“Best Of” 2008

12 01 2009

A new year means a whole new opportunity for the Twin Cities to appear on “Best Of” lists. 2008 was a good year for the cities, as they appeared on multiple lists.

Tell us – what keeps you in Minneapolis?

Here are some lists that highlight the TC:

Cooking Light Best Cities – Minneapolis is number four on the list.

Fit Pregnancy – names Minneapolis the second best city in the nation to have a baby.

Forbes named Minneapolis one of the best cities for outdoors.

CNN Money named Plymouth the best city to live in.


America’s Best Long-Term Housing Bets

23 12 2008

1. Seattle, Wash.
Job-growth projections 2008-2017: 1.5%

Seattle’s peak building period in the 1980s run-up was in the second quarter of 1986. The Savings & Loan crisis didn’t fully halt building activity until the fourth quarter of 1992. What lands it in the first position on this list is the combination of strong job growth with a building cycle that hasn’t run in high excess of demand and, in part, its constrained geography. Especially compared to cities on the West Coast, Seattle has historically not overheated in boom times.

2. Washington, D.C.
Job-growth projections 2008-2017: 0.9%

Building activity hit high points in the second quarter of 1986 and the first quarter of 2006. In the most recent bust, D.C.’s exurbs have been particularly hard hit. Even so, the region has the lowest rate of unemployment in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite recent building exuberance, it has the second lowest demand volatility in the country, meaning that vacancies have historically been very low.

3. San Antonio, Texas
Job-growth projections 2008-2017: 2.0%

There may be little zoning in Texas, and the state may be a model of sprawl (read: lots of homes built in good times), but San Antonio has fared better than its Lone Star brethren throughout the peaks and valleys of the last 20 years. Volatility in home building and vacancy were in the middle of the pack nationally, while the metro area’s job-growth figures have been national leaders.

4. Minneapolis, Minn.
Job-growth projections 2008-2017: 1.1%

Minneapolis has not experienced the same sort of booms seen elsewhere. In the most recent run-up, building activity peaked in the third quarter of 2004; this will help the market in the short term as it means less new inventory dragging down prices. The city’s real strength is its economy, which has less of a manufacturing base than most Midwestern cities and hosts a handful of multinational corporations.

5. New York, N.Y.
Job-growth projections 2008-2017: 0.6%

Part of why New York City prices are so expensive is because the cost to build is one of the highest in the country. There’s also no open land to be found. While that hurts affordability, it stems overbuilding relative to demand. Historically, the New York metro area has the lowest vacancy fluctuations of any city in the country. Unless a new island is added, expect that to continue.

Read the full article here.

New housing development in Merriam Park

15 12 2008


Many Merriam Park residents are attracted to the St. Paul neighborhood for its stately historic homes, endless biking and walking trails along the Mississippi River and its quick commute to both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Within Merriam Park’s borders (University Avenue to the north, Summit Avenue to the south, Lexington Parkway to the east and the river to the west) are also some prestigious landmarks including the University of St. Thomas and the Eastcliff mansion, home of the University of Minnesota president.

Now a St. Paul condo developer is banking that when Merriam Park homeowners wish to downsize, they’ll want to remain rooted in the neighborhood they love.

Wellington Management is building Shadow Falls Rowhouses, which are slated for completion in June, at the corner of Marshall and Otis avenues. A closed church was formerly on the one-acre site.

“The project is designed to look like a contemporary version of a traditional rowhouse,” said architect Peter Keely, owner of Collage Urban Design Studio, St. Paul. The scale and style of the three buildings, which have a brick and fiber cement siding exterior, fit in the surrounding neighborhood, he said.

The three-story buildings will hold 12 one- and two-story homes, some designed with an attached private garage and windows on four sides, with views of the Town and Country Club golf course across Marshall Avenue.

“It will feel more like living in a residential neighborhood than in a big complex,” said Tanya Bell, vice president of acquisitions and development for Wellington Management. “But it’s also near downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

Merriam Park experienced a housing boom when a railroad line linked the two downtowns in 1880. The area’s wide range of architectural styles include Queen Anne in the oldest sections, Colonial Revival along Summit Avenue and Tudor, Craftsman and Colonial designs following in later years.

The average sales price for a Merriam Park home so far this year is $266,156, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Shadow Falls rowhouses range from $420,000 to $780,000, which is less than many of the upper-bracket homes in the area.

“We’ve tried to keep the cost below the value of single-family homes along East River Road, in the Shadow Falls and Mac-Groveland areas and along Summit Avenue,” said Bell. Empty-nesters who plan to sell in order to move into association-maintained condos are one of the target markets.

The company started construction without presales, so all units are available. “Buyers want to see a building before making a commitment in this market,” Bell said.

Lynn Underwood • Star Tribune • December 13, 2008

First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

1 08 2008

New legislation has been signed that makes first time home buyers who purchased property after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009 eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. There are a few stipulations. You can read more about the program by visiting: www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. As always, be sure to check with your financial advisor for further details.

Fannie and Freddie – our two best friends

15 07 2008

U.S. plan to save Fannie and Freddie

“The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve on Sunday outlined a comprehensive government plan to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the two mortgage finance giants that play a crucial role in the U.S. economy.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the Bush administration plans to ask Congress to enact legislation to temporarily increase the line of credit that the companies have with the Treasury. It would also allow the Treasury to buy stock in the companies.”

Bernanke and Paulson just got a lot hotter!

Almost there

12 06 2008

Housing numbers are in from May and the news is good. Well, the news is not bad, which is a huge improvement. With three percent fewer houses on the market than last year, the supply of houses is beginning to shrink. Fewer houses on the market leads to greater demand. Greater demand leads to increased value. And increased value leads to happy, smiling homeowners.  

Below is an excerpt from an article titled, Is housing turnaround around the corner? in today’s Star Tribune:

“The market is losing weight,” said Kevin Knudsen, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors and a branch manager for Coldwell Banker Burnet. “If this pattern continues, it [signals] the recovery of that marketplace.”

 Recovery. What a beautiful word.

Twice in one week…more positive press

10 05 2008

More good news on the housing front: new listings are down over 11 percent from where they were last year.  Fewer houses on the market means an increase in demand, something the housing market hasn’t had much of in the past few months.

“There’s a long ways to go before we’re out of the buyer’s market, ” said Pat Paulson of Exit Lakes Realty in Wayzata. “It’s a long process, but it starts with reduced seller activity.”

Read “Housing market more stable as listings decrease” in the Star Tribune.