Radon Levels Differ on the Same Street

  Two homes on the same street in Chisago City tested way below the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) recommended action level, so one would assume the neighborhood is safe from Radon, but another home at a higher elevation, on the same street, tested two times higher than the recommended safe level. The two “safe” homes have sandy soils, but the unsafe soil has clay soil. That does not necessarily mean that sandy soils are safe.

  Buyers are frequently having homes tested for radon after entering into a purchase agreement, especially if there are bedrooms on the lower level.

  Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It is a heavy radioactive gas formed by the disintegration of uranium and radium in the ground. It seeps into your home through holes and cracks in the foundation. The average radon level in Minnesota is 3.8pCi/L which is like smoking 10 cigarettes a day. The EPA estimates 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year attributed to radon. Past and present smokers are at a greater risk than non-smokers. 

 The seller I was representing had a radon level of 19.5 pCi/L. The buyer requested a radon mitigation system be installed prior to closing at the seller’s expense.

  The EPA recommends radon mitigation when radon test results are 4.0 pCi/L or greater. The concentration of radon in the home is measured in picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L). Radon levels less than 4.0 pCi/L still pose some risk and in many cases may be reduced. If the radon level in the home is between 2.0 and 4.0 pCi/L, the EPA still recommends that you consider fixing the home. The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L; roughly 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The higher the home radon level, the greater the health risk. Even homes with very high radon levels can be reduced to below 4.0 pCi/l and many homes can be reduced to 2.0 pCi/lLor less.

  To mitigate radon, most homes need a sub slab depressurization system and sealing of any openings in the basement floor. My client had a fan and a 3” pipe installed to draw air from below the basement floor up through the roof.  This cost my client about $1200 and the contractor guaranteed the radon would stay below 4.0pCi/I, as long as it remained in use.

  In the 550XX zip codes north of I-94, it is estimated that 23% of homes have radon levels above 4.0 pCi/L.

  If you are buying a home, it is a good idea to have it tested for radon, as the seller will most likely pay for the mitigation. If you haven’t had your home tested, it is a good idea to do so, to ensure you are living in a healthy home. An experienced real estate agent can give you advice on how to have your home tested.

 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.

Record Price for Chisago Lake Home in July!

July 2018 boasts the highest lake home price in the Chisago Chain of Lakes with less than an acre of land, since the Multiple Listing Service starting publishing sales in 1991. The home on Chisago Lake, sold for $962,500 with 4,550 square feet, just under an acre of land and a gentle slope to 135’ of sandy lakeshore. This surpassed the previous record on South Lindstrom Lake last September when a home sold for $810,000.

Chisago Lake has the highest median sale price for lake homes sold in 2018, at $587,500 with 4 sales. South Center Lake has the lowest median sale price at $275,000 but the highest number of lake homes closed for the year at 11.

The median price for the 22 homes sold on the Chisago Chain of Lakes, this year, rose 14% to $372,000, over the first half of 2017.

July was a good month for the entire county, not just lake homes. There were 105 closed sales with a median price of $260,000 compared to 101 sales in July 2017 with a median price of $215,000. A 21% price increase over July 2017. There were 10 new construction homes that closed in July.

Through the first half of 2018, listings were down 8.5% from 2017, and closed sales were down 16.6%. The median price increased 11% for the first half of the year to $249,816.

The cold and snowy weather this year put a strain on the real estate market through April this year. New listings were down 32% in January, 41% in February, 20% in April, and in June, we finally saw listings increase 29% compared to 2017. 

Even with the recent increase in listings, we still have an inventory shortage, which puts us in a seller’s market. Many homes are selling fast and in multiple offers.

An experienced agent can help you determine if now is the best time to sell 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.

Now is the Best Time to Sell Your Lake Home

  Visitors are flocking to the Chisago Lakes for vacations, fishing, events, family and friends and they surprised by the beauty of the lakes and small-town feel. Lake homes look their best right now, with the docks in, the clear water, and flowers in bloom, but there is very little inventory for buyers to choose from. July and August are historically excellent months for lake home sales.

  This week I met a couple from Inver Grove Heights, looking for a home on Forest Lake and they decided to stop by my open house on Green Lake and they loved the area more than Forest Lake. I met another couple that lives a block off Big Marine Lake, and another a block off Forest Lake and both couples want to live on a lake in the Chisago School District.

  According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), there have been 32 waterfront home sales from January through June 2018, in Chisago County. The median price of the sold properties increased 15% from $318,500 in 2017 to $368,750 in 2018, for the first half of the year.

  The least expensive waterfront home that closed this year was in Lindstrom on South Center Lake for $209,000 with .27 acres and 59’ of lake shore on a small bay. The most expensive waterfront home that closed this year was in North Branch on the Sunrise River for $675,000 with 67 acres and 5000’ of waterfront.

  The 26 new waterfront listings entered on the MLS in June, had a median price of $379,450, for the County.

The median sale price for Washington County waterfront homes was 41% higher than Chisago County at $521,500 for the first half of 2018. The least expensive sale was a cabin on Forest Lake for $169,000 with .26 acres and 59’ of frontage. The most expensive sale was for $1,380,000 on Masterman Lake with 6.76 acres and 200’ of frontage.

  Chisago County waterfront homes will continue to be in high demand as the metro lakes prices continue to rise. If you put your home on the market now you can still enjoy the lake for the rest of the summer! 

  If you are thinking of buying or selling a waterfront property contact a local experienced real estate agent 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.

Sellers Deny Offers Contingent on the Sale of the Buyer’s Home

  Buyers and sellers differ on their view of offers that are contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. Currently in Chisago County there is only 1 out of 185 listings that is sold contingent on the buyer’s home. There are 27 homes that are sold contingent on an inspection. There have been many offers submitted to sellers with this contingency request, only to be rejected. 

  One buyer that I worked with wanted to find the perfect house before putting her home on the market as she didn’t want to sell her home until she knew she had a place to move. She was not qualified to purchase another property until she sold her home. I explained the risk involved with a contingent offer, because even if the sellers accepted her offer they could continue to market the property to try to find a non-contingent offer. If the sellers were to receive a second offer, they could cancel her offer and accept the non-contingent offer. 

  Once a contingent offer is accepted, the listing status on the MLS is changed to reflect the contingent offer. This draws attention to savvy buyers that it might be a good property to try and bump, but it causes confusion to many other buyers that don’t know this type of contingency can be bumped, so showings decline. If the first buyer doesn’t sell their home, then the seller loses valuable marketing time and may end up selling for a lower price.

  I met another buyer that sold her home before finding a new home, and there was nothing on the market for her to purchase. She had been knocking on doors asking people if they were willing to sell. She wished she would have made an offer contingent on selling her home, so she didn’t have to move twice.

  One of my listings had been on the market for a while, and my sellers accepted an offer contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home. The buyer’s home sold right away in multiple offers, so everybody won.

  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.

Many Renters Would Prefer to Own a Home

  The National Association of Realtors conducted a survey and found about 75% of current non-homeowners say they would like to own a home one day.

Rents continue to rise on average of 3% annually, but only 15% of the survey respondents state rent increase were a factor in deciding to buy a home. 25% of the renters said they would move to a cheaper rental unit if the rent was too high.

The number one reason respondents stated for buying a home in the future would be a change in lifestyle such as getting married, starting a family or retiring.

The next top reason to buy would be an improvement in their financial situation, followed by the desire to settle down. However, with prices and mortgage rates also expected to increase, affordability pressures will persist.

An increasing share of non-homeowners answered that the primary reason they currently do not own is because they are unable to afford it. 

Many do not believe now is a good time to buy due to swift home price growth and low levels of housing supply. 

The average rental rate is about $1400 per month. A 3-bedroom, 2 bath home, in the Chisago Lakes School District listed for $209,900 with 3.5% down payment would cost about $1450 per month, with taxes and insurance. A VA loan with zero down payment would be less than $1400 per month. 

There are down payment assistance programs for qualified first-time homebuyers to help those buyers with little or no cash for a down payment. It is still possible for first time buyers to purchase a home with no down payment and many sellers will pay the buyer’s closing costs.

An experienced real estate agent or loan officer can help find the best financing programs available, along with affordable housing.

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.

Bank Owned Transactions Are Handled Differently

Out of 169 Active Listings on the Multiple Listing Service in Chisago County, only seven of those are lender owned properties. They are owned by local banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or HUD. Each owner has a different procedure for accepting offers. In 2011 & 2012 over 40% of the sales were bank owned in Chisago County. 

With non-bank owned listings, we write an offer on a Purchase Agreement form approved by the Minnesota Association of Realtors. It is submitted to the seller’s agent, who presents it to the seller.  The agreement can come together quickly if the parties keep negotiating, until there is an agreement.

Last week I negotiated a home owned by Fannie Mae. In addition to completing the Purchase Agreement, there were over 20 additional pages required by Fannie Mae. The documents were uploaded on the HomePath website, rather than delivered to the seller’s agent. Fannie Mae has no tolerance for missing or incomplete documents, so if an agent has little or no experience, the offer will quickly be rejected. 

Until an offer is accepted in writing, other agents can submit offers as well. Once the bank selects an offer to work with, negotiations begin which normally take a few days. Once a verbal agreement is reached, new documents are prepared by the bank’s agent that the buyers have to sign, before the seller signs..

My documents were submitted accurately, the terms were negotiated within 2 days and it still took 10 days to get the seller’s signatures. The property was being sold “As Is”, but the buyers did an inspection to confirm their decision to move forward. Luckily there were no surprises and my clients moved forward.

Many of the banks are repairing defects and selling the homes at market price, so they qualify for conventional, VA or FHA financing. An experienced agent can help you determine if buying a bank owned property is right for you.

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.