Search For Homes

Your Home Sold - Guaranteed!

Your Home Sold - Guaranteed!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Learn the Lingo: Real Estate Vocabulary 101

Like most industries, real estate has a language all its own. Hearing and using jargon/words you don't fully understand can be risky and confusing.

Even such basic terms as MLS, Mortgage, REALTOR® and the like are widely misunderstood and misused in everyday speech.

In the interest of clear communication, here are 15 basic real estate terms related to buying or selling a home and what they mean:

A real estate broker or sales associate who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® headquartered in Chicago. It's possible to have a real estate license, but not be a REALTOR®.

 2. MLS
Multiple Listing Service. An MLS is a local organization that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale by its members, who are real estate brokers. Membership isn't open to the general public, although most homes listed in the MLS will be distributed to other national websites depending on the listing brokerage. MLSs are local or regional. There is no one MLS covering the whole country. In the Twin Cities metro area, the local MLS is called the Northstar MLS. Since the MLS is generally the first point or entry for a new real estate listing, it contains the most accurate data. Agents can give their clients direct access to MLS listings using "The Portal".

 3. Listing
An agreement between a real estate broker and a home owner that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the owner's home. The word "listing" is also used to refer to the for-sale home itself. A home being sold by the owner without a real estate agent isn't a "listing".

 4. Brokerage
A real estate brokerage is the agency or office from which real estate agents and brokers work. It's important to know what Brokerage is representing you in your transaction and how your relationship with that agency applies to your transaction. Learn more about the Agency Relationships in Real Estate Transactions.

 5. 4B/2B/2Car
Shorthand notation for "four bedrooms and two bathrooms." A "bedroom" usually means a sleeping area with a window and a closet, but the definition varies in different places. A "full bathroom" is a room with a toilet, a sink and a bathtub. A "three-quarter bathroom" has a toilet, a sink and a shower, and a "half bathroom" has only a toilet and a sink.

 6. Closing costs
All miscellaneous expenses paid by the buyer and seller when the real estate deal closes. These costs include the brokerage commission, mortgage-related fees, escrow or attorney's settlement charges, transfer taxes, recording fees, title insurance and so on. Closing costs generally are paid through escrow.

 7. Contingency
A provision of an agreement that keeps the agreement from being fully legally binding until a certain condition is met. Examples include: Financing Contingency; If the buyer can't obtain financing as stated in the contingency, they may back out of the agreement or Inspection Contingency; The purchase is subject to an inspection acceptable to the buyer

 8. Distressed Property
Homes that are classified as distressed properties often include homes in foreclosure, foreclosed, corporated owned/REO/bank owned homes and short sale homes.  Click the included links to learn about each.

 9. Home Inspection
A thorough inspection by a professional that evaluates the structural and mechanical condition of a property. A satisfactory home inspection is often included as a contingency by the purchaser.

 10. Fixture
Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of real property. (Real estate is legally called "real property," while movables are called "personal property.") Examples of fixtures include installed wall-to-wall carpeting, light fixtures, window coverings, landscaping and so on. Fixtures are a frequent subject of buyer and seller disputes. When in doubt, get it in writing.

 11. Purchase Agreement
The contract for the purchase of a home, signed by the buyer and seller, containing the agreed-upon price and any other conditions. This may also be known as an agreement of sale, a purchase contract, or a sale contract.

 12. Addendum or Amendment
An addendum to a real estate contract or purchase agreement is a document attached to and made a part of the original contract. It can be explanatory, informational or indicate other requirements of the parties that aren't clearly spelled out in the contract. Sometimes people confuse addendum with an amendment, which is a modification later to the terms of an already-accepted contract.

 13. Title insurance
An insurance policy that protects a lender's or owner's interest in real property from assorted types of unexpected or fraudulent claims of ownership. It's customary for the buyer to pay for the lender's title insurance policy.

 14. Mortgage
A legal document that pledges a property to the lender as security for payment of a debt. Instead of mortgages, some states use First Trust Deeds.

 15. Government and Conventional Loans
A mortgage that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Rural Housing Service (RHS). Mortgages that are not government loans are classified as conventional loans.

 16. Appraisal
A written justification of the price paid for a property, primarily based on an analysis of comparable sales of similar homes nearby. Appraisals are done by licensed appraisers.  Appraisals are most commonly ordered by lenders when a buyer is obtaining a new mortgage or a home owner is refinancing a mortgage.  Appraisals are generally paid for by the person who will carry the mortgage on the home.

 17. CMA
Comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. A CMA is a report that shows prices of houses that are comparable to a subject home and that were recently sold or pending sale plus houses that are currently on the market or were on the market, but not sold within the listing period (Expired and Cancelled listings).  This analysis is generally performed by a real estate agent or broker for a seller that plans to list their home with their brokerage to determine the best listing price and most probable selling price.

Are there other terms you'd like clarified?  Just ask!

Nope, I'm not a lawyer, accountant, blah, blah, blah... but you may need some advice relating to these items from those folks!

11 Shocking Facts You May Not Know About Real Estate Agents

Top 10 Dates To List or Buy A Home

Most Popular Dates to List or Buy a Home

The top four months for new listings are March, April, May and June. 

 These months alone accounted for two-fifths of all new listings in this analysis of 2014. While not devoid of new listings, the weekends are obviously not popular days to list. Thursday and Fridays are the most common days for new listings to go on the market.

Graph of Popular Months to List your home for sale

Let's Make a Deal on a House

Below, we see the most popular under-contract (signed deals) days of 2014. Similar to the pattern in home listings, we see a strong preponderance of spring dates and lack of weekends. While not devoid of contract activity, the weekends are not common contract signing days.

Days of the Week Real Estate Contracts are Signed

How Much is Your Home Worth?  |  Search for a Twin Cities Home to Buy


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Market Value, Tax Value, Appraisal Value, Automated Value Calculation...

HOME VALUATIONS - They are all COMPLETELY different!

What's the difference?

Fair Market Value, or FMV, is the price a home should sell for under "normal" market conditions. "Normal" is a subjective term, but it generally means that the local housing market is not in distress due to a large number of foreclosures or a recent natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane. FMV is usually determined by comparing the property to similar properties within a mile radius, and is based upon what price these similar homes sold for within the past 6-12 months.

A home's Tax Assessed Value, or TAV, is usually a percentage of the property's FMV. Most states assess homes at 80% or 90% of FMV though some states assess at 100%+. Some counties around the country, especially in areas with depressed housing markets, only reassess homes every five or 10 years due to the high cost of the reassessment process.
When the taxing authority reassesses, they usually have what is called, "Assessor Agents." These agents are not Appraisers. They will use a model called "mass appraisal." This model is not reflective of a true Appraisal. The tax value is called, "Assessment." 
Usually, in-between re-assessments, the Assessor will record the new sales price, because the property is usually appraised. This sales price, after closing, normally becomes the new "Assessment." 

An evaluation of a property's value based on a given point in time that is performed by a professional appraiser during the mortgage origination process is called Appraisal Value. The appraiser is usually chosen through an assignment system as requested by a lender, and the appraisal is paid for by the borrower.  It is based on comparable, nearby, closed sales in the last 6 months.
In a typical, healthy, economy, then typical appraisal methods are best.The two appraisal types are cost approach to value and the income approach which is highly significant when considering rental markets. There is nothing that can be compared to an Appraisal. 

Automated and/or online valuations are the generally the least accurate. These are very popular and can be found around the web. They are primarily used as advertisement to get visitors to a website. They are formulated values based on an algorithm that scrapes the web and public records for any information it can find, accurate or not, to generate an "automated value" for a home. It's not just the data sources that make these estimates so inaccurate but the lack of actual knowledge about the property being estimated when it comes to condition, value-added features, etc.

The most accurate values are generated by skilled professionals.

I know - that's a lot. Have questions? Just call me!

See my TESTIMONIALS!  Your referrals are the lifeblood of my business!  If someone you know would like to buy, sell or invest in real estate or is interested in a career in real estate at Keller Williams I'd love to talk! Click this confidential Contact form, or just give me a call! 


Keller Williams Premier Realty3555 Willow Lake Boulevard, Vadnais Heights, Minnesota 55110

Connect with me on:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Can you buy a home with only 3% down?

Are you (or your spouse) a first time home buyer? Are you put off by all the mortgage insurance and conditions that apply to FHA loans?
Are you looking to refinance into a fixed rate 15 or 30 year mortgage but have little equity?
You are in luck!

In December, Fannie Mae announced they will offer 97% LTV (loan to value) conventional financing to help home buyers who would otherwise qualify for a mortgage but may not have the resources for a larger down payment.

In many cases, the Conventional 97 program is less expensive than an FHA mortgage. This is because the Conventional 97 program does not require an upfront mortgage insurance premium, and because its annual mortgage insurance rates are cheaper, too. Mortgage rates are often comparable.

Conventional financing does not handcuff borrowers to mortgage insurance forever like FHA MIP does. Once equity targets (20% – 22%) are reached, current appraisal supported value can eliminate conventional PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). Not so with that FHA MIP, once you get it, the only way to get rid of it is to refinance out of the FHA loan or sell the house!

The Conventional 97 program requires a minimum credit score, which varies by downpayment source. All mortgage applicants must show a credit score of 680 or better. However, mortgage applicants accepting gift funds for a downpayment must show a credit score of at least 740. Your credit score is based on the middle of your three credit scores, as reported by the major credit bureaus TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

I know you want to know more about this and I have lenders that can help you.

Contact me today!

See Other Types of Loan Products and more Home Buying Help

Thursday, January 15, 2015

7-Step Guide to Selling a House

Seven Step Guide to Selling a House

Prepare to Sell Your House
Home selling has become more complex than it used to be. Online technology has changed the way buyers shop for homes. Financing has gotten more complicated for buyers. New seller disclosure statements, longer and more mysterious form agreements, and a range of environmental concerns have all emerged in the past decade. Read more »

In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who sell real estate full time, study the market, know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local REALTORS® who serve your area. Read more »

Set the List Price of Your Home
Several factors, including home condition, market conditions and interest rates, will determine how much you can get for your home. In other words, home selling is part art, part science, part marketing and part negotiation. Read more »

Market Your House for Maximum Exposure
Your REALTOR® should share a marketing plan with you, but the more you know about the process of selling your home the easier it is to support your REALTOR®’s efforts and get your home sold. Sell faster and for more money with these tips. Read more »

Negotiate a Real Estate Offer
Perhaps the most complex moment in the sales process comes when you get an offer for your home. Market conditions, leverage, financing and other terms, etc will need to be evaluated. Whether you have one offer or several to consider, these tips will help you navigate the negotiation. Read more »

The Art of Settling
When you have a signed contract with the buyer for your home, you may feel as if you can breathe a sigh of relief. But before you can completely relax you need to get to the closing table and that often includes navigating offer contingencies such as inspections, appraisals, other home sales, etc. Read more »

Plan Your Move
Some of the activities required to sell your home can actually help with the moving process. For example, by knowing where you will live after your house sells, organizing all your utility service providers and cleaning out closets, the basement and the attic you will have less to do once the home is under contract. Read more »

Links you may enjoy:
Living in a Staged Home

Come find me!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why are all those real estate search sites free?

Did you know the home listings you find on public websites are generally outdated or inaccurate? A large number of the homes you see on open websites have already accepted offers. The most current property listings in the twin cities come directly from the real NorthstarMLS through an agent that has a membership.

None of the public site you see online are as accurate or up to date as the our local Northstar MLS. Why? Because Northstar MLS is where we enter and track our listings! All those other sites get their info from the MLS (or a listing syndication provider).

So why are those homes still displayed online if they are sold? It's simple. It's marketing.  For the website but sometimes for the agent too.

You see, the more homes the website has to display, the more they get you coming back to look and they can sell advertising impressions to real estate professionals.  And when you register on the home search site, they basically sell your information to agents and mortgage professionals.  So, free does come with a price...

The more homes an agent shows listed for sale, the more buyers they will attract. And if a buyer calls on a sold property, they can potentially hook them into another property. Agents offer free searches in their sites to draw you in to work with them.

It's all pretty genius advertising. :-)

So, now you know that you can only get access to the REAL Northstar MLS that agents use directly from an active, licensed agent that is a current MLS subscriber themselves.

If you want to be set up with a REAL TIME search from the MLS, contact me!

Want to look at dream homes or browse potential investment properties without committing? Set up your own search on my website and get home alerts on your terms.

Yukon can find your dream home in Lino Lakes, Hugo, Centreville, White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights and other great MN suburbs!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do you Snap?

If you have heard about HomeSnap but haven't wanted to "sign up" for something else, I am right there with you.  If you do want to try something new, I invite you to connect with me on HomeSnap.

I can't promise any accuracy, in fact, I haven't seen it display an accurate home value yet (which, to their credit is typical for any automated home valuation program) but it's kinda fun and it's an easy way to quickly connect and ask me real estate questions.
Get HomeSnap:
Connect with me on HomeSnap:

Want a valuation of your home to sell?
Want to search homes without downloading another app?

Monday, January 5, 2015

55014 and 55038 Median Sales Price History 2011-2014

Real Estate Sale Price History for 55014 and 55038

Are you considering buying or selling a home in the Lino Lakes, Hugo, Centerville or Circle Pines area?  Know the market trends and how to interpret them is key to your successful real estate transaction!

Check out this January 2015 Median Sale Price Data.

This graph illustrates all homes in these zip codes that are not on the water and previously owned.
Median Sales Price Graph for 55038 and 55014 for non-waterfront homes
55014 and 55038: Previously Owned, Single-Family, Non-Waterfront

This graph illustrates sale price data on all homes in these zip codes that are over $300,000 and over 2,501 finished sq feet not on the water and previously owned.
Median Sales Price Graph for 55038 and 55014 for homes over $300k
55014 and 55038: Previously Owned, $300,000 or More, Single-Family, 2,501 sq ft or More, Non-Waterfront

This graph illustrates all homes in these zip codes that are not on the water and NEW CONSTRUCTION.
New construction homes median sales price for 2014 in Lino Lakes, Centerville and Hugo

Want more details about home value trends in your area? Average time is takes to sell a home? How much competition there is for buyers for your home?   Contact me today!

Want to search for homes on your own? Visit


Coming Soon and Hot New Listings