You’re not helpless when it comes to mortgage interest rates! A lot of buyers are concerned about monthly payments now that the interest rates have gone up.
I talked with Chris O’Connell at Loan Depot about 4 options that home buyers have to pay a lower interest rate and therefore a lower monthly mortgage payment. Chris had one that was surprising to me and we talked a bit about the one that seems to be getting a lot of attention in the real estate world right now, the 2/1 buy down and why that may not be the BEST option.
Take a look at this video interview if that is something that is worrying you as you think about buying a house now.
I suffer from nostalgia and I’m a sucker for charming old homes and neighborhoods that remind me of movie sets. And that’s why I feel squishy inside when I spend time in Highland Park in St. Paul. It’s a condition, don’t mock me!
Types of homes
The Highland Park neighborhood of St Paul is right next to the MacGroveland neighborhood and shares so many of the same characteristics. The homes are here older and filled with all of that original charm. St. Paul was settled before Minneapolis and the housing stock there reflects it in many areas.
Many of the homes were built in the early 1900’s and often have original hard wood floors, beautiful wide wood moldings, built-ins, plaster walls, detached garages and other features of homes built at that time. Another feature that I love on old homes that you’ll often see here are porches where you can sit and enjoy the gorgeous weather that we have here spring through fall. I think porches and sidewalks encourage a sense of community and give opportunities to see and talk to neighbors.
As you enter the neighborhood from the west on Ford Parkway you’ll notice a large construction site which is a planned community / new construction development, so if you want the city lifestyle and access but AREN’T interested in old homes, this can be a great option for you. It’s called Highland Bridge and its a couple of different developments including row homes and a senior living development, community park, shops and restaurants. This won’t be where you find a bargain – row homes are at the upper end of the pricing for this part of St. Paul at $1.5M+, there are also custom single family homes being built with lot prices starting at around $500K.
One of the things I like about city living is the access to sidewalks and bike lanes as well as the ability to get to restaurants parks and shops relatively easily, on foot, on bike, or in a vehicle. Highland Park is home to all of these things, it has a robust commercial area so you won’t need to go far to grab a bite or do some shopping and recreation is convenient as well, it has a golf course, and easy access to the massive park system along the Mississippi River with all of the bike trails that run throughout (72 miles along the Mississippi rover alone!) and connect to so many local and regional trails in the Minneapolis St Paul region.
The average home price in Highland Park for the typical house is a little more than $441K, its charming neighbor, MacGroveland is just a little bit more from an average home price perspective.
This neighborhood also has easy access to both Minneapolis and St. Paul for work – as well as the freeways that lead to the South, SW and SE suburbs, or anywhere that you want to go within the metro area. Typically if you work on one side of the river you try to live on that side for easy commuting, but I think Highland Park benefits from a great central location from a commuting perspective. Light rail is also within 1 mile of the neighborhood and there is a bus system in St. Paul.
It seems like one of the big benefits of the suburbs would be easy access to stores like Target, and Highland Park actually has an adorable little Target in their main commercial area off of Ford Parkway & Cleveland.
Groceries are within easy reach at the Target, Lunds and Byerlys or a short drive to Kowalskis.
Children living in this area will attend St. Paul public schools Horace Mann Elementary, Highland Park Middle School, and Highland Park Senior High.
Whether you like historic homes with that old fashioned charm or you’re looking for new construction urban townhomes, this neighborhood has both, along with all the things that people choose city living for.
Let’s talk about the Real Estate Market in the twin cities! It’s been a little bit since I’ve done one of these updates, and typically there is some seasonality to the real estate market, with a big slow down in the fall as holidays approach and things picking up in the early spring. Is that the case this year? Let’s find out!
So, how’s the market? If there is one question every agent hears all the time, this is IT! And I think everyone knows the market has been GREAT for sellers and really rough for buyers, so the question is has that changed? The information I’ll give you here applies to the 7 county metro area, but you should know that every neighborhood has its own micro market and behaves a bit independently from the whole, this information is just a snapshot of the general market behavior right now, if you’re curious about your own little niche – let me know and I get you more specific #’s that apply to your specific area in the metro – just send me an email about that and I’m happy to help.
I was able to get a look at some historical data comparing this year to 10 years ago and one of the things that stood out were that the # of active listings that are available to be sold has continually decreased to nearly HALF of what we had then – we had 10,229 homes to choose from in 2016 and now have only 5,692. This isn’t sudden, it’s a distinct trend line going down over the past 10 years. The inventory issue did not sneak up on us and it isn’t going anywhere.
If it’s prices that are freaking you out they peaked in summer and we are now seeing the fall dip. So this could be the time to get a better deal on a home than getting into the scrum with everyone else during peak season.
If you remember from other updates, I like to reference the “absorption rate” how many months would it take for the market to sell or absorb all the homes for sale on the market if no others were listed?
5-7 months worth of housing inventory is considered “balanced” and any number of months less than that indicates a sellers market and a number HIGHER than that is a buyers market.
Right now we have 1.03 mo supply of single family homes, 1.34 mo supply or condos and townhomes, and 1.12 combined mo supply of homes total. A very distinct sellers market! STILL! but better in some degree than earlier this summer when it was less than one month – somewhere around 2-3 weeks, and that takes into consideration days on market and active contingencies like inspection. Reality was that things were sold in a couple of days. And that is STILL the reality depending the price point, condition and the location of the home.
Let’s look at what sellers are deeming a good offer right now:
Offer Acceptance Rate: 62% -this has been as low as about 33% this year
Inspections Waived: 31% which is down from the highs over 50%. I am still seeing this come up a lot in multiple offer situations, and if people are bidding on a competitive house getting an inspection can still be a sticking point.
Pre-MLS Sales: 2.74% – this is lower than it’s been for most of this year – we have seen these off market properties make up around 5% of sales over most of the summer
Average Purchase to List Price: sellers are getting of their asking price 100.67% – great news for buyers and not awful news for sellers. You’ll probably get your asking price.
I will say that this is much MORE likely if it is a single family home as condos and townhomes are still soft spots.
The most recent 3 transactions that I have had have ALL had multiple offers, (7-9 offers), one had an accepted offer at 10% over list price, one at nearly 6% over list and the last I don’t know the outcome because we didn’t get it but we offered (and lost) at 10% over list and were told they accepted a cash offer with NO contingencies (no inspection!).
All of these homes were in the tightest price bracket of $300-$500K. No matter what the statistics say this continues to be an area of really fierce competition when it comes to homes that are in high demand areas and in good condition.
Cash 14%, – if you have the means to make this kind of offer it can really give you an edge. I am aware of some mortgage products that allow you to make a cash offer so if you’re in a competitive price point, and feel like this might be the answer, know that there are options out there and I give help you find out about this.
Conventional loans are still the big dog at 74% of loans.
FHA represented 10% of the accepted offers which is a nice bump up! This is great to see for people that may be first time buyers and need the extra room that an FHA loan grants them. It’s just been difficult to get an FHA loan accepted in this market when you’re being outbid by people that can guarantee appraisal gaps or provide other financial incentives (like cash purchases!).
VA 1% still a tough spot to be in , if you’re not familiar with VA loans, they are a zero down loan. This is a really tough spot when appraisal gap coverage is needed, so if you’re in a position to take any other type of loan, that would probably be beneficial to your offer.
USDA 0% – these are typically on land or rural purchases, seeing a low number here for a metro area is not surprising.
Other = 1%.
Seller Paid Closing Costs: 31% – this keeps going up!
Home Warranties: were included 9.6% – another statistic on the rise – so these indicators all show a very slight softening from the harsh days of early summer for buyers
Contingent Upon the Sale of the Buyer’s Property: 7.5% A little lower than we’ve seen in other months, but present!
Thanks for stopping by! If you’re interested in learning more about the different neighborhoods and suburbs around the twin cities, check out some of my videos highlighting those! I have a playlist dedicated to this with lots of good information if you’re thinking about making a move.
Want that small town, walkable feel without a major commute? Think about Hopkins!
If you like a small town feel, with easy access to all of the things that the city has to offer – as well as access to the joys of the more rural areas outside of the immediate metro, Hopkins may be for you!
Hopkins MN seems to fly under the radar – it has a tendency to be overlooked, it’s a bit of a small town tucked into a 4 square mile pocket surrounded by the larger, more well known suburbs of Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Edina. Hopkins sits just west of Minneapolis, it’s a small suburb with only about 18,000 people and it’s part of in Hennepin County MN.
A little bit of Hopkins history – By the 1920s, growing raspberries had become a big business for Hopkins area farmers. It is estimated that at one time the Hopkins area had over 800 acres planted in raspberries! Most were used for fresh market consumption. It became known as the “Raspberry Capital of the World.” Hopkins still celebrates this although now it’s is far from being a farming community – the street signs have a raspberry logo on them and they still hold a festival every year.
I have done a LOT of videos highlighting different suburbs in the twin cities metro – some of them are circled here, but you should check out my neighborhoods and suburbs playlist on YouTube for more.
Commute times are easy by car – it is only 3 miles to the border of Minneapolis as it is, but driving to downtown takes approximately 20 minutes via 394, or about 24 minutes to MSP airport via 494.
One of the main things I love about Hopkins is the adorable downtown area. It still has a historic feel, it’s a walkable city with sidewalks in the city center as well as throughout the neighborhoods which have a lot of pretty, older homes in neighborhoods branching out from the main street area. Main street is lined with shops and restaurants, the local library, post office and city hall are in the town center, as well as the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
Hopkins has a nice mix of housing – including single family homes, and newer condos that are close to downtown and transportation. Speaking of transportation – Hopkins Station is right on what will be the newly expanded light rail line. Lots of construction around that and the southern portion of the Cedar Lake Trail which runs along side it right now, but once this is completed it should be a real asset to people that live in Hopkins and want to get downtown to to the airport without driving.
All this charm and convenience and it comes at an affordable price compared to many suburbs in the Twin cities metro area as a whole. Currently (july 2021) Hopkins Median price for a single family home is $353,100 which is just slightly higher than that of the twin cities as a whole. Property tax in Hopkins is a little higher than in some of the other ‘burbs that I have profiled. The effective tax rate is 1.41%
While there is a market in the city of Hopkins it isn’t a giant SUPER market – so if you want to do a bigger shop or have a preference for one of the larger chain super markets like Lunds and Byerlys or Cub, or if you want to get to a whole foods, you’ll have to do it outside of the city of Hopkins – but the surrounding suburbs are very close and you probably won’t be inconvenienced much at all to drive to a neighboring town for groceries.
It’s not just groceries that require a trip to a neighboring town – Because of it’s small size and easy proximity to it’s neighbors, Hopkins residents share a lot of the amenities offered by the nearby suburbs.
For example, residents of Hopkins use and get resident discounts at Shady Oak Beach and park in Minnetonka. I stopped over there and I was so impressed – it looks like a great place to spend the day playing in the water (they have an inflatable obstacle course that looks like SO much fun!) and if you have little kids there is a playground and areas geared that way as well. In addition to the beach and lake there is a really nice outdoor dining area so you can come and have fun and pack a picnic or order food at the concession stand and stay all day, You can pay by the day or buy a season pass.
Other nearby parks include Lone Lake Park which has tennis & pickle ball courts, a playground, sports fields, picnic area, basketball courts and trails. It is also a part of Minnetonka.
Hopkins has several regional trails running through it, so if you enjoy biking, roller blading or walking you’re in luck. There are 4 rail trail connections in Hopkins including the 2 branches of the Cedar Lake Trail, the Lake Minnetonka regional trail (just did an out an back bike ride on this one a couple of weeks ago – 30 relatively flat miles past some gorgeous lake views and through some of the most affluent areas of the Twin Cities Metro) and lastly the Minnesota Bluffs Trail an approximately 10 mile section of aggregate trail that runs south of Lake Minnetonka out to Chanhassen and Chaska.
If you live in Bloomington or just want to bike the south section of the metro you can get on the 9 mile creek regional trail which is both segregated bike trail and some lanes on streets, but it connects from Bloomington (and possibly further east) through Richfield, Edina, Minnetonka and up to Hopkins. I have ridden this one before as well and there are points that I found less than well marked so it’s good to have your phone with you for GPS. The official tally on this one is about 14.6 miles each way, but if you get lost and wander you can really up your mileage. Good times when you’re tired … not.
Hopkins schools are ranked highly on Niche.com with an A+ rating, but as I always mention, make sure you do your own homework and meet with the administrators and make sure that the schools are right for YOUR child. Everyone is different.
Even though Hopkins is smaller, the district boundaries kind of weave their their way through several of the neighboring suburbs and there are some kids that live in pockets of Plymouth, Edina, Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka that may attend Hopkins schools. I also did a video on open enrollment in schools in MN, it’s kind of a nice thing to have if you want to send your kid out of district to another school. Not guaranteed, but an option!
This post would not be complete if I didn’t let you know where you can get your eye candy – aka books!
Hopkins has a great library and it is right downtown where you can easily bike or walk to it. It is a part of the Hennepin County Library system, and is one of the 41 branches. If you want a book, they can get it for you! Hennepin county library has a really impressive budget for books – Ive been looking for the actual number but I can’t find it today! I just remember my jaw hitting the floor followed by green with envy feelings and then realizing that I can read any of those books! The HCL system has recently done completely away with fines too! YAY!!
Alright – chickens. I always need to end with chickens and fences.
Chickens are recently permitted in Hopkins – as of August 2020. And fences are allowed – heights vary by where the fence is placed – typically 4′ in front, 6 in back.
Final recommendation: the Hopkins web site is a very nice source of information for just about any question you can think of regarding the day to day details of living in Hopkins.
If Hopkins is in the running for you I strongly recommend check it out!
Another surprising community! Today I’ll show you around New Hope MN and give you all the reasons you may want to consider living there.
Lately I’ve been working with several first time buyers, and if you remember buying your first home you probably didn’t have a massive pile of money for a down payment as many people who may have equity from a sale do, so you have to look for a starter house in a more affordable neighborhood.
That’s where New Hope comes in! A quick look at what is on the market right now illustrates my point – there are 30 active homes in New Hope ranging from a 1 bed 1 bath condo for $115,000 to only a few homes in the mid-upper $500’s with MOST homes being single family homes in the upper $200,000’s to mid $300,000’s. The MEDIAN price in New Hope is at $309,000 whereas the Twin Cities Median is at $380,000.
If you’re an investor and want to rent out a residential property you must register the property with the city.
In addition to single family homes and people just starting out in life, New Hope makes senior living a priority as well. They have 3 long term care facilities, some assisted living complexes and senior citizen apartment homes.
Let’s talk Property taxes… New Hope is in Hennepin County, the effective property tax rate in New Hope is 1.35%. Hennepin County’s portion is 1.28%, the effective tax rate for the state of MN is 1.08%. Sales taxes since I looked this up as well – MN has a sales tax rate of 6.88% on everything except (I believe!) food, prescriptions and clothing, and the sales tax rate in New Hope is 7.13%.
The beauty of New Hope is not only the affordable home prices, but that New Hope is actually a really lovely community and it has a lot to offer.
New Hope is an easy commute to downtown or the airport. It’s only about 20 minutes by car to downtown. and Because I’m such a fan of our regional parks I also want to point out how close New Hope is to the beautiful Theodore Wirth Park. I touched on this park in my Golden Valley video (which you can watch next!) but Theodore Wirth really has it all. It’s just gorgeous, and can keep you busy outside no matter what season we’re in.
If you are leaving town or going to fetch a visitor, it’s about 26 minutes to MSP airport and while you’re down there you can stop by the Mall of America and get your shopping done or amuse the kids on the roller coasters. I was a major skeptic because I am not really a “mall person”, but I like “The Mall”! It has so many great stores that you don’t see everywhere else, some nice food options and my kid and I had fun doing some of the rides the first time we stopped in. Being close to it is nice because it can just be something you do for an hour or two and you don’t have to feel like you need to spend all day there since you can go back any time. The Ikea is right next to the mall as well, so if you like. Swedish Meatballs and cryptic assembly instructions for affordable furniture that utilize allen wrenches – you’ll be in heaven!
New Hope does NOT have it’s own school district, all schools in New Hope are part of the Robbinsdale Schools aka ISD 281. It’s a pretty big district with 10 k-5 elementary schools, 2 middle and 2 high schools. I always recommend that you do your research and see if the school district that your home is in is one that you will be happy with. You can check out Niche.com or GreatSchools, but another option is to actually VISIT the schools and talk to the administration and see things for yourself.
Speaking of brain food… New Hope residents have convenient use of 3 branches of the Hennepin County Library system. They can easily access Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center, Golden Valley’s adorable little library, or the Rockford Library in Crystal. One of my favorite topics when giving community profiles is the park systems. I just think green space improves the quality of life for everyone. New Hope agrees! They are a small city (only about 21,000 residents) but they have 18 city parks and several other venues offering all kinds of recreational activities including:
the new Hope aquatic center which is a community pool and water slide
2 off leash dog parksa 9 hole public golf course
disc golf course
a skate park
tennis / pickleball courts
Community gyms with basketball courts that can be rented out for the day
and 3 outdoor skating rinks that are open in season.
The city hosts a Farmers Market on Saturdays from the middle of June through the middle of October at City Hall.
New Hope allows for a LOT of pets – 3 dogs, 3 cats and 3 “other” household pets, as well as 3 “fowl”, This is not restricted to actual chickens – if you want ducks instead – go crazy! All dogs, cats and ferrets need to be licensed and vaccinated for rabies.
Fencing – IS ALLOWED! 🙂
OK – that is ALL I HAVE on New Hope! It’s a lovely community that I feel lucky to have worked in lately. It offers a lot of great options to people that may be priced out of other areas of the city. It’s 100% worth considering if you’re wondering where to live in the twin cities metro. If you like this kind of content – I have an entire playlist of neighborhoods/suburbs on my YouTube Channel that you can look at to see what feels right for you.
Is the feeding frenzy OVER?!? Not quite, but it seems to be a LOT better? Of course that is relative! and in this case I mean relative to the crazy times we were in in March – May!
In this video and blog post I’m giving you the current conditions of the market for the 7 county Twin Cities area broken down by property type and then I’ll go into a bit about what we see as far as what terms are resulting in accepted offers right now. These are the encouraging signs I’ve been looking for!
This year has definitely been one for the books! It has been the strongest sellers market that anyone I know can remember – and this is AMAZING if you have a home to SELL! Prices are higher than ever and you can dictate the terms for the MOST part – HOWEVER! Buyers! Do not despair! Things ARE getting easier for you now (at least compared to a couple of months ago when it was an all out SCRUM!)
A note about these graphs – I chose to make them show monthly ups and downs without the smoothing effect that softens the seasonal aspects, so keep that in mind as you look at the dips and heights. the market changes constantly, and this shows those changes month to month.
The median SFH price in the Twin Cities sits at $380,000 – that is UP from $326,100 at the beginning of this year.
You’ll often hear me talk about the “absorption rate” or the # of months supply of housing available to be sold if no other homes were to go on the market. For context it is considered a BALANCED market if there is 5-6 months of supply. We have been UNDER 1 month for different segments of the market for much of this year, mainly anything under about about $600K. Right now we are STILL at .8 months for anything under about $400k. For single family homes in general we are at a little over 1 month’s supply of homes.
Homes are only on the market for FIVE DAYS!!! a year and a half ago it was FOURTY FIVE! And only 6 months ago around 20! So still homes are still flying off the market.
Let’s look at the 2 softer spots – Townhomes and Condos.
The median price for a townhome is consistent with the rest of the market rise in prices and is at $271,000 from $240,000 in January.
For Townhomes there is a little uptick in supply and we have a full month available right now.
Condos! This is the place if you’re looking for any kind of deal! Sellers are negotiating! You can get an INSPECTION! 🙂 Condo prices are at $171,000 for a median price, up a similar amount from the beginning of the year as other property types are.
The supply of condos is where the opportunity comes in – Still a sellers market but for people selling condos it can feel like a whole different world. There are 2.5 months worth of inventory available. This has dropped a small amount since January but has been relatively flat this year overall.
Now let’s look at what kinds of offers are being accepted!
This is a valuable bit of information that the Minnesota Transaction Coordinators gives us on a regular basis and I’ll add my 2 cents to about what I am seeing (although as a much smaller segment of the market)
Offer Acceptance Rate: 42%
Inspections Waived: 31% – we haven’t been in the 30% range since March
My 2 cents: the last 6 contracts (this past month or so) that I have either written or accepted have had inspections included and accepted. that’s 100% of my sales in the past several weeks. I’ve been thrilled for my buyers and I am 100% fine with it for my seller as well because I feel like inspections protect EVERYONE, the buyer, the seller and ME.
Pre-market Sales that happen without hitting the MLS : 2.8%. This is DOWN from earlier this year! It was over 5% for quite a while – maybe due to pandemic fears about having too many people in a home?
Average Purchase to List Price: 102.7% – about the lowest it’s been since the spring market!
Still great for sellers, but also good news for buyers! And a lesson to sellers about pricing appropriately. Things change, you want to not have YOUR home sit because it’s been priced too high as well as understanding that unless you have something really special that the insane bidding wars may be over for now.
I have talked to many agents saying that showings are down from earlier this spring when agents were setting overlapping showings and having the home packed full of people for 12 hours per day. Now there are private showings again. There may be open spaces in the calendar. More than one offer may come in but they aren’t seeing the literal STACKS of offers that they were before.
Cash 11.5%, which is higher than it’s been
Conventional 68.5%, – a little lower than its been
FHA 8.5%, higher!
VA 3%, Still a rough spot! People that use VA are often choosing it because it is a no downpayment loan, which means they are short on cash. If you can’t make appraisal gap guarantees, or add other sweeteners that need ready cash available this can be a VERY tough time to buy.
USDA 8.5% (this is a high number and I wonder if it is a function of the sample size that they had – if they had 2 transactions it could hit this #). These loans are generally for rural buyers.
Seller Paid Closing Costs: are at 12%
Home Warranties: 5.7% – I was able to negotiate this recently as well!
Contingent Upon the Sale of the Buyer’s Property: 8.5% (this seems HIGH to me! I’m still cautious about having this particular contingency, it can be a real weak spot in an offer if you have any competition at all. I would avoid this at all costs or you may have to make it an offer they can’t refuse due to price, or magically find a seller that wants to stay a little longer.
And that is ALL for this week. I’ll be back next week with some more neighborhood profiles. I’ve been AWOL due to this insane market and actually getting a vacation for the first time in YEARS. No regrets. 😉
My last post & video about this were pretty well received, so even though numbers aren’t flashy, I’m going to try to make this a monthly feature as we navigate through this crazy market. This post has some good little nuggets in it if you’re in certain segments of the market, so stick with me.
There is an obvious lag in the data because we need to look after homes close and that shows up in the MLS, but I do get some data relatively quickly thanks to Minnesota Transaction Coordinators, a company that helps many of us with processing our transactions.
Let’s start there with their analysis of terms that they see in contracts.
In the past couple of months we’ve seen quite a few buyers deciding to waive the inspection in order to release one more contingency ahead of everyone else. By “a lot” I mean 38% of buyers were waiving inspection in the first 2.5 weeks of the month, but when they looked at the first through the 26th the rate went to 31%. That means that enough people have STOPPED waiving them to lower this percentage by 7%. Buyers are insisting on protecting themselves and sellers are acquiescing to that.
Offer acceptance rates
Even better, offer acceptance has gone from 31% for the month last week, to 39% for the month over all as of the 26th. YAY!!!! Sellers are accepting offers! I represent a lot of buyers and it has just been TOUGH. So this is great news.
Homes listed on the open market vs witheld
In an office as large as mine, we often hold listings off market and only market to agents within the office. This shrinks the pool of who looks at the house which is desirable for a lot of reasons – from Covid, to privacy, to simply wanting to not have to deal with the preparation and hassle of selling on the open market. Sellers can name their terms and if another agent has a buyer that can meet those, there is a happy meeting of the minds without all of the associated prep work, exposure, etc and everyone feels satisfied. The number of sales that they have worked on in this status is down to 5.6%. This is good because more homes are hitting the market than have been.
Percentage of list price received
Current purchase price to list price ratio is “down to” 104% from 105% last week. It has been hovering between 103% and 105% in the past couple of months. It’s good to have that number in mind, even though it’s not a fixed price, it’s an idea of what you should think about when offering on a property that has a lot of interest. Price is not the entirety of a an offer, there are a lot of other terms that need to be in line as well, but this is good info for this metric.
Seller paid closing costs
26% of deals include some seller paid closing costs. I have to assume in this market that the offer price was increased to account for these, but I like that we are seeing it because it means sellers are accepting these terms.
Forms of financing
76% of loans are conventional (you do NOT need 20% down for a conventional loan! These are viewed as more favorable and if you can get a conventional loan it’s one more check mark on the list of terms).
FHA loans represent 10% of the offers, CASH 10%, and VA & USDA loans are at 4%.
Traditionally, inventory really increases around this time of year (inventory = homes being listed and available for sale). We currently have less than HALF of the listings we had 6 months ago.
Good news for downtown condo buyers!
Downtown condos are in a balanced market right now! If you are looking for a condo in the central city including neighborhoods like Loring Park, Downtown, University, Dinkytown, Elliot Park etc… now is the time. We believe that this is caused by the pandemic and people wanting to live in less dense housing + fewer people needing to be downtown for work, but don’t expect it to last with the speedy rollout of vaccine and life returning to somewhat new normal.
Days on Market are up to 41 (only from 38), but these are the kinds of indicators that let buyers know that they will not likely have to pay more than list, that sellers will be willing to negotiate because they know you can find another condo to buy and someone will play ball with you.
So that is what is happening! Sellers are still mostly in control of things, but if you’re a downtown condo buyer you’re in the sweet spot!
Do small towns appeal to you? I love them. They make me think of community and knowing your neighbors and the businesspeople in town. Especially when they have a charming, walkable, central area with great shops and restaurants where people will gather. Let’s see what is going on in Northfield MN!
Even better, in my opinion, is when the town is the home to a college – or in this case, two colleges! Having students and academic institutions around do a lot for small town life. It brings the energy of youth, the cultural pursuits of the college, and it also pumps the local economy full of money spent by students, teachers and staff.
Northfield MN is home to St. Olaf College (approximately 3000 students) as well as Carleton College (approximately 2000 students). Both are private, competitive, liberal arts schools founded in the 1800’s.
Northfield is located on the banks of the Cannon River and the downtown area centers itself on that feature. It was founded in 1855 and the charm of the historic downtown reflects the long history. Watch my video so you can get a live look at the downtown. It’s cute!
For a small town, Northfield has a LOT of parks! There are 30 city parks!
Northfield has a dog park right on the river, 6 outdoor skating rinks in the winter and the Northfield Ice Arena for year round hockey and skating.
In downtown Northfield you’ll find Bridge Square which is the heart of the city and the site of summer concerts and festivals like the “Defeat of Jesse James Days” fest in September of every year – Northfield’s claim to fame is that the James gang once tried to rob the bank in downtown! Nothing like a little armed robbery to encourage an annual festival…
In addition to typical parks, Northfield has 10 soccer fields at the Spring Creek Soccer Complex, a public pool with a low daily price – I think I read $4.75 / day?!? at the Old Memorial Pool. Sign me up! Our pool up here is closer to $15/day. cray. If baseball is your thing – you will likely be playing at the Sechler Athletic complex home to 4 baseball fields and adjacent to the Mill Towns Trail.
From the state DNR site: “When complete, the Mill Towns State Trail will connect the cities of Faribault, Dundas, Northfield, Waterford, Randolph, and Cannon Falls, for a distance of approximately 25 miles. The trail will be an important link in the developing southeast Minnesota trail system, connecting the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Faribault with the western end of the Cannon Valley Trail in Cannon Falls.” I love a good trail! If you live in Minnesota, chances are good that you do too.
Awards- Northfield brings home the bling
Northfield racks up the awards, they clearly have the attention of those who like to rank cities. If you check out the city web site you’ll find a comprehensive list, but there were multiple mentions for things like “Best Cities to Live in America” and “Safest Cities MN”.
Northfield MN Schools
Niche.com gives the Northfield schools and overall grade of “A”. The district consists of 3 elementary schools: Sibley, Bridgewood & Greenvale Park with a total enrollment of around 1600 students and a student teacher ratio of 16:1. The elementary students then move on to Northfield Middle School & Northfield High School – each also graded “A” by Niche.com.
Demographics – who lives in Northfield?
Median household income in Northfield is higher than the national average at $70,148. The population of Northfield is around 20,000 people.
67% of residents are homeowners and the median single family home price is less than the twin cities metro median, but on a consistent rise over the past 3 years.
I also pulled information for townhomes. Those prices are HIGHER than the median in the twin cities… maybe a function of supply and demand?
Northfield Public Library
The Northfield library is right in the heart of downtown. It is in yet another historic looking building but the interior is throughly bright and modern. They finished an interior renovation in 2016, but kept the exterior in the character of this charming town. It was originally built in 1908 with a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie! Interesting bit of historical trivia.
Grocery Stores that serve the Northfield area
I did a video on Twin Cities groceries and now I’m adding this to everything… I love food. Knowing what shopping options there are (especially in a small town!) is important to me, so with that in mind I will now unveil the map o’ food:
I think because it’s a college town of relatively decent size, they have a good amount of options from budget choices like ALDI, to Cub & Target and up near the center of town is the co-op. I don’t know what a Minnesota town would be like without a natural foods co-op. It’s a thing here.
I kind of stumbled on this while I was researching but wow! I think this looks like such a great resource for the no longer spring chickens… Northfield has a senior center that has an absolutely gorgeous gym, classes in the arts and a bunch of continuing ed / lifelong learning classes. It seems like such a great resource for community and fun. I hate the thought of anyone staying put in their homes when there are options like this available. Check out FiftyNorth.
The Cowling Arboretum is a part of Carleton College. It is 800 acres of land that is open dawn to dusk daily to enjoy the outdoors. They do have trails for cross country skiing in winter!
The Goodsell Observatory is on the campus of Carleton College and is such a beautiful old building. In normal (non-covid times) the Goodsell offers open houses for people to come in and take a look. Looking forward to having that option again (soon)!
I think that’s it?
Northfield has a LOT going on for a town this size. I start these profiles thinking it will be short and sweet and end up finding more and more as I look. It’s great because I now feel like I have a good bit of knowledge about a lot of places around the twin cities – I love that for me, but I really love that it helps me help other people who are trying to figure out where they want to live.
Plymouth is another big, popular suburb that lies directly west of the city of Minneapolis.
Who lives here? Download my neighborhood report and find out! It’s full of all kinds of information about the people and housing in Plymouth!
Why do people choose Plymouth MN when looking at Minneapolis suburbs? A lot of reasons! I have my usual suspects that I like to highlight when I do area snapshots and Plymouth scores highly on just about everything.
One thing I’ve started really taking note of lately is the differences between the east and west sides of the city. The western suburbs seem to me to be more established and solidly residential and with that comes a lot of the things that I think make neighborhoods nice to live in. Of course, this is not hard and fast, the eastern side of the city has established neighborhoods as well, but it also has a lot of new construction, which means homes that are built on former farm land, not many mature trees, and infrastructure still being built around it.
For quality of life, I think having a lot of green space and parks are important. Being packed into neighborhoods without having these spaces to enjoy the outdoors and time with family and friends makes an area less appealing to me.
Plymouth has some great options for green space. Because Plymouth is located out in what I think of as the “lakes area” of the metro – near Lake Minnetonka and the smaller lakes around it – the terrain is more rolling and seems to have more mature trees.
Plymouth has used that to their advantage with 1,855 acres of park land, including 174 miles of trails. Part of the trail system that goes through Plymouth is called the Luce Line Trail which is a 63 mile long converted railway to use for walking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snow mobiling. Some sections have parallel trails for use by horseback riders as well. There are 12 parking lots along the trail for easy access. Check out the web site to see more info on this trail and get a map of entry points.
Another massive undertaking is the Northwest Greenway – they are currently on the 5th addition to this and per the Plymouth Parks and Rec web site have added something that sounds super fun and a great way to get kids outdoors, a Challenge Course!
“The Northwest Greenway Challenge Course, a new park amenity for ages 13 and older, offers unique activity challenges involving netting, climbing, balancing and agility on a variety of structures. The Challenge Course is located on the east side of Peony Lane, south of 54th Ave. N. — view on Google Maps.”
Plymouth also has three public beaches, three dog parks, seven ice rinks maintained by parks & rec. that are open from December to February, as well as the Ice Center which has 3 pro-sized ice sheets that are used for open skating, adult hockey leagues and home hockey games for Wayzata High School & Providence Academy.
Plymouth housing prices are above the Twin Cities median prices (most suburbs are). Plymouth does have a variety of housing, from townhomes & small single-level homes, to what I think of as a “typical” suburban neighborhoods and on up to very large single family homes. My video has content showing what each of these look like, but I’ll add the median home price graphs here for pricing over the past 3 years.
If you are considering Plymouth it may be because of the great reputation of the schools there. One thing to know is that children attend school in one of three school districts (Wayzata, Osseo & Robbinsdale schools) depending on where they live in Plymouth. It’s important to do your own research and know which schools will meet the needs of your children. Some of the schools are considered to be among the best in the state and others don’t rank that high. Your agent can include or exclude homes based on the school districts that you prefer or want to eliminate.
I like to cook, and most people like to eat. 😉 Everyone has a different budget and a different place that they feel great shopping in. I did a video on the most common grocery stores that you will see in the Twin Cities, so you can check that out if you want to get more of a feel for what is around here. I don’t think MN has the best reputation for having a wide variety of foods available (Nordic people seemed to like things relatively bland?) but things are changing. Most stores have more “obscure” seasonings and ingredients now, but there are also specialty groceries that are around and personally – I love to go into them and pick out somethings to try. You can see from the map below that Plymouth has no lack of options and you shouldn’t have to drive more than a couple of miles to get ingredients to get dinner on the table, I was geeked up when I saw Indian Bazaar, Kadai Foods and the Russian Market. Little treats like this make me really happy. My mouth likes spices and variety.
You’ll also notice Target on here- we have more Target stores per capita than any other state. I made that up. But it’s probably true since the HQ is here. There are several shopping centers with the usual big box stores and smaller shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a mall, the closest one will be Ridgedale Center Mall – right off 394 just on the eastern side of 494. That’s also where you’ll likely find the closest Whole Foods, if that’s your thing.
I love my public libraries! Plymouth library does not disappoint! It is fairly new, the current building was completed in 2010. It’s a bright, clean, open space with meeting rooms and a great children’s area. I’ve been up there for library sponsored talks and they do a great job bringing in content and programming that people may be interested in. The Plymouth Library is one branch of the 41 library Hennepin County library system. Because Hennepin County uses a main library / branch system everything you want is not necessarily at the branch closest to your home, but chances are that they have it and you can get it sent to your local branch fairly quickly.
OK – last bit. Many of us are working from home, but a lot of people still commute to their job. In Plymouth that means getting in your personal car and driving there. 75% of residents commute 30 minutes or less to their job, and if you look at the map up top you can see why – Plymouth has easy access to the major highways that crisscross the metro, so no matter where you need to be it’s likely about 30 minutes max to get there.
Are you a new home owner? Is this your first winter in the northern part of the country? Your house takes on a whole new meaning when it’s what is standing between you and below zero temps, howling winds and piles of snow.
In this post, I want to give you some tips for winterizing your home and heading off potential trouble right when you want it least. These aren’t in any particular order, and almost all of them are easy to accomplish, but NOT doing them can lead to a world of hurt.
Tune up your furnace. Have someone come out and service it and make sure that it’s functioning well. One thing you’ll notice is that furnaces malfunction at the very worst of times – probably because a lot more is being asked of them when it’s very cold and you want this to be the time when your furnace rises to the challenge.
If you have a high efficiency gas furnace, you will have 2 PVC pipes that exhaust out the side of your home. It is really important that these two pipes are free of any obstructions. And if snow gets high enough, you’ll want to make sure that the snow isn’t blocking them either.
Make sure you change the filter, and change it monthly when the weather gets cold and it’s running. Contrary to common belief – you want a thinner filter!We had been spending all kinds of money on “good filters” only to be told by our furnace tech that it actually inhibits airflow and that is BAD for the furnace – you want dirt filtered out but AIR going in for best results.
Boilers that service radiators need attention too! Once a year before it gets cold have someone take a look.
Clean and inspect your chimney. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace, before you light a fire make sure that the chimney is CLEANED. Soot builds up in the chimney and it is flammable – everyone wants to be able to put their feet up in front of the fire, but no one wants a chimney fire.
Check the batteries and AGE of your CO/smoke detectors. Winter is when carbon monoxide poisonings are most likely to happen. Make sure your batteries are functioning – we like to change them at the fall time change.
Your detectors should have a date on them, but if not know that they should be replaced every 10 years just due to the fact that dust builds up and makes them less dependable. And if it’s time to replace them – think about going with the photoelectric instead of ionization type of detector. I’ve seen demos of the difference and it can be 15 minutes more escape time gained with a photoelectric alarm.
Turn off exterior water. Before it gets truly cold, shut off water to hoses. And if you have pipes that run along exterior walls INSIDE the house – think about putting some insulation around them. Pipes can & do freeze in winter, and when this happens the water doesn’t stay inside the pipe, it flows freely throughout your walls and causes a LOT of damage. This 10 minute task will bring you a lot of peace of mind.
Clean your gutters. When all of that snow and ice melts – it needs a place to go. You want your gutters to be able to guide it AWAY from your house. Having them clean is the way to go.
Cover the TOP of your AC unit. if you have central air, don’t put a full cover over the compressor (it will attract animals looking for shelter and hold moisture in), but if you set a piece of plywood on top and put a couple of bricks on it, it keeps things from getting into the unit.
Change the rotation of your ceiling fans. Fans can switch direction, heat rises and you stay down by the floor, so if you have tall ceilings, change the setting so that the fan rotates CLOCKWISE and the warm air will be pushed downward toward where people are.
Stock up on GRIT. In MN, that’s what they call it. It’s a mix of sand that you can scatter on your sidewalks and driveway to keep yourself from wiping out. I have a friend who broke her ribs trying to walk to her car because of ice. I highly recommend trying to AVOID this with liberal use of GRIT.
Air Seal. This one… is not really DIY, but I dream of doing it to my house because I fear ice dams which are caused when heat gets into attics and melts snow which then freezes on the edge of the roof. This can cause a lot of problems that I don’t want to have. And it takes a suprisingly small amount of heated air to create this issue, so if you can have someone crawl around up in your attic and seal up any hole from wiring, pipes or chimneys that allows warm air up there, you can potentially save yourself a roof and ceiling if winter conditions cause ice dams.