Meet Minnesota’s Exclusive Home Buyer Agents

Buyers Real Estate Group is a Minneapolis-based real estate agency focusing on the Greater Minneapolis / St Paul area. We lead the industry by having Real Estate Agents who exclusively represent Home Buyers. Let us help you find the right house today!

When you work with Buyers Real Estate Group, you have an Exclusive Buyer Agent. We have been exclusvely representing home buyers for 22+ years and our agents have an average of 15 years representing buyers in Minnesota. That means we represent the best interests of home buyers at all times. We never represent the seller. We specialize in representing home buyers in the Minneapolis / St Paul area.

We are professional, licensed real estate agents that can show properties to a home buyer in the Twin Cities without the possibility of representing the seller side of the table at the same time. Few other real estate agents can say they help you avoid dual agency!

So if you’re looking for a townhouse, condo, single family home or investment, please give us a call at 612-247-0240.

If you’d like to request a private meeting with an experienced realtor to discuss your situation call 612-247-0240 to get that set up at a time that works for you. We are happy to meet to discuss how we can support your home buying plans better than any other realtors!

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Things Our Buyers Learned During Inspection

During the Home Inspection period, which begins the day after your offer is accepted, and an executed contract has been received by both sides, you will have the opportunity to truly get a picture of how well the seller has maintained their home.  The best home inspector walks the entire property, commenting on all exterior issues starting with the roof, gutters, downspouts, chimney, siding and the exterior grading of the property. Also the driveway, sidewalks and condition of landscaping is another factor they will consider, pointing out any flaws or needed repairs or updates.

In a seller’s market, it is less likely that sellers will accept your offer if it is contingent on the inspection and there are multiple offers, however, offers made with a non-contingent inspection do get consideration, and, sellers appear to be willing to make some repairs.  In multiple offers, where my clients have paid over list price, and their inspection was non-contingent, the sellers still agreed to make some repairs.

In a more balanced market, where neither side dominates, or, in a Buyers’ market, where Buyers have more negotiating power, often sellers are willing to give back funds to the buyer in lieu of doing repairs.  Conversely, if there is time, and you can afford to take the time get estimates, it is wise to find out what the work might actually cost and get an escrow set up by the lender or title company to pay contractors after closing if repairs cannot be completed by final walk through.

One of my 2020 clients has a new window and extensive exterior stucco repairs costing about $25,000 paid for by the seller after closing.  An escrow fund was created for one and a half times the amount of the repairs, and the funds were held by the lender until the work was satisfactorily completed.  Only then was the contractor paid.  At that point the seller would have received back any funds not used to make the repairs.

Any repairs needed, such as chimney, roof, siding, etc might already be taken into consideration by the seller adopting a lower price point before listing.  In this low inventory market, however, buyers are often overpaying for a property in need of expensive repairs, and, they get no consideration for the repairs because of non-contingent offers.  I encourage my clients to pass on these types of properties unless they have deep pockets and plan to remain in the property until their home value, with repairs, catches up to appraisal value.

So, it’s very important to consider your cash flow and reserves in those situations.  You don’t want to have to spend all your cash reserves doing the sellers’ deferred maintenance. You might need that money for other things, since you often need to replace or add items when moving.

On the interior, the ceilings and walls are checked for cracks that might be more than hairline cracks which can occur with typical settling over time.   Are windows and doorways level?  If not, that could be an indicator of potential structural issues.  When a home inspector finds issues like severe structural settling, and you want to get to the source of this issue, the basement foundation and structural support is often the place to search.

Because many homes in the metro area are up to or over 100 years old, checking for structural foundation issues, temporary structural supports or repairs to the foundation is key, if the basement walls haven’t been finished, which would hide any potential issues from sight.   Non-level flooring, crooked doorways and windows could be evidence of structural issues that were not repaired, allowing the home to settle inappropriately. Having a structural engineer examine the home for potential structural issues is wise if you are still interested in the home, or, if you wish to add onto the structure, and need to know if it will bear the weight of the additional square footage.

The additional structural inspection can cost up to or over $500 depending on how extensive a report is needed, however, if the home is desired by the Buyer, it is worth the additional funds to ascertain if the house needs costly repairs or not.

Some of my buyers had homes inspected to ensure they could build a second floor onto a garage, and verify that a structure was stable.  Another Buyer was purchasing on a creek, and the house was on an elevation showing a fracture in the basement flooring.  A structural engineer confirmed the crack in flooring was not an indicator of a structural issue, but, a torsion stress fracture from a 1964 tornado!

While your traditional home inspector cannot view through walls to check the condition of all the plumbing and wiring, they can check to see all sinks and drains are leak proof and they can check outlets to ensure there are no reverse polarity issues and point out where the seller might not have updated to GFCI or ‘ground fault interrupter circuits’ allowing the breaker to trip if the circuit is overloaded.  These need to be installed within 6 feet of water, so, should be installed in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry and often in the garage as well.  A good home inspector will check every outlet in every room and let you know if any have issues.

The attic is another area that often can show signs of past or current issues, such as moisture problems, bathroom vents not connected to the roof when roofs were redone, rain water leakage or condensation issues, or pest intrusion as well as low insulation levels.  If the seller has not checked their attic recently, it will be smart of the Buyer to get an accurate idea of what potentially might need to be done in the attic.  Best case scenario is you could need to do nothing, or would be smart to add some additional insulation.  Worst case is the attic is improperly vented or you have pest intrusion or insulation very low.

All Buyers want to understand the age and functionality of their HVAC and water heater.  Is it appropriate for the size of the home, how old is the system, how much potential useful life does it have?  All Buyers would love their new home to have new HVAC and water heater and roof so they don’t have to think about replacing those bigger ticket items for years to come, so, you will likely compete with other Buyers for homes that are completely updated in multiple offers.

One client was informed that a furnace was not functioning properly during inspection, so asked the seller for a furnace repair.  Initially, the first repair estimate was for a replacement of the furnace, however, after getting a subsequent estimate from another contractor, the seller found the repair was possible and would cost one third of replacing the furnace.  Of course, the seller opted for that repair versus replacement, and, the Buyer had to accept that instead of getting a new furnace.  So, although the outcome is that the furnace worked at closing, there is no guarantee of how long it will keep working, and, it is wise to save some funds in case old systems stop working after you own the property.  Also, be sure the furnace filters are changed regularly, sometimes that has been the only reason a furnace was cycling on and off a lot, and, changing the filter out made all the difference.

Another Client had the water heater fail a month after they purchased.  Luckily, they had the seller purchase a home warranty at closing, so, for $150 in fees, they received a new water heater.  Much cheaper than the $1200-$1600 price they might otherwise have paid.

Having a sewer line camera is essential unless the home you are intending to buy is newer.  Older sewer lines can be clogged by tree and bush roots, and this can cause sewer backups.  If there are other issues, a sewer camera will point them out.

One client found the sewer line did not have an interior access to check the line from inside the house, and, we then included in an amendment that the seller must create a sewer line access and verify with a sewer line camera video that there no issues in the line.  A subsequent access was created in the front yard, and, the client then found out that the house’s sewer line did not connect to the city sewer.  In the middle of Winter, the home owner had to pay for the city to excavate a spot in the street in front of the house to allow a repair.  The repair was completed and the city came out again in the Spring to fix the street after all the work was completed.  The client saved $10,000 in repairs on their home.

Another client moved to a city where the repairs were required to the sewer, but, sellers paid the Buyers the cost of doing those repairs in Seller paid closing costs reducing Buyers closing costs by the appropriate amount.

An additional inspection is to check the Radon gas levels in the home, Radon being a colorless odorless gas that causes lung cancer.  The EPA, the State of Minnesota and others provide in-home test kits you set out and mail in for results.  These are often 30-45 day long tests and you have to wait for the results for several weeks.

During a home inspection you don’t have the luxury of that kind of time, so you can get a 48 hour snap shot of the radon gas levels, and potentially use that as a way to get the seller to cover the cost, if radon remediation is required.  The seller would have to report the radon test results to future potential buyers, as, it is a material fact, so, it might be worth it for the repairs to be done or funds to be paid toward the Buyers’ closing costs in lieu of repairs.

In any case, there is no substitute for a great home inspection, and you should walk away with a better understanding of how systems in your home should work and what types of home maintenance will be required by you to keep it up over time.  The report should be something you can work off of to fix and smaller items you prefer to manage on your own, and, keep as a record for future.

Also, my home inspector provides a guide to the systems and maintenance items as a seasonal checklist to ensure my clients are prepared to cover all the bases needed to keep the home maintained well throughout the year.  Photos of the issues mentioned will also be in the report with additional details and, allowing your agent access to the report will help to get sellers to make repairs.

Written by Claire Bastien for Buyers Real Estate Group

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What First Time Buyers Might be Forgetting when Buying a Home – the Ongoing Costs of Home Ownership

Homeownership may start with a down-payment and a mortgage, but that is just the first part of the process. During their investigations into mortgage financing, interest rates and monthly house payment, to get an idea of monthly budget, many first-time homeowners forget about all the additional costs associated with owning a home.

Apart from potential Homeowners Association (HOA) fees and the utility costs (Buyers might find cooling or heating a house is much more costly than an apartment!), and, general upkeep, which typically can amount to about 1% of the value of the home annually, monthly fees can rack up. This is especially true if you have some updates planned.  You never know what surprises might lurk inside that wall you planned to take down or what other unforeseen costs could be coming down the road.  Hopefully, you have gotten a thorough home inspection and have a report as reference as well as the inspector, aside from your realtor, to request trusted contractor names in case a repair is needed.

Making sure you don’t put more down than necessary on your down payment, and shorting your cash reserves needed after you close, is key when making your offer, because even new homes will need some additional cash expenditures.  Every new home will not come with blinds, shades, draperies, and, even if you have all the furniture, old items may not ultimately work with the configuration of the space you now own.  There will always be unexpected expenditures.

Several things to keep in mind as you move toward home ownership are what mistakes to avoid once you own:

  1. If you have an issue arise, make sure you call the correct person for the job.  If the repair person doesn’t have a specialty in fixing what is broken, your repair costs could skyrocket.  You could spend $135.00 an hour, or more, on a specialist, so knowing some information in advance can help you can keep your costs down and better understand if you have the right person for the job.   Try to do some basic research before calling an expert to get an understanding of what is wrong, this will help you explain the issue over the phone.  That can help avoid confusion about what needs to be done and how long repairs might take to fix.  It can also help you nail down the right person for the job at hand.
  2. Get a referral from a trusted source, such as your realtor or home inspector for which contractor to use, you want a high recommendation and multiple reviews if possible before hiring someone. Even your neighbors might be a good resource for tried-and-true vendors, depending on what you need, so, keep that in mind before you just dive into the Yellow Pages or go online.
  3. As mentioned earlier, home maintenance can cost an average of 1% annually of the home’s value. You may not spend 1% annually, but, saving for the big-ticket maintenance items, such as; a new roof, new HVAC or a new driveway or siding, is a wise decision.    Some people opt to purchase a Home Warranty annually to offset the cost of some of the repairs.  One of my clients was able to get a new water heater right away when hers died within the first month of homeownership!  Some years will be fixing smaller items and other years you may really need to do some remodeling, so, being prepared in advance is key!
  4. Don’t ignore routine maintenance, typical things you should do monthly or seasonally should not be left undone or this can cost you dearly in future. Change the filter on your furnace as required, some must be done monthly, some quarterly, but, be prepared and have extra on hand. Don’t neglect to shut off exterior faucets in the Fall, or, disconnect the Sump Pump hose to ensure ice isn’t damming in the hose during Winter.  Don’t forget to reconnect the Sump Pump hose in Spring again.  Your home inspection is also a good tool and reminder of what tasks need attention at different times throughout the year, so, put them on your calendar and try to do something each month.
  5. Rushing into remodeling is another common mistake Buyers make before really living in the home awhile and assessing their future needs. Get accustomed to the living space first and then decide if you really still want to convert the use of one of your rooms.  Your ideas might change with time, and, you might decide other issues require more attention first so you can wait on what you thought you needed.  Don’t just look at the house as a showcase for all that fancy furniture you planned on buying, or assess a home’s potential based on how you can make it look.  You may ultimately decide to revise your plan because your anticipated use of an area or room turned out to be something that actually suits your needs better.  Or, if you were planning on new landscaping, be sure to wait to see what comes up in the yard, in case you missed all the perennials because you bought in late Fall, or other surprise plants you didn’t know would come up in Spring. Take a beat before spending that money.
  6. Always Winterize your home, unless you live in a Southern state where you can count on not feeling the Winter breezes. You might need to add attic insulation, caulk exterior windows or other areas around the exterior where warm air could escape, drain hose connections, and even recaulking around glass in windows will all help to save on Winter heating bills.  Your home inspector might suggest other ideas that could help with this, and, doing it before Winter sets in is going to make you rest easier when it arrives.
  7. If there are two of you owning together, don’t make the assumption you are both on the same page with everything needed for the home. This can put a strain on the relationship when an issue arises and you find you can’t agree how to remedy a problem.  Keeping good communication throughout the process, especially at the beginning, will help you work together to ensure things get done in way that works for you both, especially when it comes to spending money. Never make decisions without first discussing with your partner.  Whether it’s paint color, home décor or bigger ticket items such as renovation, which might mean taking on additional monthly expenses.  You would not want someone to purchase a big-ticket item without consulting you first, so, having a conversation about everything will clear the air about how to go about the process.  It will be more rewarding to accomplish your goals when you work together on it.
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What is the Best Age to Buy a Home?

Many of our first-time home buyers ask when is the best time to buy a home, but, perhaps the better question is, when is the best time to buy a home for your particular situation?

Do you have a lease that is terminating in a few months?  Is there a motivating factor that is driving your question such as; will the mortgage rates remain low?  How much do I need for a down payment and how much can I afford?

Several factors go into determining when is a good time, such as your credit score, debt to income ratio, savings on hand, and your future life plans will also help determine if buying sooner rather than later is in your best interest.

Factors that affect your decision are:

  • Do I have a job with a steady income for at least 2 years work history in the same field?
  • Do my Future career plans include my remaining in the same market? Staying long enough to build some equity is key to your decision process.
  • Are schools a factor in your decision process and timing?
  • Do I have enough savings for purchasing or have high enough income and credit score to use down payment assistance to get into that first home?

These are some of the factors that go into making the decision on whether or not to buy, and what is your best timing.

Deciding on what is your preference in type of housing is also a consideration.  Is single family housing right for you or is your lifestyle more in line with buying a condo or townhome?

If you hate yard work and travel a lot, or have a green thumb and enjoy a beautiful landscape, or backyard entertaining area it may also determine your preference.

Additionally, the housing market conditions can also affect your home-buying decision.  Historically, buying in the later months of the year have resulted in some savings, however, does that historical factor remain consistent in a Seller’s Market when inventory is low?

Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors Association annual report indicates that Closed Sales were up 7.7% in 2020 over the previous year, while inventory is still remaining lower than average year of year.  Pending home sales were up almost 10% from 2019 pending sales.

We can help you get all your questions answered in a very short period of time, because we are in tune with current market conditions, and, based on our knowledge, we can help you strategize a plan to negotiate a great deal for a new home in any market, because we have phenomenal lenders, inspectors, closers and other help you get you into the home of your dreams and start building equity in any month of the year.

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Summer is here – spruce up your patio

You’re enjoying that new house you bought.  But, for the past year you haven’t been able to have anyone to show it off.  Good news – summer has hit Minnesota, and, you don’t have to even open the whole house to guests if you have the right patio. Realtor.com has a few suggestions to help make the most of your patio this summer:

  1. Get (or upgrade) sectional furniture – they have an easy DIY project to recommend
  2. Get a fire pit – they come in a wide range of styles and prices
  3. Bench swing – fun for kids and adults
  4. Picnic table with built in cooler – you can sit for hours
  5. Backyard Tiki bar – bring the fun up a level
  6. Deck planters – add a little color
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Need a home mortgage? Buyers Real Estate Group knows the right lender for you

What’s the difference between an exclusive buyer agent (EBA) and an online mortgage company? If you’re been looking online for mortgage info, you might have some idea already.

Have you been looking online? if so, you’ve seen the ads.   Most online lenders are looking to funnel as many potential buyers or refinancers through their pipeline as possible so they use lots of gimmicky advertising to get you to apply with them. They don’t know you and they aren’t likely to get to know you.

You are just part of their pipeline and they don’t expect to have a future relationship with you.  Often, because of this, customer service goes out the window.

An EBA is different; we want to know you and we want to understand your needs so we can advocate for you throughout your home purchase including what lenders you meet so you can learn what makes the best sense for your needs in a mortgage.  We have years of experience and relationships. We know the questions to ask and the answers to expect.

Our brokerage does not refer you to any affiliated lenders as some larger brokers might do. They may have an in-house lender and title company from whom the broker typically benefits because so much business is automatically funneled through their doors.  Most buyers are so overwhelmed with details they are willing to accept an agent’s recommendation, even if they could be saving money elsewhere.

Please contact us and let us show you how we truly have your best interests at heart. We can help you cut through the lights and whistles of online and other lender marketing ploys. For example, online lenders don’t disclose their loan origination fees online and most Buyers don’t think to ask because their focus is typically on interest rate and monthly house payment.  They may not offer a wide enough array of loan product.

We know several excellent lenders; those who are great for first time homebuyers, experienced lenders who work with relocating buyers and those who can get creative if you are stretching into a new market.

 

We’ll help you find the lender who meets your personal needs and who will share with you the options available to you based on credit score, income and any factors that influence your buying power.  Did you know you can tailor your mortgage by buying down interest rate, prepaying mortgage insurance and managing your down payment amount?  Do you know you can save money on loan origination fees with the right lender?

 

We are looking to build relationships – and that means finding you the lender, home and mortgage that meet your unique needs and your wish list!  You can rest assured that a referral from a seasoned EBA has decades of successful lending experiences behind it and honed our preferences to lenders who perform well above the average lender.

 

We want to help you throughout all your buying experiences and be your future point of contact when questions arise.

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How to Avoid Harmful Indoor Air Pollution in the HOME

 Most homeowners and homebuyers would like to avoid the use of chemical compounds, which can be found in most housing components, and, are referred to as VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds.  They can be in almost any building products, soft furnishings and certain paints that can off-gas, or evaporate, in the home at room temperature.   It is likely your home has some, no matter when it was built, so, consider choosing low VOC products as you replace furnishings or components or remodel in future and check to see which ones have the lowest VOC rating.

The off-gassing of VOC’s can happen from installing new paint, kitchen or other cabinets and flooring which can go on for years and expose your family to potential issues such as headaches, eye & nose irritation, certain respiratory issues can be exacerbated, fatigue and lower ability to concentrate or allergic reactions.  These are just some of the experiences homeowners have had, and, prolonged exposure, for some, has the potential to develop into more serious issues, especially those sensitive to toxins.

As awareness has grown, many manufacturers developed products with lower toxic emissions, allowing buyers and homeowners to choose from healthier options when furnishing or remodeling their home.  Lower VOC options come in flooring, starting with carpeting which is typically loaded with flame and stain retardants and potentially has anti-microbial treatment as well.  Avoid treated synthetic carpeting and consider wool or natural fiber carpet free of chemical treatments, along with a non-synthetic  natural backing, and look for low VOC padding underneath when installing.

Some laminate and other floating floors use formaldehyde in the gluing process which can cause off-gassing.  Solid lumber flooring sealed with a water-based polyurethane labeled as low VOC should help if you can go that route.  Look for low VOC options in other vinyl products, especially ones that don’t require adhesives to install.  Consider using natural fiber rugs where needed to avoid the issues synthetic or treated fibers might cause.

Today’s kitchen cabinets are often made from a timber composite product referred to as MDF. (medium density fiberboard) MDF is typically bound with a resin containing formaldehyde and other chemicals.  When looking to install new cabinetry consider using a real wood product or look for a safer EO MDF with less formaldehyde in the manufacturing process.

Paint is another culprit and the basic wall covering of most homes, so looking for a a water-based acrylic  versus solvent based paint, and paints with lighter tints, will help to keep the VOC levels down in your home as well.

Furniture is also a big consideration when dealing with VOC issues, as, many soft furnishings are treated or made from MDF product, so, looking for quality furnishings from hard wood construction, especially in the nursery, will help to lower the potential for off-gassing and ensure a healthier home environment.  Sometimes, used furnishing, especially older ones, may have finished off-gassing, so, antique and vintage finds might actually be a smart choice in some situations.  If they look a bit dated, you might sand furnishings and use zero-VOC paint to refinish, or reupholster with low VOC natural fibers.

Using air purifiers, non-toxic natural cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda or other home-made cleaners can help keep your environment low in toxins.  Also, plants are known to cleanse the air and the Peace Lily among other plants are known to filter the highest levels of Benzene from indoor air.  

 

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Home Holiday Tip: #1 Protect Ornaments With Holiday Recyclables

In December we’re gifting you with some sanity saving holiday tips from House Logic

#1 Protect Ornaments With Holiday Recyclables

Keep ornaments safe for next year by stowing them in leftover party cups, hot-glued onto a piece of foam board cut to fit inside a storage bin, recommends Lisa Woodruff, a Cincinnati-based professional organizer.

Or pack ornaments away using bubble wrap from holiday packages, or egg cartons from those countless cookies you made.

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Don’t fall for this credit myth – can a credit score impact a job search?

House Logic has some tips that might help even seasoned home buyers. Today we’re featuring…

Myth #8: My credit score can hurt/help my chances of landing a job.

Reality: Actually, this one is partially true, depending on how fancy your job is. If it requires a security clearance or using a company credit card, an employer will want to know how you use credit, or if you’re in a financial mess that may make you bribe-able, Lowry says. But don’t worry, the employer will ask your permission before pulling your credit report, which is considered a soft pull and won’t hurt your score.

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Don’t fall for this credit myth – non-money issue affect your credit score

House Logic has some tips that might help even seasoned home buyers. Today we’re featuring…

Myth #7: Your age, sex, and other non-money issues affect your credit score.

Reality: What century is it again? Federal law protects you from credit discrimination based on non-credit issues, like race, color, national origin, or sex. Sure, credit card companies or lenders can ask, but they can’t deny you credit based on your answers. Income, expenses, debts, and credit history are what matters.

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Don’t fall for this credit myth – paying too early will hurt you

House Logic has some tips that might help even seasoned home buyers. Today we’re featuring…

Myth #6: Paying off a student loan or car loan early will hurt your credit.

Reality: Ah, no. Credit report companies definitely do not punish you for paying off loans early. They might even throw you a parade. (Not really. Put away your princess wave.) While responsibly paying installment loans may be good, paying off those loans is way better.

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