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Choosing Paint Colors

Your paint choices have a significant impact on your home.

Not only can color determine your living space’s overall aesthetic, but it can also influence your mood and set the right tone for your guests.

Do you want your space to feel comfy and serene or trendy and dramatic? Or maybe your family’s style is somewhere in between.

Here are five color inspirations that can enhance your mood and your home.

  • Inspired by Nature: Are you spending a lot of time indoors? Consider adding more natural elements. Shades of sunny yellow, soft brown and deep green can open up your space and make it feel more calming.
  • Uplifting Hues: Trendy tones — like Pantone’s Ultimate Gray and Illuminating — make a statement. Or you could use Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal as an accent color or to add light and vibrancy to an entire room.
  • Rich Jewel Tones: Do you want an elegant and luxurious aesthetic? Bold magenta, deep blue and royal purple can help you create more dramatic spaces.
  • Classic Neutrals: Use deep gray or soft taupe to create a clean, minimalistic palette. And the best part? These colors are timeless and pair well with nearly any home décor.
  • Warm and Cozy: Encourage feelings of warmth and positivity with desert-inspired hues such as rust and soft pink. A soothing color, like apricot, could be perfect in a bedroom or nursery.

The right color palette can evoke the feelings you want in your home. Need more help choosing your tone and style? Reach out today for a recommendation or to look for a new space to make your own.

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March 2021 Housing Report

By MNR News posted

New listings drop as housing supply continues to shrink

MINNEAPOLIS (April 12, 2021) — In March, the shortage of affordable housing continued to squeeze a heated market driven by rising buyer demand, according to Minnesota Realtors® (MNR), the membership organization supporting all 22,000 Realtors in the state. Although closed sales increased +3.1% over last March, and pending sales were up +12.1%, activity was dampened by a -10.9% decline in new listings. Homes for sale were down -54.8% over last year, leaving only a one-month supply of inventory statewide. These factors made for an extremely competitive market where the median sales price rose +10.1% to $295,000, and homes went from listing to closing in only 42 days, down -26.3% from 2020. On average, properties received 100.7% of the original price received, up +2.8% from a year ago. In total, March marked a strong end to Q1, with closed sales up +8.5% year to date.

“There’s no doubt that we will be in a seller’s market well into the future,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “Factors that were in play even before the pandemic continue to shape the housing environment, including historically low interest rates and a stubbornly persistent shortage of homes. Supply is further depressed by homeowners who are reluctant to sell their properties for fear of being unable to purchase an affordable home in the area where they are relocating. Despite these challenges, pending sales indicate that we can anticipate another very active selling season right through the summer. We certainly have come a long way from the uncertainty following the governor’s Stay Home MN order in March of last year.”

Across Minnesota, there were only 7,738 homes for sale in March, compared to 17,124 in March 2020.

March year-over-year summary:

  • Closed sales: +3.1% to 5,917
  • Median sales price: +10.1% to $295,000
  • Average sales price: +11.9% to $338,707
  • New listings: -10.9% to 9,202
  • Pending sales: +12.1% to 8,101
  • Days on the market: -26.3% to 42 days
  • Homes for sale: -54.8% to 7,738


Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

Eleven of Minnesota’s 13 regions saw increases in closed sales over March 2020. Five more regions marked single digit increases. Only two areas saw declines: Southeast with -6.4% and Southwest Central with -7.8%. See the chart below for more details comparing March 2021 to March 2020.

housing data graph

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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Your Credit and How It Works

Credit and How It Works

Credit and How It Works

Credit is one of the main components lenders will utilize to qualify borrowers for most types of financing such as mortgages, cars, or credit cards. Once you have enough credit established, credit scores are generated based on your payment history. Higher scores are a result of timely payments, and lower scores result from late or missed payments. The higher your credit score, the more likely it is to get approved for a loan with more favorable terms. For mortgages, higher credit scores can qualify for lower down payment options and lower interest rates whereas for lower credit scores, the opposite is true.

Typically, lenders prefer to see 12 to 24 months of payments to one or more major credit providers such as a mortgage, car loan/lease, Visa, or MasterCard. Store credit cards will carry less weight. If you are new to establishing a credit rating, you may want to start applying for credit with a major credit provider such as a Visa or Discover Card. Initially, your credit limits may be lower, but they will gradually increase over time with a good payment history. In some cases, a creditor may request you add a co-signer or co-borrower if you don’t have a lot of established credit.

Additional components included on a credit report that can have an adverse effect are:

Public records: This area will report public items such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens.

Collection accounts: The most common collections are medical bills or other bills that a bill collector or creditor can place on your report for past due payments.

Charge offs: These will occur for credit cards that have fallen beyond the window of repayment. The remaining balance will show as an arrearage which will adversely affect your credit and your scores.

Credit inquiries: Inquires pulled in a certain timeframe usually won’t hurt your credit score, however, multiple inquires over longer periods of time could affect your credit. Excessive inquiries can cause a red flag for lenders looking to provide financing for you.

Bottom line: Establishing a credit history is not hard, but it takes a little time to build. Start with one or two credit cards, make timely payments, and build from there.

Source: Mortgage Market Guide

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February 2021 Market Report

Homes for sale down. Pending sales flat for first time since May 2020

MINNEAPOLIS (March 10, 2021) — Demand remained high in the Minnesota housing market in February as homebuyers competed with multiple offers for diminishing housing stock. Closed sales were up +5.8% over last year, but new listings sank -14.8%.  Since last May, pending sales fell flat for the first time and were down -0.8% from February 2020. Adding to the pressure, homes for sale fell 51.6%, the largest decrease in a year. Shrinking inventory defined this seller’s market, pushing the median sales price up +10.6% to $282,000. Days on the market retracted by -25.47% over last year, down to just 47 days. Correspondingly, homes received 99.0% of the original price received, a +2.3% increase over last year.

“In a heated market where there isn’t even a month of supply available, many sellers are in the enviable position of sometimes getting offers that exceed the list price,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “As we come into the spring selling season, more inventory will come online. But as long as interest rates remain favorable, buyers will come out in even greater numbers. A year into the pandemic, changes in work and lifestyle continue to fuel the desire for more space. The dropping rate of COVID infections in Minnesota and the increasing number of vaccinated individuals also will likely impact consumer behavior. So, although we’re anticipating another record-breaking sales season, it is likely that supply will run short of the overwhelming demand.”

Across the state, there were only 7,460 homes available for sale compared to 15,417 in February 2020.

February year-over-year summary:

  • Closed sales: +5.8% to 4,424
  • Median sales price: +10.6% to $282,00
  • Average sales price: +10.5% to $319,813
  • New listings: -14.8% to 6,184
  • Pending sales: -0.8% to 5,762
  • Days on the market: -25.4% to 47 days
  • Homes for sale: -51.6% to 7,460

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

Closed sales were up by double digits in eight of the 13 Minnesota regions, with the Upper MN Valley hitting a 100% increase over February 2020. South Central and the seven-County Twin Cities saw more modest gains, while the Arrowhead was flat to last year. Southwest Central and Southeast both marked single-digit declines. See the chart below for more details comparing February 2021 to February 2020.

graph of regional stats

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.

Source: MNR news

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Mortgage Insurance

What Is Mortgage Insurance and How Does It Work?

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.

Below describes common types of mortgage insurance:

  • 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

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Spring Maintenance Checklist

Knowing that your home is an investment, protecting this investment should be one of your top priorities.

As we enter spring, now is a good time to spruce up and refresh your space. Set aside time for home maintenance as well as spring cleaning.

By keeping up with essential tasks, you will help ensure your that your home stays hazard-free, retains its value, and may even deliver a future profit.

Here are some of the top spring maintenance tasks to add to your to-do list today.

Structure and Foundation

  • Check the foundation and exterior walls for cracks and leaks.
  • Inspect the roof, looking for loose or missing shingles, damage to any pipes, or unusual wear and tear.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Repair any leaks or holes.
  • Check for gaps around doors and windows and reseal them.

Systems and Appliances

  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, replace batteries as needed.
  • Schedule an HVAC tune-up to ensure your system is ready.
  • Clean the refrigerator coils to help lengthen your fridge’s life span.
  • Replace air filters if you haven’t done so lately.
  • Clean your dryer vent duct to prevent fires and keep the dryer working more efficiently.

Outside Details

  • Check for termites to stop a damaging infestation as soon as possible.
  • Check for any exterior damage that may have been caused by any animal during the winter months.
  • Clean the siding, check for damage to exterior woodwork, and repair and reseal these areas as needed.
  • Check the sprinkler system to make sure all the heads are facing the right direction and do a test run before setting up your watering schedule.
  • Clean up the landscaping by trimming, mowing and clearing debris. You may also think about planting some seasonal flowers, or even buying some planters.

Proper maintenance is crucial to maintaining your home’s value. If you’re planning to sell soon, it’s even more critical.

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January 2021 Market Report

Pending sales remain up but soften to single digits. New listings decline.

The Minnesota housing market remained strong in January, with year-over-year closed sales up +16.2% and pending home sales up +5.2%, according to Minnesota Realtors® (MNR), the membership organization supporting all 21,000 Realtors in the state. Market demand for homes remained high, with average days on market at 46 days, which is two fewer weeks or a 25.8% reduction when compared to January 2020.

With only one month’s supply of inventory available — and new listings down by -12.1% — competition among buyers for scarce housing stock is intense. By the end of January, there were only 7,860 homes for sale in the state, a -48.3% decline from January 2020. On average, sellers were getting +98.3% of their asking price, which is a +2.6% increase compared to last year at this time.

“January was still very much a seller’s market. Heightened demand was met with a decline in new listings, exacerbating the impact of historically low inventory in a market where consumers are primed to buy,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “With the shifts in lifestyle and working habits brought on by the pandemic, people are hungry for space. As long as interest rates remain low, this trend is likely to continue. As spring approaches, we are likely to see another very hot selling season.”

Statewide, the median sales price jumped +10.9% over January 2020 to $272,000, and the average sales price hit $310,785, up +8.4%.

January year-over-year summary:

  • Closed sales: +16.2% to 4,788
  • Median sales price: +10.9% to $272,00
  • Average sales price: +8.4% to $310,785
  • New listings: -12.1% to 5,274
  • Pending sales: +5.2% to 4,905
  • Days on the market: -25.8% to 46 days
  • Homes for sale: -48.3% to 7,860


Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

January saw double-digit increases in year-over-year closed sales in 11 out of the 13 Minnesota regions, with the Northwest region topping the chart with a more than 40%hike. Only two regions, Southeast and West Central, showed more modest increases of+6.4% and +3.5% respectively. See chart below for more details comparing January 2021 to January 2020.

map of minnesota

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, which is what MAR & SPAAR local associations report on.

Source: MNR News

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4 Helpful Tips for Finding the Right Neighborhood

When looking for a home, finding the right house is only part of the real estate journey. What’s the main criteria?  Picking the right neighborhood. It all comes down to location, location, location.

The type of home, number of bedrooms and baths, and square footage are very important when buying a home, but the community within the area you are searching can make all the difference when purchasing a home.

Keep this in mind, this is where you’ll most likely entertain, shop, dine, exercise, and possibly where your kids will grow up and go to school. This may just be where you’ll put down roots and build your life (it all depends on the purpose of your home – whether it’s a 5 year plan, 10 year plan, or your forever home).

Ready to start your search? Here are 4 tips to help guide you to find the right neighborhood:

  • Start Researching Your Areas of Interest: Check into each community that you have interest in potentially living.  Look into school district ratings and look at homes nearby for their current value. See what else the community offers, by looking into any community activities, events, or even community centers.
  • Your Needs: Are you commuting to work? How long will your commute be? Do you prefer walking trails with many neighborhood paths to explore? Have you thought about homeowners’ associations?
  • Online Groups Provide More Community Information:  Look up neighborhood groups on social media (Nextdoor, Facebook, and other online communities). Do you get a sense that the online community seems welcoming and helpful? Another good source would be to check neighborhood newsletters or local newspapers (online or print).
  • Familiarize Yourself With the Area: Go on a self-guided tour. Check out the neighborhood at different times of day  so that you can get a feel for its character. Can you see visualize yourself living there? Is this somewhere you want to come home to each night, content that this place is your home? If you’re out of state and are planning to buy, Google Maps is a good source to take a virtual walk.

Once you’ve narrowed down the neighborhoods you can envision yourself living, get in touch with us to take an online tour or go see homes in-person. We’ll find the right home and neighborhood for you, to suit your budget and your needs.

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Review of the 2020 Real Estate Market

Despite the headwinds, 2020 was a record-breaking year for housing

 Tags: Market DataPress Releases

(January 26, 2021) – According to the 2020 annual report from the Minneapolis Area REALTORS® and the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS®, both buyer and seller activity in the 16-county Twin Cities metro last year outpaced 2019 levels. After a brief pullback following the onset of the pandemic—and aided by remote work, distance learning, historically low rates and a desire for more space—market activity recovered quickly and ended the year posting several new records across various metrics.

Seller activity rose a modest 0.1 percent from 2019 while closed sales were up 7.7 percent. That marks the highest sales figure since at least 2003 and the highest new listings count since 2016. Listing activity was constrained due to health concerns, remodeling activity, a lack of options and homeowners staying in their homes longer.

“Predictably, the result of record sales combined with ultra-low inventory meant rising prices and sellers accepting stronger offers in less time,” according to Tracy Baglio, President of the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS®.

Governor Walz’s shelter-in-place order paused market activity in April and May, which created pent-up demand that pushed the spring market into summer and the summer market into fall. Buyers were still more eager to purchase than sellers were to list, meaning multiple offers remained commonplace—particularly at the more affordable price points where the inventory shortage is even more pronounced.

“Despite several challenges, the Twin Cities housing market exceeded all expectations,” said Todd Walker, President of Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. “Inventory remained a hurdle, but homeowners have never had so much equity in their homes and buyers haven’t seen rates this low in 50 years, offsetting rising prices.”

The median sales price rose 8.9 percent to $305,000, a record high. On average, sellers obtained 99.8 percent of their list price—the highest since at least 2003. Homes sold quickly. Half the sales had accepted offers in under 18 days. Importantly, all areas, price points and property types are unique.

Signed contracts rose 10.0 percent in Minneapolis and 16.4 percent in St. Paul, suggesting core cities remain attractive. With prices slightly lower, market times higher and offers weaker, the condo market continues to lag other segments. Aided by favorable jumbo rates and a recovered stock market, sales of luxury properties ($1M+) have been soaring higher—up 25.4 percent from 2019.

One thing is clear: the housing market continues to outperform, despite several headwinds.


  • Sellers listed 76,348 properties on the market, a 0.1 percent increase from 2019
  • Buyers closed on 64,479 properties, up 7.7 percent (65,770 pending sales, up 9.7 percent)
  • The Median Sales Price rose 8.9 percent to $305,000
  • Inventory levels fell 39.3 percent to 5,080 units
  • Months Supply of Inventory was down 47.1 percent to 0.9 months (5-6 months is balanced)
  • Days on Market decreased 12.2 percent to 43 days, on average (median of 18, down 21.7 percent)
  • Changes in Sales activity varied by market segment
    • Single family sales were up 10.8 percent; condo sales fell 10.6 percent; townhome sales increased 3.4 percent
    • Traditional sales rose 8.4 percent; foreclosure sales were down 20.9 percent; short sales fell 25.9 percent
    • Previously owned sales were up 7.3 percent; new construction sales climbed 14.1 percent
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December 2020 Home Prices

Seven straight months of double-digit increases in pending sales

MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 12, 2020) – Home sales in Minnesota continued to outpace normal trends through the end of 2020. Closed sales in December rose +21.9% versus December 2019 with a total of 7,300 transactions across the state. Pending sales were also riding high with 5,118 in the pipeline, up +19.2% over a year ago.

Although new listings increased in December 2020 by +14.9%, the number of homes for sale dropped -46.1% compared to December 2019. As buyers competed for scarce inventory, the median sales price increased +10.4%, and properties averaged 43 days on the market, down -21.8% or 12 days less than December 2019. The shortage of properties pushed the average sales price up +9.9% statewide to more than $320,000, with sellers receiving 98.5% of the original price, a +2.4% increase over last year.

“The strong finish to the year stands in stark contrast to the turbulent first quarter when the spread of COVID-19 disrupted the economy and greatly slowed the housing market. As the recovery got underway in May, many buyers were highly motivated to find more spacious homes after months of lockdown imposed by the pandemic,” said Chris Galler, CEO of Minnesota Realtors. “Historically low interest rates fueled frenzied competition for diminishing inventory, making multiple offers the new norm. This level of activity has not been seen in Minnesota for 15 years.”

Overall, total pending sales for the full year 2020 totaled 94,474, up +10.6% over 2019. Closed sales reached 92,576 for the year, marking a +8.4% rise. The number of homes available for sale, however, declined -46.1% from the year before. And while new listings expanded to 106,873 properties—a +2.7% increase—they could not match demand. By the end of 2020, there were 8,403 homes for sale, which was -46.1% or 8,403 fewer homes for sale than 2019.

As market activity increased, so did the price range of homes. More than 9,700 properties sold for $500,000 and above, a +33.4 increase above 2019. By contrast, the percentage of homes in the $150,000 to $200,000 range dropped by 14.1%, with only 6,810 homes sold.

“All the indicators strongly suggest that buyer demand will remain high well into the 2021 selling season. We anticipate that mortgage rates will remain low, and buyers highly motivated to find affordable homes,” said Galler. “The only thing holding the market back is consistently sluggish inventory. That is unlikely to change until we innovate an intelligent, market-driven response that meets consumer demand. It will be a win for everyone that drives our industry forward.”

December year-over-year summary:

  • Closed sales: +21.9% to 7,300
  • Median sales price: +10.4% to $277,00
  • Average sales price: +9.9% to $320,551
  • New listings: +14.9% to 4,086
  • Pending sales: +19.2% to 5,118
  • Days on the market: -21.8% to 43 days
  • Homes for sale: -46.1% to 8,403
  • Months supply of inventory: -50.0% to 1.1

2020 year-over-year summary:

  • Closed sales +8.4% to 92,576
  • Median sales price: +8.3% to $275,000
  • Average sales price: +8.3% to $315,348
  • New listings -2.5% to 106,873
  • Pending sales +10.6% to 94,474
  • Days on market -8.2% to 45 days

Closed Home Sales Across Minnesota by Region

With one exception, every region saw double-digit increases in year-over-year closed sales. Even the Upper Minnesota River Valley — where sales were down -11.8% in November —overcame the deficit and ended 2020 with a +2.7% increase. See chart below for more details comparing December 2020 to December 2019.

housing report graph

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, which is what MAR & SPAAR local associations report on.