Saint Paul raises taxes

It has been all over the news. There will be a 10.5% tax increase. That means property taxes will go up. The median increase per homeowner will be less than $70 a year.  If you own an expensive house you will pay more. If you own a less expensive house the dollar amount per year will be less.

The money is going to be spent on more police officers. I have never been impressed with St. Paul police officers. The 9 new officers are needed for a mental health unit and for sex crimes investigations and for a downtown command.

I can tell you from personal experience that downtown isn’t all that safe at least not on the streets. We aren’t supposed to talk about that because it is bad for business but it is true. The skyways are safe but the streets are not.

Some of the money is going to be used for street repairs. I hope some of it gets spent on sidewalk repairs too.

A financial empowerment office is being established. I don’t fully understand it but it has to do with helping St. Paul students set up college savings accounts. I don’t understand how anyone can save enough money to pay for college but apparently, there are people who think it can be done.

Library late fines are going away. People will still be charged for lost or stolen books but no more late fees. Apparently, there are tens of thousands of people who owe library fines and as a result, they stopped borrowing books.

I am a raving fan of the Saint Paul Public library. I borrow a lot of kindle books. I like that I can grab a book most anytime I want and they are automatically returned when they are due. The library has so many programs people don’t even know about. Visit https://sppl.org/ to learn more and get a library card today if you don’t have one already. If the tax increase helps make St. Paul a better place to live it will have a positive impact on property values.

Here is a pie chart that shows how your tax dollars will be spent. For more information about the city and taxes go to StPaul.gov and use the search to find information about the budget. As you know I try not to link to the city website because they move the pages around and break my links.

2019 city budget
Screenshot of the chart at stpaul.gov

The government administration costs look a little high but what do I know. My administrative costs are very low because I run an efficient women-owned small business, not a city.

Winter walks

I don’t like winter, I never have. Friends who live in warmer places which is just about anywhere assume that I like the cold. Let’s just say that I have made peace with it and have learned to make the most out of it.

Staying inside all winter isn’t an option. Having the right outdoor clothing makes all the difference. I can stay outside comfortably for hours because of goose down coats, warm gloves, socks, and boots. Hats are wonderful and so are scarves.

Walking in the city in the winter is peaceful. There aren’t many people in the parks. The scooters are off of the sidewalks for the winter and there are few bikes. There is a lot of snow and ice on the sidewalks that never get shoveled. Those walks tend to be in front of apartment buildings, condos and businesses. Sometimes it is best to walk on the street or the boulevard.

Here are a couple of pictures I took on a recent walk along the river. The ice that floats on the river collide with each other and make some interesting sounds. You won’t hear them unless you walk by and take your headphones off.

river park
River Park
ice
Ice floats on the river

Throwback Thursday holiday edition

I thought I would do a kind of wordless Wednesday with pictures of holiday decorations in Rice Park – downtown St. Paul. The nutcrackers and angels vanished a couple of years ago. There are no decorations at all this year and the park is closed for remodeling and has been since February. Last I heard it is slated to open this month but I don’t think the nutcrackers or angels will be back.

 

Angel -Rice Park

Rice Park – Downtown St. Paul

 

In Minnesota heating is important

Sometimes when I list a home for sale I take a picture of the heating plant. To me they are beautiful. I don’t know what is in your basement but I have a four-year-old high-efficiency Lennox Elite in mine with one of those fancy thermostats that I can control with my phone.

Heating is so important that we can even search the multiple listing service by heating type. There are all sorts of things we can search on that don’t even show up on the big portal websites.

In our MLS – Multiple Listing Service – or database of homes for sale there are 15 types of heating and we can search for a home based on heating type. The infographic shows each type of heating and the percentage of homes currently listed that have it.  I know here in the city forced air and natural gas is the most common combination. I have had clients who wanted me to search for homes based on the heating type. The most common requests are for hot water or forced air. People also look for houses with or without fireplaces but not as a primary heat source.

Sometimes I find those old gravity furnaces in old houses. I love to photograph them and have quite a collection of pictures.

 

infographic
Heating

What does the future hold for real estate in St. Paul?

I have been reading economic and housing news so that I can make some predictions for the 2019 housing market. We all know that nothing stays the same. In St. Paul we have had a shortage of homes for sale for the last six years and prices have gone back up to what they were before the great recession.

It looks like 2019 will be kind of like 2018. It will be another good year for home sellers. If for some reason the number of buyers decreases, which seems unlikely, the number of homes on the market will rise and prices will start to level off.

It is also possible that the number of homes on the market could start to climb if more homeowners decide to sell. There are a lot of homeowners who are 65 or older. Will they put their homes on the market? According to the National Association of Realtors, the “typical home seller in 2018 was 55 years old”

To people who are young 65 seems terribly old but it isn’t too old for homeownership and I don’t see any evidence that that large group of people who are 65 or better are all going to sell at once. National census statistics indicate that at least 75% of those 65 and older live in homes that they own.

People who are over 65 generally don’t move very often and they are not the oldest homeowners. What about the 65 to 100-year-old homeowner? Statisticians like to lump people who are 55 to 100 years old into one huge category and make assumptions about their housing needs.  Big mistake.

Experts have been predicting a housing sell off as baby boomers age or die off. The generation spans 18 years. Taking that into consideration it is possible that there will be an increase in the number of homes for sale as baby boomers hit their mid 70’s? 80’s? 90’s or 100’s?

It seems like there should be plenty of buyers for those houses but if the number of homes on the market goes way up prices will go down.

As for the immediate future, there is still a shortage of homes for sale in St. Paul and plenty of willing buyers. The number of homes on the market will have to go way up before the market starts to shift to more of a buyers market. I don’t think that will happen in 2019 or in 2020 for that matter. Maybe in the late ‘2020s or early 2030s when the oldest baby boomers hit their mid-80’s, there will be a gradual sell-off.

I see no convincing evidence that there is going to be any kind of a housing sell-off as soon as 2020. If there is a sell-off it will be closer to 2030.

 

Chart
The number of homes on the market and for sale in St. Paul, MN

y

Throwback Thursday

This was originally published in early December 2010. It was a simpler time long ago, yet not all that different from today. We got over a foot of snow in that storm. In comparison, the snow we got last night is like a trail snow storm so that we can prepare for the real thing.

I am happy to report that I replaced the shovel that I broke removing snow from last April’s blizzard. I’ll get try it out today and make sure it works and maybe break it in a little.

Snowstorms can be unpredictable and so is life. Be careful out there.

letitsnow wm
Mears Park – Downtown St. Paul

It has been snowing since midnight and it looks like this storm is going to be even bigger than #snowmageddon09 which really was overhyped as a storm.   I recall it dropped about a half foot of snow.  Some are calling this storm #snowmygod but I like #snowpocalypse as the national weather service is still predicting 12 to 16 inches in the Twin Cities.  I am thankful that it is Saturday.

frosts wm
W.A. Frosts on Selby Avenue