• For Boomers
  • Spring home buying season in full swing

    Spring in St. Paul

    Just about every day I get some spam email about how I can buy some home buyer leads. Apparently they have been captured by companies that do not sell real estate and are waiting to be sold to people like me.

    The truth is right now there are more home buyers than there are home owners who want to sell. As a result most of us are actively looking for people who want to sell their home.

    Often home sellers wait for signs of spring like green grass and dandelions before they will put their home on the market. The spring market starts while the snow is on the ground and most years the greatest number of home sales and highest closed sale prices happen in April or May and those homes were put on the market in February and March but close in April and May.

    This year will be challenging for people who want to both sell a home and buy a home. Home sellers are in the drivers seat and have some control over when the sale of their home closes.

  • For Boomers
  • Keep your home at room temperature


    I am writing from experience. If you want your home to sell more quickly keep it heated to at least 65 even in the winter. People will not spend as much time in your home if it is cold and even though the sign says “Please remove shoes” some folks will refuse if the floor is too cold.

    Saving $50 to $100 on your monthly heating bill isn’t worth having to make another months mortgage, tax and insurance payment because your home is still on the market because no one wants to stay in it long enough to fall in love with it.

    Even in a strong sellers market the longer a home is on the market the lower the ultimate sale price will be. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature and you will make more money with a faster sale.

  • For Boomers
  • An older population and future housing needs

    Our future as an aging society
    Our future as an aging society

    While it is true that the baby boom generation is no longer the largest generation it is also true that the whole world is aging and at some point in the next three years or so for the first time in human history there will be more 65 year olds than there are five year olds.

    We really have no way of knowing if this trend will some day be reversed but for now we need to work with what we have.

    As the daughter of elderly parents I wonder if our housing will be adequate as we age. Our current system of providing care for the elderly doesn’t make a lot of sense either. The U.S. isn’t as old as some other countries mostly because of immigration but it looks like that could change in the near future too.

    From a business point of view I think now is a great time to develop products and services for older American’s and for the very old. Elders could benefit from the use of more technology.  Last year I bought my dad an Amazon echo. He can now do all sorts of things for himself using voice commands.

    I see old people every day and all of the time.

  • For Boomers
  • New kitchen or a backsplash

    It is a myth that putting in a new kitchen will pay for itself when selling a home. Generally if the goal is to sell you do not want to spend a dime more than necessary to get your home ready. If the kitchen is dated consider having the cabinets painted and then use Google and Pinterest to help you find the right drawer and cabinet handles.

    Maybe a new counter is needed or maybe the old one can be resurfaced. There are companies that provide that service and it costs far less than a new counter.

    A fresh coat of paint goes a long way and this year the grays are popular, and neutrals are preferred if attracting buyers is the goal.

    If the appliances are old go ahead and replace them. Avoid the cheap appliances and the expensive ones too. Look at pictures of homes in your area and price range on the internet and check out the appliances. Average is alright when it comes to appliances because they can easily be replaced and generally are not part of the structure of the home.

    One of the least expensive improvements homeowners can make it a new kitchen backsplash. There are numerous how to videos and many, many materials to choose from. Be advised though doing an amateurish job on just about any home improvement will result in a lower sale price. I have seen some home improvement projects gone terribly wrong.

    Don’t spend more than you have to. I have been seeing the backsplash style in this picture in a lot of homes for the last several years. it comes in several colors. It isn’t my favorite but a lot of people like it.

    most popular backsplash style
    most popular backsplash style
  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Sellers Disclose – Buyers inspect


    Minnesota home sellers have a choice. They can use a property disclosure and disclose everything they know about the home they are selling or they can use a non-disclosure and disclose nothing. Home sellers also have the option of having an inspection done by a third party.

    In St. Paul all homes are required to have a truth in housing inspection. These inspections cover some of the basics like leaks, moisture intrusion and some plumbing and electrical issues. To learn more go to StPaul.gov and search “truth in housing”. I would provide a link but things get moved around on the site often and I would just end up with another dead link.

    As a real estate broker and agent if I know something about a property I have to disclose it even if the seller won’t, unless it is something that I can not disclose because the seller doesn’t have to or want to.

    If I know that the roof is leaking I have to disclose it. If I know that the boiler isn’t working I have to disclose it, but I am not an inspector and am not responsible for finding defects.

    Sometimes there is something wrong with a home and the sellers do not disclose it and the agent doesn’t know about it either. Maybe there is a pipe with a slow leak that the homeowner has not yet noticed or the furnace isn’t working properly and the C02 levels are too high. It is possible to live in a home with radon and never know it.

    It is so important for buyers to have a complete home inspection before committing to purchase a home. Offers should be inspection contingent and I always recommend a radon test.

  • For Boomers
  • Visiting elderly parents over the holidays


    My parents lived just three blocks away from me until a couple of years ago when we needed to move them. They are both in their late 80’s. One with dementia and the other with multiple health problems.

    Their decline was gradual and because they lived close by I was able to keep an eye on them and help them stay in their home.

    Many of my friends have parents who live far away and they don’t see them  often but they go home for thanksgiving or their parents come for a visit or they see then during the holidays.

    The holidays are a great time to check up on mom and dad. I can give you a list of things to look for. I like to start by peaking in the fridge. You can tell a lot about a persons overall health and well being by the amount and type of food that is on hand.

    My parents always told me they were fine and they never needed any help. I always had to make excuses to help them. I would tell them that I had to go to the store anyway and that they should come with or I could just drop a few things off for them.

    As their health started to decline their home got messier and they more or less stopped cooking and ate bowls of cereal or ice cream. Meals-on-wheels helped but on the weekends if I did not cook or bring food they did not eat much. It helped to have house cleaning services for a few months, but they mostly could not tolerate outside help and would only allow it for two hours a week.

    They  stopped cleaning and eventually stopped doing laundry. Since they did not need any help I would let myself into their place early in the morning, tidy up a bit and remove the dishes from last nights dinner and wash them and then start the coffee and maybe make a little breakfast. They didn’t need to have me make breakfast but always ate the food that I cooked and left for them.