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 email@example.com 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 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!
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!
Home buying is not a contest! Not everyone who is looking at the homes for sale in Saint Paul needs to come up with a winner right away. Last week I showed a handful of homes to a new client….first time home buyers that had read the headlines and were feeling the pressure of getting into a home ASAP in order to avoid the drawn out search that is so common these days.
I told them two stories of past clients. One who wrote an offer on the first home they saw and lived happily ever after. The other wrote an offer on the 75th home they saw….and lived happily ever after.
The point being there is no formula for home buying success when it comes to the search and discovery process. You’ll find the home of your dreams when you find it, what is important is being prepared to make a competitive offer and have it accepted when you do find it!
With that in mind, some basic truths about home buying that apply to all buyers. Remember that when you finally do find just the right home at just the right price, all of a sudden you could find yourself in competition with others who see the same thing: the house they’ve been looking for!
The takeaway is that, if your interest in today’s homes for sale is strictly low-key – or if your ready to make a move yesterday – it’s prudent to prepare yourself as if yours is more of a front-burner quest. In other words, when you find the Saint Paul house of your dreams, you want to be the one to land it!
Here are some checklist items that will position you to make the most of any Saint Paul house hunt:
- Budget seriously. Without doubt, the place to start is by doing some financial homework. If you don’t know what you can comfortably afford, you can’t know which of the homes for sale in Saint Paul should be competing for your attention.
- Get pre-approved. Unless you plan to be a cash buyer, having a mortgage lender on your team is well worth the effort. Keep in mind that being “pre-qualified” isn’t the same thing as being “pre-approved”—the more rigorous (and real) process. It spells out the precise size of the home loan you can expect to receive. It’s no surprise that sellers tilt toward prospective buyers who have bothered to get real!
- Widen the field. Once you have narrowed the field in terms of the price range you will be considering, you can improve the chances of finding a singularly appealing property by widening your search parameters. This can mean considering homes for sale in areas you hadn’t really paid attention to—or opening your imagination to include properties with features or architectural styles you hadn’t previously thought about. Especially in an active market with tight inventories, the open-minded approach is often the one that yields pay dirt.
Today’s low home loan rates are allowing surprisingly affordable monthly payments—numbers which can transform even the least motivated prospects into active house hunters. But the with the inventory of homes for sale at historic lows – that just makes the competition fiercer!
To see what that means in terms of the actual current crop of Saint Paul homes for sale, give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com!
Buying your first home is an exciting and terrifying time in your life. As an agent I take extra care to make sure these buyers are informed and comfortable every step of the way. We work together during the exciting search process. I try to keep them calm as we offer and negotiate – and eventually agree – on a purchase. As we roll through the inspection and appraisal I try to provide wise counsel to ensure they purchase a home in good condition at the right price and don’t spend more than the property is worth. It’s not uncommon to have some bumps along the way, but more often than not we get to the final stages of the purchase in good shape.
And then the parents show up and it’s time for The Dad Inspection (sorry Moms, it’s ALWAYS Dad that brings his tape measure and flashlight).
I know why…I get it…I did the same thing when I bought my first home (more on that later) and will provide support when my kids take that step.
After all, you’re excited to be buying a home in Saint Paul or the surrounding area. Your parents are probably excited about your home purchase too, and as a parent I can attest they want the best for you—what parent wouldn’t want to offer their best wisdom and counsel on just about any topic, especially a purchase as large as a home?
Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible for that very same best advice to cause a good home choice to slip away. So with all due respect to the parents out there reading this post, here are some common pitfalls to avoid at the time of the Dad Inspection:
- Parents want to see you land your home for the least amount of money—sometimes resulting in advice to start with a lower than necessary offer. That may be what they did when they last bought a house—and it might have worked then but it will not work in this seller’s market. Make your offer based on the comparable neighborhood sales, the property’s condition, and your Realtor’s® advice (that’s me!).
- Mom and Dad may advise different “deal points” than are standard in the today’s market. Recall that each state and area has different customs, disclosures, and laws—and they can evolve. What may be common in the parent’s area might not be common in ours.
- Parents may attempt to talk you out of a particular house or neighborhood. Although they may have valid insights based on their experiences, if your house hunt leads you to a specific home that’s workable for you and your budget now, trust your gut instincts.
- Parents sometimes have very specific ideas about the condition of a house. That can lead to some really alarmist reactions – which is where the dreaded “Dad Inspection” occurs. I can still remember the phone call from the agent on my first home purchase, asking if my Father was crazy enough to be “lurking around the home at 5:30 in the morning.” The answer was yes – and he had a particular obsession with wood rot, so he was actually poking around the siding of the home with a large screwdriver looking for soft spots. I’m not making that up….so keep in mind that different areas have different building types, weather patterns, and housing components—and that repair and upgrade costs may differ significantly from one area to another. Listen to the folks, but do your own research. And listen to the advice of your Saint Paul inspector (and me, too).
A common denominator is to listen to everyone, but do your own research—and include what your own hand-picked Realtor brings you. If you and I are proactive about the issues the house hunt turns up, your parents’ feelings won’t be hurt. There will be peace in your family, and a much more successful transaction…all of which can start when you give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Every potential home seller wants to know when is the best time to sell a house. I’ll answer that question in a moment.
Blog devotees who check in here from time to time may recall the inquiry into whether there really is a single best time to buy a house—and if so, when that might be.
The answer was October 8.
At least that was what the researchers at RealtyTrac deduced after reviewing millions of home and condo sales (from across the nation, not just Saint Paul). The definition of “best” they settled on was the date which recorded the greatest markdown between original listing and actual sale prices. On closer examination, though, 10/8 did seem to be an answer that was going to differ from year to year. But there was definitely evidence for fall being a good season for buyers.
Now there appears to be an answer to our original question: What’s the best time to sell a house? Having an answer might be reassuring to Saint Paul homeowners in a quandary over whether to jump into the busy Saint Paul spring selling season—or to wait for a less crowded time of year.
This answer, which recently appeared on CNBC’s news feed, is less specific than RealtyTrac’s single date—and for my money, more convincing because of it. And the answer is
Like…two weeks from now May.
The first half of May, to narrow it down a bit. The reason is that a home listed between the start of May and mid-month sells nine days more quickly than does the average. To be absolutely accurate, though, the “average” is the average of home sales everywhere in the country—North, South, East, West, and everywhere in between. Warmer or colder climates can send the answer off kilter, as can market conditions present when the calculations were made.
The basis for CNBC’s finding was a Zillow study, but it was not clear exactly when the data was collected, so there is a possibility that in today’s seller-friendly climate, the best time to sell a house in Saint Paul might slip a week or two in either direction.
Further scrutiny yielded a two-track answer to the question of what is the best day of the week to list, with Saturdays vying with Thursdays for the honor. The reasoning was that Saturday is when most house hunters are apt to go online to check out the market; but Thursday is the likeliest day because people are gathering info for weekend open houses.
Wow. That’s some deep digging. Actually, Thursday is the best day for the very reason they give. Buyers start making their weekend plans on Thursday and having your listing show up on the top of the list is absolutely advantageous!
The reality of our market is this…the best time to sell a house is RIGHT NOW! Properly priced homes in the right demographic are selling quickly and buyers are still showing up in droves ready to write offers.
Which leads me to this conclusion…in my opinion trying to zero in on the absolute best day to list is not nearly as useful as taking the time to identify who will be the best Saint Paul agent to help you sell your house. Along those lines: do give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or email me at email@example.com.