Minnesota Metro Real Estate Blog

Jeff Scislow

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 107

Sensible Safety Tips for Summer Grilling

by Jeff Scislow

Yes, yes, you’ve heard these many times before, but don’t stop reading just yet.  Even if you’re acutely aware of all safety precautions for outside grilling, it never hurts to be reminded once again.  And who knows?  You may just learn something new to protect yourself and your family.

Sobering facts:

  • grillingIn 2012, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
  • One of every six (16%) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
  • Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires.
  • Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts.

The Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HBPA) urges grillers to research and be familiar with the different types of fuel used for outdoor grilling.  Each type—propane, briquettes, or pellets--has individual characteristics (and dangers) you should be aware of.

This week I’ll concentrate on charcoal grilling precautions.  Propane hints will come next week.

Barbecue Tips:

  • Grills should always be used outside, in a well ventilated area stationed away from the home, deck railings, and any low hanging tree branches or plants.
  • Never leave the grill unattended, especially if you have children and pets.
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup ( a wire brush or balled up aluminum foil will do the trick).  You should also clean or replace any trays that sit below the grill and collect food waste.
  • Bring a grilling session to an end by wearing heatproof mitts, removing the grill rack, covering the grill with the lid, and sealing off any vents to cut off the oxygen supply.  Let the coals burn out for up to 48 hours before preparing for disposal. Note: In rare cases, ashes can reignite up to 72 hours after the grilling is done.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid.  Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.   Check out thi before you even begin the grilling process.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord designed for outdoor use.

Outdoor charcoal grilling, if done carefully and correctly, is one of summer’s delight.  Enjoy!!!

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow!

Tips for Homebuyers in a Seller’s Market

by Jeff Scislow

I recently wrote about the advantages of being a seller in a real estate market of high demand but low supply.  The other side of that story, however, is the buyer’s challenges when attempting to purchase in a seller’s market.  If you find yourself in that position, do not become discouraged; read on for practical advice in your quest for a home

  • Find a reputable, knowledgeable Realtor:  Because you may well find yourself in a bidding war for your desired house, what you will want (and need) is an agent who is familiar with such a situation.  You’ll need someone to talk to the listing agent and figure out what’s important to the seller. You also want an agent who knows exactly what’s going on in the local real estate market, can help you put together a competitive offer, and can offer a variety of strategies to ensure that you will get the house.  Call us!

  • Understand how multiple offers work:    Basically, a multiple offer scenario means that the seller has his/her pick of two or more purchase offers. The seller can accept one of the offers, reject all of them, or begin the counteroffer process. A counteroffer does not stop the seller from entertaining other offers while waiting to hear from you. If a better offer comes along, the seller could rescind their counteroffer before you have a chance to respond. Sellers have no obligation to respond to offers in the order they are received, nor do they have to reveal the status of other offers to competing buyers.
  • Get your finances and paperwork in order:  Sellers are looking for buyers who can back up their offer; just like you, they don’t want the deal to fall through at the last minute! Boost your chances by getting pre-approved for your home loan.  Consider how much you can apply to a down payment; higher amounts are often reassuring to sellers.  If you can, bring cash to the table. Sellers are worried about appraisals coming in low and loans not closing, so be ready to cover the difference with cash.
  • Be flexible and accommodating whenever possible:  When you are competing with multiple offers, it is to your advantage to make your offer as palatable and enticing as possible.  Try to accommodate the owner’s desired closing date and shorten requested time for contingencies (loan, appraisal, and inspection).

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow.

I recently wrote about the advantages of being a seller in a real estate market of high demand but low supply.  The other side of that story, however, is the buyer’s challenges when attempting to purchase in a seller’s market.  If you find yourself in that position, do not become discouraged; read on for practical advice in your quest for a home

·         Find a reputable, knowledgeable Realtor:  Because you may well find yourself in a bidding war for your desired house, what you will want (and need) is an agent who is familiar with such a situation.  You’ll need someone to talk to the listing agent and figure out what’s important to the seller. You also want an agent who knows exactly what’s going on in the local real estate market, can help you put together a competitive offer, and can offer a variety of strategies to ensure that you will get the house.  Call us!

·         Understand how multiple offers work:    Basically, a multiple offer scenario means that the seller has his/her pick of two or more purchase offers. The seller can accept one of the offers, reject all of them, or begin the counteroffer process. A counteroffer does not stop the seller from entertaining other offers while waiting to hear from you. If a better offer comes along, the seller could rescind their counteroffer before you have a chance to respond. Sellers have no obligation to respond to offers in the order they are received, nor do they have to reveal the status of other offers to competing buyers. 

·         Get your finances and paperwork in order:  Sellers are looking for buyers who can back up their offer; just like you, they don’t want the deal to fall through at the last minute! Boost your chances by getting pre-approved for your home loan.  Consider how much you can apply to a down payment; higher amounts are often reassuring to sellers.  If you can, bring cash to the table. Sellers are worried about appraisals coming in low and loans not closing, so be ready to cover the difference with cash.

·         Be flexible and accommodating whenever possible:  When you are competing with multiple offers, it is to your advantage to make your offer as palatable and enticing as possible.  Try to accommodate the owner’s desired closing date and shorten requested time for contingencies (loan, appraisal, and inspection).

I recently wrote about the advantages of being a seller in a real estate market of high demand but low supply.  The other side of that story, however, is the buyer’s challenges when attempting to purchase in a seller’s market.  If you find yourself in that position, do not become discouraged; read on for practical advice in your quest for a home

  • Find a reputable, knowledgeable Realtor:  Because you may well find yourself in a bidding war for your desired house, what you will want (and need) is an agent who is familiar with such a situation.  You’ll need someone to talk to the listing agent and figure out what’s important to the seller. You also want an agent who knows exactly what’s going on in the local real estate market, can help you put together a competitive offer, and can offer a variety of strategies to ensure that you will get the house.  Call us!
  • Understand how multiple offers work:    Basically, a multiple offer scenario means that the seller has his/her pick of two or more purchase offers. The seller can accept one of the offers, reject all of them, or begin the counteroffer process. A counteroffer does not stop the seller from entertaining other offers while waiting to hear from you. If a better offer comes along, the seller could rescind their counteroffer before you have a chance to respond. Sellers have no obligation to respond to offers in the order they are received, nor do they have to reveal the status of other offers to competing buyers. 
  • Get your finances and paperwork in order:  Sellers are looking for buyers who can back up their offer; just like you, they don’t want the deal to fall through at the last minute! Boost your chances by getting pre-approved for your home loan.  Consider how much you can apply to a down payment; higher amounts are often reassuring to sellers.  If you can, bring cash to the table. Sellers are worried about appraisals coming in low and loans not closing, so be ready to cover the difference with cash.
  • Be flexible and accommodating whenever possible:  When you are competing with multiple offers, it is to your advantage to make your offer as palatable and enticing as possible.  Try to accommodate the owner’s desired closing date and shorten requested time for contingencies (loan, appraisal, and inspection).

Fueled partly by an increase in the share of sales to first-time buyers, existing-home sales increased in May to their highest pace in nearly six years, according to the National Association of Realtors®.  Led by the Northeast, all major regions experienced sales increases in May.

sold signMay home sales rebounded strongly following April's decline and are now at their highest pace since November 2009 (5.44 million. However, overall supply still remains tight; homes are selling fast, and price growth in many markets continues to teeter at or near double-digit appreciation

Good news for you sellers, right?  Yes, of course, but it’s important that you realize that just because it’s a seller’s market doesn’t mean that your house will sell itself.  To get top price and a quick sale, you still have to make necessary repairs, perk up curb appeal, “stage” your home to appeal to a wide variety of buyers, and ask a realistic price..

Of utmost importance and to be done at the beginning of the selling process:  choose a knowledgeable and reputable Realtor (call us!) who shares your goals and can skillfully advise you in your quest.  When properties are moving quickly, if your home doesn’t sell within the first couple of weeks, buyers will start to perceive it as market-worn.  They’ll assume there is an issue with it and consider themselves in a stronger bargaining position-- or reject the home altogether.

Another reason to select an experienced Realtor (call us!) is that it is possible you may be faced with multiple competing offers to purchase your property. Your listing broker can explain various negotiating strategies for you to consider. For example, you can accept the “best” offer; you can inform all potential purchasers that other offers are “on the table” and invite them to make their “best” offer; you can “counter” one offer while putting the other offers to the side awaiting a decision on your counter-offer; or you can “counter” one offer and reject the others.  If you have questions about the possibility of multiple offers and the way to deal with them, ask your Realtor to explain your options and alternatives. 

Remember that many of your potential buyers are first-timers who may not be familiar with the bidding process.  Do resist the urge to be greedy and instead rely on patience, courtesy, and reason to make selling your home non-stressful for all concerned.

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow.

Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Trends - May 2015

by Jeff Scislow

In May, Minneapolis, MN foreclosure filings were 2% lower than the previous month and 3% 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 42.7% of foreclosure activity in May 2015 and Bank-owned properties accounted for 57.3%.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN
Foreclosure Activity by Month

The number of Bank-Owned properties decreased 11.3% compared to the previous month and rose 13.3% from the previous year in May. The number of Auctions increased 12.9% compared to the previous month and decreased 18.1% from the previous year.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


Minneapolis MN Foreclosure Geographical Comparison

Minneapolis MN foreclosure activity was 0.02% below national statistics, 0.03% higher than Minnesota numbers and the same as than Hennepin County statistics in May 2015.

minneapolis mn foreclosure


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

Information courtesy of Minneapolis Realtor Jeff Scislow.

Celebrating America's Birthday!

by Jeff Scislow

american flag“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
~Elmer Davis

As Americans, we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th to honor our nation’s birthday.  It is day replete with parades, cookouts, picnics, flag waving, 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

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”.  
~William Faulkner

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.

Click here to brush up on how to honor Old Glory.

FABULOUS FOOD:  Having a cookou4th of julyt 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.  For updated and healthy food choices, visit Health.com

Having a holiday gathering at your home?  Better Homes and Gardens has many websites to help you with food, decorations, and crafts for the kids.  Click here for trivia questions such as” How many verses does the Star Spangled Banner have?”  to challenge your guests. 

FIREWORKS 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.  Perhaps the longest celebration is fittingly held in Philadelphia---a 9 day festival culminating in back-to-back fireworks!

Spread the word—and patriotism.  123Greetings.com offers a good selection of holiday-themed cards to send to family and friends.

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!

Know the Score on Credit Scores

by Jeff Scislow

Is your credit score important?  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 AnnualCreditReport.com is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law.   Be aware, however, that only the report itself is free; to get your actual score, you will need to pay $7.95.

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.

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow.

Tips For Managing Your Summer Move

by Jeff Scislow

If you are one of the thousands who are moving this summer, you are most likely aware of what a demanding endeavor you have undertaken.   So much to do in advance of the big day, and so many details to attend to!   Whether you’re a type A who thinks you have everything under control (and probably does) or one who has good intentions which are often not realized, the following “must do” list can certainly help to make your relocating experience less stressful.

  • summer moveSelect a reliable mover and book well in advance:  Are your movers licensed by your state’s Department of Transportation? Have you examined their record with the Better Business Bureau? Did you check their references?  The Better Business Bureau, the American Moving & Storage Association, Angie's List-- and even your relatives, friends, neighbors, and colleagues -- are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Do remember that during the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks -- or, better yet, months -- in advance.
  • Get a written in-home estimate of moving costs.  Along those lines, don't rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes.
  • Check the details of the company’s liability insurance policy.
  • Take only what you really need—and begin packing well in advance of the actual move: Moving gives you a perfect opportunity to cull your possessions. Use your move to get rid of clothes you don't wear anymore, books you've already read, outdated technology, and more.  This is a good  time to donate unwanted, but still useful, items to charitable organizations—and you’ll cut your moving costs, too.
  • Label all boxes as to contents and desired room placement in your new home.  Strongly resist the urge to pack unrelated items together to save time.  You’ll thank yourself when you’re unpacking!
  • Fill out change-of-address forms in advance.  Also, make arrangements with a neighbor to check for and forward any mail that has been delivered to your old address.
  • Devise a plan for transporting important papers, valuables, plants, and pets. 
  • Draw up—and stick to—a time line.  Click here for a sample comprehensive checklist designed to help you stay on track leading up to, during, and after your moving day.

Do remember that remaining reasonable calm and retaining your sense of humor are also valuable tools!

Information courtesy of South Metro Real Estate Expert Jeff Scislow.

Tips to Secure Your Home While On Vacation

by Jeff Scislow

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that summer get-aways are on the horizon!  Ah, vacation—an opportunity to experience new places, spend time with family and friends, and relax your body.  It also offers a chance to clear your mind and leave your cares and worries behind you.

vacationCheck out these tips to ensure the security of your home while you’re away and allow you to maintain a worry-free/care-less state of mind:

  • Hold your mail and suspend newspaper delivery:  When you're leaving for more than a few  days, call your local post office and newspaper to stop delivery until you get back.   Ask a neighbor to be on the lookout for and take in any packages that may arrive while you’re gone.
  • Be smart about vehicles that are left behind:  Park your car in your (locked) garage if you have one.  If not, move your vehicle to a friend’s property until you return.  Ask neighbors/friends to keep their cars in your driveway at various times.
  • Light up!  Before you leave, buy a timer and install it on a lamp in your home. It's also a good idea to install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight that will be triggered should someone walk by it. In addition, you can ask a neighbor to turn on the front porch light in the evening.
  • Don’t forget details inside your home:  Remember to do the following tasks:

               *turn down your thermostat

               *unplug all small appliances and electronics

               *set water heater on “vacation mode”

  • Be discreet about sharing information:  Although you may be excited about your plans, resist the urge to divulge them on social media.  Be cautious, too, about discussing your trip in public places or on your answering machine.  Do, however, leave pertinent information with a friend in case of an emergency.
  • Remember that appearances do matter:  Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, if necessary, and put out/take in trash receptacles on collection day.  Keeping drapes closed is not a good idea, nor is leaving expensive items, like jewelry or computers, in plain view if they're visible from the window.
  • Remove the spare key:  This is not the time to leave an extra key outside, even if you think its hiding place is foolproof.  It’s much better to give one to a trusted person for safe keeping.

Check this checklist one last, time, lock the front door, and enjoy yourself!

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow!

The Emergence Of a New Group Of Home Buyers

by Jeff Scislow

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the most active group of recent buyers in 2014 was the millennial generation, those 34 and younger, who comprised 32 percent of all buyers. Millennial buyers represented more than double the number of younger millenial home buyerboomer (ages 50-59) and older boomer (60-68) buyers (at 31 percent).  They are the largest generation in history and the most diverse, but they don’t approach housing the same way as their predecessors.

This generation of homebuyers is unlike any other. For one thing, they typically come to Realtors with most of their research already done through Internet searches and online searching tools. The technological dependency demonstrated by this generation doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “tech-savvy,” but they typically know what they want by the time they seek out a broker.  Generally speaking, they have already decided what type of dwelling they desire and have selected preferred locations in advance.

Cultural Outreach Solutions identified 4 millennial preferences in home purchases:

  • Moving Urban:  Millennials want to be close to their jobs and activities.
  • Moving Small:  In addition to a growing trend towards tiny homes, millennials as a generation care less about large spaces and more about accessibility.
  • Eco-friendly Homes:  Millennials care about eco-friendly, “smart” homes in close proximity to their jobs. There has been greater push for solar power homes lately as large banks step forward to help with funding.
  • Investment:  Millennials desire homes that are going to build equity quickly and will have a high return on their investment.
  • Location:  Their top three criteria for determining location include proximity to work, access to restaurants and night life, and closeness to parks and recreation areas.

Recent actions by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to reduce the amount of a required down payment and the willingness of parents to financially contribute to home purchases are easing the way for millennials to become first-time homebuyers, as is the assistance of a Realtor.    Although the Internet was the top source of millennials, they also used an agent to purchase their home at a higher rate (90%) than all other generations.

So contact us millennials; we’re eager to assist you!

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor jeff Scislow.

Home Buying: Is This the Right Time for You?

by Jeff Scislow

If you’re a current homeowner looking to upgrade, downsize, or relocate, no doubt you’ve been following current trends in the real estate and are convinced that there is indeed a market for your present residence and that conditions are favorable for you to buy another house.

homebuyerIf you’re a potential first-time homebuyer, however, you may well be uncertain and in need of further assurance that purchasing your first home is the right move for you.  If this is the case, consider these facts:

  • For the second straight year, more Americans among all major gender, age, and income groups. named real estate—as opposed to stocks, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds-- as the best long-term investment. Real estate leads with 31% of Americans choosing it, according to an April Gallup poll.
  • When you own a home, you have the ability to build equity and benefit from mortgage interest and property taxes deductions.  You also qualify for a capital gains exclusion and a home equity loan.
  • The percentage of your monthly income that you can expect to pay on a mortgage payment is 15.3% as opposed to 30.1% on rent.
  • According to RealtyTrac, home price appreciation outpaces wage growth in 76 percent of American markets. 
  • Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have reduced the amount of the required down payment for FHA loans.
  • Interest rates are staying low for this year, while home prices are predicted to increase.  The Federal Reserve has decided against any increase in rates for the time being, and the current mortgage market for people with excellent credit is about 3.9% for a 30-year mortgage, and 2.75% for a 15 year mortgage.
  • However, the biggest names in the market are fully expecting rates to move higher in the future.

Consider the following possibilities for the 30-year fixed mortgage:

*For 2016 Fannie Mae predicts 4.40%, Freddie Mac says 4.7%, Mortgage Bankers Association estimates 5.2%, and National Association of Realtors predicts 6.0%.

If these predictions come to fruition, now is the time to buy a home.

Is the time right for your first home purchase?  Our Realtors will be happy to help you assess your financial situation, apply for mortgage preapproval, guide you through the buying process, find a home that is just right for you, and celebrate your becoming a home owner.  How exciting!

Information courtesy of South Metro Realtor Jeff Scislow.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 107

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) 747-9900
Fax: Fax : (952) 431-0420