Throwback Thursday holiday edition

I thought I would do a kind of wordless Wednesday with pictures of holiday decorations in Rice Park – downtown St. Paul. The nutcrackers and angels vanished a couple of years ago. There are no decorations at all this year and the park is closed for remodeling and has been since February. Last I heard it is slated to open this month but I don’t think the nutcrackers or angels will be back.


Angel -Rice Park

Rice Park – Downtown St. Paul


In Minnesota heating is important

Sometimes when I list a home for sale I take a picture of the heating plant. To me they are beautiful. I don’t know what is in your basement but I have a four-year-old high-efficiency Lennox Elite in mine with one of those fancy thermostats that I can control with my phone.

Heating is so important that we can even search the multiple listing service by heating type. There are all sorts of things we can search on that don’t even show up on the big portal websites.

In our MLS – Multiple Listing Service – or database of homes for sale there are 15 types of heating and we can search for a home based on heating type. The infographic shows each type of heating and the percentage of homes currently listed that have it.  I know here in the city forced air and natural gas is the most common combination. I have had clients who wanted me to search for homes based on the heating type. The most common requests are for hot water or forced air. People also look for houses with or without fireplaces but not as a primary heat source.

Sometimes I find those old gravity furnaces in old houses. I love to photograph them and have quite a collection of pictures.



We don’t really want to move

Antique Teapot

This is the time of year when I start getting emails and phone calls from the adult children of elderly homeowners. Sometimes they ask for an appointment and I make an appointment to meet with them at their parents home.

It doesn’t take me long to figure out that the elder is just going along with the whole thing because the son or daughter talked them into it. Sometimes they think their parents should move but the parents don’t want to.

Where we live is a personal choice and as adults, even the oldest among us have the right to choose.

We even have the right to make bad choices, or choices that our children don’t fully support.

As adults most of us value freedom. Even moving to a senior apartment or downsizing to a condo causes the loss of some freedom.

You can lead your parents to senior housing but generally, you can not and should not make them move.

I don’t have a problem meeting with people who have no interest in selling their house. I learn something new just about everytime I meet with a potential home seller or buyer and I empathize with the sons and daughters who set up the meetings, they probably learn something new too.

According to a study conducted by AARP, 90% of older adults nationwide want to remain living in their homes for as long as possible and we all know that anything is possible if we are up to the challenge.

What does the future hold for real estate in St. Paul?

I have been reading economic and housing news so that I can make some predictions for the 2019 housing market. We all know that nothing stays the same. In St. Paul we have had a shortage of homes for sale for the last six years and prices have gone back up to what they were before the great recession.

It looks like 2019 will be kind of like 2018. It will be another good year for home sellers. If for some reason the number of buyers decreases, which seems unlikely, the number of homes on the market will rise and prices will start to level off.

It is also possible that the number of homes on the market could start to climb if more homeowners decide to sell. There are a lot of homeowners who are 65 or older. Will they put their homes on the market? According to the National Association of Realtors, the “typical home seller in 2018 was 55 years old”

To people who are young 65 seems terribly old but it isn’t too old for homeownership and I don’t see any evidence that that large group of people who are 65 or better are all going to sell at once. National census statistics indicate that at least 75% of those 65 and older live in homes that they own.

People who are over 65 generally don’t move very often and they are not the oldest homeowners. What about the 65 to 100-year-old homeowner? Statisticians like to lump people who are 55 to 100 years old into one huge category and make assumptions about their housing needs.  Big mistake.

Experts have been predicting a housing sell off as baby boomers age or die off. The generation spans 18 years. Taking that into consideration it is possible that there will be an increase in the number of homes for sale as baby boomers hit their mid 70’s? 80’s? 90’s or 100’s?

It seems like there should be plenty of buyers for those houses but if the number of homes on the market goes way up prices will go down.

As for the immediate future, there is still a shortage of homes for sale in St. Paul and plenty of willing buyers. The number of homes on the market will have to go way up before the market starts to shift to more of a buyers market. I don’t think that will happen in 2019 or in 2020 for that matter. Maybe in the late ‘2020s or early 2030s when the oldest baby boomers hit their mid-80’s, there will be a gradual sell-off.

I see no convincing evidence that there is going to be any kind of a housing sell-off as soon as 2020. If there is a sell-off it will be closer to 2030.


The number of homes on the market and for sale in St. Paul, MN


Unexpected fun last Friday

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. We had a fun surprise last Friday. The Smith Ave. High Bridge reopened. It was closed for 15 months for redecking.

I missed the bridge and had to cut through downtown St. Paul to get to the west side. I missed being able to walk and bike over the bridge too.

About an hour after the bridge opened I walked across it. I have to say it sure feels safer for walking and the new railing makes it possible to really enjoy the view. There aren’t any speed limit signs on the bridge which makes sense because few drivers observe the speed limit and it was never enforced.

The railings have been redesigned to make the bridge harder to jump off. It is also a lot more pedestrian friendly with the new barrier. There are a lot of people who walk the bridge.

There will be a grand re-opening on the North side of the bridge, December 2, 2018, at 1:00 PM.  There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a walk and public celebration at the Capital View Cafe.

Smith ave Highbridge – over Mississippi River
view from High Bridge on a November afternoon

Throwback Thursday

This was originally published in early December 2010. It was a simpler time long ago, yet not all that different from today. We got over a foot of snow in that storm. In comparison, the snow we got last night is like a trail snow storm so that we can prepare for the real thing.

I am happy to report that I replaced the shovel that I broke removing snow from last April’s blizzard. I’ll get try it out today and make sure it works and maybe break it in a little.

Snowstorms can be unpredictable and so is life. Be careful out there.

letitsnow wm
Mears Park – Downtown St. Paul

It has been snowing since midnight and it looks like this storm is going to be even bigger than #snowmageddon09 which really was overhyped as a storm.   I recall it dropped about a half foot of snow.  Some are calling this storm #snowmygod but I like #snowpocalypse as the national weather service is still predicting 12 to 16 inches in the Twin Cities.  I am thankful that it is Saturday.

frosts wm
W.A. Frosts on Selby Avenue