No Comments

May 2022 Housing Report

Median sales price of a home climbs as inventory increases
MINNEAPOLIS (June 10, 2022)
 — The supply of homes coming on the market rose in May, with new listings up 3.6% compared to a year ago. Across the state, there were 10,408 homes for sale, a 4.8% rise over May 2021. Even so, closed sales were down 6.5% compared to last year as the median sales price increased 10.2% to $341,500. Overall, there was a 1.4-month supply of homes on the market, up almost 17% from the year before. Even though sales were down, competition for properties was heated. Sellers received an average 103.2% of the asking price, a 0.3% increase over last year.“The increase in new listings and higher levels of inventory is encouraging for buyers coming into the market,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “We should remember that the decline in closed sales compares to the unusually heated environment of 2021. What we’re seeing is aligned with historical norms for this time of year. However, it is still difficult for first-time homebuyers to break in. Higher interest rates, and inflationary pressures in the wider economy are taking a toll on this group. Buyers who are successfully closing on properties can leverage more financial resources to compete. The fact that homes regularly sell for more than the asking price is drawing more sellers into the market. This trend is likely to continue playing out for the remainder of the 2022 selling season.”

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

  • Closed sales decreased 6.5% to 7,622
  • Median sales price increased 10.2% to $341,500
  • Average sales price increased 8.8% to $393,572
  • New listings increased 3.6% to 11,380
  • Pending sales decreased 12.0% to 8,577
  • Days on the market decreased 10.3% to 26 days
  • Homes for sale increased 4.8% to 10,408

May be an image of text that says '10,408 Homes for Sale $341,500 Median Sales Price 4.8% vs May 2021 Minnesota Realtors® +10.2% vS May 2021 May 2022 Housing Report 26 7,622 Closed Sales Days on Market -6.5% vs May 2021 10.3% vs May 2021'

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

In May, closed sales declined in 11 out of 13 regions compared to a year ago, bringing Minnesota’s average number of closed home sales down 6.5% year over year. Two regions reported increases: Northwest at 19.4%, and Southeast at 3.5%. The smallest declines were seen in Upper MN Valley at 2.4%, Headwaters at 3.2%, and Southwest at 8.9%. The largest declines were reported in Arrowhead at 20.3%, West Central at 22.0%, and Southwest Central at 25.7%. See the chart below for more details comparing closed home sales for May 2022 to May 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, onwhich MAR & SPAAR local associations report.

View full regional and county reports here.

View statewide report here.

No Comments

Determining the Right Price For Your House

SOURCE: KEEPING CURRENT MATTERS

If your lifestyle has changed recently and you’re ready to make a move, taking advantage of today’s sellers’ market might be just the answer for your summer plans. With homes continuing to get multiple offers,  this could be your moment to get the contract you’re looking for on your house if you’re ready to sell.

And here’s the thing – you need an expert on your side to ensure you make all the right moves when you do, especially when it comes to pricing your house. Even in this competitive market, you can’t stick just any price tag on your home and get the deal you want. A key piece of the puzzle is setting the right asking price so you can help buyers notice your home (and get excited about it) from the very first time they view the listing. That’s where a real estate professional comes in.

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Important

The price you set for your house sends a message to potential buyers. Price it too low and you might raise questions about your home’s condition or lead buyers to assume something is wrong with the property. Not to mention, if you undervalue your house, you could leave money on the table which decreases your future buying power.

On the other hand, price it too high, and you run the risk of deterring buyers. When that happens, you may have to do a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house when it sits on the market for a while. But be aware that a price drop can be seen as a red flag for some buyers who will wonder why the price was reduced and what that means about the home.

In other words, think of pricing your home as a target. Your goal is to aim directly for the center – not too high, not too low, but right at market value. Pricing your house fairly based on market conditions increases the chance you’ll have more buyers who are interested in purchasing it. That makes it more likely you’ll see multiple offers, too. And if a bidding war happens, you’ll likely get an even higher final sale price. Plus, when homes are priced right, they tend to sell quickly.

To get a look into the potential downsides of over or underpricing your house and the perks that come with pricing it at market value, see the chart below:

Why You Need an Expert To Determine the Right Price for Your House | Keeping Current Matters

Lean on a Professional’s Expertise

There are several factors that go into pricing your house, and balancing them is the key. That’s why it’s important to lean on an expert when you’re ready to move. A local real estate advisor is knowledgeable about:

  • The value of homes in your neighborhood
  • The current demand for houses in today’s market
  • The condition of your house and how it affects the value

A real estate professional will balance these factors to make sure the price of your house makes the best first impression and gives you the greatest return on your investment in the end.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling, pricing your house appropriately is key. Work with a trusted real estate advisor to make sure your house is priced right for the local market, your home’s condition, and to stand out from the competition.

No Comments

Cold Zone Gardening in Minnesota

The growing season is short, but with a little planning you can create a thriving garden
As the weather warms and the snow melts, Minnesotans rush out to their gardens and coax botanical miracles from muddy earth. Flower beds burst with color. Vegetable patches yield bushels of beans, peas, tomatoes, and zucchini. And fruit trees drip with apples and pears. 

Of course, not everyone is blessed with green thumbs. In fact, more than a few of us are all thumbs when it comes to getting a garden to produce much more than weeds. How do those prolific gardeners do it? What’s their secret sauce? The answer is more science than “saucery,” and deeply rooted in our state’s “plant hardiness zones.” If you don’t know what that is, read on, and get ready to have your best season in the soil yet.


Get to Know Your Zone

Plant hardiness zones were created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers and gardeners select plants that thrive in their region of the country. Based on seasonal temperature cycles, each zone is defined by how cold it gets in the winter. There are 13 zones in the United States, from Alaska to Florida, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Every zone covers a 10-F range.  

The lower the number, the colder the zone. Minnesota has five zones and they’re all pretty chill. The northern-most zone—3a—ranges from Brainerd to International Falls with average temperatures plunging -35 to – 40 F in the winter. By contrast, Fairmont, on the state’s southern border, sits in balmy Zone 5a where winter temperatures rarely dip under -15 to -20 F.

If you’re not sure what zone you’re in, visit the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map page and enter your zip code in the search bar. 

Choose Your Plants, Check for Frost, and Get Digging

Once you know your zone, you can determine which plants will thrive in your area and calculate the optimal time to get them in the ground. As a rule, you should plant after the last frost of the season. This frost-freeze calculator tells you about the average frost-free dates for your zip code. For example, in the Twin Cities area (zone 4b), there’s little chance of frost occurring after May 14. Up along the Canadian border (zone 3a), however, the last frost can come well into late May and even early June.

Whether you’re starting vegetables from seed, or shopping for perennials at the local nursey, most seeds and plants come with information about the hardiness zones where they will thrive. They also tell you about the optimal temperature ranges for healthy growth. For instance, kale and broccoli are very hardy and can go in the ground right after the last frost. But tomatoes require long, warm days, so planting might have to wait a couple weeks more until the conditions are just right.

For an exhaustive list of deciduous trees, fruit, vegetables, perennials, roses, shrubs, and other plants that can grow in each of Minnesota’s hardiness zones, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Cold Hardiness List. 

Expand Your Zone of Learning

Of course, knowing your zone and which plants are best adapted to it is only the beginning. Each plant has unique needs for sunlight, water, soil type and fertilization. You also need to know about the various pests, blights, and diseases that can afflict your garden. Fortunately, a world of resources is only a click away. The University of Minnesota Extension has an exhaustive website covering every aspect of your Yard and Garden, from primers on trees, shrubs, vegetables, and native plants to guides on soil and nutrients, landscaping, and creating pollinator gardens. There is also an excellent resource that connects you with Master Gardeners who can answer all your questions about garden issues. The service is free, and most questions are answered within 48 hours. 

Whether you have a few potted tomatoes on the veranda, or a yard filled with carefully cultivated flowers, your garden can be a zone of peace, fun, and fulfillment. As the English poet Alfred Austin said, “the glory of gardening is hands in dirt, head in the sun, and heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” 

No Comments

Buyer Settlement Fees

mortgage, house, cash, business, buy, estate, exchange, finance, home, investment, money, payment, purchase, real, sell, transfer, banking, loan, wealth, bank, earn, rent, pink, font, illustration, graphic design, graphics, icon, art, Free Images In PxHereBuyer’s Closing Costs

When buying a new home, there are several fees that need to be taken into account. Buyers need to be aware of these fees, as lenders will want to be sure the buyers have the funds available to close.

Closing costs of a home vary and can range from 2-5% of the home’s sale price. Your lender will be able to give you an estimate, when applying for your mortgage.

Other fees that may not be included are those charged by the title or escrow company.

A Closing Disclosure (CD) is required to be provided to a buyer 3 business days before the closing date of the mortgage. The CD will also include items such as monthly payments, loan fees, loan terms, and any other outstanding charges. A buyer can compare this to the estimate provided by the lender at the application time.

Mortgage Fees

Loan origination fee: The amount the lender charges for for processing the mortgage application. The fee varies, but typically runs around 1% of the mortgage. This fee may be negotiated into the rate of the mortgage.

VA funding fee: This only applies to a VA loan. It is a fee charged to the veteran to close the loan, and can be paid in cash or rolled into mortgage. This amount is based veteran status, down payment, and whether they have had a VA loan before.

Appraisal: A fee paid for a licensed appraiser to determine the value of the property.

Attorney fee: This fee only applies when using an attorney within the transaction.

Discount points: These can be used to adjust the mortgage interest rate, and are considered prepaid interest. A point is 1% of the mortgage.

Lender’s title insurance: This covers the lender and allows the lender to hold an enforceable lien from title claims on the house.  It is usually issued with an owner’s title policy and is priced separately at closing.

Mortgage insurance: For most loans in excess of 80% of loan to value (LTV), they will require mortgage insurance to protect the lender from loss if the property in the event the property is foreclosed.  VA loans do not have this requirement. There are 2 parts for FHA. The 1st is a charge of 1.75% of loan amount. The 2nd is a monthly amount which is added to the payment.  Conventional loans typically collect the 1st month’s premium in advance, while subsequent amounts are rolled into the mortgage payment.

Recording fees: These are fees charged by the closing company for filing legal documents with the municipal or county recorders.  Theses documents include the mortgage and the deed.

Survey fees: This is not a typical fee in an ordinary real estate transaction. This fee is required by a lender, to verify property lines, shared fences and driveways, and to identify any other encumbrances.

Underwriting fee: This fee covers the lender’s research and determination for the mortgage package to meet the lender’s requirements.

Mortgage Escrow Fees

Property taxes: Lenders may require 2-3  months of taxes be held in escrow. These are typically paid 60-90 by the lender before they are due. They are prorated from the date of closing.

Property insurance: Insurance is pre-paid in advance, with the annual premium is due at closing.  The lender may also require 1 additional month, so that the premium may be paid 1 month prior to renewal.

Flood insurance: This fee only applies to lenders that require flood insurance on a home based on the assessed location in a flood zone or proximity to a flood zone.

Home Purchase Fees

Settlement fee: Upon the closing of the property, this fee is paid to the title, escrow company, or attorney that closes the transaction.

HOA Fee: This only applies to properties within a Home Owner Association (HOA). HOA fees are usually prepaid and are prorated at closing.

Owner’s Title insurance: This insures the buyer, clear and marketable title from the seller.  It serves the purpose of protecting the new owners’ interests if they are challenged.  It may not be required, but is recommended.

Pest inspection: This fee may not pertain in most transactions, but is performed by a licensed exterminator.

Property inspection: After the purchase agreement is signed, a professional home inspection is completed to determine the condition of the property.

Title search: This fee covers the title search of a property. It is a separate fee charged in addition to the premium for the title insurance.

Transfer taxes: Taxes to be collected by a government entity.

For more details, you can download a Closing Disclosure Explainer from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

No Comments

April 2022 Housing Report

By MNR News posted 5/11/22

New listings shrink, interest rates creep up, and demand remains high

MINNEAPOLIS (May 10, 2022) — With closed sales down by almost 11% over last April, the sales season was off to a comparatively slower start. Historically, the numbers indicated a return to more normal patterns for this time of year. Declines in new listings, which were down nearly 7% compared to a year ago, contributed to softening sales. Statewide, there were 8,567 homes for sale, down 9.6% from April 2021. This equates to just over a one-month supply of properties on the market, a trend that has persisted since the end of 2020. Despite the limited inventory, buyer demand remains high, pushing the median home sales price in Minnesota up 11.5% to $340,000. On average, sellers received 102.8% percent of their asking price, a 0.7% increase over April 2021.

“As low inventories and high consumer demand have become the new normal, market pressures continue driving up the median price of a home,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “Interest rates continue to rise, too. A 30-year fixed mortgage is now 5.6% and still climbing. That’s why the affordability index, which measures whether the average family earns enough to obtain a mortgage on a typical home, dropped 29% over last year. This environment disproportionately impacts lower- and mid-income buyers—especially first-time homebuyers. Increasing the availability of affordable homes calls for a range of solutions, from down-payment assistance and more new construction to incentives for fence-sitting homeowners to sell their properties. There are no magic bullets, but over time these approaches will yield good results.”

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

  • Closed sales decreased 10.9% to 6,444
  • Median sales price increased 11.5% to $340,000
  • Average sales price increased 12.6% to $388,667
  • New listings decreased 6.7% to 9,814
  • Pending sales decreased 9.5% to 8,124
  • Days on the market decreased 16.7% to 30 days
  • Homes for sale decreased 9.6% to 8,567

May be an image of text that says '8,567 Homes for Sale $340,000 Median Sales Price -9.6% vs April 2021 11.5% vS April 2021 Minnesota Realtors® April 2022 Housing Report 30 6,444 Closed Sales Days on Market -10.9% vsApril vS April 2021 vs April 2021'

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

In April, closed sales declined in 12 out of 13 regions compared to a year ago, bringing Minnesota’s average number of closed home sales down 10.9% year over year. Only one region reported an increase: Southwest Central at 3.6%. The smallest declines were seen in Southeast at 7.3%, 7-County Twin Cities at 8.5%, and Southwest at 8.9%. The largest declines were reported in South Central at 19.8%, Headwaters at 22.9%, and West Central at 28.6%. See the chart below for more details comparing closed home sales for April 2022 to April 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.

View full regional and county reports here.

View statewide report here.

No Comments

4 Outdoor Trends on the Rise

By MNR News 

After a long tough winter, Minnesotans are ready reclaim the fresh air and natural spaces of their yards. Sure, the grass is matted and garden beds are disheveled, but it’s all a canvas for your imagination. With a few tools, supplies, and a little sweat, you can turn it into a colorful oasis for relaxation, play, and a socially distanced garden party or two. Here are a few tips to get you started. 


Transform
 the Front Yard  

Until recently, front yards were strictly ornamental. A few bushes; a smattering of flowers; and maybe a lawn gnome to keep the maple tree company. Then the pandemic happened, and this overlooked space became a nexus for spontaneous, safe gatherings with friends and neighbors. Some emerging trends for revitalizing your front lawn include: 

 

  • Firepits circled with comfortable camp chairs or, if budget permits, stone pavers and masonry seating walls 
  • Bistro-style table and cushioned outdoor chairs 
  • Walkways bordered with bright flowers, bushes, and attractive ground-cover plants 
  • Bird feeders help wildlife and bring beautiful visitors to your yard 
  • White picket fence that frames the perimeter 

 

And don’t forget about the porch. Cover that concrete slab with a colorful outdoor rug. Add a rustic touch with a vintage accent table topped with a vibrant potted fern. And turn your front door into a beacon for good times with a coat of bold primary color. And paint those shutters to match! String some party lights overhead and let the good times roll! 


Bring the Indoors Out and the Outdoors In
 

Make the most of Minnesota’s precious sunny seasons by blurring the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living space. Whether you’re on a tight budget or have big dreams and the money to match, there are many ways to create seamless flow between your indoor sanctuary and private outdoor haven. 

 

  • Add an outdoor couch and other lounge furniture to the patio or deck 
  • Create a private courtyard with a vine-covered or glass-roofed pergola 
  • Bring the natural vista inside by installing expansive accordion or sliding-glass doors or full glass walls 
  • Build an outdoor kitchen replete with a gas or charcoal grill or smoker with generous counter and workspace 
  • Bring a touch of Florida to Minnesota with an outdoor bar 
  • Enjoy your own private spa with a jacuzzi or hot tub 
  • Stretch the season into fall and beyond with an outdoor heating lamp on the deck or patio 

Create a Garden Fit for a Party 
 

Not only do gardens enhance your yard with color and beauty, they can also grace your table with fresh veggies, herbs, and fruit from spring through fall. When well designed, gardens create focal points and can make even the smallest yard seem bigger than its actual size. 

 

  • Use raised beds to elevate flower or vegetable gardens 
  • Create curving walkways between garden beds with stone pavers 
  • Soften the hard lines of a patio slab with a border of flowers or prairie grass 
  • Bring life to the deck with decorative terracotta urns planted with herbs 
  • Make a fountain, pond or other water element the center of a garden 

Pro Tip : Make a plan or sketch showing all the elements you want to incorporate, from raised beds to walkways, border plants, and patio. This helps you see the complete “canvas” of your backyard composition before you break ground. 


Landscape for Year-Round Beauty
 

Minnesota’s winter doesn’t have to end enjoyment of your home’s outdoor spaces. By choosing the right mix of evergreens, perennials, and ornamental grasses, you can take in heart-warming views from your windows, even when it’s far too cold to venture outside. 

 

Select a mix of plants with different heights, silhouettes, textures and colors. Pines spruces and cedars are evergreen, look stunning after a snowstorm, and light up the holidays when you add strings of lights. Ornamental grasses with feathery heads are radiant in the winter sun. Wintergreen Boxwoods are broad-leafed evergreen shrubs that can be pruned into French-garden-style geometries or left wild and bushy for a touch of English-cottage warmth. Some other plants to consider for you winter landscape include: 

 

  • Paper Bark Maple with attractive exfoliating bark 
  • Ground-covering Pachysandra for a lush green carpet 
  • Winterberry Holly with round orange berries 
  • Cheery green Hellebores that flower brilliantly in early spring 
No Comments

March 2022 Housing Report

New listings decline while demand remains high
MINNEAPOLIS (April 21, 2022) — Closed sales fell by just over 8% compared to March of last year, indicating a softening, though still robust housing market. New listings in March were down nearly 6% compared to a year ago with 8,926 properties coming on the market. Statewide inventory shrank by almost 11% to 7,808 homes for sale, which is just one month’s worth of supply. Consumers were not deterred by the tight market. Buyer demand drove the median home sales price in Minnesota up 9.2%to $322,000.On average, sellers were receiving 101.5% percent of their asking price, a 0.8% increase over March of last year.

“The decline in closed sales during March is in line with recent state and national trends and reflects homeowners’ reluctance to sell their homes and become buyers in a hyper-competitive environment where interest rates and home prices are rising,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “The same dynamic is motivating consumers to compete fiercely for diminishing inventory. This likely will be the trend for the rest of the year. In the bigger picture, it signals a return to more normal market conditions like those preceding the pandemic. Ultimately, we anticipate this will stabilize what has been a historically overheated housing market.”

May be an image of text that says '7,808 Homes for Sale $322,000 Median Sales Price 10.7% vS Mar. 2021 Minnesota Realtors® 9.2% vs Mar. 2021 March 2022 Housing Report 5,511 Closed Sales 37 Days on Market -8.4% vs Mar. 2021 -11.9% vs Mar. 2021'

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

  • Closed sales decreased 8.4% to 5,511
  • Median sales price increased 9.2% to $322,000
  • Average sales price increased 8.4% to $368,161
  • New listings decreased 5.8% to 8,926
  • Pending sales decreased 12.2% to 7,211
  • Days on the market decreased 11.9% to 37 days
  • Homes for sale decreased 10.7% to 7,808

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

In March, closed sales declined in 11 regions compared to a year ago, bringing Minnesota’s average number of closed home sales down 8.4% year over year. Two regions reported increases: the Upper MN Valley at 34.5%, and Southeast at 5.1%. The smallest declines were seen in Southwest Central at 2.1%, Central at 2.2%, and South Central at 4.0%. The largest declines were reported in Northwest at 31.8% and West Central at 32.3%. See the chart below for more details comparing closed home sales for March 2022 to March 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
.

View statewide report here.

No Comments

Mortgage Insurance

 

growth, money, business, close up, cash, currency, coin, banking, commerce, pension, investing, financial, savings, success, coins, finance, wealth, investment, earnings, invest, accounting, insurance, interest, save money, mortgage, goals, time value of money, time management, save money concept, stack of money, investment concept, compound interest, long term investment, Free Images In PxHere

 

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Work?

Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event you default on the loan. In return, the lender agrees to provide a higher mortgage amount to cover the additional down payment needed. Mortgage insurance can be included in your new monthly payment, paid by the lender in return for a higher interest rate, or paid upfront. The rates used to calculate mortgage insurance are based upon debt-to-income ratio, credit, and how much down payment you will need to meet the 80% loan-to-value requirement, or 20% down.

  • PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance): This insurance can be paid upfront or financed into your mortgage. Once you reach 78% loan-to-value, refinance, or reach the mid-point of your mortgage, this insurance will go away. If you own a multi-family home or investment property, these rules differ, and you may want to talk with your loan officer about those options.
  • LPMI (Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance): This option is when the lender pays for your mortgage insurance and in return, you agree to pay a higher interest rate where the premiums are built in.
  • MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium):  If you’re applying for an FHA mortgage, you pay part upfront and the remainder is financed into your mortgage payment. If you are not able to pay any part upfront, it too can be financed into your mortgage payment. It’s important to note, for FHA loans, MIP would last for the term of the loan if you purchased or refinanced your home on or after June 3, 2013 and you had a down payment of less than 10%.

Bottom line: Remember, in addition to mortgage insurance, there are several ways to purchase a home without a 20% down payment. If you are interested in exploring mortgage insurance as an option, talk with your loan officer to see which types work best for you.

Source: Mortgage Market Guide

No Comments

10 Outdoor Living Trends in 2022

We’re not the first to observe that COVID-19 changed the way we think about our homes. Nonetheless, two years on from the dawn of the pandemic, it’s hard to overstate just how significant this change has been.

In the early days of COVID, when travel restrictions and business closures affected us all, many people started thinking creatively about their outdoor living spaces. Those trends have continued, and as we approach the treasured spring and summer months in Minnesota, there’s renewed interest in creating fun, relaxing outdoor spaces to enjoy with friends and family.

1. The “outdoor room”

If you can overlook the oxymoron, this trend is one that can’t be missed. According to Wayfair’s 2022 Outdoor Trends Report, scores of people are searching for outdoor pergola kits. You’ve likely seen a pergola, even if the term is unfamiliar (see feature image for reference). A pergola kit includes all you need to assemble the structure. Once you have the pergola in place, the bones of your “outdoor room” are set.

Pergolas are great because they provide some shade and potential rain-cover (depending on the kind you buy)—but they also structure an otherwise open outdoor space. And they’re growing in popularity. Just how popular, you ask? According to Wayfair, searches for outdoor pergola kits are up 369% compared to 2021.

2. Dine al fresco—and cook too

Outdoor kitchens are predicted to continue rising in popularity in 2022. When it comes to designing an outdoor kitchen, the options are seemingly endless. Whether you want a simple grill and a sink, or an elaborate grill, mini fridge, sink, stovetop, and cabinets too—you can design the space that fits your desires (and your budget, of course!).

3. Stylish seating

Say goodbye to basic patio furniture. 2022 will bring the comfort of indoor furniture to your backyard, porch, or deck. Pair this with the “outdoor room” or the outdoor kitchen, and your home will be the place everyone wants to come for an evening of food and drinks.

4. Work from home—outside

Even though some companies are returning to the office, many will still have hybrid, or even fully remote, work options available. People are getting creative with makeshift workstations popping up in unexpected places—including outdoors. Some have transformed garden sheds into mini-offices, while others have set up shop on their deck or front porch. Choose what you like, just be sure the Wi-Fi connection is strong enough when you’re out working in the sun!

5. Re-think the front porch

Perhaps you noticed more people sitting out front last year as you walked through your neighborhood. According to Google trends, the number of searches for “front porch” increased by 1.42% in 2021. The front porch can be a great place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or an early evening glass of wine. Depending on your set up, you could include a few comfortable chairs, a couch, or even a porch swing.

6. Hot tub relaxation

The outdoor hot tub is making a comeback. Another by-product of people spending more time at home, it’s a great addition to the backyard. Whether you want to slow down and enjoy time with family and friends after a long week at work, recover from a workout, or just get some alone time—an outdoor hot tub will do the trick.

7. Expand your home garden

While home gardening has risen steadily in popularity for many years, it’s becoming a key element of outdoor living. Many people are incorporating aspects of their garden into other outdoor living spaces, such as pergolas or front porch sets. Whether you’re a committed vegetable gardener or someone who likes sprucing up your home’s exterior with pretty plants and flowers, the benefits of home gardening are numerous. Further, an environmentally friendly garden is a great way to help pollinators and other species flourish!

8. Up your outdoor technology game

If you’ve ever been to a friend’s house for a backyard movie night, you’ll understand the appeal of an outdoor theater. Outdoor streaming is growing in popularity, and the good thing is that a screen and projector can be relatively inexpensive. Watching a movie under the stars is a great way to unwind with the family, all while enjoying the best of indoor and outdoor at the same time.

9. Hang the lights

Warm, fun lighting is a key part of a good backyard set up. Hanging string lights have become a go-to for many backyard fanatics. Their versatility and affordability make them a great choice.

10. Don’t forget the warmth

There’s nothing quite like sitting around a fire after the sun sets. Both bonfire pits and outdoor fireplaces are a good option for outdoor warmth. Some may even opt for outdoor heat lamps. Whatever you choose, investing in a way to stay warm outdoors will lengthen the outdoor season. And that’s crucial here in Minnesota!
No Comments

Why Are Home Prices Still On the Rise?

MINNPOST.COM

By: Greta Kaul, MinnPost’s data reporter.

 

Anybody who knows anybody house hunting in the Twin Cities right now has probably heard the horror stories: in the current real estate market, some people are putting offers on houses far and above the sellers’ asking price — and getting beat by people making even higher offers.

In recent years, low interest rates and high demand for a limited number of houses currently on the market has driven home prices up and up and up — and up, and up — even through a pandemic recession.

Even with mortgage interest rates rising — and expected to rise more soon — home price increases show no signs of slowing down, yet.

Why prices are up?

The rise in housing prices is nothing new, though prices weren’t rising quite this steeply until the pandemic hit. If you go back to about 2012, the market started to show a steady recovery from the price plummet of the Great Recession.

“The market rebuilt strong all the way through, up until the COVID pandemic,” said Chris Galler, the CEO of Minnesota Realtors. Then, the market picked up — for a few major reasons on both the demand and supply side of the equation.

On the demand side, things went a little nuts during the pandemic. Many office workers were suddenly using their homes as offices. The kids were home from school, too, which caused many to re-think their living situations and what they wanted out of a home.

Between government stimulus checks and staying home, household savings increased, allowing some people to save up for down payments. At the same time, low mortgage interest rates — under 3 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at times during the pandemic — made it cheaper to borrow money.

And on top of all that are generational dynamics. Many millennials — people in mid-late-20s to early 40s — are the biggest generation since baby boomers — are in a prime home buying age group, which means a lot of people are in the market. At the same time, baby boomers are living longer and staying in their houses longer than past generations had, restricting the supply of units on the market.

The supply-side issues have roots in the Great Recession, when the construction of homes ground to a halt after the bottom fell out of the real estate market. In Minnesota as elsewhere, the number of homes built lagged behind growth in the population.

“Supply is lagging demand at tremendous levels,” said Libby Starling, director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Community Development and Engagement Department, who estimates that the seven-county Twin Cities metro’s housing stock is short 80,000 housing units relative to what’s needed to keep pace with population growth.  “What we’re seeing is the pressure of demand when there’s simply not enough supply to meet it.”

While home construction has picked up, it’s not making up for the lost years. Additionally, the rising cost of building materials means new homes are less affordable than they might be otherwise.

***Put the demand and supply issues together and you have a lot of competition for a limited housing stock. Realtors often consider the market to have good inventory levels if there are six months worth of homes for sale, meaning it would take about six months to sell all the houses on the market. Inventory has been a lot lower than that lately, dropping from 0.9 months last February to 0.7 months this February in the Twin Cities,*** according to Minnesota Realtors. 

Low inventory and high demand has prompted realtors to try to entice sellers into the market. In high-demand neighborhoods, some realtors knock on doors or drop off flyers that encourage homeowners to sell their houses or specify the types of homes their clients are looking for, including their budget.

“We’re having to actually go and pursue things through all different avenues to find things for [buyers],” said Tracy Baglio, who has been a realtor in the Twin Cities for decades and is the former president of the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors.

It’s in this environment that houses are selling quickly. Stories of multiple over-asking offers within the first day on the market are common. And in the Twin Cities, sellers, on average, are getting 100.9  percent of the list price for their homes compared to 100.2 percent a year ago, according to Minnesota Realtors.

All the supply and demand mismatch has created an especially tough homebuying environment for people looking to buy in the lower end of the market, Starling said.

Starling said some analysis suggests that with tight inventory in the middle of the market, households that can afford $400,000 or $500,000 homes are instead placing high bids on homes under that budget, beating out lower bids. Investors, too, are able to put attractive offers on homes, driving up prices.

“[That’s having the subsequent effect on affordability for lower income households, for whom these are the only options,” Starling said.

Another bubble?

Given fast-rising home values, Starling said it’s valid to ask whether this is another housing bubble, like the one that preceded the Great Recession. But the situation today is different in many ways that make it unlikely housing prices will see a major recession like they did at that time.

 

Chris Galler
Chris Galler

Leading up to the 2008 recession, people could borrow a lot of money to buy a house, without putting much — if anything — down, Galler said. This caused prices to rise as people paid large sums for homes. Lenders were also less scrutinizing of credit scores, which led some people to get in way over their heads, Galler said. When the Great Recession hit and home values dropped, many people were underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their houses were worth. Ultimately, there was a rash of foreclosures.

 

 

Today, Galler said, is different. Lending standards are stricter. Lots of houses are being bought with 20 percent or more down.

At a basic level, the fundamentals are pretty different now compared to then, Starling said, and without some huge factor — like the shutdown of a major Twin Cities employer that moves thousands and thousands of jobs out of the state, it’s not likely.

“I think the fundamentals are very much that we need more housing to keep up with household growth in our region,” she said. “Household growth is slowing but still we have a lot of housing needs to catch up on.”

Slowdown ahead?

While housing prices don’t seem likely to drop rapidly like they did when the 2008 bubble burst, there are some signs that the rapid growth in prices may start to slow down.

During the pandemic, there were a lot of factors injecting money into the economy: government stimulus payments, an increase in savings as people stayed home and low interest rates helped money flow, contributing to faster-than-usual inflation.

Mortgage interest rates began to tick up in early 2021. In mid-March, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, and has signaled they will rise further – an effort to slow down inflation — in the future.

Even with interest rates rising steadily over last year and the recent rate hike — weekly 30-year fixed-rate mortgage interest rates averaged  4.7 percent in the last week, a jump from less than 4 percent in March — the housing market hasn’t shown signs of slowing down yet.

The effect of the recent rate hike, mid-March, likely hasn’t been seen in the market yet, said Andrew Babula, director of the real estate program at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. Many people closing on houses now were locked into rates before the hike. 

Behavior around housing doesn’t change as quickly as it does around, say, grocery store or gasoline purchases, Galler said. If you look at the trajectory of interest rates over time, they still remain very low.

“People say, well, once we hit the high interest rates people won’t buy homes,” Galler said. “They will. They did during the ’80s, when we had 15, 16, 17, 18 percent interest rates.”

Now, with interest rates expected to rise further, some people may be trying to buy quickly before they rise more.

But the effect of the rate hikes are likely to show up eventually, Babula said.

“The expectation is that is going to slow things down,” he said. Given that supply and demand issues remain, the rate will likely have some dampening effect on price increases but not stop them entirely.

“Prices will probably not continue to increase at the rate … they have been, but they’ll either remain pretty steady or slowly go up,” he said.

Still a good time to buy?

Given all the factors at play — rising prices and rising interest rates, a lot of buyers may be asking themselves whether now is a good time to buy a house.

That depends more on the homebuyer’s situation than it does on market factors, Galler said.

If people feel secure in their job, like the neighborhood they’re buying in, can afford the mortgage payment and plan to stay for at least five to seven years, those are good reasons to buy a house, Galler said.

“Price appreciation has been significant because of  low inventory the last few years and very, very low interest rates. But it probably will go back to a more normalized marketplace and that’s where that five to seven years really comes in,” he said.

Baglio said the fact that investors — who buy based on numbers and not emotions — are buying is an indication the market is strong.

Her biggest advice for prospective buyers in this market is to have patience in this competitive market.

“Just have patience for the right thing,” she said.