“Are YOU Doing an Open Today??”

by Ross Kaplan on April 20, 2014

Wrestling With Realtor Guilt

Just like it’s always a good time to buy, some Realtors (and Brokers :-) ) say it’s always a good time to hold an open (house, that is).

Like today, Easter Sunday.  See, “Open Houses on Easter Sunday.”

closedI disagree.

Realtors need down time and family time, too (and dare I say, “spiritual time”).

As for any Realtors who feel strongly otherwise, here’s how to stop them in their tracks:  ask them, “are YOU doing an open today??”

That is, if they’re around:  when I got to the Edina Realty-City Lakes office a few minutes ago (almost noon) to do some quick paperwork . . . one other agent (out of 70) was in, and the lights were still off.*

If you’re in the Twin Cities, enjoy the beautiful day!

*For the record, all major real estate offices are closed today.


May Closings & (Minnesota) Property Taxes

by Ross Kaplan on April 19, 2014

But First . . . a Brief History Lesson

I don’t know about other states — I’m only licensed to sell real estate in Minnesota — but here, residential property taxes are due twice a year:  May 15 and October 15.

May 15Those non-randomly chosen dates stretch back to when Minnesota’s economy — like practically every other state’s — was agrarian-based.

The two times a year farmers predictably had money were in the Spring, before they’d planted; and in the Fall, after they’d harvested.

Tax collectors — no dummies about such things — realized that those were the best times to dun its citizens for property taxes (note:  the May 15 payment covers the first half of the year; the October 15 payment the second half*).

Debits and Credits

Which leaves the more contemporary question, “if you’re selling your house in early (or late) May, do you pay the first half property taxes?”

The short answer (or at least mine) is, it depends on whether the Buyer’s lender is escrowing (collecting in advance) for it.

October15That’s usually resolved by a quick call to the Buyer’s closing company.

Generally, though, the safe guidance is to tell Sellers closing before May 15 to pay their first half property taxes, those closing after . . . not to.

Settling Up at Closing

Either way, the federal closing statement (called “the HUD-1″) should reflect a pro rata adjustment between the Buyer and Seller.

If the Seller paid the first half taxes, they’ll get a credit for the May – June 30 portion corresponding to the new owner’s time in the home.

If the Buyer escrowed the property taxes, the Seller’s net proceeds will be debited (subtracted) for the interval between January 1 and the May closing, when the Seller still owned the home.

*Calculating pro rata property taxes for closings on (or close) to June 30 and December 31 is easy:  they should be zero (or very small).


Open Houses on Easter Sunday

by Ross Kaplan on April 18, 2014

The Case For — and Against

In a microcosm, the considerations for doing an open house on Easter Sunday are the same as for deciding whether to list a home during a traditionally slow time of the year (like around the holidays).

Here’s how the arguments shape up:


–Not much competition from other open houses, so the ones that are open stand out more.
–Quality over quantity: fewer Buyers are out on Easter Sunday, but the ones who are, are disproportionately serious, motivated, etc.
–The same things that make a home welcoming for company (“dressed up,” nice smells, seasonal touches) impress Buyers, too.


–Fewer open houses on Easter Sunday, which (further) depresses traffic (like car dealerships that cluster in the same area, having lots of nearby open houses helps attract Buyers).
–Intrusion on family time, privacy. Opening one’s home to the public — and doing all the cleaning and prep necessary ahead of that — isn’t necessarily how people want to spend Easter (on the plus side, it’s a lot easier to kill a few hours away from home now than in frigid December).

In addition to the foregoing, one other factor that’s relevant, at least at the margin: real estate offices are all closed.

That means Realtors won’t be able to set up any showings to take their Buyers through, people lost on the way to an open can’t call to get directions, etc.

So, which way do the foregoing factors tilt?

For most Sellers (and their Realtors), probably against.

That’s especially the case given that there’s an ideal day to hold an open house so close to Easter Sunday: one week later, when there’s predictably a nice pop of pent-up Spring demand.


The Significance of “Saved” Searches on MLS

by Ross Kaplan on April 18, 2014

Liking the House . . . But Not the Price

What do Buyers today do when they like a home — but not the price?  (ditto for their agents).

eyesThey save the search on MLS.

That way, they immediately know if/when there’s a price reduction.

See, “Who’s Watching the Listing?

“The Ayes Eyes Have It”

Turning things around, lots of “saved” searches for a particular “For Sale” house tells the owner and their agent that the issue with the home is primarily price.

Call that the bad news.

The good news?

Lots of “saved” searches effectively establish a floor under how much the home’s price needs to fall to attract a Buyer.

See also, “Nurse!  I Need a Price Reduction, Stat!”; “Perils of Overpricing Even (Especially) in a Rising Market”; and “Perils of Overpricing.”


Guess Which Neighborhood — And How Much

April 18, 2014

Test your knowledge of the Twin Cities housing market, and answer the following multiple choice question: Where is the to-be-built home pictured above and below located — and what is the asking price? A. Edina’s South Harriet Park neighborhood; asking price: $1.2 million. B. Edina’s Morningside neighborhood; asking price:  $875k. C. Between Diamond Lake and […]

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“Realty Alliance Sales Award”

April 18, 2014

Top 1% of North America Realtors I confess:  I regard (at least some) sales awards the way I do compliments:  you wonder what the ulterior motive is. In the case of sales honors, they’re often quickly followed by a solicitation to market said award, either by licensing it, advertising it*, or sometimes literally just framing […]

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Hot New Listing: 10901 Sumac Lane in Minnetonka

April 17, 2014

Stylish Minnetonka Colonial With $100k(!) Updates for $434,900 Where:  10901 Sumac Lane just northeast of Hopkins Crossroad (Co. 73) and Cedar Lake Rd. What:  4 Bedroom, 4 Bath Colonial with over 2,800 finished square feet on a .31 acre corner lot. When:  listed April 14 (days on market = 3). How much:  $434,900 Who:  listed by Ross Kaplan, Edina Realty – City […]

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How to Reduce Paper Consumption by 50%(!)

April 17, 2014

THAT Was Obvious I just grabbed lunch at the Uptown Lund’s (daily special:  meatloaf with 2 sides for $5.99), but couldn’t find the total on the receipt the cashier handed me (it looked like the receipt had been cut off). Puzzled, I asked the cashier, who told me to check the back. Voila!  Lunds’ receipts are now double-sided. […]

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