Check out the Art Crawl for fun

made from random pictures I took with my phone at the 2011 art crawl

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Fall Art Crawl starts today. I missed the spring art crawl and looking forward to looking at some art tomorrow.

This year’s schedule: October 11, 12, 13, 2019 • Friday 6–10 PM, Saturday 12–8 PM, Sunday 12–5 PM.  See the Art Crawl website for a list of locations. I have my favorite artists to visit. Some are downtown and others are at the Schmidt brewery artists lofts. I usually buy something. The holidays are just around the corner and why not give the gift of local art?

If you do not know downtown St. Paul very well take Shepard road to the Union Depot parking ramp and park. There will be artists in the depot and it is just a block away from artists lofts and studios on Broadway Street and on 4th street E.

Also, consider taking the Greenline which goes directly to the Union Depot.

There is a lot to see. I recommend comfortable walking shoes.

Average doesn’t always apply

In the last couple of years home sale prices in St. Paul have been on average higher than asking or listing prices. This happens when prices are going up due to lack of supply.

Using these averages to decide how much to offer on a home that is for sale doesn’t work.

If the house is overpriced and has been on the market for awhile it may sell for less than the asking price. In most cases, if the home just came on the market and has other offers on it buyers will need to offer more than the asking price.

Graph of list vs sale price
List price Vs. Sale Price in St. Paul

The data used to make the graph is from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.


Fall is for photography

I usually write a bunch of boring stuff about real estate on Mondays but today is special because it is the fall equinox. It was summer just yesterday.

Fall is my favorite season. Even though I probably have hundreds of fall photos I’ll probably take a few more. The leaves usually peak sometime in early to mid-October.

The bluff along the river make nice photographs and so do the city and regional parks. Get ready for lovely fall color because of all of the rain we have had this year.

Saint Paul – Mounds Blvd. Indian Mounds Park
mounds park
From the river bluff – Indian Mounds Park

The land of opportunity zones

Both my home and my office are in Federal Opportunity zones. What is an Opportunity zone?

From the IRS website:

“Qualified Opportunity Zones were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country and U.S. possessions by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities. Taxpayers may defer tax on eligible capital gains by making an appropriate investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and meeting other requirements.”

My office is in Lowertown and my home is in the Eastern part of the West 7th neighborhood near downtown. The median income in downtown St. Paul is quite low at least according to the data I can find which is hard to imagine considering the number of luxury condos and apartments in the neighborhood and the difficulties people are having finding affordable housing in the neighborhood.

My neighborhood, West 7th,  has become gentrified. There has been a lot of investment. Property values and taxes have gone way up making it less affordable every year, yet the neighborhood is considered distressed and is now in an opportunity zone.

The Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood isn’t in an opportunity zone. The median income level in the Dayton’s buff neighborhood is 9% less than the median income level in the West 7th neighborhood. Median home sale prices for 2019 are 175K for Dayton’s Bluff a 211K for the distressed West 7th neighborhood.

Here is a map with of Opportunity zones in and around St. Paul. For more information go to and type “opportunity zone” in the search window. Also, see the St. Paul opportunity zone web site. Over a fifth of St. Paul is in an opportunity zone which seems fair considering the 20% poverty rate.

If there are any advantages in owning or buying a home in an opportunity zone I don’t know what they are but when I find out I will share. When we were young we choose

Opportunity zones – St. Paul

Old and new and good for the city

old brick building and new apartment building
Panama Flats and Irvine Exchange apartments

Right next to downtown St. Paul in an area we used to call the “seam”  in-between Downtown and the West 7th neighborhood there is a new apartment building, the Irvine Exchange apartments. The piece of land is a traffic island with busy streets on all sides. The older building in the foreground in Panama Flats which is an old row house converted into condos.

For a city to grow and thrive there has to be a mix of old and new. The new apartments rent for up to a little over 6K a month. It looks like the more affordable units were rented out right away. $1,126 for 367 square feet which would easily fit inside of the first floor of my home.

There has been a lot of development in the West 7th area near downtown since the great recession. There are new hotels and more places that serve beer.

Which should you choose, house or neighborhood?

Some home buyers are open to many architectural styles and others have a specific style and even floor plan in mind when they go house hunting. Homebuyers who have there heart or budget or both set on a certain neighborhood may find that their favorite style of home isn’t there.

If you are looking for a rambler or a split level home with a two-car attached garage I would not bother looking in the downtown area but you might find some in the western part of Highland Park and in the battle creek and Eastside neighborhoods.

If you like Tudor style homes look along Summit avenue or in Merriam Park or in the Cherokee heights neighborhoods because those are the areas with the biggest concentrations of them. I have clients who specifically want Tudors or Craftsman-style bungalows or even Ramblers.

When choosing a neighborhood consider the housing style and when choosing a housing style consider the neighborhood.   When you find the right combination you may find that you can not afford the style of home that you want in your favorite neighborhood.  Homebuyers sometimes end up compromising on style or neighborhood or both when they don’t match.

People who want new construction won’t find much in St. Paul and if they do it will be large and expensive because that is what gets built.

In recent years people have been buying houses in their favorite neighborhood, tearing them down and building the kind of home that they want which is of completely different size and style than what is usually found in the neighborhood. Thankfully that isn’t an option for everyone.

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Tudor style house – Merriam Park