True facts . .

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I like to use the phrase “true facts” because sometimes I can get younger members of the family to roll their eyes. Last week I photographed “hi” and “lex” marching in the winter carnival parade. It seems that some parade goers and some members of my own household do not know what Hi-lex is. Hi-lex is/was is a bleach solution kind of like clorox made right here in St. Paul Minnesota used to sterilize and clean stuff.

As near as I can figure the company was founded in the mid 1940’s. I tried to find out if I could still buy Hi-lex but every time I looked for it I found Clorox. The Hi-Lex gnomes live at Westcott Station in St. Paul and appear in our Winter Carnival parades every year. They seem to be blind and are always accompanied by people who can see. . . true fact!

Hi-Lex Gnomes
The Hi-Lex Gnomes on West 7th street – 2015 Saint Paul Winter carnival grand day parade


Don’t forget to go to the Vulcan Victory Torch light parade on Saturday. It Starts at 5:30 PM on 5th and Washington and travels to Rice Park and circles the park. After the parade there will be an epic battle between King Boreas and Vulcanus rex  on the steps of the St. Paul public Library and even though I know who will win I don’t want to spoil the plot.

Residence in a residential area

schmidt brewery
Schmidt brewery

It is so nice to see the renovated  Schmidt Brewery all lit up at night. There are people walking, biking and driving to and from the buildings. The brewery was vacant for a decade and it was lie a black hole at night. It is nice to see people in the area again and I like seeing the sign all lit up like it was waaaaay back when we first moved into the area and it is wonderful to see these old buildings put to good use again.

The cycle of downtown

Last week I attended an excellent Summit about downtown Saint Paul. We learned about every new project and about projects that have been recently completed. it got me to thinking about how in the early 2000’s rental type apartments were converted into condos and warehouses and other buildings were converted into condos and a whole new neighborhood of mostly condos was built between E. 8th and E. tenth at Temperance and Wacouta streets.

When the housing market crashed in 2008 condos were hard to sell but they did sell and the demand for rental properties increased. New buildings with rentals units  have been completed and few more are on the way. We now have luxury apartments at the Penfield and in the pioneer building and apartments where the hole in the ground on 5th street used to be. We have 8000 people living downtown now up from 4000 in 2005. I wonder if in the next ten years we see more condo conversions? Will there be enough housing downtown or too much and will it be the right type of housing?

There is still a lot of vacant retail and office space downtown and many of us miss the downtown Dayton’s store. It would be nice to see more retail and more businesses in some of those vacant skyways.

Available housing and jobs in the area will determine who lives downtown and who does not. Will the demand for apartments go up or down? will some of the apartments eventually be converted to condos?  With the green line and the new ballpark and so many other wonderful things going on downtown I can’t help but think that demand for housing will remain strong. I do love our downtown and enjoy living so close. There is always something going on and there is a lot of variety with art and museums, music and sports. I am a fan of downtown St. Paul and always have been.


6th street
E 6th street 

Why an open house if the home is sold?

open_houseUsually we don’t see open houses on homes that have been sold but last weekend there were some open houses at homes that have offers on them that were accepted by the sellers but that are contingent. The most common contingency is the inspection contingency. Sellers can not accept another offer on their home if they have already accepted an inspection contingency offer.

Sometimes an open house has already been scheduled before there was an offer and as I mentioned in a previous blog post open houses are really more for real estate agents than they are for homeowners and are just as profitable for real estate agents even if the home has been sold.  Don’t assume that just because a house is open that it is for sale.

St. Paul homeowners who would like to sell their homes quickly should put them on the market right now. There are only 639 homes on the market that do not have offers on them and there are 133 homes on the market in St. Paul including condos that have offers on them.

National housing outlook

This little infographic is from the National Association of Realtors . . . of which I am a member. Real estate is local and on a local level in St. Paul Minnesota I am seeing a shortage of homes for sale in almost all neighborhoods and price ranges. I am also experiencing situations where lenders have such tight standards that sometimes home sales are not closing as a result. Like the chart says “mortgage accessibility remains tight”.

In other words it isn’t always easy to borrow money to buy a home. Interest rates are oh so low and most of my clients are finding that buying is cheaper than renting.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that prices will go up more than 4% in St. Paul this year. 🙂 Home sales will not increase by 7.55 in the St. Paul area unless people start putting them up for sale. There is no truth to the rumor that houses don’t sell in the winter because they do and they will.

2015 housing predictions
National housing outlook

Questions about Gasoline prices

I don’t understand gasoline prices. When they kept going up the prices of everything else went up too. After all gasoline and crude oil are used to produce and to transport everything we consume. Now that the price of gasoline has gone down businesses are no doubt experiencing higher profits because they are not lowering their prices. I am not really complaining because I benefit from lower gas prices and so does my business but the next time those prices go up even a little there are likely to be price increases at the grocery store and every place else.

The down side of lower gasoline prices is that they are likely to go back up making everything else more expensive than it is now. You know I am right even though it sounds silly.

Here is a chart of Twin Cities average gasoline prices over the last three years. The data is on the web site.

chart of gas prices
twin cities average gasoline prices