local expert

Establishing Credibility With Sellers

I was on a (successful) listing appointment in Linden Hills last week, when the topic of neighborhood expertise came up (I am).

It certainly helped that I had handled several recent transactions within a few blocks; used to live less than six blocks south, in the adjacent Fulton neighborhood; knew the details of all the relevant “Active” listings; and even had the scoop on the elementary school down the street.

The clincher (or at least one of them)?

I knew the daily special at the local co-op, where I regularly shop (still).

I’d stopped by on the way to the appointment, and bought the turkey meatloaf ($6.99/lb, $3 off the regular $9.99) for my family’s dinner that night.

See also, “Cedar Lake Specialist” . . . Really??”; “‘Calhoun Lake?’ Is That By Isles Lake?”; and “You Might Not Be From Minneapolis if . . .”;


The $394,727.89 House (Huh?!?)

by Ross Kaplan on February 12, 2016

for sale

Consumer Psychology and the Too-Precise Price

When you see an oddly-priced “For Sale” home, there are two possible explanations (at least in my experience selling residential real estate):

One. Drawing Attention.

The way to stand out from homes listed at $389,900, $399,900, etc. is to price at $398,731 or some such (I haven’t seen a home priced in cents . . . yet).

Two. Consumers can think a non-rounded price is somehow more accurate and “scientifically” arrived at.

Experienced agents, on the other hand, view a too-precise price for what it is:  a marketing gimmick.

Just like cockroaches, however, you seldom see only one, which is why I frown on the practice — and generally have a negative association with such listings and their agents.

P.S.: What should a Buyer offer for a house listed at $398,731?

My suggestion:  $386,529.

See also, “$425,000 vs. $424,975“; and “The Too Precise Price:  Exhibit A.”


The Beauty of Ugly Fruit (at least for staging)

by Ross Kaplan on February 11, 2016

That’s “Ugly Fruit,” not ugly fruit

It’s turns out that “Ugly Fruit” is actually a proper name, not just descriptive.

Discovery #2:  it’s perfectly suited to staging.

ugly2I count four reasons for that:

One. It’s pleasingly colorful (vs. glaringly so or too muted).

Two. Ugly Fruit is big.  You only need a few to fill up a nice-sized bowl (compare with cherries, grapes, etc.).

Staging pros further know that the magic number for catching a Buyer’s eye is three (1-2 items don’t stand out; more is too cluttery).

Three. You can’t tell if an Ugly Fruit is fresh or overripe.

With an exterior resembling a slightly prickly, overgrown avocado, it’s not obvious from its color, texture, etc. whether an Ugly Fruit is fresh-picked or months old.

That matters, because staged fruit that spoils rapidly has to be constantly replaced — a pain for a “For Sale” home (especially a vacant one).

Judging a Book Fruit By Its Cover

To avoid that problem, stagers will often use plastic flowers and fruit.

The catch:  they often look plastic.

Which leads to benefit #4:  you can’t tell if you’re looking at a real Ugly Fruit or a fake (prop) — not just in a picture (above), but actually holding one (as I did this am at an Exceptional Properties meeting — I couldn’t resist).

Just in case any listing agents or stagers out there are tempted to use the real thing, though, here’s one more reason to go with the prop:  Ugly Fruit reportedly smells bad.


Gas Plunges to 22¢(!!) a Gallon in Twin Cities

by Ross Kaplan on February 11, 2016

gasOK, so I didn’t really pay 22¢ a gallon when I filled up at Costco in St. Louis Park last night.

The official, nominal price was $1.359 a gallon.

But, what economists call the real price, adjusted for inflation, was 22¢.

That’s because $1 today, adjusted for inflation, is the same as 16¢ in 1970.

P.S.:  After taking into account credit card rebates and other incentives (like the 3¢/gallon discount offered to Costco credit card holders), 2016 gas prices are even lower.


Crime and No Punishment: Wall Street’s Chickens Come Home to Roost in 2016 Election

February 10, 2016

Outsiders Trump, Sanders Take New Hampshire “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” –Deuteronomy 16:20. One of my favorite classes in college was “Criminal Justice,” taught by Stanford Law School Professor John Kaplan (no relation). Kaplan asserted that there were only ever four reasons to imprison lawbreakers:  1) punishment, i.e., to hold them morally accountable; 2) isolation, […]

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Can’t Find What You’re Looking For in Fern Hill? I Might Be Able to Help

February 9, 2016

Getting the Jump on Upcoming Listings Near Cedar Lake With housing inventory super-tight generally and near Cedar Lake specifically, lots of would-be Buyers looking in Fern Hill, Lake Forest, and Sunset Gables at the moment are coming up empty-handed (the first two neighborhoods are St. Louis Park, the latter is in Minneapolis). If you’re one […]

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“Every Dog (of the Dow) Has Its Day?” Not Anymore

February 9, 2016

Confusing Correlation and Causation “The Super Bowl Indicator.” “Dogs of the Dow” (Jones Index). “Sell in May and go away.” “The hemline index.” What do each of these (and doubtless dozens of other) investing strategies have in common? They were all, once upon a time, reliable investing formulas. Until they weren’t. At least as far as […]

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How to Get the Scoop on a Busted Deal

February 9, 2016

If you want the scoop on a busted deal, a good starting point is the listing agent (representing the Seller). However, if you want the real scoop . . . talk to the former Buyer’s agent. That is, assuming you can find them — and if they’ll talk. MLS Status Once there’s a signed Purchase Agreement, […]

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