Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Ten Reasons to Buy a New Home

One of the first decisions you make when you begin to look a buying a home is whether to buy new or purchase an existing house. While there are some advantages to purchasing a resale home, here we will discuss many benefits of buying a new home.

1. New Home Pricing. Though the price of a new home may be higher than the price of an existing one, a new home is likely to need fewer repairs or replacements. Also, if you buy a new home in a desirable neighborhood or location, the value may increase even more and you will likely sell your home for a higher price than when you bought it if you decide to move.

2. A Well Planned Neighborhood. Builders incorporate desirable amenities such as recreation areas, neighborhood clubhouses, swimming pools, playgrounds, sidewalks, and paved trails into new communities. Do you seek to live among older residents, families with young children, or in an area that encourages an active lifestyle? New home buyers get to choose what type of community they want to live in as well as their home site or unit. Choose a home at the end of a cul-de-sac if you desire to live around minimal traffic. Perhaps a home situated near a park is what you seek? The location is your choice.

3. Modern Design. New and better ways of constructing homes are being developed every day. Likewise, consumer trends change and builders respond by drafting floorplans to accommodate modern client needs, like oversized family rooms, larger closets, built-in media niches, and large, up-to-date kitchens.

4. Warranties. A new home comes with a builder’s limited warranty, which is something an older home cannot provide. A warranty typically covers new appliances, carpets, mechanical equipment, and overall construction, such as roofing and siding. As with all warranties, they don’t last forever but they can cover various items for one to ten years!

5. Energy...

Ten Reasons to Buy an Existing Home

Buying a home is an emotional decision for most people. Whether to buy new or used has been a topic of discussion for years. While there are some advantages to purchasing a new home, here we will discuss many benefits of buying a resale home.

1. Existing features. Finished basements, water irrigation systems, fences. When you buy an existing home, you buy the extra improvements that have been made to the land and structures.

2. Land. New homes tend to be built on smaller lots. In some cases, home or garages can be too close for comfort to someone who likes their privacy. When you seek to purchase an older property, you can often find a home with a larger yard or even acreage.

3. Established neighborhoods. From their tall, mature, tree-line communities to the residents that have been living there for years, resale homes in established area have the benefit of long-term stability going for them. You can meet your neighbors before you move in. New subdivisions are generally on the outskirts and all of the residents are new or may not have moved in yet.

4. Mature Landscaping. When you purchase a resale home, upkeep on the land is less strenuous. Installing landscaping elements yourself can be costly. Established lawns and existing landscaping require less money and maintenance than new plantings.

5. Cost savings. Existing homes are usually less expensive per square foot, in part because of escalating land costs in new subdivisions. The modern building materials that new homes are constructed with also cost more. In addition, the price of labor associated with building a home has gone up considerably in recent years.

6. History. When you purchase an existing home, there is a record how much the property has appreciated over the years.

7. Character. Though new homes are customizable in many ways, they still tend to be built in...

Bowing or Buckling Foundation Walls

Over the years we have helped hundreds of buyers into homes and Bryan Stuckey with Inspecta Homes has been our inspector of choice.  He recently did an inspection for a buyer of ours and in the process found one of the foundation walls to be slightly bowed.   As any good inspector would do for their client, he recommended bringing in a foundation expert to take a second look and give an opinion.  This situation is more common than you would think...the problem for our real estate team has been finding a company that can give an opinion at a reasonable cost.  Complete Basement Systems  has done numerous inspections of foundation walls for us and provides FREE estimates.  We typically use Jon Ahern if at all possible.  He is a true professional and gives great advice to our clients.  They also deal with basements with water issues as well so look them up if you are having basement issues!...

Home Staging - A Proactive Approach

There is a collective sigh of frustration from home sellers as they read about the latest Twin Cities real estate report. But there is a proactive response that homeowners can take to improve their chances in today's market. Unless a house is categorized as a "fixer-upper" or is reduced in price for its "as-is" condition, sellers need to take advantage of the tools that are available to them and put them into practice. In the world of real estate, the seller has control over two things:
  1. The price of the house
  2. The condition (appearance) of the home

PRICING YOUR HOUSE: Listen to your Realtor. They are the experts when it comes to the worth of your house. The average price of a home has fallen in the last couple of years, and what your house was worth in 2005 may be lower than what it is today. Barker & Hedges competitively price their listings to receive maximum interest from buyers.

STAGING YOUR HOME: Make the investment in both time and money to prepare your house before it is listed. Finish the uncompleted projects, update any necessary light fixtures, freshen up the walls with a new coat of paint, and start packing your unneeded home furnishings. The more effort you put into preparing your house, the greater your chances of receiving reasonable offers.

If you don't know where to start, KFM Staging & Design can point you in the right direction.  The "wait-and-see" approach to selling a house no longer applies in today's market. If homeowners are serious about moving, they must price their house correctly make every effort to present their home in the best possible way.

KFM Staging & Design is a Minnesota home staging company that has been creating “First Impressions...

Home Staging - Color Theory

When preparing your house for the real estate market, painting is an inexpensive way to make a huge improvement in your home. However, you must choose your colors wisely, because the color of a home's interior sets the atmosphere of a house.  Whether you are preparing your house for sale or just wanting a new look for your home, adding the right color could dramatically change they way your feel about your surroundings. Colors, like music, invoke an emotional reaction in people. Typically these reactions are:
  • Reds (warm) --> passion and excitement. Reds are an excellent choice that adds elegance and sophistication to any room in your house.
  • Blues (cool) --> calm and peace. Using blues in your room will promote feelings of nature (sky and water) which sets a relaxing tone.
  • Yellow (warm) --> joy and light (sun). Yellows add a cheerful atmosphere into the room and is typically found in kitchens.
  • Green (cool) --> restful and nature. Greens combine the calming effect of blue with the joyfulness of yellow; the result is a fresh feeling of natural elements.
  • Orange (warm) --> cozy and abundance. Using orange colors instill feelings of pleasant, autumnal warmth that should not be reserved soley for fall.
  • Purple (cool) --> wisdom and creativity. Traditionally a royal color, purples add a formal color palate with a creative edge.
  • Neutrals --> Neutral colors include all shades of whites, creams, browns, and blacks. When staging your house, select soft, light colored neutrals for your walls and bring color elements into your room through your home furnishings.
Before you choose a color for your walls or home accents, consider the "feeling" that you want your room to display. A beautiful room is just a few paint strokes away!

KFM Staging & Design is a Minnesota ...

It May Be Time To Make Your Move

Two years of turbulence in the real estate market and recent actions by the Federal Housing Authority has created a nearly ideal climate for house hunters in search of a bargain or their first home.

Twin Cities real estate prices posted a decline of 12.5 percent in February — the steepest drop since the area's prices first started falling in late 2006. The metro's median sale price is now $195,060, the lowest it has been since May 2003.

Also, according to Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®, the number of homes for sale in the Twin Cities area continues to post record levels. At the end of February, there were about 8.72 homes to each expected buyer for the month of March.

With banks, Realtors, and home sellers facing this challenging environment, concessions are being made and prices are being lowered.

There is more! With the troubles that the subprime mortgage industry has been experiencing, available credit has been tightening, even as interest rates are falling. The Federal Housing Administration’s temporary changes to the limits on the loans it guarantees has re-opened doors for home buyers which had been closing. The availability of secure financing is expected to have a positive effect on the real estate market.

This is almost as good as it gets for a buyer’s market. In fact, this is the best buyer’s market that the Twin Cities area has seen in about ten years. And prospective home buyers are beginning to take notice. Those who know where to look are making some serious deals.

But what if you already have a home and the idea of being a landlord isn’t exactly your cup of tea? Well, if you have ever wanted a bigger house, now is a good time to look. You’ll likely get a modest price for your current home, but a larger home could be within your price range now than when you were house hunting. Also,...

Curb Appeal: Tips for Winter

As we mentioned before, curb appeal is an important element when it comes to selling a home. Many buyers won’t take a tour of the inside of a home if it doesn’t look great from the outside. Though this time of year yards are full of dirty snow and brown patches, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the curb appeal of your home by sprucing up a bit.

To ensure even thawing of the ground and to prevent diseases like mold and fungus, remove snow piles or spread the snow evenly across the yard.

When the air is still cold and before trees have budded is the perfect time to prune if you didn’t during the fall.

As the snow disappears, clean any debris that may have accumulated over the winter months, such as items lost in between snow falls, litter, dead leaves, acorns, pinecones, etc. Don’t forget to clear the gutters of rubbish as well.

When the snow retreats, aerate and weed your lawn to improve water, air and fertilizer uptake. When pulling weeds, make sure the roots come out, too!

Bare spots become even more obvious in winter, so do your best to disguise them until they can be patched. Lay down mulch or landscaping rocks around shrubs and in flower beds.

Consider outdoor decorations such as tasteful statues, bird baths, or benches. A chimenea or other portable outdoor fire pit can add ambience and warmth to a patio or deck.

Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes and can be very pleasing additions to the front or back yard. Bird houses are also an attractive addition.

Finally, the first chance that you get, be sure pressure wash the outside of your home if you have siding. Because of the wet and icy conditions, dirt and grime can accumulate on your home during the winter, making it look dingy....

Home Staging - Five Layers to Staging

Home staging is the art of preparing your house for sale through color choices, furniture arrangement, and home accent placement. For some, the staging process can be overwhelming. By breaking staging concepts into layers, we can see how the individual steps help to create elegant rooms that buyers love.   

If you are confused about staging your room, start with a clean palate in an empty room.

LAYER ONE: Wall Color - Select the proper wall color. The color you choose for the home's interior sets the atmosphere of the house. Soft neutrals help to set a relaxing tone, while colors promote different emotional responses. When selling, it is best to keep the walls neutral and add color through home accents and artwork.

LAYER TWO: Large Furniture and Rug Placement - After you painted with your new color, set your area rugs into place. Rugs define a space while adding an additional color element. Next, large furniture pieces should be moved into place. Proper furniture placement determines the focal points, the traffic patterns, and the visual size of your room. Be sure to allow for easy walkways around the sofas, tables, and beds.

LAYER THREE: Window Treatments Placement - The next step it to dress the windows. Window treatments determines the style of the room (formal, casual, or something in between). Treatments also softens the hard lines of the windows and finishes off the space.

LAYER FOUR: Small Furniture and Lighting Placement - Add the remaining furniture items into the room. Small furniture pieces such as coffee, sofa, and end tables should be used fill in empty spaces in the room. If the space allows, use an accent chair for additional seating. Lamps may be displayed on the tables for a decorative element and additional lighting in dark corners of the room.

LAYER FIVE: Home Accent Placement - Finally, home accents are used to...

Home Staging Side Effects

Home staging is the hottest trend in real estate, because it works! But seller-be-ware, there are side effects to using staging techniques in your home. Watch for these warning signs:


  • Positive Buyer Feedback --> Staged homes feel well-maintained, clutter free and stylish. When using proper staging techniques, buyers can see the highlighted features of the house.
  • Higher Asking Price --> Staged homes command top dollar offers. Buyers are willing to pay more for houses that portray the lifestyle they are looking for.
  • Faster Sales Time --> Staged homes average 1/3 less time on the market than non-staged houses. The house pictured in the photo below was sold three days after it was staged! (March, 2008)
  • Professional Images for Marketing Materials --> Staged homes have a professional appearance in photos. Most buyers will look online at photos first. Houses that are presented well in photo generally receive more interest.
The benefits of staging your home usually out-weight the risks and the costs involved. If you are serious about selling your house, consider staging; you will soon experience your own home staging side-effects!

KFM Staging & Design is a Minnesota home staging company that has been creating “First Impressions That Sell” for homeowners and Realtors across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. KFM specializes in home staging consultations and vacant stagings. For more information on home staging visit our website:


Steps Towards Purchasing Your First Home

It is easy to become overwhelmed these days when it comes to buying a first home. There are ways to prepare yourself ahead of time, though. The information below can help smooth your journey towards home ownership.

1. Review your credit. Mortgage lenders will be closely evaluating your credit and finances. Make sure that you know what is on your credit report first. Start by requesting a copy of your credit report from the big three credit agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. When you receive your report, review it carefully for mistakes. If you find an error, take corrective action by following the instructions the credit agency provides. The sooner the process starts, the better, as the investigation will take time.

2. Take steps to raise your credit score. First and foremost, this means paying every bill on time every month. After that, it means paying down as much of the debt you already have. Not only will this raise your credit score, but it could free up some cash later when you’re finally making monthly mortgage payments.

3. Learn about mortgages. Each type of mortgage has its pros and cons. Finding the one that is right for you will depend on your personal situation. Factors that will affect this are how much you have for a down payment, how long you plan to own the home, what is your tolerance to monthly fluctuations, etc. Be thorough in your research, as having the wrong mortgage can be as bad as choosing the wrong home.

4. Make a wish list. Write down all the things you want from a home. Include the size, features, location, etc. Categorize each item on the list as a "need" or a "want." Having a list ahead of time will help you save time, narrow your search, and help you stay focused.

5. Find a real estate agent. Even though there is a lot of information on purchasing a home available, having a professional Realtor...