Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Holiday Staging Tips

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Tidings, and Festivus Greetings to all!

Selling a home? No matter what holiday you are celebrating, staging your home during this time of the year can be hassle-free by following these simple guidelines:
  • CURB APPEAL: Without going Clark Griswold on your roof, tastefully use exterior Christmas lights to stir up warm feelings in your buyers. Now that our days are shorter, it is important to use artificial lighting to set the mood.  Avoid using large outdoor displays.  Inflated snow globes may look neat, but buyers will have a hard time looking past it and may miss your landscaping and other exterior features.
  • USE MINIMAL SEASONAL DECOR: Keep seasonal decor to localized areas such as the fireplace mantle, table center pieces, and vanities. Having just a few pieces will give the "flavor" of the season without "overwhelming the taste buds."  Displaying too many decorations create unwanted effects on your home. 1) Buyers will not remember the house's features, 2) The house will appear small and cluttered, 3) Overwhelming religious holiday decor may be offensive to hardcore PC buyers.
  • KEEP DECOR TIMELY: Once your holiday is done, pack the decor ASAP. A house that retains holiday or seasonal decor past its due date has a neglected atmosphere.  Avoid using holiday or seasonal decor when photographing your listing
  • SEASONAL FRAGRANCES: Although tempting, using candles, potpourri, and room fresheners may irritate sensitive buyers....

Edina Minnesota Highlights

Edina is a Minnesota city located in Hennepin County.  It is a first-ring suburb soutwest of Minneapolis within the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Edina began as a small farming and milling community in the 1860s. Today, it is a community that is 95% developed. The population was 47,425 at the 2000 census.

Edina began as part of Richfield Township. In the 1850s, 17 families came to Minnesota and claimed land in the southwest section of what was then Richfield Township. Most of them immigrated as a result of the potato famine in Ireland.  They were followed by English and Scottish farmers, who claimed more land near Minnehaha Creek. The Baird and Grimes and Country Club Districts are located in the northeast part of Edina and were among the first areas to be established. Both of these locations are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1888, the residents of the township held a meeting to consider founding a new village.  It was approved, and the process of separating themselves from Richfield Township began. That was the first debate, the second was what to name the new village. Several town meetings were held, during which the names "Hennepin Park", "Westfield" and "Edina" were suggested. Andrew Craik, upon moving to the township in 1869 from Edinburgh, bought and renamed the local mill to the Edina Mill.  It was he who proposed the name, which after much debate, was decided in 1889.

Several major highways run through or next to Edina, making it readily accessible to the greater Twin Cities area. Minnesota State Highways 62, running east and west, and 100,, running north and south, divide Edina into four sections. U.S. Route 169 in the western portion of the city extends north and south. Interstate 494 towards the southern end of the city runs east and west. Minnesota State Highway 7 is within three miles of the city and Interstate 394 is within five. Edina is...

Outstanding Twin Cities National Night Out Participation in 2008

Once again, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul were ranked at the top when it comes to resident participation in National Night Out events. The City of Minneapolis ranked at No. 1 in the category for cities with a population of 300,000 or more. Saint Paul was also ranked No. 1 for communities with populations between 100,000 and 299,999.

This year is the sixth time in eight years that Minneapolis has finished at the top in its category of 300,000 or more residents. On August 5th, 2008, more than 60,000 residents assembled at 1,111 events held to increase neighborhood unity and bring people together to develop anti-crime and drug programs. San Antonio, Texas, was No. 2 for this category. The Washington DC area was No. 3.

St. Paul residents have increased their involvement in National Night Out.  Saint Paul moved up into first from its third-place finish in 2007. Rochester moved up to No. 3 this year after ranking No. 5 in 2007. Orlando, Florida, came at No. 2.

Minnesota's high turnout, with at least one city in the top 10 in each of the five population categories, was not enough to win the National Night Out Award awarded by the National Association of Town Watch, the event’s sponsoring organization. It bestowed the highest award in the state category to Texas. Last year, Minnesota and Texas tied for the top position.

To discover how other Twin Cities communities and other throughout Minnesota fared, read here.  To see all of the categories and all of the winners of the National Night Out award, read here.


Nearby Foreclosures Affect Your Home Sale

Yesterday I wrote about how truer home appraisals are being requested by mortgage lenders before they will dispense a loan.  Today I will write about how two major things right now are directly affecting your appraisal value: foreclosures and short sales. 

For a few months, pending home sales in the Twin Cities have gone up and the excessive inventory of unsold homes has been slowly going down.  However, the local real estate market, and markets in the nation at large, still faces some opposition.  Growing unemployment, wilting wage growth, higher down-payment prerequisites, and stringent mortgage qualifications are all contributing to tumbling real estate prices. Furthermore, the increasing number of foreclosures sales and short-sales taking place are hitting home sellers hard in particular. 

An abrupt increase in foreclosures across the nation is being blamed for dives in home prices that have stunned the economy. The foreclosure crisis has moved lenders and the government to launch broad efforts to keep people in their homes, even if it means renegotiating the terms for thousands of loans and in some circumstances, banks taking a loss. Most troublesome, the high foreclosure rate has translated into home sellers cutting their asking prices just to compete with short sales and foreclosure sales.

While it is true that about one-third of all home sales in the metro area during the July-September quarter were "lender-mediated" transactions, not all communities have been hit in the same way, according to data compiled by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.  In Brooklyn Center, for example, 64% of home sales so far this year have been lender-mediated, while in Edina only 8.3% were. Regardless of what city or neighborhood you live in, if there are foreclosures or short sales happening on...

The Trend Towards Truer Appraisals of Home Values

When it comes to pricing your home for the market, many factors are taken into account. One of these will be “comps”: the comparable sales of other properties in your areas.  Used as benchmarks in home real estate appraisals, buyers and sellers never used to be concerned about “comps” when real estate values were on the upswing.

In this soft market, mortgage lenders recently have begun making these benchmarks a big deal. Because of the rapid decline in home values, instead of accepting sales of comparable properties that closed six to 12 months ago like in years past, lenders and mortgage investors now demand that appraisers include only the most recent comparable home sales, preferably using closings from the last 90 days to support their valuations.

Mortgage lenders and investors are also pushing for more comprehensive data on local listings, pending sales and listing-price to selling-price ratios before they agree to fund a mortgage for pretty much any amount.

As a result, more and more home sales are being complicated or stalled entirely as buyers demand that sellers lower their prices to reflect the lower loan amounts their lender was willing to provide.  Prices are even being renegotiated after contracts have been signed.  In some ways it can help the buyer by fetching a lower price, but if the sellers don’t agree to the new terms it can bring an end to talks. When lenders and sellers wouldn’t budge, transactions that had been a sure thing have fallen through.

Some advocates say the tougher standards are producing valuations that are much more accurate to short-term changes in local price shifts.  Opponents, on the other hand, say that the demands have contributed to valuations lower than the price on the sales contract, putting transactions in jeopardy. Additionally, if sales are slow in some places, there may...

A Boon to Twin Cities Arts Groups

We love our arts here in the Twin Cities.  As it turns out, people and organizations outside of the metro do, too!  Eight Twin Cities arts organizations will share $5.3 million in grants from the New York-based Wallace Foundation.  The money is intended to build audiences and spur student participation. In addition, the foundation will give $1.6 million to Arts Midwest and the Minnesota Community Foundation over four years to create a learning network to available to all Twin Cities arts organizations. A grand total of $6.9 million, it is the largest single-year commitment Wallace has made to local arts organizations.

Six groups will receive grants of $750,000 over four years. They are MacPhail Center for Music, Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Ordway Center and the MIA. Northern Clay Center will get $500,000, and Mixed Blood Theatre won $300,000.

In a separate announcement, the Wallace Foundation will bestow a $750,000 grant to Minneapolis public schools to strengthen arts education.

Historically, the Wallace Foundation has provided significant funding for Twin Cities arts groups. The Walker received $2 million in 2006 and $1.25 million in 1994.  The Children's Theatre Company, the Guthrie, the Loft Literary Center and Mixed Blood all have received Wallace money in the past.

Read the full article posted in the Pioneer Press to find out how each arts organization is going to use their gift....

Home Ownership Learning Events for Next Week

Here is a listing of home ownership learning events in the Twin Cities for next week

Buying a Home. Topics include the best time to buy, tax advantages, financing and inspections. 7 p.m. Tuesday. $15. Minneapolis Community Education, Roosevelt High School, 4029 28th Av. S. 612-668-4828.

Home Ownership. Overview of steps to take to buy a home. Attendees will receive a copy of their credit report. 7 p.m. Tuesday. $15. Minneapolis Community Education, Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St. 612-668-3100.

Selling a Home. Tips on selling in today's market. 7 p.m. Nov. 25. $15. Minneapolis Community Education, Roosevelt High School, 4029 28th Av. S. 612-668-4828.

Finding and Buying Your First Home. Topics include choosing a mortgage, first-time home-buyer programs, government loans and negotiating the best price in a buyer's market. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2. $15. Minneapolis Community Education, Jefferson Community School, 1200 W. 26th St. 612-668-2740.

Buying Foreclosed and Short-Sale Properties. Topics include how to find deals in the foreclosure market and negotiating with banks. For first-time buyers or experienced investors. 7 p.m. Dec. 11. $15. Minneapolis Community Education, Jefferson Community School, 1200 W. 26th St. 612-668-2740.

We also offer our own monthly home buying seminars in the Twin Cities area.  If you are interested in attending one of our monthly home buyer seminars, please sign up here.


Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis: October 2008

The number of new listings in Minneapolis once against declined during the month of October compared to last year, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  There were 877 new listings, whereas in October 2007, there were 1,012 new listings.  That adds up to a drop of -13.3%. During October, the University and Downtown communities experienced the greatest decrease in new listings.  Conversely, the Camden, Phillips, and Powderhorn communities saw increases in new listings.  Here is an inventory of October 2008 new listings in Minneapolis by community and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to October 2007 (Previous Barker & Hedges article about September 2008 Minneapolis Real Estate Market Activity.)

Camden 151 (+11.9%)
Downtown Minneapolis 85 (-40.6%)
Longfellow 42 (-28.8%)
Nokomis 121 (-11.0%)
North 98 (-14.0%)
Northeast 73 (-6.4%)
Phillips 24 (+14.3%)
Powderhorn 76 (+16.9%)
Southwest 108 (-7.7%)
University Area 7 (-68.2%)
Uptown-Lakes 96 (-20.0%)

Minneapolis’ posted new listing for the 2008 year-to-date is behind about the same as it was last month.  From January through October of 2008, there were 9,859 new listings, compared to the 11,355 homes put on the market throughout the same time period of 2007, a change of about -13.3%. The greatest decreases in new listings for the year-to-date have happened in the Uptown-Lakes, Downtown, and Nokomis communities.  The North, Phillips, and Powderhorn communities have seen increases in listings over last year.  Here is a depiction of new listings in Minneapolis by community for the 2008 year to date and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to 2007:

Camden 1,414 (-2.8%)
Downtown Minneapolis 1,227 (-25.1%)
Longfellow 548 (-9.1%)
Nokomis 1,094 (-24.9%)...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis: October 2008

New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, fell in the month of October according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  During October, there were 515 new listings in St. Paul.  In October of 2007, there were 603 new listings.  That is a reduction of about -14.6%.  There were too many neighborhoods to list here that experienced declines of 20% to over 45%.  The only neighborhoods which saw significant increases in new listings were the Phalen and Merriam Park neighborhoods of Saint Paul.  (Barker & Hedges blog entry about September 2008 St. Paul Real Estate Market Activity.)

Como 31 (-6.1%)
Crocus Hill 40 (-35.5%)
Downtown Saint Paul 21 (-46.2%)
East Side 132 (+0.8%)
Highland Park 25 (-26.5%)
Mac-Groveland 22 (-47.6%)
Merriam Park 12 (+20.0%)
North End/Frogtown 56 (-29.1%)
Phalen 83 (+23.9%)
Southeast 12 (-42.9%)
St. Anthony/Midway 30 (+7.1%)
West 7th 17 (-29.2%)
West Side/Cherokee 30 (-0.0%)

Saint Paul’s posted new listings of homes for sale from January through October are at 6,062.  That is a decline of -9.4% from last year’s 6,688 for the same time period.  Merriam Park, St. Anthony / Midway, and West 7th neighborhoods continue to experience greatest declines in new listings.  The Phalen and West Side / Cherokee neighborhoods were the only St. Paul neighborhoods that saw any boost in new listings for the year to date through October.

Como 348 (-19.8%)
Crocus Hill 450 (-19.5%)
Downtown Saint Paul 352 (-20.9%)
East Side 1313 (-1.5%)
Highland Park 400 (-10.1%)
Mac-Groveland 335 (-21.9%)
Merriam Park 170 (-22.7%)
North End/Frogtown 732 (-9.1%)
Phalen 890 (+15.3%)
Southeast 217 (-23.0%)
St. Anthony/Midway 320 (-26.1%)
West 7th 175 (-22.9%)...

Extreme Makeover - Furniture Edition

Home staging involves using the home owner's existing furnishings if possible.  However, when dated furniture depreciates the appeal of a house, additional action must be taken.  Below are "quick fixes" to expensive problems to help you with selling a home:
  • Dated/Worn Furniture:  If your furniture has seen better days or is just plain ugly, slip covers offer an inexpensive solution.  Stretchy furniture covers, described by some as "Spanx for your sofa," eliminates the shiftiness of loose fitting overs.  These wonders can transform wing-back chairs, love seats, and full couches to a like-new appearance. (CLICK HERE to watch a "how to" video)
  • Scratched/Knicked Tables:  Scratches in wood furniture pieces can be minimized by using stain pens available in any home improvement store.  You literaly color your problems away!  Table tops and chairs that require more care may be updated with coat of glossy black spray paint.  (CLICK HERE for pen link)
  • Dull Cabinetry:  To fill in worn areas of your cabinetry or wood floor, use Old English Scratch Remover.  Although temporary, this oil will help the wood in the worn areas look rich again.
  • Outdated Headboard:  A dated headboard can make your entire master bedroom dreary.  Simply remove the headboard all together and keep the mattress on the metal frame.  A visual headboard can be created through your pillows and hanging art work over the bed.
Updating your furniture may be an essential part of home staging, but you don't need to spend a fortune to make your room look like a million bucks! KFM Staging & Design is a ...