We get attached to the places where we live. Whether it’s the bricks and mortar of the home or the people that surround us – moving on is sometimes hard to do!
It’s an easy-to-understand human emotion. Almost everyone who has ever moved away from a family home has experienced a sense of loss or sadness. But that’s only one of the emotional connections that come into play where real estate is involved.
As agents, sometimes we’re guilty thinking of such important decisions – like buying and selling Saint Paul real estate – in more hard-headed terms, when the reality is a host of complicated human factors can play an important role.
One of them is becoming more prominent—and is likely to grow more so as we advance into Saint Paul’s peak spring and summer real estate selling season. It’s the hard-to-pin-down factor of general well-being: the nebulous—but real—sense of optimism or pessimism that is shared by the public at large.
It’s undeniable that when people feel good about the way things are going, they’re also more likely to feel confident in what the future will bring. Confidence breeds courage, security, self-assurance. When things seem to be going our way, we’re more likely to strike out in new directions.
The key word is “confident.” Social scientists do their best to get a handle on this murky shared human phenomenon by measuring “consumer confidence”—which seems to be an economic measure, but which has to be also aligned with the “right direction/wrong direction” polling that politicos track. In any event, when confidence rises, we’d expect that Saint Paul real estate prospects will improve along with it.
The idea that emotion is a measurable part of real estate is confirmed by the quasi-governmental statisticians at Fannie Mae, who have institutionalized the idea with their Home Purchase Sentiment Index. (If “sentiment” isn’t an emotional measurement, what is?). And it’s up—way up! Last February, the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to buy a house rose 11% to 40%—its highest point ever. And by the end of March, Bloomberg was reporting “consumer confidence” at its highest since 2000. The University of Michigan agreed, placing their “Current Economic Conditions” component at its highest since the same year.
As one who deals in the Saint Paul real estate market every day, I can verify that when the general outlook turns positive, both buyers and sellers perk up—it’s palpable. It’s also true that the emotional component of real estate is a lot wider than consumer poll numbers measure. For example, there’s the feeling I get when I’m there to watch a client turn the front door key of their new Saint Paul home!
I hope you’ll call as soon as your own Saint Paul real estate plans begin to take shape. The market is heating up and I’m easy to reach at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 251-4898!
Flipping the calendar to 2018 brought a surprisingly quick start to the home buying and selling season here in frosty/not frosty/frosty again Minnesota. Homes are being listed and brought under contract quickly – and across all demographics – which once again demonstrates a strong appetite on the part of home buyers. As you stare out the window waiting for the car to warm up and maybe ponder a sale of your home – to feed the growing mass of home buyers searching in vain for a roof to put over their head – here are a couple of important steps for home sellers to consider.
Offer Price and the Bottom Line – I approach the home seller enthusiastically, a smile on my face as I prepare to present them with the opening salvo in the negotiations. I prefer structure and order, so I start at the top of the purchase agreement…the seller wants to know one thing: “HOW MUCH?!”. If the number on line 35 of the Minnesota standard purchase agreement is close enough to their asking price, I might get a smile. Then we start counting backwards….every home seller should have a copy of the a net sheet in their possession – taking a sale price and subtracting any outstanding mortgage, property taxes, commissions, and other closing expense. The bottom line number on that sheet is the most relevant figure as it gives you the best estimate of the funds you’ll have burning a hole in your pocket as you walk away from the closing table.
Earnest Money – High on the list is the pledged amount that accompanies the offer. Whether it’s called a deposit or earnest money, this serves to instill confidence that when you are evaluating the offer you know that it’s backed up with more than wishful thinking. If the amount is greater than the customary minimum (generally 1% of the sale price), it’s a signal that the would-be buyer is more than just a little serious about completing the transaction. It’s still in the best interest of the seller that they demonstrate their financial ability to deliver on the deal (along with a pre-approval letter from a qualified, reliable, and locally based lender). Important to note, earnest money doesn’t necessarily constitute a guarantee of a sale. There are a number of ways a buyer can cancel a transaction and retain their deposit – your agent should make these clear to you, one of which is the…..
Inspection provision – Almost every serious offer will be contingent on the property passing a thorough inspection—but this is a risk element that’s largely controllable by the seller. It’s the reason some Saint Paul sellers get ahead of the game by investing in their own inspection before listing. Twelfth-hour discoveries of issues that could have been fixed beforehand can throw a big bucket of cold water on a transaction that had been proceeding smoothly. If a condition has been properly disclosed in advance, evaluating an offer will include verifying acknowledgment of disclosures and which steps are necessary to get a deal done!
Everything else – An offer may have any number of other provisions, so properly evaluating an offer means carefully weighing the practical impact each may have. The timing elements can be crucial. Stretching out the closing date can be inconvenient and add a degree of uncertainty. Pushing for a quick closing may create an interim “no-place-to-live” situation and that can be awkward and expensive! An offer that is contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home adds a degree of uncertainty that needs to be evaluated with knowledge of that area’s specifics. Lastly, your buyer’s lender will want to appraise the home to ensure they (and you) are getting what they (and you) are paying for. Successfully traverse the field with all of these landmines (hopefully your agent is walking alongside you with a map) and you will enjoy the “slide the keys” moment at the closing table!
Success in evaluating an offer for your home—or comparing multiple offers when that thoroughly enjoyable situation occurs—often means a lot more than a simple yes or no decision. Coming up with a strategic counter-offer is often called for—and that’s when there’s no substitute for having an experienced agent by your side to help fashion a strategic win-win counter offer.
To discuss these important steps for home sellers and all the other steps that will result in the successful sale of your property, give me a call to arrange a no-obligation consultation at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com.
Pick a room…any room…the room that is the focal point of your home. The one room that sees the most traffic and draws friends, family and visitors in like flies to a bug light on a hot summer night.
Master bedroom? I hope not. Laundry room? Not in my house? I would be willing to wager that your answer is the same as mine – the kitchen.
So when I see a feature with a title like “X Ways to Make Your Kitchen Feel Bigger”, it’s hard to pass a read. Making any kitchen feel bigger would be a definite plus for any Saint Paul home sale. On the scale of honorable pursuits, it would be right there next to cleanliness and baking cookies right before a showing.
Increasingly, today’s Saint Paul homebuyers think of the kitchen as the center of family entertaining—the center of gravity where everyone hangs out more than anywhere else. It’s true that if another room features a giant TV entertainment center or a tasty buffet, that might be serious competition for the family’s attention….but that buffet has to start somewhere. But although it might be a place that will occupy goodly chunks of everyone’s time, it’s in the kitchen where family and friends wind up interacting the most and which gets the most scrutiny when it comes to a home sale.
There’s no debate that in today’s Saint Paul market, a claustrophobic our outdated kitchen can slow an otherwise appealing home’s sale. It’s an easy fix right? Hiring an architect and/or contractor, pulling permits, trashing your home for months (starting with a Mt. St. Helens sized dust cloud during demo), etc. to physically expand a kitchen is a major undertaking that will cost more than it returns. So finding ways to make your kitchen feel bigger without blowing out walls and tearing up the property for months on end, well—that’s definitely worth looking into.
To cut to the chase, most of the Feel Bigger Solutions aren’t magical: they turn out to be design ideas that maximize storage efficiency. To achieve positive home sale results, the idea is to systematically substitute suffocating kitchen clutter with eye-pleasing open space.
One clear tactic is to make the most of any existing counter space and it’s “support”. The space beneath your granite, silestone, or formica (my house) is ideal for “smart” storage solutions. Googling smart storage yields 1,000,000+ results (not to mention the ads), comprising a ready-made resource for maxing out the cubic feet that are ready to use right there on the perimeter of the kitchen.
On the opposing side of the “feel bigger” agenda is the suggestion to abandon one of Saint Paul most popular design ideas of bygone eras: the overhead cupboard. When you remove those overheads, a whole lot of claustrophobia goes with them. Unfortunately, a good deal of storage space goes with them.
That brings up two other tried-and-true alternatives. First, placing shelving on unused wall space can solve some of the storage dilemma—most pleasingly, when it’s some variety of open shelving. Kitchen design publications are filled with examples of appealing open and glass-windowed shelving – none of which are easy to clean, nor can you reach the items you need on the top shelf….but I’m not forming an opinion.
Second is what could be the most useful, least expensive, and easily adopted insight for making your Saint Paul kitchen fell bigger: just get rid of excess kitchen stuff! It’s simple but true. Removing unused utensils, pots & pans and kitchenware can work miracles. For the gourmet-pleasing cooks who can’t get by without a lot of exotic cookery aids, the solution is an off-site storage solution in the garage or dedicated closet. The minor inconvenience will be worth it if a quicker home sale results—besides, the extra going back and forth is healthy exercise, right – and it’s the time of year when we all get some healthy exercise (on our way to the refrigerator for a snack)?
So the kitchen is a really big deal – the focal point of your home – for you and your potential home buyer. Think long and hard about updates and renovations, especially if you’re planning to sell them home in the near future. There are easy and inexpensive ways to make that most important room in the home more appealing and functional before you start writing big checks and tearing out walls.
If you’re planning to list your Saint Paul home – sooner or later – a good place to start is with a no-obligation consultation about your home and kitchen and today’s Saint Paul real estate market. Call me at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we roll through the Holiday season, most if us in the housing industry are planning for 2018, and a home buying and selling season that seems to start earlier and earlier every year. Already I’m meeting with buyer-clients anxious to get their search underway, and have a list of homes that will hit the market after the first of the year. With that in mind, now is a great time to scour the latest “Top Ten” lists of cost-conscious ways to increase the value of your home.
Some make more sense than others. Upgrading bathroom vanity cabinets appears on some of the house value lists, for instance—but those lists were probably thrown together in a hurry since the return on investment is admitted to be 66%. When an investment returns two-thirds of its cost, it’s hardly competitive. For Saint Paul homeowners preparing to sell, vanity cabinets don’t belong on the action list.
The best idea lists are those which show ROI: the return on investment. Here’s a new compilation, offered purely as food for thought (since the “return” number for any individual case can’t actually be verified)—
- Yard improvement, AKA Landscaping. Return on investment registers at a hefty 303% according to the NAR® (and even 400%, per This Old House). And it’s true that a weedy, dried-up lawn is not the way to woo any but the most bargain-thirsty buyers. We can assume that the investment figure the NAR points to does not include the homeowner’s time, but even so, a shipshape yard definitely provides a house value gain. Looking out my window, this one would seem a little tough to accomplish now BUT if you’re thinking of a sale that coincides with the end of the school year – maybe you could start planning for green grass!
- Repair (electrical, plumbing, what-have-you). Return: 299%. This is for sure: Saint Paul houses with unaddressed mechanical defects are handicapped in the marketplace—in the end, it’s just too costly.
- Clean and Declutter. Return: 403%. With an average cost estimated at about $400, there’s no argument that it will be easily returned multiple times. When you can rely on truly professional help, the boost is invaluable…or you can give (or throw) some of your accumulated “stuff” away!
- Carpet. The return on investment for an average outlay ($671) is calculated by the HomeGain website at 160%. I might add a caveat to this one: a truly threadbare or uncleanable carpet surely rates replacement—but if existing carpet is presentable, that cost might be better directed elsewhere.
- Staging. With a return of 196%, it’s hard to disagree—especially since Saint Paul’s professional stagers can often save by directing attention away from areas that might be overly expensive to renew.
- Lighten and brighten. This includes everything from “clean windows” or “repainting dark-colored rooms” to boosting the wattage of living room lamps. As a result, the “return” numbers are all over the map: but they’re all positive.
- Upgrade appliances. Full kitchen remodels are usually too expensive to fully reclaim their cost, although when necessary, minor kitchen remodels reclaim 79%. As an alternative, replacing seriously outmoded kitchen appliances is much more likely to add enough value to make it a canny move.
- Declutter and Clean. (I know—but if anything is worth repeating, this is it)!
Your Saint Paul house’s value is what the market proves it to be—but it’s also the shelter your family calls home. If it’s filled with happy memories, that value is probably the one that winds up counting the most. But as for the other kind, when it’s time to shift gears and cost-conscious ways to increase the value of your home, I hope you’ll give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com!
“Give me one good reason why selling now is better than waiting until spring,” is a perfectly legitimate question. It’s a challenge to the traditional peak of Saint Paul’s selling season. Why should right now, at the start of the holiday season, be the right time to sell your Saint Paul home?
Statistics show that more homes are sold in the spring and summer, that—plus sheer inertia—can be powerful arguments to the contrary.
So here’s the “one good reason.” In fact, it could be the best reason. It’s the textbook Economics 101 basic rule about markets and pricing.
Simply put, the supply of housing all across the nation continues to be low. Really, really low. A few weeks ago, USA Today put inventories of homes for sale at “a 20-year low.” By the start of summer, that explained why the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index was up 5.6% from the year before—an all-time high.
Now, it could turn out that the supply of competing homes on the market remains low throughout the winter—and even throughout 2018. But it’s also possible that conditions change, and that the housing inventory slump finally reverses. In fact, the economy, jobs reports, and consumer confidence are on the rise…
But until then, it’s what those Econ 101 introductory texts lay out: a basic truth that the price of an item is a reflection of supply and demand. Unless the annual pattern does a surprise about-face, come springtime, many more competing homes can be expected to enter the market. In other words, right now an already-constricted supply is likely to thin out even further. And most homeowners will wait for the traditional peak selling season to sell their Saint Paul homes.
The long and short of it is that listing now isn’t just a good time—it could be the good time. If you were looking for that “one good reason,” it’s also another reason, too—to give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how best to sell your Saint Paul home!
The cool mornings and beautiful leaves leave no doubt that Fall has arrived. Normally we would see a slowdown in the housing market as winter approaches, but that hasn’t been the case in 2017. Listings continue to appear on the MLS, and with them come photos taken to give home buyers a look into their prospective purchase. Those Saint Paul listing photos will become the definitive beauty shots—the equivalent of the glamorous depictions that grace product packaging…and it’s easy to tell which agents are snapping their own pics (usually with their phones) and who’s investing in the work of a pro. All it takes is casual look to understand that a picture can be worth thousands of dollars!
Manufacturers know very well the import of how their product looks on the carton, jar or bag. It’s why top commercial photographers rely on “product stylists” (they’re the experts who sort through 100 bags of potato chips to come up with the two or three that will photograph perfectly). I don’t know many agents that go to that extreme – speaking from experience the photogs I work with are pretty good at getting the right shots.
Saint Paul listing photos no longer have anything to do with 20th-century cameras or film. But it’s not just the move to digital that’s responsible for creating a higher quality Saint Paul listing photos. To guarantee you maximize the quality of your own Saint Paul home’s listing photos, it remains a team effort…and you’re on the team. Four elements are called for:
- Equipment. Even now, the technology behind photo equipment is advancing rapidly. What used to require compliments of hot lamps, stands, and even a reflector or two can now be accomplished with a single travel case of lightweight equipment. Still vital: the “eye”
of the knowledgeable pro behind the lens.
- Patience. For the critical exterior shot, Mother Nature controls most of the timing. The photographers creating the best Saint Paul listing photos don’t just take weather into account—they factor in the house’s orientation and the time of day that will show it to its best advantage, and plan accordingly.
- Home prep. This NAR®’s real estate photo tutorial emphasizes how important preparation can be on the big day because “little
things can make—or break—listing photos.” Examples are paying special attention to blinds, bedspreads and shower curtains (making sure they are smooth)—as well as removing any and all unnecessary knick-knacks.
- The digital finale. It used to be that fine photo correcting was a time-consuming art practiced mainly in the production studios of national publications. That’s no longer the case. Digital images can be quickly refined via
ubiquitous photo processing software that makes retouching and image enhancing part of the professional’s everyday bag of tricks.
If you’re looking for some examples of truly awful real estate photography – look no further than this website – terriblerealestatephotos.com.
I’ve been scrolling through this one regularly, and thankfully have yet to run across one of my listing photos.
The listing photos are so important – every home buyer gives them a thorough look before deciding whether or not to visit a home. A bad first impression often means there won’t be a second look, and that means no sale! So the bottom line is a picture can be worth thousands of dollars!
When it’s your time to list, I hope you’ll allow me to demonstrate the personal care that makes selling your Saint Paul home a low-stress experience! I’m always available via phone at (651) 251-4898 or email at email@example.com.
Today’s Twin Cities’ asking prices fall into a wide range—although current market conditions are making it tough to find a great bargain. Last week came news of one that clearly defined the term “deal” (at least regarding the asking price). This was found in Montclair, New Jersey. CBS interviewed the selling agent and Fortune Magazine wrote it up.
Photos made the offering all the more interesting since the asking price was so low—yet the pictures were not, as any well-schooled real estate watcher would have expected, fuzzy images of some run down dump. The shots all showed a pristine historical (1904) 4-bedroom, 2-bath beauty, seemingly presiding in stately repose over well-manicured grounds. It looked like, well—a mansion.
The asking price is $10.
For those budget-minded Twin Cities home shoppers always looking to find a great bargain, in this instance you might make an exception (although I would be tempted to bargain based on what you’re about to find out). Since the current asking price has already been reduced from $1,400,000, you have to expect that the owner will probably not be willing to come down much further. The $10 is probably a take-it-or-leave-it number – but home sellers say that all time time.
Lest any Saint Paul house hunters think about packing their bags for the trip to Montclair for a tour of the property, it’s only fair to elaborate on what anyone would already be assuming: namely, that there must be a few problems.
Local house hunters will appreciate the first problem, which is location. The house not only isn’t in Saint Paul, but it’s also currently sited on land that has been sold to a developer. It has to be moved. Moving a three-story 3,912 sq. ft. structure of this size is an expensive undertaking. Although the current owner is offering to contribute $10,000 toward solving that problem, anyone who has ever overseen this kind of house-moving project knows that the details (digging up the foundation, wedging in all the I-beams, jacking up the structure, getting it up on the trailer beds, etc.) comprise a pricey, open-ended proposition.
Local house hunters would encounter another problem, which is that, as a historically significant local landmark, the powers-that-be in Montclair have made it clear that the mansion won’t be allowed to be moved beyond the city limits. So transplanting it to anywhere in Saint Paul isn’t a possibility. Another problem: having been designated an historical monument, the home will have to be treated tenderly by its new owner. “Handle with care” might be the watchword. That could prove as tricky as you’re trucking it off to its new Montclair destination.
Fortunately, the current batch of area listings offers buyers Twin Cities asking prices that may be slightly steeper (like I said, it’s tough to find a great bargain), but represent opportunities with significantly fewer complications. The negotiating savvy of a good agent can offset some of pricing we see in this market, so if you see a home that looks like it fits your criteria – and can remain in it’s current location – give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!