home selling · Uncategorized

Selling your home? Do yourself a favor…

Right now – inventory is low, interest rates are low and it’s still a seller’s market, but that doesn’t mean you can be sloppy if you are selling your home. Houses get the most traffic in the first week or so, and right now most are under contract in that time. If yours sits there it will quickly raise suspicion – I think of it as having a “bad smell” to buyers – they wonder WHY it hasn’t gone and may avoid it. Don’t miss this golden window of opportunity by turning buyers off when they walk into your home. Especially because in this market they will likely be paying premium prices.

I also have a checklist that you can download (for FREE) of things to do to make sure your home gets sold QUICKLY and for the best possible price and did a video on this topic as well.

Click here! http://bit.ly/MSPMaryHomePrepChecklist

In this post I want to give you guys a list of 8 related things that you should take care of before you let the first buyer in the door.


This one I can’t emphasize enough! Even as an agent previewing for someone, smells can drive me right back out the door. We’re talking about pets, moisture / mustiness, food odors like fried foods and strong spices, old food in the fridge, cigarettes (!!), and even air fresheners.

I’ve developed migraines in minutes when walking into a home that was hosed down with air freshener. Artificial scents can make people feel quite sick (even scented candles) and they also lead you to wonder what is being covered up?

Cigarette smoke is another one – I don’t see this all that often anymore, but I did go into a home that had obviously been owned by a heavy smoker. Even with all of the windows open it felt like we were in an ash tray. Depending on the severity of this, the walls should be painted with an oder killing primer and then paint, carpets & drapery removed etc. There isn’t a big market for homes that need to be remediated in order to live in them.

Check your fridge – people open refrigerators when they are looking at homes. We did and we regretted it. The seller had left fish in there for well past the time when it should have been cooked or thrown away and the smell nearly knocked us out. We didn’t make it past the kitchen.


I don’t think this is just a MN thing… If you hunt or fish (and a LOT of people here do), take the dead animals off your wall when you go to sell. You can rehang them in your new home, but keep in mind that you are trying to appeal to the largest possible audience and you want to refrain from alienating people.

Actual Pets

I love dogs but not everyone does. Not everyone enjoys having a dog nose pushed into their nether regions, and many don’t enjoy “kisses” either. Your pet may also have some territorial feelings that surprise you and they may nip, bark or jump on people who are there to see the home.

Cats are usually easier – but they can be sneaky and slip out of an open door. NO ONE wants to be responsible for your pet escaping. If you have a cat, make sure that the litter box is sparkling clean. See “odors”. I’ve also looked at home with people that have kids who do not know what a litter box is… that’s fun when they think its a little sandbox! yuck.

Other animals – snakes, lizards, rodents etc. Remove them if you can, and if you can’t make sure the cage is secure and very clean.


Do you have an inkling that there might be a mouse? Seen a roach a time or two? Ants in the kitchen? Does Fido have fleas? Please make sure that ALL of these are handled before a potential buyer gets an unwelcome surprise.


I’m going to say specifically in the BATHROOM. If you have carpet in the bathroom or the KITCHEN (I’ve seen it!), remove it and have a hard floor installed. That just screams DIRT. No one wants to buy someone else’s dirt. They don’t.

And if you have wall to wall carpet elsewhere, have it professionally cleaned before showing the home. This will help with any potential odors as well. (It’s a theme).


If you have acoustic tile ceilings in any room, it would be worth your while to have them replaced with drywall. This also applies to popcorn ceilings, people are very turned off by this. If the drywall underneath is good, it may be possible to just scrape this and paint.

Locked Rooms

Limited access to the building while you have a buyer looking at it will raise some questions. No one’s mind jumps to “that’s where they have their jewelry” – it’s usually more like “is that where they are keeping the bodies?”. Always lead with transparency and don’t introduce doubt or assume that someone will come back to take another look.


People don’t always replace all of their appliances at once, but if you’ve got avocado green & stainless steel it can be a glaring change and reinforce exactly how old the green appliance is. Some things (like refrigerators and dishwashers) can be inexpensively updated to match new ones with either a panel or appliance paint to give a cohesive look to a kitchen. It can be worth it to do this if the older items are in a good condition, if not, it is definitely a selling point to have new appliances in a home and knocks down an objection right off the bat.


Minnesota Pros and Cons

Put on your buffalo plaid flannel shirt, grab your ax, and head to the cabin!

Or something like that.

If you’re thinking about moving to Minnesota you may be wondering if the stereotypes are real – is everyone nice?!? ARE there 10,000 lakes? Does everyone say “you betcha!”? (kinda, more than that & no.)

Why do people like it here?

By “here”, I’m going to say the Twin Cities Metro area + the hinterlands.


  • Minnesota Nice. It’s a midwestern thing, I think. For the most part people look out for their neighbors and are willing to pitch in and help when you need it. They will definitely give you some friendly conversation in the grocery store check out line. I often also read that while Minnesotans are nice, they won’t allow you into their inner circle easily. I honestly don’t think it’s any different here than anywhere else I’ve lived. The way to get close to people in the community is to make the effort yourself – get involved in things you enjoy and you’ll find your group.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com
  • Cultural diversity. Yes, nearly 84% of the population of the STATE is white. Look, it was settled by Scandinavians – they are a pale people. However! Minneapolis has a more diverse population – and with that comes the art, culture & food that makes a city vibrant. If you didn’t know better you might believe that the food would be bland here, and while it’s not like Chicago or New York, you will not be stuck eating tater tot hotdish every day (unless you want to- then have at it!). There is a Vietnamese population that keeps everyone happily eating Pho, and one of my favorite restaurants is Ethiopian, among many others.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • Autumn. People talk about going to New England to see the leaves… well, I am 100% sure that New England doesn’t have anything on Minnesota! Autumn here is something to behold. In addition to the leaves, crisp temperatures and apple orchards, if you like birds MN is a hot spot for bird migration in the fall and you can see some very unusual ones. One of my favorite things to do in September is bike over to Longfellow Gardens in the city – it’s a work of art with annuals and perennials and apparently the hummingbirds think so too – they stop on their migration south and there are days when you can see about 100 of them getting rest and fuel for their journey. It gives me awe to see them like that.
Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com
  • Lake Culture. I’m calling it a culture because it really is a way of life here. Even when you live in the city, summers are spent at the MANY lakes in and around the metro area. Swimming at the beaches, eating at the beachside cafes, paddleboarding, kayaking or sailing on the water. Many people have lake cabins here, and spend weekends and holidays there. And winter is no exception, either! If you like cross country skiing on flat surfaces, lakes freeze to depths of many feet and are safe to ski on, many people enjoy ice fishing and park their ice houses out on the lake and while away the day there, and we even have a lot of festivals held on lakes in winter – the Eelpout Festival is HUGE in northern MN, but down in the cities we have things like the Kite Festival and the Art Shanties on Lake Harriet.

CONS! What? yes, there are negatives… according to some people…

  • Winter… I am wincing as I write this because I like winter, but there are some days in winter here where you kind of question your sanity. Average winter temps are about 10 degrees F. Wind chill adds another dimension. It is cold, but not awful (dress properly! See my video about surviving winter in MN!). We do have cold snaps that are significantly below zero for a few days every winter. In northern MN, a friend of mine posted a photo of her car thermostat showing an external temp of -41. School still happens. Life goes on, you won’t hear a lot of moaning and groaning because it is what it is. Anyone can make it through a couple of nasty cold snaps, but what tends to weigh on people are the short days (the sun sets around 4:30pm and rises at around 8am), and while it’s often quite sunny here, that can feel like not quite enough. Winter also feels like it stretches on a ways. We usually have a frost in the beginning of October and first snowfall (that doesn’t stick) by Halloween.
  • Slower pace. Once again – this is how you look at it. Personally, I don’t mind. I’ve lived fast paced in Chicago for a long while – LOVED it, but it can also be a big relief to not. The outdoor lifestyle here is naturally kind of a quieter way to be, people hunker down at bars for a drink and a good time with friends in winter, but it’s definitely got a slower pace. If you have kids, one thing that struck me here that I didn’t have in Chicago is that my daughter could play outside without intense scrutiny and people wanting to call DCFS. Kids still play in the park without parents helicoptering around them. It feels nice.
  • Bland food. Yes – this is the exact opposite of what I said before. But we are talking about MN as a whole here, and while you can find some great options in the cities, you are very likely to encounter a lot of “meat and potatoes” food as a whole. Nothing wrong with meat and potatoes, but sometimes you want something else. Also, the Minnesotan version of “spicey” is comical.

OK – that is IT for me today! Let me know if you think this sounds like something you can handle. 😉

Home Buying

Buying a home – online!

Dr. appointments are held via telemedicine & Zoom calls. My cousin just ordered a CAR online and had it delivered to her house. You may now be buying your groceries online for delivery or curbside pick-up. We also buy just about everything from Amazon, pajamas for my kid, water filters for my fridge, I’ve even ordered a new antennae for my old VW Beetle from Amazon! We read a lot in our family and the libraries are mostly closed with some drive up options, but now we do kindle and download (I know that’s old hat, but it’s a new way for us).

Would you ever consider buying a home online?

This topic likely could have been one of the first that I put on my blog, but sometimes you do something so much that you forget that it’s unusual! Covid is bringing a lot of attention to it right now – a friend sent me a copy of this article in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that buying without seeing a home in person has gone from 3.5% of agents saying that they have done a contract this way to a whopping 31% in April of this year! All I could do was nod my way through it.

Buyers do this when they are in the military, moving from overseas, or simply relocating from another state. Obviously at any point a visit is welcome, but if it’s not possible then there are ways to make it work.

I know people start shopping for homes that way – they like to visit the big online portals for listings so that they can see what homes are for sale, see pictures, get information on taxes and prices etc.

I have a good understanding of the difficulty of relocation because of my personal history of moving from state to state for fun or job relocation and also knowing how hard that was without being able to piece together what life looked like – most especially when I moved to Minneapolis from Chicago, which had much higher stakes for us, we had a kid changing schools, no family here, homes to sell and buy…

I started my YouTube channel and have focused a lot on showcasing neighborhoods and homes of every price and type, as well as trying to show a bit about what life is like here in Minnesota.

I thought I would help people like me.

And I *AM*!!

I regularly get calls or emails from people that are moving to Minneapolis for work, school, medical care or just because they want to, and they are coming from every part of the United States and across the world. They may be thinking of renting at first or may also be ready to buy a home here.

So, how do you buy a home from a long way away? Well, it’s definitely not the same as when you’re here in person, and the most important thing is to find an agent that you can trust. Agents always act as your partner in the purchase of a home, but when you are buying from a distance this is far more important. Your agent will be able to give you the information that you need before making a decision. This can be data on sales, rising and taxes, information about what schools are there, to just being able to provide you with video and commentary on what is in the area.

A very important aspect is that you are very open and clear with your agent as to what you prefer and what things are important to you in a home. I’ve had clients that were very specific about wanting 2 acres of property in the south suburbs, to those that prefer a high rise in the heart of downtown and everything in between. For out of town clients I preview all homes for them and take a video tour. In some cases, I’ll look at anything available in their price range that meets their criteria – listings sometimes aren’t enough to decide. More than once I have bought a home that I didn’t even think I wanted to see based on the photos. If nothing else, this gives a very clear picture of the competition and a better idea of what to offer once you’ve narrowed down your choices.

You’ll still need to do all the basic things like get pre-approved for a mortgage (easily accomplished ONLINE!) so you know how much you can afford to buy. But after your preferences and budget are clear I generally try to do the following:

  1. Set up a search on the MLS for you. People generally seem to love Zillow, but I believe that is probably because it’s what is available and people are used to it. It is also notoriously inaccurate. The best thing to do is to have an agent set up a search that meets YOUR criteria. This can be very specific – certain streets, specific layouts (ranch, 2 story, town house…), school districts. This is tailored specifically to YOU.
  2. When you have an idea about neighborhood, I will film a neighborhood tour – this gives you a good sense of what the neighborhood looks like, what the streets look like, what businesses are there, is it very residential or mixed with industrial? Do you want to be able to walk or bike ride? What about public transportation and schools? Any funky smells? I can show these to you and you’ll have a private link on YouTube to look from afar.
  3. When you find the neighborhood that you like and narrow down the homes, we can take this a step further. Agents always present their listings to the best advantage in pictures, but does this always match reality? No. So again – a video tour of the home, inside and out so that ALL aspects of the home and its situation are available for your evaluation – closets, basements, the street, the back yard. This can be on a video link or through Facetime so you can be “present” on the tour.
  4. If the home is acceptable and you decide to move forward video can continue to do its job. The inspector may take video or your agent can attend in your place and video the inspection. This is helpful because you can pause at any time and rewatch as you like – it gives you some time to process what you’re seeing and hearing in the video. Sometimes inspections can feel overwhelming if it’s a first time buyer, but this actually gives you a way to slow it down.
  5. We already do so much of our business on line – we sign contracts and loan docs, transfer money, search for homes, communicate often and easily via text or msg, this is just the last piece. You can likely close remotely assuming that signatures are notarized or witnessed, and you’ll be able to get keys either sent to you or held for pick up when you’re ready.

It’s always best if you can see the home yourself. Then you KNOW. But if you can’t, that doesn’t have to stop you from getting a home for yourself.

You just need to find an agent that is used to working remotely and is willing to put in the time to show you what you need to know to feel comfortable with your decision. I personally find this to be a really satisfying client to serve – it gives me a new perspective on my city and I get to welcome new residents to a place I love.

Are you in this situation? I’d love to help you out. Contact me or leave a comment with questions!