• For Home buyers
  • Sundays are for open houses

    Dining room
    1741 Ashland Ave

    It is above zero today and the high will be in the 20’s. It is safe to go outside and there may even be some open houses. Here are a few open house tips:

    1.  Take off your shoes when you enter.

    2.  Sign in and give the nice real estate agent your contact information. He or she will follow up with you after the open.

    3.  If you are interested in the house be careful what you say in front of the agent and other potential buyers. You don’t want to say anything that may weaken your negotiating power later on.

    4.  Please remember that the agent holding the open house is representing the seller not you.

    5.  The agent holding the open may not be the listing agent and may not know much about the house.

    6.  There are questions that agents generally won’t or shouldn’t answer, like why the owner is selling and other information about the current owner or if the seller will take a  lower priced offer.

    Open houses are a great way to get into some homes and tour them. People who are serious about actually buying a home should understand that only a small percentage of homes that are for sale are open on a particular Sunday. The whole point of an open house isn’t to sell the house but it is a way that real estate agents can meet potential home buyers and sellers too.

    The neighbor’s like to come to open houses too. Sometimes it is curiosity other times it helps them decide how they want to stage and price their own home.

    Home buyers should not wait for an open house to see a home that is for sale.  There are many homes that are for sale that are never held open. While you are waiting another buyer is scheduling a private showing and making an offer.

  • For Home buyers
  • Getting a bargain

    Brick House

    There are not as many bargain homes on the market as there were during the great recession but that doesn’t mean buyers should over pay.

    Home buyers often do it backwards. They make a lower than full price offer on a home that just came on the market and end up missing out when another buyer offers full price or more. Home buyers should look for the houses that have been on the market for a few weeks or months. Those houses are over priced and if the seller truly wants to sell he/she/they will accept an offer that is less than full price.

    In most cases over priced homes end up selling for less than full value which is why I recommend taking a closer look at them.

  • For Home buyers
  • Disappearing houses

    Winter skate - St. Paul - Landmark Center

    Each day the number of homes on the market gets a little smaller. There are actually less than 500 homes on the market in St. Paul right now that are for sale but do not have offers on them. There are also about 80 homes that are for sale but are “Temporarily not available to show”(TNAS)

    The TNAS status homes are for sale but the owner wants to take a few days off or maybe even a few weeks off from allowing people to see them.  Most of those homes will not show up on the popular web sites that show homes for sale. Under our special Realtor rules homes that are in the TNAS status can not be marketed. Even a for sale sign is considered marketing.

    If you have been wanting to buy a home and have been watching them disappear many will re-appear on January 2nd. Watch for it.  Local real estate agents who continue to advertise homes that are in our MLS in the “temporarily not available to show” status may actually have to pay a fine if they get caught advertising.

    Home owners who have their homes for sale and who would like a little peace and quiet on holidays can just ask to have the status of their home changed to “TNAS”.

  • For Home Sellers
  • Timing is everything

    Harriet Island
    Winter in St. Paul

    Last month I was working with a home buyer who wanted to relocate to Minnesota. He is living here now and closed on his condo last week. He made an offer the day that it was put on the market in the middle of November. The unit is perfect for him and exactly what he was looking for.

    Last week I listed a downtown condo. It got an offer after just two days on the market. The owner wasn’t too sure about listing it ten days before Christmas but I told him the same thing I always tell sellers who want or need to sell and that is that their home will sell much faster if it is listed as being for sale than it will if it is kept off the market.

    Every year I sell homes between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I posted information about the condo for sale on our Facebook page it got far more traffic than anything else on the page has gotten this month.

    Sometimes people want to wait until spring but what they don’t realize is that the spring market starts in January. There are buyers standing by and waiting for homes to start coming on the market. Traditionally the biggest month for real estate closings is April. Those homes are getting offers in the winter not in the spring.

    Right now the inventory of homes for sale is again at an all time low in St. Paul with a couple hundred fewer homes on the market than there were in December of 2015.

  • For Home Sellers
  • Marketing photos of homes for sale

    Children sledding at Cherokee park

    Nothing says I don’t care like a home with a pile of snow in front of it in mid-July.  The homes only have snow in front of them in the pictures  but those pictures are seen by buyers when they look on the internet at homes for sale.   

    It is a good idea to take a new exterior picture of a home that is for sale when the seasons change.  No home should be on the market for all four seasons, but it isn’t at all usual to hit two seasons.

    We got a lot of snow over the weekend. In a couple of weeks the homes that were put on the market when the grass was green are really going to stand out, but not in a good way.

    The best times of day to photograph homes when there is snow in the yard is shortly after sunrise or just before sunset.  I got these between 4:00 and 5:00 PM the day after the heavy snow fall.  Snow always looks better when it is fresh.

  • For Home buyers
  • Cold weather house hunting and selling

    Let it snow

    It is a good thing that people still buy and sell homes even when it is cold out. There are always people who want to sell their home and always some who want to buy a home, even in the winter. As the temperatures drop here are some tips:

    Here are some winter home selling tips:

    1.  Leave some lights on so we can open the lock box and unlock the door.

    2.  Remove the snow and ice from the walk way.

    3.  Place a walk off mat near the front door that is big enough for four pairs of shoes.  This small act of kindness will keep my feet dry because I won’t end up standing in a puddle made by my clients and it will keep your floor dry and your home cleaner.

    4.  If your home is vacant please have it winterized, that means that you have the water turned off so the pipes don’t freeze if the furnace/boiler quits.

    5.  Light in a home is a good thing, especially in the winter.  You want to make it look warm and inviting.   If you normally live like cave people with every blind drawn and every shade pulled consider making some changes so that your home will sell quicker and so you will get more money for it.

    6.  If your home is occupied and you have a bunch of burglar alarms and maybe some barbed wire and a guard dog consider easing up on the orange alert status.  (this has nothing to do with the weather . . I was on a roll)

    Here are some tips for buyers:

    1.  Wear shoes or boots that are easy to slip on and off. I like to wear super thick socks.

    2.  Go to the restroom before you begin house hunting.  Homes that are winterized have no running water.  I wish . .  . . . oh don’t get me started.

    3.  If you are interested in a home that you saw in the dark please schedule an appointment to see it when it is light out before you make an offer.

    4.  Most agents carry a flash light but it is a great idea to bring your own, your cell phone alone may not provide enough light.