Posts tagged as:

st paul

Historic Round Barn Near Red Wing

This beautifully restored round barn just outside of Red Wing, Minnesota can easily been seen from the Highway and if you call ahead to the Bed and Breakfast owners, you can even take a tour. To read more about the history of the barn, please visit my historic homes blog.

1 comment

With all the snow on the ground, I just had to stop by the Como Conservatory in St. Paul a week ago and take a stroll through the sunken garden. This photo is of the Winter Flower show which ends March 20th. Beginning  March 26 and through May 1, the garden will showcase the Spring Flower Show of tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and much more.


In light of recent experiences I have encountered with local Twin Cities home builders, I make it a point to tell buyers that they should thouroghly research any builder they might contract to build their new home. Some builders are barely keeping their business above water, and others are slowly sinking, but if you spoke with these builders, most likely they would tell you they are doing” a lot” of business. Don’t believe them. Here are some tips to consider when building a new home:

  • Ask the builder how long they have been in business under the current company name.If it is a short period of time, ask them if they, or anyone involved with company, has been a builder/contractor under a different name. Believe it or not, there are some fairly sizable builders in the Twin Cities who have declared bankruptcy, gotten in trouble with the state, etc, and closed their doors, only to open up under a brand new entity name. Of course, they don’t disclose this to potential buyers.
  • Ask the builder if their company name is the same as their legal corporation name. Sometimes builders “Do Business As” (DBA) a different name. You can research both names with the Minnesota Secretary of State and find out if they are in good standing.
  • Ask for the Builder’s License Number. They should be able to give it to you on the spot. If they don’t, consider this a red flag. Once you have the number, research the builder with the Department of Labor and make sure their license number corresponds with what you were given. Believe it or not, some builders have been using another builders license number to pull permits, illegally of course.
  • Find out who owns the company. Go to the Judicial website and see if there are any active judgments against the owner and/or the company. Pending cases brought against the builder by clients or trade professions could be a red flag.
  • Ask for References. Don’t just get the good, but also ask to speak with someone who was not happy to see how the builder resolved the issue. It could give you a clue on how the builder professionally handles complaints.
  • Don’t just take the builder’s word for it. I can’t tell you how many times I have been lied to by a builder as an agent, and it just makes me more mad when I meet buyers who were lied to as well. If you have contracted with a builder, make sure all permits are pulled for the work being done. Once again, some builders are doing work without a permit, and when the city finds out, and the project shuts down, the buyer is the one left in limbo. Don’t be afraid to call the city and ask them if proper permits were pulled.
  • Find out who holds the escrow money. I don’t like the escrow money being held by the builder. If a builder cannot finance the permit on his own, then I question their financial standing. I have run into buyers who have had problems with builders and had to cancel the contract, only to find out the builder has spent the escrow money and doesn’t have the funds to pay the buyers back. It just turns into an awful mess. See if the money can be held by a title company.
  • Don’t go with a builder just because they have a great lot. The worst thing you can do is fall in love with a lot that is owned by a builder that you are not excited about. Trust me, it is the kiss of death! I know two buyers currently (not my clients) who went with a builder because of the lot and the homes are falling apart. They were warned about the builder, but they said they would take their chances because they were so blinded by the lot.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask everything you can think of, and don’t hold back even on the things that seem minor. 

These are just a few things to think about. “Google” the builder, too, and see what pops up. For instance, a  recent article in the Star Tribune highlights how some local builders have lost their license recently or been fined in the past few months.


Our Lovely Governor’s Plan

In case you haven’t heard, our new democratic governor has unveiled his budget proposal for Minnesota.  The Governor’s proposal focuses largely on liberal, revenue-raising measures that unfairly target one group of people – those he considers RICH. 

  • His plan calls for creating a fourth tier income tax bracket at 10.95% (why  not just make it 11?) for joint filers earning over $150,000 and head-of-household filers earning $130,000. (By the way, when did spouses making $150K become rich?)
  •  He also wants to create a “temporary” income surtax of 3% on filers earning more than $500,000 annually. Of course we all know that any tax that is touted as being only “temporary” always becomes a permanent tax.
  • And probably the most ridiculous is imposing a statewide property tax on homes valued over $1 million. 

It shouldn’t be any surprise to my readers that I oppose all three of these proposals. I am not rich, but I aspire to be some day through hard work. Why then should I, or anyone else who has worked hard to be successful, be punished for earning more? I constantly hear about how one class deserves more than the other, and frankly I don’t get the whole “spread the wealth” thing. I grew up lower middle class, and through hard work, my father raised us up some. He never asked for a handout, and he raised me to believe that the only one looking out for myself is me. I could never ask someone that is wealthy to give me a piece of their pie just because I don’t have any – I prefer to make my own.

So when I hear Dayton say he wants to tax the rich more because “they can afford it”, I get a little mad. At 11%, Minnesota will be one of the states with the highest tax bracket. I see luxury home property taxes all the time, and trust me, they aren’t cheap. So also increasing the property taxes on million dollar homes just pushes the knife in further for high income wage earners. With the plethora of million dollar homes available in the Twin Cities, especially around Lake Minnetonka, I can help but think that these proposals will keep the wealthy from moving to Minnesota, therefore making it harder for local home owners to sell.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens. The Minnesota Association of Realtors “opposes the imposition of a statewide property tax for several reasons.  First, property taxes should remain a source of local government revenues and should not be expanded at a state level.  Second, expanding the residential property tax to the state poses an opportunity for future expansion to other, lower-valued properties.  Finally, it is the wrong time to add additional burdens to an already ailing housing market”.


The 2010 Twin Cities Real Estate Report was recently released by the Minneapolis Association of Realtors and has some fantastic data on what has been happening over the past years in the surrounding 13 county area. While this is a general overview of all real estate activity for 2010 and not a specific breakdown of the luxury home market, it provides some important insight on areas that do cater to the upper bracket real estate market.

New Listings

New listings have been decreasing over the past five years, which is really no surprise to anyone. What is interesting is that 2009 and 2010 are relatively the same for homes put on the market. I like the fact the report breaks down the top/bottom five markets for new listings. For the luxury home market, Victoria is number four for most new homes listed, and has seen a 13% increase in home prices over the last year.

2010 New Listings Real Estate Market Report

New Listing Data 2010

Closed Sales

For Closed Sales in 2010, the number one area for sold homes was Victoria, with Lake Minnetonka in fifth place. Victoria’s new home construction was probably a good reason for the top ranking for nearly 30% of its 2010 closed sales were due to new construction. Lake Minnetonka on the other hand saw almost 30% of its closed inventory as foreclosure or distressed properties. The desirable area coupled with lower home prices helped the Lake Minnetonka market have a better overall year than other Twin Cities areas.

2010 Twin Cities Real Estate Solds

Closed Sales Data 2010

Days on the Market

 One of the most important pieces of date to relay to home owners is the number of days it might take to sell their home. Known to agents as DOM, the Days on the Market helps us understand exactly what a local real estate market is doing. As you can see, when the market tanked in 2008, DOM increased dramatically. Since then, homes have been slowly seeing that time frame decline – a good thing for the overall market. Areas of Minneapolis found themselves having the shortest days to sell, most likely due to the shear volume of foreclosures in those areas. The “North” area of Minneapolis alone had 60% of its sold volume in 2010 as distressed/foreclosed properties.

Days on the Market for Twin Cities Home Sales 2010

2010 Days on the Market

If you would like to learn how your local real estate market performed in 2010, please feel free to send me an email!


With winter quickly approaching in the Twin Cities, luxury home prices remain stagnant and overall continue to fall. Popular areas such as Edina and Lake Minnetonka are holding on, but as it happens ever year around this time, buyer activity decreases with the coming cold.

Luxury Home Market Twin Cities

Twin Cities Price

Inventory for upper bracket homes across the Metro area remain high as home sellers keep properties on the market in hopes of finding that one buyer who will purchase their home. Typically luxury inventory hits rock bottom around Christmas and New Years, as sellers concentrate on other things as buyer interest declines. As spring approaches, sellers get back on the selling wagon when buyers perk up from a winter of slush. With such a vast difference in locations across town, it is obvious that a micro analysis would need to be done for each specific city to see how the luxury market fares individually.

Minneapolis St Paul Luxury Home Market Inventory

Regional Inventory for Twin Cities

  But probably the second most important statistic for home owners, behind price, is the number of days it takes for a home to sell in today’s real estate market. Known as Days on the Market (DOM), luxury homes are seeing some good news! The average amount of time a luxury home sits on the market, that being for homes priced above $500,000, is steadily declining in the Twin Cities. Currently sitting around 140 days, the contributing factorsmost likely result from a declining of the number of  homes on the market (meaning less choices for buyers) and a decrease in overall prices.

Minneapolis St Paul Days on the Market Stats

Twin Cities Days on the Market Luxury Homes


If you are interested in a free micro market analysis of your home, please contact me !


If you don’t know Summit Avenue, then you don’t know much about St. Paul. It is only the most prestigious street in the entire city, and some will go so far as to say in all the state of Minnesota. Summit Avenue is where all the old historic mansions are located, and is known to be one of the most best preserved historic districts in the nation, with its origins beginning in the 1850’s.

[idx-listing mlsnumber=”3854514″ showpricehistory=”true” showschools=”true” showextradetails=”true” showfeatures=”true” showlocation=”true”]

1 comment

Selling Unfinished Luxury Mansions I was reading today about a Luxury Mansion in Florida being listed for sale at a staggering price of $75 Million. Problem is, the house is not entirely finished. In fact, it doesn’t go much past the studded walls. The unfinished 90,000 square foot home includes a roller rink in the basement, home theater, bolling alley…oh, the list goes on. Needless to say, but selling an “as-is” home is pretty difficult. Buyers have a hard time envisioning the final product, and many will discount the home even more.

The article got me wondering if there were any new construction homes listed in the Twin Cities MLS database that were priced above a million dollars and being sold “as-is”. I was able to find one on Long Lake with 5200 square feet of unfinished space that is for sale for $1.1 Million. It originally started out at $2.2 Million, but with the market crash, and the simple fact that it is not finished, I am not surprised it hasn’t sold yet. Once a potential buyer also looks at the $18,000 yearly property taxes, they might think twice about buying the home. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the home is now lender owned?

1 comment