Fake Fall Ending Soon

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Mother nature gave us a bit of a scare this week. In case you missed we had frost warnings. It feels so wrong to turn on the furnace when it is still summer but I did because my feet were cold.

Real fall will arrive in a few weeks and it will be a special fall without a traditional Halloween or Thanksgiving and probably no real school either.

This past week was just a drill to help us get ready and an opportunity to test the heating system and to make sure the windows still close. It is still summer and we can expect temperatures in the 80’s next week.

We will know when it is really Fall because the leaves will change color and the days will be shorter.

This is what a real fall looks like:

Downtown Taken from Indian Mounds Park – with downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis in the background.
Fall - park
Late October – Harriet Island Park

Today is also the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed 2977 people. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing and a whole lot of other things about that day.

There is help for people facing foreclosure

The Minnesota Homeownership Center and Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota have entered into a partnership aimed at helping homeowners facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 to keep their mortgages in good standing and avoid foreclosure.

The two organizations will administer up to $10 million in relief through Minnesota’s newly established COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program (CHAP)

To qualify for assistance, Minnesota households must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines, with a preference for those at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Have an eligible expense incurred after March 1, 2020, that is past due. Housing assistance funds can only be used for eligible expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020.
  • Be unable to make one or more payments owed because of the public health emergency due to unemployment, illness, or another COVID-19 related issue.

The program covers past-due housing expenses such as:

Germania Bank Building
Germania Bank Building – 6 W 5th Street – Corner of 6th and Wabasha
  • Mortgage payments
  • Rent payments
  • Contract for deed payments
  • Manufactured home park lot rents and payments
  • Utility payments
  • Homeowners Association fees

For more details go to the Minnesota Home Ownership Center  

I’ll never forget the great housing crash of a decade ago where banks foreclosed and then turned around and sold the houses at much lower prices making the houses affordable for new owners.

The banks made it through the foreclosure crisis and remained profitable while some homeowners never recovered.

Rates are flat and low

Here is the weekly chart from FreddieMac mortgage rate survey. Not only is it a good time to buy a house it is also a great time to refinance. It is best to refinance before a job change or layoff. . . which is why I mention it today. A few months ago I had predicted that mortgage rates would not go below 3%. I am happy to be wrong about that.

Rates have remained stable for the last several months.


Primary Mortgage Market Survey

August 2020 home sales by neighborhood

August 2020 was the best month for home sales in St. Paul so far this year. There were more homes on the market than we have seen in a while.  We are still in a strong seller’s market with about a 1.8 month supply of houses. Overall sales prices were higher than the listed price but close like they were last August.

The median home sale price in St. Paul was 243K for the month of August.

The number of new listings was way up from prior months and as high as I have seen it for a couple of years but still low.

We are just as likely to see an increase in home sales this fall as we are to see a decrease. If we see an uptick in Coronavirus cases homes sales may slow. The high unemployment rate will start to have an impact as well.

Homes were on the market for an average of 23 days in August. I don’t have any numbers on how many got multiple offers but when sale prices are higher than asking prices it is usually because of multiple offers.

Chart with home sales
August home sales by St. Paul neighborhood

Real estate is local and recent data is more relevant than old news.

The numbers in the table are from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. No numbers were harmed. They were gently sorted in MS Excel but never stirred.

For more local home sale data see Local market conditions and home prices

If you would like to know how much your home might sell for contact me and I’ll provide a fast free no-obligation estimate. (Also called a CMA)

Labor day 2020

Happy Labor Day. Where did the summer go?

I have used most of these pictures before to commemorate Labor Day. You will notice that almost all of the workers are white. This year I added a new picture of a hat factory that was partitioned off so that black women could work there.

factory workers 1934
factory workers 1934


Construction 1912
Construction 1912
typing pool 1960's
typing pool 1950’s
Factory worker working at machine with draped stockings, 1936


hat factory 1922
Hat factory 1922

The photos came from Flickr commons where there is a treasure trove of old photographs.

Vote in person and vote early


Voting in person is important to some voters. It seems to be even more important because of the pandemic. For many of us, voting is important and so is being safe.  Even though our president and his family vote with absentee ballots many of his supporters consider it a badge of honor to vote in person.

Early voting in person is the best of both worlds. Voting early means fewer people at polling places on November 3rd which means less spread of COVID-19.

Here in Minnesota, early voting starts on September 18th at your local elections office. You can find your county election offices here. 

I’ll be using my absentee ballot and I will be dropping it off at my election office before election day. I would do it in person at the election office but to me, voting is more about helping choose our leaders and not so much about going to the polls or not.

I am voting early because I know that on an election day during a pandemic and a flue season things could go wrong.

If you need to vote in-person consider voting early so that we can make the voting process as safe as possible by having less crowded polling places on election day.