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.

You accepted an offer. Now what?

Sold

Accepting a buyers offer is one more step in the home selling process. The process doesn’t end until the sale closes.

Please leave the for sale sign up and the lockbox on the front door. If the offer is inspection contingent the buyer and inspector will need to get into the house.

After the inspection has been completed the seller may need to make some repairs or maybe the buyer will decide not to proceed or maybe the process will move to the next stage.

The listing agent will change the status of the property to “pending”. Once in the pending stage, the house will no longer appear as a home for sale when buyers search the internet.

Pending means that a sale is pending. Usually pending sales close but not always. Yes, sometimes things go wrong. Maybe the appraisal comes out too low or a buyer becomes unemployed.

Unless the buyer is purchasing the home with cash the next step will be the appraisal. The appraiser will make an appointment and look at the property and prepare a report.

If the appraisal comes out to an amount that is as much or more than the amount the buyer is buying the process will proceed to the next stage.

At this point, the process is in the hands of the lender and the title company. The loan process is a mystery to most of us. We don’t know what they do all day. Underwriters ask for stuff and we get it to them.

A “Sold” sign can be added to the for sale sign after contingencies have been removed. Usually, the for sale sign is left on the property until after the closing but if the homeowner wants it removed sooner they can ask.

Shortly before the closing the buyer’s may want to do a final walk through. I certainly recommend this as it protects both parties. The purpose of the walkthrough is to make sure the property is still in good condition or the same condition it was in when the offer was made.

The lockbox is usually removed during the final walkthrough or after the closing.  I like to order for sale sign removal the day of the closing which is a common practice. The sign is usually gone a few days after the closing.

Information about the actual sale price of a home is not released until after the sale has closed.

This is kind of an outline of what happens, there are more details but my intent is to explain that accepting an offer does not mean the home is sold.

Real estate is local. Business practices and rules may be different outside of Minnesota.

One to buy and two to sell

tower
Brownstone

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

Fall real estate advertising campaign

I remember when I used to work with one of the big real estate companies. They had this room called a resource room with marketing materials we could use. There was one a marketing piece for each season on why ______ is the best time to sell a house. I guess for real estate agents every season is the best season to sell a home.

For homeowners, it isn’t that simple.

There are advantages and disadvantages to selling any time of year. Homes do not fetch as high of a price in the winter as they do in the spring but the difference isn’t huge and it all works out for home sellers who also wish to buy a home.

It takes longer to sell a home in January than it takes in June. In fact, it can take two or three times as long. In today’s market, a long time is less than 90 days.

I have listed and sold home in December. There are buyers out looking and there are usually fewer homes on the market in winter.

People who look at homes in the late fall and early winter are usually pretty motivated and it is the same with home sellers. Often people who need to relocate for work are out looking in fall so they can start a new job in January or February.

The spring buying season actually gets started in January so in some cases putting a home on the market in the winter results in an offer in January or February when the prices start going up again.

So . . is fall a good time to sell? I can honestly answer that question with “it depends” but for me, it is always a good time to sell a home because that is what I do. For everyone else the best time to sell is a personal decision. There really is no best time to sell. . . but if you want to sell, let me know I am always ready to sell real estate.

Leaves

Bad staging is worse than no staging

It seems like it took years to sell people on the idea of staging but I am still finding real estate agents and homeowners who don’t understand what staging a home to sell is all about.

It isn’t about cramming the place full of furniture, lamps, books, and rugs and filling the wall space with artwork with lots of words and fancy lettering.

Staging is more about cleaning, decluttering and making needed repairs or upgrades. Most of the houses I sell have too much furniture and furniture needs to be removed not added.

Effective home staging for an occupied home can include removing pieces of furniture and family photos from the walls. Clearing horizontal surfaces and re-arranging shelves and artwork.

Lighting is very important yet often overlooked. Rooms should be well lit.

There is no need to over think it. Moving a chair from one place to another isn’t going to cause a home to sell for more or less.

I am not convinced that a vacant house needs to have furniture put in it to help it sell. I love the look of clean empty rooms. To me, there isn’t any room that is more pleasing than one that is empty. I don’t have any problem seeing the possibilities or imagining it with my own stuff in it.

If the house needs a little work and a good cleaning filling it with a stagers furniture isn’t going to help. In fact, bad staging might even make it worse.

well staged bedroom  
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