Start a house diary

tower
Brownstone

If you don’t have one and are a homeowner start a house diary. Use it to keep track of home improvements. Keep records so that you know how old the appliances are. Keep track of home improvements and make a note of paint colors.

When selling a home knowing how old the roof is and the ages of the furnace, central air conditioning unit and water heater are is important.

Use a plain old spiral notebook and a simple folder or file folder to keep track of receipts and warranties. I like to use Evernote and take pictures of receipts and warranties but I have a notebook with records that I stated in the 1990s that has a lot of information about the house.

We are on our 3rd dishwasher, second water heater, furnace, and stove. Central air was added in 2002 and we bought a couple of new exterior doors two years ago and a kitchen counter last winter.

There is more . . . . nothing lasts forever. In the next year or two, we will need a new roof.

My house dairy includes a wish list because the best way to keep the place in decent shape it to plan ahead for repairs and upgrades. We make some kind of change or improvement every year. Some are minor like repainting a room and others are more major.

Documentation and information about home improvements is useful information when it is time to sell. Home buyers appreciate having copies of warranties and receipts. User manuals can be helpful too but can often be found online.

A look at today’s home buyers

From the National Association of Realtors home buyer profile for 2018. I don’t have a profile for the St. Paul home buyers. They seem to range in age from the late twenties to mid 70’s and beyond. They all have jobs or they have a lot of cash from the sale of a home or a pension or some combination of the two.

 

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NAR 2018 homebuyer profile

Buy now or wait until spring

I have had a few conversations this week with people who want to buy a home and wanted to know the advantages of buying soon Vs. waiting until spring.

Predicting the future is tough and I don’t have a standard kind of one size fits all, or now is a “good time to buy” answer. I’ll just remind everyone that I work all year. 😉

Right now in the fall of 2018, the inventory of homes on the market is very low but about 30% higher than it was last spring.

In the past, there were fewer homes on the market in the Fall and Winter which was yet another reason to buy in the Spring.

Prices are holding but I am seeing more price reductions and there are some bargains out there that were on the market all summer and priced too high.

Interest rates and prices are likely to be higher next spring and if the trends from the past few years old there will a lot of competition to buy and multiple offers will drive the prices of the most desirable up.

There are a lot of people who hate the idea of moving in the middle of the winter. We may luck out this year and have a warmer than average winter but it is still winter, or so they say.

The advice I am giving to homebuyers who do not have a place to sell is to get ready to buy. Get pre-approved and get your finances in order. Be ready for opportunities that will arise in the late fall and early Winter.

Home buyers who have some flexibility will be able to take advantage of the bargains that seem to go on the market between Halloween and the first of the year.

Unless something changes drastically we will see a strong seller’s market in the Spring with those “coming soon” signs popping up and homes being sold before they hit the regular real estate market.

Measurements reliable but not gauranteed

tape measure

Our MLS, which is the source of information about most homes for sale, shows the measurements for homes that are for sale. Including room sizes, which floor the room is on, the foundation size, the total finished above and below ground square footages, lot dimensions and acreage.

There are some things home buyers should know:

1.   Not everything you read in the MLS is 100% accurate, which is why if you read the fine print it will say the information is “deemed reliable but not guaranteed”.  We strive for accuracy and there are checks and balances, but mistakes are made. Total square footages and room sizes are not always accurate.

Generally agents do not deliberately misrepresent room sizes or square footages but sometimes they make mistakes and sometimes they just use the last set of measurements that were in the MLS without verifying them.

2.   Finished Square footage is not equal.  What I mean by that is that below ground square footage is not as valuable as above ground square footage is so when looking at the totals check to see how much is above ground and how much is below.

3.  Property tax records do not always show an accurate square footage and the square footage is used in the record to calculate the value of the home.  Sometimes buyers like to use tax records as a source of information about property values.  If the square footages are wrong the value could also be off.

Tax records for my home are missing 400 square feet. I believe the measurements are for the original house that was on the lot.

The lot dimensions found in tax records are not always accurate either.

It isn’t always easy to get accurate measurements.  Some rooms have irregular shapes and we are only allowed to put two measurements in the MLS for each room.

Buyers can measure up a property before they buy it. Just be aware that it isn’t quite as easy as we all make it look.

It should be noted that the source of the information about homes for sale is the Northstar MLS which feeds data to sites like Zillow and the web sites of real estate companies. MLS online is not the MLS but a real estate company. Confusing I know but it is what it is. 

**real estate is local if any of these rules apply outside of Minnesota it is purely by chance. 🙂

Also see Legal Bedroom

 

Home buyers need reserves

With home ownership comes responsibility for repairs and maintenance. We never really know when something is going to start leaking or stop working. It can happen at any time. It can even happen the day you move in.

There isn’t anything in a home that can’t wear out or break, which is why it is important to have an emergency fund.

One way to build a fund is to start with $100 and add $50 to $100 a month, every month without fail. It doesn’t sound like much but it will add up.

When something breaks or stops working have it fixed as soon as possible.

I like to consult Youtube.com. Sometimes we can do our own repairs and use emergency funds for parts and tools.

 

July real estate market

On average St. Paul home sellers got 100.7% of their asking price in July 2018 which is slightly more than the 99.9% average for the Twin Cities region. In the West 7th neighborhood of St. Paul the average was even higher at 101.2%.

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Asking price Vs. sale price

When the average sale price is higher than the average listing price that generally means prices are going up. It looks like prices are going up the most in the Thomas Dale neighborhood where homeowners got almost 102% of their asking price on average.

Condo sellers got an average of slightly less than 100% of the asking price for their units with downtown St. Paul condos selling for 98.7% of the asking price.

Home buyers should not use these numbers as a guide when making an offer.