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.

Home sales and prices by neighborhood

Here are some numbers for St. Paul home sales in October 2018. The numbers come from data in the NorthstarMLS and include most of the home and condo sales in St. Paul.

There has been little change from September home sale prices. The number of homes on the market is up slightly but still a strong seller’s market.

Homes are selling for slightly more than the asking price in some neighborhoods. The average sale price for the whole city is very close to the average list price.

Average days on market is slightly less than 30 days and the average cumulative days on market is 37 days.

October sales – St. Paul, MN

If you would like to know how much your home might sell for and how long it will take to sell please contact me for a free no obligation consultation.

For more local real estate number see Local Market conditions & home prices


Where is the money?

Most home buyers use some kind of financing to buy a home. Over the last 15 years or so the home buying process has changed because


of technology. The shopping process is easier because of the internet. It is easier to do some research and to learn about real estate and about a particular home. There are online home valuations and information about what the previous owner paid for the home and more.

The process of getting a loan to buy a home hasn’t changed much and most of it is shrouded in mystery. Home buyers fill out forms like crazy and send information to the lender.

Once a buyer has a contract to purchase a home the process goes into a kind of black hole. The property is appraised and the process goes to “underwriting”. Sometimes we get to talk to the underwriter but most of the time we don’t get to and they always seem to be on vacation the week of the closing.

When I work with home buyers or sellers I have no control over the mortgage process and a big part of my process is to constantly ask for updates. It seems like it all works out most of the time.

During the great recession and housing market crash financing “fell through” a lot more often than it does these days.

Often when something does go wrong it is people like me who become the “face” of the purchase and end up absorbing the blows and explaining what went wrong even though we do not have any control over the process.

Working with a loan officer who doesn’t return phone calls or give updates can turn a positive home buying or selling experience into a hellish one.

I am looking forward to the day when consumers will start to benefit from today’s technology when they want to borrow money. A day when the process is transparent and the consumer is in charge. There is plenty of room for better customer service in mortgage and finance.

Chose your lender wisely. Get recommendations from real estate agents and friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers who have recently purchased homes.

I’ll be voting tomorrow


Most of us are tired of the endless commercials about how bad the other guy is and what will happen to us if we vote for him or her. If you are like me and are waiting until election day to vote you still have time to do a little research.

If you don’t know where to go to vote you can start by visiting the state poll finder page.

Start by going to the Minnesota Secretary of State website.  Get a sample ballot  Look it over and make sure that you know who you want to vote for. It is hard to get unbiased information about the candidates but it is better to do your own research than to believe what one candidate says about another.

The MPR website is an excellent source of information, see the voters guide. You can listen to the candidates talk and debate each other. You might also find information by doing a google search on a candidates name.

Many of the judges on the ballot are incumbents and running uncontested. I have been researching the contested races. The positions are important. Local judges can work their way up to the US supreme court.

On the state level, we will be voting for representatives and senators and for a governor. How we vote matters as we elect our 41st male governor.  If you don’t know who represents you in the Minnesota senate and house of representatives you can look it up here on the MN district finder page.

There is a school referendum on the ballot in St. Paul. As always the wording is confusing. Voting yes means more money for the schools and yes that means a tax increase.

I vote in every election which is why you should too. Local elections are democracy in action. There is no electoral college. Each of our votes is counted and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Please vote on Tuesday, November 6th and take some time on Monday, November 5th to do your homework.

Fall back, a barbaric custom

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Daylight savings time ends this weekend. We can not really change time, and the rules of earth rotation and daylight never change.

Most of us will adjust to the time change in a few weeks. Turning the clock back is easier on the body than moving it forward. It will be light out again in the early morning hours and dark by the end of the workday as it should be.

Daylight savings time is a crime against nature but it is also a marketing opportunity. Please set your clock one hour ahead before you go to bed on Saturday and call me on Sunday so I can sell your house. 


How to get your stuff stolen

It happens every day. People leave valuable is their cars and the valuables get stolen. I know some folks who don’t lock their cars because they don’t want the windows smashed they would rather just let someone open the door and rummage around.

If you are new to St. Paul and park on the street or anywhere outside I can tell you for sure that if you leave valuables in your car they will get stolen. I would like to add that it isn’t your fault that they get stolen but you won’t get your valuables back and the police are not much help in such situations.

There are times when you may need to leave something valuable in your car. Consider leaving items like iPads and laptop computers in your trunk if you absolutely have to leave them in your car.

Theft from cars is such a common crime in St. Paul yet people still leave valuables in their car. Please don’t do that anymore.