You get what we pay for

You get what we pay for is one of the open secrets among real estate agents. When you go house hunting and land on one of those websites that have homes for sale you might have the option of requesting a showing or more information or maybe you see the faces of real estate agents next to the homes for sale.

Often time the person you are contacting doesn’t know anything about the home in question. He or she or they have paid to be the contact person.  Sometimes these agents will respond to the inquiry and other times they won’t. Anyone who inquires about a home for sale becomes a “lead” which is just fine for homebuyers who want to become leads.

The reason the websites are free to consumers is because real estate agents pay to advertise on them.  The houses that you find on the websites are there because a real estate agent listed them and the information and pictures were fed from the multiple listing service.

People who want to work with real estate should choose an agent before selecting houses. Your agent will be able to get more information and will return your calls and answer your questions.  Your agent needs to respond quickly because the house you are interested in may only be on the market for a few hours.

I drew this myself

Happy house hunting.

What I learned about climate change last weekend

For those who were in the Twin Cities area last weekend, the air was unbreathable at times. Smoke from Canadian wildfires filled the air. It burned the eyes and throat and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said that it was “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy”.


MPCA warnings about air quality
Smoke from Canadian wildfires as viewed from the Mississippi River 

For part of last week, we didn’t see sunshine or the sky. Everything had a kind of yellowish orangish cast to it. Almost sepia. What we experienced isn’t “normal” and it is likely to happen again. Most of us have no idea how to plan for this or how to deal with it.

What I learned is that none of us are safe from wildfires and breathing in smoke-filled air does diminish the quality of life in any neighborhood.  Heck it even took my mind off the drought and the pandemic.

True story about radon gas and a house

Once upon a time, I helped some homeowners sell their house.  They had only owned it for a couple of years and had purchased it with the help of a highly regarded “top” agent with a well-known real estate company.

I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t working with her again.

They showed me the radon mitigation system that they had installed. They told me about how the agent they worked with told them that they didn’t need to test for radon before buying the house. She said that no house in the neighborhood had ever had high levels of radon.

The truth is most of the homes in the area had never been tested. Houses with low levels of radon can be next door to houses with high levels of radon gas. In fact radon levels can be high in any part of St. Paul. In fact levels are higher in the sout eastern part of the state than they are in many other places in the country.

My clients had the house tested after they bought it and the radon levels were high. Radon gas can be anywhere and is a known carcinogen. Go ahead and get that radon test. If at all possbile have it done before the closing.

As for the agent. I am just going to point out that a person doesn’t have to be ethical to become a “top” agent.

Ten years ago on this day

The partial government shut down for the state of Minnesota was averted. . .

I wrote this and posted it here ten years ago when the state government shut down on July 1st.

closed sign

The state of Minnesota is closed.  I want to go on record as saying I am very disappointed in our elected officials.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Real estate commission mythology

When I meet with clients they often tell me what the going rate is for real estate commissions is. The number seems a bit high but if people are willing to pay it I won’t turn it down.

We are not allowed to discuss commissions amongst ourselves and there are no price lists out there. If two brokers discuss how much they charge they can be accused of price-fixing.

People who believe that all real estate agents always charge a certain amount probably end up paying more. Real estate commissions are always negotiable and there is no “going rate”.

I don’t have a problem with being paid more than I had planned on asking for and will happily accept it when it is offered and I suspect that my peers feel the same.

Also, I love the idea of “discount” brokers. If there isn’t a rate sheet or price list how do people know they are getting a discount? I offer a flat fee option where the seller does most of the work and I charge a flat fee upfront for limited services. Those services usually include listing the home on the MLS and photography and more. Not all real estate companies offer flat-fee options.

Getting paid upfront is different, normally I work for free until after the sale closes and if it doesn’t close for any reason I don’t get paid.

Oh and please report an agent who won’t show a home because the commission payout to the buyer’s agent is low. You can and should file an ethics complaint against that agent.

Barges on the Mississippi River

House hunting without a name

It is pretty predictable. As we approach any major holiday people kind of come out of the woodwork and want to go tour homes for sale. If someone wants to

July 4th Fireworks in St. Paul

see one of our listings we will make it happen. When we ask if they have a Realtor and they say yes but that agent is on vacation, we contact the agent. If the agent can not show the property we show it.

Most of the calls and messages come in from people we don’t know regarding listings that are not ours. I know to some these are called “leads” but I usually don’t want to go where they lead me. 🙂

The spam and scam emails, text messages, and phone calls happen every day several times a day. I want to answer my phone but I rarely do and hardly any of the callers leave messages. My caller ID says “spam” or “scam”.

Doing business with strangers isn’t safe. people who don’t include their names with the message are kind of creepy.

There will be numerous calls, emails, and text messages this week and through the weekend from people, I don’t who are having real estate emergencies.

I will respond to emergencies from past and current clients and from people I know personally. Anyone who is currently under contract with me or my company gets priority emergency holiday service.

Most people don’t even know that there is such a thing as a real estate emergency. I am here to tell you they are real and they happen more often than I ever would have imagined.