4 Frequently Asked Questions About Buying Your First Vacation Property

If you’ve never bought a second home before, you might have a lot of questions about owning a vacation property. Here are 4 of the most common questions about buying a vacation home to help you get started. 

Can I afford a second home? 

Buying an additional property is a big financial step. There are a lot of factors you need to consider other than just having a second mortgage. What are local property taxes like? How much should you set aside monthly for maintenance and repairs? How much will it cost to insure your new home? Do I want to rent it out when I am not using it? Before you get started looking, answer these questions for yourself and create a budget. Then you will be ready to start looking for your perfect vacation home. 

Should I rent out my vacation home?

One way that people manage to afford their second home is by renting it out when they are not using it. If you’ve dreamed of owning a cabin Up North, but aren’t sure you can afford it, this option might be good for you. Before making this decision, consider the extra work that you will need to put into renting out your second home – managing bookings, cleaning, coordinating with guests, and the potential of extra maintenance that can come with having short-term renters.

What are the benefits of buying versus renting a vacation cabin?

While renting can be a good option for many, it might not be the best financial investment in the long term. If you know that you and your friends or family like to go to the same spot multiple times a year, investing in a vacation home is a great financial move. You will likely gain equity in the long run and have the additional asset of a second property to add to your financial portfolio. 

Do I need to hire a real estate agent? 

While it’s not legally required or needed, working with a real estate agent has numerous benefits. When you work with a real estate professional you have access to their professional network and an expert in the legal pieces that are involved with purchasing a property, and more. Check out our blog Five Reasons Why Working with a Real Estate Agent Matters.


We’re excited that you are considering purchasing a vacation home! Our team is here to answer all of your questions! Reach out to us today to learn more about buying a second property!

Building Your Own Hunting Cabin? Here are 3 Ways to Get Started.

Hunting season in Northern Minnesota is upon us! Has it been your dream to have and build your own hunting property? Here are three tips to help you get started. 

Research Locations and Local Hunting Laws

Do your research and find ideal locations with options to buy bare land. Decide if you want to hunt on your own land, or on nearby hunting land. Check on the local laws and regulations surrounding hunting so that you know what to expect. Once you know your location you can start searching for land. 

Understand Your Financial Options

Are you planning to build right away or wait a few years? How much are you willing to spend? Creating a budget and creating expectations around the financial aspect of building your hunting cabin can help you plan and not become overwhelmed by the process. Contact your bank or research various lending options.

Get Connected with your Local Vacation Property Realtor

Another great place to start is by reaching out to a local vacation property realtor to help you understand your options. They will be able to connect you to potential financial lenders, and properties, and might even understand local hunting laws. When you find a professional and knowledgeable team as we have at Bill Hansen Realty, you can feel comfortable knowing that you are moving forward in the right direction. 
Let us be that vacation property realty team for you! Check out our current bare land properties and then give us a call!

4 Things to Consider If You’re Moving to the Cabin Full-Time

The Pandemic changed a lot of the ways that we operate our lives day-to-day. For many people that means working from home full-time. This can give you the opportunity to travel and you might have spent some extra time at the cabin this summer. Maybe it has even got you thinking that you’d like to move to your cabin full-time. Here are some things to consider if you want to make your vacation home your permanent home. 

Sort Out Your Mortgage

Typically, the mortgages are categorized as either a primary residence, secondary residence, or investment property. Be sure to contact your bank or your mortgage broker to figure out what you need to do to switch your vacation home to your primary residence. 

Change Over Your Insurance

The cost to insure vacation homes is often more pricey than a primary residence. Once you have your mortgage sorted out, be sure to call your insurance company to make the cabin your primary residence and save you money. 

Schedule an Appointment with your Tax Professional

Taxes are tricky enough without having to deal with two mortgages. There are several benefits to changing your vacation property to your primary residence. One is that if you do decide to sell it in the future, you could avoid having to pay a capital gains tax unless you’ve listed your vacation home as an investment property and have rented it out. Your tax professional will be able to answer any questions you might have and guide you on the best path for you.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Cabin living doesn’t always offer as many amenities as our urban or suburban homes. Figure out what appliances, electronics, and creature comforts you can’t live without, and be sure that you can translate that into the cabin. You don’t want to regret your choice to move to the cabin full-time. 

The team at Bill Hansen Realty is always here to help you every step of the way. We can help you find a vacation home to live in full-time or get you connected with the right people to help you transition to Up North living! Get in touch today

Best Advice for Buying a Cabin with Friends or Family

One of the most financially savvy ways to achieve your dreams of buying a Northern Minnesota vacation home is to go in with friends or family. But there is a lot to think about when it comes to joint ownership of your Up North Cabin. These are the best pieces of advice we have to set you up for success when you buy your shared vacation property.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

Buying a second home together is not something to go into lightly. There are a lot of details to work out, problems that could arise, or conflicts that might happen. Go into this process with friends or family members you have good relationships with and who can deal with conflict maturely.

Hire a Lawyer

It might seem extreme, but hiring a lawyer to ensure that you and everyone else are protected is vital to successful joint ownership of your vacation cabin. They will be able to ensure that each party is treated fairly and have knowledge of necessary legal details that you might not have otherwise considered. 

Create a Plan to Cover All Expenses

The monthly mortgage isn’t the only expense you will incur. Decide ahead of time who will be responsible for property taxes, insurance, utilities, necessary household goods, furnishings, etc. You can split up the expenses between parties, put one person in charge of the expenses, or have everyone contribute to one account where expenses come out. Whatever you decide, be sure that everyone is in agreement to pay fairly and equally.

Decide Who Will Take Care of Maintenance Issues

Maintenance issues will inevitably arise with any property. Will you hire professionals to fix it? Is there someone in the group who can do the work? Will you decide based on each issue or incident? Ensuring that there is a plan for maintenance issues can prevent conflict and headaches for the whole party.

Make a Schedule for Cabin Usage

If you’re planning on splitting up your time between parties, decide ahead of time what dates each family or individual will have access to the property. You might decide to do some weekends together, or even make your vacation home available for rentals such as VRBO or Airbnb. Decide if you’re willing to be flexible on the schedule and if you’re okay with different parties utilizing the cabin when the various co-owners can’t make it. 

Whenever you’re ready to search for your co-owned cabin property, the Bill Hansen team is here to find the perfect vacation home for you and your friends or family! Check out our current properties to get a taste of what your Northern Minnesota cabin could look like! 

Four Things You Need to Know Before Buying an Older Cabin Property

Minnesota brings a lot of rich history. Thanks to the beautiful scenery Up North, people have built some gorgeous cabin properties over the years. Older homes tend to have solid structural bones and a ton of charm and character, but because of their age, some issues can arise while owning an aged property. If you’re looking into buying an older vacation home, here are four things you should look for or ask about before signing the paperwork. 

When was the electrical and plumbing last updated? 

Older homes often have outdated internal plumbing and electrical systems that could cause major issues resulting in thousands of dollars in repairs. See if outlets are up to code and what materials have been used for piping. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller to update some of the more reasonable items if you decide to make an offer. 

Are there any Structural or Foundational Concerns? 

Even the most well-built homes can deteriorate over time. Beams and foundations can crack and materials can become compromised due to bad weather, water damage, or other uncontrollable factors. If a home has major structural concerns, consider working with the seller to negotiate the price as repairs can be expensive and most homeowners insurance companies won’t cover the cost of these types of repairs. 

Has the Property Been Tested for Radon? 

Radon is a toxic chemical that is created by the breakdown of uranium in the ground. When it occurs naturally in the environment it causes no harm and is released into the atmosphere. However, when it gets trapped inside a home it can cause dangerous side effects to the human body. Ask the seller if the property has been tested, and if it hasn’t, have them test the home before making an offer so that you know what you’re getting into. 

Does the Home Contain any Hazardous Materials?

Homes built before 1978 often contain materials now known to be unsafe such as lead paint or asbestos. You might want to look into the cost and time commitment of removing them before purchasing, especially if you were hoping to move in quickly. 
Buying a cabin property should be a fun and exciting experience. Bill Hansen Realty’s team is here to advocate for you and ensure that you don’t step into a property with a load of issues that could set you back thousands of dollars. Get in touch with us today to start your search for your beautiful, new-to-you vacation home!

Create Your Dream Minnesota Cabin With These Easy Rustic Design Ideas

If you love rustic style design, your cabin is a great place to run wild with your rustic design dreams. Because this style focuses on bringing the outdoors in with natural materials and rugged elements, you can give your cabin the makeover you’ve been waiting for Up North in Minnesota! Here are some ways you can create that rustic feed in your cabin. 

Rough-Hewn Beams

Rough-hewn beams add instant charm and can be used as ceiling beams,  door or window frames, and as a mantle for your fireplace, creating a classic cabin feel. 

Earth Tones

Think colors you would commonly see in nature, like the woodsy tones from tree bark, rocks, and soil, or subtle green tones from plants, trees, and grass. Keep it simple and mix in creams and whites if you don’t want the color or design to feel too “heavy.”

Weathered Materials

Aged wood, reclaimed wood, hammered metal, and seeded glass are all options that provide visual interest and texture and are perfect for decorating your cabin. You could find furniture or art made with these materials or have them custom-made.

Organic Materials

Organic materials like wood, rock, and leather help you feel connected to nature and provide the warmth people love from rustic design. These items can be easily incorporated into flooring, tiles, or furniture to help bring your design together. 

You can take many directions with the rustic design feel from traditional rustic, farmhouse, simple, or modern! The best part is you get to choose! Creating a rustic design in your Northern Minnesota cabin is a fun project and is made all the more meaningful when incorporating elements from our beautiful Minnesota nature! If you’re looking to remodel soon, check out these 6 Priorities for Remodeling Your Cabin

Five Reasons Why Working With a Real Estate Agent Matters

You might wonder if buying or selling your next vacation home is something you can tackle yourself without a professional. While you can certainly manage the details of buying or selling a home, here are some excellent reasons why working with a real estate agent makes a difference. 

You have access to their professional network

Real Estate Agents have a vast professional network that can be beneficial to expand your options for buyers or sellers. They work to find the perfect fit for you that you might not have known about otherwise. They also often work closely with trusted mortgage brokers, inspectors, and repair people that could help make your process effortless.

A Team of Knowledge

Often with your real estate agent, you’ll also get a team of people behind them who are experts in different steps of the process and can ensure that everything is happening smoothly and above board. 

Price and Perks Negotiation

Real estate agents are masters when it comes to the art of negotiation. They’ll ensure you are getting the absolute best deal possible when it comes to making a deal on buying or selling your Minnesota home. 

Expertise with Legal Terms and Documents

If you’ve never bought or sold a house before, you should know that A LOT of paperwork is involved. Having someone to help explain it to you and ensure everything looks legitimate and above board is crucial in keeping yourself and your finances safe. 

They’ll Advocate for You

Ensuring that you are getting the best service, value for your money, or offer on your property is at the top of a good real estate agent’s list. They love meeting your needs and advocating on your behalf with all of the parties involved.

Looking for a real estate team committed to doing the best job possible for you and being your local resource long after your sale? Look no further than Our Team at Bill Hansen Realty! 

4 Popular Housing Market Myths vs. Reality

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about purchasing a home and what’s happening in the housing market. Here are four common myths going around and the facts that debunk them. 

Myth #1: I have to renovate/fix up my house or vacation home before selling it. 

Reality: That might have been true several years ago, but in today’s seller’s market, it’s less likely you’ll have to do much work if your house is in decent shape. Set up a time to talk to your real estate agent, and we can guide you on the projects you need to tackle and what you can leave for the next owners. 

Myth #2: I can set the asking price to whatever I want. 

Reality: Unfortunately, you can’t arbitrarily price your home. Several factors need to be considered when choosing a listing price, including the house’s condition, the neighborhood, and how quickly you want to sell, among other items. Connect with a real estate professional with expertise in appropriately pricing properties. 

Myth #3: I should wait to buy until home prices and mortgage rates fall. 

Reality: Market and financial experts say that the cost of homes will only continue to rise this year. If you’re thinking about buying, now is the time to get in touch with a real estate agent and mortgage broker to start the process so that you can take advantage of current rates and prices.

Myth #4: Waiving the home inspection will help my offer stand out. 

Reality: While it might be tempting to waive the inspection so that you can nab your dream home, an inspection is a vital step in buying a home. A proper inspection helps you understand your home’s condition and can prevent unwelcome surprises after you close. Before you consider waiving the inspection, check with your real estate professional to see what is best for your situation.

If you’re looking for an honest professional who will help you navigate today’s Northern Minnesota market, reach out to Bill Hansen today!

6 Easy DIY Home Improvement Projects to Spruce Up Your Cabin

If you’re tired of looking at the same spaces in your cabin, here are some super simple DIY projects you can do to enhance any room and make you want to linger Up North a little longer.

1. Paint the Walls

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for any room. You can bring brightness to your kitchen or make a statement in your living room with dramatic color. This is a great weekend project that can really make a long-term difference in the feel of your cabin.

2. Update Fixtures

From outlet and light switch covers to vent covers and lighting, these simple replacements can bring new life to your spaces. Removing outdated fixtures can modernize your cabin and add an expensive feel for a low price.

3. Paint or Stain Your Cabinets

If your cabinets are still in good shape, it’s simple to give them new life with a fresh coat of paint or new stain. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this can make in your kitchen or bathroom – you’ll feel like it’s a brand new space!

4. Power Wash the Exterior

The outside of our cabin goes through a lot. From dry, hot summer days and rainy nights to the harsh wind and cold of the winter, there can be a lot of wear, tear, and build-up on your exterior. Rent a power washer or borrow one from a friend and clean your siding, garage door, deck, and driveway. It will look fresh and bright and give your cabin a newfound curb appeal.

5. Create an Accent Wall

A great way to add interest to any space and freshen it up is to add an accent wall. Paint it a different color, create a design, or use peel-and-stick wallpaper. Let your creativity flow, and you’ll find yourself wanting to spend more time in your new space.

6. Bring the Outside In

Bringing plants into any space brings life and a cozy feel. If you are new to caring for plants, start with a few that are easy to take care of, and then start adding more once you’re comfortable. A fun bonus is picking out planters and pots to put your plants in that go with your decor!

Looking to do some projects that are a little more involved? Here are the 6 Top Priorities for Remodeling your cabin

3 Prize Winning Lake Fishing Spots to Check out this Year

Lakes are beginning to thaw this spring, and many Minnesotans are dusting off their boats and tackle boxes. We’ve got the lineup for you if you’re looking for a record-breaking, prize-winning, or rare fish! Here are the best lakes to fish in when you head Up North this year. 

Leech Lake

If you’re looking to take home a prize-winning fish, Leech Lake is your place! Several anglers have reported reeling in 30, 40, and even 50-pound fish! This 112,000-acre lake has room for everyone and sits near local towns like Walker, MN, with excellent shopping and restaurants to check out when you need a break from the water. 

Lake Winnibigoshish

Nicknamed “Lake Winnie,” this lake has something for everyone in the family – fishing, swimming, and beaches. A record-breaking 54-pound muskie was caught here, and many continue to praise this fishing hole’s reputation throughout the years. 

Sand Lake

This 4,328-acre lake has shallow waters and protected bays that allow for many different types of fishing, so pull out your boats, your waders, and your fly fishing poles. Sand Lake is regularly stocked with lots of different kinds of fish, so it’s a great spot if you’re looking for variety or something a little different. 

Wherever you decide to head to spend the day with your line in the water, don’t forget to secure your fishing license before you go and enjoy the great outdoors! We can help you find the perfect spot to head back to after a perfect day on the lake! Reach out today