Last week I attended an excellent Summit about downtown Saint Paul. We learned about every new project and about projects that have been recently completed. it got me to thinking about how in the early 2000’s rental type apartments were converted into condos and warehouses and other buildings were converted into condos and a whole new neighborhood of mostly condos was built between E. 8th and E. tenth at Temperance and Wacouta streets.
When the housing market crashed in 2008 condos were hard to sell but they did sell and the demand for rental properties increased. New buildings with rentals units have been completed and few more are on the way. We now have luxury apartments at the Penfield and in the pioneer building and apartments where the hole in the ground on 5th street used to be. We have 8000 people living downtown now up from 4000 in 2005. I wonder if in the next ten years we see more condo conversions? Will there be enough housing downtown or too much and will it be the right type of housing?
There is still a lot of vacant retail and office space downtown and many of us miss the downtown Dayton’s store. It would be nice to see more retail and more businesses in some of those vacant skyways.
Available housing and jobs in the area will determine who lives downtown and who does not. Will the demand for apartments go up or down? will some of the apartments eventually be converted to condos? With the green line and the new ballpark and so many other wonderful things going on downtown I can’t help but think that demand for housing will remain strong. I do love our downtown and enjoy living so close. There is always something going on and there is a lot of variety with art and museums, music and sports. I am a fan of downtown St. Paul and always have been.
E 6th street
For Home buyers
Usually we don’t see open houses on homes that have been sold but last weekend there were some open houses at homes that have offers on them that were accepted by the sellers but that are contingent. The most common contingency is the inspection contingency. Sellers can not accept another offer on their home if they have already accepted an inspection contingency offer.
Sometimes an open house has already been scheduled before there was an offer and as I mentioned in a previous blog post open houses are really more for real estate agents than they are for homeowners and are just as profitable for real estate agents even if the home has been sold. Don’t assume that just because a house is open that it is for sale.
St. Paul homeowners who would like to sell their homes quickly should put them on the market right now. There are only 639 homes on the market that do not have offers on them and there are 133 homes on the market in St. Paul including condos that have offers on them.
General Real Estate News
This little infographic is from the National Association of Realtors . . . of which I am a member. Real estate is local and on a local level in St. Paul Minnesota I am seeing a shortage of homes for sale in almost all neighborhoods and price ranges. I am also experiencing situations where lenders have such tight standards that sometimes home sales are not closing as a result. Like the chart says “mortgage accessibility remains tight”.
In other words it isn’t always easy to borrow money to buy a home. Interest rates are oh so low and most of my clients are finding that buying is cheaper than renting.
I’ll go out on a limb and predict that prices will go up more than 4% in St. Paul this year. Home sales will not increase by 7.55 in the St. Paul area unless people start putting them up for sale. There is no truth to the rumor that houses don’t sell in the winter because they do and they will.
National housing outlook
I don’t understand gasoline prices. When they kept going up the prices of everything else went up too. After all gasoline and crude oil are used to produce and to transport everything we consume. Now that the price of gasoline has gone down businesses are no doubt experiencing higher profits because they are not lowering their prices. I am not really complaining because I benefit from lower gas prices and so does my business but the next time those prices go up even a little there are likely to be price increases at the grocery store and every place else.
The down side of lower gasoline prices is that they are likely to go back up making everything else more expensive than it is now. You know I am right even though it sounds silly.
Here is a chart of Twin Cities average gasoline prices over the last three years. The data is on the TwinCitiesGasPrices.com web site.
twin cities average gasoline prices
It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. This weekend is going to be fun with Red Bull Crashed ice in town and the Saint Paul winter carnival events. I stand outside even when there are -20 windchills to watch the parade and I attended both Crashed Ice events in St. Paul.
It is all going to be strange this year because I won’t need to wear the long johns, heavy pants and wind pants or the long underwear, the turtle neck sweater and hoodie under my goose down 3/4 length coat with the balaclava and the bomber hat over it and scarves and gloves and mittens and two pair of socks, leg warmers and my boots that each weigh several pounds but are good to 40 below zero. Yup I can stay outside for hours standing in snow or on ice if needed.
There will be plenty of beer this weekend in and around downtown in tents and other venues with heat and music. It almost makes me wish I liked beer.
If you have never been to any Saint Paul winter carnival events you are missing out. Chances are your neighbors will be there too and this See the complete schedule on the winter carnival website. The Grand day parade starts Saturday January 24th at 2:00 PM at West 7th street and Smith avenue and travels east to Rice Park in downtown St. Paul.
Winter Carnival & crashed Ice collage – click to enlarge
Oh and if your home is on the market but no one is coming to see it on Saturday it is because of the Winter Carnival.
Crashed ice 2015
For Home buyers
I am obsessed with the idea of living in a tiny house. I live in a small one now but not a tiny house. Last week I looked at a 370 square foot condo in downtown St. Paul. For some reason the designer put in a full sized kitchen otherwise the place would be just about perfect. There are a few units on the market right now that are less than 500 square feet.
There isn’t really an agreed upon definition for a tiny house. Some call houses less than 1000 square feet tiny houses. When I think of them I think of homes that are less than 500 square feet and have found many that are less than 300 or even 200 square feet of finished living space.
These dwellings are much less expensive than a more standard size house. The idea is to spend less on housing and have fewer belongings and more time to spend doing something besides working for money and accumulating stuff that requires space. They also cost less to heat and cool and to insure. They require less maintenance and less furniture.
On average people who own tiny houses have money in the bank and many of the have no mortgage.
Today is isn’t at all unusual for first time home buyers to be looking for at least 2000 square feet and the averages for new construction, at least in the burbs is closer to 2400 square feet. They don’t have enough stuff to fill it up so they start acquiring and accumulating.
Some studies have suggested that families who live in tighter quarters get along better because they spend more time together. Yet the most common reason for wanting a bigger house is to have room for children.
Many of the tiny houses are mobile and can be moved to a lot. Of course in the city you mostly can’t do that but in some parts of the country the demand for tiny houses is changing local zoning laws.
I think there is a market for tiny condos in downtown St. Paul. There are spaces that are less than 500 square feet. They are never marketed as tiny condos but they should be. Most have full sized kitchens which really seems like a waste of space. Why not have a galley kitchen? I like the idea of a murphy bed too or a sleeper sofa that can double as a place to sit.
There are numerous websites dedicated to tiny houses and they can be built from kits that can be ordered online but there aren’t any kits for tiny condos. We are not seeing micro apartments yet but they are sure to travel from the coasts and make it inland in the next decade or so and eventually maybe we will be able to put some tiny houses on city lots.