Home Buying · Living in Minneapolis · Real Life Relocation · Uncategorized

Moving to MN from St. Louis MO

I specialize in helping people relocate to MN from other parts of the United States and the world thanks to people finding me on my YouTube channel. It’s a niche that I love to serve, people are choosing Minnesota and I love to welcome them here.

I know that this can be a difficult thing to do – uprooting your life to make a change to a completely different everything! The climate, the people, the way that Minnesotans live – which is very much OUTDOORS. Many people make the choice for that very reason. One of the other themes that I hear often is affordability and high quality of life.

If you’re curious about the perspective of this couple, what things felt like challenges, how they overcame those, what made them choose MN, what surprised them when they got here and what they have enjoyed so far, you’ll probably enjoy this video!

If this is a move you are considering making and you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask! It’s what I do day in and day out. ūüôā

Home Buying · Home equity · home selling · Uncategorized

What is an “appraisal gap”? and why does my agent keep talking about covering it?!?!

Does the phrase “appraisal gap” strike terror in your heart? Or leave you scratching your head? What about hearing tales of “appraisal guarantees” that are often needed when you’re a buyer in this seller’s market?  If you’re a buyer or seller and you’re not spending every waking (and sleeping!) moment thinking about the real estate market, you may be confused about what these terms mean for you, and they may feel a little scary. Knowledge is power, so let’s talk about what an “appraisal gap” is and what an “appraisal guarantee” means for a buyer or a seller. 

If you’ve watched any of my market update videos you’ve heard one thing reiterated and that is that we are in a historically strong sellers market.  We have a lot of buyers competing for every home and that means that we nearly always have multiple offers and those offers are often for well over list price as buyers do whatever they can to beat the competition. 

On the surface you may wonder “how can that be a problem”? if you’re paying with CASH it’s not a problem, you can pay any price you choose to pay for something as long as you can show that you have the funds available to do it. This is a big reason why cash buyers have an advantage right now, the price is the price and the seller doesn’t have to worry about the bank’s appraised value. 

However 80+% of people are NOT cash buyers, they have to get a mortgage for their home purchase and as part of that loan the bank will hire an independent appraiser to look at the property and determine if it’s worth the amount they are loaning you for it. They don’t want to be stuck with worthless collateral to sell if you default on your loan. This evaluation of value is called an “appraisal”.

Sometimes your mortgage lender’s appraiser says the house IS worth less than you agreed to pay. This is known as an appraisal gap or a low appraisal.

I sometimes hear buyers with high loan approval amounts suggest that it might be a good strategy to buy a lower priced home and just throw a large amount of money at it because they can qualify for a loan of that size, but that still doesn’t eliminate the issues around homes appraising for the value of the loan.  And really, appraisals exist for this very reason.

Options as a buyer

What are your options as the buyer if you’re worried that the appraisal will come in lower than what you have offered? after all – Sellers want to get the price you’ve offered in the contract whether or not the appraiser says it’s worth that amount as loan collateral. 

The option that has been most successful with sellers is writing appraisal gap coverage or an appraisal guarantee into the contract for the purchase of the house.  We are seeing this happen about 45% of the time now and it is getting to be more common as the market continues to be tight.  

What this essentially means is that you will put a larger down payment on the home which bridges the gap between what you’ve offered and what the bank is willing to loan and preserves your ability to finance the purchase and close on the home. 

A typical home purchase contract has an appraisal contingency: wording that says the buyer can call off the deal if the property appraises for lower than the buyer offered. But in hot real estate markets, where buyers outnumber sellers, some buyers waive the appraisal contingency. These buyers either pay cash for the home or gamble that they have money to pay the difference between the appraised value and the price, however much that may be.

rather than waiving the Appraisal contingency entirely, offering to cover the gap on a low appriasal is the middle path. You’re offering some amount that you will make up via a larger down payment.

Take the example of the $120,000 offer on the $100,000 home that has a $10,000 difference between the purchase price and the appraised value:

  • If you had offered to cover an appraisal gap up to $10,000, you would proceed with the purchase, bringing that extra $10,000 as a larger down payment.
  • If you had offered to cover an appraisal gap up to $5,000, you would be entitled to withdraw your offer and get your earnest money deposit back. That’s because the difference between the offered price and the appraised value is greater than the $5,000 appraisal gap coverage.

At this point, the seller may wish to negotiate with you to keep the transaction in tact and they may agree to lower the price by the remaining $5000.00 difference, or they may choose to go to the next buyer.

You’re more likely to succeed when offering appraisal gap coverage if you include proof of funds to do this as well.

If you’re lucky, you may not have to worry about appraisal at all. The bank may waive the required appraisal if they can see market conditions support it and that the buyer is bringing 20% or more as the down payment.  This means that they look at the market data and determine that the property is likely worth the purchase price, but you will not know this until you’re closer to closing. 

Things to think about

A couple of things to add as you consider whether or not to do this on your next purchase agreement:

Think about the home you’re buying, it’s condition, price, and location and what you’re willing to do to purchase that home. You want to be doing this for a home that will hold or appreciate in value.

Because of the market conditions, home prices nationally increased over 14% year over year. Median home prices in Minneapolis and the Twin cities went up 10.9% year over year according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Put that into perspective with your purchase.

If you are buying a home priced at $100,000 today and prices continue on their current path, that home would be valued at $111,000 a year from now.

If you’ve agreed to make up $5000, or $10,000 in low appraisal, the likelihood that you will be “whole” in a short period of time is there.

Another consideration is whether or not you will be able to afford a home in a year or two if this continues and if interest rates continue to rise.

So, it’s a math problem. Never been a big fan of math problems, but looking at it this way really adds some clarity and perspective. 

Reach out with questions! I’m always happy to help.

Home Buying · home selling · market updates

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Update Feb 2022

A month goes by in a hurry it seems, so here we are! Did a month make a difference with the real estate market? YES. It is notably busier!

Click here to watch. ūüôā

I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t already know, but the real estate market is on fire.¬† Someone hit the gas pedal on the housing market in February and they have a lead foot. What does this mean specifically?¬† Let’s look at the twin cities housing market as of Feb 18 2022.¬†¬†

signages for real property selling
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

If you are a seller – LIST NOW and you’ll be partying all the way to the bank.¬†

Just about every listing is getting multiple offers in the first couple of days. The supply of buyers is so great and the supply of homes is so low right now Р15% fewer listings on the market than last year at this point! 

Why are sellers hesitating? I assume that it’s because they are worried about finding THEIR next home.¬† As an agent that represents a lot of buyers, I can tell you that sellers can not only command great prices for their homes they¬†can still get a closing date that suits their needs. For example, if a seller is considering putting their home on the market, but are worried it will be gone in a blink, there is a great likelihood¬†that the seller can ask for and receive a 60 close, flexible closing, or recently I’ve seen them asking for a seller’s home purchase contingency or lastly a rent back situation after closing remembering that most conventional¬†loans require the transaction to close in 60 days on the buy side so no long term rentals this way! but this way the seller will have cash in hand and be able to buy while also have a roof over their heads while they wait for their next home to be available.¬†¬†

One of the things that I really like about real estate is that EVERYTHING is negotiable – as long as the parties work it out (within the law!) and get it in a signed contract, the parties can work together to find a solution that works for everyone. Do you have a creative way to structure a contract that lets everyone get what they need?  Bring it up and there may be a way to make it work out!

This past week we had offer acceptance rates at 15%, which means that sellers are receiving 6-7 offers on average. But the average for the month is hovering around 35% according to Home Free Transaction Coordinators. I’ll give you more info on what they see in a successful offer after I take you through current market conditions.¬†

Absorption rate

It’s a seller’s market, but to what degree? In the past I’ve explained that the way that we determine this is based on the absorption rate or how many months worth of housing inventory we have at a given time if nothing new were added to the market.¬† 5-6 months is considered balanced, more than that is a buyer’s market and less is a seller’s market. Obviously the more extreme the number the¬†more it favors one or the other. That obviously varies by housing type.¬†¬†

Single family homes have a .56 months (about 17 days) supply now as compared to one year ago when they were at .62 (about 19 days).  We have started this year off with available inventory down by 21% year over year. New listings this month are down by 15% from last year.  

I was looking for a bright spot and looked at new construction. Builders are responding to the need for houses and have started increasing their production too.

This image shows the big dip and now the increase starting in single family new builds between $400 & $600K. Its not dramatic, but any amount helps – if you have 50 more houses that’s 50 buyers that have found something.

If you have been thinking about selling and are curious about what your home is worth today, let me know. I’ll give you a free estimate of what your home is worth today – absolutely no obligation, just for your information if you want to know – just send me an email. We need homes and now is definitely the time to get the maximum amount of money out of your sale! mschumann@kw.com if you’re curious. I’m happy to do it.

Townhouse/ Condo properties are at .97 months (29 days) vs 1.13 a year ago (34 days). Prices on Townhouses are at a median of $267,000 which is UP 12.2%.  Average days on market for a townhouse is down 26% to 14. 

Condo prices are at a median of $195,000 up 6.6% from last year and are on the market for about 30 days. If you are a first time buyer or someone that likes condo living, this is the softest spot in the market today and your biggest opportunity. 

Single family homes in the 14 county metro area have a median price of $370,000, a gain of 12.1% year over year. They are on the market for NINE DAYS. Only about half of what we saw a year ago. And don’t fool yourself thinking you have 9 days to think about it, this is a listing going live on a Thursday, showing through the weekend, closing offers on Sunday and allowing a 5 day inspection period before heading to pending.¬†

The combined absorption rate (all property types) is at .67 months or 20 days of inventory as opposed to one year ago when we had a whopping .75 months or 22 days of inventory. 

What can you do if you’re a buyer?  

Here are my suggestions and strategies:

1.my office posts properties to agents internally that are off market and that sellers are willing to part with before going onto the MLS, so having that network available helps a lot!  

2. make sure you see what is available in “coming soon” and get in there quickly¬†

3. even better if you have the nerve-  offer “sight unseen” while in this status. if the seller will do it, you can usually negotiate an inspection this way and if there is something wrong with the property get out of the contract without losing your earnest money, this does require a good offer out the gate. It’s not a way to get a bargain, but is a way to quit losing in multiples.

4. make your offer more appealing are to offer appraisal gap coverage. This means that if you are financing you are stating that you have the ability to make a larger downpayment¬†in order to cover the gap between your offer and what the bank is willing to loan you, having cash is a very important piece of the puzzle in this environment.¬† You can offer any amount of appraisal gap coverage – it doesn’t have to be 100% of the difference!

5 Look at “wallflowers” these¬†are properties that have been on the market for longer than 4 days. This means they have made it through a weekend without getting an offer and may be more willing to negotiate or look at a reasonable but not extreme offer. These can be homes that a buyer got cold feet on, that their financing fell through or other scenarios.¬†

6. Don’t ignore properties that need work!  You can get a home loan that rolls a remodel into it. Not everyone can look past a dirty unfinished basement but it’s rarely a bad investment to add finished square footage to a house – especially in an in demand neighborhood. 

7. Do you have time? Offer on new construction. You eliminate multiple offers and choose your finishes.  Just be aware that contracts allow builders to cancel your contract if the price of materials goes up and you can’t cover the increase. Don’t get yourself in too deep. 

8. There aren’t a ton of these available but spec houses are a good option. They may be completed new builds OR they may be nearly completed with an estimated move in date already.  

9. my last option coming to¬†mind to look at loans that allow you to offer as if you’re offering CASH – without a financing contingency. This seems like a HUH??! moment, but in my video next week I’ll interview a lender with a program like this that may give you a leg up and I’ll post it here, of course!

Accepted offers

OK – lets look at what’s been going on with offers per HFTC: 

Buyers are waiving inspection 46% of the time, this is a lot, but that also means that 54% of the time they are getting an inspection. 

Off market sales are at 12% – this is the “private listing network” that I mentioned where agents that have upcoming listings market them internally first.

Sales Contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home is down to 5% of the time. 

Average sale to list price is 103.2%. I don’t know where these are happening because my buyers have been offering at 15% over and losing… We would be happy with 103%!

Cash is at 17% of offers, Conventional at 69%, FHA has ticked up to 5%, VA is at 0. 

Hey! I would love to hear from you in a comment or an email or a smoke signal … reach out if you have questions! 

Home Buying · home selling · market updates · Uncategorized

Minneapolis Housing Market 2022 Forecast

Hi and happy new year! Who wants to start the year off with some DATA and a look at what the real estate market is doing PLUS what I believe will happen with the housing market in 2022? I actually LOVE data – it tells a very clear story, so let’s dive in and take a look at what that data is telling us. 

Prefer to watch rather than read this? ūüėČ


I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you what is going to happen to the real estate market in 2022, I don’t, but I will make some educated guesses! In addition to that I’m going to share with you what the offers that have been accepted have looked like in the past month.

I like that info because it is ALSO a gauge for how strong the market is – what are sellers wanting to see and what are buyers willing to do to win?

Sisyphus at work


in 2021, being a buyer (or a buyer’s agent!) could feel like pushing a boulder up hill. It was hard, tiring, a little stressful but it was ultimately satisfying if everyone hung in there (I’m stubborn – I don’t quit). 

It’s me. I’m stubborn like a mule.

The market was really rough for buyers because demand for homes here is HIGH and supply is LOW.  I think many of us went into this winter hoping for a bit of a break on the horizon, but the numbers are not making it look like that will be the case. 


Inventory of homes was really low LAST January first – historically low! and as of the first week of january this year we have 15% fewer listings on the market to choose from than we did then.¬† We are still in a ridiculously strong seller’s market.¬†

Fun fact – the last time the market was considered “balanced” in the twin cities was 10 years ago. It has favored¬†sellers¬†ever since and doesn’t seem to be lightening up at all.¬†

As a colleague said today, there is a lot of national press saying that the market is loosening up but the numbers tell a different story. 

It’s important to look at DATA for the market you’re in and understand what that means for your situation. So let’s look at the data for the twin cities – you know that price is a function of supply and demand, and we have already established that supply is low. It has been consistently low for years and the recent challenges with supply chain and lumber prices are not helping supply to correct that quickly.¬† It’s going to be a long term process.¬†

Absorption Rate

Realtors look at how many months supply we have of homes available to sell if NO OTHER HOMES ARE LISTED in order to determine what kind of market we are in – 5-6 months is considered a balanced market, fewer months worth of inventory favor sellers and the smaller the number of months the more strongly it favors them, and vice versa for buyers.


Currently, the total months supply we have now including ALL property types is 8/10 of one month.  .8 months is WAAAAAY less than 5-6 months.

If you break this down further you see that single family homes are at .7 months supply this year (one year ago we had 9/10’s of a month), Condos have been the softer spot and currently have a 1.6mo supply down significantly from a year ago when we had 2.8 months, and townhomes are just like single family homes with .7 now vs .9 a year ago.¬†

An interesting thing to me is that high end homes are seeing the market tighten up a lot now too. That area had more wiggle room last year, but it looks like that is no longer the case.

Broken down by price point

Median price by property type


If we take a look at prices we see what this high demand has done over the course of a year, single family homes are at a median price of $360,000 UP 10% year over year from $326,300 (emphasizing that this is a MEDIAN price for the entire metro area, obviously prices range widely!)

Townhomes show a similar increase of 8% from $240,000 a year ago to $259,900 now.

Condos despite being the soft spot ALSO rose in price Рthey are at $191,000 up 11.6% from $171,000 a year ago. 

Demand side of the equation

The other side of the equation is DEMAND. What leads to this high demand? 

A couple of things that I can think of the first of which are the low interest rates. The Fed is talking about raising them this year but even if they do, these changes are typically incremental as they test to see the effect on the markets for everything Рnot JUST homes.

If the rates rise a bit – even to 4%? will that tamp down the demand for homes?

I personally don’t think it will have an enormous effect, the demand is so high, and even 4% or 5% are STILL low interest rates. In the past I have paid interest at 8.25% for my first home, 6.5% for my second, we paid 4% and thought we had a steal when we moved to MN! Yes, we refinanced when the rates dipped again, but you get my point. It’s relative, and people want a place to live that¬†belongs to THEM and gives them essentially rent control and a predictable¬†expense PLUS the joys of having your own home.

The second factor in demand is the fact that a very large bubble of millenials is aging into a time when they want to do the things that people do in early adulthood Рget married, have a family, BUY A HOUSE.  This bubble, or boom, is driving demand for homes.

Tips for BUYERS

If you are thinking of selling, your property will likely get scooped up VERY quickly this year. If you are thinking of jumping into the pool to BUY, I have some advice:  

1. Understand that you are going to be in a difficult situation, you aren’t the only one looking at a house and if you decide to offer on it you will be competing with many other people.¬† Do your best.¬†

2.) steal yourself for the process. If you don’t get the first home you offer on, it will likely hurt a bit, get back in the saddle and try again.¬† SOMEONE wins every one of those multiple offer situations – that someone CAN be you. You just need to have the chops to hang in there and keep swinging. If I’m working with you, I’m going to have your back every step of the way and help you present your offer in a way that makes the seller say – YES – that one!¬†

3.) very important! Look at homes listed UNDER your max price.  Almost NOTHING goes for list price right now, so you need to put yourself in a position of being able to offer over list.  

4.) A corollary to #3 is that you should save as much cash as possible so that you have that wiggle room to cover appraisal gaps or increase a budget and put a smaller percentage down if you need to. 

5.) lastly, don’t stop looking at the times when everyone else has stopped looking! If it’s a holiday or WINTER, now is a good time to look because you are competing with fewer buyers even if the supply is lower, too.¬† I love to look on holiday weekends – sign me up for Memorial Day!¬† I’ve not really had a break over the Christmas season this year because listings are selling now as well as buyers getting homes while everyone else is hung over from too much egg nog. STAY IN THE GAME. Take advantage of the situation.¬†

Offers that are getting accepted NOW

Let’s look at what types of offers are getting accepted right now according to Home Free Transaction Coordinators – what are sellers looking for and buyers offering in the effort to get a home?¬†

Offer Acceptance Rate: 52% this indicates multiple offers to me. We have been quite low on this in the recent past Рunder 30%

Inspections were Waived 30% of the time – summer was over 50%, now seems like a good time to buy if you REALLY want an inspection

Pre-MLS Sales: 4.4%, these are sales that happen off market, private network of agents marketing them to each other.

Average Purchase to List Price is the lowest I’ve seen this year at 100.87%, this was up around 105% in summer!

Financing Types: 

Cash 19% – this is the highest I’ve seen and I can say that it reflects my own personal experience recently.

Conventional loans 73% – still the big daddy, and always will be.

FHA 2% still tough¬†to get these accepted and that kind of stinks, but when you’re going up against cash, I can’t blame a seller.

VA 4% this is the highest I have seen in a year at least.

USDA 1%, 

Other 1%

Seller contribution to Closing Costs: 37.8%, this can be in lieu of fixing something.

Home Warranties included in the sale 5.6%

Offers Contingent Upon the Sale of the Buyer’s Property are at 6.7% – this is actually DOWN quite a bit, I believe not too long ago it was around 10-12%. Try to avoid this of possible. It’s really tough to get accepted.

If you’re exploring communities, check out my neighborhoods and suburbs playlist on YouTube to take a look at different areas of the metro.¬†

Let me know if you have questions or comments – love to hear from you!

Home Buying · home selling · market updates

Twin Cities Real Estate Market Update – Fall 2021

Let’s talk about the Real Estate Market in the twin cities! It’s been a little bit since I’ve done one of these updates, and typically there is some seasonality to the real estate market, with a big slow down in the fall as holidays approach and things picking up in the early spring.¬† Is that the case this year? Let’s find out!¬†


So, how’s the market? If there is one question every agent hears all the time, this is IT! And I think everyone knows the market has been¬†GREAT for sellers and really rough for buyers, so the question is has that changed? The information I’ll give¬†you here applies to the 7 county metro area, but you should know that every neighborhood has its own micro market and behaves a bit independently from the whole, this information is just a snapshot of the general market behavior right now, if you’re curious about your own little niche – let me know and I get you more specific #’s that apply to your specific area in the metro – just send me an email about that and I’m happy to help.¬†


I was able to get a look at some¬†historical data comparing this year to 10 years ago and one of the things that stood out were that the #¬† of active listings that are available to be sold has continually decreased to nearly HALF of what we had then – we had 10,229 homes to choose from in 2016 and now have only 5,692. This isn’t sudden, it’s a distinct trend line going down over the past 10 years.¬†The inventory issue did not sneak up on us and it isn’t going anywhere.

 
If it’s prices that are freaking you out they peaked in summer and we are now seeing the fall dip. So this could be the time to get a better deal on a home than getting into the scrum with everyone else during peak season.¬†


If you remember from other updates, I like to reference the “absorption rate” how many months would it take for the market to sell or absorb all the homes for sale¬†on the¬†market if no others were listed?¬†

5-7 months worth of housing inventory is considered “balanced” and any number of months less than that indicates a sellers market and a number HIGHER than that is a buyers market.¬†

Right now we have 1.03 mo supply of single family homes, 1.34 mo supply or condos and townhomes, and 1.12 combined mo supply of homes total.  A very distinct sellers market!  STILL! but better in some degree than earlier this summer when it was less than one month  Рsomewhere around 2-3 weeks, and that takes into consideration days on market and active contingencies like inspection. Reality was that things were sold in a couple of days. And that is STILL the reality depending the price point, condition and the location of the home.

Median Price for Single Family Homes
Median Townhome Price
Median Condo Price


Let’s look at¬† what¬† sellers are deeming a good¬†offer¬†right now:

  • Offer Acceptance Rate: 62%¬†-this has been as low as about 33% this year
  • Inspections Waived: 31%¬†which is down from the highs over 50%.¬† I am still seeing this come up a lot in multiple offer situations, and if people are bidding on a competitive house getting an inspection can still be a sticking point.¬†
  • Pre-MLS Sales: 2.74%¬†–¬†this is lower than it’s been for most of this year – we have seen these off market properties make up around 5% of sales over most of the summer
  • Average Purchase to List Price:¬†sellers are getting of their¬†asking price¬†100.67%¬†– great news for buyers and not awful news for sellers. You’ll probably¬†get your asking price.¬†

I will say that this is much MORE likely if it is a single family home as condos and townhomes are still soft spots. 

The most recent 3 transactions that I have had have ALL had multiple offers, (7-9 offers), one had an accepted offer at 10% over list price, one at¬† nearly 6% over list and the last I don’t know the outcome because we didn’t get it but we offered (and lost) at 10% over list and were told¬† they accepted a cash offer with NO contingencies (no inspection!).

All of these homes were in the tightest price bracket of $300-$500K.  No matter what the statistics say this continues to be an area of really fierce competition when it comes to homes that are in high demand areas and in good condition. 


Financing Types:

  • Cash 14%,¬†– if you have the means to make this kind of offer it can really give you an edge. I am aware of some mortgage products that allow you to make a cash offer so if you’re in a competitive price point, and feel like this might be the answer, know that there are options out there and I give help you find out about this.
  • Conventional¬†loans are still the big dog at¬†74%¬†of loans.
  • FHA¬†represented¬†10%¬†of the accepted offers which is a nice bump up!¬†This is great to see for people that may be first time buyers and need the extra room that an FHA loan grants them.¬† It’s just been difficult to get an FHA loan accepted in this market when you’re being outbid by people that can guarantee appraisal gaps or provide other financial incentives (like cash purchases!).
  • VA 1%¬†still a tough spot to be in , if you’re not familiar with VA loans, they¬† are a zero down loan. This is a really tough spot¬† when appraisal¬† gap coverage is needed, so if you’re in a position to take any other type of loan, that would probably be beneficial to your offer.¬†
  • USDA 0%¬†– these are typically on land or rural purchases, seeing a low number here for a metro area is not surprising.
  • Other = 1%.
  • Seller Paid Closing Costs: 31%¬†– this keeps going up!
  • Home Warranties:¬†were included¬†9.6%¬†–¬†another statistic on the rise – so these indicators all show a very slight softening from the harsh days of early summer for buyers
  • Contingent Upon the Sale of the Buyer’s Property:¬†7.5%¬† A little lower than we’ve seen in other months, but present!


Thanks for stopping by! If you’re interested in learning more about the different neighborhoods and suburbs around the twin cities, check out some of my videos highlighting those! I have a playlist dedicated to this with lots of good information if you’re thinking about making a move.¬†

Home Buying

Reasons you should RENT and not BUY… PLUS a resource if this is you.

Sometimes RENTING is the¬†way¬†to go.¬†If you are moving to (or within) Minneapolis I’ll give you some reasons why you may want to choose RENTING a house or an apartment vs buying one.


I see people juggling this decision about where to live daily.  A lot of people WANT to buy, but certain circumstances may mean that renting is actually the best choice, at least for now. 
The number one reason people that I speak with most often are looking for a rental is that they are moving to the Minneapolis area from out of state.  Not everyone is ready to buy sight unseen (but if you are I have a video about how I help people do that!).  In this tight market, if you can possibly avoid having a home sale contingency on your offer you are FAR better off and that means there will be a period of time where you may be without a permanent home and need a place to rent.


A lot of my clients move to Minneapolis because they have been freed from having to work in an office and now work remotely and can live where¬†they¬†choose.¬† This means that they have a LOT of options – that’s both a good thing AND a bad thing.¬† Having the flexibility to explore without committing to a particular neighborhood¬†is a great reason to rent! If this is YOU, let me know – I put together a list of rental options specifically with this in mind, you can email me and I’ll send it to you.


Most often people I work with that are relocating to Minneapolis may be looking for a short term rental to use as a base while they house hunt.  I do not work in rentals for several reasons, but I am happy to email you a list of resources that I have recently compiled of places to start your search. 


When you don’t have to eliminate any particular area because the commute is too long, it means that you have a lot to choose from and likely want to choose carefully based on what kind of lifestyle you want to live.¬†


Do you want to live downtown in highrise condo overlooking the famous stone arch bridge and the Mississippi River?  Taking advantage of easy access to all of the wonderful restaurants, clubs and outdoor spaces?  

photo weston-mackinnon


Or do you see yourself in a quiet suburban neighborhood with a cul de sac and playgrounds for the kids? Is being close to a large park to pursue outdoor activities important to you?  
Maybe you want to be convenient to shopping or find a single level floor plan?  You may need time to explore and figure out where the things that are most important to you are.

man standing beside his wife teaching their child how to ride bicycle
Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

Juggling a move from one part of the country to the other will necessarily have some uncomfortable times – it’s emotionally stressful and often physically a bit uncomfortable too as you adjust to temporary housing and figuring out your way around the cities. Having a home base to operate out of even for a short time can ease that pain.¬†¬†

Another thing to mention – because rentals are in high demand if you need to sublet because you found a permanent place to live you’ll likely have an easy time finding a taker – just make sure that the landlord on your rental is ok with that before you sign.¬†


Not everyone wants to or should be a home owner! Do you need to move often?  Buying a home has a lot of associated expenses and they are typically not easily recouped in a short period of time.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash


If you want and need the flexibility to move without all of the expenses associated with buying or selling a home, then you should definitely rent.  Renting can be an option for any type of home or area in the Twin Cities Рthere are a lot of downtown condos available if you want to be in the heart of it all as well as options reaching out to the single family homes or townhouses in the suburbs.  Most single family homes are rented by owner, and not listed with an agent or a property management company. 


Another reason to rent is that you are saving up for a downpayment on a home because you DO want to become a homeowner eventually. The rental market in the twin cities is very tight, so this may not be the money saving option that you hope for unless you’re able to split the rent with roommates or somehow find something that will be well under your budget.¬†

Rents vary across the metro area but Average Rents in Minneapolis are: 

  • Minneapolis studio apartment¬†is $1,297
  • Minneapolis 1-bedroom apartment¬†is $1,541
  • Minneapolis 2-bedroom apartment¬†is $2,432
  • Minneapolis 3-bedroom apartment¬†is $2,960

How much do you need to save in order to buy? Probably not as much as you think!  There is a commonly held myth that you need to have 20% of the price of the home for a downpayment. This is just not true.  You can get a conventional loan with as little as 3% down.  Having more cash saved IS better, because you will want to have a cushion available when making offers in this environment.  


If you’ve seen any of my videos this year about how tough of a market it is for buyers, you’ll know that having the option to offer over list or to cover an appraisal gap is going to be very helpful for you in getting an offer accepted.¬† Even if you do not need to use all of your cash for a downpayment, moving into a home naturally leads to you to want to change a few things and make it your own so you should also plan to have some cash on hand in the event that you have something to change or fix. When you own your own home, there is no landlord and if the AC unit or water heater break that is now your problem, so try not to make your budget too tight.


For comparison to rental costs take a look at these estimated numbers by Nerdwallet.  $380,000 is the median price of a single family in the Twin Cities as of August 2021. We currently have exceptionally low interest rates if your credit is good Р3%! and even if you have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) because you did not have a 20% down payment you are still in a good position relative to renting IF buying is your preference. 

Nerdwallet.com Mortgage calculator


There are some other benefits to buying, including tax benefits and property value appreciation over time, so if you DO buy you’ll likely come out of it better off than when you purchased.¬† People talk about “generational wealth” or having something to pass down to help the next generation and home ownership is a fundamental element of that.¬† The National Association of Realtors said that prices appreciated by 22.9% in the past year – this is the result of a very tight supply of homes.¬† If you had purchased a home last year you actually may have been able to make some money selling it this year, but this is NOT the norm.¬† Prices rise and fall but the overall trend in values is UP.¬† Add this to the fact that you’ve built equity by paying your mortgage down over time and a home could be a spring board¬†to other opportunities.¬†

Photo by Callum Hill on Unsplash


Another reason you may want to rent Рif you do not want to be the one responsible for the maintenance on a house Рeither by paying someone to fix it or putting on that toolbelt and fixing it yourself, stick to renting and leave the headache to the landlord. The fact of the matter is that houses are nearly constantly in need of something and they are the biggest asset that most people own, so keeping them in good shape is important to your comfort AND your bottom line. 


Let me know if you want that list of places to start looking for a rental home, or if you’re wondering about how you can STOP renting and buy your own home – I’m here to help either way.

Home Buying · home selling · Living in Minneapolis

March Real Estate Market Update

My last post & video about this were pretty well received, so even though numbers aren’t flashy, I’m going to try to make this a monthly feature as we navigate through this crazy market. This post has some good little nuggets in it if you’re in certain segments of the market, so stick with me.

A bright spot for buyers?!!

Last time I posted about the market I gave an overview of “absorption rates”, this is going to be a recurring theme, so if you want to check that out you can find that post here: https://twin-cities-living.com/2021/02/26/i-had-other-plans-for-this-weeks-post/

There is an obvious lag in the data because we need to look after homes close and that shows up in the MLS, but I do get some data relatively quickly thanks to Minnesota Transaction Coordinators, a company that helps many of us with processing our transactions.

Let’s start there with their analysis of terms that they see in contracts.

Inspections

In the past couple of months we’ve seen quite a few buyers deciding to waive the inspection in order to release one more contingency ahead of everyone else. By “a lot” I mean 38% of buyers were waiving inspection in the first 2.5 weeks of the month, but when they looked at the first through the 26th the rate went to 31%. That means that enough people have STOPPED waiving them to lower this percentage by 7%. Buyers are insisting on protecting themselves and sellers are acquiescing to that.

Offer acceptance rates

Even better, offer acceptance has gone from 31% for the month last week, to 39% for the month over all as of the 26th. YAY!!!! Sellers are accepting offers! I represent a lot of buyers and it has just been TOUGH. So this is great news.

Homes listed on the open market vs witheld

In an office as large as mine, we often hold listings off market and only market to agents within the office. This shrinks the pool of who looks at the house which is desirable for a lot of reasons – from Covid, to privacy, to simply wanting to not have to deal with the preparation and hassle of selling on the open market. Sellers can name their terms and if another agent has a buyer that can meet those, there is a happy meeting of the minds without all of the associated prep work, exposure, etc and everyone feels satisfied. The number of sales that they have worked on in this status is down to 5.6%. This is good because more homes are hitting the market than have been.

Percentage of list price received

Current purchase price to list price ratio is “down to” 104% from 105% last week. It has been hovering between 103% and 105% in the past couple of months. It’s good to have that number in mind, even though it’s not a fixed price, it’s an idea of what you should think about when offering on a property that has a lot of interest. Price is not the entirety of a an offer, there are a lot of other terms that need to be in line as well, but this is good info for this metric.

Seller paid closing costs

26% of deals include some seller paid closing costs. I have to assume in this market that the offer price was increased to account for these, but I like that we are seeing it because it means sellers are accepting these terms.

Forms of financing

76% of loans are conventional (you do NOT need 20% down for a conventional loan! These are viewed as more favorable and if you can get a conventional loan it’s one more check mark on the list of terms).

FHA loans represent 10% of the offers, CASH 10%, and VA & USDA loans are at 4%.

Traditionally, inventory really increases around this time of year (inventory = homes being listed and available for sale). We currently have less than HALF of the listings we had 6 months ago.

Good news for downtown condo buyers!

Downtown condos are in a balanced market right now! If you are looking for a condo in the central city including neighborhoods like Loring Park, Downtown, University, Dinkytown, Elliot Park etc… now is the time. We believe that this is caused by the pandemic and people wanting to live in less dense housing + fewer people needing to be downtown for work, but don’t expect it to last with the speedy rollout of vaccine and life returning to somewhat new normal.

Days on Market are up to 41 (only from 38), but these are the kinds of indicators that let buyers know that they will not likely have to pay more than list, that sellers will be willing to negotiate because they know you can find another condo to buy and someone will play ball with you.

So that is what is happening! Sellers are still mostly in control of things, but if you’re a downtown condo buyer you’re in the sweet spot!

Let me know if you have questions.

Home Buying · home selling · Uncategorized

I had other plans for this week’s post…

Next week I’ll give you another neighborhood profile – I’m excited about my small town series, and I have one I love and plan to talk about, but this week I’m going to beat a dead horse a bit and talk some more about what is happening in the real estate market in the Twin Cities metro area. I don’t usually do “market update” posts or videos on my YouTube channel, but the fact of the matter is that right now I’m actively helping 6 buyers try to navigate this market and I want to share a bit of how we look at the market and measure it and then also show you what that means for the Twin Cities right now.

I swear … it was this big!

I feel like anecdotal evidence about how many offers a listing gets, how fast something sells or how far over list price the offers are is shocking at times or maybe sounds like a fish tale that we like to tell – “the big one that got away” kind of thing. Stories are great and interesting, but in this post I want to talk about DATA. Weee! Exciting!

Not exciting? Well, I disagree. I think this tells a very clear story and because it looks at the entire market and then breaks it down by price it might tell the story in a way that makes sense in a different way to more people. This is the WHY behind the HOW that I’ve talked about before when I’ve done videos/posts about making the best offer.

How DATA tells you if it is a buyer or a seller’s market: Meet the “Absorption Rate”

These are my words, not something from a real estate dictionary somewhere.

When we look at a market and try to decide who it favors we look at the number of active listings available in a 30 day period and then look at the sales. It’s a ratio. But the way that I think is easiest to visualize this ratio is as the “absorption rate”. This rate shows us how long it would take for ALL houses actively listed to be sold if NO OTHER homes were put on the market during that time.

We are measuring time in months for this exercise, and the magic number of months where REALTORS feel that the market is in balance is 5 (not set in stone, some argue for 6 months etc). This means that when it would take 5 months for every home to be sold should no other homes be listed, the market does not favor either a buyer OR a seller.

Any number smaller than 5 indicates a sellers market. The smaller the number the more it favors sellers. This works in the converse as well, the LARGER the number over 5 the more the market favors buyers.

What is the Twin Cities absorption rate today?

Emphasis on TODAY because this rate changes seasonally and with market forces – I’ll talk a bit about what those are too.

The current absorption rate for the Twin Cities metro is 0.86. LESS than one month’s supply of homes. Very much in the favor of the seller. And it is not getting better – in the past 6 weeks the rate has consistently decreased from 1.32 the first week of January to where we are today.

The last half of 2020 was a crazy market, due to Covid hitting in spring and the uncertainty that brought with it there was a lull in what would typically be the busy spring market, but once everyone got their bearings it was off to the races and it never really slowed, even during the holidays. Add extremely low interest rates into the mix (under 3% for a pretty extended stretch), and a bubble of Gen Y aging into home ownership and bumping up what was already high demand from buyers, and things have just not cooled at all. All of this to say we sold a LOT of homes last year and possibly ate into what would have been inventory for this year. January 2021 started with 38% FEWER listings than we had in January 2020.

Supply continues to drop, particularly in the under $300K price range where new listings are down 15% YTD. The over all market YTD has 6.9% fewer listings. If you’ve taken any economics classes at all you’ll know that price is a function of supply and demand. We have low supply and high demand and that is pushing prices higher as people bid against each other for homes.

Absorption rate by price point

The best way to show this is to give you a screen shot of the table that we looked at in our data meeting this week. I love this table because it breaks it out by general price points and you can see the trend over the past 9-10 months for each. You’ll notice that higher price points have slightly looser markets because there are fewer buyers that can manage those budgets. I do think that the $500-$1M may need to be broken up a bit because at $500K there is still a quite a large bubble of buyers that are able to enter the market and compete for homes at that price. There may be a break closer to the mid $600’s where the ratio gets closer to 1.4, but I think $500 is still quite competitive.

credit to Tim Sipprell who pulled this together for our office
baby data geek

So, that is the data geek light version of the market at this point in time in the Twin Cities. An opportunity again for me to encourage you to be as prepared as you possibly can be before you enter the fray. You really need to be in the best position possible if you want to land at the top of the heap when you get into this market.

Let me know if you have questions… ūüôā

Home Buying · Living in Minneapolis · Uncategorized

Getting a win in a seller’s market…

oh my gosh… being a buyer right now is like being thrown into the Gladiator pit. It. Is TOUGH. During our team meeting the other day agents that have been at this for many many years are saying that this is the roughest market for buyers that they have EVER seen.

I thought it was crazy last summer. And then I think everyone kind of held their breath and hoped that one “positive” of having a pandemic may be a bit more balance in the housing market. It has not happened.

So, if you want to buy a home in the Twin Cities metro, there are things you need to know and understand up front before you innocently walk into the pit thinking you can take your time, or not be prepared, or ask for seller concessions. Just for fun I’m going to post some screen shots of a discussion we recently had on our office facebook group – a bunch of agents discussing what it’s like representing buyers right now. Hold onto your hats! Horror stories coming!

So what is a buyer to do? Well, I am going to tell you!

  1. FINANCES. The most important thing you can do is to be pre-approved for a loan. Know what you can afford and have proof in the form of a letter that you can attach to a purchase agreement. In addition to this, know that a conventional loan with a decent downpayment or a cash offer are far more attractive to sellers than an FHA loan or another that puts requirements on the seller and indicates that credit may not be as clean as it could be.
  2. SPEED. Do not use one of the big search engines to find a home. Zillow and others are notoriously inaccurate and will not have updated info available in a timely manner. Your agent will set up a search that reflects exactly what YOU want and can set it to send the listings to you immediately. Speed is very important! If you can be the first one to see a listing (or have your agent see it and do a virtual showing as I often do) and put in your offer you are far better off than coming in to a multiple offer situation.
  3. CLEAN. Have as few contingencies as possible. What is a contingency? Well, it’s any barrier to closing the deal. If you have another home to sell, have to get approved for financing, want the home to pass an inspection, etc. Your best bet is to have your financing ready, be able to perform on the purchase of the home without needing to sell, and make your inspection contingency as light as possible. If there are contingencies related to selling a home, you MUST have a contract on that home already and a close date to add to the contract.
  4. CLOSING COSTS. the best approach is to plan to pay them and not ask for seller contribution OR ask for very little, possibly with the sale price elevated to account for it, essentially rolling them into the mortgage. The big catch here is that you’ll pay interest on them over time and the house needs to appraise for the amount you offer if you’re getting a loan.
  5. SKIN IN THE GAME. Earnest money. Here in MN we typically do 1% of the sale price as earnest money. Earnest money is your good faith deposit on a home. If you increase the size of this deposit it shows that you are more serious about the property, and some are even stipulating that all or part will be non-refundable to the buyer for a home that is particularly desirable and in multiple offers. It shows a seriousness about the offer and is a tempting carrot for the seller to know they will get at least X$.
  6. INSPECTION. Make your inspection period shorter if possible. Typical has been 10 days and I really work to still get that for my clients because I work with a lot of relocation clients and traveling to MN or arranging for inspection remedy long distance can be a challenge. That said, sellers want to have a good idea if a deal will go through or if they should take the next offer as quickly as possible so that they do not have wasted days on market without the potential to sell to someone else.
  7. INSPECTION PART II. Request only health and safety remedies. If things are functioning but not brand new, that is acceptable. No house is perfect. EVERY house has flaws, even brand spanking new ones. One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to get the inspection as early in the inspection period as possible. This is important for a couple of reasons: 1.) if the house doesn’t come near to passing inspection in your opinion, you can exit the transaction and be on to the next one as soon as possible and 2.) if you request remedies, there is time to work with the seller on it and not be forced into a corner. What I mean is that if you get an inspection on the last day of the period and require remedies (fixes), if the seller doesn’t respond to that request by the end of the period your options are to a.) accept the original agreement as written (no fixes) OR b.) cancel the agreement entirely. In this market that favors sellers 100% because they likely have another offer waiting and are fine with a cancellation.
  8. MOVE IN DATE. From a risk perspective, you always want to take possession of the home at closing. However, your best option for getting to that point is knowing what the preferred closing date is for the seller if you have any wiggle room at all. Many of them are being cast into the same pit to find a home and may need some extra time to do so, knowing their preferences up front may sweeten the deal for them because having that uncertainty may be worth more than money.
  9. *LETTER. This one can be a tipping point or make no difference whatsoever. If you write a letter to the seller telling them why you love their home and neighborhood and how you look forward to caring for it and enjoying it in the way that they have. Avoid mentioning anything to do with protected groups and focus on what you love about the house and area and what made you pick that home. Most people have some emotional attachment to their home and want to feel that they are passing it on to someone who will care for it.