Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
St Joseph has been helping home owners sell their homes for years. But how did this tradition come to be?
St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly Father of Jesus Christ, is honored as the patron saint of married couples, families, carpenters and workingmen. It is believed that a 16th century Saint buried medals of St Joseph in land she wished to buy for her convent and a tradition was born.
While originally used to help buyers, St. Joseph has crossed over to the other side, sellers. Now you can purchase a small five inch plastic statue, say a prayer, and bury him in your yard. The goal is for him to help the home sell. Versions do vary with some requiring:
- you to bury him upside down so his feet point to heaven
- bury him three feet from the house
- bury him next to the for sale sign
- dig him up once the home sells and bury him in your new homes yard
...and the list goes on and on. Yes, it might seem silly. But what do you have to lose? If your home has been on the market along time here in Minneapolis, anything can help. Just don't forget to say the included prayer....and no, you don't have to be Catholic for it to work. All you need is a little faith!
By the way, we had a home for sale in Florida that had been on the market for a year. I buried the statue in the back yard, upside down, following all instructions. Six months later, the home finally sold. Divine intervention? Who knows, but all I care about is that the home sold and kept us from going into foreclosure.
For those of you here in the Twin Cities that have their homes for sale, or are planning on putting your home on the market soon, I am offering the first 10 people who contact me via email a free St Joseph home kit. Make sure to include your name, phone number, and local address so I can send it to the correct home. (One thing, you must be a home owner, not a Realtor or one of my avid real estate blogging buddies) :).
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Oprah version, which is much shorter is first. Take a look at it:
Below is the entire lecture that is sweeping the Web, which is over an hour long.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Today, I received a card on our door by a local lender who was advertising an open house for a home being sold without agent representation. I think it's great that some owners feel they have the ability to sell a home on their own, but I don't always recommend it. In today's case, the lender had the statement above on the card.
My problem with this is that no buyer should walk into a For Sale By Owner without their own representation, and here is why:
- Confidentiality: The seller is going to engage you in a conversation and seek personal information from you that you might feel is confidential. However most buyers will feel obligated to talk and unfortunately will talk too much. Buyers need to understand that any info they divulge could result in them not getting the best deal, or paying too much for the home. Sellers WILL use what you say against you during negotiations.
- Disclosure: The sellers have chosen to forgo any representation, which means they may not be following the law when it comes to disclosure. They also may have not measured the home correctly and that 2500 square foot home you think you are getting actually includes the garage square footage as well. Having an agent with you will ensure you get the correct information.
- No Deal: If you show up at an open house by a FSBO without your agent, the seller could claim that they "found" you on their own and state they are not obligated to pay your agent their rightful commission. This either means you will have to pay your agent the commission out of your own pocket, decide not to purchase the home, or buy the home without representation and take on the risk of going it alone. With the litigation happy world we live in, I highly recommend you have an agent by your side at all times.
- Private Showing : by going to an open house hosted by a seller, buyers will not be allowed to walk the home by themselves. Sellers don't trust you and will follow you room to room, trying to sell the home. The problem with this is that instead of seeing the details of the home and how it can fit your needs, you will be listening to the seller, and most likely be getting annoyed. You will miss important aspects of the home which could have sold you on purchasing it.
- Representation: and lastly, don't let anyone tell you not to bring your agent. It is your right to have someone representing your interests at all times. If a seller insists for you to ditch an agent, ditch that seller. Most likely any transaction pursued with them will result in alot of unneeded headaches.
Please know that I am not against home owners selling by themselves. I have just run into a couple that are dishonest from the start and actually refuse to show a home if a buyer has an agent. In these cases, it is much better if the buyer passes the home by. I have also met many sellers who are very agent friendly and these transactions have ended with two happy parties. What ever you decide to do, do so with the advice from a real estate agent. They could just save you thousands of dollars during negotiations and save you from a possible lawsuit in the future.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Due to Minneapolis encompassing a large area of real estate, the local Realtor association has created 11 areas in Minneapolis in order to better organize the sale data.The Nokomis region is denoted by the number 304 in our multiple listing system and includes the Lake Nokomis, Lake Hawatha, Diamond Lake and surrounding areas .Following is some year-to-date (YTD) sales information.
Average Sales Price : YTD the average sales price is $240,787. In 2006, it was $240,958. So the sales price really has not changed over the last year, which is really good news...this region isn't experiencing a slump like other areas of Minneapolis.
% of Original List Price Received : currently sellers are getting 96% of the list price, where in 2006, sellers were receiving just 97%. Prices are holding steady which is great news for local sellers in this region.
Average Days on the Market : If you are a seller in the Nokomis region, you are doing quite well. Currently it is taking only 95 days to sell. This is actually the second quickest area in Minneapolis to sell. Longfellow is only seller better at 77 days.
New Listings vs. Closed Listings : YTD there have been 1328 homes listed for sale down only 6% from 2006. At the same time, only 548 have closed this year, which is down 19.6% from 2006.
As you can see, the Nokomis real estate market is holding it's own this year. One thing to notice is that even though sales are down in this region, home owners that do successfully sell their home, are spending less time on the market, and getting more of what they ask for. The likely reason is that sellers are being realistic about their list prices. Many in Minneapolis still deny reality.
Look for more updates every couple months as the new data is released so you can get a better view of how the market is progressing as the year goes on! You can view statistics from other areas of Minneapolis here.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
While driving around today I happened to be stopped at a light when I noticed this vehicle sitting next to me. I had to rush to get the camera out before the light changed. If you can't read his side window, it says "Experimental Hybrid". On the back of the truck are 10 solar panels, sitting in the bed. Now, I don't know if this is a joke, or if somehow this really works. If anyone out there knows, please tell us!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The study ranked the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country, and Minneapolis – Saint Paul finished with a sizable lead over the other ranked cities. Read more of what makes Minneapolis great at the link above.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Well the one fun thing about building a home is deciding on what you want to put into it. This can quickly become a hair pulling out experience if you let it overwhelm you. Oh, and it can get expensive too!
After you sign all the paperwork and have the negotiating complete, most builders will ask you to set up a meeting, a three hour one, to pick your "colors". Of course, "colors" really means you will be choosing everything from the appliances, paint colors, flooring, cabinets, siding, electrical, faucets, lighting, countertops, etc. Some builders have showrooms where you can see every single product they offer. Most are still behind on this trend and will have you look through photos of the items, or travel to a local vender to view products.
Some things you will have to consider:
- Cabinets - Oak is usually the baseline for cabinets and automatically "included". Maple comes in second, Cherry third, and exotics next. Upgrading to Maple can be quite expensive, especially in the kitchen. Cherry is really expensive and mostly comes in darker colors. Be careful with how dark you go. If you choose dark, but don't have enough light, the room will appear smaller than it actually is. (HINT: if you want to save some money, put oak cabinets in all the bathrooms and laundry room. These rooms aren't used as much as the kitchen and won't stand out as much)
- Floors - another cost that can easily escalate is floors. Most options begin with vinyl, then laminate, wood, or carpeting. If you want wood, find out how much the builder is charging you , then get some estimates from local hardware stores. In some cases, it is cheaper for you to put in the floors latter, after closing, as you won't have to pay the extra mark-up from the builder.
- Paint - builders love to put in flat color paint on the walls. I hate flat as it shows marks really well and is hard to clean. You can ask to have other textures put in, but it will cost you. Most builders will give you a choice from 4-6 neutral colors, and will paint the entire home the same. We saved $1000 by just having the builder paint the home all white, instead of paying for a color.
- Countertops - there are so many choices available and you will need to ask the builder what type of products they offer. Some offer Corrian, Laminate, Granite, Cambria, Silestone, etc. If you choose a natural stone, it can add thousands of dollars to the home. To save money, only put the expensive countertops in the kitchen and leave the bathrooms with the least expensive stuff. You will also have to coordinate the countertops with the cabinet and floor colors, which is one instance when you could be pulling your hair out.
- Electrical - this will be the longest part of the selection process and you might want to walk through the model a couple of times to get an idea of where you want switches, dimmers, recessed lights, cable outlets, fixtures, etc to go. You will have to sit down and go room by room with the builders representative. Recessed lighting can add up, as can dimmer switches. Also think about if you want any ceiling fans in rooms as they will need to be wired for future use. Don't forget cable outlets. You may not need them in every bedroom, but a future buyer might not be to happy with having to install them themselves.
- Lighting - builders usually offer five lighting packages, with different finishes. The typical "cheap" lights are brass/gold finish and I advise, if you can, to pay for the next level up. Don't forget to think about floor outlets for lamps in the living room, or under-cabinet lighting for the kitchen or bathrooms.
Ok, so I have tried to cover the most obvious things you will have to choose during the selection process. If you are using a custom home builder, your options could be limitless, but more expensive. Think about what you would really love to have in the home and then review the final price. If the cost is too high, take out the things you don't really need, or things you can do at a later date yourself. Just take care of the most important, and worry about the small stuff later.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The green certification for remodelers is the first in the nation and has a goal of encouraging home owners to choose more efficient, environmentally safe, and healthy ways to build their homes. The Green building standards take into account local building codes, energy codes, and seasonal concerns. They are still being developed and tweaked, and according the company will be finalized this month.
According to MN Green Star they are trying to ensure that homes under their certification are:
- Healthier and more comfortable
- More sensitive to the community and the environment
- More efficient with use of energy, water, materials, and land
- Less costly to operate
- More Valuable in the Marketplace
Certification could also lead to other benefits, including:
- Mortgage and home equity rate discounts
- Rebates on building materials and products
- Tax credits
- Preferred utility rates
- Preferred homeowner and health insurance rates
Wouldn't you just love to get some of those savings and benefits?
Visit their website to learn more about green certification in Minnesota and think about making your next project as MN green as you can!
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
"With consumer confidence in residential real estate in the doldrums, the Twin Cities housing market is seeing a new downward surge in home sales in recent weeks. For the week ending September 29, new purchase agreements (pending sales) fell from the same week last year by 33.1 percent. This is on the heels of a 26.3 percent drop last week vs. the same week in 2006.
The downward velocity in buyer activity appeared to have bottomed out in the first half of 2007, but August and September have shown further decreases as uncertainties in the mortgage industry have intensified. Keeping a close eye on real estate activity in the weeks ahead will give us an indication of where this road will lead. Thankfully, the decline in seller activity has also accelerated, with new listings down by 15.7 percent for the same time period."
Don't forget that fall is approaching and the market naturally slows down at this time of year as well. Each neighborhood is different and yours could be doing quite well. Remember to ask a real estate agent for help on getting an idea on how your home will price if you are looking to sell. You might be presently surprised. It's not ALL doom and gloom!
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The problem is that with a real estate market now in the toilet, most agents do not make as much now as they did in 2004-2005. Politicians want to label real estate as a "service" industry, much like a hotel or car rental company. We just rented a rental car the other day while our car was getting new tires. It was so nice to see an additional 6.2% tax on the bill, in addition to the sales tax, which was labeled as a "Minnesota Car Tax". Minnesota would like to do the same to my paycheck. Now don't take this as a complaint, I do have a larger point for the consumer.
In 2005, the bill to tax real estate commissions didn't pass. Probably most likely because they were unfairly singling out one profession. No big surprise, but they came back the next year with an even better bill. This time, real estate agents were not the only target, but now everyone that takes part of a real estate transaction were being included - title companies, local lenders, lawyers, etc. Obviously, you can tell this made alot of people mad.
Not to get to deep into this topic, but the measure didn't pass again this year. The main problem with lumping real estate into a "service" is that this is no hotel room for $100 a night. This is one of the largest purchases people make in a lifetime and hundreds of thousands of dollars "exchange" hands. The problem is that by taxing the people who work the transaction, they will have to pass the cost on to the consumer by raising their fees. So the people who really lose are the sellers and buyers who are just trying to close on a home.
Many people in today's market cannot afford to have their fees increased when it comes to buying or selling a home. The Minnesota government is just wanting to cash in on a good market that no longer exists. They think we make too much money, but last I checked they make alot more money than the average agent. Maybe we should tax their job and label it a "service" industry as they are here to serve the people, right? I wonder how they would handle such a proposal?
Bottom line, any time you see politicians wanting to apply more taxes to hard working people's paychecks, stand up and say something. If it happens to us, it is only a matter of time before it happens to you.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
But aside from that, a new idea on the "Going Green" front is LED (light emitting diode) Christmas light strings. They are safer, easy to use, and use less energy than the traditional lights we have complained about putting up every year. Now that they are becoming more common place, different color combination are available for your viewing pleasure.
Here are some facts about LEDs provide by the Minnesota Department of Commerce:
- they have a life span of up to 100,000 hours indoors and 50,000 hours outdoors
- most are guaranteed up to 20 years of life
- if one burns out, the rest stay lit (no Griswold family Christmas here)
- they use about 100 times less energy than standard bulbs and 10 times less than mini lights