September is national safety month

Safety tips for REALTORS

Did you know that September is national safety month for REALTORS®? Well, it is. There are times when the job can be dangerous. Meeting strangers in vacant homes can be dangerous.

Open houses can be dangerous too, the agent can become a target.

Sometimes men call female real estate agents with the intent to get them out and someplace where they can be attacked.

All jobs are dangerous and I don’t think being a real estate agent is more dangerous than any other occupation. I think we just need to understand which situations can put us in danger.

We are targets for email and money wiring scams more so than other individuals or businesses. Real estate is used to launder money. People need clean money right?

For me, national safety month serves as a reminder to be more aware of what is going on around me and to remind my peers to be careful out there.

Be aware of the variance

Here in St. Paul we have zoning laws and building codes. The zoning laws make it hard for businesses to operate in residential areas. When business owners want to circumvent the rules they can get a variance.

The way the variance system works is that nearby property owners are notified of the request and if they do not protest, complain and testify en masse the variance is granted. In fact, even if they do protest it may still be granted.

The variance system is kind of backward. Persons asking for a variance do not have to get the majority of neighbors to agree to it, instead neighbors have to protest it. Sometimes those neighbors are tenants and they don’t have a say.

There are many examples of this throughout the city. Business owners get variances that allow them to operate even though zoning laws and other laws forbid it. As homeowners, our property rights are constantly under siege as variances allow them to be taken away.

St. Paul residents need to understand that their next door neighbor could buy up neighboring properties, tear down some houses and convert their home into a business that generates noise, traffic and that might give off unpleasant odors. That is what can be accomplished with variances.

As property owners, we have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of our property. When a neighboring homeowner is granted a variance the neighbors sometimes lose that right.

St. Paul

ten years ago this September

I published this back in September of 2008. By that time we were well aware of the recession and that the housing market had crashed. Some of those vacant houses in St. Paul were demolished and some are still vacant and owned by the city and by banks too.

There are currently 615 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul. 565 of them are single or multiple housing units. Not all vacant houses are registered. There are over 64,000 houses in St. Paul.
The number of vacant registered building in St. Paul continues to grow. Currently, there are 2031 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul.  Most of the buildings are single family homes and Duplexes.  No one knows how many vacant homes there are that are not registered.  Some of the registered homes are for sale.

Many need repairs.  Some don’t appear to be salvageable as the city has cited them for numerous code violations and it simply costs more than the structures are worth to do everything that the city thinks should be done.

There are vacant houses that have been vacant for years. Will they sit empty forever?  The owners do pay taxes and there is no law that says the property has to be used or occupied.

Having a problem with a vacant property? Follow this link the complaint department. (the city reorganized their website and the link is broken)

Are vacant houses a problem?  What is it like to live next door to a vacant house?  Would you buy the house next door if it were for sale?

Also, see:

St. Paul Real Estate: Vacancy Rate Continues to Climb

Time for apples


There are numerous varieties of fresh apples at the Saint Paul Farmer’s market which is open today. I like the chestnut crabs and the honey crisp the most. The apple orchards are open now and you can never have too many apples. I like to make applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie. I dry some apple slices too.

Apples are low sodium and have no added sugar. They are gluten-free with no high fructose corn syrup. They are also high fiber and apple pectin apparently or at least currently is good for rats and maybe humans too.

Minnesota grown apples

Recently discovered

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. If you walk in St. Paul you have probably noticed poetry on the sidewalk in random locations. I just discovered this one Hamline Avenue North of University.

Just for fun take a walk this weekend and choose a sidewalk that you have not walked on before and watch for poetry. To learn more about the poetry program use google and search “St. Paul sidewalk poetry”. I would provide a link but the city moves pages around often so leaving my site with broken links.

Sidewall Poetry

People do not move as often as they used to

Moving isn’t as popular as it used to be.  I know that older people are less likely to move than younger people are and our population is aging. Younger people are not moving as often either mostly because not as many are moving for jobs.

I’ll admit I haven’t moved in almost 30 years.  I haven’t had a reason to move. We usually move because of some life event like getting married, or divorced or having children, becoming empty nesters, retiring, the death of a spouse or old age.

When I started in real estate I was told that on average people move once every seven years. Now it is once every ten years.

According to the U.S. census bureau moving is at a historic low.

Moving in America[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]