October 15th is an important day

snow on grass
October 14th snowstorm

It seems strange calling it a snowstorm. Maybe we can just think of it as a reminder. It snowed yesterday.

Beginning Oct. 15 and running through April 15, utility companies must provide residential customers with payment plans if they can not pay their utility bills.

Low-income Minnesotans may also be eligible for energy assistance programs from the state, utilities or charities that offer discounted heat or other help during colder months.

For more information, the cold weather rule visit the Minnesota Utilities Commission Website.  . . and yes your utilities can be turned off for non-payment.

I usually turn off the water to my outdoor spigots in Mid-October and get the furnace tuned. Getting a flu shot is also a good idea.

Saint Paul Art Crawl 2018

made from random pictures I took with my phone at the 2011 art crawl

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. This is Fall Art Crawl weekend. The Saint Paul Art Crawl is an event that I look forward to. It is one of the many reasons that I love living in St. Paul.

This year’s schedule: October 12, 13, 14, 2018 • Friday 6–10 PM, Saturday 12–8 PM, Sunday 12–5 PM.  See the Art Crawl website for a list of locations. I have my favorite artists to visit. Some are downtown and others are at the Schmidt brewery artists lofts.

If you do not know downtown St. Paul very well take Shepard road to the Union Depot parking ramp and park. There will be artists in the depot and it is just a block away from artists lofts and studios on Broadway Street and on 4th street E.

Also, consider taking the Greenline which goes directly to the Union Depot.

There is a lot to see. I recommend comfortable walking shoes.

You accepted an offer. Now what?


Accepting a buyers offer is one more step in the home selling process. The process doesn’t end until the sale closes.

Please leave the for sale sign up and the lockbox on the front door. If the offer is inspection contingent the buyer and inspector will need to get into the house.

After the inspection has been completed the seller may need to make some repairs or maybe the buyer will decide not to proceed or maybe the process will move to the next stage.

The listing agent will change the status of the property to “pending”. Once in the pending stage, the house will no longer appear as a home for sale when buyers search the internet.

Pending means that a sale is pending. Usually pending sales close but not always. Yes, sometimes things go wrong. Maybe the appraisal comes out too low or a buyer becomes unemployed.

Unless the buyer is purchasing the home with cash the next step will be the appraisal. The appraiser will make an appointment and look at the property and prepare a report.

If the appraisal comes out to an amount that is as much or more than the amount the buyer is buying the process will proceed to the next stage.

At this point, the process is in the hands of the lender and the title company. The loan process is a mystery to most of us. We don’t know what they do all day. Underwriters ask for stuff and we get it to them.

A “Sold” sign can be added to the for sale sign after contingencies have been removed. Usually, the for sale sign is left on the property until after the closing but if the homeowner wants it removed sooner they can ask.

Shortly before the closing the buyer’s may want to do a final walk through. I certainly recommend this as it protects both parties. The purpose of the walkthrough is to make sure the property is still in good condition or the same condition it was in when the offer was made.

The lockbox is usually removed during the final walkthrough or after the closing.  I like to order for sale sign removal the day of the closing which is a common practice. The sign is usually gone a few days after the closing.

Information about the actual sale price of a home is not released until after the sale has closed.

This is kind of an outline of what happens, there are more details but my intent is to explain that accepting an offer does not mean the home is sold.

Real estate is local. Business practices and rules may be different outside of Minnesota.

Data security and real estate

This week and last week I took some continuing education classes for real estate. The way it works is if I get continuing education I get to keep my licenses. 🙂

This year’s classes included a lot of information about data security and privacy. The focus is on client data.

I am in the process of putting together a privacy and security policy for Boardman Realty.

We do not collect credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, or drivers license numbers. We do collect names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

I occasionally have to accept a paper check, instead of the safer electronic deposit through Trust Funds. All paper checks are deposited immediately and then destroyed.

In the old days, like 5 years ago, it was routine to get paper checks, copy them and save them with the file. These days I have buyers get their own copy and send it to their own lender.

Most of our client files are electronic only. The State of Minnesota requires us to retain client files. Those records are kept in a secure location and they don’t contain any private information. Client contact information is retained but never shared with third parties.

I know real estate agents who have paper files that they keep in their cars and trunks. They call it a mobile office.  It isn’t unusual for real estate agents to keep client files forever.

Old files might have social security numbers in them and copies of old checks. There was a time when there was a blank for social security numbers on buyer contracts and printed on closing settlement statements.

If you are working with a real estate agent ask what information is being gathered and what is being kept and for how long.

Security is important and I take it very seriously and I don’t want to be responsible for any information that I am not required to collect.

October 2018 absorption rates

yellow tree
Fall Color – River Center East Lobby

The real estate market recovered from 2008 and I think I am starting to recover too. I thought it might be interesting to compare current absorption rates with those of a decade ago. I used to publish absorption rates monthly.

Absorption rates are a calculation of how long it would take for all of the homes on the market to be bought, assuming home sales continue at the current rate and no more homes are listed.

The absorption rate also helps determine how long it might take to sell a home and if we are in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. In a balanced market absorption rates are at about 6 months. More than six months is a seller’s market. Less than six months is a buyer’s market.

Here are the numbers for October 2008 – a strong buyer’s market

Anoka County 6.7 Months
Carver County 8.2 Months
Dakota County 7.1 Months
Hennepin County 6.8 Months
Ramsey County 6.4 Months
Scott County 8.4 Months
Washington County 7.8 Months

Here are the numbers for October 2018 – a Seller’s market 

Anoka County 1.7 Months
Carver County 2.6 Months
Dakota County 1.7 Months
Hennepin County 2.0 Months
Ramsey County 1.6 Months
Scott County 2.6 Months
Washington County 2.4 Months

If homeowners stop putting their houses on the market all of the houses that are on the market in St. Paul will be sold in 1.7 months.

Last month the homes that sold in St. Paul were on the market for an average of 35 days. In September of 2008, the average was 172.

September home sales and prices by neighborhood

Here is a look at September home sales by St. Paul neighborhood.  We are starting to see some of that fall like cooling and for the first time since April 2018, the average sale price in St. Paul is not higher than the average list price. The two numbers are close though. Sales and pending sales are down from August which is pretty normal.

Median home prices in St. Paul were $212,400 which is down about 10.5K from August 2018 median prices. Again the trend is seasonal.

The inventory of homes on the market is still very, very low and went down a bit from last month. We do have more homes on the market than what we had during what I hope was an all-time low in February. We had 278 homes on the market at the end of February 2018. The number of homes for sale is down slightly from last month.

Chart that shows home sales by nighborhood
Home sales by St. Paul neighborhood

Data used to make the above table was extracted from the NorthstarMLS and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. We all know there are no guarantees in life.

If you would like more information just send me an email or call.

For more numbers like these . . . but different because they are not for September 2018 please see Local Market Conditions & home prices


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