Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

From Bad to Worse: Foreclosure Fraud

All across the U.S., more than 1 million homes have been put in foreclosure so far this year. A recent study commissioned by the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund predicts that 28,000 homes within the state alone will be foreclosed on in 2008, which is not only a 39 percent increase from a year ago but would be a record for foreclosure homes in Minnesota. If those projections are accurate, it means that between 2005 to the end of 2008, one in every 31 households statewide will have gone through the foreclosure process.

With more foreclosures occurring throughout the country, "foreclosure rescue" scams are also on the rise. From California to Indiana to New York, to right here in Minnesota, unsavory individuals have been calming the fears of residents facing foreclosure with promises of help, only to swindle them out of their homes and equity in the end. Thus, the end of the predatory lending outrage has...

Special Considerations for Vacant Homes

Problems are much more likely to occur in homes that are left unoccupied for any extended period of time. With a large inventory of foreclosed and vacant houses on the market today, home buyers should be aware of issues that often arise when a home is not maintained regularly. While these homes can often be purchased at a bargain, anyone considering a house which has been vacant for a while should pay close attention to their condition. Here are a few things to be aware of when buying a vacant property.
  • One of the obvious things that can happen to a vacant home is vandalism. From broken windows and spray paint to the theft of copper pipes and wires, it does happen. This means that you may end up having to make some repairs yourself. Sellers may also make sub par repairs themselves to save money, which may mean even more work.
  • Fluctuating temperatures...

National Real Estate Statistics for 2008: February Reports

On April 22, First American CoreLogic, a leader in residential mortgage data and analytics for the mortgage industry, released its February 2008 LoanPerformance Home Price Index (HPI). The LoanPerformance HPI “provides a comprehensive set of monthly home price indices and median sales prices covering 7,508 ZIP codes, 957 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA) and 670 counties located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” The indices are the most comprehensive available in the industry.

According to their LoanPerformance HPI criteria, 36 states experienced a housing price decline over the three month period which ended with February 2008. The Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington Core Based Statistical Area experienced a 3 month decline of 4.6% and an annual decline in house prices of 8.98%. The LoanPerformance HPI data indicates that thirty-three states now show year-over-year real estate declines. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, the number of states with...

Importance of Window Safety

Though this is just a little late, last week (the last full week in April) was Window Safety Week, sponsored by the Safety Council and window, screen and door manufacturers.  It is spring time, headed into summer.  The storm windows are coming off and screens are going in.  For the safety of children, steps should be taken to lessen the chances of a window-related accident occurring.
  • Window screens should be strong and thick enough to keep bugs out, but kids should still be able to remove them if an emergency occurs.  It is also important to teach your children how to remove the screens if a fire occurs and they must escape.
  • When children are around, keep windows closed and locked. If you open a window for ventilation, make sure it’s a window which is out of reach of children, such as a window behind the kitchen sink.
  • If you do install window bars or guards, be sure you purchase those which have a ...

Upcoming Twin Cities Home Events

You can still catch the Minneapolis and St. Paul Home Tour today. At this event, new and remodeled homes will be open for free self-guided tours from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27. Home Tour guides can be picked up at Twin Cities libraries, at the homes themselves, and at

The Parade of Homes Easystreet is a tour of 112 association-maintained new homes, including townhouses, condos, lofts, villa homes and rowhouses throughout the Twin Cities area. This event takes place through May 18. The times are from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Tour maps are available at local Holiday Station stores and at

As we discussed in a previous post, the Living Green Expo is coming up this weekend. This event features products, services, information and workshops on building and remodeling, yard and garden, recreation, energy and other sustainable-...

‘Tis the Season to Do-It-Yourself

With the weather warming up (and hopefully drying out… SOON), many Minnesota residents are gearing up to make improvements and repairs to their homes. Some will hire a professional, and some will do it themselves. When it comes to home repair, sometimes doing it yourself pays off - especially when trying to sell a home. Other times, it doesn't.

The idea of doing it yourself sounds great, at first glance. It can save you money on both labor and materials, you can learn new skills, sharpen existing knowledge, and improve your home at the same time. But it isn’t without its risks.

The key to avoiding an expensive mistake is knowing when to pick up the hammer and when to pick up the phone. When it comes to home improvements, you must know you’re limits. If you start a project you are unable to finish, you'll simply spend more money getting it fixed.

Here are a few home improvement tasks you might want to consider...

The Living Green Expo: May 3rd & 4th, 2008

The Living Green Expo is an annual event that provides information and products to help Minnesotans improve how their day-to-day lives impact the environment and society.  The Expo features over 200 exhibitors of products, services, and information, as well as workshops on a variety of sustainability and green living topics.  There will be music, art, food, demonstrations, and activities for youth and children at this free event.  Of particular interest, along the lines of our recent post about Green Homes, would be the Living Green Expo’s workshops, exhibits, and attractions which revolve around the home. 

In regards to building and remodeling, your own home provides the ideal location for practicing sustainability on a personal scale. We probably spend more time in and around our homes than we do in any other environment, except for perhaps work.  The Living Green Expo has home building and remodeling workshops, exhibits,...

Buying New? Try A Green Home!

It is not the color of the home of which we’re speaking, however.  Earth-friendly homes and construction practices are being sought by environmentally conscious consumers across the U.S.  No, we’re not talking about people living in cob, straw, or sod houses either, though there are people who choose to live in these types of abodes.  We are talking about homes when have been built with renewable building materials and with peak energy efficiency in mind.  This is called “green building.”

Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency of an edifice throughout the entire construction cycle.  That means when creating a structure in this manner, human health and the environment will be taken into account through the dwelling’s design, the site its foundation will be laid upon, and construction.  The completed building’s future operation and maintenance will also be taken into account.  Probably most importantly, a green building...

Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Highlights

In the Central Community, one can find the Downtown Minneapolis neighborhood. Much of Minneapolis’ history is nestled in this area. Beginning in 1880, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” This is from where Minneapolis’ nickname, “The Mill City,” comes. The Washburn A Mill was at one point the most technologically advanced and the largest in the world. At peak production, it ground enough flour to make 12 million loaves of bread in a day. It received grain via rail lines that stretched into Duluth, the Dakotas and Canada. The flour was exported as well as used domestically. Minneapolis sprouted up around the mills. The city exploded from 13,000 residents in 1870 to nearly 165,000 in 1890.

After about 50 years, however, the boom ended. After World War I the milling industry in Minneapolis began to decline. As the industry moved out of Minneapolis, the old mills fell into disuse and the Washburn A Mill closed in 1965. In 1991 the...

Downtown Saint Paul Neighborhood Highlights

The borders of Downtown Saint Paul are made up of University Avenue to the north, Marion Street to the west, Interstate 94 to the east, and the Mississippi River to the south. The river’s presence not only offers beautiful views from offices and condominiums, but also provides a place of recreation with green spaces and trails. With the Capitol just a few blocks, downtown St. Paul is an ideal location for government workers. Additionally, many state offices are located in the area. Industrialized areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul are within short driving distance. Easy access to I-94 connects you quickly with the rest of the Twin Cities.

Downtown St. Paul is home to a number of attractions. The Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild hockey team, is located on Kellogg Boulevard. Glacier Plaza, McNally Smith College of Music, and the Minnesota World Trade Center are also located Downtown. The Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota History Museum and the Children's Museum are all located...