Taxes, Zillow, and Me -or- What is my house really worth?

We’re all curious what our homes would be worth on the market, even if we have no intention of selling.  If you recently bought, you’re curious if the value has already gone up.  If you have owned for a while, you may be thinking of selling someday soon and want to know if you can even afford to.  And if you just got your tax statement, you might be shocked at how little value the county says you have…or how much they want from you in taxes!

Here are the three most common ways people obtain an outside opinion of their home’s value:

1.  Zillow.  Go on Zillow or another website that offers instant valuation. I mean, it’s 2am and you’re in front of your computer anyway.  Aren’t you at least a bit curious?  Nothing wrong with surfing online, but don’t trust those numbers.  They are based on algorithms, not on expertise.  Zillow certainly hasn’t seen the insides of any of those homes or your home, and much of the time the statistics they are basing value on aren’t even accurate.  Easy and quick, but not worth the pixels it’s written on.  Also expect a follow up from an agent you don’t know.  They will sell your contact info to a local agent.

2.  Taxes.  Even if you aren’t curious what your home is worth, the county or city sends you a letter telling you anyway. There was a time these tax assessed values were all uniformly way too low.  Then the economy collapsed and suddenly they were all uniformly too high.  Now days, they are most commonly a little low to considerably low.  But again, the city has not seen the insides of any of these homes.  So if your property is in disrepair, the tax value might be high.

3.  Me.  That’s right, me!  I’m just as free as the other options, plus I’m actually a living, breathing, thinking Realtor with Edina Realty.  I will happily provide you with a new market analysis.  Did I just do one for you last year?  Okay, then I’ll update that one.  You’re my past, current, and future clients.  I want you to have the best information from a professional that actually has seen all these houses.  And has certainly seen yours!  I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and it turns out I need clients every year.  So it doesn’t matter to me if you are planning to sell now, later, or maybe never.  Just let me know if you are actually thinking of selling soon so that we can schedule you more urgently.


Sassy Spoon Coming Soon! (it rhymes!)

The news that Sassy Spoon food truck would be making a brick and mortar home in the much missed 3 Tiers space on 34th Ave S came out long ago…but little noticeable progress at the store front.  Until now!

Sassy Spoon @sassyspoontruck tweeted pictures of the sassy new paint job here:

And my wife reported an opening soon sign on the front door:

sassy spoon


Who’s Excited for the German-style Holiday Market in Minneapolis? THIS GUY!!!

I went to a very mediocre college.  But I still managed some lifelong benefits and memories from that time. The best part was meeting some of the amazing people I met, especially my wife!  And the second best part was a semester in London.

At the end of the semester I took two weeks to backpack around Europe with some of my classmates.  It was early December and I was homesick.  Every German city, large or small, that we visited had a Christmas Market set up in the town square.  The old town squares were ridiculously charming with ornate facades of buildings and cathedrals older than our country creating backdrops for open and car free squares. The markets were filled with stands selling unique ornaments that looked just like the ones on my family’s tree at home, candied nuts roasting that smelled just like Christmas at home, and faces that looked so familiar.  Everyone in Bavaria looked like they were related to me and I kepts seeing my family’s surnames Rockers and Mueller everywhere.

It was cold outside, but the lights were warm and the heat coming off the cauldron of mulled wine kept the vendors fingers warm.  In that vulnerable state of missing home, plus being poor, hungry, and cold, those Christmas markets were magical.

Ever since, I have longed to return or for the markets to be recreated in my hometown.  18 years later and my wish is granted!  And even better, I have two young children to share it with. Reliving the magic of holidays through your children’s eyes is probably the biggest selling point to this whole parenthood thing.  I can’t wait!  Plus, now I’m not a starving college student and can actually afford to buy some of the spiced nuts and mulled wine.

See you there:

Minneapolis Holiday Market

Holidazzle Village

Fun Halloween Events in Nokomis/Longfellow Area – 2014

My House!

My House!

Spend too much on the kids’ Halloween costumes to justify only wearing it once?  Or just looking for some spooky fun yourself?  Check out these local activities:

Ongoing:  Minneapolis Parks always have something going on!  Check out the Halloween events here.

Tuesday, October 28th:  Quelle Horreur!  Trylon Cinema presented four different Essential French Frights.  Not too late to catch the last one.  Trouble Every Day shows on the 28th at 7:00 and 9:00.

Friday, October 31st:  Free the Beast Halloween Party!  Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre presents a fun fund raising event. Event actually takes place in Downtown.

October 31st – November 2nd:  Trylon is at it again.  Catch the final show in the BLOODY HILARIOUS: META HORROR series.  Catch Japanese horror film Hausu playing all weekend.

October 30th – November 1st:  More puppets!  Barebones Productions presents the Barebones 21st Annual Halloween Extravaganza at nearby Hidden Falls Park in St. Paul.

Do Renters Have It Better?

Several years ago, a successful agent who had “temporarily” moved into his in-laws’ old house said to me, “I’m never owning again.”  It struck me as odd.  Here was  a successful agent working in an industry that depends on buyers and sellers buying and selling saying that his temporary rental was going to become permanent.

His reasons?  It wasn’t mowing.  He still had to do that.  The expense? In many cases, including his, a mortgage payment is cheaper than rent. flexibility? He has kids in school and a good job, so he wasn’t planning on an escape to sunny California at some point.

The reason was responsibility.  As a renter, he was no longer responsible for the house he was living in.  If something needed maintenance, or broke, or started leaking, he just called the landlord.  Or even…ignored it!  Oh that does sound sweet!  To put the expensive and overdue needed maintenance to my chimney out of mind, go to bed, and let someone else worry about it…even if that other person is your mother-in-law.

But alas, I enjoy the rewards of home ownership too much.  I just can’t give up these benefits:

1.  I love my neighborhood! Only one house on my block has come up for rent in the last 5 years.  If I wanted to rent, I’d have to give up living on this block.

2.  I love my house! I could never have found this house if limited to rentals. Purchasing opens up way more options.

3.  You have to pay to live somewhere. Eventually, I will own my home free and clear.  As a renter, I would just be helping my landlord say the same about the house I continue to pay her to live in.

4.  Speaker cables.  I can drill into the basement and run my cables under the floor.  I can’t go back to hiding cables along moldings and under rugs.

5.  Control! Sure my old windows are drafty and leaky and expensive to replace, but at least I can replace them if I choose. Those old windows in your rental?  Ha!  Fat chance of your landlord ever replacing those.  Need permission to paint?  Nope!  Hate that brass light fixture from the 90’s? It’s gone!  Wish there was a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room? Break on through to the other side!

Tis the season…for ice dams!

A couple of days ago I had a past client email me a question about ice dams and what he can/should do about them.  Then yesterday, my kitchen started leaking…FROM ABOVE!

Ice dams are caused when snow on the roof melts and then refreezes when it reaches the overhangs.  It can be caused by warm sunny days followed by cold freezing nights.  Or it can be caused by a warm attic, which causes a warm roof, which…you get the picture.  That melted snow reaches the overhang where there is no attic below it, and then refreezes.  That ice creates a dam that keeps new melt from reaching the edge.  It sits behind the dam and can eventually find it's way into my kitchen.  Roofs aren't meant to be submerged.  They need the help of gravity to shed water.

I don't know if there is really a way to completely avoid them in this Minnesota climate, and it certainly doesn't help to live in a 90-year-old house.  But here are some tips to help avoid them:

1.  Seal your attic from the house.  If your attic hatch isn't caulked shut…well caulk it shut! 

2.  Add some insulation to your attic to reduce heat loss from your warm house to your cold attic. 

3.  While you're up there, seal over any light fixtures.  They can not only be a source of heat, but an access point for heat loss from the rest of the house.

4.  Look for other "attic bypasses" that might be leaking hot hair air from the house.  Around the chimney or duct work is another common place to find them.

4.  Ventilate your attic.  Attics should be cold in the winter.  When you have a new roof installed, make sure the contractors follow guidelines for proper ventilation.  Especially on old homes, they tend to ignore the problem of adding soffit vents on antique homes.

5.  Remove the fuel.  Removing snow from your roof will eliminate one of the necessary ingredients for making ice dams.  A roof rake is a useful tool for getting snow off of hard to reach roofs.  A long roof rake is a better idea than getting up on a ladder in icy snowy conditions.  BE CAREFUL!  Keep in mind that using the roof rake can damage your shingles and take years off the life of your roof.