Minimalists have more space

I see the inside of 300 or more homes a year. Many if not most homes do not have enough storage space. It seems like homes with more storage space have more stuff in them that is being stored.

Sometimes when people put their homes on the market they can make it feel a little more spacious by removing items and putting them in a rented storage unit. Sometimes they end up keeping the storage unit after they move and end up filling up all of the storage space in their new home.

Most of us are storing stuff that we will be moved more often than it is used. There are advantages in having less stuff. Having less makes moving easier and it can mean a smaller house.

Having a smaller house can mean lower monthly expenses and more money for travel or whatever else a person might want to spend money on. It has been my observation that people who have less stuff have more space.

Before starting the home buying process it might be a good idea to make some decisions about how much stuff you want to have and where it might fit in a home.

1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).

The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).


storage lockers

If you are looking for a small house we have them in St. Paul and I would be happy to help you find one.

How much does it cost to heat?

Heating costs have been on my mind these days because of the colder than normal weather. We use our house differently than some. There are only two of us living in it but I have a home office and tend to keep the house warmer than I would keep it if I worked someplace else.

Before buying a house it is a good idea to find out how much it costs to heat. St. Paul homeowners can get some averages by calling Xcel energy customer service, or by looking at their billing and usage history online.

It is also helpful to find out how many people are living in the house. How we use a house impacts energy costs.

The efficiency of the furnace or boiler makes a difference and so do windows and the amount of insulation in the attic. A little caulk here and there can have an impact too. I have one window that I put plastic over. Replacing the window is on my wishlist for home improvements.

It doesn’t hurt to know what the electric bill is either. We tend to use a lot of lights .. . because of the office but we have also switched to energy efficient bulbs and timers that turn light on and off. There are also motion detector type light fixtures that are useful in basements and other places where light is needed but someone might forget to turn it off when it isn’t needed.

Here are some energy-saving tips I found on the Xcel Energy website.

Start a house diary


If you don’t have one and are a homeowner start a house diary. Use it to keep track of home improvements. Keep records so that you know how old the appliances are. Keep track of home improvements and make a note of paint colors.

When selling a home knowing how old the roof is and the ages of the furnace, central air conditioning unit and water heater are is important.

Use a plain old spiral notebook and a simple folder or file folder to keep track of receipts and warranties. I like to use Evernote and take pictures of receipts and warranties but I have a notebook with records that I stated in the 1990s that has a lot of information about the house.

We are on our 3rd dishwasher, second water heater, furnace, and stove. Central air was added in 2002 and we bought a couple of new exterior doors two years ago and a kitchen counter last winter.

There is more . . . . nothing lasts forever. In the next year or two, we will need a new roof.

My house dairy includes a wish list because the best way to keep the place in decent shape it to plan ahead for repairs and upgrades. We make some kind of change or improvement every year. Some are minor like repainting a room and others are more major.

Documentation and information about home improvements is useful information when it is time to sell. Home buyers appreciate having copies of warranties and receipts. User manuals can be helpful too but can often be found online.

Vintage everything

I love some of the things I see in older homes that have not been updated in decades. If I bought such a home I would probably make some changes.  There is a difference between vintage and old. We call it vintage if we like it and old if we don’t. I myself am vintage, not old.

Vintantage wallpaper and countertop



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.