All posts by Cheyenne

Is This Housing Market Right For You?

I did it. I have no idea how, but I did it. Many rejected offers and a few tears later, in the craziest market I could have possibly imagined, I managed to buy a house! The process was grueling, often leaving me feeling like I took on a 40-hour a week position just to stay on top of the market. If you also find yourself looking for a home in this unfortunate market for buyers, you should be aware what you’re getting yourself into.

It is incredibly important to be prepared by knowing what the market is like in your city. For example, in Minneapolis the market is on fire, which is raising all sorts of concerns around the city. This article, from The Associated Press, discusses the lack of homes in supply, high demand on materials for new builds, and skyrocketing prices. These are problems being faced by most major cities all around the United States right now, but you should do your research to find if anything different is happening where you are. If you happen to be looking in a suburb or even somewhere more rural, the market could be more volatile or more calm, depending on location.

It also important to consider the future when deciding if this is the right time to buy. The article linked above mentions how buyers are often being pitted against each other through insane tactics, which is driving prices higher and higher. However, the market will not always be this way, leading many to believe that prices on houses have inflated too quickly. If you are someone looking to stay in a house long-term, right now might be an alright time for you to buy. Prices will even out overtime and you likely won’t end up losing value. If you are looking to live in the home for a short amount of time and quickly resell though, you run a higher risk of losing money.

What the decision ultimately comes down to, however, is what is best for you. I am just a person on the internet who decided to make the crazy jump into this market at a very weird time. If you think you want to, and you can handle it, you should do whatever is best for you. Just make sure to do your research first!

Minneapolis’ 2040 Plan isn’t Enough

In January of 2020, the Minneapolis 2040 plan went into effect. This plan covers one-hundred various topics, from transportation to public health, and sets a framework for the city to follow for the next twenty years. While the plan was a large step for the city council to make, and was weighed in on by thousands of citizens, the plan does not actually do enough.

Why? Because the plan makes some large claims without a real sense of accountability. For example, under the page dedicated to homelessness, the plan claims it will “eliminate homelessness” in the 20-year time frame it has set for itself. This promise has been made to the city before, including by Mayor Jacob Frey. The plan includes eight action steps, but no information about how or when those steps are going to be taken. This is a serious issue that needs a serious response, something this City of Minneapolis does not seem to be doing.

It has been over a year since this plan went into effect, and yet we have seen no real movement on this front. In fact, between the response to encampments with Covid-19 and during the uprising, I think the problems with the cities responses to these issues has become even more clear to the public. The city needs to take a stronger stance and start making real moves if they actually want to address this issue and help residents like they say they do. With just 19 years left to eliminate homelessness, I am skeptical about the city’s capability to hold itself to such a large promise.

The 2040 plan does a good job at acknowledging the work that needs to be done in our city and could truly be used as the framework it set out to be. However, if the city doesn’t start making moves soon, the plan is going to fall apart. I know the amount of work that went into this plan and I don’t want to see that happen. Instead, I want the city to act on their plan, and to lay out for residents what exactly they actually plan to do to address the housing crisis in Minneapolis. The plan was good, but it is not enough.

Cannabis Legislation is About More Than Having a Good Time

It has been nearly a year since the beginning of the pandemic, making it past time to discuss a proposed bill that could benefit both the government and its citizens. That bill is HF600, and it would legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. Beyond the fact that we have been stuck inside for longer than we probably initially imagined, our homes full of sourdough starter and unfinished DIY projects and may be looking to try something new for ourselves, legalizing cannabis could also add an entirely new industry full of jobs and economic stimulus.

Cannabis sales spiked in 2020, and by not passing this bill last year, Minnesota lost out on a potential source of revenue that could have really helped the state while it was struggling. Democrats recently cleared the bill in its second house committee, and though I am hopeful we can keep this momentum, the reality is that the republican majority in the senate is likely going to block it again. I think this is a huge mistake for Republicans, who often focus on the economy as one of their main running platforms. The potential revenue to be made from this bill would have huge impacts all around our state.

This bill has also built the framework to create and entirely new field of jobs, and made sure that those jobs would be focused in the local communities who need them, not overrun by large corporations. The creation of jobs, stimulation of the economy, and decriminalization of cannabis in such a large bill would have affects that go even farther than one might think. This bill has implications for schools and housing if you just think far enough ahead.

Legalizing cannabis feels inevitable at this point, with seventeen other states already passing similar legislation. I think its high time we follow suit and use it as an opportunity to stimulate an economy that’s been hit repeatedly this year, create much-needed new jobs, and allow adults to legally engage in the practice if they choose. If you’re interested in seeing this bill passed, contacting your representatives and letting them know why you support the bill as well can do wonders for pushing it through the process.

Is the Real Estate Market on Fire, or is it Just Clickbait?

The real estate market has been a nightmare for buyers, something I’ve been vocal about for the last year since I started the journey of purchasing my own home. There is plenty of misinformation out there which is why I am constantly telling my friends about the importance of finding a real estate agent you can actually trust. Misinformation isn’t the only thing to worry about in this climatic market though. Social media has created a platform for clickbait content that sways people’s opinions on what is happening in the market right now and what is slated to happen in the future.

A perfect example of this can be found on nearly every real estate-based YouTube channel right now. People have been uploading videos discussing a potential oncoming housing market crash, with pictures of houses and fires in the background, for well over a year. In the videos, which have had titles talking about a 2020, 2021, and now just “upcoming” housing market crash, the realtors or investors speculate on current market conditions and what they mean for the future. Graham Stephan, who has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube, posted a video just like this back in December of 2020.

The issue with these videos isn’t that these people are sharing their knowledge. In fact, the ability to learn about things like this online is one of the best things about the internet in my opinion. The issue is that the titles and background images are just a way to get quick clicks and lead people to think that there is an inevitable housing market crash coming. Some of these videos can be very technical in nature and people might not actually pay attention to nuances the video is trying to convey. Instead, they believe a market crash is coming and they begin to prepare or they tell others the same. Better yet, they might not ever even click the video, but see “2021 housing market crash” and think that it’s really about to happen.

I understand why people choose to use clickbait in their content, but I think that these videos could honestly get the same number of views without sensationalizing something many people are worried about right now. I’ve watched tons of these videos in the last year, and none of them can come to a definitive answer about whether or not the market is going to crash. Instead, these videos provide a lot of valuable information for those who are in the market to be conscious about when it comes to inventory and demands. There are plenty of buyers out there who want that information and would love to view it without being scared about their choice to even be in the market in the first place. I know because I was one of them.

Thinking About the Suburbs in the Midst of a Pandemic

I grew up in a suburb 30-minutes outside of a major US city. By the time I was sixteen, all of my dreams of college were wrapped up in the idea that I just had to get the heck out of the ‘burbs. I have felt a practically unhealthy loathing towards suburbs for the entirety of my adult life at this point, but it’s starting to seem like I’m not the only one. In fact,  America’s suburbs have been receiving an increasing amount of scrutiny in recent years. People have started to take notice of the issues surrounding transportation, housing costs, and city planning, which all lead to expansive areas that are not quite as enjoyable, or profitable, as walkable cities.

Not Just Bikes, a YouTube channel that often talks about city planning, sums up the issues of North American suburbs and how this actually causes cities to lose money in this fantastic video titled “How Suburban Development Makes American Cities Poorer”. To oversimplify many great points made in the video, a town or a city that is walkable, that has a mixture of single family, multi-family, and businesses all in one area, is actually much more profitable than single family suburbs with big-box stores that take up lots of precious land with large parking lots. Suburbs, as they are right now, are exclusionary in nature by only allowing single family housing.

Enter the pandemic. Remote work has skyrocketed and the trajectory of our work lives has been drastically changed. This change in the way we work has also created big changes in the hosing market. This article, from The Wall Street Journal, discusses how the increase in remote work is changing the ways renters and homeowners are re-evaluating what is necessary for their home-life and the kind of space they crave.

Our thoughts about housing are changing, and with remote work shaping the types of spaces people are looking for, I think it’s time we re-evaluate the ways our cities and towns are laid out in America. Suburbs can no longer be these large expanses of wasted space, but instead need to utilize the areas they have to create more affordable and multi-use housing options. They need to think about the ways businesses are laid out to create the best revenue stream and, to be honest, a better view. Everybody is sick and tired of the pandemic, (in fact, I nearly didn’t write this blog because I didn’t want to have to talk about it anymore) but it has shaped the world we’ve been living in for the last year, with affects that are likely to last much longer than that. If we play our cards right, we have the opportunity to reanalyze if the methods we’ve been using up until now are really what’s best for everyone.

I’ve hated the suburbs for the last ten years, but I’ve realized that doesn’t mean I’ll always have to.

Low Inventory and Fierce Competition Leads Many Homebuyers to Waive Inspections

In the last year, the housing market in the United States has basically become its own reality tv show. Sellers hold the top prize – a moderately priced house – and buyers are competing and putting everything on the line for a chance to win a whopping 1200 square feet to call their own.

On-Market Inventory of Homes For Sale Rapidly Falling Year Over Year

In the past markets have fluctuated between buyers’ markets, when there is an abundance of housing and those houses can be purchased around asking price, and sellers’ markets, where there are less houses available and therefore the chances of getting into a bidding war increase. Though these ebbs and flows are somewhat expected, the state of the housing market this last year has been nearly unprecedented. Inventory is at record lows, and with the combination of low interest rates, a slew of millennial buyers ready to purchase their first home, and the pandemic requiring that people spend more time in their houses, demand for those houses is steadily increasing. Right now, the few sellers who do list their homes are receiving offers almost immediately, and sometimes even before they officially go on the market.

This is creating a huge amount of competition for buyers, who are often up against 10, 15, or 30 other competitive offers. While offering over asking price is often the first step, that isn’t always enough to make an offer stand out anymore. In fact, right now in Minneapolis, where I am actively trying to purchase a home, many houses are going for between $20 to $40,000 over asking price. To even be considered in the running, buyers are now waiving the inspections on homes as part of the purchase agreement in addition to offering way over the asking price. Although this is technically legal, it is certainly not advised. This article from J.blumen and Associates, a real estate law service in Massachusetts, points out “when you waive your inspection contingency, you assume all financial risk for whatever condition the property is in”. This risk can add up to “thousands, and in some case, tens of thousands” of dollars.

A home inspection is not a sure-fire way to guarantee that something will not be wrong with a house when a buyer purchases it, but it can alert the buyers to any issues that might require a significant amount of money to fix, something they might not have after making one of the largest purchases of their lifetime. This is especially true of those seeking affordable housing, as buyers in this price range often pour a majority of their savings into the purchase of a home.

If this market continues on this trajectory and buyers feel obligated to waive inspections in order to have their offer accepted, we might see an increase of people who find themselves in compromised positions. Inspections are meant to protect buyers from ending up in a situation that could really hurt then financially, but right now, with most purchase agreements skipping out on them, sellers are the only ones truly benefitting. This unspoken requirement preys on first time home buyers and those competing for the few affordable units on the market, when in reality we should be protecting those buyers, since they are often the most vulnerable. An inspection is a small upfront cost that could ultimately save buyers tens of thousands of dollars by allowing them to analyze the risk they are capable of taking on with the purchase of certain homes. They should be a required part of the process, not an optional contingency used to make an agreement more appealing to sellers who are already benefited in such a hot market.