• First Time Home Buyers
  • Home is for gardening


    One of the joys of homeownership is gardening. I planted the Crocus on the south side of house many years ago so I can enjoy them every year. They always come up and each year there are a few more than there were the year before.

    Most summer flowers, fruit and vegetables like full sun. Home buyers who are serious about gardening will look for a house on a lot with few trees.  Sometimes things change and gardens have to be moved but that only happens to people like me who stay in one place for a long time.

    The daffodils will come up next, followed by tulips, and then peonies. After that I have lilies and roses too. Spring is my busiest time of the year so I have to keep it simple. I struggle to get my vegetable garden in and to keep it all weeded. Each year I simplify it a little more. I have to at least have flowers, herbs, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Rents are up

    Multi family home prices and sales

    Rents are up. The average rental price for a one bedroom apartment in St. Paul is over $900 dollars a month and I don’t know if that includes utilities.  Two bedroom apartments rent for an average of 1100 a month.

    The supply of multi family homes on the market is low and the prices have been rising. Right now there are  38 multi family home on the market and 14 of them have offers on them. The average asking price is $268K. It isn’t at all unusual for people who can not qualify for a mortgage to pay more to rent each month than they would pay to own a home.

    Home ownership isn’t right for everyone. Home ownership is at 62.9% which is the lowest rate since 1965.

    The numbers on the chart are from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

    Also see Home ownership still important

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Who decides how much a house is worth?

    Victorian homes
    The turrets of Dayton's bluff

    This is the time of year people call and ask me to figure out how much their home is worth, or really what they want to know is how much it will sell for. I look at how much similar homes have sold for recently near the home being priced and I do some number crunching and throw in some experience and come up wth a number that is usually pretty close to what a home will actually sell for.

    The process of predicting the sale price is an art and a science. Some of the sellers I represent take my advice on pricing and others choose a price based on how much they need for a down payment on another home or on how much they paid for the house or even how much they think the house owes them.

    Ultimately it is the buyer who decides how much a home is worth and the buyers lender either goes along with it or decides the home is worth more or less than what the buyer wants to pay.

    Asking more for a house than buyers think it is worth results in more days on market and that ultimately results in a lower sale price because buyers will offer less for a house that has been on the market for awhile than they will for one that was just listed today.

    also see What is a free CMA? and How not to price a home and The art of home selling

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • January Real Estate Trends

    I must sound like a broken record. The news has been the same every day this year. We have a low number of homes for sale across the metro area. In St. Paul the number of homes for sale has stopped going down but has stayed below 445 which is about a third fewer than we would normally see in January.

    Each week the number of homes that are sold is close to the number listed that week. Which keeps inventory low and at the same time the number of home sales remains strong. I wish I had some alternative facts but I don’t. 🙂

    My advice to buyers is to make an offer if you find a home you like. If it is over priced make an offer than is less than the asking price.

    For sellers who have a home to move into now might be the perfect time to put your home on the market.

    As for the fire hydrant, I like to photograph them. This one is in downtown St. Paul.

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Please read the disclosures

    A truth in housing report is required for all homes being sold in St. Paul. It doesn’t matter if the home is being sold directly by the owner or by a real estate agent. The reports are created through a program administered by the City of St. Paul. Truth in housing reports are available to the public.

    Many Minnesota home sellers provide a sellers disclosure. There are numerous questions pertaining to the condition of the property. ” Material facts that could adversely and significantly affect an ordinary buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property or any intended use of the property of which the seller is aware should be disclosed”

    It is possible for a seller to be unaware of an issue. Maybe there is a leak that has not been discovered or a problem that can not be seen with the naked eye like a furnace that doesn’t work right. That is why it is so important to get a complete home inspection.

    Buyers need to read all of the disclosures and ask questions. Buyers need to ask about sections of the disclosure that are left  blank. On the Minnesota sellers disclosure there are many questions that are answered with a yes or a no, if the questions are not answered the buyer should ask about them.

    It doesn’t do buyers any good to have the disclosures if they do not read and understand them.

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Local real estate market making history

    I keep writing about this but we are again at an all time low for the number of homes on the market in St. Paul. The graph goes until the end of November when we have 45 homes on the market. Today we have fewer than 500 homes for sale and when the homes with contingent offers are subtracted the number is closer to 400.

    There are a combination of reasons having to do with the lack of new construction, home owners who are still underwater, and demographics. Younger people tend to move more often than older people so yes we can as always blame baby boomers.

    When homes go on the market they sell fairly quickly because there is strong buyer demand.

    I have clients who want to sell but they are holding off because right now they can not find a suitable home to buy.

    The number of homes on the market is always the lowest in December. It is only a few more days until January.