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The Joy of House Hunting

old house

My newest client and I have been racking up the miles. The search for investment properties can take several weeks (or months!),  particularly in a challenging market.

Even though we haven’t found the perfect house to “fix and flip” yet, it’s been a joyful experience to discover new properties and get acclimated with new neighborhoods.

Now, “joyful” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I really dig houses. Some of the homes we’ve seen contain artifacts over a century old that are fascinating to come across. Minneapolis has lots of hidden treasures: ancient pianos, old coal burning stoves, and so on. One ranch even had a late 1960’s Rheem gas furnace, humming along good as new.

House hunting as a REALTOR can be a test of patience, but it’s also a wonderful way to enrich your understanding of home and neighborhood dynamics. Also, house hunting provides an ever growing data bank for agents to be able to produce accurate and informed comparative market analyses.

 

Wild Kingdom (of Rodents!)

You might even encounter some wildlife while house hunting. Not just in the yard either. At one house in Brooklyn Center, it didn’t take long to pick up on a mouse problem: Traps in every corner. I happened to find one of the furry friends napping next to the electrical panel in the wet, dark basement.

At another house, I came face to face with a squirrel on the back porch. Fortunately it scurried off, rather than attempt an arial attack at my bald head.

They don’t prepare you for animal control situations in REALTOR school, so common sense and awareness are key. It’s always a good idea to consult the showing details in the ShowingTime app to avoid any surprises.

Still, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a showing down the road with an attack dog or a sharp clawed cat ready to pounce. Maybe I’ll shop for a chain mail suit?

 

cat on dining room table
“What mouse??”

The Costly Side of Showing Houses

One thing is for certain as a REALTOR – you WILL put some serious miles on your vehicle. The last two outings with my investor client put 70 miles on my truck. Luckily, the mileage is a tax write off of $0.67 per mile. High mileage comes with the territory.

I’ve also had to get used to the new Supra lock box system. It’s a clever blue-tooth enabled lock box for house keys. “Clever” as this tech is, it costs $9.95 a month to subscribe on top of a $50 sign up fee. And that’s just to USE the system so you can get into a house where the listing agent slapped on a Supra box.

No good buyer’s agent will tell his or her client they can’t see a house because of Supra, right??

I still prefer the old fashioned combination lock boxes, but I am reluctantly adapting to a blue tooth enabled world.

These are just a couple of examples of the cost inputs involved with the showing process. Expense line items add up quick, but if the right house is ultimately found, then it’s all worth it, without question.

 

Good Things Come to Those Who Persist

The Twin Cities market has been showing some signs of a rebound typically associated with the change of season. Spring opens up a number of new listings and buyers have seen more inventory available to peruse.

The trouble isn’t so much rates: 7% is historically quite reasonable! What is holding up more offers and closed sales is the persistent high prices of the growing inventory. Sellers understandably have fresh memories of peak prices and bidding wars from the last few years. At some point, economics will have its way, and prices will come down (and hopefully rates will ease a bit too!)

March Year-Over-Year Summary of Key Market Indicators (Minnesota): 

  • Closed sales: 4,590 (up 0.5%)
  • Median sales price: $335,000 (up 4.7%)
  • Average sales price: $384,926 (up 3.3%)
  • New listings: 7,526 (up 7.3%)
  • Pending sales: 5,842 (up 11.0%)
  • Days on the market: 49 (down 3.9%)
  • Homes for sale: 11,154 (up 13.4%)

 

Just as I had to be patient as an investor back when shopping for our rentals some ten years ago, I have had to be patient now as a REALTOR. I appreciate the journey of the home buying experience for what it is.

If you don’t like houses or exploring different neighborhoods with your clients, then being a REALTOR is not for you. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind the occasional “hoarder house”, leaning foundation, suss odors, and unexpected animals, then real estate sales might just be your bag.

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