Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Greening Minnesota ~ December

Almost didn't make it! But here it is, the Greening Minnesota, December Edition. Here, you can read about new developments in the local community which contribute towards a greener and bluer earth.

First, good news! 35 Minnesota fish and wildlife conservations projects will be getting $3.7 million in grants next year from the Outdoor Heritage Fund - created when voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

Next, Bloomington has a farmers market. So does Richfield, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Minneapolis. But not Edina. As soon as next summer, Edina might just have a farmer's market if a proposal that's going to the Edina Park Board in January makes its way through city review processes in time. The proposed location would be Centennial Lakes Park.

Also in Edina, as construction starts on its new public works building, one of the earliest jobs will be to drill its geothermal heating and cooling system. 124 wells will be...

Snowpocalypse Aftermath in the Twin Cities

Now that the holiday storm has dumped piles of snow on the Twin Cities, colder weather is moving in, which will make it even more difficult for public works crews to remove the snow and ice from roads.

In Minneapolis, streets are fairly clean on busier streets. High-demand on-street parking areas will likely have curbside snow and ice until it warms up a little. Some potholes are forming alreadyand may not get filled immediately.

In Saint Paul, roads east of Snelling are good, while those to the west are a little rough still. Some St. Paul streets were missed during the snow emergency because of new plow drivers. If your road in St. Paul isn't cleared soon, might want to let them know.

There is a bright spot amidst the storm. Officials in St. Paul and Minneapolis are praising residents for heeding snow emergency warnings called on both...

Doomsnow or Snowmagedon? Regardless, It's Here

Will it be a white-out Christmas? If you've been paying any attention, you know that a snowstorm threatens to turn last-minute shopping and holiday travel into possibly dangerous tasks. The forecast indicates there could be the deepest Christmas snows on record across Minnesota and parts ot the midwest, with the storm already well started as I write this and expected to linger well into Saturday.

The storm is capable of dropping 16 to 22 inches from Iowa to the Arrowhead. The heaviest snow is predicted for central and northern Minnesota. The snow will likely be heavy and wet, so be careful as there will probably be a lot of ice on the roads. Wind gusts could exceed 20 mph.

Will it really be Snowmagedon? Will the Doomsnow hit us as hard as they say? Time will tell, but the weather forecast guarantees that snow emergencies will be declared in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the holiday weekend. That will require most cars parked on streets to be moved at least once or be towed away at...

Strange-But-True: Instead of Tearing Down, Donate Your Unwanted House

When the Schrank family decided to sell their Prior Lake home and property, they were horrified to find that the new buyer wanted to destroy the house and build a new one in its place. The Schrank's are now donating the home to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

But it had to be moved to its new site before a new family can take residence in it. That was accomplished last week by Otting House Movers based in Lakeville:

The 30-Ton house, 64-feet in length, 32-feet in width took up both lanes of traffic, which created quite the chore Wednesday.  Crews had to cut branches from the tree-lined streets, Xcel Energy took down low power lines and some street signs were taken apart.

It took 4 hours to move the house 1.5 miles.

"It's always exciting to get a house donation, especially as rare as a donation that involves a house move," Sharon...

Be Careful on Lake Ice in Minnesota

It is the winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night. Even as the days grow longer from here on out, the cold season has just officially begun. Because of the unseasonably warm weather we had well into fall, the lake ice in Minnesota which has normally frozen solid... really hasn't yet. Especially when it comes to lakes in the southern half of the state.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends that there be at least five inches of ice to support snowmobiles or ATVs and more than double that before it will support a car or truck onto a lake. In smaller lakes, there is less of a danger and ice has likely been able to form thick enough to support some of these activities. But the ice is dangerously thin in many places.

Just ask Dan Fruechte of Swanville, as his manufactured fish house has fallen partially through the ice on Long Lake. Equipped with a flat-screen TV and stereo, the house was worth about $15,000 and has maintained so much water damage it is totaled....

Twin Cities Real Estate Statistics: November 2009

Heavy buyer activity and a dwindling inventory led to a strengthening of Twin Cities home prices in November. According the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, the November median sales price for homes in the Twin Cities was $170,000 - a slight increase from October. This mark is 2.9% behind last November, the lowest year-over-year price decline in over two years.

The median sales price of traditional homes (excluding foreclosures and short sales) in November was $190,000, down 15.6 percent from a year ago. Since a heavy share of buyers in November were likely first-timers who typically buy in the more affordable price ranges, prices in the traditional segment have been weighted downward. Foreclosures posted a November figure of $127,500, up 2.0 percent from a year ago, while short sales prices were at $143,500, down 15.6 percent from a year ago.

There were 2,987 signed purchase agreements in November, up 10.2% from a year...

Twin Cities Residents Riding the Rails

At long last, the Hiawatha light rail line is finally complete. The last planned stop, the America Boulevard Station located in Bloomington at 34th Avenue, opened on Saturday. And it opened ahead of schedule, as the work wasn't even supposed to be finished until January.
The $3.3 million station was included in the original plans for the light rail line, but its construction was deferred when the south end of the 12-mile route was redesigned, said Bob Gibbons, director of customer services for Metro Transit. Money to build the new station came from the Bloomington Port Authority, Hennepin County, Metropolitan Council and the federal government.
The new station is northeast of the Mall of America and a short distance from Bloomington Central Station. Three hotels, an office complex and large long-term parking lots are located nearby. The area is being redeveloped and Bloomington MN officials view the new station as a key...

Anoka County Home Weatherization Program Expands

157 residents were going to receive weatherization assistance from the Anoka County Community Action Program. Now, thanks to $1.6 million in federal stimulus money, the program will be available to nearly 300 more. Additionally, workers will be able to look more closely at more clients' energy use than they've been able to in the past. This will enable them to find more solutions to bring a home's utility costs down.

Anoka County's allocation is part of $131 million in stimulus weatherization aid being distributed throughout the state. The federal money allows ACCAP to triple its client load and raises the average allocation per home from $3,000 to $6,500.

The program is available to county residents who qualify for federal home heating aid. The cutoff is about 200% of federal poverty guidelines, or $44,100 a year for a family of four. Those with the highest energy consumption generally get first priority because unusually high energy bills signal...

Data Post December 10, 2009 - Forced vs. Unforced Registration Test

Website Data for December 3 - December 9, 2009

We saw slight up-ticks for Total Users and Uniques on both sites this week.  It's a little surprising that we haven't seen a significant drop in traffic during what is normally a "slower time" of the year.  Could it be the extended tax credit?  Time will tell.  Here are the numbers for last week:

Raw Data: (Unforced) (Forced)

 Total Visitors

1,169 1,360
 Unique Visitors
 1,030 1,166
 Avg Pages Viewed per Visitor

National and Twin Cities Real Estate Reports for October & November 2009

In Septemebr, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit led 20 U.S. metro areas for home price improvements, both with 1.8% increases, according to the Case-Shiller home price index compiled by Standard & Poor.

In October, home sales nationwide climbed to their highest level since July 2007 as first-time home buyers rushed to take advantage of an expiring tax credit. In the Twin Cities, pending home sales were up 34.4% from a year ago, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Now a new report from the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors shows that the median sale price for a home in the Twin Cities throughout November came in at $170,000, down less than 3% from the same month last year. There were 4,304 closed home sales in November, an increase of 67% compared with 2,577 sales during November 2008. The November numbers are yet another sign that the real estate market in the 13-county metro area may have stabilized. The median sale price has remained...