Are you a snowbird wondering what to do?

We call them “snowbirds”. People who live in Minnesota during the summer and in Florida, Arizona or some other warm and sunny state during the winter.

Normally the snowbirds would be returning to Minnesota around Mid-April. This year many will stay where they are and that is the advice various state agencies are giving.

If you need or want to sell your home in Minnesota you do not have to be here to do that. There are companies that can pack up your stuff and a stager and cleaners can go in an make your house presentable. A photographer can photograph it and it can we can put it on the market.

Everything a home seller needs to sign can be signed electronically. Homeowners can stay involved every step of the way and monitor showings too.

A homeowners with access to the internet or with just a cell phone can accept and sign an offer. The closing can also be handled at a distance with the proceeds wired to your bank account.

None of this is new. I have worked with several out of state sellers that I have never met in person. It gets easier all the time and much easier than it was even a decade ago.

I have no idea if now is a good time to buy or sell. No one knows for sure but there are all kinds of reasons why people might want to sell a house and as of right now people are still buying houses.

 

Day #15 and Day 3 of Stay home Minnesota

Facebook isn’t the best news source

Crocus blooming in my yard this week

This is day 2 of the Minnesota stay at home order also day 14 of the president’s Coronavirus guidelines. There are a lot of people who are frightened. There are people with little to do who spend their time on Facebook trying to save us all by posting important news and public service messages.

In one case I even saw someone from a state department of health comment on false information. Numerous news sources debunked information. The person posting it left it in place.

We all know people who get most of their news from Facebook but Facebook is not the best source of news. The Minnesota Department of Health has an excellent web site and the information we have is the best currently available. The Federal government also has a Covid-19 website. 

I like MPR radio (FM91.1) as a news source. The local papers, the New York Times and the Washington Post and the local news stations. I have been listening to or watching the Presidents almost daily press conferences too. Ask Alexa to play CSPAN or watch it at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/ Usually scheduled for 4:00 PM our time but doesn’t actually start until 4:30 or 5:00 PM.

When you find news and want to know if it is true you can do a google search.  False information seems to spread faster than a virus on social media.

A person can drive themselves crazy watching the videos about how to sanitize everything. Most of us are going to get this virus and many of us already have it. In my household, we don’t even have a thermometer and none are available and there is little testing. We should each assume I have it and do our very best to stop the spread with frequent handwashing and social distancing.

Here is more information about the  Minnesota stay at home order which went into effect on March 27th and will remain in effect until April 10th. Restaurants and public spaces will remain closed until May.

Real estate services are considered essential and we are still working while following the guidelines for social distancing. In some states, real estate services are not considered essential.

Open houses are strongly discouraged and I home sellers do not have to allow showings. I do not recommend buying a house without seeing it first but have helped people do that. I have also sold houses for people without ever meeting them in person.

On Friday I showed a house to a client who made an offer on that house. Contracts are created and signed electronically no in-person contact is needed. Homebuyers can tour houses safely.

Stay well, stay at home and wash those hands.

Learning the new rules

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Today is day#13 of staying at home in Minnesota, or COVID-19 day 13. Yesterday I learned that not only is it hard to get tested for COVID-19 but it isn’t even possible to get a thermometer. Our health care clinic has them but they are in the pharmacy which is closed.

None of the drug stores have thermometers either. People who have a temperature are supposed to stay home. The thermometer I ordered from Amazon will arrive sometime between April 17 and May 4th.

I figure without thermometers or COVID-19 tests the numbers of people having the virus will remain low in Minnesota.

There are two basic rules to understand about the virus that we need to understand.

Rule 1:  If you need or want something so does everyone else and as a result, you can’t get it because people are hoarding it and the stores ran out. 

Rule 2: If you don’t need or want something plenty of it is available in every store. 

Last weekend I ran out of flour. I had been unable to find the stuff for the past couple of weeks. Earlier this week on the best day ever I found two 2 pound bags of the stuff. It must be old as the expiration dates are this October but I was thrilled to find it. The same day that I bought it a neighbor dropped off not one but two five-pound bags of flour.

It is like I got up in the morning with less than a cup of flour in the house and by the end of the day, I had 14 pounds of the stuff. It gives me hope that we will find toilet paper before we run out and maybe even a thermometer.

Four

Stay home and stay safe.

Minnesota gets the “stay at home order”

Welcome to COVID-19 day11 here in Minnesota

“Minnesota Governor Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home. The order directs all individuals in Minnesota to stay at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The order is in effect as of Friday, March 27 at 11:59pm through Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5:00pm.

Realtors® and their clients may still conduct the activities necessary to facilitate real estate transactions in Minnesota during the time period covered by the order as long as they comply, to the maximum extent possible, with COVID-19 Guidelines including social distancing and hygiene and other requirements to the order.”

Minnesotans have been getting high marks for social distancing according to cell phone data that was gathered. We are for the most part doing our best to slow the spread of the virus. I have to admit when I go out for a walk and people move away from me I like it.

As for necessary real estate activities they include closings and selling houses. There won’t be any open houses for the foreseeable future. I have been getting calls from people to have to move. For the most part, they are elderly and no longer able to safely live in their homes.

Closing used to have us all sitting in a conference room signing papers. That has changed. Now buyers and sellers sign separately and ultimately the whole process may finally go online and use electronic signatures.

At this point houses in St. Paul are still selling. That gives me some hope but I know things can change quickly. Showings are down 28% which means fewer people are touring homes for sale but in recent months there have been more home buyers than homes for sale so maybe fewer showings won’t matter for a while.

open houses are strongly discouraged

Some local real estate companies said that open houses are safe because their agents got special training. Other real estate companies said no more open houses. My attitude about it is that if the people who work in the local restaurants do not get to go to work I shouldn’t disrespect them by having open houses. We really are all in this together.

Open houses are advertised in our MLS and then sent out a notice stating that:

“Effective immediately and until further notice, the scheduling of Open Houses in NorthstarMLS has been suspended. Also, any currently scheduled Open Houses in the NorthstarMLS system have been canceled and removed from the MLS. This action will remove the publication of Open House dates from IDX feeds and syndication to public-facing websites, as well.”

It all has to do with us keeping our distance from each other so that we don’t all get sick at once and flood hospitals with people who can’t breathe.

The good news is houses are still selling. At least for now. I think it is because of pent up demand and low-interest rates. That demand will weaken as jobs are lost. Right now we don’t know how many people will be laid off.

 

Throwback Thursday to July 4th

Downtown St. Paul

I took the picture of St. Peter Street near 7th street plaza on July 4th to show how downtown closes on the 4th. There really isn’t anything to do in St. Paul on the 4th of July. People either go to cabins or camping or go next door to Minneapolis to enjoy a day of live music, food, and fireworks in the evening.

Yesterday I had feeling of Deja Vue as I crossed St. Peter street on my way to the Walgreens on Wabasha. The street looks the same today due to COVID-19 as it usually does on July 4th. . . . except there aren’t leaves on the trees.