Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Parade of Homes Spring Preview 2009

Are you excited about the 2009 Parade of Homes?  Me too.  That’s why its so great that Twin Cities house hunters will have a whole month to go check out the Parade of Homes Spring Preview for 2009. The Parade starts tomorrow, February 28, and runs March 22. The models are open Thursday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during that time period.  View the latest and greatest in building trends, including eco-friendly or “green” construction!

Don’t forget to check out other events happening during the Parade of Homes Spring Preview, including wine tastings, interior decoration tips, and architect meet-and-greets.

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Hennepin County Public Works Facility has Solar Panels

If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you know that I like to be good and green (if you’re not a regular reader, I hope you’ll soon become one!). And we loved the idea of a green roof on the Target Center, and from the comments we received, our readers do, too!  Now I have another green project to tell you about.

Hennepin County has installed solar panels on its Medina public works facility. The 530 panels on the roof of the building will generate a maximum of 80 kilowatts of electricity, providing up to 15% of the electric power used in the building. That would save Hennepin County about $15,000 in electricity charges per year. It is the second-largest solar installation in the state of Minnesota, behind Merrick Inc.’s set-up in Vadnais Heights, which supplies 100 kilowatts of power.

"The county is trying to be a leader in renewable energy and conservation and sustainable buildings," said Dave McNary, Hennepin County's assistant director of environmental services in charge of energy and solid waste. "If we generate electrical energy from renewable resources, we can reduce reliance on fossil fuels."

Part of Hennepin's "cool county" initiative is a commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses produced by the county by 80 percent by 2050. That means the county is looking for other buildings that might be suitable for solar installations.  Additionally, there are plans in the...

Home and Patio Show 2009

As I mentioned last Friday, it’s almost time for spring projects! You can get plenty of inspiration if you attend this weekend’s Home & Patio Show.  It actually starts today at the RiverCentre in Saint Paul and runs through Sunday, February 22.  See first-hand what’s new on the market for gardening, landscaping, home renovation, building, decorating and more.  Pick up tips from professionals in daily seminars. Visit the new Minnesota Green Zone, dedicated to products and services that help us live and build green.  Go to the website to see hours and a full schedule of events. 

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Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis January 2009

The first St. Paul real estate market analysis for the year of 2009! New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in January according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  During the month, there were 548 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 562 homes put up on the market during January 2008.  That is a decrease of just -2.5%.  It was a mixed bag when the posted new listings are broken out by neighborhood, as some big increases while others saw decreases. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:

Como 29 (-14.7%)
Crocus Hill 38 (-29.6%)
Downtown Saint Paul 32 (-45.8%)
East Side 138 (+26.6%)
Highland Park 36 (+9.1%)
Mac-Groveland 24 (-27.3%)
Merriam Park 14 (+16.7%)
North End/Frogtown 64 (-13.5%)
Phalen 84 (+16.7%)
Southeast 11 (-21.4%)
St. Anthony/Midway 27 (+3.8%)
West 7th 13 (-23.5%)
West Side/Cherokee 35 (+52.2%)

The number of homes sold within St. Paul, Minnesota, in January 2009 is higher than the same month of 2008, a trend that has been running for a few months.  There were 170 homes sold throughout the month, a +7.6% increase over the 158 homes sold in January 2008.  Closed sales on homes for January 2009 in Saint Paul by neighborhood:

Como 4 (-20.0%)
Crocus Hill 11 (-26.7%)
Downtown Saint Paul 384 (-20.0%)
East Side 39 (+30.0%)
Highland Park 10 (-33.3%)
Mac-Groveland 8 (-20.0%)
Merriam Park 5 (-0.0%)
North End/Frogtown 27 (+58.8%)
Phalen 32 (+77.8%)
Southeast 3 (-70.0%)
St. Anthony/Midway 6 (-45.5%)
West 7th 4 (+33.3%)
West Side/Cherokee10 (+25.0%)

The prices of homes sold in St. Paul have continued to fall.  The average sales price of a home sold in January was $111,222, a negative...

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis January 2009

It’s this first real estate market analysis for Minneapolis in 2009!  The number of January 2009 new listings in Minneapolis has declined compared to 2008, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  But they’ve increased compared to last month!  There were 820 new listings, while in January 2008, there were 982, a decrease of -16.5%. Downtown Minneapolis saw an increase in new listings, while the rest of the communities saw decreases in new listings.  Here is an inventory of January 2009 new listings in Minneapolis by community and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to January 2008.

Camden 107 (-24.6%)
Downtown Minneapolis 149 (+12.9%)
Longfellow 46 (-14.8%)
Nokomis 90 (-4.3%)
North 81 (-48.7%)
Northeast 64 (-16.9%)
Phillips 26 (-7.1%)
Powderhorn 70 (-16.7%)
Southwest 76 (-12.6%)
University Area 19 (-32.1%)
Uptown-Lakes 91 (-6.2%)

Closed sales within Minneapolis during January jumped compared to 2008.  There were 303 properties sold last month, a +13.5% more than the 267 houses sold in January 2008. Lots of homes in Camden, North, and Powderhorn communities still, and there were also increases in closed sales in Northeast and Phillips. Here are the closed home sales that occurred within Minneapolis during January, broken down by community and compared to 2008:

Camden 71 (+108.8%)
Downtown Minneapolis 21 (-58.0%)
Longfellow 16 (-0.0%)
Nokomis 31 (-8.8%)
North 51 (+54.5%)
Northeast 26 (+73.3%)
Phillips 9 (+125.0%)
Powderhorn 25 (+31.6%)
Southwest 25 (-28.6%)
University Area 3 (-0.0%)
Uptown-Lakes 20 (-16.7%)

The average prices of homes sold in Minneapolis have continued to fall.  Last month, the average price of a home sold within Minneapolis was...

A Case for Good Balance

Home staging has been identified as a key component to preparing houses for sale. Professional stagers have been known to beautifully redesign a living room within minutes of stepping into the space, leaving home owners scratching their heads and muttering, "Why didn't I think of this before?" The truth is, there is a fine art (yes, art) to the act of rearranging furniture and setting home accents in "just the right place." More than having good taste in decorating, stagers follow proven design principles that show off the individual layout of a house and highlight the features of each room. To accomplish these tasks, stagers perform a "balancing act" that equally distributes visual weight around the room.

In the photo below, the buffet and glass cabinet AND art work AND lack of space on the opposite wall create an over-crowded and unbalanced room that weighs heavy to the right. Off-centered to the light fixture, the improper placement of the table adds to the uneven representation of this room.

Removing the buffet and cabinet allows the table to be centered under the light fixture and with the window. Eliminating the large furniture pieces also creates a "lighter feeling" on the right wall which results in balanced visual weight with the opposite wall.

Rearranging and/or eliminating furniture while staging serves a specific purpose...

Be Careful on the Ice

Thinking about partaking in some winter fun activities?  It might be best to leave the ice skates at home.  Thought the mild weather we’ve been experiencing is a welcome change, it has resulted in open water and weak ice along shorelines and near storm drains that empty into the lakes and channels.

In response, the Park and Recreation Board has closed all 48 outdoor ice rinks in 23 Minneapolis parks for the season. They were originally scheduled to close Feb. 16 to prepare parks for spring activities.  Residents and park visitors are being warned to stay off the ice. “Danger: Ice Not Safe” signs are posted on lakes managed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

If conditions allow, attempts will be made to save the broomball rinks for the playoffs. This will be determined on a location-by-location and day-by-day decision. For those not ready to kick off their skates, two indoor skating facilities are still open: Parade Ice Garden and Northeast Ice Arena.

Also, ice fishers?  Don’t be these guys. If people are being asked to stop skating on the ice, you probably shouldn’t drive on the lakes either.

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Three Things

First, it’s almost Valentine’s Day!  Celebrate love and romance amongst the flowers and animals at the Woo at the Zoo at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in Saint Paul.  It starts the 13 and runs through February 16. You can learn about the origins of chocolate, the meanings of flowers, and how the animals ‘woo’ one another. This four-day event, with activities stations and make and take crafts, offers something for all ages.

Next, when it is Valentine’s Day, what are your plans? Candlelit trails, bonfires, sleigh rides, romantic music and snowshoeing under the stars have made Valentine's Day a popular event at five locations in the Three Rivers Park District. Only the Park District's largest program, at Richardson Nature Center in Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, still has reservations open for its "Candlelight and Chocolate" evenings on Feb. 13 and 14.

Finally, it’s almost time for spring projects! Get some inspiration next weekend at the Home & Patio Show!  It will be held at the RiverCentre in Saint Paul from February 19 through the 22.  See first-hand what’s new on the market for gardening, landscaping, home renovation, building, decorating and more.  Pick up tips from the pros in daily seminars. Visit the new Minnesota Green Zone, dedicated to products and services that help us live and build green.

There are your three upcoming events!  Don’t forget that there are some ...

What Would Make You Buy Now?

I read this article from the Star Tribune a few days ago, and it has been rattling around in my head since then.  Researchers from the National Association of Home Builders asked self-professed “buyers on the fence” what incentives would motivate most of them to get past their worries and buy. With builders busting at the seems with unsold houses, it’s in their best interest to find out, right?  Besides the economy obviously being a big factor right now, it turns out that some of the researchers’ results were surprising: 

Even with houses at rock bottom prices, most seem to be waiting to see if prices slip more. 

Even with 5 percent mortgage rates, buyers want them to go lower to 3 percent.  And A zero-down option would be highly attractive to potential buyers.

Tax credits alone, even up to 10 percent with a limit of $22,000, won’t make them budge. 

Potential home buyers think that the incentive packages that home builders offer aren’t all their cracked up to be. 

What was the #1 offer that would get them to buy?  A price concession that amounts to a 10 percent discount below true market value and basically instant home equity for the purchaser upfront.

Concerns about falling property values were most prevalent among consumers in the Western region.  Home buyers that were on the fence in the Northeastern and Midwestern states were more likely to be waiting for lower interest rates. Potential buyers in the South tended to be more concerned about their ability to qualify for a new mortgage.

The article ended with a summary of what may be expected from home builders in the near-future:
Bottom line: Look for builders to offer combination packages...

February Real Estate Related Events in the Twin Cities

February real estate events in the Twin Cities

Buying Foreclosed and Short-Sale Properties. Topics at this event will include how to find deals in the foreclosure market and then negotiate with the bank. This class for first time home buyers or experienced investors alike will be held on February 17 from. 7 to 9 p.m. at Minneapolis Community Education, Pratt Elementary School, 66 Malcolm Av. SE. The price is $15. 612-668-1100.

Buying a Duplex as an Investment. Topics here will include tax benefits of owning rental property, how to evaluate property, and protecting yourself as a landlord. The price for this event is $15 and it will be held on February 18 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Minneapolis Community Education, Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Av. S. 612-668-2470.

Buying a Home: Special Programs. This is an overview of home-buyer programs that include down-payment and closing-cost assistance. It will be held on February 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Minneapolis Community Education, Roosevelt High School, 4029 28th Av. S. The cost to attend is $15. 612-668-4828.

Buying Distressed Properties. Here, you can learn from Minneapolis nonprofit organization RPG what you need to know about buying homes that are vacant, boarded or condemned. This class is for the purchase of owner-occupied homes and is not for investors. This free event will be held on February 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Minneapolis Community Education, Henry High School, 4320 Newton Av. N. 612-668-1922.

How to Sell a Home for More Money. Everyone selling a house in this market wants that, right? At this event, learn about staging, home improvements and other ways to make buyers want your home over the competition. This event will be held...

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