Snow in June it happens every year

Clearing the steps April 15th

I’ll admit I write about this every year. There hasn’t been any snow on the ground in these parts for a couple of months. Homes are selling quickly yet I still see a lot of snow in listing photos.

Home buyers and agents know the home has been on the market for awhile. Real estate professionals know that the agent listing the home isn’t doing a very good job. Maybe the sellers don’t care but they should.

Back when it took months to sell a home instead of hours or days we sometimes had to take pictures of houses two or three times to reflect the season and to freshen up the marketing.

It is super easy to take a new picture and upload it so that the first thing a buyer sees is a picture of the home that was taken in June. Sometimes changing the picture will actually attract more buyers who will notice the home more than they notice the snow.

 

 

 

 

House hunting isn’t what it used to be

I did a little research on how many houses were on the market each may from 2008 to 2018. I got data from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

May houses for sale
houses for sale in May

I could have chosen any month and the chart would have shown the downward trend. I like to think that what goes down must go up. In 2008 home buyers had 4 times as many homes to choose from.

It can be hard for buyers to find a home in the hottest price ranges. There are houses on the market. There are bargains too and they are not foreclosures or low priced houses. The bargains are the overpriced houses that do not sell with multiple offers but are sold to the buyer who is willing to take a chance and offer a fair price.

Home prices continue to climb

It is hard for me to forget the great recession and the housing market crash. The banks came out alright but those who lost their homes will always feel the impact. Many have recovered and some have purchased homes again.

The good news for home ownership today is that the demand for homes is stronger than it was before the great recession. We are at full employment with an unemployment rate at around 3% for Minnesota and 4% on average for the whole country.

The graph shows median home prices in St. Paul. The numbers come from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. I manually computed the median home sale price in St. Paul for May 2018 and got $219,500. I am not sure why the chart shows a lower number.

During the peak in 2006 before the recession the median home price in St. Paul was $207,073.

Median home prices
Median home sale prices

I’ll have more numbers later in the week.

No you can’t just dig up the hostas

Hosta
Hosta

There are certain things that “run with the property” When you sell your house anything that is built-in like the fireplace, furnace, central air, dishwasher and kitchen cabinets are automatically included with the sale. The chandelier in the dining room is also included.

Perennials plants, trees, and bushes also run with the property and are included in the real estate sale.  Homeowners that would like to remove a perennial should dig it up before putting the house on the market or specifically state that the plant is not included in the sale.

I have had clients who decided to keep grandma’s rose bush or a plant that was a gift. Sometimes plants turn up missing from yards especially if the house has been vacant.

The hosta in the picture is one of many that my mother gave me. We divided them before putting her house on the market, leaving plenty for the new owner and no holes.

There are different rules regarding crops. Crops belong to the person who planted them. Crops include tomatoes.

de-cluttering, but what is clutter?

There really isn’t any universal definition of clutter. I define it as “stuff” that distracts potential home buyers. I have a simple philosophy when it comes to staging and that is less is more.

The stuff keeps potential buyers from seeing the beauty of the home. Here are a few items that become clutter once the home is for sale:

  1. Family photos.

    Antique Teapot
  2. Wall calendars.
  3. Refrigerator magnets.
  4. Too many house plants, real or fake.
  5. Too many books
  6. Doilies
  7. Throw-rugs
  8.  Extra dining room chairs
  9. Large ottomans
  10. Large coffee tables
  11. Extra end tables
  12. Large collections of almost anything
  13. decorative pillows and blankets

The important thing to remember is that it is alright to use our homes anyway we see fit but when it comes to selling a home it is all about marketing. Women, in particular, react negatively to “clutter”. Less really is more and when in doubt, leave it out. The general idea is to make the space look larger and a bit more generic.

My list is only partial and has the most common items that I ask homeowners to remove from rooms. Homes that are not decluttered sell too. The list is aimed at the homeowners that want to go that extra mile and put some effort into getting the most money for their home in the least amount of time.

The longer people have lived in a home the harder it is for them to de-clutter. As a service to my clients, I go through their homes before they put them on the market and make suggestions.

Sellers, view love letters with caution

butterfly
Monarch butterfly

an offer on your home will be accompanied by a “love letter”.  There isn’t anything wrong with a love letter as long as the letter is mainly about the house and how much the buyers like the property.

Buyers could make an offer and include a letter about how much they like the house and admire the gardens and love the neighborhood. I once had a seller who accepted an offer mainly because of a love letter.

Usually, those love letters never make it to my home seller clients. I ask them if they want to see the letter and encourage them to say no. Why would I do that? Because I am concerned about fair housing violations. If a seller chooses one offer over another based on the family status of the offerer or how the buyer looks that might be a fair housing violation.

As a real estate broker and agent, I can not help any of my clients discriminate against anyone who wants to buy a house.

Usually, when I explain fair housing to my clients they decide not to view the buyer’s love letter.

Buyers who choose to write these letters should omit pictures of themselves and their families and focus on the house they are making an offer on. They may want to include personal information about where they work or what they do for a living.

When the buyers do not know the sellers they can put information in the love letter that has a negative impact.  Maybe the house is on the market because of a death or divorce or financial problems.

I meet homeowners who tell me their home should be sold to someone who will fill it with children. Choosing a buyer based on family status is a fair housing violation.

Learn more about fair housing