At a recent closing on a home in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis the buyer noted that the legal description was the 'Fairground Addition'... which prompted a lively discussion where we learned this neighborhood was once the site of King's Fair, held from 1877 through 1882 before the Minnesota State Fair found its permanent home in 1885.
These Minneapolis fairgrounds included an amphitheater, exhibition halls and a racetrack. The racetrack is outlined in red on the map below, and the train running along Hiawatha Avenue is also highlighted in red... a precursor to the present-day LRT. I love the poster above showing women horseback riders, announcing 'THE GREATEST EQUESTRIENNE CONTEST OF THE WORLD!" As it that wasn't enough excitement, President Rutherford B. Hayes visited the fair in 1878, and in 1881 they launched an impressive hot air balloon with the intention of flying to the East coast but it didn't even make it to Wisconsin.
The 19th century fairgrounds extended from 24th Avenue on the west to 30th Avenue on the east, between Franklin Avenue on the north to 24th Street on the South... including the site of present-day Matthews Park and Seward Montessori Elementary School where the neighborhood has come together to celebrate with a current-day King's Fair.
Learn more about the history of the Seward neigborhood, one of the oldest in the city of Minneapolis, and King's Fair in the YouTube video linked below. This is the same 'Colonel' King for whom the Kingfield neighborhood and King's highway of the East Harriet neighborhood are named.
Several times over this summer I’ve had occasion to consult journals from years past: in June, to prep meals and decide what to pack for a week-long canoe trip to Quetico with a friend; and twice this past week, to recall dates and details of adventures in my 20s and 30s.
I wasn’t always a journal-keeper, though. It wasn’t until I was in college that it occurred to me to write down what I was experiencing and doing, the people I was meeting, and the places I was traveling to and visiting. Since that time, my journals have served me well, both in the moment as a place to jot down thoughts and process feelings, and, later on, as a record of the who-what-when-why.
Years' worth of journals.
Beyond recording the ins and outs of daily life, keeping a journal can be a useful tool as you begin the process of buying a home. Consider integrating the following tips to help you make the best decision possible for you and your family.
Make a list of features you’d like to have in your future home.
Many clients we work with have a long list of must-haves, as well as a good sense of what their dream home looks like. When all is said and done, however, many will choose a home that doesn’t have all the amenities they’d like, sometimes looking nothing like the home they thought they were looking for.
As you get started, make a list of what you’re looking for, while understanding that you may sacrifice certain items on it when you find your perfect home. As you begin to pare down the list, you may find it helpful to keep a checklist of your must-haves to compare against MLS listings.
Keep track of the details and characteristics of each home you see.
Your journal doesn’t need to be leather-bound and smell of mahogany—a three-ring binder works just as well, and is more versatile. An effective way to keep track of your thoughts and feelings about a home is to record them directly on the MLS data sheet when you view the home (if this is not a service your agent provides, print out the information in advance), which can then be added to the binder. This way all the information for each home is included on one or two sheets of paper, and can be easily referenced.
Remember to record anything that stands out about a property that will help you visualize the place later. In the moment, it may seem impossible that you’d ever forget that beautiful granite-laden, spa-worthy bathroom, but after a few days or a week, you may have forgotten other pertinent details about the house (dishwasher? finished basement? sump pump?). Jot down strange smells, a friendly cat, an interesting layout—these oddities can help your mind recall the full experience of being in a house, rather than disjointed bits and pieces.
Don’t be scared to write about your feelings.
No, you’re not a sensitive teenager, but it is important to process how you feel while inside the home, concerns you may have, questions you would want answered during an inspection. Does the entryway remind you of your Gram’s lake home? Would you worry about the landscaping upkeep? Could the lack of afternoon sun leave you feeling a wee bit depressed come January? Real estate is just as much about emotion and visceral sensations as it is about facts and figures.
Take time to recap.
Ideally, take a few minutes after each house to jot down your impressions, with a deeper dive at the end of the session. If doing this after each showing isn’t possible, write out your impressions of each home at the end of the night.
Again, this will help you fully recall each home later; in addition, it will help you not to second guess your impression of each home. Especially for those not-quite-right homes, it’s invaluable to record the details of why it doesn’t work, and this can save you a lot of time and emotional turmoil (there’s nothing worse than pondering “what if”) later in the process.
One of the major benefits of writing down thoughts and impressions during the home search is that each home becomes more concrete in your memory. In learning, human beings absorb the most and retain information best when taking an active role in the process. Buying a home is, for most, the largest investment they’ll ever make—and the more information you have at your fingertips, the better decision you’ll make!
Angela Anderson, Realtor, Results Support Services:EMAIL--BIO
The number of households with more than one adult generation living together increased over 30% from 2000 to 2010 and is expected to continue to grow. A record 49 million Americans live in multigeneration households. That's 16.1% of the total US population... but about 90% of the people in the world live in extended family arrangements!
The idea of the nuclear family (mom, dad & kids) is only about 50 years old. With the economic conditions in recent years it isn't surprising that the top reason for moving in with other family members has been financial, but health care issues aren't far behind and some are coming together because of a strong family bond and a desire to share resources.
Extended families living together are discovering other benefits as well, including an enriched family life and more flexible schedules with more family members available to juggle childcare and eldercare. Living together under the same roof can result in more quality time together and time savings both in travel and as a result of sharing household duties.
This growing trend is currently largely being driven by...
Recent college graduates moving back with their parents when they can't find well-paying jobs
Elderly parents moving in with their children to have care and support of family members
Young families moving in with their parents (or vice versa or buying a house together) to help with child care and share housing expenses
Increased immigration from cultures more inclined to live in multi-generational households
If you are considering such an arrangement, it is important to understand upfront the family dynamic and how interactive you want your lives to be. Kitchens can be the most difficult space to share if you don't share all your meals, and often a second kitchen is the answer... as well as multiple bathrooms! It is also important to recognize that everyone needs their own private space... planning for it from the beginning can help prevent problems later.
Some multigenerational families buy homes together to fit their needs, sometimes with an eye on remodeling... and some homebuilders are designing and building homes specifically to fill this need, such as Lennar's NEXT GEN - Home within a Home.
This question was asked on the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau's website and the regulator's answer is listed as:
"Prequalification is a lender’s estimate of how much you could be eligible to borrow based on information you supply. Prequalification does not mean you will get the loan. Prequalifications are usually free.
Preapproval usually means that the lender is ready to make you a mortgage loan based on the information and documentation you provided at the time you requested a preapproval. The preapproval will say how long it is valid for and may contain some other conditions for you to get the loan. Your lender may not require that you pay any fees except the cost of a credit report at this time."
However, that may not be the correct answer either. Due to the new regulations that mortgage lenders have been living with since January (and some before that!), not all banks/lenders are comfortable issuing "approval letters". Some banks are only giving out pre-qualification letters, some loan officers are not able to issue approval letters at all.
So the most important part of the letter you get with the offer to buy your home is what the actual letter says. Read over the letter - if this is your mortgage approval, look at the letter and make sure what is on the letter is accurate. If the letter is part of a purchase agreement on your home, look it over closely.
Some of the things you want the letter to have on it are:
-Names of all buyers
-Type of loan (conventional, FHA, VA, etc)
-Loan term (30 yr, 15 yr, adjustable rate)
-If the new mortgage is subject to a property being sold
-Contact information for the loan officer and license information for the loan officer
You also want to know if you know and trust the loan officer. I have had many realtors call me and ask if I know a specific loan officer before they accept a purchase agreement. I also have had many realtors call me and ask for more information on the buyers that I have approved. They want to know how much information I have and if I have seen credit reports, income and asset information.
All of this can make a difference when you are in multiple offers on a home. If your approval letter is very vague, it may mean the difference between your offer getting accepted or not. The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter what the letter is called, it's more important to see what is in the letter. It matters that the lender is thorough, detailed and has worked with the buyer to ensure that the transaction will close on time.
"Children have only to dream and have fun and laugh 400 times a day. " ~ Beverly Beckham
NOTE: I spend my Wednesdays Unplugged from appointments. It's my day to stay home, enjoy cooking and welcome our kids and grandkids for dinner in the evening. We end our meal with quotes from the Norwegian 'Quote Cup' passed on to me from my grandmother. I share a quote and a recipe here each week, and sometimes some photos of family fun. I love trying new recipes...and love getting recipes you would like to share!
This is the last week of summer before school starts and both of our children needed child care... so we have been having a weeklong daycamp at Grandma and Grandpa's house, with a sleepover tonight. We went swimming Monday, Tuesday had great fun at Big Stone Mini Golf and Sculpture Park, today went to Chutes and Ladders playground at Highland Park, Friday the State Fair... and tomorrow morning I get to go to Kindergarten Roundup with our 5-year-old granddaughter... a full week of fun and laughter!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
This recipe was from our granddaughter's birthday dinner last month, and it seems like an appropriate time to share it. I don't know who Ger is, but I found this recipe for THIN buttermilk pancakes at food.com and they got rave reviews.
Put eggs in large bowl and beat lightly. Add buttermilk, flour, salt, baking soda and melted butter. Mix lightly (do not overmix). Heat griddle and butter lightly. Drop batter onto griddle to form small circles, add small amounts of fruit or chocolate chips. Turn when batter is partially cooked. Serve with butter and maple syrup.
About a year ago, I heard about an Indiegogo funding campaign to develop an infrared camera that would attach to a smartphone; it was called the Mu Thermal Camera . I was sure this was a scam, but at the very beginning of this year, Flir announced they were developing essentially the same thing, calling it the Flir One and selling it for under $350; far less than any other infrared camera available today.
My biggest question was whether this camera would be a viable alternative to a traditional infrared camera for home inspectors. As soon as the camera became available for order, I ordered one. It just showed up on Wednesday, 8/20.
The Flir One camera attaches to the iPhone 5 and 5s models. It has its own built-in battery, which charges with a standard micro-usb cable. That's nice. Unfortunately, the iPhone can't be charged at the same time, which is quite annoying.
Getting started was easy, even though I've never owned an iPhone. I went to iPhone app store, downloaded and ran the required app, and the software guided me through the rest. Piece of cake.
The Flir One comes with a little black case that the iPhone pops into, which then slides into the camera assembly. It makes the whole package about twice as thick as an iPhone, and a little taller; approximately the height of a Galaxy 4S phone. It's small enough to slip into a pocket, but it's a big lump. That's a lot better than any other IR camera, but the size of my infrared camera has never been a problem for me. When I inspect houses, I bring a big bag of tools into the house with me every time; I have my infrared camera with me whether I plan to use it or not. Making the camera smaller won't change that.
I tried using the Flir One at my last two home inspections, and it felt clumsy. The Flir One is the opposite of ergonomic. You really need two hands to hold the camera and take photos; trying to do it one handed seemed like a sure-fire way to drop the phone and break it. Just like taking photos with a smartphone, you need to touch the screen to capture an image while you're still holding the phone. See below; I have my pointer finger hovering over the "capture" button while I'm holding the phone with my middle finger and thumb.
I'm sure that I would drop and break this phone within a month of using it if I started using it for home inspections, and my understanding is that it doesn't take a much of fall to break the screen on an iPhone. Aftermarket phone cases help to protect the iPhone from falls, but that's not an option when the phone is connected to the Flir One.
Every other infrared camera I've owned has had a pistol-grip with a trigger for taking photos, making them perfect for one-handed operation. The image below shows my current infrared camera, the Flir E6.
Even if I drop my E6 camera, it won't break. Before buying this camera, one of the Flir reps tossed the camera up into the air and let it fall onto the concrete floor, just to show how durable and rugged they are. I'm sure the Flir One wouldn't tolerate any kind of abuse like that.
The Flir One app has very few options. There are the standard color palates like "iron" and "rainbow", as well as a bunch of fairly useless ones like "hottest", "coldest", and "arctic". Emmissivity settings can be changed, the save location of images can be changed, the temperature units can be set to Celsius or Fahrenheit. There's also an option to turn on a spot meter, which displays the temperature of whatever is shown in the middle of the screen. That's about it for options.
The infrared camera has a resolution of 80x60. Infrared images are combined with optical images, which gives a much clearer image on the screen than you'd get with just an infrared image. Flir calls this Multi-Spectral Dynamic imaging, or "MSX" technology. I have the same technology on my E6 camera, and I absolutely love it. It seems to highlight the edges of objects, which gives you a much better understanding of what you're looking at with the camera. My Flir E6 has an infrared resolution of 160x120, which is about four times the resolution of the Flir One (19,200 pixels vs 4,700). To show the power of MSX technology, take at look at the two images below.
The image on the right looks a heck of a lot better, doesn't it? The funny thing is that the image on the left is from the much higherresolution E6 camera with the MSX technology turned off, while the image on the right is the far lower resolution image of the Flir One. The MSX technology makes the much lower resolution image of the Flir One look far better.
Side note: this makes me contemplate the difference between real value and perceived value.
When using the Flir One in well-lit environments like the images above, everything looks great. In the dark... not so much. The image below shows the same two images with the lights turned off. All of the benefit provided by the MSX technology disappears, leaving you with a few indiscernible orange blobs. Using the Flir One in a poorly lit attic would probably be quite frustrating.
I think this test is the most telling, because it shows you what information the Flir One is really giving you. The perceived value is far higher than the actual value when the lights are on.
To me, the biggest question is whether this camera could be used to do the same stuff that other infrared cameras can do. Sometimes I use my infrared camera as a time-saving device; I'll quickly scan all of the radiators or supply registers in a house to make sure they're all working properly. It does a fine job of that. The images below again show a side-by-side comparison between an E6 and the Flir One.
Sometimes infrared cameras can be used to find wet spots. I poured a little bit of water into a cardboard box and took photos, showing how the cold spots compared. The Flir One wasn't great at this, but if you were to really take your time and scan things slowly and up close, you could probably identify the same stuff. It's just not nearly as obvious.
The Flir One also seems to do a fine job of identifying hot spots at electric panels, although this test revealed that the infrared image isn't perfectly blended with the optical image on the Flir One. If you look carefully at the image below, you'll see that the cold tips of the circuit breakers don't match up quite right with the image, probably be. That's annoying.
While I don't find that the exact temperature reading is all that important, it was reassuring to see that the spot temperature readings of the E6 and Flir One were basically identical. In the images above, you'll notice that both cameras identified the temperature of the circuit breaker at 114 degrees F.
The temperature range of the Flir One is 32° F to 212° F.
32° F to 212° F. Huh.
That makes this camera pretty much useless in Minnesota attics during the winter, which is one of the most useful places to take an infrared camera during a home inspection.
Another important thing to note is the operating temperature range of this camera: 32° F to 95° F. Ouch. That almost relegates this camera to the class of "cool toy".
All in all, this is a neat device. If you've always wanted an infrared camera but just haven't wanted to fork out over a thousand dollars for it, this is the camera for you, assuming you already own an iPhone 5.
If you're a home inspector and you've been looking to add an infrared camera to your tool bag, don't buy this camera. The resolution is low, it's clumsy to use, you'll surely break it, and the temperature range is unacceptable. Go with a dedicated infrared camera. I've tested many different infrared cameras, and I've been happy with a resolution of at least 120x120. My advice is to go with the E6, which currently retails for about $2,500.
Our world and lives will be so different in the next few years when it comes to our home life and technology. Very few homes already have this technology now, but most of us us will get it soon. Look for these technologies to arrive soon.
LiFi will be the new WiFi - LiFi is a visible light communication system of LED lights that flicker faster than the human eye can perceive. This low-energy light alternative to WiFi uses the visible light spectrum instead of radio waves, and keeps data within the walls of a house or building. An overhead LED light offers a way to connect everything, and direct sight lines aren't necessary (light bouncing off walls works too!). LiFi is faster, cheaper, and offers a denser bandwidth (more data in less time) than WiFi. You can learn more at purelifi.co.uk.
Wireless Light Switches - Have you ever wished you could easily move the location of a light switch? Now, you can. NXP Power's innovative light switch makes that a reality, using no batteries and no wires. Simply pushing a button creates enough energy to signal a special type of bulb to turn on or off. It could be a reality later this year.
Household Cleaning with Robots - First, iRobot introduced Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners, followed by Scooba, which scrubs floors clean. That's "so yesterday" technology. Newer household helpers include a pool vacuum called Mirra and Looj, an automatic gutter cleaner. Ecovacs.com also offers vacuuming robots and Winbot, a suction-driven device that cleans windows, inside and out!
Smartlocks and Doorbells - You can see who is at your front door-even when you aren't home! The DoorBot doorbell (getdoorbot.com) offers video and voice connectivity onsite or remotely while the Goji Smart Lock (gojiaccess.com) lets you unlock your door with your phone. It also allows homeowners to give "virtual keys" to others and limit access by time and date (think of it as a home owner's version of a lockbox). The lock can also take a photo of anyone accessing your door for the added comfort of seeing who entered.
Home Automation - Nest (Nest.com) offers a thermostat that learns from users' behavior, providing a custom home environment that saves on utility costs. The Nest can also be accessed and adjusted remotely using your mobile device. Numerous other companies offer additional environmental controls for brightening or dimming lights, smoke and carbon monoxide detection, operating shades, electrical plugs and controlling other household devices.
Connected Appliances - LG's HomeChat service lets homeowners "chat" with their "smart" LG home appliances from their smartphone. Send a text message to your refrigerator from the grocery store to determine if you are out of milk (or anything else) so you know what to buy. Tell your vacuum to run while you are on your way home, start some laundry or check the status of a load you put in the dryer before running an errand.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results - green REALTOR - EMAIL
The blackboard behind the eat-in bar in St. Paul's Merriam Park Neighborhood Cafe proudly states that City Pages voted them 'Best Pancakes' for 2014. When serendipity brought us to the neighborhood today we decided to check out this small cafe that has garnered many accolades.
I couldn't resist ordering their special of the day, 'The Pope Benedict', but my husband had to try the pancakes. Both were winners... some of the best pancakes John has ever had, and mine was awesome! We love crispy hashbrowns, and these were cooked to perfection. I never order orange juice unless it is fresh squeezed... and this mimosa was fantastic.
The Merriam Park neighborhood is about equi-distant to both downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis... in fact, the site of its Town & Country Country Golf Club (one of the oldest in the nation) was once considered for the site of the State Capitol and St. Paul Cathedral because of its central location.
The small Neighborhood Cafe is located right behind O'Gara's. We have driven by the corner of Snelling and Selby many times... noticing Patina and Starbucks on the western corners and O'Gara's on the east... never knowing this small treasure was even there tucked behind O'Gara's. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood... you won't regret it!
Merriam Park is a neighborhood that was developed in the late 1800's and early 1900's, with streets lined with large, stately 2-story homes. Elegant Summit Avenue is at its southern boundary, which also claims Macalaster College and parts of St. Thomas University.
One of my favorite trends in the Twin Cities is a somewhat newer one: begun in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin, the small lending libraries in front yards has become a regional and global movement. As a strong believer in all things recycled and reused, I marvel at the selection often found in these boxes, as well as the sheer number of them in my neighborhood alone—I easily have access to more than 20 within a one-mile radius of my Longfellow home.
In one of these boxes, I recently found a copy of Jack Canfield’s The Power of Focus and, as I am always on the lookout for ways to better understand myself and those I work with, and being something of a connoisseur of personal development content, I snatched it up immediately! Though I’ve not had the time to read the book cover to cover, skimming the contents and previewing the material has brought to mind several clients the HomesMSP Team has worked with over the summer, and some of the issues they’ve faced.
While the book deals primarily in improving one’s personal situation, in this post, I’d like to share some of the author’s insights as they relate to addressing the common issues we see homebuyers dealing with:
1. Do you See the Big Picture?
In this section, the author suggests ways to design a crystal-clear future image, as well as creating a Top-Ten Goals Checklist. Much of this translates to the process of either choosing to buy your first home, or preparing your home to sell and buying another home that better suits your needs. Many potential clients inquire about selling their home because they see that the market is improving, despite not being prepared to move. Regardless of the state of the market, if you’re not prepared to either buy a home, or sell your home and buy a new home, chances are good the process will stagnate until your objective is clear. Make sure you’re ready to engage in this process! Your intuition will tell you when the time is right, as will your goals: a decision to leave a specific neighborhood may not be as inspirational as finding a home to raise a family in, for instance. And develop a list of realistic must-haves for your next home (it doesn’t need to be ten, just however many items you feel are important).
2. Building Excellent Relationships
This idea of encompasses more than just the client-Realtor relationship, it’s also about the relationship—however fleeting—you will have with your home’s buyer or seller. There are many styles of communication in the world: aggressive or passive, demure or abrasive, and all can be effective, depending on the situation. In real estate, because the decisions being made can be extremely emotional in nature, the most effective attitude is often one of teamwork, with everyone working toward a mutually beneficial outcome. After all, at closing, you’ll be sitting across the table from this person or persons, and having a good rapport always makes the process more pleasant!
3. The Confidence Factor
As someone who’s been self-employed for a number of years, this chapter is especially engaging, and includes the consideration of resolving unfinished business, maintaining a winning attitude, as well as what to do if you hit a slump. If you consider the process of buying or selling a home, you can easily imagine how all of these come into play. If you’re selling your home, unfinished business may include incomplete projects, outstanding assessments, or ordering inspections; for buyers, it may mean learning about your credit score, sorting out debt, and gathering a suitable down payment. Having a winning attitude is essential throughout the process—which can take days, weeks, or months, depending upon a variety of factors and circumstances. Should you hit a slump, mentally return to step #1, seeing the big picture. Perhaps circumstances have changed, or your motivation is different. If you hit a slump, it’s possible that you simply need to revamp your frame of mind to reinvigorate the buying or selling process.
4. Ask for what you want
There’s a phrase sometimes muttered in real estate that “Buyers are Liars;” this idea stems not from a client’s desire to intentionally mislead their agent, but rather that what people think they want and what they actually desire are heads and tales apart. When you sit down and decide on the kind of house that will fit your needs and how you live, you may find that a smallish story-and-a-half would be more suitable than the rambling Cape Cod you’d thought you wanted.
5. Taking Decisive Action
Finally, taking timely and appropriate steps to advance the process is essential. If your home is for sale and an offer is made, discuss it with your Realtor, and make a decision based on fact and reason, rather than ego and emotion. When making an offer to purchase a home, consider the market you’re working within and make a respectable, reasonable offer on the home.
Keeping all of these factors in mind, and maintaining FOCUS on the end goal can make the process of buying or selling a home infinitely easier.
Angela Anderson, Realtor, Results Support Services:EMAIL--BIO
Free home buyer guide published by the Minnesota Association of Realtors walks you through the process of buying a home... from affordability and financing through finding and closing on a home, including a glossary and explanation of terms and people involved in the process
Sign up for free weekly email newsletter including market updates, links to recent blog posts, neighborhood info
Search homes for sale in Minneapolis - St. Paul and the surrounding area by address, city, zip code, neighborhood...
Cool live map showing the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US
A Great Relocation Experience We flew in from NYC with anxiety and expectations to find a place in three days. With seemingly infinite patience, kindness and compassion Sharlene found us the perfect home, the perfect neighborhood (and the perfect commute)...she made our dreams come true.