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.

Septic Systems Simplified

Septic Systems Simplified

I’d like to address a topic that may not be very glamorous. But it’s one that’s important to know about when you’re buying a home or cabin in NW Wisconsin.

If you’re living in town, then you probably have city water and sewer. All you need to worry about now is paying a small bill every month. But once you move to the country, you’re on your own. Don’t worry though. Most of the time these systems work just fine.

septic-system

Still, before you buy a home or cabin, it’s important to know about its septic system. Repairs and upgrades can be expensive. Here’s a quick overview; to really understand septic systems thoroughly, you may wan to do an online search on some of these terms and read further.

The first question you should ask is what type of system a particular home or cabin has. There are three main types: conventional, mound, and holding. You may also hear about something called a “separate gray water system.” One other term I’ll explain briefly is “perc test.” You’ll want to know what it is and why it’s important.

A conventional septic system runs waste water and solids into a large concrete septic tank where bacteria digest the solids. Liquids run out the other end into a drain field that’s made of perforated pipe buried in a gravel-filled trench. Solds that don’t digest settle out into a sludge at the bottom of the septic tank. Every two or three years, you’ll need to have this sludge pumped out. It’s not expensive, and it’s no big deal. It’s just part of owning a home or cabin that’s outside the city limits.

A mound system is similar, except that the drain field is above ground level inside a large mound of gravel and dirt. It’s used in certain special conditions – most often when the soil isn’t permeable enough, there isn’t enough soil before you reach bedrock, or the water table is too close to the surface. Although the mound can be landscaped in a way that makes it less noticeable, it’s still going to be there. Another negative is that mound systems often require a pumping system in between the septic tank and the drain field. Otherwise, these systems work just like a conventional septic system.

A holding tank is just what it sounds like – a hold tank that needs to be pumped out a soon as it’s full. I see them most often at older lakeshore cabins. They’re usually only used for sites that are unsuitable for either a conventional or a mound system. Sometimes, however, they were installed because they were a less expensive alternative.

As you’d expect, a larger tank is better. But it still needs to be pumped out eventually. And when it is, a large tank will cost more to empty.

You may be able to upgrade a holding tank to conventional or mound system. But even if you can, it will be a fairly expensive undertaking. Meanwhile, pumping out the holding tank will be a regular expense. If the system serves a small cabin that’s only used on a dozen weekends every year, that’s less of an issue. But if that cabin becomes a full-time, year-round home for a family of six, then you’re going to have a monthly pumping bill.

To help with that problem, some homes and cabins have a separate “gray water system.” (You’ll also see them used on conjunction with conventional and mound systems.) Gray water, as opposed to “black water,” is all the waste water that hasn’t come from a toilet. Depending on local codes and regulations, your gray water can sometimes be released with little or no processing; you could even use it to water your lawn or garden. Just be careful about what soaps you use, and avoid pouring too many household chemicals down the drain (probably a good idea anyway).

Finally, here’s one more term you should know about. If you’re building a new home or cabin, you may hear about something called a “perch test.” That’s short of “percolation test,” and it’s a measure of how permeable your soil is. If your building site is on clay soil that’s relatively impermeable, it could mean you’ll need a mound system or holding tank. It it’s on relatively sandy soil, you can relax. You’ll probably pass your perch test with flying colors.

This was an important topic, but maybe not a very fun one. If you read all the way to here, then perhaps you are ready to start shopping for your country or lake home or cabin – www.JeanHedren.com

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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 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

How to sell your home to millennials, Gen X, boomers, seniors.

According to a study released by the National Association of Home Builders, “Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers”. The study showed the following home features most wanted by each generation:

Millennials

  • Laundry room
  • Exterior lighting
  • Living room
  • Patio
  • Front porch
  • Both shower stall and tub in master bathroom
  • Ceiling fan
  • Hardwood on main floor
  • Deck
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Dining room

Gen X

  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Exterior lighting
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Ceiling fans
  • Front porch
  • Hardwood on main floor
  • Patio
  • Living room

Baby boomers

  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Exterior lighting
  • A full bath on the main level
  • Ceiling fan
  • Insulation higher than required by code
  • Patio
  • Hardwood on the main floor

Seniors

  • Laundry room
  • Energy Star-rated appliances
  • Energy Star rating for entire home
  • A full bath on the main level
  • Table space for eating in the kitchen
  • Ceiling fan
  • Double kitchen sink (side-by-side)
  • Energy Star-rated windows
  • Insulation higher than required by code

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

What type of mortgage loan works best for you?

What type of mortgage loan works best for you? 

Your mortgage loan consultant will be able to discuss the best mortgage loan program for you. Basically all mortgage loans belong to two main groups: conventional and government.

Conventional loans

Two types of conventional loans:

  • Fixed rate: Traditional type of financing. The interest stays the same for the full term of the loan, typically 15 or 30 years with predictable and stable payments.
  • Adjustable rate: An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) interest is linked to a financial index, such as a treasury security, so the monthly payment can vary over the life of the loan, usually 25 to 30 years. There are lower initial payments. Some ARMs can be converted to fixed rates generally after the first 5 years.

Government loans

  • FHA loans, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, are typically designed to meet the needs of first-time homebuyers with low or moderate incomes. FHA loans can be approved with a down payment as little as 3.5 percent and a credit score as low as 580.
    Often called “helper loans,” they give a boost to potential borrowers who may not be able to secure one otherwise. For this reason, FHA loans have maximum lending limits. Talk with your lender to see what the FHA loan limits are in the counties where you are searching.

    And remember, because the agency is taking on more risk by insuring FHA loans, the borrower is expected to pay mortgage insurance both at the time of closing and on a monthly basis, and the property must be owner-occupied.

  • VA loans, backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are guaranteed to qualified veterans and active-duty personnel and their spouses. VA loans can be approved with 100 percent financing, meaning VA borrowers are not required to make a down payment.Unlike FHA loans, borrowers do not have to pay mortgage insurance on VA loans.
  • USDA loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture mortgage program, are intended to support homeowners who purchase homes in rural and some suburban areas. USDA loans do not require a down payment and may offer lower interest rates; borrowers may have to pay a small mortgage insurance premium in order to offset the lender’s risk.
  • WHEDA: Low down payments and below-market interest rates. Interest rate is fixed for 15 to 30 year loan term.

Ready to enter the buyer’s market?

Need help financing a new property? Understanding the loan types is step one, but you’ll need the help of a qualified expert to get you into your dream home.

Reach out today to get help connecting with a trusted, local mortgage specialist.

Start your property search at www.JeanHedren.com

10 steps to buying your dream home

Buying a home is without doubt the biggest financial commitment you’ll make. It isn’t just about dollars and cents, you are making an investment in your future.

Here are the important steps in the process. I’ll be here to help you every step of the way.

  1. Choose a Realtor® to assist you in the home buying process. The term Realtor® identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®  and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
  2. Get Pre-Approved. It’s the key to increasing your negotiating power. Meet with a mortgage consultant and get pre-approved for a loan. Don’t confuse this with a pre-qualification which is simply an estimate of your potential buying power. A pre-approval is a preliminary review of your credit information and pre-approves you up to a maximum loan amount.
  3. Refine your focus. Discuss your housing needs, wish list, preferred location, and budget.  Searching and previewing your properties online will help to narrow down your choices. I can create an online search for you at www.JeanHedren.com  based on your specifications to help you narrow your choices.
  4. View properties. Once you find homes that meet your criteria, request a tour of several in person so you can be comfortable with what’s on the market. I can show any home, even those listed by another firm. 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.
  5. Make an offer. When you know you’ve found the right property, you may need to act quickly depending on the market conditions. Ask about current market conditions and  get advice about preparing your offer. Several points for negotiation should be included in your offer, including price, financing, terms, date of possession, inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The offer to purchase should also include a period of time to have appropriate inspections completed.
  6. Negotiate terms. Counter offers are common in real estate. Be prepared to be a little flexible on price, closing date, repairs, or other items.
  7. Get an inspection. This is your best chance to have the property’s systems and structure evaluated. In NW Wisconsin, it’s common to have three types of inspections: house, well, and septic system.
  8. The walk-through. Usually a day before closing, do a final walk-through of the house to make sure everything you thought was included in the purchase agreement has remained on the property.
  9. The closing. At the closing you will sign the mortgage loan documents and pay your closing costs. The seller will execute the deed to the property, and the closing agent will record the necessary instruments to give you legal ownership of the property. The keys will be handed to you and the house is yours!
  10. Move in.

Start your home search at www.JeanHedren.com. Call Jean at 218-590-6634 when you are ready to view properties.

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.