Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Should You Buy a New Home or a Resale Property?

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Today we want to speak to you about the difference between buying a new home and a resale property. Both have their pros and cons, and we want you to be informed about them.

A newly-constructed home is advantageous in the fact that you have control over the design and layout. You can build it just like you want, so long as you have the funds. You can reflect your own style, and not someone else's tastes. New homes often come with warranties that cover mechanical devices for two years and structural items for ten years.

New homes are often vastly more efficient when it comes to energy and insulation. Although they cost more upfront, you will see some energy savings over the long run as opposed to an older home.

However, this is not to say that older homes and resale properties aren't worth purchasing. They are often more affordable, but you don't have an input on the design. You can change the interior to a degree, but not like a newly constructed home.

Resale properties are often in more desirable locations, like the inner city. Newly-built homes are often located in suburban areas where more land is available. When it comes to architecture, nothing beats the charm...

What Can You Expect from the Twin Cities Marketplace in 2016?

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Where is the Twin Cities market heading in 2016? Last year was another wonderful year in our market, but will this be a year of change? Today, we take a look at the numbers to find out!

Overall, 2015 was the best year in the Twin Cities market since 2005. Housing demand has reached a 10-year high, and home prices have fully recovered in most of the area. In 2015, the amount of closed sales increased by over 1%, median sales prices increased by 7%, and inventory was reduced by close to 18%. This is terrific news considering where the market was just a few years ago.

One of the trends that will continue this year is the low inventory -- there just is not a lot to choose from out there. This will likely result in suburban growth, as the low inventory drives people to the edges of the city. A lot of the new communities we see popping up are more walk-able than what we've seen in the past. There are more grocery stores, coffee shops, and dry cleaners nearby, which is indicative of these more walk-able urban communities.

Another thing we'll probably see continue to change is the condo and town-home market. It's starting to rebound from the hit it took during the downturn. The low inventory...

Test Your Twin Cities Home for Radon

The state of Minnesota now requires sellers to disclose any radon testing performed on their home and whether or not a mitigation system was recommended.
 Since radon is such a hot topic in the news, we're seeing more and more buyers request radon testing before they purchase a home.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes up from the ground. Radon is found in all areas of the country, but it's commonplace in Minnesota and Wisconsin due to the local soil and bedrock. About two in five homes in our area have elevated levels of radon! Yikes!

Radon is hazardous and causes cancer.
 In fact, it's the second leading cause of cancer, behind cigarettes. You absolutely should test your home for radon to find out if you have elevated radon levels.

If you do have elevated radon levels, you can install a mitigation system. The price depends on the size...

How to Protect Your Twin Cities Home from Winter Damage

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Winter weather is a double-edged sword. Snow provides opportunities for us to enjoy ourselves, but it can also cause problems in and around our homes.

Ice dams are sheets of ice that form on the roof due to heat loss from the inside of your home. If left untreated, they can cause water to back up under the roof shingles. This water can then enter your home through your ceiling or exterior wall cavity and cause some serious problems for you down the road.

What is the best way to prevent an ice dam from forming? Well, the best way is to see if there is an ice buildup on the outside of the home. If there is ice buildup around gutters and there are icicles forming, it might be an indication that there is heat loss which is melting snow and causing water to run. Preventative maintenance is necessary to ensure that you have no major problems with ice dams. All you need to do is strap on some boots and walk around your home from time to time.

If you aren't sure whether you have ice dams,...

Help us support Coats of Kindness!

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Eric Wenzel joins us today to talk about Coats of Kindness, a charity in St. Paul. The local nonprofit started six years ago based off a cancer event and pay-it-forward initiative at Eric’s church. His kids were involved from the beginning and it’s been growing ever since. This year, they’re close to giving away 10,000 jackets throughout the Midwest, mostly within the Twin Cities. Donations vary from individual contributions, small businesses, and Cub Scout troops.

The coats go directly to shelters and other locations. It’s not exactly like a food pantry. It’s a discount store that counties subsidize. Additionally, they’re teaming up with a homeless project in Minneapolis with thirteen buildings and 3,000 residents.

If you have a coat you’d like to drop off at our office, give...

Renovations to Help Your Twin Cities Home Sell

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Is it smart to remodel your home before selling? Often, minor upgrades give you a higher return on investment compared to major renovation projects. Huge construction projects always cost more and take longer to complete than you think.

As part of our services, we help you figure out where to focus your time and energy. Most homeowners have one of three goals when they are considering making renovations to their property.

  • Increase the sales price. Small cosmetic fixes are best. Buying new appliances or replacing countertops will do more to change your sales price compared to redoing the kitchen entirely. It's worthwhile if replacing $5,000 of appliances and countertops takes your sales price from $200,000 to $222,000.
  • Sell quickly. Replacing necessary items don't always increase your home's value, but they may still help with the sale. Replacing the windows or water heater could make the home more attractive to buyers who don't want to handle those repairs on their own. That could mean less time on the market....

Zillow: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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As a real estate professional, I'm continually bombarded by the question, "Why does Zillow price my home differently?"

If we go on Zillow's website, this is how they explain it: The Zestimate is created by an automatic software process designed by statisticians, and there is no ability for humans to manually alter the Zestimate for a specific property.

To make that more clear, let's say a home is estimated to be worth $500,000. If the Zestimate is off by 10%, that's a difference of $50,000! If the home is underpriced, you're missing out on tens of thousands of dollars. If your home is overpriced by 10%, it will sit on the market for awhile, and you might have to drop the price, causing buyers to wonder what's wrong with the home.

It's been estimated that Zillow's home estimates are only right 7% of the time. That means that they are wrong 93% of the time! That is a terrible success rate.

Remember, Zillow can't take features or upgrades on your property and compare them to other recently closed homes in your area, even though doing so gives you a more updated value on your property. Zillow doesn't walk through your home, and that's where my team can come in and place an accurate value on your home.


The Best Time to Sell in the Twin Cities

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Throughout the year, one question we hear a lot is this: "When is the best time of year to sell my home?" We looked back over the last 15 years, and we found that sellers achieve the most success during the month of February.

Some of you may be surprised at this since February in Minnesota is so cold and sees a high amount of snowfall. The facts are pretty clear, though. In February, there is a significant amount of buyers, and inventory levels are 25% lower than the rest of the year. This means there is less competition for sellers, and the buyers that are out there are serious about purchasing a home.

That said, February buyers are often concerned about the yard. Since the yard can be covered in snow, the buyers won't know what it looks like. We recommend taking professional photographs of the property before any snow hits the ground. Those pictures will give buyers the confidence to move forward. Buyer confidence results in higher rewards for the seller.

If you need a professional photographer to take photos of your property, we can provide one for you. If you have any other questions about today's video or about...

Are We in a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

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Today, we'll discuss the current state of the Twin Cities real estate market. It is important to have historical context when talking about current real estate trends so that you can understand exactly what is happening in the market.

For instance, we consider it to be a balanced market when we have somewhere between 21,000 and 23,000 listings on the market. Right now, we have 17,000 listings. We all remember the market crash. At the peak of the market, we had 35,000 listings. As you can see, we are significantly down from the peak, and we're below the balanced market rate. Right now, with our low inventory, sellers do have the upper hand.

Now, let's look at pricing. January 2012 was the bottom of the market with a median sales price of $140,000. At the peak in 2006, the median...

Eden Prairie Park To Feature Ice Castles Again

Compared to the summer, there are quite a few less outdoor activities that Minnesotans of all ages can participate in; however, one thing kids love to do in the winter is build snow and ice forts. It's almost a right of passage in childhood. One of the 'coolest' features of the Minnesota winter is when adults play with ice, especially when they stack the ice blocks to form castles.

Miller Park in Eden Prairie will see the return of ice castles this winter. A Utah based company, Ice Castles LLC, will be charged with erecting the great ice structures this winter. Last year, the comapny also built an ice castle in Eden Prairie which attracted more than 80,000 visitors; the year before, at the Mall of America played host and also drew big crowds.

On September 15, the Eden Prairie City Council approved the company to create more of their ice masterpieces at Miller Park. The company will pay the city for all the water they use; so Eden Prairie residents don't need to worry about rationing their water.

This is a great family event that features the ice castles, plenty of cool lights illuminating them, other fun events and attractions, as well as snacks to warm up in the frigid weather. In order to really appreciate these castles and their craftsmanship, they need to be checked out up close.

Seriously, plan to bring the whole family. This is a great opportunity to show kids that even when they grow old, you can still make cool forts out of snow and ice.

Photo courtesy of: Kendrick Erickson