Best idea ever! No mow May.

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. It is May and this year there is that “no-mow May” thing going around. It is better for the environment and for pollinators if we let the lawn go. Right now the yard is full of food for pollinators and I plan to let them dine in peace.

I am a fan of not mowing the lawn and a fan of not owning a lawnmower but I do own one. I am also a fan of the old school lawn mowers that do not require fuel or electricity. You know cordless mowers that never need charging.

I am also a fan of not having a lawn that needs mowing in the first place.  On one side of the house, I have hostas and no lawn. Last year I mowed four or five times. The drought caused the lawn to go dormant.

No mow May seems like a no-brainer. There are rules in St. Paul about weedy yards and long grass but only if someone calls the city and complains. I am willing to take the risk.

 

Herb garden
Herbs

Homes sold faster and for more in April 2022

Homes sold at a record-breaking 6 days on market, which was the median number of days on the market for St. Paul houses that were sold in April of 2022. For planning purposes, sellers should budget for 20 days on market to include inspection periods, of any and other contingencies if any.

Home prices are at record highs with the median sale price in St. Paul at 292,000. Five years ago in April 2017, the median sale price in St. Paul was 187K. Even though interest rates keep creeping up there are still more than enough home buyers to quickly gobble up the limited supply.

The supply was up slightly from March which is typical. Historically home prices and sales have the highest in April. I don’t anticipate many variations in the number of home sales each month. Also, I have noticed many single-family homes that were being rented out on the market in the last few weeks. These houses are likely owned by investors who can not make ends meet under St. Paul’s new rent control laws that took effect this month.

So far 2022 has proven to be a great year for home sellers.

chart of april home sales
April 2022 home sales by St. Paul neighborhood

 

Ash Tree Removal

I was living in St. Paul in the days when there were mature elm trees growing on the boulevards. They formed an arch over the street. Then came dutch elm disease. The trees got infected and were removed and then burned to prevent further spread.  Dutch elm disease causes wilt and death in all species of elm native to Minnesota.

St. Paul replanted. In the 80’s and 90’s they planted many ash trees. . I remember one hot dry summer we used a hose to water a young ash tree that didn’t look like it was going to survive. it did though and it is still there and disease-free.

As the emerald ash borer has spread through the city trees are being removed.  You might notice the green rings painted around the trees. Those trees are slated for removal. If you look at the trunks you will also see light patches on the bark where the borers have damaged it.

This exotic borer is a native of Asia. It was first found in Minnesota in May 2009.  There are around a billion ash trees in Minnesota. Trees are often killed in about four years, although it can take as little as two years. To learn more about the ash borer and diseased trees go to the University of Minnesota extension page. 

I miss the three ash trees that were removed from a neighbor’s yard and I’ll miss the trees that were removed yesterday.

The tree in front of my house is a basswood tree planted in the 1990’s. There are at least 8 of them on the block. They are all healthy but that could change.

The city will be replanting where ash trees and the stumps have been removed, starting in the spring of 2023.

tree removal
Ash tree removal

Sale prices higher than asking prices

One of the most common questions home buyers ask is how much should they offer when they find a house they want to buy.  Sometimes they ask if on average

coins
spare change

local home sellers are getting more or less than the asking price.

Right now on average home sellers are getting about 4% more than the asking price of their St. Paul home. However, I strongly advise against using averages. If a house is already overpriced it doesn’t make sense to offer that much more than the asking price.

So far home buyers are willing to pay over the asking price and over the value of the house. Some are putting in extra cash when the appraisal is low and the loan amount isn’t enough to cover the price.

However, knowing that on average home sellers in St. Paul are getting more than the asking price does give buyer’s a feel for the housing marketing.

The move away from crime

People honestly believe that the only way to deal with crime is to move away from it. Sometimes people believe that the police can make crime go away and keep us all safe. That isn’t going to work, it never has.

Crabapples

When I was young I lived in a high crime area. I helped form a crime watch. I got to know my neighbors and I got active in a couple of community organizations.

We actually believed that if we wanted to live in an area with less crime we had to help make it so.  Moving is expensive and houses in crime-free gated communities are out of reach for many home buyers.

We learned to pay attention to our neighbor’s houses. There have been many times when I have challenged people that I saw entering a neighbor’s yard.  Cameras are nice too but having pictures of getting ripped off is of limited value.

We also locked everything up and we still do. It is wrong to steal and it is still a crime even if valuables are left unlocked and easily accessible but we found that once something is stolen even if the thief is caught stolen items are never recovered.

As a country, we lock a lot of people up and the police shoot people but neither is a deterrent. People keep committing crimes. Crime rates are higher in some neighborhoods.

This summer I a going to be working extra hard in my neighborhood. We have had some turnover and I don’t have a phone number for everyone on my block. I won’t wait until August and the national night out . . which should be held in May.  I am convinced that if we work together block by block we can lower the crime rate in our neighborhoods so that no one has to move.