Slow down in rent increases

Usually, rents go up in the spring but in the Twin Cities and all over the country they went down slightly in the spring of 2020. The median sale price of rental properties continues to rise.

St. Paul rental property sales prices

The numbers came from the NorthstarMLS. The data is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. The units sold are smaller rental properties as opposed to large multi-unit apartment buildings.


Super low interest rates

Mortgage interest rates hit another new low. It is now possible to get a 30-year mortgage for under 3%. This is down from the 3.3% I wrote about at the beginning of July.

Mortgage Interest rates

That means that every 5K a buyer has to go over the asking price to have the highest bid will increase the monthly payment by $21 dollars a month.

When we bought our first house we got the bargain basement special rate of  8.4%. The lowest rate we ever got on a mortgage was 7%.

Jobs and real estate licenses

It is during times of high unemployment that people decide to start businesses or become real estate agents. In the last couple


of weeks, I have been getting inquiries from people who want to get a real estate license. Normally I get those inquiries in January.

The articles I have written about how to get licensed in Minnesota are among the most popular articles on this site.

There isn’t now nor has there ever been a shortage of real estate agents in the Twin Cities. The failure rate for agents during the first two years is high.

Real estate agents have a lot of expenses and it takes a while to start making money. Competition is fierce and there are several qualified agents for each person who wants to buy or sell real estate.

Often when agents quit it is because they can not pay their personal bills and business bills on little or no income as they startup.

Most new licensees get some business from friends and family. The income range for a real estate agent is large. Many make less than $30,000 a year and some make more than $200,000 a year.

I got my real estate license in early 2002 after having been laid off during a recession.  I got my real estate brokers license in 2007 just in case.

Getting a license isn’t hard. A person has to be 18 years old and has to take 90 hours of classroom or online training. There are three 30 hour courses called “pre-licensing” courses.

The applicant has to take a test, pass a background check, and find a broker to hold the license. Real estate licensees are regulated at the state level. Find more information on the department of commerce web site.

Most real estate agents are 1099 independent contractors who get paid on a 100% commission basis after the home sale closes.

People with real estate licenses have to work under a broker. Real estate companies have at least one licensed broker who is the “broker of record” and that broker is responsible for all of the agents and their sales. Most brokers will take on any licensee who can fog a mirror.

Brokers also get to keep part of each commission before paying the agent.

It takes additional hours of training and another test to get a brokers license. To be eligible the applicant has to have had a salesperson’s license for three years. See the Minnesota licensing guide

I think that is why we usually don’t ever find out who the responsible broker is in each company and there isn’t any way to look it up. I digress.

Once licensed a person can become a REALTOR by joining the National Association of Realtors.

It takes more than a license to be a successful real estate agent. Agents usually work with little or no supervision. Being self-employed means paying for health insurance and paying income taxes several times a year. Taxes are not withheld from commission checks.

Some budgeting and money management skills are required. Those for sale signs cost money and so do the lockboxes and we pay to use the MLS.

It is necessary to have a laptop computer and tablets are very useful. Highspeed internet access at home is a must. A reliable car is essential and your car insurance may go up.

There are business expenses every month even if there are no sales. The real estate broker will keep a percentage of all commissions. At some of the larger companies that percentage can be more than 50%.

Right now home sales are unusually low because there are not as many people putting their homes on the market because of the pandemic. That may change yet this year and maybe it will all balance out. If not this year 2021 should be a good year.

The real estate market will do well until it is affected by the high unemployment rate which will cause people to buy less stuff and will ultimately affect those who are working from home with secure jobs dreaming of a larger house.

If you would like to be a real estate agent you need to understand that competition is fierce and the hardest part of the job for new agents is finding a steady stream of clients.

It seems as though anytime is a good time to become a real estate salesperson. I know people who started during the great recession and housing market crash who did very well while experienced agents dropped out.

Related articles:

How many real estate agents in Minnesota

What is a real estate broker

Realtor Demographics

Realtor isn’t a job title


100 years ago women won the right to vote

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.

The women’s suffrage movement 1840-1920

Let’s honor the women who fought so that we can vote by voting. If you are a Minnesotan and have not voted in the August Primary you can do so now. Go to the Minnesota Secretary of State web site for details.

You should have a plan for the 2020 presidential election in November. That plan could be voting by absentee ballot or by voting early an in-person starting on September 18th or by voting in person. 

Planning ahead means ordering your absentee ballot for the November general election today. When you get your ballot fill it out and send it back immediately. It is possible that by October the postal service will be even slower than it is now.

Voter turnout in Minnesota is usually strong. To make that happen the polls will need to be open on November 3. It takes a lot of volunteers to make that happen. Please volunteer to be an election judge.

2017 women’s March in St. Paul

Also, see 2017 women’s march

An ending and a begining


butterflies on a zinnia
Monarch Butterflies on a Zinnia in my garden

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Today is a special Friday because it is the last day of July 2020. So far this year each month has seemed like three or four months when I look back at all of the things that have happened.

The highlight of the month for me was the haircut I got last week. It is the little things but I guess getting a haircut is a big thing.

We had anniversaries and birthdays to celebrate in July and we ended up taking an imagination vacation and we are planning another for August.

My family informed me that Thanksgiving as we know it isn’t going to happen this year. I kind of knew that but didn’t want to say it or hear it.

I have some ideas for a virtual thanksgiving. I think the cooking is going to be real.

I have no expectations for August other than a shock or two and probably some hot weather.