What is Most Important to Homebuyers?


If you’re looking to put your home up for sale, there are an array of things to do that can entice a potential buyer. For starters, you can clear the clutter, clean the carpets and try to paint over your kid’s fingerprints on the walls.

But besides making your home as picturesque as it can be, it’s important to understand what real estate buyers are really looking for in the current day and age. Like homes change, so do homebuyers, and now those of the Gen X and Gen Y population are taking the home-buying floor. It turns out they have some pretty high standards, which differ greatly from what previous generations sought in a home.

“It’s critical that real estate professionals understand what embodies a quintessential home for the Millennial generation, which vastly differs from the traditional norms of generations before them,” says Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, which conducted a survey on the essentials of what current homebuyers are seeking. According to the results, a whopping 77 percent of next-generation homeowners would prefer a home that encompasses the technological capabilities they grew up with and have become accustomed to (smart phones, apps, etc.).

“These survey findings allow our brand to continue to best serve the next generation of homebuyers and find homes that can or do appeal to their lifestyles and unique spirit,” says Chris. “Understanding technologies to communicate with this generation is now only one piece of the puzzle for agents; ‘smart’ technological capabilities must now be ingrained into the home itself.”

The survey results proved that technology was a huge part of what next-generation homebuyers crave in their home. In fact, 56 percent said home technology capabilities topped “curb appeal” in terms of importance in a home. What’s more, if a home didn’t live up to their advanced technology standards, 64 percent said they’d rather not live there. One of the most important technology components that participants wanted was an energy-efficient washer and dryer (which 57 percent said they’d like this commodity in a home), followed by a security system (46 percent) and a smart thermostat (44 percent).

Additionally, 77 percent of those surveyed said they’d rather purchase an “essential” home instead of a large, luxurious abode. Forty-three percent even went so far as to say they’d rather the home be less “cookie cutter” style and more customized to their level of practicality. For example, 1 in 5 Millennials surveyed stated they would more appropriately name their dining room a home office, which is what they’d more commonly use the space for. Also, 43 percent would prefer to use their living room as a home theater.

Technology in the home doesn’t end there for this present home-buying crowd. Fifty-nine percent surveyed said they’d prefer more space in the kitchen for a TV (over a second stove), and if possible, they’d like to have a form of entertainment in each room in the house. While kitchen renovations are and have always been a main precedence , now Millennials say the most desirable part of the room are tech updates. And, 41 percent of participants said they’d likely brag to a friend about a home automation system over a newly redone kitchen.

The desire for a technologically-equipped home is not a shock among Millennials, but results that didn’t include anything about technology included that 82 percent of participants said they’d rather invest in a home that needed renovations if given the choice between that and relying on their parents’ money.

In addition, other commodities homebuyers wish for in their home include walk-in closets, home offices and hardwood flooring. With that said, if your current home does come equipped with one or all of these things on current buyers’ wish lists, it may be a good idea to emphasize them in your listing. Also, given how important technology is to current homebuyers, before you list your new home, you may benefit from transforming your home into a “smart home.”

Not sure where to start? Your financial institution is the best place to help with all your real estate needs.

Loans are subject to credit approval. Merchants Bank is an equal housing lender. Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Money Ball is Back

MoneyballAVApple Valley students will once again have the opportunity to earn money making lay-ups, free throws and half-court shots during Merchants Bank’s Money Ball halftime shootout at Apple Valley High School basketball games this season.

Last year students earned $1,680 and Merchants Bank matched the $1,680 with a donation to the Apple Valley Basketball Booster Club. Brian Wester, of Merchants Bank in Apple Valley, said the format will be the same as last year. The first Money Ball  game is November 25.

“It’s a great way to support the students and the booster club. Plus, it’s a lot of fun for the crowd,” Wester said.

Students sign up before each game and are chosen in a random drawing to be the Money Ball half-time shooters at select home games. The student receives a $10 gift card for a made lay-up, a $25 gift card for a made free throw, and $100 in cash for a made half-court Money Ball shot. Last year, three students made a half-court shot. If the half-court shot isn’t made, the jackpot continues to grow each game until the shot is made.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes


3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1″ pieces
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut in 1″ pieces
2 chicken bouillon cubes
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
salt, to taste

Place sweet potatoes, carrots & bouillon cubes in a large, heavy pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are very tender. Drain, reserving 6 Tbsp of cooking liquid, and place in a bowl. Mash the vegetables with the reserved cooking liquid. Add remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or reheat, covered, in a 350° oven for 15-20 minutes.


Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

Ann Vanderloo Named a 2014 Super Mortgage Professional by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Loan Officer in Lakeville

Ann Vanderloo, Mortgage Loan Officer in Lakeville

Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender Ann Vanderloo has been named a 2014 Super Mortgage Professional by Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business.

Vanderloo received the honor after being nominated by a customer or client. More than 20,000 recent home buyers and all Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business subscribers were asked to cast a ballot to identify Twin Cities’ super mortgage professionals. After the nomination, an independent research company, Crescendo Business Services, conducted the evaluation process.

Vanderloo joined Merchants Bank in Lakeville in 2009 and has more than 25 years in community banking as a mortgage professional. She is an expert in residential construction lending.

“I’m grateful for the honor and the ability and resources that Merchants Bank provides to help my customers to find the right solution for their particular needs,” Vanderloo said.

If you’d like to learn more about how Vanderloo can help you, you can contact her by phone at 952-841-4268, by cell at 612-889-4667, by email at amvanderloo@merchantsbank.com, or you can connect with her through the Merchants Bank website.

10 Days of Giving 2014 Schedule of Events


Please join us in the following Merchants Bank communities for events to support the 10 Days of Giving (click on a specific location for more information). We’re collecting donations to stock local food shelves.

Cannon FallsCottage GroveHastingsOnalaskaRed WingSpring GroveSt. CharlesWinona

Cannon Falls
December 1-10:
Change Collection – Merchants Bank staff will be collecting your loose change in their lobby with the donations going to Cannon Falls Food Shelf.

Cottage Grove

  • December 1-10 – Cottage Grove will be holding its “10 Days of Giving”  to benefit the Friends in Need Food Shelf. You can bring cash donations or toiletry items to Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove or any participating school or business.
  • December 10, Holiday Train
    Date/Time – Wednesday, December 10 at 5:45 p.m.
    Location – South of the Sieben Bridge, in front of the Youth Service Bureau.
    Don’t miss performances by Home Free and and Kira Isabella. Santa Claus will stop by and there will be entertainment, snacks and refreshments for everyone.


  • December 1-10 – Hastings will be holding its “10 Days of Giving” to benefit Hastings Family Service. Bring cash or food donations to Merchants Bank in Hastings or any participating school or business.
  • December 9Holiday Train
    Date/Time – Tuesday, December 9 at 8:30 p.m.
    Location – Canadian Pacific Depot, 500 E. Second Street.
    Don’t miss performances by Home Free and and Kira Isabella. Santa Claus will stop by and there will be entertainment, snacks and refreshments for everyone.

December 2: Onalaska employees will again be hosting the La Crosse Rotary Lights Event from 5:00-10:00 p.m. at Riverside Park in La Crosse, WI. Please bring cash or food donations that night to the event to benefit WAFER.

Red Wing
December 1-10: Change Collection – Merchants Bank staff will be collecting your loose change in their lobby with the donations going to Red Wing Area Food Shelf.

Spring Grove
December 1-10: Spring Grove will be holding its “10 Days of Giving” to benefit Semcac Houston County Food Shelf. Bring cash or food donations to Merchants Bank in Spring Grove or purchase a pre-packaged grocery bag at Red’s IGA.

St. Charles
December 1-10: St. Charles will be holding its “10 Days of Giving” to benefit Southeastern Minnesota Resource Center. Bring cash or food donations to Merchants Bank in St. Charles or any participating school or business.


  • December 1-10 – To give a gift of food, drop off items at Merchants Bank in Winona, Goodview or Lakeside or any participating school or business. You can mail a donation to Merchants Bank, 102 East Third Street, Winona, MN 55987, attn: “10 Days of Giving.” You can make a donation online by going directly to the Winona Volunteer Services website. Indicate “10 Days of Giving” after entering your name.
  • December 1, Culver’s Night
    Date/Time – Monday, December 1 from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
    Location – Culver’s of Winona
    Culver’s will be donating 10% of all sales from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
  • December 2, Santa Paws
    Date/Time – Tuesday, December 2 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
    Location – Merchants Bank-Downtown Winona
    Pet lovers, get your pet’s photo taken with Santa for a $10.00 donation and a non-perishable food item.
  • December 5, Elks Fish Fry
    Time/Date – Friday, December 5 from 5:00-7:30 p.m.
    Location – Winona Elks Lodge
    For only $9, you’ll get your choice of batter-fried or broiled cod, choice of baked potato or fries, coleslaw, dinner roll and refreshments. Place your bid in our silent auction.
  • December 6, Holiday Lighted Parade
    Date/Time – Saturday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m.
    Location – 6th Street in downtown Goodview.
    Lighted and decorated barrels will be placed at Merchants Bank in Goodview and the Elks Lodge. People coming to watch the Holiday Lighted Parade are invited to bring monetary gifts or non-perishable food items with them. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be collecting food along the parade route. Christmas cookies and hot chocolate will be served by Merchants Bank staff at the Bank on Sixth Street. After the parade, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the Elk’s Lodge to greet children.
  • December 7, Holiday Concert for the Hungary
    Date/Time – Sunday, December 7 at 2:00 p.m.
    Location – Winona State University Performing Arts Center
    The Winona State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Donald Lovejoy, and the Winona State University Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Paul Vance, will perform their annual Holiday Concert. Residence Hall students from WSU will be collecting non-perishable food items. Admission to the concert is free with the gift of food or monetary contribution to the “10 Days of Giving” Food Drive.
  • December 8, Rocco’s Pizza Night
    Time/Date – Monday, December 8 from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
    Location – Rocco’s Pizza in Goodview
    Rocco’s Pizza in Goodview will be donating 10% of all sales from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
  • December 9, Holiday Train
    Date/Time – Tuesday, December 9 at 4:00 p.m.
    Location – Winona Amtrack Station.
    Canadian Pacific Railway’s “Holiday Train” will make a stop in Winona. Entertainment, cookies and refreshments will be provided. CPR officials will make a monetary contribution to the Food Shelf at Winona Volunteer Services. Guests who attend are encouraged to make a non-perishable food or monetary donation.

Pumpkin Pie Dessert



  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Mix crust ingredients well and press into 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.


  • 2 (15 oz.) cans pumpkin
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger

Mix well and pour over baked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Merchants Family Cookbooks are available at all Merchants Bank locations for $15. Proceeds benefit local food shelf programs.

10 Days of Giving Co-Chairs Announced


Mark Metzler and Jennifer Welch have been named co-chairs for this year’s “10 Days of Giving.”

The “10 Days of Giving” runs from December 1-10, with Merchants Bank employees helping the community collect food to benefit the food shelf programs operated by Winona Volunteer Services and the Southeastern Minnesota Rural Education & Resource Center in St. Charles.

“We hope the community will respond again to the great need,” Welch said. “We are amazed each year by how much people give to those who need our help.”

Last year, the “10 Days of Giving” set a record by collecting more than 280,000 pounds of food, putting the 25-year total at 2,377,227 pounds. Two pounds of food are calculated for each dollar brought in, although the reality shows that monetary donations often have a greater impact.

“Every year we are amazed at the generosity of the people in our area,” Metzler said.

In Winona in 2013 Winona Volunteer Services had 906 households using the food shelf each month, with another 93 households per month use the emergency food shelf. In total, an average of just over 37,255 pounds of food was distributed each month in 2013.

As in the past, Merchants will be collecting at its locations as well as schools and businesses around the area. For questions, please call Metzler at 494-0524 or Welch at 457-1108. The “10 Days of Giving” will officially kick off with a press conference at 10 a.m., December 1 at Merchants Bank in downtown Winona.