When Mom or Dad Move In With YOU

It might not have been so long ago that parents were eager for their grown children to move out. But nowadays it seems like more and more parents are moving back in with their kids. In an economy where housing prices are on the rise, healthcare is unpredictable and people are living longer, sometimes Mom or Dad is the one in need of a helping hand.

CottageThe terms may differ depending on who you talk to. A quick internet search showed listings for multigen houses, granny pod plans, mother-in-law suites, care cottages, accessory dwelling units, casitas, and more. No matter what you call it, the idea is similar. People are looking for ways to give their aging parents some freedom and independence while being close by.

If you’re looking for alternatives to a long-term care facility, check out a place like MedCottage. Some of their units are available for lease and can be used for short-term rehabs or long-term stays in lieu of a place such as a nursing home. They can deliver a pre-made unit or send a kit that can be assembled by a homeowner or a local contractor. Tiny House

Other options for keeping Mom and Dad or the in-laws close but not too close might include a cottage or cabana in the backyard. If you search Pinterest for plans you’ll be bombarded with options. Most of them will include a kitchenette and bathroom as well as a bedroom and living area or a large multi-functional space. Styles vary from simple to ornate and are priced accordingly.

SuiteIf you’d prefer to be under the same roof, we’ve seen builders designate entire wings including a second kitchen, bedroom(s) and living area(s) to guest quarters. Some designs have a breezeway that essentially connects two separate houses. A more cost effective option might include finishing the basement for a separate space for Mom or Dad or building a separate apartment over a garage.

Whether you’re for it or against, the reality is that many people are moving to multi-generational living arrangements. So don’t be surprised if the next open house you visit has a casita in the backyard. Here in Minnesota we hope those granny pods come with their own automatic snowblower!


Geek of the Week: Caarin Pannkuk

We caught up with our Head Geek, Caarin Pannkuk, for a few minutes between appointments to find out what she’s been geeking out about lately. Turns out she’s been floating on clouds for the past week or so due to the purchase of some land she and her husband have been waiting on to finally close. After three-hundred-seventy-five days of patience, pushing and reworking some legal and title issues, they’re now the proud owners of “the magic bridge” up at Big Blake Lake.










This particular piece of land holds special memories for Caarin. Her family has a cabin just up the road and she grew up exploring this natural patch of undisturbed property: watching the creek flow, walking around the shore, and absorbing the beauty of the views. The bridge that connected this land and the land across the creek was magic in her little kid eyes.










Now that she and Joe have kids of their own, when they’ve visited their own cabin on the lake they’ve always walked down to the end of the road and let their girls take in the beauty of it all. The excitement has come full circle since the girls now get to experience the same awe and joy Caarin once did as a child.










She and Joe feel fortunate to have been able to build a place of their own on Big Blake Lake, surrounded by family and friends, and have been further blessed by getting to enjoy that with their children. Being able to buy the “magic bridge” property is a dream come true and they plan to build a family cabin on it — hopefully sooner rather than later!


How to Prepare Your Home for Photography

Few things are more nerve-wracking for our sellers than having to prepare their home for professional photography! After all, 90%+ of people start their home search online and will make snap decisions based on nothing but the pictures. So when you’re selling your home, a picture isn’t just worth 1000 words, it can be worth thousands and thousands of dollars as well.

We picked one of our top pick photographer’s brains for some suggestions on preparing a home for photography. Here are some top tips from Lisa Zampogna of Poppy Seed Photography:


 Clean, clean, then clean some more.

The camera will pick up everything, the good and the bad. Giving your home a thorough deep clean before the photographer arrives will not only ensure you don’t have dust bunnies in your pictures, it will also give you a head start on getting ready for showings. Vacuum the floors and dust your walls, floorboards and vents. Wipe down counters and scrub your sinks until they shine.







Hide your  clutter.

Look through home design and architectural magazines — that’s the look you’re going for. Clear counter tops, empty nightstands, and minimal decor will go a long way in making your home look its best. Potential buyers want to feel like a house has plenty of space for their own personal touches. If your kitchen countertops are overflowing with small appliances, it will make the room feel smaller so hide your stuff. You can keep a basket under the sink and do a quick sweep of the counters before photos or a showing. The slight inconvenience will pay off in the long run.







Depersonalize your pad.

Remove the majority of your family photographs and personal mementos. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves and their family in a house. If they walk through halls filled with generations of your family members, it will be more difficult to think of the house as theirs.







Plan for picture perfect pictures.

Put away anything that might detract from your home’s natural beauty. That means stow high chairs, baby gates and toys in a closet or in the garage. Hide your toiletries in a drawer. No one wants to see your toothbrush or the rumpled towel from your morning shower in a picture. Take a critical look at the outside of your home as it might be seen by a potential buyer. Tuck away hoses, ladders, outdoor toys and tools. They’ll be eyesores in a picture.







Show your home in its best light.

Before your photographer arrives, turn on all of the lights. Make sure light bulbs in the same room have the same tone (daylight vs. warm vs. cool bulbs.) Turn off ceiling fans since they can mess with the lighting and open or raise all blinds and window treatments to allow for the most natural light. Drop your remote controls in a drawer and turn off all electronics and televisions.







Provide a helping hand.

If you can, plan to stick around while the photographer is working. He or she may need some help if they need to move something or tuck an item out of sight. Most of the photographers we work with will do what it takes to make the most of the photos, but they’d prefer a homeowner move their own items so they know where to find them after the shoot is over.

Most of the work is in the prep since photography appointments usually only take about an hour, or sometimes even less. The better prepared you and your home are, the less time the photographer will have to spend on site and in edits.

If you have questions about real estate photography, just reach out via email or on social media and we’ll do our best to get back to you ASAP! And if you’d like a printable checklist of these tips and more, please visit Lisa at Poppy Seed Photography!


Geek of the Week: Desiree Sherry

Desiree Sherry has been a busy Geek lately! Balancing her time between her property management and real estate businesses has kept her on her toes. She’ll do whatever it takes for her clients though… even if it means pulling personal property to help stage a home for photos!

In the little bit of down time she’s had lately, she did manage a date night with her significant other. They were able to catch up with friends and enjoy the first bonfire of the season.

If she’s not at work she can pretty much guarantee she’s spending time outside. She’s been getting the garden ready to plant and pruning all of her shrubs. Since the snow has finally melted, her family pulled their camper out of storage and was able to get it set up at their seasonal site. Her family likes to split their time between two different locations in Wisconsin. Jellystone in Warrens is one of their favorite places to camp.










It’s set up as a resort style campground with plenty of fun activities: lazy river, wave pool, a man-made swimming lake with a beach, three pools, water slides, mini golf, an outdoor movie theater and lots more.








Their other top destination is a county park in upper Wisconsin. It’s the complete opposite from Jellystone since it has no pool or water slides. The big draw there is the creek that runs through the campground. Her kids spend their time catching frogs and crayfish and jumping off the boat launch. The adults enjoy kicking back to relax. It’s her family’s secret hideaway but if you really want to know the name of it, she can probably be convinced to share.








They’ll have an extra family member at the campsite this summer. Meet their newest addition — Dash the cat.










He’s been getting used to the car rides and will hopefully enjoy spending time at the camper just as much as the rest of the family!


Geek of the Week: Lindsay Reddy

Welcome Lindsay Reddy as our Geek of the Week! She said she didn’t have anything exciting enough to post, but this mom of two has plenty going on.

She’s like the Energizer bunny, always on the go with tons of enthusiasm and energy to spare. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, affectionately referred to as Frick and Frack, she’s either holding down the front at the office or running spreadsheets on a potential deal. She’s a numbers gal and geeks out about evaluating investment properties and negotiating for her clients.

She and her husband Mike enjoy a rare night out without the kids and recently celebrated their sixth anniversary by playing B-I-N-G-O at their favorite local dive and taking a cab home. (Thanks Grandma & Grandpa!) On the rare occasion she has a chance to sit down, she enjoys sipping her Keto coffee while looking out over Union Lake in Northfield.

Though the Spring Market has been challenging, she’s looking forward to the snow melting so she can get out and find her buyers the best deals in this crazy seller’s market.


5 Ways to Buy a House in a Seller’s Market

Spring market is here but it’s a tough one if you’re on the buying side of a transaction. Inventory remains low and properties are receiving multiple offers within hours of being listed on the MLS. Lucky for you we’ve survived markets like this before and have some tips on how our buyers can come out ahead of the competition.

1. Act fast.

In a market like the current one, speed is of the essence. Houses are selling almost as soon as they hit the MLS. If you’re serious about buying, make sure you have an idea of what you’re looking for so you’ll know it when you see it. Then work with an agent to get set up on an auto search so you’ll know as soon as possible when a property meeting your criteria comes on the market. If something piques your interest, go see it as soon as possible. Even a couple of hours can make the difference between being an only offer or finding yourself in a multiple offer situation.


2. Write a “Dear Seller” letter.

For some sellers, getting the highest price isn’t the most important part of an offer. They may have lived in the house for decades, it might be where they raised their kids, or it might be a cherished parent or grandparents’ home. In a multiple offer situation, they might take comfort in knowing the buyers love the deck they built by hand or appreciate the perennial gardens. A buyer could mention how much they’re looking forward to big family dinners in the gorgeous kitchen, giving the sellers comfort knowing their home is going to someone who will appreciate the same things they loved in their home.

3. Keep it simple.

If sellers are evaluating multiple offers, they’re probably going to be inclined to favor the ones that ask the least of them. If you’re able to, submit your offer without contingencies, especially the sale of another property. If you’re not comfortable excluding all contingencies, make the time periods short. If it’s standard to take two weeks for an inspection, offer to hold one in seven. Don’t try to include any personal property. You may love the granite-topped dining table but if another offer comes in and those buyers aren’t asking for anything, it may make your offer look less attractive.  If other things are equal, the sellers may be swayed to go with the offer that is the least restrictive.


4. Bring your best to the table.

Don’t hold back. If you absolutely love a property, submit your best offer right off the bat, especially if you know you’re in a multiple offer situation. You can also offer a higher amount of earnest money (above the typical 1-2%) to make your offer stand out. If you’re offering over market value and can afford to remove the appraisal contingency, consider using that to your advantage. You can also ask your agent about including an escalation clause. That means that if another offer comes in, you’ll top it by a certain amount up until your max is reached. You’d hate to lose out on a house you love if someone came in a few hundred dollars above you and you didn’t have a chance to increase your offer.


5. Show them the money.

In a tight market, anything you can do to make yourselves look more attractive as a buyer will work in your favor. The vast majority of buyers are pre-qualified for up to a certain amount, but it’s not as common to be fully pre-approved for a mortgage. This means your paperwork is submitted ahead of time and your financials have been verified. It makes you a stronger buyer since there are fewer things that could go wrong when the mortgage company starts submitting paperwork. If you’re able to make a larger down payment, that can work in your favor as well. Ask your agent for other ideas that will make you look like a strong buyer. If two offers are comparable, the seller will typically accept the one with the least amount of risk to them.


We don’t know what the future real estate market will bring, but right now we know buyers need to do whatever they can to make their offers the most appealing. Hopefully some of these tips will help. If you have questions about how to make your offer stand out, give us a call or tune in to #GrillTheGeeks every Thursday at 12pm on our Facebook page where we’ll answer your questions LIVE.