Repairs and the art of the upsell

I did something stupid last week. While cutting down some volunteer grape vines I cut this little wire on my central air conditioning unit. I went inside and turned the thermostat down low. The fan inside the house came on but the fan on the air conditioning unit did not.

I started calling around to find someone to come out and fix it. If I had thought it through I would have spliced the wire myself.

The company that installed the unit was booked until mid-heatwave.  I called another company that wanted to come out in two days and give me an estimate of what repairs would cost and sit down with us to discuss our options. For some reason, I couldn’t communicate that I needed a repair not a consultation or estimate. I  repeatedly asked if they would be able to make the repair when they came out for the estimate.  Without even asking they assumed that I was more interested in the cost of the repair than I was in having the unit up and running before the next heat wave.

I called another company and explained the situation.  They sent someone out, and he arrived about three hours later. I showed him the wire, and he verified that I did indeed cut the wire to the fan. He had me shut down the AC and he spliced the wire. I think the whole process took 10 minutes.

When you need an HVAC repair avoid the companies that want to give estimates and consultations. Avoid saying that it is an emergency even if it is an emergency. Emergency service can be much more expensive than regular service.

By admitting that the AC unit is 18 years old I was opening myself up to the “upsell”, which was probably what would have happened if I waited for the appointment with the company that wanted to sit down with us and discuss options.

air conditioner
Air Conditioner

It is a good idea to keep the plants near the air conditioner trimmed back.

Close ups from my garden

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I had to replace my phone. I broke my old phone. It was repairable but I didn’t want to spend close to $300 dollars on a phone that is almost four years old.

Changing phones is a hassle but easier than it used to be. Mostly nothing works on a new phone until I find all the passwords and start signing into apps. After that it is a matter of disabling the annoying features.

There was a bright spot though. The camera in the phone works well. I used to take some close-ups of flowers in my garden.

Flowers
Close-up pictures taken with a Samsung S22 phone.

The picture on the top is the center of a purple coneflower, the red flower is a begonia and the pink is a type of amaryllis.

The cameras in mobile phones just keep getting better. It almost makes up for having to change over to a new phone.

 

Price reductions are back

In the last week, more than 60 St. paul homeowners have lowered their asking price. Sometimes homes sell quickly with multiple offers after a price reduction which will drive the price up.

It is possible to get an offer for less than the asking price accepted. It should be a good offer as far as the financing and the terms and on a house that has been on the market for a month or so.

Next week I’ll have some numbers for July home sales. The numbers will show that the number of homes on the market it up slightly and that houses are on the market for one or two more days before they get an offer.

Some of the news regarding the real estate market that I am seeing on the national news doesn’t reflect the local market. Higher interest rates are keeping some buyers out of the market but there are still more than there are houses for sale.

 

August brings changes to real estate forms

Every year changes are made to the Minnesota real estate forms that most Realtors use. For 2022 there is an addition to the purchase agreements:

“Discriminatory restrictive covenants (e.g. 312. provisions against conveyance of property to any person of a specified religious faith, creed, national origin, race, or 313. color) are illegal and unenforceable. An owner of real property may permanently remove such restrictive covenants 314. from the title by recording a statutory form in the office of the county recorder of any county where the property is located”

In 2020 I was a volunteer for the deed mapping project. I read Ramey County deeds and flagged those that have race-based restrictive covenants.

In some neighborhoods, developers put restrictions on deeds so that homes could only be sold to white people. Here is an example:

“ E. No persons of any race other than the Aryan race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.” 

The restrictions were put in place during the first part of the 20th century and might be part of the reason why our neighborhoods are still segregated.

The deed restrictions or restrictive covenants can not be enforced but they still exist on some deeds and can now be legally removed. I like to point out that even though there isn’t a racially based deed restriction on the deed to my house I am relatively sure that the land that it sits on was stolen from the native people most likely Anishinabe.

Even though I did not personally take the land and it happened before I was born I have benefited from owning it.

Realtors played a role in helping to enforce discriminatory restrictive covenants as did the local and federal governments and banks. The National Association of Realtors did issue a formal apology a few years ago.

Record low unemployment

It is all over the news. The unemployment rate in Minnesota is 1.8% which is a record low for Minnesota and lower than any state has recorded. It looks like good news but from a practical point of view landing, a job isn’t easy, especially one that pays enough so that the employee can afford food, clothing, and housing.

I think the unemployment rate is higher for non-white, non-male persons, and those over 50.  I don’t have the numbers I am just guessing.

However, low unemployment is a good thing and it is good for the housing market too. People who migrate to Minnesota from coastal regions find that our housing is more affordable and that there are opportunities here.

Claims for unemployment insurance are low but not at an all-time low.

minnesota unemployment
1.8% unemployment rate – data from national bureau of labor statistics

Should you give the seller a deadline?

Sometimes buyers want to put a deadline on an offer to buy a house thinking they will get a faster response from the seller. Sometimes sellers are not available or in the case of

clock
Clock

an estate, there may be four or five sellers. The listing agent may be at parent-teacher conferences or a child soccer match. There could be a death in the seller’s family.

When offers come in over the weekend I have had seller’s agents tell me that “we always wait until Monday to accept an offer” and some say that it is always best to deal with the offers on Sunday night.

Great offers tend to get faster responses than not-so-great offers. If the house just came on the market and the offer is for less than the asking price chances are sellers are not going to accept it right away and rather than negotiating, they will wait a few days for a better offer.

During the last buyers market, things were very different. Buyers had the upper hand. For the last few years, a strong seller’s market has given the seller’s the upper hand.

As a general rule responses of any kind do not happen during the day. They happened between 8:30 PM and 1:00 AM.

Home buyers can withdraw their offer at any time while waiting for sellers to respond.

Once a seller does accept the offer it is important to keep things moving along because until the contract is signed and executed it is easy for sellers to accept another offer.

Sometimes patience pays off and the buyer who is willing to wait a few days may end up being the buyer who gets to buy the house.

Every situation is unique. Buyers should ask their agent for advice on how long to wait for a response on an offer from the seller.