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.

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.

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.

Preparing your Home for Pictures

Over 90% of prospective home owners start their home search online. 90%. That’s a lot of people making decisions about your home based on the listing pictures they see online.

You get one chance for your homes listing pictures to make a great first impression. If the buyers like what they see they’ll set up a showing if they don’t they move on to the next one.  So how do you make your homes listing pictures shine online? A good photographer is a key element but it’s also important for you to consider how things will look in pictures. What we see in real life can often be distracting in a picture.

Still not sure what to do? Follow these tips below.

  1. Don’t do this on your own. Even if you’re a professional like I am. We all get too attached to our homes and we don’t see them the way others will see them. That bright pink flower in the office, I don’t even see it anymore, except when I got the pictures back, it was all I could see.
  2. Block out a significant amount of time to do this. Because it’s going to take longer than you think. You’re not only removing items, you’re cleaning. Every surface needs to be wiped down and the floors need to be cleaned because you can see dirt in the pictures. Trust me on this one if you can see the dust on the floor and the smears on the window the camera will too.
  3. Remove everything from your kitchen counters and then remove one more thing. Yes that includes the coffee maker. And then add in 1 or 2 pretty things so it’s not completely empty. Do this in the bathroom too.
  4. Make your bed really well, a messy, rumpled bed does not look good. Once the bed is made add a few decorative pillows. Skip the draped throw at the end of the bed, if it’s not done right it looks odd.
  5. Remove all the tchotchkes from the window sills and that pile of books next to the couch. Despite what we’re led to believe on Instagram those things don’t translate well in pictures.
  6. Remove all items hanging from the ceiling.
  7. Make sure all the window treatments are open. Nothing looks worse in a picture than heavy drapes covering a window.
  8. Remove the rugs from your kitchen. Rugs tend to stop the eye and break up the space. Removing them will make the space appear larger.
  9. Make sure the art work is centered and not hung too high.
  10. Paint your rooms a neutral color. Listen I love color, and I’m not afraid to use it. But if I was really going to sell my home I would paint my bright orangey/red family room a neutral color. Because I’m not even sure I like the color when I see it in pics. It was distracting and it doesn’t match the rest of my home.

 

My most recommended staging tips

We stage a lot of homes. And before we get too far please note I am not a professional stager, although I am certified, staging is not our business. We don’t bring in the furniture and the pretty decor to stage your home, we work with people who do that. Instead we work with the home owner and use their belongings to stage the home and get it ready for sale.

Here are my most frequently recommended staging tips.

  1. Remove the rugs in the kitchen and in the bathroom. They distract the eye and they break up the space. This makes the space feel smaller than it is. Removing them makes the space appear larger.
  2. Clear your countertops of everything useful. And yes that includes the coffee pot. I know it’s a pain but we’re selling countertops in the kitchen. A clear countertop will look clean and larger than it is. It says to the buyer there’s plenty of room to make all the cookies and prep for dinner.
  3. Remove all the decor above your cabinets. It takes the eye up exactly where we don’t want it to go.
  4. Buy clean new fluffy towels, a candle and some fresh flowers for the bathroom. They give the bathroom a spa like feeling and they don’t cost a lot.
  5. Put a bouquet of fresh flowers on the dining room table. If you don’t like fresh flowers a houseplant will do. And at the moment they may be a better, trendier option. Just be sure to buy a hardy houseplant if you have a black thumb.
  6. Open all the window treatments and let the light in. And while you’re at it replace all those awful fluorescent lightbulbs. Yes I know they save energy and last longer but they give off a horrible light.
  7. Paint. I recommend Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter or Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige over and over again. Because they’re neutral and paint is one of the easiest things you can do to freshen, update and modernize the look of your home.

#staging #sellingtips #home #listingagent #mattengengroup

Five Simple Home Staging Rules

Not everyone needs a professional stager but every home needs to be staged. Staging your home for sale is simply highlighting your homes best features by removing all the unnecessary distractions. This helps potential new buyers focus on the features of your home instead of getting distracted by your ‘stuff’ and that to do list they started putting together the minute they walked through the front door. Not sure where to start. It’s easy, just follow these five simple home staging rules in every room of your home.

  1. De-personalize your home. A few personal pictures in your bedroom or your kids bedrooms are fine but a whole gallery wall dedicated to your littles in the living room or your wedding picture hanging over the fireplace are too much for potential buyers. Personal pictures distract the buyers from everything but that picture. Do you really want the buyers to admire and remember your wedding picture or would you prefer that they remember the fireplace?
  2. Declutter your home. Simply put we all have too much stuff. Less is more when it comes to selling. Less stuff makes spaces feel larger and that’s exactly what you want. If the buyer feels like your stuff doesn’t fit how will there stuff ever fit? Pay particular attention to closets and storage spaces when decluttering.
  3. Clean. Now that all that extra stuff is out of the way it’s time to give your home a really deep clean. I mean it, wash down every wall, every cabinet and pay particular attention the kitchen and bathrooms. Dirt, grime and strange smells have turned off plenty of buyers.
  4. Make all the required repairs. Every single one. Now that your house is clean and the clutter is gone the things that need to be done will be noticeable. That piece of missing tile in the entry you covered with a basket. The chipped paint in the living room, the broken window pane in the bathroom. I could go on but I think you get the point. Deferred maintenance says to the buyer that the home was not well taken care of and well that’s just not true, right?
  5. Neutralize and modernize. The days of everyone wanting a fixer upper are gone. The majority of the buyers don’t have the time or the money, they want to move right in.  If needed replace the avocado green appliances, paint that red dining room a neutral color and replace that shag carpeting in the basement.

Welcoming the New Year!

Today is January 2nd and we’re sitting at our desks rested from vacation and ready to start the new year. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves and too busy with work and life in general we’d like to stop and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, 2018 was quite the year. Here are a few highlights:

  • Matt was featured in the Top Agent Magazine for Minnesota. They wrote a lovely article highlighting his many years of experience and how growing up and working in Minneapolis his entire life has helped him succeed as a Realtor.
  • Brian was named a Minneapolis Super Real Agent for 2018 by Twin Cities Business and the Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine (mspmag.com) for the second year in a row.
  • Espen decided to take on a new role with the team while going back to school full time to pursue a career in Forestry and Natural Resource Management.
  • Our team was nominated and came in second for the first ever Twin Cities Collective Best of 2018 awards.
  • And finally we helped quite a lot of people achieve their real estate goals in 2018. To be exact we helped 29 people purchase their dream home while listing and selling 38 homes.

Thanks again for trusting us to help with all your real estate needs. We appreciate your business and your support.

Cheers to a happy and prosperous 2019!

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.

 

Halloween Decorations

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but decorating your home with lights, skeletons, ghosts and other spooky creatures has become popular for Halloween.

  • Please note if your home is currently for sale we do not recommend decorating like this for Halloween. Instead we recommend pumpkins, mums and general fall decor.  

But since I’m a huge fan of Halloween and I love when people embrace the spirit of the holiday I’m sharing my favorites here. I’m pretty sure these will make you smile and maybe even inspire you to decorate. If you do let me know or better yet, send me a pic.

Halloween Decorations | Minneapolis Homes | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

Halloween Decorations | Minneapolis Homes | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

Halloween Decorations | Minneapolis Homes | Real Estate Blog | Matt Engen Group

 

 

Our Favorite Southwest Minneapolis Restaurants

Small local restaurants are the backbone of our neighborhoods. Aside from their amazing menu’s they make our neighborhoods desirable by adding to the uniqueness of our communities. Sure we all love mainstream restaurants too but can you imagine what it would be like to live here with out all the charming and unique restaurants we so often take for granted? Without them our neighborhoods and our home values wouldn’t be the same. So go ahead, eat out tonight, after all it’s for the neighborhood.

Live in Southwest Minneapolis like we do? Here are our top 5 favorite neighborhood restaurants.

  1. Terzo – This is one of our favorite places to go when it’s just the two of us. We love the atmosphere. I describe it as warm and cozy, a friendly, quiet place. If there was a fireplace behind the bar I would never leave. It’s in the Lynnhurst neighborhood of Minneapolis so it’s close and we always seem to be able to grab a seat at the bar, which we love. The owner and the entire staff are knowledgeable and just generally delightful. The food and the wine are always a hit, we haven’t had anything here we didn’t like.
  2. Red Wagon Pizza – Located in the Armatage neighborhood this one is a family and a girlfriend favorite. My girlfriends and I like to go and meet for a glass of Red Car Rose. Matt likes the beer selection and we all like the pizza. The atmosphere is loud and friendly, the perfect place to bring the family. They have a beautiful bar, it’s seriously so pretty and the patio is one of the best in town.
  3. George and the Dragon – The owners and the staff are what make this place tick. Oh and I guess I shouldn’t forget the food, it’s pretty darn good. The Asian Hangover is by far our favorite thing on the menu with the burgers and the Katherine (a steak salad) tied for a close second. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming, there’s always a familiar face greeting you at the door. This restaurant is truly a neighborhood favorite so it’s best to call ahead.
  4. Wise Acre Eatery – Hands down the prettiest restaurant and patio in town. I could just sit for hours, sip my wine and let my eye wander from one gorgeous spot to the next. A true farm to table experience, seriously I think everything is actually grown on their farm in Plato, MN. Matt and I love to stop by for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it’s my absolute favorite spot to meet the girls for drinks on the patio.
  5. Grand Cafe – What can we say we love this place. They describe it as magical and well I can’t think of a better word to use. It’s French inspired and gorgeous. Seriously I think it’s one of the prettiest restaurants in the neighborhood. When Matt and I want to celebrate a special occasion or just forget about life for awhile this is where we go. I’m also a huge fan that it’s woman owned.

#minneapolisneighborhoods #minneapolisrestaurants # top5 #mattengengroup