Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moving On Up....

HI all my readers! I have not been writing on this blog since almost a year ago because I have been trying to figure out what to do with it. I finally put together a new Wordpress blog and have transferred all the content of this blog to it. My new blog is Twin Cities Real Estate Buzz. Please come on over to the new blog and pick up where I left off. Add my new site to your list of blogs please and keep reading! I am still working on the new site, so check it out often to see what else has been added!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes Virginia, There Really are Multiple Offers

I know many of you won't believe this, but the dirty little secret that the local media isn't reporting is that homes in the lower price range are flying off the racks. Yep...just like a bridal store having a super cheap sale on gowns with women knocking each other out of the way as they try to snatch up the latest deal, so too are investors and first time home buyers trying their best to win that little cottage home, out doing each other with above list price offers.

Like I said, you don't believe me, do you?
Last month I experienced this phenomenon first hand with a duplex I listed. With-in five days, I had five offers, all above asking price. There must have been some telepathy in the air because almost all of them were around the same price. I actually had to tell them to resubmit their "highest and best" offer. Who ever did the best, gets the house. Let me tell you, it was competitive bidding and I was truly surprised at how high some of the offers got.

Even better, I know an investor couple who are snatching up dilapidated foreclosures and rehabbing them to flip. Not only do they have to bid against other offers each time they find a home, but when it comes time to sell the property, they have to deal with multiple offers from first time home buyers. (They do fantastic rehab work by the way!)

So yes Virginia, there are some segments of the real estate market that are doing quite well. Multiple offers do exist and are getting more common.

It makes is hard to explain to a buyer why they need to offer above listing price if they want to get a home, especially when all they hear about is how cheap homes are. But if you want to purchase a home in decent shape and at a great price, be prepared to pay for it because in this market you'll be just like those brides you see on television...pushing and yelling your way to that perfect find.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ways NOT to Sell a House

There are obvious ways that should not be pursued when trying to sell a home. I really don't care what type of home it is, or what the circumstances are for the sale (foreclosure, short sale, etc), but there is just no excuse for the agents listing these homes to take photos like the ones below.

First of all, I do believe tomorrow is the fourth of July, NOT the fourth of January. Snow has not been seen in Minnesota since March, so why is the photo of this home still in the MLS? The white wire reindeer just scream "Buy Me".

Now this home is a distressed property...I cannot remember if it is a short sale or foreclosure, and every listing photo of this home shows trash and clutter just like this photo. I have to ask, why even bother? No buyer is going to jump on this home, unless it is an investor looking for a steal. It definitely doesn't have the "cozy" feeling that a first time home buyer is looking for in today's real estate market.

I guess I am constantly amazed that agents out there feel photos like these are acceptable. It doesn't take much effort to pick up some trash, or take a new photo in the summer. Sellers, please take a look at the photos taken by your agent to see just what type of marketing they do. Trust me, if you have photos like these, your home is NOT going to sell anytime soon...unless you list it for $1.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Keep Your Home Information Confidential

When selling your home, it is extremely important to keep confidential information confidential. Any details given out could harm your position with a buyer who is interested in your home. Knowing things like your motivation or personal circumstances are great for a buyer, but they can easily take advantage of these facts and offer you less than you would like, or deserve.

Case in point, a recent seller was having some work done on their home while it was on the market. Nothing major, just some finishing touches to the rehab work that was recently completed. While a buyer viewed the home one day, a sub-contractor was working in the home. Naturally, the buyer and his agent struck up a seemingly innocent conversation with the worker. After a few minutes, the buyer started asking some questions about the work, which led to other questions of why the owners were selling, and what their motivation was. Knowing some of this information, the worker answered the questions. Not knowing it at the time, this worker gave up some confidential information that should have never been communicated.

A few days later, the buyer made an offer, with some peculiar requests regarding the work, as well as a low offer price. It was obvious that the buyer was privy to information they should not know. When they were called out by the listing agent, they simply said the construction worker had told them. At this point, the seller's realized their position was compromised by loose lips and they had no option but to negotiate with the buyers.

Who knows if the offer would have been better, had the buyers not been privy to certain facts. And there was no way the sellers could have known that an innocent conversation with the contractor would mean money out of their pockets. They learned a very valuable lesson that day. Don't tell anyone about your circumstances that you wish to remain confidential. This includes your real estate agent, if you truly want to keep something secret.

(this post does not pertain to information or material facts about the property that must be disclosed according to state law)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Copyright on my Minneapolis Blog

(I placed this post originally on my Historic Home Blog today, and thought it best to bring it on over to my other blogs, as an FYI about copyright and not stealing my photos and content.)

A recent incident that is now recurring is forcing me to write this post about copyright of photos used on this site. (Notice the "Do not Copy" notice on the leftside of this blog.) To some people, it is ok to go onto the Internet and lift photos of other peoples work. They then use these photos on their websites without permission. They either do not care or don't know the law, but either way, what they are doing is stealing....oh, and Copyright infringement.

As a visitor to this blog, I am sure you can easily see that I travel around the area taking photos of historic homes (and other places around the Twin Cities), then post them to my blog with a story about the home. It's what I do, and the whole reason for this blog, which is to educate locals and others about the great historic resource we have in Minnesota through our homes and buildings. Taking these photos takes time, energy, patience, and creative thought.

What many people fail to realize is that even though the Internet is public domain, the content is not free for all to use. The general rule of thumb (in this instance) is that once a photo hits a hard drive, it is considered copywritten. The photo does not have to have a copyright notice on the photo, nor a big C. In order to use a photo, one must obtain permission from the source. So for those people out there that "right click and save" and then use the photo, you are committing copyright infringement.

Any excuse you give does not matter. Taking something created by another without permission is wrong.

I could go into greater detail, but I don't want to clutter up my nice blog with a post such as this. I just want you to know, that I work hard to write this blog, so please do not steal my stuff. Simple as that.

If you want to learn more about Copyright law as it pertains to blogs and websites, please visit a great lady's blog regarding copyright law, Lenn Harley, for in depth articles on the subject.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Minnehaha Falls

A great place to visit in Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls on the east side of town. The evening I took this photo last weekend was Prom night, so we had to find a spot around the prom goers getting their photos taken, in order to take a good picture of the falls.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Writing a Post Everyday...Does it Really Matter

I have been thinking lately how life is keeping me from blogging everyday. I used to write everyday the first year or more of this blog, but am finding it difficult to keep up. Business has picked up and so has life with two kids. There are some other successful real estate bloggers in town who write everyday, but I just can't post 30 times a month without staying up till midnight every night. I like my sleep, or I can't function.

I can tell my readership has suffered because of this. Google analytics tracks my blogs and lets me know how many visitors I have daily. Needless to say, my readers have decreased. Google has dropped my site in page rank just this past week. Oh, well, what can you do? Obviously, writing a post everyday does really matter if you want your blog to rank high in Google. If it ranks high, more people visit you and possibly come back to read some more. The more people who visit, the more Google likes you. It is a vicious cycle!

So I would love for those that read me to stick around and visit every now and then. Or drop me a line and let me know what you love or hate about the blog. Trust me, I miss blogging everyday, but never can find enough time to do it anymore.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spoon Gets It's Cherry Back

On Friday, the art piece "Spoon and Cherry" at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, got its cherry back, after a few days of getting a new paint job. I took this photo yesterday, which was hard considering the amount of photographers there and prom goers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We Need Your Help to Stop the Minnesota House of Representatives

Below is a press release sent to Minnesota Realtors regarding some important tax law modifications that will negatively impact homeowners in our state. Please take the time to read the below information and take action via the link below. All of us need to come together to protect our real estate market.

From the Minnesota Association of Realtors:

"On Monday, the Minnesota House of Representatives Tax Committee released a "delete all amendment" to HF2323 and added provisions that are negative for real estate in the Omnibus Tax Bill. Authored by DFL Representative Ann Lenczewski, it contains a number of tax law modifications that hurt all Minnesota home owners. We need you to review and distribute this "Call to Action" to your clients, customers, and friends.

BACKGROUND: The Minnesota legislature and many other state governments find themselves in a situation familiar to many Minnesota households – their expenses have outpaced their revenue. Whether it is your family budget, a business budget or government budget, when expenses are higher than income you have to make choices. Since 1992, even with all of the Budget Shortfalls Minnesota has faced, the spending has increased each and every year. In fact, Minnesota State spending has gone from $14.5 billion in 1992/93 to $34.6 billion in 2008/09 – that’s a whopping 138 percent increase.

To resolve the budget shortfall, legislators have a number of options: 1) raise taxes to cover the government spending; 2) reduce spending to equalize the revenue projected; 3) raise revenue and reduce spending. The House/Senate DFL plans focus on option 3 – raise taxes and reduce spending. Governor Pawlenty has proposed a plan focused on reducing spending and raising revenue without raising taxes.

HOUSE TAX BILL HURTS REAL ESTATE. The DFL House Tax Plan raises revenue by cutting a number of income tax deductions. Of significant concern to Minnesota REALTORS® and homeowners, the DFL House plan eliminates two major real estate tax deductions: the Mortgage Interest Deduction and Real Estate Property Taxes. The bill also eliminates provisions of the Relative Homestead Tax.

Elimination of Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID)– a feature of the tax code since 1933, the MID has helped numerous generations achieve the American Dream of owning a home. A significant public policy objective for decades, homeownership stabilizes families, neighborhoods and communities. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the MID for homeowners and replaces it with a "housing credit" for qualified homeowners. The maximum credit is $420, which is equal to 7 percent (7%) of up to $6,000 of mortgage interest paid during the taxable year. However, no credit is applied to the first $4,000 of interest paid. Therefore, a homeowner must pay at least $10,000 in MID in order to receive the full $420 credit. As an example, if a homeowner has mortgage interest of $8,000 in the tax year, the credit equals $280. ($8,000 - $4,000 = $4,000 x 7% = $280).

This provision hurts young families disproportionately because mortgage debt loads are highest when people are establishing their households. This provision changes the financial plans numerous families have made when purchasing a home and increases the financial difficulties many are facing during this economic downturn. At a time when housing is finally getting a financial foothold why eliminate a tax provision that has helped millions of families achieve the "American Dream?"

Real Estate Property Tax Deductibility –This public policy provision has been included in the tax code since 1933 and allows taxpayers to deduct property taxes paid from their income. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the deductibility of real estate property taxes at a time when local property taxes continue to increase faster than Minnesotan’s income.

Relative Homestead – If you own identical houses, with identical values, with identical tax rates you would assume you would pay identical taxes – Right? Not if the House DFL Tax Bill becomes law. In a provision of the bill, authored by a DFL legislator, families that provide housing to other family members will pay more taxes on the second home. The goal of the provision, as stated by the legislator, is to stop parents from buying homes for their college students. MNAR pointed out that this is a small piece of the overall program and instead the proposal will be hurting families trying to assist other family members who may have gone through job loss, divorce or other financial difficulties. Isn’t it better to have families provide for families instead of government?

These provisions have been designed according to the author to make the Minnesota tax system more progressive and to raise revenue to fill the state’s pending budget shortfall. Because real estate related public policy provisions of the tax code benefit the upper 50% of tax payers – Top 50% begins at $40,061 according to the Tax Incidence Study ( ). At a time when the housing market is beginning to stabilize, this House DFL sponsored proposal sends the wrong message to struggling Minnesota households.

The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® has a long and respected position that government, at all levels, needs to "Live Within Your Means." Just like families sitting around the kitchen table trying to make ends, Minnesota's legislative body should not be adding to the long-term financial burden of Minnesota homeowners. The House DFL Tax Bill penalizes families who have invested in the American Dream and provide for the backbone for stable communities.

ACTION REQUEST: To fight this unbelievable proposal we are asking that you take three steps:

  1. Please contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about this proposal. Please find attached a list with legislator contact information or use this link:
  2. Forward this email to your clients, customers and friends. Let them know what is being proposed and give them the web address above to review the bill.
  3. Go the extra mile and CALL your legislator about this tax bill. Let him/her know your concerns and how it will impact your clients, your family and your business. Let your Representative know that it is time for our elected officials to "LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS" by prioritizing spending and not raising taxes.
    You can access the bill summary (48 pages) at: