Remember when new construction was a thing?

If you go way back to the time before the housing market crash, like before 2007 you could find new construction homes for sale. I know I sold a few back in the day.

There are currently 33 new construction type properties for sale in Ramsey County and 5 in St. Paul. Average new construction prices are in the $400K range with 2500 square feet of finished living space.

Builders say they can’t make a profit on small affordable houses.  No, it isn’t your imagination. Housing is getting more and more expensive and there are more people living on the streets and in tent camps too.

The average rent in St. Paul is close to $1200 a month. Rents are lower outside of the city and in the nearby suburbs.

Wages have not kept up with housing costs.

Back porch and side entrance

How does the shut down affect us?

I would like to see the Federal Government re-open. I don’t understand why it is closed. I thought in a democracy there would be more checks and balances and that there were protections against tyranny. I was wrong.

Here is an infographic made by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that shows the effects of the shutdown on real estate sales.

Infor graphic

The economic impact of real estate

“The Economic Impact of Minnesota’s real estate industry equals $52,652,000.00 – or 15% of the gross state product.  Every real estate transaction has a $77,288 local economic impact when you consider all of the inputs.

NAR has research on every state and as predicted – real estate is a strong backbone to the US and MN economy.” – Chris Galler Minnesota REALTORS

Doesn’t that just make you want to go out and buy a house? 🙂

Painting and accounting and 2019

I’ll be working today, rounding up some numbers so that we can get ready for tax season and tieing up some loose ends to close out 2018.

Tomorrow is the day I’ll take down Christmas decorations and I have a little project I started over the weekend touching up some paint in the dining room and in a hallway. There is something about fresh paint.

I want to make some predictions for the real estate market in 2019.

Most experts are saying that in 2019 there will be a market shift and that the shift will favor buyers. I am trying to figure out how that is going to happen. I don’t see any evidence that the number of houses on the market is going to raise enough or that demand is going to slow enough to shift the market.

I do think that the recent stock market drop and DOW plunge freaked everyone out. The real estate market is like the rest of the economy in that it is cyclical. The market hasn’t been healthy for a decade. First, it favored buyers and home prices dropped which hurt a lot of homeowners and then for a year or two it was a bit more balanced.

During the last several years we have seen a strong seller’s market with rising prices and now rising interest rates. I am not sure why we are not calling it a housing crisis. Why are there so many people living on the street and in tent camps and homeless shelters when the economy is so strong and unemployment so low? Could part of the problem be lack of affordable housing? Could tiny houses and micro apartments be part of the solution?

Some of what we are seeing in housing boils down to demographics. Older people do not move in great numbers. Younger people who should be buying their first home are paying down college debt. There is little new construction of single-family homes and new construction is unaffordable for most.

2019 should prove to be an interesting year. I think home prices will go up but not by much. Buyers will have a hard time finding affordable homes.

People who have to sell will sell but I don’t see any evidence that more people are going to put their homes on the market. Add higher interest rates to the mix and 2019 probably won’t be a remarkable year for home sales.

Getting rid of the holidays


We all generate a lot of extra waste during the holidays what with gift wrap, packaging and all those cardboard boxes. This year my family cut some of the waste by reusing gift bags from last year and by trying to reduce holiday waste.

Some holiday items can be recycled. Did you know that the Ramsey county hazardous waste collection site will take burned out strings of lights? I managed to unload a few of those last year. You can also take your Christmas tree to one of 4 Ramsey county collection sites and drop it off for free.

If you have a fake tree that you don’t want anymore it can be donated to your local thrift shop. I donate my stuff to St. Vincent De Paul on West 7th street. They accept holiday decorations all year long, including strings of lights and tree stands and ornaments.

I ended up with a gift that just isn’t going to work out. I am going to regift it to someone I know who will appreciate it. I think that is alright because it will be appreciated and used.

In my household, we have a tradition of taking down most of the holiday decorations on January 1st to kind of ring in the new year. We leave lights up until the end of January because January can be a cold gloomy month.




State income taxes for 2018

It was just a year ago that people were lined up to “pre-pay” property taxes so that the property taxes could be a federal tax deduction. I am not sure how that all worked out.

Last December Federal tax rules were changed. The standard deduction went way up and as a result, fewer taxpayers will come out ahead by itemizing.

This year Minnesota taxpayers will get to itemize on their state tax return even if they do not itemize on their federal return. [position]

“For taxable year 2018, taxpayers may either claim the standard deduction or elect to itemize deductions on their 2018 Minnesota income tax return, regardless of the election made on their 2018 federal income tax return.4 The changes made to the standard and itemized deductions at the federal level in the TCJA cannot be addressed through various additions and subtractions as in years past, thereby creating a unique and unprecedented position for administration of Minnesota tax law.”

In the past state income tax was based on the income shown on our federal income tax return. Taxes will be more complicated for 2018 but some tax deductions will be preserved for wealthier Minnesotans.

I am not a wealthy Minnesotan and will not save money by itemizing, but I will be able to take advantage of Federal tax deductions for business owners.