Seller’s Guide to Comparative Market Analysis

If you are considering selling your home or property, the first question most folks have is “how do I know what my home is worth?”  Pricing is important when you list your home for sale.  Overpriced homes will sit on the market for a long time with little if any showings.  Underpriced homes are usually scooped up quickly but the seller is left without as much profit as possible.  So, what’s a seller to do?

 

A Realtor can help you determine the market value of your home by doing a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA.  While similar in some ways, the most important thing to know is that a CMA is not an appraisal.  An appraisal is a bank function.  A bank appraises a home to see if it is worth what the borrow is asking to borrow.  Realtors do not do appraisals.

 

To give you, the potential seller, a better idea of what a CMA is, let’s walk through the steps of how your Realtor completes the CMA.

 

Step 1:  As your Realtor , I will schedule a time to come out a visit your property.  This is your opportunity to visit with me and show me around the your home.  I will ask questions about the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, how you heat the home, if you use it seasonally or year round.  Basically, this is my chance to get better acquainted with your property.  I will not give you a price opinion at this time.  There is research to do!

 

Step 2:   When I get back to the office, the research begins.  The most accurate method to arrive at an accurate estimated value of your home is by analyzing existing data.  I look for similar properties that have sold recently and then determine, through their likeness of your property, an accurate estimated price.  In Northern Itasca County, I try to find similar homes on the same or similar sized lake if it is a lake home.  We all know how important our lakes are to us and buyers are no different. I also pull tax data, GIS maps, and any historical data available.  

 

Step 3:  After gathering the data, its time to analyze off of the information.  For me, the easiest way is to use a spreadsheet where I can see how each home compares to the other.  I look at square footage, number of Bedrooms & Bathrooms, number of garage stalls, lot size, and more.  It’s important to remember that where we live and play, there are not many homes that are actually alike. But I look for similarities.  I also use my past experience.  

 

Step 4:  Once all of the data is compared, I will set a price that I believe your home should list for and a range I believe it will sell.  Will you instantly agree with my opinion?  Often not; sometimes yes.   Remember, I am not basing my opinion on whether or not I like your home, I would buy your home, or anything else.  My recommendation is based on data.  You have emotional ties to your home, just like I have with my personal home.  And we all place a value on those emotional ties just like we do with the number of bedrooms or the beautiful lot.  

 

Step 5:  Once my CMA is complete, I will schedule another meeting with you at your home to go over the results of my market analysis.  I will leave with you all of the data I pulled to arrive at my price strategy, my spreadsheet showing the similarities, and more.  When you request that I do the CMA for you, you are under no obligation to list your property at that time, nor are you obligated to list with me.  Of course I’d love to get your business, but no pressure from me.  I will leave the information with you and am always happy to answer your questions or have a more in-depth discussion about a pricing strategy when you are ready to sell.

 

A couple of points to highlight:

 

  • Tax Value and Market Value are not always the same.  
  • Days on Market is often reflective of incorrect pricing
  • Some agents will attempt to “buy” your listing by giving you a higher value for your home
  • Always go with an agent that you feel will best represent your interest and do the best job marketing your property.  

 

 

  

List of 10 Top Resources for Home Buyers In Northern Itasca County

 

The first thing I realized when I moved to Bigfork, MN is that by living in a very small community, its not always easy to find the resources that you need.  Just try googling “auto repair” or “Handyman” and you’ll see that you don’t have much to choose from.  Now, I’m not complaining....not at all.  But, it is nice to have some handy referrals for folks new to the area.  So, here is my list of TOP 10 Resources for you, my new neighbors:

 

Plumbing/Electric/Heating/Cooling:

 

5-Star Mechanical:  Based in Effie, these guys rock!  I’ve not had to use them a whole lot but when I need them (Exhaust fan from Furnace, Pressure tank for well), they’ve been there quick.  Call 218-743-6145

 

Cozy Air:  Based in Marcell, the Cozy Air guys are very professional as well.  If you need some repair work, installation, or are building new, give them a call and schedule an appointment. Call 218-832-3246

 

Excavation/Shoreline Work/Septic Installation:

 

T & T Excavating:  These guys do awesome work!  If you’ve purchased a lake home or lake property and need someone to make your shoreline what you’ve always dreamed of, give them a call.  Building a new home and need a driveway put in or a new septic system?  Give them a call.  Call 218-832-3764

 

Powell Excavating:  Based up in Effie, Powell Excavating not only does land clearing, driveways, septic installation, but also can help with tree planting and removal, stump grinding, and food plots.  Call 218-244-9276

 

Septic Service:

 

Honey Bear:  If you live up North, you’ve probably heard of Honey Bear. Honey Bear does Septic Pumping, portable toilet rental, and drain cleaning.  Great and Timely service.  Call 218-743-3297

 

Building Contractor:

 

Scott’s Home & Cabin: Need an addition to your cabin?  Thinking of building a new home?  Maybe you just need some repair work on an existing home or cabin.  Give Scott a call. 218-326-2602

 

Auto/4-Wheeler/Snowmobile Repair:

 

It’s never fun to have to have a car, truck, or recreational equipment repaired or even serviced.  It’s really no fun if you have to drive miles to get it done.  Well, you’re in luck.  We have some awesome businesses that will keep you moving!

 

Powell Auto Sales:  Located in Bigfork, Powell Auto does full service repair as well as used car/truck sales. 218-743-3795

 

The Shop: also located in Bigfork, The Shop services all of your 4-wheeler, Side-By-Side, Snowmobile, and Lawnmower equipment.  They do both sales and service.  You can even get parts if you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person.  218-743-3666

 

Effie County Services:  Not only do they do auto and truck repairs, but they will even work on your tractor if you have one.  218-743-3616 

 

Doctors/Dentist/Eye Doctor:  

 

Bigfork Valley: We are VERY fortunate Up North to have an award-winning hospital!  Everything you need is near by.  Check out all of the services they supply to the local community by viewing their website: www.bigforkvalley.org

 

 

I hope this list of resources comes in handy for those of you new to the area.  

 

 

A buyers Guide to Home Inspections

Buying a home is a big investment and everyone wants to ensure they get a good deal on a solid home.  One thing that I always recommend my buyers do is get a home inspection on the home they want to buy. A home inspector can identify any problems or concerns and it gives you, the buyer, added peace of mind on this large purchase.  As you complete the purchase agreement, you can make your offer contingent on a home inspection. That simply means that you, as the buyer, are offering a specific amount of money for the home but that offer is based on what home inspector finds. As the buyer, you would hire an experienced home inspector to complete this task for you.  

 

There are a couple of reason to hire a professional home inspector.  First, the home inspector is not emotionally attached to the home.  While you can already imagine how your furniture will look in the living room overlooking the lake, a home inspectors is looking for any defects that would cause alarm.  Second, home inspectors have the experience and knowledge to look at many different aspects of a home that most home buyers don’t have such as plumbing, electric, roofs, heating and cooling systems, and more.  

 

The process of using a home inspector is really easy.  Your Realtor can give you the names and contact information for qualified home inspectors in your area.  Simply contact them, decide which you feel that most comfortable with and schedule a time that is convenient for you.  Or, if you prefer, your Realtor can schedule the home inspection if you are not available or do not live in the area.  

 

On the day of the inspection, the home inspector will spend 3-4 hours at the property.  He will look at everything and take pictures and make notes of anything that stands out as a possible issue.  As the buyer, you can spend the last hour or so with the inspector at the home so he can point out any issues.  You will also get a detailed Home Inspection Report.  Your Realtor can go through the Home Inspection Report with you and based on that report you can go back to the seller and ask to have certain things repaired, ask for nothing and take the property as-is, or walk away. If you ask for items to be repaired, the seller can and sometimes do, say “no”.  

 

One thing to remember as you look at the Home Inspection Report: No Property is Ever Perfect!  None of them. There will always be basic maintenance things.  Look at major issues or safety issues.  Are the fire alarms in working order?  Is the roof leaking?  Is there a plumbing issues under the kitchen sink?  Is the forced air heating system functioning properly. Is the basement wet or does their look like there maybe a foundation issues.  These are big deals. Little things such as a missing outlet cover or a tear in the screen are maintenance. 

 

  

 

Five Great Things About Small Towns

Two years ago, my husband and I made the decision to move to Bigfork, MN from a much more populated area in Tennessee. My family thought we were nuts, our friends thought we were nuts, and even our children thought mom & dad had gone a little crazy.  I mean, who in their right mind moves to a tiny town with a population of only a little over 460 people?  Well, that would be us and we love our small town.

 

There are some adjustments to make living more rurally and in a small town, but there are so many more benefits of living there too!  Here’s my 5 Best Things About Small Towns:

 

  1. The Local Businesses:  Every town has locally owned businesses but they often get lost amongst the corporate giants.  In Bigfork, we have everything anyone would need.  Our grocery store is great with an awesome butcher shop and is locally owned.  We have “The Shop” were the fabulous folks can repair your lawnmower, sell you a 4-wheeler or side-by-side, and make sure you have the parts, batteries, and such that you need.  We have a great local bank, great places to eat, and I can’t forget the Timber Rose Gift and Floral shop.  The gift shop not only has great flowers but also consigns great pieces by local artist and craftsmen.  
  2. Friendly Folks:  Coming from the south where you have that whole “Southern Hospitality” thing, its hard to believe that “Northern” people could be so nice!  I know, Minnesota Nice....is very true.  I’ve met some of the nicest people in my little town.  I think small town folks really band together to get things done, help their neighbors, and in general know how to treat people.  Maybe its because we aren’t stressed out.  No traffic, no problems!
  3. Great Fun:  Small towns love to get together and do fun things!  In Bigfork, we have The Edge Center where we have locally produced plays as well as get Arts, Music, and more that come up from the cities.  We have folks that get together to teach cross-country skiing every winter.  And, let’s not forget the Wilderness Days Festival.  There’s so much to do in a small town, you never get bored.
  4. Get Involved:  In small towns with less people there are always ways to get involved in events, volunteer time, and stay very active in the community.  I love seeing the school children getting involved in the city with clean-up, painting, and doing community service.  We support our High School Teams; volunteer at the hospital, and even sit on various boards.  
  5. Peace & Quiet:  I really, really, really don’t miss traffic!  I don’t miss the noise of the big cities!  I don’t miss all of the people.  I like that my little town closes up by 8:00 pm during the week and that I can look outside at night and not see a million lights.....I just see starry skies and a beautiful moon. The deer come into my yard almost daily and I watch the Eagles fish on the lake. It’s hard to describe how good a little town is for the soul; but you really should experience it for yourself.

 

When you are ready to escape the BIG CITY LIFE, turn your eyes Northward!  

Best Water Front Properties Under $200,000

We are lucky here at the Edge of the Wilderness Lakes & Homes Realty because we all live in “Vacation Land”.  That’s right we get to live up where the fishing is awesome, nature abounds, and the scenery is stunning!  We love where we live and we know you would too even if its only for part of the year.  Did you know that we have lots of Great Lakes place for under $200,000?  That’s right; you can purchase a lake front cabin for under $200,00 and start living your Edge of the Wilderness dreams this year!

 

Here’s a couple great places that we currently have listed:

North Star Lake Cabin:  This seasonal cabin is listed for just $99,000!  Can you imagine spending your summers on North Star, one of the best fishing lakes for Musky, Walleye, and more.  This cabin is in the Chippewa National forest and actually sits on a Federal lease.  You own the cabin but lease the land from the Government.  The lease is $3650 a year.  An inexpensive way to live in the middle of one of the Nation’s BEST forest.

Dora Lake:  I love this cabin and its vintage style.  Listed at only $119,000, you are level to the lake and a Sportman’s Dream!  The cabin is clean and well kept with 2 bedrooms and can be used year-round.  It even has it’s own private boat access with ramp so putting your boat in the water is easy!  It sits adjacent to public land for Deer, duck, and grouse hunting.  

 

Sand Lake:  This rustic cabin has been in the family for years.  The current owners actually spent their time building this private oasis on beautiful Sand Lake.  Loaded with windows and natural light where you will enjoy phenomenal views of the lake. This 2 Bedroom/1 Bath Seasonal Cabin sits beautifully on the 1.97 acre lot. You’ll find your own private lake access to put your boat in, a small storage building, and a large deck to sit and enjoy the views. Whether you are fishing, boating, or just relaxing, this is a great Up North vacation and get-away property. Listed for just $159,000

Anderson Lake: This off-the-grid waterfront cabin is located on nearly 1000 feet of hard, sandy lakeshore on Anderson Lake. Situated on a breathtakingly peaceful and pristine south facing point is this 2 bedroom cabin. Cozy up on chilly nights with the wood stove, and enjoy the sunrise and set on the new deck just feet from the water's edge. The location of the cabin allows one to venture out into the acres of adjoining tax forfeit land, with tons of Deer, Bear, and Grouse hunting trails throughout. Fish for bass, walleye and northern pike from the dock year 'round. Listed for $179,000

Horseshoe Lake:  You really need to take a look at this cozy cabin on great Horseshoe Lake! Owners have done some great cabinet work, lighting and decorating, making this a superb up north property. Lake is loaded with excellent fishing. This would be a great base camp for the family or just for weekend get-away. Well maintained. Enjoy the 5x19 wrap around deck for entertaining or sipping that morning cup of Joe. Septic installed in 2010. Peace and quiet await you here! This beautiful property is listed for just $189,000. 

These are just a few of the lake front cabins that we have listed.  Stop dreaming about a lake cabin and let’s find you and your family their dream place up in the Edge of the Wilderness!

 

 

Get Lost: The Lost Forty

Hiking is one of my favorite things to do and finding new trails in and around the Chippewa National Forest area is easy to do.  One of my favorite places is the Lost Forty.  It’s not a long hike but the trees are AMAZING! 

 

Minnesota was one of the largest timber-producing states in the country in the late 1800’s.  The Lost Forty is an area of Red & White Pines that went untouched by loggers because of an error on mapping the area.  The Lost Forty was mapped as part of Coddington Lake.  Because of this error, the Lost Forty has become one of Minnesota’s greatest treasures.  

 

The pines in the Lost Forty are 300-400 years old, originating when the pilgrims came to America.  They are HUGE!  It is wonderful to wonder through the one-mile trail and see the towering pines.  You really have to make the trip while you are up with us.  

 

 

You won’t get cell coverage out there, not at all and its pretty spotty the entire drive up, but its well worth it.  My GPS couldn’t find it, but I was able to with only a few turnarounds. Here is the way I go:

 

From Marcell, take CR 286 to Hwy 6; go straight across Hwy 6 and you’ll be on CR 4.  Take a Right onto CR 29 and follow this all the way to Dora Lake.  Just past Dora lake, you’ll take a Right on CR 26 and then a left on Forest Road 224.  About a 1 mile up, you’ll see the sign for the Lost Forty.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Steps to a Successful Vegetable Garden in Northern Minnesota

 

 

I’ve always enjoyed gardening but I especially enjoy it in Northern Minnesota.  The weather is much more pleasant then it was in Tennessee and even though the season is technically shorter, the long days ensure beautiful vegetables.  I will say it was a bit of a surprise to find out that most folks don’t put anything in the ground until June 1st.  Heck, in the south, we were planting in February some years.  

 

I had a nice garden last year.  Rented a tiller and put in a nice, new garden spot.  And, while my veggies did relatively well, it still took time for the soil to warm enough to get the plants a really great start.  This year I’ve decided to do raised beds.  This option will give me better control of what’s happening to my soil, water, and plants.  

 

To get you started on your new Minnesota Vegetable Garden, here are 10 steps to a successful vegetable garden:

 

  • Plan on Paper First:  grab a piece of paper and simply draw out what you’d like your garden to look like, where you’d put different veggies, and determine how much space you’ll need. This is always fun for me.  I can start to visualize what my garden will look like.
  • Site Selection & Prep:  Check out your property and decide where you will put your garden. Take into consideration sunlight, what the soil is like, and will you need to protect it from the “critters” that love a free meal.
  • Soil Test:  Once you’ve determined the site and unless you are doing raised beds, do a soil sample test. (The University of Minnesota can run the test for you).  A soil test is an inexpensive way to determine what your soil is lacking.  Once you have this information, you can add to the soil to make it prime planting soil.
  • Veggie Selection:  So you have your garden spot, you’ve tested and prepared the soil, now you need to decide which vegetables you want to plant.  Get pretty specific here and be sure to ask if the specific variety you want will grow well in Northern Minnesota.  Let’s face it, not everything grows well up here.  But the good news is that there is plenty that does.  (I had the best carrots every last year because of the variety I researched and selected)
  • Planting:  When I moved up here, I was told my several neighbors “do NOT put anything in the grown before June 1st”. It’s a good rule to go by.  You can start plants inside in a sunny window or under a grow light, but wait until June 1st to put them in the ground outside.  Also consider staggering your planting so you have a longer harvest time. For example, don’t plant all of your radish seeds at once.  Plants some and then plant some again in 2 weeks.  
  • Nutrients:  Even though you’ve tested your soil and made sure it was ready, don’t forget to feed your plants.  I keep a little notebook in my garden shed with details of each veggie I’ve planted.  Some need more food than others, some more water....by using my notebook, I can remember to double check
  • Water Management:  My mother used to joke that the only way I’d remember to water my house plants was if I walked by the plant and it reached out a grabbed me and cried “please give me water.”  While it is true that often neglected my house plants, I’m very good at ensuring my vegetables have water.  Like Nutrients, plants have different water needs.  Be sure to read the directions on the seed package or ask at the local nursery when you buy your vegetable plants. I use a rain barrel to capture water for my garden.  It’s right there and easy to access.
  • Weed Control:  Raise your hand if you like weeding!  Me, not so much.  But I find if I spend a little time in the morning and in the evening, I can pretty much keep them under control.  If needed, mulch or black plastic works well to keep weeds at bay.  
  • Pest Management:  Nobody wants bugs eating their vegetables.  I’m not a big fan of using “products” too keep them away.  There are organic products that can help and I have been known to simply examine plants and pick the little buggers off.  For me, insects have not been an issue.  It’s the larger “pest” that I like to call wildlife that I must protect my garden from.  You know...deer, raccoons, skunks, mice, rabbits, and yes, even bears.  While I love the look of a cute little fence around the garden, in the North, we use 6 foot minimum and sometimes include a hot wire at the top.  Bigger pest, mean bigger fences.  OR you could simply plant 4 times as much as you need and share with Bambi and his friends.  Your choice!
  • Harvest:  All of the hard work you’ve done leads to the best part of gardening; the Harvest!  Check your garden daily and harvest what is ready.  We enjoy fresh vegetables all season long.  If you have an over abundance, can, freeze, or share with your friends.  

 

What tips do you have to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy your Northern Minnesota Garden!  I know I do. Oh and by the way, the lovely picture on the cover of this blog is not my garden.  It is my dream garden and one day I hope to be there! 

Mail-A-Book

I love to read.  It is one of the simply pleasures of life for me.  While I enjoy reading on my Kindle, sometimes I just want to hold a real book in my hands.  The library in Grand Rapids is very nice but honestly I just don’t get the chance to swing by there much.  If you live in a rural environment, like our Edge of the Wilderness Communities, you can get to the library without leaving your home!  The Arrowhead Library offers a great program called “Mail-A-Book”.  You can find the book you’d like to read on their website and then simply place your order (you’ll need a library card first).  Your book will arrive a few days later with a pre-paid postage return label.  Just enjoy your book and when you’re done, pop it back in the fabric envelope, attach the return label and put it in the mail.  How simply is that?  

I just received my first “Mail-A-Book” book.  I’m reading a book by William Kent Krueger.  He writes some great crime mysteries that are set in Northern Minnesota.  It’s fun to read something where you can identify places in the book.  

If you want more information on the “Mail-A-Book program, you can visit the Arrowhead Library’s page here.  

Successfully Marketing Your Property

In today’s market, simply placing a sign in your yard and listing it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) just won’t cut it. To successfully market a property, your Realtor has to standout from the crowd with a solid marketing plan for you. This means that your Realtor must understand market conditions, know where buyers are looking for properties and then focus their marketing plans on those areas.

According to the most recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) Survey of Buyers, 51% of buyers find their properties on the internet and 34% of buyers find their property through a Realtor. If your agent wants to list your property in the newspaper, turn and run. Less then 1% of home buyers actually look in the newspaper for their new home. Why would your Realtor spend time and money on newspaper advertising if no one is looking?

If you choose to work with me, I do my best to market your property using all of the technology available. I’m very active on Social Media including Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, and do a monthly newsletter to advertise properties to our readers. I use SEO techniques (Search Engine Optimization) when describing your property so that it has a better chance of being found by potential buyers on the internet.

I’m a licensed Drone pilot and we have a professional photographer on staff that is also a licensed Drone pilot. Videos, aerial photos, and custom home videos are what we do. In addition, the use of creative, customer flyers and mailers helps me get the information on your property to qualified buyers.

Edge of the Wilderness Lakes & Homes Realty’s signs are well known in the market place. They are bright, easy to read, and represent our love of where we live. Placing an Edge of the Wilderness Lakes & Home Realty sign in your yard means being represented by the best!

Contact me today to discuss selling your property.

Love Where You Live

My husband, Ken, and I moved to Bigfork about 2 years ago after living in Tennessee for 15+ years. You might still hear the occasional "Ya'll" or I might call you "Honey" or "Sweetie". I mean no offense; there is still a bit of a Southern Belle lingering inside of me. Ken and I farmed in Tennessee and raised Angus Cattle, milked Nubian Dairy Goats, had a few horses, and raised chickens & Turkeys. It was a fun and hard work lifestyle. It was also very HOT and Humid. We were ready for a change.

People usually ask how we ended up in Northern Minnesota. Ken was doing a commercial construction project at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN. I took a break from the farm and came to visit. I was immediately struck by the scenery, the weather, and the people. We had the chance to explore the state and decided it was the right move for us. When we started looking at homes, we fell in love with Northern Itasca County. Every home I found online was in the Bigfork, Marcell, or Effie area. We are outdoorsy people and love to fish, hunt, hike, boat, kayak, and in general, spend our time outside as much as possible so the Edge of the Wilderness Communities is prefect for our lifestyle.

Our farm sold quickly and we packed our bags and headed North. We had a great Realtor who I now have the pleasure of working with. She helped us find a great home on a smaller, private lake and we were able to close quickly and move in. I think the first summer I was on Connor’s lake everyday unless it was pouring down rain. We hike at Scenic State Park regularly, visit the "Lost 40", and are slowly working our way through fishing on all of the 1,000’s of lakes in Itasca County.

I have started to pick up the "You-Betcha's", understand that Soda is called Pop, and that folks in Minnesota really are "Minnesota Nice". One of our neighbors told me one day that we were very lucky because we live where other people vacation. You know, he was right. We Love Where We Live.