Saturday, February 22, 2014

Looking for Lakeshore Privacy? Grand Rapids may be the Place for You.

As lake property buyers try to decide on the best area for their needs, they tend to take many factors into consideration.  One of the most important decisions is the drive time to their homes if they are only using the place on weekends.  And another one that comes up quite often is the amount of privacy they can get on water.

Many buyers who search for lake homes in popular lake areas like Brainerd, Aitkin and Detroit Lakes find that the types of cabins they envisioned -- with large yards for the grandkids to play in -- are only available at a hefty price.  That is because zoning ordinances have allowed for many larger properties to be cut up into smaller lake frontages.  During the hot market times of the late 90s and early 2000s, nearly anyone who could cut a lot or two off their property did.  And many investors, looking for the quick buck, purchased older lake cabins and sold the properties off in lots. 

However, in the Grand Rapids Area and Itasca County you will find that those regulations have remained tighter, and lot sizes are generally far larger than counties to the south and west.  Most all of the recreational lakes in Itasca County are designated as Recreational Development, and that requires a minimum of 200' of lakeshore on each parcel.  You will find some smaller ones here and there that were grandfathered in from many years ago, but overall most of these lake cabins have a lot of privacy compared to other parts of Minnesota.

Grand Rapids is about three hours from the Twin Cities and Fargo -- a bit further than many weekenders want to go -- but it is densely wooded and has nearly half of its land available for public use.  With over 1,000 lakes, and immense privacy, it could be a great place for you to track down the lake place you have in mind.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What if your Lake Cabin or Vacation Home is not Quite Ready for Showings Yet?

Over the next few weeks, we will begin to see a number of lake property buyers begin to go out and physically view real estate on water.  Until now, many of them have been satisfied staying in their warm houses and clicking through lake homes, cabins and lots on their computers -- but they are getting restless.

This week we have several waterfront buyers coming into town from other states in search of the perfect lake place.  Their goal is to have the closing done and be in possession in time to begin enjoying the lake once the ice goes out.  And a two-month closing from today is Mid-April -- on spring's doorstep!

 If your lake cabin has decent road access and you can get in and turn on some heat, you may beat the other sellers with the low inventory on lakes this time of year.  Whether you are selling for the first time, or have had your place off the market for the winter, it is a good time to find motivated lakeshore buyers.  And don't forget to do a quick cleaning to freshen up the place after being closed up for several months.

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 May be a Good One for Lake Property Buyers!

Lake homes and cabins seem to have begun a rebound in demand once again in many parts of Minnesota. Buyers who have sat on the sidelines for several years, while the real estate market was on a downward slide, have been more anxious to begin their searches for a waterfront getaway than they have been for some time. Most real estate agents I talk with in Minnesota -- and across the country -- seem to think we are in for a very good year in sales for 2013.

 A couple factors that are helping create the demand are no doubt the positive media coverage we are seeing for the housing market. Talk of increasing new construction starts, rising interest rates, and the likelihood of higher sale prices are all fueling demand. Not too mention the fact that there is a ton of pent-up demand for those who couldn't bring themselves to risk jumping into a lake property while prices were declining.

Overall, I believe that lake property buyers who purchased during the past year or so will look back and realize they purchased at or near the bottom of the market. If you are shooting for that same goal, it may very well be time to jump in.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New McGregor Office Realty now has a presence in the McGregor, Minnesota Area. Our local agent, Neal Sampson, is located just a few miles up Highway 65 north of McGregor, in the Yellowstone Log Homes building, which is convenient to both Big Sandy Lake and Lake Minnewawa. Neal has a great understanding of the local lakeshore market, so please stop in and see him if you are thinking of buying or selling in the area. You can also reach him at, or on his cell at 218-330-4001.

If you are looking for some great lake property values within two hours of the Twin Cities, you will find that Big Sandy, Minnewawa, Round Lake, and others in the area have some incredible prices right now. If you aren't familiar with the lakes in the McGegor Area, here is a link to the main ones.

Big Sandy, alone, has over 6,000 acres of water, plus several other lakes and rivers that adjoin it for great boating. There are several bars and restaurants on the lake, plus many islands and bays to get lost in, so it offers a lot interesting water recreation. And Big Sandy Lodge is a top notch modern resort, with fine dining and great amenities. There are also a number of great little eateries all around the McGregor Area, so ask Neal about those if you need some suggestions.

Happy Easter from all of us at Realty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Back to Basics

So many of us in all types of consumer-related businesses have been essentially forced into a multitude of new ways to connect with the public. Whether it is through blogging, social media, or just trying to find ways to be seen above all the other online clutter, you can pretty much spend your entire day fiddling around with these technologies in hopes of providing some sort of value to your audience.

But I think the main problem with this idea is that there just aren't enough hours in the day for most of those people you are focusing on to even read what you write. So perhaps the days of telling long stories on niche-focused blogs is a thing of the past. And maybe people who are looking for lake properties would rather spend their limited time looking through actual lake properties that may fit their needs, instead of reading the opinions of agents who are selling them.

I know that most of the articles I receive in my inbox each day end up going straight into a folder titled: "Articles to Read." Not that I ever really think of reading them again, but it makes me feel better if they are gone from my inbox and somewhere that I can find them if I want. However, I would have to take about a three month vacation in an attempt to read them all, and I don't see that happening anytime soon. Not to mention, tomorrow will be a brand new day of fresh articles popping into my email, with brand new ideas -- even much better than those old ones from last week.

So as good as the idea of blogging is in terms of providing expert advice to those who may want it, I'm sure that a ten second Google Search can bring up many well-written articles with the exact content that anyone has in mind at that time. I know that is what I do when I need information on nearly any subject, and it is much more efficient than reading through multiple blogs in hopes of coming across an article that may be helpful.

But, when it comes to providing information about some of the best lake properties entering the market, that is something we are pretty good at filtering out for our ongoing audience. And as the new season approaches, our focus will be more on using our talents to point out some of those new lake places for you in our blog. Hopefully, that will be information you will find extremely valuable as a potential waterfront buyer -- and something that is not as easy to find on your own.

Happy Holidays,

Dan Anderson

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Story of Realty Realty has operated throughout many waterfront markets in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin since the late 90s, and grew from the niche concept that its founders, Dan & Sandy Anderson, had created ten years before that. The idea to truly specialize in waterfront properties, instead of focusing on all types of real estate like most agents do, was somewhat of a new concept back then. But both buyers and sellers seemed to appreciate the focused knowledge that the Andersons brought to the table, and their niche marketing strategies became incredibly effective as a tool to find qualified buyers for their lakefront listings.

As the Internet evolved, became their platform to get in front of both waterfront buyers and sellers, instead of primarily print advertising as used previously. Although only 2% of real estate buyers searched for properties online in 1996 when was launched, that portion of the business continued to grow and has become the search mechanism of nearly 100% of today’s buyers – especially those in search of homes and vacation properties on water.

Today, Realty continues to expand its brand into various market areas across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin through localized agents who can benefit from the marketing strengths of, and who are able to create a waterfront specialty business for themselves in their respective market areas. Those agents are able to bring a unique value and added exposure to their listings through highly targeted marketing – something incredibly difficult for most agents to do on their own or with more generalized brokerages. And, as this model has worked well to benefit numerous agents and their clients in the Upper Midwest for many years, it is only a matter of time before we begin to expand into waterfront regions across the country.

Because Realty agents have a primary focus on waterfront properties, and tend to view those properties over and over, their sense of value is second to none. Whether they are representing buyers in search of the perfect lake place, or helping sellers prepare a property for its highest potential sale price, their focus on the waterfront market gives them a strong understanding of current values and buyer needs – along with specific knowledge on many of the unique factors relating to real estate transactions on water.

When you work with an agent from Realty, you not only get a highly focused professional who is a true specialist in their field, but you also have an incredible combination of marketing expertise and in-depth knowledge of the waterfront real estate business through the many years of accumulated insight that the company and its broad base of specialized agents have acquired. A Realty agent does not have to guess what types of marketing efforts are most effective, or which lakes may fit your needs best…they have the answers already. It is the same reason people work with specialists in any type of profession.

But just like specialists in law, medicine, or any other field, Realty agents are certainly more than capable of assisting their clients in any general area of real estate as well, such as homes that are not on water. It’s just that when it comes to lake and river properties, they will be hard to beat!

The full story of and Realty is yet to be finished. But even in an extended period of economic turmoil – a time when many other general real estate companies are somewhat adrift – the chapters are continuing to take shape here. And, best of all, they are filled with a growing list of satisfied clients who decided to use a specialist from Realty for their waterfront real estate needs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Lost -- and Found -- in a World Wide Web of Real Estate

We were fortunate to learn about the Internet quite early in online history compared to many of our competitors in the real estate business, and somewhat by accident. After hearing a speaker in 1996 talk about how the Internet was a bit like the Wild West, with incredible opportunities just waiting for adventurers, I remember coming home all excited about the possibilities, and we set out to find an internet expert who could help us find a good domain name and build a website to fit our lake property real estate niche.

Many people have asked us over the years about how we were able to get a name as good as It was essentially a stroke of luck, and it has been the driving force behind our business -- and our lives -- ever since.

Having a niche site with great content for so many years has been the key to obtaining powerful search results as well. Long before Google was even around, we had first page results on search sites like AltaVista, Lycos, Infoseek, Ask Jeeves and many others. And as those lovable search engines from the past have faded into darkness, we have been able to find the same success with the main search sites of today.

But new technologies and ideas have given rise to numerous methods of connecting with others and obtaining specific information. Obviously, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have created an entirely new array of ways for people to stay in touch and recommend products and services to others. They have also become somewhat effective tools to market all kinds of items, including real estate. Many agents have become experts at using the features associated with these unique sites to get more exposure for themselves, and their properties...but generally with limited success.

Directory sites like Craigslist,, and -- where you could find companies like ours under a category such as Waterfront Real Estate Specialists -- try to localize specific types of businesses or products for sale, and sometimes include ratings systems for visitors to find reviews and additional information. There are so many types of directories that it is pretty much impossible to really categorize even the sites themselves, but many of them can be used to either promote properties or a specific real estate company or agent.

And then, of course, there are niche sites like, and that offer specific products to a target audience. The real estate landscape is littered with these types of niche sites, whether you are looking to rent your property or sell it. And it is quite easy to find high traffic niche real estate sites that can get you plenty of page views in your specific category.

So as a prospective seller these days, you have nearly limitless options to market your own property through a plethora of websites that could potentially find you a buyer. Hopefully, if you decide to list your property with a licensed agent, they will use a variety of those same techniques to get some promising results as well. And if they do, you won't be the one forking out $25 here, or $75 there, to get on the best sites...because many of the free ones are generally free for a reason.

By letting the agents handle this piece of the puzzle you can save a fair amount of upfront money, since their marketing costs are probably included in the commission structure. But even more important, they are not doing this for the first time, and they most likely have a pretty good idea of which sites work better than others.

But there is one thing I can assure you of: If it were that easy to get homes sold in this day and age directly from just using multiple websites, every agent would be doing it -- and earning BIG commissions without much effort. And...they are not!

Being successful at real estate sales takes a number of skill sets beyond just the marketing of the property. It is true that the more exposure you can obtain -- especially to your target audience -- the better chance you have of landing your property in front of the right prospect. But negotiating, preparing the proper wording, understanding the competition, recognizing buyers' motivations, and holding things together up until closing are all even more important than the initial act of finding a buyer.

So, as this economy continues to bounce along on bottom, trying so hard to turn the corner back up again (at least that is the way I see it in the lakeshore market today), you will need every tool possible to not only create the best exposure to find that elusive buyer, but also the expertise to make sure you get to the closing table...and walk away from it without owning the property any longer. Because each step of the process can be a considerable struggle in the current marketplace, and your are going to want all the help you can get.

The Internet has created a sea change in all of our lives that will last at least as long as we all do. But harnessing its true power -- both in searching for products and in trying to market them -- can still be a bit of a secret. It is extremely easy to get lost out there in that Wacky World Wide Web...but not quite as easy to get found.