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

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.

I am all for adult beverage diversity

I live in the West 7th neighborhood where there is a lot of beer.  There are breweries and microbreweries and taprooms and a place where you can make your own beer and Summit Brewery, and bad weather brewery and a Beirhause too.

It would be interesting to find out how many gallons of beer are produced in the West 7th neighborhood and how many gallons are consumed in the neighborhood. People who are on their way to and from the Xcel center for Minnesota Wild games help drink the beer.

Next year wine is coming into the neighborhood.  The parking was approved and it doesn’t look like there are any anti-wine rules in the way. The wine bar will be in the Hope firehouse at the corner of Leech and Grand Avenue. I’ll be following the progress closely and plan to attend the grand opening if there is one.

hope firehouse
Hope Firehouse 1872

The firehouse was built in 1872 and was almost demolished to make way for a hotel. The neighborhood fought to save the building. If you look to the left in the photo that is where a 109 room extended stay hotel is being built. To the right in the photo is Grand Avenue and Ramsey street in the distance.


Don’t forget to vote today


Your city needs you! Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. If you don’t know where to go to vote, click here 

Pro tip: with ranked choice voting you can vote for more than one candidate but you don’t have to.  Am I going to explain ranked choice voting? No. MINNPOST has an excellent guide.

Did you know that Saint Paul has had 53 mayors and they have all been men?

History might be smaller than you think

The oldest homes in St. Paul are found just West of Downtown in the West 7th neighborhood. They date back to the 1850’s and 40’s which pre-dates Victorian-era architecture.

In the 1850’s St. Paul homes were small and simple, with floors made of fir or maple. The ceilings were high and there weren’t many closets. People did not have as much stuff or as many clothes to cram into closets in those days. Sometimes bedrooms had hooks on the wall and no closet at all. That doesn’t work anymore. (See what is a bedroom?)

The John Lewis house at 412 Goodrich is a great example of a historic home or an old house depending upon your point of view. It was built in 1856 and is one of the oldest houses in St. Paul. It has about 1000 square feet of living space, two bedrooms, one bath and no garage. The most recent sale was in 2015 for about 30K.

1856 house
John Lewis House – 1856

We lost quite a few of these old/historic houses during the great recession and we almost lost this one. It will cost about 45K more than it can be sold for to fix it up.

It often costs more to fix these houses up than they can be sold for which is why they end up being bulldozed, which is a shame. They really do not build them like they used to and they won’t because builders need to build large houses in order to make a profit.

This house didn’t do anything wrong and really doesn’t deserve the death penalty but it is in disrepair and cannot be inhabited.

Little Bohemia Neighborhood Association and Historic Saint Paul are collaborating to preserve and rehabilitate the property. An event to raise money in support of the project will be held on Sunday, November 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Bad Weather Brewing, located at 414 West 7th St. The event will feature beer specials, a silent auction, raffles and other activities, including information about the Lewis House.

To find out more or make a donation online go to the Historic Saint Paul web site

There is also a Facebook page for the project

To see what the house looks like in color click on the image below.

412 Goodrich