tips for showing your home

Sharing our best showing tips for every home. You only get one opportunity to wow home buyers so you will want to put your best foot forward starting at the curb.

  1. It’s winter in Minnesota and we know it’s not fun but make sure your sidewalks are shoveled, including the carriage walk at all times. (The carriage walk is the piece of sidewalk that connects the street to the public sidewalk.)
  2. If you have a dog do the best you can do and stay on top of picking up the poop and hiding the yellow snow.
  3. Don’t skip the winter pots! Winter greens add to overall curb appeal.
  4. Clean your front door and do it often. Dirty snow and muck can build up quickly especially on our storm doors. (Do not forget the back door and the garage door.)
  5. Purchase a nice big and soft rug for your front entry. A bench and a place to set their things while they struggle to take off their shoes would be great.
  6. Be aware of scents. I’ve talked about this before but that Glade plug-in is not masking anything. The only thing it’s doing is giving everyone a headache.
  7. Make sure your house is warm. The colder it is outside the warmer it needs to be inside. No one wants to freeze their butt off while looking at your home.
  8. Turn on all the lights, including lamps and open up all the window treatments. It’s dark enough this time of the year. A bright cozy spot is what we all crave.
  9. Empty the trash, or better yet stash the garbage cans away no one really wants to see dirty Kleenex.
  10. Wipe down all the surfaces in the kitchen and the bathroom. Sticky surfaces in these two rooms are seriously off putting.
  11. Resist the urge to shower right before the showing.
  12. And finally please flush the toilet and put the toilet seat down.

a family favorite recipe

If you’re like us cooking for the family is not an easy task and finding a recipe everyone can agree on is even harder. We found this recipe for Moroccan Chicken years ago and it’s been a family favorite ever since. It originally came from Men’s Health, a magazine we used to subscribe to, way back when people actually subscribed to magazines. We’ve made a few adjustments over the years to meet our families particular tastes but we think you’ll like it. 

Moroccan Chicken

What you’ll need:

2 packs boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 large Zucchini – Cut in to pieces

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can garbanzo beans

2 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

White or Brown Rice

How to make it:

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or low pot over medium high heat. Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, place them in the pan and cook them for a few minutes on each side until they are brown thoroughly. Add the zucchini and continue cooking. Stirring occasionally.

When the zucchini has been in there for a bit and is starting to brown add the garbanzo beans, tomatoes,, chick stock, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

In the meantime make your rice according to package instructions.

The original recipe says to serve it with couscous something I love but my family does not. We’ve also served this with mashed potatoes but white rice is by far our family’s favorite.

We like to serve this in big bowls like a stew. It’s warm and inviting from the moment you start cooking, the cinnamon smells so good.

the effect of low inventory

The housing supply is low right now. The lowest it’s been since it started falling in 2007 and it’s not expected to change in 2021 unless more sellers start to enter the market. As a result the divide between supply and demand is high. And home prices have risen as a result.

Experts agree that a surge in inventory isn’t expected anytime soon so sellers can expect continued price appreciation in 2021 and buyers can expect to continue to get into multiple offer situations with houses selling quickly.

Wondering how much longer this can last and if there’s an actual solution to this problem? That’s a tough one. There are a lot of variables we need to take into consideration. Population growth and new construction for starters. In a nutshell we need more homes to be built to keep up with population growth.

In the meantime the best thing you can do as a home buyer is to be prepared. Make sure you’re pre-approved, have done your research and are ready to move fast. Having a Realtor on your side that you know and trust will help tremendously.

home buyers want a home office

As more and more people shift to working from home and distance learning creating a dedicated spot to work and learn prior to selling your home is becoming increasingly popular.

According to realtor.com buyer demand for home office space has accelerated during the pandemic. In a realtor.com® survey conducted this summer, 63% of respondents indicated that they plan to buy a new home in light of their ability to work remotely. And, on average, listings featuring a home office command a 3.4% price premium and sell nine days faster than listings without one, according to realtor.com data.

So how do you highlight a dedicated work space if you currently don’t have one or the funds to remodel the forgotten attic space? You may want to consider transforming a spare bedroom, dining room, or den. The key is to actually make it look like an office or a dedicated space to work, not an after thought.

So pay attention to the details. Try not to have this room do too much. A spare bedroom/office can work. A spare bedroom/office/exercise room does not. It’s also important to make this space feel cohesive. Pay particular attention to colors and artwork, this will help with the overall flow of the room.

To start pick the area you want to focus on and remove everything from that area. Think what you need to work and how much space that requires. Do you need to spread out? Do you need room for a printer? Do you need filing cabinets? Everyone works differently. Since everything is electronic for me I don’t need filing cabinets but I do need a printer.

The space you have to work with may be small so you will need to get creative. Open shelving or utilizing a closet are great options. And don’t forget the chair. It’s time to ditch the folding chair and get something that actually supports your back and is comfortable enough to sit in all day.

Once you’ve figured out what you need it’s time to put everything back in. Placing your desk in front of a window is a great option if you have it. No one wants to work in a dark corner. Good lighting is important for your eyes and your morale. If you don’t have a window you’ll want to consider task lighting and a couple different options. Now is a great time to get a new light fixture, something fun and a focal point for the room.

Don’t forget to add a few plants to your workspace. Plants are very trendy right now, look great in pics and instantly make every space feel more welcoming. They also reduce stress and improve productivity. And who doesn’t need a little more of that right now?

Selling your Home during the Holidays

Selling your home during the holidays does not mean your family can’t decorate. Moving is stressful enough without removing the joy of the season. Just keep in mind the following and you’ll be fine.

  1. You may want to reconsider where you put the tree. Remember that putting the tree in front of the window may block a lot of natural light, something we never want to do when selling a home.
  2. Be sure not to block walkways and important features. You still want buyers to see what the home as to offer and you don’t want to make it difficult for them to do so by blocking off the flow of the home.
  3. Speaking of trees you may also want to reconsider the size of the tree. You don’t want it to overwhelm the room and make it feel small or cluttered.
  4. Remove anything religious. I know, religion may be a big part of the holiday for you but just like selling any other time of the year we want to keep your home neutral so we can appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
  5. Opt for colors that work with your color scheme. This will make the decorations look intentional and give it more of a magazine/Instagram ready feel, a look buyers enjoy.
  6. Put away the Holiday cards. Like the family gallery wall now is not the right time to dedicate a wall to share other people’s family photo’s.
  7. Don’t over do it. A tree in every room isn’t necessary at this point.
  8. Don’t forget to decorate the outside to maximize curb appeal. A wreath on the front door and beautiful pots are desired in every season.
  9. Take down the decorations a day or two after the Holiday.
  10. Don’t decorate until after the photo’s are taken. If you include a tree in your photo’s and your house doesn’t sell immediately your pictures will look dated and will need to be re done.

If you keep these things in mind while you deck the halls your holiday decorations should appeal to potential buyers like any other beautifully staged home.

Should you Update your Kitchen to Sell?

Should I update my kitchen? We should add this to our list of Frequently Asked Questions. It’s almost as popular as should we wait till Spring to sell? I already shared my thoughts on waiting for the Spring Market. You can read them here. So today I’m sharing my thoughts on updating your kitchen from a Realtors Perspective.

First lets get two things out of the way: 

  1. Nothing lasts forever, there is not a single piece of decor or a color that will stand the test of time. When it comes to decor everything changes. 
  2. You will never get 100% of your money back. Some projects have a better ROI than others but nothing will get you 100%.

Now that we have that out of the way we can proceed with a level head and create a good plan because my answer to this is yes. Updating your kitchen is always a good idea. 

Kitchens tend to get a lot of attention. Mostly because kitchens really are the heart of the home. It’s where we prepare our meals but it’s also where we gather with friends and entertain. So my advice is that you focus on the key elements that matter like counter space and storage, not trendy materials or appliances people tend not to pay over for those things. So that cost will be on you. 

Talk to your Realtor before you get starting. Understanding what your home is worth and what the houses in the area are selling for is an important piece of the puzzle if you want to get the most bang for your buck. That said if this is your forever home and you plan to be here for the long haul, you do you and enjoy the home you’re in. I am a firm believer in that. But if you only see yourself in this home for another 5-7 years pay attention. 

  1. Update the cabinets. Either by painting them or replacing them. Depending on the style painting them may be an option that works for you. Just have a professional do them, unless you promise to do a great job. I’ve seen too many DIY’s gone wrong. When updating your cabinets do not forget to update the hinges, knobs and pulls. 
  2. Update the countertops. Pay attention to your home’s price point, if your home is over a certain price point you absolutely can not use a material less than quartz or granite. 3. If possible and space allows, add an island or a peninsula. Buyers want a place to gather and both options add extra counter space which is a key element when selling a kitchen.
  3. If possible and space allows, add an island or a peninsula. Buyers want a place to gather and both options add extra counter space which is a key element when selling a kitchen.
  4. Update flooring. If possible try to match the flooring in the rest of the house. Pay close attention to this if you live in a small house. Consistent flooring tends to make the spaces look bigger and flow.
  5. Add and Update Lighting. Update lighting and pay particular attention to the different types of lights needed in a kitchen.  Ambient, Task and Accent.
  6. Update the Appliances. Opt for energy efficient and until something else takes over make sure they are stainless steel appliances.
  7. Update the faucet and add a backsplash. Like the lights these two add the visual wow to your kitchen. They set the tone.

Sell Now or Wait for the Spring Market?

This is a question we tend to get a lot. Should we sell now or wait for the Spring market. Our advice: Sell when it works best for you.

When there’s a housing shortage, or an extreme lack of inventory as there is now it doesn’t matter as much when you sell. Because your house will sell. Now will it sell in multiple offers in a day maybe, maybe not. But more and more the condition and the price of your home dictate that more than the time of the year.

Buyers want to move right in, bonus points and more showings if your home is adorable. Yes I know we’re not in the home decor business but with over 95 percent of home buyers selecting the house they want to see online the ‘cute factor’ of your home matters.

Not sure what that means, give us a call, we love to chat about this. Not ready to talk, take a look at what’s currently for sale on Zillow, I’m confident this is what you will start to see. Houses that sell quickly have these things in common.

Neutral paint through out. Think light gray or white with a small but tasteful pop of color or wallpaper for an added element of fun.

Hardwood floors. Real or engineered. Like paint its best if the flooring can be consistent throughout the house. If you like carpet it’s best to keep that to bedrooms and lower level family rooms.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Updated kitchens. I know this is a big one. If you’re on a tight timeline or can’t afford to update the entire kitchen be sure to do the minimum, add stainless steel appliances and get a granite or quartz countertop. With a fresh coat of paint on the walls and a few properly places plants and wood cutting boards for decor these small changes will make a big impact.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Updated bathrooms. This one can be a bit like the kitchen and get expensive rather quick. But you can paint, update that vanity and get new lights on a budget. Pair those updates with a new shower curtain and some cute new accessories and you’re ready to go.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

A tidy yard, bonus points if you have a patio or gathering space. You don’t need much, a few strategically placed Adirondacks or a picnic table will do. The key word here is tidy. Get rid of those dead trees, weed the garden and lay fresh mulch.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

Thoughtful and trendy finishing touches. A beautiful comforter and fluffy pillows on your bed. Plants in cute pots or fresh flowers on the coffee table, next to your bed, on a shelf in the bathroom and in the kitchen. A bar cart or record player in the living room. A gallery wall or a picture shelf. Throw pillows and beautiful rugs.

Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group
Sell now or wait for the Spring Market | Matt Engen Group

All of these elements go into making a house ‘feel’ good. And yes in the end it’s about the actual condition of your home and the size of the rooms but these updates and the decor draw you in and make you feel at home. Which in turn will sell your home in any market.

What We’re Thankful For

There’s no doubt 2020 has been a crazy year, this year has definitely been different. But as we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday I am still so thankful for so many things.

  1. Our home. It’s warm and welcoming and in a community we adore.
  2. Family. My immediate little nest and my extended fam.
  3. Friends. They keep life fun.
  4. Our health. Especially this year.
  5. The food on our table.
  6. The drinks in our hand. Currently enjoying a lovely glass of red.
  7. Willow trees, sunshine and baby ducks. Because they always make me smile.
  8. Old houses. I love the different styles, the details and the stories they have to tell. If you want to learn more about my love for old houses, you should follow Matt Engen Group on Instagram.
  9. Books, opinions, questions and respect. We learn so much from books and each other. I never want to stop learning or growing.
  10. Our clients and a job that we love.

Homesteading your Property in Minnesota

Did you purchase a home within the last year? Did you remember to homestead that home? If not you have until December 15, 2020 to do it.

But let’s backup a minute. You may not even be sure what homestead is. Homestead is a property tax reduction program open to Minnesota Residents. This property must be your primary residence. Meaning you have to live there. And if you do the State of Minnesota will reward you with a reduction in your property taxes. According to their website the homestead classification can reduce the taxes on a residential property up to $304 per year.

To homestead and get this tax break all you have is fill out this form and show them proof of ownership. One of the following documents will work to show ownership. A warranty deed, a recorded contract for deed, a quit-claim-deed, or a Torrens title certificate. Basically what ever document you got at closing that granted you title to the property.

If you’re wondering if you got one of these, it’s typically given to you at the end of closing in a big folder. In fact, most closers remind you to homestead right before they hand over the folder. They put the document you need right on top.

Homestead classification remains on the property until the property’s ownership changes, you move out or the property is sold.

If you can’t remember if you’ve done this you can double check by calling the City of Minneapolis or you can do it here – Property Information.

The Northrop Neighborhood

The City of Minneapolis has over 83 different neighborhoods. Each with its own unique personality and reasons for living there. For today’s post I’m going to focus on the Northrop Neighborhood of South Minneapolis.

A personal favorite of mine the Northrop Neighborhood’s boundaries are 42nd Street to the north, Cedar Avenue to the east, Minnehaha Parkway to the south, and Chicago Avenue to the west.

Close to Minnehaha parkway, access to I-35 and Hwy. 62 and home to so many many cute shops and restaurants this neighborhood is beautiful and vibrant.

The houses are mostly pre-1940s stucco, brick and stone houses. Each one with its own unique character and situated on tree lined streets which adds to the overall charm and walkability of the neighborhood.

A popular little niche within the Northrop Neighborhood is Shenandoah Terrace. It’s filled with the same charming Tudor houses, bungalows and a quaint retail district at 48th and Chicago where 14 Hill and the cutest coffee shop Sovereign Grounds are located.

Here are a few of my favorite houses in the Northrop Neighborhood.

Northrop Neighborhood | Matt Engen Group
A charming Tudor with black trim.
Northrop Neighborhood | Matt Engen Group
A stone chimney and timber details add to the unique character of this home.
Northrop Neighborhood | Matt Engen Group
This beauty is yet another example of the beautiful homes in Northrop.
Northrop Neighborhood | Matt Engen Group
This stunning Tudor with the red door is the definition of charming.