You might have to live with snakes


In some parts of St. Paul garter snakes are abundant, in other parts, there are few. Even though the snakes are harmless some people can not tolerate even seeing them.

The garter snake is common in Minnesota in both rural and urban areas.  They don’t have teeth and don’t attack people, they eat insects and slither away when people come close.

Snakes do not respect property lines and there isn’t any way to keep them out. As a result, people end up having to move because they can not tolerate the site of snakes.

Garter snakes live in my garden, in the rhubarb.  They like heat and need it to aid the digestion of food.  On a warm fall day, it is not unusual to see them sunning themselves along the foundation of my home or on the walkways.  On occasion, I have seen them come out of hibernation during the winter to catch a few rays.

They prefer to live in the ground and are found in compost heaps and wood piles and are plentiful along the river bluff in St. Paul in the residential areas.  Garter snakes are plentiful in parts of the West 7th neighborhood.  The soil on the bluff is warmer because of all the limestone close to the surface and that attracts garter snakes.

Home shoppers should let their REALTORS know if they are afraid of snakes.  Sellers are not required to disclose the presence of snakes outside the house. They are not required to disclose that there are bats or bees or strange-looking neighbors.

For some home buyers, their ability to enjoy their property is greatly diminished by the presence of these creatures.  Read about ophidiphobia, fear of snakes.

See Sparky the sea lion

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. As a St. Paul native, my memories of Sparky the sea lion go way back. I remember visiting Como Park as a small child with my parents and grandparents and watching the Sparky show. The Sparky I saw likely went to that great ocean in the sky long ago but there have been many Sparkys since.

In honor of Sparky, there are statues painted by various artists scattered here and there throughout St. Paul. I have found a few of them downtown. They are colorful and fun to photograph. The three I have pictured are in front of the Children’s museum the Minnesota Science museum and in Landmark Plaza.

Sparky statues
Sparky statues in downtown St. Paul

Record low unemployment in Minnesota

I almost missed this news but it does matter. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is usually lower than the average for the country. Even so we hit a new record low last month.

The unemployment rate or 2% in May 2022 – a new record low since the metric has been tracked in 1976, according to numbers released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The decline in the unemployment rate over the month was entirely due to people moving from unemployment to employment. The labor force participation rate rose from 68.3% to 68.4%.

  • Gains were in Construction (up 4,100), Manufacturing (up 1,100), Professional & Business Services (up 2,500), and Educational & Health Services (up 3,200).
  • Losses were in Leisure & Hospitality (down 4,300 jobs), Government (down 900 jobs), and Retail Trade (down 800 jobs).

Nationally, the unemployment rate stayed the same at 3.6%, and the labor force participation rate ticked up a tenth of a point to 62.3%.

Now might be a good time to find a new job.

Factory worker

Home buyer enthusiasm may be on the decline

The chart shows the average number of in-person showings for houses that are for sale. The number of showings has gone down slightly. An early sign that buyers may be losing interest in house hunting. However, the demand for housing is great than the supply. Houses that are for sale are getting multiple offers and are selling quickly.

After the early days of the pandemic, the number of showings per house went way up.

The first day of summer 2022

Happy solstice!  Weather forecasts for this summer include words like “sizzling”.The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for above-average temperatures toward the end of June and into the middle of August. Predictions also say that we will have rain.


If you are considering selling your house in the near future now is a great time to take pictures of the exterior and the yard.

We can always count on change

The housing market is always changing but during good times, bad times, and the worst times people buy and sell houses.

Higher interest rates and higher home prices will start to have an impact on the housing market. Demand will likely stay high but houses may stay on the market longer and get fewer offers.  There is only about a month’s supply of houses on the market.

When the pandemic came and we were all told to stay home a buyer got laid off from her job in the hospitality industry and we had to put a house back on the market. It sold three days later for slightly more than the previous buyer had offered.

For a couple of days, I wondered if home values would go down. Values went up and rose during the pandemic as people started moving around.

When there was civil unrest in the Twin Cities home sales came to a screeching halt for a few days but then rebounded to a new high, partly due to low-interest rates.

I sold houses during the great recession and the housing market crash. I sold them when interest rates were over 7%. I sold them during buyer’s markets and seller’s markets.

If there is a recession this year or next houses will be bought and sold, rented, and rehabbed too.

Selling a house is a project that needs to be managed. The best strategies for managing it changes with the market.

I feel fortunate to have had experience with every type of housing market.  The housing market is kind of like Minnesota weather. We can count on change and variety.