Bee food and butterfly habitat

Please leave the milkweed that may be growing in your yard alone. To some it is a weed but to bees it is a much needed food source and it is the where the monarch butterflies lay their eggs. The plant provides food for the caterpillars that will eventually become butterflies.

honey bee and milkweed

We often replace native plants with the few varieties we find in nurseries. We need to grow more native plants for pollinators.


Small repairs can cost big bucks

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.

The water off time of year

Irvine Park Fountain

The fountain in Irvine park has been turned off for the season but they will fire it up again in the spring.

Heating season officially begins this Saturday, October 15th. . If that hasn’t happened already it will happen soon.

If you have a home with an outdoor spigot you might what to turn off the water to it this weekend. Disconnect the hose, turn off the water from the inside of your home and then go outside and open the spigot.

I usually turn our water off the first week in November. Usually a hard frost or two will not do any damage to the spigot or faucet.


Make your furnace or boiler appointment today

Gravity Furnace

I decided that today is make an appointment to have your central heating checked. We are about a month away from the official start of heating season and here in the frozen northland we depend upon our furnaces and boilers.

It usually doesn’t cost much and even if it does it is still a lot less expensive than getting emergency repairs in the middle of the night on Christmas eve.

The furnace in the photo is a very old gravity furnace. They don’t have moving parts and tend to last a long time. I get inside of a lot of homes and I see just about every type of furnace, heater and boiler made in the last 100 years.

Houses get used up


It seems like I spend a lot of time talking about roofs. A house has to have a roof but they do not last forever. Home owners seem to get down right resentful at the idea of putting roof on a house and then selling it. At the same time not all home buyers have the resources to buy a house and then pay to re-roof it. Sure they can pay less for the house but that doesn’t mean they will end up with an extra 10K or so for a roof. It just means the seller gets less money and the buyers house payment is $5 less a month and the house still needs a roof.

There are other things in a home that wear out or get used up. I have first hand experience replacing porch decks, furnaces, water heaters, out door spigots and much more. The trick is to plan ahead and budget for major repairs and yes if you need to sell you may have to put on a new roof before you leave.

Buyers should also be aware that there are loan programs both FHA and conventional that will allow the buyer to borrow extra money for repairs as long as the fix up funds and home loan come out to 95 to 110% of the value of the home once repairs are done. I’ll never recommend borrowing 110% of the value of the home but there are loan programs that allow it.



Cats are indoor pets

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