The Appraisal Gap

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Appraisal Gap lately and how buyers have been using it to win in multiple offer situations but what is it and what does it mean?

The appraisal gap comes into play when the home appraises at a lower value than your offer price. When this happens in a normal situation you have options. You can pay the difference in cash between the appraised value and your offer or you can try to renegotiate a lower price with the seller. The first option assumes you have the cash to make this work and keep it together. The second option requires a seller who is willing to negotiate.

If the seller is not willing to negotiate you can request a second appraisal, which does come with an additional cost. The downside to this is that all parties need to agree because it may delay the transaction and the close date. If the parties don’t agree the transaction is cancelled due to the appraisal contingency clause.

If you have included an appraisal gap clause with your offer, you would automatically adjust the sales price and move forward. The appraisal gap clause was popular for sellers because it came with less risk of the deal falling apart and the seller having to go back on the market.

Using the appraisal gap is not always an option for buyers and some just simply don’t like the idea of paying more for the house than what it appraises for. This is why it’s important in a real estate transaction to understand all your options and what they mean for you.

Fall home maintenance

It’s that time of the year once again, fall has arrived and with it we have your fall home maintenance to do list.

While we know home maintenance can be anything but fun but doing these tasks will save you time and money over the long run. A little regular maintenance will protect your investment.

  1. Clear gutters of leaves, sticks and other debris. We have leaf guards on most of our gutters, which I highly recommend, definitely worth the investment (and no this is not an ad) but if you don’t it’s time to get out the ladder and clean your gutters you’ll be surprised how much debris you’ll find.
  2. Drain garden hoses and put them away. Faucets and pipes can freeze and burst in our frigid temps which is a big mess that you will want to avoid.
  3. Get your chimney inspected and cleaned. Fire burning season is almost upon us and we could not be more excited. We love to cozy up around a warm and inviting fire but we also know that chimneys need to be inspected and cleaned for your safety. This is also area that continues to come up on inspections. Take care of your chimney now so you don’t have to pay later.
  4. Have your furnace inspected. You don’t want to wake up when it’s 40 below and find out you don’t have any heat. Get it tuned up now. Most places offer specials this time of the year.
  5. Check your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. I know most people save this for when the clocks fall back or spring ahead but I think it’s essential and should be done more than twice a year to protect you and your loved ones.

10 Things Every Seller Should Do Prior to Selling

In a sellers market is it really necessary to prep your home for sale? The answer is yes. With house prices climbing higher and higher, buyers are bringing every dollar they can to secure the deal. Which is why buyers prefer and battle over well maintained, really clean homes with neutral yet trendy paint colors and beautiful decor… they can move right in!

Here are 10 things you can do to maximize interest, showings and offers on your property for todays buyers.

  1. Deep clean – This is one of the easiest things you can do. Deep clean every thing. And I mean everything. Clean your furniture, wash your windows, vacuum and wipe down every single surface.
  2. Declutter – Get rid of all the extra stuff that distracts from your homes best features. If you don’t want to take it with you now is definitely the time to get rid of it. Trust me when I say that in the end it will make moving easier.
  3. Paint – Painting is one of the quickest things you can do to change the overall look and feel of the home. Paint colors date a home faster than people think. The deep beiges, rustic golds and earthy reds scream 1990 more than you think. It also does wonders to clean up the space. Beat up walls and trim make the house feel neglected and dirty.
  4. Landscape – Curb appeal is super important. If it doesn’t look good on the outside, what’s going to motivate them to go in? Remove dead trees and weeds, cut back anything that’s overgrown, lay fresh mulch and always place a pot of seasonal flowers next to your front door.
  5. Finish those projects and make the necessary repairs – Now is the time to fix that cabinet door that just won’t shut. The faucet thats leaking and replace that broken window pane. Alone they may not feel like a lot but those things add up and make a buyer feel like you didn’t or don’t care for the home.
  6. Add trendy updates – Think stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, plumbing fixtures and new lighting. None of these have to break the bank but these updates go a long way for buyers.
  7. Replace the carpet – Just do it. Most people find old carpet to be gross. Especially if it’s stained and sagging. At the very minimum have it cleaned and stretched.
  8. Check your mechanicals – These are commonly flagged on an inspection and can be expensive for buyers. Have them cleaned and serviced prior to listing.
  9. Rearrange your furniture – People like flow. They like rooms that make sense. They don’t need a chair for everyone. They prefer intimate conversation areas and dining room tables with enough room to walk around. Night stands next to beds and a spot to set their keys or hang their coat when they enter.
  10. Accessorize your home. Add back in the finishing touches. These are the extra special touches that make the house feel like a home. Spruce up your bedding, buy a new rug for the front entry and fresh towels for the bathrooms. Place fresh flowers on the kitchen table and the bathroom vanities. Anything that creates a welcoming and trendy vibe in the space.

Simply put, the better the house looks in pictures the more interest and showings and offers you will receive!

paint colors to sell your home

Picking the right paint color is crucial when selling your home. You want to appeal to the most amount of home buyers without being boring or forgettable. Because being forgettable is almost as bad as being the house with the boldly painted living room. So which colors are going to sell your home? Our favorites are below.

Our favorite neutral paint colors for selling your home:

  1. Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams: This one consistently rates high on the list for most agents and stagers. It’s a true gray, a bit on the cool side but light enough to match any interior.
  2. Classic Gray by Benjamin Moore: A really light, neutral gray, almost white. This one pairs well with a wide range of interior colors and dark wood stains.
  3. Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams: This is one of our all time favorites. It’s a traditional beige with a gray twist and no yellow tinge. Ever. It works well in homes with a lot of brown tones. (It’s also the color used in the picture above.)
  4. Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore: This one is almost considered a classic at this point. A beautiful warm gray with a beige undertones. This one works well in every home.

Historic IMS Lofts

The historic IMS (International Market Square) Lofts are some of the best, most authentic lofts available in Minneapolis. Thoughtfully designed they feature exposed brick, large industrial windows, high ceilings, wood floors and an open floor plan. Depending on which way your unit faces they also offer unbeatable views of the Minneapolis skyline and the Minnesota Twins Stadium. With an added bonus of a private fireworks display when the Minnesota Twins are in season.

290 Market Street, #511, Minneapolis, MN 55405 | Matt Engen Group

The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market and The Walker Art Center are just a few steps away as is the Minnesota Twins Baseball Stadium. Located just outside the popular North Loop area you’re also super close countless breweries and so many popular restaurants.

Be sure to check out 290 Market Street, unit #511 which is currently available for sale.

an organized home

Buying, selling or staying everyone loves an organized home. Here are 5 simple things you can do this weekend to be more organized at home.

  1. Clear the everyday clutter off of your surfaces for good. We all have stuff that ends up on our counters and tables that really isn’t needed. Try to remove those things and leave out only what truly adds beauty or function. (Think small appliances in your kitchen, books or Kleenex’ on your bedside tables.)
  2. Put away the winter gear and make room for summer. Removing seasonal items we don’t need from mudrooms and closets will instantly make those rooms feel more open and give you space to breathe.
  3. Take a peak at your closet. Pick up everything on the floor, refold your sweaters and make sure all your hangers are facing the same direction. While you’re adjusting your hangers, make sure the items you have hanging are clean and hung properly.
  4. Purge your fridge. Check expiration dates and throw that stuff away.
  5. Make your bed. Seriously it’s the easiest thing you can do to make your space feel clean and organized!

spring home maintenance

Spring is in the air! Which means it’s time to clean and spruce up our homes. For many of us our homes are one of our largest investments so taking care of it should be a top priority. A well maintained home will sell quick in any market. Maintaining your home is critical to to keep and even increase its value.

Follow the checklist below to get your home ready for spring in no time!


  • Clean up the yard. Pick up wrappers, sweep the sidewalks, take down the holiday lights and remove all those dead winter greens.
  • Replace your welcome mat.
  • Clean the siding if possible and check for damage to exterior woodwork. Repair and reseal areas as needed.
  • Check the condition and clean your windows. Chalk and replace weather stripping where needed. A tight seal keeps out air and water.
  • Take a look at the chimney, foundation and roof. Call in the experts if you see missing shingles, see cracks in the foundation or missing joints between the bricks on your chimney. All of those can lead to water getting inside your home and no one wants that.
  • Give your AC unit a once over. Change the filter and check hose connections for leaks.  If your AC wasn’t running the best at the end of the year now is the time to call in a professional.


  • Dust the trim, window and door casings and don’t forget to dust the fans in bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Wash or dry clean the curtains and dust the blinds.
  • Wash or replace the shower liner.
  • Vacuum the furniture and mattresses. Consider renting a carpet cleaner or calling in a professional.
  • Remove everything from your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, wipe down the inside and outside of the cabinets with warm soapy water. Now is also an excellent time to remove any unwanted, expired or broken items, consider donating them or throwing them away.
  • Pull out the refrigerator and clean behind it.
  • Get rid of all that old paint and other hazardous items. For locations in the Twin Cities check here.
  • Remove all items from the mudroom and wipe down the surfaces. Store the winter gear away and bring out the summer fun!

set the stage

Let’s talk staging. There are actually two parts to staging your home. The first is when we declutter, make repairs and paint. The second is what we do after to set the stage. It’s the extra special touches that turn your home into a space buyers will love.

Here’s how we set the stage in every room of your home.

Entryway. It’s important to have a stunning entry, it’s the first thing people see. Make sure its well lit and includes a place for them to set down what’s in their hands so they can take off their shoes. Bonus points if you can include a bench or a chair and a beautiful and soft new rug.

Living room: This space should encourage buyers to relax but still offer a big amount of style. You can achieve that with a beautiful rug, lamps, a few coffee table books, a candle, some fresh flowers or a houseplant and a few new pillows in different textures and sizes. This room should feel comfortable not sparse.

Dining room: A stunning new light fixture and a beautiful center piece is all you need in a dining room. There is no need to set the table.

Kitchen: Countertop space reigns supreme in this room so let them shine. Clear the counters off completely and only put back a few decorative items. If your kitchen needs more of a wow factor, consider new hardware, like the light in the dining room it makes a big impact.

Bathroom: Never underestimate the power of brand new fluffy towels and rugs. Add some beautiful new soaps in pretty bottles, a few houseplants or some fresh flowers and you’re done in this room.

Home Office: Not everyone can have a dedicated room for a home office. But it’s more and more important in todays changing workplace to give home buyers a place they can envision doing work. Ask yourself where and how you can fit a desk into a space. Consider a console table with a beautiful lamp, mirror and chair in the living room, at the end of a hallway or that awkward space you never quite knew how to make work.

Bedroom: Bedrooms should feel calm and relaxing and make people want to fall into bed. So it’s your job to make it look inviting. You can achieve this with a fluffy comforter and new pillows. Make sure you have plenty of pillows in the right size to really fill the bed and make it feel luxurious. Add two beautiful lamps to the bedside tables and you’re done.

record low inventory

Our local real estate market is expected to continue to do very well in 2021. Prices are up over last year. According to the 2020 report released by the Minneapolis Area Realtors the median sales price rose by 8.9%. A record high. Days on market are down. Mortgage rates are at historic lows and buyer activity is strong. The only thing missing is inventory, it’s at an all time low. What does this mean for you as a home buyer and a home seller?

If you are a Home Buyer:

  • Be realistic and clear guidelines for what you want.
  • Be patient, it may take several tries to secure the home of your dreams.
  • Be ready, when you finally find the house you will need to make some quick decisions. Discuss how far you are willing to go with your partner and your real estate agent. Make sure you understand what that all means.

If you are a Home Seller:

  • Discuss whether or not you need to wait for the Spring market. Buyer demand is at an all time high. Now really is the perfect time to sell.
  • Be ready manage showing activity and your personal COVID 19 safety concerns. Discuss these with your agent prior to going on the market.
  • Understand that you are in the drivers seat but be reasonable. The shoe may soon be on the other foot.

the kenny neighborhood

The Kenny neighborhood is one of 9 different neighborhoods that make up Southwest Minneapolis. It’s also where we live and have for the last 20 years.

It’s a quiet neighborhood and a close knit community. Admittedly there’s not much to do in Kenny if you don’t live here but we’re in very close proximity to so many wonderful coffee shops and restaurants. Not to mention Kowalski’s Markets and South Lyndale Liquors. And we can’t forget Grass Lake. It’s a sweet little spot to get some exercise or simply enjoy nature. I used to spend hours here with the kids when they were little.

Located on the southern edge of Minneapolis. The Kenny neighborhood boundaries are 54th Street on the north, on the south Highway 62, Logan Avenue on the west, and on the east Lyndale Avenue.

The houses here are predominately one and a half story homes built from the 1930s to the 1960s with a boom between the 1950s and the 1960s. You see quite a bit of newer construction homes here as well. Mostly because people love the neighborhood but need more space.

Here are a couple examples of the different types of houses found in the Kenny neighborhood. The first one is ours so I had to share. But it’s a two story and not as abundant in Kenny as the other house styles.

A blue two story colonial home located in the Kenny Neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis.
Our sweet home in the Kenny neighborhood built in 1938.
A white one and a half story home located in the Kenny Neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis.
This one and a half story style home is typical for the Kenny neighborhood built in the 1950’s.
A charming Tudor style home located in the Kenny Neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis.
The Kenny neighborhood is also home to quite a few Tudor style one and a half story homes.
A beautiful new construction home located in the Kenny Neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis.
And more recently more and more new construction homes like this one built by Alma Homes.