Social media and real estate

socialWhen social media and real estate are mixed, what could possibly go wrong?

If you are buying or selling a house be careful about what you post about it on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site.

Sometimes I find information that helps me negotiate on behalf of my buyers or sellers. My clients also find information that can give them the upper hand during negotiations.

First time home buyers, in particular, will ask their friends, family, and co-workers for advice. Sometimes they put it all out there on Facebook or even on a blog that anyone can read.

People often believe that their Facebook friends are the best source of help when buying or selling a home. They also rely on Facebook when they have medical problems and electrical problems too.

Real estate discussion often ends up in groups where there are people like me who lurk but rarely participate.

Sometimes buyers or sellers will say something unkind about the other party in a transaction on social media. It is much easier to negotiate if we leave personal feelings and drama out of the equation.

Sometimes buyers will let everyone know that they desperately want to buy the home which will weaken their negotiating position if the seller finds out or at the very least sellers will know they have the upper hand.

Sometimes home sellers give out way too much personal information. No one has to disclose why they are selling a home. Being vulnerable and demonstrating a level of cluelessness can attract people who make a living from exploiting others.

While negotiating with buyers or sellers it isn’t a good idea to share too much with friends and family until it is over.

When you work with a real estate agent they can not discuss your motivation for selling or anything else about you without your permission.

Also when getting advice on buying or selling a home keep in mind that real estate is local. Rules, laws and business practices from other parts of the country may be meaningless in the local real estate market. People who are local but have not purchased a home in the last decade may be unfamiliar with current contracts and law.

I see the strangest things on social media from people who are looking for advice. The people who are giving the advice are just as clueless as the people asking for it.

June home sales by St. Paul neighborhood

We are halfway through 2018 and so far it has been a great year to sell real estate but not such a great year to buy it. In several St. Paul neighborhoods the average sale price in June was higher than the average list price. That means prices in those neighborhoods are still going up. the overall average and median sale prices were also up from May.

The average days on market was around 20 in June. There are some houses that have been on the market for more than 600 days. I mention that because it is possible to overprice a house in any neighborhood.

There are more homes on the market than there have been for the last several months but we are still seeing a severe shortage of homes for sale.

Saint Paul home prices are at an all-time high. The data used to make the table was exported from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. I don’t have an exact number but a high percentage of homes sold in St. Paul are listed on the MLS.

The data includes all single family homes and condos and townhouses within the city limits of St. Paul. Sales price data is for the homes that closed during the month of June.

Real estate is local. For more local numbers see: Local Market Conditions & home prices

Buyer negotiation strategies can backfire

Blazing star
Blazing star

Sometimes home sellers will not negotiate. In a seller’s market, they have the upper hand.  Home buyers want to negotiate. The most common strategy is to want to go way below the asking price. Buyers believe that starting low is the best way to get the seller to come down on the price.

That might work in a buyers market but in a sellers market the sellers sometimes just say no rather than negotiating.

When there are multiple offers buyers usually get one chance to put in their highest and best offer. If there is any negotiation at all the seller negotiates with the buyer who submitted the best offer. The buyer who goes low never gets an opportunity to go up

It has become a common experience for home buyers to lose out on the first house or two because that is what it takes for them to understand that going too low isn’t the best way to buy a house.

Buyers should do their homework and have an idea of what the value of the house they are making an offer on is. If it is over priced I strongly encourage buyers to make an offer that is below the asking price. Most buyers will not make an offer.

I see overpriced real estate as the biggest opportunity for home buyers to buy without competing in multiple offers.

When making an offer on a home that is being offered at or below the market value the offer should be at or over the asking price.

There is no single strategy that works in every situation for buying a house. There are sellers who do not need to sell and who will hold out for a retain amount even if it takes years.

Having a negotiating plan in your head is fine just keep it in your head as you pay attention to prices and what the sellers strategy. Sellers should keep in mind that buyers really want to negotiate.

Buyers sometimes regret having “won the bidding war” and as a result they back out after the inspection. Sellers who get top dollar for their home should expect the buyer to request some repairs.

Advice from friends and family who bought a home last year or a decade or more ago probably isn’t as useful as the advice from your Realtor®. Choose an agent with experience. There is no substitute for experience.

Will our children ever take their stuff?

StorageDid your children move out and leave some of their stuff behind? Are you over 35 but still, have stuff stored in your parent’s basement?

Some adult children are slow to launch and some fail to launch but either way they seem to store a lot of stuff in their parent’s basement, garage or attic. I see it all the time when I meet with people who want to sell their houses.

Dear person in their twenties, thirties or forties,

It is wonderful that you got that new job and were able to move out of your folks place a mere________ years after you graduated from college. I know it is a big scary world out there and it is hard to move away. Just think of it as a new beginning.

Your parents love you, we always have and we would do almost anything for you and we probably have and we are very proud of you.

There is one thing that you need to know. We are not being honest with you about something. We have kept a secret from you all these years, and it has nothing to do with Auntie  Sue or that one incident a few years back at the water park. We know you did not do that on purpose.

We want to tell you that we are very tired of the boxes and storage bins in the basement and the bike, sports equipment and roller blades in the garage. We understand that you also regret having purchased that tacky piece of furniture that you bought the first time you moved out but left stored in the basement this last time you moved out. We hate it too, and yes you may move back in that is true, even though we had the locks changed and you know the secret about the back door, you will find a way, but I suspect you won’t want to use the furniture as you seem to hate it so.

Even though we love you and would do almost anything for you we don’t want to provide storage for your stuff anymore.  We would like to use our basements and garages and attics for something else now. We have our own tacky furniture that needs to be stored and most of our closets are overflowing as we have not moved in years and have not had any place to put anything in decades.

It would be heavenly to be able to walk to the washer without tripping over something and honestly the furnace and water heater have always wanted a room of their own, they watch and wait silently as the stuff piles up around them.   Last time we had a repairman here he couldn’t even find the furnace, I guess he wasn’t much of a repairman.  I never saw him leave the house, he may still be down in the basement looking for the furnace, I guess we don’t know for sure but hope not because they charge by the hour.

Please come over for dinner tonight.  We promise to cook something you really like and buy a couple of bottles of wine, or maybe you would enjoy a beer instead.   Bring a friend or significant other and a moving van. We will even front you the cash so that you can rent it. After dinner kindly remove your stuff. Don’t make me have to write this twice.  I may be old but I am still your mother and even though you are bigger than I am I can still kick your butt, or at the very least make you feel guilty.

Thanks, your loving mother.

PS if you read this after the garage sale please accept my apologies, I know I should have sent a text message but for some things, 140 characters are not enough.

Oh, and while I am at it I would not mind being a grandmother someday.

. . . If your adult children want to live with you or are moving back in, please contact me about downsizing.

tumble weeds roll down St. Peter St.

Downtown St. Paul – Plenty of parking

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun but I am writing about July 4th in St. Paul anyway.

It was hot and stormy on the 4th but in between rain storms I went out for a walk. Downtown was kind of spooky an totally vacant except for Candy Land. I stopped in and bought a small bag of Chicago mix. I understand why the restaurants were closed. If they had opened they would have been empty.

Downtown was quiet except for the echo from explosive being detonated from the river bluff. The noise started when the rain stopped. The firecrackers, cherry bombs, and bottle rockets and assorted high flying fireworks. Fireworks are illegal in Minnesota but the law is not enforced in St. Paul.

If it had been a bit cooler out and less rainy I would have enjoyed riding my bike down the middle of the street.

St. Paul doesn’t have a public fireworks display. It all has to do with the ballpark in Lowertown. If I had known that the park would mean the end of public fireworks displays I would not have been in favor of building it.

The history of an over priced house

Downtown St. Paul, rooftops

As a homeowner myself I totally understand wanting a high asking price when selling a home but as a real estate agent, I can tell you that asking for more can mean getting less. It seems counter-intuitive but it is true.

A house that was listed for $449 but should have been listed for no more than $380 and would have sold for about $370 in less than three months.

The owners wanted $450,000 for it because that is what they wanted. As a result, it took 2.5 years to sell the home for 10K less than it would have sold for it was priced correctly.

They changed agents three times and reduced the price 8 times and ended up getting about $360,000. This example is extreme but is an example of why and how homeowners can end up with more by asking for less.

The houses that get multiple offers are usually priced just right. They sell faster and generally speaking the highest offers come within the first 10 days a home is on the market.

The local real estate market strongly favors sellers which means it is a good time to sell but even in a seller’s market pricing is important. Deciding on a price is more of an art than a science and there are always agents and sellers who will aim too high.