The real estate news in the Twin Cities is a mixed bag.
The final month of the home buyer tax credits and fewer foreclosure homes available for purchase raised home prices in April. The median sales price of a home sold in the Twin Cities metro area rose to $169,800. That is an 11% increase from April 2009. It was the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. It was also the fourth straight month of month-over-month increases, with prices up more than 8% since January.
This good news for home sellers may be short lived, though.
The $8,000 federal first time home buyer tax credit has expired, and so apparently has demand for resitential real estate. Pending home sales in the Twin Cities for the week ending May 15 were one-third lower they were for the same week last year. Buyers who would have purchased a home in May or June decided to speed up the process and take advantage of the tax credit that expired April 30. Less demand may cause a decrease in Twin Cities real estate prices.
Additionally, officials are closely watching the slowly rising foreclosure rates in Minnesota. More foreclosure homes and short-sales could further depress real estate prices for traditional home sales in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Which is good news for home buyers. There's even more good news for home buyers, though. Interest rates for mortgages are incredibly low. The average rate on a 30-year loan was at 4.87% on Monday.
There's a flip-side to that,...
The city of St. Paul has received $550,000 to offer no-interest loans of up to $6,500 for homeowners who make energy-saving improvements to their properties.
The money comes out of federal stimulus funds. The program will include rebates for landlords if they replace outdated refrigerators in their rental units with new Energy Star refrigerators.
Anne Hunt, energy policy director for the city of St. Paul, says homeowners can use the no-interest loans for things like furnace replacement, insulation and air sealing.
"We are gearing towards people that are modest-income people that are above, say, the [federal] weatherization programs -- they are not eligible to get free weatherization -- for their homes so they need something that's attractive for them to make the investments in their homes," Hunt said. "But there is no income cap on it."
Individuals with homes in Saint Paul will be randomly selected. Applications must be postmarked by June 11.
According to Finance & Commerce, the city of St. Paul is celebrating “Building Safety Month” during May. Initiated by the International Code Council Foundation,Building Safety Month is part of a national effort to protect lives and property. It aims to raise awareness of issues like fire prevention, controlling mold, being safe around backyard pools and grills, and regularly replacing HVAC filters.
“The important work we do is often overlooked until a catastrophic tragedy occurs,” said Bob Kessler, director of the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections. “When building safety and fire-prevention experts inspect buildings during and after construction, we help to ensure that the places where you live, learn, work, worship and play are safe.”
This is the first year that building safety has been highlighted for a full month. Building Safety Week was first celebrated in 1980. During 2009, more than 2,600 individuals in 17 countries pledged their support for the 2009 Building Safety Week. Additionally, the President of the United States, governors, mayors and county officials from 31 states issued Proclamations, Official statements and Letters of Recognition in support of 2009 Building Safety Week.
Some different safety issues are being emphasized for each week in May. Week one was Energy & Green Building, week two is Disaster Safety & Mitigation, Week three will be Fire Awareness & Safety, and week four will be ...
The city of Shoreview's Economic Development Authority will launch a new home improvement program on Monday that they hope will motivate homeowners to do needed updating and lure new residents who think they can't afford a home in the city.
Shoreview's Home Energy Improvement Loan Program will offer loans from $2,000 to $20,000 to qualifying homeowners seeking to do greener replacements for roofs, heating and cooling systems, insulation, water heaters, windows and doors. The loans are available at 2 points above the prime rate, comparable to the market rate for a second mortgage, and must be repaid within 10 years or upon the sale of the home. Residents who stay in their homes for at least 10 years can have all of the interest reimbursed.
The program comes with an income limit - 120 percent of the city's median income, which translates to $119,776 for a family of four. Also, only detached single-family homes with a current market value of $314,640 or less qualify. Still, more than half of the city's residents should qualify, and so should about 70% of Shoreview MN properties.
"What we are trying to do is invite young families into Shoreview," said Mayor Sandy Martin, "young families looking for a home, but who can't quite manage a second loan to do these things, or are maxed out already on the home loan. This is an opportunity for them."
Shoreview's Home Energy Improvement Loan Program also comes in response to stories about Shoreview residents who needed to sell their homes but were unable to get financing to make vital improvements. Focusing on basic improvements to make the city's housing stock more efficient and stable makes sense to city leaders.
Funding for the program comes from previously dedicated property tax funds. As residents repay the loans, the pot will be...