Closure at the closing

In Minnesota, we close at the table.  Money is exchanged for keys and garage door openers and it often happens in a conference room with the sellers on one side of the table and the buyers on the other. There are other options for closings but they are not as fun.

Yesterday I attended a closing where first time home buyers bought a house from a couple who had owned the home for 43 years. They left the house immaculately clean and in good repair. They left a gift along with hoses, cleaning supplies, manuals, instructions, and warranties.

Buyers and sellers exchanged phone numbers and the sellers gave the buyers the names of nearby neighbors.

Even though the home buyers had to sign piles of papers promising to make payments on the 30-year mortgage and take care of the property it was a joyous occasion.

It was lovely to see one generation hand the keys to the next.

 

living room
Move in ready

A new home owner

Homeowner doing yard work
New homeowner

The picture was taken in 1963 a few months after my parents bought their first home. They used to plan their vacations so that they would spend one week, usually in June working around the house. Then they would take another week or two in August and we would go camping or go on a road trip.

You can’t see it in the picture but my dad is using a weed whip but it isn’t the kind that uses gas or electricity it is an old school weed whip with a serrated blade. Yes, there were weeds back in the 1960s and they were black and white.

What is a walkable neighborhood?

I have noticed that when my clients refer to walkability they don’t all mean the same thing. I have heard people define neighborhoods with few sidewalks as walkable because there is a park nearby.

If there is a grocery store two blocks away but it is on the other side of a freeway or road that does not have a safe pedestrian crossing.

Walkable neighborhoods have sidewalks and streets that can be crossed on foot. Walking has to be easy and practical. In a walkable neighborhood, it is easy to walk to nearby businesses, libraries, parks, and other amenities.

For me “nearby” is within a mile. Even in the winter, I am willing to walk a mile. I will walk further but I don’t always have time for that.

It is debatable if neighborhoods where cars do not stop at crosswalks or where electric scooter are allowed to ride on the sidewalk or where the sidewalks have huge cracks, heaves, snow and potholes are walkable.

If walkability is an important consideration when buying a home, don’t just look at how close the home is to businesses and amenities make sure that it is possible or even easy to walk to the businesses and amenities.

How much should you offer?

It is hard to know how much to offer when buying houses in St. Paul. Homes with multiple offers will sell for more than the asking price. There is a learning curve with each price range and neighborhood. A little house hunting brings most buyers up to speed on which homes are going to sell quickly at their current price.

When I looked at what percentage of the original list price home sellers got I found that for the last two years the median is 100%.

The data used to make the graph is from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Graph of sale price
sale price as a percentage of the last asking price

The three bedroom rambler

I have sold many ramblers over the years. First time home buyers buy them and so do older home buyers.

Ramblers have a lot to offer and some of them still have the original bathroom tiles from the 50’s and 60′ s in shades of pink, yellow, green or orange with thin rows or black tiles for accents.

There is a light above the kitchen sink which has cabinets above it on either side with that scalloped wood trim in between them.

Some have finished basements with a wet bar and a reck room and maybe a bathroom that consists of nothing but a toilet or a shower. Often the homeowner did some or all of the work finishing the basement. I find paneling and flooring that was popular in the 1960s.

The homes had solid oak floors until about 1957 or 1958 when they started using some kind of fiber wood board stuff. Often if the home is still in the hands of the original owner which is not as uncommon as you might think the floors have been covered with carpet since the home was built and are in pristine condition.

These fine one story three bedroom homes can be found almost anywhere in the city but the greatest number of them are in the highland park, upper east side and battle creek neighborhoods.

Some of the ramblers are small like 900-1400 square feet of finished space but there was a time when a family of four could live comfortably in that amount of space and I suppose some were even happy but that was a simpler time.

This rambler is located near White Bear Avenue in St. Paul and has that classic tuck under garage and the awnings.

Rambler with tuck under garage

There are a lot of brick ramblers with attached and detached garages in the highland park neighborhood. Some have fireplaces and shutters, most have large “picture” windows.  Some even have original appliances.

Tappan 4000
Tappan400 – original stove and it still works

 

When “highest and best” backfires

It is true that homes in St. Paul sell quickly. There are certain types of houses and price ranges and neighborhoods that are particularly attractive to first time home buyers.

A couple of weeks ago I showed 10 houses to some buyers on the weekend and by the following Wednesday, all of them had offers on them except for that one overpriced house.

As I was making appointments to see the houses with the buyers they would get offers before we could see them. I was able to find some substitutes that had just come on the market.

Sometimes I would get an email before a showing advising me that the house had offers on it and that the highest and best offer is due in a day or in a few hours.

Generally, buyers do not want to see houses that already have offers on them and most like a little time to think about making an offer after they see a house.

Most buyers do not go out of there way to make an offer on a house that already has multiple offers on it.

Every now and then I notice that someone lists a house and sets a deadline for the highest and best offer when they have no offers.

I found this in the comments of one listing: “Highest and best due by 8 pm Saturday 4/6/19”. The house is still on the market and the comment likely scared away some interested parties, before and on April 6th.

It isn’t a good idea to give a deadline and ask for highest and best offers when there are no offers. The strategy doesn’t generate offers and actually makes it look like there is something wrong with the property. Maybe there was an offer that fell through? Why is the house still on the market after the deadline?

The house can only be sold once and as I have mentioned in previous posts often the multiple offers are almost identical to one another.