Real Estate News

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.


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.


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...

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...

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 ...

Twin Cities Real Estate Statistics for 2013 Looking Good

twin_cities_real_estate_statistics_480The Twin Cities real estate market is off to a promising start in 2013, with area home sales up 11% over last year. While January is typically one of the sleepiest months of the year, unseasonably strong home buyer activity suggests that the spring market will be robust.

During January, there were 2,797 home sales in the 13-county Twin Cities metro area. Buyers were out and about during the month hoping to strike a good deal on a home and take advantage of near record-low mortgage rates. Pending sales were up even stronger than closings, rising 13% during January.

Sales of steeply discounted foreclosure homes fell slightly during January while sales of upper-bracket houses increase. As a result, the median price of all closings during the month rose 14% to $160,000.

While there were plenty of house hunters, the same can’t be said of home sellers. During January there were 4,798 new listings, a 6% decline from last year. Total listings in January stood at 12,000, a 32% decline from last year. At the current sales pace those listings would last less than three months.

With inventory falling, some expect that the Twin Cities has become a seller’s market, but that’s not the case. Sellers still offered hefty discounts in January, getting only 93 percent of their original list price. Buyers are still having their say.

Additionally, home sale prices are still being suppressed by high levels of foreclosures and short sales. During January, distressed sales represented 43% of all deals. Though that is a decline from...

Summer Signs of Optimism in Twin Cities Real Estate

Despite continuing economic uncertainty, the housing market in the Twin Cities area showed modest signs of improvement in July.

At the end of the month, pending Twin Cities real estate sales were up 42.7% over the same month of the previous year, when sales were dropping after the tax credit expired for first-time home buyers. It was the third consecutive month of double-digit, year-over-year gains in pending sales, according to data released by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Home prices have not yet rebounded and a new report suggests that foreclosures will continue to dominate the market. In spite of this, market watchers see reasons to be optimistic.

Declining inventory is the most promising sign. With sellers reluctant to brave the tough market, new listing activity was down 16% in July compared with last year, helping send total inventory down 19% from a year ago. About 24,000 homes are on the market today.

Similar tentatively good news recently came from a report on the Twin Cities housing market from the University of St. Thomas.

The University of St. Thomas’s Real Estate Index, which is based on nine market indicators, increased from 784 in June to 799 in July; the index was 847 in July 2010. While closed sales were up 34 percent compared with last year, the report showed that the median sale prices of all closed sales dropped three percent from June to July, from $165,000 to $160,000.Compared with 2010 prices were down 8.5 percent. Excluding foreclosures and short sales, prices were down only 1.5 percent from June to July and down 10.4 percent from July 2010 to 2011.

The Minnesota Association of Realtors said that throughout the state the number of closed home sales during July was down 33.5% with the median sale price of those deals down 6.5%. These are comparisons to July 2010. Despite an uptick in sales activity this summer, the number of sales so far...

In-Law Units, Granny Flats and Accessory Dwelling Units

For decades, American houses got bigger and bigger, even as family sizes got smaller and smaller. As the housing market collapsed, including the downturn of the Twin Cities real estate market, and the economy soured, more extended families began sharing space, including unemployed young adults moving back with their parents and financially strapped senior citizens moving in with their grown children.

Author Michael Litchfield thinks this trend will continue, as Americans increasingly question whether they're making the best use of their space. In his new book, "In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats" (Taunton Press, $24.95), he shows how to create secondary living spaces -- also called in-law units, granny flats and accessory dwelling units.

Additionally, TATA, which brought a $2500 car to India, is now is taking orders for an entire house (without garage for the tiny car) for $720. That's $3.34 per square foot and perfect for use as a Granny Flat!

Read this Star Tribune article and TreeHugger blog post to learn more about these options.

Additionally, read about locally made Flat Pak houses, one of which is on display at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.


Mixed Results for Recent Twin Cities Residential Sales

For people with the money for a down payment and are able to get a mortgage loan, this summer is turning out to be an excellent time to purchase a Twin Cities home.

Prices plunged 11% in April compared with a year ago, with the Minneapolis –  St. Paul Metro Area continuing to lead declines among major cities. The nation's housing market could be headed for a double-dip fall.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of 20 cities dropped 4% in April from a year ago, the steepest decline since late 2009. But no metro area prices sank like the Twin Cities, the only one posting a double-digit decline in prices. It was the third straight month the Twin Cities led declines among the country's largest cities, falling 10% in March and 8% in February. There's no clear reason for why Twin Cities home prices have tanked.

[Thomas Musil, a real estate professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul] said "the most plausible explanation" was that the home buyer tax credit that expired at the end of April last year pushed activity higher, so that this year's numbers, without the benefit of the tax credit, are unusually low by comparison.

Musil speculated that it's possible lenders are more efficient in selling off the foreclosure inventory in the Twin Cities market than other places.

In related news, existing homes may get a boost from higher sales prices of new homes. Nationwide, the median sales price of new homes rose 2.6% from April to $222,600. That's more than 30% higher than the median sales of price of older, re-sale homes. Though there are many benefits to owning a brand new home, purchasing an existing home also has its benefits.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if it is the best time for you to be buying a home. With new or existing homes priced low and interest rates at historic lows, it could be the right time for you to...

Woodbury MN retail center in the works

A new grocery store and shopping center is being built to accomodate Woodbury MN residents.

The tentatively named Bielenberg Gardens project is the first part of a high-density "urban village" master plan the City is drafting for the southwest corner of Bailey Road and Radio Drive. Woodbury has determined that is the suburb's next area for residential growth in the future.

One of the Twin Cities fastest-growing suburbs in the past decade, Woodbury experienced a wave of construction of malls, shopping centers and stores, but much of it was in the city's north near Interstate 94. The suburb's south has fewer basic services, and the new project's developers -- Bloomington-based United Properties and local residential land developer Tim Thone -- say the shopping center will fill the gap in necessities not just for southern Woodbury, but northern Cottage Grove.

This Woodbury MN project is one of the few such neighborhood retail centers in the works around the Twin Cities. About half of the proposed 120,000-square-foot center will be the grocery store. Pending city approvals, there are plans to break ground on the 28-acre development next spring. It would open by the fall of 2012.

The working name of Bielenberg Gardens is a reference to Woodbury's first mayor, Orville Bielenberg. His farm once stood nearby.


Twin Cities Homes Prices Decreased in March

The median prices for Twin Cities homes sold during the month of March fell more than 15% to $140,000 from the previous year, according to a report from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

The residential real estate price decrease is accompanied by a 4% drop in the number of closed sales for the 13-county metro area to 3,154 in March 2011 versus March 2010.

"Foreclosure sales accounted for roughly 40 percent of (pending sales) and 43 percent of closings," said Brad Fisher, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, in a statement. "While those market shares are in line with recent trends, they're still higher than what we would like to see."

Foreclosure sales are having a depressing effect on the residential real estate market by flooding it with cheap, available properties. The price of traditionally sold homes decreased 4% last month to $192,000 compared to last year. At the same time, foreclosure prices decreased 11% to $105,000 and short sale prices decreased 7% to $134,950.


Though March is the beginning of the home sale season and activity during this time tends to wind up, pending home sales fell nearly 18% from March 2010 to 4,162 purchase agreements signed in March 2011. Though that seems huge, in March 2010 people were scrambling to take last minute advantage of the first time home buyer federal income tax credit incentive. March 2011 sales were up 3% when compared to March 2009 and up 17% from March 2008.

Another tentatively good sign is that inventory is shrinking, which may help prices become more stabile. Sellers placed 6,977 properties on the real estate market in March 2011, about 30% fewer than in March 2011. Inventory levels as a whole diminished nearly 5% to 24,112 units. That...

Minnesota Real Estate Market Showing Stability

The housing market in Minnesota is showing signs of stability, even as home sales across the United States decline.

According to the Minnesota Association of Realtors, there were 7,284 home sales within the state during January and February - a 5.7% increase over the same period last year.

Nationwide, home sales remained mostly flat in the first two months of 2011, as compared to 2010. On a seasonally adjusted basis, however, February sales fell 9.6%, as reported by the National Association of Realtors.

"Home sales are being constrained by the twin problems of unnecessarily tight credit, and a measurable level of contract cancellations from some appraisals not supporting prices negotiated between buyers and sellers," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the national Realtors group. "This tug and pull is causing a gradual but uneven recovery."

The latest data shows the housing market is volatile both locally and nationally as the economy struggles to regain traction and the mortgage industry is overhauled. The biggest obstacle facing a real estate recovery is the foreclosure crisis, which dominates every market and puts downward pressure on home prices.

Across the country, prices decrease to the lowest level in nearly nine years. Even in Minnesota, sale prices continue to decline. During February the median sale price of all closed sales fell 8% to $129,900. The low prices have been luring bargain shoppers into the market, but haven't done much to move mid-range and higher-end properties.

While statewide sales figures indicate gains, that's not true throughout the state. During January and February, four of Minnesota's thirteen regions showed declines in sales and only five showed an increase in the median sales price.

The regions that did well have strong economies tied to a growth industry, such as farming communities where high-demand crops like corn and wheat are grown. In the northwest region, sales...

Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul has Potential Buyers - Again!

Two buyers who plan to turn the 15-acre old Schmidt Brewery complex in St. Paul into housing, stores and offices. They're also helping to get the property, which lies about 2 miles west of downtown Saint Paul on W. 7th Street, designated as a historic place. It's the fourth attempt since 2004 to redevelop the site.

Real estate development company Dominion would build 235 units of low-income rental housing where artists could live and work, including 16 rental townhouses targeted at families. The West Seventh/Fort Road Federation, the neighborhood's community planning and development group, intends to buy the front office building and restore the basement rathskeller to a bar/restaurant and have space for offices. The nonprofit also is looking to buy the keg house to use for retail businesses and an acre of land for other uses. Closings on both deals are expected in 2011.

Beer was brewed on the site beginning in the mid-1850s. In 1991, a group led by businessman Bruce Hendry bought and reopened the brewery. Beermaking continued until 2002, when Minnesota Brewing Co. closed. Gopher State Ethanol, which began production in 2000, operated at the plant until 2004, when it closed and filed for bankruptcy. The property owners have been trying to sell since then.

Negotiations have proceeded this far in the past and failed, including once before with these same two parties in 2008. But they are more confident this time because of support from the city, a new financing option from the state and a willingness to pursue making the complex a historic district.


Saint Paul's $1 3M Campus Challenge

As part of an effort to redevelop a 61-acre site in St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff, which includes an old 3M Co. campus, the St. Paul Port Authority is selling four buildings for $1 to the new Ironton Asset Fund. But there's a big hitch.

Jim Stolpestad, manager of the Ironton Asset Fund, is ready to take on the challenge. To get the buildings, Stolpestad and his group have to come up with a plan for how to reuse the buildings and get leases signed with tenants who agree to hire a certain number of workers depending on the size of the space. They have to make a good-faith effort to hire St. Paul residents and pay them at least $11 per hour plus benefits. And he has to do it in one year. A tall order, right?

The $1 package includes Building 21, 3M's former corporate headquarters, which was built in 1939 with restrained Moderne styling. Preservationists consider it significant. The buildings qualify for state and federal historic tax credits. Many other buildings on the site already have been demolished.

The Ironton Asset Fund is a $10 million fund with about 22 investors investing in distressed assets. The fund's first purchase was the old Chittenden & Eastman Building on University Avenue in St. Paul, which will be converted into market-rate apartments.

The Port Authority calls it the largest redevelopment project it's pursued in 20 years.

"It's certainly the most exciting thing on our plate right now," said Monte Hilleman, the Port Authority's vice president of redevelopment.

The clock is ticking. If the plan doesn't materialize, the future of the four buildings is in question. But as an East Side native, where the project is actually located, he could have a good shot at accomplishing his task.

Read more at the Star Tribune.


Twin Cities Real Estate Market Inventory Up, Sales Down

According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, pending sales in the Twin Cities area were down 35.6% compared to last October. Additionally, closed sales were down 40.7% for the same period.

The dramatic yearover-year changes is due to last years' tax credit. When compared to 2008 year-to-date figures, there has a less dramatic 3.7% decline in pendings and 3.9% decline in closings. The $170,000 median sales price was just 0.6% higher than last year.

Listing activity was down 8.4% overall. Traditional sellers (nonforeclosure and non-short sale) were down 16.3%. Foreclosure listings were up 14.7% and short sale listings were up 0.3%. All segments showed a decrease in pending sales activity.

October’s price gain wasn’t reflected equally across the Twin Cities real estate market. Traditional sellers say a 10.8% averace price increase to $215,000. Foreclosure prices dropped 2.5% to $115,000 and short sale prices were up 3.4% to $155,000.

It is a buyers' market out there! October results show the fourth consecutive month of declining original list prices. After a drop of 4.6% to 90.3%, the last time this metric was so low was in April 2009.

There are currently 8.2 months supply of inventory for the entire Twin Cities market. Inventory grew 10.6% since October 2009 to 25,706 units. Traditional homes averaged 132 days on the market before they were sold, foreclosures 1128, and short sales averaged 220 days.

“While there have been modest rays of hope in recent economic news, it has not been enough to infuse energy into the realty market,” said MAAR President-Elect, Pat Paulson. “It will be interesting to watch strategies that new leadership in Washington adopts to address housing uncertainties.”

You can read the original MAAR press release about October's home sale figures. MPR also has some good commentary on the results.


Twin Cities Summer of New Construction

New numbers from around the Twin Cities metro area indicate home construction is beginning to pick up. After reaching record lows in 2008 and 2009, officials are cautiously hopeful about new home construction over summer.

According to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities
, Blaine was the leader for July in the number of building permits issued with 28, followed by Maple Grove with 26, Woodbury with 17, Hugo with 14, and Shakopee with 12.

For the total number of units permitted in July, Blaine topped the list with 28, followed by Maple Grove with 27, Woodbury with 25, Hugo with 21, and Shakopee with 12.

For the first seven months of 2010, Maple Grove issued 160 permits, followed by Blaine with 153, Shakopee with 126, Woodbury with 98, and Lakeville with 85. Oakdale, Woodbury, Cottage Grove and Forest Lake have already issued more permits this year than in all of 2009.

There has been a flurry of activity in Woodbury and Hugo
. Woodbury leads the entire metro area in terms of planned units for 2010, as well as the valuation of permits issued. Through the end of July, Woodbury had approved 98 permits for 373 units valued at $49.8 million. In 2009, 255 units were approved.

Though it is an improvement, it is unlikely home building will ever return to the boom period the Twin Cities saw during the last two decades, when Woodbury saw more than 1,600 new units a year....

Coleman: No Property Tax Increase for St. Paul

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman wants to hold the line on property taxes next year for St. Paul homes, and maybe even reduce the total taxes and fees they pay for essential services.

Following tax increases, often with service cuts, every year he's been in office, Coleman on Wednesday declared a sort of victory over the city's seemingly perpetual budget shortfall. He proposed a $531.6 million spending plan for 2011 that not only keeps the property tax levy flat but also slightly increases funding for police and fire training and promotions.

"We asked people to bear more of the burden," Coleman said. "We know that that was hard, but it was honest. ... We've made tough choices. But because we made those choices, the 2011 budget is the most stable in years."

The $531.6 million spending plan maintains flat or nearly flat staffing and service levels for most departments. The plan relies on receiving $62.5 million in state aid payments already approved by the Legislature. It is subject to public hearings before city council approval around the end of the year.


Home Buyer Tax Credit Extended for Pending Sales

President Barack Obama has signed legislation into law giving consumers already in the process of buying a home three more months to close on their homes and still qualify for a popular tax credit from the government.

First time Home buyers who signed contracts by April 30 who failed to close by the original June 30 deadline will now have until September 30 to complete their purchases. The $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers and $6,500 credit for others purchasing a new primary residence was a highly popular temporary measure to spur home sales during the economic downturn.

The measure will help as many as 180,000 home buyers who would have otherwise missed the June 30 deadline because banks and settlement offices were dealing with a huge volume of people rushing to close on their deals signed before April 30. Nearly 3 million taxpayers claimed the tax credits through May 22 at a cost of more than $21 billion, according to the Treasury Department.

Additionally, without the extension some home buyers would have walked away from their sales. Some money-minded buyers put clauses in their contracts that let them out of the deal if they couldn't close before the June 30 deadline.


Carolyn Capalbo. A Name Too Famous.

What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous. - Voltaire

For real estate agents, their name is their calling card. It's the basis of their reputation, their recognition, their brand even. A REALTOR's success is often defined by whether or not people know their name. What happens when a real estate agent shares the same name as someone associated with a scandal?

Type the name Carolyn Capalbo into a search engine and one might think she is the mother of Playboy cover girl Ashley Alexandra Dupre - the Ashley Dupre at the center of an escort/prostitution scandal that caused New York Governor Eliot Spitzer to resign. But dig a little deeper, and one finds that Carolyn Capalbo is also a REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty in Northern Virginia. Unfortunately, she shares the same name as someone who has received negative press and through no fault of her own, her real estate business is suffering.

Because of a case of mistaken identity, whenever a potential client types her name into a search engine, the top ranking results are articles that list Carolyn as the mother of Ashley Dupre. This disgrace is not what a new client wants to see. Real estate agent Carolyn Capabla has felt the heat from her namesake doppelganger’s scandal.

So who is Carolyn Capalbo the REALTOR?

The differences between Realtor Carolyn Capalbo and her scandalous counterpart are great. Though she does have a daughter, her name is not Ashley and she is 16, not 22. She lives with her family in Manassas, Virginia, far from where the woman that shares her name was last reported as living: Wall Township, New Jersey. Carolyn Capalbo is a top producing Northern Virginia REALTOR with Keller Williams Realty and a member of Northern Virginia Association of Realtors' Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club.  Customer Service is her #1 goal!...

Sale at the Mall? No, Mall for Sale!

Woodbury Lakes, an upscale shopping center that opened five years ago but stumbled into foreclosure due to the economy, will go up for sale on March 15. Investors could find a bargain. The Woodbury real estate along Interstate 94 east of Radio Drive has a lot of potential, despite its recent troubles.

Whoever buys the property might do well to make it over from its high-end "lifestyle center" concept into a shopping area that might draw consumers with more moderate incomes from a broader area, said Jim McComb, a Minneapolis real estate and retail consultant.

There is no set price tag for the 50-acre property in Woodbury. That will be negotiated when a buyer emerges.

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