Questions because people want to know

Sometimes when I show property the potential buyers have all kinds of questions that I really can’t or won’t answer. When I represent the homeowner I can’t answer personal questions about them.

Homebuyers want to know why the sellers are moving, how many kids they have and how old they are. They want to know if the seller is single and if he or she lives alone.

The list goes on and on. The details of a homeowner’s marital status, familial status, age or race isn’t a material fact and do not affect the condition, value or saleability of a property.

Buying real estate does not give the buyer the right to know details about the seller’s personal life or motives for selling or moving or anything else.

If you are looking at a home for sale and the listing agent is showing it to you do not be surprised if they won’t answer personal questions about the sellers. Real estate agents owe their clients confidentiality.

If you are being represented by a buyers agent understand that personal details about the seller are not shared with the buyer’s agent.

Plan your pollinator garden

Pollinator gardens are all the rage. It is about having a bee and butterfly friendly yard. Planting or allowing native plants to grow can help make a better and more sustainable garden. A yard doesn’t have to be mostly grass that needs a lot of water and mowing.

Why are pollinator gardens so popular? Because the bee population is declining and has declined by as much as 40% according to some news sources. Pesticides, fungicides and the way we garden are all at least partly to blame.

You may see a lot of bees in your yard or this time of year you may see a lot of them on sedum, aster, and goldenrod because those plants attract bees.

It isn’t enough to plant flowers that attract pollinators. Best practices include growing native plants and not disturbing bumblebee nests and leaving some of the flower stalks in your garden over the winter.

Gardening isn’t something that can be done once and forgotten about. There is ongoing maintenance and some plants will take a few years to establish themselves.

Monarch butterflies – on blazing star

If you are interested in making your yard more pollinator-friendly a great place to start is the University of Minnesota Extension website.  

There is a survey on the site and useful information about landscaping and gardening in Minnesota. There is information about bees and plants.

Landscaping is a good investment that will increase the value of your home. Landscaping that attracts pollinators may also attract homebuyers.

honey bee on aster

Late summer and early fall are a great time for planning a garden and some perennials can be planted.

The recruiting season


This is the time of year when real estate companies work extra hard at recruiting agents. Most real estate agents are independent contractors and the real estate company with the most agents has the most home sales.

Did I say, independent contractor? Yes, I did. That means agents pay their own health insurance and usually pay for signs, office space and lockboxes too. You are going to believe this but in most cases, agents need to find their own business too. You might be wondering why real estate agents join real estate companies. It is because all licensed real estate agents have to work under a licensed real estate broker and that is what all real estate companies provide.

I have been watching one company that is growing like crazy but when I do the math I can see that their agents average about 4 sales a year.

Several of the largest real estate companies in the area are franchises or subsidiaries of huge corporations. Honestly, I am not a fan of huge corporations these days. I would rather be loyal to my clients and agents than to shareholders or a franchiser.

I once made the analogy that to some real estate companies the agents are like backyard chickens. More chickens mean more eggs and they can be housed in a small area. If they stop laying eggs the owner can just get rid of them.

The failure rate among real estate agents is sky-high. Failure is caused by lack of pay because agents do not get paid until there is a successful closing. Some struggle for years before the give up.

The recruiting emails I get tend to emphasize what kind of technology I would have access to if I joined a big company and often along with paying for just about everything there is a technology fee too.

If you are interested in becoming a real estate agent the process is fairly simple. Take 90 hours of pre-licensing education, pass a test, find a broker, pay a fee and get your license.

Visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce to see who needs a real estate license and how to get one. Don’t be chicken. 🙂

Easy to remember 9/11

I often wonder what the world would be like today if 9/11 had never happened, the lives that would be unchanged.


9/11 reminds me to be thankful for the St. Paul fire department. They will come when they are needed and they will risk their lives to save others. I have watched them in action a few times as they have put out fires in my own neighborhood.

In case you need reminding today is the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A friendly reminder about furnace/boiler maintenance

Antique Gravity Furnace

It is still Summer but Fall isn’t far off and it is a short season here in the North, and some are predicting a cold winter. LOL

If you are a homeowner and live in Minnesota now would be a great time to have your boiler or furnace service, inspected and or tuned up.  There is still plenty of time to get it fixed or replaced before it gets cold and it will get cold.

Usually, there are specials this time of year too for those who get it done before it gets cold and the repair guys get busy.

I hate to sound like your father but it is a good idea especially here in Minnesota where it gets so cold to schedule a furnace tune-up every fall. It generally costs less to get work done in late summer or early fall than it does during the heating season.

I see a lot of houses with old furnaces that have been well maintained. They really do last longer with regular maintenance. Personally, I am not a fan of the service plans but I am a fan of service.

If you are selling your home this fall or winter it is a good idea to have the furnace or boiler serviced and save the receipt or even tape it to the furnace. Buyers who are closing on homes this fall should either have the furnace tuned up or should make sure that the seller has already taken care of it.