Saturday, February 28, 2015

Convert a Photo Into a PDF

CamScanner is a document scanning and sharing app for those who want to scan, sync, share and manage various contents on all devices. Just take a picture of any document (e.g. receipts, contracts, notes, whiteboard discussions, ads, magazines etc.), and CamScanner will do the rest. It can auto-crop the picture, remove unnecessary background, and improve the picture quality. It can also convert the pictures to standard PDF files automatically. You can edit files by adding tags and filling color. You can even search the texts within the scanned pictures. The recorded information is no longer in the format of a picture but editable files. CamScanner can send documents directly to any email address and upload files to cloud storage applications such as Dropbox, Google Doc,, etc. You can have access to the required information at anytime and anywhere. CamScanner is free, but unless you get CamScanner Pro, you’ll have to put up with ads at the bottom of the screen.



Friday, February 27, 2015

How Energy Efficient is Your Home?

Do you ever wonder how many dollar bills flow out of your house due to heat escaping from your roof windows and doors every winter? Are high heating bills putting a strain on your wallet? Well Bunky, it may be time for a "home energy efficiency audit". That's audit. Sounds scary, but this audit really helps. For those of us living in beautiful RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty country, Xcel Energy will perform an audit like this for a nominal fee. Xcel offers three kinds of audits; a home walkthrough for $35; a standard audit for $60; and an infrared audit for $100. The inspection of your home includes the attic, insulation, doors, windows, furnace, appliances and other key areas, and identifies your home's energy wasters, such as drafty windows, insufficient insulation, inefficient appliances and poor ventilation. (sounds like my house) There is still time to get it done this winter, because unfortunately, spring looks like it's a long way off. For more information about this service as well as how to contact Xcel Energy, download their brochure by clicking HERE.
Photo courtesy of Xcel Energy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gull Lake Frozen Fore

Hey everyone...the 10th annual Gull Lake Frozen Fore, billed as the “World's Largest Golf and Snowmobile Charity Event”, takes place starting tomorrow night on the famous Hole in the Day ice on Gull Lake. Check out the picture for a full list of events, or click HERE for more details. And don't forget...Saturday morning, February 28th, RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty is proud to sponsor the RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon as pilot Steve will be giving free tethered rides (weather permitting) starting at 8:00 a.m. Check out the video below for some of the action the Brainerd Dispatch caught a couple of years ago. See the RE/MAX Balloon van in the background? See you on the ice!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Syndication War, Part Two

In our original "The Syndication War" blog post, we told you that ListHub, owned by News Corp, was no longer going to provide the listings syndicated through them to Zillow and Truila. The feed from ListHub to Zillow is set to expire on April 7th, but in a move that the Zillow Group called "liberating" ListHub was going to stop their feed two days from now on Friday, February 27th to Truila. When ListHub announced this last week, the Zillow Group claimed they called the move liberating because, in their words, ListHub was feeding them "inferior listings". Interesting, especially since ListHub is widely considered the most accurate syndication feed in the real estate industry, with over a 95% accuracy rating. That is why RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty uses them. Well, it turns out the Zillow Group had second thoughts about it's harsh criticism of ListHub, and filed a restraining order against them in order to keep the listings flowing to Truila. Here's why; if ListHub stopped its feed to Truila, they would lose 40% of their listings. Sounds like a big number, right? Well, it is, and if Truila lost that many listings, it wouldn't be long before they became irrelevant as a search engine; hence the restraining order being filed. The Zillow Group claims they filed the lawsuit in order to give them more time to figure out how they were going to receive listings from all of the MLS systems, and a judge in California ruled in favor of the Zillow Group. So until at least March 12th, ListHub must continue to syndicate its listings to Truila. That is good news for agents and consumers alike, because everyone deserves to have as much exposure for their property as possible. It's anyone's guess how all of this will resolve itself between now and the middle of next month, but you can rest assured that we'll keep on top of the situation. In the meantime, like we stated in our original post two days ago, if you want the most accurate information about all of the listings in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, use our website. You can find the best agents on the best website for real estate at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Easy Peezy Snow Removal Tool

Even though we haven't had a lot of snow in RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty country this year, March is coming up, and historically it's our snowiest month of the year. Honestly, we hope we don't have to use a tool like this next month, but we do feel for all of the people on the east coast, especially in Boston, who could benefit greatly from something like this. Once you watch the video below, you'll probably want to know how to make one yourself, so if you check out some DIY YouTube videos for this simple yet amazing snow removal tool, you'll be having fun clearing roofs in no time!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Free RE/MAX Balloon Rides on Saturday, February 28!

The Syndication War

The Real Estate industry is very important to the overall health of the United States economy. Because of that, a fight, or more importantly, the control over how information being distributed (syndicated) to sites like and Zillow has broken out. RE/MAXLakes Area Realty syndicates our listings in order for information to show up on the aforementioned sites. We use a company called ListHub to supply that information from our MLS to these sites, and they do an excellent job of making sure the information is correct. So what’s the rub?

Zillow and Truila have merged to create the “Zillow Group”. and ListHub are owned by News Corp, and they are both fighting to become the number one search portal for real estate. But ListHub is no longer going to supply information to Zillow and Truila, and because of that, Zillow and Truila may be in trouble. Here’s why; when Zillow and Truila independently receive feeds from all of the MLS systems around the world, it is virtually impossible for them to properly match or “map” the information they are receiving correctly. For instance, one MLS system may call waterfront property “lakeshore”. Another MLS system may call it “lakefront”. Now, multiply that by thousands of different MLS systems, and Zillow and Truila have a problem matching things up. That’s where ListHub comes in. What they have done (using the same example) is to come up with a way to make all waterfront properties match, and that is why the information being syndicated through ListHub is important to the accuracy of the information that we as agents, and you as consumers rely on. Once a property is listed through MLS, and it is subsequently syndicated to these huge search portals, and in most cases, control over that information is taken out of the agents hands.

So what is a person to do? Well, RE/MAX LakesArea Realty has a very user friendly, state of the art website that DOES have accurate up to date information. More importantly, in the rare occasion we find something that is not correct on our site, we can fix it. Agents and consumers alike are frustrated with the inaccuracy of the information on websites like Zillow and Truila, and unfortunately, because of this fight over control, that is probably going to get worse before it gets better. The argument can be made that even if the information is not correct, it’s better to be found on these sites rather than not be on them at all. That may be true, especially if it generates a phone call or email inquiry at which time your agent can update them with the correct information. The bottom line is this though; if you want accurate up to date information, with searches that will produce the results you are looking for the first time, use our website. You can find everything you need at You will not only find accurate information regarding our listings, but through Broker Reciprocity, you will find information regarding thousands of properties throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do You Give Anything Up?

The Lenten Season is upon us, and for Christian's around the world, it's a special time of reflection and asking forgiveness. One of the traditions of Lent, is to give something up, and even though the title of this blog asks the question, this article isn't about Lent and what people give up, and it's not about's about the fish commercials. Fast food companies around the world know a good thing when they see it, so they take advantage of a good population of people that give up eating meat during Lent...especially on Friday's. Most all of the fast food giants run specials on their fish sandwiches, offering lower prices, two for one's, etc. McDonald's is the king of commercials and especially jingles, and coming up with something during Lent is no exception. Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? How could you not...he was everywhere. Well, in 2009 McDonald's put together a classic commercial and jingle that is impossible to get out of your head once you hear it. So if you click on the video below, be prepared to sing along with the bass on the wall all day long...enjoy your fish!

McDonald's Commercial from 2009

Friday, February 20, 2015

WCCO Goin' To The Frozen Lake ~ Alexandria

WCCO TV, located in Minneapolis, has a popular series entitled "Goin' to the Lake" in the summer time. Last winter, they decided to expand the series, and send various news anchors and station regulars out in the winter time as well. They came up with a very original name for their winter adventures, entitled "Goin' to the Frozen Lake"! On one of their trips last year, they visited Crosslake, and this year, during this week, they are in Alexandria! This trip, Frank Vascellaro and Chris Shaffer are taking us to places of interest in Alexandria. They started last night, and they'll pack up and leave town after their 10:00 PM newscast this evening. They do a nice job with this series, and they haven't disappointed us on this trip as well. So far, they have talked about Big Ole, standing in front of him doing a live broadcast while setting up their other stories, and they have visited Cowing Robards, the Broadway Bistro, and the Tennessee Roadhouse. (click on each name for the story they did) Frank Vascellaro also tried his hand at grooming ski trails as Chris Shaffer drove the groomer. They'll be around town all day, so if you see them, stop and say hi...they're always looking for different stories to do.
WCCO Supplied Logo

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mortgage Rates Inch Higher

Upon the back of strong job reports that have been released lately, mortgage rates moved higher again this week, according to the latest data released today by Freddie Mac. The 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.76 percent. It was 3.69 percent a week ago, which is still quite a bit lower than a year ago at 4.28. Since hitting a 21-month low of 3.59 percent earlier this month, the 30-year fixed rate has inched upward the past two weeks.

The 15-year fixed-rate average rose 3.05 percent. It was 2.99 percent a week ago and 3.33 percent a year ago. After five weeks in a row below 3 percent, the 15-year fixed rate climbed above that mark for the first time since early January.

Even with this recent rise, fixed rate mortgages remain near their all-time lows set in May of 2013. 

RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty agents keep up to date with information like this, so if you are thinking about selling or buying a home, now would be a good time to do it. Give one of our agents in Alexandria, Crosslake, Longville or Nisswa a call to discuss your options today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

RE/MAX National Housing Report

RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty feels it's important to keep our clients and the public up to date on the latest housing information. The following is an excerpt from monthly RE/MAX National Housing Report. For a PDF copy of the full two page report, click HERE

Like last year, 2015 home sales are starting the year at a slower pace, according to the January RE/MAX National Housing Report.  January home sales were 3.9% lower than sales in January 2014. Last year, sales improved dramatically during the spring and summer months and three of the last four months of 2014 recorded higher sales than one year earlier. With a constrained inventory, the January Median Price rose by 11.2% over last January. And the inventory of homes for sale was 10.9% lower than one year ago. At the current rate of sales, the corresponding months supply of inventory fell slightly to 5.2 on a scale where 6.0 indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Best Public High Schools in Minnesota

A company called Niche, says they are transforming the way people make big life decisions, and have been doing that since 2002. By providing reviews and insight from everyday experts, they make choosing a college, or K-12 school a more transparent process. Niche has ranked the best public high schools in Minnesota, and across the nation for that matter. They ranked all 2,436 public school districts based on dozens of key statistics and opinions from thousands of students and parents. RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty thought we'd take a look at where the school districts in our home towns of Alexandria, Nisswa, CrosslakeLongville and the surrounding areas stack up. What if we told you all of the schools we have listed, rank in the top 10% of public schools in Minnesota. If you want to look at each one and how they rank, be our guest, but we are proud to say that our kids are getting a great education!

Click on the hometown of your choice for information regarding where that school district ranks:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lizzy Thurlow Wins Miss Nisswa Crown

Lizzy Thurlow will reign as Miss Nisswa this year after being crowned Friday night, Feb. 13, at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa. RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty would like to congratulate Miss Thurlow and all of the contestants that participated this year. It was one of the coldest weekends of the winter thus far, but everyone who came to the Nisswa Jubilee this past weekend, felt the warmth of a very friendly town. For complete details regarding the Miss Nisswa Pageant, read the Brainerd Dispatch article by clicking HERE.
Lizzy Thurlow, a Brainerd High School senior, was crowned Miss Nisswa on Friday night, Feb. 13, at the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa. Photo by Nancy Vogt/Echo Journal

Friday, February 13, 2015

RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty Associates Honored for 2014 Achievements

RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty, located in Nisswa, Crosslake, Longville and Alexandria has recognized 23 associates for their sales achievements in 2014.

RE/MAX associates were recognized at the RE/MAX INTEGRA Midwest regional awards celebration on February 11, 2015 at The Depot in Minneapolis.

The following RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty associates were recognized:

Patrick Wiebusch, 100% Club
Brent Anderson, 100%  Club
James Apple, 100% Club
Howard Hanson, 100% Club
Jill Macnamara, 100% Club
Vic Peterson, 100% Club
Bill Rickmeyer, Executive Club
Joy Childs, 100% Club
Brandon Pederson, 100% Club
Mary Shimp, 100% Club
Mark Wessels, 100% Club
Candy Hart, Executive Club
Sheryl Bakewell, 100% Club
Paula Jackson, Platinum Club 
Paula Jackson, 15 Years of Service
Sean McDonald, 100% Club
Daniel Pflugshaupt, 100% Club
Dick Kruger, Executive Club
Debra Powell, 100% Club
Lon Saude, 100% Club
Lon Saude, 15 Years of Service
Dale Wussow, 100% Club
Lawrence Keenan, 15 Years of Service
Lawrence Keenan, 100% Club
Michael Lommen, Executive Club
Tom Lynch, Executive Club  

About the Awards
The Platinum Club level is the third highest regional honor for sales in a single year. Only 8% of more than 1,600 RE/MAX INTEGRA, Midwest associates in Minnesota achieved the Platinum Club level in 2014
The 100% Club level is the fourth highest regional honor for sales in a single year. Only 27% of more than 1,600 RE/MAX INTEGRA, Midwest associates in Minnesota achieved the 100% Club level in 2014.  
The Executive Club level is the fifth highest regional honor for sales in a single year. Only 22% of more than 1,600 RE/MAX INTEGRA, Midwest associates in Minnesota achieved the Executive Club level in 2014.  

 “We’re very proud to have such a strong team representing RE/MAX in all four offices and look forward to each associate’s continued success,” said Patrick Wiebusch, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty.
Brandon Pederson, 100% Club

Brent Anderson, 100%  Club

Daniel Pflugshaupt, 100% Club

Debra Powell, 100% Club

Jill Macnamara, 100% Club

James Apple, 100% Club

Lawrence Keenan, 15 Years of Service, 100% Club

Paula Jackson, Platinum Club, 15 Years of Service

Paula Jackson, Platinum Club, 15 Years of Service

Vic Peterson, 100% Club

Nisswa Jubilee 2015 Kicks Off Today

RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty is always excited when the Nisswa Jubilee comes around every year. This year is no different. Our hometown will be buzzing with activity as thousands of people come and enjoy the festivities. The Jubilee is a unique 3-day experience: explore magical Ice Sculptures, a mind-teasing medallion hunt, competitive wood splitting, kids mini jubilee, a downtown parade welcoming the beautiful Miss Nisswa, Nisswa Fire Department's Ice Fishing Derby and much more. It starts at the Nisswa American Legion with a meat raffle at 4:00 P.M. today and ends on Sunday. There is a lot going on in between, including a dance at the Legion on Saturday night featuring a band that will be playing at Lakes Jam this year, Decade 7. For a full list of events, click HERE.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

You Will Be Loved Forever

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and there's still time to get a "sweetheart of a deal" for your sweetheart. All you have to do, is call one of our RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty agents in Longville, Alexandria, Crosslake, or Nisswa, and they will find exactly what you're looking for. And if you call before noon on Friday, that will give you just enough time to surprise your sweetheart with a color brochure of whatever it is you just bought. Here's the end up in the trash, chocolate ends up eaten, flowers will die, pajama grams are stupid, a cruise ends (badly a lot of times), perfume or cologne stink, hot tubs quite working then freeze, and a huge Teddy bear will only get you a look like...what the? But real estate? Real estate, is the gift that lasts a lifetime and beyond. Think about it...only the rocks live forever, and if you dig deep enough, you'll always find rocks. So contact an agent at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty and find your gift of a lifetime. Do it today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No Mistaking that Sound

In RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty country, we're used to the sound of raw sharpened steel on asphalt, but it's a sound we haven't heard that much until yesterday and throughout the evening last night. It's impossible to not know that the snowplows are out during their work to clear the roads, bury our mailboxes, and make it next to impossible to get out of our driveways since there is 3 feet of snow piled up at the end of them. If you are one of the lucky ones able to break through that barrier this morning and get your car on the road without blasting through to the other side barely avoiding the ditch, then you'll be on your way to work already accomplishing something others will not be able to do. I respect the snowplow drivers, but as a tax payer, is it too much to ask that they take a little more care when plowing the road in front of our driveways? After all, won't we get in trouble if we take that pile of heavy snow, ice, and road salt you piled up at the end of our driveway and push it back in the street? I actually think there is a law against that, but where else are we supposed to put the stuff that was once on the road that is now on our property...or as government officials are quick to point out that it's in the road right of way....well....then come back and get it. It's in your road right of way, so come and get it. It's all yours. Oh...never mind. We already moved it. Thanks for clearing the roads though. It really is appreciated.

For video of a mailbox getting the best of a snowplow, click HERE. Enjoy the snow Ideal Sno Pros and all you other clubs out there. It's been a long wait this year!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Snow Impact

Today's blog is about math and the impact snow has on us. In the RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty hometowns of Alexandria, Crosslake, Longville, Nisswa and all of the surrounding communities, there are well over 100 eating and drinking establishments, but for the sake of easy math, I'm going to use the number 100 plus 4 inches. The 4 inches represent about $15,855,000! Let me explain.

About the minimum amount of snow that is needed to run a snowmobile comfortably and without damage to the sled or trails, is 4 inches. This of course would be better if it was a packed four inches but you have to start somewhere. When we have sufficient snow, there are a lot of people riding their sleds every day and night of the week. Those people need to buy gas, some need a place to stay, and all of them make pit stops, so they'll stop in at one of the 100 eating and drinking establishments I mentioned. I would say a conservative estimate of the number of people that stop and have some refreshments, is 10. 10 people a day on average stopping in and having something to eat or drink. Keeping with easy math, I'm going to say each of those people spend $15 when they stop in. If you don't think that is a feasible number, then throw in gas and lodging, and lets say each person spends $15 a day when riding their sleds. Here is where the money grows: $15 a day for our 100 establishments, equals $15,000 per day; $105,000 per week; and using 151 days out of the season, that equates to $15,855,000 that is pumped into our communities over the course of November through March. No dough. It's as simple as that, so "let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!" (As I write this, it IS snowing!)
Below is a video about how cool it is to ride a snowmobile in Minnesota!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Crosslake Winterfest Medallion Hunt ~ 2nd Clue Released.

The first two clues have been released for the Crosslake WinterFest Medallion hunt. We've included both in case you didn't catch clue number one yesterday. GOOD LUCK, and WE hope to see you this weekend!!!!

Clue #1
The 12th Annual WinterFest is finally here.
Stock up on apparel, wristbands and koozies for beer.
We are thankful to many businesses for hosting the fun.
Gather up your friends, the treasure is waiting to be won!

Clue #2
We've planned activities for all ages, with so much to do. 
No matter what the weather does, you’ll never be blue. 
If the trails are not open, you may have to walk. 
The medallion is out of site; it you must stalk.

Should you find the Medallion, bring it to Lake Country Crafts & Cones at 36084 County Rd 66 or call 692-4411 or (218) 251-6323 to redeem your prize package worth more than $1,200 courtesy of the following merchants:

Andy’s Bar & Grill, Wine & Spirits – Barstock Liquors
The Cedar Chest - Crosslake Ace Hardware & Appliance
Crosslake Community Center - Crosslake Drug Store
Crosslake Holiday - Crosslake Community School
Crosslake Veterinary Hospital - Goodwill – Lundrigan’s
Judy’s House of Gifts - Itasca Leathergoods
Lake Country Crafts & Cones - Moonlite Square
Lakes Area Gallery & Frame Shoppe - Nordic Haus
Manhattan’s - Maucieri’s Italian Bistro - Riverside
Birch Lake Counseling - Moonlite Bay Family Restaurant & Bar
The Wharf - NMN Inc. /Northern Lakes Embroidery
Pine Peaks Restaurant, Gifts and Apparel
Whitefish Lodge & Suites – Zorbaz
US Army Corps of Engineers Crosslake Campground

For all WinterFest details visit

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Crosslake WinterFest Moved to Summer!

In a stunning announcement this morning, officials have decided to move the Crosslake WinterFest, scheduled to start today, to June! I happened to interview one of the residents right after the announcement, and got his reaction. "This is coal ash!" he cried as he turned in anger and walked away. He wasn't moving very fast, so it didn't take me long to catch up to him and ask him what he meant by that. [Editors Note: this resident didn't look real healthy; very pale, very skinny, and he had a long orange nose, scrawny arms and his eyes were as dark as the night.] I asked him to explain, "no one in their right mind" he said, "would move a winter celebration to June! Summer already has enough going for it the way it is" as he started to weep, causing deep canyon like lines to be carved into his face. Upon hearing his weeping, officials quickly huddled and agreed that since all of this planning has already been put in place, that the Crosslake WinterFest will go on as scheduled! Everyone at RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty was very happy to hear this, as well as the now proud resident of Crosslake who made his objections be known. "It's a happy day" he said as he put on his top hat and shuffled off to find the lost medallion. For a full list of WinterFest activities, including the first clue to the lost medallion, click HERE. I was able to snap a picture of the resident that was brave enough to speak up. If you see him between now and Sunday, be sure to thank him for keeping the Crosslake WinterFest celebration in the winter like it should be.

Watch this short YouTube video from last years WinterFest celebration!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ice Bocce Anyone?

This coming Saturday, February 7th, Ice Bocce players will take the ice in front of Patricks in Longville. This is an extremely fun event, and several of our agents from RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Longville will be there participating in the fun. For more information visit their Facebook page HERE.

Monday, February 2, 2015

2015 Alexandria Ice Fishing Challenge Results

The 2015 Alexandria Ice Fishing Challenge took place this past Saturday, and it sounds like it was another great success. RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty would like to congratulate everyone whose hard work and dedication made this event what it was. There were lots of people trying to catch the fish of a lifetime, or at the very least, the fish of the day. Many prizes were given away; for a list of the prizes, click HERE. For the lucky winners of those prizes, click HERE. Since another year is in the books, the only thing we can say is, "better luck next year!"