What does “Conditional Approval” and “Clear to Close” Mean?

a hand shown that wrote the word

A Conditional Approval is like a promissory note from the mortgage lender that they will approve the loan/issue a Clear-to-Close if the borrower/buyer can clear all of the conditions that the mortgage underwriter is requesting. The Conditional Approval guarantees the loan will be cleared to close only if the conditions are met. Common conditions include providing updated copies of bank statements, verifying employment, and providing proof of mortgage and/or homeowners insurance.


A Clear to Close is the “Final Approval” and is issued when the mortgage loan has been completely approved and the mortgage lender is ready to fund the loan.


condominiums - common interest communities - associations


Once you have an accepted offer/signed purchase agreement, you will need to contact your association’s management company to order the Common Interest Community (CIC)/association docs for the buyer. There is somewhat of an urgency in ordering these docs as it can take up to 7-10 days to receive the docs from the association and once the buyer has received the docs from you, he/she has a ten-day rescission period to review them. The CIC Docs listed below are the docs that the seller is required to furnish the buyer with.


If you are purchasing a condo, townhome, or home in an association, you will receive Common Interest Community (CIC)/association docs from the seller. It can take up to 7-10 days for the seller to receive these docs once they have ordered them from the association. You will have a ten-day rescission period to review the docs once they have been delivered to you. The CIC Docs listed below are the docs that the seller is required to furnish the buyer with.

CIC Docs

  • Declaration of the Association
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Any Amendments or Supplemental Declarations (if applicable)
  • Resale Disclosure Certificate (current within 90 days)
  • Balance Sheet of the Association (current within 90 days)
  • Projected Annual Budget of the Association

Additional Information

If you would like additional information about CICs and disclosure requirements please refer to the Common Interest Community Addendum in the Purchase Agreement. For additional information see the Attorney General’s Information on CICs.

What are they? Do I need one? How do I prepare my home?

Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) Inspections

Several Minnesota cities require homes to have a Truth-in-Sale-of-Housing (TISH) Inspection prior to being offered for sale. In some cities these inspections/evaluations are also known as Point-of-Sale Inspections (POS), Time-of-Sale Inspections, or Code-Compliance Evaluations. A TISH/Point-of-Sale evaluation differs from a buyer’s inspection and it isn’t as thorough. The focus of the TISH inspection is on risks to life and/or health. The inspection report will list items as either a required fix or a recommended fix.

Truth in Housing Inspectors

The two licensed Truth-in-Housing Inspectors below have repeatedly demonstrated to us that they provide quality, reputable services; however, you are free to use any Truth in Housing inspector that you would like. You will want to check your city’s website to make sure your chosen inspector is on the list of inspectors licensed for your city. Once you have decided on an inspector, let us know the name of the inspector as well as the date and time of the inspection.

Roger Bovee
Bovee Inspection Services Inc
Scott Scheunemann
Scheunemann Home Inspections

A TISH Inspection vs. A Buyer’s Inspection

A TISH Inspection:

  • Is required by certain cities.
  • Is set up and paid for by the seller.
  • Is required prior to offering the home for sale.
  • Focuses on risks to health and life.
  • Is a condensed inspection that typically takes about 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  • Has inspection standards & requirements, set by each city, that the licensed evaluator must meet.
  • Report often includes both required repairs and recommended repairs.

A Buyer’s Inspection:

  • Is optional and some buyers decline the option to have an inspection performed.
  • Is typically set up and paid for by the buyer.
  • Is typically performed after the buyer has an accepted offer on a home.
  • Is thorough and typically takes about 3 – 4 hours to complete.

Required in Twelve Twin Cities Metro Cities

A Point-of-Sale Inspection and report from a licensed evaluator is required in at least twelve Twin Cities Metro cities, including:

Inflow and Infiltration (I/I) Compliance Program

The Inflow and Infiltration (I/I) Compliance Program is being required by the Metropolitan Council for both West St. Paul and Golden Valley as a result of excessive clear water entering the sanitary sewer system. Both cities require all properties to have a sanitary sewer inspection prior to being advertised/offered for sale.

Cities that no Longer Require a POS

Point-of-Sale Inspections are no longer required in Brooklyn Park, Crystal, and Osseo.

Avoid the Most Common Point-of-Sale Repairs

How to Prepare Your Home for a Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) Inspection

There are many fixes/repairs that are quick and inexpensive and could be done prior to a point-of-sale or home inspection. Quite often, fixes that typically cost a few dollars may be left unchecked only to get quite costly later, during negotiations.

Here are the most common items that are sited on a Point-of-Sale Inspection.


Additional Required & Recommended Repairs

Some additional items that are common include:

  • Electrical Items
  • Plumbing
  • Gas PipingFurnace/Boilers
  • Gas Appliance Venting
  • Water Heaters
  • Gas Clothes Dryers
  • Fire Separation at Garage

You will find more information at the city links above.

Here are lists of common repair items for Minneapolis:

The buyer inspection typically needs to be completed within ten days of the final acceptance of the purchase agreement (see the Inspection Addendum). We will provide you with a list of inspectors that we have worked with. These inspectors have repeatedly demonstrated to us that they provide quality, reputable services; however, you are free to use any inspector that you would like.

Photo of Home Inspector

The information on this page pertains to buyer inspections in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. It’s accuracy is not guaranteed and it can change at any time without notice.


Home Inspectors in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota & Western Wisconsin


Home Inspector

The inspectors on this list have repeatedly demonstrated to us that they provide quality, reputable services; however, you are free to use any inspector that you would like.

Once you have decided on who you would like to use, let us know the date and time. If you are having a radon test at the time of inspection, please remember to ask the inspector the cost and details.

Remember that all inspections need to be done by the deadline on the purchase agreement and this includes the time that it takes for the inspector to draft the report and the time needed for any possible negotiations. A good rule of thumb is to aim for the inspection to happen within about half of the time allotted for the inspection contingency period. If the inspection contingency period, per purchase agreement, is 10 days then aim to have the inspection done within 5 – 6 days of the final acceptance date.


Brad Schwartz

Ultraspect Home Inspections
Minnesota Inspections in the 7-County Metro/Twin Cities Area
Wisconsin Inspections in Western Wisconsin

Fred Combs

Home Inspections of Minnesota
Minnesota Inspections
190 Wildwood Bay Drive
Mahtomedi, MN 55115

Structure Tech

Minnesota Inspections
4205 Raleigh Avenue South
St. Louis Park, MN 55416

Bill Fletch

CornerStone Inspections
Wisconsin Inspections
1731 96th Avenue
Hammond, WI 54015

Need a Well or Septic Inspection?
See: List of Well & Septic Inspectors

15 Strategies to Get Your Offer Accepted

Accepted Stamp - Offer AcceptedThe real estate market is HOT right now in the Twin Cities Area, as it is in many real estate markets throughout the country. Home inventory levels are significantly low. This has resulted in newly-listed homes being sold within days or even hours of going on the market. If homes in your market and/or price range are selling in less than 7 days, there is a very good chance that the newly-listed homes that are are of interest to you are receiving multiple purchase offers. This is excellent news for sellers; on the other hand, competing with multiple offers is not good news for the buyers. It has created a challenging environment for buyers.

In situations where there are multiple competing purchase offers on a home, there are several ways that sellers can deal with and consider them. The listing agent will offer suggestions; however, the sellers, not the listing agent, make the decisions about how offers in a multiple offer situation will be presented, dealt with, and accepted.

Ryan has over ten years of experience winning multiple offers for his buyers. Here are several things that you and Ryan can do to increase the odds of your offer being chosen.


Make your offer the “Best”!

Consider the seller’s mindset when making your offer. It’s not always about MONEY. A COMMITTED BUYER, A SUCCESSFUL CLOSING, A HASSLE-FREE EXPERIENCE and/or A FLEXIBLE CLOSING might be worth more to the seller!
  1. Get Pre-approved, NOT Pre-qualified

    In order to win in a multiple offer situation, it is critical that you have a pre-approval letter. A lender will will ASK about a buyer’s income, debts and assets before issuing a pre-qualification letter. The pre-qualification letter can be thought of as a “lender’s prediction”. When a lender has issued a pre-approval letter, he or she has VERIFIED the buyer’s income, debts, and assets. Think of the pre-approval letter as the lenders written verification/commitment. You can also ask the lender to call the listing agent to ease their minds.


  3. Offer More Than the List Price

    In multiple offer situations, the sellers usually choose the “Highest and Best” offer. The number of offers they receive will likely determine how high the final selling price goes. One thing to keep in mind is a cash offer may win even when a financed offer is higher.


  5. Include a Higher Earnest Money Deposit

    A higher earnest money deposit demonstrates that you are a serious and committed buyer with the intention to close. It also suggests that you possess financial strength as it shows that you have funds readily available that you are willing to tie up while you inspect the property and apply for your loan.


  7. Don’t Ask for Seller – Paid Closing Costs

    A buyer will always pay their own closing costs in the end. The question is, how will you pay them – upfront or rolled into the mortgage loan. If they are rolled into the loan/price, one thing you need to consider is potential appraisal issues. Also, if another buyer makes an offer for the same purchase price and does not ask the seller to pay for their closing costs then you are the weaker offer.


  9. Don’t Ask for a Home Warranty

    You can certainly purchase a home warranty for yourself; they are relatively inexpensive. Asking the seller to pay for it is just one more “ask”/demand that another buyer/offer may not be asking for.


  11. Don’t Make the Offer Contingent on the Sale of Your Home

    We are in the midst of a hot real estate market right now – a “Seller’s Market”. Multiple, competing offers are common. If your offer is contingent on the sale of your home, it comes with uncertainty. That level of uncertainty depends on what “stage” of the listing process your home is in. Has your home been listed? Is it active on the MLS? Is it pending a closing? Unless the sale price of your offer is eye-popping, if a seller has several offers to choose from they are more likely to choose an offer that doesn’t come with this uncertainty.


  13. Be Flexible About the Closing Time

    Offer to close quickly for vacant homes. Sellers have concerns such as theft, liability, etc. with a vacant home. If the seller’s home is occupied, offer to close at the seller’s convenience. If the seller needs to find a new home, be flexible and provide them that time. Keep in mind that the time line for the mortgage process can vary based on loan type and other variables; so, be sure to check with your lender prior to making a “shorter-than-the-norm” closing-time promise in your offer.


  15. Be Flexible and Understand the Seller’s Needs

    Ryan can find out what terms the seller is looking for prior and you can meet those needs in the offer. Does the seller want a quick close or do they need a longer escrow period until their new home is ready? Do they need a lease back? Offering a shorter inspection contingency period could also help.


  17. Create a Personal Connection with the Seller

    Including a letter with your offer adds a personal touch and can have quite an impact. Letting go of a home can be a difficult and emotional process for a seller. A personal letter letting the seller know how much you love their home, that you plan on living in it rather than leasing it, how much you will enjoy it, how you will take care of it, if you will be active in the community, and if you share the same interests or other similarities may be just the advantage you need to overcome another competing buyer. Don’t be afraid to include a few pictures to help “sell your story”.


  19. Add a Deadline to Your Offer

    In a “seller’s market”, where newly-listed homes are getting offers within days of being on the market, sellers may think they can “shop the offer”. Don’t give the seller the opportunity to milk it for a better one. Include a firm deadline in your offer, like “Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 6:00 pm”.


  21. Offer to Pay More Than the Highest Offer

    Offer to pay $XXXX above the highest offer; but,no more than $XXXX.


  23. Increase Down Payment or Show Your Assets

    Money talks and “cash is king”. Another way to get the seller’s attention when submitting an offer is to increase the amount of your down payment. Consider other options for increasing your down payment such as gifted funds from relatives or consider including asset statements with your offer.


  25. Consider Your Financing Type & Source

    In a multiple offer situation, the type of financing that you have chosen/obtained can have an impact on a seller’s decision. There are many financing options available to a home buyer and some have stricter guidelines than a conventional loan. If you can be approved for a conventional loan, choosing this loan program can have an impact on the seller’s decision. Also, consider the lender that you are using. “No Name”, or even the “Big Guys”, may not sit well with the seller and/or the listing agent.


  27. Remove the Inspection Contingency

    You can bring an inspector in prior to making an offer or assume any potential issues. This is a risky but highly-leveraged technique that should not be taken lightly.


  29. Alleviate the Seller’s Appraisal Concerns

    When determining the value of a home, appraisers compare the home to other similar homes that have sold in the same area; but, who determined the price that those “comparable” homes sold for? The answer – the buyers. A home’s value is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. So, what if the appraisal comes in lower than the purchase price? Agreeing, in your offer, to pay the difference (principal reduction) between the appraised value and the agreed purchase price.

It’s not necessary to use all of these strategies. An experienced REALTOR®, such as Ryan, can help you understand the risks that are involved with each of these strategies and can help you put together a plan that will increase your odds of winning the “bidding war”.


Call or text Ryan now for more information! 612-750-4887

Ryan Bretzel is a full-time REALTOR® serving: Lake Elmo, Oakdale, Woodbury, Stillwater, and the surrounding Twin Cities area.
Ryan Bretzel | 612-750-4887
Keller Williams Premier Realty Logo
Ryan Bretzel, REALTOR, Keller Williams Premier Realty Logo 2850 Curve Crest Blvd. Suite 120 Stillwater, MN 55082
Ryan@TwinCitiesHomeSearch.com | www.TwinCitiesHomeSearch.com

Well Water & Septic Inspectors in the Twin Cities, Minnesota & Western Wisconsin


An inspector looking at an inspection report

Here is a list of well water testers and septic inspectors that you may want to try. Of course, you are not obligated to choose an inspector on this list and may find and hire the services of any licensed inspector of your choice.

Once you have decided on who you would like to use, let us know the name of the inspector and the date and time.

Remember that the water test and septic inspection both need to be done by the deadline on the well and septic/subsurface sewage addendums. This includes the time that it takes to get the lab results for the water tests, the time that it takes the inspector(s) to draft the report(s), and the time needed for any possible negotiations. Assuming that you have agreed to have the these tests/inspections completed within 15 days of the final acceptance date, a good rule of thumb would be to aim for the test/inspection to take place within a maximum of 10 days. This will allow at least five days to receive the report and negotiate, if necessary.

Water Testing

Brian Humpal

Inspect Minnesota-Midwest Soil Testing

Water Testing & Septic Design/Inspection

Butterfield Drilling & Irrigation

Licensed & Insured in WI & MN
After Hour Emergencies:
395 Reed St.
Somerset, WI, 54025

Mantyla Well Drilling, Inc.

1392 Saint Croix Trl N
Lakeland, MN 55043

Well Water Testing Guys


Well Inspections, Repairs, Drilling…

It is possible that some of the companies (below)
also perform water testing.

Hugo Plumbing and Pump Service, Inc.

Forest Lake

Lauren McCullough Well Drilling, Inc.


McCullough and Sons, Inc

Forest Lake

Paul Vadnais Plumbing & Well, Inc.


Salverda Well Co.

Forest Lake

Sampson Well Co.


Septic, Sewage, and Soil Inspections

Brian Humpal
Inspect Minnesota-Midwest Soil Testing


John Buelow Excavating

13250 20th Street North
Stillwater, MN 55082
Fax: 651-436-2244

Fuhr Trenching Inc

12539 Manning Trl N
Hugo, MN 55038

All State Septic Services

Office: 651-439-7323
137 Tamarack Court
Stillwater, MN 55082-5259

Need a Home Inspection?
See: List of Home Inspectors




Document - title deed

If you have indicated that you would like us to arrange for the closing, we will do so. If you have indicated that you would like to arrange for the closing, please do so as soon as possible. We will need their contact information. Please let us know what title company or attorney (including contact info) you would like to use, ASAP, so that we can get the purchase agreement and required documents over to them and they can start working on the file.


We will send the purchase agreement and any amendments and required documents, as we receive them, to the title company.

When the closing date gets closer, the closing/title company will contact you. They will need to get additional info from you and will let you know what you should bring to the closing.

We work with the following two title companies quite often. These reputable and experienced closers have repeatedly demonstrated that they provide high-quality title and closing services. We know that we don’t need to worry about them being thorough and on-time. They both offer many closing locations to choose from.

You are free to choose any settlement company/agent of your choice and are not required to use either company listed below.



Carmen Jorgensen
Senior Executive Closer
Liberty Title, Inc
12301 Central Avenue NE #202
Blaine, MN 55434
Fax: 763-757-5098


Brianne O’Brien
Executive Closer
Partner’s Title, LLC
659 Bielenberg Drive, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125
Fax: 651-964-4465


The Process of Buying Your Home

Step Number 5: Making an Offer on a Home

a photo of a contract and pen

Once you have found the “right home”, it’s time to make an offer. Ryan will help you decide on the price, terms, and contingencies. You can’t rely solely on the list price of the home. Ryan will use data available on the MLS to look at homes in the area that are active, sold, and expired as well as those with similar features to determine what the home is worth. Keep in mind, if the home is under priced to encourage multiple offers, or if there is a lot of competition for the home, you may need to offer more than the listed price for your offer to be accepted. Ryan will guide you in this decision.

Once we have written up the offer and you have signed it, Ryan will present it to the listing agent (who will then present it to the seller). You will need to include a copy of the earnest money check with the offer. Earnest money is a deposit that is made on a property that shows the buyer is serious about purchasing a property. The earnest money is held in a trust account until the closing date when it is then applied toward the buyer’s down payment. If the transaction cancels/falls through, it is possible that you, the buyer, could lose the earnest money deposit. Typically, the party not responsible for cancelling the offer will be awarded the deposit. This is one of those times when having an experienced agent/team can really make a difference. We watch the contingency deadlines closely so that if the contract needs to be cancelled, it is done before the appropriate deadline resulting in a refund to the buyer.

The seller may accept the offer as written or come back with a counteroffer, changing the price and/or terms. Ryan has extensive knowledge and experience in negotiating offers and will negotiate your terms (on your behalf) with the listing agent (seller). The offer becomes a legally binding contract/purchase agreement on the date and time that the last party signs (once the seller accepts/signs the offer, or both you and the seller have accepted/signed the last/final counteroffer) and then delivers the signed contract to the other party. This is known as the Final Acceptance Date.

Once you are under contract, you will need to mail/deliver the earnest money to the listing agent. We will begin coordinating your entire contract-to-close process. We facilitate and coordinate the work of all the professionals involved in your purchase (listing agent, lender, inspectors, appraiser, contractors/builders, title companies…). It is important to stay in contact with your lender and furnish them with all requested items in a timely manner. We will take care of the paperwork and deadlines, solve problems that arise, and let you know when something is needed from you. This results in a smooth, hassle-free transaction for you, our “Platinum” client.

Our “Platinum-Rule”
Client Service Program ~ for Sellers

THE PLATINUM RULE vs. The Golden Rule

(Treat Clients How THEY WANT to Be Treated vs.
Treat Others How I Want to Be Treated)

The Highest Standards of Performance and Excellence Custom-Tailored for YOU!


We Understand

  • We understand that everyone has different schedules, family dynamics, goals, expectations, communication preferences, needs and wants.
  • We understand many of our clients have had an agent who added their home to the MLS and then didn’t hear from their agent again. We find this shocking!
  • We understand that your last agent may have been part-time. The National Association of REALTORS® reports that the average real estate agent is PART-TIME and sells only three homes each year. Part-time agents lack the experience, knowledge, training, marketing know-how, time commitment, and momentum that are needed to be successful. They don’t have the systems in place to successfully market a home or to properly service a client. They may even have a “day job” that interferes with giving a client the service that they deserve.

We Learn About YOU

  • We learn your communication style: your preferred mode of delivery (home/cell/work phone, home/work email, text message,…), your frequency preferences, and the best times to reach you.
  • Our quick questionnaires allow us to custom- tailor our client services to meet your needs.
  • We learn about your goals, expectations, concerns, communication preferences, real estate educational needs, and favorite things.
  • We use the leading, quick assessment tool— used by over one million people every year— to learn about your behavior styles.

We Custom-Tailor

  • We custom-tailor our services to meet your needs, styles and preferences based on what we have learned about you.

We Deliver!

  • We have a systemized marketing plan in place to sell your home for the highest price in the shortest amount of time (2.7% more money and 20 days faster than the average agent).
  • We are committed to handling the multitude of details in your real estate transaction and have systems in place so that you don’t miss any opportunities.
  • It is very important to us that we provide you with a buying and/or selling experience so GREAT that you tell everyone you know!

We Guarantee it!

  • We guarantee happy, satisfied clients! Our goal is to provide you with exceptional, 5-star client service—the way you want and expect!
  • We are so confident in our delivery that we GUARANTEE it! If at any time, you are not completely satisfied with our services, FIRE US and move on! At no time do we ever want you to feel obligated to work with us.

We deliver
what you need,
when you need it!

What can we
do for YOU?

It would be our

Text Image: Do Unto Others as They Want Done Unto Them