Smaller home improvements pay off

I am often asked to recommend home improvements that will result in a higher sales price or a faster sale. Let’s not get carried away. People who are planning on moving soon usually don’t need to make a lot of expensive home improvements.

It is possible to spend too much time and money selling a house. Sometimes sellers get carried away and spend money they won’t get back.

A complete remodel of the kitchen is a great example of spending too much money to sell a house. Homeowners who lower their asking price because the kitchen is dated end up with more money in their pockets because the immediate return on investment for a new kitchen isn’t 100% it is more like 75% depending upon the price range of the house and its location.

If the kitchen is damaged or unusable then it should be repaired or upgraded. Go ahead and replace twenty-year-old appliances with new appliances that are comparable.  It is important to keep it in character and the price range of the house.

Fresh paint, a new backsplash, and some new lighting cost a lot less than a new kitchen and the return can be more than 100%.  Landscaping is also a great but often overlooked investment.

Even during the current seller’s market pricing is important. A lower price list price can mean a higher sale price as the home sells faster with more offers.

If the goal is to live in the house for the next several years then remodeling the kitchen makes sense but if the goal is to sell the house now for top dollar make smaller less expensive improvements.

When getting a house ready to sell start with cleaning and decluttering. Removing excess furniture and stuff is what good staging is all about.

After that consider repainting rooms in lighter more neutral colors that will make rooms appear larger and cleaner. Replace bold and dark colors with shades of white, beige, and grey. Touch-up painted trim. The purple or dark green bathroom that the seller loves can be a minus in the eye of the buyer.

Make repairs where needed. In the eyes of a home buyer, needed repairs may look huge and expensive.

It is important to look at selling your house as a business transaction.  It can be hard to be detached which is one of the reasons why people hire real estate agents.

2024 has arrived

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. No, I didn’t stay awake and ring the new year in. Sleep is too precious, and I fight for every Z I can get.

With that said I’ll make a few predictions for 2024.

  1. Mortgage interest rates will go down.
  2. Mortgage interest rates will be too high.
  3. Home prices will continue to rise.
  4. There will be fewer home sales than there were in 2023. (This prediction is for the Twin Cities Metro area only)
  5. There will be more lawsuits against the National Association of Realtors and they will lose most if not all of them.
  6. We will see a new organization emerge from the ashes that the National Association of Realtors will be by November 2024.
  7. The new organization that replaces NAR will be run by men but they will be younger and more diverse.

If you have a house to sell in 2024 you can sell it. If you would like to buy a house in 2024 there will be fewer to choose from and they will be expensive. Please take advantage of downpayment assistance programs. 

If you have not purchased a home in the last three years ask your lender about first-time home buyer programs. If the lender can not help you with that choose another.

Also, home buyers should get their paperwork in order and file a tax return for 2023 early in the year.

Cash buyers do not wait until spring to buy

January can be the perfect time to put a home on the market. We have sold more homes to cash buyers in January than in any other month. Home buyers who plan on getting a home loan often wait until after they get an income tax refund before they buy a house. That is why March 15th is considered an ideal time to put a house on the market.

Quick sales happen all year long and so do cash sales. Putting your home on the market in January can lead to a higher sale price, a shorter time on the market, and a cash offer.

Money is money but with a cash offer, there is no appraisal. There are fewer steps that the buyer and sellers have to go through. There is no waiting for underwriting approval.

loft style condo - kitchen
Loft style condo


Holiday house hunting


It isn’t at all uncommon for people to do a little house hunting during the holidays. People come to town to visit relatives and decide that they want to work with a Realtor. Sometimes they reach out a couple of days before they are due to arrive.

I usually can not accommodate last-minute clients during the holidays. I can work with clients who are already under contract. I have shown houses on New Year’s and the day after Christmas. Christmas is a holiday and in my household, we often celebrate on Christmas Eve. I don’t work either day.

People who are planning on buying a house during the holidays in 2024 should contact a Realtor by November 1st, 2024.

Home buyers who are currently working with a Realtor should be able to show or buy a house during the holidays. Most of us work during December.

Houses are sold during the holidays too. Homeowners who have a plan in place by mid-October will be able to sell their house quickly during the holidays and for top dollar.

Buying or selling a house is like many other things in life in that it is best to plan ahead.

Yes we sell houses during the holidays

pink flowers

I answer this question several times each holiday season. Should I decorate my home for the holidays if it is on the market? My answer is always the same. That depends.

I don’t have a problem with holiday decorations but the same rules apply to them that apply to any kind of decorations in homes that are for sale. The decorations should not detract from the home or distract people who are viewing it. Less is generally more and it is all pretty subjective. We don’t have any data on whether homes with Christmas trees sell for more or less than homes without.

Some people decorate every square inch of their home for the holidays and display their beanie babies, snow babies, and Santa Bears. It’s not a good idea when your home is on the market.

Skipping the holiday decorations altogether is alright too. It is better to have no decorations than too many decorations. Don’t worry about offending anyone.

The home should be photographed without any holiday decorations if at all possible.

There you have it my typical “it depends on” non-answer type answer to the holiday decoration question. Happy Holidays, and yes every year homes are sold between Thanksgiving and the new year. Home buyers who are out looking during the holidays are motivated, qualified buyers who are ready to buy.

It isn’t over until it is over


Nearly 60,000 home purchase agreements were canceled in August, which is equal to 15.7% of homes that went under contract that month.

According to new data from Redfin, August’s percentage of canceled deals is up from 14.3% one year ago, and it is also the highest percentage since October 2022.

These cancellations are likely due to the fact that mortgage interest rates rose to more than 7%.

Yet, I think it is important for homeowners to understand that there is always the chance that a home buyer will back out due to a job loss or an accident or yes even cold feet.

We do our best to weed out the offers that have the most red flags but things happen that are beyond our control, or beyond anyone’s control. There were a few home purchases that were canceled in the early days of the pandemic as some homebuyers were laid off.

The home is sold after the closing and not before.