• 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.


  • For Boomers
  • I am predicting a new low

    Homes for sale

    During the last few years the inventory of homes on the market has been low while demand has been high. We are in a strong sellers market. We may hit another record low this winter. I am not talking about the weather but about the low number of homes on the market.

    Many home owners do not understand the sellers market. The way we sell houses has changed. The challenges are in buyer financing and getting the sale to close. Pricing and using professional photography are still very important if the goal is to sell quickly and for top dollar.


  • For Boomers
  • Haunted Real Estate

    Forepaughs restaurant in Exchange Street in St. Paul

    In honor of Halloween I thought it might be a good idea to provide some home buying tips to buyers who may not want to buy a haunted house.  We all know that the Forepaughs mansion is haunted by Molly the maid and the former owner of the mansion Joseph Forepaugh.  In fact I even managed to get pictures of the ghosts.

    Molly the Forepaugh’s  maid, realizing she was going to have her employers child hung herself in a third floor room by tying the rope to a chandelier and throwing herself out the window, probably around 1865.  Joseph Forepaugh committed suicide many years later.

    There is room on the sellers disclosure in Minnesota so that sellers can disclose that a home is haunted but they rarely do.  This particular home is now a restaurant and the hauntings have never been kept a secret but the average buyer needs to watch out for haunted real estate unless they too plan to open a restaurant and in that case the zoning laws should be checked carefully.

    Buyers should always have a home inspection and watch out for signs of haunting like ghost droppings, creaky boards, the wind blowing inside when the windows are closed, objects floating or flying through the air and maniacal laughter from unexplained or perhaps invisible sources.   Not all ghosts will allow themselves to be photographed like the ghosts in the picture above.

    I want home buyers to know that I have never sold a haunted property but I know there are other haunted houses in St. Paul.  If you have a property to sell that is haunted I would be happy to help. Muwahahahaha

    Have a happy halloween

  • For Boomers
  • How to decide what price to put on your home?

    Laurel Avenue

    The home owner/seller gets to decide what the asking price will be. Most homes on the market are priced with the help of a real estate agent. We determine how much the home is likely to sell for based on the actual sale prices (not the same as the asking price) of homes in the immediate area that are similar to the home being priced and that have been sold recently. Size, condition and location determine value along with supply and demand.

    A similar home will probably be a home that was built around the same time and is the same or similar style and has the same number of beds, baths and garage stalls. That explanation is a bit simplistic. We actually use a kind of fuzzy logic based on experience and knowledge of the area. So far there isn’t any software of web site that can replicate what an experienced real estate agent can do.

    Most homes are going to get an appraisal too but that is done by the buyers lender after the seller has accepted the offer. The purpose of the appraisal is to help the lender decide if the value of the home is at least high enough so that it can be used as collateral to cover the loan. Appraisers and real estate agents can be wrong.

    Home owners have all sorts of ideas about how to price a home. Many believe that over pricing is better than underpricing and some people like to “try” it at a certain price. Sometimes home owners will contact a few agents and have each one determine a value and they will choose the highest value. Real estate agents are aware of this and will sometimes aim high to win the listing. Just like real estate agents and appraisers sellers can be wrong about value and so can buyers.

    Pricing a home isn’t an exact science. If it were my job wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

    Also see:

    Asking price Vs. Sale Price

    Is your home priced higher than the zestimate?

    Because mine has bigger nails

    Finished square footage