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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Tips for the Walk Through Inspection in a Tight Market

Taking the risk to forego, inspection contingency on an offer is a strategy many buyers are using now, due to low inventory, and more buyers competing for the small amount of listings available.  Because this market is ridiculously competitive, with 20+ offers on many properties, many offers have been written to exclude an inspection contingency and buyers are offering well over list price as well as meeting any appraisal gap.

Typically all offers occur within 48-72 hours once a listing goes active, giving the Buyer very little time to make decisions.  Sometimes the Sellers Disclosure form is only updated to the listing shortly prior to it going active so Buyers have little time to assess a home in advance of writing an offer.

Cash is still king if your offer is high enough, and, you make inspection non-contingent or forego one altogether.  So, how can buyers have some peace of mind regarding the homes they are viewing?

Some buyers have chosen to use an inspector’s walk-through consultation.  Many inspection companies offer them, they typically charge a fee for each home but decrease the cost after the first one as long as homes are close together and driving distances in not an issue.  A walk-through consultation typically lasts 30 minutes, and, the only tool the inspector will bring is a flashlight.

The realtor and clients must be present during this consultation which occurs during their 30 minute showing, and, is typically the maximum amount of time for each consultation.  No report is sent afterward, no photos are taken, but, as much of the home as possible is covered in that 30 minute period.

Items that the consulting inspector will look for include: foundation issues, wet basement, evidence of water in ceiling or under/around baths and kitchens, plumbing, neglected furnace/boiler, electrical hazards, old knob and tube wiring, potential water-intrusion rot near windows/doors, proper drainage – gutters & downspouts, an exterior review, and much more.

It is typically not possible to do a thorough investigation of all components, and, during Winter, the roof may not be visible enough to gauge remaining life expectancy of roof, but, a non-contingent home inspection can be accepted by sellers, offering a more detailed inspection once a Purchase Agreement has been accepted by the seller.

In this fast-moving market, inspectors try to stay flexible to accommodate these showings, although they may not always be able to do so.  Pricing may start at $200 for the first walk-through and might decrease depending on how close the next listings are in the showing tour.  Every company has different rates and you will need to schedule showings in advance.

We try to help our Clients strategize their search in such markets as we are experiencing currently, it is definitely a Sellers Market, so, buyers need to take advantage of any tools available to make this market work for them.

Despite offers of as much as $90,000 over list price, some clients still are losing to offers with no inspection contingency.  So, at some point, it might prove wiser to forego inspection contingency at least until the market shifts or more inventory comes on the market to lessen the amount of competition.

Buyers without deep pockets are being priced out of the market at this time if they don’t have sufficient cash to bring to the closing table, especially if the appraisal comes in low and seller refuses to negotiate price.

Many sellers are asking for confirmation by buyers of their ability to meet an appraisal gap.  Sellers have most of the leverage at this time and they are taking full advantage of this market.

Written by Claire Bastien for

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How to Avoid Sticker Shock on Home Renovation Costs

2021 saw shortages in products across the board, however, none was more serious than the home remodeling supply and material shortages experiences by home owners and builders simultaneously.  Budgeting for updates and projects has become highly unpredictable, and, many builders and homeowners are getting sticker shock, or having to make suitable substitutions to finish their projects.

Buyers and Homeowners typically underestimate costs, HomeAdvisor has found in their survey of over 900 consumers.  In their consumer study they found homeowners underestimated their paint costs by 50%.  DIY costs will differ in price from professional costs so, plan on getting estimates to stay on budget.

Recently, one of our clients purchased a new townhome from an independent builder, and, during construction, there was a shortage of drywall, so, the builder substituted a firewall material in place of the typical drywall so as not to hold up the project.  The next segment of the new construction project went up $50,000 in price, for the same unit, due to the unpredictable prices and supply issues.

A gas insert was ordered when the purchase agreement was signed for this same unit, however, a week prior to closing there still was no fireplace delivery, and, the replacement fireplace took 4 months to finalize, as, people were unavailable to install or inspect due to Covid, and the need for quarantine, once a Covid diagnosis was made.  The property closed at the end of August, however, the fireplace wasn’t completely installed and finally approved until just prior to Christmas.

If you are just looking to paint or replace flooring, you will likely fare better, however, don’t get locked into one color choice, as sometimes supplies are insufficient to do a whole project and you may need to make a secondary choice, especially with countertops, flooring or tile.  Be sure to get costs estimated by professionals before you order and make sure you can get all the materials to cover in the same color lot so as not to run out prior to finishing the work.  Make sure to consider if you have a running or repeating pattern as well.

Landscaping costs are the most underestimated costs according to their survey.  25% of the respondents surveyed admitted they underestimated their landscaping costs by 67%.  Purchasing landscaping materials can easily add up, a single tree can cost between $150-$300, however, the price per tree may drop if multiple trees are being planted.  Getting estimates from the start will help you keep your costs in check and make realistic choices in your landscape budget.

Window installation is another area where, on average, 40% or more homeowners typically underestimate the cost.  Especially here in Minnesota, where Summers and Winters can really stress your cooling and heating budget, it’s important to have energy efficient windows.  Because of this more homeowners have chosen to upgrade windows in 2021 and costs have risen 5-10% because of this higher demand.

In 2020, during a repair job, a window was ordered by a professional installer for a homeowner in mid-August, but, due to delays in product availability, the window wasn’t delivered and installed until November the same year.  Our best advice is to plan way in advance when ordering new windows, get pricing nailed down early, and, anticipate delays in the process just in case.

When planning budgets for any project, it is recommended that Homeowners decide on a budget prior to starting projects and budget higher.  Material prices rose between 5-10% in 2021 for roofing, siding, installation, window installation and more.  When estimating costs for supplies and installation adding a pad of 5-10% to initial project estimates will help to offset future price fluctuations.

For first-time homeowners, be aware that if you are taking on larger projects, you need to be sure to follow your city and county code for renovation.  Don’t assume watching a DIY series or two will be sufficient to help you make it through.  Surprises are unwelcome but common, so, think twice if you are unsure and contact a professional.

Written by Claire Bastien for

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Happy Holidays from Buyers Real Estate Group

Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years to all our clients, readers and all your family and friends.  Wishing you a Peaceful, Healthy and Abundant New Year!

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Tips to Manage Household Humidity

As Christmas and the New Year holidays approach, it’s important to be mindful of the moisture available in the air.  Unlike the Spring, Summer and Fall, when we might open our doors and windows to allow more air and exterior humidity in the home, we are keeping the house tightly buttoned down and the colder air out during Winter.  This has a tendency to create a potential for moisture to build up where we don’t want it.  Taking a few steps to ensure this doesn’t happen will keep your air moisture regulated during the dryer colder weather.

Because there are over 10,000 types of mold that are typically present in the air, and most require moisture at levels above 50% to thrive, it is important to maintain control of the level and location of moisture in the home.

Minnesota is known for having higher humidity levels, especially during Summer, and, most inspectors recommend a dehumidifier in every basement to cut down on mold potentials.  They suggest the dehumidifier is kept running all year long and emptied regularly.

During Summer we typically also use the air conditioning system to manage the humidity level, whereas in Winter, humidity can come from washing clothes, taking baths or showers as well as cooking.  Anywhere that condensation can form around those areas of your home should be monitored to cut down on condensation, which could potentially be a site for mold buildup.  Some homes also have furnace humidifiers, however, most inspectors don’t recommend using them, as, most homeowners forget to adjust humidity levels when exterior temperatures fluctuate up and down.

Walls and windows are more susceptible to condensation, and, it is important to ensure this doesn’t become an issue.  If you notice consistent buildup of condensation around the windows, you will want to take steps to remediate that.  It can damage or decay the woodwork or allow moisture into the wall under the window creating a potential mold situation.

Other areas where unwanted condensation could become an issue is the exhaust fan from the bathrooms, especially if the exhaust is pushed directly into the attic and not vented properly to the roof and outside the home.  Mold can grow in the insulation and on the wooden studs or timbers or roof decking when vents are not properly sealed.  This also applies to the laundry and kitchen areas if not properly vented to the exterior of the house.

Keeping the dew point low enough is key, you can purchase a humidistat and test the air humidity to try to keep it around the 20% level in the Winter and at around 45% in the Summer months.  Using your dehumidifier or air conditioner will help keep those levels where you want them to be.

The best fixes are to monitor the situation as you use different areas of the home and take steps to ensure the humidity is kept low. The following suggestions will help you take control of this and being consistent will extend the life of the home.

During the Winter, keep the curtains or blinds open during the day to allow the humidity to dry around windows.  Keep the fan on in the bathroom after showers for at least 45 minutes to get rid of all excess moisture.  Ensure that your bathroom vents out to the exterior, not the attic, and check for mold or moisture around the roof seal to ensure there is no buildup.  Properly vented bathrooms are essential.

Keeping the kitchen fan on, if it vents to the outside, while cooking on stovetops is also key.  While boiling water, or cooking with liquids can generate a lot of steam and potential condensation, keeping the fan on will ensure it escapes and doesn’t create a potential for issues on windows or where you might not see it.  Some homes are missing vent fans, so, you may wish to check on installing one to dissipate the excess humidity.

Also, check for any potential leaky faucets, be sure to monitor under sinks and tubs that no leaks are occurring, and, fix any that you find as soon as possible before you need mold remediation.

One of our clients noticed a bad odor in an unused bathroom and finally checked under the sink, only to find mold growing on every surface inside the cabinet.  The whole cabinet and wall area had to be removed as well as the flooring, so mold remediation could be done.  All new flooring, drywall, cabinet and sink were installed to ensure no further mold issues could be present.

Staying on top of the potential issues is the best way to prevent them and to keep healthy humidity levels in your home.

Written by Claire Bastien for

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How Winterizing Your Home Can Save You Money

Homeowners all want to keep their home warm, dry and free of pests during the Winter.  To make that happen, you need to perform some typical maintenance items to ensure the home is tight, and, you are keeping the warm air in and cold air out.

Included in the Winterizing chores is clearing out anything that would prevent proper drainage of rain water or melting snow.  Keeping unwanted moisture away from the foundation and keeping drainage going away from the home is key.

  1. Keeping your gutters clean and free of debris such as twigs and leaves will keep the water flowing down and prevent formation of ice dams in gutters and on your roofline. Ensure you have no gaps in your soffit that critters could use to sneak into your home. You may wish to add gutter covers to save you having to constantly clean gutters, and, while you are on the ladder, check your soffit and fascia for potential holes or critter access points and seal them.
  2. Make sure your downspouts and drains are made of solid metal and not plastic, which can crack and leak, and they extend 6 ft away from the foundation.  Keep foundation drainage at a 10 degree angle out to six feet away from the home.
  3. Inspect your roof and perform any necessary repairs before the snow flies.  Replace any missing or curling/cupping shingles and ensure there are no gaps.
  4. Repair foundation gaps and fill in any cracks to prevent moisture or pest intrusion.  Your local hardware store or big box home store will have supplies depending on what type of siding you have to help you plug the gaps; such as expansion foam or specialty caulks for specific siding types. Check front and back steps and doorways and use expansion foam to cut off any small potential air leaks or access points for pests.
  5. Seal any air leaks on doors and windows with appropriate insulation or caulk and seal appropriate to the material you are sealing.  Reducing air loss will save you on your heat budget.
  6. Chimneys typically get a buildup of creosote if you are regularly burning wood in your fireplace, so, to prevent creosote buildup or potential chimney fires, have your chimney cleaned and inspected before Winter.  Don’t rely on creosote clearing logs, have it checked to be safe. Checking your chimney will ensure it is still in working order as well.  Chimney issues can cost thousands to fix, at which point, it might make sense to install a gas insert rather than repair the chimney.  A gas insert has its own chimney inserted, making repairs on the inside of the original chimney obsolete in some cases.  Also, make sure the exterior of the chimney is in good shape as well, as, this will prevent animals from getting into the home.   No one wants to deal with birds, squirrels or other issues inside their home.
  7. Winterize your pool if in-ground, clean the filter and put on the cover and whatever else is needed to ensure your pool will be ready to use come next Spring/Summer.  Follow the installers guidelines and make sure no critters can enter the pool.
  8. Install any missing screens on vents to prevent critters from entering the house through warm air ventilators.  Depending on what type of vent it is you may want to use a screen small enough to prevent small bugs from entering the home as well.  Clean off the lint from the dryer vent often to prevent buildup.
  9. Drain your exterior hoses and properly store them, and, drain your exterior faucets after you shut off the water from inside the home.  This will prevent water freezing and pipes bursting and causing flooding in or outside the home. Install a freeze proof exterior faucet if needed, which can also prevent pipes bursting in Winter.
  10. Wrap any vulnerable plants and shrubs with burlap or similar type of material to prevent loss of expensive landscaping and give them an extra warm layer during the Winter.
  11. Prune all trees and hedges and shrubs, especially cut back anything that is touching the home siding or roof line.  This is best done in Fall or very early Spring before branches begin to sprout.
  12. Store any yard accessories and furniture or use protective covering. You will extend the life of your items if you store properly.
  13. Check your attic insulation to ensure you have proper levels, and, be sure to check seals on kitchen and bath vents to the roof are tight so you will be free of moisture or heat leaks.
  14. Make sure your furnace filter is clean and you have extras on hand.

Your Hardware store or other suppliers always have great tips and options for keeping your home well-maintained.  Taking the time to do this will save you money and trouble in the long run.

Written by Claire Bastien for Buyers Real Estate Group 2021

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How Buyers Can Spot Foundation Issues!

First time homebuyers will benefit from checking out the foundations of any homes they view, to look for potential structural issues caused by either foundation failure, or, water issues.  It’s best to view both the interior and exterior of a foundation to get a real picture of potentially costly repairs that might be needed.  If left untended, some repairs might make the home a liability for a Buyer.

Critical damage and untended repairs could cost into the tens of thousands of dollars and often they might be hidden from view when viewing potential homes for purchase.  Foliage, landscaping or patching might hide previous repairs or issues from view so it’s important to watch for them.

When looking at a home’s landscaping around the foundation, check to ensure sidewalks and patios tilt or pitch away from the home at a 10-degree rate.  Landscaping should also have this 10-degree pitch to ensure water drains away from the foundation.

Also, ensure that gutters are clean and downspouts and drain extensions are diverting water away from foundations, as repeated water damage can erode the foundation and cause water-borne issues in the home such as efflorescence or mold.  Water is not good for the foundation as it can cause damage over time and degrade the brick, or wash out soil around the foundation.

Previous water intrusion might show up as staining on the foundation, which is easiest to view in an unfinished basement, or around windows if the exterior window-box has not been covered, to prevent rain or snow intrusion.

If the landscaping is flat around the property, and you decide to purchase, it would be wise to improve the landscaping grade to divert moisture away from foundation at a 10-degree angle by adding more soil near the foundation and tapering it away as you get further from the foundation.  Ensuring water flows to a water garden or the city clean water sewer and not into neighbors’ foundation is important.

Fixing the grade and ensuring gutters and downspouts are in order is much cheaper than foundation fixes which might be easily avoided unless they stem from other issues.

Waterproofing a foundation is another way to help prevent water intrusion and avoid issues.  This can be done both on the exterior and interior of the home.

Checking around foundation for potential cracks such as lateral or step-cracks, or, diagonal cracking in foundation brick, stucco or paint exterior and even inside the home is going to save you from potential issues.  On the inside of a home, hairline cracks are common, but, should be monitored for changes.  If you can slip a credit card into a crack, and, depending on where and how many there are, might be a sign to get a structural engineer in to assess the situation.

If there is anything acting against the foundation, and cracks are present as evidence of this, a structural engineer can measure and identify the issues and recommend a fix if necessary. This is important to ensure things don’t further degrade over time.

Land can move, and, if the foundation is not stable, the entire home could potentially become unstable.  Homes that show large cracks in basement or garage floors or other signs of movement or instability should be assessed.  If you see temporary structural supports or evidence of previous structural repair, you will especially want to get that assessed by a professional.

Foundation and structural engineers can be relied upon to give an assessment of the current situation and determine if future work might be needed to maintain stability.  Our brokerage has a list of excellent structural engineers to ensure you get answers to your foundation and structural questions.

Another issue to avoid is having large trees or bushes too close to the foundation, because it can also affect the structure if things get out of hand.  Prevent the trees or bushes from touching the home, both at foundation level and on the siding.  Roots have been known to cause cracks if pressure is not relieved.

An Arborist would likely be able to asses whether it might be necessary to move bushes or remove trees.  Preventing the roots from penetrating the foundation is key, and, the best time to remove these in in the Winter, when plants are dormant.

Also, make sure sidewalks, landscaping and patios, especially if they butt up against the foundation, are pitching away from the home at that 10-degree angle so the runoff is heading away from the house in the proper direction.

Basements that are unfinished will show any issues, and, water intrusion problems can be avoided by ensuring you have clean gutters, downspouts and appropriate extensions, as well as window-box covers. Window boxes can harbor animals as well, so, covering them will prevent pests from entering the foundation.

An unfinished basement will display any evidence of cracks or water intrusion staining, whereas a finished basement might be showing signs of rust-colored water where previous leaks may have occurred.  The rust-colored stains will show through painted walls or ceilings and if recent may also still be damp.

As you walk the property, notice if there is any structural off-setting, especially around windows or doors that might appear to be crooked or off plumb.  Floors that pitch down and are no longer level might hint at a failing foundation that goes beyond typical settling.  Many older homes have this issue and it’s best to see if there are temporary supports brought into the basement level to correct it or halt further settling.  Sometimes, correcting this issue is not possible as it would damage windows and doors and be very costly.

Keeping your eyes open when viewing homes will help you decide if the property is a worthy investment or not.  You will also have a sense if previous or current sellers maintained the property well or if they are passing on long-neglected issues to the future buyer.

Written by Claire Bastien for Buyers Real Estate Group

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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.
Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Home Owner Tips | Comments Off on What First Time Buyers Might be Forgetting when Buying a Home – the Ongoing Costs of Home Ownership

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. 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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