• For Home buyers
  • What is a “free CMA”

    Forbes Ave
    Little Bohemia neighborhood

    I still see real estate agents advertising free CMA’s. A CMA is a competitive or comparative market analysis designed to answer the questions: “How much is my home worth?” or more accurately “How much is it likely to sell for?”

    Knowing how much a home is worth or likely to sell for is useful or those who are planning to sell. However I have never heard of a real estate agent charging for a CMA, therefore all CMA’s provided by real estate agents are free and the advertising seems misleading.  Kind of like marketing gluten free apples when apples don’t have gluten in them in the first place.

    That might be a bad analogy but you know what I mean. CMA’s should not be confused with appraisals done by banks for the purpose of using real estate as collateral for a loan.

    In a CMA an experience real estate agents finds three comparable properties that were recently sold in an area close to the home that is being priced and uses the information to come up with a likely sale price. We use a kind of fuzzy logic that computers don’t seem to get. It is part art and part science and it does help to actually see the home in person but that isn’t required.

    . . and yes call or write and I’ll do a “free” CMA 🙂

  • Boardman Realty
  • Open house open to theft

    shoesOpen houses are still fairly popular. There are sellers who believe that an open house is needed to sell a house. Open houses are not needed to sell a house or to sell it more quickly. They are wonderful though for real estate agents who are looking for “leads”. Open houses can also lead to dual agency if someone who comes through the open wants to buy the house and wants the agent holding the open to write the offer.

    An open house can also be a great opportunity for people to steal drugs from medicine cabinets and to find other valuables that they can take with them or that they can come back for later.

    Sometimes sellers leave tax returns and check books in the top drawer of their desk. Other times there are credit card or bank statements on the kitchen counter still in the envelope. Open houses can be a great opportunity for identity thieves.

    There might be a calendar on the wall that shows when the homeowner is going on vacation. People touring a home can learn all sorts of things about a person by reading their calendar.

    Sure your agent says he/she is going to watch everything but that isn’t the way it works. I have walked into many an open house where the agent is talking to someone near the front door and I am allowed to roam the home alone or with my clients.

    If you must have open houses please make sure your valuables are locked up or removed from the home.

    also read: Sellers put the calendar away

  • For Home buyers
  • Does a half bath count as one bathroom?

    Yes a half bath counts as a bathroom at least in our local MLS. It kind of makes sense in that a room is either a bathroom or it isn’t.

    Bathrooms are so confusing. I recently talked with a buyer who wants a home with at least 1.5 bathrooms. In our MLS homes with a full bath and a half bath are listed as having 2 baths. There are no fractions.  A home with a full bath and a quarter bath is also a 2 bath home rather than a 1.25 bath home. A home with 2 full bathes or a full bath and a three quarter bath is also a 2 bath home.

    However with each listing we do show what kind of bathrooms the 2 bathrooms are. For instance it will state that there is one full bath on the first floor and a quarter bath in the basement.  A quarter bath can be a single toilet, or sink or shower. You won’t know what the bath consists of until you see it in person.

    The full bath is always a sink, tub and or shower and a toilet. If there is a tub and a separate shower stall it should be a 1.25  bath but it is still classified as a full bath. A three quarter bath is a shower, sink and toilet. one quarter is taken off because of the lack of bath tub. A half bath which is sometimes called a powder room, usually consists of a toilet and a sink but I have seen half baths where there is a shower and a toilet.

    The strangest configuration I have ever seen is a home with 2 baths. One was a half bath with a sink and toilet and the other was a quarter bath with just a tub. Yet generally if there is a bathtub we call it a full bath,


    Also see What is a bathroom?

  • For Home buyers
  • Where is your deed?


    If you buy a home in Minnesota you will leave the closing with a pile of papers. From that pile you may need the copy of the deed if you want to homestead the property but after that you will probably never look at it again.

    Some closing costs may be tax deductible. It is good to have a record of those closing costs and it might not be a bad idea to hang onto them for 6 or 7 years.

    If you lose every piece of paper you walk away from the closing with you will still own your home AND if you have a mortgage the payments will still be due each month. Real estate purchases and sales are recorded in the county the real estate is located in. Loss of paperwork will not result in the loss of your home.

    If copies of documents are needed they can be obtained from the county. If there is a question about ownership of a piece of real estate the county that the property is located in is a great place to start the search.

    There was a time when paper deeds were kind of interesting. I have a bunch of them and they go back to the mid 1880’s. As the first born, or the first born, of the first born, etc., I became the care taker of the “family papers” and some family members too.

  • For Home buyers
  • Getting it in writing

    View from Market House - Downtown St. Paul

    Getting it in writing is a topic I have written about several times. When buying a home get everything in writing and when it comes to issues like getting something in the home repaired it is important to be as specific as possible. We can not expect others to know what we mean.

    When negotiating an offer sometimes the buyers and sellers will go back and forth verbally until an agreement is reached. This usually happens after a written offer is made. As long as all parties agree to doing it that way there is nothing wrong with it, We just need to keep in mind that there is no agreement until everything is in writing AND signed by both parties and here in Minnesota all parties have to have a copy of the contract before it can be legally binding.

    Sometimes buyers and sellers will go back and forth verbally for days over a couple of thousand dollars. Technically each back and forth should be on a written counter offer and signed but it seldom works that way.

    If a verbal agreement is reached but one party changes their minds there is no agreement. That may sound unethical to some but it is hard to enforce a verbal agreement. A written agreement is another matter.

  • For Home buyers
  • Never say never


    A couple of days ago I was told that home sellers never pay the buyers closing costs. People gets all sorts of information from friends and family and pass it along to me.

    When selling a home to first time home buyers it is VERY common for them to ask the seller to pay 3% or so of the sale price to cover some of the buyers closing costs.

    That does not mean that home sellers have to give away the 3%, they can always charge 3% more for the home. Home owners can also just say no but please don’t tell your agent that sellers NEVER pay the buyers closing costs.

    My knowledge is based on my involvement in recent home sales and because I own a real estate company and have 15 years of experience selling homes.  Real estate is what I do all day long and on weekends and holidays too.

    In fact it is probably a good idea to just never say never. All sorts of things happen during the home buying or selling process that can not be anticipated. Often meeting the unexpected with an open mind and some flexibility will result in a better outcome than just saying never. Home buyers asking sellers to make repairs or pay closing costs or both is not unexpected.