Sunday, September 27, 2009

North St. Paul, MN—A Perfect Place to Call Home

People love living in North St Paul. And I am not talking about living on the north side of Minnesota’s capital city; I am referring to the City of North St Paul, located just EAST of St. Paul Minnesota along Highway 36. It is a quaint little town with a rich history that was founded in 1870 by Henry Castle on the banks of Silver Lake. He named the town’s main streets after his children, Henry, Helen, Margaret and Charles. When it incorporated in 1887, 221 people called the Village of North St. Paul home. From those humble beginnings, the town has grown considerably. As of 2008, nearly 12,000 people call the City of North St. Paul, Minnesota home.

Here is a top ten list of reasons why this community is such a great place to live.

#10—Water and Electric. Most cities provide the basic utilities of water and electricity to its residents. But few communities can boast water from five wells drilled deep into the earth for a pure, natural source of drinking water and their own power grid like North St. Paul can!

#9—Local Police and Fire. The City of North St. Paul is proud to have its own
police department and volunteer fire department.

#8—Cowern Elementary, Richardson Elementary and North St Paul High School. Go Polars! North St. Paul has two K-5 grade schools and a high school within its borders. Cowern Elementary is located on the south side of 36 at Margaret St and South Ave. While both Richardson Elementary and North High School are located on the north side of 36. Richardson bisects 16th Avenue and North is located along 11th Avenue. All three schools are an integral part of the North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale School District #622.

#7—Silver Lake Park, Beach and Fishing Pier. Many North St. Paul children have learned to swim on brisk summer mornings in the water of
Silver Lake , a tradition that continues into today! And few resident can say they have never dropped by the annual Historical Society summer Ice Cream Social for a vanilla cone scooped by a neighbor. Although there are several other parks and playgrounds scattered throughout North St. Paul, Silver Lake is one of the most often visited.

#6—Unique taste treats! Homemade French fries at
Village Pizza, Broasted Chicken from Pizza Factory and award winning homemade ice cream from the HomeTown Creamery ice cream shop are just a few of the delectable treats served daily in North St. Paul.

#5—Booya! The fall tradition of the
North St. Paul fireman’s booya is an experience that no resident of North St Paul can resist! After a night of cooking up a ‘secret recipe’stew in giant pots, the volunteer fire department serves up their brew for all. Whether purchased by the bowl or pot, it is a fall tradition enjoyed by community residents for nearly a century!

#4— Friday Night History Cruz. Love classic cars? Spend a Friday evening in North St. Paul for the
History Cruz. Hundreds of car enthusiasts invade the main street of downtown North St. Paul, 7th Avenue, to show off their prized vehicles and see the shiny chrome fenders of yesteryear.

#3—The Snowman. The snowman has been greeting the residents of North St. Paul since it was constructed in the 1970’s. It was originally downtown behind what is now K&J Catering, but later moved to a park at the corner of Hwy 36 and Margaret Street. For those keeping statistics, the snowman is 44 feet tall and weighs about 20 tons!

#2—Eclectic Options for Living. Whether you want the convenience of a low-maintenance townhome, a historical turn of the century treasure, a 1950’s rambler or bungalow, or a recently constructed, modified two story, you can find an affordable option to rent or purchase in North St Paul.

#1—Friendly People. The number one reason for living in North St Paul is the welcoming community atmosphere. Isn’t that what most people search for in a place to call home?

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shoveling in September in Anoka County MN? It’s NUTS!

Literally! Nuts…Acorns to be specific. It’s a banner year for the oak trees in our yard! Unfortunately several of the branches that provide shade on our Ham Lake driveway in the summer, drop hundreds…no thousands of acorns onto our driveway. We thought that collecting them and bringing bushels of our red and bir acorns to the DNR was a novel idea, but a 3 hour drive to Bemidji for a possible $40 a bushel is not going to happen.

So we elected to shovel the nuts after they ping like hail stones onto our vehicles. We have blown them off the driveway in the past but it doesn’t get all the acorn-butter bits that our tires have ground in during the week. Believe me, shoveling is easier than sweeping. After they are dumped onto the edge of our property, the squirrel and white-tailed deer get a one-stop smorgasbord as usually we have a few crabapples in the mix.

What fun it is to live on
Minnesota acreage!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 2009 Twin Cities Real Estate Market Video Update—Real Estate Statistical Crystal Ball Fuzzy after Tax Credit Expires

In the September Monthly Skinny produced by the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS®, it appears there are indications of a continued improving market. We have now experienced fourteen consecutive months of increased pending sales as compared to the same month the year before. Of these sales, 40% were still lender mediated (bank owned, foreclosures and short sales) but traditional sellers are starting to see more action. This is especially true for those with homes priced under $150,000. As most of this activity has been generated by the soon to expire, first time buyer tax credit, the crystal ball is fuzzy going forward as to whether the momentum of the 2009 market will continue into 2010.

My take on the market is that this report is spot-on for single family homes in Anoka County, Ham Lake, Forest Lake and throughout the Twin Cities north metro. What it doesn't mention is that townhomes and condos still have stagnant sales as have homes in the higher price points. In both of these catagories, there continues to be some amazing price opportunities as compared to the previous few years. Move up buyers and downsizers can benefit in this market if they own a home valued under $200,000, the price-point where most first time buyers are looking. Seniors who are down sizing from a reasonably sized/priced home can sell to first time buyers and obtain a condo at a steal of a price. Young families who have overgrown their starter home can move up to a larger home in the $250,000-$300,000 price range and have quite a selection to choose from.

Enjoy the video and lets hope when the crystal ball clears for 2010, the real estate statistical news remains just as positive as it has been this past year!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lakeshore, Acreage and New Construction Foreclosures that are Move-In Ready for Washington County Homebuyers!

Looking for a foreclosure, bank-owned or short sale but need to be able to live in the home immediately after closing?

Good news is that foreclosures are no longer always trashed, fixer-uppers. Today's foreclosures can be simply AWESOME! This economy has forced builders and responsible homeowners alike to let amazing properties go back to the bank. Many are still in pristine condition. Some still may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many in move in condition too.Here are a few of the treasures I noted while perusing theTwin Cities MLS in Washington County today:

  • 4+Acres in Lake Elmo. Beautiful acreage 2002 built two story 4BR/4BA/3Car home with over 3800 square feet of finished living space. Tax value $699K; bank priced $200K less
  • Lakeshore Beauty!! Almost 4700 sq ft finished, 6BR, 2 story with bank of windows to view Forest Lake. Previously listed at 700K, bank listed for under $460K.
  • Brick Rambler on 5 Acres Near Afton Alps! 5BR/3BA/3 car built in 2003 with picture perfect oak floors and huge master suite. 4000+ finished. Originally listed at $624K but foreclosure priced at $349K!
  • BRAND NEW 4BR/3BA townhome with vaulted ceilings in Forest Lake. Stainless appliances, cherry cabinets, master suite and more! Tax valued at for $262K…Bank asking $200K.
  • 2Story Oakdale New Construction Beauty! 5BR/4BA with 3 car built in 2007 with granite, stainless, 4 BR on one level and more. Builder asking price $600K but bank asking $424K.

If you are in the market for a great deal on a foreclosed home, time to get organized because the rules to buy are a bit different than when working with a traditional seller.
Seven Tips for homebuyers considering a foreclosed home:

  1. Banks LOVE clean offers. Buyers MUST be preapproved with credit checked and employment and funds verified. Documentation must accompany the offer or it won't be considered.

  2. Banks reject lowball offers...often with no negotiation. They are a business and know the value of the asset they are selling.

  3. Well priced foreclosed homes get multiple offers. Serious buyers put in their best bid first.

  4. Banks sell homes AS-IS. What you see is what you get. Buyers must be prepared to make all necessary repairs out of their own pocket after closing.

  5. Banks will not pay for inspections in most cases. This includes the septic system and/or well. Be prepared as all inspections could end up being the buyer's responsibility. If you chose to inspect the septic or the county requires a septic compliance test, expect to pay $400-$500 for this inspection. A well test will run around $150. A whole house inspection is $350-$500.

  6. Personal property is not included as part of the sale. So if the appliances are at the home when you close, they are a bonus. The bank will not remove. But they don't guarantee will remain at the home or that they are in working order. This means if someone breaks in the home prior to the closing and takes them, the bank will not replace.

  7. Having your own REALTOR® to represent your interests is essential. The listing agent is under contract to represent the bank. In many cases, the bank will not allow a dual agency so if a buyer contacts the listing agent to write the offer, the buyer does not have representation. This means all of your information goes to the bank...the listing agent is required to tell the bank everything that you say about your financing and the amount you are able or willing to pay. But the agent is not required to tell you anything in return. The agent works only for the bank.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Almost Wordless Wednesday--Appletime in Anoka County Minnesota!

The apples are ready to pick and eat in Minnesota! I took this shot before we started picking all the apples off this tree. The white-tailed deer are the tip off that they are ready...When we saw the doe and fawn munching our apples off the tree last week, we knew we'd better get picking fast.

The local wildlife are not after the crab apples or golden delicious trees in our Ham Lake backyard yet. Guess we need a few more cool nights in Ham Lake to bring out the sweetness in those varieties. (We don't eat the crabapples but hear they make great jelly!)

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm