Photos

Wild Flowers

One of the many things I love about St. Paul is that there are wild areas right in the city or close to it. Yesterday I went to Battle Creek Regional park where I knew I could find some of my favorite spring wildflowers blooming in the woods.

I could hear the pileated woodpeckers but none of them would pose for me. The sights and sounds and smells are so therapeutic to an urban dweller.

The bloodroot is in full bloom right now. You can find them in clumps growing in the wooded areas of the park.

bloodroot

bloodroot

Friday fun

Construction season

It is friday and fridays are for fun. I understand the need for road construction but sometimes it seems like projects are coordinated in such a way that alternate routes all have some construction on them so that it takes a long time to go just a few blocks. This construction season is a big one especially downtown which is how it was last year and for all the many years they worked on building a light rail and other large projects. I wonder what it would be like to have every road and sidewalk in downtown St. Paul opened at the same time? Wouldn’t it be crazy if they opened all of the roads AND removed all the hoods from the parking meters?

 

cnstruction

For Home Sellers

Photography is for marketing

pictures

screen shot

I am convinced that most home sellers and their real estate agents don’t really understand the concept of using photography to market a home rather than to document the existence of various rooms. Amazing photographs do attract buyers who are searching the internet looking for that perfect home. Some studies have shown that homes that are marketed with professional photography actually sell for more money than those that are photographed by a real estate agent using an iPhone or point and shoot camera.

There are rooms in almost every house that are hard to photograph or that just don’t look that appealing. I generally don’t photograph those areas because they are not going to help me sell the home.

Who ever took the photographs in the screenshot simply did not use the right kind of equipment. It doesn’t look like he or she used a wide angle lens. The camera was not held level in either photograph.

Most of the rest of the photos for this home have a strange yellow hue to them because the photographer used an automatic white balance setting.

I have written many articles on this subject. Marketing real estate mostly happens on the internet. The internet is a visual place. Homeowners can hire a professional photographer themselves if their agent won’t. I am not exactly sure why anyone would work with an agent who does not provide professional photography but then there are many things that I don’t understand.

When I shop online and look for shoes I rarely find a bad picture of a shoe. They almost always look better in the photographs than they do on my feet.

kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen – taken with a wide angle lens and a DSLR camera. The home is located near Rice Street in St. Paul.

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First Time Home Buyers

Make a winning offer

Windowbox

Spring

It is spring and the competition among buyers is heating up. Buyers find that perfect home only to learn that three other buyers have offers on it.

Serious buyers will need to put their best foot forward and make their first offer their best offer in a multiple offer situation because they may not get the chance to negotiate. Often buyers imagine scenarios where they offer X amount and sellers counter at X amount and they end up getting the house for the amount they had in mind. In todays market the seller is calling the shots.

The best offer isn’t always the offer of the most money. Financing is important too. Buyers who are putting more than 5% down may have an advantage. More cash in the mix means that there is a greater chance that the loan will close.

Closing dates matter. Buyer who are inflexible will have less negotiating power. The best strategy is to ask your agent to find out what the sellers have in mind for a closing date. Sellers who need to move into a home that they have an offer on may have to pass on an offer that is 110% of the asking price with a closing in 90 days or maybe the offer is perfect for them.

Flexibility on possession date and time can be important. I have seen situations where sellers need to move out of one home and into another on the same day that they are closing on both the sale of their home and the purchase of another. Not an ideal situation but it happens. Buyers who can allow the seller a little more time to move out can have an advantage in a multiple offer situation that doesn’t cost them a dime.

The amount of the offer is important. I have never seen a lowball offer win in a multiple offer situation. If the home just came on the market today the seller may not be ready to consider a less than full price offer.

When the perfect home comes on the market it may be sold by the weekend, be ready to make an offer now.  Have a pre-approval letter ready. See the home as soon as you can and make an offer or let your agent know you want to make an offer as soon as possible. Sometimes sellers will wait a few hours or even a day for an offer even though they have others if they know the offer is coming and the reason for the delay.

Assuming that the sellers have a lot of money that they can contribute to closing costs is a mistake. Sellers who owe a lot of money on a home may not have the resources to pay the buyers closing costs. An offer that does not require a seller contribution may be more attractive to a seller even though it is for less money.

As a bonus tip I can tell you that when there is a “coming soon” sign in front of the house the listing agent is likely collecting offers from his or her own clients or from the clients of agents in his office. Contact the agent or your own agent and chances are they will let you see the home before it comes on the market.

Work with an agent who is prepared and who can quickly write an offer and one with a lot of experience in multiple offer situations.

 

Local Market Conditions & home prices

Real local numbers now

graph

1st quarter Home Sales St. Paul, MN

Yes it is true that home sales in 2015 for the first quarter are up significantly from the first quarter of 2008 which is the year some consider to be the last year before the housing market crash. First quarter home sales were down significantly in 2015 from the peak years 2005 and 2006.

I have been reading the real estate numbers for the first quarter of 2015 and the accompanying media blasts and have decided that they are overly optimistic. Maybe I just don’t understand math but I honestly believe that the lack of homes on the market is holding back the still recovering real estate market and that yes we are in a strong sellers market but I think the Realtor® associations are painting a picture that is a little rosier than reality, at least for Saint Paul.

A smaller number of homes on the market is causing prices to move upward, which is nice for homeowners but is it good for home buyers? Is it sustainable? A healthier housing market would be one that is a bit more balanced between buyers and sellers which can not happen until because there are not enough sellers.

The numbers on the chart were extracted from the NorthstarMLS which has sales data that is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. I put the numbers in an MS Excel spreadsheet to create the graph I have published. These are local numbers for the city of Saint Paul Minnesota and represent the closed sales of single family homes during the first quarter of every year for the last ten years including townhouses and condominiums.

The data does not include rental or commercial property. These are actual closed home sales. Maybe that is a different way of looking at it but I think the number is important.

As always I am happy to show my math if it will help.

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First Time Home Buyers

Water, alleys and trash removal set us apart

There are some things you need to know about St. Paul if you are moving here. We have our little idiosyncrasies and our big city and small town ways. It doesn’t say anything about alleys, trash removal or water in the glossy brochures that organizations like Explore Minnesota and Visit Saint Paul publish.

1. You are on your own for hiring a trash hauler and each home along an alley might have a different hauler picking up and a different day so you can expect a fair amount of trash hauler traffic in your alley. Along some alleys neighbors coordinate trash removal and everyone uses the same hauler to lessen the noise and environmental impact of trash removal.

2. We don’t leave our trash cans in front of our homes like they do in the burbs. If your hauler asks you to do that and you have an alley find another hauler.

3. The city does not plow the alleys after a snow but sometimes neighbors work together and do it themselves or split the cost of hiring a service.

4.  There is no public Wifi in St. Paul. We are all on our own.

5. There is no need to buy bottled water. Tap water is drinkable and a filter can be added to make the water taste just like bottled water but at a fraction of the cost and environmental impact as bottled water.

6. I have done some comparisons and people who live in St. Paul pay a little more for water than people who live in California pay but in say los Angeles for example you can easily find a per gallon price of .039 but in St. Paul all you can find are charges that are so complex that it would take a room full of mathematicians days to come up with a per gallon cost. *We do know that the first 100,000 cubic feet of water used each month is billed at $ 3.77 per 100 cubic feet. We pay between $40 and $50 a month for water and it is billed quarterly.

river, barges

welcome to St. Paul

* If anyone from the city is reading this I have an idea. Why not put the cost of water in English and figure out how much a gallon costs taking into consideration the total number of gallons used a month and if the user if commercial or residential. 

  • Sell Your Home
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Contact

Teresa Boardman
Realtor®, MN,
Licensed Broker
Boardman Realty
651-216-4603
teresa(at)tboardman.com
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