Taking security seriously


You may have seen the blue box hanging on the doorknob of a home for sale. They are electronic lockboxes that usually hold keys. Local real estate agents can open them using the ekey app that works on smartphones.

The app has to be reauthorized every day so that unauthorized persons can not use it.  Each time the box is opened the owner of the box can be notified and can get the identity of the person who opened it and the time it was opened.

The boxes can also be opened with an electronic key for those agents who do not want to use a smartphone app. The key is only available to members of REALTOR associations.

We can also program the boxes so that they can not be opened during certain hours like after 8:00 PM and before 8:00 AM. Homeowners can go to sleep at night knowing that no one can open the lockbox and get into the house.

If my home were on the market I wouldn’t want one of those combination lockboxes on it. I would want the security of an electronic lockbox.




Help selling your house

I’ll never understand why people contact me to help them sell their house when it is listed with a Realtor®. I will work with anyone


who hires me. I can’t afford to spend time helping someone else’s clients. I have to put my own clients first.

I use my experience and expertise to make a living. Sure I give free advice on this blog but it is so people can see why they should hire me it isn’t so people can have a free resource so that when their house doesn’t sell they can get advice.

No, I won’t help you sell our house unless we have a contract. Feel free to contact me and we can get the process started.

Reality TV has made my job more challenging

I can tell when I am working with a home buyer who watches those reality TV shows about flipping, fixing, remodeling, buying or selling real estate.

The shows do not match up to the reality of the average Minnesota home buyer or seller. The good news is there usually isn’t a lot of drama in real estate, the bad news is buying and selling real estate isn’t as fun as it looks on TV.

Remodeling and renovating a home is actually more expensive and complicated than it looks on reality television. Things go wrong and sometimes by the time the project is complete the owner of the property owes more on the home than it can be sold for.

The number of houses a home buyer has to look at before they find the right one varies a lot. There is no magic number but most home buyers know it when they see it.

It would be nice if life worked like those real estate shows but it doesn’t. Be prepared to have an open mind and expect the unexpected.

The wacky world of windows

windowsI have had home buyers have an inspection and ask to have all the windows replaced or ask for a significant amount off the asking price of one of my listings because they didn’t like the windows.

Most St. Paul homes are old and many have old windows. My house has windows from the 1800s. They go up and down and work just fine.  It is true that just about any problem with a window can be fixed by replacing the window, but there are also less expensive options that maybe even better.

Sometimes new storm windows are all that is needed and sometimes windows can be repaired at a fraction of the cost of having new windows installed. Other times it is a matter of caulking and making other repairs.

Installing new windows in an old house rarely pay for themselves in resale value and may pay for themselves in energy savings but it will take decades.

Some old houses have deteriorating window frames and trim that need repair or replacement that isn’t usually a standard part of window replacement.

Replacing a large old wooden window with an inexpensive vinyl window isn’t always an improvement but more of a short term solution. The window may fail and need to be replaced because it can not be repaired.

Home improvement companies will sometimes talk homeowners out of window repairs probably because they don’t make repairs.

TV and misleading ads

There is no truth to the rumor that a Realtor will require that you get home ready to sell. You can sell your house without making any repairs. Some companies specialize in buying homes that need work. Most if not all real estate agents can sell your home just like it is. I write this same article at least twice a year because they myth persists.

living room

Often sellers agree to some repairs because they can get more money for their home. First time home buyers will want to pay $1000 less for a home if it needs $200 dollars in repairs.

For some selling a home “as is” means not replacing the old carpeting or worrying about the cost of replacing those ancient kitchen appliances. As long as the home is priced accordingly nothing has to be replaced or upgraded. If the house is in poor shape there are people who will buy it and fix it up, just don’t expect top dollar for it.

Homeowners who would like to make improvements or repairs for a better resale value should consider less expensive repairs and upgrades like cleaning, painting and putting in a backsplash in the kitchen and maybe some new light fixtures and window treatments. Go ahead and paint, repair or replace that front door and add a doorbell. Put a nice big pot of flowers by the front door, weather permitting.

Sometimes it costs so much money to get a house in good shape that it is more cost-effective to sell it the way it is. Just understand that there are no requirements for the condition of a house. The city of St. Paul and many other local municipalities have some requirements but they can be assumed by the buyer rather.

. . and don’t get too excited about those programs that promise to buy your house, at least not if you live in St. Paul. Most if not all of the companies require that the house be built in the 1970’s or later.

Contractor – red flags

Unfortunately, not all home improvement companies are ethical. Here are some of the red flags I have encountered while searching for a roofing contractor:

  1. The salesperson who asks if I am married and then insisted that the spouse be present for his presentation. They do this because they use high-pressure sales tactics and they don’t want the homeowner to delay making a decision to discuss it with a spouse.
  2. The company says that they will be in the neighborhood next week and pushes to schedule an appointment. It is true they will be in the neighborhood if you schedule an appointment.
  3. Promises of a big discount if you sign up right now. They will tell you the can only offer you the discount right now.
  4. Asking various questions to determine the age of the homeowners. This is done so that the salesperson knows ahead of time to use techniques designed to scare, bully or intimidate the homeowners.
  5. The roofing company says that while they are looking at the roof they will inspect the attic for mold. I call that the old mold in the attic routine. Since mold is everywhere on the planet there is a 100% chance mold will be found in your attic. Please hire a specialist if you are concerned about mold, not a roofing salesperson.

There is more. In the past couple of weeks, we have seen a few invoices for some outrageous charges our clients have paid to plumbers and electricians.

Often the plumbers or electricians are found online and they have a lot of reviews and most are favorable yet the prices they charge appear to be at a minimum twice as high as others pay for the same services.

Try to do a little research to find out what average cost for various types of work is.  The biggest company isn’t always the best choice neither are the franchises and the company with the best online appointment system may not give the best service when it comes to doing the repair.