Step #1 and Step #2

What’s the easiest (and cheapest) to lighten a Minnesota home — at least between November and May?

Start by removing the window screens (step #1).

windowwashingAfter last night’s hard freeze (lows in the mid-20′s), that’s now timely to do.

With the screens gone, though, it can be all too apparent how dirty the home’s windows are.

Step #2:  clean ‘em — surprisingly, possible to do down to 15° or so (at least for the pros).

See also, “$1,000 for Windows. CLEANING Windows”; and “Window Washing . . in Winter!

P.S.:  While many people store their window screens in the garage, I recommend the basement or a stairwell if there’s room (less dust).


“Now You DON’T See It . . . Now You Do”

by Ross Kaplan on October 30, 2014


Smart Landscaping, or, “What a Difference Three Weeks Makes!”

The “it” in question would be the home — make that homes — at 2545 Huntington in St. Louis Park’s Fern Hill neighborhood.  See, “New on the Market:  2545 Huntington for $4.995 Million(!).”

1_afterWhat you can’t tell from the two photos is that the row of deciduous trees (vs. evergreen) is on the south side of the property.

What difference does that make?

In the summer, when it’s hot (or supposed to be — this IS Minnesota), the trees’ leaves block out the sun.

In the winter, when it’s decidedly not (hot) . . . the bare trees let the sun in.

Smart . . .

P.S.:  The one tree with green leaves in the top photo is the lone tree with now-purple/red leaves in photo #2.

Call it a “late shedder” (vs. “late bloomer”).


Man Bites Dog — Real Estate Edition

One of the odder anecdotes from a continuing ed class yesterday was the hapless home seller who got sued not because their house was haunted — but because it wasn’t.

hauntedApparently, the Seller had disclosed in their Minnesota Seller’s Disclosure that the home had experienced “paranormal activity.”

The Buyer bought relying on that.

When the promised ghosts (ghouls?  goblins?  witches?) didn’t, umm . . . materialize, post-closing, they sued.

I’ve got to believe the Buyer and Seller either settled — and for a (very) small amount — or the suit was tossed by the judge (see analysis, below).

Too bad.

Just imagine the TV audience — let alone the competition for gallery seats — for THAT one (“as its next witness, the plaintiff calls to the stand . . . “).

In Re Haunted House” — the Lawsuit

I suppose the Buyer’s argument would be that they bought the house intending to use it as a (commercial) haunted house.

Presumably, their damages would then be lost revenue.

The problem with that argument is zoning:  the home would have had to be zoned for commercial activity.

Most single-family homes in Minnesota are zoned R-1 (“R” for residential).

Hurdle #2 for the Buyer, to beg the obvious:  exactly how does one prove — or disprove — that a home is “haunted,” anyways?


Is it Possible to Hold TOO MANY Sunday Open Houses?

by Ross Kaplan on October 29, 2014


Law of Diminishing Returns

Show me a “For Sale” home that’s open Sunday after Sunday, rain or shine, and I’ll show you a house where:  a) the home is likely overpriced sunday openand going nowhere in the market; b) a frustrated Realtor is trying to placate an impatient owner; or most likely c) both “a.” and “b.”

In my experience, 3-4 open houses at regular intervals (like every 2-3 weeks) — at least at the same listing price — is plenty of exposure.

Newbie Agents for Newbie Buyers

That number of public open houses translates into about 90-120 days of market time, which should be enough to sell an average-priced home in most markets.

Reason #2 most Realtors think Sunday open houses are overrated:  serious Buyers — that is, the ones working with agents — can get in any time they want via a private showing.

And do.

Broker Open’s:  The Real Deal

Want proof that many veteran agents have a dubious regard for weekend open’s?

They don’t do ‘em (instead, they hand off to newbie agents who pinch hit for them).

That’s in marked contrast to Broker Open houses (for Realtors), which are held Tuesdays in the Twin Cities, and actually do result in lots of deals.

I also feel differently about doing weekend open’s at the beginning of a listing, when I’m still gauging people’s reaction to the house (which is why I typically host my own open houses).

See also,  ”Reason #23 to Do Open Houses”; “Sunday Open House Multiple Choice“; “Broker Open Buzz, or . . ???”; “1st Open Fanfare“; “Catering Broker Open’s (Or Not)“; and “‘Embellishing Attendance at a Broker Open (Word of Advice:  ‘Don’t’)”;


Under Construction in Downtown Minneapolis: New Vikings Stadium

October 26, 2014

A Clutch* of (Construction) Cranes If massive construction sites are your thing, it’s hard to do better than the site of the new Vikings stadium at the east end of downtown. At least at this stage, the building looks like the world’s biggest roller coaster taking shape. In fact, there are no fewer than half […]

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Coming Soon(?): “The Ross Kaplan Extra Point Attempt”

October 25, 2014

“This Fourth Down Conversion Attempt Brought to You By [Your Company Name Here]“ Inspired by the “Allstate Catch of the Day,” I’m going to see if the cable channel carrying the University of Minnesota football games will consider creating something called “The Ross Kaplan Extra Point Attempt” (I’m game if the price is right). If […]

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“Synchronate,” Take 2

October 25, 2014

How to Time-Shift (Just a Little) “Synch-ron-ate” (verb):  taping a TV or cable show, then watching it — without commercials — so as to finish at the same time as the live telecast. – Proposed addition to English language; Ross Kaplan. Almost four years ago, I proposed a new word, “synchronate,” to describe the practice of […]

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Friends, GPS’s, and Jumping Off Bridges

October 25, 2014

Led Astray By Still-Fallible Technology “If all your friends all jumped off a bridge . . . would you, too??” –Moms to their kids, circa 1970. “Never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.” –Advice to trial lawyers cross-examining witnesses. Once upon a time, Mothers countered foolish, me-too behavior in their […]

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