Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Twin Cities Real Estate Events - April

Twin Cities Real Estate Events

People who visit the Lake Home and Cabin Show this weekend will learn about resources for buying, building, decorating or remodeling a second home. Seminars will be given on topics such as "Cabinology 101" by author Dale Mulfinger, landscaping, lake home design and buying a log home. This even takes place from 2 to 9 p.m. on April 3, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 4, and from10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Av. S. The cost is $10 for adults and apparently $4 for children ages 5-15. Call 612-335-6000 or visit

Don't miss the Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase this weekend, sponsored by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. Remodelers will showcase their latest projects. Tour more than 80 remodeled homes in 33 communities in the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. Tours are free, except it does cost $5 to tour of one home in North Oaks. It takes place from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday, April 3, 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Saturday April 4, and 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Sunday April 5.

Topics at Buying a Home in Today's Market include mortgages, hiring a real estate agent and when to buy. In case your schedule is busy, this event takes place multiple times, at 6:30 to 8 p.m. on April 14, 21, 28 and May 5 at Minneapolis Community Education, Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St. The cost to attend is $25. Call 612-668-3100 for information.

The subject matter of Finding and Buying Your First Home includes choosing a mortgage, first-time home buyer programs, government loans and negotiating the best price in a buyer's market, like we’re experiencing right now. This program takes...

Greening Minnesota - March

Because there are so many great environmentally friendly things going on in Minnesota these days, I’m going to start another monthly blog piece like the blog round-ups that I’ve been doing.  Today’s is inspired by Earth Hour, so here is the first edition of the Greening Minnesota blog post.

Because this is a real estate blog, let’s start with the green home building and remodeling matters.  The Star Tribune has been a virtual gold-mine of information on this stuff.  They recently did two stories highlighting some green homes in the area.

First, some families living in Twin Cities area homes are setting examples for how green remodeling can benefit the outside environment - and inside environments as well. Two families in St. Louis Park wanted to make changes to their homes that would also avoid exposing their children to the toxins and chemicals associated with conventional house building, like glues, paints, and construction materials.  To one family, it was important that the new addition to be made out of recycled or renewable materials while the other desired an energy efficient expansion. A third resident in Minnetonka has a home converted a 1948 rambler to a "green" home showcase with four kinds of alternative energy and the best available insulation, windows and indoor air system.

Next, thanks to Hennepin County’s Building Better Neighborhoods programs, a boarded-up, foreclosed eyesore at 4307 Wentworth Avenue South in Minneapolis has been torn down to its foundation, then rehabilitated into a practically new, three-bedroom, two-bath, energy-efficient house, with a two-car garage.  The 10-year-old program has been involved in the rehabilitation of numerous tax-forfeited properties, but this is the group’s first environmentally-friendly project. This green home includes a geothermal heating and cooling system, low-petroleum asphalt shingles, energy-efficient appliances,...

A Few Trends in Real Estate to Consider

A few articles have popped up recently that are all interrelated and I thought that I would make a post that brings them all together.  I also wanted to bring them to your attention if you are someone considering buying or selling a home this year, especially now as the busy real estate season starts winding up.

It’s easy to go in chronological order to start, so the first article I’ll discuss is this one from early March that says that foreclosures drove U.S. home sales up 7% in 2008 after a 40% plunge the prior year.  Deeply discounted real estate prices and the super-low interest rates being offered seems to have spurred some serious activity in this sector of the market.  Nationwide, foreclosed houses sold at auctions or by financial institutions surged 177% for the year, and represented as much as a third of all activity in 2008.

The Minneapolis St. Paul metro area hasn’t escaped this trend, for in the month of February, lender-mediated transactions in the Twin Cities represented more than 60% of all pending sales.  The median purchase price of a “distressed” home in the Twin Cities was $125,000, while in traditional home sales, the price was $205,875. The low prices that distressed properties sell for is drawing down the price of traditional homes as sellers attempt to compete with banks. Nationwide (and statewide) foreclosure moratoriums are being proposed, but as far as I know, none have been enacted or followed-through with yet. There are some banks and lenders that are enacting their own moratoriums though. Some of them have caught on that lenders don’t make good Realtors! That’s what I’m for! :) In some better news, existing home sales rose nationwide in February as home buyers take advantage of lowering sale prices and interest rates.  According to Freddie...

Home Improvement and Design Expo

If you missed the Home Improvement and Design Expo this weekend, there will be another one March 28 and 29, at Canterbury Park, 1100 Canterbury Road in Shakopee. Experts will answer questions and hold seminars on topics such as building green, home financing, interior design and landscaping. Takes place both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $6; admission for ages 16 and under free with paid adult.

Don’t forget about the Lake Home and Cabin Show from April 3rd through the 5th....

March Twin Cities Blog Round-Up Part II

As I wrote yesterday, I haven’t had a good local blog round-up in a while.  I’ve been fixing that, and there were so many blogs I wanted to mention that I split it into two! Yesterday I talked about home-oriented blogs that discussed foreclosure, mortgages, and green living. Today is Friday and as such, today’s post will be about fun and community!  If you missed yesterday’s entry be sure to take a look.

Next is the fun category of local community and conversation blogs! There are so many good ones here, let’s just get right to it. First I want to talk about a relatively recently started blog, Ambulance Driver is written by an EMS in our fair Twin Cities. Not only does this writer share knowledge of their experiences in the field, they talk about how public policy affects how they can do their job. I say “they” instead of “him” or “her” because due to patient confidentiality concerns, there is limited information on this blogger. But Ambulance Driver posts are addicting to read. And though the profession is admittedly less emergency-related, it makes me miss the City Pages Pizza Man and his Streets of Pizza.

The blog section for Minnesota Moment Magazine and Secrets of the City’s MNSpeak is like sitting in or partaking in city-wide or even state-wide conversations with other Minnesotans. On the flip-side of the coin, reading Overheard in Minneapolis is like being a fly on the wall at a gaffe-filled and highly entertaining office holiday party. Maybe you’ve submitted something? Me? Uhh… Never. No.  Reading this page does sometimes makes me nostalgic for cubicle-world though, where many Overheard scenarios tend to happen and where I often heard submission-worthy quotes. But then I remember that my office...

March Twin Cities Blog Round-Up Part I

It has been a while since I wrote a post about what is going on in the Twin Cities blogosphere.  I wrote the Twin Cities – In Photos and Home Remodeling Blogs in the Twin Cities in January and I didn’t write any in February!  That’s no good, because I’ve been doing a lot of other-blog reading.  I’ve been finding great references to pass on to our readers, blogs filled with stories from within the community, and my favorite, spectacular photographic visual representations that capture the Twin Cities atmosphere.  I have all of that for you and more! So much that this round-up will be in two parts, one today and one tomorrow.

First, I’ll get the important stuff out of the way.  Behind the Mortgage is an informative blog that talks in-depth about what is going on in the home lending world, particularly what could be affecting mortgage rates in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul area. Alex Stenback, based in Minnetonka, is the writer behind “Behind the Mortgage,” and though I haven’t been able to wade my way through all of the posts here yet (there are lots!), not only does he know his stuff, but he really knows how to make the mortgage industry sound understandable and interesting. Here you can find serious information about Fannie and Freddie alongside a clip from SNL ridiculing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Did you know there are four homes that belong to Bernie Madoff victims on the market, as well as an ex-Vikings’? I didn’t, but I like knowing that kind of stuff.  I’m nosy like that. I will be reading this blog more in the future so I may better understand the...

More March Real Estate Events

Selling Your Home. This St. Louis Park Community Education class. $19. 6:30 to 9 p.m. March 26. Lennox Community Center, 6715 Minnetonka Blvd., St. Louis Park. 952-928-6442.

Lake Home and Cabin Show. This event features resources for buying, building, decorating or remodeling a second home. Seminars on topics such as "Cabinology 101" by author Dale Mulfinger, landscaping, lake home design and buying a log home. This event occurs on April 3 from 2 to 9 p.m., April 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and April 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Av. S. Adults $10, ages 5-15, $4. 612-335-6000.

4th Annual North Housing and Home Improvement Fair. Lenders, real estate professionals, contractors and representatives of community organizations will be there to help homeowners, buyers and renters. Topics include first-time home buyer programs, resources for home improvement loans, mortgage foreclosure prevention and how to lower utility bills. This event happens this Saturday, March 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to the public.  It will be held at North Community High School, 1500 James Av. N., Mpls.

Also, as mentioned previously in this blog, the Parade of Homes Spring Preview 2009 is going on right now.  This is your last weekend to check out, as the Parade’s last day is March 22.

Finally, tonight is the night of the AIA Home of the Month – Evening of Architecture event, also mentioned earlier.  There, the next 12 Home of the Month winners will be announced and a keynote speaker will give a presentation....

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis February 2009

New posted listings for homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, decreased in February according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  Throughout the month, there were 480 new listings in Saint Paul, compared to the 602 homes put up on the market during February 2008.  That is a decrease of -20.3%.  Comparatively, there were 548 new listings in January 2009.  The Merriam Park and West 7th saw increases in posted new listings, while the other St. Paul neighborhoods saw their listings decrease. Here is a breakdown of new listings by Saint Paul neighborhood:

Como 27 (-25.0%)
Crocus Hill 32 (-31.9%)
Downtown Saint Paul 34 (-41.4%)
East Side 111 (-3.5%)
Highland Park 35 (-16.7%)
Mac-Groveland 22 (-15.4%)
Merriam Park 14 (+27.3%)
North End/Frogtown 65 (-4.4%)
Phalen 60 (-33.3%)
Southeast 20 (-20.0%)
St. Anthony/Midway 15 (-54.5%)
West 7th 18 (+20.0%)
West Side/Cherokee 27 (-20.6%)

For the year to date posted new listings in St. Paul, the “snapshot” is slightly different. For February and January, there were 1,027 new listings, compared to the 1,164 during the same time period of 2008. That is a -11.8% decrease.  The East Side, Merriam Park, and West 7th neighborhoods saw increases in listings up to +17.4%; other neighborhood listings dropped.

There were a lot of homes sold within St. Paul, Minnesota, in February compared to the same month of 2008.  There were 202 homes sold throughout the month, a full +27.0% increase over the 159 homes sold in February 2008!  It was a mixed bag as to where homes were selling and where they weren’t, with the biggest differences seen in West Side/Cherokee with a +260.0% increase in sales and Downtown seeing a -55.6% decrease in sales. Closed sales on homes for February 2009 in Saint Paul by neighborhood:

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis February 2009

According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities, the number of February 2009 new listings in Minneapolis dropped compared to 2008’s figures.   There were 764 new listings in the city, while in 2008 there were 952, a decrease of -19.7%. The Longfellow and University communities of Minneapolis saw slight increases in new listings, while the rest of the communities saw their new listings decrease.  Here is an inventory of February 2009 new listings in Minneapolis by community and the percentage of change from 2008.

Camden 98 (-27.9%)
Downtown Minneapolis 97 (-26.5%)
Longfellow 43 (+4.9%)
Nokomis 94 (-8.7%)
North 115 80 (-30.4%)
Northeast 55 (-15.4%)
Phillips 17 (-65.3%)
Powderhorn 51 (-30.1%)
Southwest 117 (-3.3%)
University Area 14 (+7.7%)
Uptown-Lakes 97 (-4.0%)

For the year to date, there have been 1,583 homes listed for sale in Minneapolis, down -18.1% from the 1,934 homes listed during the same time period of 2008. Cumulatively for the year, all communities in Minneapolis have experienced decreases in new listings.

Closed sales within Minneapolis during February were down a little compared to 2008, but weren’t that far off considering recent real estate market performance.  There were 296 properties sold in the month of February, down -5.1% from the 312 properties sold in February last year and just a little below the 303 properties sold this January. Lots of homes sold in Camden, Northeast, Phillips, and Powderhorn communities, while sales are way down in both Uptown and Downtown. Here are the closed home sales that occurred within Minneapolis during February, broken down by community and compared to 2008:

Camden 53 (+55.9%)
Downtown Minneapolis 31 (-54.4%)
Longfellow 10 (-28.6%)
Nokomis 34 (-29.2%)
North 53 (+1.9%)

Early Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Okay, maybe it’s a little early to be thinking spring, but we are nearly half-way through March already – warmer weather is bound to come soon!  And with spring comes home maintenance, especially if you’re thinking of selling your home this summer. 

So I’ve scoured the Internet to put together some home maintenance projects that will help you gear up for the home selling season.  There will be another checklist coming later once it starts warming up out there, but these are things you should be able to do right now.  Many of these steps will also help you get a head start on increasing your home’s curb appeal.

  • Clean windows and repair screens
  • Check life expectancy of appliances
  • Lubricate door hinges and hardware
  • Vacuum out-of-the-way spots
  • Change furnace filters
  • Change batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Prune shrubs and trees (Cold weather is the perfect time to do this!)
  • Have a professional chimney sweep clean/inspect your active or decorative chimney
  • Test GFCI Outlets
  • Test Sump Pump
  • Clean AC System
  • Check Attic Fan
  • Inspect and Maintain Laundry Appliances

This is just a short list to get you started. With the cold temperatures out, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to pressure wash the deck and siding. There’s also most likely a lot of ice and snow in the gutters yet. Watch out for more spring home maintenance and curb appeal tips in the next few weeks!