10 Things to do BEFORE Winter sets in!

Preventative maintenance is key. When the last of summer's heat is a faint memory, and you're pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts, it's time to tackle a few simple chores that'll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.
When the last of summer's heat is a faint memory, and you're pulling out your hoodies more than your shorts, it's time to tackle a few simple chores that'll make winter more pleasant and prevent some nasty surprises next spring.

This fall checklist helps:
#1 Clean and Stow Your Mower
If you're not familiar with fuel stabilizer, get to know it. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

#2 Remove Garden Hoses From Faucets

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn't sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you'll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you're at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

#3 Drain Your Sprinkler System

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

Turn off the water to the system at the main valve. Shut off the automatic controller. Open drain valves to remove water from the system. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don't have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don't have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

#4 Seal Air Leaks

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home's exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive -- and most important -- of your fall maintenance jobs. You'll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

#5 De-Gunk Your Gutters

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren't sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don't, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

#6 Eyeball Your Roof

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that's decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They'll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they're in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

#7 Direct Your Drainage

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you'll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn't touch your siding.

#8 Check Your Furnace

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you're at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven't, now's the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

#9 Prune Plants

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won't drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

#10 Give Your Fireplace a Once-Over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it's free of birds' nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.


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!

Best Value Properties Under $200k


Spring has finally arrived in Northern Minnesota! While mother nature continues to give us a small taste of snow and cooler weather, the majority of the time it’s great. If you are looking for a property in Itasca County, either year round or for vacation use, I’ve come up with Six of the Best Value properties currently listed that might get you started. Whether you are looking for something on a great lake or something with a few acres of land, I think you’ll like these properties

51086 Immanuel Rd, Deer River: This is not your ordinary hunting cabin in the woods. This very comfortable 2 BD/1 BA cabin was built in 2005 and has all of the amenities necessary for the whole family to enjoy. This is what you’ve been looking for. Situated on 13 acres and enjoy 100’s of acres of public land. Like to fish? This cabin is only a short drive to Winnie and Little Ball Club. It has a full kitchen, 3/4 bath, compliant septic, and lots of peace and quiet. With just a little work, you could make this a year round home. List for only $99,000

56357 County Road 342, Bigfork: Enjoy the summer sunsets and panoramic views form this will built cabin overlooking the sky blue waters of Napoleon lake. Towering Red pines dot the property which is on a point facing west. The cabin is log sided and has endless possibilities. With an open floor plan, you can use it as it is, add on or build your dream house and use the cabin as your guest house. There is a storage shed and outhouse. The lakeshore is sand and gravel and excellent for swimming. Napoleon lake boasts large Crappies, Bluegills, Bass and Pike. There are miles of public land and trails nearby for the outdoor enthusiast, as well as blueberry and mushroom picking. This is a must see and comes fully furnished! Listed for $129,000

207-209 Golf Course Lane, Bigfork: Investors take notice! This newer construction duplex in the heart of Bigfork is near schools, healthcare facilities, and shopping. Each side has a 2-stall garage, two bedrooms and two baths. It has a kitchen/dinning combo with beautiful appliances, wood flooring, and open floor plan. There is even a laundry area to accommodate your washer and dryer. Move in one side and rent the other. Listed for $155,000

65506 County Road 533, Effie: This beautiful lakefront property has everything to offer. Whether you are looking for a year-round home or an amazing summer retreat, this is your place! The open floor plan includes a large living space with eat-in kitchen. This 2 bedroom/1 bath cottage home has a wood burning stove for those chilly nights and a lovely enclosed porch, stunning lake views. With 550’ of lake shore on beautiful Pickerel lake and access to Deer & Battle Lakes without leaving your boat. 1.16 acres give you plenty of room for all sorts of outdoor fun. The 2-stall detached garage is heated & insulated and for even more storage, check out the additional 1-stall garage. Listed for $155,900

9190 Hwy 1, Northome: This Charming and well cared for country home is set among pine, cedar and fruit trees. 3 bedroom 2 bath with an enclosed 3 season porch, set on 4 acres and a fenced area and stable for horses. This home would make the perfect hobby farm. There is a large deck, freestanding fireplace, large bathrooms and beautiful hardwood floors. The 42 X 90 metal building has both an insulated garage/workshop and the back is set up for stable and hay storage. There is also a new septic system. Easy access off of a well maintained hwy. Close to hunting and fishing. This year round home is listed for $169,000

50995 S East Lake Road, Marcell: Oh the views! This great little log cabin is right on the water's edge. 2 stall detached garage, with almost 40 acres of woods and trails. Sauna building right next to the clear water of East Lake. There are beautiful White Pines and lots of maple trees. If you are looking for privacy, this is it. East lake is part of a chain of lakes Clubhouse, Copenhagen, Heinen, East, & Slauson, that can be canoed or use a small boat. Explore for miles! Listed for $198,000

Well, there you go. My list of the best value properties under $200k.  Give me a call if you'd like more information on any of these properties.  


Top 7 Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

Vacation season will soon be upon us and what would a vacation to the North Woods be without bringing your family dog along? Travel with pets can bring its own challenges so here’s my Top 7 Travel Tips for Vacationing with Your Pet:

Tip #1: Ensure Your Pet is properly I.D’d: Pets can easily get lost in a new area they are not familiar with. If Fido get separated from you, you want to make it easy for people to contact you when he is found. If your pet is microchipped, make sure your contact information is current. No microchip, no problem; you can purchase a small tag with your pet’s name and your cell phone number on it and put it on his collar.

Tip #2: Have a Copy of Your Pet’s shot records: Many states, including Minnesota, require that your pet be current with their shots especially a rabies vaccination. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your pet’s shot records with you when traveling.

Tip #3: Don’t forget to pack a bag for your pet: When you packing for yourself and your family, it’s easy to forget about your pet. Take the extra time to pack a bag for your pet. Include grooming brushes, medication if needed, a first aid kit, favorite bed, favorite toys, and the most important, a good leash.

Tip #4: Food & Water: while it not good to feed a pet in the car while moving, it is important to ensure they have their normal food for the trip. When you stop for gas or a to take a break, make sure your pet has fresh water available to hydrate. Keep some tap water in a cooler in a plastic bottle and having a bowl to pour it in, is an important thing especially when traveling during the heat of summer.

Tip # 5: Potty Breaks: When you stop for gas or a break, don’t forget about your pet. During long drives we all enough a break to stretch our legs and your pet will also welcome the chance to get out of the vehicle for a bit. Remember to keep them on a leash!

Tip # 6: Bring a well ventilated carrier: Having a safe place to house your pet makes the entire travel time safer for both you and your pet. Carriers do take up quite a bit of room in your car, it is a safer place for pets to travel. And when you get to your hotel or cabin, a carrier is also a nice place to have your pet relax while you are unloading the car or going to dinner.

Tip #7: Never leave your pet in the car unattended: Just like young children, pets can easily overheat in a locked car. Even if the temps seem comfortable to you outside, inside the car they can quickly get too hot. Its better to be safe!

With so many fun activities in Itasca County, your pet will definitely enjoy going hiking, fishing, camping, and more. Travel safe and don’t forget to stop by and visit us at our Marcell and Grand Rapids locations. We LOVE dogs!

Get Learning!


Spring is here and that means summer isn’t far behind. What plans do you have for your children this year when the last school bell has rung? It can be a challenge to keep little minds simulated and active hands from getting into mischief. I just might have a solution for you! GET LEARNING, the community education program for the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative, offers a wide range of programs and classes throughout Itasca County to keep your children busy. And, if you have some free time on your hands, they have adult classes as well. While their spring catalog is coming to an end, there are still plenty of activities to participate in while awaiting the summer catalog which will be out shortly. You can see the current catalog here.

Here’s a short listing of upcoming classes for the kids:

Kids in the Garden: May 1st from 5:30 - 6:50 pm
Sculpture for Kids: Wednesday, May 1st - May 29th 3:00 - 4:00 pm
Canvas with my kids: May 9th, 4:30 - 6:30 pm
College for Kids: June 10th - 14th (see catalog for details)

Adults classes are held all over Itasca County so you can certainly find something that peaks your interest near your home. Here’s a short list of upcoming adults classes:

Basket Weaving (Bicycle basket) May 13th 5:00 - 9:00 pm
Birch bark Bread Basket: May 13th & 14th 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Pallet Painting Class: May 21st 5:00 - 8:00 pm

We are never short of fun activities in the Grand Rapids and surrounding area. Plan to enjoy some of the wonderful classes offered!

New Buyer FAQ's Part 3: Closing on Your Property


In my past blog post, we’ve talked about finding the perfect home and making the offer. Now, let’s talk about how the closing process works. Closing on Real Estate normally involves a title search, gathering paperwork from the lender, and in general ensuring that everything is complete for the new owner. Your Realtor will help walk you through the process but here are a few of our FAQ’s about closing:

Where will we be closing? You can pick the closing company you’d like to work with. Your Realtor can give you recommendations for closing companies they’ve worked with in the past if you’d like. The closing company will work to get all of the title work completed, paperwork prepared, and identify any issues.

Is the closing date on my contract guaranteed? The closing date on the purchase agreement may change. It is our best guesstimate of when everyone will be ready, including the lender if there will be a mortgage. Your realtor will keep you updated on how things are progressing. We do everything we can to ensure we will meet the agreed upon date, but things do come up.

What happens at closing? Both buyers and sellers should bring their driver’s license as proof of identity. And then, be prepared to sign…..lots of signatures….like a lot! Your closer will review each document with you and have your sign. Once all signatures are completed, you’ll receive copies of everything. Buyers have your settlement funds ready to do. Sellers; you’ll get the proceeds.

When will I get the keys? The most widely agreed upon timing is at closing. Once both buyers and sellers have signed on the dotted lines, the keys are turned over to the new owner. In some circumstances and with prior agreement, move-in early terms are negotiated between buyers and sellers.

Remember, your Realtor will keep you updated on all closing activities.  You may be asked for additional information, especially from your lender.  Never hesitate to pick up the phone and ask questions.  That's what we're here for! 

Let The Show Begin!

The team at Edge of the Wilderness Realty loves living in Grand Rapids and surrounding area of Itasca County. Wonderful lakes, miles of trails, and the beauty of nature. But did you know we also have booming Arts & Theater opportunities? That’s right, the Twin Cities has nothing on us. No need to drive for hours to see a play or heard some awesome music. There is plenty of that right here in Itasca County.

The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork, MN: This amazing center plays host to art exhibitions, touring shows, locally produced shows, and classic films. Located about 38 miles North of Grand Rapids, the Edge Center is a great play to come. The 2019 season is set to bring us a wide variety of exciting events. Visit their website for a full schedule.

The Reif Performing Arts Center, Grand Rapids: The Reif Center offers live music, theater, dance, and an art gallery. Each year they host more than 50 national and international performances. It is also home to the Reif Dance program where children 4 years old through adults can learn a wide variety of dance including ballet, jazz, and tap. Their calendar is loaded with events. Visit their website for a full schedule:

MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids: The MacRostie Center host art exhibits, has a wide variety of classes and a shop that features local and regional artist. There is something for everyone at the MacRostie. For adults learn to make a Birch Bark Mat, Paint, work with clay, and jewelry making, just to name a few. For youth there are classes in 3-D printing, watercolors, sculpture, and more. Visit their website to see everything that is offered. You are sure to find something that interest you.

As you can tell, there is so much to do in Itasca County. Why not come and join us?

New Home Buyers FAQ's Part 2: Making the Offer

In my last blog post, we answered questions about finding the right home.  Today, we’ll answer questions about making and offer.  Remember, you don’t have to know everything; that’s why you have your Edge of the Wilderness Realtor to guide you through the process. So, now that you’ve found the prefect place, what’s next?  Read on to see if we can answer the questions you might already have:


  • I know what the seller is asking, but how will I know how much to offer?  Your realtor can help you with determining your offer price but the decision is yours.  And remember, it’s not always about the money.  Are you pre-approved?  Are you asking for help with closing cost?  Will your offer be contingent on selling another home or on an inspection?  How quickly do you want to close?  All of these items can come into play when writing an offer.  
  • What’s are contingencies?  Contingencies are also part of the purchase agreement where the buyer is staying “I will pay your this much for your property, BUT these things apply to my offer”.  For example, one contingency might be a home inspection.  Another might be a septic compliance and a well test.  If you currently own a home but have it on the market, you might choose to have a contingency based on the sale of your current home.  Talk to your Edge of the Wilderness Realtor. 
  • What’s earnest money?  Earnest money is part of any purchase agreement.  It is part of your commitment to purchase.  You’re saying “yes, I want to buy your property, here’s my deposit”
  • How much earnest money should I put down?  This is your opportunity to show the sellers that you are serious about purchasing their property. While there isn’t a set amount of money you need to put down, go in strong but stay in your comfortable level.  
  • What happens to my earnest money?  Your earnest money is deposited into the seller’s broker’s account.  The buyer will see a credit on their settlement statement at closing.  In other words, the earnest money is returned to the buyer as a credit when we close.  If, the seller meets all of the requirements of the purchase agreement and the buyer secure financing but decides at the last minute to walk away without cause, the seller may get to keep the earnest money that the seller deposited.  
  • Will I get my earnest money back if the contract is not accepted?  Absolutely! 
  • What is the process for getting my earnest money back if the contract is accepted and the home inspections finds an issue? If, after the home inspection, the buyer decides that the home has too many repair issues to move forward, earnest money will be returned to the buyer.  It’s just a matter of canceling the contract, having both buyer and sellers sign the cancelation, and then a check is mailed to the buyers address.  


FAQ's for New Buyers

So, you’d like to buy a home but aren’t quite sure where to start. It can certainly be an overwhelming task with many questions. To help get you off on the right foot, we have put together a short series of Frequently Asked Questions that the majority of our new buyer have. Over the next few weeks, we’ll try to answer many of the questions you have rolling around in your head.

Remember that every buying experience is different and having the right Realtor to guide you is key to success. At Edge of the Wilderness Lakes & Homes Realty, our offices in Marcell and Grand Rapids are staffed with experienced agents that are ready to show you the way to home ownership.

First up in our series, finding the right home:

How many properties does the typical buyer look at? Some buyers look for quite some time and view many, many homes. Other buyers find the home they want to purchase on their first time looking. It all depends on the buyer and how perfectly the home fits their dreams…..and budget!

How often do you find perfect properties on the first day? It is rare to find a home that fits 100% of your dreams and desires unless you are building from scratch. If you find a house that has 80% of what you are looking for, 10% of things you can change, and 10% of things you can live with, it’s a KEEPER! Be sure to give your realtor a list of the things that matter MOST! That will increase the likelihood of finding your next property quicker!

When should I make an offer? When you’ve found a property that meets the majority of your needs, don’t waste a lot of time “thinking it over.” In Real Estate, if you sleep on it, you might not be sleeping in it, especially in a hot market!

How long does the buying process take? There are many variables here. Once you’ve found the property you want to purchase and have an accepted purchase agreement; if you will be taking out a mortgage, the lender will really be driving the process. Some banks can move quickly, others have more requirements and take a bit longer. If you are taking out a VA or FHA loan, there are additional requirements which can extend the process. Typically, from the point of offer accepted, it will take 6-8 weeks to close.

Next up, we'll answer questions on the inspection process, especially in Itasca County!

Get Ready for Water Adventure In Grand Rapids, MN


One of the things I love about Grand Rapids is the great opportunities for fun outdoor activities basically year-round. We’ve really enjoyed our skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and hockey this winter. Now it’s time for some awesome Spring and Summer adventures.

Itasca County is loaded with great lakes. From Pokegama to Wabana, to the mighty Mississippi River, we have places for all of the great water activities you love. One local business, Paddle Hoppers, is a wonderful place to start your adventure. Paddle Hoppers offers a wide variety of choices for your water vacation. Rent paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes. You can rent right at their location and get it the water there, or rent a kayak and head to another lake for your adventure.

Don’t miss some of the exciting trips they have planned this year. How about a 3 hour Saturday River Run adventure or trips to Clubhouse, the Joyce Estates, or the Gunn Lake Chain. Be sure to register early, these adventures book up quickly. There are so many great activities.

Paddle Hoppers also sells equipment. If you looking for a new kayak, canoe, or Paddle board, stop by their shop at 17 Country Road 63 in Grand Rapids.

More of a fisherman or woman? Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods is a great place to stop, pick up your bait, and gets tips from the staff that are all die-hard fisherman/women. Located at 331 4th Ave NW in Grand Rapids, they carry all of the top brands including Simms, Rapala, Patagonia, and Shimano.

If its your first time coming to Itasca County to fish, the folks at Thousand Lakes can hook you up with a fish guide or simply point you in the right direction. From Muskie to Walleye to Panfish, they will know where they are biting. Don’t forget to say “Hi” to Bennet, the very large Chocolate Lab who is often at the store.

I’ll share some more of my favorite places in future blog post. There are so many great businesses in Grand Rapids that it’s hard to talk about all of them in a single post.