Those letters from Realtors and home buyers

You may have gotten a letter in the mail from a couple or a Realtor. The couple is looking for a home in your neighborhood. The Realtor has clients who are looking for a house in your neighborhood or a house like yours.

In most cases, this isn’t a scam. There are people looking for every type of house in every neighborhood. The Realtor is looking for listings as we all are. If your house goes on the market it will sell in a couple of days. There will be multiple offers too which is a good thing.

Every homeowner has a “sell score”.  The sell score is used by Realtors to determine if a homeowner is likely to sell soon. If you would like to know what your sell score is ask a local Realtor. I looked ours up. It was very high the last time I checked and now it is moderate.

My sell score

Properties with a Very High Sell Score (831+) represent the top 5% of properties most likely to sell and are 2.6 times more likely to sell than the average property.

There are times in people’s lives when they are more likely to buy or sell their primary residence. Older people are less likely to move than younger people. The housing market right now is unusual and unprecedented. I don’t have a lot of faith in the sell scores but if I were sending letters to homeowners I could use it as a guide.

Retrofit your old house, make it smarter

queen anne house
Queen anne

My house was built in the mid-1800s.  In fact, it was built without central heating, electricity, central air conditioning, or plumbing. The house has all of that today and more.

It was built during before the modern washer, dryer, refrigerator, or dishwasher were invented.  I wouldn’t even want to guess how many different refrigerators were used in my old house over the decades.

They didn’t even have wifi in the 1800’s but we have it today. We had cable for a time and a landline-type phone too. I wish we still had the old TV antenna but we make due with a digital antenna.

We have added some smart technology over the years. There are some smart electrical outlets and liight bulbs too.

I have one of those smart thermostats that I can control with an app or by voice the Amazon Echo. I don’t have to be at home to know what the temperature is in my house or to change the temperature.

There is a camera in my office that I can access from anywhere and I can be alerted if there is motion in the room.

I am interested in upgrading some of the locks to smart locks. There are an almost overwhelming number of choices.

As we add smart devices to our homes those devices will become obsolete and will need to be replaced with newer devices or some other kind of technology altogether. It wasn’t all that long ago that central vacuums and built-in speakers were all the rage.

You don’t have to buy a new house to have smart home technology, which is a good thing because not many new houses are being built and those that are being built are very expensive.


Internet of things

Property tax deferral for seniors

Even though all baby boomers are incredibly wealthy some who own property will struggle to pay property taxes. Property owners in Ramsey county are facing an 11% increase in property taxes. There are also property tax refunds through the state but to get the refund the taxes have to be paid.

There is a deferred property tax program for seniors being offered by the state. The program caps property tax payments at 3% of the household income for people who are over 65, make less than $60,000 a year, and have lived in the home for at least 15 years.

The property taxes are deferred until the homeowner dies or the property is sold or if the homeowner withdraws from the program or if the property is no longer homestead.  More information about the Senior Citizen Property Tax Deferral Program.

spare change – the picture was taken during the before time when coins were abundant.

The pandemic and early retirement

Early retirements are way up because of the pandemic. On average, 2 million boomers have retired each year since 2011, according to an analysis by Pew 3.2


million people retired in 2020.

I know several people who retired early and in the last 18 months because of the pandemic. Some were already 70 or older and others were between the ages of 60 and 65 at retirement.

The homeownership rate among baby boomers is 74 to 82% depending upon the age of the boomer. Baby boomers are mostly hanging on to their real estate due to the lack of suitable or affordable housing. It is actually less expensive to live in a larger house than it is to buy a smaller house, at least for now.

Almost 38% of homeowners between the ages of 65 and 74 have mortgages which is way up from 1989 when it was closer to 21%. Almost 28% of homeowners who are over 75 have a mortgage.

Retirement will be easier without a mortgage. We used to worry about paying mortgages in old age but now that seems easy compared with paying for health care and or long-term care.

On the other hand without mortgage payments, there is more money for medical expenses. I have read a few articles that discourage borrowers from paying off their mortgage early. I don’t agree with most of the articles which are usually written by people in the mortgage industry.

My advice to anyone who is considering early retirement is to pay off the mortgage first unless of course, you have a lot of money and a large retirement fund.

Transfer on death deed (TODD)

If you are doing a little estate planning consider your real estate. It is probably your most valuable assiet.  A transfer-on-death deed (TODD) allows for the transfer of title of real property to a named beneficiary at the death of the owner, or the last to die


of multiple owners.

The person named on the deed doesn’t have any right to the property until the owner dies and it can be revoked. The new owner also inherits any liens against the property.

A TODD can be helpful for estates that don’t need estate tax planning and where the only asset subject to probate is the home.

We often work with families and attorneys to sell houses after the owners have died. It can get complicated and take a long time for the estate to go through probate. The house can be put on the market while in probate, but the sale can not close.

Talk to your attorney about the transfer on death deed. There are pros and cons and I can’t give legal advice because that would be illegal. 🙂

If you need help selling a house that is part of an estate please call or write.

Yes some buyers are offering cash

This is one of my “real estate is local” messages. I recently got a press release that stated that nationally that 30% of offers on houses are cash offers. I haven’t found that to be true in the metro area so I started looking at actual data from real home sales.

spare change  

In July in St. Paul, a little more than 10% of the closed home sales were cash offers. I looked at data for Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Anoka counties and got a range of 5% (Washington county) to 11% in Dakota county. 9% of homes that closed in July in Anoka county were all-cash offers and in Ramsey county close to 12%.

The type of housing matters too and the percentage of cash offers is higher in the burbs than in the city.

Yes, people do pay cash for houses but most home buyers use some type of financing. Borrowing money is still a thing. Find out what the norm is for your area and type of housing.