Fewer Registered Vacant houses

In St. Paul you can register your vacant building with the city. During the peak of the housing market crash and the great recession there were over 2000 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul and most of those were houses.

Today there are 645 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul and 586 of those are homes. I mention this because there are fewer than 300 homes for sale in our fair city at the moment. St. Paul appears to own at least 135 properties at least according to tax records. Apparently, some of these homes are going to be re-developed. Some of them were foreclosures.

This little house at 47 Douglas street has been on the vacant building list since the Fall of 2009 and has been owned by the City of St. Paul since 2010. I asked about it a few years back and was told that it needed a lot of work. I’ll bet one day it will be a vacant lot owned by the city rather than a vacant house.

vacant house
47 Douglas Street, St. Paul, MN 55102


Make a great offer

My mother’s Antique Teapot

These days multiple offers on houses that are for sale are fairly common. When choosing an offer it isn’t just about the amount of money being offered. Here are a few things that matter to sellers when they evaluate offers:

  1. The total dollar amount of offer.
  2. Down payment percentage. The greater the down payment the better but that doesn’t mean buyers need a huge down payment to buy a house. It just means that if all things are equal an offer with a 10% down payment is better than an offer with a 5% down payment.
  3. Closing date. Usually, closing dates can be negotiated but buyers should ask their agent to find out what the sellers have in mind for a closing date.
  4. Length of the inspection period. A shorter inspection period is better than a longer one.
  5. Earnest money matters, it shows that the buyer has money and it also shows the strength of the buyer’s commitment to buy the home.
  6. An offer written by a real estate agent with a good reputation. An agent’s reputation is based on how she works with her clients and with other agents. The agent with the most sales isn’t necessarily the agent with the best reputation.
  7. Offers that are not contingent upon the sale of another property are better than contingent offers.
  8. Asking the seller to pay the buyers closing costs weakens the offer.

These days speed is important. When the right house comes on the market buyers need to drop what they are doing, see the property and make an offer. Unfortunately, those who wait for the weekend or for an open house end up missing out.

Pro buyer tip: If you are at an open house and you think you want to make an offer on the house act as disinterested as possible around other open house attendees and be very careful about what you say in front of the real estate agent who is hosting the open house because he/she is representing the seller and anything you say can be held against you and it can weaken your negotiating power.

It is also important to have that pre-approval letter from a lender ready before looking at houses. If there are multiple offers the seller isn’t going to wait for a pre-approval letter and an offer isn’t any good without one.

Happy house hunting and may the odds be forever in your favor.

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Keeping St. Paul warm

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. We have had a few breaks from the cold and it might get above freezing again today. It has been a cold winter and apparently, the light posts need to be kept warm and a group of “yarn bombers” have taken on the task.

The yarn work is led by the “Rage to Order Artists Initiative” of Lowertown, with support from the St. Paul Saints Art Program and a series of sponsors, including St. Paul and Ramsey County.

The goal is to wrap 158 lamp posts along 12 downtown city blocks from Rice Park to CHS Field and keep them on display into March.

lamp post with crochet sock on it
Lamp post near rice park

Historic and current mortgage rates

chart of interest rates
Freddie Mac rates

Mortgage interest rates have been at an all-time low. it is possible that they will go all the way up to 5%, maybe even this year. Back in 2006 during the housing price peak and before the housing market crash and the great recession mortgage rates were over 6.3%. When we look at mortgage rates I think putting them in context helps.

Higher rates are bound to have an impact on the housing market. Here in the metro area, there are so few houses on the market that it will be hard to see the impact.


Today is Valentines day

Pink Rose

I photographed the rose at the rose garden in Duluth Minnesota. It is definitely worth a visit but not on Valentine’s day because it is covered in snow instead of roses. The garden is large with roses in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow and even white. It is on a hill that overlooks Lake Superior.

Happy Valentine’s day.  If your day isn’t filled with roses you will have this one to look at.

Cameras are everywhere

I was touring a home with some buyers when I noticed a camera on one of the bookshelves. The camera was plugged in but I am familiar with the particular model and I don’t think anyone was watching us or recording because the little green light wasn’t blinking.

These cameras are popular as baby monitors and can be set up as motion detectors that will send an email to the owners who can activate an app on their tablet or smartphone or use a computer to get the same view the camera is getting.

In other words, a homeowner could be away and watching people inside their home. The cameras can see and hear, zoom in or out and pan the room.

I originally posted this in early 2014. I have found cameras in homes several times since then. Sometimes it is best for buyers to wait until they are outside the house to talk about it.

There isn’t any rule that I know of that says a homeowner can not have a camera recording in their home.  It isn’t easy letting strangers in and for some a camera makes them feel more secure.