• 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.

  • For Home buyers
  • The whacky world of home buying

    One of the greatest frustrations some home buyers have is that process seems murky at times and somewhat unpredictable. There is ambiguity when there should not be. Everything is spelled out in a contract yet sometimes it just doesn’t work the way the contract says it will work.

    Home purchases are a little different than other types of purchases because in most cases the seller is a company or a business. No two home purchases are the same, no two homes are the same and home owners and lenders can be unpredictable at times. After having been a part of hundreds of home sales I still see situations that no one could have anticipated or prepared for. Things happen that just are not supposed to happen.

    Maybe the seller has a family emergency and leaves town and can not get everything removed from the home on time before the closing or a pipe starts leaking the day before the closing. Occasionally a party to a real estate sale dies before the closing, or a bad storm rolls through and a tree falls on the house. Usually when a closing is delayed it isn’t because of a catastrophe it is because a loan underwriting department wants more.

    I know what it is like to plan a move and to have to change it or to schedule a closing just to have it re-scheduled and then re-scheduled again. Sometimes I have to change my own schedule and then change it back.  There are so many details that are out of our control. When I work with home buyers or sellers I sometimes spend more hours getting the sale to the closing than I do marketing the home for sale or working with the buyers . I get paid the same if it is a little bit of work or a lot of work.

    Home buyers who are currently renting should try to stagger their purchase so that it overlaps with the rental. Rent is generally paid a month in advance and the mortgage is due at the end of the month. That doesn’t mean that the cost of having two places goes away it just makes it more doable and the overlap can make the home buying and moving experiences a little more sane and take some of the stress out of it. When we moved from an apartment to a home we closed in the 20th of the month giving us extra days to move and clean.

    People who are looking for a guarantee when it comes to an on time closing will suffer some disappointment when it doesn’t happen.

    Restored homes on
    Restored homes on Forbes Street in St. Paul
  • For Home buyers
  • Holiday slow down

    Activity St. Paul, MN
    Activity St. Paul, MN

    Real estate activity for the last three days. Real estate is local and seasonal. It should pick up again next week, with a burst if activity. The number of homes on the market is slowly rising which is a good thing. Interest rates are low and those homes on the market are getting offers, sometimes multiple offers.

    It seems like the spring real estate market started in February this year and is still going strong. One advantage in selling a home now vs. waiting until next spring is those low interest rates.