Hide and Seek

Let’s talk about a real estate bill in the 2011 Minnesota legislative session.  Under MN Statute section 515B.4-108, purchasers of a condo, townhouse or cooperative unit get 10 days to review the home owner association (HOA) disclosure documents.  That 10-day clock starts … [Read more...]

Radon and the Tooth Fairy

Remember when you were very young and it was easy to believe in things you couldn't see, like the Tooth Fairy?   The Tooth Fairy was so cool, giving you money for something you no longer needed.  And even when the day came that your baby teeth or your belief were no more, the Tooth Fairy didn't get mad at being ignored.  Good ol'  TF was never bad or harmful. … [Read more...]

The Sculpture Mystery

Houses hold stories created by their inhabitants.  Sometimes the house itself contains the story’s physical record: the successively-higher pencil lines on a doorjamb showing a child’s growth; the secret hiding spot above the ceiling tile; the dusty box of letters left in a forgotten corner of the attic.  These relics provide unique connections from prior home owners to later ones. … [Read more...]

Agents Are From Mars, Consumers Are From Venezuela

It is human nature to view oneself in terms of value, and others in terms of cost. This paradox is never more evident than in a business setting. No exception to the rule, Real Estate agents and consumers must coexist in an arena of disparate interests and subjective truths. In the search for common ground, … [Read more...]

The Saga of Salton City

Who wouldn’t want an affordable sea-side home in glamorous California?  Those who rushed to buy a lot in Salton City during the late 1950’s certainly thought it was a solid investment.  Sadly, they were wrong. (My Christmas Valley story said that Penn Phillips moved his operation to Oregon after his California business license was suspended  … [Read more...]

Smells That Sell

Right now, some Realtor® is saying “If it smells, it doesn’t sell” to a client because their house needs a scent make-over.  Smells bad, that is.  But what about pleasant odors?  There are several schools of thought about which aromas are the most buyer-friendly. … [Read more...]

12 Reasons Buyers Need Pre-Approvals

If you were ready to buy a house, would you rather be pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage loan?  In everyday usage, the two phrases seem so similar, it's easy to guess wrong.  You want to be pre-approved.  Here's why. Pre-qualified means that a lender did a cursory review of your finances and stated a general range of what you can borrow.  In contrast, pre-approval requires a mortgage application and the lender verifies your assets, debts, income and credit history. This method yields a more accurate estimate of your borrowing power.   Second question: When should you get … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #9 – Putting It All Together (Conclusion)

Making wise decisions about buying into a condo or townhouse development requires more due diligence than purchasing a traditional single family home.  Once the needed info has been gathered, assigning relative weights to the pros and cons of different places becomes the next challenge.  It’s enough to make you wish there was an “Angie’s List” or a “Consumer Reports Buying Guide” for HOA communities.   Deciding which home is the best choice is a highly individual matter. But there are a few universal principles to keep in mind: Principle No. 1:  The 3 most important things about real estate … [Read more...]

The Cat’s Guide to Preventing a House Sale

Listen up, fellow felines!  Your peeps are trying to sell your home out from underneath you.  And they haven't even asked permission, have they?   Everyone knows that we cats hate, hate, hate change.  Not like those silly dogs, so eager to explore new places.  We like things just the way they are.   If you have never had the trauma of being forcibly moved, let me tell you it's a nightmare.  The locations of your  food bowl and litter box - totally changed!  You have to fend off who knows what to claim the new place as your territory.  You must cultivate new napping spots.   You will have … [Read more...]

How to X-ray an HOA #8 – Home Businesses, Leases, Parking and Pets

Home-based businesses.  Most associations allow them, but restrict signage and require that the business not cause extra traffic in the neighborhood.   The Governing Documents in older associations may flatly prohibit home businesses and you may be told, “Don’t worry about that, we have never enforced it.”  That may be true, but if you proceed with a purchase under these circumstances, you risk that this attitude may change someday. Leases.  Do you want the flexibility to lease your place?  Many smaller associations prohibit leasing entirely but most other communities allow it.  As always, … [Read more...]

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