From the category archives:

Lake Minnetonka Real Estate Updates

Joining the ranks of Southways (the highest priced luxury home on Lake Minnetonka at $24 Million), the historic home owned by Irwin Jacobs hit the market for $22 Million last week.

The original home was built in 1939 for Charles Bell, son of the founder of General Mills. Named Tanager Hill, the home has been added on to over the years and sits on a hill overlooking Lake Minnetonka. It boasts 32 acres, almost 13,000-square-foot main house, a 3,500-square-foot guesthouse, a pool house, two caretaker houses, a barn and a guard house.

Sadly, there is talk in the media of this property being divided off into small home sites, and while some say there is no way the main house would be torn down, recent history on the shores of Lake Minnetonka prove otherwise. The historic Northrup House on Ferndale is slated for demolition, as is the Modernist Era home next door, two homes with such architectural significance that local residents never thought new owners would tear them down to build even bigger homes.

Will Tanager Hill sit on the market as long as Southways has? Possibly. Will anyone really spend that kind of money on a property in Minnesota, even if it can be split into smaller lots? Highly unlikely.

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In case you missed it, the Pillsbury Mansion “Southways” was quietly put back on the market in October 2011 for $24 Million, a far cry from its previous listing price a few years back of $54 Million. Located at 1400 Bracketts Point Road in Orono the home sits on some of the best real estate on Lake Minnetonka.

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Looks like Bill Pohlad, one-third owner of the Minnesota Twins, bought a very expensive home on Lake Minnetonka late last month. The home, while carrying a heafty price tag of $5.2 Million, is actually pretty small when compared to the other huge mansions that sit on the Lake Minnetonka shoreline.  It was built in 1951, has 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and just over 2300 square feet.

What makes it so expensive? Well, for one thing, it sits on a 3 acre pennisula jutting out into Lafayette Bay and has 1600 feet of shoreline. Yep, you heard me right – 1600 feet. That means this new home owner has panoramic views like you wouldn’t believe, and pretty much all the privacy he wants.

Lake Minnetonka Home Sells for $5.2 Million
2417 Woodwinds Lane , Minnetonka Beach, MN

Looks like Mr. Pohland can now boast that he “owns his personal private island”.



Real Estate Update for Lake Minnetonka

Today I thought it would be good to give a market update for those who live around Lake Minnetonka to show what has been happening over the last year. Below are some details and graphs to help explain the current market, with colors for graphs indicating year of data.

Median Sales Price

For the last three years, Median Sales data for Lake Minnetonka has stayed relatively the same. While 2009 saw a 12.6 % decrease from 2008, the market has rebounded slightly this past year with median sales prices increasing…good news for luxury homes around the lake. Some of the hardest hit areas in sale price over the last year have been Excelsior and Wayzata, with Spring Park having the largest increase.

Lake Minnetonka Median Sales Price for Luxury Homes
Lake Minnetonka Median Sales Price


Housing Supply and Days on the Market

The housing supply, or current inventory of homes for sale in Lake Minnetonka, is considered healthy if it is around 5-6 months. As you can see, for the last few years, expensive homes in the area have been no where near that number. Currently at 23.9 months, it will take almost a full year to sell all of the current homes on the real estate market. This number takes into account all homes surrounding lake Minnetonka so each individual town will have a different number. For instance, Excelsior has seen the largest increase in housing supply, with Greenwood and Tonka Bay coming in at a close second, but on the other end, towns like Minnetonka Beach, Wayzata, and Orono have seen a decrease in housing supply.

Number of Months to Sell Lake Minnetonka Inventory
Lake Minnetonka Housing Supply
Amount of Days on the Market Lake Minnetonka Homes Sell
Lake Minnetonka Days on the Market

With home sellers, one of the most important real estate statistics they want to know is how long it will take to sell their home. For Lake Minnetonka homes, it’s going to take awhile. Over the last year, it has taken an average of 244 days for a home to sell (Agents call this “Days on the Market” or “DOM”).  The price of homes in an area will greatly effect the DOM, so naturally the more expensive the home, the longer it will take to sell due to the fewer number of buyers able to purchase a luxury home. For Lake Minnetonka, the towns with homes taking the longest to sell are Tonka Bay, Deephaven, and Minnetrista.


 New Listings Vs. Closed Sales

The amount of New Listings that have hit the market over the last year for upper tier homes around Lake Minnetonka  have decreased 20% from the amount in 2009. So far this year, Mound and Orono hold the records for most homes to come onto the market, but for the most part, sellers are deciding to wait out the market before selling. The decrease in available homes means that buyers have less to choose from, but in the same instance, the number of homes that have sold in the last year has increased. So I guess having less homes makes it easier for buyers to make a choice, but most likely, with the percent of the original list price received by home sellers declining in many Lake Minnetonka towns, buyers are just finding homes more affordable than in 2008.

Lake Minnetonka New Home Listings March 2010 to February 2011
Lake Minnetonka New Listings

 Closed Sales over the last year for Lake Minnetonka luxury homes has increased 11% for those near or above a million dollars, with homes $500,000+ having over 22% more closed sales.

Closed Sales March 2010 to February 2011
Lake Minnetonka Closed Sales


Some of you might be wondering where I have been the past month. While I hate to be away from the blog so much, it happens sometimes that other parts of the business take me away from writing. I have to say that the reason this time is a good one, as I have just done something I have been dreaming of doing ever since I entered real estate – opening my own real estate brokerage.

The company is small to start out with, but that’s the way I like it. Too many real estate brokerages spend tons of money of what I call “Go Big, Go Large”. Their money goes to expensive offices that no one visits, nor any agents actually work from. Overhead eats them up, and their agents suffer. The old way of running a real estate company is dying. I plan on being a part of the new way.

Kirby Fine Homes Luxury Real Estate Brokerage 

My boutique firm sells real estate in the Twin Cities, including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Lake Minnetonka, and the surrounding Metro areas/counties. While we cater to all price ranges, special emphasis is given to luxury properties, historic homes, and waterfront/lakefront real estate. By keeping the firm small, we will be able to better serve our client’s needs with personal attention. Clients will not be lost in a shuffle of a big box firm where no one knows their name.  While our goal is to be the best, it is not to be the biggest. Think “Jerry McGuire” if you will.

Being as I have just opened Kirby Fine Homes, it will take time to get everything in place. This year a new website will be developed for the brokerage, and knowing me, an Internet presence will quickly be established. I am very excited about this new venture, and can’t wait to see what 2011 brings for the local real estate market!

“Kirby Fine Homes – Opening Doors to the Most Exceptional Homes in the Twin Cities”


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Lake Minnetonka has its share of expensive luxury homes that are currently for sale, most of them being in the multi-million dollar range, and it always comes as no surprise that the most expensive home in the Twin Cities is located on the lake. Currently the top honor goes to a listing with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Orono that is priced at $11.5 Million. 

Most Expensive Lake Minnetonka Home for Sale

1655 Bohns Point Road, Orono

Located on the prestigious Bohns Point, the home features sweeping views of Lake Minnetonka on 3 acres of lakeshore. With over 9000 square feet, including a 1 bedroom/1 bath carriage house, the home has 7 total garage stalls. Make sure you can pay the taxes. They come in at a staggering $75,000 per year! 


The Pillsbury Mansion on Lake Minnetonka has been on the market for 2 years this October. No big surprise that at a price of $53.5 Million, there haven’t been any takers. For luxury uber real estate at this magnitude, it could take five or more years to find the right buyer, especially in Minnesota.

Instead of waiting that period of time out, the owners of “Southways“, the name of the estate, have decided to try the auction route. Sheldon, Good and Co out of Chicago is the auction firm handling the sale, and they are offering the estate as a whole, or as five separate waterfront parcels.

I honestly don’t like the sound of that solution. Nothing like this estate exists, save the James Hill Mansion in Saint Paul. But this mansion sits on a rare property, what with its sweeping grounds, mature landscape, and formal gardens. Who knows how old some of the trees are that grace the property? All around Lake Minnetonka, large parcels of land have been divided up with large homes placed on smaller and smaller lots. It seems to me that the beauty of the area is soon to be dried up with homes as far as the eye can see. It will be interesting to see what happens to this beauty.

Situated on Brackett’s Point, the Pillsbury Estate is a 13 acre gem on Lake Minnetonka, and has only had two owners during its long lifetime. The current owners bought the home in 1991 when the original owner Eleanor Pillsbury, who was 104 years old at the time, died. The current owners hired the Beyer Blinder Belle architectural firm out of New York (known for their restoration work on Grand Central Station and Ellis Island) in 1992 to return the home back to its former glory, costing millions of dollars.

The home is being auctioned via sealed bids which must be delivered to the Auction firm by December 9th, 2009. It can be viewed by appointment only October 22nd, October 28th, November 1st, November 8th, November 18th, November 22nd & November 29th.


A Lake Minnetonka home is now back on the market today – as a bank owned property. If you are looking for a great deal that is most likely being offered at a 50-75% discount, then check out 1535 Bohns Point, in Orono. Now listed at $4.7 Million with Remax Action West, this home was listed a few years ago for $14.7 Million. A year ago it was reduced to $9.5 Million. Now, it is the banks.

The home has an interesting story about the homeowner, words like ponzi scheme and tax evasion are some of the key highlights of the report from the Star Tribune.


The Wayzata home of the infamous Tom Petters just hit the market in the last 24 hours, and at a grand price of $7,775,000. It sits on 1.2 acres and 250 feet of Lake Minnetonka shoreline. If you want to buy a very nice home and need some space, this 9300 square foot luxury estate will not disappoint.

In case you don’t remember, or live out of state, Mr. Petters is the founder and former CEO of Petters Group Worldwide and was arrested last year on 20 federal fraud counts for an elaborate Ponzi scheme in the realm of $3.5 Billion. Many of his properties and toys are being sold in the effort to pay back the victims of his scheme.


Today I thought we could take a look at what real estate is doing out on Lake Minnetonka. Not that it is any big surprise, but things have slowed down a little in 2008 on the famous lake. High end buyers don’t seem to be coming out of the woodwork anymore, either because they already bought a home in the last five years, or can no longer afford the luxury lifestyle.

Anyway, the news isn’t all that great. About the only positive number coming out of the area is that closed sales for the month of September were up 9%. The not-so-good “positive” numbers show that the number of days a home is on the market has gone up to 181, almost 9% higher from this time in 2007.

The good news to buyers is that the average price of home on Lake Minnetonka has gone down 10.3%. It helps that many million dollar homes are now no longer million dollar homes, but instead priced in the $800,000 – $999,000 range. Most interesting is the fact that the list price, when compared to sale price, shows a 10% difference. That tells me sellers are pricing their homes too high from the get go. Maybe if sellers started off more realistic, their homes would sell quicker.

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