Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

RiverCentre Gets Green in Saint Paul

Two stories about the RiverCentre in St. Paul:

First, a $2 million, 1-megawatt solar energy system will be installed on the roof of the St. Paul RiverCentre. It will be the largest solar-energy installation in the state.

District Energy St. Paul, which provides heating and cooling for downtown's commercial and residential buildings, will provide funds for its construction of $1 million, in addition to a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The system will heat water for downtown and offset energy that District Energy St. Paul expends burning waste wood for its heating system. It should be running by the end of 2010.

Second, officials are working on cutting the amount of trash generated at Saint Paul's RiverCentre. Visitors to the RiverCentre complex produced more than 2.8 million pounds of garbage during last year's events. To combat the trash problem, an ambitious recycling program will soon be rolled out.

The "50-50 in 2" program promotes new recycling and composting measures aimed at getting total waste to half trash and half recycling in two years. Right now, the complex recycles about 15%t of its waste.

280 new recycling bins have been paired with trash cans, as well as receptacles that encourage the disposal of recyclables, compost, paper and trash products separately. The facility has also begun composting unused food.

The facility avoids paying a 70% tax on trash products by composting more materials. And the complex will make money on recycling such materials as cardboard, cooking oil and shrink-wrap.

The "50-50 in 2" programis also being rolled out at Xcel Energy Center and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.


Ash-less Experiment in Saint Paul's Como Park Neighborhood

Many of the trees in St. Paul's Como Park neighborhood are ash trees. Neighbors on two blocks of West California have agreed to a radical city plan to remove 40 trees and plant new ones, instead of allowing them to languish due to emerald ash borer. Work will start next week.

Though ash borer bugs have not been found in the area, the ash trees are already declining. St. Paul is the epicenter of Minnesota's emerald ash borer infestation. Because getting rid of the pest is not an option, city officials are simply trying to slow its spread.

Soon after the ash trees and stumps are removed, Redmond Linden and Sienna Glen Maple will be planted in an alternating pattern. The new trees will be about 2 inches in diameter, and it will probably take about 10 years for them to provide good shade....

Twin Cities Metro Area Ranks as Safest "City" in America

According to, the Minneapolis - Saint Paul - Burnsville metropolitan area is the safest in America. The Twin Cities metro area ranked #1 in the top 10 of the 2009 America's Safest Cities list. The ranking was based on crime rates, traffic deaths, workplace fatalities and risk of natural disasters. The Minneapolis - Twin Cities metropolitan area ranked the best in each of these categories, including the lowest rate of on-the-job deaths. based its rankings on a study of the nation's top 40 metropolitan areas, looking at 2008 numbers from a number of organizations including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also collected historical natural disaster data from a number of different government agencies and looked at violent crime rates from the FBI's 2008 uniform crime report.

The top five safest cities are as follows:

1. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Burnsville, Minn.
2. Milwaukee, Wis.
3. Portland, Ore.
4. Boston, Mass.
5. Seattle, Wash.

The full listing of's America's Safest Cities.


Community Highlights ~ South Saint Paul MN

The city of South St. Paul is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, directly east of Minnesota’s capitol city of Saint Paul. Just a 15 minute drive to downtown Saint Paul, it was designated as an All American City in 1990. South St. Paul is the embodiment of small town living basking in the nearby glow of big city lights.

South St. Paul's population of about 20,000 is active and involved in its community in a wide variety of councils and volunteer opportunities. South St. Paul also boasts a vast network of more 180 acres of public parks and recreational land, including lakes for water recreation and walking and hiking trails along the banks of the Mississippi River. More popular local recreational activities around South Saint Paul include ice skating and cross-country skiing in the winter, and a year-round community theater.

Sound like your ideal community? South St. Paul real estate offers a variety of housing stock, from single family homes to condominiums and planned communities.

Learn more about South Saint Paul MN real estate.


Saint Paul and Minneapolis Among Best Cities for Families

Children's Health magazine has released its report on the 100 Best (and Worst) Places to Raise a Family. It ranks 100 American cities according to their family-friendliness. The City of St. Paul came in at 12th and Minneapolis ranked at 18th. Detroit came in last. The magazine's editors developed their list by assessing 29 quality-of-life variables including household income, unemployment, air quality, infant mortality, home prices and even the number of fast-food restaurants per capita.

Residents of the Twin Cities know that Saint Paul and Minneapolis are great places to live and raise a family, these national reports just tell the rest of the country. Residents of other local Twin Cities communities would also know that more Minnesota towns have appeared in similar lists this year.

Sperling's Best Places and McDonald's Happy Meals ranked Minneapolis as the happiest, family-friendliest city in America. Money Magazine named Chanhassen as one of the best places in the nation to live for "small towns," defined as having a population between 8,500 and 50,000. And Family Circle named Edina the Best Minnesota Community for Families, too.

In September, seven schools in Minnesota are among 314 nationwide to be designated by the U.S. Department of Education as ...

Saint Paul's Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Highlights

Dayton's Bluff is a neighborhood located on the east side of the Mississippi in the southeast part of the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. The northern border of the neighborhood is Grove Street and the Burlington Northern Railroad. The southern border is Warner Road. To the west is Lafayette Road and Highway 3, and to the east is Highway 61. Dayton’s Bluff contains one of the widest varieties of history of any Twin Cities’ neighborhood.

The history of the area goes back over 1,000 years when the Hopewell Native Americans used the area as a sacred burial ground. On the edge of the southern and highest part of Dayton's Bluff today, a series of seven large aboriginal burial mounds remain in Indian Mounds Park, overlooking the Mississippi River and the central part of the city. The park features walking paths, playgrounds and a picnic area.

In 1857, Lyman Dayton, a well-known land and railroad speculator from Vermont, platted an "addition to St. Paul" on the Eastern border of the city. The area was separated from the early settlement along the river by a ravine, but this inaccessibility did not deter Dayton. A handful of other businessmen also built large and costly houses in the area. Farther to the south, beyond present day I-94 in the Mounds Park area, river-oriented residential development was also occurring. The earliest settlers had a spectacular view of the growth of the city at the Lower Levee and along E. Seventh Street. The area has since been referred to as Dayton’ Bluff, named after the man who built the first large home here.

Located on the east side of St. Paul, Dayton's Bluff has a particularly high concentration of 19th century homes within its boarders. In the early 1800's, Dayton's Bluff was one of St. Paul's first affluent suburbs, as is evidenced by the many Victorian, Italianate and Queen Anne styles of architecture. Overall, most of the homes in Dayton’s Bluff were...

Saint Paul May Get Second Off-Leash Dog Park

On Wednesday, the Saint Paul city council will hold a public hearing and vote on changes to an outdated master plan for the Lilydale segment of Lilydale-Harriet Island Regional Park. Among the changes is the designation of an 8.5-acre area where dog owners could have an off-leash dog walking area.

Though off-leash dog parks are growing in popularity, St. Paul currently operates only one, in Arlington/Arkwright Park on the East Side.

The city's Parks Commission has signed off on the plan, and approval appears likely from the city council. Next, the Metropolitan Council will have to vote on it. ...

Community Highlights ~ Woodbury, MN

The City of Woodbury is an attractive community of cozy neighborhoods, interconnected by miles and of hiking and biking trails. Located just outside of St. Paul, life in Woodbury offers residents access to the many amenities of the city while allowing them a quieter place to escape to when the return home.

Woodbury is a well-rounded city. In addition to its great residential areas, this first-ring Twin Cities Metro suburb is home to several corporate headquarters that are major employers in the area, providing plenty of job opportunities. Woodbury also has plenty of shopping and commercial areas, making the Woodbury a shopping destination for the eastern metro area. Last, but not least, with 28 park sites and green spaces, Woodbury is filled with recreational opportunities in a variety of outdoor settings.

Most of Woodbury is served by Independent School District #833 which offers an array of excellent educational opportunities for all students. Some parts of the community are also served by #834 (Stillwater) and #622 (Maplewood-Oakdale-North St. Paul).

Though the average sale price for a single family house in Woodbury is $296,000, prices can range from $100,000 to over $500,000. Woodbury MN real estate can be within your reach!


Saint Paul "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" Finished

In the blog last week, I wrote about the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" that was taking place in St. Paul. Now the new home at 226 Prescott Street on St. Paul's West Side has been finished! A crowd of more than 1,500 people were there on Friday to greet Sandy Morris and her two children, Catricia and Mychal, and to watch their reactions as they saw their new home for the very first time.

Saturday, the Morris family was still amazed.

“It’s a beautiful house, it’s amazing, it’s a beautiful house,” said Sandy Morris. It’s what went into the house that makes it so special for Morris and her children – lots of labor and love. “The amount of volunteers that came through here throughout the week… on cold rainy days and nights and were here all night long and all day.”

Click on the links to see pictures and videos. Click here to read the original "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" blog post.


Twin Cities Housing Market: September

The Twin Cities real estate market was very active throughout the month of September. Low mortgage rates and the $8,000 federal tax credit has first-time home buyers out looking for good deals.

Pending home sales rose 23.5% over September of last year. According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, there were 4,986 signed purchase agreements in September. It is the 15th consecutive month of increases in year-over-year pending home sales. There were 75.6% more pending home sales than in September 2007. Closed sales in September were flat year-over-year.

Devised to help jump-start the housing market, the first-time home buyer credit is set to expire November 30. Buyers must close on their home on or before that date to qualify. Time is running out, as buyers should allow at least 45 days between finding a home and closing!

While median sales prices have increased from the $150,000 to $155,000, prices over the summer and fall have been in the $170,000 to $175,000 range. Last month's median sales price of $170,000 is a 2.9% decrease from August to September and a 10.5% drop year-over-year. There haven't been median sales prices as low as $170,000 since the second half of 2001.

Sales activity and increasing demand for homes is helping sellers out. There is now a 6.6-month supply on the Twin Cities real estate market, compared to 9.5 months at this time last year. The National Association of Realtors says optimal housing inventory is six to seven months. There is less than five months' supply in the under-$190,000 price range, which tends to be closer to the prices range of first-time buyers.

Now there is concern that the housing market will slow down after the credit expires. The housing industry is lobbying Congress to extend it into 2010....

First Time Home Buyer Dos and Don'ts

There are many first time home buyers out there, thanks to the $8,000 federal tax credit. The deadline to buy is November 30, so hopefully if you're trying to qualify for it you've already well on you're way to buying your first home.

Before and during the home buying process, there are some things that can be done to increase the chances your loan is approved and at a reasonable interest rate, to boot. Read this earlier post to find out some “to do’s” for people considering buying their first home (or even their next home!).

As there are many things you should do to increase your chances of becoming a first time home owner, there are also things you should not.  Please take a look at one of our earlier posts that lists some of the "don’ts" for people considering purchasing a home.

Following some of these do's and don'ts are generally a good idea when buying a home. Additionally, taking heed of them could be particularly important right now, given the extra scrutiny on mortgages these days.


Deadline to Qualify for Federal Tax Credit is Approaching

If you have been paying any attention to the real estate market, you know that sales in the lower-priced end is picking up. First time home buyers are racing to qualify for the $8,000 federal tax credit. The credit will cover up to 10% of a home's purchase price, and is available to U.S. residents who haven't owned a home for at least the past 3 years. In order to qualify, they must also close on a home purchase on or before November 30.

The credit took effect in April and has helped the lower segments of the nation's housing market. The National Association of Realtors estimates that by the end of this year, the credit will have boosted home sales by 350,000 units. As many as 2 million first-time buyers will take advantage of the tax credit. In Minnesota, more than 28,700 taxpayers have requested the credit already just by amending their federal tax returns after buying a house.

In the Twin Cities real estate market, the approaching deadline is fueling demand for homes priced at less than $190,000. Overall sales in that price range are up compared to a year ago, but sales of more expensive homes are still low.

What happens when/if the credit expires? Well, when the $4,500 federal "cash for clunkers" subsidy went away, sales of new vehicles crashed. The housing industry fears a similar impact in housing, so there is a push for an extension on the tax credit. There are at least a dozen proposals to extend the program introduced in Congress.

But for now, people within the real estate and mortgage industry are expecting the deadline, but they're also expecting continued activity. If you're a first time home buyer and you're can take advantage of this tax credit, don't miss the boat!


"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" Descends on Saint Paul

Expect there to be a lot of noise and a flurry of action on St. Paul's West Side this week due to a taping of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." While the Morris family of 226 Prescott Street is off on a cruise courtesy of the show, thousands of volunteers have been working around the clock to complete the new home in less than 100 hours.

On Sunday, the house was demolished. On Monday, the basement wad been poured, framing put in place and working on the roof. The weather hasn't been helping matters.

"We can work with a little drizzle," said Tom Budzynski, owner of TJB Homes — the Blaine company spearheading the building of the Morris' new 2,800-square-foot home that will include three bedrooms, three baths and a separate area for the day care center that Sandy Morris operates out of her home. "But if it downpours, the health and safety of the crew is more important than working."

Apparently the Muppets have been on site? Miss Piggy had the honors of kicking down the last wall of the old Morris house, while Kermit ran the backhoe. They will be back on Thursday.

Construction on the Saint Paul home is scheduled to continue through Thursday. That is when the designers will decorate. The family will get the keys to their new home on Friday afternoon.

According to the Pioneer Press article:

If you want to see the house, a shuttle runs through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Signal Hills Center parking lot, 50 Signal Hills Center in West St. Paul. Spectators are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item as admission to the site. There will also be a blood drive on Thursday and Friday at the Neighborhood House at the Wellstone Center, 179 Robie St. E., St. Paul.

Personally, I'd aim for Thursday....

A New Look and New Features

Much like our Barker & Hedges Realtors website, there have been some changes around here at the Saint Paul Real Estate site. It, too, has been completely redesigned, reorganized, and revamped.

This Saint Paul Real Estate Site has more features, search methods, more ways to share what you find, and easy ways to save your favorite properties.  Also, we can now e-mail new listings to you that fit your needs as homes become available on the market. More options will be added to this site to aid you in buying a home or selling a home in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and the surrounding Twin Cities suburbs.

On the whole, we aim to become the most comprehensive resources for Twin Cities real estate information. The old site was outdated and too restricted. This new site's capabilities will increase and it will evolve to suit the needs of visitors into the future. And as of now you can do so without having to register!

If you haven't bookmarked this Saint Paul Real Estate site before, now  might be a good time. If you seek to buy a home in Saint Paul or one of the Greater Twin Cities metro communities, and this is your first visit to the site, take a look around to see what we have to offer. This website is packed with plenty of useful information that we hope will keep you coming back for more....
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