A bad rehab is worse than no rehab

I wrote this a few years ago but lately, I have been seeing some poorly “rehabbed’ houses. They will work out for home buyers for the short term but will be expensive to maintain in the long term.

Some houses are painted with all the trendy colors and staged just so but they have little insulation, bad wiring, old roofs, and ancient plumbing. The houses sometimes sell for top dollar and the people who buy them can not always afford all the repairs that will soon be needed.

Dear house flipper,

I think it is wonderful the way you bought up some old houses and fixed them all nice and pretty.  You painted each room with the most popular decorator colors and put fancy countertops and cute cabinet hardware in the kitchen.  You put those retro faucets in the bathroom and you have impeccable taste in floor tile and you made excellent hardware choices.

Shame on you for leaving the old rusty water heater in the basement and for not even having the old boiler serviced and inspected.

You know from experience that the young buyers are going to be attracted by the hardwood floors and the shiny new kitchen appliances.  They just don’t know any better but I do and so does their home inspector.

Please make sure that the house you flip has a decent roof, electrical system, plumbing, furnace and water heater.  I know from my own experience as a homeowner these items are not cheap but I also know they are </span>essential and a basic part of what makes a house a home. </span>



Home prices and sales by neighborhood

It is Monday and I have the numbers for August home sales. The shortage of homes for sale continues and on average actual sale prices are higher than list prices. As we head into fall prices will continue to go up but by smaller amounts than what we saw in the spring.

Median prices were lower in August than they were in July and it took about a day and a half longer(26.6 days) to sell a house in August than it took in July.

chart with home price numbers
August home sales St. Paul, MN

The data used to create the chart was extracted from the NorthStarMLS and was gently sorted using MS Excel and never stirred because that would be wrong.

If you would like to know how much your home will sell for, contact me for a free no-obligation consultation.

For more local numbers see Local Market Conditions & home prices.

Baking Bread

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Over the holiday weekend, I was exploring my mom’s old recipe box.  Way back a long time ago before the internet was invented people used to write recipes on index cards and keep them in a box.

I found a recipe for bread. I could actually bake bread using the recipe with a few modifications. I think I would reduce the amount of sugar to two tablespoons and the amount of yeast to one package which is about 2.25 teaspoons less than half the amount listed on the recipe card.

I could use two packages of yeast and increase the amount of sugar but that is still less than the two tablespoons listed on the recipe card.

Instead of using shortening I would probably use butter but I could use shortening. For the water, I would definitely go with cups even though the recipe calls for 2 and a quarter but doesn’t specify cups.  I would probably heat the water to 100 to 110 degrees or so.

After I mixed the ingredients together I would knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic-like. Then I would put it in a greased bowl that I would cover with a towel or plastic wrap and I would set is in a warm place to rise or an hour or so.

Eventually, I would form two loaves, let them rise until about double in size and bake them in the oven after I put each loaf in a pan. I would bake the at 375 instead of 425.

I totally know what my mom meant, and I can use her recipe to make bread.


Bread Recipe


A friendly reminder about furnace/boiler maintenance

Antique Gravity Furnace

It is still Summer but Fall isn’t far off and it is a short season here in the North, and some are predicting a cold winter. LOL

If you are a homeowner and live in Minnesota now would be a great time to have your boiler or furnace service, inspected and or tuned up.  There is still plenty of time to get it fixed or replaced before it gets cold and it will get cold.

Usually, there are specials this time of year too for those who get it done before it gets cold and the repair guys get busy.

I hate to sound like your father but it is a good idea especially here in Minnesota where it gets so cold to schedule a furnace tune-up every fall. It generally costs less to get work done in late summer or early fall than it does during the heating season.

I see a lot of houses with old furnaces that have been well maintained. They really do last longer with regular maintenance. Personally, I am not a fan of the service plans but I am a fan of service.

If you are selling your home this fall or winter it is a good idea to have the furnace or boiler serviced and save the receipt or even tape it to the furnace. Buyers who are closing on homes this fall should either have the furnace tuned up or should make sure that the seller has already taken care of it.

Living with old people

Senior housing isn’t for everyone. In fact, most of the seniors I meet want to stay where they are. Several years my parents rejected any kind of senior housing

Swallowtail butterfly

because they did not want to live with old people. They were used to living in neighborhoods and condo complexes where there is a mix of young and old.

Senior housing comes in a couple of varieties. There is 55+ housing and there is 62+ housing. There could easily be a thirty or even forty year age range in 55+ housing but for some people living in a community like that isn’t a good fit.

Something to consider when contemplating a move to a senior community.

Instant offers for your house


Instant offer programs, sometimes called “guaranteed offers”  are gaining popularity. The way it works is a company buys your house. They turn around and sell it. Homeowners don’t have to make repairs and can close quickly or even on the exact day they want to close.

Generally, the homeowner gets less money than she would get in a traditional sale but it is fast and convenient and there is almost always a price for convenience. The guesswork is taken out of selling the home. No need to wonder when an offer will come or when it will close.

If you read the fine print you will learn that there are some restrictions and that the house must qualify. Houses in St. Paul rarely qualify because they are too old.  Usually, they have to have been built after 1969 and even that is too old for some of the instant buyers.

There is one company that will even buy old houses that need a lot of work and there are investors who will buy houses, fix them up and sell them.

You can sell any home quickly in St. Paul without ever having an open house and without making any repairs or upgrading anything.

Real estate has always been an asset that takes time to liquidate. Maybe that will change someday even for old houses.  Until then I would be happy to help sell any old house in St. Paul. I actually like old houses.