Masks and curfews

Masks and curfews are unrelated but I figured I would help get the word out. The mask rule for St. Paul is a little different than what I have seen for other cities. I have been wearing a mask inside in public places and stores and staying six feet away from others.

We do wear masks when working with clients and generally do everything we can to keep the six-foot distance. We also provide masks for our clients if they do not have one. Many appointments can be done virtually. I won’t wear a mask while on my own property. When I go for a walk or bike-ride I have one handy that I can put on if needed.

St. Paul mask rule

There is a curfew tonight in St.Paul and Minneapolis it starts at 10:00 PM. People have been arrested each night for being out after curfew, often while peacefully protesting. Sixty-six people were arrested in St. Paul last night for curfew violations.

There will be protests today as the community continues to demand justice. The protests are for the most part peaceful and people do what they can to stay six feet apart. There are thousands of peaceful protesters.

There are still a lot of boarded-up businesses. Yesterday was the first-day restaurants with outdoor dining could open since the stay at home orders. Very few did open but I noticed businesses sprucing up their outdoor seating. In some cases without removing the boards from the windows.

Last night was quieter than the last several nights. The only thing that kept me awake is the image of the president holding a bible. He had peaceful protesters shot with rubber bullets and tear gas so that he could stand in front of a church holding a bible upside down for a photo opp.

We should all be extra vigilant right now because the president hates blue states and he controls the biggest guns. There won’t be any healing words from the white house. Any response is likely to involve weapons.

Good morning

We all had quite the weekend and not in a good way. I have had precious little sleep myself as my emotions go from anger to sadness and then to fear for all of us as we battle the crisis of racism and COVID-19.

I saw people helping each other through the weekend and there were many peaceful protests. There was also a lot of misinformation out there and I heard what sounded like a big lie from a local elected leader. It was later retracted but the damage was already done.

There are explanations for burning and looting that exactly fits the political views of the people who are providing the explanations. Most of the protests and the protesters were peaceful.

If you need a small glimmer of hope with all the mayhem this weekend it doesn’t look like anyone died because of it.

Today is a good day to help where we can either by donating money or helping with clean up. There are lists of ways to help in the major newspapers and on the local television station web sites and on Facebook too.

Today is a good day to talk about racism in Minnesota and everywhere. We haven’t heard any kind of an apology from the Minneapolis police and we haven’t started talking about how we are going to change. Silence in compliance but I don’t think quoting MLK is going to be enough.

Don’t forget to wear your mask. Minnesota COVID-19 cases are still rising. Masks are now required in St. Paul and in Minneapolis.

St. Paul will require people to wear face masks inside businesses and city buildings beginning June 1, (today) and may penalize those who don’t comply.

peaceful protest
Peaceful Protest May 30, Minnesota state capital – notice the law enforcement in riot gear near the top of the picture on the steps.
Minnesota State patrol
Minnesota national guard
Peaceful protesters

 

Racism is a public health crisis

Claddagh coffee on West 7th

The Stores are all closed and boarded up. Yes, it is inconvenient.  We go out for provisions once a week or so and were caught off guard. I remind myself that death is even more inconvenient and so is shopping while being black.

He couldn’t breath

Please make it stop.

Just a reminder there is a curfew in St. Paul and Minneapolis starting at 8:00 PM tonight and ending at 6:00 AM tomorrow.

February was a long time ago

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. During the first few weeks of mostly staying at home, I was obsessed with sourdough bread and sourdough starter. It ended up being more work than I bargained for and I “discarded” a lot of flour in the process. I will probably experiment some more with it at some point in the future.

Last week I found a wonderful bread recipe that only requires 3 ingredients. Flour, yeast, and water. It calls for 1/4 teaspoon of yeast. A package of yeast has about 2.25 teaspoons of yeast in it. I am fortunate in that I was able to find a whole jar of yeast a couple of months ago.

The bread takes 24 hours to make but requires very little work and no kneading. It just needs to sit for a long time, kind of like sourdough. I baked it in a dutch oven.

The bread is light and has a wonderful crust. I was surprised by the flavor considering it has no fat, sugar, or salt in it.  Here is the recipe in the New York Times 

I have a bread cookbook that I bought during the first gulf war.  I have enjoyed trying some of the recipes that I had not tried before.

 

Loaf of bread
no-knead 24 hour bread

Sliced bread

 

Working requires PPE

Real estate in Minnesota is considered an essential service. We have been open for business through the stay at home orders.  In the early days of the shutdown last March, I had listings to sell and closings to manage. It was actually pretty busy through April.

In the last week or two things have slowed. Don’t get me wrong home sales are still happening at a rapid pace but with fewer homes on the market, there are fewer listings and that means less work.

My clients who plan on buying or selling have not changed their plans but some are going to wait a while because a pandemic isn’t always the best time to buy or sell. Those who are waiting for home prices to drop will have a long wait.

Some have changed their minds about where they want to live and even how they want to live.

Like anyone who has to go out and work, I have had to think about safety and protection. I am able to easily make my own masks but it is only recently that I was able to acquire enough disposable masks so that I can give them to my clients.

It wasn’t until about a month ago that I was able to get gloves and hand sanitizer. Now I can go out and I have enough protective supplies for myself and for my clients.

Some home buyers are making offers based on pictures rather than touring the house first. We make inspection contingent offers and they tour it with the inspector. There are people who have to sell right now. Some are able to move while others have to stay home.

Sellers can put their house on the market without allowing in-person showings. That is working too.

When buyers tour houses it is one at a time and children are not allowed on private home tours. I ask my clients to wear gloves and masks and I provide them if needed. They are instructed to not touch anything.

We know that transmission of the COVID-19 virus most often happens through contact with someone who has the virus but we also know it can live on surfaces and there is always the chance it could pass from surface to human.

Right now I don’t really see an end in sight. I can not see a day when it is truly safe to have close contact with people. I will go out for necessities and I show houses in person as needed but that is about it.

Technology has made it easy to meet with people from the safety of our homes. I have logged quite a few hours on ZOOM. I have been able to see people’s houses and give them advice on how to get it ready to sell.

For me, work has really changed. I am sure it will evolve some more and I plan to evolve along with it. I learned a lot during the great recession and the crash of the housing market and have been preparing for the next recession ever since.

Sales down prices up

FernHere are the latest national housing numbers from the National Association of Realtors:

Single-family home sales sat at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 3.94 million in April, down 16.9% from 4.74 million in March, and down 15.5% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $288,700 in April, up 7.3% from April 2019.

Minnesota gets lumped in with the Midwest as part of a housing region:

Existing-home sales decreased 12.0% in the Midwest to an annual rate of 1.10 million, down 8.3% from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $229,200, a 9.3% increase from April 2019.

Homes are still selling quickly in the metro area.

Homebuyers are waiting for prices to go down. They are likely to continue to rise this year due to high demand and low supply. Next week I’ll have some numbers for home sales in St. Paul.

April Home Sales by neighborhood  in St. Paul