How to Prepare Your Home for Showings

Preparing your home for the world to see is hard work. I wish I could say it’s easy but it’s not. And the one thing I’ve realized after helping so many of our clients through this process is that you you can’t do this work until you disconnect from your home and see it as a buyer would see it.

That means taking off the rose colored glasses, seeing beyond the cute little quirks you’ve grown used to. The door that doesn’t quite close in the bathroom, the broken cabinet in the kitchen and that outdated paint color in the foyer. Making the repairs and sprucing up the home by adding a few extra special touches even if you think they’re silly go along way in creating a memorable experience for the buyer.

Let’s start with the Exterior

But where do you start? Let’s break it down and let’s start at the exterior, after all that’s where a buyer will start too. Take a good hard look at the trim, is it in need of paint? How about that front door? The landscaping? Do you have any dead overgrown bushes? If the house is in good repair buyers will think it’s been well maintained and if they like the way the outside looks they’ll naturally want to go inside.

Moving inside

You’ve heard this advice no doubt 1,000 times. The key to making the interior shine is to clean and declutter. And then clean and declutter again. Space is everything to a new home buyer. If you’re stuff doesn’t fit in this house how will theirs? And if you don’t know what to do with a room, they won’t either. A few things to ask yourself as you move around your house. Is this piece of furniture necessary? Is it blocking the flow of the room, a window? How do the walls look? When is the last time they’ve been painted? Oh and don’t forget the trim, trust me when I tell you that when you paint the walls, the trim that you thought was ok before will no longer be ok. One things leads to another when you rip the band-aid off.

3215 Wellington Lane N, Plymouth MN 55441 | Matt Engen Group

Now let’s set the stage

Now that you’ve identified all the necessary repairs, fix them and let’s move to setting the stage. This is the fun part. Or at least this is the fun part for me. Let’s start again outside by placing a couple pots of flowers or winter greens by the front and back door. If you have a deck be sure to put some flowers on the table. Get a new welcome mat, sweep and lay fresh mulch if necessary.

When you move inside don’t forget to continue with the flowers. A few of my favorite spots; the dining room table, the kitchen island and the bathroom counter. Make sure the kitchen sink is empty, take out the garbage, wipe down the sink and the counters – don’t forget the stainless steel appliances. Fluff the pillows and add a throw to the sofa. Make sure the beds are made. Hang new towels in the bathrooms. Please make sure the toilet seat is down. Sweep or vacuum. Open up all the window treatments and turn on every single light. And finally check the temp of the home. The buyer should be comfortable, never too cold or too hot.

5432 Irving Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419 | Matt Engen Group

And I know this sounds like a lot but it will make for a successful showing. I promise. Also please never ever ever turn down a showing. Multiple buyers can view your home at the same time, the Realtors will work it out. If you turn them down you most likely will never see that buyer again, they’re quick to move on.

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

Our Favorite Kingfield Neighborhood Restaurants

One of the many reason we love living in the Kenny neighborhood of Southwest Minneapolis is the close proximity we have to so many amazing restaurants. We could head out in any direction and find a sweet neighborhood hot spot perfect for what ever we happen to be in the mood for; from date night to dinner with friends or the fam. The restaurants we’re highlighting this week are all in the Kingfield neighborhood. A hip neighborhood filled with charming old houses and a relaxed neighborhood vibe. Below in no particular order are our current favs.

Grand Cafe – First off the Grand Cafe is beautiful. Seriously one of the prettiest and most romantic restaurants in the neighborhood, from the lush plants in the front windows, to the frond wallpaper and the candle light, it has a vintage yet modern, relaxed vibe, the kind of place I could stay all night. Go here when you’re in the mood for extremely good food (order the chicken) a bottle of red and the soft and quiet conversation of your company.

Corner Table – Matt and I head here when we’re feeling a bit more adventurous. We love to get a spot at the counter and watch them prepare our food as we enjoy the energy of the people and a glass of wine. The decor is dark and whimsical and the menu changes with the seasons so it tends to match what we’re in the mood for, which changes for us from winter to summer.

Revival – I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the chicken is good here and we don’t disagree, not for a minute, but when we go we go for the burger and the Mac and Cheese. The atmosphere is light and lively and it’s always busy. Our advice be prepared to wait and go hungry.

The Lowbrow – A family friendly establishment and a family favorite of ours until the boys became teenagers and decided they would rather stay home than go out to eat with us. Thankfully kids aren’t required to eat here so we still go. When we go we love to sit at the bar, it’s lined with baseball cards or outside on the street patio, it’s lively and fun and the food always hits the spot.

KyatchiSustainable sushi in a laid back non pretentious environment. A fav of our oldest who loves sushi and a win for me since they serve hot dogs. A good thing because I don’t eat anything that swims in the water. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is fun.

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.

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.

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.

Preparing your Home for Listing 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.