Check out the NEW BLOG SITE.

Just a Reminder that the BLOG has Moved to a new Location.


See you there!



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Moving Day

The last week you probably have noticed I have been a little slow on the news.  The reason why is I have been working on transferring over to a  new site.   Today is “Moving Day”.



The format will be basically the same.  The new site allows me upgrade more features for writing and extra tools for you to access.

Please check out the New Site at 

I will be continuing to work on the site for the next couple of weeks adding community information and other Tools.  The Blog posts have all been transferred over and I will be posting on that site going forward.

If you are an email subscriber or RSS feed, you shouldn’t have to do anything.  Check the new site to double check that the RSS Feed and emails are transferring properly.  Please let me know if there is a glitch.

Thanks for your patience during this move!  I hope the new features will be help to you.

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Homes by Tradition wins two Reggie Awards for Spirit of Brandtjen homes in Lakeville

The Fall Parade of Homes has finished a successful year.  Many areas have reported great traffic at their model homes showing positive signs that we have rounded the corner on the market.  With the close of the Parade of Homes comes the announcement of the winners of the Reggie Awards.

From the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC):

For more than 40 years, local builders have coveted the Reggie Award statue more than any other. And for 20 years Associates and Builders have entered the Trillium Awards together to showcase their successful partnerships. Winners are selected by judging teams of builders, associates and consumers who visit homes within their category and meet together to select the best example of excellence in design, construction quality and value. Reggie Awards are given to the Builder.

The Trillium Awards were established to honor our associates for their partnership with builders. As Reggie winning homes are judged the very best, so now the Trillium Awards will be given to all entered participating associates in a Reggie-winning home. The winners of this Falls Parade of Homes were announced.

I wanted to focus  on one builder in particular, Homes By Tradition.  The reason I want to focus on them is because they won not just one Reggie Award but they won 2 Reggie Awards in this Fall Parade of Homes.  In my opinion, they design and build some of the nicest new homes in the Twin Cities.

click on image to enlarge

The first award they won was for their model at Spirit of Brandtjen Farms in Lakeville, MN.  The model is at 18641 Draft Horse Blvd. Lakeville.
This home is a beautiful “farmhouse” style in the superb setting of their Spirit of Brandtjen Farm community.
This home won the Reggie Award is the $355,000 – $384,999 class. The Trillum Winners for this home were won by Aspen Electric Inc, Glowing Hearth & Home, and Southern Lights.

click on image to enlarge

Homes By Traditions second Reggie Award was also at Spirit of Brandtjen Farms in Lakeville for their model home at 5075 167th Street Lakeville, MN.   This home won the Reggie Award for the $575,000 – $749,999 class.

click on image to enlarge

The Trillium Winners for this home were Aspen Electric Inc., Glowing Hearth & Home, and JJ Vanderson & Co.

This home was a featured model in the Parade for being one of the first to earn the Minnesota Green Path Certification .  Another reason I believe Homes by Tradition is a market leader.

How does one win a Reggie Award?  It is quite simple, but not very easy.   To win a Trillium Award a Home Builder needs to stand out of the crowd in excellence.  This is done by superior design, attention to detail and value.  The Reggie Award winners are the home builders that are leading the trends and stand out from the rest.

What I think sets Homes By Tradition apart from the crowd is their ability to create warm feeling home designs reminiscent of the traditional homes we all know and love while incorporating all of today’s lifestyle needs and technology creating a New Traditional home.  They are able to implement this feeling effectively as they also design and create neighborhood communities with this same feeling of Home.

Spirit of Brandtjen Farms in Lakeville, MN is a perfect example of the community neighborhood they are able to create and design.  Spirit of Brandtjen Farms is in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District #196.

 Check out Spirit of Brandtjen Farms website.


They offer these great neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities ;  Hampton Hills in Plymouth, Dancing Waters in Woodbury, Heritage Landing in Prior Lake, Cobbelstone Lake in Prior Lake, Argenta Hills in Inver Grove Heights, and Territory in Credit River.

If you have not seen Homes By Tradition homes or neighborhoods, I encourage you to go check at their great designs and home at their models from 12:00 – 5:00 daily.

One of their new neighborhoods that I think is really exciting is Hampton Hills in Plymouth, MN.  They are currently under construction on a second model home, but you can still see their first model home.  I believe we might see the next Reggie Award come from this new neighborhood.   They have a great model there open daily from 12:00-5:00.

Congratulations to everyone at Homes By Tradition.  You earned these awards.

Homes By Tradition President, Dean Nelson Accepting both Reggie Awards


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Housing Starts up for September 2011

National Association of Home Builders

Image via Wikipedia

UPDATE: Just a quick Update on Housing Starts. The US Census is showing a 46% increase in 1 unit housing starts from August 2011 to September 2011 for the Midwest Region.  I will update the Minnesota and Twin Cities figures when they become available.

The NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) are reporting an increase in permits for September 2011.  The increase has been primarily in multi-family housing starts, however single family units were up modestly as well.

September housing starts were up 15% but the increase was almost entirely within the multifamily sector. Single-family starts increased a modest 1.7% to 425,000, essentially the same as the second and third quarter averages. Multifamily starts (2 or more units in a structure) roared ahead 51.2% to 233,000, the highest in three years.

Read Full Article from NAHB

As you can see by their housing starts graph, we are gradually picking up.  This graph shows a similar prediction that the National Association of Realtors economists predict.  That housing starts will increase dramatically in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2012 and increasing throughout 2013.

I will post the September housing starts for the Twin Cities when they become available.

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Map: Where Minnesotans Are Moving to

Forbes has an online interactive map showing migration around the Country.  Below is an image I got when I clicked on Hennepin County, MN.  The red lines are showing people moving out of Hennepin County and black lines are showing people moving in.  About the data, they are saying their data comes from the IRS and is for the year 2008.  I know 2008 sounds like really old data, but if you remember the twin cities losing population post – that is when we saw the decline in population and the height of our unemployment in the Twin Cities.  Reversing these trends requires job growth in our region.  I would like to see more recent data also, but this is some really interesting information – click on the image to go to their interactive chart and click around the Country to see if you begin to see a pattern.

click on map to link to Forbes interactive map



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Net New Renters 1.4 Million, Net New Home Buyers 0

Freddie Mac

Image via Wikipedia

Freddie Mac released today its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for October showing that the rental market is doing well with many of households under 30 are opting for renting vs buying.  This is pushing the new households into “new renters” while adding no New Home Buyers.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will notice we have covered this in a bunch of posts. (pent up demand).   Although there is really nothing new, this is still a nice national perspective summary from the big picture.

“Much of the rental demand is from young and newly formed households who have decided to postpone homeownership in favor of renting during unsettled economic times. Indeed, the decline in the homeownership rate has been sharpest for those household heads under 30 years of age: While the U.S. homeownership rate has fallen about 1.5 percent over the past year (from 66.9 percent to 65.9 percent during the second quarter of 2011), owner rates have fallen by 4.4 percent (to 21.9 percent) for those under 25 years of age and by 7.0 percent (to 34.7 percent) for those aged 25 to 29 years,” said the Frank Nothaft, Freddie’s chief economist.

Outlook Highlights

  • Over the year ending mid-2011, the Census Bureau reported a net increase of 1.4 million households that moved into rental housing, a 4 percent rise in the number of tenant households in just one year.
  • The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen about 1.5 percent over the past year (from 66.9 percent to 65.9 percent during the second quarter of 2011) with owner rates falling by 4.4 percent (to 21.9 percent) for those under 25 years of age and by 7 percent (to 34.7 percent) for those aged 25 to 29 years.
  • Apartment rents, which had been flat to falling in many projects during the 2008-2009 recession, have begun to rise, albeit slowly.
  • New construction starts of apartments in buildings with at least 20 dwellings has picked up this year, and in the second quarter was the highest since the end of 2008.
  • Ten-year constant-maturity Treasury yields averaged 1.98 percent in September, the lowest monthly average since the Federal Reserve’s series began in 1953; these yields are a common benchmark for multifamily mortgage rates, and suggest that mortgage rates fell to new lows for multifamily lending in recent weeks.

Read the Full Freddie Mac October 2011 Economic Forecast

I believe if we can turn enough of the economic corner to allow these under 30 renters feel confident enough in their employment, they could enter the market and turn this housing market around in no time.  Sometimes I even wonder if we won’t be coming out of this down cycle straight into a housing boom as so many years of these first time homebuyers have been stuck into renting.  Time will tell.

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Twin Cities Housing Market update. Week Ending Oct 08, 2011

Another great weekly housing market update from Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

We continue to grind away at a faster pace on our inventory.  This week’s year-over-year stats:

Change in New Listings:      -13%  

Change in Pending Sales:   +48.3%

Change in Inventory:            -21.0%

We are now down to 22,434 listings on the market.

View Full Weekly Market Update Report





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REO sales may not peak until 2013

Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

Image via Wikipedia

REO sales may not peak until 2013.

This is a frightening article from HousingWire, not recommended for all audiences…

They run some estimated numbers of potential foreclosures throughout 2012 and 2013.  Their estimates are staggering to say the least.  This year, nationally speaking, the banks liquidated approx 525,000 properties.  In 2013 they are expecting as many as 1.48 million foreclosures and liquidating roughly 595,000 properties.

It is difficult to say what impact our region will feel from this yet as these are only estimates and these estimates have been all over the map…


In 2013, REO sales could reach 1.48 million properties, according to estimates from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts, a 10% increase from projected amount in 2012.

…Most of the projected increase will come as the government begins to unload its backlog. The government-sponsored enterprises and HUD, analysts estimate, will liquidate roughly 595,000 properties in 2013 alone.

We have moved well beyond the early days of the subprime mess.  We are now dealing with traditional mortgages with owners in trouble because of job loss and underemployment.

The only way out of this mess is to turn the economy around.

* on a related subject.  If you find yourself as one of the many households facing foreclosure from job loss or whatever reason – there are some resources out there for you.

A Foreclosure Clinic will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Savage Library.

Read more: Savage Pacer – Foreclosure Employment is No 1 factor

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It’s Time to do some Home Remodeling, BuildFax home remodeling index soars

This is promising for our region in the remodeling industry.   It appears as if many homeowners are opting to remodel their home instead of moving now.

The BuildFax remodeling index showed huge signs of growth, even in the Midwest Region.  The index rose 29% year-over-year, the 22nd straight month.  For the Midwest we rose 10.8% month-over-month gains.

Below is a chart from CalculatedRisk showing the increase in the BuildFax Remodeling Index.

Calculated Risk chart of BuildFax Index (link to)

Viewing the Economic Recovery Through Remodels

“As mortgage rates hit record lows, it is apparent that millions of Americans are refinancing their homes and using some of their new monthly savings to reinvest in their homes with remodeling projects,” said Joe Emison, Vice President of Research and Development at BuildFax. “With remodeling activity growing at an estimated 9.5 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, this is one segment of the economy that is showing continued strength, even as other sectors struggle.” “As millions of Americans believe that they will not be able to secure a new home due to a variety of factors including tight credit, limited buyers and challenging job prospects, they are more and more turning to renovating and remodeling their current properties, sending remodeling activity to record levels,” said Joe Emison, Vice President of Research and Development at BuildFax. “However, this remodeling boom is leaving many of these properties under-insured, as the value of these renovations are often not being captured by the homeowners’ insurance companies.”

Read Full Press Release

I see this an encouraging sign for the housing market for several reasons. 1) this is an early sign of some consumer confidence in housing to invest back into their homes.  2) the housing inventory is getting updated, which will help the market place down the road.  3) this is putting many people in the construction industry back to work.


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Sunday Morning Housing Market Chart

It’s Sunday Morning and being in real estate means today is a work day to be in Model homes, open houses or showings.

As I walked out to the driveway I noticed a great chart indicating our current housing market.

Housing Market

If you notice on the bottom of the chart represents the Buyers, and the top of the chart represents the inventory.

It’s going to a long day!  Fortunately for me only the bottom half of the tire is flat!  I’m a ‘cup is half full’ kind of guy..

Enjoy your Sunday….  I need to change a tire now.


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