Getting it in writing isn’t enough

cleaningI once saw a purchase agreement where the buyers agents asked that the seller clean the home before the closing. I see a lot of homes and this particular home was cleaner than average. I advised the seller to say no to cleaning the home.

The buyers agent said she wants to make sure the home is clean for her client and so she put it in writing. Putting things in writing is a great idea but what does clean mean? What if the seller cleaned the home but the buyer decided that it wasn’t clean. How would we resolve the situation.

In this case the buyer will be doing a final walk through as all buyers should before the closing. If the place is a total mess the buyer would have recourse because the closing can not happen without him.  If the seller does clean the place before the closing and believes that it is clean that might not be good enough because “clean” is kind of vague.

Right now my husband would probably say that the kitchen is clean. I would disagree with that. There are no dishes in the sink, the floor is swept and the counter is free of crumbs or anything gooey but  I wouldn’t call the room clean but he would and neither one of us are right or wrong.

In general sellers should clean before they leave and most buyers should plan on cleaning before they move in. When putting things in writing they need to be as specific as possible. Sometimes we ask to have carpet shampooed by a professional carpet cleaning company and sometimes we ask that the windows be professionally cleaned or that the cleaning cycle on the oven be run or that the fireplace be left free of ashes and pieces of charred wood.

There once was a home buyer who asked to have a furnace cleaned. They put it in writing. The home seller used his shop vac to remove dust inside the furnace and then cleaned the outside with some rags and a little windex. That isn’t how a professional cleans a furnace. The agent who put it in writing should have asked that the furnace be inspected and certified by a licensed heating contractor.

Be careful out there and if you put it in writing be as specific as possible.

Friday fun

Make your fruitcake this weekend

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. There are a lot of people who do not like fruitcake. In fact we could even say most people don’t like fruitcake. I am not most people. There is a lot of bad fruitcake out there that is dry and mostly inedible. My mother made fruitcake and we all liked it. She would soak it in sherry and then in rum for weeks before Christmas. I believe she got the recipe from my grandmother.

My mother can not make fruitcake anymore. It is too hard for her to do anything that requires several steps because she would likely forget what it is that she is doing before she gets to the second or third step which is OK because I found the recipe. I will just add that it is best if the cake is soaked in the sherry for five days and then kept in a rum or sherry soaked cloth for a month or so. It is actually better if the cake can be cured for a few months but it is probably too early to make one for the 2015 holiday season.

I also found an article about how to soak the fruit in run ahead of time and then making the cake and soaking it.  This fruitcake is for the grown up pallet and makes an excellent gift.



General Real Estate News

Rich Vs Not Rich

I got some career advice yesterday and that was that I should only work with rich people and that because they can afford to buy several houses I should try to sell them more than one. People in the top 1% shouldn’t have any problem buying a nice home in each county of the metro area and I would be happy to help with that.

We live in a country where the top 1% controls over 35% of the wealth and the government too but no one really cares because people just figure if they work hard enough they will be in the upper 1% too. I am sure it can happen to me. I just need to work harder. :)


Pew Research

The chat was taken from an article by Pew Research [5 facts about income inequality]  If we look at some actual numbers income looks like this:

Top 1%: $380,354

Top 5%: $159,619

Top 10%: $113,799

Top 25%: $67,280

Top 50%: >$33,048

The economic recovery has not been equal across the board. The wealthiest Americans have made the greatest gains. The data is from 2010.

For Home Sellers

The lowball offer

tboard_on_InstagramSellers tend to get upset when they get the low ball type offer on their home. personally I consider any offer an opportunity. An offer opens a door and buyers don’t want to pay any more than they have to. The buyer has to start some place and most of the time sellers do get less than their asking price.

Recently one of my sellers received an offer that was much lower than the asking price and the reason given by the buyer was that she needed to stay in her budget. The seller and I agreed that this buyer should be looking at lower priced properties.

Some properties are over priced and some are not. There is no hard and fast rule about what percentage of the asking price should be offered. If the home is under priced buyers may have to go over the asking price.

I always tell the buyers I work with that it doesn’t hurt to ask and when it comes to negotiating an offer. When the buyer comes up with a number I present it to the sellers like it is the best offer ever. Sometimes agents give all these reasons for low ball offers that sound more like excuses and ultimately weaken the buyers negotiating power.

Sellers need to understand that even if an offer seems to be ridiculous it does open the door for a better offer and sometimes a little patience and negotiation is all it takes. If the next offer that comes in is similar then we can say the market has spoken and consider either taking the property off the market until the value goes up or accept a much lower than asking price offer.

Each offer on a home for sale is an opportunity and should be recognized as such even if the offer seems somewhat disappointing.

For Home Sellers

To decorate or not

I answer this question several times each holiday season. If my home is on the market should I decorate it for the holidays? My answer is always the same. That depends.

Honestly I don’t have a problem with holiday decorations but the same rules apply to them that apply to any kind of decorations in homes that are for sale. The decorations can not detract from the home or distract people who are viewing it. Less is generally more.

If my own home were on the market during the holidays I would put up a smaller tree or none at all because my home is small and the tree takes up space and makes the living room look smaller. I would put up the outdoor wreath and the strings of lights I normally put in my kitchen. I would put out some holiday candles and some plants or flowers. Just enough to make the place look festive.

Skipping the holiday decorations all together is alright too. It is better to have to decorations than too many decorations. I have never bought into the idea that decorations inside my home could offend anyone. I would be more concerned about cluttering up the space and distracting the buyer.

A couple of times I have managed to get the photographs of homes for sale before the decorations went up. I prefer not to have holiday decorations in my listing photos.

Row house

Lauer Flats on Western Street

For Home buyers

Street view

starBack in the olden days like 10 years ago I used to suggest to people who were shopping for a new home that they drive by some of the homes they think they would like to see. Sometimes I would pull up to a home with the buyers and they would take one look at the outside and at what is next door and across the street and tell me that they did not want to go inside.

Fair enough. It is easy to choose the wrong home to look at. Sometimes they look perfect on paper but not so wonderful in person. Google street view has made it easier than ever to drive by a home without ever leaving yours. I often use it to drive around an area where I have found a home that may be suitable for clients but am not sure what is behind it or near it.  I don’t want to waste my time or theirs. If we can see the area they can decide if they want to see the home or if we should move on.

Some folks don’t like to live close to busy streets, and some don’t like corner lots. Other’s want to be close to businesses but some would prefer not to be too close. People have varying opinions about power lines, freeways and apartment buildings. Members of some cultures and religions have requirements about the topography of the lot and which way the home is facing and more.

Street view has saved me gallons of gasoline and a lot of time over the years.


Teresa Boardman
Realtor®, MN,
Licensed Broker
Saint Paul Home Realty
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