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%.

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.

Secret agent

The Minnesota Department of Commerce requires that real estate agents identify themselves as real estate agents and identify the real estate company they are with, in all advertising.

That includes advertising on social media, or in the newspaper or on a flyer and applies to all agent advertising.

When an agent posts on Facebook that a house is coming on the market soon and provides pictures of the house she is advertising it.

That means she has to identify herself as a real estate agent and identify the company she is with. She can’t just put “text me with any questions” and leave her phone number.

Agents who do not comply with this particular rule usually end up with a fine if they get caught.

As far as laws go this one isn’t as big of a deal as robbing a bank but you have to kind of wonder. Is the agent breaking other laws? Is she aware of what the laws are?

Is her broker providing any supervision or guidance? The broker is responsible for the agent’s actions and can be sanctioned by the department of commerce if one of his/her agents fails to provide the name of the real estate company in the advertisement.

Potential home buyers who are asking questions in the Facebook group do not understand that they are talking to a real estate agent who is representing the sellers.

Real estate agents are required by state law to give consumers an agency disclosure at first substantive contact.

There are home buyers and sellers who love the facebook groups for getting and giving inside information. I think they are a great place to violate fair housing laws and get around state laws too.

Technically there are no secret agents in real estate.

It is alright for homeowners to advertise their own home for sale and answer questions about it.

Cheap or inexpensive?

light fixture

To me, the words “cheap” and “inexpensive” are not interchangeable. We are all looking for a bargain and that is understandable.

A cheap house might be s split level in the burbs built in the 1980’s. It has 2000+ square feet of finished living space and an attached two car garage.

It may also have the least expensive old furnace made in the 1990’s and floors covered in vinyl or inexpensive carpeting. The kitchen cabinets are made of some kind of a composite and the counter is plastic.

The wood trim might be very thin and the fixtures in the bathrooms are the least expensive faucets, sinks, toilets and tubs found at the big box home repair store.

The word cheap means:  of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy. At least that is what it means to me. 

An inexpensive house might be small and a little run down. It has hardwood floors and a brick fireplace and a newer 40-year roof and high-efficiency furnace.

To me inexpensive means: low-costmodesteconomicalcompetitiveaffordablereasonable, budget or even bargain.

It is a matter of individual taste of course but I strongly favor inexpensive over cheap, especially in housing. As prices keep rising even inexpensive homes are getting more expensive but bargains can still be found.

The word “cheap” is common in Internet-based home searches but I am not going to use it as a keyword in this post.

Your friend isn’t very good at home inspections

I think I have been on a zillion home inspections with home buyers. Sometimes home buyers have a friend or relative who has a background in construction or who is a handyman or contractor conduct a home inspection.

What could possibly go wrong? Usually, these helpful friends or relatives miss a few important things. They don’t check the furnace or the water heater. They miss the fact the garbage disposal doesn’t work or that the new furnace does not have a filter in it.

They might not notice missing window screens or even cracked window glass. They may miss the gaps between the showe

r surround and the bathroom wall, or that the back door lacks any kind of weather stripping.

The helpful and knowledgeable friend does not use a systematic approach nor does he give the home buyer a report with pictures and recommendations. Usually the friend does an incomplete or partial inspection. If they are not familiar with the older houses in the inner city they may not know what some of the common problems are like ungrounded electrical systems and tree roots in sewer systems.

On the one hand, the buyer saves money because professional inspectors will generally charge at least $300. On the other hand, they may end up paying for repairs that they could have had the seller pay for if they had known about them during the inspection period.

If you buy a house you might need a few things

Buying a house is a big step. First time home buyers will spend money on all sorts of things they had not considered before.

Shovels. Snow and dirt shovels.

At least one garden hose

A rake or two

A lawnmower

Buckets, yes buckets.

Small hand tools like screwdrivers, hammers, and pliers.

A sprinkler or two?

A snow blower?

A grill, gas or charcoal or both.

Dehumidifier for the basement.



putty knife



The list goes on and on. You don’t need it all the day you move in but you should plan ahead and make a list, pace yourself.