Those prospecting letters

This is the time of year when homeowners will get letters from real estate agents who have buyers.

Those buyers want to live in your neighborhood or they want to buy a house just like yours. If there are a lot of real estate agents

Sold

“farming” the neighborhood homeowners will get several letters.

Right now there are a lot of people who would like to buy a home just like yours or a home in your neighborhood. The demand for housing is high. Let this blog post serve as my letter to homeowners that we are working with buyers who are looking for a home to buy.

The very best way to attract home buyers right now is to have a house that is for sale.

There are also a few entities that will buy your home as-is for cash with no inspections except here in St. Paul a truth in housing inspection is required before a single-family home can change hands.

I get at least one letter a month from a company that buys houses. I suspect that we are on a list somewhere of empty nesters who own a house.

Yes, this is a very good time to sell a house. I’ll have some January sales numbers tomorrow.

lead letter
Template for seller lead

If you are interested in selling I do have buyers interested in your house in your neighborhood. Please call or write anytime for a free no-obligation consultation.

Will you have a mortgage when you retire?

According to Zillow, 37% of Americans own their homes free and clear. The number went up by 5.5% after the great recession. In 2017 41% of baby boomers owned their homes free and clear. For seventy-year-olds, an estimated 68% are mortgage-free.

I have read tons of advice over the years that suggests paying off a mortgage isn’t a good idea. It makes sense that if paying off a mortgage means using up savings and retirement accounts it probably isn’t a good idea. Other debts should be paid off first especially credit card debt.

Wealthy people may have ways to invest money so that it can earn more interest and they may be getting tax breaks by having a mortgage. For the rest of us, homeownership might be the best way to build wealth.

I can see a lot of advantages in not having a mortgage in retirement. The biggest advantage is not having to make mortgage payments which can lower monthly expenses. Homeowners still have to pay property taxes and insurance and all of the other expenses that come with homeownership.

There are some psychological benefits of not having to make house payments. It can be liberating. Something to consider when planning for retirement.

Call your agent before you look at new construction

New construction

There isn’t a lot of new construction in the area but there is some and I like to remind homebuyers that they can and should buy new construction with the help of their REALTOR.

The nice agent in the model home is representing the seller. Sure they will work with you and they really know the project better than your own agent does but why not work with an agent who has experience and one who represents you and not the seller? Buyers do not get discounts for working without their own agents.

The salesperson at the model should ask if you have an agent and is required by Minnesota law to explain agency and have you sign an agency disclosure at the first substantive contact. It is the agent’s job to help buyers who come into the model, that is what they are there for. Even buyers who have signed contracts with buyer agents.

The easiest way to involve your agent is to include their name when you sign in at the model home.  Better yet go with your agent to the model home. We always have time to tour homes with our clients.

Often buyers report having somehow ended up in a model home and before they realized what happened they made an offer. Buying real estate should be intentional, not accidental.

Important papers – keep or toss?

To his dying day, my dad was worried about what he called “important papers”. My parents kept a lot of paper that they did not need to keep and they worried about the safety and the documents.

Papers like birth certificates, social security cards, and marriage licenses should be kept but each can be replaced if needed. I like to know where my passport is and I keep it locked up with my social security card.

There isn’t any reason to keep old bills and “canceled checks” or tax records that are more than 7 years old.

Homeowners do not need any kind of paper to prove ownership. It is all filed with the county and when it is time to sell a title company will verify the records. Deeds and mortgages are registered with the county.

Abstracts of title should be kept but are not needed to prove ownership.

There are some records that do come in handy when selling a home. Maintenance records and repair records and even old invoices and receipts for home repairs, improvements or maintenance.

It is wonderful when we know how old the siding is or when the roof was put on. I actually keep a written journal too. I know how old the furnace and water heater are and can prove it.

Some “papers” take up a lot of space and have information on them that an identity thief would love. They can also be a fire hazard.

Using both of my paper shredders is took months to shred the documents my parents kept for decades.

I have a metal lockbox with the documents I kept. There are some birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas, baptismal certificates, and antique property deeds and a couple of antique mortgage records for real estate that no longer exists.

In all, I have 4 generations worth of “important papers”, in a box that holds about as much as two shoe boxes.

Maybe this is the year to get rid of some of the excess papers in your home so that your children don’t have to deal with them all one day. January is the perfect time to go through papers and do some purging.

 

 

The predictions for 2019 were wrong

Yesterday I went back and looked at some of the predictions for the housing market for 2019. Many of the articles I saw were written in December of

Maple leaf
Maple leaf

2019 and most of them were about the national housing market.

Several experts predicted that there wouldn’t be as many buyers and that the housing market would start to become more of a buyers market and that would the increase in prices.

Real estate really is local. We have not been seeing any kind of slow down in demand or housing. Buyers are still buying and prices are still rising. The one thing the predictions did get right is that the year will end with fewer home sales. it isn’t because no one is buying it is because fewer are selling.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that home sales in 2020 will be down from 2o20 as compared with 2019 and that prices will rise. Interest rates will remain very low because well you know it is a presidential election year.

People used to live in the same house an average of 7 or 8 years. As of this year, that number has gone up to 13.3 years. People are moving less and spending more money on renovations. The trend seems to be local and national.

As for the housing market as long as the population continues to grow and as long as the current trend of not building affordable housing continues the seller’s market will remain strong. It is unlikely that baby boomers, especially those who are not wealthy will sell because there really isn’t anywhere for them to go. There isn’t enough affordable housing for seniors or for anyone else.

If you live in the Twin Cities metro area the local newspapers and blogs like mine are a better source of information than the coastal media.

Taking security seriously

ibox
ibox

You may have seen the blue box hanging on the doorknob of a home for sale. They are electronic lockboxes that usually hold keys. Local real estate agents can open them using the ekey app that works on smartphones.

The app has to be reauthorized every day so that unauthorized persons can not use it.  Each time the box is opened the owner of the box can be notified and can get the identity of the person who opened it and the time it was opened.

The boxes can also be opened with an electronic key for those agents who do not want to use a smartphone app. The key is only available to members of REALTOR associations.

We can also program the boxes so that they can not be opened during certain hours like after 8:00 PM and before 8:00 AM. Homeowners can go to sleep at night knowing that no one can open the lockbox and get into the house.

If my home were on the market I wouldn’t want one of those combination lockboxes on it. I would want the security of an electronic lockbox.