A day for giving back to the community

Today is “give to the MAX” day.  A Minnesota thing and an opportunity to give to your favorite charity. Find matching gifts and your favorite charity on the Give to the MAX web site. https://givemn.org 

They make it super easy to give. My favorite charities are in my own community. It doesn’t matter if you can only give a few dollars, every little bit helps and it can help even more today because there are matching gifts available.

cosmos flowers
Cosmos from my garden

Real estate regulations are local

Real estate really is local. Real estate is heavily regulated at the state level and the rules and laws are different in each state.

I was reading some real estate advice on one of those big national real estate web sites.   I thought that some of the advice was good but some of it did not apply or wasn’t appropriate for Minnesota.

Business practices seem to vary from one part of the state to another. They do things differently in Saint Cloud and in Mankato than we do them in St. Paul. If you would like to buy or sell a home find a St. Paul agent.

Minnesota real estate is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.  The Minnesota attorney generals web site had excellent consumer information for persons who want to buy, sell or rent property in Minnesota.

These guides are far better than the generic information I have seen on the big real estate web sites that sell homes and advertise refrigerators all on the same page.

Even the terminology used during a real estate transaction is different in say California than it is in Minnesota.

The Attorney General’s office  doesn’t sell anything not even refrigerators.

Check on these guides for Minnesota real estate information:

Home Buyers Handbook

Home Sellers Handbook

Landlord and Tenant Rights

Fall color
Local fall color – Harriet Island

They stole my data now they want my money


I have been notified three times this year that systems containing my private data have been hacked, compromised or breached.

One breach was in a company that has my social security number even though I haven’t done any work for them for eight years.

When I asked them to take my information out of their database they told me that they can not and that they keep personal data because sometimes people work for them again.

My advice is to choose your employers wisely because they may keep your personal data in their systems forever.

The social security number was invented in 1939. A lot has changed since then. The social security number is supposed to be used for just one thing, to track social security, yet I can not renew my drivers license or my real estate license or even get medical care without using my social security number.

How can data be considered private if 30 to 50 entities can demand it before they provide services.

There are companies that are making money by offering to protect our data. Some of the money being paid for identity protection services is going right back to the credit bureau that got hacked a few times. What a scam.

Identity protection services could be a scam. We don’t have any proof that they work or that they monitor anything.

I am getting a lot of emails from companies trying to scare me into buying identity protection and monitoring services. The free monitoring I am getting because of data breaches will eventually expire and I’ll have to pay for it. What a scam!

Identity theft can ruin a credit rating. Crooks use identify information to open new credit card accounts and then they go shopping.

People with low credit ratings have trouble renting apartments and qualifying for a home loan. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) permits employers to request credit reports on job applicants and existing employees. That doesn’t sound at all fair to me.

The best interest rates go to the people with the best credit scores. There will be people who have trouble buying a home or who have to wait to buy a home because of identify theft.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in 1970 to ensure fairness, accuracy and privacy of the personal information contained in the files of the credit reporting agencies.

The system would be more fair if the credit bureaus had to pay me for the use of my private information, credit score and social security number.

We can put a lock or a freeze on our accounts but neither of those actions will prevent identity theft but will protect credit. A lock is more convenient but more expensive than the freeze. The credit bureaus as likely to have the most profitable year ever.

Honestly to me this is all outrageous.  If ever there was an industry that needs an overhaul the credit and credit score industry is it.

End of rant.

People don’t move as often as they used to

Moving isn’t as popular as it once was. I know that older people are less likely to move than younger people are and our population is aging. Younger people are not moving as often either mostly because not as many are moving because of jobs.

I’ll admit I haven’t moved in almost 30 years. I haven’t had a reason to move. Some of my friends have moved in the last few years. We usually move because of some life event like getting married, or divorced or having children, becoming empty nesters, retiring, the death of a spouse or old age.

According to the U.S. census bureau  moving is at a historic low.

Moving in America[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

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.