Renting is alway an option

People who rent rather than own their homes are buying flexibility. For some flexibility means having a better job. Home ownership isn’t for everyone.

The National Association of Realtors conducted a survey to study non-home owners. Most would like to own a home at some point in the future. I aspired to be a homeowner from the time I graduated from college. I was 29 when we bought our first home. At the time the challenge was saving up for a downpayment.


To some buying real estate is an investment. To me, it was always about owning a home that I could call my own. A place to live with neighbors and a garden and a front porch.


How many houses do I need to see?

Home buyers always want to know how many houses they should see before they make an offer.  A decade or so ago there were many houses on the market to choose from. Today there are not so many but the answer to the question: “How many houses do I need to see?” hasn’t changed, it is still “it depends”.

It helps to start with a list of “must have” and “nice to have”.  Choosing a neighborhood or a couple of neighborhoods makes the home shopping process much easier. During the 17 years, I have helped people find that perfect home I have observed that people who are open to any neighborhood and who search in many neighborhoods usually do not find a house they want to buy.

Some home buyers spend hours online doing research and end up making an offer on the first or second house they tour. The internet is the best screening tool ever for house hunters. Use Google Maps to view the home from the street and check out the properties next door. Access sites like Zillow to get a rough estimate of the value of the home. Check property tax records for tax assessors valuation.

Part of my job when I am in the role of a buyer’s agent is to provide information about real estate. I can answer most questions because I have access to a lot of data and because I know people. 🙂

Some buyers drive by houses for sale, others walk the neighborhood and talk to nearby neighbors.

Most buyers need to see as many houses as they need to see before they are ready to make an offer. I have worked with clients who have looked at dozens of houses over a period of a couple of years before they have found the right one. Every year I work with at least one buyer who tours one home and makes an offer on it.

No it isn’t always THAT cold in Minnesota

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. There are people from other parts of the country who believe that temperatures are below zero during most of the winter in Minnesota and that it is cold here all the time.

The horrific -27-degree weather we had at the end of January is actually pretty unusual in the Twin Cities Metro area which is in the South Eastern part of the state. Temperatures in the double digits below zero are far more common in the Northern part of the state.

Winter isn’t what it used to be. Minnesota is warming faster than almost any other in the U.S. The winters are getting warmer than they used to be, and there is data to prove it. (MNDNR) It doesn’t feel warmer but I have noticed the gardening season starts earlier and we do have fewer days below zero than we used to.

I won’t claim to enjoy winter because I don’t enjoy it but I do make the most of it. Having the right kind of winter outerwear is essential. It requires a wardrobe of winter wear that is appropriate for about a 50-degree temperature range that goes from chilly to just kill me now. I think we are headed for double digits below zero today.

We don’t get snow every day, and we never get it in July. Dressing for snow is a little different than dressing for the cold. This week we get snow and cold which isn’t unusual because the temperature often drops after a snowstorm. The coldest weeks are usually from the middle of January to the middle of February. Before and after that it is just cold.

Winter can be beautiful. . . sometimes. I like the way the snow looks against the brick. Happy Friday, stay warm!

Sophie Joe’s on West 7th.
Claddagh Coffee

Open house 101 for buyers

Open houses are a great opportunity for buyers to just look at houses.  Here are some tips on what to do once inside the home.

1. Take your shoes off. Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.

2. If asked to sign in do so, you are in someone else’s house and they make the rules. If you do not want to leave an email address don’t.

3. Taking pictures of the inside of the home without the owner’s permission is considered an invasion of privacy and may be illegal. Ask the agent holding the open before taking pictures.

4. If you are working with an agent let the agent at the open house know even if he or she doesn’t ask. Give the agent at the open house the name of your agent. If you are one of my clients you will be given business cards to give agents at open houses.

5. Keep an eye on your children do not let them run around the house unaccompanied. Children love to explore other people’s homes.

6. Be careful what you say. Giving the real estate agent too much information can hurt during negotiations. Try to act somewhat disinterested.  At the same time listen to what other buyers are saying because it may help when making an offer.

7. The agent at the open house may be very nice to you but they do represent the seller and are supposed to act in the sellers best interest.

8. The main reason an agent has an open house is to meet potential clients and that is why they may recommend other houses if you don’t like the one that is open.

9. The agent at the open may not be the listing agent and he or she might not be able to answer questions about the property.

10. If at all possible if you decide to buy the home you saw at the open get assistance from your buyer’s agent and avoid dual agency.

Keep in mind that only a very small percentage of the homes for sale have open houses. It is important to search for homes for sale on the internet and to view as many as possible online.  Make appointments for private showings to see the homes that are the best fit. Don’t wait for an open house because there might not be one and some houses sell the day they go on the market of sooner.

also, see  Why an open house if the home is sold?

and Open house open to theft

January home sales and prices

Even though today isn’t Monday I thought I would just go ahead and publish the home sales numbers for St. Paul, MN for January 2019. January went so darn fast I almost missed it.

Home prices were probably at their low for the year in January. The median home price was down very slightly from last month. Two things stand out. The low number of homes for sale and the fact that it took an average of 7 days longer to sell a home in January than it did last December. The weather may have been a factor but maybe not.

St. Paul home sales -January 2019

As I have mentioned before the biggest challenge in our local real estate market is finding someone who wants to sell a house. There are plenty of buyers out there ready to buy.

The data in the table was extracted from the NorthStarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. The numbers were gently sorted and totaled but never shaken or stirred. I love numbers and would never knowingly harm them.

If you would like to know how much your house might sell for contact me or click on the link to the right. For more local real estate numbers please see Local Market Conditions & Home Prices.   I have been publishing these local but never hyper statistics for St. Paul since 2006.

St. Paul’s shrinking housing supply

There is about a 1.7 month supply of homes for sale in St. Paul and a 2.1 month supply for the twin cities. Supply is down slightly from last year when we set records for new lows. Demand for housing remains strong and the market favors sellers. The average amount of time it takes to sell a house in St. Paul right now is about 57 days, the median days on market is currently about 35 days.