Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

Foreclosure News in the Twin Cities

March was dismal for home sales in the Twin Cities area real estate market - except for when it comes to foreclosures. Sales of homes in foreclosure rose dramatically compared to the same month of 2010.

The number of signed purchase agreements in March was down compared to the year before, mainly because the first time home buyer tax credit was still stimulating the market at the time. There was a big drop-off last month in the number of homebuyers who didn't want a foreclosure or short sale. In fact, sales of foreclosure homes surged about 30%.

Additionally, a large portion of foreclosure home buyers were investors ready with cash. Several years ago, only about 3-7% of home purchases were made with cash. But in February and March of 2011, that number was closer to 25-30%.

"Typically when I purchase homes they're bank-owned foreclosures. They've been neglected in some cases, they were at one point condemned. Many of them need a significant amount of work," said Jennifer Olstad, owner of Tupino, Inc., which stands for "Turning Ugly Properties Into Nice Ones." In the past year, Olstad has purchased five properties with cash and sold three of them to first-time homebuyers.

In the wake of the foreclosure crisis, city officials often prefer that people who buy homes also live in them because the downturn particularly affected rental units. The idea is that owner-occupants have more incentive to keep up the property, but communities do need a variety of housing options. Additionally, "house-flippers" do perform a service to neighborhoods when they take otherwise vacant, blighted properties, beautify them, make repairs and sell them to new owners.

One downside to this picture is that first-time homebuyers can't compete against...

Downsizing Into a Smaller Home

Many people want to live at home when they grow older. Often that first means moving into a smaller, more manageable home.

The "Smart House, Livable Community, Your Future" exhibition explores the housing trend of "aging in place" through a display "house of the future" that accommodates the special needs of the elderly. But what about the people who are advancing in age and ready to make a decision about housing now? Downsizing from a family home when people hit their 50s, 60s or 70s doesn't mean they have to relocate to a Twin Cities apartment, townhouse or condominium. A smaller house with only the rooms and key features one really wants can help people remain independent for years to come.

Here are some points to consider when buying a house for downsizing:

Interior. Make a list of the rooms that are really needed or wanted, from their specific purposes to their dimensions and amenities. Think about what rooms might be able to serve a dual purpose, like having an eat-in kitchen instead of having a dining room or a den that can double as a guest room. It might even help to sketch an ideal floor plan.

Exterior. Is a yard necessary? If it is but landscaping and shoveling are issues, consider a housing association that includes them as part of its available services. If not, perhaps an apartment, town home or a condo is truly a good choice.

Remodeling and Repairs. Moving from one home to another, just to put it under construction in order to make it more suitable for habitation sounds like an unappealing hassle. Any home under consideration should be in good condition and require few major changes. To cut down on repairs, buy a new home or at least one not more than five years old.

Health. Considerations for the future should be taken...
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