For Home Sellers

To decorate or not

I answer this question several times each holiday season. If my home is on the market should I decorate it for the holidays? My answer is always the same. That depends.

Honestly I don’t have a problem with holiday decorations but the same rules apply to them that apply to any kind of decorations in homes that are for sale. The decorations can not detract from the home or distract people who are viewing it. Less is generally more.

If my own home were on the market during the holidays I would put up a smaller tree or none at all because my home is small and the tree takes up space and makes the living room look smaller. I would put up the outdoor wreath and the strings of lights I normally put in my kitchen. I would put out some holiday candles and some plants or flowers. Just enough to make the place look festive.

Skipping the holiday decorations all together is alright too. It is better to have to decorations than too many decorations. I have never bought into the idea that decorations inside my home could offend anyone. I would be more concerned about cluttering up the space and distracting the buyer.

A couple of times I have managed to get the photographs of homes for sale before the decorations went up. I prefer not to have holiday decorations in my listing photos.

Row house

Lauer Flats on Western Street

For Home buyers

Street view

starBack in the olden days like 10 years ago I used to suggest to people who were shopping for a new home that they drive by some of the homes they think they would like to see. Sometimes I would pull up to a home with the buyers and they would take one look at the outside and at what is next door and across the street and tell me that they did not want to go inside.

Fair enough. It is easy to choose the wrong home to look at. Sometimes they look perfect on paper but not so wonderful in person. Google street view has made it easier than ever to drive by a home without ever leaving yours. I often use it to drive around an area where I have found a home that may be suitable for clients but am not sure what is behind it or near it.  I don’t want to waste my time or theirs. If we can see the area they can decide if they want to see the home or if we should move on.

Some folks don’t like to live close to busy streets, and some don’t like corner lots. Other’s want to be close to businesses but some would prefer not to be too close. People have varying opinions about power lines, freeways and apartment buildings. Members of some cultures and religions have requirements about the topography of the lot and which way the home is facing and more.

Street view has saved me gallons of gasoline and a lot of time over the years.

First Time Home Buyers

Car Vs. House

car12I remember how hard it was to save up for a down payment on a house. We had young children and I had some student loans. We were able to take advantage of a first time home buyer program that gave us an interest free loan for part of our down payment but like most people we still needed actual cash to buy.

One way we were able to save money was by buying used cars instead of new ones. The price of cars has really gone up since then. I just got sticker shock looking at the average price of a new car which is around $32,000.  When financing a car payments interest rates are lower than they would be for a used car but believe me payments and insurance on a $15,000 used car will be significantly lower than insurance and payments on a $32,000 car.

A couple who can get by with one car instead of two will have an easier time saving up for a house.  Ideally I like to buy two year old cars and pay cash for them. Expensive cars and real estate agents kind of go together but so far I have resisted the urge to be just like everyone else. I have a car I bought used several years ago and paid cash for. It gets excellent mileage and is very reliable.

Friday fun

I am so over the holidays

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I am tired of the holidays. The decorations have been around for awhile and I am  already tired of Christmas cookies.  I never get tired of eating them just of looking at them.  There have been commercials on television for weeks with picture of holiday decorations in them, and there have been holiday decorations in the stores since mid September.  I have read several news stories and advertisements about black friday and cyber monday deals. I am so over the holiday movies because they have been playing since October 1st.

I am ready to move on and looking forward to spring. Maybe I would enjoy the holidays more if they only came once a year and for a short time. I used to complain that the holiday season takes up the whole last quarter of the year but now it starts in the middle of the third quarter. I know that when people buy stuff it is good for the economy and I am alright with that but maybe we can add some new holidays to the mix because the ones we have now get very monotonous after a few months.

 

elf

As for the elph on the shelf I think the toy is creepy but it is also probably flammable which is a good thing. If not for the steep price of $25 I would buy one just so I could watch it burn.

Local Market Conditions & home prices

Supply of homes for sale

It has been awhile since I have published absorption rates which is the rate at which the homes for sale in St. paul are being absorbed or purchased.  Right now there is about a 3 month supply of homes for sale which means if no more homes were put up for sale but buyers kept purchasing homes at the current rate all the homes for sale would be sold.

Generally we would call this a sellers market when there is less than a six months supply or homes for sale but for some reason it doesn’t feel like one right now. We are not seeing many multiple offer situations and buyers are in general very choosy and won’t be rushed. During the sellers market of 2013 buyers were quick to jump on the best deals. Some homes were sold before they hit the MLS.

It could just be a November thing and home buyers should do their homework and see as many houses as they need to before making a decision.  I would like to see more homes on the market so buyers have more options.

The local housing market is still in recovery. There are still people who are upside down on their mortgages and it will be another year or two before they will want to consider selling.

chart

Supply of homes for sale in months.

Home Improvement

Calling the plumber

faucetsSo far this year we have had the plumber over to our house 4 times. The first time to fix a toilet, the second time to fix three faucets that were not working correctly. All three had to be replaced.

The 4th and what I hope is the final visit for 2014 was to replace the shut off valves for the outdoor faucets, and while he was at it I had him fix the faucet at the washtub that I have not been able to turn for at least a decade and while they were at it I had them replace the rubber washer hoses with braided stainless steel.

Everything wears out and even though we spent a lot on plumbing this year we did not increase the value of our home because what we did was maintenance. We have now lived in our home long enough to have replaced every single appliance. We have never had any electrical work done but have had every other kind of work done and have done a lot of work on our own.

Part of owning a home is maintaining it and spending a bunch of money on plumbing or heating isn’t always a lot of fun. Home improvements are more fun than maintenance items. No one is going to see the shiny new plumbing in the basement but I’ll know that everything down there is working and nothing is leaking or broken.

If I had added additional plumbing fixtures that would have been considered a home improvement and may have increased the value of our home.

For those who own an old house like mine it is wise to have a repair or maintenance budget and to have a plan to spend some of it each year to maintain the home and to protect your investment. Everything wears out eventually but if we are careful it won’t all wear out at once.

Contact

Teresa Boardman
Realtor®, MN,
Licensed Broker
Saint Paul Home Realty
651-216-4603
teresa(at)tboardman.com
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