Soupy September Start in the Twin Cities

by Ross Kaplan on September 1, 2015

Calendar Confusion

septWhat follows “September-in-August?”


After an unusually chilly late August, with overnight lows in the 40’s(!), the Twin Cities is now being treated(?) to an unusually muggy stretch in the high 80’s.

Natives know that such schizophrenic weather is par for the course locally.


Relocating the Laundry (Usually, Up)

by Ross Kaplan on September 1, 2015

The Reason to Put the Laundry (Back) in the Basement

I just met a client’s plumber, who quoted the cost for them to move a basement laundry to the first floor in a “For Sale” home they’re considering.

laundryAccording to the plumber, that’s the direction of the move 90% of the time.

The other 10%?

Homeowners whose laundry is currently in a (main floor) mud room, who want it in the lower level.

“The More Things Change . . .”

The rationale:  the owners don’t like their entry — typically through the garage — to feel like a clothes hamper, competing with boots, jackets, etc., and instead want the laundry out-of-the-way, in the Basement.

Where it likely was originally . . .

P.S.:  for aging Baby Boomers, a first-floor laundry — and stair-free, one-level living generally — is often truly a need, not a want.


Uh-oh, Ben Stein Says Not to Worry About China

by Ross Kaplan on September 1, 2015

Parallels With Subprime Mortgage Melt-Down

“The U.S. economy’s output is roughly $18.4 trillion per year. Total exports to China are very roughly $120 billion per year. That’s a lot of hamburgers, but it’s roughly seven-tenths of one percent of the U.S. economy. If our exports to China fell by 20 percent — a large number — that would have only trifling effect on the U.S. economy — very roughly one-tenth of one percent of U.S. output, trivial even for an economy as big as ours.”

–“Ben Stein:  Don’t Blame China For Stock Market Woes“; CBS News (Aug. 30, 2015)

ben_steinThose with long memories will recall that Stein said something very similar about the collapse in subprime mortgages — and the risk it posed to the housing market and broader economy — just before the bottom fell out back in 2008:

“The total mortgage market in the United States is roughly $10.4 trillion. Of that, a little over 13 percent, or about $1.35 trillion, is subprime — certainly a large sum. Of this, nearly 14 percent is delinquent, meaning late in payment or in foreclosure. Of this amount, about 5 percent is actually in foreclosure, or about $67 billion. Of this amount, according to my friends in real estate, at least about half will be recovered in foreclosure. So now we are down to losses of about $33 billion to $34 billion.

The rate of loss in subprime mortgages keeps climbing. In time, perhaps it will double, maybe back to $67 billion. This is a large sum by absolute standards, and I would sure like to have it in my bank account.

But by the metrics of a large economy, it is nothing. The total wealth of the United States is about $70 trillion. The value of the stocks listed in the United States is very roughly $15 trillion to $20 trillion. The bond market is even larger.

Much more to the point, the fears and terrors about subprime mortgages have helped knock off 6.7 percent of the stock market’s value in recent weeks. This amounts to about $1.1 trillion, or more than 30 times the losses so far in the subprime market. In other words, these subprime losses are wildly out of all proportion to the likely damage to the economy from the subprime problems.”

–Ben Stein, “Chicken Little’s Brethren, on the Trading Floor”; The NYT (8/12/2007)

OK, now you can officially worry . . .


10 scores

“Actions > Words Dept.”

How do you know, as a listing agent (representing the Seller), that a Buyer has serious interest?

A. They gushed about how much they loved the home at the Sunday open house.
B. They asked the listing agent to find out how quickly the Seller can close.
C. The showing feedback form from the Buyer’s agent was full of superlatives.
D. They set up a (second) showing.

Correct Answer:  “D.”  (credit also given for:  “they wrote an offer“).   :-)

It’s certainly not true all the time, but, I’d say something like +90% of the time, Buyers who are truly serious about a home — especially if it’s bigger and/or needs work — will set up another showing, often with a good friend, kids (if older), parents (if younger), contractor, etc. in tow.

That’s when they’ll scrutinize the mechanical’s, the Seller’s Disclosure, the roof, the neighborhood, and all the other things serious Buyers take into account.

See also, “Sunday Open Houses & “Minnesota Nice'”; and “Qualifying Sunday Open House Traffic.”

Also:  “Serious Buyers:  Top 10 Signs”; “Unserious Buyers: Top 10 Signs”; and “Is the Buyer Serious? Here’s One Clue.“


Will Hillary Stop By the State Fair Today?

August 29, 2015

“When in Rome Minnesota Close to Labor Day . . . ”  Sure, Iowa has the nation’s first primary. But, neighboring Minnesota has 10 electoral votes vs. Iowa’s measly 6. Plus, Minnesota’s state fair draws almost twice the people that Iowa’s does (1.8 million vs. 1 million). So, maybe Hillary Clinton — already in town for […]

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Listing Agent: “Long listing period is due to former tenant’s unwillingness to allow showings”

August 29, 2015

So THAT’S Why It’s Been For Sale Forever (Maybe) As I tell clients, the “good stuff” on MLS is invariably buried in the “Agent Remarks” field — which consumers can’t see — rather than the “Public Remarks” field, which they can. Even so, I can’t previously recall a listing agent trying to defuse a VERY […]

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What Makes a Movie Bad? It Depends How Old You Are

August 29, 2015

Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” Goes 0-for-3 There’s not just one definition of a bad movie, there are several, age-dependent ones. Or if you prefer, “multi-generational” definitions. At least in my family, here they are: 12 year-old son:  cheesy special effects. Me (mid-50’s):  convoluted (or no) plot; poor acting. Father-in-law (mid-80’s):  can’t nap during film (too loud). […]

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2nd to Last Business Day in August = LOTS of Closings

August 28, 2015

“April showers bring May flowers.” –old saying “July deals bring (late) August closings.” –real estate corollary Combine a (very) busy late Spring market, surprisingly low interest rates, and a looming month-end, and what do you get? An exceptionally crowded end of August closing docket. Meanwhile, as for Realtors . . . not so much. At […]

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