When do I need to get an appraisal?

I am surprised at how often homeowners ask me if they need to get an appraisal before they put their home on the market. The answer is no. If the buyer borrows money to pay for the home the lender will order an appraisal.

The purpose of the appraisal is to make sure that the amount being borrowed does not exceed the value of the home. The house will be used as collateral.

Houses do not always appraise for the offer amount. Sometimes buyers offer an amount that is significantly over the asking price with a small downpayment. If the house doesn’t appraise for enough the buyers may have to come up with more cash or the sellers will have to reduce the sale price.

As a home seller, I would want to see something in the offer that is for more than the asking price stating that the buyer will buy the home anyway and that the buyer has the cash to make up the difference.

If not it might make more sense to accept a lower offer because it is more likely to work out. In most cases people who have to put their home back on the market because an offer fell through end up getting less for it.

Most of the time I have an idea of what a home will appraise for. That helps with negotiations when there are multiple offers.

The way the appraisal process works is that an appraiser visits the property and looks it over. The price he/she (they are mostly men) comes up with is based on the actual sale price of three similar properties in the immediate area that have sold in the last year.

There are houses that are hard to appraise because it is hard to find comps. Appraisers can compare to properties and make adjustments. It isn’t an exact science.

On average for the Month of May 2018 St. Paul home sellers got more than 100% of the asking price. That does not mean that all homeowners got more than the asking price. If the property is overpriced sellers may get offers for less than the asking price or no offers at all.

The lender will not use a recent appraisal that the owner had done. They will always get a new appraisal and the borrower will have to pay for it. With cash sales, anything goes.

Snow and cold in April isn’t unusual

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Winter is headed our way again. Plan on wearing boots and a parka this weekend. Winter in April isn’t that unusual but where are the Nice Ride bikes? I went to their website looking for information and it looks like prices have gone up and there will be some new bikes but . . where are the bikes? Here are pictures of bikes in April of 2013 . . . . we had a looooong ass winter that year.

April 10th 2013
April 20th, 2013

Do you see bikes? I don’t.

April 12th, 2018

Oh and happy Friday the 13th.

Happy Mothers Day!

An old family photo

I miss my mom. She is still alive and as I see who she is now I also remember who she was. A school teacher, an accomplished writer and an artist.

She  doesn’t talk anymore but will sometimes surprise us with a word or two. Just as she taught me how to read and how to tie my shoes she is now teaching me about how devastating Alzheimer’s disease is.

Alzheimer’s is not curable or reversible and is fatal 100% of the time. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 5 million people in the U.S. Alzheimer’s is also the only disease in the top ten killers that there is no cure or treatment for.

While deaths from heart disease continue to go down deaths from Alzheimer’s continue to rise. The disease affects women more than men as we are more likely to have it and more likely to be the caregiver for someone with the disease.

Learn more about Alzheimer’s

Touring homes and writing offers

I thought it was just my imagination that even though the inventory of homes for sale is low I am actually showing each buyer more homes and writing more offers.

The average number of showings each home gets before an offer is made that is accepted by the seller is up to 31 per home.  I wish there was some data on how many offers are made on each home.

Average number of showings before a pending sale


Why are my photos yellow?

White balance settings

I have had to photographic entire homes where every room is yellow. I was told the color is called “tuscan”.  Yellow is a challenging interior color to photograph.

Sometimes interior photos look yellow when there is no yellow in the room. I just looked at a bunch of photos of a condo for sale no doubt taken by a Realtor with a phone or digital camera and every room has a yellowish hue.

The yellow is a white balance issue. There are all sorts of ways to determine which white balance setting should be used. One easy way to figure it out is to try a couple of different white balance settings and then look at the picture.

I like to set my camera to RAW and adjust the white balance when I process the pictures. That way I can’t screw it up. Interior photos don’t have to look yellow.


Anyone can sell a house

House for sale can in bag not included

People tell me they can sell their home without the help of a real estate agent.  Sometimes for a fee I put a home on the MLS for a seller. They always end up asking for more help. Most home owners can show their home and some like to hold open houses. Yet most home owners struggle to complete the transaction.

What goes in the purchase agreement? Who pays the closing costs? Who pays for the inspection? Do I need to pull permits for the repairs that the buyers want?  does the inspection work? Who is responsible for an appraisal? Does the buyer have to buy the home if it appraises for less than the asking price? If we accept an inspection contingent offer, can we sell the house to someone else if a higher offer comes in?

Do sellers pay the property taxes or do the buyers? Who pays the state deed tax? Are water tests required?

What can go wrong between the time we accepts a buyers offer and the closing? Who sets up the closing? What is a closing? Who pays the closer?

Should I sell my appliances with my home? What is included in the sale and what is not?

There are many more questions. No two homes are quite the same and neither are the buyers or the sellers and the answers to some of the questions above depends upon how the purchase agreement is written. Buyers and sellers can agree to all sorts of things. There are laws that govern real estate sales and there are business practices too.

Even with all of the technology we have selling a home isn’t as easy as homeowners sometimes think it is.  I know a sales person who decided to sell a home. It all went just fine and it closed but I’ll never understand why that home owner did all that work and ended up getting 30K less for the home just to avoid paying 16K in commissions. Yet it is true anyone can sell a house. 🙂

We make it look super easy but there is more to it than a for sale sign and an MLS listing. None of it is rocket science but it helps to have experience.