Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

Home Affordable Modification Program to Expand

The Obama administration plans to expand a program aimed at stemming foreclosures and helping more people to remain in their homes.  Known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, its goal is to convert troubled home loans into new loans with lower monthly payments:

Under a $75 billion Treasury program, companies that agree to lower payments for troubled borrowers collect $1,000 initially from the government for each loan, followed by $1,000 annually for up to three years.

The government support, which is provided from the $700 billion financial bailout program, is aimed at providing cash incentives for mortgage providers to accept smaller mortgage payments rather than foreclosing on homes.

The renewed effort will increase pressure on mortgage companies to accelerate loan modifications two fold. First, by highlighting firms that are lagging in this area. Second, by now waiting until the loan modifications are permanent before paying cash incentives to mortgage companies that lower loan payments.

The program has been in place for a while, but has been heavily criticized for not helping more people. Months after the program's initiation, the foreclosure rate is worsening:

The Congressional Oversight Panel, a committee that monitors spending under Treasury's bailout program, concluded in a report last month that foreclosures are now threatening families who took out conventional, fixed-rate mortgages and put down payments of 10 to 20 percent on homes that would have been within their means in a normal market.

The expanded program will, among other things, make more aid available to struggling borrowers and expand the number of organizations providing...

Thanksgiving in Minnesota

It’s Thanksgiving again! Hope you have your turkey on hand for tomorrow! About 46 million turkeys were eaten last Thanksgiving.

Many Minnesota turkey farmers can be  thanked for that! Minnesota hatches and raises more turkeys than any other state, producing about 45 million yearly. The rest of the top 5 states are North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia.

One of the main reasons why Minnesota's approximately 600 turkey farms are as successful as they are is because of two other major exports for the state: corn and soybeans. Minnesota's turkey industry supports about 1,800 corn and soybean farmers.

What's more, over the years the University of Minnesota and the College of Agriculture and Animal Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine have helped farmers with solutions to issues, like disease prevention and better diets.

And remember: After you've eaten the turkey and stuffing, watched the football game, and maybe had a few beers, please don't drink then drive. Not only could you be placing the lives of innocent people in danger, but DWI and DUI enforcement is has been stepped up in Minnesota over the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


National September & October 2009 Real Estate Figures

In addition to our post earlier this month about home statistics, more figures have recently been released regarding national home and real estate sales.

The National Association of Realtors report released on Monday showed that home sales surged for the second month in a row in October. Sales climbed to their highest level since July 2007 as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of an expiring tax credit. Home sales nationwide are now up nearly 36% from their bottom in January,though they are still 16% below the peak in autumn 2005.

The National Association of Realtors said home resales rose 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million in October, from a downwardly revised pace of 5.54 million in September. It was the biggest monthly increase in a decade, and far above the 5.65 million pace expected by economists, according to Thomson Reuters.

The median sales price was $173,100, down 7% from October 2008 and off roughly 2% from September 2009. Sales were up 21% from October last year and were up in all four regions of the country, with the greatest gain a 26% increase of sales in the Midwest. At the current sales pace, there is a 7-month supply of homes on the market and in some areas there are bidding wars.

Two other reports came out on Tuesday regarding September home sales figures.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major cities rose only 0.3% to 144.96 in September, but it was the fourth straight monthly increase. The seasonally adjusted index is now up more than 3% from its bottom in May, but still 30% below its peak in April 2006. The report shows home prices rose in 11 major...

New Housing Proposed for Downtown Saint Paul

Developer Aeon is waiting for St. Paul's Renaissance Box to be granted a historic certification by the federal government. Then, it will commence in gutting and transforming it into 70 affordable housing units.

The Renaissance Box project is aimed at offering affordable housing to people who have jobs at downtown Saint Paul restaurants, hospitals or other service. 56 units will be a mix of efficiency and one- and two-bedroom apartments targeted at buyers who make between $21,000 and $42,000. The remaining 14 units will be for people who earn between $10,000 and $17,000 and have been homeless.

Located at 509 Sibley Street in Saint Paul MN, the Renaissance Box was built in 1914 and used to house what was once one of the biggest footwear factories in Minnesota, the O'Donnell Shoe Co. Affordable housing developer Aeon, based in Minneapolis, bought the building out of a foreclosure situation in 2006.

Financing for the $16 million project is coming from a combination of state and city funds, foundation grants and private investors using federal tax credits. An additional allotment of tax credits through the federal stimulus program helped the project fill in gaps.

Construction is expected to begin early next year and wrap up in early 2011.


Holiday Tours of the Governor's Home

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and First Lady Mary Pawlenty have announced that the Governor’s Residence will again open to the public for holiday tours on three Tuesdays in December.

Governor’s Residence Holiday Open House schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 1-3 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 1-3 p.m.

“The Governor’s Residence was graciously donated to the state by Olivia Irvine Dodge and Clotilde Irvine Moles and belongs to the people of Minnesota,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The First Lady and I invite all Minnesotans to visit this marvelous place.”

The mansion has been decorated for the holidays. Visitors not only get the chance to take a tour, they will have the opportunity to enjoy live music and view the beautiful holiday decorations.

The Governor’s Residence is at 1006 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul MN. Tours are open to the public and free of charge. Photo identification is required for entry, and backpacks and strollers are not permitted in the house. Parking is available on Summit Avenue and local side streets.

The Residence is also an official collection site for Second Harvest Heartland, the Midwest’s largest food shelf. If you choose to bring a donation, please give it to the Docent at the main entrance.

For more information about tours, please call 651-297-2161.


Emerald Ash Borer Found in Falcon Heights

The emerald ash borer has been discovered in a tree on the University of Minnesota campus in Falcon Heights MN. The location is about a mile from the insect's first confirmed appearance in Minnesota, in the Hampden Park neighborhood of Saint Paul. Emerald Ash Borer now threatens the state's 900 million ash trees.

In the days after the bug was confirmed in St. Paul, foresters removed 68 infested ash trees in and around the Hampden Park neighborhood. They also removed 46 other obviously declining ash in a ring outside "ground zero," and found only one infested.

Testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that the borers entered St. Paul trees in 2006. The tree in Falcon Heights appeared to be healthy, indicating it was a recent attack.

The discovery means Falcon Heights city officials may now tap into a $1 million state fund that pays for immediate municipal response to ash borer infestation. Until now, St. Paul was the only city eligible for to apply for the funding. ...

Community Highlights ~ Arden Hills MN

A 15 minute drive north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, one can find the city of Arden Hills and its 10,000 residents. It is located close to the Twin Cities, but far enough away for peace and quiet. Could you be happy in Arden Hills MN? The signs point to yes! The City conducted a Quality of Life study recently and the results show that most residents are "very satisfied" living in the Arden Hills community.

Thanks to a solid commercial base, the employment outlook in Arden Hills is good. A range of businesses and services, from large corporations to unique smaller boutiques, call the city home. Bethel College and Northwestern College, based in Arden Hills MN, provide residents with higher education and career enhancing opportunities.

Like other Minnesota cities, Arden Hills MN residents' enjoy the local outdoors. People can often be found at the city's lakes, parks, and walking/biking trails. Arden Hills' 13 parks cover almost 102 acres, and offer a variety of facilities like trails, playgrounds, playfields, and picnic areas.

Arden Hills has an extensive variety of housing and commercial districts. A number of affordable, yet beautiful, Minnesota real estate options are there for the finding in the lovely community of Arden Hills. The opportunities are endless when looking for Arden Hills MN real estate.

Are you ready to see what Arden Hills has to offer?...

Home Ownership Programs in Woodbury MN

There are several home buyer programs in Woodbury MN, both for first time home buyers and people who have owned homes in the past.

First, there is the Woodbury First-time Home Ownership Program.  The aim of the program is to encourage home ownership in Woodbury MN by providing financing to low- and moderate-income first-time home buyers. Low-interest, deferred loans of up to $25,000 are available to qualified families who earn no more than 80% of area median income, currently $64,000 for a family of four. First-time home buyers are defined as a person or household that has never owned a home or has not owned a home in the last three years. The purchase price of the affected homes may not exceed $256,500. Single-family detached houses, townhomes or condo units are eligible for this program.

Second, there is the Woodbury Foreclosure Purchase Program. This program aims to encourage the purchase of foreclosed properties in Woodbury MN by providing financing to low- and moderate-income purchasers. Low-interest, deferred loans of up to $25,000 are available to qualified families who earn no more than 115% of area median income, capped at $90,000 per household. The purchase price of the affected homes may not exceed $256,500. Single-family detached houses, townhomes or condo units are eligible for this program.

Perhaps now is a good time to take a look at Woodbury MN real estate!...

Twin Cities October 2009 Real Estate Figures

The National Association of Realtors says home prices fell in 123 out of 153 U.S. metropolitan areas in the third quarter this year. Prices rose in the other 30 cities. The national median price was $177,900. Distressed sales, usually sold at a steep discount, made up 30%t of all sales.

At the same time, the number of home sales continued rise, with quarterly sales outpacing the second quarter and the previous year's figures. The federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers helped boost sales in the third quarter. U.S. home sales grew in 45 states from the second quarter, with 28 states posting double-digit gains.

A real estate market full of foreclosure homes and the the $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit have had a significant impact on Twin Cities home sales in October. Signed purchase agreements were up 34.4% from October last year. The number of closed sales was up 27.8%. The average selling price of a house was $169,000, down from $180,000 in October 2008.

Though it is generally agreed that the federal tax credit will be enticing to many buyers, we're now entering a generally slow season. During the winter, there tend to be both fewer listings and fewer buyers. The extended and expanded tax credit may just help the Twin Cities real estate market lose some of its excess inventory and allow prices to stabalize....

City of Saint Paul First Time Home Buyer Programs

There are many programs available to first time home buyers throughout the City of Saint Paul and in some cases, specific St. Paul neighborhoods.

In particular, the CityLiving Home Program offered by the Saint Paul Home Loan Fund makes home ownership affordable. Through a joint effort shared with the City of Minneapolis, St. Paul offers mortgage loans and home improvement loans through the program. CityLiving loans offer homebuyers an opportunity to purchase St. Paul homes at an interest rate that historically has ranked well below market rates. This program has helped low- and moderate-income families for 20 years. More than 10,000 people have purchased a home through the CityLiving program. Read more information about Saint Paul's CityLiving Home Program.

There is also the Invest Saint Paul program. This collaborative effort is intended to strategically channel city government and private resources into revitalizing and redeveloping four key neighborhoods of St. Paul.  Those neighborhoods are Dayton’s Bluff, Frogtown, the East Side, and the North End.  The goal of Invest St. Paul is to turn the tide of foreclosures and entice new residents into buying real estate in these areas.

The Make it Possible Program, or MPP, is a second mortgage product provided by the Family Housing Fund (FHF).  Under the MPP, a 3% down payment is required of home buyers.  Borrowers who qualify for a first mortgage representing 80% or less of the appraised value of the property through a private mortgage lender will be able to receive the difference of up to 20% of the remaining value in a second mortgage loaned at 3.5% payable over a 15-year...

First Time Home Buyer $8,000 Federal Tax Credit Extended & Expanded

A $24 billion package that seeks both to stir the sluggish economy and help out millions who have found themselves unemployed is being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure extends the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers and even expands it with a $6,500 credit for some prospective home buyers who already own homes. Set to expire at the end of the month, the credits will apply to house contracts entered into before April 30, 2010, and closed by June 30.

Additionally, the nearly 2 million people who have lost or are in danger of exhausting unemployment benefits before the end of the year will receive up to 20 weeks in additional benefits.

President Obama is expected to sign the measure quickly....

Saint Paul - Minneapolis Housing Market Report

According to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller national home price index, Minneapolis - St. Paul area home prices rose 3.2% from July to August. That is compared to the 1.2% average increase for the 20 cities tracked by the index. The only city which failed to show price improvements was Cleveland.

That is the fourth consecutive month of improvement for the Twin Cities, as well as the nation. It is also the second month in a row that Minneapolis - Saint Paul came out on top of the index, as prices rose 4.6% from June to July.

In the Twin Cities and nationally, home prices have a long way to go before recovering what they've lost:
The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors reported the August median home price for the metro area was $175,000. Case-Shiller data show August prices in the Twin Cities area are about where they were in August 2001.
Between the end of the selling seasons and continued economic uncertainty, prices could sink significantly in December and January. Whether or not the first time home buyer federal tax credit is extended will also have a significant effect on the market.
David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said the Twin Cities may be on the top of the index for the second month in a row because the area's prices peaked and bottomed earlier than the other areas tracked.

The median price peaked in September 2006 at $229,000 and bottomed in April at $153,000.
The fact that real estate prices in the Twin Cities didn't get as high as in other large cities means that the...

Community Highlights ~ West Saint Paul MN

Contrary to what its name might indicate, West St. Paul is located immediately south of the city of Saint Paul. It gets its name because it is on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The City of West St. Paul was "born" when it chose to split off from the western half of South St. Paul.

Life in West St. Paul offers residents beautiful surroundings with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Some of those recreational options include 14 parks, Dodge Nature Center, Thompson County Park, a municipal golf course, Southview Country Club, an ice arena, and a swimming pool.

Additionally, it offers easy access to many employment options, retail choices, restaurants, theaters, and educational institutions located close by in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the rest of the Greater Twin Cities metro area.  With bountiful residential neighborhoods, and new housing and commercial developments under construction already, West St. Paul is sure to experience continued growth in the future.

Take a look at what West Saint Paul real estate is available now. Or find out what homes Minneapolis, Saint Paul, or other Twin Cities communities have to offer....
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