Spring in February

The spring real estate market is in full swing even though it is still winter and will be for several more weeks.  It has more to do with income tax refunds and returns than it has to do with the weather.

The graphic is a screenshot from the NorthStarMLS of activity over the last seven days. If I compare new listings with pending status listings I can see that demand for houses is strong.

activity dashboard
market activity in St. Paul for the last 7 days

Some homebuyers are getting refunds that will help with down payments.  Others are relieved that they don’t owe money and are ready to spend.

Here is a snapshot of home sales in January for the whole state:

Minnesota home sales
Minnesota home sales for January 2020


REALTORS are often older women

During the past couple of weeks, several people have been surprised when I mentioned that there are more female REALTORS than male REALTORS. We are on average older than the rest of the workforce too.

When the National Associaton of REALTORS advertises our services they tend to use pictures or videos of young men and young women but that doesn’t represent who most of us are.

NAR believes that they need to actively advertise to younger people. Even if younger members join they will one day become older members and there is never a shortage of REALTORS, in fact, there are more than are needed.

Traditionally younger people are not attracted to jobs as independent contractors working on a 100% commission basis with no benefits. Most REALTORS are independent contractors who work on a 100% commission basis and only get paid after a successful closing.

It is true there are far more buses, bus benches and build boards with pictures of male REALTORS on them but when you get down to it women sell more real estate.

REALTOR isn’t an occupation. A REALTOR is someone who belongs to the National Association of Realtors. We are misunderstood but I don’t think anyone has time to read the thousands of words I could write on that topic. Here are some statistics:

REALTOR® Demographics
65% percent of REALTORS® are licensed as sales agents, 21% hold broker licenses, and 15% hold broker associate licenses.
The typical REALTOR® was a 54-year-old white female who attended college and was a homeowner.

67% of all REALTORS® were female, up from 63% last year.

33% of REALTORS are over 60.

The majority of REALTORS®—84%—owned their primary residence and 38% owned a secondary property.

54% of REALTORS® were affiliated with an independent company. (Like Boardman Realty)

Nearly 9 in 10 members were independent contractors at their firms.

9% of REALTORS® worked for a firm that was bought or merged in the past two years.

REALTORS® with 16 years or more experience had a median gross income of $71,000 compared to REALTORS® with 2 years or less experience that had a median gross income of $9,300.

The largest expense category for most REALTORS® was vehicle expenses, similar to last year, which was $1,370.

[SOURCE National Association of REALTORS]

Members of NAR are held to a code of ethics and standards of practice.

It is hard to survive in real estate sales in the Metro area without being a member of NAR. Most of the local real estate companies make joining NAR mandatory.

Boardman Realty is a 100% woman-owned and operated company.

Valentines day and Friday all on the same day!

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Happy Valentine’s day. The last time Valentine’s day was on a Friday was in 2014. For some, this will be Valentine’s weekend. For others, it will be just another Friday and that is just fine.

Pink Rose

I photographed the rose at the rose garden in Duluth Minnesota. It is definitely worth a visit but not on Valentine’s day because it is covered in snow instead of roses.

The garden is large with roses in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow and even white. It is on a hill that overlooks beautiful Lake Superior. Just thinking about it makes me happy.

Happy Valentine’s day.

Impact of the Soccer stadium so far

Maybe it is too early to tell but for a few years, homeowners in the Midway area have been asking about what kind of impact the Soccer stadium (Allianz field) will have on residential property values.

Here is some data. The top chart shows median home sale prices in all of St. Paul excluding the Hamline/Midway neighborhood. There has been a 43% increase in median home sale prices in the last five years.  In 2019 the median sale price was 223,500 up from 156K in 2014.

Graph of median home sale prices
Hamline/Midway Median home sale price

The second chart shows median home sale prices over the same period for the rest of St. Paul and again we see a 43% increase in five years. The 2019 median sale price was slightly higher at 257K.

graph of median home sale prices
St. Paul median home sale prices – excluding the Midway neighborhood

I haven’t been to the stadium, that is because I am not much of a sports fan but it is on my list of places to photograph.

When I write about bathrooms people read


This site gets some traffic, a few thousand readers stop by every month. When I look at my analytics I can see that some of the most popular articles I have written are about bathrooms.

Bathrooms can be confusing. Most people understand how to use a bathroom, it is how we define bathrooms that gets confusing. In the MLS we see a total number of bathrooms.

They are all counted the same. When we read the fine print we find that there is a full bath on the second floor and a 3/4 bath in the basement and a room with a sink and toilet on the main floor.  This is super useful information. The total number of baths doesn’t have any fractions.

A full bath has a tub, a shower, and a sink and toilet. A three-quarter bath has a shower or tub, sink, and toilet. A half bath has a sink and toilet. A quarter bath is just a toilet or sink or shower or tub.

I was in one house many years ago that had 3 baths each was a quarter or a half bath. There was a quarter bath on the second floor which consisted of one bathtub. On the main floor, there was a 1/2 bath that had a toilet and sink in it. In the basement, there was a shower stall.

When I look for houses for sale I pay close attention to the bath descriptions. Homebuyers looking for three bathrooms might not consider the home that has one bathtub, one shower, one toilet a match.

People have asked why a house is listed as having 2 bathrooms rather than 1.25, 1.5, or 1.75 baths. That is a question I can’t answer.

Pro-tip for real estate agents and photographers: Close the toilet lid before photographing the bathroom.

Thanks for reading.

Most real estate agents can’t measure

old brick building and new apartment building

When homes are put on the market we are required to put some measurements in the MLS. If you read the fine print it says right in the NorthstarMLS that the information provided is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

It is recommended that buyers agents verify the measurements. Personally, if I were buying a home and the measurements of it and of each room were important to me I would measure it myself.

Several years ago some clients of mine took measurements of the house they made an offer on during the inspection. It was smaller than advertised by 300 square feet.

They withdrew their offer which is kind of unusual. Apparently, they didn’t like the house enough to negotiate a lower price.

When buyers use financing to buy a house the buyer’s lender sends an appraiser to determine the value of the house. The size of the house does matter when determining the value.

Sometimes when I list a house the owner provides measurements. If they came from blueprints or an appraisal I accept them. If not I measure.

Measuring a house isn’t as easy as you would think. The total square footage can be obtained by measuring the foundation. They are rarely rectangular or square which ads complexity.

On a true two-story the second floor is the same size as the first assuming there are no additions on the first floor. Sometimes total above ground square footage can be obtained by measuring the foundation and multiplying by two.

Finished square footage is where the floor, ceiling, and walls are finished but if a person has to walk through an unfinished space to get to it we don’t count it.

My own house is quite complicated but I have measurements from an appraisal. They differ from what tax records have as the total finished square footage.

It is possible that they are the measurements of the house that was previously on the lot but that burned to the ground.  The house is a story and a half because the second floor is smaller than the first.

However, the second floor is actually more than half as big as the first. It is really a story and three quarters but there isn’t a box I can check for that.

I once measured my own house for practice. I can out with about 20 more finished square feet than what was on the appraisal. We call that REALTOR math.