Dangerous invasive species in our neighborhoods

House cat – in the house

Cats roam free in my neighborhood and they make little cats too. There are people who believe that it is alright to let their cat roam free and that cats are outdoor pets.

The house cat has long been listed among the 100 most dangerous invasive species. They kill millions of birds and other small animals each year to the point of extinction. A cat is a pet when kept inside but once when outside it is a heartless killer.

“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy [wildlife management institute]

There was a study that shows that they only bring home about 25% of what they kill. They eat some of what they kill but they leave a lot of it where they killed it.

Being a free range cat in St. Paul is not good for the cat either. Here are some statistics for St. Paul:

200 cats are killed annually in traffic

Life expectancy of a cat allowed to roam is only three to four years

Confined cats can live beyond 14 years

Over 1,200 cats are picked up each year by animal control

Roaming cats may be a nuisance by urinating and defecating in sandboxes and gardens

Outdoor cats are susceptible to injury or death from other predatory animals

Outdoor cats are predators to wildlife such as birds

Never buy a house on August 1st

August first is a day when new laws go into effect in Minnesota and it is also the day of the annual changing of the real estate contract forms.

Numerous changes go into effect today on Minnesota real estate contracts. We don’t get to see or use those contracts ahead of time. When August 1st comes our old forms are replaced with new forms.

We are given instructions and a list of changes and some years there is even a “forms” class we can attend which is by far my favorite real estate related educational opportunity.

This year we are getting rid of page numbers. That might not sound like a big deal but it is. Many agents struggled with page numbers.

If you must buy a house on August 1st at least wait until the afternoon so we have a chance to familiarize ourselves with the contracts before we have to write one.

Price reductions are common

Out of curiosity I did a little research on price reductions and found that 62% of all homes sold in St. Paul in 2017 had a price reduction before they sold. On average they sold 27 days after the price reduction. 

Sellers are on average getting their asking price or more but when I look at original asking price Vs. final asking price the spread is a bit bigger.

Knowing when to reduce the price can be tough for home owners. If the home is getting a lot of showings but no offers price adjustment may be needed.  Starting to0 high is common as many believe that it gives them more room to negotiate or that they will end up with more money for the home.

Homes that sold without needs price reductions were on the market for an average of 22 cumulative days whereas homes that had price reductions were on the market for 117 cumulative days.


How much does a CMA usually cost?

I see advertisements for “free CMA”. What is a CMA and how much does it usually cost? sometimes is a “comparative market analysis”  and sometimes it the letters stand for “competitive market analysis”.  A market analysis is how real estate agents determine how much a house will sell for. The CMA compares homes that are similar to the subject home and are in the same area and have sold in the last year.

Most real estate agents will do a CMA to determine how much a property might sell for so that it can be priced right.

To date I have never found a real estate agent who charges home owners for a CMA, yet many advertise that they will provide a free CMA. Agents and real estate companies sometimes charge banks for a BPO, which is a “broker price opinion”, which is pretty much the same as a CMA but it isn’t free.

The free CMA should not be confused with the appraisal which is done by and appraiser and costs a few hundred dollars. They use the same methodology that is used for the CMA but the appraisal is more detailed. The “zestimate” on Zillow is more similar to a CMA but not as accurate because the zestimate is an “auto valuation” done with software using data which may or may not be accurate.  The CMA is  more accurate than the zestimate.

Is a free CMA a goof value? I guess it depends upon who is doing it.

Click here for a free CMA

Victorian homes
turrets – Dayton’s Bluff

They want to buy my house now


We are getting a lot of mail these days from people who want to buy the house. I think the combination of having a household with someone (not me) who is over 65 and no mortgage  triggered the tsunami of offers from people who want to buy our house for cash, now without asking for any repairs.

As a real estate agent/broker I know that the people who want to buy my house can buy it and flip it or rent it out. I also know I can get a lot more money for it if I do some repairs. In fact if I were to sell I think I would open a line of credit against the house and use it to pay for repairs and upgrades, several months or even a year before putting it on the market.

It is also true that no matter what I tell you or what my kind claim, selling a house is rarely easy and hassle free. It isn’t the houses fault. People are unpredictable and even difficult at times and moving is always stressful. Putting some effort into selling a house  and having some patience pays off. People who can plan ahead tend to do a little better than those who suddenly decide to sell.

I know from experience that I can get a lot more for my house if it is in good repair. The smallest repairs can be intimidating to first time home buyers who sometimes do not own a screw driver. Buyers can over estimate the cost of a repair and as a result they will offer less or they won’t make an offer at all.