Popular Apps for Realtors in 2018

Realtors have complex jobs, which require them to keep track of multiple tasks and people. As an agent you meet potential clients, show properties, attend closings, cover for fellow agents, take continuing education courses, and participate in community events. Whew! And that doesn’t cover everything you do. Technology can help. Apps are available for every real estate related task. Some manage the many documents required to complete contracts. Others keep track of your client list. If your job requires it, there’s an app for it! If you haven’t already discovered a favorite app or two, read on to learn about the top apps for realtors in 2018.


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Evernote calls themselves “your second brain.” Known for the ability to help you take notes, Evernote is much more than a note keeper. This app can help you set up an automated system to save information, locate it when needed, and share it with colleagues and clients. Evernote helps you declutter and work smarter by creating notebooks that contain documents in any form, photos, and even audio and video clips. Everything you need stored in a searchable central location. Try the basic version for free and upgrade to the business version for purchase. The business version allows you to share notebooks and collaborate with team members and clients. One of the exciting features of Evernote is that it’s not limited to the people in your office. Realtors and clients can share notebooks, which can save time by getting photos and other important documents in front of each other quickly.

RPR Mobile™

If you’re looking for a robust a property research app designed exclusively for realtors, this one may be just what you need. The app works based on your location and lets you view listing and sales activity. You can also access all kinds of information about individual properties including, taxes, mortgage history, flood zones, school information, and more. From the app you can create, and email branded reports based on any of the information you gather. For example, put together a mini-property report for your client, or create a property flyer for your agency. You’re able to add text, photos, and audio to any listing you’ve saved. The caveat is that your MLS must be subscribed to RPR Mobile™ but it’s worth the investment.


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Realtors and clients alike are very familiar with apps like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin. These search apps work well if the buyer and realtor get connected. Consider trying this one, rated by the popular online financial advice site, the balance, as one of the top 8 real estate apps for 2018. It’s called HomeSnap and while it uses the expected MLS-powered search features, it also offers messaging and sharing within the app, which the others don’t. Imagine showing a home to a client. The client falls in love, but the spouse or partner is in another state. Using HomeSnap the client can communicate on-the-spot with anyone who they’d like to invite to the decision-making process. The in-app messaging allows sharing with anyone, even if they don’t have the app on their device. With real-time MLS updates, you and your clients get quick access to listings as soon as they’re uploaded to the system. This app could get your client from showing to offer in minutes.



These are just three of the popular apps designed to help realtor and customers have a better home buying experience. You may have others that you use every day. Comment and tell us about your favorite apps.

Published in: on October 16, 2018 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Awesome Real Estate Tools & Apps for Buyers and Sellers



Photo by Neil Soni on Unsplash

Savvy buyers often use the internet first when they begin the search for their new home. New tools and apps pop-up frequently. Not all are useful, and not all provide entirely accurate information. Learn more  here about a few popular real estate tools available for today’s technology driven market. Once you’ve located a home you’re interested in, contact your realtor. They have access to even more details about those listings and will help streamline your next steps.

Zillow and Realtor.com

Whether you’re shopping for a home to buy or you’ve shopped online for a rental, no doubt you’ve at least heard of Zillow. The same goes for Realtor.com. Both have some of the most humorous and heartwarming marketing campaigns. Both tools offer benefits for buyers and sellers. For example, each provides estimated home values, sale prices, tax rates, and even a snapshot of the neighborhood, including school ratings. Homeowners who aren’t sure about listing their home can track their home’s estimated value over time. Zillow and Realtor.com offer an app to use on your phone, which is especially handy if you’re driving through a particular part of town and want to see current listings. Not a substitute for a real live realtor, but a good place to begin your home search.


Are you an aspiring investor?  Look at BiggerPockets. This real estate tool focuses on helping real estate investors learn about nurturing their investment, doing their own repairs and renovations, and earning the maximum return on their investment. If you’re not sure about joining the world of real estate investing, you’ve come to the right place. Bigger Pockets gives access to a ton of free resources including blog posts, podcasts, eBooks, guides and forums. They also have a paid subscription service, which opens a whole world of investing tools.


If you crave the thrill of an auction, explore Xome. Like other real estate tools, Xome offers one unique feature – access to auctions. Homes up for auction come from both the MLS and Xome’s proprietary platform. Investors can look for deals on bank-owned properties, foreclosures, and short-sales. Xome also features standard listings. Xome is one tool real estate investors won’t want to miss!


Think Letgo is just used to sell the kid’s old toys? You’ll be surprised to find out that this free app has grown and is now a great resource for all kinds of services. It’s an excellent on-line garage sale – something that might come in handy when you’re ready to move to your new home. It’s a snap to use. Simply take a photo of the item you’d like to sell and post. Those dishes you’re tired of looking at could be just what someone else is looking for.

Don’t forget – starting your home search online is great but bring your realtor in on the fun as soon as possible. Realtors know how to navigate the sometimes confusing home buying process. They’re able to get you in to see the homes you’ve fallen in love with quickly and an offer on the table before another buyer comes along. They also put you in touch with the other important people who work hard to get you to closing day.

Next month we’ll feature ideas to get your home ready to list. Stay tuned!

Published in: on September 30, 2018 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Get Your Backpack Ready…It’s Time for School

Back to Scho

Late August in Minnesota is a special time of year. The weather pretends like it’s getting ready for the arrival of Fall. Apple orchards are just about ready for picking. And perhaps one of the most exciting events takes place – the back-to-school frenzy. The excitement of a new school year isn’t just enjoyed by the kids. Adults get their backpacks ready too! The Fall semester ranks as the busiest time for college admissions staff. The second busiest enrollment period is the first semester of a new year after people are inspired by their New Year resolutions. Adults face some of the same challenges that younger students deal with but also have a few unique to adult students. Here are few tips to help you have a successful start to your new adventures in education.

Don’t Worry about Picking a Major

The first question most people are asked when they enroll in college level coursework is, “what is your major?” Maybe you’re one of the many adults who’ve been out of school for an extended period of time and you really aren’t sure what you want to do now that you’ve grown-up. Don’t feel pressured to pick a major immediately. Instead, take a few general education courses first to help you acclimate to the college environment. You’re required to take those courses anyway and it gives you time to explore your career options.

Talk to Your Employer

Many companies offer education benefits to employees, so make sure you’re aware of what benefits are available to you. Benefits could include tuition reimbursement, scholarships, and in some cases, internships if your coursework is industry related. Most employers like to promote from within and enjoy supporting team members who further their education. It’s always a good idea to talk with your manager and let them know you’re taking classes. You need all the support you can get.

Schedule Study Time

Adult students have the unique challenge of fitting school in with work and family. While it’s a challenge, it’s not impossible. You may need to get up earlier than usual or stay up a little later at night. Instead of going to lunch with co-workers you might spend your lunch hour working on assignments. It doesn’t matter when you study. What matters is that you keep those appointments – no cancellations. The time you sacrifice for school work will pay off at graduation.

Learn How to Enjoy Learning

Adults go back to school for a variety of reasons. For some it’s about learning new job skills. Others need the degree or certificate to get a promotion. Don’t get so wrapped up in getting the diploma that you forget to enjoy the process of learning. The pressure is off now that you’re not answering to parents for grades. You don’t have to worry about peer pressure either. It’s just you and your goals. Why not make a point to have fun learning? If you’re taking an art course, go on a family outing to an art museum. Go outside and look at the stars – then talk about what you’re studying in your astronomy class. Let your excitement rub off on your kids, or vice versa.

Remember, it’s never too late to go back to school. Whether your goal is to be able to get a promotion, purchase a home, or be an inspiration to someone else, you’ll never be sorry you furthered your education. Time to hit the books!

Published in: on August 28, 2018 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kolacky Days – Celebrate Summer in Minnesota

Photo Courtesy of Kolacky Days

If you don’t have anything planned for the upcoming weekend, be sure to include Kolacky Days in Montgomery, MN. Not far from the Twin Cities, Montgomery captures what visitors and long-time residents love about small towns in Minnesota. Kolacky Days takes place July 27-29,2018. Don’t miss out on this fun and tasty celebration of Czech history in Minnesota. Whether you’re a new resident or are getting ready to relocate to the Twin Cities, you may not realize what a rich cultural history is enjoyed by people who live in and visit our state. Summer welcomes all kinds of events and festivals, so whether you’re an avid fishing fanatic or a dedicated foodie, Minnesota has something interesting to do just about every weekend.

Kolacky What?

If you’ve never experienced kolacky, it’s never too late to wander down to Montgomery and visit Franke’s Bakery. The bakery has been in business for 99 years and is a popular spot to eat kolacky. Kolacky is a Czech specialty made of sweet dough wrapped around a sweet filling. Popular fillings are prune, poppy-seed, apricot, apple, and raspberry. Montgomery just happens to be known as the Kolacky Capital of the World. It doesn’t matter that the town created the moniker for itself, it’s the quaintest place to enjoy the world-famous kolacky.

Isn’t Montgomery in Alabama?

Montgomery, AL is a beautiful city to visit, but don’t put it in your GPS or you’ll be way too far south to eat kolacky. This is Montgomery, Minnesota, a small town of around 3000 located 55 miles southwest of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. If you love visiting and exploring small towns, Montgomery is one you won’t want to miss. The town has a deep Czech heritage but is also representative of rural and patriotic America. The downtown area includes historic buildings with flags lining part of the main thoroughfare. Developers are building new subdivisions but there are plenty of homes that have been in Montgomery for over 60 years. If your job requires you to live near the Twin Cities, Montgomery may be a quieter alternative to living in the middle of the hustle of a big city. If you just enjoy a ride through Minnesota farm country, it’s a wonderful place to visit for a day.

Kolacky Days
Photo Courtesy of Kolacky Days

Don’t Miss Kolacky Days!

The signature Minnesota event to celebrate Czech heritage is Kolacky Days. For 2018, the celebration takes place July 27-29. The weekend will be packed full of fun including a coronation of the Kolacky Queen, a prune spitting contest, tractor pulls, music and entertainment of all kinds, cultural displays, and of course, plenty of opportunity to sample kolacky. Now, it’s possible to find kolacky in certain bakeries in the Twin Cities, but you won’t find any as authentic or delicious as those in Montgomery. You might love the town and its pastries so much you’ll decide to relocate to Montgomery. If you do, you’ll have a warm welcome!
Whether you’re looking for a new home or contemplating a relocation to the Twin Cities and surrounding area, you will find a welcome committee that includes some of the top real estate services in the country. You’ll find answers to everything from finding a lender to things related to your real estate closing. Welcome to Minnesota!

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do you really need a Title Company?

Congratulations! You’ve fallen in love with a home and are on the way to packing and scheduling movers. Over the next month or so, you’ll provide more information than you ever thought possible, and sign what feels like reams of documents. In between you’ll get various communications from people who play a variety of roles in this production called real estate. One of those communications will be from a person who works for the title company. If you’re not sure what a title company has to do with you buying a home, read more to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about title companies and real estate. Well, at least everything that can fit in a few short paragraphs – if you have more questions you can always call your real estate agent, or the person who sent you the email in the first place.

Why Am I Getting a Message from the Title Company?

Shortly after signing the real estate purchase contract, you’ll get an email or phone call from the title company regarding your preliminary closing date. The title company plays a critical role in getting you from purchase contract to receiving the keys to your new home. Their role is very much behind the scenes but without the work of title officers and examiners, there is no closing date. You may get more than one message from your title company. Always read those communications carefully. Ignoring an email from your title company could delay closing!

Why Do I Need a Title Company?

Imagine for a moment the beautiful home you’ve chosen. Can you see yourself relaxing on the pretty tiled patio? Or pulling into the roomy garage – the one with enough space for 2.5 cars? Over the years, previous owners also loved your home, putting their own personal touch in the yard and on the walls. Sometimes a previous owner leaves more than just their decorating style. Maybe they never paid a contractor or owe back taxes to the IRS. They could have left you a lien on the home, which is a big problem. A previous owner also might have left behind an heir who has a claim on the home. The title company employs specialists who comb public records looking for any information that might prevent, or at the least, delay you getting those front door keys. Of course, the title company also gathers the information about easements, leases, or other restrictions on the property. If you’re still not convinced, just ask your mortgage company. They won’t approve your loan without a clear title.

Someone Said I Have to Buy Title Insurance

Talk to your lender. Most mortgage companies require the buyer to purchase title insurance that covers the amount being borrowed. Maybe you’re a cash buyer. In that case, it’s optional unless your state has its own requirements. Check with your title company – see, one more reason you need them. If you’re feeling a little resistant to being told you need yet another insurance policy, don’t stop reading now. Just like homeowner’s insurance protects you, title insurance is also designed with your best interest in mind. Title insurance protects you from any possibility that any previous owner did not have free and clear ownership of your property. Now, it’s a remote possibility, but are you willing to risk losing everything you’ve put into this home you’re buying if in a few years, some forgotten owner pops up and tries to lay claim to your investment? Didn’t think so. Borrowers typically don’t have a choice, but if you’re paying cash, just get the policy and hope you never need to use it. Are you wondering what this has to do with everything you want to know about title companies? Title companies issue the title insurance policies. They really are essential players, aren’t they?

It’s Closing Day!

Bet you thought you’d never get to closing day, but here you are, sitting at a big table with your realtor waiting anxiously for the moment when someone hands you the keys. The title company is here too! Say, “hello” to your closer.  This person sits at the head of the closing table. You and your realtor sit on one side, and the seller and their realtor sit on the other. The closer explains each process and collects the required signatures on the large pile of documents. Your closer does more than supervise signatures. If you haven’t realized it yet, buying a home is a complicated process. You won’t see most of the process because so much of it is taken care of behind the scenes. The closer ensures that all funds, including closing costs and down payments, are taken care of properly.

One final job that your title company does for you is to get all those papers you’ve just spent the last hour signing legally recorded. This includes the deed to your new home. You’re free to go home now and pick out paint colors, and garden plants. Welcome home!


Published in: on May 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Still waiting to close…..

Title work comes in for a file that is set to close in two weeks.  It shows that there is an old mortgage on the property that should have been satisfied previously.  Good, we have two weeks, not two days!  I hate it when these come up a few days before closing.  I begin work on trying to determine where it closed when that mortgage was paid off.  This is generally the best route to take because we can then get them to issue us a letter of indemnity which is just a letter accepting liability for that extra mortgage instead of leaving that liability with us.  After some searching for the title company I discover that a title company was not used.   The mortgage company that did the refinance sent a signing company instead so we now have no one who can indemnify us.  On to the next challenge- locating the mortgage company and trying to get a satisfaction of mortgage to file against the property.    Title shows the mortgage is held by MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.) which is basically just a holding company.  I am able to go online and find out who the last servicer of record is but of course they are no longer in business.  After a lot of calling and google searching I think we have tracked down the company who took over for this mortgage company.  I then find that they have ceased their North American operations and only have offices in South America.   I proceed to call and try to get someone to understand exactly what it is we need but it is difficult.  At this point I have spoke with someone who seems to know what we need and faxed everything over to her.  This whole process has exceeded the two weeks and the closing has not happened yet.  The South American mortgage company representative needs a few days to do some research so I will hopefully hear something soon.  Whether or not they will be able to help us at all is questionable and if so, how long it will take is a concern.

Please read my first blog on title score and you will now see why a property “checkup”  is so highly recommended.  If we are unable to get anything from this company, the next step is for the sellers to obtain a real estate attorney to do a quiet title action on the property- get a judge to remove the mortgage- and the cost and time of that will probably kill the whole deal.  Not a good thing for the agents who have put so much time into the transaction and especially not a good thing for the sellers and buyers!  Call your local title company and have them check out your title..

Crap Happens!

A while back Network Title completed a remodeling project in our Shoreview office that gave us new countertops and a receptionist desk, carpet, paint and wall coverings—it was beautiful! Shortly after the project was completed, we were to do a closing for some VIP’s that were new in town; we were very excited to meet them. They arrived with their daughters, 2 year old Nina, and 7 year old Cici in tow. At one point during the closing, Nina indicated that she needed to use the restroom. So Mom took off her diaper and sent her to restroom under the guidance of Big Sister, Cici. We continued signing until there was a knock at the door. It was Carla, one of our closers, coming to inform Mom that Nina was apparently not feeling well, and nodded toward the lobby. The look on Carla’s face had us all gravely concerned, so all we trailed out of the closing—to find Nina in the middle of the lobby, perched proudly next to the biggest pile of foamy, green, stinking… well, you get the idea: Nina had never made it to the rest room! The closing exploded into instant chaos as Mom, embarrassed by her daughter’s accident, began scrubbing furiously at the putrid stain (in her turquoise silk suit), and Dad tried to clean up Nina, while Cici paced around lecturing Nina. The rest of us tried to pitch in and clean up the stain, all the while assuring our customers that everything would be fine. We then hurriedly finished up the closing and they left. To our amazement, they came back to refinance with us two years later, daughters again in tow. This time however, Nina was not allowed to leave the stroller, and we all had a good laugh. Despite repeated cleanings, the stain never did come completely out of that brand new carpet, but it was a fun reminder that closings do sometimes stink J

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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If you’re a realtor or buyer, it pays to know your title person. Here’s why….

You are a buyer or an agent representing a buyer and you’re out looking at properties to purchase.  There are lots of choices, from bank owned to short sales to traditional sales (yes there really are some of those out there).  Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the seller’s situation is, especially if you aren’t one of the patient buyers who can wait months and months for short sale approval?  Your title person can let you know who owns the property, how many mortgages there are and their original principal balance, if the taxes are current and if there have been any foreclosure notices or sheriff’s sales that have occurred.  This is all of public record and can be helpful in determining how quickly you may be able to close and how motivated the seller may be.  Some title companies may charge, some may not.  We do not charge as long as it is one of the metro counties we can access online through our subscription services, which includes all of the main ones.  We are happy to check for you. Have as much knowledge as possible when you’re ready to write that offer!

Children, no matter how precious, cannot sell real estate!

It’s Friday afternoon and only one more closing to go.  A nice simple one too.  Cash buyer buying from for sale by owner sellers- no payoffs and no title issues.  Great- quickly close it, package it out, and head home for a relaxing weekend.   It is a husband and wife buying from a mom and daughter and and buyers show up first, looking very excited about buying their first home.   We get them settled in and “Ann” the seller that I have been dealing with arrives with a cute little girl who is excitedly looking around for toys and/or cookies.  Wow, Ann is a young looking Grandma.  I ask her when her daughter, “Jane” will be arriving so that we can start the closing  she looks over at the little 6 year old and tells “Jane” to come on in so we can start the closing.   Shocked, I realize that she was not kidding.  She is actually in title with a 6 year old child!  Well, besides the fact that I do not have crayons for signing the deed, I am pretty sure she is a minor.  Buyers are in the closing room, oblivious to what is happening in the lobby.  I explain to “Ann” that her daughter does not have the legal right to sign documents and try to determine how or who would ever have put a child in title.  As it turns out, a few years earlier, her and her ailing husband asked an attorney to add their daughter to title so that if anything happened to them she would get the house.  Apparently the attorney failed to ask them the child’s age, only asked for the name.  She was 3 years old at the time!  Well, needless to say, we could not close that day.

Mom had to go to court to have herself established as legal guardian for her daughter and then have the courts approve the sale of the daughter’s assets.  As it turns out, the court decided that the daughter’s 50% equity that would be received on the sale of the home would need to go into trust for the daughter to receive many years later when she reached legal age.  The roughly $120,000.00 that was to be received at closing and used to purchase another home to leave behind the sad memories of deceased dad/husband would now only be $60,000.00 pricing her out of the home she wanted to buy!  Add to that the 60 day time period to get through the courts as well as the legal fees expended and all does not end well.   I am just glad I wasn’t the one who had to break the news to the buyer that they were going to have to start looking for another home.

Luckily in most cases, real estate agents are involved and would hopefully know that a 6 year old seller is a problem.  In looking at the purchase agreement for the above transaction later, it was determined that the mother had signed for the daughter.  After all she is her mom.  Should I have noticed that the signatures were very similar?  I guess I have a hard time even faulting myself for not catching that…

Well, no closing, no early Friday departure, but a little drama and some additional knowledge never hurts anyone!

Have you received your title score?

Millions of documents have been filed against property titles over the last decade.  The sheer volume of documents leaves a trail of misfiled documents, filed documents with errors and fraudulent documents.  Add to that the tens of thousands of defunct title agents who didn’t file documents and the likelihood of title defects on your property is high.  We are all urged to check our life insurance policies and vehicle titles as well as our credit reports and credit scores, but do we ever check the title to our property?  We generally don’t do this until we are going to refinance or sell our property.    In most cases, these title defects can be straightened out, but with so many banks and title companies no longer in business, tracking down satisfactions or other releases has become difficult and can delay the closing.

Here are some of  the title issues that can cause problems and hinder a potential sale or refinance:

Unreleased mortgages – even though you have paid your mortgage off in full, a lien release must be filed at the county to remove the lien from your property title.  These releases are sometimes sent directly to the county, sometimes to the title company that paid it off and sometimes directly to the homeowner who has no idea how to get it recorded or even that they need to do it.  Attempting to get the release years later is difficult at best and impossible at times.

Liens can be placed on your property by a variety of sources such as contractors, ex-spouses, business partners, attorneys, creditors and government entities such as the Department of Revenue, IRS or County Human Services for child support

Incorrect liens can be filed against your property due to an error in a legal description. Your neighbor’s $300,000.00 mortgage can be filed on your property by the simple mistyping of Lot 1 instead of Lot 2.  We have dealt with this situation far more often than you would think.

Family changes such as death or divorce need to be dealt with also.  Certified copies of probate documents and divorce decrees need to examined and filed and waiting to do this at closing time can cause delays and may even require amended documents due to incorrect legals or other clerical errors.

These are just some of the common defects that can be discovered by a simple property search.  An ownership report can save you invaluable time and stress when done now rather than when you are anxious to make it to the closing table.  You get your credit score, why not your title score?  Your investment is huge, why jeopardize it?

Published in: on January 13, 2011 at 11:22 am  Comments (1)  
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