Not a lot of housing to absorb

I thought I would start the week strong with some numbers. The graph below shows absorption rates for single-family homes including condos and townhouses in the Twin Cities Metro area.

Absorption rates calculate how long it would take for all the homes on the market to be sold or absorbed. We clearly have a shortage of homes for sale. We call this a seller’s market. I have heard some rumors that the market is changing but I have not seen any data about our local market that suggests a change or shift.

Real estate is local. Some like to call it “hyper-local” but I am not even sure what the hyper part means.

graph - absorption rates
Absorption rates twin cities real estate – data from the NorthstarMLS 

Yes you can

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Have you ever wondered how many tall antique oak caned dining room chairs you could fit in your compact car?

If you guessed 4 your guess is correct.

chars in car
chairs in Ford Focus

For all of my life, there have been people in my life who like to say “there isn’t enough room” of “it will never fit” or “the trunk is too small”. I rarely take the comments seriously.

The chairs are a gift to my son who has a dining room table but no chairs. He hasn’t seen them yet so don’t say anything.

A look at today’s home buyers

From the National Association of Realtors home buyer profile for 2018. I don’t have a profile for the St. Paul home buyers. They seem to range in age from the late twenties to mid 70’s and beyond. They all have jobs or they have a lot of cash from the sale of a home or a pension or some combination of the two.


NAR 2018 homebuyer profile

A little Swedish death cleaning

I fell strongly about this and have written about it before. I cleaned out my parent’s house when they needed to move and I have helped clients who have inherited property figure out what to do with their deceased loved one’s stuff.

Let’s face it we all have a lot of stuff, too much stuff. If we have adult children they probably don’t want our stuff and some even worry that they will have to deal with it.

In the last few years, I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff because I feel responsible for my own stuff and I don’t want my family to have to deal with it. I started with items being stored in my basement and worked my way up.

It isn’t enough to just get rid of stuff. I have been very careful about what I buy because I want less not more. Having less seems like a constant battle.

For me throwing usable household items and clothing away seems wrong. I have been getting rid of excess stuff by donating it, selling it or giving it to friends and family. I have been able to recycle a few things and I “upcycled” furniture so that it can be re-used.

I have gained a lot of space in my basement, closet, and kitchen cabinets. I have an empty closet and several empty drawers.

Having too much stuff can be an obstacle for those who want to downsize. I always recommend starting the process a year before a move if possible. People tend to make better decisions if they have some time to plan.

A friend of mine who lived in the same house for 30 years took three years to downsize before getting the house ready to sell. I have lived in the same house for 29.5 years. 🙂

If you haven’t heard of Sweedish death cleaning, do a google search. There are several books and articles on the subject.

How many bedrooms does a loft have?

A Rossmor Loft – 500 North Robert street. Formerly a shoe factory

The loft is a common housing style in downtown St. Paul but they seem to confuse our MLS. Most lofts have no bedrooms. Most home buyers search for homes based partly on the number of beds and baths they have.

Lofts are flexible spaces and the bedroom is where ever you put the bed. If you put the bed by the window then the bedroom has an egress window.

The bedroom or bedrooms can be anywhere in the loft. Some people build platforms so that they have a kind of the second story for their bed and others build separate rooms and some buy dividers or storage units or curtains.

For some, the flexibility is too much. They reject the idea of living in a space that doesn’t have a defined sleeping space. It does take some imagination and creativity.

Artists lofts are lofts that are used as a space to live and work and usually have good lighting.

Many of the buildings in downtown St. Paul that have lofts in them were originally warehouses or factories. They have huge windows and exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Floors are sealed concrete. Often ductwork is exposed and some of the units have original hardware left over from when they were industrial buildings.

Decorating and living in a loft is about having less stuff and about using creative storage solutions. For example, a bookcase can serve as a room and a place for books. Hooks and shelves can take advantage of high ceilings and create verticle storage.

If you want to live in a loft consider the downtown St. Paul neighborhood. Prices range from just 100K to over a million.

The smallest neighborhood

Downtown St. Paul is small but the residential population has grown to about 8050 people. I like to think of it as the other neighborhood because it is so different. The housing is different too because most of it is condominiums.

In recent years more apartments have been added to the mix. In the last couple of years, more bars and restaurants have opened in the area. There are also fewer businesses downtown and a lot of vacant offices and retail space.

Here is a look at downtown condo prices over the last 5 years. Prices have gone up. No surprise.

downtown st. paul condo prices
downtown St. Paul condo prices

The data in the chart above comes from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.