How to Manage Stress During the House Hunt

Purchasing a home can be a stressful process. There are negotiations, inspections, appraisals, strong emotions, and let’s face it, it is usually the biggest financial investment of your life. Well you won’t be able to totally get rid of the stress involved in a home purchase, there are things you can do to help lessen the stress. Whether you are a first time home buyer or someone who has bought and sold properties over your life time, this list will help you on the path to home ownership.

Know what you need in a home: You might have the best realtor in the world, but your realtor can’t read your mind. You need to go into the home buying process with an idea of what you’re looking for. It saves time and frustration if you have your “must-have” list already put together. Consider the size of the home, how many bedrooms/baths, how far you are willing to commute to work, and how convenient the home is to the things you love to do.

Flexibility is important: Unless you are building a brand new home yourself, you will probably not find the perfect home that hits on all of your “wants”. No home is perfect. Once you have your list of “wants”, you need to prioritize what’s most important. You may find that what fits your budget best is a little further from town. Or the kitchen might not be the one you’ve always dreamed of, it could be with a little work after the sale.

Get Pre-Approved: Financing a mortgage can lead to a lot of stress. It is very important to speak with a lender or two and get pre-approved prior to beginning your home search. There is nothing worse than finding the home of your dreams only to discover that you don’t qualify for the mortgage. Ask your Realtor what lenders they’ve worked with in the marketplace. They will be happy to give you some referrals. Check your credit to see if there are any red flags and clean those up right away. It’s also a good idea to have your income records and bank statements close at hand. Your lender will most likely want to see those at some point through the process.

Save Cash: Buying a home is expensive. You’ll have closing cost, a down payment, and you’ll need to get the utilities switched over. Then there is the actually moving expenses (unless of course you have family that is willing to carry the couch, beds, etc into your new home) Your Realtor and Lender can give you a rough estimate of closing cost associated with purchasing your new home.

Listen to your Realtor: Your Realtor brings a wealth of knowledge to the home buying process. Your Realtor may suggest adding contingencies to your offer once you have found the right home. Those contingencies are put in place to save you from problems down the road. For example, in Itasca County, a Septic System contingency can help save you thousands of dollars. The same is true when they suggest paying for a home inspection. While your Realtor can’t tell you what home will be best for your family, they can make suggestions to help.

Above all, recognize that the home buying process takes time. It’s rare to find the prefect home on your time day touring. But, your new place is out there.

Four Great Homes Under $200,000

We are so lucky to live in the Grand Rapids market. So many things to do, great activities for the kids, and beautiful lakes to enjoy. Home Ownership is also a great benefit of living in Grand Rapids. I’ve compiled a list of my top 4 homes in the Grand Rapids area that are priced under $200,000. Take a peek at these awesome places:

39792 County Rd 129, Deer River: This log-sided manufactured home sits on 40 acres. With 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, its a hunter’s Shangri-la! Listed for just $142,000


2103 SW 3rd Ave, Grand Rapids: This beautifully updated Twin home is bright and spacious every where you turn. Move-in ready, this 2 bedroom, 2 bath home has a 2 car garage and is beautifully landscaped. Could this be your new home? Listed for $167,500


820 NW 2nd Ave, Grand Rapids: You won’t believe the spaciousness of this 3 bedroom, 3 bath home in NW Grand Rapids. A roomy kitchen, Master suite with walk-in closet, and more. This home has been well maintained and is move-in ready. Listed for $174,000


47425 Pagoda Rd, Deer River: This home is ready to enjoy! With stunning views of Bowstring Lake, this 2 bedroom, 1 bath home has a walkout basement with laundry, workshop, and storage. Listed for $199,000.

Let's visit some of these great properties.  Just give me a call!

School is out! Need some activities for kids? Here you go

School is out! Now what to do to keep the kids occupied and entertained for a few months? Did you know that there are lots of great naturalist programs available through out Itasca County to not only keep the kids busy but also help to educate them on our awesome environment? Here are just a few of the great programs that you can participate in.  Most are FREE!

The Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center: Located in Marcell, just up Hwy 38, sits the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center. Their 2019 Naturalist Programs include topics such as Bountiful Bears, Rock Talk 2.0, Predators of the Northwoods, and Fantastic Fires. All of the classes include hands-on activities and crafts. Classes are held through out the week and on Saturdays. Visit the Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center’s website for a copy of their scheduled classes. Grandparents, you’re grand kids will love these classes!

Scenic State Park 2019 Naturalist Programs: Scenic State Park is a great family park. Whether you want to fish, camp, hike, or boat, Scenic State park has something for everyone to do. Just like the Discovery Center, Scenic state park offers a Naturalist program. Some of the classes include: Primitive Fire Starting Technologies, A Guided Hike to Chase Point, and Wild about Flowers. You can visit their web page to get all of the details.

Forest History Center: The Forest History Center is located in Grand Rapids and is another great place to take the kids this summer. You can go anyway to visit the exhibits, walk the trails, take a guided tour of the old logging camp, and climb the fire tower. Several Saturdays over the summer, they offer some special events. July 6th is Be a Naturalist Family Day, August 24th you can spend at the Real Horse Power Day, and August 31st is Wonder of the Night Sky. Visit their website for all of the details

Summers are fun in the Northwoods and getting the kids outside is a great way to keep them busy.  There is so much to do and see.  What's your favorite family activity?



Love it or hate it, Technology is here to stay

Technology is everywhere these days and your home is no exception. Love it or hate it, technology doesn’t seem to be going away. There are some pretty cool technology items that you can add to your home that will help put technology to work for YOU!

Ring Video Doorbell Pro: This device allows you to answer your door from anywhere. Well, your guest will not be welcomed with your smiling face, but it actually allows you to hear and speak to your guest. This doorbell works with Alexa and sends alerts to your smartphone. It can even alert you when there is motion at your door.

Smart WiFi Plugs: This also works with Alexa. You can turn on your lights, appliances and more from your smart phone with these Smart Plugs. You just plug your lamps into the plug and then with your smart phone, you can turn on your lights even if you aren’t home. How cool is that! Think about arriving at your cabin late at night, but the lights are on for you because your smartphone told the cabin to have the lights on.

Nest Learning Thermostat: Research has shown that Nest thermostat users save 10-12% on their heating bills and up to 15% on their cool bills. This device controls your thermostat from anywhere. It works with Alexa and in addition to saving you money, it also learns your habits. (kind of scary, but also money saving).

Touch Screen Deadbolt: Have a family cabin where friends and family visit and you need to give them access? Schlage has a model that uses a touch screen keypad to allow keyless entry. You can even create temporary codes for visitors or control the lock with Alexa. Amazing!

Smart Blinds: Yes, you can even control your blinds from your smartphone. Smart blinds have built in temperature sensors to let them help control the temperature and lighting in your home so you don’t have to decide how hot or cold you want it. A very nice feature is you can set daily and weekly schedules. Don’t want those blinds going up early on Sunday morning, you can set it to open later and give you a few extra minutes of sleep.

There is so much out there to make your home smarter and more efficient. What is your favorite technology for your home?

7 Tips for Moving

If you have your home for sale, you’ll most likely be getting ready to move this summer. Whether across country or simply across town, these tips will help you prepare for your big move.

Boxes: Unless you are having a moving company pack everything you own, you’ll need to get moving boxes. And, you’ll need more than you think you will. Order your boxes well ahead of time and order a variety of sizes. You really never know how much stuff you have until you start putting it in boxes. You can order boxes from your local U-Haul location, Big Box Hardware store, or order online for fast delivery.

Don’t forget packing supplies: Besides boxes, you’ll need packing tape, packing paper to wrap your fragile items in, and a good black marker to write on the outside of the box. You might also consider furniture blankets as well so your furniture doesn’t get scratched.

The right box for the right items: Remember, if you do not have a moving company coming, you’ll be lifting all of those boxes yourself. Don’t overfill large boxes with heavy items. Use smaller boxes for books, CD’s, dishes, pots & pans. While a few books doesn’t weigh that much, a large box filled with books could easily lead to an injury when you try to lift. The golden rule of packaging: The heavier the item, the smaller the box.

Keep you fragile items safe: If you have fragile items, especially those that hold great meaning to you, pack them well and consider putting those in your car rather then on the moving truck. It’s easy to just start throwing boxes around when moving day comes, so a little forethought on those special items is a must.

Label your Boxes: Make your life a lot easier by labeling your boxes. As you are taking boxes off the truck, its much easier to know where to put them if you have tabled them before hand. Mark the side and top of each box.

Using a Moving Company: Having a moving company box up your stuff is nice. But they move fast. If you have items that you want to carry yourself, they can easily get lost in the shuffle. A great rule of thumb is to have one room that is already cleared out where you place those items. Don’t forget the family pet either. All of the moving activity can make Fluffy or Fido nervous. Put them in your “Do Not Enter” room which has the door closed AND a sign that lets the movers know that they are not needed there.

Moving Yourself: Moving day will arrive quickly. The best practice for moving yourself is “no packing on moving day!” That’s right, have all of your boxes packed and ready to go so on moving day, you can pick up the rental truck or have your friends over to get everything moved. No putting things in boxes that day. Everything should already be boxed.

Moving can be stressful for sure. But, with a little pre-planning, your move will go off without a hitch.

Smith Lake Home: One of many Lake Homes for Sale

As you know, we sell Lake Homes and I thought I show you one of my new listings just to give you an idea of the great homes we currently have for sale in the Marcell and Bigfork area. This home is on Smith Lake up in Marcell and is listed for $269,900.

With 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, this home has space for everyone. There is plenty of privacy as each level has a bedroom so your guest will have their own space when they visit.

The kitchen is a chef’s dream with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. And check out the dinning area with built-in’s which are prefect for your bar area.

The main living space has great views of the lake and there is a bonus room upstairs that is ready to finish to your liking. There is even an office area…..but who really wants to work when you can be outside on the lake?

The lot is 1.37 acres with Maples and Spruce and is very private with heavy tree cover. The views of the lake are stunning. Smith lake is a great lake for Crappie, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Perch.

Need storage? There is a 1-car attached garage and a 2-stall detached garage. You really do need to take a look at this property.

Getting Started on the Road to Homeownership

Buying a home is a thrilling and often emotionally stressful process especially if this will be your first home. A prepared buyer will definitely be head of the ballgame. With just a little bit of prework, you’ll be ready to purchase your first home in no time. To get you started on your road to homeownership, I’ve created a simple checklist to help guide you along:

Get Your Finances in Order: Very few of us can actually purchase our first home with cash. Unless of course, you’ve won the lottery or a relative left you a large inheritance. Doing a financial check-up really does get the process off on the right foot:
First check your credit report to see if there is anything incorrect reported and get that resolved
Check to see if there are any first time home buyer programs that you might qualify for.
Talk to your banker/lender. See what programs they have and get pre-approved. You might want to shop around with several lenders to see where you can get the best rates and who you’d really like to work with. Once you’re pre-approved, it time to move onto the next step

Research Neighborhoods: Do you want to live in town, close to schools, shopping, and entertainment? Or do you prefer a country home away from the hustle and bustle? Do you need to be in a specific area because of work or are you totally open? Things to think about as you narrow down areas to search are:
Commuting time to work
Are the services you need available in the area

Now it’s time to Make Your List: Rarely does the perfect home come along. Even if you were to build a home from scratch, it would not be uncommon to say “I wish I would have________” after actually living in your new home. So as you list things that are important to you or things you must have, remember that you will most likely not find everything. Your list should include:
Price (you already know what you can spend based on your pre-approval)
How big: how many square feet do you need or at least how many bedrooms & bathrooms?
Single Family? Condo?
One story? Two Story? Master on the first floor? Split floor plan?

Contact a Realtor: If you thought getting pre-approved and putting a list together was tough, want until you have to navigate the home buying process. This is where your realtor comes in. In addition to taking you to visit homes that meet your requirements, your realtor can also guide you through the entire process. From gathering documents, to helping with inspections, your realtor is there to help!

Being prepared to start your home search is an important first step. Follow my guidelines and when you are on the final step, Call me!

Sellers! Here's my 4 Tips for getting the most for your home

Spring has arrived and “For Sale” signs are popping up all across Itasca County. This is home, cabin, and land buying season Up North. If you are planning on selling your property this year, it’s time to get busy. Of course you want to walk away from the closing table with as much as possible in your pocket. To help you reach your goals financially, here are my Top 4 Tips:

#1. Price it Right from the Start: Setting the right price for your property from the start is critical to attracting potential buyers. If you are over priced, you’re not putting your best foot forward to buyers. You’ll get frustrated quickly when your property is listed and no one is coming to preview it. Setting a price for your property can be an emotional experience. Maybe you’ve raised your children in the home or spend all of your past 10 summers at the cabin. Maybe it is the first home you ever purchased and you put a lot of sweat equity into it. It’s really important to rely on your Realtor when it comes to pricing. An overpriced home leads to multiple price cuts and buyers will loose interest in the property. Use your Realtor!

#2. Set the Stage: Staging is very popular in larger cities and some sellers spend hundreds of dollars using professional stagers to make sure their home looks its best. In Real Estate, we are often selling the dream and a staged home can look “dreamy”. Do you really need to hire a professional stager? No, not at all. Ask your Realtor to make suggestions on how to make your property shine to potential buyers. The suggestions you’ll receive are often easily enough to complete yourself. De-clutter, remove extra large furniture, and clean, clean, clean.

#3. Don’t wait for the home inspection to complete repairs: If you know you have a leaky faucet or water heater that is giving you grief, its a good idea to fix it before listing your property. Cracked or missing switch plate covers, or a broken tile in the bathroom might not sound like a make it or break it deal, but it can make the difference in price to a buyer.

#4. Vet all of the offers you get: There are lots of variables to consider when reviewing buyers’ offers. The price they are willing to pay is only one of those variables. Are they pre-approved? Do they have to sell their home before they can purchase yours? Are they asking for help with their closing cost? Are they wanting too close very quickly or are they flexible on a closing date? What other contingencies have they listed? Your Realtor will go over all of the items in the purchase agreement. Consider the entire offer, not just the price.

Let's Eat: My Favorite UP North Places

Well, its only days to Fishing opener and that signals that start of our summer season. People from all over will be heading to Northern Itasca County to fish the beautiful lakes, walk the trails, and enjoy their time at the cabin. There's so much to do that there's not much time for cooking.  Why bother getting the pots, pans, and BBQ dirty when there are many great places to get breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Here's a few of my favorite places that I hope you'll stop in while you're here.  So, Let's EAT!


* Timberwolf Inn:  If you haven't eaten at the Timberwolf, you are totally missing out.  Located just a few miles north of Marcell on Hwy 38, the "Wolf" has a wide variety of menu items.  From sandwiches to soups, seafood and steak, you'll find something to temp your taste buds. Enjoy your meal in the dinning room, bar, or the wonderful patio.  You'll most likely find old friends and even make some new ones.

* Effie Cafe: The Effie Cafe is opened for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  Located a few miles North of Bigfork, you'll find the little town of Effie.  The Cafe is at the corner of Hwy 38 & Hwy 1.  The food is tasty, the conversation always fun, and if you listen, you might overhear where the fish are biting.  When you eat at the Effie Cafe, you'll find that everyone joins in on a big conversation rather then talking individually.  It's family! 

Park Rec: Think back to a time when you got the best hamburger, fresh off the grill.  Not something that's been sitting under a heat lamp!  Park Rec is located in downtown Bigfork.  You can miss it, there will be plenty of cars parked there and folks enjoying their burgers.  Priced very reasonably and ever so good! 

* Antler Lodge: Just up Scenic 7, you'll find the Antler Lodge. This timeless lodge offers a full menu including: Prime Rib, Lobster, Crab Legs, Shrimp, Steaks, Chicken, Burgers and Pizza. While you are there you can also shop for antiques and crafts.

That's my top favorite places! Enjoy discovering the Edge of the Wilderness! 


5 Tips to have your Kitchen Sparkling!

We know that kitchens are important items for home buyers.  As a seller, you want to make sure that your kitchen really sparkles when potential buyers tour your home.  Not sure where to start?  Here's my 5 tips to make your kitchen stand out to potential buyers:

Tip #1:  De-clutter:  Take as much as you can off your countertops.  I know that you love all of your items and really do like having the coffee pot, toaster, and canisters sitting out and about because you use them, but having cleared off counters makes your kitchen look cleaners and bigger. 

Tip #2: Clean Appliances:  Make your stove, Oven, and other appliances sparkle by ensuring they are clean.  Wipe down even the inside of the refrigerator....buyer will peek inside.  Don't forget to clean the front and inside of the microwave as well.  Your appliances, even if older models, look much better to potential buyers if they are clean.

Tip #3:  Give the Kitchen a nice wipe down:  Regardless of the color of your cabinets and countertops, a good wipe down to remove dust, grease, and dirt goes a long way.  Don't forget the baseboards and toe-kicks as well.  Play close attention to the area around the stove where splatters can happen easily and are often overlooked.

Tip # 4:  Sink & Faucet:  Give your sink and faucet a nice scrub.  You know not to leave dirty dishes in the sink.  Giving the sink and faucet a good scrub makes them sparkle and potential buyers love to see "clean".

Tip #5: Breakfast Bar:  If you have an island or breakfast bar in your kitchen, its ok to do a little staging in that area.  Add some flowers in a vase and a few place settings of your favorite dishes to showcase the bar and how nice it is to have a great place to enjoy a good morning coffee. 

With a little work, your kitchen will present well to potential buyers.  And, presentation is key to a successful sale.