• 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 Boomers
  • Buyer’s agent Vs. Home owner

    Turret – Queen anne

    I have had some interesting experiences with home owners who do not want to be represented by an agent but have decided to pay a real estate agent to put their home in our MLS. In doing so they have also agreed to work with buyers agents and pay them a commission after a successful closing.

    On the surface to the home seller it seems like a great way to save at least half of the cost of commissions. Yet there are times when a buyer’s agent who has been involved in a few hundred real estate transactions can negotiate better terms for the buyer because the agent is negotiating against home owners who may be armed with data and information, and may have impeccable negotiation skills but have very little or no experience selling a home and are blissfully unaware of common business practices and expectations.

    Some of these home sellers are totally alright with inspection contingencies and amendments that ask for repairs that are really upgrades or other terms where they end up with less money than they could have gotten had they known better. The buyers more or less end up in charge of the transaction and sometimes the seller ends up spending a lot more to sell the home than they would have spent on a sellers agent commission.

    Usually the home owner doesn’t even know what they gave away that they could have kept so I guess it all works out. Sometimes it is about the experience of doing it yourself rather than getting the highest price and best terms for your real estate.

    There is more to selling a home than getting an offer on it. We are in a sellers market. Getting the sale closed is another matter.

    While the internet has made it easier to market homes for sale and easier for buyers to find homes for sale it has done little if anything to make buying or selling real estate less complicated. There are more rules and forms than ever before and there are rule changes every single year.

  • For Home Sellers
  • sellers don’t let strangers in

    door (2)If you have a for sale sign in front of your house and you see someone walking around outside and looking at it that doesn’t necessarily mean they are interested in buying it. They may even knock on the door and ask for a tour but that doesn’t mean they are interested in buying the place.

    Please don’t let people into your home to see it. Give them your agent’s business card or point to the sign. They may act as though you passed on a great opportunity to sell your house but I can tell you from experience the people who are really interested and qualified to buy will come back for a look with their agent.

    There are all sorts of reasons someone might want to get into your house or take a closer look at the outside of it that have absolutely nothing to do with buying it. I am always surprised at how a for sale sign will embolden some folks and how they can cause homeowners to suddenly trust everyone who givens the house a second glance.

  • For Boomers
  • I wrote this ten years ago

    This was written on July 20th 2006 before the great recession and the housing market crash. Back when many of us never imagined that houses would decrease in value they way they did in 2007 -2011:

    I am a baby boomer.  Born toward the end of the boom and not one of the 7,918 people a day who are turning 60.

    Twenty years ago would have been a great time to start planning for retirement.  At the time we were just too busy raising our family to get excited about our golden years.  Much of what I have been reading about boomers and retirement indicates that most of us may not have saved enough money to retire at say 65, and live the same way we do now.

    Owning a home will help.  I mean actually owning a home free and clear.  The idea of really owning a home seems to be a concept that my generation has not embraced.   The biggest advantage will be not having to make house payments or pay rent.

    Read why a house is not a piggy bank to tap into for retirement.


    We made our last house payment in 2014 . . . I hope and the house is worth almost as much as it was worth 10 years ago, and much more than we paid for it.