What is walkable?

IcecreamI walk a lot but I have found that there is no single definition for walkable. Some of my destinations are considered further away than what is considered walkable.

There are a few things that make walking easier. Sidewalks and crosswalks. I can’t see myself living in any kind of urban or suburban setting that doesn’t have sidewalks. I can’t even imagine having to drive for miles to buy eggs or bread. It seems expensive and time-consuming.

Walking is a great way to get exercise and I am told it is good for the brain. Walking instead of driving can also lead to cleaner air. Cars are expensive which is another reason why I enjoy walking.

Walkability is something to consider before buying a house. Can errands be done on foot? Is there a grocery nearby? What about restaurants, drug stores, and ice cream? Are there bike paths and is there mass transit nearby?

How old are the old houses in St. Paul?

Understanding old houses is an important part of my job. I have rarely met an old house that I don’t like. In fact, I think old houses make great homes.

The oldest houses in St. Paul are those that are the closest to downtown. The newest houses are on the Eastern and Western edges of the city. There are newer houses here and there and even some new construction.  Half of all houses in St. Paul were built before 1920. The chart below is a screen print from a City of St. Paul planning report.

The wonderful thing about houses is they can be retrofitted and do not have to become obsolete.  When my house was built in the 1860s it lacked many of the modern amenities it has today like central heating. Today it has central air and smart home technology.

If you don’t like old houses you might want to live in the suburbs or in Minneapolis.


age of houses
Age of housing stock

The house I grew up in was a beautiful craftsman style in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. It was built in 1926 and is the newest house I ever lived in. It had an ancient boiler that burned oil.  I well remember the great oil shortage and taking turns with my dad hauling containers of diesel fuel from the local gas station and using it as fuel for the boiler. That same boiler was later converted to natural gas.

Finding a house Vs. Buying a house

drawing of a house
I drew this myself

People are often confused by the fact that it is fairly easy to find a house for sale without any kind of professional help. Anyone with internet access can find houses that are on the market complete with pictures, floor plans, and room dimensions.

Once a home buyer finds a house that they are interested in what do they do next?

Make an offer?

Tour the home?

Pay to have it inspected?

Hire a title company to close the sale?

There is a process for buying real estate that is somewhat unique in each state. In Minnesota, offers have to be in writing. Most homes that are on the market are offered by a Realtor®. They know what to do and how to make an offer but they also represent the seller. They can work as a facilitator and work with both parties but one agent or one broker can not represent both buyer and seller in a transaction.

Finding a house to buy is just the first step in a process that often takes months. Most buyers will need money to buy a house so it starts with finding money for a downpayment and getting pre-approved for a mortgage by a lender.

The next step is usually looking at some houses and seeing them in person. Occasionally someone will buy a house they saw on the internet without touring it first but that is surprisingly rate.

Then the buyer will need to make an offer. The offer is on a legal contract. The buyer will need to decide how much to offer and whether or not to have an inspection and any other contingencies.

If there is an inspection the buyer has to negotiate any repairs with the seller. None of this is rocket science. It just takes patience, negotiating skills, and experience.

Finding a house for sale and buying it are two completely separate processes. Finding the house can be done on the internet. Buying the house can be done with a combination of email, text messages, phone calls, trips to the house, and in-person meetings. Do not confuse the two processes.

Memorial Day 2024

On Memorial Day we honor the military men and women who died while serving in the US military. The pictures were taken in Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Not to be confused with Veteran’s Day which is in honor of all Veterans. Memorial Day is also a national holiday. If you ask me we could use some more holidays.

Happy Memorial Day?

Rhubarb is a vegtable, and plentiful this year

Rhubarb is a vegetable. It is also a good source of calcium, Potassium, and vitamin C. I grow Rhubarb and have put it in pies, jam, jelly, rhubarb cake, rhubarb sauce, and rhubarb crisp. Apparently, rhubarb is a superfood rich in antioxidants and vitamin K.

Rhubarb can also be used to make salsa. I have found a few recipes. It makes sense because if you add enough pepper it probably tastes like pepper. I might also try roasted rhubarb and rhubarb butter which isn’t butter at all but is made with rhubarb, honey, and orange juice and can be used as a sauce for pork or chicken. I may try it as a barbecue sauce or marinate or glaze the next time I grill chicken.

The best way to find new, exciting, nutritious or tasty recipes that include rhubarb is by asking Google.

Growing rhubarb is easy and can be one of the many joys of homeownership. Even on my inner city postage stamp-sized lot. If you don’t grow rhubarb you can buy it at the St. Paul Farmer’s market.



Pay Day type loans for real estate agents

Coins, moneyIf you are not a real estate agent you might not find this interesting. Sometimes a real estate agent will work with a client for six months or more before getting paid. Agents get paid by their broker only after a successful closing of a home sale.  Sometimes everything falls apart shortly before the closing through no fault of the agent or the agent’s clients . . which is why I am writing this.

Some lenders find out when an agent has a closing and they start sending the agent emails that go something like this: “we specialize in empowering real estate professionals like you by providing commission advances on pending sales or listings.”

Even if you were not born yesterday you know that the interest rates of those “commission advances” are huge. If for some reason the expected commission never arrives it may take the agent awhile to pay back the money advance plus interest.

People who survive as real estate agents have a cushion in the bank before they start. We learn how to manage our money so we can pay our bills in between commission checks. We learn to set money aside from each check for income taxes.  Agents who do not make enough to pay their bills need to either lower their expenses or take on additional work.

Most real estate agents and Realtors® are independant contractors working on a 100% commission basis. It is exactly like being a gig worker.definitely not for everyone and some days I wonder if it is for me but after awhile I just got used to it.