• First Time Home Buyers
  • Getting a home inspection

    Buyers are strongly encouraged to make inspection contingent offers and get a complete home inspection. Right now the best home inspectors are very busy. There are several inspectors I can recommend. I have worked with them and I know that they will do a good job finding any problems and explaining the house to the buyers.

    It is important for buyers to choose their own inspector but often real estate agents choose inspectors for buyers. In Minnesota there isn’t any special licensing required for home inspectors. Some inspectors have minimal qualifications but they are part of a franchise that provides them some of the business tools they need to be inspectors and guidelines on how to do it.

    Most of the homes I sell are older homes. In fact they are downright old making a home inspection very important. The inspector needs to really understand older homes and know what to look for.

    Some home buyers will choose an inspector based on reviews and ratings. That may not be the best way to go about it. The ratings are most often coming from first time home buyers who do not have any experience with homes or home inspections and they don’t have anyone to compare the inspector with. I have witnessed some really poor home inspections where the buyers really liked the job the inspector did because they did not know any better.

    There are a couple of questions I would ask if I were interviewing inspectors. I would want to know how long they have been doing inspections and what their qualifications are. I would also want to know if they are full time and how well they know the area or neighborhood where the home to be inspected is located. I would want to know if they typically inspect older homes or newer homes or some of each.

    Inspectors should also be members of American Society of Home Inspectors. (ASHI). Personally I would like to see some licensing requirements where the inspector would have to pass a test to be licensed and also be required to take continuing education classes.

    leak under sink
    leak under sink – a picture is worth a 1000 words

    I have seen inspectors overstep their area of expertise. For example they will recommend a furnace or boiler replacement because they got a high c02 reading when they should be recommending that a HVAC contractor tune and certify the unit. If it needs replacement the HVAC specialist will say so. I have yet to meet an inspector with an accurate c02 meter.

    In other cases the inspector has missed something important like the rust inside the breaker box or the fact that the clean out plug on the main water drain is new of there is an old tank buried in the back yard. After one inspector left the house I showed the buyers where the main water and electrical shut offs were located. Most inspectors go over that. On one inspection I watched as the inspector had the buyer take notes. A good inspector provides a written report and does not ask the home buyer to take notes.

    Once the inspection is complete the buyers must decide if they are going to ask for repairs. last year I had some buyers who wanted every issue on the inspection addressed. I later learned that they had changed their mind about buying the place and were just trying to get out of the contract which they could have done very easily during a ten day recision period but they were sneaky and dishonest.

    Also see: Asking for repairs?

    Home buying inspection 101

  • For Home buyers
  • Crime in the saintly city

    Yesterday someone asked me if there are any safe neighborhoods in St. Paul. I have no idea how to answer that question.  I think it depends partly upon who you are, how you live and what you consider safe. I have always felt safe in St. Paul but sometimes people who move from small towns, rural areas or even 2nd ring suburbs are afraid of crime in the city.

    Last year I was asked if I could recommend a neighborhood where there isn’t any need to lock the doors at night. I find the idea of leaving my doors unlocked frightening. Needless to say I did not have a recommendation.

    The Saint Paul police department has a lot of information online about crimes. They track them by grids that are made up of 8 to 12 city blocks.  You can look at the maps and get a feel for what crime rates are. Crimes are also tracked by district council area. The city is split up into 17 districts.

    I have posted a screen shot of the crime map for St. Paul auto theft for last month. The best way to get more information about all crimes in a particular area is go to the Saint Paul Police web site and do some research.  Look at the maps and the types of crimes and read about prevention and then decide if it is safe to live in the saintly city.

    Crime map
    Crime map – St. Paul

     

  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Profile of home buyers in 2015

    From a study conducted by the national association of Realtors about home buyers and sellers in 2015.

    Characteristics of Home Buyers

    First-time buyers made up 32 percent of all home buyers, down from 33 percent last year.

    The typical buyer was 44 years old, and had a median household income of $86,100.

    Sixty-seven percent of recent buyers were married couples, 15 percent were single females, nine percent were single males, and seven percent were unmarried couples.

    Thirteen percent of home buyers purchased a multi-generational home to take care of aging parents, for cost savings, and because children over the age of 18 are moving back home.

    Ninety percent of recent home buyers identified as heterosexual, three percent as gay or lesbian, one percent as bi-sexual, and seven percent preferred not to answer.

    Eighteen percent of recent home buyers are veterans and three percent are active-duty service members.

    At 30 percent, the primary reason for purchasing a home was the desire to own a home of their own.

    Last week I wrote about home sellers. I noticed this study mentions multi-generational homes. I think going forward multi generational homes are going to become more important because people live longer and children seem to have longer childhoods. I have been doing research on how to market such a home so that the advertising is compliant with fair housing rules. The word “family” is not allowed, multigenerational seems to be a grey area.

    House
    House
  • For Home buyers
  • Working around the furniture

     churchpew

    Problem solving is a big part of my job and most problems have more than one solution.  Over the years I have had buyers with all sorts of special needs.

    There was the lovely woman who played the organ for her church on Sundays that wanted a living or dining room big enough for her organ.  We found the right home but there were some issues with the electrical system, once they were addressed it all worked out.  If her music bothered her neighbors I never heard about it.

    I remember the man who wanted to move into a loft.  His needs were minimal and he did not need a lot of space but he wanted to have enough room for his church pew and according to him it belonged near the front door.  It all worked out and he lives happily every after with his church pew.  

    The young couple with the bedroom set they bought in Germany eventually moved into a historic home with tall ceilings and their bedroom set looks wonderful in the space.

    There are other items that can be a challenge to place like big screen televisions and large dogs, and even tall buyers.  So far I have been able to find suitable housing for all of my buyers and their stuff too.   I won’t explain the other solution. :) 

  • For Home buyers
  • Tis the Season – or will be soon

    poinsettia Right after the holidays I start getting calls from people who want to move. For some of them the move will be because of a divorce or a break up with a partner. They wait until after the holidays and then begin making plans.

    Some will want to buy another house. I call it a rebound house. Please think before you buy the rebound house because it is the home  purchased shortly after a  divorce or the break-up of a long term relationship. The rebound homes that are purchased don't always work out in the long run.  Go out and rent an apartment and give yourself some time before taking the plunge.  When choosing a rental, take care and do your homework.

    During break ups people often look at their move as moving away from something or someone. It might be best to think in terms of moving toward something like a new life. Where do you want to be?  Where do you see yourself in five years? If there is no mental picture then making a long term commitment like buying a home is not the best choice.

    I have listed homes for a few woman who bought the  home shortly after a break up.  In each case they felt they owned if for a short time and felt they had  made a mistake.  They did not look at enough homes, they got themselves in over their heads financially, or they just paid too much for what they bought because they wanted to get on with their lives and in their haste failed to do their homework.

    Buying a home is a big step, please wait until you are ready to make a big decisions.  

  • For Home buyers
  • A Home on the Rebound

    Brick2 One of my clients asked me to write this post, so I am going to be her voice today.  She tells a story that I have heard from other woman.

    Please think before you buy the rebound house.  That is the home you purchase shortly after a  divorce or the break up of a long term relationship.  Go out and rent an apartment and give yourself some time before  taking the plunge.  When choosing a rental, take care and do your homework.

    I have listed homes for a few woman who bought the  home shortly after a break up.  In each case they felt they owned if for a short time and felt they had  made a mistake.  They did not look at enough homes, they got themselves in over their heads financially, or they just paid too much for what they bought because they wanted to get on with their lives and in their haste failed to do their homework.

    Buying a home is a big step, please wait until you are ready to make a big decisions.