Home buying tip: Viewing properties

Somewhere out there is the home of your dreams. You just have to find it.

One of the most exciting aspects of buying a home is looking at different properties in your price range. Seeing houses up close in various sizes, condition, and style is the best real estate education.

How many should you see? The number of homes to see will depend on your specific area or location, the local market, and your specific requirements. The key is to focus your time and efforts on suitable properties. Your Realtor will help by eliminating homes that don’t meet your criteria, and locating those that do.

Because of traveling time and distance, an optimum number of homes to see is 4-6. Those looking for a second home in NW Wisconsin may be traveling 2 – 3 hours to get to the area of interest. Your Realtor will help you plan the most efficient tour to suit your needs and time constraints. It’s a good idea to use google maps to become familiar with the size of NW Wisconsin.

What to expect. Your Realtor is happy to show you any homes on the market. Be realistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Make a list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.

Before:

  • Let your Realtor know which homes are of most interest in advance. The seller typically needs 24 hours notice, although some are flexible. Your Realtor also needs time to route the tour and prepare the property information packet.
  • Plan to spend 15-30 minutes at each property. A typical showing time is 30 minutes.
  • Wear shoes that slip off easily.
  • Try not to bring small children or other family members or friends. You’ll be better able to focus on the task without distractions.

During:

  • Pay attention to the home’s curb appeal, floor plan, and overall amenities.
  • Take notes, ask questions, and make comments that will help your Realtor understand what you like and don’t like.
  • Be considerate of the owners. Sometimes owners can be present at the showing.
  • Relax and enjoy the tour.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

The art of finding your dream home: Refine your focus.

Somewhere out there is the home of your dreams. You just have to find it.

We admit that in today’s market, the majority of homebuyers and sellers tend to focus on single-family homes. But condos and townhomes can also be a great fit for your family in the short-term or for the long haul.

Home type is important. Consider the difference of each space, and how they would work for you now versus in the next 10 years.

Think about your location priorities: What’s important to one homebuyer can be completely different from the next.

Home features are important, too! Narrow amenity options down by considering what you have now, and how you’d like to see that change.

When deciding what type of home is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

Do you want full control over updating the space? If you plan to knock down walls to create an open floor plan, or if you love to landscape, you might consider a single-family home. Condos and townhomes are usually managed by a homeowners’ association, or HOA, that could limit or regulate your interior and exterior modifications.

Is convenience a large factor in your decision? Although a condo or townhome can be regulated by an HOA, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to regulating the space, an HOA may provide amenities such as a pool, workout facility, security patrols or lawn service.

Location: How to decide on a city or neighborhood

Some people prefer to vacation in a relaxing rural cabin, while others want to be in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis. Similarly, everyone has different preferences of where they’d like to settle in to buy a home.

When deciding on a location, consider these factors:

  • School district
  • Commute time to work
  • Safety

Think about what matters most to you, and the type of life you want to live. Rank the list of above criteria in terms of importance, then be sure to follow that list as you consider different areas to live. Remember: While your goal may be to find a home that checks every box off your list, you may have to narrow down must-have items versus nice-to-have amenities.

Home features: Certain features are must-haves for buyers

Just as some location criteria are important to certain buyers, home features can be just as important to others. Do you want the ease of walking into a turnkey home that doesn’t need any new appliances or updates? Or are you excited by the potential of purchasing a fixer-upper that could require months (or even years) of renovations?

Be sure to think about the key features that you’d like to see in your home-to-be, including:

  • Number of bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Status of appliances, possibly with warranties
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • Flooring: Hardwood, carpet or tile
  • Washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry space

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

A buyer recently asked “how do I get financing?” I’m glad you asked.

A buyer recently asked the question “how do I get financing?

To answer that question, the first step is to contact a mortgage loan professional in your area.

Getting the best advice for your individual circumstances is so important. So start by talking to a professional either in person or on the phone. And, get a second opinion. Banks have different programs and services. Find one that is the best fit for your needs.

The initial consultation

Talk with your home mortgage consultant about your financing needs, current situation, and goals. Your home mortgage consultant will help you determine the next steps, including:

  • Income, assets, liabilities, and current real estate owned
  • Credit reports

Your mortgage consultant will share information on loan products based on your needs and credit profile.

Ready to get pre approved? Connect with Edina Realty Mortgage. Or, visit my website www.JeanHedren.com

Edina Realty Mortgage

What are the three most important features of your dream lake cabin?

We all think differently. The property that’s perfect for you might not be perfect for me or for anyone else.

Those three most important items might be the type or size of lake, the perfect swimming beach, other recreation activities, the cabin style that best fits your lifestyle, the number of bedrooms, the garage size, distance from home, and certainly your budget.

Make a list of what’s most important. Trade-offs may be necessary within a particular price range. If you find the cabin and lake of your dreams, what are you willing to trade off in your price range? Keep in mind that even if money is no object, you’ll still need to make choices and trade-offs.  For example:  a quiet lake that’s good for paddling and wildlife watching may not be the type lake good for waterskiing and jetskiing.  It’s tough to find both in the same lake.

Start your lake home search at my website www.JeanHedren.com Jean Hedren, Edina Realty, NW Wisconsin. Or give me a call at 218-590-6634. 

It would be my pleasure to help you find the lake, home or cabin, or lakeshore lot of your dreams. Northwest Wisconsin including Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn, and Sawyer Counties. Communities: Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Barnes, Solon Springs, Trego, Spooner, and others.

Tips for a NW Wisconsin real estate market in transition

I have several buyers who are patiently watching the MLS listings for an especially good deal.  I’ve also been passing along listings that seem like a good fit.  Sometimes buyers have been ready to move quickly, and that’s paid off.

Other buyers were busy with work and family commitments, and they needed to wait a couple weeks before we could schedule a showing.  Sometimes that still works out.  But other times I’ve requested a showing and learned that another buyer has just made an offer that’s already been accepted.  Notice a pattern here???

I’m a Realtor, and of course you’d expect me to say that right now is a great time to buy or sell.  But the thing is, right now that’s especially true.  Consumer confidence is up, we’ve been seeing some promising economic indicators, interest rates are still low, and our Northwestern Wisconsin real estate market is moving faster than the snow was melting this spring.  (April 25 update: snow is gone, lakes are mostly open.) That’s good news for buyers and sellers alike.

If you’re a seller, you’ll still be facing some competition.  There’s a lot of inventory out there, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about what your home, cabin, or land is actually worth in today’s market.  But prices are more stable; homes priced correctly for the local market are selling quickly. Homes priced on the high side are languishing.

And if you’re a buyer, here are some tips to keep in mind during this transitional market.  Even if our market here in NW WI isn’t white hot, it’s at least warming up enough so you’ll need to let go of certain assumptions that are no longer valid.  If you find something you like and it’s a good value, don’t assume no one else has noticed it and come to a similar conclusion.  Instead, please call me so we can schedule a showing now.

If we go take a look and you like what you see, don’t assume you’ll be able to think things over for even a couple weeks before you take a second look.  Someone else with similar tastes may have also seen this home or cabin for the bargain it is.  By the time you’ve taken two more months to think it over, their moving van could already be backing up to the front door.

Finally, here’s one last bit of advice.  Pursue perfection, but prioritize your wants and needs.  Now, not all of my buyers have the same dreams.  Some, for example, want a sandy beach, while others want a small quiet lake that’s better for fishing and watching wildlife.  But when you do find the location that’s just right for you, you can always remodel the bathroom or replace that pink carpeting in the guest bedroom.  Know what matters most, and know what you want so you’ll be ready when you see it.

Preapproval will strengthen your negotiating power

Ready to make an offer on that dream lake home or cabin? 

A preapproval letter from your mortgage lender can be an important tool to strengthen your negotiating power. Sellers and listing agents tend to take offers more seriously when the buyer has been preapproved.

When you have found your dream home, and you are ready to make an offer, submitting a preapproval letter with the offer says you are a serious and committed buyer.

A preapproval letter is based on a preliminary review of your credit information and preapproves you up to a maximum loan amount. Because a preapproval includes a credit check, it’s more powerful than a prequalification letter, which only estimates your potential buying power.

With a preapproval letter, you can confidently shop for a home in your price range, and you are in a position to negotiate an offer – especially when there are multiple offers for the home you want.

Need a great lender? Contact Sandy Vesel, Edina Realty Mortgage.

As you prepare to make one of the biggest purchases of your life, a preapproval can ensure that you are in a loan program that meets your needs. Call Jean Hedren, Your Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor at 218-590-6634. Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com

It’s 2019. Where’s your new up north cabin?

If you’ve resolved that this is the year to buy a new lake home or cabin in northwest Wisconsin, then it’s time to get started.

If one of your new year’s resolutions was to find a new lake home or cabin and get moved in before Memorial Day weekend, well, then I am a little concerned.

Here’s why: It may take us a while to find the lake and the cabin that are just right for you. Figure a little negotiating before you have an accepted offer, and then typically about another 60 days before the actual closing can take place. (With new banking regulations that have recently gone into effect, the few exceptions are generally cash offers with no inspections or other contingencies. They can usually happen faster.)

So if you’d like to enjoy weekends at your new cabin this summer, it may not make sense to delay your search until May or June. If you want to actually own that cabin by May or June, then the time to get started is right now.

If we get underway quickly and things happen fast, there’s still one situation when a late spring could complicate your plans. That’s if you’re buying a three-season cabin that has its water turned off in the winter. You’ll probably want an inspection, and it’s hard to inspect a cabin’s well, septic system, and plumbing without turning on the water. But even then, I’m usually able to help buyers and sellers work things out.

And if you’re buying a year-round lake home or cabin, the best time to buy is… Year-round. So if you’re ready to turn those up-north cabin dreams into reality, give me a call now at 218-590-6634. Or, you can reach me at jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.

The art of finding your dream home: How to narrow down three important criteria

Key Insights

Home type: How to decide between a single-family home, condo or townhome

We admit that in today’s market, the majority of homebuyers and sellers tend to focus on single-family homes. But condos and townhomes can also be a great fit for your family in the short-term or for the long haul.

  • Home type is important. Consider the difference of each space, and how they would work for you now versus in the next 10 years.
  • Think about your location priorities: What’s important to one homebuyer can be completely different from the next.
  • Home features are important, too! Narrow amenity options down by considering what you have now, and how you’d like to see that change.

When deciding what type of home is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

Do you want full control over updating the space? If you plan to knock down walls to create an open floor plan, or if you love to landscape, you might consider a single-family home. Condos and townhomes are usually managed by a homeowners’ association, or HOA, that could limit or regulate your interior and exterior modifications.

Is convenience a large factor in your decision? Although a condo or townhome can be regulated by an HOA, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to regulating the space, an HOA may provide amenities such as a pool, workout facility, security patrols or lawn service.

So, if you’d like to relax after a long day of work (rather than worrying about setting up sprinklers to water the grass), a home such as a condo or townhome run by an HOA might be something to consider. Just keep in mind, the services from the HOA are not free. You’ll usually be required to pay monthly dues to your HOA.

Whether you decide on a single-family home, condo or townhome, remember — research from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that homebuyers are spending an average of 10 years in a home — so think not only of the home you want now, but also of the property that will suit you for the next several years.

Location: How to decide on a city or neighborhood

Some people prefer to vacation in a relaxing rural cabin, while others want to be in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis. Similarly, everyone has different preferences of where they’d like to settle in to buy a home.

When deciding on a location, consider these factors:

  • School district
  • Commute time to work
  • Safety

Think about what matters most to you, and the type of life you want to live. Rank the list of above criteria in terms of importance, then be sure to follow that list as you consider different areas to live. Remember: While your goal may be to find a home that checks every box off your list, you may have to narrow down must-have items versus nice-to-have amenities.

Home features: Certain features are must-haves for buyers

Just as some location criteria are important to certain buyers, home features can be just as important to others. Do you want the ease of walking into a turnkey home that doesn’t need any new appliances or updates? Or are you excited by the potential of purchasing a fixer-upper that could require months (or even years) of renovations?

Be sure to think about the key features that you’d like to see in your home-to-be, including:

  • Number of bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Status of appliances, possibly with warranties
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • Flooring: Hardwood, carpet or tile
  • Washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry space

Keep in mind that many requirements may stem from things you don’t currently like about your living situation — and that’s okay! There’s no better indication of what you need than knowing what isn’t working for you now.

Carefully consider what you have (or don’t have) now and generate a list of changes and upgrades you’ll need in your new space.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.

Home buyers: Shop for a mortgage loan

Choosing a mortgage lender

More than half of home buyers don’t shop to find the best interest rate or loan program for their home purchase.

Generally a buyer would rarely purchase the first home they look at, they often accept the rate and terms offered by only one lender. Not all lenders are the same. They don’t offer the same terms and rates to the same buyer.

I advise my buyers that shopping around to compare rate and terms for a mortgage is a reasonable exercise considering that a half percent less interest rate could not only lower the payment but the cumulative interest that is paid throughout the life of the loan.

Mortgages consist of more than interest rates. They include the rate plus origination fees and discount points, which are prepaid interest assessed by the lender at settlement. Other considerations might include adjustable vs fixed-rate loans, low down payment vs high down payment, and whether there are prepayment penalties.

Most important, you will want to work with a lender you can trust, someone that will work effectively, and a lender that offers a range of mortgage loan options.

  1. Make a list of lenders. Your Realtor will know several area lenders and can provide you with a list of contacts.
  2. Talk to a loan officer. Call or visit the lenders on your list to learn how they might work with you. Ask questions:
  • What types of loan products are offered?
  • What are the rates, points, rate-lock period?
  • What are the closing costs?
  • How long is the mortgage application process?
  • When will I know if I’ve been approved?
  • What documents do I need to provide?
  • What costs am I expected to pay?
  • Is there an application deposit?
  1. Compare rates with other lenders. When comparing rates with other lenders, be sure the rates are for comparable loans.

www.JeanHedren.com

About Jean Hedren Realtor. Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, specializes in lake homes, cabins, and waterfront real estate in NW Wisconsin. View all posts by Jean.

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make.  If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted.  But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent.  That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.

I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.”  More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.”  Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into.  And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.

It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report.  Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth.  But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues.  So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.

If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.”  The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing.  I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution.  The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues.  Almost anything else can be fixed.  If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.

Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too.  Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit.  Ask your Realtor for recommendations.

Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer.  The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months.  So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.

Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com
Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634