An example of marketing

fresh salsa

I found this display at the Farmer’s market. It stood out from the average stall featuring the same fresh produce.

Marketing a home is a bit different than marketing produce but there are some similarities too.

The artistic display is created by staging, the home is photographed by a professional and words are included with the pictures on the internet. The home stands out.

Real estate agents like to use the word “fabulous”, I think I like the word “amazing” better.

This grower knows how to market produce. A trip to the Saint Paul Farmer’s market can be educational.

Dangerous invasive species in our neighborhoods

House cat – in the house

Cats roam free in my neighborhood and they make little cats too. There are people who believe that it is alright to let their cat roam free and that cats are outdoor pets.

The house cat has long been listed among the 100 most dangerous invasive species. They kill millions of birds and other small animals each year to the point of extinction. A cat is a pet when kept inside but once when outside it is a heartless killer.

“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy [wildlife management institute]

There was a study that shows that they only bring home about 25% of what they kill. They eat some of what they kill but they leave a lot of it where they killed it.

Being a free range cat in St. Paul is not good for the cat either. Here are some statistics for St. Paul:

200 cats are killed annually in traffic

Life expectancy of a cat allowed to roam is only three to four years

Confined cats can live beyond 14 years

Over 1,200 cats are picked up each year by animal control

Roaming cats may be a nuisance by urinating and defecating in sandboxes and gardens

Outdoor cats are susceptible to injury or death from other predatory animals

Outdoor cats are predators to wildlife such as birds

taking your house off the market

Sometimes home sellers change their minds and they want their home taken off the market before the contract with their real estate agent ends. In that case both parties, the real estate agent and the seller have to agree to cancel the contract. A real estate agent can say no to a contract cancellation.


Listing contract

During our current sellers market I have been offering shorter contracts for my clients. Most homes can be sold in less than three months so I offer a three month contract. When the contract expires if the home isn’t sold the seller can leave it off the market or re-list it with me or with someone else.

Keep in mind I do not get paid until the house is sold and the sale closes. It is possible to spend quite a bit of money and have a sellers change their minds.

Usually if a seller asks to cancel a contract I let them out of it without any hassle but I do not have to. A contract is a contract. People do change their plans or sometimes there is an illness or some other emergency that causes people to put their plans on hold.

I have occasionally started the conversation about canceling the contract myself. Sometimes I can not get the homeowner to cooperate and it compromises my ability to sell the home at a price that is usually higher than the value.

Selling a house without the owners cooperation is difficult. It is even spelled out in the contract that they need to grant access to people who want to see it and cooperate in other ways. Sometimes sellers want to list their home for a lot more than it is worth and they agree to future price reductions, but when the time comes they won’t reduce the price. Sometimes a homeowner agrees to certain repairs but they won’t make them and they want to price the home as if they did make the repairs.

The homeowners who get the most money for their home are often those who work with me and take an interest in the details of the process and the suggestions I make.

If the goal is to just take the home off the market for a few days or a few weeks there is an easy way to do that. The home can be made temporarily not available to show. In that status it will not how up on the internet as being for sale and real estate agents will not make appointments to see it or show it. The home can not be advertised as being for sale.

If you are working with an agent and you want to get out of the contract you will need to get the agent to agree. If the agent does not agree you may have to ride it out. Please read the contract before signing it.

Learning how to use the faucet

Yes it is Friday again and Fridays are for fun. This past week has been horrific and not much fun. Floods, fires, hurricanes and a major earth quake all in one week.

I can understand how water might be hard to get during a natural disaster but people have forgotten that most of the time they can get water from a faucet in their home. They have become so dependent on bottled water that they can not survive without it.

We laughed the first time we saw bottled water. We did not think it would catch on but it did.  The water that comes already in a bottle was put there by clever human beings who learned how to get water from a faucet, put it in a bottle, ship it across the country and get people to pay for it.

The bottoms of rivers, oceans and lakes are full of the recyclable plastic bottles that water comes in.

It seems like there are people who have forgotten how to get water from any other source than a bottle. Bottled water isn’t safer than our local water. Some of the water in bottles is tap water. It is easy to fill your own bottles from you own faucet.

If there is an emergency and the stores run out of bottled water . . and they will run out . . it is possible to fill containers from your own faucet so that there will be clean drinking water should the worst happen. My resourceful and resilient cousins in Florida filled their bathtub and several containers with water before the hurricane hit.

Some day your own life may depend upon your ability to find water if the worse should happen and there is a bottled water shortage.  Please don’t forget how to use faucets.

Getting ready to sell


We are still in a strong sellers market in St. Paul. There isn’t any need to wait until Spring to sell but many people will wait and while they wait there are some things they can do to get their home ready to sell.

I talked to a home seller who had been talked into replacing all of her kitchen appliances before putting her home on the market. None of the appliances she replaced were new but none of them needed to be replaced and they all looked just fine. It was a needless expense and those appliances were replaced by the buyer after the home was sold.

Older appliances rarely keep buyers from buying a home and in this case they were about average for a home in the price range and neighborhood.

If buyers were looking at the home but not making offers because of the appliances new appliances could be part of the negotiating process . In general I don’t like to see home sellers spending any more money than they have to when getting a home ready to sell. Some of the expenses are just plain silly and expensive too.

If the appliances are ancient and past the average life span for appliances it might be best to replace them. It is amazing how upset home buyers get when they move in and find out the 25 year old washer in’t working properly.

Cleaning, making repairs and painting are the three things that I recommend sellers spend money on because I know they will get at least a 100% return on their investment and probably more.

Declutter and depersonalize. Put those family photos and the glass figurines away.  If you have a huge collections of what every you have a collection of, put it away. If necessary rent a storage locker.

The popularity of colors and styles changes over time. Shades of white and grey are more popular than earth tones and jewel tones. Blues and greens are always in style. White ceilings make rooms look bigger and brighter.

A kitchen can be dressed up with new window treatments, a back splash, a new light fixture, a coat of paint and new hardware. That can all be done for a fraction of the cost of replacing appliances.

If you would  like more tips or would like to know how much your home is worth, contact me.