Home Prices in the County Vary by School District

Students, teachers, and parents are excited about the new school year starting. Most parents carefully select their child’s schools by rating, curriculum, sports, location, etc. Home prices can also play into the school selection decision.

The Chisago Lakes Area school district has had the most home sales this year according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), with 236 sales. The median sale price in the school district was $273,350. The sale prices ranged from $91,500-$796,000. Sixty-four of these homes were waterfront homes with a median sale price of $318,000.

There were 215 sales in the North Branch school district with a median sale price of $230,000. The sale prices ranged from $51,500-$825,000. There were 9 waterfront home sales with a median sale price of $242,000.

There were 63 home Chisago County home sales in the Forest Lake school district with a median sale price of $313,500. The prices ranged from $125,000-$575,000. None of these were waterfront homes.

The Rush City school district has had 48 home sales this year with a median sale price of $224,800. The prices ranged from $76,000-$450,000. Eight of these were waterfront homes with a median sale price of $296,150.

The Braham school district has had 11 sales with a median sale price of $243,900. The prices ranged from $96,200-$750,000. Three of these were waterfront homes with a median sale price of $318,000.

There were 8 Chisago County home sales in the Cambridge-Isanti school district with a median sale price of $259,900. The prices ranged from $147,000-$750,000. Two of these were waterfront homes with a median sale price of $266,000.

For buyers looking for acreage; the North Branch school district had 39 home sales with 5 or more acres with a median sale price of $324,750. The highest sale price was $825,000 with 40 acres. The Chisago Lakes Area school district also had 39 home sales with 5 or more acres with a median sale price of $315,000. The highest priced sale was $745,094 with 10 acres.

An experienced real estate agent can help you find the best value in the school district that is best for your student.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Many Sellers Are Dropping Prices

  July is the beginning of the yearly slow in residential real estate sales, which means inventory increases and the buyer pool decreases. According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), there are 282 Active Listings, in Chisago County, and 105 of those show price reductions since they were listed. Price reductions started as soon as 10 days on the market, but the majority dropped their price at about 30 days on the market. The median marketing time for the Active listings is 56 days. The median price is $319,900.

  There are currently 119 Pending listings on the MLS. This means there is a contract with no contingencies than financing and title work. The median days on market for the Pending sales is 24, and the median list price is $267,000, which is 20% lower than the homes that haven’t sold.

  According to the MLS, there were 144 new listings, in July, in Chisago County and 49 of those sold in the same month. Three of those listings were cancelled or expired. Twenty-Five of the July listings were new construction and 7 of those sold. The median list price of the July listings was $292,949 and the median list price, of those that sold, was $243,800.

  You can see the homes going on the market have a much higher median price than what the buyers are purchasing (the Pending sales). One reason for the high prices is because March, April, May, and June typically have the most sales, the lowest inventory, and the highest prices because of multiple offers. It usually takes 30-60 days to get most homes closed. Selling prices aren’t disclosed until a sale is closed, so when agents do their market analysis, they are using the high sale prices, in the Spring, which doesn’t take into consideration the current market activity. 

  There are still many homes that sell quickly. A lot of new construction sales don’t go on the market until they are sold, so they may show up with zero days on the market. There is a shortage of lake homes, first time home-buyer homes, and affordable one level living homes.

    New listings normally slow-down in the fall, and many existing listings will expire, which will help reduce the inventory, so the sellers that need to sell should be able to. 

     An experienced real estate agent will continue to provide you with market data, while you are on the market, to determine if a price reduction could help you achieve your goals.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Offer Contingent on the Sale of Buyer’s Home May Bring a Higher Price

  Buyers and sellers differ on their view of offers that are contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. According to the Multiple Listing Service, in Chisago County there are only 11 out of 290 Active listings that are sold contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. There have been many offers submitted to sellers with this contingency request, only to be rejected. 

  Much to the surprise of many sellers; showings slowdown in July. Think about how busy your July schedule is with vacations, friends, weddings, reunions, etc. In Minnesota, July is the best month of the year for most of us. Buyers have the same schedule, and they don’t want to spend their weekends going to open houses or scheduling showings. July can easily move from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

  On the other hand, sellers seem to think July is the best time to list their home. This could be true for waterfront homes, as visitors to the lakes are intrigued and want to see what is available. Senior housing, and first-time homebuyer homes are typically in demand year-round, but the rest of the homes tend to have longer marketing times in July, which brings a lot of price reductions.

   If a seller accepts a contingent offer, the status on the Multiple Listing Service shows that the listing is Active contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. The property can still be shown to other buyers and the contingent offer can be bumped by a non-contingent buyer, should the seller elect to do so. 

  It is true that if a seller accepts an offer contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home, that showings typically slow down. But if there are very few showings anyway, it may make sense to consider a contingent offer instead of reducing the price to compete with the other listings on the market. Contingent buyers are usually very serious about the property they make an offer on, which can mean a higher sale price for the seller, and the buyers are motivated to get their home sold quickly.  

  When my sellers consider an offer contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home, I do a market analysis on the buyer’s home, and help the seller’s decide if the buyer’s home is priced competitively, we review the neighborhood activity, and the likely-hood of a quick sale.

   Every property is different, and there is no set rule for dealing with contingent offers. An experienced agent can provide you with the best advice on contingent offers for your home.

 Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

New Construction vs Pre-owned Homes

    According to the Multiple Listing Service there have been 60 new construction, single family sales so far, this year, in Chisago County. The average price of the single family, new construction sales this year is $294,000 with an average price per square foot of $198.00 During the same period in 2018 there were 70 sales with an average price of $322,000 with an average price per square foot of $189.00.

  There have been 392 pre-owned single-family homes sold this year with an average price of $278,000 and an average price per square foot of $137.00; compared to 436 sales during the same period last year with an average price of $257,000 and an average price per square foot of $130.00.

  Sales are down in both categories, but at a higher rate for new construction. Prices are up in both categories about 10% over 2018. 

  This year there have been 11 new construction townhome sales, in Chisago County, with an average sale price of $242,000 and an average price per square foot of $160.00 compared to 32 pre-owned townhome/twin-home sales in Chisago County with an average price of $203,000 and an average price per square foot of $128.00.  

  Prices are higher with new construction, but the advantage is everything is new and under warranty. New construction also offers the latest trends and customization. 

  With pre-owned homes, you tend to get established, high demand neighborhoods, larger lots, larger garages, and more finished square footage. 

  One level-living-homes are in high demand for new constructions as there are very few pre-owned homes that don’t have stairs at the entrance or garage, and most pre-owned homes have the laundry on the lower level. Many down-sizers want smaller lots and an association to take care of lawn maintenance and snow removal, and they want to customize the floor plan. There is great appeal for snow-birds to be able to feel secure leaving their home for the winter. 

  The best value homes whether new or pre-owned are split entry homes. The larger the foundation, the higher the price per square foot. Above ground square footage has higher values than finished basements. 

  An experienced real estate agent can help you find the right lot and builder to design your dream home.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Lake Homes Are Selling Fast

  Chisago County waterfront homes are bringing in buyers from around the country. We have buyers coming up from Florida, Arizona, and other states to find a summer home close to their snow-bird friends that go south for the winter. With the better economy and low interest rates, more buyers can afford a second home. 

  We are also seeing families from around the metro moving to the Chisago Lakes for better schools & community, and we have local residents selling their homes and moving onto the water. There are many investors buying waterfront homes as well. When you search for Chisago County vacation rentals, there are dozens of waterfront properties available. 

    According to the Multiple Listing Service, from January to July 15th this year, there have been 45 single family, waterfront homes that have closed in Chisago County. The median price was $321,500, with the highest price at $750,000 on West Rush Lake. During the same period last year there were 35 closed sales with a median price of $367,500 and the highest sale was $675,000 on the Sunrise River.

  The lower median price, this year, is not representative of declining prices, but indicative of smaller or older homes that have sold this year compared to last. 

  Forest Lake has had 16 sales this year with a median price of $481,200, and White Bear Lake has had 6 sales with median price of $844,198. Chisago County is much more affordable and still close to the metro.

  Because of the high demand for waterfront homes and the low inventory, many homes are selling before they go on the MLS. 

  There are currently 48 Active listings on the water in Chisago County with a median price of $399,900 and the highest priced home available is $1,350,000 on Chisago Lake.

  May, June, July, and August had the highest number of sales in 2018 with each month closing 13-17 waterfront home sales. December, January, and February had the least amount sales.

  If you are thinking of buying or selling a waterfront property this year, contact a local experienced real estate agent right away, to help you navigate the real estate market in the Chisago Lakes Area.

Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Offering FHA Financing Brings More Buyers

    FHA financing offers lower down payment and credit requirements, but not all homes qualify for this program. FHA requires the property to meet HUD’s minimum standards for health and safety in addition to determining the current market value is at or above the purchase price.  

  Offering your home to FHA buyers increases your buyer pool which can bring a higher price.  A seller can decide to accept or decline a purchase agreement with FHA financing, but this discussion should take place with the listing agent before the property goes on the market. If the seller wants to offer the home to FHA buyers there may be additional repairs required by the FHA appraiser.

  The FHA Handbook cites the primary areas of inspection are the roof, the foundation, lot grade, ventilation, mechanical systems, heating, electricity, and crawl spaces (when present). HUD’s primary concern is the health and safety of the home buyer who will live in the house. Above all, the home must be habitable and comfortable, without any potential hazards to the occupant.

Here are some of the key inspection areas required by HUD:

  • The lot should be sloped to allow water to drain away from the house.
  • All bedrooms should have egress to the exterior, for reasons of fire safety. 
  • Many homes built before 1978 still contain lead-based paint, which is a potential health hazard. In these homes, the appraiser will check for peeling or chipping paint. 
  • All steps and stairways must have a handrail for safety. 
  • The heating system must be sufficient to create “healthful and comfortable living conditions” inside the home.
  • The roof should be in a good state of repair and must keep moisture from entering the home. It should “provide reasonable future utility, durability and economy of maintenance.”
  • The foundation should be in good repair and able to withstand “all normal loads imposed” on it. 

The appraiser can site required repairs as a condition of the loan, which means the repairs must be made and re-inspected prior to loan approval. 

An experienced real estate agent can help you decided what terms you will accept from a potential buyer, and offer repair advice before you list your home for sale. 

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Seller May be Liable for Repairs After Closing

  Occasionally I hear from buyers after they have closed on their home and moved in, that something isn’t working properly, and they want to know if the seller will pay to fix it.  When I get these calls, I refer to the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement and the Buyer’s Inspection Report, to see if there were any comments about the issue prior to closing.

  I hear different types of complaints, from the air-conditioner isn’t working (usually from winter sales when the AC can’t be tested), to water in the basement, and most recently that there was hail damage to a roof 2 weeks before closing that no one knew about as the home was vacant.

  Once we determine the defect wasn’t disclosed, I contact the seller’s agent and ask for the seller to repair or replace the defect. In many cases the seller writes a check and we are done. If the seller declines the buyer may opt for Arbitration, Conciliation Court, Mediation, or District Court. Personally, in 30 years, I have never had a buyer sue a seller or request Arbitration or Mediation.

  Some buyers elect to purchase a one-year home warranty or ask the seller to provide one. One of my clients recently got a new dishwasher and central air-conditioner a few months after closing. I hear from many clients, that they have used the home warranty for miscellaneous repairs.

  Minnesota Statutes require that sellers disclose to prospective buyers all material facts that the sellers are aware of that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property. Buyers need to be aware that there may be problems that the seller is not aware of and therefore they are not disclosed.

  There is a 12-page Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement form approved by the Minnesota Association of Realtors, that the sellers complete at the time of listing the property. If there are any changes that occur prior to closing the seller is obligated to update the disclosure. 

  In some cases, there is a Seller’s Disclosure Alternative form, where the seller does not answer the disclosure questions. This typically occurs in foreclosure properties, investment properties, or estates where there is a Power of Attorney or the seller has not lived in the home for some time.

  The disclosure form is not a warranty, and buyers are encouraged to have an independent home inspector inspect the property. Most purchase agreements are contingent on a buyer’s inspection. During this contingency, the buyer has the option to ask the seller to make repairs, provide compensation in lieu of repairs, or cancel the purchase agreement because of the condition.

  It is also recommended that buyers walk through the home again before closing to ensure it is in the same condition as when they purchased the property and that agreed upon repairs were made.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Selling Your Loved One’s Home After They Pass

  Losing a loved one is a difficult process and dealing with their estate can be overwhelming. I have helped many clients sell their parents home, and I have dealt with two of my own parent’s estates over the past year.

  With most of my clients there was no planning or preparation, so in addition to selling their home, they had to deal with personal belongings, and trying to determine what bills they had to pay or cancel, and some had to deal with probate court.

  Several of my clients hired an auctioneer to sell their personal property and they hired an attorney after the death of their loved one to help with probate court.

  Many homes of older people are dated and have deferred maintenance because it was difficult or expensive to maintain. Without a will, the property generally passes to the children equally. This can be a problem if there are stepchildren, as they may be left with nothing without a will.

  Some siblings live in different states and don’t get along. If they all own the property equally; they may all be required to sign a listing agreement, purchase agreement, and closing documents. In this case they don’t always agree on the price, selling as is, making improvements to sell, or even selling at all. Having an executor established could help resolve some issues.

  When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, we met with a local attorney, Tim Peterson, and he reviewed my dad and stepmother’s assets, updated their will and put their properties into a Trust. We all new exactly what our parents wishes were so there was no dispute. When questions came up, we had our local expert to turn to.

  Several of my older clients sell their home and downsize to a condo, townhome, or apartment to avoid maintaining a home. When their home is sold while they are living, they have say in what happens to their personal belongings, and it is usually easier for the children to help their parents with this transition while they are still alive.

  If you are concerned about dealing with a loved one’s estate, I strongly suggest that you meet with an attorney before they pass, and an experienced local real estate agent to determine the best way to deal with a difficult situation.

    Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Selling Your Home Face to Face

  Chisago County is home to many homeowners that don’t use a computer or email. Most, but not all, are senior citizens that want to downsize, many of which, have not bought or sold a home for decades. Most real estate agents, lenders, inspectors, & title companies like to communicate via text and email and use electronic signatures; but for many clients we still work face to face and sign paperwork in person. 

  Buyers and sellers that don’t use email should be more cautious when interviewing a real estate agent to sell their home. There are some agents that work with younger clientele or work closer to the twin cities that have never done a complete transaction in person. To be efficient and timely it is important to work with a local agent that can be responsive in getting signatures quickly.

  Our contracts can be completed online and emailed to our clients for electronic signatures, but we can also complete them by hand and have them signed in person. Over the past couple of weeks, I have worked with six local clients that didn’t use email. 

  At the initial meeting we reviewed the market analysis and the listing agreement. Then the 2nd meeting involved signing contracts and disclosures and reviewing the septic inspection application and the water test instructions. The signed documents get scanned and emailed to the Broker and the listing is input onto the MLS.

    The 3rd meeting was presenting an offer, estimate of proceeds and preparing a counter-offer addendum if needed. The sellers signed the documents and then they were scanned and emailed to the buyer’s agent. There can be multiple counter offers that go back and forth.

  Once we had a fully executed purchase agreement, there was a buyer’s inspection which involved negotiating repairs. An amendment to the purchase agreement needed to be signed with the repair agreement and again there can be counter-offer addendums that go back and forth.

  The signed documents have to be delivered to all parties, so there can be a meeting for signing and another for delivery.

  We also work with lenders and closers that accommodate sellers with mailing documents or meeting them at their homes or even nursing homes. 

  If you don’t text or email, it’s important to work with an agent that will be responsive by phone. It is wise to interview more than one agent, work with a local neighborhood expert that has expertise in your type of property and discuss your communication requirements.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.

Low Inventory Brings Higher Prices

  May is one of the busiest months of the year in the real estate market, and once again, and the lack of inventory and buyer demand can increase selling prices at a pace faster than the appraisers can substantiate.   Because buyer demand is so high, many sellers are asking for prices higher than the appraisals can substantiate. Some of the buyers have been waiting for the perfect home for a while and they are willing to pay more to get what they want. 

  If a buyer is paying cash, there is no appraisal, but if a there is financing the lender will determine how much they are willing to loan. For example; if the purchase price is for $300,000 and the property appraises for the purchase price and the buyer is putting 10% down, the buyer will pay $30,000 and the loan will be $270,000. If the property only appraises for $290,000, the down payment is $29,000 and the loan will be $261,000. That leaves a $10,000 shortage, that the buyer may or may not be able to cover. The listing agent may challenge the appraisal and may be successful in getting an increase, or the buyer may be able to cover all or part of the shortage, but if not, the seller must decide to either lower the price to match the appraisal or look for a new buyer and hope for a better appraisal.

  According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the number of new listings for March in Chisago County was 75 with 68 Sales. In April there were 150 new Listings with 107 Sales. Through May 24th there were 135 new listings and 107 listings under contract. 

  Not all homes sell quickly and there is some older inventory on the market, bringing the total Active listings in the County to 249, 49 of which are under contract, and 75 of the Active listings are new construction homes, which are more expensive than pre-existing homes of the same type.

  In the Chisago Lakes School District there are no single family that qualify for FHA or DVA financing under $200,000. The first-time home buyer market has been hit hard with the lack of inventory and increase in prices. 

  There are currently no available Active listings on the MLS on the large Chisago Lakes priced between $269,900 and $800,000, other than new construction, which are on less desirable lake lots. Lake homes are moving so fast that many of them are sold before they go onto the MLS.

    An experienced real estate agent can provide you with a market analysis to see what is happening on the Active market verses the Sold market to sell your home for the highest price in the shortest time period.

  Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.