Newsletter

8 Sure Ways to Making Your Home More Welcoming & Inviting

Be the Hostess With the Mostest This Holiday Season With These Simple Tips!

The holidays are upon us. It’s the time of the year when we think about cozying up to a fire, enjoying your favorite beverage (cocktails, anyone?), delicious food, and spending quality time with family and friends. If you are expecting company in your home this year, here are some simple things that you can do to make your home feel more welcoming and inviting. Bonus: Some of these tips will make YOU feel more at home as well!

1. Welcome Your Guests… Before They Even Enter Your Door

A white door with a hanging sign that reads "welcome", pine branches, and bells

Make your guests feel welcome as soon as they pull up to your driveway. First, think about accessibility and visibility. If you are expecting guests in the evening, make sure there is adequate lighting so that your guests can walk to your doorstep safely. In the winter, shovel the sidewalk and throw down some salt. Once they get to your doorstep, a fun welcome mat can set the tone and give your guests a place to clear off their shoes before entering. You may also consider adding a wreath to add some seasonal cheer. Inside your entryway, dedicate a place for your guests to sit down and take off their shoes. You should also consider clearing off some space in your closet so that your guests will have room to put their shoes and hang their coats. 

2. Draw Them In

Once your guests are more comfortable, make them feel welcome by visually pulling them into the home. Consider your guests’ first view of your home and pay attention to the furthest point of view from your entryway. Draw your guests’ attention to that point by adding special decor, a pop of color, plants/flowers, or special lighting. By drawing their eye into the home, they will take in more of the space and feel more at home.

3. Clear the Clutter

A simple living room with natural wood elements, a comfortable couch, a plant, and lighting. An example of a simple, welcoming space

A cluttered home will distract your guest from enjoying the spaces and people around them. A simplified home will feel larger and more relaxed. On the same note, make sure that the space does not feel cluttered with large pieces of furniture or other things that may make the home more difficult to navigate (no one wants to step on a Lego, am I right?). 

4. Create Intimate Spaces

Arrange the seating in your home closer together to make it easier for people to relax and gather. Have other stations in the home such as a drink or snack area where people can hang out.

5. Bring in Natural Elements

A photo of a living room with natural wood furniture pieces, hardwood floors, many rugs and pillows, and plants of various sizes. An example of a welcoming space with natural elements.

You may make your home more welcoming by adding natural elements in various parts of your home. Wood or leather furnishing or other accent pieces will bring interest and soothing textures to your home. Don’t forget other natural elements such as plants of various sizes and also fresh flowers. Bringing life into the home makes it feel more comfortable, and certain plants and flowers can add a pleasant scent as well. 

6. Welcome Your Guests With All Their Senses

While we are on the topic of scents, think about making the home more welcoming thru all different senses. Ambient music can help your guests feel more relaxed. Welcome your guests with the smell of delicious food, fragrant flowers, lightly scented candles, or anything else that will make your home smell more inviting. Adding soft textures and textiles such as a soft rug will add coziness to your home. Layering décor elements like pillows and blankets on your sofa or chairs to create a comfortable space your guests will love. Have a few snacks ready for your guest to munch on, or a delicious cocktail for sipping. Your options here are endless! 

7. Make It Personal

A photo of a wall with various framed photos. Example on how to personalize your home with photo collages

Your home should reflect you and your family. Adding style and elements that you love in your home will give guests a better glimpse of who you are and how you live, and invite your guests to know you better when they come to your home. Don’t forget to add photographs of you and your family throughout the home. These are great conversation starters and will also add visual interest to the home. 

8. Anticipate Their Needs

Your guests don’t want to feel like they are intruding by needing to ask for things like toilet paper. Try to anticipate those needs and have these items ready ahead of time. Make sure the bathroom has plenty of toilet paper, hand soap, towels for hand drying, etc. If you are having overnight guests, have the guest bed made with pillows and towels laid out in the room so your guests don’t have to ask for them and watch you scrambling for these items. Have personal hygiene items like shampoo and soap at the ready. If you know your guests well and have extra time, you can add special welcoming touches such as having their favorite beverages or snacks available. Let them know you were thinking of them even before they arrived. 

A photo of a family gathered around a table talking and laughing

While all of the above ideas are great ways to make guests feel more welcome, the best way to welcome your guest into your home is to spend time with them and show that you are actually enjoying the time you have together! At the end of the day, they are here to spend time with you. So forget about perfection and just relax! Your time with your guests and the memories from your gatherings are what they will remember most. 

We hope you enjoy the upcoming holidays with your friends and family. The goal of our articles is to add value by giving tips on how to enjoy your home or providing other real estate advice for those thinking about finding their next dream home.

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All Properties, Under Contract

160 Gideons Point Rd, Tonka Bay, MN

Beautifully Updated Home with Pond Views and Private Dock on Lake Minnetonka

Welcome to 160 Gideons Point Rd! This beautifully updated home is located in the desirable Gideons Point neighborhood with your own private dock on Lake Minnetonka. As you enter the home, the expansive 2-story foyer with custom closet doors and lighting highlights the brightness and openness of the home. You will immediately be drawn to the serene pond and lake views beyond the open living space, making you feel right at home. The entire main level has been thoughtfully updated for beauty and function with refinished hardwood floors, new carpet, new paint, complete kitchen remodel, mudroom/laundry room remodel, new lighting fixtures, and other custom touches throughout the home. The dream kitchen, featured in Beautiful Kitchen and Baths Magazine, offers plenty of storage and top of the line appliances for cooking the perfect meal. You will love the double wide Thermador refrigerator/freezer. Open concept living flows easily from kitchen into the informal dining room, living room, and 4 season porch. Large windows maximizes light into the home and highlights the picturesque views of the pond and Lake Minnetonka. The large formal dining room is perfect for entertaining. The main floor is complete with a spacious and functional mud/laundry room, formal living room, and office. Retreat to your spacious master suite with bay windows, a jetted tub, dual vanities, and his/her closets. A junior ensuite, 2 additional bedrooms, and 1 additional bathroom complete the upper level. The updated walkout basement is bright and open. It offers a wet bar, wine cellar, family room with gas fireplace, game room, a guest bedroom, a bathroom, and plenty of storage. Entertain and play in the newly landscaped yard, fire pit, and heated swimming pool with automatic cover. The tress surrounding the home provides privacy.

The Gidoens Point neighborhood has a fantastic association which offers gatherings in the spring and summer. A short walk brings to the a private neighborhood beach with Adirondack chairs, fire pit, racks to store paddle boards, and your private boat slip on Lake Minnetonka. The home is close to everything Excelsior has to offer and is in the Minnetonka School district.

Everything you need to feel at home is right here. Welcome home!

All Properties, Under Contract

1205 63rd Lane, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430

Conveniently located townhome in Brooklyn Center. The open dining room flows directly into the kitchen with stainless steel appliances. Spacious living room with patio doors leading into the backyard. 2 spacious bedrooms and 1 full bathroom in the upper level. Partially finished basement with plumbing rough-in for future bathroom. New flooring throughout. Welcome home!

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Newsletter

How to Reimagine Your Home to Foster Independence

Many people around the world try to apply the Montessori approach at home to foster independence in their children. The desire to foster independence in our children is on our minds more recently as many of us are spending significant time at home with our children. Obviously, the ability for our children to do things on their own will come with age. However, there are a few things we can do in our home to help foster independence from early on in their development.

THINK ACCESSIBILITY: As you are desiging an environment that fosters independence, one of the most important things to consider is, “Does the space allow for children to complete tasks independently?”Consider adding child sized furniture such as a work/snack table that is not only easily accessible, but also comfortable for them to stay engaged in whatever they are doing. Have all the supplies they need to complete a task at their level so they can reach them without any help from you. Add a full length mirror in their room so they can see themselves for self care activities. Consider storage solutions such as low hanging shelves and hooks so that they can put things away independently. If you want your children to do anything independently, all the required tools need to be easily accessible to them. 

CREATE “YES” SPACES: With increased independence, parents often times worry about safety or their children getting into things that they shouldn’t be using. Make sure you child proof the home adequately to allow specific areas that are safe for the children to work freely and independently. Can you create a play space (an entire room, or a corner blocked off by a gate) that does not have high furniture or hazardous/fragile things so that your children can go and play without close supervision? This will encourage your child to explore their environment and foster their curiosity. It can also help you in the moments when you just need a little time to yourself (bathroom break, anyone?). Reserve the lower storage spaces in the kitchen, bathroom, etc for things that they need and keep other things that you don’t want them to touch out of those dedicated spaces so that a childproof lock is not required. When there are spaces that are solely dedicated to your children, it is easier to teach them to have pride in their things and spaces and help keep things tidy.

ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS: Decluttering will not only make your life easier (and increase the value of your home!), but it can actually help your children focus on the task at hand. Consider rotating toys, books, etc in and out of thier space based on your childrens’ interest. This will help them with making the choice of what to do a lot easier, but also help them stay engaged as there are less distractions. Having only the things that they need for any particular task will make it easier to complete. On a similar note, it is important to have a space for everything and everything in its place so things are easier to find and put away. 

There are many ways to foster independence in your children. These are just some of the ways you can reimagine your home to make this a bit easier. Whenever a child asks you for help with something, look for ways that you can set up the home for the child to do that task (or part of it) independently the next time around. Teaching your children independence requires a lot of patience, but if you are willing to give your children the time to do things on their own, you’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish.

~Maggie Soberay

This article was part of our September newsletter. To read our entire newsletter and see the latest real estate update and Soberay Family update, click below.

All Properties, Sold Listings

440 Hickory Lane N, Oakdale, MN

List Price: $235,000

Property Website

3D Tour

View in MLS

Live close to everything Woodbury has to offer without the expensive price tag! This highly desirable corner aunit feels open and airy with large vaulted ceilings and open 2 story staircase. Kitchen flows directly into the dining room and outdoor patio beyond. Relax at the end of the day in 2 large sized upper level bedrooms. The upper level bathroom was completely redone. New AC and furnace completed in 2019.

All Properties, Sold Listings

2754 Edgewood Avenue S, Saint Louis Park, MN

List Price: $335,000

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View in MLS

This well cared for home is located close to many parks and trail. Main floor with recently refinished hardwood floors and fresh paint throughout. Open living/dining area with beautiful corner built-ins. Kitchen is well equipped with stainless steel appliances. Finished basement with drain tile and sump system provides comfortable additional space. Newer mechanicals including water heater, AC, RO water system. Extra large 2 car garage with insulated and epoxy floors! Hurry, this home will sell fast!

Newsletter

How to Set Up the Ultimate Homework Station

August is the time when parents start thinking about the upcoming school year. With the shift toward online learning, and the uncertainty of what this fall’s school year will hold, now is a great time to consider the need for better work spaces at home. Whether it will be distance learning, in-school classes, or some hybrid-learning environment this fall, it is a good idea to set up a place for kids to do school related work. Let’s discuss some things to consider when planning an ultimate homework station. 

What is a homework station? It is a designated work space for kids to learn, study, and complete assignments. A designated space means one specific location that is designed for your child(ren) to focus on homework everyday. The amount of space you can allow for this will of course depend on the space available in your home. Ideally it should be a quiet space away from distractions and interruptions. It would be a bonus if it’s a space that they can personalize and call their own. Even if you are unable to dedicate a homework only space, it is still a good idea to set up one specific area that can be easily converted to homework space on a daily basis. Some key elements to a homework space include:

Uncluttered Work Surface. Children need a flat surface to spread out their work and the area should be free of clutter to avoid distractions. 

Comfortable. Select seating that is comfortable and supportive. This is especially important as the amount of time spent doing homework at home increases. Along the same lines, the workspace should have adequate lighting. 

All Supplies in One Place. This will help them focus on the work at hand. It will also help decrease the all too often “where is my…?” inquiry. If the homework station is in a space that serves another purpose (i.e. kitchen table, etc), consider a supply caddy to organize the supplies. A caddy can keep all the supplies in one spot, but still be easily removed. Talk to your kids about what they may need. Some examples are writing/drawing instruments, paper supplies, art supplies, math supplies, poster board (keep one on hand to avoid last minute project panic), stapler, paper clips, pencil sharpeners, three hole punch. Consider a clock or timer to help your kids learn to manage their own time. Also consider power supply for the electronics that are needed. 

Organized. Think paper organization, In/Out trays, a posting area such as a tack or dry erase board, calendar, cable/electronic organization. All this should be within reach of the desk/working surface. There should also be a place for backpacks within reach.

With all the new uncertainty going on right now, having some routine and special place for your children to do school related work can help reduce some of the stress for you and your children. We hope you find this helpful. In the meantime, don’t forget to soak up some sun before the school year! 

~Maggie Soberay

Newsletter

I Have All the Data, Why Do I Need an Agent?!

For those of you who are considering buying a new home, we have good news: finding the most accurate information on currently available listings has never been easier. During the second week in May, Northstar MLS Matrix released a long-awaited update to the client’s search portal. Now when a client goes to view searches built by their realtor, the client will see a new button that reads “new search.” The client can then create their own search or multiple customized searches. Searching for homes using the MLS portal allows for the most detailed search available. It also provides the most accurate and up to date information. 

Historically, low utilization of realtor-owned online tools (websites, mobile applications, etc.) prompted a demand for better tools for realtor clients. Many clients have preferred third party tools like those on offer from Zillow, Trulia, etc. The ability for clients to create their own searches directly in their MLS Client Portal along with mobile applications like HomeSpotter and HomeSnap are in response to frustration from both clients and realtors. However, many clients still choose to use third party apps/websites due to their familiarity with the name Zillow, and the simple fact that oftentimes those apps tend to be more user friendly for the client. With that in mind, you may wonder, if I can use third party websites/apps that are easier to use, why would I choose to work with a realtor? Here are three reasons why realtors bring more value to the table than third party apps/websites: 

Get the Most Accurate Data: Sometimes when a client asks about a listing from Zillow that was not on their MLS search, it turns out that the listing is already pending or sold. Clients often become frustrated when they fall in love with a home on Zillow, but later find out the home is no longer available. Additionally, because a homeowner (seller) is able to update certain information on the home on these 3rd party websites, occasionally there is inaccurate information that was entered inadvertently. Live data streams from the MLS are the best direct source of information. 

Expertise and Focus: There are instances when a client asks about a listing on a third party website and later realizes that the listing in question does not meet the search criteria that they initially discussed with their realtor. Sometimes the listing may have fewer bedrooms, bathrooms, garage spaces, or less finished square footage than originally set as a requirement by the buyer(s). Often the listing may exceed their budget in asking price, maintenance fees, or carrying costs and upkeep. One key function of a realtor is to continually assess the clients’ true needs and wants as they tour and evaluate different properties. A good realtor will also help assess true market value and compare that to the buyers’ expectations.

Choose a Dedicated Advocate with Your Goals in MInd: Home buyers that casually search on third party websites are missing out on one important component of home buying- a knowledgeable advocate that invests time in them to understand their goals. Zillow users may click the “contact agent” button on a property listing, thinking that it contacts the listing agent. This button may connect them to a realtor that simply has purchased ads. This agent may not know about the property, and certainly does not know if it meets your needs. The agent is unable to highlight things that you may want to consider based on what they know about you, and your offer strategy and execution may be compromised.

Not all buyers are ready to start their search in earnest, but it is wise to connect with a buyer’s agent with experience to help you plan the best search and offer strategy, even if your timeline is several years or longer. That way, when you find that dream home, you’ll know exactly what to do and not miss out on the opportunity. 

~Fritz Soberay

Newsletter

IS IT CRAZY TO BUY OR SELL DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC?

When restaurants closed, I think we all panicked a little. Having triplets means extensive meal planning, cooking, and of course, cleaning. Maggie and I are no strangers to cooking at home, but we love the Minnesota food scene and regularly enjoy a meal out. Savoring local delights and avoiding cleaning duties was a Saturday night ritual we took for granted! We felt blessed to afford the weekly dining out experience and knew budgets and priorities could change, but we never thought the opportunity would disappear.


After hearing of the government’s plan to shut down restaurants, salons, spas, and other businesses, and after our own selfish feelings subsided, we thought of our friends, family, and clients in the restaurant business. Many of them faced job loss and the challenges of serving their community and supporting their employees. In discussions with fellow business owners, anxiety of the unknown was the recurring theme. Should they continue to promote their businesses and plan to reopen to full capacity in weeks or months? Or would they come back with a downsized team? Would they close altogether? Those questions certainly made for some heavy conversations.


I know my clients are facing a similar question: Is now the right time to buy or sell? While we’re not sure if we can answer that question with a hard yes or no, we tried to answer a few fundamental, related questions. I hope these answers will help some of you make the decision about buying or selling during the pandemic.


DO PEOPLE STILL WANT TO BUY AND SELL HOMES RIGHT NOW?
Even in the midst of a crisis, society hasn’t halted completely. People are still moving in and out of homes. Plus even if buyers’ and sellers’ needs are changing (sellers might be conducting virtual tours instead of in-person tours, for example), they won’t necessarily just give up on buying or selling a home completely. Finally, some people are striving for some element of normalcy during this time, and for that reason might decide to press forward with their plans to move despite the uncertain times.


WILL BANKS STILL LEND?
When the market looks shaky, as it certainly does right now, lenders usually tend to hedge their bets a little more carefully. That said, when it comes to the residential housing market, early signs indicate that there aren’t any serious problems. However, like most things during this time, that could change.


WILL CHANGES IN QUALIFICATIONS, EMPLOYMENT, OR COMPENSATION BE AN ISSUE FOR POTENTIAL BUYERS?
In short, we can’t know for sure. People working in the health care industry, who were at first assumed to be immune to the economic downturn because of the essential nature of their jobs, are starting to also face financial challenges. That said, the hospitality and retail sectors were the hardest hit by the pandemic. However, we can’t know the full extent of this crisis on the populace’s ability to buy a home just yet.


WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO INVENTORY?
Inventory in most price segments was limited going into the fall of 2019. Real estate agents and buyers were optimistic that price increases would entice more sellers to sell, thereby improving inventory to consider. The coronavirus seems to have slowed sellers on a case-by-case basis, but no broad trend of seller apprehension has been mapped just yet. Properties marked “temporarily not available for showings” spiked in March and April, but things continue to improve looking into May and beyond.


WHAT WILL ACTIVITY LOOK LIKE?
Despite an initial downward trend, transaction volume for home sales is looking far better than expected. On top of that, experts have said that the first wave of coronavirus infections was not as bad as they feared it would be, whether that was because people stayed home or because of sheer luck. That could bode well for people getting back into the home-buying or selling process.

What happens next? Even though volatility in the market has been limited, things could definitely change. If you are concerned about the direction the market is headed for your specific property, feel free to call me and talk about it. Stay healthy and safe!

~Fritz Soberay

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