Geek of the Week: Hannah Smith

Welcome Hannah Smith into the spotlight as our Geek of the Week! She’s headed to warmer weather tomorrow–one day late thanks to the unexpected winter storm that dumped over a foot of snow in the south metro this weekend. She can’t wait to get outside without a jacket and catch sight of some greenery. Spring is one of her favorite seasons and it’s taking way too long to get here.

Hannah’s been on a travel streak lately, having had the chance to travel to Amsterdam and Paris late last year with her significant other. Experiencing her first trip to Europe was amazing and she’s now dying to go back and collect even more stamps on her passport.










When she’s not chasing her travel dreams around the globe, she’s chasing her daughter right here in Minnesota who seems to be three going on thirteen. She’s getting a kick out of the phrases Anora is picking up at Spanish school and trying to stay just one step ahead of her busy toddler. Hopefully she’ll get to plan a kid-friendly trip in the near future… maybe even a Disney cruise!










With Spring market in full swing, Hannah’s been busy fielding questions about buying and selling. She says her friends laugh at how animated she gets when she’s talking about real estate, especially investment properties.  “I get excited talking about investing and helping others come up with creative ideas to get their own investments into reality.” Her dreams include building an extensive investment portfolio of her own in the not-so-distant future.

Now that she’s got several years under her belt she’s grateful for the many wonderful referrals she’s been receiving from past clients, friends and family. She loves experiencing new transactions every day and working with people in all stages of life.

We hope you have a great time on vacation, Hannah! Bring some of that sunshine home with you, please!



Hug Your Home Challenge – April Tips

Are you ready for Spring yet? Up here in Minnesota we’ve been ready for weeks but Mother Nature isn’t giving us a break! Hopefully we’ll get some warmer weather soon so we can check off the items on April’s Hug Your Home Challenge. If you’re new to the challenge, you can sign up here. We’ll send you a checklist you can use to keep up with your home maintenance all year long. Plus, each month we’ll send you info on that month’s checklist so you’re hugging your home all year long. As for April’s tips, here are a few that will help you get those tasks done in no time at all.

“Unclutter Your Gutters”

Before the spring rains start, take the time to make sure your gutters are clear. You’ve probably got everything  you need on hand: a ladder, a plastic scoop, a hose and a tarp (optional).

  1. Spread the tarp out on the area below where you’re cleaning to catch the debris.
  2. Set up your ladder to start at the far end of a section. Use the scoop to clean out any leaves, pine needles or twigs from the gutter. With the tarp protecting your landscaping, feel free to toss it down below.
  3. Once you’ve got a section done, use a hose to flush out any remaining debris.
  4. You’ll also want to check your downspouts to make sure they’re still directing water away from your foundation.

“Care About Your Air”

It might seem like it will be forever before you need to turn on the air conditioning, but before you know it, you’ll be flipping that switch. The last thing you want is to find out your unit had gone kaput. Make sure your air conditioner is ready to go by performing some easy maintenance.

  1. Check your filter. If it’s clogged or dirty, replace it.
  2. Inspect your outdoor unit and remove any leaves or other obstructions. You can do this by turning off the power and rinsing the unit with a hose or using a ShopVac to suck out the debris.
  3. Make sure all of the air vents inside are open and free of obstructions. Some people believe if they close the vents to a room it will save the air conditioner from having to keep the whole house cool. On the contrary, closing vents forces your unit to work harder so make sure they’re not covered by furniture, drapes or anything else.

“Check Below Deck”

The change of seasons can wreak havoc on a Minnesota basement. Once the snow and ice starts to melt, it will flow wherever it can find a way. Unfortunately, often that means it finds a way into your basement. You can check for moisture a few different ways:

  1. Sometimes it’s as easy as using your nose. If your basement has taken on a musty, moldy smell over the winter, odds are you’ve got some kind of moisture.
  2. Cut a square of plastic wrap (about 12″x12″) and tape it to your concrete floor. Make sure you cover all of the edges so it’s airtight. If you come back in a day or two and notice condensation or moisture under the plastic, you’ve got an issue with a damp basement.
  3. Try using a moisture meter. Make sure you measure in several areas of the basement and at many different heights.
  4. Your fix for moisture in the basement will vary depending on the source. To help keep water from entering, make sure your foundation plantings drain away from the house, not toward it and that your gutters and downspouts are directing water away from the house.

Hopefully our tips will help you get ready for Spring… when and if it ever arrives!


Top 5 Things to Consider When Cabin Hunting

Cabin on Blake

Can you feel it in the air? The chill isn’t quite as cold, the snow is starting to melt. We’ve all got CABIN FEVER and in more ways than one. Not only is everyone eager for the weather to finally warm up so we can spend some time outdoors, but it’s also prime cabin hunting season. If you’ve ever thought about buying an “up north” cabin, a cozy getaway in the woods or a lakeside vacation home, now’s the time to start looking. To help you get started, here are our top 5 things to consider when starting your cabin search:

 Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

The great debate… Ask 50 people whether it’s better to buy a cabin in Minnesota or Wisconsin and you’ll get 50 different reasons why they suggest one over the other. Both have their pros and cons. Lucky for us, we have easy access to both. In our experience, here are some of the top differences. In Minnesota you have cheaper taxes but more expensive real estate. Larger lakes are more common, but they’re busier. In Wisconsin you typically have an easier drive since you avoid all those folks jamming the highways on Friday afternoon and the lakes don’t seem quite as crowded. It really boils down to personal choice.



How far do you want to have to drive to your weekend/seasonal/vacation place? Awesome options within a ninety-minute drive of the metro tend to fly off the market fast. If you’re willing to expand your search beyond a two-hour range, you could find some gems. It’s also a wise idea to keep traffic patterns in mind. Will you be traveling back and forth on Friday and Sunday afternoons? If so, your commute time can double if you get caught up in the weekend migration of thousands of other cabin-goers. If your availability to take time off is somewhat flexible, it might not be as big of a concern.

The Lake


Not everyone wants a place on the lake, but the vast majority of our cabin-hunting clients sure do. If you’re angling to be on the water, make sure you know what kind of water you want…a big recreational lake or a quiet retreat? A private lake with no public access or a place with boat-up restaurants? Do your research by asking friends if they know of anyone on the lake you’re looking at. Check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website for their Lake Finder tool to get data on the size, water quality, invasive species and more. In Wisconsin you can visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the same type of information. Our best tip for getting the lowdown is to talk to locals in the area. Visit with the clerk at the gas station or the bartender at the local bar. They’re the best source of info.

The Lot

Shorelines can vary from flat and sandy to steep and rocky and everything in between. Do you want to walk out of your cabin and have to trek hundreds of steps down to the dock? Do you want a ton of shade or do you prefer a smattering of sun? Are you looking for privacy or do you want to be in the middle of the action? There are quite a few criteria to take into account when considering what kind of property you want. You also have to keep in mind the local zoning ordinances which can be pretty strict along the shore. If you have any inkling that you might want to make some changes to the structure or add any additional buildings you should check with the county before you sign on the dotted line. Some might have setbacks that need to be followed or rules that you can’t rebuild existing structures if they’re within a certain distance of the water. You also want to find out about the water and waste system. Usually you’ll have a well and some sort of waste disposal system like a septic or holding tank. Make sure you know what you’re getting into on the front end so it doesn’t count you a ton of dough down the road.

Finally, the Cabin

It may seem like we left the most important item for last. But really, in our experience, while the cabin is important, it’s not THE most important item to consider. In geek terms… “You can usually change the cabin, but you can’t change where it’s located.” So really, finding the right combination of distance, lake and lot is the hard part. Typically the cabin can be changed or adjusted to accommodate your needs if everything else on your wish list aligns.

So who’s ready to start looking for a vacation property? If you’re interested, give us a call! We have agents who specialize in cabins and many of them are licensed in Minnesota AND Wisconsin so we can help you no matter which side of the state line you decide to buy on!

Nekeya Broadnax

Geek of the Week: Nekeya Broadnax

Happy Birthday, Nekeya! Not only does she always share her birthday with April Fool’s Day, but this year she gets to celebrate Easter as well.

You could try to wish her a Happy Birthday/April Fool’s Day/Easter, but you’d have to catch up to her first. Nekeya is constantly on the go. And we don’t just mean showing houses. Next to real estate, traveling is her passion. When she’s not geeking out about real estate investments, she loves to head out on international trips with the long-term goal of becoming an international property specialist. From a recent trip to Thailand to a future trip to Tokyo, she’s all about seeing everything the world has to offer.

“The things I love most about traveling are: trying new foods and drinks, exploring new beaches and dive spots, culture and did I mention the food?”

Here she is checking out Thailand…











And a quick trip to Florida for Spring Break…











No matter where she might be geographically, the things she most enjoys don’t change: family, yoga, long walks to the beach, volleyball, and caramel macchiatos!











Thanks for being our Geek of the Week, Nekeya! We can’t wait to see where your next adventure takes you!


Geek of the Week: Sarah Ruhland

We’re starting a new thing at The Property Geeks called “Geek of the Week” where we’ll feature one of our geeks so you can get to know them better. First up is Property Geek Sarah Ruhland.

We wanted to shine the spotlight on Sarah first because we’re all trying to live vicariously through her over Spring Break. She’s out in Arizona with her family, enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine while the rest of us are willing Mother Nature to pick up the pace and melt the Minnesota snow.

Here are some of the highlights of her trip…

Antelope Canyon

Exploring Antelope Canyon with the family.

Open House

Checking out the local real estate market at an open house. (You’re on vacation, Sarah!!!)


Discovering vegetation comparable to the towering pines we have in Minnesota!

Performing quality control at a local chocolate shop.

Enjoying the local scenery and taking note of the amazing curb appeal!

Chilling poolside

Chilling poolside…we’re sure she’s listening to a real estate podcast, too!


Perfecting her drive on the golf range.

Checking out the Grand Canyon… a definite highlight!

We’re glad Sarah has been having a good time with her family, but we’re ready for her to get back to the office! (And bring some of that sunshine with her!)

Profiting On Property

Ever thought about investing in real estate?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get started investing in real estate? Are you addicted to those rehabbing and home flipping shows? Do you dream of owning your own cabin or lake home but don’t know how you’d ever be able to afford it?

The Property Geeks are thrilled to be partnering with Profiting On Property to bring you an absolutely FREE Introduction to Real Estate Investment class. Over the course of a couple of hours, you’ll learn about the many options potential investors have when considering a real estate investment. The class will focus on three main avenues… long term rentals, flipping/rehabbing and vacation rentals.

Considering your options can be overwhelming and confusing…


  • Where do you find properties?
  • How do you figure out whether a property would work better for a rehab or a long-term rental?
  • Who do you turn to for financing?
  • What’s a Contract for Deed?
  • Why would you even want to invest in real estate… isn’t the marketing going to tank again soon?

We’ll look at answers to all of these questions and more.

Profiting On Property was created to educate first-time and novice investors. There are so many benefits to investing in real estate assets, but wading through the information on how to get started can be tough. The intro class offers a high level overview of the pros and cons and will even go through a case study of an actual investment property, including the numbers.

After potential investors attend the Intro class they can come back for more in-depth information. Profiting On Property will offer more intensive classes on Long-Term Rentals, Flipping/Rehabbing a Property, and Vacation Rentals.

For the class schedule, bios of the speakers and to sign up for notifications on future offerings, visit