September is national safety month

Safety tips for REALTORS

Did you know that September is national safety month for REALTORS®? Well, it is. There are times when the job can be dangerous. Meeting strangers in vacant homes can be dangerous.

Open houses can be dangerous too, the agent can become a target.

Sometimes men call female real estate agents with the intent to get them out and someplace where they can be attacked.

All jobs are dangerous and I don’t think being a real estate agent is more dangerous than any other occupation. I think we just need to understand which situations can put us in danger.

We are targets for email and money wiring scams more so than other individuals or businesses. Real estate is used to launder money. People need clean money right?

For me, national safety month serves as a reminder to be more aware of what is going on around me and to remind my peers to be careful out there.

How real estate sales impact Minnesota’s economy

MN Capitol
Minnesota Capitol building

The real estate industry impacts the whole economy. Here are some numbers from the National Association of Realtors about how home sales impact Minnesota:

The real estate industry accounted for $51,997 million or 15.8% of the gross state product in 2015.

Economic Contributions are derived from:

• Home construction • Real estate brokerage • Mortgage lending • Title insurance • Rental and leasing • Home appraisal • Moving truck service • Other related activities

When a Home is Sold in Minnesota Income generated from real estate related industries is: $18,540

Additional expenditures on consumer items such as furniture, appliances, and remodeling are: $4,572 – Source: BEA, Census, NAHB, NAR

The state of Minnesota charges for real estate licenses and renewals and there is a Mortgage registration tax for home buyers and a state deed tax for sellers.

As a small local real estate company, most of what we earn gets put right back into the local economy. There are no franchise fees and our headquarters are right here in St. Paul.

Time to schedule the annual heating system tune-up

Antique Gravity Furnace

It is still Summer but Fall isn’t far off and it is a short season here in the North.

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.

Homes sell for more but agents are not richer

queen anne house
Queen anne

You would think that real estate agents would have had the best year ever in 2017 with home prices up.

On average agents had fewer sales because of the shortage of homes for sale.

According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, the median gross income of Realtors was $39,800 in 2017, down from $42,500 in 2016.

At the same time, the median number of transactions for Realtors fell to 11 in 2017, down from 12 in 2016. Even though we are seeing record high prices real estate agents on average are not seeing record-breaking earnings.

There are a couple of other things going on too. The number of real estate agents has increased and the competition for listings is causing lower commissions.

I can’t see a downside for homeowners as we remain in a strong sellers market.

People often see the job of real estate agent as being easier than it actually is. . . which is probably why there seem to be so many new agents. 🙂

multiple offers or bidding war?

From Flickr commons WWI

Ah yes, it is fun to play with words. When see, hear or read news reports about the housing market they report that there are “bidding wars”.

Using the word “war” adds an extra element of drama to the situation and probably makes the winner feel extra special.

In real estate offices and when talking with our peers we talk about “multiples” everyone knows what we mean when we say “it sold with multiples”, or “we got multiples”.

No matter what it is called competing with other buyers happens when buying homes in St. Paul. Buyers need to know that they may not get to negotiate. The sellers will accept the best offer so it is important that buyers make their best offer.

Buyers who win and have their offer accepted should say that they won a bidding war. Buyers who loose out should say that they lost out in multiples. 🙂

Sellers who are expecting multiple offers but are not receiving them should revisit the asking price, the decor, the condition or all three.

To arbitrate or not

In Minnesota home buyers and sellers are required to decide if they want to use binding arbitration to settle future disputes over real estate they are buying or selling.  New this year, arbitration will only apply to claims for more than $15,000, smaller claims should go to conciliation court.

This year 20 pages have been added to the Minnesota purchase agreement explaining arbitration. The purchase agreement without the arbitration disclosure is 13 pages long after a page about wire fraud was added on August 1st.

Home buyers and sellers should be prepared to learn all about arbitration. It is a Minnesota thing.

After reading all of the pages of the arbitration disclosure my understanding of it is about the same as it was before I read the 20 pages. There is something about that legal style of writing that makes it hard to follow.

Going forward I think I will give my clients the arbitration disclosure early on in the process because consumers need to understand arbitration and make an informed decision.

It is also important to learn about lead-based paint, we have a pamphlet for that and about radon, we have a disclosure for that.

Arbitration – from the Minnesota arbitration disclosure