Are you going out of town this holiday season to spend time with your loved ones? During the time of your absence  don’t forget that your house will be left behind. It is critical to keep your home and your belongings safe and protected during the holiday season! Here are some tips to protecting your home:

Neighbors: If you live in a neighborhood I am sure you have neighbors that you have become close with. Whether you are just an acquaintance or you carpool all the kids to soccer during the school year, they are a great asset when you are out of town. Always ask a neighbor to watch over your home for you. Make sure that they have your phone number so they can get a hold of you at any time. They will be there for you when you are not able to be there for your home.

Thermostat: If you know you will be going out of town for a week or three weeks, make sure to keep your thermostat at a good temperature so your pipes do not freeze. Freezing pipes are something that no one wants to fix, or pay to get fixed. It is very important that your thermostat is at the right temperature to keep this from happening.

Honey I’m Home: It is very important that whether you are home or not, people think you are. A few good ways for it to look like you are home without you actually being there is to set a timer on one or more lights in your house. Whether it is a lamp, a basement light or a kitchen light, you always want it to look like there is movement in your house.

Mail: You must stop your mail! You do not want your mail to pile up day after day. This is a sign to any criminal that you have not been there for a few days, and you do not want them to know that. So either put a “Stop” on your mail so that it is not sent to your house or ask a friend or close neighbor pick it up on a daily basis for you.

It’s Electric: Unplug all of your electronics to save energy and to protect them from a power surge. Everyone wants to save money, so why not unplug those electronics and save some cash for after holiday shopping?

Spare Keys: If you have a spare key on your property, always remove it. Either give it to a close neighbor who is watching over your house, or a family member that is close by. That way they will have access to your property to check your faucets for freezing pipes, and anything else they are watching for you.

From all of us at the Todd Haigh Group we wish you a fun and safe holiday season!

 

Congratulations to Brandon and Megan on the completed construction of their new home!

The newlyweds signed their construction contract in June, and in fewer than five months went from blueprint to finished house. Having selected everything from the floor plan design to the countertops to the cabinet colors, the two are now ready to begin their new life in a home that’s just right for them.

Custom building has become more and more popular since the market recovery. In fact, now is one of the best times to build in years, as construction companies are getting back into the market and materials have become more affordable. If you are interested in building a new home of your own, you can call our office at 763-463-7508 or send us an email and we will be happy to talk with you about the process.

Take a look at some photos of their new place:

    

    

    

 

 

We wish them all the best going forward!

 

In recent months, Time Share tycoon David Siegel and his beauty queen wife Jackie grabbed the attention of media outlets like ABC News and the New York Times for attempting, and failing, to build the biggest, most opulent home in America. The 90,000 square foot, $100 million mega house, nicknamed the “American Versailles,” would have features such as nine kitchens, a bowling alley, two movie theaters, a ball room and a full-size baseball field.

“We didn’t start out having a 90,000 square foot house. It was more like a normal 60,000 square foot house,” David joked in an interview with ABC News. “…But then I said, ‘I want a bowling alley,’” Jackie continued. “And then he said, ‘Well, I want a health spa.’ You know, so we just kept going back and forth and adding on things.”

When the market crashed, the Siegels lost many millions and had to halt construction. The documentary “Queen of Versailles” portrayed their “hardships” to the world. They more recently refinanced and resumed the project as business picked up, but the couple’s extraordinary journey has provided several critical lessons relevant to all homebuyers.

1.       Prepare for your finances to remain secure during market fluctuations. Even billionaires can lose sight of the fact that everyone needs a financial contingency plan. Markets rise and fall, investments can tank, and it’s vital to make sure that you can make all of your mortgage payments during the hard times. It’s important to sit down with a financial planner to ensure your investments are properly diversified, your budget is formed solidly, your debt will not cripple you, and that you have explored all your home financing options.

2.       Take realistic inventory of your needs. David Siegel’s home was built with a wine cellar to hold 20,000 bottles, even though the mogul admits he doesn’t drink wine very often. When building or buying a home, it can be easy to get swept away by niceties. Is that sauna really worth the price tag? Do you really need those vaulted ceilings? Maybe it actually is worth it to pay a little extra for that finished basement. Sometimes, new homeowners don’t plan adequately for changes in lifestyle when starting a family and forget to look for some of the right home features. The key is to critically think about the lifestyle you plan to lead in both the short and long term, and figure out the associated needs.

3.       Seize the day! Yes, it is important to make financially sensible home buying decisions. However, if there is any single positive message to take away from Siegel’s project, it is that life is short and it is wonderful to be passionate about the home you live in. Sometimes a special feature, like a skylight, can make your home feel special. Sometimes, you just click with a home slightly out of your price range. Just make sure you don’t get carried away!

 

The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) is reporting these new numbers from August based off the Maple Grove Real Estate Market.

Average Sales Price

For Single Family Homes in Maple Grove the Average Sales Price dropped from $346,455 in July to $318,959, but on the year to date is up 1.6% overall (Maple Grove Single Family Homes with Average Sales Price). Townhouses in Maple Grove on the other hand rose slightly from $160,170 in July to $164,430 but are still being priced lower than in 2011 by 2.5% (Maple Grove Townhouses with Average Sales Price). The average sales price on Foreclosures in Maple Grove fell slightly over the month from $183,712 to $181,468 and is down 7% from August of 2011 (All Maple Grove Foreclosures). The Short Sale market in Maple Grove saw a huge increase in average sales price the last month. In July it was at $151,220, in August it rose to $202,421 but this is still well below last year’s price when the average sales price for short sales in Maple Grove was at $237,667 (All Maple Grove Short Sales).

New Listings

We saw every option you could see from new listings in Maple Grove for August, an increase, a decrease, and no change. First the increase came in Traditional New Listings, there were 90 new listings which was an increase compared to last year’s 70 (New Traditional Listings in Maple Grove). The decrease came in the Foreclosure New Listings with 19 which was down by 10 with last year’s mark of 29 (New Foreclosure Listings in Maple Grove). Lastly we saw Short Sale New Listings stay the same as last year’s number with 15 (New Short Sale Listings in Maple Grove).

Days on Market Until Sale

Maple Grove continued to see a low number of days on market until sale for traditional, foreclosure, and short sale homes this month. Due to the low inventory homes are being snatched up much quicker this year with traditional homes seeing 82 days on market, foreclosure 80 days, and short sale 145 days. In that order each are down 37%, 56%, and 43% from the previous year’s numbers.

 

We will be having a Free Homebuyer Seminar this Saturday August 18th where our expert real estate agents breakdown the process of purchasing a home in today’s market! Make sure to RSVP here to guarantee your spot. Here is just a sneak preview of the home knowledge you can expect to gain.

Excellent Affordability
There has never been a better time in history to purchase a home, just look at the housing affordability index. Here’s an example: a family with a median income of $61,000 could afford a home priced at $325,000, which is more than double the median home price of $158,100.The median monthly mortgage principal and interest payment for a median-priced home would take only 13.5 percent of gross income. Stats courtesy of NAR 

Historically Low Interest Rates
With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate at 3.57% and 15-year fixed rate mortgage at 2.91% buyers should take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a home while they still can at such a historically low rate.

The Real Cost of Renting
Someone paying $800 a month in rent with the average 6% rental increase per year will have payed $126,536 over a 10 year period but have zero ownership. Wouldn’t you rather invest that hard earned money in a home making yourself richer and not your landlord?

The Best Investment You Can Make
Your appreciation potential in your home investment can grow in value and where else can you buy an investment of this magnitude with 5-10% down?

If you would like to be alerted when we post new articles please feel free enter your email in the “Subscribe to Receive New Posts” section on the right hand side.

 

Evernote

Evernote is an online productivity notebook app that allows you to take notes as text, a webpage, photo, audio, memo, attachment, and more. This app is a great way for Realtor’s to stay organized on the go and for storing their data in varouis ways. Price: Standard-Free; Premium-$45/year

AroundMe

Next time your showing houses let your buyers know about the lifestyle of a neighborhood and look like an expert. AroundMe takes your position and identifies the nearest businesses in an easy to use category style layout. Perfect for quickly finding restaurants, gas stations, hospitals, movie theaters, and more. Price: Free 

My New Place

My New Place is an app designed for users who are looking for rental properties. As a real estate agent you may be asking why use this app then? What better way to prove the value of owning vs renting then pulling up rental info in the same location your buyers are looking to reassure them buying is the smart choice. Price: Free

 Instagram

If you haven’t downloaded this app by now, you need to! Instagram allows you to pick from several filter effects for mobile pictures to create artistic and unique images. Snap some eye catching photos of your listings to share on social media websites right from your phone. Price: Free

Open Home Pro

This is the perfect app to have at your next open house. Have open house visitors sign in on your iPad giving them access to listing details. In turn you get a lead capture tool that sends them an electronic “Thank You” as well as follow-up email notifications on listing changes. You also look like a cutting edge agent having an iPad sign up sheet! Price: $4.99

Dropbox

Bring your work with you anywhere you go with the Dropbox app. It’s perfect for real estate teams and to easily share documents across multiple computers. With tons of storage space available Dropbox is well worth the download. Price: Free

iAnnotate PDF

This app allows you to edit, organize, highlight, and send PDF files. A helpful tool when dealing with contracts and other documents that are in PDF form. Features that set this app above other PDF editors include pen, underline, strikethrough, voice recording, date stamping, and photography. Price: $9.99

Dictionary of Real Estate Terms

Are you new to the real estate industry and having a hard time understanding all the lingo and jargon that agents use? The Real Estate Dictionary app includes over 3,000 real estate terms and features graphs as well as full term search functionality. Price: $2.99

Find My iPhone

Never loose your iPhone, iPad, or Mac again with this app installed on your device. Just enable this app in your iCloud settings and it will locate your missing device on a map. You also get the option to display a message, sound an alarm, lock the device, or even erase your personal data. Price: Free

CalcsFree Mortgage Calculator

Use this calculator while out with your buyers to easily help them identify their mortgage payments on prospect properties. They’ll love the extra decision making help and this app is the best on the market for mortgage calculators. Price: Free

 

Reason #5:

Home ownership remains the core of the American Dream

Owning a home is critical to financial stability and wealth building. It serves as a forced savings account and provides a solid asset, not to mention a place to live. The graph below points out the rent vs buy equations discussed in (reason #4). You need to take into account when deciding to buy that rents are subject to increase every year, mortgage payments however will remain fixed through the life of the loan*. Another key factor for purchasing a home is the federal tax deductibility of mortgage interest, which amounts to an annual savings of thousands of dollars for the average homeowner.

*Based on purchase of a $200,000 home with 10% down on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Reason #4:

Ownership costs are dropping below rental costs

Rental rates are skyrocketing right now, average rent increased more than 4% over the past year. NAR (National Association of Realtors) expects rent to increase even further another 4% in 2012 and an additional 4% MORE in 2013! The chart below shows that you are better off purchasing a home, building wealth and equity, instead of throwing away money on rent.

Statistics courtesy NAR

Reason #3:

Prices are trending back up

Every major price index points to a housing market that has hit bottom and is moving in a positive direction. As of 2011 median home prices for the Twin Cities was at $162,100 and as of 2012 it has climbed to $179,000. Home prices are stable and appreciating in nearly every U.S. market. This means staying on the fence on waiting for prices to drop further is OVER!

Statistics courtesy MAAR

Reason #2:

Mortgage rates are at rock bottom and won’t stay there forever


The national average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.36% in August 2010, the lowest it’s been in the past half century! In August 2009 interest rates were at 5.19%, if you crunch the numbers that is a difference of $90 in monthly payments on a $200,000 home with 10% down. Stretched out over the lifetime of a loan you would end up paying $33,000 more!

*As of today the current national average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sits at 3.68% almost a full percentage less than 2010’s numbers making RIGHT NOW an even better time to buy.

Statistics courtesy Freddie Mac