Humans are exposed to mold indoors and out

I drew this myself

There is a 100% chance that the home you live in and the one that you buy in the future has mold in it. Mold is everywhere.

This is what the Minnesota Department of Health has to say about mold testing:

Poor reason for testing #1 “To find out if there is mold”

A complex mixture of mold particles normally exists in all occupied indoor environments. If appropriate testing is done, it is expected that molds will be found. There is, however, an important distinction between the normal presence of mold particles, versus mold growth and accumulation indoors. Unfortunately, even when it is done well, testing may not be able to distinguish between “normal” and “problem” conditions and it may even give misleading results.”

To lessen mold growth in your home, seal up any leaks, dry everything out. Clean or remove moldy surfaces. The Minnesota Department of Health website has information about how to clean up mold using bleach and water. 

I know it was just last month that I wrote about Lead-Based Paint because it is safe to assume most St. Paul houses including my own contain lead-based paint.

Real estate is still local

Home sales were down nationwide in June by 2.2% year over year. It isn’t like it was during the great recession. Home sales are down because there are fewer homes for sale.

In Chicago, land home sales are down by double digits. Experts are suggesting that Chicago home buyers may have lost confidence in the economy.

In St. Paul home sales are down 4.5% from last year. In the Twin Cities metro area, it is still the shortage of homes for sale that is keeping home sales down.

Some real estate trends reach from coast to coast but they vary by location because real estate is local.  Most of the real estate news comes from the West coast which is another factor to consider when reading real estate news and advice.

graph of home sales
St. Paul home sales

How real estate values are determined

gray siding yellow doors
Curb appeal and the front door

The price that was paid for a property isn’t a number that is used to determine the current value. Home improvements may add value to a home but the value does not go up a dollar for every dollar spent.

The value of real estate is determined by location, size, and condition. An appraiser determines the value by looking at three comparable properties that are close by, and similar to the subject property.

Ideally, the comparable properties have been sold in the last year and are similar in size and located nearby.

Since no two properties are exactly the same the appraiser makes adjustments. Adjustments are made for differences in the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, fireplaces, garage stalls and any other difference in the properties.

The overall condition of a property is important. Even landscaping and curb appeal counts.

A three-bedroom rambler with 1200 finished square feet of livable space that is in great condition with updated kitchen and baths can be worth twice as much in one St. Paul neighborhood than it is in another and won’t have the same value in Maplewood that it has in Mendota Heights.

Also see  Because mine has bigger nails and When do I need to get an appraisal?

There is always something broken at my house

Things break and they are more likely to break shortly after new homeowners move in. A few years ago a couple bought a house and discovered that the veggie sprayer wasn’t working. The new homeowners threatened to sue the sellers over it and demanded an amount of money that far exceeded the cost of installing a new sprayer.

Elderly appliances can break down as soon as a new home buyer touches them. It is like appliances know the house has changed hands. That old washer will work for decades but as soon as it changes hands it breaks. Most of the appliances that are sold with houses are considered personal property and are not real estate. I like to think of working appliances as a bonus.

Plumbing leaks happen and sometimes electrical problems too.

In my house, there is always something broken. So far this year we have had an electrician restore power to the electrical outlets in the kitchen and we have had our washer repaired and it looks like I’ll be buying another one soon. We had water leaking in around a window and repaired it by recaulking. Our elderly dehumidifier broke down last week and leaked all over the floor.  I ended up buying a new one.

I am not trying to scare anyone off but if you own a home you will need to make repairs and replace appliances. That is just part of the bargain.

If you buy or sell a house something will go wrong I promise. Be prepared and stay calm.

Even curious neighbors need appointments

Sometimes when I am entering a home for sale with my clients people will see us and ask if they can see the house too. Unfortunately, I have to say no.

When I tour a house with a buyer that is because the seller has given me permission to do so. That permission does not extend to anyone who walks in off the street.

Newer agents do not always understand this and neither do people who see homes for sale and are curious about them.

The best way to see homes for sale is to call your real estate agent and set up a private showing or attend an open house if there is an open house.

A for sale sign is not the same thing as an open house sign.

I have had people knock on the door while I was showing a house. They had been wanting to see the house. I had them call the number on the for sale sign in front. I would have been happy to work with them but they were looking for a house for their son.

Often people tell me they are looking for houses for their sons or daughters but the sons or daughters usually are not at all interested in the house.

Don’t let your security system send the wrong message

BarsA security system can make a home more desirable or it can scare buyers away.

I showed some buyers a home where there were bars on the door and the bars were locked. The front door had a couple locks on it and they were both locked.

The home had a security system and it was armed.  I received a complicated set of instructions on how to disarm it.  The alarm system was set so that it would go off if not deactivated within 15 seconds of the time that the door opened. 

Having never been in the house, I had to hope that I would immediately see the panel because there would not be enough time to hunt for it and deactivate it.

My buyers were left with the impression that the home is in a high crime area and that the owners could not leave it even for an hour on a Sunday afternoon without locking all the locks and arming the security system.

Maybe there is a good reason that a security system needs to be left on but the buyers don’t know that and so they imagine the worst.

In general homes for sale should be as easy to see as possible. If security is a big concern you can ask the agent who is listing your house to be present for showings and ask that they set the alarm when they leave.