Save Money with DIY HVAC Care

Being a homeowner requires a fair amount of maintenance to keep your home in tip-top shape. And one of the most important systems in your house is the HVAC, the heating and cooling system that keeps your home warm in winter and cool in summer. While there are certain times you should use a professional to help with upkeep for your HVAC system, there are also many easy tasks you can manage yourself, helping to save a few bucks and keeping your system running for years to come.

Clean Out Debris

According to DIY Network, regular care of your HVAC system will save you money and energy as well as extend the lifespan of the equipment itself. Whole home air conditioning units located outside your house can collect dust and debris. In order to safely clean out the unit, first be sure to shut off the power using your breaker box. Then use a screwdriver to lift off the fan cage and remove any leaves, mulch or other debris that has accumulated inside the unit. You can also use a hose to rinse off the exterior, but be sure to hose from the inside out. To prevent excess debris, make sure to regularly keep bushes and trees near the unit trimmed.

Replace Your Air Filter

Another important task any homeowner can do to both keep the HVAC running smoothly and improve the quality of air in your home is to regularly change the air filter. The EPA advises that you change your filter every 60-90 days, but if you have pets or smoke, it’s better to change your filter every 30 days. Keep in mind the quality and size of filter is important. The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, MERV, is based on a national consensus standard and should be used to choose the best air filter. The higher the rating, the more contaminants are being filtered. Most HVACs can support a MERV of 7-12, but it’s best to research your system to find the correct size and highest-rated filter that can be used without restricting the airflow.

Failing to routinely change your air filter can also cause your health to suffer. A dirty air filter can trigger and worsen allergy issues from pollen, dirt and mold. When the air filter is dirty, all the particles that were previously trapped in the filter can now start to circulate through the home. Because most people spend a larger amount of time indoors as opposed to outdoors, exposure is higher and the quality of indoor air is especially important to consider.

When to Call the Professionals

Just as important as knowing DIY tips, it’s equally important to know when it’s time to call in the professionals. If you find your HVAC system unable to properly heat or cool your home, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem yourself. First check to see if there is power or if a breaker has flipped. If there is power to the unit, make sure that all debris is clear inside and around the outside of your unit. If you run through these tasks and it still doesn’t work, then it may be time to call in the professionals.

While some issues with your HVAC may be out of your area of expertise, frequent and routine cleaning is easy and encouraged to maintain the life of your system. Air filters are inexpensive, and they are easy to purchase and install yourself. Proper care and cleaning will result in money saved, lower energy usage, and cleaner air circulating throughout your home.

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The Skinny, January 2019

A common question I get is, “how’s the market?” I’m glad you ask. Home prices rose steadily throughout 2018 even as sales activity was in fluctuation compared to 2017 levels. Strong demand for a limited number of homes for sale fueled price increases along with a higher-end properties. November showed the first inventory increase since 2015, and buyers should expect inventory to continue to improve in 2019. More homes for sale should limit the magnitude of price increases, but more inventory doesn’t always lead to weaker pricing. Absorption rates can be a better indicator of price momentum (number of sales per month divided by the total number of available homes). According to Minneapolis Area Realtors, with data from NorthstarMLS, here are the numbers compared to the previous year:

  • Pending home sales are down -3.3% (2,918).
  • Closed sales are down -9.9% (3,706). Sales were down compared to last year. Some buyers are willing to wait for more favorable pricing at a time of diminished housing affordability.
  • Homes newly listed are up +3.5% (2,391). Good news for inventory! More homes entering the market makes competition less.
  • Median sale prices are up +4.0% ($258,000). Last month, price increases were found across the board. That may change in 2019.
  • Homes currently for sale are up +4.4% (8,128). Inventory is beginning to perk up nationally and in the Twin Cities.
  • Days on the market is down -6.6% (57 days). On Average, you can expect to have your home take about two months to sell. This is still historically very good.
  • Months of supply of homes are up +13.3% (1.7 months). This indicator measures the balance between buyer and seller activity. Supply over 6 months indicates a buyer’s market. Supply under 5 months indicates a seller’s market.
  • Percent of original sales price received is down slightly -0.2% (96.9%). Sellers continue to enjoy a healthy share of their list price.

Generally speaking, unemployment rates remained remarkably low again in 2018 and wages continued to improve for many households. The issue is now a lack of labor supply. Incomes haven’t quite kept pace with home price increases. This created an affordability crunch in the second half of 2018. Housing affordability will remain an important storyline in 2019. Learn more here

The Smart Home

This month, I will close on a home sale with a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Home Design. Candidly, while showing this home to my buyer client, I was caught a little off guard. This certification was unknown to me. As with any other unfamiliar topic, I decided that I needed to dig in and learn more.

One thing is clear, the smart home revolution is here, and today’s consumers are demanding that realtors be the authority in all things “home” which now includes smart home technology.

Smart home technology is more than just a buzzword. With our lives increasingly transformed by technology,  everything from our light bulbs to our thermostat is becoming connected. For consumers, this means that almost every new product boasts some kind of smart technology that promises to make our lives faster, simpler, and better with home automation.

Why all the frenzy?

The motivation to move toward smart home automation converges around four main themes: savings, safety, convenience, and control.

The perceived benefit of boosted home value is lower on the list but increasing rapidly. As recently as 5 years ago perceived boost in home value through home automation was not even on the scale. It is predicted that in the next five years in will move toward the top. As a realtor, this is a significant trend to not ignore.

What is a Smart Home?

What exactly are we talking about? I have a digital thermostat. Doesn’t that mean I have a smart home?

A smart device is a state-of-the-art device that connects to your smartphone, tablet or computer to give you more information and control than ever before. Your smart appliance can send you alerts, for example, so you’ll know exactly when the laundry is clean or the cookies are ready.

CNET, the world’s largest and most trusted online source of consumer technology news and reviews defines a “Smart Home” as a home that is equipped with network-connected products (i.e., “smart products,” connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself.

“Smart home automation is the era of smartphones and AI communicating to automate your home to be interconnected.”

CNET goes further to say that in order to be categorized as a smart home, in addition to a reliable Internet connection, the property must have one or both of these features:

  1. a smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property,
  2. a smart temperature feature.

It must also include at least two additional features from this list:

  • Appliances (smart refrigerators and smart washer / dryers)
  • Entertainment (smart TVs and TV streaming services)
  • Heating / Cooling (smart HVAC system, smart fans or vents)
  • Lighting (smart light bulbs and lighting systems)
  • Outdoors (smart-plant sensors and watering systems)
  • Safety (smart fire / carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights)
  • Security (smart locks, smart alarm systems or cameras)
  • Temperature (smart thermostats)

First things first, a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure, without dead spots, is essential and works as the foundation to any smart home technology.

Lennar, one of the nation’s largest builders, announced the world’s first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ home designs featuring integrated automation and voice control with Amazon Alexa – all a part of Lennar’s signature Everything’s Included® approach to homebuilding.

Lennar is the first to embrace the new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design™ program announced by Wi-Fi Alliance®, the worldwide network of companies that drives the interoperability, adoption, and evolution of Wi-Fi® globally. Lennar’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED home designs are guaranteed to provide coverage in every room with no dead spots. This allows buyers to control their lights, front door lock and thermostat simply by talking to Amazon Alexa or any similar smart hub.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED home designs enable today’s best smart and streaming products to operate at peak performance and are ready for the future as new technologies come to market.

How do you boost your Wi-Fi to get the most out of your internet?

If your internet isn’t as fast as the internet speeds you pay for and you’re plagued by slow speeds, bad reception, and other Wi-Fi issues , your wireless internet router signal is probably the reason. Here are 8 ways you can power up the Wi-Fi performance in your home:

  1. Don’t stuff your router in a cupboard – place your router in a central location
  2. Reset your router
  3. Cut off bandwidth leeches by updating security
  4. Optimize your router’s settings
  5. Choose a new Wi-Fi channel
  6. Purchase a newer, high-end router
  7. Consider a wifi mesh system
  8. Turn an old router into a new, dumb access point

Secondly, you’ll need to choose a “Voice Assistant.” Virtual voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s (Siri), Google’s Assistant, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa make it easy to control smart home products by speaking simple commands like “Alexa, turn on the lights.” A wireless smart speaker is the absolute first investment you should make when transforming your digs into a smart dwelling. Each of these assistants has its strengths and weaknesses, so choose the one that will be more likely to work for your needs.

“Hey, Siri, move me onto the step three in building a smart home.”

Thirdly, there needs to be some type of smart home controller.  This is where you use your iPhone or Android to remotely control and change the settings in your house through a home automation app. Smart Home and Home Automation are virtually interchangeable, in fact, if you Google what is a smart home most of the same results will appear. What is home automation? Home automation is part of “The Internet of Things,” also known as IoT.

A smart home usually runs off a hub connected to the internet, and sends waves of communication to other devices. Home automation apps allow a smartphone interface to control devices wherever there’s connection. A few smart home applications are Insteon, Nest, Honeywell, Ring, Philips Hue, WeMo, IFTTT, and SmartThings.

You can control all your connected devices including locks, lights, outlets, and thermostats, with the SmartThings Hub and the SmartThings app by simple voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Use your phone to remotely monitor and control your home’s security, energy usage, lighting, and more.

Smart home technology is based on the idea that communication signals can be sent between devices to make something happen. Although it is not necessary to understand how these signals work, it might help to have a basic understanding of the various technologies used to make this happen.

  • Insteon is considered the most-reliable home control and automation technology. Using both the existing wires (power line) in the home and radio-frequency communication.
  • Z-Wave & Zigbee are the two most popular wireless technologies, using radio frequency (RF) to communicate between devices.
  • Wi-Fi technology can be really fast and super simple to set up.
  • Some using a combination of these. The most common communication technologies are Wi-Fi and Insteon.


Smart Home Device Categories

Beyond the hub of a smart speaker (voice assistant), in the tech world of endless possibilities; you can automate lamps, wifi thermostats, light switches, light bulbs, locks, home security sensors, life safety sensors, video cameras, doorbells, speakers, and more. Between this year and 2022, experts estimate the global smart home device market to grow by as much as 11% annually. Creating a smart home is, arguably, no longer a pipe dream for most households due to lower costs and compatibility with voice-based assistants.

Entertainment: smart TVs, media adapters, and streaming boxes

A streaming media player is what connects your television or home theater to the Internet and allows you to stream video and music from online services. They’re typically very basic devices with only a few connections, such as video (HDMI and/or composite), audio (RCA and/or digital), and Ethernet networking jacks. This devices can include home theater components and products that allow consumers control all audio and video functions from virtually anywhere in the home. For example, consumers no longer need to spend time looking for remotes to activate home theater components. With the touch of a single button, the television, audio and surround sound automatically activates.

The best rated streaming device for 2018 is Amazon Fire TV Cube.  With Alexa on Fire TV Cube, you can control compatible TVs, sound bars, and A/V receivers from top brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio, and more. Plus, tune to live TV channels with cable or satellite boxes from providers like Comcast, DISH, DIRECTV/AT&T U-verse, and more. You cannot use your voice to change channels through an over-the-air HD antenna.

Home Monitoring/Security

A smart home monitoring system connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app. Entry-level systems usually include some door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network. You can add extra door, motion, and window sensors to provide coverage for your entire house and build a comprehensive system that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more.

SimpliSafe is the highest rated and best selling system on the market. Other manufacturers to consider are Homeboy, SkyBell, and Netgear Arlo.

Security and locking devices allow the front door to be unlocked or the garage door to be closed through the Internet or phone.  Lock and unlock your door from anywhere and give secure digital keys to guests, all from your phone. Smart Locks attach to your existing deadbolt, on the inside of your door so you can still use your keys. The device automatically unlocks when you arrive and locks when you leave. Control your lock with your voice using Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. The August Smart Lock Third Generation is the best device on the market today. Others to consider are Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale.



When you begin investing in your smart home, it’s the little things that make all the difference. These products enable you to control the amount of light in your home automation directly at the source. You can even transform your home lighting with the color-changing bulbs. The Wi-Fi-enabled LIFX Mini Color Smart Light sets the mood of your space with a rainbow of hues that adjust at the tap of your phone. Delivering over 800 lumens from just 9 watts, the Smart Light is designed to save energy while being environmentally friendly. Other makers of lighting products worth noting are Casetta by Lutron, Phil


Smart thermostats are devices that can be used with home automation and are responsible for controlling a home’s heating and/or air conditioning. They perform the same functions as a programmable thermostat as they allow the user to control the temperature of their home throughout the day using a schedule, such as setting a different temperature at night.

One example is the Nest Learning Thermostat. This device learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around yours. Turn it down before you go to bed, up when you wake up, and down again before you leave for work. Within a week, the Nest will automatically do all that for you. Independent studies showed that it saved people an average of 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. So in under two years, it can pay for itself.

Notable other thermostat makers are Ecobee, Honeywell, Schneider, and Sensi.

Smart Plugs

This is an easy upgrade for someone who doesn’t want to overhaul their home’s hardware, but still wants to add smart wireless functionality. What is it? A smart plug plugs into your regular old wall outlet but usually comes with a corresponding app, so that you can control whatever you plug into it remotely. You plug the smart plug directly into an outlet, then plug any device into the smart plug. You will then be able to control whatever device you plugged in even when you’re not in the room or even the house. Using an app, you’ll be able to do things like turn off your living room floor lamp even from across town. You’ll also be able to get the coffee maker started without leaving the comfort of your bed, or check that the slow-cooker is on while you’re still at work.

This will be one of the hottest Christmas stocking stuffers for 2018.


There is a plethora of amazing home automation products to make your life more safe, comfortable, and convenient. Many of these are not featured here. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured the latest innovations in appliances including vacuums, ranges, washing machines, and refrigerators. For instance, you could be working in your home office when you realized you didn’t hit start on your washing machine. Instead of breaking your concentration, you can ask Amazon’s Alexa to set your washing machine to your selected cycle, set the water temperature, and start it – all from your desk chair. Check out this list of additional smart devices.

The Smart Green Home

Smart green homes make sustainability easy. More and more people are becoming aware of the ability to make their homes truly smart  they can move toward making them green too!  By utilizing home controllers integrated with all home sub-systems, homeowners can increase savings by controlling lighting, window coverings, HVAC, irrigation and by monitoring usage. Many home controllers have built-in monitoring systems whereby they calculate and log usage by all connected devices, giving the home owner heightened awareness and the knowledge to make changes as necessary.

With a larger percentage of home buyers being made up of millennials than ever before, high-tech and green homes seem to be on everyone’s list these days. “Smart” home features frequently pair well with eco-friendly and green building designs, because many smart features offer you greater control over areas of your home that consume energy.

Both smart home technology and green building design are on the top of many homeowners’ must-have lists these days. As companies strive to make improvements in both fields, the options keep getting better and better. Check

Smart Home automation is not reserved for new home construction. Remodels offer you a chance to transform the look and functionality of your home. Smart home technology is increasingly becoming part of that equation.

A smart home system can make your house and your life safer, simpler and more comfortable. Trying to get things started with home automation can be intimidating, but a smart home doesn’t have to be filled with crazy gadgets and robot devices. It’s as simple as swapping out everyday products with devices that fulfill the same role, but are connected to each other in order to improve home automation. By setting up a system of triggers and responses that accomplish smalls tasks, you can save yourself time, energy, effort, and even increase home security.

Black Friday season is around the corner. Now is the time to make your move to the Smart Home.

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A Matter of Trust

A recent JD Power survey reported a trend in the real estate industry showing more homebuyers and sellers increasingly going without agents. It would seem that people are looking for cheap, convenient, and paperless transactions through non-conventional means.

However, sit-in at any closing table and you will find a room full of trusted people doing specialized jobs: the seller’s agent, the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s closer, the seller’s closer, attorneys, paralegals, etc. The priority of a cheap, paperless, and stress-free close seems 1,000 miles away.

Why? Because closing the sale of a home is such a major deal involving a large lump sum of money and a huge asset, the participants at either end are likely to want to look each other in the eye and verify one another as real, upstanding people. It comes back to trust. People will always pick trust over thrift and convenience when it comes to home sales.

But what if you could combine trust with convenience? Do you now have a complete and satisfying transaction? The future of the real estate industry (and human agents) belongs to those agents (and teams) that are most successful at serving both important attributes.

Why does it matter? Trust is the foundation of all relationships.

What exactly do you mean when you say you don’t trust someone? Do you mean you don’t think they are honest? Or, do you mean you don’t trust they have your best interest in mind? Or, do you mean you don’t think they can do the job? These are all different dimensions of realtor trust.

In a recent indictment of a local Minneapolis realtor husband and wife team, we sadly see another example of a violation of trust. It is alleged that these realtors devised a scheme requiring repair contractors to pay them kickbacks. In return, the couple used their position as realtors for the victim companies to steer housing repair contracts to contractors who paid the kickbacks. The indictment further alleges that they procured and submitted sham bids as part of the scheme to defraud the victim companies. The defendants created a scheme to siphon as much money as they could from these properties, no matter the method, no matter the victim. These scams victimize all of us. Trust is essential. These dishonest and untrustworthy criminals clearly broke the trust covenant that good realtors work hard to earn.

This concept is so important that an entire business model was developed by a popular radio/TV host to address the issues he had experienced in a real estate transaction. He developed a referral process to determine who you can trust and who you can’t…built on a proprietary vetting system. Trust is essential. But how do you define trust in real estate?

The Dimensions of Realtor Trust

Four dimensions of a trusted realtor

Integrity: Are they honest and ethical? The quality of honesty is the most important element and is the foundation of trust. Liars are not trusted. In fact, without integrity, the other dimensions of trust don’t matter.

Is there yes a YES and there no a NO? When your agent tells you something or promises something, do they follow through on those statements? Anyone can promise something, but people with integrity deliver on those promises.

When your agent tells you something and later you learn that it’s not true, how does that make you feel? Trust is like a bank account. You start with a certain amount of trust, and then over time, you add to that account by delivering on promises. And like a bank account, it can be emptied overnight if you’re caught under delivering and lying. Lying is a sure sign of someone who is in it for the paycheck and does not have your best interests in mind.

Does your agent demonstrate an awareness of other people? Are they respectful and courteous to others that are involved in a transaction? Integrity is also the quality of having strong moral principles and moral uprightness in how you treat people.

You can learn about a realtor’s integrity and reputation in several different ways. Start by checking online reviews. There are dozens of websites that allow users to leave reviews about realtors, so you should take the time to read some of their reviews prior to working together. If there is a single bad review and a handful of glowing recommendations, you shouldn’t put too much weight on that review. However, if there are reviews from multiple people that all say basically the same thing, you may see a pattern. With that being said, sometimes online reviews may not be complete or entirely accurate.

You can also ask for references. Better yet, ask people who work with your agent, their peers, or the vendors they associate with. Online reviews are helpful, but you won’t have the opportunity to ask the person who posted them any questions about their experience. If you want to engage in conversation with a former client to learn more about your agent ask him for references.

Competence: Do they know what they’re doing? If you hire someone to represent you, you want to be assured they know what they’re doing and can do the job well. What is their track record of success?

In other industries, a person’s level of success does not always correlate with his trustworthiness, but in real estate, it typically does. Trustworthy realtors have clearly won the trust of other clients and helped them successfully either buy or sell a home.

It’s also important to find a realtor who stays up-to-date with industry news. Does your realtor know what trends buyers are looking for this year? Does he know anything about the current interest rates on home loans? Are home values in your area expected to rise or fall in the next six months? These are areas that he should be familiar with, so if he doesn’t have the answers to these questions, he may not be as trustworthy as he claims to be.

Reliability: Can they be counted on to follow through on their commitments? Will they be there when they’re needed? If they agree to do something, are they dependable? Can they be counted on to complete things on time? Timelines and deadlines are absolutely critical in a real estate transaction. Missing important deadlines can cost you money and/or the possibility of losing your dream home!

Can you depend on your agent? Will they show up when they’re supposed to? Realtors who take a long time to respond to your emails or who say they will follow up with you on a matter but never do are not being professional. Likewise, realtors who are late for appointments or constantly reschedule with you at the last minute are not behaving in a professional manner. This is a sign of an unreliable realtor.

Concern: Are they genuinely concerned for your well-being? When we believe someone genuinely cares about our well-being, we are willing to open our hearts and become vulnerable. This is the deepest level of trust and is not to be taken lightly.

Part of showing concern for clients is having great listening skills. Trustworthy realtors are dedicated to finding you the home of your dreams. How do they know what your dreams are? During the first meeting with your realtor, he should ask you to describe some of the must-haves in your new home. If you mention that you absolutely must have a fenced yard for your three large dogs, but the realtor continues to send you listings for homes without a fence, he was clearly not paying attention during your conversation. This indicates he is more concerned with making a sale than he is with finding you a home that meets your needs. You shouldn’t trust a realtor who cannot demonstrate that he is able to listen to you and put your needs first.

Conclusion; does your realtor have your best interest in mind? Do they see you as an individual, and do they really care about your well-being? If they don’t, they may need to evaluate their mission statement or rethink their career choice. When you start to wonder whether you can trust someone or not, that is when you already know you don’t. Move on. Find a trustworthy realtor.
The sale of a home is a major deal. Don’t take shortcuts. Choose individuals with character, who are capable, and that you can depend on. It’s a matter of trust.

4Ps Intelligent Real Estate Marketing

Last year, a full 89% of buyers used a real estate agent, and so did 88% of sellers. Realtor representation during a real estate transaction is important for both buyers and sellers. This is a fairly sound conclusion made by most people. But, in a vast sea of neverending realtors, are all realtors the same? Why should I use a particular agent or brokerage? Why should I consider Jon Speich as my realtor?

I’m glad you asked. Let me make my case for you here.

At JP Willman Realty Twin Cities, we have created a streamlined approach to the traditional real estate transaction…to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience from start to finish. We handle every step of the process – giving you the highest level of service possible to sell your home for top dollar in the shortest amount of time. Our marketing strategy is the engine designed to deliver you these results. Marketing is your realtor’s primary task.

The 4Ps Marketing Model

Back when I earned my marketing degree, among others, Professor John Cerrito taught me the fundamentals of marketing. A key element of these fundamentals is the “marketing mix.” In my classes I was introduced to the 4Ps marketing mix: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. These same fundamentals apply to how we implement our marketing plan for home sales. We have adopted those same principles into what we call our 4Ps Intelligent Marketing. These are the ingredients that combine to capture and promote your home’s unique selling points, those that differentiate it from the competition. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.


You’ve probably heard the real estate agent mantra: location, location, location. You’ve certainly heard the phrase enough and may wonder what inspires agents to say the word three times. To be sure, location is important. But, is that all there is to it, location? There is a whole lot more! It is our approach to discover and display what is it that makes your home special.

How will you present the property as a product to appeal to buyers? The first of the Four Ps of marketing is: product. A product, in our context, is a property that fulfills a need or want of a buyer. Its critical that you have a clear grasp of exactly what makes your property unique before you can successfully market it. This is the meat of our marketing mix. It’s the stage from which we launch our marketing.

Our presentation strategies and techniques include:

• Exceptional staging
• Contractor and vendor referrals
• Professional photography

An important part of our home selling game plan is to understand who your potential buyer might be. An integral part of presentation is to understand who we are targeting. This won’t just help you identify the most likely buyer pool, but it will also help determine what work you should do to make your home attractive to those buyers. Our recommendations and advice will be mindful of specific buyer attributes.

We have developed a dedicated marketing process often used with our clients. As a part of this process, we incorporate the four Ps through a series of questions designed to help define how we will list the property. Here are just a few of the questions we consider:

1. What do buyers want from your property?
2. How does your property meet those needs?
3. Where do potential buyers look for with your particular home?
4. What is the perceived value of your home?
5. How do you differentiate from your competitors?


How do you set the right price? It is extremely important to price your home correctly. When your home hits the market, you have a short period of time to capture the imagination of the best buyers.

A Comparative Market Analysis analyzes homes similar to yours. The aim of the market analysis is to achieve the maximum selling price for your home while being able to sell your home within a relatively short period of time.

What does your comparative market analysis say about how to set listing price? Once a concrete understanding of the relevant market is established we can start making some pricing decisions. Price determination and strategy is likely the most important factor in our marketing mix.

Overpricing your house in the belief that you can reduce the price back later is a strategy that can backfire badly. For example, by the time you reduce your price, you may miss out on a surge of interest in properties like yours. Also, if prices are lowered, buyers may wonder if there’s something wrong with the property that kept other buyers away. So to keep from selling your property at below market value and from wasting valuable time, don’t fall into the overpricing trap.

The above chart illustrates the level of excitement and interest in a new listing over time. It also demonstrates the importance of pricing correctly. When a property is first listed, it generates a very high level of interest from prospective buyers, which reduces dramatically over time. It is important to be priced correctly from the beginning, during the peak of this curve.


How will buyers discover your home? Place or placement has to do with how the property will be presented to the buyer. How and where the property is presented is a key element of placement. Which medium or platform will be utilized? Digital? Offline?

Often you will hear marketers saying that marketing is about putting the right product, at the right price, at the right place, at the right time. It’s critical then, to evaluate what the ideal locations are to convert potential clients into actual clients. The actual transaction doesn’t happen on the web, but the initial place potential buyers are engaged and converted is online.


How do you communicate details about your property? This is the fuel of our marketing mix. We’ve got a product and a price. Now it’s time to promote it. There is a distinction between marketing and promotion. Promotion is just the communication aspect of the entire marketing function. Promotion looks at the many ways we disseminate relevant property information to buyers and differentiate it against the competition.

Communication strategies and techniques include:

• Complete and comprehensive internet marketing
• Social media marketing
• Emailed marketing
• Signs and flyers
• Virtual tours (video marketing)

Additionally, our real estate expertise gives us the ability to network with an agent within our brokerage and at other firms to promote your property to the widest possible audience. We also employ a powerful tool that too few realtors use. It’s called Reverse Prospecting. What is reverse prospecting?

Reverse prospecting  is the publication of a homebuyer’s wants, needs and desires in their next home, allowing for realtors to actively search for potential buyers for their listed properties. Think of it as an MLS of buyers, whereby agents can match their properties’ characteristics against buyers’ desires in a home (location, square footage, beds, baths etc.) and find appropriate matches.

Selling your property depends on a lot more than advertising and signage – it takes referrals, word-of-mouth advertising, strong networking.

Marketing should be your realtor’s primary task. Our 4Ps marketing model is intelligent, robust, and it works! You too can enjoy a smooth and stress-free experience from start to finish accomplishing all your goals.

Let’s talk soon!

Get Financing

What’s a mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan that is used to finance the purchase of your home. It consists of 5 parts: collateral, principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. As a lender, we offer a wide range of loan products, so make sure to ask which product can work best for you.

It’s always important to keep an eye on interest rates. Mortgage rates matter. Just one-eighth of a point in interest percentage could end up costing you thousands of dollars over time. As mortgages rates rise, purchasing power falls. In fact, just a 1% rise in rates cuts 10.75% from your purchasing power.

What about my credit score?

When you’re serious about buying a home—and looking to qualify for a mortgage—credit matters. Lenders take a long look at your credit scores, and those numbers determine the options available to you. If your credit score is below 680, or you have credit blemishes or little equity, it can drive up the cost of a mortgage. Boosting your credit score before you apply for a loan can help you get a better rate, and we’ll cover ways to pull that off. We look for good credit scores and the absence of bad credit marks.

Payment history is the greatest factor in your FICO credit score, accounting for 35%. The other factors are amounts owed (30%), length of credit (15%), new credit (10%), and types of credit (10%). Maintaining good credit isn’t always easy, but there are steps you can take to keep a healthy score. I am happy to work with clients to guide them on a sound path to better credit. If needed, we can recommend credit repair services that specialize in helping you repair your not so good credit.

What can I afford?

I had a first-time buyer who wanted to purchase a home in Brooklyn Park in a specific price range. He had a lot of questions as we talked on the phone. The most common question from clients is “what can I really afford?” I enjoy teaching Learn about programs that can help. I said the first step is that we need to meet face to face since this is one of the biggest decisions in your life. Once we established needs and wants we set up a step by step plan to achieve homeownership. He closed on his house in March 2018.

How much do I need for a down payment?

For many home buyers, the thought of coming up with a large sum of money for a down payment is daunting. Fortunately, we offer a wide range of down payment choices that include options for 5, 10, 15, or 20 percent down. And for many first-time buyers, a government-backed FHA loan can be obtained for as little as 3.5 percent down. If you are a military member or veteran, there are even more options available to you.

What is the mortgage process?

When I work with clients who are looking to get pre-approved here are the steps to follow:

1. Meet with a loan officer with a reputable mortgage company who can discuss the different loan programs that are best suited for you.

2. Provide proof of your income and assets. Have your loan officer run a credit check so you know what price home you would be pre-approved for.

3. Get an estimate for several loan options at various home prices so you know what your maximum monthly payment would be.

4. Once your loan officer lets you know what those numbers are then you are ready to start looking at houses with a realtor. It’s very important to have an agent represent you since the seller will have their own agent representing them. You do not have to pay your realtor any commission for the transaction. It is all built into the sales price of the home you are buying.

5. Once you have found a property, made an offer, and it’s been accepted the full financing approval process begins. It’s important to remember that once you have a purchase agreement accepted by a seller you must continue to pay your bills on time and not take out any new debt. If you do it could jeopardize the closing on your new home.

>> It is also very important to have these documents available when you meet with your loan officer for the first time:

  • 2 years federal tax returns- all pages
  • 2 years w-2s
  • Last 3 paystubs
  • 2 months bank statements- all pages
  • Driver’s license

Options for first time home buyers

First-time home buyers typically have less money in savings which is why low and no down payment home loans are so popular. You may have heard the term “first-time homebuyer money.” What is that all about?
First-time homebuyer money is also known as down payment assistance program. Under these programs, you can do FHA, VA, or Conventional type loans. The beauty of the program is that it helps low-income first-time homebuyers purchase single-family homes. It uses federal money given to states to use for people buying homes. For Minnesota, it is administered through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA).

Under the program, you can receive up to $12,000 for down payment assistance. However, there are some income limits with the program. If the down payment assistance is $8,000 or less than it may be deferred until you resell the house. If the assistance is more than $8,000 than you will have a monthly payment to pay it off in 10 years. It will be considered a 2nd mortgage.

Another bonus of the program is that the mortgage insurance for conventional loans is less than if you were to go with a regular conventional loan. The MHFA program is great for those who have good jobs, good credit but just need some help with down payment and closing costs. MHFA just says you need to have $1,000 of your own money into the transaction.

It’s good to remember that each home buyer is unique and needs a loan option that fits his or her needs. So be sure to review your options thoroughly with a lending professional. I am happy to help!

Doug Hunt is a lending officer with Mortgages Unlimited in Maple Grove. He and his wife Carol live in Golden Valley and have two adult children. Doug can be reached at (612) 940-0780 or by email at


How credit inquiries may (or may not) affect your credit score

If you’ve applied for credit recently – maybe for a store card  – you may have come across the term “inquiry.” Even if you’re not familiar with credit inquiries, it’s critical to understand what they are, how different ones work, and what they mean. Fortunately, we have answers to your credit-inquiry questions here.

What’s a credit inquiry?

A credit inquiry is a credit check. It’s a request to view your credit by lenders — retailers, financial institutions and others who are legally allowed to see your credit report.

Types of inquiries: hard and soft.

A hard inquiry happens when a potential lender looks at your credit report and uses that information to decide whether to offer you credit and what the terms of the offer might be. Think of hard inquiries as the types of credit checks that happen when you apply for credit, whether it be a credit card, mortgage, car loan or other type of financing. Hard inquiries must be made with your permission and in connection with specific transactions.

A soft inquiry, on the other hand, is more of a routine credit check that doesn’t need to be done with your permission. Importantly, soft inquiries won’t show up on the credit reports potential lenders request to evaluate your creditworthiness. Soft inquiries can happen for a variety of reasons. One example is when potential lenders check your credit report to determine whether to make you eligible for any pre-approved offers. Another happens when one of your existing creditors checks your credit to make sure you’re still creditworthy. A soft inquiry is also triggered every time you check your credit.

One other thing to note: if you would like to see credit reports listing all your inquiries, soft and hard, check your free annual credit reports at

Why inquiries matter.

The first thing you should know is the kinds of credit reports potential lenders see will only list hard inquiries, not soft ones. In that sense, hard inquiries are the ones that “count.” That’s because credit scoring models usually factor in the number of hard inquiries you have when they’re calculating your credit score. Generally, credit scoring models tend to associate a high number of hard inquiries, especially if they’re made within a relatively short period of time, with a high credit risk. It’s important to watch the number of hard inquiries you make because too many of them may affect your ability to get credit at the lowest-available rates.

Do inquiries remain on your credit report forever?

In short, no. They are automatically removed 2 years from the date they first show up on your credit report. As with other aspects of credit, the more time that passes, the less effect hard inquiries may have.

Loan shopping and inquiries.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan and want to find one with a good rate and other terms that work best for you. After all, especially with big purchases, you want to make sure you get the best financing you can. But every time you apply for credit, a hard inquiry happens. Does that mean you shouldn’t shop around for a loan?

Fortunately, no. Credit scoring models tend to account for this kind of activity. Generally, credit scoring will count several inquiries made over a relatively short period of time, like 45 days, as one single inquiry. That way, you won’t necessarily get penalized for causing several hard inquiries while shopping for one loan.

Bottom line.

Inquiries are a key, and often misunderstood, part of credit. But they aren’t everything. While you want to pay attention to how frequently you apply for credit, credit health encompasses much more than just hard inquiries. Keep an eye on your hard inquiries, but don’t lose sleep over them, especially if you’re paying your bills on time, not using too much of your available credit, and otherwise practicing healthy credit habits. In other words, keeping your hard inquiries in check should be just part of a healthy-credit habits!

This article is courtesy of TransUnion. TransUnion is a consumer credit reporting agency. TransUnion collects and aggregates information on over one billion individual consumers in over thirty countries including 200 million files profiling nearly every credit-active consumer in the United States.

Selling your home? Do these things first.

If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market this spring, you’re going to want to start getting ready now. By doing so, you will save money. Better than that, the following basic tips will help you walk away with higher net proceeds than by doing nothing at all.

Without a doubt, it’s a tight housing inventory right now. That means it’s a seller’s market in many neighborhoods. But that doesn’t mean sellers can command any price or that they don’t need to take steps to prepare their home for sale. Not, at least, if they want to sell quickly and for the best possible price. Today’s buyers have high expectations.

The Simple Stuff

The reality is that it’s likely too late to do major renovations, but it is not too late to roll up your sleeves and get busy removing all the “red-flag” distractions that stand out like a blinking light that scare away a prospective buyer. I’d love to offer you professional advice about how to prepare your home for sale without overspending or fretting much at all. As the seller, you control the condition of the property, my team controls the marketing, and together we partner to sell the listing. Here are my recommendations:

Think Like a Buyer. First and foremost, you need to shed your stubborn proprietary connection to your home of X years. It needs to happen, as soon as possible. Sure, you are emotionally connected to your house and it holds many memories. Selling your home requires a shift in your mind-set from homeowner to seller. It’s also a good time to put yourself in a buyer’s shoes. Think about what attracted you to your home in the beginning as well as what you love about it or your neighborhood now. The things you know about your property can be helpful for marketing.

>Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff.  An important addendum to the previous tip is to be thorough and diligent. Don’t skip the obvious. In fact, get the advice of an real estate professional. Get the opinion of a unbiased neighbor or friend. Solicit honest evaluations of the general condition of your home.

>Visit Open Houses & Parade of Homes. Continuing the effort to transform your thinking from homeowner to seller, scout-out nearby homes on the market to assess your competition and get inspiration for small improvements you can make to boost your home’s appeal for buyers. Visit the line-up of Parade of Homes. Check out paint colors, layout of furniture, fixtures, etc.

>Hire a Home Inspector. If you have time, you may also want to consider hiring a home inspector for a pre-listing inspection, particularly if you have an older home. If the inspector finds something that needs work, it’s better to repair it and provide receipts for the buyers than turn the issue into a negotiating point. It’s never too early to prepare for the spring housing market. The sooner you define your priorities, enlist experts and begin making necessary repairs or updates, the closer you are to a successful sale.

>Spruce Up the Exterior. We’re talking about curb-appeal. Let’s face it, the exterior of the property is the first thing a buyer will see whether online or driving by. Now is the time to make sure it looks its best. Walk around the entire exterior of the home, and conduct an assessment. Consider pressure washing, painting, having the windows cleaned, cleaning out gutters, trimming back any overgrown or dead landscaping, cleaning the front door and changing out any worn door hardware that may look old and corroded. And, make sure the front doorbell actually works!

>Service The Heating/Cooling System. A home inspector is going to check this anyway, so beat ’em to the punch by having the system serviced and cleaned. When was the last time it was serviced anyway? The lifespan of a furnace is 15-25 years. If you haven’t had your system looked at since it was new you’re facing a red flag by a potential buyer.  It’s better to take care of any repairs that may need addressing now versus waiting until a buyer decides to make an offer. 

>Do a Light Bulb Check. Easy-peasy. Make sure all of the lightbulbs are working and free of dirt and debris. Yes, these need cleaning too — just make sure they are off. Don’t forget to check the outdoor lights as well.

>Check the Smoke & CO² Detectors. Even if your dectoros are hard-wired, now is the time to make sure that all detectors have new batteries are in good working order. Replace any old ones as an inspector is likely to flag those during a home inspection and recommend that they be replaced.

>Blue Tape It. If you were building a new house your builder would ask you to do this before final inspection. Conduct a thorough walk through of the interior of the home. If there are any nicks, dents or scratches on the walls and moldings, blue tape them so you are reminded to have each area repaired. The more wear and tear a home appears to have, the more the buyer is going to chip away at the asking price.


>Deep Clean & Declutter. This costs you next to nothing and will have the biggest pay-back for your time investment. You need to look through the lens of a stranger who has never been to your home. THEY WILL SEE EVERYTHING. Now is the time to give the home that deep clean it needs. If needed, consider hiring a cleaning crew to tackle this; the more hands, the better. Perhaps, host a family cleaning party! Invite your family and extended family to volunteer for a day to help out. (Be sure to provide pizza and beverages. It will be money well-spent!)

Deep cleaning means wiping down all of the baseboards and moldings and cleaning cabinets, appliances (including the oven) and every corner from top to bottom including light fixtures and ceiling fans. It’s also a good time to gather all those unwanted closet items together to donate as well as any unused furniture and decor. The less stuff in the house, the less there is to organize and keep clean. White-space is the name of the game here.

>Clear Out the Garage. This space is often overlooked when preparing a home for sale. Don’t forget this space. Make sure the garage is clean, in good repair, organized and that you can actually walk through it. Do you really need all those tools? Again, create open, white space. Consider painting the floor or having an epoxy finish put down. And that ceiling? Buyers also look up when touring this space, so make sure any drywall cracks or loose seams are repaired.

Buyers recognize and appreciate homes that have been taken care of. Removing the red-flags should be job #1 when preparing your home to be sold. Taking some time to invest in home maintenance before selling will likely yield a big payoff when it becomes offer time.

Hire an Agent

After asking yourself, “are you are ready” to buy a home, step number one on The Home Buyer’s Road Map is to hire an agent. Finding a good real estate agent/broker is essential to enjoying a successful real estate transaction.  The question is, how do you find a good real estate agent? The best agent for you doesn’t necessarily work at the largest brokerage, close the most transactions or make the most money. The best agent for you is an experienced professional who will:

Listen to you

Ethically conduct themselves

Knows your market

Beyond these seemingly obvious fundamentals, there are a few more attributes your next realtor should have. When a real estate agent or broker is acting in an agency capacity for a buyer or seller client in a transaction, they have certain legally mandated duties that are called fiduciary duties.

“A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care. The person who has a fiduciary duty is called the fiduciary, and the person to whom he owes the duty, is typically referred to as the principal or the beneficiary. If an individual breaches the fiduciary duties, he or she would need to account for the ill-gotten profit.”

The position of the agent or broker is a fiduciary capacity, acting in the best interests of the client. The specific fiduciary duties in a real estate transaction are as follows:

  • Loyalty – a broker/salesperson will act only in the client’s best interest.
  • Obedience – a broker/salesperson will carry out all the client’s lawful instructions.
  • Disclosure – a broker/salesperson will disclose to the client all material facts of which broker/salesperson has knowledge which might reasonably affect the client’s use and enjoyment of the property.
  • Confidentiality – a broker/salesperson will keep the client’s confidences unless required by law to disclose specific information (such as disclosure of material facts to buyers).
  • Reasonable Care – a broker/salesperson will use reasonable care in performing duties as an agent.
  • Accounting – a broker/salesperson will account to client for all client’s money and property received as agent.

What value to realtors provide? What do they actually do?

With so much information readily available online, people sometimes ask me, “Why should we hire a real estate agent?” They wonder, and rightfully so, if they couldn’t buy or sell a home through the Internet or regular marketing and advertising channels without representation, without a real estate agent.

Consumers hate agents because the business seems easy on the surface. To sell a home, some people think it means just stick a sign in the yard and post photographs online. Those two actions might bring a buyer but they don’t necessarily sell a home. A lot can happen between signing the contract and closing. A smart agent knows how to negotiate and how to handle problems that can pop up such as appraisal issues, home inspection repairs, buyer’s lender requirements, price guidance, buying and selling concurrently, contingency releases and more. In fact, there is quite a bit that realtors do. Here is a list of some of the common responsibilities:



  • Schedule showings
  • Schedule listing appointments
  • Maintain required continuing education
  • Deliver earnest money on time
  • Coordinate property inspections
  • Keep up with mortgage company progress
  • Verify buyer’s new homeowner’s insurance
  • Coordinate home warranty company
  • Negotiate counteroffers
  • Schedule closings
  • Attend closings
  • Get all disclosures delivered & signed
  • Keep the transaction on track
  • Provide educational materials to consumers
  • Keep your blog active
  • Maintain active social media profiles
  • Answer the phone all day & night
  • Return missed phone calls
  • Return emails asap
  • Follow up with website inquiries
  • Keep up with changing laws
  • Run comparables for buyers & sellers
  • Determine accurate pricing
  • Help stage & present properties
  • Meet the appraiser at property
  • Meet the inspector(s) at property
  • Show hundreds-thousands of homes each year
  • Get signed contract to title company
  • Negotiate repairs
  • Keep clients updated with each step
  • Provide comps for the appraiser
  • Coordinate closing
  • Make sure there is a clear title
  • Explain the contract to clients
  • Provide advice on offer price
  • Explain the current real estate market
  • Explain pros & cons of each neighborhood
  • Verify completion of repairs
  • Make sure the loan funds
  • Schedule & attend the walkthrough
  • Dispute low appraisals
  • Verify delivery of title commitment
  • Remind clients to schedule utilities
  • Manage your online reputation
  • Compete with 1,000’s of realtors® for business
  • Deal with vendors
  • Keep mls listing data current
  • Attend real estate conferences
  • Network with local home builders
  • Coordinate open houses
  • Check up on past clients
  • Still have a life after you’re done!

“Finding a Realtor is not hard, but finding one that is best-suited for you and your purchase is a challenge.” – Mark Moffatt, McEnearney Associates

So, where do I find someone who holds and demonstrates the values I care about?

Tips for Finding the Best Agent:

Get Referrals

Most real estate agents stay in business because satisfied clients refer them to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. Ask the people around you who they have used and ask them to describe their experiences with this real estate agent. Successful agents make customer satisfaction their number one priority and put their customers’ needs before their own.

Seek Advice and Information from Known Professionals

Use the mortgage  guy you know as a resource for agent referrals as many brokers have first-hand knowledge of exceptional agents. Ask your plumber. Ask your lawyer. Professionals tend to refer other professionals like themselves


It seems simple, but this is one the most effective methods of researching someone. Creep a little. Browse social media profiles. You can learn a lot about someone by what image they present online – especially by what they post and share! You will be working with this person for anywhere from one to six months. You’ll want to make sure you know as much as you can about them.

Now that I’ve found someone, what do I ask before I hire them? Do I really need to interview them?

Yes! Smart consumers interview potential real estate agents before deciding which agent to hire. Just as you are sizing up the potential for a good fit, rest assured that the real estate agent will likely be interviewing you, too. It won’t take long before you can get a good feel for who you might be hiring. In fact, studies have shown that you can size someone up with 5-10 seconds of meeting them.

It’s not necessary to act like a corporate hiring manager implementing a full-fledged professional behavioral employee interview. However, you should ask questions that satisfy your requirements. Here are a few examples:

What are the top three things that make you better than the other guy? It’s a simple question. A good realtor won’t hesitate to answer and should be able to clearly and concisely articulate why you should work with them. Everyone has their own standards, but most consumers say they are looking for agents who are: honest and trustworthy, friendly, available, good communicators, excellent negotiators, assertive, and analytical.

What is your marketing plan or strategy for my needs? As a buyer, you will need to know: How will you search for my new home? How many homes will I likely see before I find a home I want to buy? Will I be competing against other buyers? How do you handle multiple offers? Do you present offers yourself? Your agent should have a game plan ready to show you.

How long have you been in the business?  Keep in mind that longevity does not automatically equal quality. There is an ocean of licensed realtors in Minnesota. Yet, it is astounding to me the number of low quality individuals I come across posing as realtors that have been in the business for decades that are disengaged, entitled, lazy, and frankly, ineffective.

Buying or selling a home is statistically one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Just like driving a car from point A to point B there will be bumps in the road and unexpected hazards along the way. However, with the professional assistance of a skilled realtor, if you are prepared, organized, have reasonable expectations, and are willing to adapt and “flex” on the path toward home ownership, the buying process can be a satisfying experience!

If you want to be sure that you are working with an agent who understands you, listens to you, and truly puts your best interests first please get in touch with me!

Moving Resources for Older Adults

Do you have an older adult in your life who is having hard time keeping up with the responsibilities of living in their single-family home?

An older adult’s decision to move can carry with it an entire range of emotion. No matter how one comes to the decision to move, the factors and issues related to each older adult’s transition are unique. But at some point, inevitably, moving involves a feeling of being overwhelmed.

“The Old Neighborhood” by Jim Williams

There are a number of aspects that make an older adult’s transition difficult which include sifting through a home of many years, deciding what to do with possessions that are not going to the new residence (e.g. estate sale, consignment, charity, kids, online selling options, etc.), some health challenges that did not exist in the early years making the physical aspect daunting, plus the emotional aspect of leaving “the old neighborhood”, lifelong memories and the comfort of familiar turf.

Senior Move Management

Enter a fairly new but growing industry, senior move management. Due to the rising numbers of older adults and the increase of senior housing options, senior move management is a emergent field that meets the needs of this clientele and softens stress by lifting the details of their move and providing expertise and valuable resources to accommodate each stage of the transition. Sorting, getting rid of unwanted items, packing, unpacking and resettling are the primary options that can make a daunting move much more seamless.

Twin Cities based Gentle Transitions is the longest operating senior move management firm in the country. They have served thousands of individuals and helped them navigate their personal “move journey”. Senior Move Managers typically choose to work in this profession because of their passion for the older adult client they serve. Within a short period of time, senior move managers help create a lovely metamorphosis, making a new residence feel comfortable and inviting and allowing the client to focus on the important things like starting to live their new life, meet new friends and build a new sense of community.

When you or your loved ones know it is time to move, but you don’t know where to begin, Gentle Transitions is a great place to start. They partner with and are preferred providers for several senior communities like Cherrywood Pointe, Applewood Pointe, and others. You can request a complimentary no-obligation consultation by calling (952) 944-1028.

Click here for more information about Senior Move Managers >>> National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM)

Click here for more information about >>> Gentle Transitions

Click here for more information about >>> Seniors Real Estate Specialists

Carol Hunt has a heart for seniors. After more than 20 years in corporate Human Resources, Marketing, and Business Analyst roles, Carol now spends her time at Gentle Transitions in Edina. She serves as a packer, helping lift burdens and provide peace of mind to seniors who are transitioning. She is a proud employee of and has seen first hand the care given to clients in the move process. Carol and her husband Doug also volunteer at Bibles for Missions Thrift Center in Crystal. She can be reached at

Carol submitted this article on behalf of Diane Bjorkman and Bill Lehman. They are co-owners of Gentle Transitions.