Welcome to August 2019

August is a wonderful month to be in Minnesota. The weather can be amazing but what I like the most are all the flowers that bloom in August, the Minnesota State Fair, fresh sweet corn and homegrown tomatoes. There is more but those are a few of my favorite things. August is a popular time to take vacations too.

It is hard to imagine but what I think of as the fall home sales season starts. Now is the time to get your house ready if you plan to sell it in the Fall. Right now is actually a pretty good time to sell a house if you want to sell it quickly with the least amount of effort. If you would like some advice on how to get your home ready to sell or want to know how to price it my contact information can be found on the right.

The back to school sales will start soon. August is a wonderful time to buy office supplies and small household appliances.

I’ll have July home sales numbers next week. As I wrote earlier this week home sales were down a little in June from June 2018. I expect the same in year over year numbers for July.

Homegrown tomatoes


After today no more texting and driving

Effective August 1, 2019 – it is against the law touch cell phone while driving. I guess electronic messaging while driving was already against the law.

Highlights of the new law:

• Amends the definition of wireless communications
device (e.g., cell phone or personal electronic device
that can transmit data):
• Dedicated GPS and some types of radios are not
considered wireless communications devices
• Devices being used for navigation purposes (such as
through a smartphone app) are treated as wireless
communication devices
• In addition to the existing ban on electronic messaging,
prohibits a motor vehicle operator from
• Engaging in cellular phone calls
• Accessing various content on the device, including
video, audio, and apps
• Allows hands-free device use for calling
• Allows GPS features to be used, if it is in hands-free
mode without requiring typing
• Allows device use for audio content, if it is in hands-free
mode without requiring scrolling or typing.

I have been using a nifty little phone holder that fits on the air vent in my car. It is inexpensive and very low tech.  I use the blue tooth to listen to text messages and can send a response back without typing but I almost never do. I like the idea of driving without talking on the phone or responding to messages.

The penalty for violating the law is a petty misdemeanor, carrying a $50 fine for the first violation and a $275 fine for subsequent violations.

August 1st isn’t the best day to buy a house

Each year changes are made to the forms we use for real estate contracts. Some years the changes are huge and other years they are small. The new forms are not available until August 1st which is the same day they go into effect.

There isn’t any law against using last years forms but new laws go into effect on August first, 2019 that may not be reflected in the new contracts. Most of the changes are to make the contracts more user-friendly for all parties. Some changes reflect changes in business practises and technology.

We do get a summary of changes to the contract forms in both written and video form ahead of time and that does help because we know what to expect.

People do buy houses on August 1st. It just might take a little longer to fill out the contracts and triple check them for mistakes.

I think the reason we do not get to see the contracts ahead of time is there is a concern that we will use them ahead of time. A workaround might be to send out contracts with large “sample” watermarks on them.

The standard purchase agreement for residential real estate is 12 pages long. That excludes the one-page wire fraud advisory added last year and the two-page arbitration disclosure that is added to most purchase agreements or the 12-page seller’s disclosure and the two-page lead-based paint disclosure.

One of the most important changes last year was changing the contracts so that agents don’t have to number the pages.

The 2019 contracts have added language to make the inspection process more understandable. The amount of time allotted for a home inspection includes the inspection AND all negotiations because of the inspection need to be completed during that same period.

Language has been added to contract cancellation form so that earnest money can be returned by check or electronically.

There is more. The best way to see the contracts is to buy or sell a house. We are not allowed to share blank contracts with consumers.

In general, the forms are far more user-friendly than they were when I first got my license back in 2002. Back then the contracts were in legal-sized paper with carbon. Today contracts can easily be created and signed electronically and can be printed if needed on standard letter-sized paper.

The amount of space it takes to run a real estate company has been greatly reduced because of electronic files.

Real estate is still local

Home sales were down nationwide in June by 2.2% year over year. It isn’t like it was during the great recession. Home sales are down because there are fewer homes for sale.

In Chicago, land home sales are down by double digits. Experts are suggesting that Chicago home buyers may have lost confidence in the economy.

In St. Paul home sales are down 4.5% from last year. In the Twin Cities metro area, it is still the shortage of homes for sale that is keeping home sales down.

Some real estate trends reach from coast to coast but they vary by location because real estate is local.  Most of the real estate news comes from the West coast which is another factor to consider when reading real estate news and advice.

graph of home sales
St. Paul home sales

Sprucing up downtown St. Paul

Parts of downtown St. Paul are getting a little sprucing up. Downtown St. Paul has been undergoing revitalization and sprucing up for the last several decades.

The efforts can be seen at the East and West ends of downtown. In the middle, there is a lot of pigeon poop on the sidewalks.

The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance is a new organization that represents downtown businesses, nonprofits, government entities, residents, and entrepreneurs to build a strong and vibrant downtown and create a positive downtown experience.

One very visible project to spruce up downtown St. Paul is the mosaic trash cans. I want to take pictures of all of them because they are really beautiful.  They were designed by Mosaic artist Daniela Bianchin.

Here is just one of the art pieces near Rice Park.


Lake Superior wet and waiting

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Earlier this week for fun we went up to Duluth for a couple of days. Lake Superior is always there and it is always beautiful. I didn’t take many pictures because I already have many pictures.

Sunrise on Lake Superior
Duluth - superior
A lake Superior dawn

There is a lot to photograph and I hope to photograph it all eventually. The best time to Visit Duluth Minnesota is from about early September to mid-October but it is lovely in July and January too.