A Deeper Examination of Schools Near Your Next Minnesota Home

We highly value the feedback we get on how we can improve your home search tool, the Home Scouting Report®.  Over time, your recommendations have led to many additions (all available by clicking on our ugly mugs after you’ve logged in).  Now, we’ve added another interactive research tool; The Minnesota Report Card from the Minnesota Department of Education. While you’ve always been able to get basic school information via the Map View of your Home Scouting Report® but with this new tool, you’ll have access to these additional resources: My School – Demographics, trend data, graduation rates, contact information and …

Your Rental Rate: Too High, Too Low – Rent vs Own Home Calculator

Every time we read an article online about taking a more analytical approach to deciding whether or not to buy a home, you’ll always get comments about how “personal” or “emotional” the decision is but if you’ve found this page, that’s not why you’re here.  You’re looking for a “left brain” experience and you’re going to get it. When analyzing a decision on a move, it’s important to know the variables, have all the tools and take the whole decision under consideration.  It can be frustrating poking around all over the internet to find these facts, tools and calculators so …

Getting Married? Buying a house? Why not use your registry for a Down Payment Registry?

If you are planning on getting married soon and buying a home — then why not use your registry as a Down Payment Registry.  This is a nice way to help add to your down payment funds. FHA has a Bridal Registry Program that allows the funds you receive as wedding gifts to be used towards your down payment. Guidelines for the Bridal Registry Program This program was originally introduced in 1996 as a way for FHA to promote homeownership. For many years this program sat almost dormant, but in the last several years with the economy tightening up newlyweds have …

So HVCC is Over? – Nope, it Still Lives On – Fannie Mae’s Appraisal Policy Broken Down

Breaking Down Fannie Mae’s Appraisal Rules Have you heard of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC)? If you are a lender or Realtor, of course you have. What I wanted to do with this post is breakdown Fannie Mae’s policy now that HVCC has expired. Basically the Code lives on and has been slightly rewritten from the original. Unlike HVCC, Fannie’s policy has the force of law behind it. This new policy is clearly illustrated in Fannie Mae’s Appraiser Independence Requirements, Fannie, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and others developed this specifically to replace HVCC. So whether …

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? The million dollar question, should I stay, and continue renting, or should I go, and become a homeowner? Sometimes, I think first time homebuyers are looking at this question as a million dollar question, and really, it is not. Are we at the bottom of the declining market, or still dropping? There are “experts” all over the internet in both camps telling us we are at the bottom, and others saying more to come. This is making it a more difficult decision for the first time homebuyer than what is needed. The …

A home inspection. . . . What’s that all about?

A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home.An inspector will check the roof, basement, heating system, water heater, air-conditioning system, structure, plumbing, electrical, and many other aspects of buildings looking for improper building practices, those items that require extensive repairs, items that are general maintenance issues, as well as some fire and safety issues.However, it should also be noted that a home inspection is not technically exhaustive and does not imply that every defect will be discovered. A general list of exclusions include but are …

What are Compensating Factors When Qualifying for a Mortgage?

Although we wouldn’t know it from watching the six o’clock news, mortgage underwriting guidelines and mortgage insurance underwriting guidelines have been in a pattern of loosening, not tightening.  This trend started in late 2009 and continues today with such examples as lower minimum credit scores for mortgage underwriting guidelines and fewer declining markets for mortgage insurance guidelines.  As this has happened, another trend has emerged.  The phrase “underwriting exception” is coming back in practical contexts rather than a nostalgic reference to days gone by.  These days, underwriting exceptions are more and more common where a mortgage loan file has “Compensating …

If You Are Not Doing a 90 Day Burn Now, When Are You Going to Start?

If you are not doing a 90 day burn now, when are you going to start? Ok, we can all stand around the water cooler and compare our successes and frustrations with our current real estate market, and sometimes that is a great way to get and share ideas.  However, if you are finding yourself mostly getting negative feedback these days around that water cooler, you have a choice to make.  Will I survive 2011, or am I going to be one of the many real estate agents that will retire from this career??? So, just not getting the contacts …

10 Home Renovations That Don’t Necessarily Add Value

Some people assume that all renovations done to the home will add value.   As a matter of fact most people spend thousands of dollars on expensive upgrades and renovations over a period of time. What these people forget is that the next owner may not like the renovations.  Everybody needs to remember that your home is only worth that of homes of comparable size are appraised at, not necessarily by the characteristics of your home.  Yes, some qualities are highly sought after like garages, finished basements, enclosed yards or large kitchens but you need that certain buyer to appreciate them. …

Two Thirds of Minnesotans Will be Affected by Flooding in 2011 – Act Now!

If homeowners don’t act in ways not common in the past, many will stand to lose a fortune due to flooding in Minnesota in 2011.  It’s likely that sandbagging won’t do it this time and we need to start thinking about flood insurance and in some cases act quickly on flood insurance.  According to expert guests on a Minnesota Public Radio show two days ago, two thirds of Minnesotans will be affected directly or indirectly by flooding this year.  If someone thinks their house won’t be affected, they can at least count on traffic being a mess. Just try and …

HEY… remember that $8000 tax credit??

I just closed a purchase transaction last week that was a SHORT SALE that was accepted WAY BACK in March.  They buyer was hanging there partly because he wanted to get his $8000 tax credit and of course he REALLY liked the house.  Amazing how much red tape we had to get through to get this to the closing table.  It brought back some memories of the RUSH we all had this past spring to get those offers accepted so home-buyers could still get their $8000.   That was busy wasn’t it?  Wouldn’t we all like to have a RUSH like …

So Banks Think There’s No Such Thing as “Too Big to Fail” – The Audacity of Dopes

On Friday the 13th, the Chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase decided to weigh in on whether a bank could be too big to fail. I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat wondering which side of this argument he’d be on. I know I’ve been breathlessly waiting for one of the titans of Wall Street to tell me what the best way to regulate their businesses would be. Thank heavens I finally know what to think! Before we evaluate the points, let’s consider the timing and the source. This op ed wasn’t benevolently shared with us in …