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Tips for Planning a Bathroom Update

Do you want to improve the aesthetics of your bathroom? Before you disrupt your household with the hassle of a remodel, make sure you’re prepared. Familiarize yourself with this cost and ROI overview to help guide the planning process.

What Does This Type of Remodel Cost?
The first step to organizing a bathroom remodeling project is setting a budget. Understanding the potential costs involved can help you decide whether you’re working on a complete overhaul or focusing your resources on a few select changes.

Homeowners who make bathroom updates usually hope to recover at least a portion of their investment. An upscale bathroom remodel is among the projects that see the largest percentages of value increase year over year. But a high-end revamp can cost tens of thousands. If you’re working with a more modest budget, going with simple changes like updates to light fixtures, sinks, toilets and the like can refresh your space for significantly less.

What Should You Change?
When planning bathroom renovations, it’s always smart to fix what’s broken first, especially since replacement projects see larger returns (74 percent) than remodeling ones (63.7 percent).

Once you’ve tackled any necessary replacements, make investment-savvy design selections that add value for you and your family. Trade out the garden tub for an expansive shower, add granite countertops or upgrade the vanity, ventilation or lighting. Finding what most benefits your family can lead to greater satisfaction years after the project’s completion.

With budgeting sense and some design know-how, you’ll have the confidence you need to initiate a successful bathroom remodel.

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Featured Image Credit: “Gray Marble Bathroom” by Paintzen © 2016 (CC BY 2.0)

4 High-ROI Home Updates

Do you have a list of changes you’d like to make to your home this year? Completing cosmetic updates is easiest when the weather’s in your favor. In honor of May’s National Home Improvement Month, here are four upgrades ranging from curb appeal projects to large-scale expansions that often yield high returns.

  1. Replacing doors and windows: Homeowners are often encouraged to consider projects that boost overall curb appeal. Swapping out a wooden front door for a steel model or replacing front-facing windows can pack more of an ROI punch than renovations made inside the home.
  2. Constructing a deck: Create a beautiful transition from your back door to the outdoors by building a deck. The update turns into a major selling point that can recoup your initial investment when it’s time to move on.
  3. Adding insulation: Of all the projects listed in Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, adding loose-fill insulation to your attic is the only one with returns that exceed 100 percent of the cost. It can also help reduce year-round heating and cooling costs.
  4. Building a second-story addition: Even with a slight increase in construction costs, completing a significant two-story addition resulted in a substantial year-over-year increase in value from 2016 to 2017. Adding the extra space will likely catch the attention of buyers.

Home renovations and repairs are on the rise and expected to peak this year. Now’s the time to start planning your investment-savvy home improvements.

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The Top 6 Latest Trends in Home Design

Whether you’re a prospective seller or a longtime homeowner, revamping your space may be on your to-do list. Before you begin, preview these design trends and learn how to make them your own.

Quick Decorating Touches

  • Add the latest color. From deep emerald to the lime hue of Greenery (the Pantone Color of the Year), verdant shades are instant hits. To incorporate the trend, sprinkle in a few eye-catching accessories or splurge on a plush, room-filling rug.
  • Bring in bronze and brass. These of-the-moment metallics look luxurious, but they have economical price tags and complement a variety of colors and styles. Spruce up your kitchen cabinets with brass handles or use bronze light fixtures to warm up a room.
  • Toy with texture. Whether you’re drawn to fabric wallpaper, a decorative wall hanging or a collection of well-placed throw pillows, texture is an easy way to make a space more inviting. And don’t shy away from mixed materials like leather and wool.

Trendy Upgrades

  • Enrich your entryway. You have only one chance to make a first impression. For a small investment, you can transform your home’s entrance with an artisan-crafted credenza or an oversized mirror that amplifies the natural light.
  • Update your countertops. Laminate options fashioned from recycled granite or glass are easy on the wallet and the environment. Want to go all out? Lighter shades in quartz, marble, and wood are popular upgrades in today’s kitchens.
  • Establish a shedquarters. Whether you work from home, want a relaxing retreat or host houseguests regularly, a separate on-site structure aptly dubbed a “shedquarters” may be a worthy addition.

From a quick, low-budget change to a well-planned build-out, homeowners have several options when it comes to implementing the latest home design trends.

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Featured Image Credit: “IMG_7709” by angi231700 © 2012 (CC BY 2.0)

RNR’s Rock Star of the Month: Regina Ramos

It’s no coincidence that RNR also stands for “Rock ‘N Roll” … because we think all of our agents are rock stars! Each month we will feature one of our team members to find out more about them and why they joined the biz. Next up is Regina Ramos, a first-time homebuyer specialist with a passion for helping her community! 

Q: How long have you been in the business?

A: I was first licensed in 2002, but really amped up my activity in 2015.

Q: What’s your specialization?

A: I enjoy working with first-time buyers!

Q: What is your dream home or favorite house style?

A: Victorian homes – I love the old architecture.

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

A: All the lakes and parks. I’m also a fan of the performing arts and the unique multicultural experience.

Q: What would you say is the Twin Cities’ best kept secret?

A: Downtown Minneapolis has the longest continuous skyway system, spanning 69 blocks!

Q: Are you involved with any community organizations?

A: I volunteer with Meal on Wheels and Friends of the Elderly.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: Travel, biking, horseback riding, fishing – basically anything outdoors…but only during the summer!

Q: What is your favorite travel destination?

A: Jamaica and Mexico. My dream trip would be to Greece.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

A: I’m a pretty good painter. And I think I’m a good cook!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?

A: Minnesota Wild, Gophers Hockey, and the Golden State Warriors.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: You are not finished when you are defeated. You are finished when you quit.

If you want Regina to be a part of your Rock Star Home Buying or Home Selling team, contact her at!

Brooklyn Center

Brooklyn Center, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis and a southern neighbor of Brooklyn Park, is a city with a diverse array of employment opportunities, recreational activities, ethnic eateries, and worship centers. As one of the largest and most diverse cities in Hennepin County, the city is now home to more than 30,000 people.

A small farming community until the 1950s, Brooklyn Center experienced much of its growth during the post-war housing boom, evident in the abundance of well-priced ranches and ramblers. However, that attractiveness has led to a tight market – at the moment, the city has only 1.6 months real estate supply, almost a month less than the metro area as a whole (Fig. 1, above). This is consistent with the Twin Cities trend of low inventory, resulting in increasing sales prices (Fig. 2, below).

Still, though Brooklyn Center has seen nearly a 40% increase in sales prices over the last three years, the city continues to have some of the lowest monthly payments in the metro. There are also multiple home purchase and rehab programs in place that can aid potential homebuyers and current homeowners. Whether you’re looking for a quaint starter home or a uniquely gorgeous waterfront property, you can find it in Brooklyn Center.

A perhaps surprising factor that has contributed to the limited housing inventory? Residents’ pride in and satisfaction with the city has increased by 38% since 2009, due to improved civic and social services. When residents are happy, they tend to stay put in their homes longer and encourage friends and family to move there as well, thus creating more competition for fewer available houses. Watch the video below for more info on the results of the recent resident’s survey.

Several prominent companies are located in Brooklyn Center, providing convenience for those who live in the area and prefer a short commute. Caribou Coffee established their headquarters at 3900 Lake Breeze Avenue in 2004 and currently has about 200 employees at that address. The 125,000 sq.ft. facilities house the company’s roasting operations, administrative offices, and a large warehouse.

Another beverage company that has a presence in Brooklyn Center is Surly Brewing. Long before Prospect Park’s Brewery and Beer Hall was even a twinkle in founder Omar Ansari’s eyes, he opened the original brewery on Dusharme Drive. After the so-called “Surly Bill” was passed in 2013, allowing breweries to sell their product on site, a taproom was added to the venue and it became a local destination for craft beer enthusiasts.  Although this location is no longer open to the public for tours or purchases, it still operates as a brewery.  

If you’d prefer an old-fashioned malt over a latte or a cold pint, then you have to try The 50’s Grill. With 28 tantalizing offerings, it’s easy to see how this small throwback diner could have served more than two million shakes since opening over 25 years ago. Other nostalgic nosh that’ll get you right in the ‘50s feels include just-like-Grandma’s meatloaf, patty melts, and handmade pies.

Obviously Brooklyn Center has Americana down pat. But what about ethnic eateries? Well, BC has got you covered on that front as well. From authentic Kenyan and Liberian cuisine to Jamaican and Caribbean, from Indian to Vietnamese and Thai, even Greek-American fusion, there truly is an option to whet your whistle, no matter what you are craving. We’d expect nothing less from one of Minnesota’s most diverse cities!

Speaking of having a lot of choices, let’s turn to education – did you know there are FOUR school districts serving Brooklyn Center? This phenomenon is a result of decisions made during the area’s rural past in the 1800s, long before Brooklyn Center became a village or the city it is today. Currently, the only district entirely encompassed within the city is ISD 286, which is one of the area’s biggest employers. One school in the district, Brooklyn Center High, is seen as a model full-service community school, offering services such as a food shelf, legal counsel, and more. These services benefit not only students but their families as well, and have led to increased attendance and graduation rates. Watch this video to learn more about all of the services provided by this school and others like it in the community.

Beyond the school walls, there are many other opportunities for family fun and recreation. For example, Brookdale Library – which originally opened in 1981, underwent renovation in 2002-03, and re-opened in 2004 – is a favorite gathering space for families and community happenings. Likewise, the community center is a popular recreational destination, especially because of its Olympic-sized pool. There are also community parks, regional parks, and even an Arboretum for all the outdoor enthusiasts out there!

Brooklyn Center residents love their community activities, and the most beloved of them all is the annual Earle Brown Days Festival. Held the last weekend of June, this event is now in its 35th year! It was named after Earle Brown, the founder of the Minnesota State Patrol and first Sheriff of Hennepin County. Festivities include a parade up Dupont Avenue, a community market, music, and a fireworks display.

Another landmark named after the Brooklyn Center celebrity is the Earle Brown Heritage Center, which plays host to hundreds of events throughout the year, including weddings, business meetings, and something called The Chef Experience.  With several nearby hotels, this is a very convenient location for large conferences and celebrations.

Just a quick drive down Shingle Creek Parkway will take you to the aptly named Shingle Creek Crossing, the shopping area that replaced Brookdale Center. Taking over the site of the Twin Cities’ third mall – which proudly served Brooklyn Center for nearly 50 years before its demise in 2010 – is no easy feat, but Shingle Creek is doing its best to satisfy the needs of BC residents. As the retail hub of the city, it features national retailers and just about every fast food spot you can think of. It certainly looks a lot different than it did when the area was first developed in the 1960s! While Dayton’s had been the anchor store for many years, subsequent retailers have each done their part to attract shoppers. The next store looking to be a key presence at Shingle Creek Crossing: Hom Furniture, slated to take over the old Kohl’s building at the corner of Bass Lake Road and Highway 100.

Other areas are ripe for revitalization as well. Former NBA star and hometown hero Devean George is aiming to bring a mixed-use development (mostly market-rate apartments) to the site previously occupied by Brookdale Ford. Meanwhile, new Senior Housing will be opening later this summer along 69th Avenue.

The Regal Cinema (seen above) is surely a familiar sight for all who pass the intersection of I-694 and Hwy. 252. Well, take one last good look at it, because by summer it will be gone, to be replaced with the Twin Cities’ new premier Topgolf destination. City officials and developers hope that the “high-tech all-season golf center” will attract thousands of visitors and new residents, especially millennials, to the first-tier suburb.

All these changes mean more people will be spending time in Brooklyn Center, which calls for better transit options. While the suburb is already relatively well connected to Downtown Minneapolis via public transportation, it will soon be even more accessible with the Blue Line light rail extension, which will have several stops along the western border. Until that project is finished in 2021, commuters can look forward to the C-Line, expected to start running in 2019. Portions of I-94 are also currently undergoing roadwork, so if you live in Brooklyn Center and work in the city (or vice versa) and want to avoid the headache of construction season, public transit may be a viable alternative for you.

Lastly, if you have ever driven on Freeway Blvd., we’re sure you have seen a large, imposing black and gray building. Did you know that it is home to the Minneapolis Division of the FBI? This “fortress-like” building has been here for about five years. There are even internships available!

Do you live in Brooklyn Center? Tell us what you love most about the city in the comments section!

Neighborhood Resources


Faith Communities

 Anoka-Hennepin District No. 11 All Nations Christian Fellowship
Brooklyn Center District No. 286  BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Northwest Suburban Integration District No. 6078 Brookdale Covenant Church
Odyssey Academy  Brooklyn United Methodist Church
 Osseo District No. 279  Christ Covenant Chapel
 Robbinsdale District No. 281 Church of the Nazarene
Cross of Glory Lutheran Church
 Dunamis Praise Chapel International
 Imam Husain Islamic Center
Jehovah Jireh Church of God in Christ
 Kenyan Community Seventh-day Adventist Church
Korean Presbyterian Church
 Lutheran Church of The Master
Lutheran Church -The Triune God
Northbrook Alliance Church
St. Alphonsus Catholic Church

Public Parks & Attractions

Local Restaurants

Full List of City Parks 50’s Grill
Brookdale Library Great India
Centerbrook Golf Course  Hiep Thanh BBQ & Deli
 Earle Brown Heritage Center House of Hui’s
Eugene H. Hagel Arboretum Jambo Africa Restaurant
 North Mississippi Regional Park  Jammin’ Wings
Shingle Creek Crossing Shops Que Viet Village House
Scoreboard Pizza
Xin Xin

Tips for Writing a Listing That Sells

House and neighborhood characteristics can positively influence the sale of your home, but what about the words used in the listing? The right turn of phrase could help your property sell quickly, but choose less descriptive terms and you may find it on the market indefinitely. Write an effective listing with the following tips:

Choose Your Words Wisely
One analytics firm reviewed the word choices of a million listings that closed in 2016. Phrases like “open concept” and “natural light” closed more quickly, while listings with “ceramic tile” and “two story” stayed on the market longer. Analysts also found that four word pairs associated with quick closings included “fence” references, indicating that privacy may be a top priority for buyers.

Tell Stories With Emotion
Capture potential buyers’ senses with your words, and try to paint a picture of what it would be like to live in the home. A claw-foot tub becomes a place of solace from the daily grind, and a large yard transforms into a buyer’s new outdoor respite. Need help? Consider enlisting a professional who is familiar with what’s selling to help write your listing.

Highlight Brand Names
Don’t focus solely on basics such as square footage and the number of bathrooms. Instead, identify brands that will stand out from the competition. Everything’s fair game — from appliances to fixtures to interior designers or architects who helped with your last renovation. You can feel comfortable name-dropping here.

Create Longer Listings
The 2015 book “Zillow Talk” found that listings as long as 250 words tend to sell at higher prices. And to help grab a potential buyer’s eye, give particular attention to the first 10 words.

Before putting your home on the market, take some time to craft a well-worded listing. A sale may hinge on it.

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Featured Image Credit: “DSC00227” by Andrew_Writer © 2010 (CC BY 2.0)

Famous U.S. Homes Worthy of a Visit

It’s never too early to dream up your next vacation. Whether you’re interested in a fun, educational destination or you’re on the hunt for home inspiration, visiting these famous estates may pique your imagination.

Architectural Icon
A tour through the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio just outside of Chicago is like peering into the creative mind of one of America’s most iconic architects. Constructed in 1889 for $5,000, this Oak Park house served as the family home for Wright, his wife and their six kids. Bold, geometric shapes on the exterior and the interior’s high, barrel-vaulted ceiling make this visit a must for architecture enthusiasts.

Literary Cats
One home of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway is tucked away in the heart of Old Town in Key West, Florida. The estate boasts Spanish colonial architecture and lush grounds; however, the Hemingway home is also well-known for its current occupants. No less than 40 polydactyl (six-toed) cats, descendants of those owned by Hemingway himself, still live on-site.

Presidential Family Estate
Get a historical perspective with a visit to Hildene, a 1905 Georgian Revival mansion in Manchester, Vermont, that belonged to Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Guests can take year-round tours of the home’s 24-room interior, stroll down approximately 12 miles of walking trails and visit the working farm.

As Seen on TV
Popularized by more than 70 feature films and television shows, including “Full House,” San Francisco’s Painted Ladies are a staple of the city’s skyline. This row of quintessential Victorian homes, also known as the Seven Sisters, ascends one of the city’s hilly neighborhoods. Snap a gorgeous photo from the famous Alamo Square Park across the street.

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Featured Image Credit: “Painted Ladies” by Jay Galvin © 2006 (CC BY 2.0; Edited)

RNR’s Rock Star of the Month: Lasha Raddatz

It’s no coincidence that RNR also stands for “Rock ‘N Roll” … because we think all of our agents are rock stars! Each month we will feature one of our team members to find out more about them and why they joined the biz. Next up is Lasha Raddatz, a 16-year veteran agent who loves working with first time homebuyers!


Q: How long have you been in the business?

A: 16 years

Q: What’s your specialization?

A: First time buyers are my favorite demographic to work with. It’s such an exciting time for these families – we always have a blast!

Q: What is your dream home or favorite house style?

A: Lofts. Think exposed brick, concrete, floor-to-ceiling windows. Preferably on a beach.

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

A: The music scene. I love all the live music here!

Q: What would you say is the Twin Cities’ best kept secret?

A: The band, MPLS. However, Jesse Larson from that band is now on The Voice and she is killing it!

Q: What are your hobbies/interests?

A: Traveling! It’s my oxygen.

Q: What is your favorite travel destination?

A: Jekkyl Island in Georgia.

Q: Do you have any hidden talents?

A: I am a great dancer and used to dance for a local hip hop group, The School of Thought.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

A: Home is where the heart is.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about you?

A: Real estate is my passion! It’s where I’ve met the most amazing people and had the most freedom to do what I love!

If you want Lasha to be a part of your Rock Star Home Buying or Home Selling team, contact her at!

Preparing for a Spring Home Sale or Purchase

Spring has sprung, which means the housing market is in full bloom. Each year, roughly 40 percent of real estate transactions occur between the months of May and August. If you’re feeling inspired to buy or sell a home soon, make sure you’re prepared. Use these checklists to catch anything you may have missed.

When You’re Ready to Buy a Home
Purchasing a house is one of the biggest transactions you’ll ever make. Whether it’s your first time or the fifth, tackle the following prep work:

  • Calculate what you can afford. Use a home affordability calculator to make sure you’re ready for the mortgage payments.
  • Check your credit score, and fix any inaccuracies you discover ASAP. Errors can impact your ability to get a good interest rate.
  • Save up for a down payment. Most lenders require 5 to 20 percent, and larger down payments can lower the amount you pay each month.
  • Be ready for additional closing costs. Plan to have approximately 4 percent of the home’s purchase price on hand to cover taxes, fees and other necessary charges.
  • Re-evaluate your insurance coverage and update all of your policies, including life and car insurance.

When It’s Time to Sell
Putting your home on the market is a process that can take months. Before you do, complete this home seller to-do list:

  • Declutter, clean and get your home ready to show. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
  • Take inventory of what needs to be fixed and make a schedule to complete any updates, such as roof work, new paint or landscaping.
  • Decide on an appropriate selling price. Pulling comps in your area can give you a better idea of your home’s value. Or click here to request a free, personalized home value report!

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Featured Image Credit: “Home For Sale Sign” by Guy Kilroy © 2014 (CC BY-SA 2.0; Edited)

Urban Homesteading: 3 Ways to Produce Your Own Food

From backyard and rooftop gardens to community plots in parks and vacant lots, urban agriculture has become a nationwide movement, and more homeowners have taken an interest in producing their own food. For many urban homesteaders, it stems from a desire to know where their food comes from and live more sustainably.

Are you interested in participating? These three small-scale projects are great places to start.

Raising Backyard Chickens
Chickens provide a relatively inexpensive, low-maintenance way to feed your family, plus they act as complimentary fertilizer and chemical-free pest control. Before you buy baby chicks, make sure you research and follow local laws, city ordinances and homeowner association rules. Get inspired by the luxe chicken coop design above and then check out these DIY tips to build the perfect home for your feathered friends.

Taking Up Beekeeping
In the 1940s, America had five million beehives, and today, roughly half of those remain. A growing awareness of this drastic decline has led to an increase in urban beekeeping, to the tune of approximately 120,000 backyard beekeepers.

Becoming a beekeeper starts with a lot of research, followed by choosing the right equipment and bees. Don’t want to care for an entire colony? Plant native flower and weed varieties that help encourage bee pollination and reproduction.

Gardening and Canning
Whether it’s a large plot or a small section, a personal garden gives you control. Plus, you can preserve fresh fruits and vegetables via the canning process. While many homesteaders use yields from their garden, others buy extra produce in its peak season. Canning veggies and fruits is a family-friendly activity that lets you enjoy seasonal produce all year long.

Though urban homesteading may seem intimidating at first, it’s easier to start small. The projects above can help minimize your impact on the environment and allow you to take part in your own food production.

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Featured Image Credit: “Chicken coop” by SoniaT 360. © 2015 (CC BY 2.0, via Flickr)