• For Home buyers
  • Cameras as home monitors

    The other day I was touring a home with some buyers when I noticed a camera on one of the book shelves. The camera was on but I didn’t see the little blinking green light so it may not have been recording but there could have been someone watching through the interent. Hard to tell.

    These cameras are popular as baby monitors and can be set up as motion detectors that will send an email to the owners who can activate an app on their tablet or smart phone or use a computer to get the same view the camera is getting. They are becoming more common.

    In other words a homeowner could be away and watching people inside their home and listening to what they have to say. The cameras can see and hear, zoom in or out and pan the room.

    I have to admit I would be tempted to watch if it were my home being toured by potential buyers. We use cameras instead of an alarm system.



    This picture is coming from a camera placed near the ceiling on a cabinet. It automatically adjusts to gray scale in low light situations so that it even works in the dark.

  • For Home buyers
  • Low appraisals

    coinWe are seeing some low appraisals. Buyers make an offer and their lender orders an appraisal. The appraisal comes back and shows the value of the home, and that value is less than the amount in the buyers offer. The lower appraisal lowers the amount of money that the bank will lend to the buyer which means the buyer will have to kick in more cash. Sometimes the purchase is renegotiated and the sales price is lowered.

    Buyers who do not want to pay more than the appraised value of a home need to let their agent know. Most of the contracts I see do not have an out for the buyer if the appraisal does not come out high enough. Getting out of a purchase agreement and holding onto earnest money can be difficult unless some kind of stipulation was put into the contract stating that the buyer doesn’t have to buy the home for more than the appraised value.

    From a home sellers point of view the offers that have a little more cash in the and a little less financing are more likely to work out. Which means that the highest offer isn’t always the best offer.  The offer that doesn’t stipulate that the home has to appraise may also be better but it does carry some risk. Many purchase agreements have finance addendums that stipulate that if the buyer can not get financing for the home he/she/they doesn’t have to buy it.

    Sellers ask me if the can have their home appraised before they put it on the market. The answer is yes but the buyer’s lender has to do an appraisal before they can approve a loan and the new appraisal won”t be the same as the old one because it won’t be.

  • For Home buyers
  • Is you agent licensed?


    In Minnesota a license is required for persons representing buyers or sellers in real estate transactions and charging a fee. A few weeks ago an offer was written on one of our listings by a person who wasn’t a licensed agent.

    The license was inactive which means the agent had a license at one point but there are all sorts of reasons why a license might be inactive. The agent was no longer a member of the MLS which is what tipped us off. Persons who are not member of our MLS but who have real estate licenses can represent another for a fee in the purchase or sale of real estate.

    If you want to make sure an agent you are working with is licensed you can look them up in the pulse portal database. They system is pretty lousy but it is what the Minnesota Department of Commerce uses to track licensees. Real estate is local and regulated by the state department of commerce.

    Real estate agents are rarely asked to prove if they are licensed and if there is a problem with an agent it is almost impossible to find out who his or her broker is. Real estate brokers are responsible for supervising their agents.

  • For Home Sellers
  • How many offers?


    Homes are selling in multiple offers and occasionally folks brag about getting ten or more offers. Often and almost always three offers, maybe even two offers on a home for sale are enough. Only one offer can be accepted and usually offers will be very similar with one offer that stands out. Sometimes there will be a few almost identical offers and all will be for less than the asking price.

    Most sellers understand that once a great offer comes along there is no need to wait just incase a better one comes along. They accept the offer and move on.

    In most cases buyers will need to offer full price in a multiple offer situation and in some cases sellers decide not to disclose that there are other offers.

    If you have been waiting until Spring to put your home on the market you won’t need to if you want a quick sale and multiple offers.

  • For Home Sellers
  • Ask for the blue lock box


    You may have seen the blue box hanging on the door knob of a home for sale. They are electronic lock boxes that usually hold keys. Local real estate agents can open them using the ekey app that works on smart phones.

    The app has to be reauthorized every day so that unauthorized persons can not use it.  Each time the box is opened the owner of the box can be notified and can get the identity of the person who opened it and the time it was opened.

    The boxes can also be opened with an electronic key for those agents who do not want to use a smart phone app.

    We can also program the boxes so that they can not be opened during certain hours like after 8:00 PM and before 8:00 AM.

    If my home were on the market I wouldn’t want one of those combination lock boxes on it. I would want the security of an electronic lock box.


  • For Home buyers
  • sometimes you need to use the phone

    Pay phone
    pay phone

    Lately I have been getting  bogus emails asking me to sign a contract for a real estate transaction. The name of the client and the companies are not familiar to me so I know that it really is phishing as opposed to actual hacking and I rarely click on links in emails anyway.

    If you get an email from a real estate agent requesting earnest money it is probably legitimate if it is from your agent and you are buying a house and you just signed a purchase agreement. However it wouldn’t hurt to call the agent to verify if the agent did not tell you ahead of time that you will get an email from “TrustFunds” asking you to click on a link.

    Yahoo email was recently hacked. We have quite a few agents in the metro area who use Yahoo mail. If your agent is one of them you might want to call them or text them if you get an unusual email from them.