Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
First of all, I do believe tomorrow is the fourth of July, NOT the fourth of January. Snow has not been seen in Minnesota since March, so why is the photo of this home still in the MLS? The white wire reindeer just scream "Buy Me".
Monday, June 22, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A recent incident that is now recurring is forcing me to write this post about copyright of photos used on this site. (Notice the "Do not Copy" notice on the leftside of this blog.) To some people, it is ok to go onto the Internet and lift photos of other peoples work. They then use these photos on their websites without permission. They either do not care or don't know the law, but either way, what they are doing is stealing....oh, and Copyright infringement.
As a visitor to this blog, I am sure you can easily see that I travel around the area taking photos of historic homes (and other places around the Twin Cities), then post them to my blog with a story about the home. It's what I do, and the whole reason for this blog, which is to educate locals and others about the great historic resource we have in Minnesota through our homes and buildings. Taking these photos takes time, energy, patience, and creative thought.
What many people fail to realize is that even though the Internet is public domain, the content is not free for all to use. The general rule of thumb (in this instance) is that once a photo hits a hard drive, it is considered copywritten. The photo does not have to have a copyright notice on the photo, nor a big C. In order to use a photo, one must obtain permission from the source. So for those people out there that "right click and save" and then use the photo, you are committing copyright infringement.
Any excuse you give does not matter. Taking something created by another without permission is wrong.
I could go into greater detail, but I don't want to clutter up my nice blog with a post such as this. I just want you to know, that I work hard to write this blog, so please do not steal my stuff. Simple as that.
If you want to learn more about Copyright law as it pertains to blogs and websites, please visit a great lady's blog regarding copyright law, Lenn Harley, for in depth articles on the subject.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
A great place to visit in Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls on the east side of town. The evening I took this photo last weekend was Prom night, so we had to find a spot around the prom goers getting their photos taken, in order to take a good picture of the falls.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I can tell my readership has suffered because of this. Google analytics tracks my blogs and lets me know how many visitors I have daily. Needless to say, my readers have decreased. Google has dropped my site in page rank just this past week. Oh, well, what can you do? Obviously, writing a post everyday does really matter if you want your blog to rank high in Google. If it ranks high, more people visit you and possibly come back to read some more. The more people who visit, the more Google likes you. It is a vicious cycle!
So I would love for those that read me to stick around and visit every now and then. Or drop me a line and let me know what you love or hate about the blog. Trust me, I miss blogging everyday, but never can find enough time to do it anymore.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
On Friday, the art piece "Spoon and Cherry" at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, got its cherry back, after a few days of getting a new paint job. I took this photo yesterday, which was hard considering the amount of photographers there and prom goers.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Below is a press release sent to Minnesota Realtors regarding some important tax law modifications that will negatively impact homeowners in our state. Please take the time to read the below information and take action via the link below. All of us need to come together to protect our real estate market.
From the Minnesota Association of Realtors:
"On Monday, the Minnesota House of Representatives Tax Committee released a "delete all amendment" to HF2323 and added provisions that are negative for real estate in the Omnibus Tax Bill. Authored by DFL Representative Ann Lenczewski, it contains a number of tax law modifications that hurt all Minnesota home owners. We need you to review and distribute this "Call to Action" to your clients, customers, and friends.
BACKGROUND: The Minnesota legislature and many other state governments find themselves in a situation familiar to many Minnesota households – their expenses have outpaced their revenue. Whether it is your family budget, a business budget or government budget, when expenses are higher than income you have to make choices. Since 1992, even with all of the Budget Shortfalls Minnesota has faced, the spending has increased each and every year. In fact, Minnesota State spending has gone from $14.5 billion in 1992/93 to $34.6 billion in 2008/09 – that’s a whopping 138 percent increase.
To resolve the budget shortfall, legislators have a number of options: 1) raise taxes to cover the government spending; 2) reduce spending to equalize the revenue projected; 3) raise revenue and reduce spending. The House/Senate DFL plans focus on option 3 – raise taxes and reduce spending. Governor Pawlenty has proposed a plan focused on reducing spending and raising revenue without raising taxes.
HOUSE TAX BILL HURTS REAL ESTATE. The DFL House Tax Plan raises revenue by cutting a number of income tax deductions. Of significant concern to Minnesota REALTORS® and homeowners, the DFL House plan eliminates two major real estate tax deductions: the Mortgage Interest Deduction and Real Estate Property Taxes. The bill also eliminates provisions of the Relative Homestead Tax.
Elimination of Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID)– a feature of the tax code since 1933, the MID has helped numerous generations achieve the American Dream of owning a home. A significant public policy objective for decades, homeownership stabilizes families, neighborhoods and communities. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the MID for homeowners and replaces it with a "housing credit" for qualified homeowners. The maximum credit is $420, which is equal to 7 percent (7%) of up to $6,000 of mortgage interest paid during the taxable year. However, no credit is applied to the first $4,000 of interest paid. Therefore, a homeowner must pay at least $10,000 in MID in order to receive the full $420 credit. As an example, if a homeowner has mortgage interest of $8,000 in the tax year, the credit equals $280. ($8,000 - $4,000 = $4,000 x 7% = $280).
This provision hurts young families disproportionately because mortgage debt loads are highest when people are establishing their households. This provision changes the financial plans numerous families have made when purchasing a home and increases the financial difficulties many are facing during this economic downturn. At a time when housing is finally getting a financial foothold why eliminate a tax provision that has helped millions of families achieve the "American Dream?"
Real Estate Property Tax Deductibility –This public policy provision has been included in the tax code since 1933 and allows taxpayers to deduct property taxes paid from their income. The House DFL Tax Bill eliminates the deductibility of real estate property taxes at a time when local property taxes continue to increase faster than Minnesotan’s income.
Relative Homestead – If you own identical houses, with identical values, with identical tax rates you would assume you would pay identical taxes – Right? Not if the House DFL Tax Bill becomes law. In a provision of the bill, authored by a DFL legislator, families that provide housing to other family members will pay more taxes on the second home. The goal of the provision, as stated by the legislator, is to stop parents from buying homes for their college students. MNAR pointed out that this is a small piece of the overall program and instead the proposal will be hurting families trying to assist other family members who may have gone through job loss, divorce or other financial difficulties. Isn’t it better to have families provide for families instead of government?
These provisions have been designed according to the author to make the Minnesota tax system more progressive and to raise revenue to fill the state’s pending budget shortfall. Because real estate related public policy provisions of the tax code benefit the upper 50% of tax payers – Top 50% begins at $40,061 according to the Tax Incidence Study (http://www.taxes.state.mn.us/legal_policy/other_supporting_content/2009_tax_incidence_study_links.pdf ). At a time when the housing market is beginning to stabilize, this House DFL sponsored proposal sends the wrong message to struggling Minnesota households.
The Minnesota Association of REALTORS® has a long and respected position that government, at all levels, needs to "Live Within Your Means." Just like families sitting around the kitchen table trying to make ends, Minnesota's legislative body should not be adding to the long-term financial burden of Minnesota homeowners. The House DFL Tax Bill penalizes families who have invested in the American Dream and provide for the backbone for stable communities.
ACTION REQUEST: To fight this unbelievable proposal we are asking that you take three steps:
- Please contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about this proposal. Please find attached a list with legislator contact information or use this link: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/Districtfinder.asp
- Forward this email to your clients, customers and friends. Let them know what is being proposed and give them the web address above to review the bill.
- Go the extra mile and CALL your legislator about this tax bill. Let him/her know your concerns and how it will impact your clients, your family and your business. Let your Representative know that it is time for our elected officials to "LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS" by prioritizing spending and not raising taxes.
You can access the bill summary (48 pages) at: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/bs/86/HF2323.html
Monday, April 20, 2009
"Hopeful signs of a Twin Cities housing market recovery carry on thanks to a combination of no growth in the spring supply of homes for sale and still-improving sales figures.
Helping to keep inventory down is slow new listing activity, a metric that has been sluggish all year. For the week ending April 11, there were 20.7 percent fewer new listings than there were during the same week in 2008. Pending sales are still trending in the opposite direction, up 21.9 percent in year-over-year numbers to 1,046 for the week. That's only the second week of 1,000-plus pending sales or more since May 2007. If these two metrics persist, the market could be in for some serious re-balancing.
With the Housing Affordability Index reaching 218—an increase of 40.8 percent over last year—it seems to be an awfully good time for buyers to get off the wall and on the dance floor...being mindful that 29.1 percent of the dance partners are lender-mediated."
Don't forget the Monthly Skinny Report video below:
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I planted some pansies last week, as they are the first real flowers you can plant in the Spring that survive the cooler temps. Over on my garden blog, I have started writing on what is peaking out of the ground. Hopefully this drizzle rain of the last two will help them grow a little higher.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Journalism is dead. What we have instead are airways and channels of editorial reporting, where so called "reporters" give us their opinion and political beliefs on topics. Kind of like bloggers. We give our opinions and beliefs in matters, but we don't hide behind the belief of being professional journalists. Heck, I'm a Chemistry major for goodness sakes. English writing was never one of my best subjects, but blogging has helped me get better.
But back to the reporter. If there is one thing I have learned when working as a professional, it is that you NEVER cut someone off when they are speaking. And the second thing you never do is become condescending to that person when their beliefs are different than yours. Obviously, this reporter, needs to go back to etiquette school and learn some manners. Not that I do already, but I won't be clicking the remote to CNN anytime soon.
The last thing I will say is that I am very proud of those that made it out yesterday to show their disappointment and anger over the growing government and increasing taxes. I spoke with numerous family members and friends across the nation who went to their local Tea Parties, and everyone of them said the demonstrations were peaceful. Nothing like what was being reported by the likes of CNN.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sick with the Flu for a week
Closings and new Listings
Reading Books that have been on my shelf for a Year
Waiting for Spring
But now I think I am back. Has anyone even missed me?
Friday, April 3, 2009
Two hundred loans at $10,000 each will be provided on a first come, first serve basis as of April 1, 2009. The funds can be used for closing costs, down payment assistance, or small repairs to the home, and if you keep the house for five years, the loan is forgivable. As with last year, only certain areas of Minneapolis apply, so you will have to be purchasing a home in one of these neighborhoods to qualify.
Income Requirements and Program Guidelines
If your income is less than $64,720 (less than 80% of the area median income), you may qualify for the following program:
- Minneapolis Advantage Program – Federal Home Loan Bank, Guidelines
If your income is less than $97,080 (less than 120% of the area median income), you may qualify for the following program:
- Minneapolis Advantage Program – City of Minneapolis, Guidelines
2008 Results for the Minneapolis Advantage Pilot Program
Last year, every real estate agent in town was excited to see the loan program offered by the City of Minneapolis. However the program was such a success, that before anyone knew it, the funds were all used up. Only $500,000 was available at the time, so 50 lucky home buyers were able to qualify for the $10,000 (just a quarter of what is now being offered). Here are some of the statistics for the Advantage Program in 2008:
- 62% of the homes purchased were foreclosures
- 50% of the homes were sold for under $100,000, and 82% were under $150,000
- 80% of the homes bought were located in North Minneapolis
- 78% of purchases were from first time home buyers
You can even see where each home is located by viewing this map.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
We have a lot of great garden centers here in the Twin Cities - Bachmans, Linders, etc, and it is hard to drive by them because I have that garden itch. Of course, they don't have anything right now except seeds. Speaking of which, my current indoor garden project is growing tomato plants from seeds. The first post for this year on my garden blog is my tomato experiment.
If you have that spring garden itch too and want to get some ideas of great garden centers around Minneapolis and Saint Paul, check out this forum, which has some locals give their opinions.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Sometimes I get aggravated by those who openly choose to walk away when they shouldn't, as witnessed in a post I wrote last week, but I do truly understand the whole ordeal. Today I read an interesting article from CNNMoney.com which looks at some home owners across the nation, and the dilemma they face....and the reasoning by their decisions to either walk, or not. It helps to put a human face on the issue.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
- the tax credit phases out for individual tax payers you have a modified gross income of $75,000 to $95,000 ($150,000-$170,000 for joint filers)
- tax payers can claim the purchase of a home on their 2008 tax return (thus the reason for the credit beginning on December 31, 2008), even if they buy their home, for example in January of 2009
- extends the current home buyer tax credit for qualifying home purchases to December 1, 2009
- increases the maximum credit to $8000 ($4000 for a married person, filing separately)
- waives the recapture of this tax credit for homes bought between December 31, 2008 to December 1, 2009
- if the home is sold, or ceases to be the primary residence, within 36 months of the closed date, then the rules of recapturing the tax credit apply (currently over a time period of 15 years)
The part that really stinks about the revisions is for the first time home buyers who closed on their home between April 9, 2008 -December 30, 2008. It appears they will still need to repay the tax credit of $7500 over a period of 15 years, just as originally written, and none of the new revisions will apply to them.
Don't worry though, at least you get a tax credit. We closed on your new home in March 2008, and even though we are only 30 days out for qualifying, no soup for us!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Percent of Original List Price Received at Sale continues to fall, with the January figure of 89.5 sitting at 1.6 percent less than 2008. It's important to consider sales prices of foreclosure homes and how they affect this figure.
Our new Housing Affordability Index jumped to 202 in February. This is a new record and means that the median family income is 202 percent of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home. Again, we must consider how the sales prices in the lender-mediated market are affecting this figure, but we can say with some confidence that there are a number of very attractive buying opportunities in the local housing market. If we are able to maintain these trends, we'll be well on our way to killing the blues. And to this current market malaise, we'll be singing "gone, gone, gone (done moved on)."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Want to know who has the most foreclosures? The numbers below are the percentage of homes in the specific area currently either in foreclosure or short sales. Take a look at the report to see where your area falls in the foreclosure mess.
Top Five Areas with the Most Foreclosures:
- Brooklyn Center - 65.9%
- North Minneapolis - 64.9%
- St. Paul - Central - 59.1%
- St. Paul - Phalen - 58.8%
- Big Lake Township - 56.8%
Bottom Five Areas with the Least Foreclosures:
- Edina 5.2%
- Minneapolis - Central - 7.9%
- St. Paul - Downtown - 10.8%
- Minneapolis - Calhoun/Isles - 11.6%
- Victoria - 12.5%
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Take for instance the $10 Billion going to research facilities. Um, how is that going to stimulate the economy exactly? Or $500 Million going to better airport screening detectors? I guess I am just having a hard time seeing how some of these items are going to help. The only good thing I do see is some money going to help housing, but in the long run, it just isn't enough. I honestly don' t think any of this money is going to stimulate anything but our national debt.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Well, we are all saved because now we can actually get some free advice, turning our homes from boring to posh with some paint and other design techniques. Like I said before, Annie's "you asked..." section, looks at questions posted by her readers, photos included, and finds solutions to their design challenges. I think I need to submit some questions for her myself!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
If you are moving to Minneapolis or Saint Paul from the southern states, today might scare you silly. Don't let it. It doesn't get this cold all the time. Just make sure you have all your winter gear, including a pair of long johns (thermal ware to some of you) and you should be fine. Of course if you plan on moving to the northern part of the state, near Canada, well, I think it is 40 below up there right now....see, that is even too cold for me. I'll just stay nice and warm down here in the Twin Cities.
Monday, January 12, 2009
However it happens every now and then that a buyer calls to inquire about a home and requests a showing and is less than honest about their situation. Just the other day I showed a listing of mine to a buyer who spent an hour in the home. I had asked my questions before hand to make sure I wasn't stepping on a buyer's agents shoes. But just as the buyer was walking out the door, he turned around and let me know that "by the way", if he decided to put in an offer, such and such agent will be sending it over to me. You've got to be kidding me.
See, the whole problem stems from the lack of manners. The buyer's agent should be the one showing the home, not me. Now I am OK with an agent calling me and asking if I could please show her buyer a home because the agent will be out of town. But I am not OK with an agent sending her buyer out to me, unannounced, so that I can do all the work. Trust me, there are plenty of agents out there that would much rather pick up a check then lift a finger or break a sweat, and they really annoy those of us that take this job seriously.
You know who they are...you have met them plenty of times.
One reason you really need to tell another agent if you are represented or not, is the fact we agents are bound by ethical rules. We can't get in the way of another agents relationship with a client, or we might be found in violation of the Code of Ethics. No agent wants that headache.
Another reason is called confidentiality. If you walk into a listing without your buyer's agent, and start gushing out your life story, then the listing agent is obligated to tell the seller anything she might hear. Since no fiduciary duties are owed to the buyer, it is fair game on anything you say. However, if you had been honest about your representation, then the listing agent will not play 20 questions with you during the showing. Well, I don't at least.
Thirdly, time is money. Having to take time out to show a home, and then actively "sell" the home to the buyer, only to have another agent show up after the fact, really gets on a listing agent's nerves. Not only is it bad manners, but it wastes time, energy, and money. We all hate to have our time wasted...so think about the other party before you lie about having a buyer's agent.
Trust me, it will make for a smoother transaction if you are just upfront and honest from the very beginning. So next time, please let the listing agent know before hand if you are represented or not...for real.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
One reality often discovered is the fact that two home buyers may not want the same things. Take for instance a couple I worked with recently. The husband was happy with a home that needed a little work because the home was in a good location and would hold its value in the future. Any updating they did would only add more future value to the home. The wife however would rather buy a completely updated home and pay more for it now. Every home we entered was picked apart by one or the other. Needless to say, they were not on the same page.
It came to a point when I stopped the process and asked them to sit down at a meeting. I told them it seemed they were not ready to buy a home because they didn't really know what would work for the BOTH of them. If they cannot agree or compromise on the amenities they want, then what was the point of wasting everyone's time. Funny enough, they both agreed that a huge talk was in order. One week later, they came back to me with a revised list of "have and have-nots"...we found a home with-in a few days that both loved. Once they faced the reality of the decision making process, they found something both could live with.
In other cases, I have shown buyers what they think they wanted, only to find out it was the exact opposite. In instances like this, it works out really well if I show them two extremes in their price range, and then they can tell me which better suits them...kind of like telling them to rate a home between 1-10.
Here are some things to consider when buying your next home:
- Location - many people just can't compromise on this, but if you can't afford the neighborhood or town you want to live in, then go further out to a neighborhood you like and can afford
- Price Range - make sure you can afford the homes you view. Don't even think about looking at homes outside your price range that you could only afford with a low ball offer. It wastes every one's time.
- Lot - think about if you want a large lot, small lot, trees, etc. Do you love to work in the yard? Do you hate to mow grass? Figure this out and you can greatly narrow down the homes to view.
- Wood - do you hate oak cabinets? Now a days, many home buyers do and want different types of wood in the home. You will have to think about replacement costs for any wood you hate, or if you even want to go through the hassle. I know I hate oak and wouldn't even consider a home with these types of cabinets...unless it was for the right price.
- New vs. Old - This is a big decision factor. In today's real estate market, new construction home builders are giving some pretty good incentives that rival resale homes. It could be a good way to go, especially if you would like help with closing costs as some builders are offering up to $7500 toward these costs.
So the bottom line is this, KNOW what you want BEFORE you go house hunting. And if there are two or more people involved in the decision making process, take a look at the reality of your situation and find a happy medium in which all of you can live with.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
At the end of the year, Mr. Cragun runs through all these posts and picks the top 7 for 2008. A few weeks ago, he posted the Nominee 7 for the month of November, and will be choosing the Final top 7 for 2008 winners sometime in January. Feel free to read through all the entries and see which Consumer Articles you find to be most helpful. I will let you know who the final winners are when Larry gives us the heads up.