Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Greening Minnesota ~ October/November 2010

The last two months has been full of green news and initiatives that are occuring in Minnesota or the Twin Cities community and may be of interest to residents.

Minneapolis recently studied the garbage of 100 randomly selected houses in the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis to determine what kind of garbage and recycling is generated there. Officials want to know how much recycling goes into the recycling containers and how much goes into the garbage. They also want to see what hazardous wastes are being put in the garbage containers. The results may be used to help the city make future plans for recycling and waste management.

The state is drafting new rules regulating riverfront homes and other structures built in the Twin Cities to protect the shores of the Mississippi River. The rules would standardize things such as how close to the top of a river bluff a structure can be built, how tall buildings in the corridor can be, when vegetation buffers are needed, and even how bluffs are defined. The standards already in place are not as detailed, and cities don't always enforce them the same way.

A handful of Minneosta cities have joined a state initiative to help grow sustainable practices in what's projected to be a "green" version of the Minnesota Star Cities designation. Instead of being awarded for economic development, GreenStep City designations would be given for embracing green initiatives. Though many cities have eco-conscious intentions, finding, funding and implementing ideas can be daunting. The GreenStep City program's website,, provides resources and goals tailored to cities' resources and needs to meet requirements in five sustainability categories.

The American home got supersized during the housing boom. Big was good. Not anymore. A huge house, once a status symbol, now symbolizes risk and high overhead to many buyers. After decades of...

Impending Flood of Foreclosure Homes

A new study from the CoreLogic real estate research firm shows that the number of houses in foreclosure or soon bound for it is increasing. As of August, this "shadow inventory" of distressed homes not yet on the market has grown 10% since last year.

Analysts are keeping a close watch on the number of possible future distressed sales because of the effect they have on home prices throughout the market. Foreclosure and short sale homes often directly compete with traditional listings, dragging down the prices of homes that might surround it. Additionally, untended bank-owned listings that are boarded make nearby houses seem less desirable.

When comparing the supply of listings for houses that are 90 days or more delinquent with the current sales pace, Minnesota ranked 13th nationwide, beating out even Michigan and several other states with metro areas that are worse off than the Twin Cities.

Those rankings, however, are not an indication of the overall health of a market.


What $89,900 Buys in Eagan MN

Take a look at MLS # 3983092

This beautiful town home is located at 3572 Blue Jay Way in Eagan, Minnesota. This one-level town house was built in 1985. It has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and 1,020-square-feet of space.




This home has has an open floorplan with a spacious feel. One-level living means that even the bedrooms are all located on the main level, with no stairs to climb. It also has a detatched garage.




Imagine the cold winter ahead of us being spent in the living room with a loved one in front of the fireplace. Ditch your gym membership for access to a workout room, swimming pool, hot tub and sauna through the homeowner's association.




This townhouse could be new home for $89,900!

Browse more Eagan MN Real Estate


Midwest Home Show 2010 in Minneapolis

The Midwest Home Show is this weekend, November 19-21, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The 20th annual event is presented by Midwest Home magazine. Find more than 200 of the Twin Cities' best remodelers, landscapers, designers and home improvement specialists at this Minneapolis event!

A few hightlights of the show:

  • The Lake Home - Walk through this real French-inspired cabin for ideas to make your cabin "Up North" cozy all season long!
  • High/Low Kitchens - This display showcases an expensive kitchen and a kitchen for a fraction of the price. Get tips on where to spend your money in your kitchen and what areas to save.
  • Winter Wonderland - Featuring an outdoor brick pizza oven and a real ice-skating rink that is the new must-have for hockey and figure skating families.
  • Man Cave - A testosterone-friendly retreat with home theatre, pool table, bar area, poker table, and more.
  • MN Greenstar Experience - Learn easy ways to make your home more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly. There is a $1,500 Energy Tax Credit expiring at the end of the year of which you can still take advantage!
  • Designer Flea Market - The one-stop shop for designer items as a fraction of the cost!
  • High-End Kitchen and Bath Sale - Save up to 80% off retail at the National Kitchen & Bath Association.
  • Builders Outreach Foundation Garage Sale - Donated items such as appliances, lights, doors, fireplaces, windows and model home furniture can be purchased at fantastic prices.

Tickets can be bought for $6 at Cub Foods. Buy one and get one FREE! $8 at the door. Details at


Walkable Communities: Not Just a Green Thing

If you lived in a place where you had to walk on the shoulder of a road or in the grass, would you walk places? What if you lived in a neighborhood with sidewalks that lead to places like the grocery store or a restaurant?

The development choices of cities and towns can have a drastic effect on the health of its residents. Mark Fenton, a former world-class race walker and an engineer, travels the country energetically proclaiming the many benefits that health-conscious urban design can have on a community. He recently met with fficials from Bloomington, Edina and Richfield to explain why they should build more streets and developments that lure people into being active.

Fenton explains that the design of our communities influences how active we are as part of our routine daily life. The best way to encourage regular exercise is not to build trails for walkers and bicyclists just in parks, but to have paths that are part of a network and that lead to destinations where want to go. People are more willing to walk or bike to the store if they feel they are able to safely do it.

In communities that are fully developed like Bloomington, Edina and Richfield, with roads in neighborhoods that were laid out years ago, that healthy design doesn't need to be a huge project. Sometimes redesigning and restriping roads to include narrow lanes for bicyles and pedestrians can be enough.

Read the rest of this Star Tribune article to learn more about what Bloomington, Edina, and Richfield are doing to make their communities more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.


U of M Solar House Has No Buyers

MPR recently reported that University of Minnesota students have spent months trying to sell their prize-winning solar-powered house. They're having trouble finding a buyer for the 550 square-foot house.

As part of its "Sustainable Shelter" exhibit, the house is on display across the street from the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. The house is shaped like a typical Minnesota family home, but the roof is covered in solar panels.

The house placed fifth internationally in the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon last year. Although building costs reached $1 million, including a $100,000 Department of Energy grant and many donations, the house's market value has been set at $550,000 based on the cost of materials and labor.

Project coordinators put the home up for auction at a $200,000 minimum bid in the spring -- slightly higher than the median value of a single-family home in the metro area at about $185,000.

Though the price tag is reasonable for its quality, the house has sat untouched in the market since spring. The weak housing market is partly to blame. Secondly, "Location, location, location! is the soul of the real estate market, yet this solar house doesn't have one. Yet another deterrent is that once a location is found, the house's five parts requires self-assembly.

About $20,000 in moving expenses are already included in the purchase price.

The Bell exhibit opened Oct. 16 and will run until May 15.


Historic House Finds a Home

For more than 10 years, what was thought to be a worthless shack sat in the corner of the Maple Grove Public Works yard. It's owner, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, didn't know the diamond in the rough it had on its hands.

Built in 1854, it was the area's first frame house in an era of log cabins and sod huts. Whatsmore, the man who lived there was Pierre Bottineau, a legendary frontiersman who helped pioneer development in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Maple Grove, Osseo and parts of the Dakotas.

After the building's history was discovered, MnDOT hired the Minneapolis firm of MacDonald & Mack Architects to restore it. The structure had been moved around and subjected to a number of different uses over the years. It was moved to the Public Works site during clearing for the Hwy. 610 expansion in 1998.

In summer 2009, the building was hauled to its new home in the Elm Creek Park Reserve, where it has been restored for use as a history center. A grand opening is slated for 2011.

Read more at the Star Tribune.

Photo from Maple Grove Historic Preservation Society.