Category Archives: Real Estate

Don’t Turn On Your New Home’s Fireplace Until You Read This

The charming fireplace in your new home is one of the details you love most. No doubt you’re eager to enjoy its warm glow with family and friends. But before you light up the first log, it’s important to make sure that both your fireplace and chimney are in safe working order.

Look for any cracks, gaps, or signs of wear in the lining of the firebox (the interior of the fireplace). If the lining has deteriorated to the point that the steel body beneath it is visible, you’ll need to have it professionally repaired. Otherwise, excessive heat can build up inside your fireplace and cause permanent damage, says Tom Spalding of the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Look for Telltale Smoke Stains

Smoke stains can be another signal that your fireplace isn’t functioning properly. If you see stains on the ceiling, smoke could be escaping from a gap between the hearth and the firebox, warns Spalding. This is most likely because the hearth has settled — not an unusual occurrence in an older home. When this settling occurs, sparks that fall into the gap can send up smoke, “essentially acting as a secondary chimney,” Spalding says. You’ll need a mason, skilled handyman, or fireplace professional to fix this.

You may also notice smoke stains above the fireplace opening. In this case, the problem may be the flue damper, a mechanism with a hand-operated lever that helps you control the air flow into the fireplace. If the lever is damaged or caked with gunk, you may not be able to open or close the damper completely, which can cause smoke to leak out of the fireplace. Again, a professional can determine if the mechanism can be fixed or if it needs replacing.

Is the Grate Too Large?

When it comes to your fireplace grate, bigger isn’t necessarily better. According to the CSIA, a metal grate used to hold burning firewood should be no more than two-thirds the size of your fireplace opening. An oversized grate may tempt you to pile on too much wood, and the resulting flames can dangerously overheat your fireplace. If your grate is too large, replace it with a smaller one that’s more appropriate for your needs.

Check Your Chimney

You may not want to climb up on your roof to peer into the chimney. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Getting your chimney inspected is one of the most important steps you can take before using your fireplace.

“The biggest mistake homeowners make is to simply assume that their chimney is in working order,” says Spalding. In fact, that kind of guesswork helps to account for an average of 22,700 chimney fires annually between 2010 and 2012, according to the CSIA.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends an annual inspection of your chimney by a qualified professional. You can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for the service, depending on your location. The findings can clarify whether your chimney needs cleaning or repair.

Last But Not Least

Once the fireplace and chimney in your new home are in tiptop shape, you’re almost ready to build your first crackling fire. Before you do, remember a couple of safety tips: Always know where your fire extinguisher is, and make sure it’s fully charged and ready to use (the CSIA recommends a 5-pound model with a flexible hose). Remember to always open the flue before you start a fire. Close it when not in use to save energy. Finally, make sure you’ve stocked up on enough seasoned firewood to enjoy your new fireplace whenever the mood strikes.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/dont-fire-your-new-homes-fireplace-until-you-read/#ixzz3o7kgPi7F 

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10-Step Guide to Buying a House

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/10-step-guide-to-buying-a-house/

  1. Are you ready to be a homeowner?
  2. Hire a Realtor®
  3. Get pre-approved
  4. Look at homes
  5. Choose a home
  6. Get funding
  7. Make an offer
  8. Get insurance
  9. Closing!!
  10. What’s next?!

5 Lessons From First-Time Home Buyers

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/5-lessons-from-first-time-homebuyers/

5-things-learned-costs-1024x682

  1. Mortgage meltdown — never count on your financing until it’s final/closed…
  2. Count your costs — keep track of your mounting costs and fees…
  3. Budget time & money for repairs — they’ll cost you, in more ways than one…
  4. Multiple visits are okay — don’t be shy if you want to re-visit the home…
  5. Learn (& love) thy neighbors — it can make or break your living situation…

$3Million lake retreat in Golden Valley

$3Million lake retreat in Golden Valley is ‘cabin’ in the city | http://ow.ly/LcF1e http://ow.ly/i/aemtj | #StarTrib #MN #Home #Cabin

Protect Your Family: Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

•Carbon monoxide (CO) exposure incidents increase during the winter months and CO is often called the ‘silent killer’.

•CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that, when inhaled, combines with the blood and prevents it from absorbing oxygen, which can lead to illness or death.

•According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, municipal fire departments across the country respond to more than 60,000 CO incidents each year.

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Click on the link below to read more:
VIEW FULL ARTICLE LINK HERE
[via Lakeshore Weekly Newspaper]

How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015:

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How the 2014 Housing Market Will Shape 2015.
Here are some of the trends realtor.com® notes from 2014 that will help drive a stronger 2015:

An improving economy: “After an especially harsh winter earlier in the year, the economy picked up steam and produced a banner year for new jobs,” realtor.com® notes in its report. “The GDP this year was higher, and is still trending higher, resulting in stronger consumer confidence.”

Low mortgage rates: Despite the end of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing this year, mortgage rates continued to decline and helped to lower borrowing costs of home buyers. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 4 percent.

Returns to normal price appreciation: “After two years of abnormally high levels of home price appreciation in 2012 and 2013, price increases moderated throughout 2014,” realtor.com® notes. “We are now experiencing increases in home prices consistent with long-term historical performance.”

Distressed sales decline: Foreclosures and short sales fell throughout the year. Foreclosures are projected to be down 30 percent year-over-year at the close of 2014.

Investor activity lessens: Coinciding with the drop in distressed sales and higher home prices, large-scale investor purchase activity in the single-family market decreased. Less competition from investors may offer more room for traditional first-time buyers to squeeze into the market.

However, the realtor.com® report notes several factors that continue to plague the housing recovery and prevent it from being stronger, including:

Tight credit standards: “Despite historically low rates, many households were prevented from capitalizing on mortgage access because of overlays lenders added to qualification standards in order to limit put-back risk,” realtor.com® notes. “A tight spread between approved and declined FICO scores shut out nearly half of the potential population this year. As a result, mortgage credit availability did not improve in 2014.”

Tight inventories of for-sale homes: Inventories did rise this year, but supply failed to outpace demand. The monthly supply of new homes and existing homes continued to fall beneath normal levels, and the age of inventory was down year- over-year.

Fewer first-time buyers: The share of first-time buyers dropped to the lowest level in nearly 30 years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. “But the first-time buyer share is showing signs of modest improvement by the year-end,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Federal policy actions, such as revised regulations for lenders and new low down-payment programs introduced in December, are believed to have a positive impact in increasing first-time home buyer share in 2015.

Record levels of renters: The home ownership rate continued to fall this year as the number of renters increased. Rent increases have become an inflationary concern this year, and the pace of rental increases does not appear to be slowing down.

Sluggish new-home building: Single-family new-home starts barely budged in 2014 compared to 2013. New home sales remain far from normal levels. They are typically near 16 percent and instead remain around 9 percent. Still, new home prices rose substantially again this year, revealing that higher priced product is limiting the demand.
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(Source: REALTOR MAGAZINE)

‘RENOVATION RAIDERS’ (HGTV) HOUSE IN SHAKOPEE HITS THE MARKET!

“Shakopee homeowners went out to dinner, and came home to a new kitchen and dining room as part of HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders.” Now, you can have it for $259,000.”


Peter and Lauren Soderberg’s split-level house in Shakopee had its 15 minutes of fame in June 2013 when it was featured on HGTV’s “Renovation Raiders” and in the Star Tribune’s Sunday Homes section.

At the time, “Raiders” was a brand-new show with an offbeat gimmick: The homeowners vacate the premises for a long, leisurely dinner, and a crew descends on their house to give it an instant makeover. To add some suspense, one member of the couple is kept completely in the dark until arriving home for the big reveal.

When the Soderbergs appeared on the show, Lauren was the spouse who got the surprise.

Peter had proposed one of his occasional “mystery date nights” and taken her to Spill the Wine in Minneapolis for a seven-course dinner. “I had no suspicions whatsoever,” she said.

But there were a few clues that something was up. “He was acting kind of strange, texting a lot during dinner, which is not like him,” she said. A waitress brought Champagne and told them Peter’s friend had ordered it for them, which extended their stay at the restaurant. “I did feel it was taking a long time.”

Then on the way home, after reading yet another text message, Peter decided to stop for gas. “It was like 11:30, and I had to get up at 6 a.m.,” said Lauren, who at the time was in her final year of veterinary school. “I said, ‘Let’s go home,’ but he rerouted us to some weird gas station.”

When they finally arrived home, and walked into a brand-new kitchen, it looked so startlingly different that Lauren thought they were in the wrong house. “I was so confused! The kitchen is the first thing you see. Then I saw camera crews. It was an out-of-body experience.”

RUSTIC MODERN:

Even though Lauren didn’t get to choose the look of her improved home, she was delighted with the changes. “They hit the nail on the head with the kitchen,” she said. “It has a rustic country feel, yet modern.” She wasn’t sure about the blue island at first, but she’s come to like it.

The couple had bought the house about a year and a half earlier, intending to tackle the kitchen eventually. Lauren, who loves to cook, wasn’t thrilled with its mismatched cabinets, stained laminate countertops and an island that wasn’t anchored to the floor.

The house, built in 1992, had gone into foreclosure, and the previous owner had ripped out some cupboard doors and light fixtures. The bank had fixed up the house to sell, but only minimally. Still, the Soderbergs were game to move in now and upgrade later.

“We had looked at a lot of foreclosed homes in our budget,” Lauren said. We were looking for something that was livable, but could be improved upon.”

“Renovation Raiders” put the project on the fast track. Peter had a friend with a connection to the new TV show, and he suggested the Soderbergs’ house as a makeover candidate. “He knew it was up their alley,” Lauren said.

Peter took a video of the kitchen and dining area on his cellphone and sent it to the show. “I explained how I wanted to surprise Lauren, and why she deserved a new kitchen,” he said at the time.

QUICK FIX:

Their home was selected, a date was set, and Peter and Lauren went off to their very long dinner date. While they were gone, a crew from the show removed a wall and replaced the mismatched golden-oak cabinets with new white cabinets accented with metal mesh inserts. They installed new stainless-steel appliances and built a new island, with a mini-doghouse for the couple’s pug, Toshiro. New wood floors tied together the kitchen and adjacent dining room, which also got new window treatments, light fixtures, a table, and a custom bar with a wine refrigerator, wine rack and kegerator for Peter’s home-brewed beer.

The enhancements changed the way the couple live in their home, Lauren said. “We definitely do a lot more entertaining now.”

Since the TV show aired, the couple have tackled a few home improvements on their own. They recarpeted the lower level, and remodeled one of their two bathrooms, adding Travertine tile, a new toilet and vanity.

Now that Lauren has graduated and is a veterinarian, the couple have decided to move to a house in Prior Lake with a hobby farm where she can keep horses. Their new house is very similar to the one they’re leaving — minus the new kitchen. “It’s a three-level split, but the kitchen is definitely a downgrade,” said Lauren. In addition to the new kitchen, the 1,800-square-foot house they’re selling features three bedrooms, a cul-de-sac location in a kid-friendly neighborhood and a spacious back yard.

She’s looking forward to having a place where she can keep her horses at home, but she’s sorry to leave her made-for-TV kitchen behind. “I just love the butcher-block countertops, and the white cabinets are beautiful,” she said. “I’ll miss everything about it.”


CLICK HERE TO READ: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/286880881.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue