Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

Minnesota is the #2 Happiest State in the U.S.

Did you know that you live in the second happiest state in the entire U.S.? A recent study done by the finance website, WalletHub, ranked Minnesota #2 in their analysis of the happiest states in our union.

WalletHub compiled a list of factors that went into determinng the happiest states in our country. They considered job security, work environment, recreational activities, physical health, emotional well-being and much more. I'm not completely sure how they graded some of these factors, but you can always check out their site and read about the study for yourself.

Minnesota was topped only by Utah, which ranked the highest in both work environment and recreational activities. With the outdoor recreation that Utah has, and the mountains, it's not difficult to understand why they got top marks. Our "rival" state across the St. Croix River, Wisconsin, ranked #18 of the "happiest" states.

In terms of qualatative studies that rank the individual states in the U.S., Minnesota has fared very well lately. Money Magazine ranks the best cities to live in the U.S. each year, and Minnesota consistenly has cities in the top ten. Forbes recently named Minnesota in the top ten of bussiness climates for each state, and now WalletHub is saying our state is very happy.

Not bad to hear if you're a Minnesotan. This is a great place to call home.

Photo courtesy of: Matthew Deery


Upscale St. Paul Apartment Project Approved

Right alongside Metro Transit's Green Line corridor will be a new five-story, upscale apartment building. The building, called Raymond Avenue Flats, was just approved by the St. Paul City Council.

The Exeter Realty proposal was opposed by St. Paul's Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) because the Raymond Avenue Flats would alter a protected commercial building in the University-Raymond Commercial Historic District.

Despite the objection from the HPC, the proposal was approved to build this new complex. The new building will be built behind the protected, but vacant commercial building. The protected building, known as the General Motors Truck Co. building, will also attach to the new five-story apartment complex.

The new building has every intention of keeping the protected building in tact and it will not in fact alter any of the area's existing structures.

This new luxury building will be a nice addition to the neighborhood and will surely have plenty of tenants when it opens. Easy access to St. Paul and the Green Line is a huge plus for anyone looking for a upscale place to call home.


Pioneer Press to Leave Downtown St. Paul

The St. Paul Pioneer Press just sold off their downtown headquarters. The 162,000 square foot, 1950s era property was sold to an apartment developer, the Stencil Group, based out of Sioux Falls. They wil move their operation to the River Park Plaza across the Mississippi River. The sum was undisclosed, though reports say the sale was not far off the asking price was $4.2 million.

The property will be refurbished into around 150 and 168 marketable apartments. The apartments will not be upscale or for only the wealthiest Twin City residents; the complex will be well-built, have nice interior designs and be moderately priced.

The newspaper industry has undergone many changes in recent years as the paper information industry continues to wane. In 2013, Pioneer Press closed down their St. Paul printing plant in favor of having their rival, the Star Tribune, print their papers. The Minneapolis plant now prints both papers.

St. Paul just lost an icon in their city's newspaper's headquarters.


State of Minnesota Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers

Did you know that one quarter of crashes in Minnesota last year were caused by distracted driving? That seems way too high of a number and a statistic that needs to drop considerably. 

The Minnesota Department of Safety is taking steps to work on taking drivers eyes off their phones and getting them back on the road. They have put together a plan to target distracted drivers -- city police, state troopers and county deputies are on the lookout for swerving cars, varying speeds and drivers with their eyes off the road. 

Phone calls are still legal on Minnesota roads, but using the Internet or texting is not -- even while stopped in traffic. 

Proving a driver is distracted with their phone texting is a tricky situation, but law enforcement officials can issue moving violations to anyone driving erratically. Distracted driving citations can range from $125 to $145 -- with that in mind, responding to that text while on the road or sending out that tweet is not worth the potential fine. 

Considering how many accidents are caused by distracted drivers, it's time that Minnesota drivers be forced to fully invest into safe driving -- if they can't follow that notion, those drivers who want to text and drive need to be penalized.

Photo courtesy of: IntelFreePress


Find the Best Gas Prices in the Twin Cities

In recent months, gas prices have been plummeting much to the delight of Minnesota drivers everywhere. But have you ever been filling up at the pump and wondered if you are getting the best deal? There are few things that annoy me more than filling up and driving down the road and seeing a gas station selling gas for three cents cheaper. Well, now those days of "living in the dark" are over -- has created an interactive map that has all the best gas prices in the Twin Cities which will allow consumers to get the best deals at the pump every time. 

The map is even spans across the country so you can check out what gas prices are like in other states. Checking out the coasts, the map will make you happy to be a Minnesotan (the coasts are well over $2.50 a gallon). 

So any time you are complaining about freezing your butt off filling up, at least you are getting a great deal at the pump. 

Check out the interactive map below. 

Twin Cities Gas Prices provided by

Two Minnesota Teens Honored For Rescuing Fishermen

Ice Fishing is a long-practiced and well-loved recreational activity in Minnesota -- though the sport is often very safe, every now and then you hear stories about fishermen breaking through thin ice into the freezing water. 

This story has the nightmare of two fishermen falling through the ice, but also the heroics of two teens who saved their lives. Two Minnesota youth, Alex Stark and Cody Clements, both 16, saved the lives of Paul Monahan and Bruce Halvorson after the pair fell through the ice on Long Lake. 

After hearing their cries for help, Stark and Clements raced to the spot of crisis and used a shovel and rope to help pull the struggling (and freezing no doubt) fishermen to safety. 

On Tuesday, the two teens were presented with citizens' awards for bravery by James Van Elyll, the Long Lake Fire Chief. He commended the teens for their actions, stating how the sitiuation could have ended tragically if not for their efforts. 

Photo courtesy of: Petritap 


Baby Gorilla Dies at Como Zoo

The Como Zoo community is dealing with a devastating loss this week. The zoo lost a baby gorilla less than a week after it was born to its western-lowland gorilla mother, Alice. This was the first birth of a baby animal is the history of the Como Zoo -- but the zoo has been caring for gorillas for 55 years. 

The baby was non-responsive and weak this past Sunday morning when zoo officials checked in on the gorilla and resuscitation efforts were fruitless. 

Zoo officials suspect the infant was not feeding properly. They were careful to monitor the mother and baby from a distance in an effort to not interfere with the parent-child bonding experience. Alice was very protective of the baby and often turned her back from zoo officials when they tried to observe her caretaking abilities. 

"The baby had appeared as if he was doing well through Saturday evening. He had a strong grip and was vocal," according to a statement from the Como Zoo. "Alice was showing positive signs of maternal instinct, had been observed nursing and cradling the baby."

A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

This sad news comes abrubtly after the amazing news of the gorilla infant's birth. 


Grand Old Day

What's better than an outdoor festival to start the summer?  While there are tons of outdoor events throughout the Twin Cities during the Summer months, nothing compares to St. Paul's Grand Old Day parade and all-day event.

Image Credit: Michael Hicks

Touted as the largest single-day festival in the Midwest, this event takes place on the 1st Sunday of June each year on St. Paul's historic Grand Avenue.  With a parade that begins around 9:30am and countless food vendors, concerts, and expos, this yearly gathering has something for everyone.


Preferred Mortgage Program for Doctors

Special Loan Program for Doctors

Medical doctors, residents and interns...there is a great mortgage loan program specially designed for you!  Those that qualify can purchase a home with as little as 5% down payment with a loan amount up to $1,000,000.  But that isn't even the best part.  This program does not require private mortgage insurance!  Most traditional mortgage loans require expensive private mortgage insurance with less than a 20% down payment, but this special program for Doctors avoids that costly insurance.  There are other criteria and restrictions, but it is definintely a program worth checking out.

Here is a great place to find more information about the Preferred Doctor Program.


St. Paul to host President Obama

President Obama will visit St. Paul on Wednesday February 26, 2014.  His visit will be two-fold: first a stop to tour the Metro transit facility that is responsible for light rail operations and then downtown to Union Depot to discuss new job creation measure.

The President's visit will spotlight the new Central Corridor rail line that will finally link the urban centers of Downtown Minneapolis and Downtown St. Paul.  With stops at the University of Minnesota and along University Avenue the new lightrail, dubbed the "green line," will link the downtowns in the same way Streetcars did before they disappeared over 60 years ago. 

The green line is currently being tested and is scheduled to open in June 2014 and I expect it will have a positive affect on the real estate market surrounding its route.  While public transportation has existed between the downtowns since the streetcars left, the light rail will cause home buyers to take a new look at those communities that surround the green line because of the convenience it will bring to those who work and/or play in the downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul.  For many home buyers, they want to live where they can conveniently access the amenities that the downtown centers provide, but they don't want to live "in" those urban centers.


The Lowry Condos - St. Paul

The historic Lower Professional Building was originally built in 1912 with 14 floors above ground and a total heigh of 192 feet.  This architectural gem was renovated in 2005 with extensive remodeling to floors 3 through 12 which now house 131 condo units.

The Lower Condos are beautifully appointed in a loft style with concrete or terrazzo floors, large windows and exposed HVAC ductwork.  The building is also home to office, retail and restaurant tenants led by Pazzaluna Restaurant - featuring some of St. Paul's finest Italian cuisine.


5 Tips for Creating Autumn Curb Appeal and Home Staging

selling_your_house_in_autumn_curb_appeal_861Fall can be a great time of year for selling a home - even in places with four seasons. We think of spring as home selling season, but really homes are moving all the time. People are back from their vacations and the holidays and inclement weather aren't yet here. Now is the time to be buying or selling a home.

Here are five tips for owners to keep in mind when selling a home in autumn.

1. Tidy Up the Yard. You’ll be busy keeping the yard clean if your home is on the market in fall. Now is the time to cut away vines that grew in the summer to let more light inside the house and trim back branches to better reveal the exterior of your home. Wash your siding if it has accumulated dirt over the summer. Ensure your gutters debris-free and are draining well. If you get a lot of rain in the fall, have floor mats on hand and spots to place wet shoes and umbrellas. If snow will be falling soon, have the tools on-hand to shovel the sidewalk and de-ice the stairs.

2. Festive Fall Curb Appeal. Get your house into the spirit of the season. Buy potted flowers for the front of the home like marigolds and chrysanthemums. Decorate the outside of your house with a festive fall wreath on the door or traditional pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn on the patio. If Halloween is near, feel free to have a jack-o'-lantern. Keep your holiday display simple, though: Too much and you could distract home buyers and make them less interested in your home.

3. Dust It Up. Your home should be spotless when you put it up for sale on the market. Buff your bathrooms and kitchen until they shine. Thoroughly clean underneath furniture and behind it, in the corners...

Chanhassen, Apple Valley & Savage Ranked 'Best Places to Live'

Several Twin Cities suburbs made Money Magazine’s 2013 list of the best small towns to live in. Apple Valley MN, Chanhassen MN and Savage MN were ranked in the top 50 of the most highly rated communities national.

Chanhassen jumped from 10th place in 2011 to fourth this year. Apple Valley ended up at 17 and Savage jumped to 21, all the way from 51st in 2011.

Money Magazine’s list covers cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000. It takes into account of such ­factors as local incomes, crime rates and schools, as well as amenities such as Savage’s new sports dome and walkable downtown.

Topping the “Best Places to Live” list was Sharon, Mass. Now for the information you’ve been waiting for!

Chanhassen, MN

Top 50 rank: 4
Population: 23,685

Chanhassen was affected by Minnesota's woes during the downturn, but the town is bouncing back and taking fresh steps to improve. The area school district recently provided $700,000 in grants for classroom tech projects and is now rolling out Wi-Fi on all school buses. The town also beefed up commuter options.
The housing market, which took a big hit, is surging back. Jobs have remained strong, and nearby Minneapolis offers big-name employers like Target and the Mayo Clinic.

One perk of Twin Cities-area living is access to the great outdoors. Chanhassen MN's highlights include 34 parks, 90 miles of trails, and the 1,137-acre Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. When below-zero wind chills set in, there's February Festival with ice-fishing contests, sledding, and cookouts.

Apple Valley, MN

Top 50 rank: 17
Population: 49,863

If you don't mind cold winters, there's plenty to recommend this family-friendly Twin Cities suburb. There's a wide range of affordable ...

What $189,900 Buys in Woodbury MN

Here is MLS # 4393872


This attractive townhome is located at 3316 Hazel Trail in Woodbury, Minnesota.  It has 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and 1,622-square-feet of space. It is a coveted end unit town home in Bailey’s Arbor.


This exceptional home features a cook's kitchen with stone floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.


It also has private patio, cozy fireplace, large loft and private master bath.  Enjoy summers at the neighborhood pool!


First time home buyers may qualify for financing incentives. But first time home buyer or not, this Woodbury MN town house can be yours for $189,900!

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Golf Courses Finding a Second Life as New Home Subdivisions

At the Parkview Golf Club in Eagan MN, the once busy verdent fairways have been abandoned. Little by little, the course is being liquidated into non-existence — from its clubhouse to every last golf ball.

golf course turned into homes in eagan mnWith home building on the rise and the sport of golf in decline, Twin Cities courses have become a potential “next frontier” for housing developers as owners look for ways to unload declining clubs. In the Twin Cities suburbs alone, four courses are undergoing conversion to upscale housing developments. That number is likely to climb.

“Any golf course that’s within a growing community could be worth more to the owner as a development prospect than as a golf operation,” said Tom Ryan, executive director of the Minnesota Golf Association. “It’s not a surprise in this market.”

Right now, the Parkview Golf Club in Eagan is being liquidated, piece by piece. Bulldozers and dump trucks will soon help transform the city’s last 18-hole golf course into Eagan’s newest subdivision, Hillcrest.

“The housing market is really hot right now, and the golf course market is extremely soft,” said Kurt Manley, the Twin Cities developer who recently sold Parkview Golf Club to D.R. Horton Homes. The company has already shuttered the course and will start installing roads and utilities this summer. By fall, D.R. Horton will start building 166 houses that will sell for $400,000 or more.

With more golfers per capita than any other state, Minnesotans truly love the game, but there simply aren’t enough of...

Young Flat Earth Brewery Expanding Into Old Hamm's Brewery

There’s a new story on the local Minnesota beer front and it isn’t the Surly Brewery going up in Minneapolis. Flat Earth Brewing Co., part of the Twin Cities’ growing craft beer economy, plans to expand into several abandoned buildings at the old Hamm’s Brewery in the East Side neighborhood of St. Paul.

The microbrewer has won initial approval from the city for a $375,000 loan to spur the move from its current quarters on Benson Avenue. If and when the City Council approves the loan, Flat Earth will move its brewing operation into Building 8, which is the former Hamm’s keg-washing operation. Flat Earth is also looking at Buildings 7 and 9 for future use as a public tap/tasting room and maybe a beer garden.

East Side of Saint Paul Hamm's Brewer

The St. Paul-based microbrewer wants to increase production and expand its distribution network outside of Minnesota. Brews such as Angry Planet Pale Ale and Livid Planet Pale Ale and seasonal favorite Black Helicopter Coffee Stout are popular among Twin Cities beer-drinkers, but there hasn’t been room to produce more. Privately held Flat Earth produced 1,300 barrels of beer in 2012.

Flat Earth will be renovating and retrofitting buildings that have been part of St. Paul’s East Side for about 150 years. Building 9, a former carpentry shop that dates back to 1864 and 1867, is in bad shape, especially after a fire that occurred in 2005. Buildings 7 and 8, erected in 1893 and 1901,...

Purchases of High End Lakehomes Increasing in Minnesota

As home sales and prices rise in Minnesota, movement is beginning to be seen on the long-dormant vacation home market. But vacation homes still aren’t rebounding as fast as the rest of the market.

The average price of homes in Cass, St. Louis, Otter Tail and Aitkin counties has increased 3 to 5 percent since last spring, with the high-end vacation home seeing the most increase in demand, according to Trulia. In many popular lakeside destinations in northern Minnesota, sales of $351,000 to $500,000 homes have surged by more than 100 percent over the past year. Many of the homes are being purchased for significantly less than they were worth at the height of the housing boom.


And some of the buyers with all this discretionary spending are not originating from Minnesota. Some buyers are employees on North Dakota’s booming oil fields and farmers of the Red River Valley.

The volume of second-home buyers is much lower than before the housing crash and recession. This is partly due to tighter lending restrictions, as compared to primary homes. Further, second-home loans now require a 5- to 20-percent down payment, as underwriters remain cautious following the downturn.

Further, an oversupply of upscale houses built during the housing boom is available. There is a 10-month supply of outstate Minnesota lakeshore listings compared with three months in the much tighter Twin Cities real estate market.

We are specialists in the Twin Cities real estate market. We can help you find lakefront property right here in the Twin Cities area, including on...

What $125,000 Buys in Saint Paul's Greater East Side

Here is MLS # 4360646


This unassuming home located at 2018 Cottage Ave E in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1,670-square-feet of space. The house is in the Greater East Side neighborhood of Saint Paul.


Built in 1921, this home has loads of character. Its features include a great front porch, hardwood floors, and an amusement room with a wet bar.


It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood. It’s on a treed lot so it feels a bit private, but yet it is still conveniently in the city.. Priced to sell, this Greater East Side home can be yours for $125,000!


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Twin Cities Real Estate Market Heating Up

twin_cities_real_estate_304A burst of recent reports suggest that the Twin Cities real estate market recovery is outpacing the rest of the nation.

In March, buyers outnumbered sellers, triggering price increases and even bidding wars in some of the Twin Cities metro’s more popular communities and neighborhoods. According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR), during March there were 3,632 closings with a median price of $176,000 — a 17.4% increase over last year and the 13th-consecutive monthly increase in sale prices. Closing sales were flat compared to 2012, but pending sales increased more than 6% despite a 31% decline in inventory that’s causing somewhat of a shortage and holding back even more potential for sales growth.

That shortage also is driving an increase in new home construction, though. In April, housing construction in the Twin Cities has been up more than 110%, making it one of the best Aprils in nearly 10 years. According to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, builders were issued 372 permits to build 817 apartments and single-family houses throughout the 13-county Twin Cities metro area – an increase in planned units of more than 100%. Though 60% of those units are attributed to luxury rentals in two new downtown buildings, shortage of Twin Cities home listings helped boost permits to build single-family houses by nearly 27%.

Foreclosure activity in the Twin Cities metro ...

7 Tips for Home Sellers to Increase Curb Appeal

curb_appeal_for_home_sellers_640There have been a few headlines indicating that sellers listing homes for sale are scarce in the Twin Cities metro, even as the real estate market recovers and home prices increase. But undoubtedly as the spring selling season approaches, sellers are taking the time to prepare their properties before putting their home for sale on the market.

Increasing home sale prices and dwindling inventories are slowly shifting us away from a buyers’ market, offering home sellers with new and rewarding opportunities. With prices on the rise, the number of people who are underwater on their mortgage is declining, and naturally, more people will be willing to put their home for sale on the market. For homeowners who have been stranded on the sidelines, now is the time to start thinking of selling a home.

Before you put up your home for sale on the market, though, there are some things home sellers can do to maximize sales price. By taking some steps to increase your home’s curb appeal, you can increase the chances your home sells for a price you can appreciate.

To help increase your home’s curb appeal, here are seven tips for setting yourself up for success this spring selling season.

  1. Holiday Decorations. If you still have a light-up snowman or Santa Clause in your front yard or on the roof, now is the time to take it down. Holiday lawn ornaments that stick around into the spring detract from the newness of springtime. Before you do anything else, clean up your out-of-date seasonal décor.
  2. ...
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