If you buy a house you might need a few things

Buying a house is a big step. First time home buyers will spend money on all sorts of things they had not considered before.

Shovels. Snow and dirt shovels.

At least one garden hose

A rake or two

A lawnmower

Buckets, yes buckets.

Small hand tools like screwdrivers, hammers, and pliers.

A sprinkler or two?

A snow blower?

A grill, gas or charcoal or both.

Dehumidifier for the basement.



putty knife



The list goes on and on. You don’t need it all the day you move in but you should plan ahead and make a list, pace yourself.


The raccoon that climbed

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. St. Paul made the national and international news this week because a raccoon climbed a 25 story office building downtown. #MPRraccoon  It took the critter hours and hours. The tired rodent took a nap on the roof of the building before being captured and removed.

If there is a life lesson it is about how hard the little raccoon worked to climb the building and how all of that work was wasted when she was captured and brought back down to the ground by a man.

The news media did an excellent job of covering the event but I thought I would use my crazy photojournalistic skills to fill in some of what the media did not cover. After all, it is Friday. (Scroll over the photos or click on them to see captions)

Look for raccoon T-shirts and caps and other memorabilia. There is also artwork depicting the MPR raccoon scaling the building.  Maybe someone will write a song about it too. Minneapolis may have hosted the last Super Bowl but they don’t have office towner climbing raccoons like we have in St. Paul.

Will your retirement be mortgage free?


My father used to say that to successfully retire a person needs a few incomes and that owning a house free and clear counts as one income. For many paying off a mortgage is a pre-retirement goal.

I suppose it could if the other costs associated with the home are affordable.  If they are not a home can be sold and the proceeds can be used to buy a more affordable home.

“More Americans are expected to still owe on their mortgage by the time they reach retirement. The share of Americans 65 and older with mortgage debt increased from 22 percent in 2001 to 30 percent in 2011, according to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” according to an article in   Realty Times

According to the same article, loan balances have doubled and more people will be making mortgage payments after retirement or will be retiring later because of mortgage payments. A lot of it has to do with all of the refinancing and borrowing and of course with the great recession and the crash of the housing market.

One study found that older American’s did more refinancing than any other group which to be honest kind of makes sense because older Americans own more real estate.

Nearly a third of all American’s own their homes free and clear. [LA Times]  There are two schools of thought on paying off a mortgage. One school says don’t do it and the other says pay it off. Personally I don’t see any advantage to owing money and paying interest on top of it but apparently, some people see it as an advantage.

Many people will hit retirement age and still have a mortgage. The good news is monthly payments may be a bargain compared with rent and are sure to be much lower than assisted living or a nursing home.

What happened to all of those foreclosures?

I get a surprising number of inquiries from people who want to buy bank owned property. During the height of the housing market crash foreclosures were plentiful. They seemed to languish on the market. The people who bought during the crash did get some bargains.

Those days are gone at least for now. The foreclosure rate is still falling and Minnesota has one of the lowest foreclosure rates at .4%.

Foreclosures and pre-foreclosures in the twin cities

We did not go anywhere

If you are reading this. Welcome back.

This site has been down since Saturday, June 9th due to a DDos attack. The attack is about making the network unavailable to people who try to come to the site. it isn’t contagious and has nothing to do with my blog.

The server where it is hosted was attacked. DDos stands for “distributed denial of service’. The way it works is incoming traffic floods the victim and the traffic originates from many different sources. This effectively makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source.

Denial of service attacks create a lot of work for the people who maintain the servers and they result in downtime for sites like mine and it can have a negative impact on my business because the site has all kind of links that people who are interested in buying or selling houses use.

Being hacked and being the target of email scams have been a common experience for me in recent years but having my sites down for several days because of a denial of service attack is new for me. Right now I can not think of a thing I can do to protect myself.  The site is backed up constantly and I change the passwords on a regular basis.