How to price your real estate

A similar home will probably be a home that was built around the same time and is the same or similar style and has the same number of beds, baths, and garage stalls. That explanation is a bit simplistic. We actually use a kind of fuzzy logic based on experience and knowledge of the area. So far there isn’t any software or web site that can replicate what an experienced real estate agent can do.

Pricing is important. Setting the price too high often leads to a lower sale price as the home sits on the market longer. For some reason, buyers avoid overpriced homes rather than offering less than the asking price.

Underpricing is rare but when it happens multiple offers bid the price up if the home is on the market long enough to get more than one offer.

Pricing isn’t easy and owners can’t always be objective. Sometimes the features the owner believes will bring top dollar actually lower the value.

We are still in a strong seller’s market in St. Paul. Homes that are priced correctly often sell quickly and sometimes with multiple offers.

Most homes are going to get an appraisal too but that is done by the buyer’s lender after the seller has accepted the offer. The purpose of the appraisal is to help the lender decide if the value of the home is at least high enough so that it can be used as collateral to cover the loan.

Pricing a home isn’t an exact science. If it were my job wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Also, see:

Asking price Vs. Sale Price

Is your home priced higher than the zestimate?

Because mine has bigger nails

Finished square footage

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.

Clean, declutter and eliminate

Cleaning and decluttering isn’t just for home sellers, it seems like everyone is doing it. There are a few methods of tidying up. Some folks like to get rid of one item each day.  Others like to reorganize their homes one area at a time.

People also declutter and reorganize by category, starting with clothing. They get rid of what they never wear and reorganize the rest. Then they move onto the kitchen. You get the picture.

There is “Sweedish death cleaning” which is about getting rid of your excess stuff so that no one has to deal with it after you die. (The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō. It is about keeping what brings us joy and organizing it. I read the book last year and actually put some of it into practice in my own home. 

There are books and articles about minimalism too. The idea is that less can actually be more. There are many books about minimalism. I have made it my personal goal in life to have less. It isn’t easy either.

Tidying up and decluttering does make a difference. It is easier to relax in a home that is clean and where there isn’t a lot of clutter. Some people prefer to have less furniture too. Apparently, there are health benefits to furniture free living. A lack of furniture can also really open up a living space. 🙂

Whichever method you choose if you decide to declutter will probably work and even though a lot of people take on these tasks in January they can be done most anytime and over a long period of time if needed. I have a friend who started downsizing three years before we put her house on the market.

If it is all too overwhelming there are professionals that will come into your home and show you how to organize, declutter and clean.

This is the time of year when storage containers and bins go on sale. For some putting stuff in storage bins and getting it out of site is how they declutter.

The biggest challenge I have in my home is my home office. I work in it several hours a day and it gets messy.

I feel responsible for my own stuff and try to recycle, donate, gift or sell items that I no longer need. I just hate the idea of sending it to a landfill for future generations to deal with.

Shorter days and fewer home sales

sunrise downtown St Paul

Sunrise was at about 7:44 yesterday and sunset was at 4:32 PM. The picture was taken at 7:45 AM. I often wondered what our early primitive ancestors thought as the days got shorter and shorter. They probably thought the good times were over and the world was ending.

Sometimes homesellers feel the same way this time of year as activity on their home slows way down. Home sales in general slow down this time of year. There isn’t much danger of someone wanting to tour a home on December 24th but it could happen and you can say no.

I have heard all sorts of theories as to why a house isn’t getting offers or much attention as the days continue to get shorter. The theories are based on fear and superstition. The days will start to get longer again in less than a week and home buyers will get serious again in a couple of weeks.

Right now the number of homes on the market is decreasing and there are actually more closed home sales each week than there are new listings. There have been 34 new listings and 49 pending sales, in St. Paul in the last week. We usually hit an inventory low in January.

Don’t give into fear and superstition. The days will get longer and home buyers will be making offers again.


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.

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