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

Serious buyers should take advantage of winter

On the river bluff – Cherokee Heights neighborhood

The dusting of snow we got on Tuesday was a reminder of what is to come. It will get colder and snowier and usually, the real estate market slows down a bit.

In some parts of the country, the seller’s market is starting to lose its grip but here in the metro area, the inventory of homes on the market remains small. Prices usually do not go up as much during the winter as they do in the spring.

Serious buyers should start looking or keep looking during the winter months and particularly during the holidays. Sellers tend to be more motivated this time of year and most years we see fewer “bidding wars” in the winter.

Home sellers are often reluctant to list homes for sale during the holidays yet every December there are homes on the market and people buy them.

Personally, I like to take advantage of the kind of real estate agent slowdown I see this time of year. I make my self-available to work with both buyers and sellers.

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


Younger buyers, smarter homes

App to control heating, cooling and monitor home temperature

Research suggests that younger home buyer’s like smarter homes. The good news is that even old homes can be retrofitted to be “smart”.

My own home was build in the 1850’s and it has a smart thermostat, cameras with motion detectors, an Amazon Echo and several electrical outlets and some lights that can be controlled with phone apps or by voice.

The internet of things just keeps growing and the possibilities are almost endless.  Doesn’t everyone want to control their slow cooker via wifi?

Home buyers should keep this in mind when they go to buy a home. Technology is ever changing and what is really hot today might not even exist in ten years. Technology changes all the time but a good house can last for centuries.

When we bought our home there was no such thing as Wifi or smartphones. We had wiring for landline phones and cable TV.

Built-in intercom systems used to be all the rage, now there are wifi versions that can be added to any home.

When our home was built it did not have central heating, electricity or indoor plumbing. All of those amenities were added as they became available and affordable for home owners.

Homeowners who want to make their homes more attractive to younger buyers can upgrade their thermostats and add some electrical outlets and light switches that can be controlled through WiFi.

Add an intercom and a doorbell that has voice and video. Smart locks can be added so that doors can be locked or unlocked by voice or with an app from anywhere.

People of all ages use and appreciate smart home technology.

October 15th is an important day

snow on grass
October 14th snowstorm

It seems strange calling it a snowstorm. Maybe we can just think of it as a reminder. It snowed yesterday.

Beginning Oct. 15 and running through April 15, utility companies must provide residential customers with payment plans if they can not pay their utility bills.

Low-income Minnesotans may also be eligible for energy assistance programs from the state, utilities or charities that offer discounted heat or other help during colder months.

For more information, the cold weather rule visit the Minnesota Utilities Commission Website.  . . and yes your utilities can be turned off for non-payment.

I usually turn off the water to my outdoor spigots in Mid-October and get the furnace tuned. Getting a flu shot is also a good idea.

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