There are people downtown

For the last year, downtown St. Paul has been pretty empty. Yesterday I went for a walk in and around Rice Park. The fountain is on for the first time since the fall of 2019 and there are tables and chairs in the park and I saw people. The hot dog stand was there and there were people. To be honest for a time downtown St. Paul was kind of scary, maybe even a little dystopic.

I have to go downtown because that is where Candyland is located and I need Chicago mix popcorn a few times a month. My supply was cut off for a short time at the beginning of the pandemic and I didn’t like it.

There is a new sculpture in front of the Xcel center and on the base, it says “welcome back St. Paul” I don’t think we ever really left we just stayed inside a lot.

Welcome back

The Farmer’s market is fun

It is Friday ad Fridays are for fun. I am looking forward to the holiday weekend. One of the things I love to do on any weekend is to go to the Farmer’s market, the one in downtown St. Paul.

I have been going there since I was a tot and that was a very long time ago. It is a little different post-pandemic. I used to enjoy breakfast and coffee with friends but the vendors who sell hot food and donuts are not there this year.

Masks are no longer required which makes sense because it is an outdoor market.

There are plenty of plants and locally grown produce and fresh eggs too. I’ll make at least one trip to the Farmer’s market this weekend.

Farmer's market
Farmer’s Market
Farmer’s market


Real estate doesn’t have to be condescending

In the last few years, I have been working with a lot of older folks. I went ahead and earned the SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) designation. What I learned through the courses has been helpful.

There is one thing though that I have observed when looking at real estate marketing aimed at seniors. Much of it is condescending.

It is that tone and attitude that if someone is over 70 or in some cases over 55 they need extra help.

Remedial help when it comes to housing. As if people who have been adults for decades and own a home suddenly can’t make wise housing choices without a lot of help from younger less experienced people.

The senior age group is the largest covering an age span of 30 to 50 years. People who are not seniors are the people who are often the experts in senior housing and in all aspects of aging. I am not exactly sure why that is. It would make more sense for seniors to help younger people navigate housing.

My goal is to serve as a resource in any way that I can without being condescending or without assuming there is a one size fits all housing solution for everyone between the ages of 50 and 100. To do that effectively I need to listen carefully.

Buying or selling real estate is rarely driven by age. It is almost happening because of a life change.  Retirement can be that change so can the death of a spouse or a medical condition, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or changing jobs.

Most life-changing events can happen at almost any age. There is no age at which a person has to move. There isn’t any age at which a person can no longer make decisions about his or her housing.

Old vs. Vintage

To some people a house is old and to others it is vintage. There are houses that were built in the 1950s and 1960s that are almost untouched by time. They still have the original owners too. I call those houses vintage. Other than the wall-to-wall carpet in shades of gold, green, or orange some of these houses are move-in ready.

I have found 50+-year-old appliances and furnaces still working and kitchen cupboards still in good condition with the original hardware that is vintage. We can still get parts for some of the appliances and hardware for windows and cupboards.

Some of those little mid-century ramblers were remodeled in the 1980s. Those houses are more old than vintage. Sometimes remodeling them again makes more sense than trying to restore them.

Old tends to happen because of neglect or “trendy” remodels. Vintage never gets old if you like vintage.

The houses in St. Paul are mostly old, historic, really old, and vintage. Historic is old but old is not historic.

Vintage wallpaper and countertop

Do your homework without my help

St. Paul, Minnesota

It is a common misconception that a REALTOR can recommend a neighborhood. Recommending a neighborhood is a fair housing violation.

I can’t imagine choosing a school based upon a Realtor’s recommendation. Most of us are not experts when it comes to education but since you asked my own children did well in the public schools but they learned a lot at home too.

Often home buyers will ask if a house is in a “decent” neighborhood. REALTORS can not answer that question, and “decent” is pretty vague. There are people who tell me that a neighborhood is “bad”.  Like “decent”, “bad” can mean just about anything.

There are homebuyers who choose neighborhoods based on what they can afford or how close it is to where they work or to family or to a place of worship.

Some homebuyers can choose any neighborhood while others can only afford the houses in a couple neighborhoods. People with more money have more choices.

There are people who want to live in walkable neighborhoods but I have found that definitions of walkable vary considerably. For me, anything within a mile is within easy walking distance. If I didn’t have a car I could get by pretty easily on foot, or by bike or public transportation, or Lyft.

REALTORS can not “steer” people into a neighborhood or recommend a neighborhood.

The restaurants and shops that I like might not be the same as the ones that you like yet I am expected to make recommendations.

There are plenty of resources and maps on the internet that provides useful information that can help home buyers choose a neighborhood. Driving, biking, or walking through a neighborhood can help buyers narrow the search. Some homebuyers research schools before choosing a neighborhood while others look at crime rates.

The City of St. Paul website has neighborhood information. Each neighborhood has a district council. Learning more about the neighborhood council is a great way to learn more about the neighborhood.

When choosing a neighborhood is important to consider housing stock in that neighborhood. People looking to buy a rambler should not be looking in the downtown area and people looking for a Victorian-era Queen Anne style might find one in Highland Park but there are so few that the likelihood of finding one on the market is slim.

I definitely know people who love St. Paul but they have only experienced a small part of it. It is the same for some of the people who don’t like it.