Playing games downtown

Sometimes I think downtown St. Paul is St. Paul’s best kept secret. Did you know that Wednesday is game day at the Union Depot? They set up giant board games from 10:00 AM until 8:00 PM.

Games include Chess, Checkers, Connect Four, Dominoes, Jenga, Tic Tac Toe and others. There are ping pong tables too but they are the normal size.

No one was playing when I walked through last Wednesday probably because the weather was amazing.

If you are looking for a family friendly Wednesday activity this could be it.

The Green Line stops at the Union Depot and if you have to drive there is plenty of parking in the attached ramp and even on the street. There are is also a new restaurant and bar in the Union Depot.

Giant Chess

A look at the top ten employers

Housing and jobs are related. If there are no jobs no one wants to live in the area and without enough housing, no one wants to live in the area.

Here is the list of the top ten employers in Minnesota. The numbers are from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The current unemployment rate in the state is at around 3.3%, and 2.8% in the metro area, where the strongest demand is in retail.

Chart from MN DEED
Top ten Minnesota Employers

Jobs are not hard to find right now. For employment statistics and other resources for finding a job in Minnesota check the DEED website:

Inventory up or is it August?

Number of homes on the market

Real estate is somewhat seasonal. The chart above shows how many homes have been on the market in St. Paul each month for the last 17 months or so. You can see the downward trend of fewer homes on the market during the peaks and valleys.

We usually see the number of houses on the market start to rise in January and continue to rise throughout the year. Some of it has to do with buying habits. There are generally not as many home sales in the fall as there are in the spring.

Even though there are twice as many homes on the market now as there were last February there are still fewer homes on the market today than there were during the lowest point in most of the last ten years. It is still less than a two month supply but if you are a buyer your odds of bagging a house are better today than they have been at any time this year.

It is still a great time to sell as we are still in a strong sellers market.

Bikes are dangerous but fun

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I bought a new bike last week. If you are a regular reader you know that I love to bike. I even bike to appointments and to my office. Anyway, my bike is blue and it has disc brakes. 🙂

When I picked up the bike this tag with warnings all over it was attached to the handlebars but I rode the bike home from the bike shop anyway.


I got to thinking about all of the warnings that should come with a house. I don’t want to scare anyone but houses can burn to the ground or flood. A homeowner can fall down his or her own stairs and break a leg or a neck.

Accidents that happen at home are one of the biggest reasons for emergency room visits. People are injured in the kitchen with cuts and burns and in the bathroom with falls and burns. The list goes on and on. Yet when you buy a house there isn’t a list of warnings posted in prominent locations throughout the home.

There should be little red triangles with “!” inside of them all over in the kitchen and bathroom. Do people even consider the hidden dangers of the toilet? or the possible perils of a closet? Or the hazards in the atrium?

Remember, safety first and always wear a helmet.


colors from past decades

Beige dominates, rustic golds, terra cotta, putty, sage, earthy reds are plentiful. Which decade am I referring to? The 1990’s of course.

There isn’t wrong with any of those colors but homeowners who want to sell should consider repainting and if they do repaint they should choose neutral colors.

Maybe a room that is terra cotta could be changed to something a little more neutral or it could even be painted white. Yes white.

Shades of grey have replaced what we used to call “REALTOR beige”.

In the 1980’s mauve was very popular. I remember selling a home in about 2005 that had mauve walls and powder blue carpet.

Ten years ago “coffee” was popular and I was seeing it everywhere.

Sellers should do a little research before repainting a room. Find out which colors are popular. Ask a real estate agent. We see it all and as we tour homes with our clients we get a feel for what people like and don’t like.

Painting is one of the least expensive ways to get more for your home.

Homes sell for more but agents are not richer

queen anne house
Queen anne

You would think that real estate agents would have had the best year ever in 2017 with home prices up.

On average agents had fewer sales because of the shortage of homes for sale.

According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, the median gross income of Realtors was $39,800 in 2017, down from $42,500 in 2016.

At the same time, the median number of transactions for Realtors fell to 11 in 2017, down from 12 in 2016. Even though we are seeing record high prices real estate agents on average are not seeing record-breaking earnings.

There are a couple of other things going on too. The number of real estate agents has increased and the competition for listings is causing lower commissions.

I can’t see a downside for homeowners as we remain in a strong sellers market.

People often see the job of real estate agent as being easier than it actually is. . . which is probably why there seem to be so many new agents. 🙂