All posts by Nancy Smith

Starter Homes In Demand

U.S. Home Prices Jump as Supply Pinch Plays Out – WSJ

Home prices are back to near-record highs across the U.S. amid rising demand and supply constraints, a sign that the lopsided housing-market recovery of the past five years is gaining some strength.

The S&P/Case-Shiller national home-price index, released Tuesday, has clawed its way back to within 4% of its 2006 peak, a steep rise from the…

themreport.com

High Rents May Force Buyers Into the Market – theMReport.com

Rents have been on the rise for several months now as demand for rental housing has increased due to a short supply of homes for sale, particularly among starter homes, and high down payments. A recent survey showed that the pendulum may be swinging in the other direction, however.

The change is attributable to first-time buyers. In the most recent survey, more than fifty percent said high rent led them to the market, compared to only 25 percent of first-timers in August.

Read more…

Entry-level homeowners face ‘buyer’s gridlock’ when upgrading in Toronto, Vancouver, TD says – Business – CBC News

Home buyers trying to move up from their entry-level dwellings face a form of gridlock in the red hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver that risk confining them to condos, TD Bank says.

In a commentary released Friday, Beata Caranci said buyer’s gridlock refers to existing homeowners who are trying to move up from their entry-level home to the “trade up” segment but face a tight supply of options they can afford.

read more at cbc.ca

A distinctly different attitude exists in Orange County, but then too, the price points there are different than in many parts of the country.

Are days numbered for the starter home? – The Orange County Register

ocregister.com

Is the shortage of modestly priced homes – and we’re talking Orange County values, by the way – the reason home sales remain historically sluggish, deep into an economic recovery?

A new poll of prospective house shoppers from Bank of America raises some intriguing questions about the reluctance of local homebuyers to dive into the market. Orange County homes have sold in the past year near the fastest pace seen since the Great Recession, CoreLogic stats show. Six years after the recession ended, though, the market is still 20 percent slower than historical homebuying from 1988 through 2006.

BofA pollsters found only 25 percent of potential first-time buyers in the five-county Southern California region want a starter home, the lowest level of among 10 major U.S. markets studied. And these local first-timers have a plan: 72 percent of those polled “are waiting to save more money and move into a nicer home in the future,” BofA said.

Where Have All the Starter Homes Gone? | U.S. News & World Report

usnews.com

Small houses

The current state of housing markets across the country may have first-time homebuyers wondering if the concept of a starter home is the stuff of legends, or if someone, somewhere is getting a great deal on their first house.

With low housing inventory and new construction focused on luxury condominium and apartment buildings, homes that would have once been considered entry level – those on the lower end of price range, typically most affordable for buyers entering the market for the first time – may now exceed starter home prices.

While high demand is driving home prices out of budget for many first-time homebuyers, it’s not the only factor leading to an apparent lack of entry-level housing. In many cases there are homes available, but they are maybe a little too “starter” than most homebuyers today are willing to accept.

“Buyers today, as much as they say, ‘I want a starter home,’ they want the second one up,” says Gina Giampietro, a Realtor for Re/Max Select Realty in the Pittsburgh area.

And to finish up with curation today we return to the WSJ…

Affordable Starter Homes Prove Increasingly Elusive – WSJ wsj.com

At Paradise at Ironwood Crossing, a 2,100-home master-planned community southeast of Phoenix, new houses starting as low as $170,000 are snapped up within weeks of hitting the market.

The starter homes in this suburban enclave are among the most affordable in the metro area, said Dennis Webb, vice president of operations at builder Fulton Homes,…

read more at wsj.com

Professional Furnace Inspection Service for the Twin Cities

TDS Furnace Offers Independent Furnace Inspections

Professional Furnace Inspections and Certifications are now available in the Minneapolis St Paul, Twin Cities metro area.

Recently Tom Snuggerud, the former owner of Midland Heating and Air Conditioning in Minneapolis established a new firm specializing in furnace, boiler, water heater and air conditioning inspections and certifications.

I like that idea.  While there are many good home inspectors, the majority of times the typical inspector does just the essentials when it comes to these critical elements in a home.  On the other end of the equation, the annual inspections by most furnace companies are looking for opportunities for new business as much as providing needed annual maintenance.

More than one homeowner has purchased a new heat exchanger they did not really need,.

The advantage Tom offers, is his independence. He knows his stuff after decades in the business and will not only tell you that your furnace meets acceptable minimum standards but will also let you know what to expect in the short term.

This can be helpful additional information when you are considering buying a home.

TDS Furnace will not only inspect your furnace or boiler, but will examine the Hot Water heater and air conditioning systems as well.

As a seller of an older home, his certification of an older but functional system may make the difference between getting an offer or not.

We all depend on the comfort our heating and cooling systems provide and few of us and equipped to make out own independent decisions on their adequacy. That is where an independent like Tom comes to play.

Time will tell whether or not TDS Furnace will penetrate the local market as an independent resource.  I hope he does, The would could use a few more qualified people taking a look at such critical equipment in the home.

 

Furnace Inspection Minneapolis


 

Categories of Rain Gutters Up for Grabs!

Categories of Rain Gutters Up for Grabs!

Waterlogged roofs during monsoon is never good – don’t you agree? Home gutters are the easiest thing that reroute these clogged waters from the foundation of your home. Also known as rain catcher, these are narrow channels that diverts water away from the roof edge. Still wondering about the benefits these gutters 1rain gutters actually provide? Well for starters, it cuts down chances of erosion. Second, it secures the surfaces from getting stained due to over-exposure to rain and water. Gutters are also useful in kissing goodbye to the chances of growing leaks in basements. Finally, if you believe in conserving rain water and use it for later purpose, the tool makes it cakewalk.

In Canada, it is known as Eavestrough but here in Minneapolis, we prefer calling it gutters or rain gutters to be precise.

Types of gutters that are trending in!

Minneapolis markets are flooded with options of rain gutters to choose from. Some of the obvious variants you will come across include:

  1. Seamless Gutter Systems
  2. Copper Rain Gutters
  3. K-Style Gutters
  4. Half-Round Style Gutters
  5. Steel Gutters

Learning about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these gutters will give you an edge when pigutters 2cking a gutter for your own roof.
Starting with steel gutters, there are a few perks you must be aware of.

 

  1. a) They are crafted from high quality galvanized steel protected with an enamel finish.
  2. b) Usually steel gutters last for as long as 15 years.
  3. c) These gutters are durable enough to hold heavier weights of water and snow.
  4. d) A way better option compared to the aluminum ones available in the market.

However, there are a couple of downfalls too!

– Although more durable compared to aluminum ones, steel gutters are priced on a higher scale.

– Since it steel afterall, chances of developing rust is pretty obvious.

When choosing steel gutters for your roof, do make sure to buy those that comes with a hot dipped galvanized finish.

With seamless copper gutters on the contrary, you always enjoy rust and corrosion free experience for longer years. To top it off, they are quite affordable and requires very low maintenance expenses. Good, right?

One of the most ideal standard residential gutters in areas like St. Paul, Minneapolis is the K-style gutter. They are also known as ogee. So don’t get muddled the next time some vendor refers you an ogee instead of a copper gutter.

You Can install them your self as described in the following  video:

Cherish The Grief

What Do Your Customers Think?

Over the years I have worked with many small businesses within and without the real estate world.

One lesson I have picked up from the best of the bunch was an attention to detail when it came to understanding their customers.

George Manson of Manson Builders was perhaps the most effective. He would talk at coffee sometimes about what his customers didn’t like.  We met every few weeks on a regular basis for about two to three years in an informal “Mastermind” group with three other colleagues.

George was always focused on the downside. Or at least that is the way I initially felt about it.

“Can’t please everybody,” I would say.

But George would respond, that one persons complaint was just the tip of the iceberg.  Most people are sheep, he believed, and tended to just accept things as they were.  He actually seemed to prefer those who would complain.

“Let’s Me Know What I Have To Do.”

I was reminded of George yesterday when I came across a blog post about online review sites.

One of the Sections was called, “Cherish the Grief.”

Cherish the Grief

As a practical matter, I hear many of my clients gritting their teeth over some of the negative reviews they receive.  That’s understandable. In general though, it is far better to respond to those reviews with a positive comment back.gritting

For legitimate complaints, you now have a chance to impress a potentially disaffected customer back with a courteous response. A customer saved is as valuable as a new customer and easier in most cases. When they see that you actually care, they may well become a raving fan.

The true value of the review system may well be the insights you get on what your customers are saying and thinking about your business.  You are far better off knowing about any issues you customers are having.  You can take action and build your business faster and more effectively with that feedback.

So while you may not like to get less than optimal feedback, you should cherish it.

That said, you don’t need to share it with your competitors or the general public, which is why the RepPilot System is so valuable. The system captures any negative feedback and gets it sent to you so you can do something about it.  By offering your customers a way to share any frustrations they may have, makes it less likely they will post a poor online review independently. Thus you have dodged a bullet and your overall ranking remains higher than it may have otherwise.

One other nice thing about the RepPilot software is that it allows you to associate customers with individual employees or departments. This gives you a new tool to evaluate staff and departments performance and understand where you excel and where you need additional training or improvements.

See the Full Post here: http://reppilot.com/info/how-to-get-more-good-online-reviews-for-your-business/

I Liked the idea of having an automatic systematic approach to finding things people didn’t like about your business. I Know George would have as well.

Now the author of the post was more focused on getting good online reviews. And that of course makes sense these days.  But that he also recognized the value of getting the less good feedback,  is what made me sit up and take notice.

 

Appraisal Distinctions Value Vs Price

Price and Value Distinctions in Real Estate

When it comes to real estate, what are the specific differences between the terms price and value? To put it simply, there are very clear distinctions between price (the cost of a certain property) and market value (the true worth of a certain property). In some instances, the price that is paid for a certain piece of property may not be entirely representative of or commensurate to the market value of the property.

In some scenarios, there may be special considerations that may have caused this type of situation to arise.

For example, if a special relationship currently exists between the seller and the buyer and there is a influence that is exercised by the latter over the former, then there may be allowance for adjustments in the price of the property despite its market value.

Another example is when there are other properties being sold or traded between the buyer and the seller. In this event, the other properties could account for the amount that is lacking in the market value of the property in question.

 

Conversely, there are some also some situations where a buyer may be more than willing to pay above the premium price of a specific piece of property. In a typical scenario, this number will be above the generally accepted market value, in the event that the buyer views the property as higher than what it is being advertised or marketed as.

A solid example of this would be when there is an owner of a neighboring property who wishes to merge his property with the subject property. In an event such as this, the value of the properties as a single unit would increase phenomenally.

These types of situations typically arise in the arena of corporate finance. To be specific, this type of occurrence usually happens when a merger or acquisition turns out to be valued at a price that is far higher than the price of the stock that underlies it.

In simple terms, what happens here is usually a case of the sum being greater than its parts. More than a few purchasers are more than willing to pay prices for such a deal. This can sometimes occur in the real estate landscape as well.

 

However, the most common instances where price is distinct from market value in the world of real estate is when one of the two parties (buyer/seller) has not been informed about the market value of a certain property is but chooses to sign a contract notwithstanding.

This is where a real estate appraiser will be very useful.

See this article in the NY Times for related material regarding home ownership

Real Estate Appraisal: The Income Approach

The Income Approach

As someone who is considering purchasing residential real estate as an investment, you want to be able to utilize the best and most practical methodology there is available in order to determine the value of a specific piece of property.  With this in mind, it is a good idea to take a look at the three approaches to value that exist. From a traditional point of view, there are three groups of methodologies that you can choose from.

Let us first take a look at what we believe is the approach that will benefit you the most as a residential real estate buyer which is the income approach. The income approach can be likened to  the same methods that are used for determining the price of bonds, analyzing securities, and valuing finances. It is also known as the income capitalization approach. This is the optimal choice for determining the value of both investment and commercial properties.

You might be wondering: why is the income approach considered the most relevant technique for valuing income-producing properties? That is a great question and the answer is because it was designed in such a manner that it can be considered a direct reflection of how participants in the market typically behave as well convey what their expectations are.

Apraisers look closely at the relevant aspects of cash flow within an investment property
Net Operating income as a piece of the pie.

Having said that, given a commercial property that produces income, the income approach essentially becomes an indication of the value of the property based on its stream of income. Several factors are used to come up with the specific number such as capitalization rates coupled with a Net Operating Income or perhaps revenue multipliers. In a typical scenario, stabilization of the NOI is applied so that recent events do not weigh too heavily on the valuation. For instance, if there is an un-leased building and the stabilized NOI is to be applied, the assumption would be that the lease would be at a normal rate and that occupancy levels would be standard as well. In this case, the Net Operating Income would be computed by taking the gross potential income and subtracting the collection loss and vacancy. The result would be the Effective Gross Income. Operational costs would be subtracted from this number as well (not including debt service, depreciation rates, and income taxes).

However, there is an alternate way to compute the Net Operating Income. You can do this by using the discounted cash flow analysis or DCF model. The DCF is usually applied when there are more heftier and higher-value properties involved (i.e. office buildings and shopping complexes). Here, yields that are supported by the market or discount rates are applied in view of projected future cash flows. Projected future cash flows can include annual income figures or lump versions from when the property is eventually sold.

Other methods of approaching the value of commercial or residential properties include the cost approach and the sales comparison approach. In the cost approach, buyers do not pay beyond a specific amount if it would cost less or the same to build a similar property. On the other hand, the sales comparison approach examines the characteristics of a property with similar properties in recent transactions.

The 411 on Cement Sidewalks

The 411 on Cement Sidewalks

Did you know that when it comes to cement sidewalks, you have a ton of options available to you when it comes to decorative features? If cost is an issue to you — and isn’t it to most of us? — then you will find that stamped cement is a very appealing option for you when it comes to beautifying your cement sidewalks. If you fear compromising the naturalness or authenticity of your cement sidewalks, this is where stamped cement comes in. What is important here is that you are certain about the proper blending in of your stamped cement of choice with the other cemented elements available wherever the cement sidewalks are currently installed. Otherwise, the result will be a very unpleasant aesthetic dissonance that nobody will be happy with.

 

Take note that cement elements like acid staining or exposed aggregate go very well with stamped cement. Your options include running bond brick, stone, worn rocks, or hexagonal tiles.

 

Now let us take a look at some examples of patterned stamped cement which is one very popular form of decorative cement walkways. If your goal is to create a resemblance to brick, cobblestone, slate or flagstone with your choice of patterned stamped cement, you are exactly on the right path. Not only will you be saving a significant amount of money by opting to go for patterned stamped cement, you will also be saving so much time and effort on your end when it comes to upkeep. Your driveway, patio and courtyard are all excellent locations for pattern stamped cement applications.

 

The first type of patterned stamped cement is cobblestone – random interlocking. The edges have an irregularity to them while the corners of the cement are rounded. One can also opt for the sorrento pattern for the cobblestone. Some other options that you can consider for cement walkways include English Yorkstone, limestone, sandstone, natural stones, pine interlocking plank, ashlar stone, river stone, fractured slate, fractured earth, and more. At the end of the day, it really all depends on your set budget, and what type of look you hope to achieve when it comes to your cement walkways.

Another aspect of cement walkways that you will have to make a decision on is color. Technological advancements have truly widened one’s options: we have steersman buff, la crescenta, venetian pink, platinum gray, dark red, slate gray, arizona tan, and walnut. It’s wise to ask for a professional opinion.

Stamped Concrete Adds Beauty to Function

Stamped Concrete Adds Beauty as Well As Functional Strength to “Curb Appeal.”

 

Everybody is talking about “curb appeal” these days.  In the real estate industry, it spells a big difference in being able to clinch a sale quickly.  A house with a driveway and patio that generate interest is a big factor in cultivating serious interest in your property.

If you are not planning to sell your house, it remains a good decision to see to it that it has great curb appeal. It shows flair and sense of style.  It reflects warmth and appeal, making your home look attractive and welcoming.

Beautifying your outdoor space does not require a huge budget.  You can definitely enhance your driveway, patio, or walkway without breaking the bank. One of the more popular ways to do this is by using stamped concrete.

Providing this particular finish is a durable, visually-appealing, and cost-effective way to increase curb appeal.  It is a popular solution because your driveway, walkway, or patio may look like it is made of the more expensive stone pavers, bricks, or other similar material at a fraction of the cost. Looking just as appealing, and certainly much easier to maintain, stamped concrete is way more budget-friendly than other surface material, making it a more popular and practical choice for homeowners.

Stamped concrete is an excellent choice – an affordable one that gives your home a charm that lasts.

Stamped concrete is known for its strength, durability, and toughness. It is sturdy and long-lasting. It is inexpensive and is not at all labor intensive to install. You get your money’s worth because it is very durable, holding up better than other surface material to traffic and wear and tear.

Many homeowners swear that stamped concrete stacks up much better in terms of cost-effectiveness, durability, and ease of installation and maintenance compared to pre-cast pavers, natural stone, or asphalt. Installer say that it is much easier and more economical to install;  pouring concrete and applying patterns to it seems easier to do than hauling and placing individual paving stones or bricks by hand.

It is easy to clean.  It also does not require much effort to maintain its lovely patterned look. Other surface material like pavers can sometimes become loose, or can settle, sometimes causing people to trip.  Stamped concrete does not do this thus requiring minimal replacing or resetting over time.

Aside from being practical and functional, this surface material adds a desirable decorative touch and transforms driveways or pathways into aesthetically appealing features in your home.

You will not lack for options where choosing styles for your landscape is concerned. There is a wide variety of textures, patterns, and colors to consider.  Concrete can be made to look like stone, marble, or weathered lumber, adding character to your residence. You can have it customized to fit the distinctive style of the rest of your home.

You can easily tie together outdoor features like your backyard terrace, driveway, and other pathways so you get a beautiful well put-together architectural style, reflecting your discerning personal style and flair.

In the Minneapolis area, a good stamped concrete contractor to call is Morris Concrete.

Check out this episode of Rock Solid TV

Cement Sidewalks 101

Cement sidewalks or cement walkways are truly a wonderful and purposeful creation but did you know that they can also be customized in some fashion in regards to their design? However, while this is a possibility, it is important to engage in the endeavor in a proper way in order to avoid encountering any potential problems from arising in the future. With this in mind, let us dive deeper into the world of cement sidewalks.

Before anything else, what exactly are they for? Well, cement walkways were conceptualized on the basic premise of making it easier for people to get to wherever they need to go and to do so in a safe and sturdy fashion. In addition to this, cement sidewalks also undoubtedly bust the curb appeal of a physical space — whether it is a residence or a commercial space. And in this day and age, many spaces have begun to use cement sidewalks as an avenue of artistic expression.

Of course, these changes in recent years have not diminished the popularity of white plain gray cement. It is still the top choice when it comes to cement walkway installation. One reason could be as it is very professional and pristine-looking. Another is that perhaps some people are simply not aware of the fact that they have options available to them when it comes to dressing up their cement walkways.

If at present, you already have white plain gray cement installed for your cement walkways, do not fret as this does not mean that you are stuck with them forever. The truth is that there are a manifold decorative products that are available on the market that you can use to spruce up your existing walkways and bring some life into them.

One of your options for cement walkways is utilizing stamped cement. Stamped cement is also known as textured cement or imprinted cement. The purpose of this specific type of decorative cement is to mimic the appearance of slate, wood, brick, tile or flagstone. Without a doubt, any space such as a pool deck, patio, driveway, entry or courtyard would instantly be brought to life with the usage of stamped cement. Stamped cement comes in a slew of patterns and colors. Perhaps this is another reason why it is so popular amongst many customers. If budget is an issue for you, then stamped cement is an option that you may wish to consider.

Landscaping Adds Value as well as Enjoyment

Landscaping Adds Value as well as Enjoyment To Investment Property.

Should you pay attention to landscaping on your investment real estate?  Or is it just a waste of time, money, and effort?

Research indicates that improving the outdoor terrain of your property adds not only enjoyment and beauty to your property, it adds real value.  Whether your property is residential or commercial, if you take the time to have it landscaped, you can later sell the property at a much higher price.Landcaping adds to commercial real estate value

Beautifying your property is an artistic and creative endeavor.  Landscaping that is carried out to provide beauty as well as function adds great pleasure and comfort, giving you more reason to enjoy your home.

There are several ways to add outdoor aesthetic appeal. You can use natural stone or luxury bricks to build a splendid entrance driveway.  You can put up walls that are delightful and charming.  You can add a captivating patio to expand your living space, blending the comfort of your interiors with the natural beauty of your garden.  There are several outdoor beautification projects you can choose from – some small, others grand in scale. Regardless of its extent, landscaping your property is certain to add to its curb appeal, bring up its value should you decide to sell it, and provide you with great pleasure.  It allows you to enjoy your home more fully – because of the artistry and charm that it adds, as well as for its increased functionality.

A professional landscape artist can help in redesigning your grounds should you opt for a large-scale outdoor re-working of your entire property.  He can also help you should you simply want an upgrade – get new plants for a fuller, more luxuriant lawn, construct a new natural stone driveway,  add small and charming features like bird baths, barbecue pit, clipped topiaries, or expand your living space with a beautiful and functional private patio or terrace.  You can add unique outdoor lighting to enhance the landscape, add charming garden paths or walls, or eke out delightful fishponds.

Such projects open up fresh dimensions to your family’s outdoor living and entertaining style. Residential landscape gives you personal pride and aesthetic pleasure.  It enhances your lifestyle and allows you to take pleasure even in the ordinary things you do every day.  It increases your home’s curb appeal and, as a result, its resale value.

When you landscape a commercial property, you also get a lot of advantages. The people that you do business with are bound to take notice of the area that surrounds your business.  They form their first impressions based on this façade.  If your grounds are well-designed and taken care of – always beautiful and clean-cut, the people who pay you a visit are likely to see them as a reflection of your personal style.

You do not have to handle landscaping projects yourself.  There are many experts willing to give you the benefit of their creative and artistic experience, commitment, and personal service so that your investment real estate is able to take on greater value and to give you superior enjoyment.