Consider a 60 or 90 day contract

The real estate market is ever changing. The average number of days on market for homes that have recently sold in St. Paul is around 36. I say it over and over we are in a strong seller’s market, yet contracts with Realtors to list a home are for six months. Longer contracts may be good for people like me but are they the best for home sellers?

Six-month contracts are the closest we ever come to job security. We wake up each morning unemployed and are only paid after the successful closing of a real estate sale.

For the homes that are worth more then 600K a longer contract may be more appropriate but for everything that is at or below half a million six weeks should be a long enough contract. It is important to know the numbers.

Find out what the average days on market are for a home like yours that are in your area. Enter into a contract with a Realtor that is for an appropriate length of time.

Contracts can be extended as needed and home sellers who have shorter contracts have more control and leverage over the marketing process. If they do not like the way things are going it is much easier to switch real estate agents sooner. In some situations it may even make sense to put a home on the market for six weeks and if it doesn’t get an offer take it off the market and put it back on a few weeks or months later.

Go ahead and ask for a 60 or 90-day contract and also consider the six-week contract.

bumper sticker
We love short contracts

First half property taxes are due tomorrow

Ramsey county building
Ramsey County Government Center 160 Kellogg Blvd – not a place to drop off your tax payment

If you live in Minnesota property taxes for the first half of 2018 are due on May 15th which is tomorrow. If you live in St. Paul you live in Ramsey County and have not sent them in yet you might want to drop them off in person.

Here are the fees for paying taxes electronically:

E-check: $1 per transaction.
Credit card or debit card: 2.49% per transaction.
Signature debit card: $3.95 per transaction.

Current property taxes can be paid in person at:

Ramsey County Plato Building
Property Tax Services Counter
90 Plato Blvd. West
Saint Paul, MN 55107

Cash, check or money order accepted. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Pay by Dropbox
You may submit payments at two drop box locations. Do not pay with cash.

Saint Paul Regional Water Services, 1900 Rice Street, Saint Paul, MN.
Property Tax, Record, and Election Services Office, 90 Plato Blvd. West, Saint Paul, MN.

If you have a mortgage the money has been collected from your mortgage payments and your taxes have already been paid. If you are not sure it is super easy to look it up on the Ramsey county web site

What do county taxes pay for? Many things like libraries and parks and golf courses and the Sheriff. Birth records, death records, and marriage licenses and records.  The medical examiner and financial and medical assistance and jobs programs and voting too. Various transportation projects in conjunction with other entities with taxation authority.

Ramsey County is weird and backward and part of what helps keep St. Paul parochial.

There is an elected board of commissioners that oversees the county programs and budgets. Getting to know your commissioner is important.

Taxes for the second half are due on October 15, 2018. Some folks just pay them all in may.

Dandelions are edible

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Everything greened up nicely this week and the dandelions are in full bloom.

You might say they grow like weeds. The name came from a French word for lions teeth.

The leaves of the dandelion have jagged edges that look like lions teeth if you are a French person. I am half French and can speak from experience.

My mom, who is 100% French told me that her family often ate dandelion greens in the spring.

I have eaten them myself. They are full of nutrients and they are good in salads. The younger they are the better they taste. Dandelion tends to get bitter as it ages.

I recently found a recipe for dandelion bud pickles. It is almost too late in the season to find buds where I live but a person would I am sure there are plenty outside of the downtown area. Picking the buds will reduce next years crop as will harvesting the roots and roasting them.

Here is the recipe to be made in a 16 o.z. jar:

1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
apple cider, brown rice or white wine vinegar
tamari or soy sauce

All you really need to know is to clean the buds, you know pick off the leaves and was everything. (the bud should be closed)  Put the buds in the jar with the onion and other seasonings and fill the jar 1/3 with the tamari or soy sauce and then fill it to the top with the vinegar. I have seen recipes that include ginger root, bay leaves, and honey.

If pickles are not something you normally make and you don’t want to experiment use google to find a recipe that makes sense to you.

If you are irritated with your neighbor because of all of those dandelion seeds that float onto your property ask if you can pick the buds and pickle them. It isn’t likely that any of our neighbors will stop being obnoxious so we may as well make the most of it.

When highest and best goes wrong

If you are a home buyer you know the drill. House goes on the market and there is a deadline for making an offer. The listing agent will call for highest and best offer by a certain date and time.

Sometimes the time passes and the house is still on the market. Sometimes multiple offers are made by the deadline. Other times buyers were not interested enough to rush through the process and compete with other buyers so they did nothing.

Some listings have highest and best offer deadline in MLS and the dates are from weeks ago making me wonder what happened.

Home may buyers end up bidding against themselves as they are told that there might be multiple offers or that another offer is coming in. I strongly discourage buyers from raising the offer amount unless they are sure there are other offers.

If you are selling a home it is probably best if you don’t set a deadline for offers unless you already have an offer. Sometimes buyers think there is something wrong with the house if it is on the market after the call for highest and best.

Every year I have to explain to a new crop of buyers that they won’t be told what other buyers have offered and that they are more or less rolling the dice. In the end, I want my clients to be happy with their purchase. I don’t want them to feel like they were taken to the cleaners or like they paid to much.

When representing the seller I want to make sure that the offer that my clients want to accept will result in a closed sale.

Home buying isn’t easy these days and sometimes home selling isn’t as easy as it looks. I have seen houses that got multiple offers end up back on the market after the financing fell through or after the inspection. When buyers are paying top dollar for a home they don’t expect to have to spend a lot of money on repairs.

The more the buyer offers on a home as compared to the asking price the pickier he/she/they are going to be about the condition of the place.

Sometimes I chuckle when an overpriced house hits the market on a Friday with a call for highest and best offers by Monday.

There are still agents out there and real estate companies that believe they need to create a sense of urgency to sell a home quickly. We are in a buyers market which by its very nature means there is a high interest among buyers and a sense of urgency.

Basics for the garden

Herb garden

I just got these plants at the farmer’s market last weekend and will plant them soon. These are some basics that come in handy for cooking. They are all super easy to grow. I plant them in a little patch of dirt by my back door.

Fron Left to right: Basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and Lavender. We don’t eat the lavender but I like the way it looks and smells. I also grow a variety of peppers, some cucumbers, and tomatoes and There is rhubarb in the backyard and it gets used for pies and cake.

I freeze parsley at the end of the season and if I have enough basil I make pesto before the first freeze. The rosemary gets dried and used in the winter and so does the lavender. I used to grow dill but it tends to spread all over the place. Mint is also an invasive species. I have chamomile that reseeds itself.

Herbs can be grown in pots but I have plenty of space in the garden. Basil is an easy plant to grow from seeds which is a nice way to grow a larger crop.

If you are new to gardening or a new homeowner or both try these easy to grow garden herbs. I am always amazed at how much food I can grow on my postage stamp sized city lot.