• For Home Sellers
  • To decorate or not to decorate


    The age old question. If your home is on the market during the holidays and you are living in it should you decorate for the holidays? My answer is yes and no.

    A few decorations can make your home look more inviting but less is more. I say leave the Santa bear collection in storage. That rule applies to any large collection or items that may make the space look cluttered.

    Women in particular respond negatively to clutter.  Outdoor lights are fine, especially if they make it easier to see the way in when it is dark out. The days are short this time of year. Light will make your home more appealing.

    Less is more and fresh flowers work well with any decor or season.

  • For Home Sellers
  • The main photo


    I can look for condos for sale in downtown St. Paul and as I scroll through the listings I see the main photo which is usually a picture of the outside of the building. That is why I like to use any picture but a picture of the outside of the building as my lead photo.

    My listings really stand out, especially when someone is looking for units in the same building. I like to make a photo of a kitchen or the main room or even the view as my main photo.

    I like to swap out my main photo if the home has been on the market for a few weeks so that it will be noticed again.

    Photography is for marketing not just documentation. It kind of makes me sad when real estate agents take photos of their listings with their phone. Yup they all have their reasons (excuses) but I am not buying any of them.

  • For Boomers
  • I am predicting a new low

    Homes for sale

    During the last few years the inventory of homes on the market has been low while demand has been high. We are in a strong sellers market. We may hit another record low this winter. I am not talking about the weather but about the low number of homes on the market.

    Many home owners do not understand the sellers market. The way we sell houses has changed. The challenges are in buyer financing and getting the sale to close. Pricing and using professional photography are still very important if the goal is to sell quickly and for top dollar.


  • For Home buyers
  • Give me money

    I recently read an amendment to a purchase agreement where the buyers agent asked the seller for several hundred dollars. It did not specify anywhere in the agreement when this money should be paid or how it should be paid. Sellers don’t give buyers money. Sometimes sellers reduce the sale price or they pay the buyers closing costs or maybe a few months of association dues but  sellers do not “give buyers money”.

    If there is a situation where  cash needs to go from the seller to the buyer the money needs to show up on the final settlement statement. I can not think of any circumstance where money would be passed between buyers and sellers outside of a closing unless they had a separate agreement to buy or sell personal property that wasn’t part of the real estate sale.

    Sometimes home owners want to throw in a carpeting allowance or money for some other repair. The cleanest way to handle that is to pay some of the buyers closing costs or pre-paid’s if allowed by the lender. That way the buyer has to bring less cash to the closing and can use the money to buy carpeting.

    We all wish someone would just give us money and while home buyers are always looking for a deal home sellers are always trying to get as much as thy can for their home.

    Maple leaf
    Maple leaf
  • For Home Sellers
  • Small repairs can cost big bucks

    Gravity Furnace
    Yea very old gravity furnace - should it stay or should it go?

    Sometimes the repairs don’t cost all that much but home sellers end up getting a lot less for their home because a repair is needed. A buyer may ask for $5000 off of the sale price for a $200 dollar repair. A new furnace isn’t a small repair it is a big one but again a buyer may want to subtract twice the amount that a new furnace will cost from the asking price. A Minnesota home has to have a working furnace.  The gravity furnace in the picture happens to work just fine but it scared a few buyers away.

    Sometimes home owners believe that their asking price is in line with the condition of the house and that may be true but buyers will still think in terms of paying less than the asking price because repairs are needed. It ends up being a kind of vicious circle and in my job I see all the drama it causes.

    If you plan on putting your home on the market don’t spend any more money on it than you have to. It usually isn’t necessary to remodel anything or buy all new appliances but if the place needs a new water heater, furnace or a roof it might be cheaper to do the work rather than trying to sell “as-is”. A house has to have a roof and even though they can get expensive they are not considered a luxury.

    Banks will sometimes require that repairs be made before they will lend the money and of course sellers can say no and sell the home to someone else who will need to borrow money and who will also run into some difficulties.

    Investors will buy homes that need a lot of work but they need to pay below market value in order to pay for the work that is needed and turn a profit when they resell.

    My advice is to make repairs before the home goes on the market.

  • 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.