Serious buyers should take advantage of winter

On the river bluff – Cherokee Heights neighborhood

The dusting of snow we got on Tuesday was a reminder of what is to come. It will get colder and snowier and usually, the real estate market slows down a bit.

In some parts of the country, the seller’s market is starting to lose its grip but here in the metro area, the inventory of homes on the market remains small. Prices usually do not go up as much during the winter as they do in the spring.

Serious buyers should start looking or keep looking during the winter months and particularly during the holidays. Sellers tend to be more motivated this time of year and most years we see fewer “bidding wars” in the winter.

Home sellers are often reluctant to list homes for sale during the holidays yet every December there are homes on the market and people buy them.

Personally, I like to take advantage of the kind of real estate agent slowdown I see this time of year. I make my self-available to work with both buyers and sellers.

Beware of money wiring scams

Wire transfer scams are targeting attorneys, banks, title companies, and real estate professionals.

If you are buying or selling a home and you get an email asking you to wire money or send account information so that money can be wired to you, don’t do it.

Call your lender, real estate agent or title company using a phone number that you have already been given instead of the fake phone number in the email.

Please never give anyone your private information in an email, and avoid clicking on links or downloading files.

People call me about homes being advertised for rent that are not for rent. Scammers look for vacant homes and advertise them as rentals. When I put a home on the market I set up a google alert so that if it is being advertised for rent I’ll find out. I encourage homeowners to do the same.

Occasionally I get emails from that prince or princess who is in a foreign country but needs someone in the U.S. to help them get money out of the country.

They promise to pay me millions of dollars. The scam was pretty popular a decade ago and people fell for it.

For those who really want to give me money please just mail a check to my office.

Bad staging is worse than no staging

It seems like it took years to sell people on the idea of staging but I am still finding real estate agents and homeowners who don’t understand what staging a home to sell is all about.

It isn’t about cramming the place full of furniture, lamps, books, and rugs and filling the wall space with artwork with lots of words and fancy lettering.

Staging is more about cleaning, decluttering and making needed repairs or upgrades. Most of the houses I sell have too much furniture and furniture needs to be removed not added.

Effective home staging for an occupied home can include removing pieces of furniture and family photos from the walls. Clearing horizontal surfaces and re-arranging shelves and artwork.

Lighting is very important yet often overlooked. Rooms should be well lit.

There is no need to over think it. Moving a chair from one place to another isn’t going to cause a home to sell for more or less.

I am not convinced that a vacant house needs to have furniture put in it to help it sell. I love the look of clean empty rooms. To me, there isn’t any room that is more pleasing than one that is empty. I don’t have any problem seeing the possibilities or imagining it with my own stuff in it.

If the house needs a little work and a good cleaning filling it with a stagers furniture isn’t going to help. In fact, bad staging might even make it worse.

well staged bedroom  

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.