Fourth quarter starts our seasonal swing with lower pricing and less inventory, which makes Fall a good time to buy a home. Even though our inventory is still below normal, there are less buyers now that school has started and many residents are preparing to head south for the winter. This means more options for serious buyers and less multiple offers. 

  There will be less new listings entering the market in the fourth quarter, but the sellers that do add new listings are serious about getting their home sold. Less buyers mean fewer showings for homes that are on the market, which typically brings price reductions to increase competition. Most sellers would like to close before the end of the year, so average prices are at their lowest in November and December.

  There are down payment assistance programs available for first time home buyers in Chisago County, and the seller can pay the buyer’s closing costs, which means many buyers can purchase with little or no money down. There may be income limits and home buyer classes may be required. In many cases home loan payments are less than rental rates.

  Even with prices increasing in Chisago County, there are still 24 homes priced at $200,000 or less that are eligible for FHA or VA financing. (last September, there were 58 homes for sale in this category) 

  Offering FHA or VA financing terms, means the sellers believe their home is in good enough condition to pass the FHA or VA appraisal requirements. FHA and VA loans allow buyers to have lower credit scores, and lower down payments than conventional financing. They also allow higher concessions paid by the sellers.

  There is only 1 new construction home under $200,000, in Chisago County that is available for FHA, VA, or down payment assistance programs, and that is a townhome in Taylors Falls. (Last year there were 30.) There are three homes in this category with 1-3 acres.

  North Brach has the highest number of homes, priced at $200,000 or less, on the MLS that qualify for FHA or VA financing. 

  An experienced real estate agent and loan officer can help you determine the best financing and negotiation options for the property you would like to buy.

  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 All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.