Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Minnesota State Fair Eco House

Okay, I haven’t really had the chance to go to the Minnesota State Fair yet.  I’m guilty of not yet attending the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  So when I wrote the entry last week about the fair, I wasn’t in the know about one of the new additions to the Minnesota State Fair.  It’s an Eco House! 

The 2,000-square-foot flat-roofed home, designed by SALA Architects, showcases green building features such as a solar water-heating system, passive heating and cooling features, rain screen system and energy-efficient fixtures and appliances. The home, furnished by Natural Built Home, will be open for tours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Sept. 1 as part of the Eco Experience in the Progress Center Building, at the corner of Cosgrove Street and Randall Avenue.

I found a video on the Star Tribune website about the Eco House to be extremely informative.  If you can’t make it down to the Minnesota State Fair, or you’d just like to know what you’re in for before you take a tour, check out their mini-tour of the Eco House. 


Home Staging De-Clutter Series, Part II

"How you live in your home and how you sell your house is two different things." In staging circles, this sentence is uttered to clients daily. However, it is widely under-appreciated by those who have not experienced staging in their own homes.

While living in your house, function usually precedes form. Translation: even though it may not look pretty, it works for our family. When selling a home, it just needs to look pretty. Take a look at the example below:  In this photo, the dining room is being used as a storage space.

For the family, this area was not being used on a daily basis, so it was convenient for them to place their unneeded items on the table.

In this condition, buyers could not imagine eating a peaceful meal or entertaining in this room.

Knowing that changes needed to be made, the family had an in-home staging consultation to prioritize the assignments.  After removing the storage items, place settings were added with a floral arrangement for drama.

Now, buyers can imagine entertaining in this room, hosting family holidays, and having a candle light dinner for two.

Instead of showing clutter, the table setting tells a story of elegance while coordinating the color scheme with the rest of the home.

The best part of staging this room was the minimal costs involved. Most items were used from the homeowners' China cabinet! The biggest investment the homeowners made was with their time and effort.

De-cluttering may be the least glamorous part of home staging, but it proves to be the most effective tool in helping your house sell quickly! The time invested in preparing your house for sale before it is listed will most likely reduce the time your house will remain on the market.

Don't think of removing your...

Minnesota State Fair is Open

The Minnesota State Fair began its annual 12-day run this morning at 6:00 AM and runs through September 1.  Even at that early hour, hundreds of fanatical fairgoers eager to be a part of the “Great Minnesota Get Together” had already lined up outside the gates.  As expected, since that time the turnstiles haven’t stopped spinning.

Opening day is a good day to attend the Minnesota State Fair, as the crowds tend not to be as heavy as on weekends.  Another good reason to hit the fair today is that it is Thrifty Thursday. The price of admission today is $8 for adults and $5 for ages 5 to 12. Regular admission is $11 usually and $9 for ages 5 to 12.

During the 12 Best Days of Summer, fairgoers can consume a wide variety of foods on a stick, view music concerts and entertainment, exhibits, and more.  During 2007, the Minnesota State Fair was attended by nearly 1.7 million people.  Each year it progressively grows as one of the most widely attended state fairs in the United States.

This year, the fair has a new building.  The International Bazaar is a 14,000-square-foot facility on Judson Avenue, just south of the Agriculture and Horticulture building. It replaces an old wooden structure that was constructed in the early 1970s which was originally intended to be temporary.  35 years later in 2007, it was finally razed and the new International Bazaar was built.  The International Bazaar features more seating, more entertainment space and more room for vendors.

Entertainment at the 2008 Minnesota State Fair includes more than 100 acts at eight free venues, with a lineup of stars that include Toby Keith, the Backstreet Boys, and the Black Crowes.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together also features more than 450 food choices.  Don’t forget the hundreds of agricultural, educational and commercial exhibits and attractions.

The Great Minnesota...

Minneapolis Real Estate Market Analysis: July 2008

During the month of July 2008 in Minneapolis, the number of new listings decreased yet again, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. During July, there were 1,016 new listings. In July 2007, there were 1,106 new listings. That is a drop of -8.1%. The Uptown/Lakes community experienced the greatest decrease in new listings during July, with 101 new listings in compared to July of 2007’s 29. 58.6%Conversely, the University community, which experienced a decline of -58.6% in new listings during June, has seen its new real estate listings jump 40.0% during July 2008 compared to last year. That sounds big, but really there were 20 new listings during July last year, whearas there were 28 this year. Here is an inventory of July 2008 new listings in Minneapolis by community and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to July 2007 (To see a Barker & Hedges article about June 2008 Minneapolis Market Activity, please click here.)

Camden 148 (+2.8%)
Downtown Minneapolis 126 (-19.7%)
Longfellow 63 (-11.3%)
Nokomis 120 (-12.4%)
North 130 (+4.0%)
Northeast 71 (-13.4%)
Phillips 27 (+12.5%)
Powderhorn 83 (+31.7%)
Southwest 120 (-7.7%)
University Area 28 (+40.0%)
Uptown-Lakes 101 (-32.7%)

Minneapolis’ posted new listing for the 2008 year-to-date change that outlook a bit. From January through July of 2008, there were 7,210 new listings, compared to 8,206 during the same time period of 2007. That is a decrease of -12.1%, just a hair better than last month’s -12.8% year-to-date change. The most dramatic adjustments happened in the Uptown-Lakes and Downtown areas, which have experienced a drop in new listings of -27.3% and -23.6% respectively compared to last year. The Phillips community has experienced an increase in new listings to the tune of 22.9% and 11.9% respectively. Here...

Strange But True: Sleep on It!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a strange-but-true real estate related post. I feel like this one warrants it though. Though it is certainly strange, it may have its merit!

More and more it seems these days the real estate market is a buyer’s world. In many places, the boom has turned to bust and house prices are falling. Instead of worrying someone else may bid a house out from under them if they take a second too long to think, they are taking their time. So much so in fact, that some would like 24 hours to make the decision. 24 hours of living at the house in a form of “test drive,” that is.

From Florida to California and everywhere in between, people are seeking creative ways to attract home buyers. As discussed earlier in this blog, they’re trying things which would have been unthinkable not too long ago. Have they worked? It’s hard to say. But this method not only has the potential to work, at least one house in California sold after its soon-to-be new owners spent 24 hours alone in the home including a sleepover.

The “sleep on it” idea is such a good idea that HGTV has even made a reality TV show about it. Yes, you read that right. “Sleep On It” is a hot real estate reality show that follows potential buyers as they try out a home before deciding to buy it or not. Now in its second season, "Sleep on It" was among HGTV's Top 10 shows last month. It airs at 10 p.m. on Sundays.

It’s not for everyone or every home. It’s not for the faint of heart and its deffinately not a tactic which should be considered if the buyer is not absolutely serious about the possibility of buying the home....

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis: July 2008

For the yet another month, new Saint Paul, Minnesota, listings for homes decreased during the month of July, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. Throughout July of 2008, there were 599 new listings within the City of Saint Paul. In July of 2007, there were 692 new listings, which is a drop of about -13.4%. This is worse than June 2008’s drop of -8.9%. The Mac-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul experienced the greatest decline in new listings this month at -56.9%. The West Side/Cherokee neighborhoods experienced the greatest increase in new listings over last year at 41, a very significant 86.4% more listings when compared to July 2007. Here is a list of July 2008 new listings in Saint Paul by neighborhood and the percentage of change that has occurred compared to July 2007. (To see a Barker & Hedges blog entry about June 2008 St. Paul Market Activity, please click here.)

Como 33 (-21.4%)
Crocus Hill 37 (-19.6%)
Downtown Saint Paul 30 (-23.1%)
East Side 125 (-16.7%)
Highland Park 38 (-28.3%)
Mac-Groveland 22 (-56.9%)
Merriam Park 19 (-0.0%)
North End/Frogtown 75 (-12.8%)
Phalen 95 (+6.7%)
Southeast 32 (-25.6%)
St. Anthony/Midway 29 (-0.0%)
West 7th 20 (-9.1%)
West Side/Cherokee 41 (+86.4%)

As we view the city’s posted new listing for the 2008 year-to-date, from January through July, there were 4,369 new listings in St. Paul, compared to 4,841 during the same months of 2007. That equates to 9.8% fewer new listings so far this year. The most extreme changes have happened in the St. Anthony/Midway neighborhoods, where new listings have decreased by 29.8% while the Phalen neighborhood’s new listings continue to increase with 12.1% more homes for sale than last year. Here is a list of new listings in Saint Paul for the 2008 year to date compared to 2007:

Home Staging De-Clutter Series, Part I

Attention Sellers: What does hair gel and room decor have in common? The answer: A little goes a long way!

When selling a house, rooms should appear uncluttered and stylish. If a room has too much decorations or stuff of any kind, buyers will miss seeing the room itself. Take a look at the example below:

In this photo, the overwhelming decorations are distracting to the room.

The wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures make this area feel smaller than it should.

Too many pieces of art work ornate the walls barely leaving any visual wall space.

The vanity is covered with daily products thus decreasing its visual size. While the floor is hardly visible amongst the rugs, shelves, and other miscellaneous items.

In this condition, buyers will remember a room that is chaotic and small instead of appreciating the full bath tub and large vanity. 

After an in-home staging consultation by KFM Staging & Design, the home owner was given a plan to create a spacious bathroom that will appeal to buyers.

The color palette was kept neutral to create the illusion of more space. A small amount of color was added with the artwork for visual interest.

The artwork was limited to the focal point of the bathroom - in this case, the wall space above the towel bar. It is important to see clean wall space when selling your house.

Extra items on the floor, including the rugs, trash bins, and shelves have been removed to show the maximum amount of floor space. The more floor space that is visible, the larger the room appears.

The final transformation to this area was exchanging the dated shower curtain for a cloth curtain that is streamline. Just like window treatments in a bedroom, the shower curtain will set the style of the bathroom.  Through staging, this bathroom was...

Foshay Tower Re-Opens as W Hotel

Starting tonight, the 10-foot-tall letters that spell out "FOSHAY" on top of the Foshay Tower will shine in downtown Minneapolis once again.  At 9:00 PM tonight, the name on one of Minneapolis' most famous downtown landmarks will light up on all four sides. Tomorrow, the building located at 821 Marquette Ave reopens as the 230-room W Hotel.

The letters, situated at the 30th floor, were turned off in November of 2006 as renovations of the building began.  All previous occupants except for the beloved Key’s Café have moved since then. 

Modeled after the Washington Monument, the Foshay Tower was completed in 1929 in the months before “Black Monday” in October of that year. It stands 447 feet high, plus an antenna mast that extends the total height of the structure to 607 feet. When it was constructed, it was the tallest building and the first skyscraper of Minneapolis.  It was dethroned in 1972 by the construction of the IDS Center. It remains one of the tallest concrete skyscrapers to this day, second only in height to the Empire State Building. The Foshay Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

I found an interesting story regarding the construction of the Foshay Tower and its history.  It seems that Foshay Tower was the lifelong dream and namesake of Wilbur Foshay, an art student turned businessman who bought and sold utilities companies in order to make his fortune. He had planned to locate his business and residence on the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth floors where a three bedroom, three bath suite was built.  Foshay invited 25,000 guests to the dedication ceremony and provided all-expenses paid trips to many who included cabinet members, senators and congressmen.  Each guest received a gold pocket watch, there were 19-gun salutes, dancers and more.  It was a big “to do.”  Even John Philip...

Twin Cities Home Construction Still Slow

Construction activity in the Twin Cities metro area is still very slow.  In fact, new home construction is limping along at about half the pace of last year, according to data released last week by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.

During July, 255 permits were issued to build 650 units. That's a 42 percent decline in the number of permits and a 33 percent decline in the number of new units. So far this year, the number of permits and planned units were down nearly 50 percent.

It’s not that new houses have stopped selling, but home builders have basically stopped building homes that haven't already been sold.  Right now, they're focused on reducing inventories of unsold houses that were built during the housing boom.

A report from Metrostudy, a company that tracks housing inventories, shows that, during the second quarter of this year, the number of new unsold houses was down 32 percent compared with the same time last year, leaving the supply of unsold homes at 3.8 months.

More than a third of the planned units last month were to build two large multi-unit buildings in Bloomington, which hasn't made an appearance on the top-five list all summer.


Twin Cities Home Events This Weekend

ASID Kitchen Tour

This 16th edition of this tour will showcase outstanding metro kitchens created by the American Society of Interior Designers. Sixteen kitchens of private homes feature the latest design and remodeling trends. Meet the designers as well as guest chefs with samples of restaurant fare. Walk away with fabulous ideas, great prizes and more! Proceeds benefit the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.

Saturday, August 9
Sunday, August 10
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM both days.
Price: $15 - $25
Call 612-336-9296 for more information.

Remodeled Home Tour

This weekend will finally bring about the Remodeled Home Tour a self-guided, one day tour of recently remodeled homes in South and Southwest Minneapolis. The tour was created so people could get the chance to observe high-quality home construction and remodeling trends in these historic and trendy neighborhoods. The contractors who worked on the projects will be available to meet with tour guests and answer questions.

Large and small projects alike will be prominent in the tour. Examples of how even small changes can make a big difference in a home will be showcased in this tour. Most of the homes will be older, having been renovated to meet the needs of modern occupants. However, there will be a few examples of new homes which have been constructed in such a way as to blend into the older neighborhoods. Green remodeling methods and features will also be presented in the Remodeled Home Tour as well.

The first tour was in 2006, beginning as a grass-roots idea to bring a wider segment of the community together to show how 19th and early 20th century homes in Minneapolis are transitioning to the modern lifestyle and culture of today’s homeowner. The Remodeled Home Tour has been successful each year it has been held, raising thousands of dollars for local neighborhood...