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How to Sell Your Home for the Most Money

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Guide to Downsizing

The Art of Negotiation

The Art of Negotiation

What is a Mortgage

What is a Mortgage?

How to sell your home for the most money

After having helped dozens of people in the Chisago Lakes Area sell their homes and by speaking with other real estate agents across the states, I can definitively say that one of the top questions sellers in any market have is how to get the most money for their home. Sellers often wonder what the pricing strategy should be or what improvements/repairs they need to make. While these are definitely important questions, they are only part of the bigger strategy, and that strategy works best when you have a top real estate agent directing it.

Don’t Settle for the 3 P’s

Most real estate agents use the strategy known as the 3 P’s:

  1. Put a Sign in the Ground
  2. Put it in the MLS
  3. Pray it Sells

Too many times we have been called after a homeowner hired a real estate agent that did not have a winning strategy. While we are able to get homeowners great results, even if they have tried one or two real estate agents before us, it is always disappointing to see people waste time and lose money by not hiring a top real estate agent.

The 7 P’s That Will Get Your Home Sold for the Most Money

After years of experience selling dozens of homes, I have seen the best results happen for sellers when they pick a real estate agent that knows and implements the following strategy:

  1. Product
  2. The best home selling strategy starts with knowing the product. You must understand what you are selling and its relationship to the entire market. The most important questions are: location, type of home, size, features, and age. You cannot change what you are selling, but you must understand fully what it is so you can effectively price and market it.

  1. Price
  2. Overpriced homes for the most part will not sell. High prices prevent buyers from falling in love with a home. They judge it before they see it – that is, if they even see it at all. At best, an overpriced home compels a buyer to ask, “How much can I get off the price?”. At worst, they do not even consider it at all. Correctly priced homes create a fear of loss in buyers. They wonder about what they need to do to make sure they do not lose out. There are sometimes instances where a unique or rare home does not have recently comparable sales. In these cases there is an argument to setting a high price for anchoring purposes, but this is definitely the exception to the rule. More often than not, an overpriced home will lead to more time on market and thus necessitate price drops to below where it would have sold had it been priced correctly from the get go. If a home is priced at or even slightly below market price, more often than not it will attract the most buyers and potentially get multiple offers to drive up the price.

  1. Packaging and Presentation
  2. Homes that show the best, sell for the best price. It is hard for buyers to see around faults, so it is best to make sure the home is in top shape. This means getting repairs done, making sure the exterior looks great, getting rid of clutter on the inside and doing everything to make it look move-in ready. We provide our sellers with consultations about staging to make sure they are getting the best advice. If the owner is going to live there, we make sure they do not have too much furniture. If the home is vacant, we recommend staging. The easier it is for a buyer to imagine living in the home, the better the chances of getting the maximum sales price. Personal items should be packed away.

  1. Positioning
  2. If a home is priced right and is in top shape, the next step is to make sure the positioning strategy makes sense. Ask yourself, “Who is the most likely buyer for this home?” Is it a first time home buyer? A move up buyer? An empty nester? The answer to this question will dictate how you market the home.

  1. Promotion
  2. How are you going to showcase the home to the most potential buyers in the best possible way? Since most homebuyers find their home on the internet, first you need to make sure your home will be found online and that buyers can easily see it once they do find it. Top-notch professional photos are a must. Virtual tours are also important. The right people need to see the home both online and through social media. Other marketing channels can be important as well. Targeted direct mail can make a big impact if done correctly. Print is nowhere near as relevant as it used to be, but on some occasions, for certain types of homes, it can still have importance. The same can be said for events. Overall, the goal is for the most potential buyers to see your home and for it to look its best when they do.

  1. People
  2. The first five points addressed marketing processes. The next two address the logistics of the selling process. From the start of selling a home to getting it under contract and then to getting to the closing table, it takes a lot of different skills. Some people can do it all, but most cannot. Even those with experience in every part of the process can become overwhelmed. To ensure as smooth a process as possible, we have a team mindset for working with you that will yield the best possible result. It’s hard to compete with a team of people each committed to getting the best possible results.

  1. Processes
  2. Along with having great people to sell a home comes the importance of having proven processes. This simply comes only from experience, trial and error, and seeing what works over and over again and what does not. When a team has sold dozens of homes in a particular market, they naturally climb higher and faster on the learning curve. An agent that sells 10 homes a year for two decades will have less experience than a team that sells 50 homes in a year.

Getting the Best Possible Price for Your Home

Make sure the first five P’s are done correctly to ensure that your home will have optimal marketability. The best way to do that is to hire an expert that has done just that over and over. In order to have this kind of success, the person you hire needs to have the best people and proven processes. Our team has sold dozens of homes and has many loyal clients who use us again and again. If you want to find out how we can get you the best possible price for your home contact us at 763.614.0258


Guide to Downsizing

Lakes Country Realty is no stranger to downsizing — many of our clients reach a point in their life when they’re ready to have the convenience that comes with not having to do stairs every day, deal with snow or ice, pay taxes and utilities on a home that is too big for them now, or clean a home where half the rooms are no longer used. We know that moving out of your home can stir up a lot of emotions, especially when you’re leaving a home you’ve lived in for years. Some people describe it as feeling like losing a loved one. Often our clients decide to downsize after kids have moved out, and that can be an overwhelming event on its own. Many elderly adults who desperately need to downsize either from health issues, difficulty keeping up with the maintenance their house requires, or simply the cost of their mortgage, still put off doing so because they feel anxious about experiencing a big change in their lives and are anxious about taking the first step.These emotions are common and they’re to be expected when downsizing, but you shouldn’t let them keep you from doing what is best for you. Lakes Country Realty knows just how to alleviate your fears and concerns because we’ve been through this process more than once, and we’re committed to helping you get through it as well. We won’t rush you, and we will help you put together a plan that lets you feel empowered and dare we say, “excited” about the move. A great real estate agent will be there to help you sort through these emotions and be by your side to answer any questions you may have about downsizing. Downsizing requires a little more work than a normal move because of all of the treasures you’ve accumulated while living in your home for the past decade/decades. Your new home will likely be significantly smaller with less room for furniture, but you will be freed from the stress and anxiety that comes with caring for a home and possessions you no longer need. Thankfully, there are tons of places asking for donated items and there are also people willing to buy your gently used things. Once you’ve parred down your possessions, you will be free to search for a smaller place that is more convenient and appropriate for this new chapter in your life. Downsizing also gives you the opportunity to change up your lifestyle. If you’ve lived in the suburb because you were raising a family but now find yourself solo and far away from the activities you like to do or the people you wish to see, you can choose to sell the house with all of the space you no longer need in exchange for a perfect sized space of your own in the neighborhood you’d really like to be in. Welcome this new chapter in your life and embrace the positives that will come with making the move. If you’re thinking about downsizing your home, read on to see if you’ve considered all components of the move.

Are You Ready to Downsize?

  • How much space suits your needs? If you’re an empty nester now and three of your four bedrooms haven’t been used in years, what are you waiting for? At this point, it’s probably cheaper to put your guests up in a nearby hotel than pay the mortgage on a house with more bedrooms than you really need. We can empathize with your reluctance to leave the home that you raised your children in, but just remember that your family will understand and recognize the benefits that will come from downsizing.
  • What could you do with the extra money? Chances are you’ve tied up a lot of equity in your house and will make a profit on selling it. Can you envision yourself traveling to all of the places you’ve always dreamt of with that extra cash? Could you even retire from work a few years earlier? This can be an exciting opportunity for you to switch up your lifestyle.
  • Is maintenance bringing you down? A big house needs a lot of upkeep, and sometimes the fixes can be unpredictable in cost. On the flip side, condo and townhome fees are usually cheaper than regular maintenance on a house and someone else gets to handle all of the work for you. Getting older is a part of life and there is nothing to be ashamed of by deciding to make your life easier and more convenient.
  • How often do you expect company? Some of our clients insist on keeping the big house because they want their kids to have space when they come to visit, but how often are they really visiting? Is a couple of visits a year really worth that mortgage and all the upkeep? Most condominiums and some townhomes come with a common space to host parties and large groups, and trust us — your kids would rather stay in your new guest room than their childhood bedroom!
  • Do you dream of a new neighborhood? Downsizing can put you in the neighborhood of your dreams, within walking distance to shops, parks, and restaurants. You can get rid of the car and the commute, and put yourself in the location you’ve always wanted. Perhaps you’d like to be a part of a community with people who share similar interests with you, and the neighborhood you’ve been living in just doesn’t match up with your lifestyle anymore.
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want? The most significant adjustment to downsizing is a lifestyle change. If hosting backyard BBQs and huge family holidays is the lifestyle you wish to keep, you do not have to give up this part of your life. Consider all of the exciting locations you will be able to take your family to once you sell. If you want to surround yourself with a lively social network and a variety of activities to participate in, ask Lakes Country Realty for recommendations. We’ve helped so many clients find the perfect community best suited to their ideal lifestyle, and we can help you too.

Our Downsizing Advice

  • When in doubt, throw it out! In order to downsize your home, you’ll need to downsize your stuff too. Throw out anything that is broken or unusable. It’s time to finally get rid of that old pile of magazines, expired paperwork, and other junk that you just don’t need.
  • Donate extra stuff. If you have things that aren’t junky enough to be thrown out, consider donating them. Clothes that don’t fit anymore, extra appliances, and old equipment might be of use to someone in need even though you don’t have use for it anymore.
  • Avoid stairs. If you’re looking to downsize long-term, consider your body’s limitations and choose a one level place to save your knees from stairs and avoid potential falls. All of us will experience a change in our physical capabilities as we grow older. It is better to be proactive than to wait until you have a real health issue forcing you to make a change.
  • Phase out the collections. Your new, smaller place won’t have room for your old Beanie Baby collection, so sell it online and make some quick cash while saving space. We promise you’ll feel lighter once you’ve gotten rid of all of your unnecessary possessions.
  • One set is enough. Choose the best set of dishes, linens, and silverware, and then give the rest away to goodwill or your family. Treat yourself — and someone else!
  • Internalize memories. You can’t possibly keep every ticket stub or greeting card ever given to you, even if it was from your child when they were five. Remember that memories are kept alive not by things, but by the memories themselves. Only take the most important stuff with you. Consider creating digital copies of treasured photos to save space. The rest will stay with you in your memory.
  • Rent a storage locker. If you have things you just can’t possibly part with but don’t have room in your new, smaller home, consider renting a small storage locker. Choose a relatively cheap option that safely secures your things in a climate controlled and waterproof space.

Organize important paperwork. Make sure you didn’t throw out legal documents or forms proving tax history when you were cleaning the house. You still need to hang on to some of it, and your storage locker can house those files too. We understand how big of a decision it is to downsize at any point in your life. We’ve helped others make this transition before, so if you want an experienced, helping hand, contact Lakes Country Realty today to talk about your options. We’re here for you!
Guide to Downsizing
Lakes Country Realty is no stranger to downsizing — many of our clients reach a point in their life when they’re ready to have the convenience that comes with not having to do stairs every day, deal with snow or ice, pay taxes and utilities on a home that is too big for them now, or clean a home where half the rooms are no longer used. We know that moving out of your home can stir up a lot of emotions, especially when you’re leaving a home you’ve lived in for years. Some people describe it as feeling like losing a loved one. Often our clients decide to downsize after kids have moved out, and that can be an overwhelming event on its own. Many elderly adults who desperately need to downsize either from health issues, difficulty keeping up with the maintenance their house requires, or simply the cost of their mortgage, still put off doing so because they feel anxious about experiencing a big change in their lives and are anxious about taking the first step.These emotions are common and they’re to be expected when downsizing, but you shouldn’t let them keep you from doing what is best for you. Lakes Country Realty knows just how to alleviate your fears and concerns because we’ve been through this process more than once, and we’re committed to helping you get through it as well. We won’t rush you, and we will help you put together a plan that lets you feel empowered and dare we say, “excited” about the move. A great real estate agent will be there to help you sort through these emotions and be by your side to answer any questions you may have about downsizing. Downsizing requires a little more work than a normal move because of all of the treasures you’ve accumulated while living in your home for the past decade/decades. Your new home will likely be significantly smaller with less room for furniture, but you will be freed from the stress and anxiety that comes with caring for a home and possessions you no longer need. Thankfully, there are tons of places asking for donated items and there are also people willing to buy your gently used things. Once you’ve parred down your possessions, you will be free to search for a smaller place that is more convenient and appropriate for this new chapter in your life. Downsizing also gives you the opportunity to change up your lifestyle. If you’ve lived in the suburb because you were raising a family but now find yourself solo and far away from the activities you like to do or the people you wish to see, you can choose to sell the house with all of the space you no longer need in exchange for a perfect sized space of your own in the neighborhood you’d really like to be in. Welcome this new chapter in your life and embrace the positives that will come with making the move. If you’re thinking about downsizing your home, read on to see if you’ve considered all components of the move.

Are You Ready to Downsize?

  • How much space suits your needs? If you’re an empty nester now and three of your four bedrooms haven’t been used in years, what are you waiting for? At this point, it’s probably cheaper to put your guests up in a nearby hotel than pay the mortgage on a house with more bedrooms than you really need. We can empathize with your reluctance to leave the home that you raised your children in, but just remember that your family will understand and recognize the benefits that will come from downsizing.
  • What could you do with the extra money? Chances are you’ve tied up a lot of equity in your house and will make a profit on selling it. Can you envision yourself traveling to all of the places you’ve always dreamt of with that extra cash? Could you even retire from work a few years earlier? This can be an exciting opportunity for you to switch up your lifestyle.
  • Is maintenance bringing you down? A big house needs a lot of upkeep, and sometimes the fixes can be unpredictable in cost. On the flip side, condo and townhome fees are usually cheaper than regular maintenance on a house and someone else gets to handle all of the work for you. Getting older is a part of life and there is nothing to be ashamed of by deciding to make your life easier and more convenient.
  • How often do you expect company? Some of our clients insist on keeping the big house because they want their kids to have space when they come to visit, but how often are they really visiting? Is a couple of visits a year really worth that mortgage and all the upkeep? Most condominiums and some townhomes come with a common space to host parties and large groups, and trust us — your kids would rather stay in your new guest room than their childhood bedroom!
  • Do you dream of a new neighborhood? Downsizing can put you in the neighborhood of your dreams, within walking distance to shops, parks, and restaurants. You can get rid of the car and the commute, and put yourself in the location you’ve always wanted. Perhaps you’d like to be a part of a community with people who share similar interests with you, and the neighborhood you’ve been living in just doesn’t match up with your lifestyle anymore.
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want? The most significant adjustment to downsizing is a lifestyle change. If hosting backyard BBQs and huge family holidays is the lifestyle you wish to keep, you do not have to give up this part of your life. Consider all of the exciting locations you will be able to take your family to once you sell. If you want to surround yourself with a lively social network and a variety of activities to participate in, ask Lakes Country Realty for recommendations. We’ve helped so many clients find the perfect community best suited to their ideal lifestyle, and we can help you too.

Our Downsizing Advice

  • When in doubt, throw it out! In order to downsize your home, you’ll need to downsize your stuff too. Throw out anything that is broken or unusable. It’s time to finally get rid of that old pile of magazines, expired paperwork, and other junk that you just don’t need.
  • Donate extra stuff. If you have things that aren’t junky enough to be thrown out, consider donating them. Clothes that don’t fit anymore, extra appliances, and old equipment might be of use to someone in need even though you don’t have use for it anymore.
  • Avoid stairs. If you’re looking to downsize long-term, consider your body’s limitations and choose a one level place to save your knees from stairs and avoid potential falls. All of us will experience a change in our physical capabilities as we grow older. It is better to be proactive than to wait until you have a real health issue forcing you to make a change.
  • Phase out the collections. Your new, smaller place won’t have room for your old Beanie Baby collection, so sell it online and make some quick cash while saving space. We promise you’ll feel lighter once you’ve gotten rid of all of your unnecessary possessions.
  • One set is enough. Choose the best set of dishes, linens, and silverware, and then give the rest away to goodwill or your family. Treat yourself — and someone else!
  • Internalize memories. You can’t possibly keep every ticket stub or greeting card ever given to you, even if it was from your child when they were five. Remember that memories are kept alive not by things, but by the memories themselves. Only take the most important stuff with you. Consider creating digital copies of treasured photos to save space. The rest will stay with you in your memory.
  • Rent a storage locker. If you have things you just can’t possibly part with but don’t have room in your new, smaller home, consider renting a small storage locker. Choose a relatively cheap option that safely secures your things in a climate controlled and waterproof space.

Organize important paperwork. Make sure you didn’t throw out legal documents or forms proving tax history when you were cleaning the house. You still need to hang on to some of it, and your storage locker can house those files too. We understand how big of a decision it is to downsize at any point in your life. We’ve helped others make this transition before, so if you want an experienced, helping hand, contact Lakes Country Realty today to talk about your options. We’re here for you!

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The art of negotiation

When you’ve successfully found the home of your dreams, it’s time to draft an offer. The process of making an offer on the house you really want can be nerve-wracking, but this is the exciting part too. Thankfully, your agent will have lots of experience negotiating offers and will be able to guide you through the process step by step.

Drafting the Perfect Offer

Negotiation is an art form. There are a variety of tactics and methods used by real estate agents to draft the right offer, but your agent must know how to negotiate like a pro to ensure you get the best deal on your new home. If the seller doesn’t accept the initial offer, it will be up to your agent to negotiate on your behalf.

When negotiations are going back and forth between the buyer and seller or you’re involved in a bidding war, it’s important to know that having an experienced realtor by your side can make this process less stressful and ensure you get the best deal. Sometimes compromises have to be made, but a good agent will make sure you’re still getting what’s most important to you. In order to make an offer on a home, a Purchase Agreement must be drafted. The Purchase Agreement contains your preferred price, any inclusions like furniture or appliances, your ideal closing date, and any additional conditions that must be met for the deal to be final. After you’ve submitted your offer, the seller has a few choices: accept it, reject it, or counter offer. Common conditions typically found in the Purchase Agreement include: specific financing conditions, home inspections contingencies, how taxes are divided, if you’re asking the seller for any closing costs, if the purchase is contingent on selling your current home, etc. You’ll also need to place a deposit down (Earnest Money) on the home you want to buy. The deposit typically amounts to 1% of the purchase price. Your agent should have requested a pre-approval letter from your lender that gets submitted with the offer as well to show that you’re qualified for the purchase. Once you and your agent have drafted the perfect offer, submitted it to the seller, and had your offer accepted, it’s time to get ready for Moving Day. If you haven’t already lined up a buyer for the house you’re vacating, don’t panic. There is still time for you and your agent to work on selling your home before you move into your new one.

At Lakes Country Realty we have the art of negotiation down to a science. We’ve bought and sold a lot of houses and many of our agents have had extensive training in negotiations, so we know what’s required to draft the perfect offer and secure your dream home. We always put the buyer’s best interests first, so you can rest assured that we will go to bat for you at the negotiation table. When you buy a home with Lakes Country Realty, you’ll have a negotiator with years of experience, top notch skills, intimate knowledge of contracts, and winning strategies for bidding wars.

Closing Day

At long last, the day you’ve been waiting for — maybe all your life. When you’ve had your offer accepted, it’s time to get ready for Closing Day, which is the day you finalize the contract, switch over the property deed into your name, and move into your new house.

The closing process will begin a few days before you actually own the house. You’ll need to be in close contact with your Dream Team — this of course includes your agent, plus your lender and your closer. Your team will need critical information from you in this final part of the home-buying process to finalize the deal. You will need to provide the down payment and you’ll also have a lot of paperwork to read over and sign. Fortunately, your agent and your closer will be able to assist you with this step to make it easier. Aside from the down payment, there are other costs you need to consider that will come upon Closing Day, such as:

  • Any Land Transfer fees
  • Lender fees
  • Appraisal costs
  • Legal fees
  • Taxes

The Art of Negotiation


What is a Mortgage

What Is a Mortgage?

Let’s start with the basics. Most home buyers don’t have enough money to buy a house outright for the listing price, which is why mortgages exist. A mortgage is a long-term home loan provided by a bank or mortgage lender to help you purchase property. When you buy a house, the property acts as collateral in exchange for the funds you’ve borrowed. Typically, mortgages last for 15 to 30 years of monthly payments.

A mortgage is made up of several parts:

  • Collateral — in this case, the home itself
  • Principal — the sum of money you borrowed
  • Interest rate — percentage the lender charges you to borrow the money
  • Monthly payment — the amount you pay back on your loan each month
  • Mortgage terms — length of time mortgage agreement with agreed interest rate is in effect
  • Insurance — homeowner insurance protects your property in the case of fire, theft, bad weather, etc.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance-paid to the lender if the value secured is more than 80% Loan-to Value
  • Property taxes — a percentage of the value of your home levied by the county