Tag Archives: Real Estate

Trump’s Take It Or Leave It Approach Makes Sense

In real estate.

I’m not an expert on this but I’ve seen the sausage being made a few times. Individuals with investment money, commercial businesses that might use new space, other possible tenants, maybe or maybe not some designers or builders, municipal or other government stakeholders, community stakeholders such as neighborhood associations, etc. consider a real estate deal. Perhaps there is a bit of condemned land the county wants to sell cheap if only you clean up the brownfield and develop something nice. Maybe the investors include a person who owns an underexploited business venture in a particular property, and some other investor owns the property, and they’re building a subway stop down the street.

All kinds of possibilities for a bigly deal. Plans are made, temperatures checked, conversations happen, money is put down on options to buy, a partnership is formed, etc.

And then, at some point, bait has to be cut, or put on the hook. One must do number two or leave the loo. All the parties involved have to agree on the deal, so they do.

Or, they don’t.

If they don’t, you move on to some other deal. You have not, most of your life, committed to seeing a 7-11 market in a mixed use housing project on the corner of Main and First Ave. It was never really your your dream to build a strip mall on that old landfill by the bus station. You have not woken up every morning of the last 30 years wondering how you could achieve an office building by the new cloverleaf next to the park and ride. Any of those things might have been nice, bit it didn’t work out.

Even more importantly, you are smart if you figure out sooner than later that it won’t work out, and move on sooner rather than later. You may even be smart to move on even if there is a small chance of pulling off the deal.

Donald Trump, as of this writing (and things are happening very fast at this moment, so this could change) is saying, vote on Trumpcare now, if the vote is no in the House, drop it. We’ll do something else unrelated to health care. That is a wise thing to do, in the real estate world. I’m actually surprised to see Trump doing something that makes sense in any context at all. Maybe he isn’t a total failure as a businessperson after all!

Unfortunately, Trump is the President of the United States and the deal we are talking about is with Congress and the People, and it is not a strip mall somewhere, but the health care insurance system.

There are people who have a life-long commitment to seeing affordable healthcare. It was always their dream to build a system of insurance that would be affordable and fair for all. They woke up every morning of the last 30 years wondering how to achieve this goal.

They’ve tried before, failed, and got back up and dusted themselves off and tried again. Obamacare was the first real success since the old days, but even that was not enough and there are people ideologically, politically, and for humanitarian reasons committed to an even lofter goal.

The arc of justice is long but bends gently to the left, in this case to the more universal and fairer health care system. It is convenient that the path Trump has decided to take is a hard right turn followed by … well, parking the car on the side of the road and taking a bus to some other place. Maybe go golfing or something.

We’ll see what happens today (over the next two or three hours). I wonder if Trump will address all of his issues this way. I wonder if he’ll address the presidency this way. I wonder if some day, soon, Trump will say to Paul Ryan, “Build the wall, and get Mexico to pay for it. I’ll be at the Florida White House while you work that out.”

Then, when Ryan tells Trump, “There is no way. It can’t be done. There isn’t a mechanism for that, and we don’t have the votes anyway,” that trump will respond in the same way, but more bigly.

“Call the vote,” Trump tells Ryan. In my fantasy. “If it doesn’t pass, I’m outa here.”

Buying or Selling a Home in the Twin Cities, Minnesota?

If so, I have a recommendation for you.

We recently sold our old house and bought a new one, and moved.

The main reason we did this: to get closer to Amanda’s place of work. We managed to turn a commute that ran from 35 minutes to 1.5 hours (on really bad winter days) each way to one short enough that Amanda will usually bike, with about a five or six minute drive on non-biking days. Probably a ten minute drive on the worst winter days.

The main reason we did this now rather than a couple of years ago: our house was under water thanks to the GB Economic Crisis. In fact, we weren’t sure if we could sell the house at anything but a loss now. And, since we were trying to move into what is at present the best school district in the state (where Amanda happens to teach), the chances of finding a place to move to were somewhere between slim and none. And slim just left town after killing none.

But, we had excellent real estate agents working with us, and that made a huge difference. This blog post is, in fact, part of my thanks for and endorsement of Erik and Toby Nordin. They generally work as a team, and Erik was at the time the licensed agent (though Toby just became one as well), while Toby was the marketing guru. The Nordins work for Engle & Völkers, an international company that has recently moved into the Twin Cities area, and for which Amanda’s sister, Alyssa, works.

Erik and Toby gave us advice on what to do to get our house ready for sale. We followed their advice carefully, and rather than having to lose money on the sale, we walked away with a nice bit of cash. We sold the house in just over 24 hours after putting on the market, though it is a bit unfair to say that; the eventual buyers actually saw the house just a few hours into the process, but there was a bidding thing among the six or so offers we got.

Erik took us out to look at houses a few days after we sold ours. Twice. We found the house we wanted to buy with two bouts of searching. We know a few other people in our area that have moved recently, and most took weeks or months. One could argue that we are not picky, but see above: we were looking for an affordable place a bike ride from the top high school in the state, in a very fancy suburb.

(It turns out that Plymouth Minnesota has a sort of workers neighborhood right by the City Center. Erik knew about it, and showed us a couple of places here.)

Erik and Toby provided or organized all the necessary services and held our hands through every step. Their management of MLS data was excellent. They had great advice on anything you can imagine an agent can provide advice on. You need to know that I’m a person who normally does not like, trust, or have a whole hell of a lot of respect for most real estate agents. I was, after all, raised by one, and I’ve seen the sausage being made. Erik and Toby (and S-I-L Alyssa, and I suspect Engel & Völkers generally) are real professionals. If all agents and brokers were held to their standards a lot of people in the business would have to be looking for work elsewhere.

I’ve told our story to a handful of people who either just did the same thing, or who were in the process, and nobody has had an experience that went as smoothly, as successfully, and as quickly as ours. I attribute this to three things. A bit of random luck (maybe 10% of the outcome accounted for by this), a lot of hard work on our part, getting our place ready to sell (though it was fundamentally in great shape), and a huge amount of excellent work by Toby and Erik

So, thank you Toby and Erik.

I should also mention that Engel & Völklers, in the tradition of many European countries, is both a great place to work (so I hear) and does a lot to “give back” to the community. For example, they are a major supporter of the Special Olympics.