Category Archives: Home

What to do when you’re stuck at home

Here’s a short list of projects you can do around your home. None of which have anything to do with organizing. If you want to do a little of that you can see our previous post on Clearing out the Clutter. All of these are projects we ask our clients to do when getting their homes ready for the market.

Wash all your outlets and your light switches. Seriously these start to look really dirty and grimey after awhile. If you have any cracked or mismatched outlets it’s time to replace them. You can order these online at Home Depot or Lowes and they don’t cost a lot.

Clean the grout in your bathtub and shower. This is not a fun one but it just has to be done. To clean bathroom grout, I recommend using a baking soda and water paste and apply it to the grout and then giving it a good scrub. If your caulk is moldy you may need to take a few additional steps. Start soaking cotton balls in bleach and setting them on top of the caulk. Let it sit there over night if possible. The next day remove the cotton balls and wipe down. If this doesn’t work to remove the stains, it’s time to re-caulk.

If you have white trim and doors it’s time to touch them up. Our trim and doors take a beating and the white shows dirt and grime over time. And trust me when I tell you that when they look rough everything in the room looks rough. I like to keep a can of trim paint on hand and for periodic touch ups. I find it’s easier that way.

Paint the laundry room floor. Another task that’s not for everyone but if you have a concrete floor in your basement laundry room you will be amazed at how good and clean your laundry room will look once it’s painted.

Deep clean your appliances inside and out. There is nothing that will turn a buyer off faster than dirty appliances. Well maybe a dirty bathroom but let’s focus here. For step by step instructions on how to clean stainless steel appliances click here.

Clearing out the Clutter

If you feel like COVID19 has taken over your life and being stuck at home is the worst thing possible I have some good news and something you can do while stuck at home. Declutter your space! If you were hoping for a better option just hear me out. Now is a great time to clean out the clutter because you have the time and organizing your space will help you regain a sense of control and reduce stress.

Wondering where to start, here are 4 area’s of your home you could clean and declutter in less than a day.

Organize your closets: This is my favorite activity. Seriously just ask Matt, getting rid of stuff makes me happy, I somehow feel lighter without exercising or dieting. To get started all you need to do is pick a closet, grab a box, bin or a few garbage bags and start removing the items you no longer use, want or like. If it’s in good condition put it in a bag to give away. If it’s seen better days now is the time to throw it away. And if just doesn’t belong here take it to it’s rightful home.

Clean your storage spaces: Warning, tackling this space will require much more time that organizing the closets. Mostly because these spaces tend to be bigger and everything is in a box. And to organize and declutter correctly you will need to open and go trough each box, following the same guidelines as above if you no longer use, want or like the item it will need to be removed and either donated or thrown away.

Organize and clean your kitchen cabinets: Again I like to take this project one cabinet at a time. My greatest piece of advice is to avoid the temptation to empty all the cabinets at once. That can quickly get overwhelming and lead to chaos, something no one needs at the moment. Simply remove everything from the cabinet, wipe it down with soap and water. Put only the items that you use, want and work back in the cabinets. Move on to the next cabinet.

Declutter your bathroom vanity: This is a super quick and simple project because if you’re like me the majority of the products that land down here can simply be thrown away.

Want to turn this into a family activity? Have everyone pick a closet and turn it in to a contest, who ever has the cleanest and most organized closet wins a prize.

My Favorite Home Accounts

For pretty houses in the Twin Cities

By now I’m sure you all know I have a thing for pretty houses, especially the ones in Twin Cities. Part of me is madly in love with the house and the other part of me wants to show everyone just how pretty the Twin Cities can be in every season.

I also enjoy social media, for me connecting with others and meeting new people is fun. Instagram though is quickly becoming my favorite for finding all the prettiest local houses. So I figured it was time for me to share my favorite accounts, ones I think you would enjoy following too, so I rounded them up here.

@domesticconjecture – She finds and photographs the most interesting houses and then she writes a fictional story about what is happening in the house. The stories are equally as beautiful as the houses.

@historicminnesota – A fellow Realtor she focuses mainly on exterior shots in towns across Minnesota. She’s featured a few housese from New Ulm and St Peter, towns I remember from when I was younger as well as Stillwater, a local favorite for pretty houses.

@summit_avenue – The bio reads America’s longest stretch of beautifully preserved Victorian era homes. But it’s so much more than that, you really have to experience this feed to appreciate the beauty of these homes. Full of different angles, landscaping and vibrant colors it brings me so much joy.

@rabenson76 – This is a new to me account but I’ve been enjoying the history lesson he shares with each exterior shot.

Now go show these accounts some love and if I’m missing an account please feel free to share.

Love the Home You’re In!

As Realtors we believe in home ownership, we also believe that you should love the home you’re in and if not well you really should consider moving. Not because we’re in the business of helping people buy and sell real estate but because we really do believe that being happy at home is important. It doesn’t matter where you live or how big your house is what matters is how your home makes you feel. 

For some people a home provides security, belonging, privacy. For others it’s where they gather with friends and family it’s a place to start and end their day. 

We live in a 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom colonial home in the Kenny neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis and living here brings us much joy. We find joy in entertaining our family and friends, we love watching movies in the family room, playing games in front of the fire, playing ping pong in the basement, relaxing outside, (in the summer only) and I personally find much joy in laying my head on my pillow every single night. 

Love the Home You're In | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group
This is a picture of our home covered in snow.

Nevertheless we don’t see ourselves living here forever. At some point our boys will graduate from high school, move out (fingers crossed) and this will simply be more house than we want. We talk a lot about downsizing to something much smaller, an updated rambler with an open floor plan and a pool in the back yard sounds pretty fantastic, don’t you think? 

But that’s for some day, for now we’re going to love the home we’re in. It really is perfect for our family, it fits our needs and makes us happy and that’s what it’s all about.

Your Fall To Do List

  1. Rake and bag the leaves.
  2. Clean the gutters.
  3. Prune/trim/care for your plants and trees.
  4. Store hoses, turn off the water. If you have a sprinkler system blow out the lines.
  5. Empty and store your outdoor containers.
  6. Put away your outdoor furniture.
  7. Get your furnace serviced so it’s ready to go.
  8. Get your chimney cleaned, fire season will be here before we know it.
  9. Stock up on wood for the fire.
  10. Check the batteries in your fire alarm and CO detectors.

#fallcleanup #todolist #fall #home #mattengengroup

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.

The Best Places to Shop for Houseplants

I love incorporating houseplants into my homes decor. (We also like to recommend them when staging a home.) I don’t think there’s an easier or more budget friendly way to add warmth, texture and a nice pop of color and personality to any space.

The best places to shop for houseplants | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

Looking to add a few houseplants to your home? You can buy them from so many places including your local grocery store but I highly suggest forgoing that option and heading to one of my favorite local garden centers.  

  1. Tangletown Gardens: This has been my long time favorite place to go to shop for houseplants and outdoor plants. (This is not a new obsession for me.) I like to tell people that shopping at Tangletown Gardens is an experience. Nestled in Southwest Minneapolis this place is like a little fairy garden for adults. They have a great and unique selection of houseplants and beautiful pots to put them in.
  2. Tonkadale Greenhouse: I recently found this place (I found it in August to be exact) And I think I’ve been there 4 or 5 times now and I always bring a new friend. This place has the largest selection of cacti, fiddle leaf figs and snake plants in the area. I had no idea there were so many different types. The home decor is fantastic and the place smells so good. Visiting this place in the middle of winter is like a mini tropical vacation.
  3. Wagners Garden Center: I go to the Wagners on Penn Avenue in Minneapolis and if you haven’t been in recent years I encourage you to give it another try. The plant selection, pots and decor selections have changed dramatically over the last year. I was told the daughter took over but I’m not sure if that’s true. Either way the selection is definitely more on trend. I’ve gotten quite a few spider plants there, another plant I adore and can’t easily find. But my favorite time of the year to visit Wagners is at Christmas time they fill the whole green house with Poinsettia’s and it’s gorgeous.
  4. Bachman’s: Bachman’s was the very first place to take the mystery out of houseplants for me. They categorize them there; Plants of Steel (This is how I fell in love with the ZZ plant), Low light, Medium light and High light. Which makes the houseplant selection process super easy. I send a lot of my friends with black thumbs to their Plants of Steel section with much success. Bachman’s also holds a special place in my heart because I spent a lot of time at the Lyndale location when my boys where little. They loved the indoor Koi pond. It’s also where I introduced them to the Venus flytrap. That plant provided hours and hours at our house.

Making Room to Entertain at Home

We live in a 3 bed, 4 bath home in Minneapolis. We have a main floor family room, an updated kitchen, plenty of bathrooms and a finished basement. So in reality we should have more than enough room to entertain at home. And don’t get me wrong we do unless we’re hosting a sit down around the table event like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Despite all the rest of the space in our house our dining room just isn’t big enough to host the types of dinner parties I would love to have.

I picture our entire family gathered around the table as Matt carves the turkey and I sip my wine enjoying a well cooked meal. You know just like they do in the movies. But in reality we’re not great cooks and our dining room just isn’t big enough to accommodate 16 people gathered around a table. But I’m not the type of person to just give up and let everyone just sit willy nilly where ever they want like Matt suggests so this Thanksgiving I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I realized that we have a really large living room. It’s definitely long enough and wide enough for my large table. And the wheels started to turn. I could flip flop the rooms. So I quickly made up my mind and that afternoon while Matt and the boys were out of the house, I moved the dining room table to the living room and my living room furniture to my dining room. And it was fantastic.

I know what you’re thinking and yes it was a little bit of work. But it was worth it. I had achieved my goal, we finally had enough space for everyone to gather around the table.  And as I sat there sipping my wine and enjoying the moment I was pretty proud of myself. It was exactly how I pictured it, minus Matt carving the turkey. The only downside to this whole experiment is that one forgets how warm it is to sit in front of the fire.

 

Making Room to Entertain at Home | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

The first step in the great Thanksgiving flip-a-roo was to empty the rooms. This was a little tricker than I thought. You need to move things multiple times to make space.

Making Room to Entertain at Home | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

This is a picture of the empty dining room, before I laid out the rug. An added bonus to switching out the rooms, my house got a really deep cleaning.

Making Room to Entertain at Home | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

Here’s a picture of my living room which is now my dining room. I could hardly contain my excitement. It still makes me really happy to look at this picture. It turned out better than expected.

Making Room to Entertain at Home | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

And finally here’s a picture of my dining room which was my living room. An added bonus to having the living room so close to the kitchen is that now everyone could hang in one space without bothering the cook.

 

#entertainingathome #thanksgiving #dinnerparties #atmine #myhomethismonth #mattengengroup

5 Housewarming Gifts

I feel like we’re always searching for the perfect housewarming gift. One that’s unique, says to the new home owners, hey I actually gave this some thought and one they’ll actually use. It’s hard. Am I right? So I decided to round up my favorite 5 housewarming gifts and share them with you here. These gifts are unique but still practical and sure to get used.

  1. A welcome mat. With so many options to choose from I’m positive you’ll be able to find the perfect one for the new home owners. If you need a little inspiration I have a board dedicated to welcome mats on our Pinterest page. They can be personalized, funny, traditional or all of the above.
  2. A bottle of wine and gift certificate for your favorite local pizza delivery. Because let’s face it when you’re busy moving boxes or cleaning up after a rocking party who wants to think about cooking? And taking the time to introduce them to everyones favorite local pizza delivery is an invaluable service. One they will appreciate for years to come.
  3. Your favorite home design book. My current favorite is Homebody: A Guide To Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave, Joanna Gaines.  You can also get this one at Target. Which makes it super easy to cross off your to do list.
  4. A marble or wood cutting board. This gift is as pretty as it is practical. And beautiful cutting boards are enjoying a moment right now. I dare you to find a kitchen on Instagram without one.
  5. A framed map of their city or local icon. I love giving these as gifts, people love them. They’re a perfect addition to a gallery wall. We have a map of Minneapolis as well as a print of Lake Harriet and the Foshay Tower as part of our gallery wall. I found ours here on Etsy.

And there you have it our favorite housewarming gifts of the moment. If you’re reading this and have a great housewarming gift idea we’d love to hear from you.

5 Unique Housewarming Gifts | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

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.