It is still just a dream

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr 1963

Minnesota and the Twin Cities are home to some of the worst racial disparities in the country. In metrics across the board—household income, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment—the wealth gap between white people and people of color is significantly larger in Minnesota than it is most everywhere else. There is also a large gap in homeownership between people who are white and people of color. Homeowners have a significantly higher net worth than renters have which is one of the reasons for the large wealth gap.

There are numerous events today around the Twin Cities today in honor of King. Please consult Google for locations and times.


Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota
Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota –

Photograph from the Minnesota Historical Society collection

It is January and you want to be a real estate agent

winter in St. Paul
Harriet Island Regional Park

So far this year I have only been contacted by a few people who are interested in getting a real estate license. Probably because there are plenty of jobs out there.

Anyone can buy a house or any kind of real estate for themselves or sell real estate they own. No license is required.

Judging by how often I get asked “who do you work for?” most people are blissfully unaware of the fact that most real estate agents are self-employed 1099 contractors, not W2 type employees with health insurance. Who do I work for? I work for my clients.

Even fewer people understand that all Minnesota licensed real estate agents must work under a Minnesota licensed broker. Real estate companies with agents must have a licensed broker. I just hate it when I have to kill someone’s dream of striking out on their own as a real estate agent.

The broker is responsible for every real estate transaction the agent has. I am the broker for Boardman Realty which is a small local client centered real estate company. Most of the larger real estate companies in the area are national franchises.

Real estate agents only get paid after a successful closing and can only be paid by their broker. Agents work for free until there is a closing and if there is no closing there is no pay.

The broker is the person who collects the commission. Brokers get paid through “commission splits”. That means we keep some of the commission.

Starting out in real estate can be tough. The challenge is to find someone who will let you sell their house or will let you help them buy a house. There are more real estate agents in the metro than there are home sales.

The turn over rate among agents is pretty high during the first year. Typically agents quit because they can’t pay their bills and pay for all of the expenses that go along with being a real estate agent. People fail to treat being a real estate agent as a business.

New agents generally charge as much as experienced agents charge but study after study shows that experienced agents make more money.

“To become licensed as a real estate salesperson in Minnesota, you must first qualify by fulfilling several requirements. You must be at least 18 years old, and you must successfully complete three 30-hour education courses (known as Course I, Course II, and Course III), pass the salesperson’s examination, become associated with a licensed real estate broker (who must submit the application for your license), and receive notice that the application for your license has been approved by the Commerce Department.

To remain licensed in good standing, you must fulfill additional requirements. You must maintain the association with a licensed broker, complete required continuing education courses by the specified deadlines, and comply with all laws governing your conduct as a licensee.”

For a handy guide visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce

The qualifications for a broker’s license if outlined in the same document. One of the qualifications is having had a real estate license for three years. There are exceptions but I would go to the link above and get the information from the source rather than taking the word of some real estate blogger.

The only way to become a REALTOR is to become a member of the National Association of Realtors. REALTOR isn’t an occupation or job title. I estimate that there are currently about 21,000 members in Minnesota which is down from the peak in 2006 of over 25,000.

People complain to the blogger

realtor_r_blueIt happens all the time. Home sellers and buyers who are under contract with a real estate agent want a second opinion so they call or email another agent. I am pretty easy to find with the blog and all. It is easy to second-guess someone else but I won’t.

I don’t know the whole story and I am not comfortable judging someone else. There are all sorts of situations where people want free advice . . . because it is free.

People who are having trouble with a real estate agent should talk to that agent. If the agent isn’t doing his or her job as outlined in the buyers or sellers contracts buyers or sellers can ask the agent to cancel the contract.

If that doesn’t work or isn’t an option the next step is to call the real estate company and ask to talk to the broker. Real estate agents all work under real estate brokers and the broker is responsible for the agent’s actions.

If the agent is a Realtor® (Member of the national association of Realtors) and has done something unethical consumers can file an ethics complaint through the Minnesota Association of Realtors.

There is a code of ethics and the specific article that was violated needs to be stated in the complaint. Realtors are held to the standards in the code of ethics and we hold each other to those standards.

I am on the ethics committee for the Minnesota Association of Realtors®. I sit on hearing panels and listen to complaints about and from other members and from the general public. I have learned so much by attending hearings and reading complaints and responses.

There are reprimands and fines for agents who violate the code of ethics. Sometimes violators are sent to training classes.

Consumers can also file complaints with the Minnesota Department of Commerce and they do. You can look up actions that have been taken against licensees and of course the major complaints sometimes make the news.

A turkey is easy to cook

I write some version of this every year. If you are roasting your first turkey this year it is going to be alright. Turkeys are easy to prepare and to be honest hard to screw up.

If you watch the news or are on social media you may get the impression that roasting a turkey is difficult. It is easy unless you make it hard.

There are other ways to cook a turkey but roasting it is the easiest. No need to deep fry it or put it on a stick.

For those of you who have never cooked the bird this is what it looks like:

raw turkey

raw turkey

. . but at one time it probably looked like this:

Wild turkey

Turkeys are very easy to roast, in an oven or in an electric turkey roaster.

If your turkey comes out too dry it is because it was overcooked. Use a meat thermometer. Cooking time is just s guide or estimate.  Use one of the many roasting charts that can be found online.  Just ask Google for the details about cooking temperature and how many minutes per pound.

I will be roasting my 20-pound turkey for about 4.5 hours at 325. I believe it will be my 30th Thanksgiving turkey. I’ll check it after two hours, and stick the thermometer in after 3 hours. 

Turkeys can be cooked rapidly at 450 or so, but the easiest way is to put it in an electric turkey roaster or in the oven at 325 to 350 and just ignore it. I like to start with a fresh turkey, never a frozen turkey. Fresh turkey tastes better and I don’t have to worry about thawing it out.

I make the stuffing separately but like to stick a whole orange in the cavity. Sometimes I quarter it, other times I just poke some holes in it. There is less chance of food poisoning if the stuffing is cooked separately. This year my son-in-law will be making the stuffing. He has a way with stuffing.

Clean up is simple too.  The only challenge is finding a place to store the electric roaster but as a Realtor, I can help you find a bigger home with more storage space if needed.

The FDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 165 . . if you don’t want to risk food poisoning.  personally, I go for up around 180 degrees. Please don’t rely on that little pop-up thingy to detect doneness. Use a real meat thermometer.

roast turkey

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.