New regulations for landlords

A new ordinance went into effect in St. Paul at the beginning of the month. Here is ab outline of the new rules. There are pages and pages of words in the new ordinance, which can be found on the website on the S.A.F.E housing page.


Here are some of the new rules:

Tenant Screening Guidelines
The Tenant Screening Guidelines policy ensures fair access to housing by creating uniform guidelines related to the use of rental, criminal and credit history in applicant screening.
Security Deposit Limitations
The Security Deposit Limitation policy ensures equitable access to housing by limiting the upfront charges related to Security Deposits and Prepaid Rent.
Just Cause Notice Policy
The Just Cause Notice policy improves housing stability by ensuring owners establish one (1) of ten (10) Just Causes and provide renters with written Just Cause Notice when nonrenewing a renter’s Lease.
Advance Notice Policy
The Advance Notice policy supports the preservation of affordable housing and addresses the displacement pressures renters may face during ownership changes by ensuring that current owners provide notice of proposed sale to the City of Saint Paul and renters before an *Affordable Housing Building is placed on the market and new owners provide a notice of sale after the transfer of ownership occurs, coupled with a Tenant Protection period.

Here is a list of reasons tenants can be evicted under the new rules:

Non-payment of rent, Repeated late payment of rent, Material non-compliance, Refusal to renew, Occupancy by property owner or family member, Building demolishment and dwelling unit conversion, Rehab and renovation 8. Complying with a government order to vacate, Occupancy conditioned on employment, Exceeding Occupancy 

Also, see St. Paul has more renters than owners

Learn and get involved

The city of St. Paul is split up into 17 district (neighborhood) councils. St. Paul loves to redo the city website and during their last makeover, they removed a lot of information about district councils, and most of the links from this site are broken and I am in the process of removing them.

Stpaulnhood  The city of St. Paul has 17 district community councils.  Community Councils are a way to give residents a voice in the decisions that affect their neighborhoods and our city.   Each of the city’s planning districts has a Community Council as its official citizen participation organization. When considering which St. Paul neighborhood to buy a home in, the district council staff and websites can be an excellent resource.

The map is an old one to use as a guide to figure out which district each neighborhood is in. If you are buying a house in St. Paul this is a wonderful way to learn more about each neighborhood.

Here are the actual names of the district councils. Just put the name in a search window and you will get to the correct website.  District councils have information on neighborhood issues and there are opportunities to volunteer.

District Neighborhood District Council name
1 Eastview – Conway – Battle Creek – Highwood Hills District 1 Community Council
2 Greater East Side District 2 Community Council
3 West Side West Side Community Organization
4 Dayton’s Bluff Dayton’s Bluff Community Council
5 Payne-Phalen Payne Phalen Community Council
6 North End North End Neighborhood Organization
7 Thomas-Dale/Frogtown Frogtown Neighborhood Association
8 Summit-University Summit-University Community Council
9 West 7th/Fort Road Fort Road Federation
10 Como District 10 Como Community Council
11 Hamline-Midway Hamline Midway Coalition
12 St. Anthony Park St. Anthony Park Community Council
13 Union Park Union Park District Council
14 Macalaster-Groveland Macalaster Groveland Community Council
15 Highland Highland District Council
16 Summit Hill Summit Hill Association
17 Downtown Capitol River Council


Happy Saint Patrick’s day 2021

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Here are some photographs from past Saint Patrick’s day parades. It is kind of a virtual parade.  For the second year in a row, there won’t be a real in-person parade. Now we have something to look forward to in 2022. The biggest difference in the parades from one year to the next is the weather.

We can have temperatures hovering around zero or they can be as high as 70. Some years it rains or snows and other years there is sunshine. One year it was so windy that I got a picture of a little green dog’s ears blowing in the wind.

Saint Patrick’s day is a very big deal in St. Paul. There is always a St. Patrick’s day parade downtown except for this year and last year. We thought last year would be the only year without a parade. We were wrong about that and about many other things.  This year is a little different though. some bars and restaurants are open.

Be careful out there. Don’t let St. Patrick’s day become a super spreader event. The US still leads the world in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

The houses are old and this isn’t California

So many of the “how to sell a house” articles come straight from California. Probably because California has more real estate agents per capita than any other state. Many of the tips apply to most markets but there are a lot of differences too especially for the closing and inspection processes.

Real estate is local and that does complicate things a bit. The process of selling a house differs by state and somewhat by the city as far as what kind of inspections are required and sometimes even where the for sale sign can be placed.

Selling an old house in say St. Paul Minnesota isn’t the same as selling a house that was built in the last 50 years in the suburbs. In fact, if you go check out some of those websites where homeowners can get instant offers they often stipulate that the house has to be built after 1970 or sometimes 1940.

In St. Paul, the median age of our houses is about 99 years old. Older homes offer a little more complexity to the buying and selling process. We don’t know what kind of repairs an old house might need. and it probably has lead-based paint. Older homes are more likely to have asbestos too.

Pricing and old St. Paul house takes experience. There won’t be a house that was built the same year that is the same size just down the street that recently sold that we can use as data to estimate the value. We have to look at sales prices in the area and make adjustments. To be honest some of it is at least partly a hunch based on experience.

age of houses
Age of housing stock

Personally, I believe that the best houses were built before 1960.  I like to think of St. Paul as the city of historic housing.


The hottest spring market ever

The last few weeks have been crazy. There are not enough houses on the market to keep up with the demand. There is still a pandemic and as a result, we have to make sure to only allow one or two people to tour a house with their agent at a time.

Houses go on the market and are listed as coming soon. That gives us plenty of time to make appointments. By the time the house comes on the market, it may already have an offer or two on it and it may also be booked so that no one else can see it.

There are people who make offers without seeing the property. Some homeowners will not entertain offers from people who have not toured the property.

For the last few years, buyers have been making their offers more attractive to sellers by skipping the inspection contingency. This year they are skipping the in-person tour.

Sellers can only accept one offer.  Houses will only appraise for so much and there is a limit to how much cash buyers will pay. The sky isn’t the limit when it comes to how much a given house will sell for.

In fact the more offers there are the more complicated it gets.

Real estate agents will advertise that they got offers on a house in one day and that is sold for X amount over the listing price. This is fairly common and actually has more to do with the current housing market than it has to do with the performance of individual agents.

The shortage of homes for sale is acute. I know a few people who want to move this year but they can not find a house to buy so they stay where they are.

Home prices continue to rise while interest rates remain low and home buyers continue to chase opportunities to buy a house. Buyers who wait for price reductions or open houses will miss out.

I have never seen anything like the current housing market. We really are in uncharted territory.

Home buyers haven’t changed but house hunting has

The real estate industry has remained open during the pandemic but we have more rules. Back a year ago in-person showings

queen anne house
Queen Anne

were down and home buyers were using virtual tours and even making offers before they toured the house.

Here we are a year later with many more people infected with COVID-19 and homebuyers who want to tour as many homes as possible even before they are in a position to make an offer.

People like to see homes in person and they want the experience. It isn’t enough to shop online. The pandemic hasn’t changed the way people want to shop but has changed the way they can shop right now.

There are those in the real estate industry who are predicting that the pandemic will forever change how people shop for and buy houses. I am not seeing it.

This isn’t the best of times for homebuyers but things will get better as more people get vaccinated.

We can and do sell houses without allowing in-person showings.  Typically the buyers are allowed to see the house only after they have made an offer. They see it as they are having it inspected.