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!
For more than a year, it’s been the happy trend across the nation for the average DOM (days on market) for residential properties to have been declining, especially in the Twin Cities.
It’s a “speed of sale” measure—one that most Saint Paul home sellers hope will reflect that it won’t be long before they are handing the keys to happy new owners.
Beyond a careful analysis of the area market, and determining how the home in question fits into said market – there are two important criteria I consider.
One is psychological: thinking of a buyer’s frame of mind, most people don’t want to be the only ones who are interested in a house. When a slightly lower-than-comparable asking price is part of the marketing message, it draws a crowd.
The second is the search bracket. Knowing how buyers tend to bracket price range parameters for similar Saint Paul homes is something I can help with. If comparable homes have been selling in a range that tops out at $400,000, asking $410,000 (so you can discount it in later negotiations) is a mistake: your property won’t even appear on search results you’re aiming for.
It is said that pricing is an ongoing discussion—something that holds true if the activity level is less than expected. In every dissertation, oration, article, comment, FAQ, and essay about successful house sales, the message is the same: if the place doesn’t sell, first check the asking price.
Sometimes that can seem indisputable. If the property in question has been listed at an asking price that’s higher than comparable Saint Paul houses—other homes that have sold—unless outside factors have slowed all area sales, the asking price is probably the stumbling block. A homeowner can quite reasonably object that their property has unusual qualities that make direct comparisons with other Saint Paul homes inexact, but that logic may not be powerful enough to counter the market figures that buyers can see (remember that they don’t want to be the only ones who are interested). Sometimes even for a home that shows spectacularly, lowering the asking price can be the simplest and quickest route to a “sold” sign on the front lawn.
In the case of those Saint Paul homes where Saint Paul asking price conformity isn’t the issue—as when there simply are no other properties that are at all similar—if lowering the asking price is not indicated, it will simply become a waiting game: waiting for the buyer who appreciates the special character of the property. The good news is that there IS a buyer out there for every property; the bad news is that unique properties attract unique buyers—as in, there are fewer of them. But there is some second good news: when they do show up, they are apt to fall in love with the place!
Pricing is part math and part skill, and since the market is constantly changing, it’s a skill that rewards experience tempered by consistent monitoring. I monitor Saint Paul real estate full time, so I can provide the most timely assistance and advice in all phases of selling and buying. I hope you’ll give me a call!
I met a young woman the other day who was considering becoming a first time home buyer in Saint Paul. She was facing the fear of the great unknown – after years of living under her parent’s roof and/or renting – it was time to grow up and join the millions of Americans who enjoy the benefits and satisfaction of owning a home.
For most people who are looking into buying a house in Saint Paul for the first time, the two greatest obstacles appear to be financial, and—for lack of a better word—emotional.
Let’s deal with the second barrier right off the bat. Emotional may not be an apt adjective because most of the emotions that accompany the process of buying a house are positive. The potential of joining your Saint Paul friends as a homeowner is certainly a positive goal. Accompanying your chosen Saint Paul Realtor® on house-hunting tours in search of your dream house takes energy—but they are also some of the most interesting shopping trips imaginable.
(By the way we all know who that favorite Realtor is right? Joe Anderson, who can be reached at (651) 251-4898 or firstname.lastname@example.org…but I digress.)
And the pride of ownership that comes with unlocking your own front door for the first time is a truly satisfaction-producing moment.
Stacked up against all those positives is one strong negative for first-time buyers: the instinctive impulse to avoid the unknown. The process of buying a house is full of legal, technical and procedural details that can appear to be all but impenetrable to those who’ve never weathered them before. That makes it understandable why you’d want to put off tackling the whole can of worms—especially since buying a house is such a weighty transaction.
The reason this first barrier is ultimately overcome is probably also why nearly 90% of U.S. residential real estate transactions involve a real estate professional. It doesn’t take long before most future buyers learn that they can enlist the services of a professional like me to act on their behalf…for free! With a Saint Paul Realtor to guide and advise on all aspects of buying a house in Saint Paul, the technicality obstacle disappears. Veteran homeowners don’t give it a second thought.
Which leaves that other barrier: the financial one.
But here, too, buying a house should have gotten somewhat easier. Not because it’s any easier to make money—and not because having enough of the green stuff isn’t still a prerequisite to getting a front door key of your own—but because there are so many readily accessible ways to track and control personal finances. Keeping up with household expenses once meant conscientiously stacking incoming bills and mailing out payments at the end of the month—then having to wait for the bank statement to arrive to verify household balances.
Today all that information can handled online—and any number of personal finance software solutions like Quicken, Microsoft Money, and iCash make it easy to track and schedule just about everything. That means it’s a simple matter to keep on top of all the income and expense flows as their deadlines come and go month-by-month. This doesn’t make any expenses disappear, but it does make it much less likely that due dates will be accidentally overlooked—or that credit score damage will result. It also makes it a whole lot easier to project income and expenses into the future—and to plot a savings trajectory that produces the down payment you need when you need it.
There’s also the process of applying for financing and seeing the lending process through to the finish line. Again, trust your friendly Realtor to help guide you – and find the right lender that will do the same.
Buying a house in Saint Paul becomes a less daunting prospect when your financial picture is organized for clarity—and when your house-hunting team includes an agent with wide local experience and personal knowledge of the current Saint Paul offerings. That’s me – and I’m (almost) always available at (651) 251-4898 or email@example.com!
Many of us who call Saint Paul home find that the beginning of the new year serves as a useful benchmark. This is when it’s easiest to collect the bygone year’s household bills and receipts and stash them in the drawer, box, or envelopes marked “2016” to be revisited at tax time. Once all the holiday ornaments are safely stored for next year, it’s time to embark on the coming year with a refreshed outlook and energy…and figure out the best time to buy a house!
When you go looking for fresh insights that will be relevant to Saint Paul real estate buyers and sellers, some of that New Year’s enthusiasm can come in handy. Particularly when you come across news items with headlines like “The Best Time to Buy a House” or “The Best Time to Sell a House.” It’s not that the topics aren’t interesting, but since we know darned well that there’s no such thing as a single “best time” to buy a house, it takes a little extra energy to read further. The best time to buy a house in Saint Paul depends on the area, neighborhood, on the current market activity which varies from year to year—and on the qualities of the property itself.
Nevertheless, coming across the Business Insider piece headlined, “New research reveals the single best day of the year to buy a house,” it was simply too tempting to pass up. The best single day! This was nonsense, of course, but with fresh 2017 energy to spare, it had to be checked out! Here’s what was revealed:
This analysis resulted from some past research dusted off from RealtyTrac’s review of more than 32,000,000 home and condo sales from across the nation. It had taken 15 years to collect all that data, but when they put it all into the proper columns and added and divided in the way statisticians do, they came up with the final answer:
The best day to buy a house is October 8.
Now, since it’s going to be a long time until the next October 8 (it will fall on a Sunday), some secondary news might be of more immediate interest to Saint Paul readers. The best month to buy may be October, but the second best month to buy a house is February! So wouldn’t it follow that January is a good time to start looking (call me – there are homes hitting the market every day!)?
The way RealtyTrac defined the “best” time to buy a house was by comparing the sale price with the fair market value. For buyers, the best day was the one with the biggest average discount. October 8 was that day.
Now, the practical use for this information here in Saint Paul is very limited for a couple of reasons. First off, they really meant “best day to close” a sale—leaving open the more tactical consideration, which would probably be the best day to make an offer. Then, too, the residential market and resulting sales results over the past 15 years have been so varied and sometimes so wildly atypical that generalizing from them could yield almost any answer. Also, this was a nationwide survey—so even just the way weather here in Saint Paul differs from the national average would certainly affect the results.
But the ideas written about did have some practical value. They highlight the notion that for buyers, the late fall and winter months might be a the best time to buy a house in Saint Paul even when there are comparatively fewer properties on the market.
It’s true that today there are some great buys to be had—which makes it a great time to give me a call at (651) 251-4898 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Across the U.S., first-time home buyers have been staging a disappearing act for a worrisome long time. The causes were pretty universal across much of the country: a sluggish economic recovery and tight labor market contributed to the national phenomenon. Rises in Saint Paul residential prices haven’t helped those seeking to become new homeowners locally.
For Saint Paul homeowners who follow such things, the phenomenon was slowly becoming a worrisome fact—one that didn’t look like it was going away anytime soon. When you own a home, its value as collateral and at sale depends on a healthy real estate market—one that supports sustainable activity.
That means that new buyers should appear in numbers at least equal to those who seek to sell and move on. If fewer and fewer new buyers appear…well, that can’t be good over the long haul. The fact that the percentage of first-time home buyers had been dwindling for three straight years was the statistical equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.
The new edition of the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is the annual compilation of activity across the nation. The Profile has been a yearly fixture since 1981, making it the longest-running continuous series of measurements of who is buying and selling residences in the United States. If you are taking a reading of the market, it’s one of the most valuable gauges out there. But even before the recent reports of returning economic optimism, it’s now clear that a reversal had been underway for a while. This latest Profile marks a turnaround in first-timer activity: they’re back.
Saint Paul real estate watchers were already well aware of the continuing gradual rise in U.S. home prices, but the new information shows a bounce back toward a more normal market makeup. A second move in that direction also surfaced: the proportion of single female buyers, which also had been on the decline, showed a return toward normal. According to this year’s report, their numbers increased to about 17% of total purchases (not including investment and vacation home purchases). That is slightly more than twice the number of single male buyers—which is close to what is normally expected.
For first-time home buyers as well as others in all categories, the majority given for choosing homeownership was a traditional one: the appeal of owning a place of their own. Also frequently cited was “renter fatigue”—a phenomenon that surfaces whenever homeowners are seeing their equity on the rise.
This all comes as cheering news as we head toward the new year. If 2017 looks to be a year when your own Saint Paul real estate plans come into focus, I hope you’ll consider giving me a call to discuss how I can help turn those plans into reality!
It’s a fair bet that anyone who is taking a serious look at St. Paul new construction is someone who places a value on sheer newness. It’s about more than prestige—although owning a new home does carry at least an element of the kind of special pride that goes with owning the latest model auto. More substantively, the first owner of a new Saint Paul home gains the advantage of not having to worry that some previous owner’s inattention to maintenance issues could cause trouble down the road.
Like a new car, though, when it comes to buying a new home, it’s a good idea to take at least a peek under the hood. What you will be looking for is a number of new construction quality issues. Even when a new home bears the signature of one of Saint Paul’s premier builders, before the sale is final, it’s always prudent to commission a detailed house inspection. Since that’s not free, before committing to that expense you’ll want to have a reasonable expectation that the home in question passes your own muster. In other words, before ordering up a formal professional inspection, you can do some inspecting of your own.
The first step is to disengage from the “wow” factor. Because it’s in mint condition, good new construction invites acceptance—everything looks so fresh and flawless! That makes it harder to take a hard look, especially when the new home in question looks like what you have been hoping to find. Nevertheless, the first walk-through should be followed by an as-skeptical-as-possible return visit. Some of the areas that merit close attention:
- Structure: without exception, the walls should be plumb and flat. Wherever building materials meet (wood to plaster; glass to metal; drywall to tile, etc.) are the seams clean, the joints tight?
- Flooring: when you jump in the middle of a room, do the feel and sound tell you it’s solid (yes: somebody has to jump!).
- Detailing: in closets and cabinetry, trim and hardware, are the workmanship and materials up to what the asking price indicates?
- Plumbing and electrical: are the sinks conveniently located for cooking and laundry duty? Is water pressure strong? Are there sufficient and well-placed outlets?
- Heating and cooling: Is one of the main selling points the economic advantage of the systems’ operating efficiency. If not, ask questions.
- Roof: it should look trim and new, and carry a manufacturer’s warranty for at least 10 years. Gutter placement and grading should make clear that water can’t pool near the foundation.
The best Saint Paul builders earn solid reputations not just because of winning design innovations or outstanding price leadership. When you hear past buyers praise a builder, it’s most likely because of the value their homes continue to exhibit over the long haul—value that results in years of trouble-free homeownership.
I’m a fan of well planned and constructed new homes, and it seems builders are embracing the idea that they need to “fit” in older neighborhoods like ours. For that reason, I encourage clients to explore new construction as an option in home buying. Call me at (651) 251-4898 or drop me an email at email@example.com if you’d like a detailed rundown of the fantastic new homes being constructed – or recently finished – that are currently being offered!
HGTV has a weekly program called “Income Property” that Saint Paul investors and revonators may find interesting. The host, Scott McGillivray—himself an income property investor—offers tips and advice on the subject. His insights are solid, and it doesn’t hurt that – in addition to being an investor – McGillivray is also a contractor. He has a knowledge base that goes beyond the simple dream of buying, renovating, and cashing out.
Since various levels of rehabilitation can sometimes be the first order of business Saint Paul income property investors need to address, a contractor’s insights are pretty valuable. He recently addressed red flags for non-contractors who are searching through the listings for income property bargains. I have to agree with all of them—at least for Saint Paul investors who don’t consider themselves handy with a hammer (and saw, spackle tool, paint roller, etc.). Among the listing language mentions:
- Fixer Upper – couldn’t be clearer. Even for do-it-yourselfers, the possibility that structural elements may be in need of deep rehabbing should be front-of-mind.
- Needs a little TLC — most serious investors reserve their tender loving care for family members and pets. This phrasing might be a hint that the TLC needed will ultimately involve an investor’s bank account. Wags have suggested elsewhere that “TLC” can actually mean “OMG”…
- All the Work Has Been Done — is a heads-up that a house flip is probably being offered. It certainly doesn’t mean that serious Saint Paul investors should automatically pass up the property, but does mean that the asking price probably includes a margin for the owner/flipper. If the work is up to par, this will likely be a dollars and cents proposition.
- Great Potential — if true, terrific (but this gift horse will deserve a serious look into its mouth).
- Attention Renovators — a cue to non-contractors that they should probably look elsewhere. It’s an honest call to the pros.
Not in need of translation at all is the fact that experienced Saint Paul real estate investors—including income property investors—make sure they have thoroughly “kicked the tires” before they make an offer. You can also be pretty sure they will employ a competent home inspector before a deal is done—and that they have made good use of the services of their knowledgeable Saint Paul real estate agent.
If you’d like to look into the terrific current crop of Saint Paul income property opportunities, I’ll be standing by to interpret where necessary—and help every step of the way!
If you own a St. Paul home – and you’re a packing and unpacking, up-and-down-the-dial kind of person – you probably have your own ideas about what has seemed to be the preparations that made the most difference with the least trouble and expense the last time you sold.
But frequent home sellers are rare, and even experts sometimes need tips on how to be more efficient…so I’ve taken the liberty of sharing these:
- Closets – every now and then you’ll see clutter-clearing advice that emphasizes how important it is that closets be neat and organized—shoes lined up, drawers closed, shelves neatened, etc. The new idea is to empty the closets. Not entirely, though: empty just half of what’s in there! It’s actually a good way to use a closet, because when it’s jammed to the rafters, many items are never used anyway (they get lost among everything else). By putting half the stuff into storage, the net effect is that closets appear much more spacious. EVERY home buyer wants closet space – make sure they get some when they’re looking at your humble abode.
- Refrigerators — The most dangerous part of showing a home is the moment you open the refrigerator. That’s an exaggeration with a grain of truth. Nobody would say that you’re selling a refrigerator—but there might be another grain of truth in there as well. Buyers really do open refrigerator doors, and what they find registers. So the cleaner, the better. Since cleaning involves emptying it shelf by shelf, while you’re at it, you might as well take the opportunity to declutter. In refrigerator terms, decluttering means getting rid of the bits and pieces and too-ancient jars you won’t ever use again anyway. Some expert advice includes actually staging your fridge: adding healthy items selected for maximum foodie appeal. Whatever….you still have to live in the home. But please throw old, rotten food away. Nothing ends a showing faster than the smell of a produce death when they fridge is opened!
- Lights: at night — especially once I’ve planted my “FOR SALE” sign out front—there is a fresh opportunity to indulge in some inexpensive Saint Paul showmanship. Think “stage lighting.” Now that the Saint Paul days are short and nights long, more folks are out driving in the dark of night or early morning. A floodlit entryway flanked by attractive spots highlighting landscape features will add eye-catching architectural interest. Too, when you’re selling your house, it never hurts when you also subtly upstage the surrounding properties. For some homes, color can be especially appealing when it’s not too garish.
Those are just three easy but effective ideas that are among those that can add up to a Saint Paul house that earns its “SOLD” sign fast. Since every property is unique, each offers different opportunities. When you give me a call for a no-obligation consultation, we can put our heads together to come up with some that will work best!