Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Zillow: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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As a real estate professional, I'm continually bombarded by the question, "Why does Zillow price my home differently?"

If we go on Zillow's website, this is how they explain it: The Zestimate is created by an automatic software process designed by statisticians, and there is no ability for humans to manually alter the Zestimate for a specific property.

To make that more clear, let's say a home is estimated to be worth $500,000. If the Zestimate is off by 10%, that's a difference of $50,000! If the home is underpriced, you're missing out on tens of thousands of dollars. If your home is overpriced by 10%, it will sit on the market for awhile, and you might have to drop the price, causing buyers to wonder what's wrong with the home.

It's been estimated that Zillow's home estimates are only right 7% of the time. That means that they are wrong 93% of the time! That is a terrible success rate.

Remember, Zillow can't take features or upgrades on your property and compare them to other recently closed homes in your area, even though doing so gives you a more updated value on your property. Zillow doesn't walk through your home, and that's where my team can come in and place an accurate value on your home....

The Best Time to Sell in the Twin Cities

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Throughout the year, one question we hear a lot is this: "When is the best time of year to sell my home?" We looked back over the last 15 years, and we found that sellers achieve the most success during the month of February.

Some of you may be surprised at this since February in Minnesota is so cold and sees a high amount of snowfall. The facts are pretty clear, though. In February, there is a significant amount of buyers, and inventory levels are 25% lower than the rest of the year. This means there is less competition for sellers, and the buyers that are out there are serious about purchasing a home.

That said, February buyers are often concerned about the yard. Since the yard can be covered in snow, the buyers won't know what it looks like. We recommend taking professional photographs of the property before any snow hits the ground. Those pictures will give buyers the confidence to move forward. Buyer confidence results in higher rewards for the seller.

If you need a professional photographer to take photos of your property, we can provide one for you. If you have any other questions about...

Are We in a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

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Today, we'll discuss the current state of the Twin Cities real estate market. It is important to have historical context when talking about current real estate trends so that you can understand exactly what is happening in the market.

For instance, we consider it to be a balanced market when we have somewhere between 21,000 and 23,000 listings on the market. Right now, we have 17,000 listings. We all remember the market crash. At the peak of the market, we had 35,000 listings. As you can see, we are significantly down from the peak, and we're below the balanced market rate. Right now, with our low inventory, sellers do have the upper hand.

Now, let's look at pricing. January 2012 was the bottom of the market with a median sales price of $140,000. At the...

Eden Prairie Park To Feature Ice Castles Again

Compared to the summer, there are quite a few less outdoor activities that Minnesotans of all ages can participate in; however, one thing kids love to do in the winter is build snow and ice forts. It's almost a right of passage in childhood. One of the 'coolest' features of the Minnesota winter is when adults play with ice, especially when they stack the ice blocks to form castles.

Miller Park in Eden Prairie will see the return of ice castles this winter. A Utah based company, Ice Castles LLC, will be charged with erecting the great ice structures this winter. Last year, the comapny also built an ice castle in Eden Prairie which attracted more than 80,000 visitors; the year before, at the Mall of America played host and also drew big crowds.

On September 15, the Eden Prairie City Council approved the company to create more of their ice masterpieces at Miller Park. The company will pay the city for all the water they use; so Eden Prairie residents don't need to worry about rationing their water.

This is a great family event that features the ice castles, plenty of cool lights illuminating them, other fun events and attractions, as well as snacks to warm up in the frigid weather. In order to really appreciate these castles and their craftsmanship, they need to be checked out up close.

Seriously, plan to bring the whole family. This is a great opportunity to show kids that even when they grow old, you can still make cool forts out of snow and ice.

Photo courtesy of: Kendrick Erickson


Nagasaki and St. Paul Celebrate 60 Years as Sister Cities

The city of Nagasaki, Japan, is a world away from St. Paul, Minnesota. But many here know the name as it was one of the two cities devastated by the United States atomic bomb attacks in World War II. Many Minnesotans might not know Nagasaki and St. Paul are sister cities, a tie that was established in 1955.

Ten years after World War II ended, the City of St. Paul hosted a special ceremony to celebrate their newly founded connection to the Japanese city. The ceremony was held on the ten year anniversary of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1955. This relationship was established by James J. Hill's son, which later became a Sister City affiliation. This affiliation is one of the oldest in the United States and was one of the first between an Asian and American city.

A delegation from Nagasaki will visit St. Paul at the end of August to celebrate this 60 year connection. There will be plenty of events while the delegation is in town, from throwing out the first pitch at CHS Field to a Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at Como Park.

While war has long since passed between these two great nations, it's important that neither nation forget the cost war had on their country. Both Nagasaki and St. Paul are striving to celebrate a bond, mourn the past and facilitate a peaceful future.


2015 State Fair to Host Variety of Free Concerts

As the summer kicks into high gear, many Minnesotans can't help but to think of late August. The Minnesota State Fair is the biggest event in the state every year, drawing millions from all over the state to the fairgrounds. Nothing really has to change from year to year to get folks back to the "The Great Minnesota Get-Together," but hearing about new foods, concerts and events always sweetens the pot.

This year, there are a host of free concerts. The Grandstand is always a huge draw for music fans, but for those not looking to spend money on concert tickets, there are plenty of other options at 2015's fair.

Bandshell Tonight! has plenty of great free shows; Andy Grammer, who is a rising pop star with his current hit, "Honey, I'm Good," will be the most notable name to put on a free show at the fair.

Reel Big Fish is another significant name to be playing a free show this year. This group was one of the biggest names of the short-lived ska-punk phase; though their moment as a heavy hitter may have passed, they still have plenty of great tracks to entertain a live crowd. Those who want to have a little nostalgia for the mid-90s should find this concert right up their alley.

Local musician Charlie Parr will be playing a few times throughout the fair. He has a local following of fans who love his blues-y style. He has many shows throughout the fair this year and hopes to grab some new fans with each performance.

There are many other free concerts throughout the 12 days of the fair; check the Minnesota State Fair's website for more details on concerts and everything else fair related.

Image courtesy of: Minnesota State Fair


Beer and Live Music at the '612 Brew Fest'

Who doesn't love beer and live music? Well, if you don't, then this event is not for you -- but if you are in the category of loving beer and music, 612 Brew Art Music and Beer Festival has got a weekend of fun for you. This event is in conjunction of the Art-A-Whirl festivities that same weekend. Oh, the best part? The event is open to the public and free to all. 

On May 15th and 16th, Northeast Minneapolis will be lively with many live concerts, an open studio to check out talented local artists, and of course, beer from 612 Brewery. The brewery will be serving its five top selling beers during the event. 

Friday night will play host to five bands and Saturday will showcase eight bands -- the headline acts include: Ash St. John, Nathan Miller, Loons in the Attic, and July Fighter. 

With all the beer and entertainment, those in attendance are sure to get hungry -- well, worry not because there will be six food trucks on hand to give plenty of food variety to quench any hunger. 

To learn more about this event, check out 612 Brewery's website

Image courtesy of: 612 Brewery 


2319 Golf Drive - Woodbury MN

This beautifully appointed home has been extensively upgraded with custom features not found at this price.  The chef's kitchen features granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Hardwood floors throughout the main level tie together the open floor plan which is both breathtaking and functional.

Upstairs features 4 bedrooms including a larger master suite with 2 closets, huge master bathroom with separate tub and shower and dual vanities.


10550 McCool Court - Burnsville

This beautiful custom built home sits on the banks of the Minnesota River with exceptional privacy and views of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

This home features upgrades rarely found at this price.  From the 2 master suites - one on the main and one upstairs - to the beautifully appointed basement bar, theatre and fitness center, this home is a masterpiece of design, function and ellegance.

  • 4,373 Total finished square feet
  • 5 Bedrooms
  • 5 Bathrooms
  • 3 car garage

Proudly marketed by Steve Hall for the price of $575,000.


Revered Hollywood Director Christopher Nolan Set to Visit the Walker

The Walker Art Center will play host to one of Hollywood’s biggest directors on May 5th. The Dark Knight and Inception director Christopher Nolan will be visiting Minneapolis to have an open discussion about film with Variety movie critic Scott Foundas.

The London filmmaker has a huge following, so this event is sure to be in front of a packed house. Over the past 25 years, the Walker Art Center has had many acclaimed filmmakers for their Dialogues & Film Retrospectives program. The series has hosted Clint Eastwood, The Coen Brothers, Tom Hanks, Jodie Foster and many more.

Each of Nolan’s films will screen at the Walker to freshen attendees to his filmography. Nolan, one of the very few “traditional” filmmakers left in the business, still shoots his films on actual film, not digital cameras. That is sure to come up in the cinematic discussion, as almost all of Nolan’s peers shoot digital. In honor of Nolan’s celluloid allegiance, his films will all be shown on 35mm film.

Prices vary for the screenings depending on if you are a member of the Walker, a student, or just the general public. Tickets for the Nolan discussion will go on sale April 7th for Walker Film Club members and the general public on April 21st. Tickets are guaranteed to sell out, so if you want to go, you better plan ahead.

Contact the Walker for more info, by either calling 612-375-7600 or visiting

Photo courtesy of: Warner Bros. Entertainment