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


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.




Home improvement projects with ROI

Here is an infographic from the national association of Realtors that shows the impact of remodeling projects from a home buyer’s point of view. There are two categories, “joy” and “return on investment”.  The projects with high “Joy” scores attract buyers.

Painting the front door in a primary color will also increase joy assuming it doesn’t clash with the rest of the house. A new backsplash in the kitchen falls into that category as well. Door locks that have keypads or that can be controlled by apps on a smartphone definitely spark joy.

If you plan to sell your house I always recommend cleaning, decluttering and painting as the obvious least expensive ways to increase salability.

infographic - remodeling
Remodeling projects impact




Winter projects

I live in an old house. This time of year I create a “to do” list for the winter.  I have more free time in the winter, business is a little slower and there are a few days when I won’t leave the house unless I have to.

Last winter I spent some time getting rid of stuff and reorganizing what we have and I did some work on the woodwork in the dining room. The winter before that I repainted the kitchen and replaced the hardware on the cupboards.

My plans for this winter include cleaning out and painting and upstairs closet. I want to kind of redesign it and make it more efficient. Right now I am rounding up my materials and supplies so they are ready. I’ll also be painting and patching a wall that was damaged during the great ice dam melt of early 2019. Lucky for us the damage was minimal. I’ll need some paint to match what is already on the walls and I’ll use the leftovers for the closet project.

For me, the secret to actually getting the projects done is having everything I need ready so that when I am snowed in or when I have some extra time I can get to work right away. Each trip to the hardware store can mean a serious delay especially.

If you have winter projects to do around the house start planning now.

Winter Wonderland St. Paul, MN 2019