Preparing for a home inspection

If I were selling my own home and had an offer from buyers who wanted to have an inspection I would prepare my home ahead of time. Here are some of the things I would do:

  1. Remove the old parts the contractor left by the furnace or water heater the last time he was here because I know buyers and inspectors might read something into them.
  2. Make sure every light fixture in the house has a working light bulb in it. Inspectors may suggest a fixture isn’t working if the bulb is burned out.
  3. If I had a fuse box I would remove any old and all new extra fuses and put them away.
  4. Clean the surfaces of the water heater and furnace.
  5. Make sure all screens are on the windows.
  6. Make sure all windows open and close.
  7. Check under every sink and remove any buckets under sinks so that inspectors do not assume a past or present leak.
  8. Make sure all electrical outlets and light switches have covers.
  9. If extension cords are being used due to lack of outlets disconnect and remove the extension cords.

Some of the items I am mentioning will just help to keep the list of things the buyer might want addressed shorter.

Before putting an older home on the market is it s good idea to clean the outsides of the furnace and water heater. Spare parts or old parts from any repair job should be tossed out or put away.

Frankly some home inspectors don’t know what they are doing and others are excellent. There isn’t any licensure or even qualifications to be a home inspector in Minnesota.

Also see City of St. Paul Truth in housing Inspection 

colorful fun in St. Paul

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Did you ever get up early and get ready to work and then step outside and change your mind? That is what I did on Tuesday. I decided to go to Como park first thing in the morning. The conservatory wasn’t open and I had the grounds with all of those beautiful gardens to myself.

Here are a couple of the photographs I took.

water lily
water lily
Monarch butterfly

What a great way to start the day!

Multiple offer fatigue


Some home buyers and sellers are getting tired of multiple offers. In theory multiple offers are nice but it isn’t that simple. Only one person can buy the house. Multiple offers are a good problem for sellers to have but can multiply the stress for all parties.

Home owners will put their home on the market on a Tuesday and say they want “highest and best offers” by noon on Friday. Sometimes that back fires and they end up with no offers, because buyers don’t always want to play that game. Sellers have told me that they don’t want to play games either. They just want a great offer.

When an offer comes in with the asking price or better and all of the terms the seller wants there really isn’t any reason to hang on to it and try to get more offers. Here are a few of the things that can go wrong when a good offer is used to get a better offer:

  1. First buyer withdraws offer and buys another house.
  2. Winning offer is for an amount that the buyer regrets and as a result he/she/they either back out or after the inspection they ask for numerous repairs or a sizable price reduction.
  3. Buyers lender has the home appraised and it comes in at a value less than the buyer offered. Buyer backs out.

The most likely outcome of in any of the above scenarios is having to put the home back on the market and starting all over. I am not trying to suggest that getting multiple offers is always bad because it isn’t but sometimes that first offer really is the best and all that is needed. It is after all a seller’s market.

Also see seller expectations sky rocket.


My house isn’t selling what should I do?


There are homes that have been on the market for months, even though we are in a strong sellers market. One common strategy used by sellers to speed things along is to switch real estate agents. That rarely helps.

Any experienced real estate agent will tell you that the first two weeks a home is on the market are critical. If the home isn’t getting a lot of attention during that period something is wrong. If the home is getting a lot of showings but no offers something is wrong.

In general buyers do not just offer less if a house is over priced as sellers often believe. They do’t make any offers at al.  I highly encourage buyers to make offers on over priced houses because I know from experience that the real bargains are the over priced houses.

Buyers will not have to compete with other buyers in multiple offer situations and will end up getting the house for less than they would have had to pay if the house had been properly priced.

Here are a few things that can help sell a house that has been on the market for a few months:

  1.  Lower the asking price.
  2. Have the home marketed using professional photography.
  3.  Clean and re-paint with neutral colors. 
  4. Make repairs.
  5. Cancel the listing and re-list it.

Here are a few things that won’t help sell your home faster:

  1. A public open house.
  2. An agent open house.
  3. Printing expensive brochures.
  4. Newspaper advertising.

Each home and each situation are different. It is hard to be objective when selling your own home. It is very rare to find a home owner who believe their property is worth less than it is actually worth. The challenges in selling a home can be boiled to presentation and pricing.

Hey buddy will you sell your house?

months housing supply
Absorption rate

I used to publish housing absorption rates often. Way back in 08 and 09 during the great recession there was a 7 to 12 month supply of houses on the market.  Right now there is about a 2.4 month supply in the 7 county metro area and about a 2.1 month supply in Ramsey county.

No news here but there is the possibility that the 1.7 month supply we hit last December was the new low and from here we just go up. For those who have no idea what I am talking about supply has to do with how long it would take to sell every house on the market if no new listings were added and buyers continued to buy homes at the current rate. The number is also referred to as an absorption rate.

When there is less than a 6 month supply of homes for sale we call it a sellers market.

Here are some absorption rates from late 2010 when we were is a strong buyers market:

Anoka County 8.7  Months
Carver County 7.9 Months
Dakota County 8.1 Months
Hennepin County 9.1 Months
Ramsey County 8.5 Months
Scott County 10 Months
Washington County 9.5 Months

If you are interested in selling a house give me a call.

Home sales and prices by neighborhood

it is Monday which is a great day for data and for numbers. The table below is for the Month of July 2017 and includes all home sales as recorded in the Northstar MLS in the city of St. Paul. The data is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and includes most home sales.

Home sale prices likely peaked for the year last month at an average of $261K and a median sales price of $219,950. The number of homes on the market remains low but has risen to November 2016 levels. We would need about twice as many homes on the market to have a balanced market. We are currently in a strong sellers market.

Prices usually peak in April or May. The July sales numbers represent home sales that closed in July. Buyers likely made the offers in May and June. There are several neighborhoods where the sales price is higher than the asking price. For the third month in a row the average sales price in St. Paul was higher than the average list price. Look for that to change in the late summer, early fall.

chart with sale prices
Home sales and prices St. Paul, MN

For more local real estate numbers please see local market conditions and home prices.