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Spring Tips To Transform Your Home’s Exterior

As spring approaches and your yard emerges from beneath the snow, it’s a good time to start planning outdoor improvement projects. Whether you want to enhance curb appeal for a future sale or simply make your yard and house exterior more aesthetically pleasing, we’ve got proven tips to fit every budget, timeline, and level of expertise.  

Basic Improvements 

Paint the Siding and Trim 

Few improvements are more transformative than a fresh coat of paint. Save time and get excellent results by contracting a professional painting crew. Depending on the size of your home, an exterior paint job typically ranges from $1,700 to $5,000. If you don’t know a painter, your Realtor® should be able to provide a recommendation. 

Spruce Up the Yard 

Wake up that winter-weary matt with a hearty dose of fertilizer and reseed or cover any bare spots in new sod. If weeds are a concern, but you don’t want to use harsh chemicals, consider some of these all-natural weed-management techniques. Be sure to trim the bushes and hedges, cut dead branches from trees, and restore decorative gardens with fresh mulch and vibrant plants and flowers. 

Revive the Driveway 

The driveway is most visitors first point of contact with your home. Make a good impression by repairing cracks, and killing any weeds sprouting in-between. If the asphalt is faded, a fresh coat of sealcoat is fast and transformative. If your driveway is made from pavers, check to be sure none are loose or damaged. 

Pro Tip: Add a little eye candy with bordering plants and flowers. 


Replace or Repair Old Gutters and Downspouts 

Stained, dirty, or clogged gutters create a dingy, dilapidated look that makes a bad impression on visitors or buyers. If your gutters and downspouts are in sorry shape, factor repairs or replacement into your budget. Beyond aesthetics, they have functional utility that impacts the health of your home, from gardens and lawn to the foundation. 


Go by the Numbers (and then replace them) 

Inspect the entry to your home with fresh and discerning eyes. Are any house numbers damaged, crooked or missing? Is the porchlight a dusty graveyard for moths? Are the doorknob and entry lockset faded, chipped or rusted? Is the door scuffed, scratched and in need of paint? Is the wall-mounted mailbox dented and faded? Take an inventory and prioritize repairs and replacement. These small investments make a world of difference to the presentation of your home. 


More Ambitious Upgrades 

Turn the Front Porch into an Outside Room 

Make your porch an inviting outdoor space by adding comfortable chairs, small tables, and stands or urns with plants and flowers. Hanging plants also add color and life. Create a place where that makes it easy and pleasant to socialize with neighbors, friends and family. 

Install Window Boxes 

Window boxes add splashes of color and greenery that bring your exterior to life. Available in a variety of materials—wood, terracotta, iron, copper, and more—they complement your home’s colors and play off its lighting. Whether you want a cozy cottage look or a something more fitting for French manor, window boxes are the perfect finishing touch. 

Turn Bare Walls into Living Canvases 

Got a bare side wall that’s home to an ugly collection of gas lines and an air-conditioning unit? Give it a quick makeover that transforms it into a garden oasis. With a few pre-planted decorative containers, you can reclaim a forgotten space and turn it into one of the highlights of your property. Pro Tip: Stagger the containers in an asymmetrical arrangement for an artistic look. Choose containers made from earthy natural materials like wood, terracotta and ceramic. 

Plant a Mailbox Garden 

Encircle your lonely curbside mailbox with a bed of flowers and ground-hugging plants. For a relatively small investment of time, effort, and materials, you can create an inviting entrance that captures attention, sets your home apart with an evocative splash of beauty. Pro Tip: Paint the post to match the color palette of your flowerbed. If your mailbox is worn or damaged, replace it with something colorful and new. 

Show Stoppers and Curb Poppers 

Build a Walkway 

Tear up the dull concrete path to your front door and install brick, stone or colored concrete pavers. Although this can be a costly undertaking, it adds a stately, sophisticated touch that elevates the presentation of your home.

Pro Tip: Accent your walkway with border gardens and a variety of flowering and ground-covering plants. 

Create a Sculpture Garden

Even a modestly sized backyard becomes a private park with the addition of artistic elements like sculptures, fountains, and boulders. Each of these can become the focal point of a nook or cove within a grove of trees, cluster of bushes, or planted mound. Set a bench in a shady area nearby where you can spend peaceful moments in a your own secluded refuge. 


Install Outdoor Lightning 

Add a little stagecraft to your property by illuminating a walkway or accenting trees and gardens. Although reasonably priced, solar-power lights can be obtained from many stores, a professional installation ensures better quality and design options.

Pro Tip: Light fixtures should be subtle additions that are not readily visible in the daylight. Camouflage them with plants, rocks, and other natural features. 

Erect a Garden Gate or a Pergola 

Create a dramatic entrance to a garden with an arched gateway. Or add an intimate gathering space with an elegant wooden pergola. Highlight the effect of either of these elements by training flowering vines that add both shade and beauty.


Source: MNR News

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January 2022 Housing Report

Closed sales are down as new listings decline.

MINNEAPOLIS (February 10, 2022) — Strong buyer demand and a shrinking number of homes for sale in Minnesota drove prices up in January. Closed sales of residential homes were down 9.9% compared to January 2021, while inventory plummeted 24.3%. As homebuyers competed in a tight market, the median price rose 8.5% to $295,000. The affordability index, which measures whether a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on the average home, was down 15.4% over last year. New listings dropped 11.2% and there were only 6,631 homes for sale across the state, 24.3% less than a year ago. It is still a seller’s market, as homeowners received 98.7% of their asking price, an increase of 0.4%.“As the year opens, inventory shortages continue to frustrate many buyers. And those that do close on homes are paying significantly more,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “Affordability is a significant concern as home prices increase faster than wages. Also, the Federal Reserve has indicated they will increase interest rates in the next few weeks. Higher interest rates, higher home prices and low inventory levels will challenge many first-time home buyers trying to enter the marketplace.”

January year-over-year summary of key market indicators:

  • Closed sales decreased 9.9% to 4,365
  • Median sales price increased 8.5% to $295,000
  • Average sales price increased 9.0% to $338,754
  • New listings decreased 11.2% to 4,791
  • Pending sales decreased 10.9% to 4,497
  • Days on the market decreased 10.9% to 41 days
  • Homes for sale decreased 24.3% to 6,631

May be an image of text that says 'Homes for Sale 6,631 -24.3% vs Jan. 2021 Median Sales Price $295,000 8.5% vs Jan. 2021 Minnesota Realtors® Jan. 2022 Housing Report Days on Market Closed Sales 4,365 -9.9% vs Jan. 2021 41 -10.9% vs Jan. 2021'

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

In January, closed sales declined in 11 regions compared to a year ago, bringing Minnesota’s average number of closed home sales down 9.9% year over year. Two regions reported increases, with Southwest Central marking double-digit gains, at 10.4%and South Central at 7.8%. Seven regions saw double-digit closed home sale declines. The largest of these were North Central, down 40.9%, East Central, down 24.6%, and Northwest, down 24.4%. See the chart below for more details comparing closed home sales for January 2022 to January 2021.The seven-county Twin Cities region comprises Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. The official Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan statistical area recognized by the Census Bureau consists of 16 counties, on which MAR & SPAAR local associations report.

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2020 vs 2021 Housing Market

The 2021 real estate market was seen as a continuation of the 2020 seller’s market, with less availability and higher prices.

Compared to 2020 inventory, the number of homes sold in 2021 decreased ever so slightly. The median sale price in 2021 of $339,900 grew compared to 2020 median sale price of $305,000. That’s  an increase of 11.4% in sales price in 2021  compared to 2020 of just 8.9%.

Sellers also saw an increase in the percentage of their home’s list price in 2021, averaging 101.9% of their asking list price (compared to 99.8 for 2020).

With less inventory on the market (compared to year over year), there was less 1 months inventory (.8 of a month) on the market, compared to 2021 of 1.1 months of inventory.

To find out what the local conditions are like within your city, feel free to reach out to us as Cushman Realty for a complimentary market analysis of your home.

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Mortgage Tips

In today’s hot housing market, buying a home can feel like a brutally competitive reality show. In the rush to snag a dream home before someone else gets it, many first-time home buyers overlook a critically important factor—the mortgage.

It’s a big mistake that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your loan. But with a little planning, prioritizing, and smart shopping, you can find a mortgage that fits your budget and leaves you enough cash to pursue all your 
other American dreams.

Get Your Finances in Order
Months before you start browsing house listings, open a spreadsheet and analyze your finances. When you have a solid sense of your income, assets, and debt load, start talking to lenders. They can provide solid guidance on how to raise your credit score, and make a good financial impression on the loan underwriters. Although you might need some extra time for paying down debt, you’ll emerge with a better credit score, and qualify for a mortgage that can save you big bucks. 

Do Some Smart Shopping 

Congratulations. You found an incredibly low interest rate and you’re ready to leap! 

But before you do, check out the annual percentage rate (APR) on the loan estimate provided by the lender. There you’ll find closing costs and other fees bundled with the interest rate. This helps you understand what you’ll actually pay each month on your mortgage. Plus, it gives a meaningful point of comparison for considering other loans. In some cases, you’ll find that a slightly higher interest rate works out better because it carries lower fees. Moral of the story: shop around! 

Beware “Free Lunches”

Some lenders like to sweeten the deal with tempting offers to comp your closing costs or pay your mortgage insurance. But it’s all just a shell game. They fold those “freebies” into your loan and spike your interest rate by as much as a quarter point. That said, reputable lenders do occasionally run legitimate promotions where they discount their origination/application fees. You can verify the offer by checking to make sure those discounts are genuine and the fees are not simply rolled into your loan. 

Know What You Can Afford (vs. what you can borrow)

The amount you are qualified to borrow is based your debt-to-income ratio. This crude calculation looks at total monthly income versus the dollars you pay servicing debts like car loans and other big-ticket items. It doesn’t account for your gym membership; music lessons for the kids; online-shopping sprees; and weekly trips to that boutique food market. 

To get a realistic picture of what you can afford to pay every month, you need to track all those necessities and lifestyle expenses. Otherwise, you might find yourself feeling perfectly poor in your perfect new home. 

Extract the Facts from Your Loan Estimate

Forests of trees are axed to assemble loan documents, but you don’t have to get buried in them. Here are the six facts you need to gather from the loan estimate:

  1. Interest rate
  2. APR
  3. Monthly payment
  4. Loan terms
  5. Total loan cost
  6. Cash required at closing

Lastly, be sure to carefully review the closing document you’ll receive just days before closing. If you notice any different fees or costs, contact your lender right away. Even a fraction of a difference in the interest rate can tack on thousands of dollars over the term of the loan. 

To learn more about the art and science of mortgage shopping, check out Five Newbie Mortgage Mistakes that Are Soooo Easy to Avoid.