyers tour models privately and meet with builders, I often accompany clients in making their selections to help them decide which options will actually add value to their home vs. which ones are likely not going to pay off on resale.

Some people think that if they don't use an agent, they can save the money the builder would pay an agent. Realtors are paid out of the builder's marketing budget, so having one involved doesn't cost you extra.  Plus, having two real estate agents make sure things get done (from paperwork to selections) instead of one (just their own) is often a benefit to the builder so they are happy to work with a buyer's agent.

Also, consider that the builder is always a licensed agent themselves or has a licensed agent representing them. In MN, when an agent is selling a house themselves, we have to disclose this. Agents are considered "wolves" and buyers "sheep" because of the knowledge gap.  As a sheep, would you want to approach a wolf alone?

When choosing an agent to represent you for a new construction build, be sure they have represented a buyer in building before AND they have the education in working with the new construction process.  This is the best way to be certain they are going to be valuable in the process.

Lastly, if you have a home to sell, an experienced agent will make sure you understand your options when it comes to coordinating the building, selling and the financing of it all.

Best of luck with your home build, whether you decide to go it alone or hire an experienced buyer's agent (like me!).

Interested in reading more about new construction?
Check out these articles:
Tips for Buying new Construction
Should I Choose a Custom Builder?
Should I Choose a Production Builder?
Questions to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents
Search for a New Construction Home
What is Your Current Home Worth?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Did Someone Die In Your House?

Would you pay $11.99 to check your address for murders, suicides, suspicious or natural deaths, meth lab activity or fires? 

For some people, a death in a home, even of natural causes, can deter them from purchasing or renting a home. In Minnesota, deaths from natural causes do NOT have to be disclosed in a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement. a web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at any valid US address by instantly providing you with information that may impact your decision to purchase or rent a house starting at $11.99 per search.

They also include a search for known meth lab activity and fires in a home. These items are required to be disclosed on a MN Seller's Property Disclosure Statement though it's buyer beware as many sellers may be unaware of things that happened before they owned the home that were not disclosed to them and no matter what, you should always get a professional home inspection done.

Just as with any service, Died in House™ does not guarantee to have identified or confirmed all deaths that have occurred in or at a specific address and they provide no representation as to the presence of any ghost, haunting or any other paranormal activity; or the nature of any such future activities.

Does the thought of buying a home that may have had a death, paranormal activity REALLY BOTHER YOU?  Call me and I will help find out more about researching these things or help you look into building a new construction home.

Are you ready to start your home search regardless?

As a seller, are you questioning what else you may have to disclose when you sell your home? Let's chat further about your options and requirements.

You may also be interested in a C.L.U.E. report or radon testing. There is so much to know when buying a home! Don't get stuck with a rookie!  Call me today!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How do you find the best deal on a mortgage?

Do you know how to find the best "deal" on a mortgage?

It's starts by know the right questions to ask and your goals. Nobody wants to make mistakes that cost them money and a little knowledge and planning could save you big on your mortgage!

First, let's think about your homeownership plans and goals.

  • What do you want your monthly payment to be?
  • How long do you plan to live in the house?
  • How much money do you have for a down payment?
  • How much do you have to pay closing costs?
  • Do you plan to remodel or gain equity quickly to refinance in under 5 years? 

Explaining your plan to a mortgage professional will allow them to best match you with a program that fits your needs.  Finding the right program is the primary way to get the best deal on a mortgage. Interest rates can be the number one expense in home loan! You may want to learn more about what affects your interest rate.

Other things you can ask to compare mortgages and save money are:

  • If I increase my credit score, is there a better program for me?
  • Is there a rate lock or rate guarantee program?
  • Is there a way to remove mortgage insurance (if applied) without waiting a certain time period?
  • If I put down more money is there a better option?

Other areas to save money by shopping around:

  • Homeowners Insurance - This can be all over the board and depends on your credit score and if you are bundling other insurances.
  • Inspection Fees - You want to know base charges, trip charges and add-on charges (like Radon or Lead Paint testing) upfront.
  • Title Insurance - though this doesn't seem to vary by much by Title Co. in MN.

You can ask for discounts but many of them come with a price. Lenders have a bottom line and where you save in one area, you may sacrifice in another. For example, a "warehouse lender" may seem like their rates or fees are lower but you don't have the personal service because they deal in volume.
Saving $500 in fees may not be worth the lack of communication and delays or worse, not getting to closing at all.

Have more questions about the mortgage process? Call me and I will help you find some of the best lenders to help you navigate the process!

See other sources like Bankrate if you like to research.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Considerations When Buying a Home For Sale By Owner

Are you considering purchasing a For Sale By Owner House?

When you are looking for a home to buy, you want to consider every option. While most homes that are for sale are listed with real estate agents and put the the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) occasionally a homeowners try to sell their house themselves. Many of these homes you find simply by driving past and some are online.

While there are some companies that sell "FSBO packages" that give homeowners a lot of supplies for selling their home and even a listing on the MLS, it usually doesn't include much guidance or professional advice about the process or completing forms.

Because real estate transactions are the largest purchase of most people's lives, they can have pretty complicated contracts and have a lot of steps in the process, it's best to call a REALTOR® before contacting the owner directly.

A real estate agent can walk you through the steps in the process from evaluating the price and filling out the contracts to managing the transaction through closing.

Read more home search tips and information on everything from buying a foreclosure to the risk of calling the listing agent directly right here on this blog!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do You Know WHY The Listing Agent Wants you To Call Them Directly About The Home They Are Selling?

Why would a listing agent want you to call them directly about purchasing a home they have listed for sale instead of using your own agent?

It's actually quite simple.

1) In most cases, if you buy it from the listing agent directly, without your own agent, they get double the commission (because they get the commission that would have been otherwise paid out to the buyer's agent).

2) If you don't buy that house they have listed they have the opportunity to sell you a different one.

3) Bragging rights to the seller that they found a buyer... even if you really found the house by driving past the sign - and any agent can put a sign in the yard.

Heck, all those things sound great to me as the listing agent!

So why does that matter to you as the buyer and how does that affect you?

Well, in Minnesota, we have  disclosure call AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS that explains how you can choose to be represented in a real estate transaction. Under Minnesota law this form must be presented at first substantive contact to a buyer or seller in any real estate transaction. 

This form explains four relationships stated below and has you sign to acknowledge that you have been given the options and understand that you are not represented until you choose an agency agreement and will simply be treated as a customer. It goes on to say that dual agency requires written consent.

  1. Seller’s/Landlord’s Broker (Owes their client Fiduciary Duties)
  2. Buyer’s/Tenant’s Broker (Owes their client Fiduciary Duties)
  3. Dual Agency - Broker Representing both Seller/Landlord and Buyer/Tenant 
  4. Facilitator 

So, let's think about how these relationships apply to calling the listing broker/agent directly. Because that agent is already representing the seller under #1, the Seller's Broker, that only leaves you withe #3 and #4 as options.

#3 is Dual Agency.
This role limits the level of representation the broker/agent can provide, and prohibits them from acting exclusively for either party. 
In a dual agency, confidential information about price, terms and motivation for pursuing a transaction will be kept confidential unless one party instructs the broker or salesperson in writing to disclose specific information about him or her. Other information will be shared. Dual agents may not advocate for one party within the limitations described above, dual agents owe to both Seller/Landlord and Buyer/Tenant the fiduciary duties described below.(2) Dual agents must disclose to Buyers material facts as defined in MN Statute 82.68, Subd. 3, of which the broker is aware that could adversely and significantly affect the Buyer’s use or enjoyment of the property. (MN Statute 82.68, Subd. 3 does not apply to rental/lease transactions.)

SO... BOTH PARTIES LOSE THE BENEFIT OF HAVING AN AGENT NEGOTIATE ON THEIR BEHALF.  Often, informed sellers will not agree to this since they have often hired the agent to get the best terms and price for their home.

If the seller doesn't agree to the dual agency, you as the buyer are left with only one option for help, having the Listing Broker/Agent be a facilitator on your behalf... and that means they are only helping you with paperwork and it is still their job to negotiate against you, the buyer.


So, let's circle back to having your own agent representing you; choosing a Buyer’s/Tenant’s Broker agreement.

In this case, you are represented by an agent whose job it is to work on YOUR BEHALF in the transaction.  They have fiduciary duties TO YOU: Loyalty, Obedience, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Reasonable Care, Accounting. 

Sounds good but expensive right?  Wrong!  Buyer's agent are most commonly paid by the seller! WHAT?  WHY would the seller pay for someone to negotiate against them? In the listing agreement, a portion of the listing fee is designated to pay a buyer's agent (cooperating broker).  This is done to encourage the entire state of licensed agents to bring buyers to listing that are not their own increasing the exposure for the seller and allowing the seller to decline dual agency and still get a buyer.

It may still sound a bit complicated but the disclosure was designed to protect the consumer and let them know their rights.  If you would like to discuss it further, please call me!

Need more answers? Read these articles:
Simplified Real Estate Glossary for Home Buyers and Sellers
Learn the Lingo: Real Estate Vocabulary 101 - Virtual Home Tours
Home Selling Help

Real estate gimmicks

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Now You Can Visualize Your New Home in Your Design Style!

Are you struggling to see the potential in the homes you are seeing for sale?

Are you worried that it will cost too much money to make one your own?

Do you feel like you don't know where to start?

PurpleWall can help!

How you say? PurpleWall will take basic information about the rooms you want to customize and connect you to talented designers virtually!  You can set your budget and leave with a shopping list!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

You Want the Best Agent, But Do They Want YOU?

Do the best agents want to work with you?

Of course you want to work with the BEST agent because they will help you get the best price, handle things the best and help you have the best overall experience.

So naturally, the best agents want to focus their attention on the best buyers. So, how can you become one of those great buyers that agents WANT to work with?

Here are 5 tips to help you prove you deserve the best agent:

1. Have a plan for your move.

If you want an agent to bring high energy and attention to your search, make sure you’re clear about your timing. Ideally you’re prepared to purchase within 1-4 months of contacting an agent. It’s fine if it’s longer, as long as you are transparent about it and are contacting them early to help with the planning.
Start Your Plan

2. Get pre-approved and understand exactly how much you can afford.

Sounds obvious, but it’s necessary. Great agents will be far more interested if you can start the conversation with, “Which lender should I contact to get pre-approved? I'd like to have a clear understanding of what I can afford in the local area." or "I’ve been pre-approved for a $400,000 house, and I’ve got a down payment of $50,000 saved up. Given my household income, I’d feel comfortable with monthly housing expenses of about $2,500. Do you have experience helping people find and buy a house within that price range?”
Get Pre Approved

3. Meet with the agent before you go on home tours.

Sending a request at 8pm on Wednesday evening for a home tour/showing the following Saturday morning is not showing motivation, just curiosity.

Have a realistic understanding of your wants and needs to present at your meeting. You need a true understanding of the things you’re willing to be flexible about, and those that are genuine deal-breakers. Force yourself to be flexible about things that are easy to change — an ugly shag rug isn’t a deal-breaker. Once your agent has this list, it’s much easier to get a sense of your likes and dislikes, and understand the things that truly matter to you.
Book a Meeting

4. Be honest and respectful.

Your agent asks questions for a reason, to better help you!  Answer their questions honestly. If you haven't thought about something before, let the agent guide you through the thought process.

Also, agents waste a lot of time showing properties that buyers don’t like. This isn’t a problem if it happens once or twice — that’s a natural part of the process. But great agents want immediate and detailed feedback so they can refine their search criteria or give you guidance if you have unrealistic expectations. If you aren't satisfied with the homes in your budget, you have two choices: Stop your search until you have enough money saved to get what you want or lower your expectations of what your money can buy. No agent can pull homes out of thin air.

5. Ask them what it takes to be a great client.

Everyone’s different, but it’s important to know what makes your agent tick. You’ll set yourself apart by asking a prospective agent a simple question at the very beginning: “What can I do to help you help me?” This sends the message that you’re motivated, and want to make sure they have everything they need to do their best possible work.
Since most of what an agent does for their clients happens when the client is not around, this will help the agent to trust you will not cause unnecessary headaches for them interfering with the important tasks they need to complete for your transaction.

Great agents don't chase for business. They provide expert advice, offer professional assistance and choose the clients they know are motivated and prepared.

If you are ready to be your best and work with the best, start by requesting a Buyer Questionnaire today!

Get More Great Content!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Three Things To Consider About Buying A Foreclosure

Are you looking for a good deal on a house?

While buying a distressed property (homes listed a short sales or foreclosures are considered distressed properties) can be a good deal, not everyone qualifies to buy one or should buy a distressed home... for a number of reasons.

Here are the three primary reasons many buyers need to skip over foreclosures and short sale properties in their home search:

  • Your type of financing may restrict the condition of the home.
  • You may not have the cash on hand to afford the upfront purchase expenses.
  • You may not have the trade skills or handyman skill to fix a home up.

Let's talk a bit more about condition.
If you are getting a government insured loan, like FHA, VA or USDA, the home needs to be in habitable condition. An appraiser will be looking for safety concerns and major repairs and if they find any issues, correcting them will be a condition of the loan. Most of the time, the sellers won't correct these problems if they haven't already done so before a buyer made the offer.

Cash on hand.
In addition to the appraisal and other typical upfront buyer expenses, distressed properties often require more cash on hand for the buyer. Especially if you are buying a foreclosure through an auction, you often have bidding offer fees or "technology fees" upfront. Also, the real estate fees that commonly fall on the seller in a real estate transaction are often passed on the buyer as an upfront expense. Make sure you know any potentially hidden costs and have a little cushion in your budget if you are shopping foreclosures and short sale properties.

Repair and renovation skills.
Yes, most people can change light bulbs and often the average handyperson can even replace a sink faucet, paint the walls and change out light fixtures.  Calling a flooring company is pretty easy to accomplish as well.  The deeper concerns lie in what is lurking in the basement (mold, foundation problems, etc) or in the outdated electrical box.  These repairs and updates will require professionals and permits to cure.  Those expenses can add up quickly!

Continue reading:

Are Foreclosures a "Good Deal" in 2015?

Coming Soon and Hot New Listings