12 years of home values in St. Paul

There are still home owners who paid more for there homes than they can sell them for. The good news is after a decade or so of making house payments in most cases these home owners do not still owe more money on their home than they can get for it. It is hard for these home owners to accept the fact that their house has not appreciated in value.

The good new is values are close to what they were during the peak and have been going up since 2012.

average home prices

The date used to make the chart is from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.




Take advantage of back to school sales

silver maple
Maple leaves

School starts in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of sales and it is a great time to buy office supplies, computers, small electronics, bedding and other household items.

Last year I took advantage of the “college” section in one store and scored a pretty nice toaster and a new crockpot. Both were on sale. August seems to be the best time for sales on items that might be used in a dorm room.

Next month I’ll be buying a new computer for my business. I have an excellent desktop computer and a tablet but miss having a laptop computer.

September is the month for buying office supplies. My business is fairly paperless but I do use some office supplies and this is the time of year that I stock up for the whole year. I’ll buy paper, pens, notebooks, folders and art supplies.

My own offspring are beyond school age . . which means I have more money that I can use to buy school supplies to be donated to children who need them.

Have you heard?

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. There is going to be a total eclipse of the sun on Monday. I have a screen print from a map I found on the internet.

Monday’s eclipse is billed as a once in a life time event. The last total eclipse viewable in the U.S. was in 1979, and there will be another on April 8th 2024.

I might be alive to see the next one. I  remember the last one. I got to watch it through a hole in a cardboard box. . . or maybe that wasn’t the last one but it was another one, but this will be the only one where there will be a 83.04% view of a 100% eclipse right from home, assuming it isn’t cloudy. Nebraska would be a great place to be on Monday.

Right now Monday’s forecast calls for clouds.  Oh well we can watch it being live streamed on twitter and probably a bunch of other places which will be a pleasant diversion from what we have been watching and reading lately.  Enjoy!

Map of eclipse

Having less is hard work

Back in 2012 I stated the process of getting rid of some of our excess stuff. I made some progress but then through a series of events ended up with all of my parents stuff and somewhere a niece came to live with us for a few years.

Five years later I am again making progress. Buying things is fairly easy getting rid of things is a lot harder. I have given items away and have had them recycled. I make regular donations to the thrift shop down the street. Occasionally we leave items by the curb and wait for them to disappear.

The next generation mostly isn’t interested in my stuff. I feel like it is my responsibility to keep it out of the landfill.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and client who is in the process of getting ready to move. They are down sizing and will need less in their new home. She started the downsizing process three years ago and is happy that she did. She now has fewer items to move and fewer to get rid of.

Most of us accumulated stuff over a period of decades. The best way to get rid of the excess is to plan ahead and pare it down and start getting rid of anything that isn’t needed or that you don’t love.

With my parents stuff I did not have a lot of time to make decisions. Their home had to be emptied and there was a hard deadline and they couldn’t take it all with them.

This year far more has left my home than has come into my home. In fact I try to move two things out for everything I bring in.

If you are over 55 and have not moved for a few decades now is the time to start getting rid of any excess stuff. It is alright to call your children and ask them to move their stuff out of your basement.

pop corn popper
a gift from the last century – never used

At this point I could also post pictures of empty cabinets, shelves and drawers too.

Sewers and septic systems

To some people the job of a real estate broker may look glamorous and it does look that way on those T.V. shows with the real estate sharks, and home flippers and hunters.

Some days the job is mostly about waste, sewers and septic systems. The Saint Paul sewer system is interesting with all of it’s tunnels. In the oldest parts of the city there is a sandrock tunnel system.

Having the sewer line scoped before buying a home is a good idea. Sometimes sewer lines are broken and sometimes they need to be replaces which is expensive. It usually costs less the $200 dollars to get some pictures of the inside of a sewer line.

The most common problem reason for a blocked sewer line is that is is filled with tree roots and that is a fairly easy and inexpensive problem to fix.

The city has a program that allows home owners to borrow money for sewer repairs. Go to StPaul.gov and search “sewer”. I can not put a link on this site because the city moves pages on a regular basis and I am left with broken links. The city has some useful advice about sewer line maintenance and who to hire to replace the line.

For your enjoyment here is a diagram of the sewer system in my neighborhood.  Home owners are responsible for the sewer line from their house to the street.



As for septic systems they add a whole new level of complexity to buying and selling real estate. They need to be tested and they are expensive to replace. They are regulated by the city, county and state. Septic systems are not very common in St. Paul. They are the most common at the edge of the city and often there is sewer and water in the street but the house is not hooked up to it.

Ten years ago during the buyers market

This is from a blog post I wrote here back in August of 2007. It was the beginning if a home buyers market that would last a few years. It was just before the housing market crashed and before we knew there would be a great recession.

There are some things about that time that I don’t think we should never forget. One of them is that home prices can go down. We have proof.  Many people are one job or a few paychecks away from financial calamity. Many of us were hurt by the great recession. For some the recession and housing market crash changed their lives forever.

Here is what I wrote on August 22, 2007:

“Sellers says:  I want my home sold as quickly as possible.

Buyers say: We are in no hurry.

Seller says:  I need $$$$$$ for my home.

Buyers say:  The homes are all over priced.

Seller says:  My home has been on the market for awhile now, people are looking at it, why isn’t any one buying it?

Buyers say:  Maybe we should wait until spring.  We just don’t know what to do.”

I think we could all feel the market shift back in August of 07 but we had no idea about what was to come. It is probably always a good time to pay down debt and save up a little money.