Sell and then buy or buy and then sell?

Owning a home and buying another has never been easy. During a buyers market sellers usually comes out ahead by waiting until they have an offer on their house before they make an offer on a house.

In the current housing market which is a strong seller’s market homeowners often opt to buy first and then sell. In some cases, they may end up owning two houses for a couple of weeks. Lenders have programs for that. Explain to your lender that you want to buy non-contingent.

Some homeowners are able to pay off their mortgage before they go house hunting, giving them some time to move out before they sell their house.

Offers that are contingent on the sale of the buyer’s house are rarer than they used to be and go to the bottom of the pile when there are multiple offers.

If at all possible secure your next house before selling the one you already own. We are seeing some homeowners selling their houses contingent on finding a house to buy. That can also work.

People are moving again.

Got cameras?

Security cameras are all the rage. I have one in my office. I can set it to alert me to any movement in the office and I can set it to record and send a text message letting me know something is going on. I can take a peek into the room when I am away and watch the cat sleep.

Sometimes homeowners use cameras to watch the buyers tour their homes. Recording those buyers may be illegal if it is done without the buyer’s consent. Watching or listening to the buyers without their knowledge may also be illegal.

Homeowners who are using cameras should post a sign so that the buyers know they are on camera. They should also let their agent know about the cameras because real estate agents may also have some legal exposure.

I like to tell my clients who are touring houses that they could be on camera. I also advise them to wait until we are out of the house before commenting on the price or condition of the property.


2021 was definitely the year to sell

The 2021 annual existing-home sales1 of 6.12 million hit their highest level since 2006. This year also showed the strongest home price appreciation of 16.9% as the median existing-home sales price reached $346,900, a gain of $50,200 compared to the prior year. According to the Nation Association of Realtors®.

In December membership in the National Association of Realtors was 1,559,537 strong. That is down half a percent from November but up from 1,458,661 in December of 2020.

Not all members sell real estate but the number of homes on the market is declining as the number of real estate salespeople is on the rise and on average each real estate agent is selling fewer houses.

The last time membership peaked was about a year after home sales peaked. I was selling real estate during the great recession and housing market crash. Real estate agents were quitting real estate and working in other jobs or retiring. Membership hit a low around 2011. The best years for real estate agents were 2013 and 2014 when home prices started to rise again and demand was up but at the same time, there were fewer real estate agents.

I am going to go out on a limb and predict we will start to see a decline in the number of Realtors between 2021 and 2022.

Home sales are likely to be lower in 2022 than they were in 2021 but it won’t be because people are not buying houses it will be because fewer people want to sell their houses.

2021 was one of the best years ever to sell a house. Even in December, even during the holidays. 2022 will be a great year for sellers and not sure a good year for buyers as they compete with more buyers and have fewer choices.

Existing homesales2021
NAR – Existing-home sales 2021

From the before time January 2019

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. It is pretty quiet in downtown St. Paul these days, there isn’t any skating. The picture is from 2019. There was skating in early 2020 but the rink had moved to CHS field.

I haven’t been in the downtown skyways since last spring. There is a lot of vacant office and retail space. There is more housing than ever and the Lunds grocery store on Robert Street is always busy as is the Walgreens on Wabasha street.

dkating rink
Skating in downtown St. Paul at the Landmark Center

Indoor plumbing and leaded water

Water is in the news again. Lead water pipes need to be replaced and that is expensive. The federal infrastructure bill includes some 200 billion dollars for replacing lead pipes.

Some of that money will come to Minnesota. The St. Paul Regional Board of Water Commissioners voted to develop a plan to replace all the lead water pipes in 10 years. Those pipes would be replaced by copper or polyethylene lines.

Most of the lead service lines in St. Paul were installed in homes built before 1927, and a large percentage of St. Paul houses were built before 1927. It costs about $6000 to replace the water line into a house and it will take decades to get the lead out of St. Paul.

The drinking water in your home can contain lead if there is lead in the plumbing and or the water line going from the street into your home is made of lead.

If you own a home in St. Paul you can use the account number on your water bill to look up your waterline and see if it is made from lead or copper.

Find more information on the City of St. Paul household water page Also, read about having a lead water line replaced.

screenshot from of water line look-up result

Lead waterlines are most common for houses built before 1926 which is most of my neighborhood including my own home but the waterline was upgraded in the late 1980’s