memories of the world not ending

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. So far this has been a long cold Winter and we are only halfway through November which means there are only 37 days until Winter begins and 40 days until Christmas. It has only been 60 days since we started seeing Christmas items on store shelves.

11/12/13 at 11:12:13 was supposed to be when the world would end. I think there was at least one day in 2012 that was supposed to be the last day and that was 12/12/12. Did you see what I did there? I left off the 20 from 2012 so that I got 3 12’s in a row which is pretty creepy.

As I recall people were concerned as we approached 11/11/11 too.

If I have to choose between winter and the end of the world it is an easy choice.

snow and cold will come

Why aren’t my rates published?


Why aren’t my “rates” published? Good question and I have heard it a few times. I usually charge a commission that is payable after a successful closing. My rates are always negotiable and I don’t charge the same in every situation.

Usually, my commission is based upon the sale price of the real estate I am selling. I do sometimes charge an hourly rate for my services.

I don’t charge the same amount in every situation. I generally give discounts to past clients.

The only time I get paid is after a successful closing. That means I can do my job and if a home loan falls through I don’t get paid.

Most people would rather have a job with a steady paycheck and benefits than wake up every morning unemployed like I do.

Some homeowners believe that there is a kind of standard rate that we all charge. Brokers are not allowed to discuss commissions with each other or set prices. I don’t have any way of finding out what the average commission is.

The people who “know” how much we all charge usually end up paying more. They kind of tell me how much I charge and I just go along with it. Why not?

If someone wants to negotiate a rate that I think is too low, I just say no. Sometimes the customer will offer more and other times I move on.

There is a kind of standard negotiating tactic that real estate agents are taught to use where they more or less say that if they accept a lower commission they are not good enough negotiators to get the best price for the house.

I don’t use that argument because it is the homeowners who decide how much they will accept and it is my job to help them get it. When I agree to a lower commission I still work just as hard to do my job.

There isn’t any law that says that a company has to publish a price list. It isn’t illegal to buy or sell real estate without the help of a real estate agent either, which is one of the many reasons why I consider it a privilege to work with my clients and I thank them for choosing me.

A stable housing market

The housing market in St. Paul has been stable and consistent in the last few years. The number of homes sales is trending down slightly because there are fewer homeowners who wish to sell.

If you are planning to buy a house this Fall or during the winter you will likely encounter competition and multiple offers. Home sellers can expect

There are currently only 600 houses on the market.

The graph shows the inventory of houses for sale over the last ten years. The data used to make the graph is from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Home for sale – St. Paul

What is the MLS

There is a company called “MLS on line” but it isn’t the MLS. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service. Those local listings that might be found on Zillow or any real estate website or Realtor dot com probably got there via a data feed from the Northstar MLS.

I often explain the MLS to my clients. There are a lot of rules about the data because accuracy is very important. A 1.5 story house can not be listed as a two-story house. If the home has two bedrooms we can’t just call it a three-bedroom. Inaccuracies are quickly reported and changes are made to keep it accurate.

Homes can not be put in the MLS unless there is a listing contract between the real estate broker and the property owner.

I found this nifty little info-graphic that explains the MLS . . well at least kind of. I like to think of it as a real estate market place. Those who wish to avoid it can sell their own home without listing it with a real estate company.

When listing with a REALTOR homeowners can give authorization to keep their home off the MLS. It is rarely if ever in the homeowner’s best interests to keep their home off the MLS.

The MLS is also part of the reason home buyers can search for free and real estate agents do not have to pay to have a home for sale show up on multiple websites.

The MLS in action

Also see Broker Reciprocity

Oh and MLS also stands for Major League Soccer, and NAR stands for National Association of Realtors or National Association of Rocketry.

Please leave some lights on

House for sale

I went to show some clients a house at 6:30 one evening last week. There wasn’t a for sale sign on the property which isn’t terribly unusual. None of the street lights in the area were on if there were any.

The house was pitch black but I could kind of make out the shape of a house. I used my trusty flashlight to verify the address and waited for my clients.

When they came I used my flashlight to light the way to the door. One of my clients held the light while I worked the combination. As soon as I got into the house I started turning on lights. Some rooms did not have over headlights. I would have gone out to my car to get more flashlights but my clients didn’t seem to like the house at all.

After the showing, and while I was locking up the house one of my clients stepped into a hole in the front lawn and twisted an ankle. There is no sidewalk or walkway in front of the house.

With the short days, it is hard for people who have full-time jobs to look at homes for sale during daylight hours. It is a good idea to leave a light on if your home is for sale.

Homeowners can put light on timers. Go one step further and use a timer that can be controlled via wifi, turn it on before showings and off when they are over for the day.

Vacation counties in Minnesota

NAR (National Association of Realtors)  identified a county as a vacation home county if the vacant housing for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use made up 20 percent or more of the county’s total housing stock.1 6.6% of 3,141 counties were vacation home counties in 2017. Three Minnesota counties are on the list of top 26 vacation home counties: Atkin, Itaska and Cass counties. 38.2% of the properties in these counties are seasonal recreational properties.

Number one on the list was Nantucket MA. There were 4 Wisconsin counties in the top 26: Vilas, Lincoln, Langlade, Forest and Oneida counties all with 42.8% vacation properties.

Vacation Counties – NAR study

My favorite Minnesota counties to vacation in are St. Louis, Lake and Cook Counties. There are many lovely places in Minnesota to vacation and Minnesotan’s just love to own cabins in Wisconsin. The demand for vacation property is strong partly due to the increase in the number of wealthy people. The demand for tents that can be used as housing is also strong because of the increase in poverty.

lake superior
Lake Superior – lake county Minnesota near Beaver Bay MN