Document with title Property tax on a desk.

Understanding Property Taxes Within Cottage Grove, MN

I’m so excited to pay my taxes!…said no one ever. However, many of us do enjoy the benefits such as good schools, roads without potholes, and the other government services that taxes help to pay for.

If you’re thinking about talking to realtors near Cottage Grove to move to our beautiful city or make a residential investment, you may be wondering how the property taxes work in our area. Get an idea of what you’ll have to pay and when in this little guide to property taxes in Cottage Grove, MN.

How Are Property Taxes in Cottage Grove, MN Calculated?

Washington County, where Cottage Grove is located, separates properties into four different classifications.

  • Residential Homestead
  • Residential Non-Homestead (single unit)
  • Residential Non-Homestead (2-3 units and vacant land) and Apartments
  • Commercial/Industrial

Taxes are calculated slightly differently for each type but the amount is based on the value of the property. Each year, county appraisers assess the value of each property in Cottage Grove. In March, homeowners receive notice of how much their home has been appraised for. If homeowners believe the value is erroneous, they are allowed to appeal in April.

By July, all values are set and this is the basis for the taxes that are due the following year.

When Are Payments Due?

You can pay your property taxes in two parts. The first payment is due by May 15 and the second by October 15 of each year.

There are a number of ways that you can pay your taxes. You can send them by mail, pay online, use a bill pay service, or make an in-person payment at the Stillwater Government Center.

Tax Capacity

So, how much will you have to pay? Well, the calculation varies from year to year. As part of the city’s annual budgeting process, how much money will be needed to meet operating expenses and pay the city’s debts is determined each year. Then, the property tax formulas are set by the legislature.

The tax capacity on homes in Cottage Grove, MN is often graduated. For example, the first $220,000 may be assessed at 1% and any value above that at 1.25%. The amount typically won’t vary drastically from year to year.

Ready to Move to Cottage Grove?

Don’t let property taxes in Cottage Grove, MN scare you away from our beautiful city. You’ll have to pay taxes anywhere you decide to live or buy a rental property. We hope this article has taken some of the confusion out of the matter and you’ll be more prepared to join our ranks. Remember, the more people we have sharing the tax burden, the less each individual will have to pay.

Are you looking for homes for sale in Cottage Grove, MN? With many of the top Cottage Grove realtors as associates, we’re happy to help you find the perfect piece of real estate in Cottage Grove, MN.

Reach out to us today to get connected start shopping for your dream home!

Miniature house with money on tax papers

5 Tips for Finding the Best Affordable Homes in Your Area

In 2018, 10.9 million renters spent more than half of their income on housing.

As rent prices continue to increase, it’s no wonder that you’re thinking about purchasing your own property. But you might quickly find that the housing market isn’t much more affordable than the rental market – so you need to know where and how to look.

There are plenty of affordable homes out there that are sure to fit your budget. All you have to do is know what that budget is and then start looking with an open mind and a willingness to make some sacrifices.

Keep reading for five essential tips on how to find a place to call home that doesn’t break the bank.

1. Start With a Budget

The first question you need to answer before you start looking is: “what home can I afford?” Knowing that figure means sitting down and working out a detailed budget.

Of course, you’ll avoid any home that exceeds your budget. But you also need to take into consideration things like transportation costs. You might be able to afford higher housing costs if you live closer to work, for example.

2. Look for Sellers Willing to Make a Deal

How do you find sellers that are ready to make a deal? You know how to spot the signs.

First, you can look for homes that have been on the market for a long time. Sellers who need to move will be more open to making a deal.

Second, you can look for homes that have recently had their price reduced. This usually indicates that a seller hasn’t received any offers and is looking to sell their home, even if it means making a deal.

3. Buy a Fixer-Upper

When you see the words “as is” in a listing, it’s typically indicating a home that needs a bit of work. And a home that needs a bit of work can usually be had for the deal. You can also find fixer-uppers in your cities vacant housing list.

If you decide on an affordable home that needs work, make sure that you’re capable of completing the work. If you’re not doing the work yourself, then have a good idea of what the fixes will cost. Otherwise, you could end up spending more on renovations than you saved on the selling price.

4. Don’t Be Limited by Location

You pay less for homes that are in less-desirable neighborhoods. Less-desirable neighborhoods are those that are further away from your local hot spots, shopping, transportation, recreational areas, and schools.

 

Make a list of what’s important to you but don’t be limited by location. And consider that if you’re willing to relocate completely, you stand to save a lot of money. Moving to the Midwest or the Southern US is far more affordable than living on either coast, for example.

5. Don’t Be Limited by Home Type

If it’s important that you’re living in a hot spot or that you’re close to transportation, then you can’t limit yourself to a single-family home. These days, single-family homes located in metropolitan areas are often unaffordable for first-time buyers.

Instead, think about the benefits of a condo, duplex, or townhouse. While they may be smaller, they’re more likely to fit into your budget. And as more people opt for these housing types because of their affordability, many are designed with families in mind.

Start Looking for Affordable Homes

Before you start looking for affordable homes, make sure you set your budget. Don’t limit yourself to location or home type and have a willingness to be flexible with how much work you’re going to put into your new home.

With all of those items in mind, your sure to find a home that you can afford. And when you’re ready to start looking, start narrowing down your search with our listings.

The Homeowners Checklist: A First Time Buyers Guide to Purchasing a Home

In a year as turbulent as 2020, you might think that buying a home is at the bottom of many priority lists.

Think again. Existing home sales just jumped to a 14-year high, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re dreaming of buying your first home, now is the perfect time to make it happen. Here’s your homeowners checklist to help you turn your dream of homeownership into reality!

1. Get Your Finances in Order

It’s never too early to start saving for your new home. Even a 3% downpayment on a $300,000 home is nearly $10,000, so you’ll need plenty of time to plan and save.

You also need to factor in closing costs (typically 3%-5% of the loan amount), as well as any move-in expenses. This is also the time to strengthen your credit, if it’s less than stellar, as that will affect your mortgage and interest rate.

2. Secure Financing

Next you’ll need to consider which mortgage options you might qualify for. Common programs for first-time home buyers include:

  • Conventional mortgages
  • FHA loans
  • VA loans
  • USDA loans

Many states offer financial assistance for down payments and closing costs, so check to see what’s available in your state. It’s also a good idea to compare different options among local banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers.

Important note: Just because a lender approves you for a $300,000 mortgage doesn’t mean you should spend that much. Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much house you can afford so you don’t end up “house poor” after you move in.

3. Start Shopping

Now comes the exciting part: looking for houses! Search online, hire a real estate agent, and drive around the neighborhoods that most interest you.

Think carefully about your budget and lifestyle. Attend open houses and view as many properties as possible to better understand your wants and needs.

Are you looking for a starter home or your forever home? Would you rather buy a small condo that’s move-in ready or a larger fixer-upper? How important is it for you to be near good schools or have a shorter commute to work?

4. Make an Offer

When you think you’ve found “the one,” take a final look at your budget. You don’t want to make an impulsive decision or offer more than you can afford.

Ask your real estate agent to ensure your offer is competitive but still within your budget and the home’s actual value. If the seller accepts, you’ll make a good-faith deposit and the process moves into escrow. This gives you time to tick the final item off your homeowners checklist, which is…

5. Get an Inspection

No matter how amazing the home looks on the outside, you have no way of knowing what’s happening underneath. Hire a professional home inspector to analyze the safety, integrity, and overall condition of the house.

If the inspection reveals no serious problems, congratulations! You can move ahead to the closing date with confidence.

On the other hand, what if the inspection reveals serious defects that the seller chose not to disclose? You’re better off saying goodbye and continuing your search for a home in better condition.

Bookmark This Homeowners Checklist

Whether it’s for home office space, a home gym, or a bigger backyard, many Americans are on the move this year.

Would you like to join their ranks? Use this homeowners checklist to guide you through the home buying process!

Are you looking for a home in the Twin Cities area? Click here to begin your search.

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace

Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace | MyKCM

Homebuying has been on the rise over the past few months, with record-breaking sales powering through the market in June and July. Buyers are actively purchasing homes, and the momentum is continuing into the fall. It is, however, becoming harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, the coming weeks might just be the timing you’ve been waiting for.

According to the Pending Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

Pending home sales in July achieved another month of positive contract activity, marking three consecutive months of growth.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 5.9% to 122.1 in July. Year-over-year, contract signings rose 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.”

This means that for the past several months, buyers have signed an increasing number of contracts to purchase homes – well above where the market was at this time last year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR notes:

“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market…Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”

Below is a graph that shows the impressive recovery of homes sales compared to previous years. The deep blue v marks the slowdown from this spring that turned into an exponential jump in sales that followed through the summer, skyrocketing above years past:Homebuyer Demand Is Far Above Last Year’s Pace | MyKCM

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

If you were thinking about putting your house on the market in the spring, but decided to wait due to the health crisis, it may be time to make your move. Buyers are in the market right now. With so few homes available to purchase, homeowners today are experiencing more bidding wars, creating an optimal time to sell.

Is This Trend Going to Continue?

As CNBC notes, there are no signs of slowing buyer demand this fall:

The usual summer slowdown in the housing market is not happening this year. Buyers continue to show strong demand, spurred by the new stay-at-home world of the coronavirus and by record low mortgage rates.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, concurred:

“In a typical year in the housing market, buyer interest begins to wane before seller interest causing the usual seasonal slowdown as we move into the fall. Due to a delayed spring season and low mortgage rates, we could see buyer interest extend longer than usual into the typically quieter fall. Whether this means more home sales will depend on whether sellers participate or decide to stay on the sidelines.”

As Hale mentioned, homeowners who are willing to sell their houses right now will play a big role in whether the trend continues. The market needs more homes to satisfy ongoing buyer demand. Maybe it’s time to leverage your equity and move up while eager home shoppers are ready to purchase a house just like yours.

Bottom Line

If your current home doesn’t meet your family’s changing needs, let’s connect to help you sell your house and make the move you’ve been waiting for all year.

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction? | MyKCM

Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction  

When buying a new home, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. With programs like ENERGY STAR, your home also helps protect the environment and reduces your carbon footprint.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to help get your home ready for your family.

Existing Home

When buying an existing home, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later. Over the past few months with COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, some areas for new construction have been delayed.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a newly built home or one that’s already established, both are great options. They each have their pros and cons, and every family will have different circumstances driving their decision. If you have questions and want to know more about the options in our area, let’s connect today so you can feel confident making a decision about your next home.