Sell it as it is

Houses can be sold “as is”. Often estates are sold this way but any house can be sold as is. That means not having to worry about making repairs even if home buyers ask for them. There are always people who will buy houses that need some work or maybe just some TLC.

If making repairs and getting a house ready for sale seems overwhelming. Put it on the market as is. The house should be marketed accordingly so that buyers understand that the seller will not be making repairs.

living room

Cold weather tips for home sellers and buyers


Winter is upon us with no end in sight. As soon as it stops snowing or we get a little warm-up the home buyers will be out looking again.

Here are some winter tips for home sellers:

1.  Leave some lights on so we can open the lockbox and unlock the door.

2.  Remove the snow and ice from the walkway.  Clearing the sidewalk makes it less likely that someone seeing your home will fall on their a$$ and sue yours off.

3.  Place a walk-off mat near the front door that is big enough for four pair of shoes.  This small act of kindness will keep my feet dry because I won’t end up standing in a puddle made by my clients and it will keep your floor dry and your home cleaner.

4.  If your home is vacant please have it winterized, that means that you have the water turned off.

5.  Light in a home is a good thing, especially in the winter.  You want to make it look warm and inviting.   If you normally live like cave people with every blind drawn and every shade pulled consider making some changes so that your home will sell quicker and so you will get more money for it.

6.  If your home is occupied and you have a bunch of burglar alarms and maybe some barbed wire and a guard dog consider easing up on the red alert status.  (this has nothing to do with the weather . . I was on a roll)

Here are some tips for home buyers:

1.  Wear shoes or boots that are easy to slip on and off.

2.  Go to the restroom before you begin house hunting.  Homes that are winterized have no running water.

3.  If you are interested in a home that you saw in the dark please schedule an appointment to see it when it is light out before you make an offer.

4.  Most agents carry a flashlight but it is a great idea to bring your own.

Wood is better than carpeting

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s carpeting over hardwood floors was common. Sometimes the carpeting was put in right after the home was built and the floors underneath it are in mint condition.

Home buyers prefer hardwood floors. I have known this for many years. National Association of REALTORS® found that 54% of home buyers were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring. (study was done in 2016)

I am not suggesting that people who want to sell their homes run out and replace the carpeting with hardwood floors. Sometimes the carpeting needs to be replaced and there is hardwood flooring under it. Even hardwood floors that need a little work are better than old carpeting and usually better than new carpeting.

From experience, I know that there are certain types of homes that people expect to see hardwood flooring in. People expect older homes to have hardwood floors. That doesn’t mean that hardwood is preferred in bedrooms, kitchens, and baths or that every room in the house has to have hardwood floors.

It should also be noted that a buyer’s willingness to pay more for a home with hardwood doesn’t mean that they will be willing to pay enough to cover the cost of the hardwood floors. There is quite a price range for the flooring and it doesn’t always have to be oak.

Some of the most popular flooring options include mid-priced varieties such as teak, American cherry, and oak, which costs $5 to $10 per square foot for materials and another $4 to $8 per square foot for installation. Carpeting costs a lot less, which is one of the reasons why it became so popular.

There are a lot of choices even composite wood floors. Dark wood floors have made a big comeback.

Nothing is really all that black and white when it comes to making improvements that will have a positive impact on resale value. There are shades of gray but it is good to know home buyers will pay more for homes with hardwood floors.

Market house condos

Your home doesn’t have to be new to be smart

queen anne house
Queen anne

My house is old. Part of it was built in 1858 and the newer part may have been built as recently as 1860. In fact, it was built without central heating, electricity, central air conditioning or plumbing. The house has all of that today and more.

It was built before many of the modern appliances we have today existed. They were added later. The electrical system and the plumbing and heating have all been updated even more recently.

I have one of those smart thermostats that I can control with an app or by voice the Amazon Echo. I don’t have to be at home to know what the temperature is in my house or to change the temperature.

There is a camera in my house that can be activated by motion and it can send me an email alerting me that someone has entered my house. I can watch someone take my stuff using an app on my phone as I dial 911 and yell at them through a speaker.

I have some lights and electrical outlets that can be controlled with an app on my phone or by voice. I am interested in upgrading some of the locks to smart locks.

As we add smart devices to our homes those devices will become obsolete and will need to be replaced with newer devices or some other kind of technology altogether.

When we bought our last refrigerator there was no such thing as a smart refrigerator that could help us keep track of what is inside the fridge and what we are out of.

This holiday season I gave my brother’s family an Instant Pot that is accessible by wifi. Doesn’t everyone need a smart Instant Pot?

You don’t have to buy a new house to have smart home technology, which is a good thing because not many new houses are being built.


Internet of things

Get it in writing


When buying or selling a home in St. Paul it is important to get everything in writing. The contract to purchase should include:

  1. Purchase price.
  2. Earnest money amount.
  3. Downpayment % if financing.
  4. Type of financing.
  5. Closing date.
  6. Specific contingencies.

An offer might be inspection contingent, contingent on financing or contingent on the sale of a home that a buyer currently owns or the seller may want to add a contingency.  Contingencies always have start and end dates and usually require that some specific thing happen before they can be removed. For example, an inspection contingent offer will have an inspection period with a beginning and an end.

With some types of real estate, there are automatic contingencies and laws dictate when the period starts and how long it has to be.

Sometimes everything is in writing and both parties agree but the agreement is written in such a way that there are misunderstandings. For example, a buyer may ask for a specific repair without specifying that the repair needs to be made by someone who is qualified to make the repair. If the buyer is asking to have a window repaired on a house with more than one window the contract needs to reference the specific window.

Using too many or too few words on a contract can lead to misunderstandings later on. Using the wrong words or not being specific enough can lead to misunderstandings or even lawsuits.

When I receive or review a contract from another agent sometimes I can tell if the agent is new or if he or she is experienced. Experience does matter when writing real estate contracts.

Before making an offer or accepting an offer on real estate read the contract and make sure you understand it. Often I spend more time explaining a contract than I spent writing it and I am fine with that.

If everything isn’t in writing . . . good luck!

Open house 101 for buyers

Open houses are a great opportunity for buyers to just look at houses.  Here are some tips on what to do once inside the home.

1. Take your shoes off. Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.

2. If asked to sign in do so, you are in someone else’s house and they make the rules. If you do not want to leave an email address don’t.

3. Taking pictures of the inside of the home without the owner’s permission is considered an invasion of privacy and may be illegal. Ask the agent holding the open before taking pictures.

4. If you are working with an agent let the agent at the open house know even if he or she doesn’t ask. Give the agent at the open house the name of your agent. If you are one of my clients you will be given business cards to give agents at open houses.

5. Keep an eye on your children do not let them run around the house unaccompanied. Children love to explore other people’s homes.

6. Be careful what you say. Giving the real estate agent too much information can hurt during negotiations. Try to act somewhat disinterested.  At the same time listen to what other buyers are saying because it may help when making an offer.

7. The agent at the open house may be very nice to you but they do represent the seller and are supposed to act in the sellers best interest.

8. The main reason an agent has an open house is to meet potential clients and that is why they may recommend other houses if you don’t like the one that is open.

9. The agent at the open may not be the listing agent and he or she might not be able to answer questions about the property.

10. If at all possible if you decide to buy the home you saw at the open get assistance from your buyer’s agent and avoid dual agency.

Keep in mind that only a very small percentage of the homes for sale have open houses. It is important to search for homes for sale on the internet and to view as many as possible online.  Make appointments for private showings to see the homes that are the best fit. Don’t wait for an open house because there might not be one and some houses sell the day they go on the market of sooner.

also, see  Why an open house if the home is sold?

and Open house open to theft