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.

Renovate These Area’s to Sell!

If you’ve decided or are thinking about selling your home in the near future, you will likely want to sell it as quickly as possible and for the most amount of money.  One great way to do this is to invest and make renovations in these 3 areas of your home. 

Kitchen

An updated kitchen is a huge bonus for today’s home buyers. They want things like stainless steel appliances, granite or quartz countertops, a tile backsplash, updating flooring and nice cabinets. Our best advice for you here is to do this one a few years before you sell so you can enjoy it too and don’t break the bank. Focus on materials not a huge reconfiguration of the space. 

Bathroom

Clean and fresh is what today’s buyers want in bathrooms. But this is also an area where you can have a little fun with the renovation. A pop of color or wallpaper, an updated vanity and new light fixtures are easy ways to easily update the space. 

New Roof or Updated Mechanicals

Focus on the big ticket items that will give the buyer peace of mind when purchasing your home. They won’t mind doing a few updates on their own if they know they won’t have to worry about things like a new roof, furnace or AC. 

Renovations go a long way in helping your home sell more quickly. As we’ve mentioned in a recent blog post, most buyers today aren’t looking for a fixer upper, they want to move right in and enjoy the many benefits of owning a home. 

If you plan accordingly you can reap the benefits of these renovations and maybe even enjoy them a little before you move. Just be sure you don’t spend more than what you can get out of your home when you sell it. 

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!

Nobody Wants a Fixer Upper

Unless they’re in the business of flipping or renovating houses very few buyers want a fixer upper. The days of buyers being interested in building what people in the industry liked to call sweat equity are gone.

Todays buyers lack the time, the know how and the cash to buy a fixer upper. They would rather move right in and enjoy the many benefits of owning a home like planting a garden or playing with Fido in the back yard than renovate a kitchen or even paint.

To clarify there are multiple levels of what it means to be a fixer upper. We have everything from gut the kitchens and bathrooms to rip out carpet and paint. Either way the key point here is that the majority of buyers today don’t want to do a thing.

So when it comes time to sell your fixer upper you will have two options, price it right to encourage the flippers and the renovators to show up or make your property more attractive to todays buyers.

Wondering how you make your property more attractive to todays buyers? Start here.

Paint. Nothing updates and cleans up a home better and faster than a fresh coat of paint. Just be sure you’re not making the problem worse by painting the whole house your favorite color. Instead ask your Realtor or a Stager what color they would recommend to sell your home. Think light and updated neutrals, light grays and warm beiges depending on your home work well.

Clean. Seriously a deep clean goes a really long way in making the home feel fresh and cared for. Don’t forget to clean the windows, this has a huge impact on the overall cleanliness of the home and the bathtub or shower grout. And if you don’t like to do this hire someone.

Fix all the broken things. The broken doors. The broken hinges. The broken closet door. The leaky drain. Patch the holes. Fix the window that won’t open. Remove that dead bush. Have your mechanicals tuned up.

Clear out the distractions. Personal pictures, gone. Broken dresser, gone. Dead plant, gone. Frayed rug, gone. Old clothes, gone. Stuffed animals, gone. Pile of old magazines/newspapers, gone. You get the point.

A fresh, clean home with no repairs and no distractions will allow the buyer to focus on what does work.

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.

Characteristics of a Colonial Home

We live in a classic colonial home in Minneapolis. There are several different versions of a colonials; English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Georgian. Our colonial home was was built in 1938 and the floor plan is one of the many reasons we fell in love. With 2 young kids at the time having the living spaces, the kitchen, dining and living rooms on one floor with the bedrooms up worked perfectly for our family.

Traditionally built the classic colonial home is simple, rectangular and is often 2-3 stories tall. As I mentioned previously most of the living spaces are on the first floor, with the staircase in the center and a dining room and kitchen on one side and the living room with a fireplace on the other. A lot of colonial homes in Minneapolis also have a sun room off to one side. Shutters and some sort of decoration over the front door.

Here are a few of my favorite colonial home examples in Minneapolis. The first one is ours.

An example of a colonial home in Minneapolis.
This is our colonial home in Minneapolis
An example of a colonial home in Minneapolis.
A classic brick colonial and one we sold a few years back.
An example of a colonial home in Minneapolis.
A favorite of mine in the neighborhood.

Minneapolis is a Great Place to Live

Minneapolis is a great place to live. Don’t believe me? Check out these rankings to see how/where/why Minneapolis makes the list again and again for being a top destination to live.

Minneapolis is ranked number 3 in Bankrate’s top 10 top places to live in the U.S. in 2020. https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/best-places-to-live/us/

Curbed put Minneapolis on their list of the 10 best cities to move to right now. https://www.curbed.com/2020/2/11/21126341/best-cities-to-live-united-states

U.S. News analyzed the 125 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life. Minneapolis ranks number six. https://realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-live

According to the folks at Wallethub Minneapolis is the best city for an active lifestyle. https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-cities-for-an-active-lifestyle/8817/

We’re also a really great state for a staycation according to Trips to Discover. https://www.tripstodiscover.com/top-cities-in-the-united-states-for-a-staycation/

And I’ll end with this article originally posted in 2017 because I still agree 100 percent with the authors top 20 reasons to live here. https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/minnesota/minneapolis/live-in-minneapolis/

Free Quotable Art for Your Home

We know that moving can be expensive. Especially if you’re a first time home owner who just saved every last penny for a down payment. But we also know how fun it is to make your house a home by adding your own personal touch with home decor.

To help we partnered with Laura Anne Creative to give you some fun images you can download, print and frame for your new home.

How To Be More Sustainable At Home

Despite what you may think, being more sustainable at home is super easy. Most of the things we’re currently doing to live a more sustainable lifestyle at home we started by accident.

For example, I started washing our clothes in cold water when we first got married after I shrunk a countless number of sweaters and turned even more white t-shirts pink.

Another change I made after ruining several pairs of yoga pants, my favorite tank top and the living room carpet was to switch to all natural cleaning products. No more bleach at our house. Our favorite natural cleaner is a simple solution of vinegar and water.

Growing up I always had a thing for cloth napkins. They just felt so fancy and we used them for all our dinner parties. Well we just took it up a notch and started using them for all our meals at home. With two teenage boys I’m doing laundry all the time anyway.

When the time came for us to replace our dishes a few years ago instead of heading to the store I went to Good Will. Where I purchased the most beautiful floral china plates. I use these everyday, not just for special occasions. I do this with drink glasses and coffee cups too.

Replace plastic /paper straws with metal straws. This one was a happy accident. Nothing had to be destroyed for us to make this change. We just happened to get the cutest rose gold colored metal straws for a gift. We haven’t look back since.

Because we are often on the go and admittedly not good planners we go to the grocery store every day. This way we only buy only the ingredients that we need and nothing gets wasted. Did you know that as Americans it’s estimated we throw away 30-40% of the food we purchase. I find that number astounding. (Also please note because of the current stay at home order we are not doing this.)

Incorporate as many plants as you can into your home decor. We love plants at our house and have 7 different plants from this list to help purify the air in our home.

And finally we compost and recycle because the city provided the bins and well why the heck not? I’m constantly amazed by how much we’re reduced our garbage by doing this. Now if only we could get the City of Minneapolis to pick up our recyclables every week instead of every other week. Our recycling bin is always overflowing.

We obviously still have a long way to go to living a more sustainable lifestyle. But I hope you enjoyed seeing just how easy it is to be sustainable at home. Just imagine how happy the earth would be if everyone made a few changes to live more sustainably.

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