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Jeff Scislow

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Fall Home Buying? Yes, Indeed!

by Jeff Scislow

Next to spring, fall is the busiest real estate time of the year. Although you can buy houses at any time, the fall real estate market offers certain benefits to home buyers, including year-end tax breaks, pleasant weather conditions for moving, a good selection of houses, and more. If you are shopping for a home during the fall and don't want to miss out on a great deal, it's a good idea to explore the possibility of pre-qualifying for a loan and to know what type of house you are looking for and what you can realistically afford to buy.

Who’s buying in the fall?  According to an ERA survey, the fall buyer mix in the fall typically consists of:

  • First-time homebuyers : 27 percent
  • Move-up buyers: 20 percent
  • Buyers downsizing/retiring: 17 percent
  • Investors: 14 percent
  • Relocating military: 11 percent
  • Vacation home buyers : 6 percent
  • Other: 5 percent

Benefits of fall buying include the following:

  • End-of-the-year tax breaks: Come fall, people begin to think about what year-end tax breaks they may be eligible for. Fortunately for homebuyers, owning a house can yield great dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. Furthermore, if you have prepaid some interest before the due date of your first payment and you close your loan before the year's end, that amount will also be deducted.
  • Motivated sellers:  Often sellers will opt to lower their price in the fall because they're afraid of trying to sell during the holidays. They also know that potential buyer traffic drops in the fall, so their prices (and most likely incentives) have to be competitive.
  • Low interest rates:  With interest rates on 30-year mortgages still hovering around 4.0-4.25% buyers who've been riding out the economic downturn and the gradual housing recovery should certainly consider making a move at this time.
  • Uninterrupted holidays:  A fall home purchase will ensure that you will be comfortably ensconced in your new residence before the fall/winter holidays, allowing you to enjoy family and friends without worrying about packing and moving.

Comfortable weather conditions:  Buying a house before the deep freeze of winter sets in is very appealing to most home buyers. No one wants to worry about icy roads, snowstorms, or blackout conditions on moving day.

Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Trends for July 2014

by Jeff Scislow

In July, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Minneapolis, MN was 15% higher than the previous month and 13% lower than the same time last year, according to RealtyTrac.com.

Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Status Distribution

The current distribution of foreclosures based on the number of active foreclosure homes in Minneapolis, MN.

Auctions accounted for 63.4% of foreclosure activity in July 2014 and Bank-owned properties accounted for 36.6%.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN
Foreclosure Activity by Month

The number of Bank-Owned properties decreased 13.7% compared to the previous month and dropped 39.4% from the previous year in July. The number of Auctions increased 42.2% compared to the previous month and 15.7% from the previous year.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Geographical Comparison

Minneapolis MN foreclosure activity was the same as national statistics, 0.03% higher than Minnesota numbers and the same as Hennepin County statistics in July 2014.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Curious about the value of you home? Find out NOW!

The Real Greening Of Your Home’s Interior

by Jeff Scislow

If you are one of the millions who suffer from seasonal allergies, you most likely place the blame for your discomfort on outdoor pollen, smog, ozone, and other pollutants.  But did you realize that the air inside your home can be more polluted than the air outside—the result of lead, formaldehyde, green homefire-retardants, radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners? Some pollutants are tracked into the home; some arrive via a new mattress or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a fresh coat of paint on the walls—but all can be greatly decreased (or even eliminated) by literally greening your home’s interior with plants!

Although indoor environments are filled with dangerous volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) given off by furniture, paint, plastics, adhesives, carpets, insulation, furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and building materials, one NASA study found that common houseplants--in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen, and providing humidity--can improve indoor air quality by removing up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours.  Some of these toxic emissions include ammonia, carbon monoxide, benzene formaldehyde, xylene, and the like--all common but unwelcome guests in your “non-green” home.

So what plants to choose to achieve a green home interior?  All houseplants improve the quality of indoor air, but some are particularly effective purifiers.  Many of these originated in the tropics in low light, so they are efficient at processing and absorbing gasses needed for photosynthesis.  Most are also insect resistant and are fairly easy to grow.  Especially popular are the following:

  • Mother fern
  • Boston fern
  • Philodendrons
  • Palms 
  • Ficus
  • Peace lilies
  • Ivy
  • Rubber plants
  • Spider plant

A general rule-of-thumb is to place two or three plant in each room of your home---about 15 plants for every 1500 square feet of space.  Mix it up and have a variety of types.  Don’t ignore corners; not all plants need to be near a window.  Take care of your plants so they can do their job; keep the soil/root area clean and avoid overwatering, which can cause mold!

If you’d like to expand your greening efforts beyond the addition of plants, click here for an extensive list of interior air quality problems in all areas of your home and simple remedies to eliminate these contaminants in order to create a truly green home.

Tips on Becoming a Landlord

by Jeff Scislow

For a myriad of reasons, many homeowners are finding themselves in a position to become a first-time landlord.  Perhaps the cause for you is a military move, a job change, or the need to rent the home of an elderly relative.  It may be that you love your home and want to return to it in the future, that you see the investment potential in holding on to the house, or you view such a move as a money-making proposition in the long run.

for rentWhatever your reason, taking on the responsibilities of a landlord is a serious decision, but it is a “do-able” task if you exercise due diligence before leaping into that role by educating yourself about state and municipal regulations, tenants’/landlords’ rights and responsibilities, required documents, and legal terms and industry jargon.

 A few tips to help you get started...

  • Have a financial plan in place.  Analyze the cost of annual maintenance and repair, property taxes and insurance, travel, if applicable, and legal fees.  It is important, also, to have a “rainy day fund” set aside for unexpected (and sometimes large) expenses.
  • Consult with a real estate attorney before beginning as a landlord. Avoid invalid or incomplete lease agreements, understand timelines, and seek legal advice in general.
  • Estimate the amount of time your landlord duties will require of you and be realistic about your ability to adequately cope with them.  It may be in your best interests to consider hiring a property management team (we do that!!) to deal with finding new tenants, emergency repairs, and other time-consuming chores.
  • Learn about your prospective tenants.  If this task is left to property managers, be sure they have done a thorough job of vetting the clients   Ask about their previous rental history, why they are moving, where they work, and their income. Call their previous landlords. Have them complete a rental application and take the time to verify their good credit and their employment, which will help you determine their ability to pay the rent.  Online websites, such as Youcheckcredit.com will, for a fee, provide this service for you.

One caveat: if you are planning to buy another home and rent the existing one, understand that you are entering a far more complicated transaction.  Consult with your Realtor, your banker, and numerous websites to understand the intricacies of such an endeavor.

Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Trends for June 2014

by Jeff Scislow

In June, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in Minneapolis, MN was 7% lower than the previous month and 42% lower than the same time last year, according to RealtyTrac.com.

Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Status Distribution

The current distribution of foreclosures based on the number of active foreclosure homes in Minneapolis, MN.

Auctions accounted for 51.3% of foreclosure activity in June 2014 and Bank-owned properties accounted for 48.7%.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN
Foreclosure Activity by Month

The number of Bank-Owned properties decreased 7.8% compared to the previous month and dropped 39.8% from the previous year in June. The number of Auctions decreased 5.8% compared to the previous month and 44.7% from the previous year.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Geographical Comparison

Minneapolis MN foreclosure activity was 0.01% below national statistics, 0.03% higher than Minnesota numbers and 0.01% higher than Hennepin County statistics in June 2014.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Curious about the value of you home? Find out NOW!

Strategies To Remedy a Low Home Appraisal

by Jeff Scislow

Talk about a setback!  You’ve spent much time and effort preparing your property for sale or looking for the perfect house to buy, negotiating a fair price, and anxiously awaiting the settlement date.  And now you have received a low home appraisal… considerably below the asking price.  What to do?  First, whether you are the buyer or the seller, remain calm.  This is not an unusual occurrence in today’s market.  Understanding the possible reasons for the disappointing appraisal and exploring strategies to save the transaction are your next steps.

home appraisalREASONS F0R A LOW HOME APPRAISAL:

  • Overpricing by seller
  • Declining market values
  • An abundance of foreclosures or short sales in the neighborhood
  • Inflated price resulting from multiple offers
  • Incorrect evaluation by the appraiser
  • Cash back to buyer from the seller
  • Error(s) on the part of the appraiser

WHAT A SELLER CAN DO:

  • Lower the price of the property.  After researching and analyzing the latest comps with your Realtor, realistically reconsider your asking price and decide whether you are willing to begin the selling process all over again.
  • Offer to carry a second mortgage for the buyer if the above option is not possible.

WHAT A BUYER CAN DO:

  • Ask the seller to make up the difference in cash.
  • Ask the lender for a new appraisal after presenting your justification for this request.
  • Offer a larger down payment, thus reducing the mortgage required to a level below the home appraisal.

OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO BOTH SELLER AND BUYER:

  • Check the appraiser’s report for errors (in facts or omission) in information about the house.  Verify the accuracy of the square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the inclusion of all improvements to the property..  If information is missing or incorrect, appeal the appraisal.  The key to a successful dispute is data, so do your research and be prepared with facts.
  • Supply to the underwriter a list of recent comparable sales that justify the selling/purchase price and ask for a review of the home appraisal.
  • Order a new appraisal.  Although you will have to pay for it, it could be money well spent if it results in a higher appraisal. Your lender will give you a list of approved appraisers.

As a last resort, cancel the transaction.  Most purchase contracts contain a loan contingency which deals with a low home appraisal.

Know The Score On Credit Scores

by Jeff Scislow

The relatively-recent barrage of credit score source commercials on television would lead you to believe that such a number is quite important.  And indeed it is, for it often dictates, or at least heavily influences, your mortgage approval, interest rates, insurance premiums, utility security deposits, employment opportunities, and even cell phone contracts.  Who knew?

credit scoreA credit score, often called a FICO score, helps lenders and service providers evaluate your credit report because it is a number that summarizes your current credit risk. The higher the score, the better for you. Generally speaking, credit scores below 550 are consider poor, 550 to 620 subprime, 620 to 680 acceptable, 680 to 740 good, and above 740 excellent.

Obviously, it is in your best interests to know your current credit score and to periodically check the report itself for misinformation or for fraudulent charges (ID theft indicator).  How to do so?  The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.  You can make one request to all three companies at one time, or you may stagger them during the year. Only www.annualcreditreport.com is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law.  Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program, and In many cases the “free” product comes with strings attached.

If your credit score is high, rejoice, be proud, and work to maintain that rating.  If it is in the acceptable to good category, take steps to increase the number by consistently making timely payments, reducing the amount you owe, not closing or opening any new accounts, and keeping balances low on credit cards.

If you fall into the subprime or poor range, you will need to take additional steps to improve your rating.  It's important to note that repairing bad credit takes time and there is no quick way to raise that number. In fact, out of all of the ways to improve a credit score, quick-fix efforts are the most likely to backfire, so beware of any advice that claims to improve your credit score fast.  Unfortunately, here is no “quick fix.”

Be patient, proactive, and aware.

Leaving Your Home Alone—But Protected

by Jeff Scislow

Although our Minnesota weather may indicate otherwise, the calendar says it is summer—time to go on vacation (hopefully to somewhere warm and sunny!).  You most likely know the basic steps you should take to protect your home from intruders, i.e., arranging for mail and papers to be locked househeld until you return, removing the spare key from under the door mat, locking all doors and windows, leaving a radio or television on, and having neighbors park in your driveway, but there are other, lesser known tips you may want to heed before going off and leaving your home alone.

  • Don’t invite break-ins:
    • Move valuables out of the line of sight. Keep expensive items out of view from windows.

Leave blinds and curtains in normal daytime positions.

  • Resist the urge to broadcast your upcoming absence on social media
  • Don’t give burglars the tools to break into your house. Put ladders and crow bars (and anything else an intruder could use to break into your “alone” home) inside a locked shed.
  • Trim shrubs in front of the house to no higher than 3 feet from the ground, and trim trees so that the lowest branches are at least 6 feet up (less hiding room for burglars).
  • Take advantage of electronics:
    • Put a timer on the TV as well as the lights. Nothing says you’re home like the flickering lights of a TV. If you can find timers which are controlled by an app on your cell phone, that would be the best option
  • Connect some outside and inside lights to motion sensors.
  • Install a fake security camera on the outside of your home. Amazon.com sells a dummy camera for about $10. Put it up high so it’s harder to tell it’s fake.
  • Disconnect your electric garage door opener.
  • Turn down the phone's ringer.  Unanswered ringing phones alert savvy intruders to your home’s “aloneness.”
  • Employ other thwarting tactics:
    • If your garage door can be opened manually, put a lock on it and/or click here for other garage security tricks.
  • Seal any pet doors to prevent very thin burglars from sliding through.

Feeling more secure and ready to roll away from your ”home alone”?  If not, you might consider finding a reliable house sitter to put your mind at ease. 

In any event, rest, relax, and enjoy!!!!

Setting the Stage to Sell Your South Metro Home This Summer

by Jeff Scislow

If you’ve ever been involved in a theatrical production, you are well aware of the many hours of planning, practice, preparation, and carefully setting the stage that precede the actual performance.  You hope to gain rave reviews from your audience and will thus be sure to put forth much energy and effort in order to do so.

 

theater

In much the same way, you, as the seller of your home, have aspirations of wowing potential buyers with your stellar presentation and being rewarded by appreciative applause in the form of a quick sale.  Just practice the following script and stage directions for dramatic results…

The curtain opens on a tastefully furnished room with adequate, but not overcrowded or oversized, furniture.  There is ample room to walk between the moderately-sized pieces, and doors and windows are not blocked.  Flowers and bowls of fresh fruit add color and a pleasant scent.  Personal photos and memorabilia are not present, and the few paintings that adorn the walls contribute to the overall light and airy atmosphere.

 

ACT I:

Clean, clean, clean and de-clutter even more!  Create an impressive stage set by buffing floors and washing walls. This is the time to donate, throw away, and organize the many items that take up too much room, distract from positive features, make your home appear smaller, and create a feeling of chaos.  Let your granite countertops, roomy closets, and ample cabinet space take center stage for potential buyers. Your Realtor can advise you about other popular features you may want to include as you’re setting the stage for your open house.


Intermission:

Audience members will now be milling about the area outside your theatre, so be sure that you have taken steps to make it attractive and appealing.

 

ACT II:

 

Concentrate on stage lighting.  Wash windows, open curtains and drapes, illuminate darker spaces. Put away winter bedding, accessories, and area rugs. Bring in the spirit of summer stage setting with soft colors. Consider investing in inexpensive items like towels, throw pillows, candles and table settings in lavender, yellow, sage green and pale blue.   

 

Final curtain:

Time to take a bow, accept the flowers, bask in the applause, and enjoy the accolades. Your presentation and setting of the stage have been a complete success, and you will soon be entertaining offers for your South Metro home.

Celebrating the 4th of July!

by Jeff Scislow

flag“America is best described in one word--freedom”   Dwight D. Eisenhower

As Americans, we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th to honor our nation’s birthday and the Declaration of Independence. It is a day replete with parades, cookouts, picnics, waving flags, fireworks, and a heavy dose of patriotism. 

 

JULY 4, 1776:  The Second Continental Congress completed its work on the Declaration of Independence.

JULY 4, 1941:  Independence Day was first celebrated as a federal legal holiday.

 

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right with America.” Bill Clinton

Did you know that there is a one-gun salute fired at noon on July 4th on every capable military base?  It is called the Salute to the Union.


IT’S A GRAND OLD FLAG
and there are specific rules about displaying it proudly and properly.

Be sure to brush up on the dos and don’ts for honoring Old Glory.

FABULOUS FOOD:  Having a cookout or picnic with friends and family?   Think about foods that come in patriotic colors--white snow cone cups filled with red and blue berries, e.g.  Be sure to offer hot dogs, hamburgers, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, and watermelon for an all-American meal.  Maybe even Mom’s apple pie to top it off!  Food Network stars share many delicious recipes for this holiday, and the web even offers a video of grilling safety tips.

Having a holiday gathering at your home or nearby park?  Better Homes and Gardens has many websites to help you with food, decorations, and crafts for the kids. A holiday trivia contest or a themed party game, such as Uncle Sam’s Hat, offer fun for all ages.

fireworksFIREWORKS FINALE:  Nearly every U.S. city or town offers an exciting fireworks display to end the day’s festivities, and we’re never to old or young to ooh and ah at the spectacle.  Some notable shows are held at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Charles River in Boston, Mt. Rushmore, the Rose Bowl, and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  Perhaps the longest celebration is fittingly held in Philadelphia--a 9 day festival culminating in back-to-back fireworks!

George Washington once said, “Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”  Do remember, however, that such a plant needs to cherished, nourished, and protected by each and every American.


Have a safe and happy 4th!

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 64

Contact Information

Photo of The Scislow Group Real Estate
The Scislow Group
RE/MAX Results
15451 Founders Lane
Apple Valley MN 55124
Office: (952) 953-5000
Mobile: (612) 276-2336
Fax: Fax : (952) 431-0420