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.

One to buy and two to sell


What does “one to buy and two to sell” really mean?

I was contacted by a homeowner who wants to sell his primary residence. He bought the home before he was married. His wife travels often for business. He had assumed he could sell without his wife having to sign anything.

It doesn’t work that way. Once they got married both spouses have a legal claim to the property.

The good news is that it is not at all hard to sell real estate in Minnesota while traveling especially if you are working with someone like me. There are also ways to close without having to go to the closing.

Either spouse can buy real estate at any time without the other spouse assuming they are financially qualified without the spouse’s income. There are families where one spouse works outside the home and the other spouse works in the home and does not have an income.

If you are buying a house and your spouse is not contributing financially your spouse’s name will not be on the purchase agreement. When you close on the purchase and take the title joint tenants the property will belong equally to both spouses. If the buyer dies his/her spouse will inherit the property.

Also, see Marriage and homeownership

Inventory up or is it August?

Number of homes on the market

Real estate is somewhat seasonal. The chart above shows how many homes have been on the market in St. Paul each month for the last 17 months or so. You can see the downward trend of fewer homes on the market during the peaks and valleys.

We usually see the number of houses on the market start to rise in January and continue to rise throughout the year. Some of it has to do with buying habits. There are generally not as many home sales in the fall as there are in the spring.

Even though there are twice as many homes on the market now as there were last February there are still fewer homes on the market today than there were during the lowest point in most of the last ten years. It is still less than a two month supply but if you are a buyer your odds of bagging a house are better today than they have been at any time this year.

It is still a great time to sell as we are still in a strong sellers market.

This house isn’t in your price range

While working with a home buyer we found a home listed in his price range. The home was listed for an amount that the buyer could have afforded but, to beat out the other offers he would have had to go over his limit.

I see this all the time with houses that are “priced to sell”. Buyers who want to buy a home for less than $150,000 are hit the hardest as they end up competing against investors.

Those investors pay cash or put a significant amount down which make their offers more attractive than the first time home buyers FHA with less than 5% down.

The bargain priced houses that seem so affordable or too good to be true are often out of reach for first time home buyers.

Home prices have gone up and at a much faster rate than wages. This is good for home owners but not so great for people who would like to become home owners.


New home, new locks

When you buy a house there is no way of knowing who might have a key to the front door. Maybe the babysitter has one and the next door neighbor too.

Right after the closing is a great time to have the locks changed. Not only will the home be more secure but lock technology has changed. In general, locks are better and easier to use than they were in the 1940’s.

Also, consider smart locks with keyless and blue tooth options. Unlock doors with your phone or with a code. If you think you forgot to lock the door you can lock it from a remote location.

Locks are complicated. Do some research before you buy.

door lock
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