Sometimes it is hard to get work done on a St. Paul home because of our strictly enforced building codes and laws. The cost of simple repairs can be very expensive if they are done correctly and the permits are pulled.
It is tempting to have work done without pulling permits. There are licensed plumbers and electricians who do not like working on St. Paul homes because of all the rules and will do the work without pulling a permit. There are homeowners who do work without pulling permits and sometimes they just don’t know any better and other times they don’t want to work through all of the approvals when the work is finished.
Since the city made a bunch of changes to the city web site I am finding more open permits and “pending” permits which are not really “pending” according to the city but are some kind of a file they need for future follow up. None of this makes any sense to any of us.
My advice is before you put your home on the market look it up on the property look-up section on the city of St. Paul web site. If you home is like most older homes in Saint Paul there will be open permits, closed permits, “finaled” permits and maybe if you are lucky like I am there will even be permits that are “closed without approval”.
Technically real estate in Saint Paul can not change hands if there are open permits. Home buyers might also want to check the house that they plan on buying because occasionally houses with open permits do sell and the sale closes and when the new owner needs to have some work done they may have to have some old permits “finaled” before they can get work done.
On a couple occasions I have had contractors in my home who were not as familiar with some of our weird little rules in St. Paul as I am and I have had to ask them to do things a certain way so that the work could be approved by the city on the first attempt.
General Real Estate News
We have never had a shortage of Realtors® but there are fewer of us than there were back during the peak in 2006. A Realtor® is a member of the National Association of Realtors. The majority of real estate agents in Minnesota are Realtors®, but REALTOR is not a job title, and it isn’t pronounced “reel-it-ter” .
Here are some national and state wide statistics on National Association of REALTORS membership.
Nar membership in the U.S.
NAR membership in Minnesota
Minnesota NAR membership
There is a high concentration of REALTORS in the twin cities. Not all members sell real estate full time. Some are part time and others are brokers who manage others but who do not sell.
In the last year the average age of REALTORS has gone from 57 to 53 indicating that there might be some agents retiring. I am not sure why anyone would want to retire, especially if they are self employed but it happens all the time.
Over the weekend I had a hard time finding a real estate agent who could help with an out of town home buyer. Agents told me that it was a holiday. Actually I completely understand. People often have time off over the July 4th holiday and they want to use it to do a little house hunting. Some of the folks who call me seem to have just figured out that they are going to buy a home in St. Paul or maybe they just got in the car and it took them here and while they are here they want to explore the possibility of buying a home here.
I work with a few people who are relocating every year. Some of them have a plan ahead of time and interview real estate agents and make appointments to tour homes months in advance, which allows me to clear my calendar and give them the undivided attention they need and deserve as we tour 10 to 20 houses in a day or two.
Often those who come into town and don’t plan ahead end up working with the junior real estate agent who doesn’t yet have any business. That agent will end up paying a referral fee for a the “lead”. They may not actually know what they are doing but they need to start some place.
If you are looking for a great agent to work with over the 4th of July weekend this year you are already way to late but it isn’t too late to start looking for an agent to work with over the Labor day weekend or during the winter holidays.
July 4th in St. Paul
General Real Estate News
When it comes to home repair or maybe some upgrades there are things we can do ourselves. One great way to find out more about how to do something is to go to youtube and watch a video. I have used youtube to learn how to do all sorts of things that I did not know how to do and have successfully fixed things without getting into trouble and without having any left over parts.
Sometimes after watching a video I am certain that I want to hire someone to do the work, all I have to do is look at the required tools and supplies and I know that I am not going to be able to do it myself.
It is a good idea to stay away from gas lines and from electrical work and everyone should know where the main water and electrical shut offs are in their home.
I have also used youtube videos to fix computers and sometimes I watch video to learn how to use a function on my smart phone, tablet or on my camera. Watching a video took some of the fear out of taking the wheel off of my bike so that I could repair a flat tire. I just put my iPad and my bike on the back porch and went to town. There are video tutorials about landscaping and sewing too. If you want to learn something new try watching a video.
It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Did you know that there are only 183 shopping days left until Christmas? I’ll bet by next week the decorations and trees will be in the stores. It seems like the holiday season starts earlier each year. In fact my Christmas cactus is blooming right now. Judging by the size of the buds it should be in full bloom by July 4th.
Christmas cactus – via instagram
First Time Home Buyers
After the crash of the housing market homeownership kind of got a bad rap which makes sense because there were so many people who had negative equity. Things are better today. More people have equity and home values are rising. There are risks to homeownership and it isn’t for everyone but for many it is a good investment.
Home ownership is down nationwide from what it was at the peak in 2005 but looks to be as strong as it was in the 1990’s. In the long run owning a home is still a great way to accumulate wealth. People who have their home paid off when they retire spend less on housing and have more money for food and health care. I guess some even have money for fun and travel.
Here is a looks at net worth and home ownership from a presentation given by Lawrence Yun, Ph.D., NAR Chief Economist Ph.D., NAR Chief Economist, to the Residential Real Estate Forum at the 2014 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans, LA on November 7, 2014.