Category Archives: Buying a Home

Is Buying a Duplex a Good Idea?

Interested in real estate investing? Buying a duplex may be a good option for you to consider.

The unique thing and what we like most about investing in a duplex is that it gives you a few additional options as a real estate investor.

You can chose to owner occupy one of the units while collecting rent on the other unit or you could rent out both units. Both should provide some additional cash flow.

If you chose to owner occupy the unit this extra income can help you live cheaper while paying down your existing mortgage. And if you chose to rent out both units you can stockpile the extra income for a future investment while having someone else pay down the mortgage.

Another benefit to purchasing a duplex if you’re a first time home owner is that it may increase your borrowing potential since you can often use the rent as income to qualify.

And live there or not owning a duplex comes with newly added tax benefits as a Landlord.

Want to learn more, we’d love to help.

Home Buying Tips

Yesterday I posted a video to our Instagram page sharing a few home buying tips for first time home buyers. These are things I wish all buyers knew and or would do when searching for a home and it was such a hit I decided to share it here too.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. When we set up a showing we typically schedule them for an hour. We don’t expect you to take the full hour but you most certainly can. I encourage you to sit with the house, walk through it multiple times, open the cabinets, check out that view and pause to consider how you would use this room. It’s all 100% OK to do.
  2. Check out the neighbors house and yard. People always raise an eyebrow when I say this one. But hear me out. You can remodel the kitchen in your house. You can paint over that red wall. But you know you can’t do? You can’t change a single thing about the neighbors house or yard. It’s not yours. So if it drives you nuts to look at if for 15 minutes how do you think you’re going to feel if you have to stare at it day after day?
  3. Check out the neighborhood. Walk up and down the street. Get in your car and drive to work, and if you can do that at the actual time you would be driving to work even better. Visit the local coffee shop, the grocery store and see how you like it. And yes I know none of this has anything to do with the house and we can’t change it but all these things will add or subtract from your over all happiness factor in the long run.

Looking for more home buying tips. Check out a few of our previous posts.

#homebuyingtips #mattengengroup #buyersagent #realestate #homebuyers

5 Things To Do After You Move

Congratulations on your new home! Now that you’ve moved in there are a few things you need to do.

  1. Change the locks! I know they gave you the keys at closing but you really have no idea how many keys are out there. I’m not trying to freak you out here I just want you to feel safe in your new home.
  2. Say hi to your new neighbors. This is not only good manners, it’s good for the community. Good neighbors watch out for each other and that reduces crime and creates safer neighborhoods. A win win for everyone involved.
  3. Change your address and send out moving announcements. Changing your address is going to be the easy part all you need to do is go to USPS.com/move and enter in your new address. They do charge for this service but it’s only a dollar and if you ask me it’s worth every penny. Finding the perfect moving announcement on the other hand may prove to be a bit more challenging, there are just so many options! I’m personally a huge fan of a moving announcement that includes your picture like this one I found on minted.com. The picture helps people connect the dots and it’s a wonderful way to have some fun, get creative, highlight your new home and make some memories.
  4. Purchase a welcome mat and buy a few new houseplants. If you follow us on social media you know I’m a bit of a houseplant nut but I’ll bet you didn’t know that I’m equally as crazy for welcome mats. In fact I have a whole Pinterest boards dedicated to pretty and fun welcome mats. I think they set the tone for your new home.
  5. Celebrate! Buying a new home is a pretty big accomplishment. One you should be proud of. If it were me I would invite all my friend and family over for a little par-tay but you may prefer to celebrate with a good dinner and a glass of Prosecco. Whatever you decide just be sure to toast to your new home.

5 Things to Know Before Buying a New Home

Buying a new home is a big decision. After all it’s one of the largest purchases you will make. So before you jump in with both feet, pause and do your research, it’s important to understand these 5 things before you start.

  1. Know your credit score. Your credit score will be the deciding factor in whether or not you get approved for a loan. Your score will also effect the terms of the loan. The better the score, the better the terms.
  2. Know your expenses. There are a lot of extra expenses that go into buying and owning a home. A few things to think about: How much do you need to put down? How much are closing costs? (Both these costs will fluctuate depending on how much you’re planning to spend.) How much does it cost to have a home inspected? And we’re just getting started. Have you stopped to consider how much it will cost to hire movers?
  3. Know how much you want to spend. Even if you have a large nest egg saved for the down payment and the expenses you will incur when buying a home do you know how much of your paycheck you want to spend on your payment every month? If you have good credit banks may approve you for more than you are willing to spend.
  4. Know (or at least consider) your future. If you’re a likely candidate to get transferred in the next year now may not be the time to buy a house. A rule of thumb is that you will want to stay in your home for at least two years. That should give you enough time to recoup your expenses and sell without taking a loss. There are also tax benefits to staying a minimum of two years.
  5. Know what you want. Do you want a condo, a townhome or a single family home? If you want a condo or a townhome have you thought about the association fees? Do you want a fixer upper? Is a yard important? Do you know anything about the neighborhood? Or where you want to live?

Knowing these 5 things before buying a new home will make the process much smoother and you’ll be happier and more confident in your home buying decision.

Key Features for a Hygge Home

It’s currently -27 degrees in Minneapolis. And I’m not taking wind chill into account. Needless to say when it’s -27 degrees we don’t leave the house much. Not that I’m complaining, I’m kind of a homebody. Nothing makes me happier than a good meal, a bottle of wine and Netflix or a really good book.

Turns out I’ve been practicing the wildly popular way of life often referred to as Hygge for years. Hygge is all about enjoying the comforts of home over a long dark and freezing cold winter. But surviving winter and living the Hygee lifestyle isn’t just about lighting a bunch of candles and cozying up in front of the fire with a good book, although that helps, it’s about creating a inviting and comfortable home that helps you makes the most out of winter.

And while Hygge is more frequently thought of after we purchase our homes and start decorating there are a few key elements you should consider when looking for a home to really live the Hygge life.

Windows. I know what you’re thinking. Why would anyone need more windows to survive the winter? Well it turns out that light is a key element to Hygge and a true Hygge lifestyle doesn’t only happen at night. Natural light is vital to our bodies health. It improves our moods and it helps us sleep. And when you’ve been trapped in the house for 3 days with two teenage boys keeping your spirits up is a key element to keeping everyone in the house alive.

5501 Dupont Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | Matt Engen Group

A large space to gather. Friends are another key element to a Hygge lifestyle. When everything in town has shut down because of the cold you may want to invite a few friends over to share a warm and delicious meal, play cards or watch a movie. Which brings me to my next feature.

5741 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | Matt Engen Group

A movie room. Now we live in Minneapolis so a full blown movie room with stadium seating and a large screen most likely isn’t going to happen for us. But what we do have is a dark and cozy basement with a large TV and surround sound. The perfect place to curl up with lots of blankets, some popcorn, the dog and the kids.

And finally I would highly encourage you to consider a fireplace for your next home. Wood or electric it’s your choice but lighting a fire, pouring a glass of wine and gathering friends and family around for some good conversation feels like the ultimate Hygge experience to me.

Are we in a Balanced Real Estate Market?

Balanced Real Estate Market | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

We’ve experienced quite a few years of a strong sellers market here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area but the tides seem to be shifting back towards a balanced real estate market. We think that’s a good thing. What are we seeing to make us think a shift is coming? Well let me explain. We typically see a bit of a slow down in the fall and winter months but we’re seeing more and more listings than previous years and they’re staying on the market a little longer than a day. Buyers in the entry level price point where multiple offers and homes selling over list price can finally breathe because the listing inventory is rising which translates to more houses to choose from.

On the sellers side we’re seeing more and more price reductions on currently listed homes. This means that the price of homes isn’t growing as quickly as it had been, it’s balancing out, bringing us back to a balanced real estate market.

And finally interest rates are rising, they’re currently around 5% for a 30 year fixed loan and while this may feel high for some of us, this is still historically low. Unemployment is low and the economy is doing well so despite how you may feel when you hear the current interest rate this a normal and healthy practice.

So don’t panic when you hear about the market shifting because a balanced real estate market is not a bad thing, it’s just different from what we’re used to. Now really is a good time to buy and sell a home. We understand that there are pros and cons to every situation but if you’ve been considering making a move now may be a really good time for you to sit down and evaluate your goals and consider making that move sooner rather than later.

 

Moving: Research the neighborhood

You can change the paint color,  you can get a new front door, heck you can even remodel the kitchen but you can’t change the location of your new home or your neighbors. So before you put in an offer please take a closer look at the neighborhood. Here’s what I suggest.

  1. Google your neighborhood. When I google the Kenny neighborhood of Minneapolis the first thing that comes up is the neighborhood website. And it’s filled with all kinds of useful information about the community, upcoming neighborhood events, groups I can join and helpful links. Check to see if the neighborhood has a Facebook or Twitter page.
  2. Take a walk. That’s right. Walk around the neighborhood, what do you see, who do you meet? If you’d walk around my neighborhood you’d see people out walking the dog, running or riding their bikes and kids are often playing in the front yards.
  3. Check out the neighborhood hot spot, coffee shop and schools. You can find this info by checking Foursquare, Yelp, and Google Local for reviews and recommendations.
  4. Get in your car and drive to work. Even better do it at your usual ‘go to’ work time. How long does it take you? Be honest with yourself, you are going to be making this commute multiple times a day, 5 days a week.
  5. Take a close look at your neighbors front and back yard. Do you like what you see. If their lawn ornaments are driving you nuts now just wait.
  6. And finally talk to as many people as you can about the neighborhood. Who do you know that lives there, what do they like, what don’t they like?

House Hunting Etiquette

When house hunting there aren’t a lot of rules you will be asked to follow but there is such a thing as house hunting etiquette. Here are 6 things you can do to make this process enjoyable for everyone involved.

Remove your shoes, even if there isn’t a sign. It’s just the nice thing to do, especially if it’s raining or snowing. A quick tip when house hunting wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off.

If you have to bring the kids make sure they are in your sight at all times. This is not a playground, this is someones home.

Leave your pets at home. As much as we love our pets not everyone does. Some people may even be allergic.

Leave the food and the drink in the car. As much as I love my Starbucks it’s not a good idea to bring it in to someones home. If it spills it will most likely stain.

Please do not sit on the furniture. Would you want someone sitting on your bed? Plus it may be staged, air mattresses and paint cans make lovely beds in a pinch. But they are not very sturdy. Trust me.

And under no circumstances should you use the bathroom. Unless it’s an extreme emergency, after all life sometimes just happens.

And there you have it. Simply following these easy tips will ensure your house hunting experience is a positive experience for everyone, including the sellers.

House Hunting Etiquette | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

#househunting #homebuying #househuntingtips #mattengengroup

Making an offer on a home

Once you’ve selected a home, it’s time to make an offer. We’ll help you draft the purchase agreement to protect your interests in the property. We present the offer along with your pre-approval letter and earnest money check to begin negotiations.

To put a purchase agreement together we’ll need the following information;

  1. Your full legal names. How the names appear on the purchase agreement is how they will appear on title. You can change this later but you will need to make an amendment to the purchase agreement to do that.
  2. How much earnest money will you put down? This is money paid at the time you write the purchase agreement to confirm a contract. This is typically done with a check made payable to the listing broker. Or if you live here in Minneapolis you can use a fairly new electronic system called TrustFunds.
  3. Purchase Price. How much will you be offering.
  4. Close Date. When do you want to take possession of the house and how quickly can all the involved parties, your lender and the title company make that happen. In Minneapolis the close date is typically 45-60 days from the day you write the offer. The close date does need to happen on a Monday-Friday. Title companies are not open on the weekend.
  5. Do you want to get your home inspected? We highly recommend this one but it is your choice and it is included on the purchase agreement so you do need to decide. You also need to figure out how quickly you can get all the right people in to do the inspection. Again in Minneapolis and the surrounding area’s this can usually be done within 7-10 days.

There are a few additional forms that you will need to read and understand that are included with the purchase agreement but this is the information needed to put an offer together.

 

You’ve decided to buy a home!

Congratulations you’ve decided to buy a home! We believe this is a good decision. The key is finding the right home.  And lucky for you we’re here to help you do just that. We’ve lived and worked in Minneapolis and the surrounding area for over 20 years. Developing a strong understanding of the neighborhoods and the local housing market.

But before you get to far along one of the very first steps you need to take after making the decision to buy is to secure financing. You need to know what you can afford before you start looking at homes. Looking at homes outside of your price range is a waste of time if you’re a serious buyer and can lead to severe disappointment.

Once we know how much you can afford to buy we’ll help you pinpoint homes that meet your specific needs. We’ll do that by setting up a MLS search that’s unique to you so you can check out homes online. And we’ll start talking to our network to identify pocket listings or homes that aren’t quite on the market yet. Once you identify a few you’d like to see, it’s time to get out there an actually start looking at homes to buy.