Information, Insight, Advice.

Ready For Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing has been a favorite Minnesota pastime for many generations of anglers. This low tech, no fuss, boat-free, casual type of fishing has a special appeal all its own.

"It's just a good escape. You and a couple of buddies, good conversation, shoot the breeze," explains Curt Johnson, who gets out ice fishing at least a couple of times each winter. Play a round of cards or listen to a game while you wait for the rattle to let you know there's a fish at the end of the line. And, do it all while you're warm and cozy inside an ice fish house.

Dozens of Minnesota resorts rent ice fish houses. Typically, they're heated, carpeted, furnished with table and chairs, and, of course, two to eight holes in the ice. The houses are positioned over good fishing areas scouted out by the resorts. "Sleeper" houses also have bunks and a cook stove. Or you can rent a day house and return to the comfort of an on-shore resort cabin or motel room.

If you're new to the sport, resort staff can set you up with the gear, which is very basic, and teach you the simple principles of ice fishing. Add a bucket of minnows and you're ready.

Follow the links below for listings of ice fish house rentals:


Short Sale In A Nutshell

A short sale happens when your lender accepts to sell the house for less than what your owe them. This means that if they borrowed you $250,000 to buy the house and you manage to sell it for let's say $200,000 by getting your lender approve it, then you'll be short selling it. If you ask why on earth a bank would forgive your remaining mortgage balance and accept losses, then I can tell you that they will benefit nothing from letting the house go into foreclosure.

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Steps To Take before Buying A Home

1. Decide how much home you can afford

Generally, you can afford a home priced 2 to 3 times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2. Develop your home wish list

Be honest about which features you must have and which you’d like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top-five must-haves and top-five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3. Select where you want to live

Make a list of your top-five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask your REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4. Start saving

Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies.

However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get.

Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5. Ask about all the costs before you sign

A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. Your REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area—including home inspections, attorneys’ fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price. Tally up the extras you’ll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6. Get your credit in order

A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. Most require a minimum credit score of 620 for a home mortgage.

You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7. Get prequalified

Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you’re qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years.

Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.


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