Clear Cooperation and rules

Most people don’t know this and they would never guess but there are a lot of rules that Realtors have to follow. We can’t for instance list a house and put a sign in front and keep it off the MLS because that violates the “clear cooperation” policy.

We can list a house and get the owner’s permission to withhold it from the MLS but that means it can not be advertised publically, which means it can not have a for sale sign or be put on the internet for all to see.

We can not put a for-sale sign in front of a house if we don’t have a signed contract with the seller to put the house on the market.

There are rules about providing accurate information about the houses we list through our Multiple Listing Service (NorthstarMLS)

The MLS really is the source of information about homes for sale. All of the real estate company websites like Zillow get their data from the MLS as do websites like Realtor dot com. The data is also used by appraisers which is another reason why accuracy is important.

We police ourselves. If we find that a rule is being broke we can click on a link send an email or make a phone call to a compliance department that evaluates the complaint and then fines the offender if applicable.

NorthstarMLS® is responsible for fairly enforcing MLS rules and regulations for all NorthstarMLS® participants. MLS rules compliance is important to our business:

  1. Ensures the offer of compensation, making sure you get paid.
  2. Ensures you have current, accurate, and complete property data.
  3. Ensures professional data sharing and cooperative behaviors.

It is against the rules to increase the square footage of a house or to call a room a bedroom if it isn’t a bedroom. One of the more common violations I have seen is calling a story and a half house a two-story house.

Sometimes people make mistakes and there isn’t a fine or disciplinary action. The agent is asked to immediately correct the mistake.

There is a statement at the bottom of the page for information shared with consumers: “Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. Copyright (c) 2021 Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota., Inc. All Rights Reserved”

Most of the rules are easy to follow but it can get complicated because there are so many rules.

Spring heat waves and gardening

Most plants can handle a few 90 degree days but not 9 of them in a row in the spring. The heat is stunting the vegetables in the garden and singeing the leaves on my perennials even those that are somewhat heat resistant.

The rhubarb is wilting and I am not sure I am going to be able to grow cucumbers this year. The young plants and seeds in my straw bale garden got cooked. These plants can handle the heat and some of them grow better because of it but it came too early. The young plants have not developed the root systems that they will need to survive and thrive in 90+ degree heat.

The plants that grow in containers are doing just fine partly because I am able to move them into areas that are at least partly shaded.

It is going to be a tough year for gardening and growing crops too.

heat damaged plants
Heat damaged plants

St. Paul has a grand round too

It is Friday ad Fridays are for fun. Minneapolis is one of the top cities for bicycles.  There are miles and miles of bike lanes, bikeways, and bike paths, and lakes for the bike trails to go around. There are shared bikes in Minneapolis too but that isn’t something we get to have here in St. Paul because. .. never mind.

Minneapolis is flat and St. Paul is a bit hilly. Biking is very popular in St. Paul too and St. Paul cyclists are for the most part stronger than Minneapolis cyclists because of the hills. I am referring to the cyclists who actually leave the house and use bikes that go places and that do not require internet access.

A person in St. Paul can take the bike trails to Minneapolis and people in Minneapolis can take trails to St. Paul but they mostly don’t because. Probably because of the hills.

In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of work on the bike paths in St. Paul and some new off-street paths too. A couple of weeks ago I discovered the Johnson Parkway leg of the St. Paul grand round. It is a newish off-street trail. It enables me to go from downtown to Lake Phalen and home again without backtracking because it connects to the MRT/Samual Morgan and to the Bruce Vento Trail.

There are maps of bike trails on the St. Paul dot gov website and some signs along the trails even have information about regional and state trails.  It can get complicated because regional trails may not show up on city maps. In general, it is getting easier to get around town by bike.

Johnson Parkway-grand round


Construction it’s everywhere

There seems to be a lot of construction going on right now. Apartment buildings are popping up everywhere. Here are some pictures of a project on West 7th street near United Hospitals and just West of Grand.

Northland Real Estate Group and Ackerberg Group are building 153 apartments at 337 West Seventh St. in St. Paul. The building is designed to be affordable and attractive to the nurses and other health care workers at United Hospital and Children’s Minnesota St. Paul Hospital. The project hopes for completion in 2021.

We need all types of housing in St. Paul. There are some Luxury apartments just down the street and some affordable apartments nearby too.


337 West 7th St. Paul, MN
337 West 7th street

Listing agents are looking good

I remember back when I started in real estate some 20 years ago. How quickly we could sell a house was an important part of marketing. If the last 20 years have taught me anything it is that there are many variables that affect how quickly it takes to sell a house.

There are numerous ways that a homeowner can slow down a sale. Sometimes they need to limit when the house can be seen or maybe they have an unrealistic price or maybe the house smells.

These days houses sell very quickly. In fact, I think our company average is less than a day if we include properties that sold while they were still “coming soon”.

Houses are not considered sold until the sale closes so when I say they sell in a day I mean that is how long it takes for the seller to get offers and accept an offer. The only thing that really slows the process is waiting for the owner to give an answer.

This leads me to question if agents should really be taking all of the credit for selling houses quickly.

The median days on market for May 2021 in Ramsey county was 6 and the average was almost 19 days. Those numbers typically include inspection periods.

Buyer’s agents don’t look as good. It is common these days for buyers to make offers on a few houses before an offer is accepted and sometimes the house gets sold before anyone is allowed to tour it. It doesn’t take long to get frustrated with the whole process and your agent too.

The housing market won’t be this way forever. The agent who sold houses in a few days this year probably needed six months to sell a house in 2009.

Higher prices leave buyers out

Over the years I have joked about not being able to afford to buy my own house.  In Minnesota, the household income needed to qualify for a median-priced new home is $85,700.  The median is around 300K and to be honest, in many communities around the metro area 300K is entry-level.

Back when we bought our house we could not have afforded a 300K house. At the time interest rates were more than triple what they are right now. Prices are starting to cancel out those low rates in affordability calculations.

Here is a look at Ramsey county median home sales prices. Granted 2011 was not a stellar year but median prices peaked just before the crash at around $220K in 2006 the county.  It should be noted that home prices may not have reached their high for the year.

Rasey county home prices
Home prices in Ramsey County