Home prices continue to climb

It is hard for me to forget the great recession and the housing market crash. The banks came out alright but those who lost their homes will always feel the impact. Many have recovered and some have purchased homes again.

The good news for home ownership today is that the demand for homes is stronger than it was before the great recession. We are at full employment with an unemployment rate at around 3% for Minnesota and 4% on average for the whole country.

The graph shows median home prices in St. Paul. The numbers come from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. I manually computed the median home sale price in St. Paul for May 2018 and got $219,500. I am not sure why the chart shows a lower number.

During the peak in 2006 before the recession the median home price in St. Paul was $207,073.

Median home prices
Median home sale prices

I’ll have more numbers later in the week.

Riding in St. Paul

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. One of the things I like to do for fun is to go for a bike ride. I also use my bike to run errands and for appointments.

It was hot last weekend so I started out early in the morning and rode along the Mississippi River to downtown and then picked up the Bruce Vento trail behind the ballpark and took that through Swede hollow park, past the old Hamm’s brewery and then onto Lake Phalen. I biked along the lake to Keller lake and then on to Spoon Lake in Maplewood.

I have to say it was a wonderful ride. The regional parkland along the lakes have boardwalks that go right over the wetlands. I plan to go back soon. The trails are not nearly as crowded as the trails along the river between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

lakes and parks
Lakes and parks

A decade since the stack came down

In honor of throwback Thursday I have some pictures of the smokestack demolition. Ten years ago this week the old NSP power plant smokestack on the Mississippi River was taken down. NSP stood for Northern States Power which eventually became Xcel energy.

I lived within sight of that structure for most of my adult life. There was something oddly comforting about seeing those red blinking lights around the tower at night. I still see it sometimes.

The old power plant burned coal. Occasionally wind would hit the coal piles and the coal dust would get into the house. The power plant that replaced it uses natural gas.

smoke stack
NSP Power plant smokestack – May 27, 2008
old NSP plant
NSP Power plant demolition

No you can’t just dig up the hostas


There are certain things that “run with the property” When you sell your house anything that is built-in like the fireplace, furnace, central air, dishwasher and kitchen cabinets are automatically included with the sale. The chandelier in the dining room is also included.

Perennials plants, trees, and bushes also run with the property and are included in the real estate sale.  Homeowners that would like to remove a perennial should dig it up before putting the house on the market or specifically state that the plant is not included in the sale.

I have had clients who decided to keep grandma’s rose bush or a plant that was a gift. Sometimes plants turn up missing from yards especially if the house has been vacant.

The hosta in the picture is one of many that my mother gave me. We divided them before putting her house on the market, leaving plenty for the new owner and no holes.

There are different rules regarding crops. Crops belong to the person who planted them. Crops include tomatoes.

de-cluttering, but what is clutter?

There really isn’t any universal definition of clutter. I define it as “stuff” that distracts potential home buyers. I have a simple philosophy when it comes to staging and that is less is more.

The stuff keeps potential buyers from seeing the beauty of the home. Here are a few items that become clutter once the home is for sale:

  1. Family photos.

    Antique Teapot
  2. Wall calendars.
  3. Refrigerator magnets.
  4. Too many house plants, real or fake.
  5. Too many books
  6. Doilies
  7. Throw-rugs
  8.  Extra dining room chairs
  9. Large ottomans
  10. Large coffee tables
  11. Extra end tables
  12. Large collections of almost anything
  13. decorative pillows and blankets

The important thing to remember is that it is alright to use our homes anyway we see fit but when it comes to selling a home it is all about marketing. Women, in particular, react negatively to “clutter”. Less really is more and when in doubt, leave it out. The general idea is to make the space look larger and a bit more generic.

My list is only partial and has the most common items that I ask homeowners to remove from rooms. Homes that are not decluttered sell too. The list is aimed at the homeowners that want to go that extra mile and put some effort into getting the most money for their home in the least amount of time.

The longer people have lived in a home the harder it is for them to de-clutter. As a service to my clients, I go through their homes before they put them on the market and make suggestions.