Local Expert, National Connections

I don’t sell homes in Washington D.C., Manhattan, Chicago, or Tucson, Arizona.

But, I’ve helped clients buy and sell properties in all those places.


By tapping into Edina Realty’s national relocation network, to find agents who specialize in those areas.

“Jack (Jill?) of All Trades = Master of None”

Closer to home, I’ve also referred clients to agents who’ve handled transactions in parts of town where I’m not an expert (note to prospective Buyers and Sellers:  a Realtor who holds themselves out as an expert in all areas and types of real estate is likely an expert in . . . none).

At least in Minnesota, where I’m licensed and have MLS privileges, my typical “due diligence” consists of these five steps:

One. Interview the prospective Buyer to find out what kind of home they’re looking for (location, size, style, features, price range, etc.).  For Sellers, I collect that info about their current home.

Two. Research MLS to see which agents specialize in selling that kind of home.

Depending on the area and surrounding housing density, I’ll create a search area covering one to five square miles, going back as much as 18 months, within a 10% – 15% price range (depending on the price point, $20k to $200k).

My goal:  find the last two dozen or so similar, recent transactions.

“Referral Due Diligence”

Once I’ve generated that list, I perform step three:  scan the transaction sides — “Listing” and “Selling” (= Buyer) — for each deal to see which Realtors pop up the most.

So, if I’m looking at 20 sales, there will be 40 transaction sides — and likely, at least a few agents whose names appear regularly.

With over 2,100 Twin Cities agents and a market-leading 25% of area sales, it’s further likely that one or more Edina Realty agents will be on that list.

Four.  Interview the Edina Realty branch managers for the finalists to get more info on their experience, credentials, etc.

Five.  Contact the “winner” to confirm that they’d be a good fit, provide some background on the client, and confirm that they’re interested/available.

Client Testimonials

So, how does all this work out in practice?

Don’t take my word for it — take my clients’.

Rick and Robin Tilander relocated from California to Minnesota earlier this year, and found me via this blog.

They ultimately bought a Burnsville home this May with the help of Edina Realty agent Denny Mathis.

Here’s what Rick wrote me:

Thanks for putting me in touch with Denny Mathis.  He did a fantastic job for us and it would not have happened if I hadn’t been in contact with you first.  Denny’s knowledge of the Eagan and Burnsville area is terrific, and that’s what really set him apart with us.  And to top it off, the house we selected was the first one he showed us, and is a couple blocks from his house, in a terrific area that he has lived in for more than 20 years.  We couldn’t have asked for more from Denny; he is a true professional at what he does. 

Thank you so very much once again.”


So there you have it:  if you’re looking for real estate, either in Minnesota or anywhere in the U.S. . . . I can help.

P.S.: Getting a note like Rick’s is what real estate is all about; it simply doesn’t get any better than that.

Thanks, Rick and Robin!!


The Most Hated Man in America Right Now?

by Ross Kaplan on July 31, 2015


 . . . and the Mother of All PR Nightmares

If I’m seeing spontaneous outpourings of grief for slain lion Cecil in my office, on Facebook, etc. — and I am — I assume that you can multiply that by thousands (tens of thousands?) nationally.

It’s hardly good news that the culprit is a Minnesotan — specifically, a Bloomington dentist.

And no, that can’t be good for business . . .



Contingent Offer Multiple Choice

[Editor’s Note:  Nothing in this post or on this blog should be construed as offering legal counsel.  If you require legal advice, please consult an attorney.]

Test your knowledge of the Summer, 2015 housing market and field this question:

Contingent offers — when a Buyer buys contingent on being able to sell their current home — are back in vogue.  Why?

A. A stronger, more active housing market is reassuring Sellers that the Contingent Buyer will be able to perform within the usual 60-90 day time period (in “Realtor-speak”, the Buyer can sell their current property, called “the backup home”).
B. Minnesota’s standard Contingency language now makes it easier for Sellers to get out of the deal (Note:  Once upon a time, Sellers could find themselves bound to the Contingent Buyer — see graphic, above.  Now, they can “call” (cancel) the Contingency for any reason, provided they give the Buyer adequate notice).
C. Buyer psychology:  Sellers know that a Contingent sale can fuel other Buyers’ ardor (works in dating, too).
D. Contingent Buyers typically compensate Sellers for the contingency with a higher price.

Answer:  all of the above.

The Case for Plan B

Notwithstanding their renewed popularity, my standard advice to prospective Buyers contemplating buying Contingent is to also investigate getting a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”) on their existing home, so that they can buy non-contingent.*

The Buyer typically taps the HELOC for a downpayment on the new home, then pays off the HELOC when their current home sells.

My logic?

The nominal cost of the HELOC is likely less than the premium the Buyer will have to pay to entice a Seller to accept a Contingent Offer — and less than the discount they may have to accept in order to sell their current home before their Contingency expires.

A word of caution, though, to Buyers contemplating such a strategy:  they need to secure the HELOC before putting their current home on the market.

The other way around doesn’t fly with lenders.

*Of course, to do that, the Buyer has to have equity in their current home, and financially qualify to carry two mortgages temporarily.


Now, THAT’S a Housewarming Gift!

by Ross Kaplan on July 30, 2015

Champagne, Fruit Basket . . . Guthrie Tix?!?

tixMy colleague, Kathy Dick, helped her client celebrate her recent home sale with an especially thoughtful — and personal — gift:  two theater tix to a matinée performance of The Guthrie’s production of The Music Man.

The second ticket was for Kathy:  she and her client — a good friend — attended the play together.

P.S.:  the play got a “thumbs up” from both of them.


The Opposite of “Never Asking a Barber If You Need a Haircut”

July 30, 2015

Getting an Older Home — and Homeowner — Ready for Market What’s the opposite of “never asking a barber if you need a haircut?” When the barber says you can wait a couple more weeks . . . you probably can. Or the real estate equivalent:  When a commission-based (and closing-driven) Realtor advises a client […]

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Negotiating, Ray Donovan-Style: When a Tie = a Win

July 29, 2015

Playing Defense as Well as Offense Anthony Finney: So I had a contract drawn up to buy you and your company lock, stock, and barrel. Ray Donovan:  I’m not for sale [walks away]. Anthony Finney:  Ahh . . we’re still negotiating. –“Ray Donovan”; “Come and Knock on Our Door” (episode 3, season 3). You can […]

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Why I’m Rooting for Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders, Too!)

July 28, 2015

Goring BOTH Parties’ Oxes:  Why 2016 May Be the Year Americans Use “Ranked Choice Voting”** to Elect the President There were no computers (and ranked choice voting) when Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1912, but if there had been, runner-up Teddy Roosevelt would likely have been chosen President instead. After all, a majority of voters […]

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“Fresh Paint?” That, Too

July 28, 2015

Realtor Freudian Slips “All-new appliances, new carpeting, fresh pain.” –Public remarks, MLS I say it with sympathy, not Schadenfreude — both for the homeowner as well as their (listing) agent. Because it’s a bummer to have a house sit on the market, unsold — plus often, a financial hardship. When that’s the case, though, and […]

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