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CONTENT – Local Info

Become The Expert on Local Info

In the eyes of your potential clients, you want to be the local expert. On everything. Filling your website with solid, well researched, local market information and content will go a long way towards establishing you as that expert.

Think about this for a minute. A homeowner, potential home buyer or seller, or apartment hunter, searching the internet, can find thousands of articles, pages, websites, and blog posts, that deal with general information like; “How to Finance Your Dream Home,” “What to Look for During a Home Inspection,” or “How to negotiate your lease agreement.” But few if any real estate professionals or contractors are providing them with, i.e. local information like, “Where to Live if You Have a Horse.”

Additionally, how many buyers and sellers do you suppose would share an article like “What to Look for During a Home Inspection?” That kind of information is all over the internet. Anyone can find it. But an article about their own town or city or neighborhood? An article with information specific to their community? That’s shareable content. And that’s what you want on your website.

Check out the sample article below and when you’re ready to set started driving traffic to your site, give me a call or drop me a line.


Corrals are Okay – Where to Live in Rochester if You Have a Horse

When the older of our two beautiful granddaughters turned four, my son designed and I helped him build, an amazing castle in their basement – complete with princess tower and portcullis. (Portcullis being a fancy word for that wooden gate/door that blocks the entrance to the castle.)

Kidding my son I said, “Considering the expense and labor you’re going to for her fourth birthday, what’s little sister going to get when she turns four? A pony?”

If you live in an apartment or a condo you get a kitty or a Poodle. If you live in suburbia with a big yard you can get a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. But a horse presents a whole different set of challenges – not the least of which is the size of the pooper-scooper you need.

If you’re a parent who was somehow overcome by the pleading deep blue eyes of a 12-year-old in the grips of pony-fever, fear not. In this article, we’ll show you all the areas around Rochester where it’s okay to have a corral.

Zoning Makes the Difference

There is no zoning ordinance – at least in Olmsted County – prohibiting you from keeping a cat or dog in your home. Unless you have more than five of either – then it’s called a kennel and there are ordinances about that.

As you might imagine it’s a bit different when it comes to horses and goats, sheep, llamas and the like; they’re considered livestock and are only allowed in certain zoning districts.

A Zoning District Primer

Back in the early to mid-1970’s Olmsted County – the County that Rochester is in – adopted their zoning ordinance. At that time they assigned zoning districts to different areas of the city and county.

Existing residential neighborhoods, for the most part, were zoned R-1; Single Family Residential District. Residential areas with denser development – like apartments or condos or townhomes – may have been zoned R-2; Low-Density Residential District, or R-3; Medium Density Residential District. And then, of course, there were the areas of the county that were primarily agricultural in nature. Those areas may have been zoned A-1, A-2 or A-3; Agricultural Protection District(s). As you might imagine there’s no problem keeping horses in the Ag districts.

Animal Units – as defined in the zoning ordinance – are not allowed in the residential districts. Save of course for cats or dogs or gerbils or hamsters or a 20-foot Boa Constrictor – as long as you have as previously described – fewer than five of each. (My guess is if you have a Boa Constrictor you won’t also have hamsters – at least not for long.)

But of course, at the inception of the zoning ordinance, there were people – typically living in the more suburban areas – who did have animal units – like horses – on their property. The City couldn’t very well march in the hobnailed boot brigade and say, “Get rid of the horse you’ve had since it was a pony,” so they created the RA; Rural Residential District which – you guessed it – allows animal units.

The Rules

I quote from the Olmsted County zoning ordinance;

Section 6.00 R-A: Rural Residential District:

Permitted Uses:

2. Keeping and raising of livestock and poultry for personal use, and as an accessory use only, provided they are housed and fenced so as not to become a nuisance and are clearly non-commercial in nature. The animal density shall not be greater than one (1) animal unit per acre of pastureland, except for the raising of poultry where the maximum number of chickens shall not exceed 50 chickens. In no case shall any structure used for housing poultry or livestock be located nearer than fifty (50) feet to any property line.

So what does that mean exactly for you and your horse? For starters, technically, if your lot in an RA District is less than two acres in size – you probably can’t have a horse. The reason being, once you take out the area for your house, driveway, and yard – you’re probably not going to have a full acre left – which you need for the horse, according to the ordinance.

That said, there aren’t many RA zoned lots that are less than two acres. If your RA zoned lot is, for example, five acres, you could probably have four horses – providing you meet the rest of the ordinance requirements.

One other little arcane tidbit of information you might find interesting; animal units are subject to a definition that is based on – and I’m not kidding here – how much the animal poops. The larger the animal the more poop. Horses are considered “1 animal unit.”

The Bottom Line: Neighborhoods Where Corrals are Okay

It didn’t make much sense to try and describe where the RA neighborhoods are so I made some (downloadable PDF) maps for you. Sometimes it’s an entire neighborhood and sometimes it’s just a lot or two. Use the maps to explore the neighborhoods and search for homes where your little Rainbow Bright will feel welcome.

Also keep in mind that while the zoning ordinance in these areas allows the keeping of animal units, there may be homeowner association rules in effect that don’t allow horses. If you find a home for sale in one of the RA zones you’ll just have to consult your Realtor – or the seller – to be sure.

Happy horse house hunting!



MOBILE:  507.951.1761

CONTENT – Appraisal Valuation

Educate Your Clients with Long-Form Content

At one time long-form content, like the article below, was the go-to strategy for content marketing. Long-form content gives you greater opportunity to utilize keywords and key phrases and get to that coveted page-one on Google. But nowadays, the internet is overloaded with helpful information; there just isn’t time to consume it all.

Most of the time your clients are looking for [insert their subject] cliffs-notes; a quick summary of the information they need. However, there’s still a need for long-form content on your website. Let’s consider the following article as an example.

Suppose you have a seller who’s just accepted a well-above-ask offer on their home. And let’s say you’ve been experiencing appraisal problems because of a hot market and low inventory. A day or two before the appraiser is scheduled to come through you send your seller a link to an article like this.

You can do the same thing with an article about the home design/building process and what to expect, or how to negotiate your lease agreement. Instead of just telling them what to expect or how to prepare, you’re showing them a well-researched article that you wrote. You’ll look like the genius professional you are and your clients will love referring you to their friends and relatives.

So . . . when you’re ready to look like a genius, drop me a line or give me a call.


How Do Appraisers Determine Your Home’s Value?


Whether you’re buying or selling your first home or your fifth, it can be an incredibly stressful event. Home buying and selling emotion levels rank right up there with your wedding day, childbirth and watching the Packers in the Super Bowl. And nothing seems to have the potential to cause everyone involved more stress, than the outcome of the appraisal.

Home inspection challenges can be overcome, credit problems corrected and cold feet warmed. But neither the buyer, the seller, the Realtors nor the lender has any control over the outcome of the home appraisal. 

As a Realtor as well as a former SRA (Senior Residential Appraiser) and certified property assessor I’ve been on both sides of the appraisal fence. A good place to start this conversation is with the definition of real estate market value. 


What is the Definition of Real Estate Market Value?

Real estate market value is defined as;

What a reasonably informed and willing buyer, unaffected by undue influence, will pay, and what a reasonably informed and willing seller, also unaffected by undue influence, will accept, for a property exposed to the open market for a reasonable length of time.”

Considering the above definition and the appraiser’s job to determine a reasonable and supportable estimate of market value, consider the following two scenarios and their potential to make life difficult for everyone involved in the real estate transaction;


Scenario #1:

It’s a super hot market and a home sells within hours of “going live” on the MLS.


Scenario #2:

A home finally sells after having been on the market for many months with two different Realtors through numerous price reductions.

Does the probable sale price in either case really fit the definition of market value?

If the average marketing time for a home in your market is a fairly typical 60 to 90 days, is the buyer of a home that sells within hours of “going live” on the MLS, unaffected by undue influence?

Isn’t it possible the buyers are – having missed out on a couple of other homes because of the hot market and now made aware they are again in a potential multiple offer situation – affected by undue influence? Are they not potentially inclined to make a better-than-ask offer to assure theirs is the one accepted?

Likewise, isn’t it possible that the offer on the home that’s been on the market for many months going to be lower, possibly much lower, than the asking price? Isn’t it possible those buyers may see the potential of a desperate seller willing to accept any offer?

So just exactly how do appraisers determine a reasonable and supportable estimate of market value?


The Three Approaches to Value

Appraisers have at their disposal, three different approaches to value. Only one of the following three approaches is typically applied when valuing an existing single-family home.


The Cost Approach

In the cost approach to value the appraiser . . . ;

  • adds up the costs to reproduce a new home similar to the home being appraised.
  • subtracts the effects of any physical, functional or external depreciation.
  • adds in the value of the land the home sits on.

Physical depreciation items are things affecting the condition; worn out carpeting, an old furnace, or a roof that needs replacing.

Functional depreciation is something that affects how the house functions as a typical single-family dwelling. It might be a basement that’s only accessible from the outside or the only bathroom in a home being on a different level than all the bedrooms.

External depreciation is something outside the property that affects its value. Think of a home located next door to a gas station or one that’s located on the corner of a busy intersection.

The difficulty in accurately determining the effect of the different types of depreciation makes this approach to value less reliable in the valuation of existing homes more than a year or two old.


The Income Approach

Value via the income approach is based on the potential income that could be generated by the subject property if it were placed on the open market for rent.

Utilizing the income approach the appraiser has available two different methods of valuation;

  1. Income capitalization
  2. Gross Rent Multiplier

Using income capitalization the appraiser first determines . . . ;

  • the fair market rent for the property.
  • then subtracts all expenses found in operating the property as a rental.
  • then capitalizes the net income based on current money market rates.

Income capitalization is more commonly used in the valuation of large investment properties like shopping malls and office buildings.

When the income approach is utilized in the valuation of residential properties the appraiser will more likely utilize the gross rent multiplier method.

In the gross rent multiplier method the sale price of a comparable property – that was rented when it was sold – is divided by the rent that was received at the time of sale.

For example; a home sells for $120,000 and it was rented for $1,000/month at the time of sale.

$120,000 / $1,000 = 120 GRM (Gross Rent Multiplier)

If enough reliable data is available the appraiser can apply the gross rent multiplier to the potential rent that could be generated by the subject property to arrive at a value via the income approach.

The challenges here, in appraising the typical single family home are;

  • finding enough single-family rental data to establish fair market rent
  • finding sufficient sales of single-family rentals to establish a supportable gross rent multiplier


The Comparable Sales Approach

Comparing the subject property, to other homes that have sold recently, is the commonly accepted method of determining residential real estate value.

In the comparable sales approach the appraiser will gather data on homes sold in the recent past that are as similar as possible to the subject property and then make adjustments for the differences.

In theory, the adjustments the appraiser makes to the comparable sales are based on an analysis of paired sales.

A simplified paired sale example;

In his research the appraiser finds sales of two – nearly identical – split foyer style homes;

Sale #1
  • Sale Price: $175,000
  • Sale Date: 11/15/2019
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Fireplace: 1
  • Deck: Yes
  • Garage: 3-car attached
Sale #2
  • Sale Price: $170,000
  • Sale Date: 11/10/2019
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Fireplace: 1
  • Deck: Yes
  • Garage: 2-car attached

The only measurable difference between the two properties is the garage; sale #1 has a three-car garage and sale #2 has a two-car garage. The difference in sale price is $5,000.

Based on this paired sales analysis the appraiser can determine that an extra garage stall, in split foyer style homes in this market, adds $5,000 to the value.


The Paired Sales Analysis Adjustment Applied

So now the appraiser is valuing your split foyer style home, which has a three-car garage. He has three sales he’s going to compare to your home to establish the value.

Sale #1 sold for $166,000 and it has a two-car garage, which in essence means this first sale is one garage stall inferior to your home. Through the above-described paired sales analysis the appraiser has determined that an extra garage stall adds $5,000 to the value of a home.

The appraiser makes a “plus” $5,000 adjustment to the sale price of this home. $166,000 + $5,000 = $171,000 being the indicated value of your home from this comparable sale.

Sale #2 sold for $173,000 and it has a three-car garage. The appraiser does not make any garage adjustment to this comparable sale.

Sale #3 sold for $167,000 and it also has a two-car garage. The appraiser makes the “plus” $5,000 adjustment indicating a value via this comparable, of $172,000.

In the end, the adjusted values of the three comparables are;

#1 = $171,000

#2 = $173,000

#3 = $172,000

If these are the only differences, and the appraiser isn’t an idiot, he’s probably going to arrive at a final value estimate somewhere between $171,000 and $173,000. Considering sale number two didn’t require any adjustments his value will probably be $173,000.


And Then Reality Rears its Ugly Head

If this had ever happened to me when I was an appraiser – that a garage space was the only measurable difference between the subject property and three comparable sales – I would have jumped for joy, knocked off early for the day, made myself a bloody mary and retired to my deck. It just doesn’t work that way.

Rarely do the subject property and the comparable sales differ by only one item.

One sale may have three bedrooms – but only two on the main level and the third in the lower level.

One of the comps may be located on a corner lot at the entrance to the subdivision while the subject is on an inside lot on a cul-de-sac street.

Maybe one of the sales has a four-car garage – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it warrants a $5,000 negative adjustment (based on the above paired sale analysis example) because the average buyer probably doesn’t place as much value on a fourth garage stall as they do a third stall.

And therein lies the rub in valuing residential real estate. Single-family homes, their locations, conditions, and amenities are as different as a football team that actually wins Super Bowls and one that doesn’t.


Three Major Comparable Considerations

When appraisers start their search for comparable sales they’ll likely first consider three major attributes;

  1. Time of Sale
  2. Location
  3. Home style

Think about the time of sale as an example.

Earlier we talked about a home selling in hours – not days or months – in a hot spring market. Let’s say you’re the lucky seller (and hopefully I’m the lucky Realtor). Your home listing goes live on the MLS at eight o’clock Tuesday morning March 22nd and by five o’clock Tuesday afternoon you have three offers; two at asking price and one for $5,000 more than ask, with no contingencies. It’s a no-brainer which one you’ll accept.

Two weeks later, inspection complete and accepted, the appraiser comes through. When she starts her comparable sales search what does she have to pick from?

If she selects sales from within the last three months – as suggested and often required by mortgage loan underwriters – more than likely those sales will have occurred during the holidays or in the dead of winter right after the first of the year; probably not a time of high demand. Can you see a potential problem?

Yes, appraisers can make time adjustments. Through a paired sales analysis as described above, the appraiser determines that homes selling as of today, on average (for example), are selling for five percent more than they did three months ago. But believe me, a loan underwriter is going to look long and hard at a home value based on three sales all requiring time adjustments to support the sale price.


Equal Parts Art and Science – Objective and Subjective

Valuing residential real estate has been likened to being part art and part science.

Think of the difference between valuing a property via the income approach as opposed to the comparable sales approach.

When an investor considers the purchase of say, an office building, he could care less – emotionally – about its design, how many bathrooms it has, what colors the walls are or whether or not it’s in a particular school district.

For an investor, if the property has positive rental history and – in an ideal situation – positive cash flow (meaning the income covers all expenses and then some) it’s a done deal. It’s a logical investment that will pay for itself and increase in value over time.

As a Home-Buyer You’re (Probably) Not Considering Investment Value

Certainly, your home is an investment and in the average American’s case, your largest single asset. But most likely you didn’t make the decision to purchase your home from an investor’s point of view.

You bought your home because of the number of bedrooms it has, or its location close to schools or the fact it has a fully finished basement with a wet bar, a kegerator, and a built-in shuffleboard court.

The average homebuyer considers an entirely different set of criteria than the investor. Additionally, you may have placed value on items other potential buyers may not have.


What Ads Value in Your Mind May Not in Someone Else’s Mind

Years ago I was appraising a Harold Crawford designed home on a very desirable street in southwest Rochester. The architectural details were amazing, the yard was beautifully landscaped and the home was in excellent condition.

Taking the tour with the owner (this was for a refinance not a sale) we came to the master bedroom. The owner went into great detail about the cost of and difficulty in obtaining the imported Italian wallpaper they had just installed. Imported Italian wallpaper – by the way – that was the god-awfulest purple and gold striped wallpaper you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Are there buyers who would have loved, and therefore placed value on that wallpaper? Sure, maybe. Are there other buyers who would have considered it such a negative that they either declined to even make an offer or discounted their offer based on their opinion of the cost to replace the wallpaper? Of course.

In another refinance appraisal instance I had a homeowner complain I had not considered – in their appraisal – the fact they had Gaggenau appliances; oven, cooktop, frig, etc…

Are there buyers – in particular people who love to cook – who would be out of their minds ecstatic they found a home with Gaggenau appliances thereby immediately placing an offer at full – probably over-inflated – asking price? You bet.

But the average buyer? The you and I who heat up Spaghetti-o’s in the microwave for the kids on Friday night and the only time we use the oven is to bake those delicious Nestle’s chocolate chip cookies they have in the refrigerator case at the grocery store. Do we care or add value because a house has custom appliances? Probably not. And if we do, do we add value anywhere close to the cost of those appliances? (Insert big loud buzzer sound here) NOT!

So as an appraiser using one of the above homes as a comparable sale, how do we know which person bought the home? The one who loved the wallpaper or the custom appliances and so potentially paid more – or was it the buyer who hated the wallpaper or couldn’t have cared less about a custom range?


Take Some Advice From Bobby McFerrin

Don’t worry, be happy. In a rising healthy market like Rochester, Minnesota you will not often have appraisal problems.

The last bank mortgage appraisal I did was more than 20 years ago and certainly, the industry has changed considerably since then. Please understand I am not speaking for any appraisers today but I’ll tell you how I looked at things when I was appraising.

If I was valuing a house that sold for $100,000 and after everything was said and done I was coming in at $95,000 – unless my comps were dead-on perfect – I’d find a way to get to $100,000.

As we talked about earlier, real estate appraising is part art and part science and no appraiser is that accurate that he/she can say a property is worth $95,000 but not $100,000 (Again, unless the comps are side-by-side, same street, unadjusted perfect.)

The appraiser’s job is to assure the lender that the value of the property they’re receiving a mortgage on will cover their risk. And while it’s not the appraiser’s job, her appraisal also assures you that you’re not paying too much for the biggest investment of your life.




MOBILE:  507.951.1761

CONTENT – Local Info

Restaurant Review

Yelp and TripAdvisor both provide restaurant reviews. As do Facebook and Twitter – albeit usually only when someone’s pissed about their service or crummy food. Reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor are based on comments and ratings left on the respective sites by restaurant customers. Those comments typically amount to, “The pork chops are awesome!” Or, “Our waitress Trudy was so nice.” Seldom are they full, in-depth reviews of the restaurant and its menu.

You’re right if you think people aren’t going to search out your website to find restaurant reviews. On the other hand, imagine the subconscious impact if a site visitor reads your review then goes to that restaurant and has a positive experience. I wrote this review of Pescara in Rochester because it is, in fact, our favorite special occasion restaurant. 

Reviewing local businesses gives you the opportunity to show potential clients you are the local – knowledgeable – expert. Reviews like this help build trust between you and potential clients; that trust vital in their decision to choose you as their Realtor, builder, electrician or landlord.

When you’re ready to start building trust between you and your potential clients, drop me a line or give me a call.


Fine Dining at Pescara in Rochester


Do you have a go-to special occasion restaurant? A place you know you can count on for impeccable service, quiet relaxed atmosphere, and over-the-top food? As I’ve written here before, Newt’s North is our Friday night tradition. But when we have something special to celebrate – besides waking up in the morning – we book a table at Pescara.

Located on the first floor of the Double-Tree Hotel at 150 South Broadway in downtown Rochester, Pescara is, in my opinion, Rochester’s preeminent seafood restaurant. And before you click away because you despise all things seafood, understand they also offer steaks, veal, and pasta.

Compared to a chain restaurant Pescara’s dinner menu is limited. You won’t find page after page of salad and appetizer options, or beef selections from every quarter of the cow. Neither will you find a dessert option made with a blonde brownie, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.

What Pescara’s menu does offer is a selection of carefully selected dishes created from the freshest of ingredients which – in the case of their seafood options and as described on their website – are so fresh they were still swimming the day before.


If I’m firing up the Big Green Egg at home I’ll grill steaks or smoke ribs, but when I go to Pescara I’m thinking one thing; seafood. And I always start with the Tuna Tartare. I know, I know, “Eat raw tuna?” you exclaim, “have you lost your mind?”

Calm yourself – and don’t think of it as raw fish. Instead, imagine it’s the day after an evening of fine dining, one in which you couldn’t eat your entire beef tenderloin filet and now you’re snacking on the cold leftovers.

The Tuna Tartare appetizer at Pescara is like that cold tenderloin but infinitely better; tidbits of tender tuna hay-stacked together with ripe avocado, capers, and cilantro. Your plate comes with a tiny rolled ball of wasabi, thinly sliced pickled ginger, a bit of soy sauce and some wonderfully salty thin chips. I pair it with a nice glass of Cabernet – because that’s all I drink. Feel free to have whatever you want.

Pescara’s small plate menu includes such delights as Fresh Oysters, Lobster Bisque, Bang-Bang Calamari, Crab and Lobster Rangoon, Mussels and Jumbo Smoked Shrimp.

The Entrees


If you’re a light eater the menu includes a variety of salads from Caesar to Mixed Greens to Green Apples and Amablu Cheese to their Crab Louie which is topped with hard-cooked eggs, cucumber, Kumato tomato, jumbo lump crab, snow crab claws and Russian dressing.

You can also add grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or grilled salmon to any of the salads.

Beef and Veal

For those of you not overly fond of seafood Pescara offers you a Bone in Veal chop, a Tenderloin Fillet and a New York Strip. Either of the beef selections will be char-grilled to perfection and topped with your choice of seven different sauces like Fond Rouge (a red wine butter sauce), Chimichurri or Truffle Butter.


Obviously, this is where Pescara excels and their menu will leave you wishing you were a *ruminant (*having more than one stomach;-)
Their Signature Dishes include such choices as Ginger-Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna, Insignia Scallops, Grilled Salmon and Cioppino (pronounced Cho-pee-no), which is a combination of jumbo shrimp, scallops, fresh white fish, crabs, and mussels, served with grilled crostini. (Cioppino is Italian for fish stew; which I imagine, is why they call it Cioppino on the menu.)

None of the eight Signature Dishes sound like what you’re craving? You can also order a-la-carte and choose from; Tuna, Bronzini, Arctic Char, Halibut, Snapper, Swordfish, Mahi-Mahi, Salmon, Scallops or Lobster Tail. Then decide to have it char-grilled, sautéed or broiled and then choose from a selection of nine different sauces.

The last time we dined at Pescara I opted for the a-la-carte sautéed Halibut with Chimichurri sauce and a side of Smoked Gouda Hash Browns. And because I’m a glutton, I finished the evening with Rum Pecan Bread Pudding. My wife had to wheel me to the car with a two-wheel hand-truck, but it was worth it.

The Drink

Pescara’s wine list is extensive and the General Manager, Xavi Torres, is a Certified Sommelier. And this for me as much for you, Sommelier is pronounced Som-il-yay. If you’re having trouble choosing a wine it’s always better to ask for the Som-il-yay as opposed to “the wine guy.”

I’ll not even attempt to pretend I know anything about wine, other than I like heavy reds and once shared a bottle of Cake Bread Cabernet. If you’d like to learn and be more adventuresome in your wine selections, you could hardly choose a better place in Rochester for that education.

The bar menu also includes a wonderful selection of single malt scotch and cognac (if you’re a ladies man). You’ll also find some unusual cocktail concoctions like; a Sour Flower made with Absolut Hibiscus, house-made lemonade, and blood orange puree; or a Boulevardier which is a combination of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, Aperol (a milder version of Campari) and sweet vermouth.

That’s a Wrap – Almost

I’ve only touched on Pescara’s wonderful dinner menu, but they’re also open for breakfast, lunch and late night snacking – with an awesome bar menu. Check out their entire menu right here.

If you’re looking for a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, entertain guests or business associates or just because you like amazing food, artfully prepared and presented by a top-notch wait-staff – you’ll want to check out Pescara.

Your Turn

Tried something at Pescara you think others should know about? By all means, let us know in the comments section below.




MOBILE:  507.951.1761

CONTENT – Entertainment

Leave ‘Em Laughing

Potential clients need to know you’re not going to bore them to tears. You don’t have to be Robin Williams but you should be someone who’s fun to be around. If you’re all-business-all-the-time it can be a turn-off to lots of people.

That said, if you’re dealing with an engineer you probably do want to be all-business-all-the-time. Or just avoid dealing with engineers. I speak from experience.

Self-deprecating humor is a great way to break the ice and having a few posts on your blog that show you as a real human can do wonders for your likability. And we all know the old-saw; “People buy from people they know, like and trust.”

This type of content sounds better in your voice. I can write them for you with some basic guidance from you. Or I can edit what you write to help it flow better if need be.

Just think of some of the funny things that have happened to you in your career. Houses with exotic pets, walking in on sleeping owners who’re home sick from work, cats that escape. You probably have dozens of stories you could tell and your blog is the perfect place for them.

In the example below I was going for hard-boiled detective corniness. 

Call or email today and let’s get started building your likability. 


How to Scare the Crap Out of Your Appraiser

Hard as it may be to believe the life of a real estate appraiser is not all “wine, women, and song.” Appraisers are, for the most part, a serious solitary bunch.

When I was actively appraising, a group of colleagues from Rochester would occasionally attend the metro-area meeting of the Appraisal Institute. Believe me when I say, a meeting of the Embalmers Association would, by comparison, be a riotous drunken bacchanalia.

In the late 80’s we were in the midst of yet another bank meltdown and appraisers were tasked with valuing properties in the midst of bank repossession. Most often these homes were – hopefully – vacant.

During one of my early appraisal courses, I had a roommate from Florida who worked with his Dad valuing and then selling bank-owned properties in Miami. He related any number of stories wherein disgruntled homeowners – continuing to squat in the property – were hiding in closets or dark basements when he came through. In one particular case the owner popping out of a closet – loaded shotgun in hand. Granted he was in Florida and this is Minnesota – but the stories stuck in my head.

And as you’ll see, fueled by baseless subconscious fear, the unchecked human mind can create any number of vivid scenarios.

Here’s Looking at You Kid

It’s a beautiful sunny-but-chilly late-fall morning as I pull into the desolate dirt driveway that leads to a wooded home site somewhere south of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota.

I bring my platinum-gray four-door Mercury Cougar to a stop, leaving the engine running and the heater on. I open my hard-plastic briefcase and begin assembling the tools of the trade for entering and appraising yet another vacant home.

Clipboard, mechanical pencil and house keys at the ready – and prepared in my mind to face Freddy or Jason or whoever lay in wait in the house – I look up to see my windshield covered with bees.

Not honeybees mind you (Not that it would have made a damn bit of difference – bees are bees.) – but those big ugly long-tail-hanging-down wasps. The kind you always see in the fall of the year. There must be a hundred of them on my windshield.

I’m no Stephen King novel hero so needless to say; this house will not get appraised on this day.

Fast forward a couple weeks, the temps have dropped and there’s a wisp of snow on the ground. I’m back in front of the Beehive, waiting and watching, motor running. Fifteen minutes zip by in a breath with no notice of any bees. I exit the safety of my platinum sedan and head for the house.

The subject property is a large cedar sided rambler with a two car attached garage. A rusty-around-the-edges white metal service door, positioned to the right of the overhead door, stands open by six inches. I push the door open the rest of the way with the toe of my size ten and a half, brown Florsheim loafer.

The garage floor is littered with dead wasp bodies, the kind that sting. I approach the house entrance and press my ear to the door, listening for the sound of live bees. Wasps don’t make much of a sound so it’s hard to know whether or not I’m heading to a painful puffy death.

Heart pounding I set my hand on the cold brass knob and turn it, gently pushing the door into what appears to be the kitchen. No wasps, nowhere. Cool.

The inspection part of appraising a house requires a lot of head down concentration. The last time my house was appraised – circa 2012 – the guy used an iPad for everything. Back in the day we filled out a paper Fannie-Mae appraisal form and sketched the floor plan as we walked through the house. I can’t count the number of times, walking through vacant houses sans-furniture, where I ran head-first into the dining area chandelier.

I always started in the basement and the door was to my left. Here we go.

My mind flashes back to Florida and my Appraisal 101 roommate. Not to him specifically, of course, that would be weird, but to his stories about repo-squatters hiding in basements and closets. My heart races, my breath comes in short staccato bursts as I descend to the darkness of the vacant beehive basement.

Thirteen wooden steps into the ever-increasing darkness my loafer catches on a stair tread and I lose my footing. I regain it just as quickly, I am after-all an appraiser. Blindly I wave my hand back and forth in front of me, searching for the pull-cord from a ceiling light fixture. I find a string and pull; beautiful incandescent light. God bless Thomas Edison.

All good. No shotgun-wielding squatters. No bees that I can see.

I write down the bare minimum of needed information; forced air heat, central air, 150-watt electrical service, 40-gallon propane water heater and I’m back up the stairs in a flash. Only a fool would spend any more time than absolutely necessary in the basement of a vacant house.

Back on the well-lit main level, I begin the process of sketching the floor plan in the kitchen dining area. Using quarter inch graph paper and my bionic eye I’m fairly accurate estimating room size for the sketch. I’ll verify it all later when I use a tape to measure the exterior.

I note the dining area vinyl flooring on the appraisal form and draw in the six-foot-wide patio door that leads to a wooden deck at the back of the house. Mercifully I sidestep the chandelier without even looking up – I’m in the zone now.

In the kitchen, I check the boxes on the Fannie-Mae form for dishwasher, disposal, and range hood. I notice a couple of dead bees on the counter and one on the vinyl floor in front of the ‘frig. Great, I think to myself, I thought the bees were just in the garage.

I take a breath and continue checking boxes and making notes; Formica counters, basic cabinets, average construction.

Stopping at the patio door I look out to the backyard. The wind has picked up, even the branches on the big oaks are bending. The house creaks in complaint of the cold and wind and a shiver creases my spine.

I’m tempted to just get the hell out of there. I already know what’s at the other end of the house; three bedrooms and a bathroom. The only thing keeping me is appraiser ethics. I can’t report it on the form or the sketch unless I see it.

I come around a short L-shaped wall into the living room, a long hallway at my left. I begin sketching from the right, drawing in the entrance to the garage, a bow window in the living room, carpeted floor . . . the house creaks again and something imaginary crawls the back of my neck.

Oak woodwork, typical basic ranch casing, I sketch in the front door and the coat closet next to it. Could it be anything other than a closet? Nope. And I don’t need to check either.

Drawing in the final wall of the living room I look up from my clipboard and glance down the hall . . . and there he stands.

I have never in my life screamed in terror and I don’t now. Thankfully. But my entire body convulses backward. My mouth drops open to say something but no words come. A hundred thousand tiny needles poke my back and I realize I’m not breathing. A flip-flop churning in the pit of my stomach brings me to the realization that scaring the crap out of someone is a real possibility. It is definitely one of those fight or flight moments and I’m strongly in favor of flight.

I start a slow-motion spin to my right trying to make my exit on the legs of a rubber chicken and watch as my nemesis does the same. In fact, I suddenly realize, he’s also wearing a blue suit and brown loafers. He is me and I am him; my reflection in a full-length mirror at the end of the hall.

And that dear reader is how you scare the crap of your appraiser; let them do it themselves, they don’t need any help.




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