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.


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%.

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.