Shannon Sand

Thinking about buying your first home? The first steps for first time home buyers to get started.


Buying your very first home can be exciting and rewarding. It is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make and a big milestone in most people's lifetime. So it is important to feel educated and ready to purchase a home before making the plunge in becoming a homeowner.

A common inquiry I get when working with first time home buyers is, "What is my first step I need to take on my journey to purchasing my first home?" Some may think the first step is to schedule showing appointments for some houses they found interesting online and get started in finding a home they like and dream of owning.

But, in fact, there are several crucial first steps to take when beginning your home search that HGTV's "House Hunters" completely skips over and is not going to show or tell you. One of the very first things first time home buyers want to think about and prepare for is saving up money for a down payment and other upfront costs that can come with purchasing your first home. The minimum down payment you need when purchasing a home is 3.5% of the purchase price. So you will want to make sure you have that and any other extra money for some closing costs you may or may not have depending on how negotiations with the sellers pan out. 

 The next step is finding and getting to know a realtor you can trust and can help you thoroughly understand and navigate the home buying process process. In addition to finding a good realtor, it is equally as important to find a reputable loan officer at the same time that is knowledgeable and can help you understand the different home buyer programs that may be available to you and give you an estimate of monthly payments and help you understand a comfortable price range before you begin scheduling showings. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is necessary before scheduling showings with your realtor because you'll know exactly what you have to work with and your house hunt will be...

Otsego- A Growing River City for Young Families

Otsego is a former agricultural city that has grown into a thriving area for young families in mind just 25 miles northwest of Minneapolis. It is uniquely situated along the Mississppi River bordering the north and east banks of the river. It's easy acess to I-94 and State Highway 10 allows for a quick commute to both Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Otsego conveys a country atmosphere while still having the benefits of a suburban lifestyle.

Otsego is a young city as it was only incorporated from a township to a city just a short 21 years ago in 1990. When Otsego officially became a city back in 1990, the population was 5,218 and there were 1,558 households within the community. The recent 2010 U.S. Census has reflected significant growth since 1990 with a population of 13,571 made up of 4,736 households. The average household size has decreased from 3.27 persons per household in 1990 to 2.86 in 2010, reflecting the overall national trend with a change from agricultural areas to growing communities with young families.

Otsego offers a multitude of affordable housing options throughout its' city limits. Many of the housing subdivisions have been carefully designed with young families in mind. There are many townhomes, twin homes, and single family homes throughout each subdivision that have close proximity to city parks, schools, shopping, golfing, and other recreational amenities. Otsego is also part of the excellent Elk River School District. And the popular Riverwood National Golf Course is one of Otsego's newest courses.

Martin Farms is one of the largest and most unique subdivisions with a community owned swimming pool, basketball court, gazebo, soccer fields, bike/walking trails, playground and picnic area. The development offers several different builders to choose from and the homes are built in harmony to blend with the natural surroundings of the wetlands and woodlands.

For more information on Otsego real estate, please contact ...

City of Delano a Great Place to Call Home


When purchasing a home, not only do you look for a home that fits your needs and wants, but you're also looking for a neighborhood and community you can enjoy and sustain a great quality of life. The residents in Delano feel they have found just that in a recent 2010 survey conducted by Delano city officials.

In fact, in the recent 2010 survey, 66% of residents feel the "quality of life" in Delano is good and another 25% feel it is excellent. When surveyed what residents "perception of community" is for Delano, 85% call it home while only 9% call it just a place to live. And 77% feel the city is "heading in the right direction" with their award winning school district, park systems, and steady growth.  Another positive to living in Delano is that 54% feel property taxes are about average in comparison to other cities in the area.

Whether you are a first time home buyer, an empty nester looking to down size, or any buyer in between, Delano has housing options for every type of home buyer.Neighborhoods such as Woods Creek, Clover Springs, and West Ridge have a great mix of single family home options for both the first time home buyer and move up buyer. The 55+ townhome community is strategically located adjacent to the pharmacy, clinic, and grocery store in Delano for easy proximity and convenience. And for the buyer who is looking for a more urban feel, the downtown area of Delano boast contemporary styled condos that are within walking distance of local bars, restuarants, and a coffee shop.

Delano is located 25 miles west of downtown Minneapolis just off Highway 12 (394) making it an easy commute into the city while still maintaining the small town feel. If you'd like more information about Delano and the surrounding area please contact The Homes of Minnesota Team.



Forbes Ranks Minneapolis/ St. Paul #1 as America's "Most Relaxed City"


Feeling stressed all the time? It may be because you are living in the wrong city. Cities with high unemployment, snarling traffic, and long working hours can have a major impact on your physical health and well being. Stressful environments can take its toll on your health causing everything from headaches, back pain, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

So where can you escape from stress and live in a more relaxed environment? A recent Forbes study suggests the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro area. This metro area of roughly 3.2 Million people boasts lower unemployment at 7% compared to the current national unemployment average of 9.6%. Less than 5% of commuters spend their morning in traffic and 84% of the population reported recent exercise- the best workout rate of any city surveyed. The Twin Cities also ranks high with access to quality health care.

So are you ready to break free from stress and move to a more relaxed, healthy environment? Contact Shannon Sand with the Homes of Minnesota team to help you relocate to America's "Most Relaxed" metro area.





Do you have RADON in your home?? Get it Tested!

Rockford...A Quaint "Up and Coming" Western Suburb


Rockford, MN is situated just west of Plymouth along the beautiful Crow River.  The city's rolling hills and mature trees offer a multitude of affordable options for home buyers in comparison to many other western suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Rockford's downtown area is booming with everything from bars and resturants to small businesses and the city's largest park and library. It also boasts a "state of the art" school district where the elementary school has taken a unique approach to adopting an art's inquiry-based curriculum. Neighboring Rebecca Lake Park Reserve offers year-round fun with a public beach on Lake Rebecca, canoeing access on the Crow River, and miles of biking and horse riding trails throughout the park.

 One of the newest neighborhoods in the city of Rockford is Hurst Woods.  These new construction 2 story homes overlook the Crow River in a very family oriented, wooded neighborhood and are priced in the upper $200's.  Contact the Homes of Minnesota team for more information.