Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

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....

Affordable Advantage is here!

The Zero Down Loan is Back for Minnesota First Time Home Buyers!

Tough to save money in this day and age, isn’t it?  Now, try to buy a house, save money and deal with life.  Goodness, we've had many people plan weddings and start new jobs – that must be a saving nightmare.

Save no more … well, at least for the down payment! 

MN Housing has introduced the Affordable Advantage program.  This is a great alternative to the very popular FHA loan.  Currently, FHA is the main loan people are using in conjunction with their first time programs so all they need is 3.5% down.  You can do conventional financing with 3% down, but the monthly mortgage insurance is quite high.

Enough talking about zero down, just give us the facts Ma’am!

• No down payment
• No  monthly mortgage insurance
• Credit score of 680 or higher
• Seller can pay up to 3% of the sale price toward your closing costs
• $83900 is the max household income for 1-4 people
• Single family home, townhome or condo
• You need to be a first time buyer and attend the Homestretch class
• You will need $1000 of your own money into the deal, no gifts for this

Being able to do conventional financing could open quite a few more options in your house hunt.  There are many sellers, banks especially, that don’t allow FHA financing.  They don’t want to do any FHA work orders.  Keep in mind, conventional financing does not guarantee you won’t have work orders, but you have a better chance.

how me the numbers you say!  Look at the difference below in out-of-pocket expenses and payment.


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.


Hastings Seeks to Put Itself on the Map for Businesses

The Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority is hoping a $10,000 marketing study will help them to promote current businesses and try to attract new ones.

Hastings MN, with its population of about 22,000, is split between Dakota and Washington counties. With its small stature, Hastings is ready to battle the perception that it is too small and too far away from Minneapolis and St. Paul. The city wants to emphasize its small-town, family-friendly atmosphere and easy access to big-city benefits.

"Hopefully, this is the Miracle-Gro of economic development," Mayor Paul Hicks said.

The depressed economy and resultant falling tax base is inviting more communities to think like a company by pursuing businesses. From start-ups to established organizations looking to expand or relocate, competition is fierce. Twin Cities municipalities are using type of incentive they can think of to entice.

"We're trying to identify the uniqueness of Hastings," Hicks said. "We want to think bigger."

The $10,000 budget for the work is a bargain; similar-sized communities have spent between $80,000 and $100,000 for similar studies. Officials hope that the relatively small investment will help put Hastings into the minds of potential businesses and residents.

The study and review of the recommendations will coincide with the replacement of the Highway 61 bridge, Hastings primary thoroughfare.

Browse Hastings MN real estate


What $189,900 Buys in Burnsville MN

Check out MLS # 3851445


This single-family home is located at 1520 Earle Way in Burnsville, MN. This modified 2-story home was built in 1994. It has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1,750-square-feet of space.


This home features hardwood flooring, vaulted ceilings, and plenty of natural lighting. It is an excellent value at a tremendous location!


This short sale has been pre-negotiated with the lender and is ready to close! It could be yours for $189,900!

Browse more Burnsville MN Real Estate.


Saint Paul's Merriam Park a Study in Neighborhood Vitality

The Pioneer Press recently published an article about the small-scale retailers that have helped reinvigorate the Merriam Park neighborhood in Saint Paul. Local business owners and entrepreneurs have brought much needed food, retailers, and services to places where they could truly benefit the community.

For decades Marshall Avenue was a bustling streetcar route, a major artery that crossed the Mississippi River to link the Twin Cities. Shops focused on everyday needs, even after buses replaced streetcars.

In 1965, this single block boasted a remarkable assortment: a corner drugstore, a grocery store, a hardware store, a bakery, a Laundromat, a paint store, a barber shop, a cafe, a beauty salon, a variety store, a TV repairman, a restaurant, a dentist's office and, in this strongly Catholic neighborhood, a Catholic gift shop.

By 1980, virtually all were gone. The rise of freeways, malls, suburbs and national chains sapped its vitality. Marshall's traffic plummeted, after Interstate 94 opened nearby in 1968. So a new type of tenant came to the block, one that didn't rely as much on passersby.

There was a prosthetics business, a siding shop, a used furniture outlet. Neighbors still smile about some of the more unusual enterprises — the flag store, the baseball card shop and a shop that sold chairs from old sports stadiums.

But circumstances are always fluid. Older neighborhoods were beginning to be recognized once again for their charm. And local residents dreamt of making a real contribution toward helping the community thrive.

In 1989, Pat and Dick Trotter opened a small bakery called Trotter's Cafe. From the start, they were passionate about local before it was a movement. They insisted on using...

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