Category Archives: Buying a Home

Buying a home? You’ll want to spend some time here. We’re sharing everything you want and need to know about buying a home in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs from a local real estate agents perspective.

What Buyers Want in a Home

Covid has changed many things in the real estate market, from how we search and look at homes (hello virtual showings) to what buyers want for their next home. Some of this has been trending since before Covid but this is what we’re seeing buyers look for.

Outdoor Spaces: From relaxing patios, outdoor gardens, a fire pit or a swimming pool, outdoor spaces are important to todays home buyers. The extra space and fresh air allows homeowners to safely entertain while social distancing.

Work or Distance Learning Spaces: Since everyone is working and learning from home, buyers are looking for additional space to work. (Bonus if that area has a door.) Having everyone working from the dining room table doesn’t work when adults or kids need a quiet area to concentrate or take a Zoom call.

Home Gyms: Whether you ride a Peloton or practice yoga having dedicated spot to work out is key. I think we can all agree a dedicated space is way better than working out in your bedroom. If you can somehow get access to a TV even better since a lot of gyms are offering online classes.

Bigger Kitchens: Since everyone is home and restaurants offer limited seating more and more people are cooking at home. And since we’re all at home the kitchen needs to be big enough for everyone to cook together. Think counter space and large kitchen islands with plenty of seating.

What does this mean if you’re a seller. Consider how you could highlight these spaces in your home. Realtors are highlighting them in their listing descriptions. Need help? Just ask. As always staging will be key.

Managing Home Buying Decisions

There are numerous steps and decisions that need to be made to buy a home. From choosing an agent, to securing your financing, to finding the right neighborhood, to finally putting in an offer. These decisions are not always easy, in fact some of these decisions can be very overwhelming especially if you’re forced, in a hot market to make them quickly.

If you’re the type of person who needs a lot of time to process and making quick decisions is not for you don’t panic yet. There are things you can do to get through a hot market this without losing your mind or the house.

  1. Be prepared. Make sure you’re pre-approved and you know exactly what your payment will be. Now is not the time to figure out if you can actually afford the house. That should have been done prior to starting your search.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings for what they are. Not all the feeling will feel good. Most of us are expecting to be excited and some what nervous but many of us aren’t expecting fear and anxiety.
  3. Know that you’re not alone. A study commissioned by homes.com shows that first-time buyers find the process overwhelming; 1 in 3 buyers cried during the process. 2 in 4 experienced anxiety. 44% of buyers felt nervous throughout the process.
  4. Remind yourself of why you started all this in the first place, you want to own a home and you love this one!

When you’ve all moved in and your friends are over toasting you and your new house you won’t remember the fear and anxiety, you’ll look around your beautiful new home and think it was all worth it. In fact I can almost guarantee you’ll encourage your friends to do the same thing!

How to Handle Multiple Offers on a House

I don’t think there is one other situation or scenario facing buyers in a competitive real estate market that’s more frustrating than multiple offers.

It’s tough when you fall in love with something and then realize other people have fallen in love with it as well.

There is also right or wrong answer when it comes to what you should do to make your offer stand out but below are a few things to consider.

Offer over asking

Because in multiple offers it is almost guaranteed that someone has given them their asking price. And depending on the total number of offers someone has more than likely offered even more. Our client just offered $20K over asking and lost.

To buyers who struggle with how much is too much our best advice is to come up with a number that makes you comfortable, a number where you won’t kick yourself for not paying more and if someone offered higher you wouldn’t have wanted to pay that anyway.

Consider your financing and keep it clean

The more money you can put down the stronger your offer will be. Asking the seller to pay closing costs? Consider paying your own way. Get approved with a reputable lender, make sure you have a strong pre-approval letter and consider adding a loan commitment date. This is a date a week or two prior to closing where you agree to have a clear to close on your loan, guaranteeing that you will close on time.

Take a look at your contingencies

I would never recommend waiving your right to get an inspection but know that others may do just that. What I would recommend is shortening the number of days (the timeframe) if you can.

Be flexible on the closing date

Let the seller pick the closing date. This is especially key if they already purchased a home and are trying to line up the purchase dates.

Add a personal letter

Writing a letter to the seller gives you the opportunity to connect at a personal level. Tell them why you want their home, what they like and why they should chose you. Some people feel a strong connection to these letters.

Looking at houses during the Coronavirus Pandemic

There have always been a set of unwritten rules when showing houses. What to do, take off your shoes. What not to do, use the bathroom or jump on the furniture. But looking at houses during the coronavirus pandemic has brought on a whole new additional set of guidelines. To keep yourself and the seller safe please consider the following when looking at houses during a pandemic.

  • Adhere to social distancing recommendations at all times.
  • Avoid shaking hands with anyone.
  • Comply with any requirements of the seller during the showing. In our experience sellers have asked buyers entering a property one or all of the following: to immediately wash their hands or to use hand sanitizer, remove footwear or wear booties, and wear a face mask or covering, and gloves.
  • Instruct buyers and others touring the home to avoid touching any surfaces in the home, such as light switches, cabinet and door handles.
  • Use hand sanitizer after leaving the home and before getting into your car.

Why you need to be pre-approved

There’s no time like the present to get pre-approved to buy a home. After all you have the time and what most people don’t know is that getting pre-approved is the very first step in the home buying process. Most people like to jump straight to the search.

But what you don’t realize is how valuable the pre-approval is to the home buying process. Your pre-approval will tell you how much you can afford and it will give your Zillow searches more focus. Being pre-approved will also give you a competitive advantage when you’re ready to buy.

Today’s low inventory means that you need to be ready to move fast and an offer can not be written without it. In fact most Realtors will not even show you a house unless you are pre-approved.

So if you’re considering buying a home at some point in the next year getting pre-approved is the best thing you can do.

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.