• For Home Sellers
  • condition and location

    Condition and location

    There are actually three factors that greatly influence the value of a piece of real estate and they are size, location and condition. There is nothing a home owner can do about location. Most home sellers can only change the condition of the property.

    I always recommend cleaning and decluttering first, minor repairs second and painting if needed. Small improvements can also raise the value. By small I mean a back splash in the kitchen, and some new light fixtures or maybe a new electrical outlet or two and smart thermostat. larger small improvements might include a new front door and some new flooring.

    New hardware and towel racks can transform a bathroom. Throw in a new shower curtain, coordinating towels, rugs and curtains and the home owner will want to stay. ūüôā

    By small repairs I mean lose door knobs, anything that leaks, visible wires,¬†and fixing windows that¬†are hard to open of that don’t open. Replacing burned out light bulbs should be the first step in getting a home ready to sell.

    Cleaning is a tough one for some. I have a list that includes cleaning inside the oven and cleaning the windows.

    As a rule home buyers will want about $1000 dollars off the list price for every $100 in repairs that the buyer thinks are needed. Sometimes buyers ask for upgrades and call them repairs.

  • For Home buyers
  • Can you afford a house?

    The question is really about being able to get a mortgage. Most people can not pay cash for a home and need a mortgage and need a pre-approval stating that they are at least qualified for a mortgage.

    The easy but not exact rule of thumb is that if you add up all your monthly expenses and a mortgage and divide by your gross monthly income you need to come up with a number no higher than 36%.  Lenders are looking at an income to debt ratio. Debt is car payments and student loans and credit card payments and of course a monthly mortgage payment.

    There are mortgage calculators all over the internet which makes it easy to calculate how much a mortgage payment might be.

    Home buyers also need a down payment and the ability to pay closing costs. Down payments start at about 3% and typical closing costs will add up to about 3% of the loan amount. There are programs for downpayment assistance and sometimes sellers can help with the closing costs.

    We struggled to buy our first home but have never regretted it.

    Also see Housing for minimum wage earners

  • Downtown
  • High crime areas

    Downtown Saint Paul

    I don’t write much about crime. No one wants to talk about it and it is bad for business. ¬†Last week I was the victim of a robbery. A robbery is a bit different than a theft or a burglary and the difference is important. A robbery is an in person crime where force is used with the intent to take something and it is a felony.

    A young man followed me into the lobby of a downtown building, started talking to me and when I turned around to answer him he grabbed my purse and ran.

    Ultimately I got my belongings back. A total stranger heard me yell as I ran after the robber and was able to intercept the robber causing him to drop my purse and run away.

    That was the third or maybe the fourth time I have had a purse and wallet stolen in St. Paul but the prior occasions were thefts or burglaries and even a “smash and grab” but not robberies in broad daylight during the lunch hour in downtown St. Paul.

    The police arrived more than an hour after I called 911 to “take my statement” and by that time any witness who may have been in the area was long gone. As has always been my experience with the Saint Paul PD these two were about as indifferent as two¬†people could be.

    There isn’t anything they can do after a crime happens but I always figure if I call them and report it maybe somehow the information will help someone. ¬†The officers did not know the downtown area well or maybe not at all which made it hard to explain what happened, where it happened and where¬†the thief went.

    The young man who robbed me did not need to be afraid of being caught and will likely have a lucrative career grabbing purses and wallets downtown during business hours as long as he stays on the streets.

    The streets around the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul, are eerily quiet during the noon hour. Maybe people are in the skyways. I was walking from my car which was parked on Wacouta Street to 4th street. As someone who likes to walk I know that the safest areas are the places where there are lots of people or even just more than three of four people.

    If you go downtown and venture outside please be careful. Put your phone in your pocket and avoid carrying anything that can be taken away from you.

    To learn more about crime in St. Paul go to the Saint Paul Police web site develop an awareness of what types of crimes happen and where they occur.

  • Friday fun
  • Above average

    It is Friday and Fridays are for fun and it is February and all we really care about today is the possibility of breaking the record high temperature for this day. The average high for the day is 29 and the average low is 13. The record low was -20 set in 1936 and we don’t care if that record is ever broken. The record high was 55 and that was set in 1981. That is the record we¬†are going to try and break today.

    February 2011

    We can just think of the next few days as spring break and enjoy!


  • Boardman Realty
  • Property taxes will go up

    The clock in the union depot - St. Paul, MN

    Property taxes are a mystery to many, or maybe to most. Property taxes are collected by the county, in the case of St. Paul it is Ramsey county. Anyone can look up any address and see what the property taxes are, were and possibly will be.

    There are two basic facts about these taxes and that is that they always exist and they always go up.  There might be a year here and there where they go down slightly but the general trend is up. The taxes are based on the value of the property but they did go up during the years property values went down. They had to go up because expenses went up while home values plummeted.

    Often property taxes go up the year after a property changes hands. That happens because the county now has new value information. Ramsey county tax assessors periodically inspect properties and that can also lead to a higher tax bill.

    Last time I checked the projected property tax increase for 2017 is 2.9%. In St. Paul we have other property related assessments that are rarely based on property value but usually on road and alley frontage.

    For home buyers who have financing . . . you know like a mortgage . . . property taxes are usually escrowed and payed by the mortgage company. The home owner is paying 1/12th of the property taxes every month. Property taxes in Minnesota are due on May 15th and October 15th.

    For information about the many services Ramsey county provides with your tax dollars visit the Ramsey County website. Property taxes vary from county to county and are generally higher in the city as a percentage of the value of the property. If your property taxes are too high one option is to move to an area where they are lower.

    Pro tip

    When making an offer on a home ask the seller to pay any special assessments and all property taxes prorated up to the day of closing.

  • For Home buyers
  • Sellers want feedback

    sculptures in Landmark Plaza along St. Peter street

    Home sellers like to get feedback. They want to know what buyers are saying. Most sellers do not take buyer observations too seriously but some do. Sellers should always keep in mind that the buyers agent is representing the buyer and does not have any duties to the seller and some won’t give feedback at all.

    I generally won’t give an opinion on the price to another agents client. If I am representing buyers and I suggest a home is priced just right and those buyers make an offer that is less than the asking price I just weakened their negotiating position. I regard the buyers opinion about the price as confidential and usually leave the question blank on the feedback surveys I get after I show houses.

    There are some important questions sellers should ask their agents if they want to know how well their home is doing. They should ask what the average days on the market is for a homes like their in the same neighborhood that have been recently sold. They can also ask for the total number of showings they have had and what the average number of showings are before a home gets an offer.

    These days even over priced homes will get a lot of showings, especially on the weekends but they have an above average number of showings before they get an offer.

    The numbers in the screen print are for January in St. Paul:

    days on market and number of showings
    days on market and number of showings

    I like actual numbers and facts and figures.