Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16

What is New in Reverse Mortgages? By Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

Buyer's Top 10 List, by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

Agency Relationships in Real Estate, by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

Radon Mitigation and Real Estate, by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

What Buyers are Looking for in 2013! By Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark, Counselor Realty.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  In our marketplace, things happen to change over time, and many times the buyers as they come to the marketplace look at things differently than what they looked at five to ten years ago.  So I’m going to hit four or five things that may be of interest for you as a seller that you want to bring to the attention of myself as you go to market or a realtor in another area of the country that maybe would be selling your house. 

The first thing that’s a real big trend with buyers is storage.  They’re really looking for good storage space where they can put their things that also go along with it if you’ve done some organizational systems like California closets or putting different types of storage bins in your garage.  People are looking at ways to make their when they move into a property to have less clutter, putting more things away and having a house be more open and simple and easier to work with.

The next thing is buyers are looking very significantly in the areas of proximity.  Every property has something that might have a proximity that you might want to bring up.  For instance, if you have a neighborhood park that’s a block or two from your property, that’s a very, very important thing.  Or if you have a shopping center that is fairly close that you could walk or a trail system or a boat launching area.  Whatever there might be in proximity to their property, you want to hit the highlights of the ease and enjoyment of what that property is.

There’s a great thing on the Internet called Walk Score where you can type in the address of the property and it gives a walk score and many times we put that type of thing on our listings to show how strong a walk score a property has.  And people like the efficiency and the effectiveness that they have of being able to get to many things easily.  The next thing is senior-friendly features.  Now we have Baby Boomers.  I happen to be a Baby Boomer, and many times I’m finding as the Baby Boomers are beginning to age—not that I’m aging or anything.  I guess I am, but they’re looking for one-level living.  They’re looking for the interesting things that senior living might bring for their enjoyment as they’re aging and going through an aging process.

The next thing is areas of energy efficiency.  It’s become very, very important.  Just like in automobiles people look at how can we get greater mileage efficiency, people are looking in their properties to see how can I have lower utility cost whether it be gas or electric.  And what kind of appliances or what kind of furnaces or air conditioners or things that are out there that have lowered the cost of running that property.  And the last item I’m going to bring up is the area of where people talk about the green revolution where people are making their properties more green.  It may be even as simple as how they have organization of their garbage collection so that they can sort through the garbage or green things of dealing with their electricity bulbs.  All the different things that people are looking at for runoff of water on their property and do they have tanks that they can reuse the water with.

Finding those little things that maybe you have done to make your property more green and something that will fit today’s buyers that have great interests, which many times are the same interests that you have.  Well, thanks so much for watching my video this week, and make it a great day.  Thanks!

Hedberg Moving Company is ready to assist you!

by Steve Westmark

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark, Counselor Realty. Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week. I brought in a mover today, Brandon Hedburg of Hedburg Moving Solutions. Welcome, Brandon, and we look forward to hearing some of the input you’re going to give us.


BRANDON: Thank you for having me today, Steve.


STEVE: Well, Brandon was really helpful in moving our office from Highway 101 down to Highway 7, very helpful in us learning how to efficiently and effectively and keep our cost down. So Brandon, as you help people in trying to move one house to another, how do you help them keep their costs down and direct them in those areas?


BRANDON: First, we try to start off with a pre-moving plan, and with that preplan, we try to talk to the customers about packing themselves, making sure their boxes are taped, making sure that there are no obstructions in the path of the movers once they get there so that they can lay out their flow protection, and just being ready for the move.


STEVE: Another big thing in moving is protecting of the house you’re in and also protecting the house that you’re moving into. How do you help people in the protection of these valuable assets?


BRANDON: Well, we start out by believing in protecting the wood floors. We lay pads on the floor, and then we lay cardboard on the pads to soak up any sand or any little rocks that you can’t see with the naked eye. And then what we do is for the stairs, if they’re carpet, we lay carpet shield up the stairs, and then on all our straightaways we have rug runners, which are neoprene softened so they can go on carpet or on wood.


STEVE: I think many times a big concern that a client has is will I get an estimate and if I get an estimate, will I then be surprised in the end. How do you help people through estimates and what’s the best way to do that?


BRANDON: Well, Steve, one of the things we believe in here is a free onsite estimate. Too many of the companies nowadays are doing everything over the phone based on a sheet by how big the house or the apartment is by how many rooms that are in it. And each house and each apartment are different sizes. The hallways are different. Elevators…so we believe in doing an onsite estimate to try to get it as accurate and in the right ballpark as we can.


STEVE: I know a lot of times people wonder is there such a thing as a full-service move if I don’t want to really do anything. Can you do all those things or what kind of menu of services can you give people?


BRANDON: Well, we start off with a free onsite estimate, and from that point we figure out exactly what you want. We can come in, do full packing. We can provide the packing, all the materials. We can move you from one place to the other, and then we also have companies from cleaning companies to flooring companies that can come and help do anything else that you may need for your move to be successful.


STEVE: Well, I can really commend Brandon and his company. He’s got great people, and Brandon’s onsite to help out as the move’s going on. Brandon, what’s the best way for people to get quotes and to contact you?


BRANDON: The best way if through our website, or they can always reach us as 763-434-6683.


STEVE: Thanks for coming in.


BRANDON: Thank you very much.

When to Winterize Your Home, by Don Holding, Real Estate Services

by Steve Westmark

STEVE:  Hi, this is Steve Westmark.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  This week, I brought in a gentleman who has been doing winterization of houses for over 30 years, and it’s Don Houlding of United Real Estate Services.

DON:  Good morning.

STEVE:  Don, I’m going to ask you questions about winterizing of a home because homes with plumbing can have problems.  Why should a person have a home winterized as they leave for a period of time?

DON:  Steve, I’ve learned over the years as a licensed plumber that homes can freeze up in Minnesota’s cold weather without ever even having the heat fail.  I do recommend to my customers even when they call and say, “You’re not going to do the job” have somebody winterize the property.  They need to be protected in case that damage occurs because when a pipe bursts in a home and the water’s on, the damage can be catastrophic.

STEVE:  Houses that aren’t winterized and have a problem like that, sometimes you’ve told me that people should really check their houses for insurance.  What are the things that they look for in their insurance or they need to ask their insurance agent?

DON:  Absolutely, it’s critical to call an insurance agent and find out if the home is vacant for more than 30 days will their homeowner’s insurance remain in force.  If the home is vacated for more than 30 days, it’s very common that the homeowner’s insurance actually cancels, and there’s no advance notice of that.  So people leave thinking that even if there is a problem they’re covered when in fact, they’re not.

STEVE:  So Don, I know you’ve run into some problems in the past where a house wasn’t winterized.  What have you found as far as some of the costs that have happened and the downsides that could occur?

DON:  Well, Steve, in the 30 years I’ve been doing this, the most difficult thing I still run into is to walk into a home where the pipes have broken and the water was left on.  The damage can be to hardwood floors, to carpeting, to floor joists.  Sheetrock becomes soaked.  I’ve seen it fall off of basement ceilings.  Windows become frozen solid, and it takes weeks, sometimes months to dry the home out.  The expenses run into the tens of thousands of dollars to put all of that back together again.  And then it’s difficult to say that everything is back 100%.

STEVE:  So in a nutshell, Don, what happens when you go to winterize a house?  What are the things that you do that helps the house get winterized?

DON:  Well, the first thing we do is turn the water off at the source.  If there’s a water heater, we remove it.  If there’s a well, we turn the power off to it.  All of the plumbing is drained down, hot and cold water.  We do add non-toxic antifreeze into places where water would collect, usually things like toilet bowls, traps, drains, dishwashers.  That way there’s a little bit of water left, but they do have antifreeze in it, so it won’t freeze if the heat does fail.

I do install a temperature alarm in the houses that I winterize so if the heat fails, we still want to get in there and get it fixed even though the plumbing’s protected.  It’s structurally hard on a home to let it freeze.  So we need to get out there and take care of that furnace and get it going, and we don’t frost on the walls and ceiling.  That’s pretty much in a nutshell it.

STEVE:  Well, thanks so much, Don, for coming in today.  And what’s the best way for them to get a hold of you to get work done?

DON:  I can be reached in my office.  Phone 651-452-5261 or I’m happy to be e-mailed at

STEVE:  Great.  Thanks, Don.

The Fish Are Biting, Are You Ready for Them? by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark

Hi, this is Steve Westmark of Counselor Realty.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  Well, today I have my rod and reel, have my tackle box, and I’m going to talk to you a little bit about fishing.  Most of my friends know I’m not a great fisherman.  When I go fishing, I go with people that really know what they’re doing.  But I’m going to give you an illustration of how fishing and selling your house makes sense.

You know, in today’s marketplace, you have to find where the school of fish is.  You can have a good rod and reel.  You can have the bait and the stuff, but you can cast into an area and never find a fish at all.  And that could be because there are just no fish there.  And what we learn in our real estate market when I meet with people, we find out where do fish bite that are the kind of fish that you want to have buy your house. 

And so when we go to position your house, we hope that we’re going to help you understand that by positioning your house at a certain number, that will bring about a sale.  To give you a quick illustration of that, he started a house maybe six months ago, he wanted to try a little bit higher in price and he went out at 134,900.  Then he went to 229,900.  Then he went to 224,900.  Then he finally said, “Well, what is it going to take to sell the house?”  He went to 216,900 and it sold within several weeks.

It’s finding where the fish are biting, and that’s the key that we try to help you understand when we go out to fish for your buyer.  We want to find the best pool of buyers who will pay you the fair value on your property, the most value you can get.  But make sure that you’re not just sitting there on the market and not selling and no fish is nibbling.  Well, make it a great day.  Thanks for listening.



Proper Care of Your Fireplace, by Steve Westmark

by Steve Westmark




Hi, this is Steve Westmark, Counselor Realty.  Thanks so much for watching my video blog this week.  I just got back from the National Association of Realtors Conference that was in Orlando, FL.  Got to hear the national economist for the Realtor Association, Dr. Yun.  And he gave an hour and a half talk on some of the things that are going on and the economics of the country and what’s going to be going on in 2013.

And so I’m just going to share with you a few ideas of what you can see going on in 2013.  The first thing that Dr. Yun pointed out is we’re at an all-time low for interest rates in our marketplace, and he predicts that in fact in the next six months that the rates are going to continue to be low.  But at some point in the 2013 year we’re going to begin to increase.  But he doesn’t seen interest rates going up significantly until about 2015.  So that is really good for the homebuyers that are out there who can purchase with lower interest rates.

The second thing that he pointed out is in fact to get back to a stronger economy, our economy needs to build about 250,000 net jobs over the next eight years to get back to where we’re at.  So we need to in fact have a Congress and a president that will roll their sleeves up and go out and figure out how are we going to get our people back to work in the United States.  So it’s really important for the strength of the economics of the country for us to be creating a quarter of a million jobs each year.

The third trend that he saw going in the marketplace is that the lender-mediated sales over the country have been decreasing.  Now a lender-mediated sale is either a foreclosure where it’s bank owned or where I’ve talked in the past about short sales where people are upside down in their properties.  Well, if you go back to 2011, this past year, 33% of our sales in the United States were a lender-mediated sale.

In 2012, he’s predicting with most of the data that’s in that we’ll be around 25%.  And he predicts in 2013 we’re going to be dropping to 20%.  Now going back to national norms going back to the early 2000s, those numbers were around 2 to 3%.  So we still have a long way to go, but that is a very, very positive thing in our economic indicators.  And the last thing that he talked about in the area of forecasting was dealing with the fiscal cliff that has been talked about in the national press.

What he tells us as consumers to do is we need to spend wisely.  We have to know what do I have to have before you decide what you’re going to go buy.  You need to as a person have a strategic plan as you move into things.  So strategically deciding what are the right things because we’re still in a very, very difficult thing.  And then third, he talked about your partnerships, the partnerships that you have with relationships into your banks, with different people that you work with in your own tax planning, whether it be your tax advisors, both in attorneys and CPAs. 

That as you move on into the future and the changes that are more than likely going to be happening in the next Congress, that this is very important to your economic stability in 2013 and beyond.  Well, thanks so much for watching.  Make it a great day.  Bye.


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 16




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Photo of The Steve Westmark Team Real Estate
The Steve Westmark Team
RE/MAX Advantage Plus
14451 Highway 7 Suite 100
Minnetonka MN 55345
Fax: 952-241-1600