Proposed Property tax statements

Our proposed property tax statement came in the mail on Friday. This year the proposed increase is 16.1%! OUCH! every taxing authority is asking for more money.

The city of Saint Paul has been getting extra payments from us each year for “street maintenance”.  Now that fee will be collected with property taxes. That makes the taxes a bit more transparent but when added to all of the other tax increases the bill gets pretty high.

Home values went up. The valuations statements come out in March and homeowners have a chance to contest them. Good luck with that. On average St. Paul home values went up by almost 6% and in some neighborhoods property values went up by almost twice that much.

If you have not gotten your property tax statement yet, take a few deep breaths before you open the envelope. Perhaps an adult beverage is in order. If you property taxes are rolled into your mortgage with the payments spread out of twelve months you may notice the increase as much.

If you want to know more about Ramsey County and the budget, read about it on the property tax website.

As for federal taxes, it is complicated which is what will make it easy for our leaders to proclaim “huge tax cut” while raising our taxes.

So far our federal tax system has a done a great job rewarding the wealthy.

Rice Park
Rice Park – city park, downtown St. Paul

Friday is for unfriending

Today is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Today is national unfriend day, which is aimed at Facebook friends, not real friends. I am going to start with the Facebook friends I don’t know and then move on to the ones I don’t like.

I don’t need to unfriend oversharers because I stopped reading their posts long ago. I have “unfollowed” them so I don’t see their posts.

Maybe I’ll unfriend the people who post the “memes” and the “how to be happy” posts. They don’t add any value and what they are posting isn’t even original.

I have dabbled in memes myself. I use my photographs and put words on them. I’ll admit they are different and kind of dark.

Lately, I have been a rebel and a non-conformist. I have taken Facebook off of my phone last January. It can not be totally taken off. It can only be deactivated. They want you to use Facebook and give it access to your location. I decided not to play along. It makes me feel like a rebel and a free thinker.

Ultimately I think I would be better off if I kept most of the friends and got rid of Facebook. It seems like Facebook has too much power these days. The good news is that we don’t have to use Facebook.

fall sunrise

A day for giving back to the community

Today is “give to the MAX” day.  A Minnesota thing and an opportunity to give to your favorite charity. Find matching gifts and your favorite charity on the Give to the MAX web site. 

They make it super easy to give. My favorite charities are in my own community. It doesn’t matter if you can only give a few dollars, every little bit helps and it can help even more today because there are matching gifts available.

cosmos flowers
Cosmos from my garden

How is your home heated?

If you live in Minnesota you learn to appreciate central heating. The first thing I look at when I go into the basement of a home is the heating plant. They are not always in the basement. Sometimes furnaces are hidden in closets or attics.

There are home buyers who strongly prefer certain types of heating. Back in the day when there were a lot of homes on the market buyers would even ask me to make heating type part of the search criteria.

Because heating is so interesting. The NorthstarMLS created this infographic to show heating types and how popular they are. Which heating type is the best? That depends upon who you talk to. Personally, I would love to have in-floor heating.

Types of heating in Minnesota homes

When highs become new lows

I love numbers and data. The chart below shows the number of homes on the market in St. Paul. The high for 2017 is just a tad higher than the low was for 2016. This isn’t a picture of a healthy housing market. We are in a strong seller’s market. There isn’t much new construction.

Apartment vacancy rates remain low and rents are high. More housing would alleviate the shortage. Maybe some tiny houses and micro apartments to add to our current mix. I think this would be a great time to get creative and maybe even tweak some building codes and zoning rules.

Looser underwriting standards on condo/townhouse mortgages would also help. There are not enough condos/townhouses where FHA financing is accepted.

graph using data in the northstarMLS

Unless something changes we can expect more of the same in 2018.

The brown pre-winter season

fall color
Tree by the river

The color is mostly gone from the trees and there isn’t any snow on the ground. The winter cold is here. There should be a name for this season.

The inventory of homes on the market in St. Paul has dropped by about a 100 in the last two weeks. We have about 575 homes on the market and more than 100 of them have offers on them.

Often people want to wait until after the holidays or after the first of the year to sell. Generally, the fewest homes are on the market in December.

People who are interested in buying a home should be ready to pounce during this 5th season when a suitable home comes on the market.