Low interest rates getting lower?

Interest rates may go down a bit again but right now they are super low. Here are some numbers from Freddie Mac

Rates Freddie Mac
interest rate chart
Interest rates 9/2018

I know from experience that when rates go up the smallest amount seems to affect home sales. When they go down people start refinancing.

Will rates go down again this week? We shall see.

The recruiting season


This is the time of year when real estate companies work extra hard at recruiting agents. Most real estate agents are independent contractors and the real estate company with the most agents has the most home sales.

Did I say, independent contractor? Yes, I did. That means agents pay their own health insurance and usually pay for signs, office space and lockboxes too. You are going to believe this but in most cases, agents need to find their own business too. You might be wondering why real estate agents join real estate companies. It is because all licensed real estate agents have to work under a licensed real estate broker and that is what all real estate companies provide.

I have been watching one company that is growing like crazy but when I do the math I can see that their agents average about 4 sales a year.

Several of the largest real estate companies in the area are franchises or subsidiaries of huge corporations. Honestly, I am not a fan of huge corporations these days. I would rather be loyal to my clients and agents than to shareholders or a franchiser.

I once made the analogy that to some real estate companies the agents are like backyard chickens. More chickens mean more eggs and they can be housed in a small area. If they stop laying eggs the owner can just get rid of them.

The failure rate among real estate agents is sky-high. Failure is caused by lack of pay because agents do not get paid until there is a successful closing. Some struggle for years before the give up.

The recruiting emails I get tend to emphasize what kind of technology I would have access to if I joined a big company and often along with paying for just about everything there is a technology fee too.

If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent the process is fairly simple. Take 90 hours of pre-licensing education, pass a test, find a broker, pay a fee and get your license.

Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce to see who needs a real estate license and how to get one. Don’t be chicken. šŸ™‚

The land of opportunity zones

Both my home and my office are in Federal Opportunity zones. What is an Opportunity zone?

From the IRS website:

“Qualified Opportunity Zones were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country and U.S. possessions by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities. Taxpayers may defer tax on eligible capital gains by making an appropriate investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and meeting other requirements.”

My office is in Lowertown and my home is in the Eastern part of the West 7th neighborhood near downtown. The median income in downtown St. Paul is quite low at least according to the data I can find which is hard to imagine considering the number of luxury condos and apartments in the neighborhood and the difficulties people are having finding affordable housing in the neighborhood.

My neighborhood, West 7th,Ā  has become gentrified. There has been a lot of investment. Property values and taxes have gone way up making it less affordable every year, yet the neighborhood is considered distressed and is now in an opportunity zone.

The Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood isn’t in an opportunity zone. The median income level in the Dayton’s buff neighborhood is 9% less than the median income level in the West 7th neighborhood. Median home sale prices for 2019 are 175K for Dayton’s Bluff a 211K for the distressed West 7th neighborhood.

Here is a map with of Opportunity zones in and around St. Paul. For more information go to irs.gov and type “opportunity zone” in the search window. Also, see the St. Paul opportunity zone web site. Over a fifth of St. Paul is in an opportunity zone which seems fair considering the 20% poverty rate.

If there are any advantages in owning or buying a home in an opportunity zone I don’t know what they are but when I find out I will share. When we were young we choose

Opportunity zones – St. Paul

All I had to do was show up

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. We went up to Duluth right after Labor day and enjoyed the lake and some great weather. One morning there was a spectacular sunrise. All I had to do is show up with a camera. The birds and the boats came along at just the right time. Other than re-sizing the pictures I took didn’t even require processing.

Sunrise over lake superior
Sunrise over lake superior

The sunrise seemed to last forever and just kept getting better as it went from dark purples and reds to bright yellows. It has been many years since I have seen such a spectacular sunrise. Is there anything more fun than a sunrise over Lake Superior?

All I had to do is show up with a camera mother nature took care of the rest. I am looking forward to going back to catch some fall color around the lake and maybe another sunrise.

Housing counseling for seniors

As of October 1, 2011, all Minnesotans interested in entering a registered housing with services setting, such as assisted living, must be offered a long-term care consultation before signing a lease.

The consultation is free through the Senior linkage line. I have had their logo and a link on the right sidebar of this site for several years. The Senior Linkage line andĀ the Minnesota Board on AgingĀ are some of the best senior resources that most have never heard of.

They also have a program where they help seniors who are in nursing homes move back into the community. The initiative expanded in 2018 because most seniors do not want to live in nursing homes. It would be hard to find someone who wants to be in a nursing home.

Moving into assisted living isn’t for everyone and it is very expensive. There are other options for those who need help at home, like in-home care. I have read a few articles that suggest middle-income seniors will not be able to afford any kind of assisted living in 2029 an beyond.

Last year I had a problem regarding my mother’s medical assistance that I was unable to resolve without help. I called the senior linkage line and they got on the phone with me as I talked to a third party.

They along with me advocated for my mother and the problem was quickly resolved. They knew what to say, how to say it and who to say it to.