More campgrounds and more tents

I read a news story about how people have purchased a lot of outdoor camping equipment this year. Apparently, kayaks are sold out too. The theory is that people are not traveling as much because of the pandemic and are camping and enjoying outdoor activities instead.

My theory is that some tents are being used as housing. As I ride my bike I notice that the urban campgrounds are growing for a few years.

This year none of the water has been turned on. There are no functioning water fountains or water features. When I read about how well the housing market and stock markets are doing I almost immediately think of the campers. Should I be bringing them news about the stock market?

Campsite in St. Paul
homeless in St.. Paul
Homeless camp

Slow down in rent increases

Usually, rents go up in the spring but in the Twin Cities and all over the country they went down slightly in the spring of 2020. The median sale price of rental properties continues to rise.

St. Paul rental property sales prices

The numbers came from the NorthstarMLS. The data is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. The units sold are smaller rental properties as opposed to large multi-unit apartment buildings.


Racism in Ramsey County

My childhood home

Racism is everywhere it is baked into our culture and our communities. As racism pertains to housing it goes way back.

I have been helping with the “Mapping Prejudice” project and reading deeds for properties in Ramsey County. Some of them have deed restrictions that prevent people of color from purchasing the property.  The deeds are going to be mapped . . hence the name “mapping prejudice”

For me looking at the deeds has been interesting because I have lived in St. Paul for a long time and my Mother’s family is from St. Paul too. I recognize the family names of people I went to school with.

Here is a restrictive covenant I found on a deed yesterday:

Said property shall not be sold or rented to or used by any person except a person or persons of the White Caucasian Race, but persons or other races may occupy the premises when employed as servants by the owners.

There are entire developments in Ramsey County with racially restrictive covenants. I have found the covenants in 10 subdivisions in White Bear Lake, St. Paul, and Vadnais Heights.

Racial covenants have hurt people of color and their families. They can no longer be enforced but they are part of the reason why we have neighborhoods where mostly white people live.

Homeownership isn’t just about having a place to live it is also a way to build wealth.

To mask or not to mask

I have not weighed in publicly on the whole mask issue. I started making masks at home before it was all the rage and when the only people who needed them were health care workers.

Now I have a whole wardrobe of masks and make them for my family and my neighbors. I also have disposable masks.

I wear a mask when I am indoors in public. In St. Paul masks are required but there are a lot of people who do not wear them.

I am required to wear a mask when I work in person with clients and when I tour homes for sale. My clients are also required to wear masks and they do.

When I am outside walking or biking I have a mask with me just in case. When I am sure I won’t need one I wear a bandana around my neck that can be used as a face covering if I need one.

It seems like such a small thing to do if it could help stop the spread of COVID-19. I am well aware of the fact that the mask doesn’t protect me but it may protect others. Wearing a mask wasn’t my idea it is the medical experts who are recommending it. I just want to do my part however small.

In Minnesota, I am required to wear a seatbelt in the car. I can get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. There are other safety rules I am required to follow like speed limits and stop signs.

For those of us who live in the city, there are a lot of rules. There are even rules against making noise.

how to wear a mask
The definitive mask guide

We voted yesterday

There is a primary election on August 11th and a national election on November 3rd. On Monday my husband and I went down


to 90 Plato Blvd. in St. Paul and voted in the primary and requested an absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 election. We vote in every election and always have.

I would love to vote in person in the November election but am concerned about the growing COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S.

If you are a Minnesota voter go to the MN Secretary of State web site to learn more about how and where to vote.

This election is especially important. I guess I felt the same way about the last one too. Please vote!

Vote in every election. The local elections are important too. Schools and police departments are funded at the local level.


It is getting harder to predict the future

In June :

New data from the U.S. Census shows that:

  • 12% of mortgage holder households did not make their mortgage payment on time; 41% of them deferred their payment,
  • Among the owners who paid on time last month’s payment, 44% of them experienced a loss of employment income,
  • 31% of those who did not pay on time used the stimulus package but it was not enough to cover the cost,
  • 63% of the owners have high confidence in their ability to make next month’s payment while 21% have moderate confidence. However, the level of confidence is lower for Hispanics and African Americans. [source National Association of Realtors]

Here is a chart that shows national trends in how many home tours of homes for sale are happening. Predictably there was a dip in activity during the lockdown and then a jump as buyers and sellers started to come out of quarantine.

I recently read that a “v” shaped recovery has happened in the housing market and I disagree. There was a kind of pause in the housing market, a very short one, and then activity kind of sped up to make up for it.

The long term implications of this recession and pandemic on the housing market are currently unknown. The double-digit unemployment rates we are currently seeing will have an impact on the housing market.

showingtime graph
graph of home tours

Showingtime is the software most local real estate companies use to schedule tours of homes for sale.

The REALTOR associations tend to give us a lot of positive information. I think our whole system of capitalism depends upon people being optimistic so that they will keep working.

No one really knows what the long term impact of halting commerce for a few months will be or how the pandemic will change our economy.

In the short term people are buying houses like crazy while at the same time there are a lot of homeowners are hanging on and the number of homes on the market is down about 30% nationwide and in the metro area too.