Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Twin Cities Lake Water Quality

It’s springtime again!  That means the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s (MCWD) lake monitoring program has resumed.  This program measures water quality in district lakes, then summarizes the data with a grade for each the lake.  A recent press release from MCWD announces that 2007’s lake water grades have been made public. Even though rainfall was below normal last year between the months of April and July, the water quality grades held steady for the most part with some minor changes in water quality from 2006 to 2007.  Usually, hot, dry weather leads to an increase in algae growth.  The unprecedented rainfall during the months of August and September may have balanced overall water quality.

During the 2008 season, MCWD’s water quality staff will continue collecting water quality data for 34 lakes and 12 streams in the watershed.  There will also be water depth measurements at 10 stream monitoring sites.  Additionally, a comprehensive scan of Lake Minnetonka’s water depth will be recorded for the creation of a detailed map of the underwater contours of the lake. The most recent publicly available map of this sort was created in 1957.

To calculate lake grades, MCWD’s water quality monitoring staff measure water clarity, nutrient levels, and algae growth throughout the open water season.  Those results are averaged into a numerical score which is translated into a lake grade between A and F.

Lakes are graded on a curve; the C grade means that a lake is typical for lakes in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.  C lakes may not be ideal for swimming, boating, and fishing due to summer algae growth. Lakes in the A grade range have clear water and are suitable for recreational activities. B-quality lakes are considered good for recreational use but may suffer from algae growth later in the season.  Lakes stamped with an F have...

School's Out: Keep Sane While Selling

Having your kids at home while selling does not need to drive you crazy. Sellers can retain their sanity by getting their children involved with the selling and staging process.

Once your house has been initially staged, it is necessary to retain your staging standards for last minute showings. A daily checklist can be used to keep your house in peek condition. By using a list, your staging chores will be structured and time will be used efficiently.

To further ease your daily duties, make a separate checklist for your children to follow. Little ones as young as two years old can learn about personal responsibility by cleaning up their own toys. The children's chore list should be easy to follow and age appropriate.

Although seemingly impossible, keep a positive attitude during the selling process. Children easily sense when their parents are stressed. If you stay calm and remain positive your children will reflect that behavior. Finally, be sure to give your little helpers plenty of praise for a job well done!

Staging your home will give you the best chance of selling your house. Maintaining your staging during the non-school months will further ensure a favorable response from buyers!

KFM Staging & Design is a Minnesota home staging company that has been creating “First Impressions That Sell” for homeowners and Realtors across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. KFM specializes in home staging consultations and vacant stagings. For more information on home staging visit our website:




Community Events This Weekend

This weekend, there are two great Twin Cities events occurring.  The Edina Arts Fair begins on Friday and ends on Sunday.  Grand Old Day, which takes place in St. Paul, will occur on Sunday.

Edina Art Fair

In Edina MN, the summer can’t officially start until the Edina Art Fair is held!  Now in its 42nd year, this event occurs this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!  Located at 50th and France, 70,000 visitors are expected to attend the second-largest art fair in the state.  This year’s Edina Art Fair will feature 400 artists from around the country.  There won’t just be a vast selection of fine paintings, watercolors, photographs, engravings, wood carvings, jewelry, and glasswork.  There will also be music, entertainment, games, and plenty of food!

The Edina Art Fair will run Friday May 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday May 31 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday June 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The full Art Fair Program is available as a PDF document here.

Grand Old Day

St. Paul's first rite of summer is also happening this weekend! That’s right!  The Grand Avenue Business Association has once again invited the public to attend the 35th annual Grand Old Day celebration this Sunday, June 1.  This is parade and event takes place along Saint Paul’s historic Grand Avenue.  Grand Old Day is the Midwest's largest one-day festival!  It includes a parade, sporting events, seven stages which feature live music, an art fair, a family fun zone, a teenage battle of the bands, and international performances.  Because this year is the 35th anniversary of the first Grand Old Day, the theme of the festival will celebrate its 1970s roots with a "Flashback to the '70s."  Organizers hope that festival-goers...

Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Community Highlights

The Powderhorn community of Minneapolis is just south of the Phillips community. Because the community has a strange L-shape, its borders are confusing and vary, but a map of Powderhorn can be found here. The area takes its name from Powderhorn Lake, a small lake shaped like a powder horn at the heart of the community. The lake, and the surrounding Powderhorn Park, is a central feature. At 65 acres, it is Minneapolis’ largest neighborhood park. It features a bandstand, ball fields, basketball courts, fishing dock, ice rink, walking paths, picnic areas with grills, horseshoe pits, and a community center with teen center. Powderhorn Park is also a name of one of Powerhorn’s neighborhoods. More about the neighborhood later. The population of Powderhorn is diverse, including residents of African-American, Asian, European, Latino, Somali, Tibetan and Scandinavian decent. Powderhorn community is within easy walking or bussing distance to downtown Minneapolis.

Now, let’s begin to explore the neighborhoods of the Powderhorn community!

Bancroft - The Bancroft neighborhood is located in the southern portion of Powderhorn. It lies between 38th Street East to the north and 42nd Street East to the south, and between Chicago Avenue on the west and Cedar Avenue on the east. The neighborhood was named after a school, as many other Minneapolis neighborhoods are. The Bancroft elementary school was named after George Bancroft, an American historian born in 1800. The Bancroft neighborhood is also home to the newly opened school, El Colegio/ CreArte center for the arts. The neighborhood provides convenient access to downtown via Interstate 35W, the Hiawatha Corridor, and the airport and Bloomington area via Cedar Avenue. For residents who like recreation, Bancroft lies just blocks north of Lake Nokomis, the Hiawatha Golf...

The Starter Home Has Returned

Just a few years ago the choices for entry-level home buyers in the Twin Cities were so meager that many put off buying a house until they could afford it. With the turn of the market in the last two years, the home-buying dreams of renters are more likely to come true. According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, this month more than 2,600 houses were on the market at less than $120,000 -- a 608 percent increase over the same period in 2005. The inventory for all price ranges increased 62 percent over 2005.

The return of the starter house is the upside of the down housing market. And home buyers are taking notice. The only segment of the market which has shown any sign of growth are home sales in the sub-$120,000 price range. Though sales across the board fell 34 percent, sales of homes below $120,000 rose 79 percent during the past three years. Many of the bargains are foreclosures and condominium conversions in inner-cities, but there are also hundreds of single-family houses and townhouses in outlying suburbs within this price range.

Though prices had already begun declining in 2006, the subprime mortgage crisis, the tightening of credit markets, and record foreclosures and defaults has increased low-priced home listings. Still, the mortgage interest rate shocks aren't over. The biggest wave of adjustable-rate mortgage hikes will strike yet later this year, bringing with it the threat of more foreclosures.

Bargain seekers should be prepared to roll up their sleeves and do some work, however. The former occupants of homes bought in a short sale or foreclosure most likely didn’t take great pains at clearing out the home or cleaning it. If the home has been empty for several months, it may have been robbed of copper plumbing or wiring. Houses which have been standing empty for a long period of time most likely have water damage as well due to...

Twin Cities Fitness Challenge? Hit The Park!

Oh boy, there is a fitness challenge happening in the Twin Cities metro area right now. The Hennepin County Public Health Promotions is sponsoring its first annual Step To It Community Challenge. It’s a competition pitting five metro suburbs against each other to see whose residents can accumulate the most steps taken in a four-week period. Other forms of exercise, like jogging or biking, can also be converted to step equivalents to be counted in the final tally.

The reason for this is because of a troubling trend. From 1998 to 2006, Hennepin County records showed that the percentage of adult residents classified as overweight or obese had increased from 48 to 54. The HCPHP is hoping the competition will spur more residents to seek a more active lifestyle. The idea was to get people doing an activity nearly everyone can do: walking.

The challenge began last Friday in the cities of Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park. The Step To It Challenge has been a big success at the neighborhood level in Minneapolis, where walking paths have been in place since 2004. There are still three weeks to go, so you can join in now and still get yourself moving. There are designated walking routes in the suburbs available, though it isn’t necessary as long as you’re just getting out and walking.

Here are some resources to help you embark on your walking quest.

Brooklyn Park – Parks & Recreation Website – Parks, Trails, and Amenities

Crystal – Parks & Recreation Website

Golden Valley – Parks & Recreation Website – Parks & Trails

Robbinsdale – Parks & Recreation Website

St. Louis Park – City Website – ParkFinder

You can submit the steps you logged here at this registration site. Happy walking, running,...

Spring Cleaning, Spring Maintenance

This is the time of year when most homeowners deep clean the house. This tradition is even more important as homeowners prepare for the spring home selling season. When you’re performing your regular cleaning this spring, it’s also time to complete routine maintenance, either doing it yourself or by hiring help. Having your home in the best shape and condition possible will also help to attract potential buyers. Let’s start with the relatively easy task of spring cleaning. Walk around the inside and the outside of your home, taking note of the following items. Then, it is time to get cleaning.
  • Interior carpets. A professional carpet cleaning every 12 to 18 months is recommended. The sooner you schedule an appointment, the sooner the carpet cleaners can be there to clean that coffee stain out of the carpet from last November.
  • Gutters. Every spring and fall, you should check your gutters and clear any debris which may have accumulated. Clogged gutters can lead to water damage.
  • Siding. You can use a garden hose to remove the dirt left behind on your siding and deck from snow and rain. You can use a soft-bristled brush if you need some help. Use a mild cleanser to clean tougher spots.
  • Yard. Remove any leaves and other litter from around your deck, front porch, and anywhere else in the yard where debris may have accumulated. Accumulated rubbish such as this can trap water, as well as cause mold and fungus to grow. It can even create an ideal environment for termites.
Okay, now its time to move onto the more complicated subject of maintenance. Snow, ice and wind can damage your home over time. It’s important to evaluate the structures on your property in the spring and fall. Finding problems early can prevent further damage. Recognizing trouble spots ahead of time can prevent the damage from happening...

Minneapolis' Camden Community Highlights

Camden is a community in Minneapolis, covering the upper western half of the north side. Its boundaries are 53rd Avenue North to the north, the Mississippi River to the east, Lowry Avenue North to the south, and Xerxes Avenue North to the west. The community is composed of seven smaller neighborhoods. It also contains the Camden Industrial Area and the Humboldt Industrial Area, neither of which are assigned to an official neighborhood.

Cleveland - The Cleveland neighborhood can be found on the very edge of the city of Minneapolis. Its boarders extend from Dowling Avenue North to Lowry Avenue in the south and from Penn Avenue in the east to Xerxes Avenue to the west. The neighborhood is named after Grover Cleveland, who was born in 1837 and was president of the United States two times.

The Cleveland neighborhood has a suburban feel to it, despite its location in the city. The residences which can be found here are mainly single-family detached houses. Cleveland has a larger proportion of owner occupied housing than most of Minneapolis. The price of homes here also tends to be less than the median Minneapolis price.

The local neighborhood school, Lucy Craft Laney School, is a major draw for city residents. The K-8 school offers special programming for gifted and talented students, an all day kindergarten and classes in the performing arts and choir as well as Language Learner programming in the Hmong language.

Located next to the school is Cleveland Park, a vital part of the Cleveland neighborhood. Its amenities include picnic areas, a tot lot and wading pool, an arts and crafts room with regularly scheduled activities, and playing areas for basketball, baseball and softball. The facility also has meeting rooms and rest rooms available to the public.

Folwell – The Folwell neighborhood extends...

Check Your Deck

As many people have probably heard by now, a major deck collapse happened at a Little Canada apartment building on Friday.  An investigation is currently underway to determine what caused a third-story deck at Montreal Courts to fall to the ground without notice, injuring four people.  A previous visual inspection did not indicate anything was wrong with the structure.  Representatives of Goldmark Property Management in Bloomington, which manages the complex, have instructed the renters of 280 units with balconies not to use them until an independent structural engineer can inspect them. 

Ironically enough, May is Deck Safety Month, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association.  It is a good idea to check decks for problems before they become dangerous like in this situation.  Regular inspection and proper maintenance can prevent many such tragedies from happening.  In an effort to prevent injuries and save lives, they have on their website a 10 point safety checklist for the average consumer to use when inspecting their deck.  Here is a brief description of their checklist, but you should really check out the detailed list!

1.  Split or Decaying Wood. Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound.  Where the deck attaches to the house is a common place for the wood to become soft or crumble. Look for discolored wood as well, as this could be a sign of mold or fungus.

2.  Flashing.  This is the metal or plastic guard that directs water out and away from sensitive areas of the deck, to keep moisture and debris out. If the flashing shifts or cracks, water can collect between the house and the deck, contributing its possible failure.

3.  Loose or Corroded Fasteners.  Tighten any screws which may have worked their way loose.  Pound any nails which may have popped up. ...

10 Common Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make

The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, have provided in the consumer section on their website a list of the five most common mistakes first-time home buyers often make.  If you’ve been considering purchasing a home for the very first time, you should know that there are plenty of costly errors which can be made!  Fear not, you can avoid the common mistakes that first-time homebuyers tend to make if you are aware of the pitfalls. 

1. They don’t ask enough questions of their lender and miss out on the best deal.

Making the right choice when finally signing your name to your first home mortgage can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in interest paid over the long haul.  For many, this 15 to 30 year mortgage commitment is the most important financial decision they’ll ever make.  When you think about it that way, it makes sense to collect as much information about the financing of your home as possible.  Don’t rush into anything that involves buying a house.  Take the time to thoroughly investigate all financing options available to you.

2. They don’t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.

The purchase of a first home can be a lifelong commitment which requires time, thought, and contemplation in order to reach a decision.  At the same time, hesitation can cause you to lose the house of your dreams as someone else makes a move.  In a seller’s market, buyers will tend to look at fewer homes and make a decision to buy a home quickly because other buyers could be waiting to snatch it up.  In a buyer’s market, people will take their time choosing.  But either way, you never know when a home is going to sell.  If you find a house that you like within your price range, make an offer.  If you wait, someone else may purchase it and then you’ll...