Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Interest Free $7,500 To Buy a House

A new home purchase tax credit is available now through a housing bill approved by Congress. If you have not owned a house during the past three years, or are considering buying your first home, and can go to closing within the qualifying dates, you may be eligible for up to a $7,500 credit against your federal taxes for 2008 or 2009 ($3,750 if you file taxes as a single person).

If you have closed on a home or will close on a house between April 9, 2008, and June 30, 2009, you may qualify for the tax credit. It can be any house new or old, in any location or condition, and within any price range as long as it is purchased during the designated time period

Basically, Congress is offering tax credits to pull in new purchasers in order to jump-start housing sales and clear out unsold real estate inventories.

Close on a house before next June 30, and you can claim a credit of up to 10 percent of the purchase...

New Arrivals at Local Zoos

Looking for something to do this weekend? Head to one or both of the Twin Cities zoos!

Three fisher kits born at the Minnesota Zoo are now on exhibit. The species resembles weasels and is found in Alaska, Canada and the northern lower 48 states. At one time, it was nearly extinct because of trapping and logging practices, but now they are doing well in mixed wooded and heavily forested areas.

The zoo in Apple Valley is one of just four nationally accredited zoos in the country to exhibit fisher kits and the only one to rear a brood in the past three years.

Born March 23, the two male and one female kits had been kept in an off-exhibit holding area with their mother as a health precaution. They are doing well and have started exploring their exhibit.

Fishers are known for their tree-climbing, hunting and agility. Solitary creatures, they are constantly on the move. They are dark brown in color, good swimmers and like to travel...

Home Staging - Shopping at Home.

One of the goals to preparing a house for sale is to highlight the features in your home, such as a fireplace, granite counter tops, bay windows, or a jet tub. Placing decor by these areas can help draw the eye so buyers will remember the features.

Home owners do not need to run to the nearest home decor store and spend hundreds of dollars to make their home look great; they can shop for decor in their very own house. I don't mean online shopping, either. Using accessories from other rooms in a new and interesting way can give focal points the emphasis that it needs.

This photo to the left shows a jet tub with no accessories. Although nice, there is nothing memorable about this area. The lack of decor leaves this area feeling cold and uninviting.

Buyers who may view several house in one day may not remember anything special about this master bathroom.

This photo to the right displays a pedestal and vase with...

Lumberjack Days in Stillwater

Ahh, summer in “The Cities” is so much fun.  Every weekend, maybe even every day, there seems to be something fun happening.  This weekend is no different, and the festivities even got a jumpstart!  Lumberjack Days kicked off yesterday in Stillwater!

The festival has been Stillwater's signature event since 1934.  It’s a showcase destination for fans of concerts on the St. Croix River, fireworks displays, and Stillwater's logging heritage. As many as 60,000 people attend each year!  It started a day earlier than usual and continues through Sunday evening.

The festival takes place near the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which closed recently for repairs. However, the bridge has been reopened through the weekend to accommodate for Lumberjack Days.

The festival has undergone some experimentation since 2004.  Throngs of crowds came to see Lynyrd Skynyrd.  The city of 16,000...

Foreclosure Prevention Workshops

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is holding workshops/open houses for people who are concerned about mortgage payments, are facing foreclosure or wish to learn about the foreclosure process. Foreclosure counselors and mortgage lenders will give free advice. No registration required.

Free workshops

• 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 29, North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Av. N., Minneapolis.

• 6:30 to 8 p.m. July 30, Woodbury Central Park Library, 8595 Central Park Pl.

• 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5, Park Avenue United Methodist Church, 3400 Park Av. S., Minneapolis.

• 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19, St. Cloud Civic Center, 10 S. 4th Av., St. Cloud, Minn.

For information, call 651-659-9336 or visit

National Night Out in the Twin Cities

On August 5th, residents all across Minnesota will gather together in their respective communities to participate in this year's National Night Out.  At this national-but-local event, people all across the nation will be doing the same thing within their own communities.  National Night Out provides (NNO) an excellent opportunity for citizens to meet and greet with their neighbors, with the hopes of developing more close-knit communities.  It’s also a night when residents can cultivate relationships with the local law enforcement officials which keep their neighborhoods safe.  Twin Cities communities will be no different, as National Night Out festivities will be occurring throughout the metro area.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first National Night Out.  The events are not only meant to introduce the law enforcement and safety officers to the individuals within community, but they’re also indented...

The Furniture Diet

No, this isn't the latest California weight loss program... However, eliminating furniture pieces from your room may be beneficial when it comes to selling a home!

Rooms hosting extra large furniture items or too many furniture pieces will create two negative side-effects: 1) the room will appear cluttered and chaotic, and 2) the room will appear smaller than it should. 


This large living room appears crowded due to the over-sized furniture and the numerous pieces. Buyers will appreciate the spaciousness of this room since the furniture is over-powering the space.

This layout also cuts off the natural traffic pattern from the living room to the family room. Although functional, buyers are left to navigate around the far side furniture making for an akward transition between rooms.


Removing the love seat and adding a small-scale chair,...

The Aquatennial is Upon Us!

The “Ten Best Days of Summer” are in full swing! Celebrated in locations and venues across the city, the Minneapolis Aquatennial is the largest parade and free outdoor concert in Minnesota and has one of the largest fireworks displays in the U.S.! This celebration is attended by nearly 800,000 people over 10 days!

As I discussed before in this previous article about the Aquatennial, the celebration is always held the third full week of July. This year, the event started on Thursday, July 18, and it will run through July 27. This year’s Aquatennial will celebrate the year Minnesota achieves 150 years of statehood.

Some attractions and events at the Aquatennial include boat races, a sandcastle building competition, a beachside art fair, neighborhood park BBQs, athletics competitions, live music, entertainment, and more! Don’t forget the first Torchlight Parade and the annual “Milk Carton Boat Races”!

You can check out the full schedule...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis: June 2008

New listings for homes fell in Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the month of June, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. During June of 2008, there were 632 new listings in the City of Saint Paul. In June of 2007, there were 694 new listings, which is a drop of about 8.9%, much better than May 2008’s drop of 23.8%. St. Paul’s Downtown again has experienced the greatest decline in new listings at -51.2%. The Phalen neighborhood experienced the greatest increase in new listings over last year at 111, 18.1% more than June 2007. Here is a list of June 2008 new listings in Saint Paul by neighborhood and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to June 2007. (To see a Barker & Hedges blog entry about May 2008 St. Paul Market Activity, please click here.)

Como 35 (-32.7%)
Crocus Hill 41 (-24.1%)
Downtown Saint Paul 21 (-51.2%)
East Side 130 (-1.5%)
Highland Park 31 (-36.7%)

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis: June 2008

During the month of June 2008 in Minneapolis, there was once again a decrease in new listings, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. During June of this year, there were 1,049 new listings. In June 2007, there were 1,184 new listings. That is a drop of 11.1%. It’s much better than May’s nearly 20% decrease in new real estate listings. The University community experienced the greatest decrease in new listings during June. There were just 12 new listings in University, down a whopping 58.6% from June of 2007’s 29. Conversely the Phillips community, which experienced a great decrease in new listings during May, has seen its new real estate listings jump 173.7% during June 2008 compared to last year. There were 52 new listings here compared to last year’s 19 during the month. Here is an inventory of June 2008 new listings in Minneapolis by community and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to June...