I was prepared for the snow

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Somehow I must have known it was going to snow this week because last weekend I got out the snow shovels and put the garden tools away and turned off the outdoor water spigots and rolled up the hoses.

I put most of the outdoor type chairs and tables away and brought the terracotta flower pots inside after I removed the plants.

I even stopped at the dry cleaners and picked up our winter coats. The whole time I was thinking that I am way ahead of schedule this year because it isn’t even Halloween yet.

Speaking of Halloween I laughed when someone compared this week’s snowfall with the Halloween snowstorm of 1991. Not even close. On  Halloween, in 91 we got 28 inches of snow in the metro area and 37 inches in the northern part of the state.

The 1991 storm lasted a couple of days and as I recall the snow all melted before we got more. This time around it isn’t melting so fast and it fell 11 days earlier but it is 2020 so we can say it is normal. I understand we are going to break some records for cold and snow in the next few days.

There are still green leaves on some of the trees and the flowers on my porch are still alive and blooming.

Maybe the fall weather will return. Anything is possible, especially this year.

fall on the walking path
Taken on Monday before the snow Upper Landing Park

First time home buyers young and old

old brick building and new apartment building
Panama Flats and Irvine Exchange apartments

The best part of my job is when I get to work with first time home buyers and I have worked with many first time homebuyers, probably more than 100.

Yesterday a local teacher and client of mine closed on a beautiful loft downtown St. Paul. She turned 30 a few months ago. The average age of first-time homebuyers is around 33 and the median age of home buyers last year was 47. [National Association of Realtors Data].

The oldest first time home buyers I ever worked with were women in their late 50’s. One of the women had rented her entire life and decided that she wanted to invest in a place of her own.

She loved the apartment she was renting and comparing it with what she could buy at the time set the bar pretty high. We looked for months until she bought a beautiful condo just off Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

Another first-time homebuyer was divorced and bought her first home as a single person when she was over 55.  She bought an adorable little rambler that has been recently rehabbed.

The youngest first-time homebuyer I ever worked with was 19, I have worked with several who were in their early twenties.

The oldest home buyers I ever worked with were 78 years old. They downsized from a house to a townhouse. They weren’t first time home buyers but I am including them as an interesting statistic.

Working with homebuyers is generally harder work than working with sellers. It is extra challenging because of the seller’s market and the pandemic. Working with an experienced REALTOR is more important than ever.

Getting rid of clutter can be a challenge

One of my clients spent three years getting her house ready to sell. She got rid of decades worth of stuff and decluttered every room.

Real estate professionals often talk about “decluttering” a home before it is put on the market but what is clutter?

Here are some examples:

We always advise home sellers to clean and declutter before putting a home on the market, but what is clutter? We don’t all define clutter the same way. I define it as “stuff” that distracts potential home buyers.

The stuff keeps potential buyers from seeing the beauty of the home. Here are a few items that become clutter once the home is for sale:

  1. Family photos.

    Antique Teapot
  2. Wall calendars.
  3. Refrigerator magnets.
  4. Too many house plants, real or fake.
  5. Too many books
  6. Doilies
  7. Throw rugs
  8.  Extra dining room chairs
  9. Large ottomans
  10. Large coffee tables
  11. Extra end tables
  12. Collections of almost anything

The important thing to remember is that it is alright to use our homes anyway we see fit but when it comes to selling a home it is all about marketing. Women, in particular, react negatively to “clutter”. Less really is more and when in doubt, leave it out. The general idea is to make the space look larger and a bit more generic.

My list is only partial and has the most common items that I ask homeowners to remove from rooms. Homes that are not decluttered sell too. The list is aimed at the homeowners that want to go that extra mile and put some effort into getting the most money for their home in the least amount of time.

The longer people have lived in a home the harder it is for them to de-clutter. As a service to my clients, I go through their homes before they put them on the market and make suggestions.

Active home buyers are out in force

Here is a chart from Showingtime that shows appointments to see houses that are for sale. ShowingTime is widely used for appointments throughout the region and the data is always interesting.

showingtime chart – click on the chart to enlarge

Activity is up from last year and the chart shows the dip in March and May due to the stay at home orders. Year over year the numbers are up and as I showed last week home sales are strong.

As an interesting statistic homes that sold in March and April got an average of 6.5 showings before selling. Current averages are 7.6 showings per home.  Year over year showings are up and so are home sales.

Mortgage rates hit new low

This year has been the year for new lows as mortgage interest rates hit new lows for the 10th time. I told a client earlier this year that I didn’t think rates would go below 3%. I am happy to be wrong.


graph of mortgage rates
FreddieMac mortgage rate survey

Speaking of records, 2020 has been breaking a lot of long-standing records.  Did you know that we hit an all-time high in unemployment in 2020? 14.70 percent in April of 2020.

A book review

I don’t think I have ever published a book review on this site before today. 

The book is “The Color Of Law” A forgotten history of how our government segregated America. by Richard Rothstein.

The book helped me understand how and why our neighborhoods are racially segregated, and they are segregated.

Rothstein give examples of how public housing helped segregate communities and how federal subsidies given to builders to create whites-only suburbs.

The houses in the suburbs that were built after WWll  were a hot new product and were sold as housing exclusively for white people.

It is clear from reading the book that segregation wasn’t an accident but that it was by design. Rothstein outlines how cities from coast to coast became segregated through State, Federal, and local policy and zoning laws.

He shows how housing was built near jobs and how African American workers were not allowed to own the housing and had to drive long distances to work in lower paying jobs because the best jobs were given to white people.

The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) promted the idea that if African Americans moved into a neighborhood property values would go down. I have heard similar retoric this year about affordable housing in the suburbs and how the suburbs need to be saved.

He makes an arguement in the book for reperations. After reading it I have to agree because the racial disparites we see today have deep roots.