June 24, 2019

Sprucing Up Your Patio for Grilling Out

Independence Day is just around the corner, so it's time to get your patio ready for entertaining! When it's time to fire up the grill, these tips and tricks will "WOW" your guests.

 

Caring for a Stone Patio

If it's been a while, move your furniture and outdoor rugs around. Moisture can be trapped beneath them and mildew can grow. If you see signs of mildew or grime, use a mild household detergent. Don't be too rough; natural stone can flake! Lastly, if you're having problem with weeds popping up between stones (more on weeds below), consider adding polymeric sand. Both organic and non-organic varieties prevent weeds and bugs from getting between and below stone pavers. Plus - they last longer than plain sand!

 

 

Fighting Weeds and Insects

Smaller weeds can be treated in a variety of ways without harsh chemicals. One of the simplest solutions is using mulch that's about 2-inches deep. It keeps the soil moist for the plants you want and eliminates light needed for weeds to grow. I mixture of vinegar and dish soap can also be used on weeds - but be careful because it can kill other plants as well.

For insects, remember you want some friendly insects in your garden, like ladybugs and the praying mantis. You can deter ants and aphids by planting peppermint and spearmint plants throughout your yard. Natural pesticides like neem oil and pyrethrum will eliminate pests entirely. Remember, do your own research and ask your local nursery or hardware store for advice.

 

 

Is it too late to plant veggies?

No! Show off your green thumb with potted veggies! At this time of year in Minnesota, you can still plant cucumber, pepper, and tomato plants. And it's not even too late to start some vegetables from seed. Beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, and spinach can all be planted from seed through mid-July, and you'll still have a harvest before the first frost.

 

What are your patio plans for this summer? Comment below to share your ideas!

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 11, 2018

Time Travel with Us!

Travel with us to the Minneapolis of the roaring 1920s. Although Minneapolis’s history stretches back thousands of years to the Dakotans, we’re taking a very brief look at the period during which our client's home at 5540 33rd Avenue was built. By the 1920s, builders were constructing hundreds of homes across neighborhoods outside of the city center, thanks to over 500 miles of streetcar lines. Thousands of people moved to Minneapolis every year because of the abundance of jobs in the milling and other industries that followed (banking, railroads, etc), doubling the city’s population between 1900 and 1930 to 464,000 residents - about 50,000 more people than today!

 

The Krohns

Two of the optimistic, hope-filled newcomers were John and Marie Krohn. Having moved to Minneapolis at about 1918, John and Marie bought 5540 33rd Avenue in 1928, about a year after the home was constructed. Marie worked as a starcher for Columbia Laundry (location unknown), and John was a trucker at Minneapolis Milling Company, just down the street at 3501 Hiawatha Avenue. (This mill, now owned by ADM Milling, is still producing almost a million pounds of flour a day!)

John and Marie, along with other Minneapolitans, experienced tremendous change after the stock market crash of 1930. After 10 years of Republican mayors, William Anderson, a Farmer-Labor candidate (a party separate from Democrats at the time), won the 1930 mayoral election alongside the first Farmer-Labor governor Floyd Olson. Mayor Anderson ran on a “law-and-order” platform, echoing constituents’ concern that the disappearance of jobs were fueling the rapid increase in “obscene amusements” and the growth of downtown’s vice district. The mayor took one-step too far, it appears, when he banned a touring New York City theater show. A local theater promoter, Republican A. G. “Buzz” Bainbridge, defeated Anderson in the 1933 election.

 

 

Living in Wenonah

Apart from the turbulent times, John and Marie Krohn enjoyed a pleasant life in the Wenonah neighborhood. Like many south Minneapolis neighborhoods, the Wenonah neighborhood takes its name from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem The Song of Hiawatha. In the poem, which Longfellow claimed is inspired by an Ojibwe legend, Wenonah, the daughter of Nokomis, ignores her mother’s advice and falls in love with Mudjekeewis, the “West Wind,” and together they parent Hiawatha. The Wenonah neighborhood took great pride in its connections to the native population. John and Marie were surrounded by beautiful locations named for the Ojibwe legend – Lake Nokomis, Lake Hiawatha, Minnehaha Falls. Additional, with a streetcar line built on 34th Avenue, the Krohns had easy access across the region, from White Bear Lake to Lake Minnetonka, using the public system.

 

 

Check out this charming two-story East Nokomis home and see the stunning updates the current owners have made. I'm sure they'd make John and Marie proud! Join us Saturday, July 14, from 1pm to 3pm, for an Open House and Wine Tasting. Click here to RSVP.

Posted in Buying, Twin Cities
April 12, 2018

Real Estate by Bolt: Rising Mortgage Rates

As you may know, the Twin Cities muttropolitan area is experiencing a historically small litter of houses on the market. That puts buyers in a ruff spot. You may be one of those buyers, and you're asking, "Should I buy now, hoping prices will drop in the future? Or should I be more concerned with rising interest rates?"

 

Interest Rates Over Time

I'm not an economist or a mortgage expert - I'm only a highly literate corgi. But if I were sniffing out the market today, I would consider mortgage interest rates to be much more volatile. See below:

 

Interest rates have changed a lot over the decades, as you can see. Some local lenders have suggested that these rates are cyclical, and our dog days are over. In fact, some lenders think we could pawtentially surpass 5% by the end of the year! Ruh roh!

 

 

 

Purchasing Power

These increasing rates should give us paws for thought. As rates rise, the purchasing power of buyers decreases – consequently lowering demand. Presumably, housing prices will then level out (as opposed to increasing a barking mad 10-20% each year!). Shamrock Financial breaks down how rates affect purchasing power here:

 

 

Probably Not a Bubble

That's my amateur take on the market. I could be mushtaken, but this is a very different dynamic compared to the 2007 market. At that time, mortgage lenders were unleashed to give away money to anyone who could bark. Today, I see a gradual shift toward a balanced market rather than a bubble. That offurs opportunities and challenges unique to each of us.

 

I'd love to connect you to a local lender to help you determine what's best for you! Email my owner at kellyo@kw.com!

 

 

*Bolt’s views are for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in Minnesota.

Jan. 12, 2018

Everything to Do When the Super Bowl Arrives

With the Super Bowl only a few weeks away, the Twin Cities are beginning to feel the buzz of excitement. Minneapolis’s Nicollet Mall is already transforming into an outdoor festival, and St. Paul is preparing the Winter Carnival for a massive ice palace. We don’t want you to miss out on any of the fun! Read below for some of our top picks for music, food, and other activities during Super Bowl week.

 

Music Performances

Even if you’re not a sports fan, you can take advantage of incredible music performances taking place across the city. Super Bowl Live, a free event on Nicollet Mall (read more below), will host free performances between 8th and 9th Street on the Verizon Up Stage. Free shows include Idina Menzel, The Suburbs, Stokley Williams and more.

If you’re willing to spend a few dollars, the Armory will host performances by Imagine Dragons, P!NK, Jennifer Lopez, and Kelly Clarkson. Some shows are already selling out, so purchase your tickets today!

 

Downtown Activities

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul are hosting numerous downtown activities. Super Bowl Live is an outdoor event stretching the entire length of Nicollet Mall. Take a stroll to view ice sculptures, snowmobile stunts, and see the famous Birkebeiner International Bridge! St. Paul is gearing up for a phenomenal Winter Carnival near Rice Park and Landmark Center – including a four thousand-block ice palace. Almost all of these events are free and open to the public.

The Minneapolis Convention Center is hosting the Super Bowl theme park known as “Super Bowl Experience.” Experience football with virtual reality, meet NFL players, see the Vince Lombardi Trophy up close and personal, and explore even more football-inspired activities! Or, if you’re searching for something exclusive, maybe you can track down tickets for the currently sold-out Jimmy Fallon show at the Orpheum or the Zip Line across the Mississippi.

 

Food, Food, Food!

What would a national event like the Super Bowl be without great food? St. Paul is hosting the annual “Taste of the NFL” at the St. Paul RiverCentre, and it’s the perfect event for the foodie in your life. This strolling food and wine event is filled with more than 32 restaurant stations representing a restaurant from every city in the NFL. Celebrity chefs and NFL players will also sign autographs as you taste their favorite cuisine.

 

During the more than ten days of activities, take advantage of all that the Super Bowl will bring to our city! Whether you’re a diehard sports fan, a bandwagon fan, or you couldn’t care less, you’ll find something unique and interesting across the area. Remember to plan ahead for parking or public transit (there is a helpful visiting guide online). Let’s go Vikings!

Posted in Twin Cities
Dec. 7, 2017

Real Estate by Bolt: All About Homesteads

December is not all about daschund through the snow and visiting Santa Paws. This time of year is also big news for recent homebuyers: it’s the annual homestead deadline! If you’ve bought a home in the past year, homestead applications are due by December 15. Here’s a summary of homesteading if you’re sniffing around for some information.

 

What is it?

“Homesteading” can be found in 46 states – including Minnesota. Although it varies slightly from state to state, homesteading builds a legal fence around homeowners’ primary residences to keep out creditors. In the event that you fall on ruff times or default on some kinds of debt (like a car loan), the homestead classification puts a leash on creditors who may want to take your property (read more at “How Stuff Works”).

 

Why do it?

The homestead classification doesn’t just limit hounding from creditors. Most states also offer treats in the form of property tax exemptions. Remember how property taxes work: counties and cities assess the value of your home, then apply a tax rate to the assessed value. But if your home is classified as a homestead, a certain dollar amount or percentage of that assessed value is exempted from property taxes. It can be a pawsitively great way to save! 

 

Additionally, if you’re a senior, a veteran, or are disabled, you may also qualify for other exemptions. Read more about Minnesota’s homestead treats here.

 

How do I Apply?

In Minnesota, applications to homestead are due December 15! There’s no need to howl or whine, though. The process is fairly simple, giving you ample time to apply by the due date. So if you bought your home after December 1, 2016, you can fetch your county application here:

Have copies of your closing paperwork, and be prepared to provide specific information about yourself, your home, and any additional owners on your deed. Submit the application to your county assessor, and have a very Happy Howlidays!

 

 

 

 

*Bolt’s views are for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in Minnesota.

Oct. 6, 2017

Real Estate by Bolt: Holy Shift! The Market is Evolving!

Each year has its ups and downs in the market, and this year is no different in the Twin Cities muttropolitan area. Before you go barking up the wrong tree, we’ve sniffed out some trends that may inform your real estate decisions this fall.

 

Where We’ve Been

If you’ve been a buyer or seller in the Twin Cities region this year, you know that it’s a dog-eat-dog market. The supply of houses is severely limited, and home prices have climbed throughout the year. That’s meant sellers have benefited from receiving multiple offers and from closing deals above their asking price. It’s also meant that first-time homebuyers have struggled to compete with other buyers offering larger down payments and with more experience in real estate. It’s been nearly im-paws-ible! One of our colleagues, Cotty Lowry, President of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR), told the Southwest Journal, “It’s always the same story: Nothing to sell and multiple offers.” Ruff stuff.

Recent Changes We’ve Noticed

But after months of the tail wagging the dog, we’ve noticed some changes. In Kelly’s brokerage, agents have noticed that there has been a spike in “price reductions” beginning in mid-September, and multiple-offer situations seem to occur less frequently. Price reductions are commonly used to adjust to decreased demand. Although these are only anecdotal observations, Lowry suspects that some buyers are dog tired and dropping out of the market: “It’s psychologically exhausting to keep trying.” Although the fall and winter tend to experience slower markets, these shifts are occurring earlier than usual, according to some of our colleagues. Houses are remaining on the market longer than they were just a couple of months ago. It seems that the market’s dog days are over.

What This Might Mean

There is also some hard data indicating a changing market. The market posted declines in closed units in July and August, and our office’s preliminary data indicates that this may have occurred in September as well. Now, three months of data isn’t enough to identify a trend. Nevertheless, MAAR thinks that buyers and sellers can have hope that the year’s dogged market will ease (see their third quarter report).

If you’re a seller, this might mean that you can expect to have your home on the market a little longer, and perhaps even expect to receive only one or two bites. If you’re a buyer, this might mean that you can relax and take a little more time in searching for your next home. And, if you’re planning to buy and sell within the Twin Cities region, you might be able to worry less about finding your next home before selling your current one; the slow-down might afford you time to pause from working your tail off.

 

And that’s Bolt’s take on the market! Fur-well!

 

*Bolt’s views are for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in Minnesota.

 

P.S. Remember to get your free pumpkin from Kelly for Howl-o-ween on October 14!

Sept. 27, 2017

The Secret Life of Pumpkins

Pumpkins will soon start appearing on stoops and in windows across the country. We asked ourselves, “What’s with all of these pumpkins?” The US has an obsession with its pumpkins and pumpkin-carving. Americans spend over $100 million on pumpkins every year, and farmers grow over one billion pounds of the fruit. (Yes, pumpkins are in fact fruit – they’re a type of botanical berry!) Carving pumpkins is practiced in every part of the US, but some communities are highly competitive. Keene, New Hampshire, holds the Guinness World Record for the most lit jack-o-lanterns on display at a time – 30,581 pumpkins in 2013!

 

The Legend of Stingy Jack

Take a moment and consider how strange it is that we carve faces into a large fruit and place it on our doorstep for a few weeks. Where did this unusual idea come from? Although carving faces into fruits and vegetables has occurred in every culture around the globe, the Halloween tradition has roots in Ireland.

An old Irish fable tells the story of a man named Stingy Jack who played a trick on the devil and at his death cannot enter heaven or hell. Stuck wandering the earth, the devil gives him a small ember which Jack places into a carved out turnip. Jack is thought to continue to wander the world with his makeshift lantern, acquiring the name “Jack of the Lantern,” then later “Jack O’Lantern.”

Indigenous Irish and British religions believed that other wandering souls like Jack came visiting every year at the end of October. People began to make their own lanterns using potatoes and turnips and carved scary faces in them to ward off Stingy Jack and other spirits. Despite the Christianization of the British Isles, this tradition continued on All Hallows Eve, later becoming “Halloween.”

Why don’t we use turnips anymore? Pumpkins are native to North America, and when Irish immigrants began arriving in large numbers in the US in the 1800s, they couldn’t find turnips but discovered pumpkins worked even better. Pumpkins have become such popular jack-o-lanterns, that they’ve even taken over potatoes and turnips in Europe.
(Read more about the history here)

 

The Month of Pumpkin Festivities!

We are thrilled for the cool, crisp air, the aroma of apple pie, and smiling jack-o-lanterns on every doorstep. So, in the spirit of carved turnips and Irish fables, the K O'Neil Group is offering a month of fun pumpkin activities:

 

Free Pumpkin Giveaway

October 14, 10:30am to 12:30pm

Sunnyside Gardens

We are covering the cost for you to pick your own pumpkin from Sunnyside Gardens! All you have to do is find Kelly at the table with red balloons and get a coupon entitling you to one pumpkin up to 15 pounds! RSVP here and we will send you a reminder of where to find her.

Bonus Event: Pumpkin Derby

October 14 is ALSO the day for Sunnyside Garden's annual Pumpkin Derby. Pick out your pumpkin and stay for the derby - or even consider entering yourself! More details are available from Sunnyside.

 

Armatage Pumpkin Carving Contest

October 27, 6:00pm to 8:30pm

Armatage Park

The Armatage Festival is hosting its annual Trunk-or-Treat at Armatage Park, and you all are invited! The K O'Neil Group is sponsoring the Pumpkin Carving Contest, and there will be activities for every age: bonfire with s'mores, horse-drawn wagon rides, bounce houses, and more!


We hope to see you this October!

Posted in Twin Cities
Aug. 4, 2017

Open Streets By the Numbers

According to Open Streets Minneapolis, our city has over 1,800 miles of sidewalks, 118 miles of bike lanes, and 92 miles of off-street bike trails. But every year we also temporarily add another 15 miles in what we call “Open Streets.” Why do we do it? And where can you find K O’Neil Group out there? Here’s our summary of Open Streets by the numbers:

What Happens

This year the City of Minneapolis is hosting 7 Open Streets events! Seven events that open up 15 miles of streetscape for every manner of transportation except motor vehicles. If you have attended an Open Street already, you know that there are thousands of local businesses and organizations who hit the pavement and have some fun. Minneapolis LOVES its Open Streets, so much so that 45,000 people attended Lyndale Open Streets – the largest ever! We’re not the only city that hosts these events, either. From New York City to Fargo, cities of every size have joined in. There are now over 100 Open Streets events in North America every year.

 

Where It Started

Open Streets began 2,807 miles away and 40+ years ago in Bogotá, Columbia. Bogotá is the capital of Columbia and boasts more than 8 million residents. But beginning in the 1970s, Bogotá began closing 70 miles of streets to automobiles every Sunday. The practice (called ciclovía) has continued weekly until today, totaling over 2,080 car-free Sundays. Today about 2 million people take to the streets every Sunday to enjoy walking, biking, yoga, musical performances and more. Sound familiar?

Here’s another set of numbers: “8 and 80.” The idea of the ciclovía was spread to the rest of the world by Columbian native Guillermo Penalosa through his organization now known as 8 80 Cities. This nonprofit believes that a great city is one that works for everyone – whether you’re 8-years-old or 80! Starting in Toronto, Penalosa spread the idea of “Open Streets” around the world, encouraging everyone to think about making their cities work “8 80.”

 

 

Why We Like It

So why does a real estate agent care to write about Open Streets? Well we share the “8 80” idea with the founders of Open Streets! The K O’Neil Group loves the Twin Cities, and we want everyone to be able to create a home here, whether they are 8 or 80. Experiencing Open Streets reminds everyone that our community is filled with sidewalks, green spaces, parks, and walkways that make life healthy and happy. Our willingness to get outside (whether in 90 degrees or 10 degrees) is one reason that Minneapolis is often #1 or #2 in the country for citizens’ health.

We hope that you take a stroll to an Open Street this summer and enjoy the experience! There are several more happening this year (see the list here), and K O’Neil Group will be hosting a booth in partnership with Pompadour for the Nicollet Open Streets. Look for us on Sunday, September 24, near 38th and Nicollet!

Posted in Twin Cities
Aug. 4, 2017

Three Ways Armatage Will Make You Happy

We LOVE the Twin Cities at K O’Neil Group, and we love to highlight some of the neighborhoods that make our cities great. On this post, we want to shine the spotlight on Armatage, Kelly’s neighborhood and the home of next weekend’s Armatage Summer Festival.

 

1. Suburban Comfort with Urban Amenities

The little neighborhood of Armatage may not feel like a city neighborhood, and that’s because it wasn’t always part of Minneapolis. Originally part of Richfield, Armatage is filled with the ramblers and cape cods of the post-World War II housing boom. Today, Armatage offers a suburban atmosphere but with the benefits of easy access to urban amenities – large parks, biking trails, and more. If you like the big city but want a classic home on a modest lot, Armatage is the place for you!

 

2. Maude Armatage was Fantabulous

The neighborhood is named after a fierce local hero, Maude Armatage. Maude was teased growing up for being “un-ladylike,” and she enjoyed house-partying on the shores of Lake Harriet as a teenager. As an adult Maude organized a local form of the Girl Scouts called Minnesota Camp Fire Girls and became active in the fight for women’s suffrage.

After women won the right to vote, Maude was encouraged to run for a Park Board seat which she won in 1921 – becoming one the first woman elected to Minneapolis municipal office and one of the first elected women in the state! Maude pushed for innovations on the Park Board, including cooperation between the Park Board and the Board of Education. These relationships created four community centers that joined parks with public schools.

So much more could be said about Maude Armatage, and we recommend checking out her biography in the Southwest Journal. As the longest, continuous serving Park Board member, Maude led the way for many more women to take leadership roles in Minneapolis and beyond. Her story makes the Armatage neighborhood even more awesome!

 

 

 

3. Welcoming and Accepting Community

CityPages named Armatage the city’s best neighborhood in 2012, and we think the neighborhood has continued to expand its appeal ever since! Pizzeria Lola continues to attract patrons from across the metro region, and cycling community is growing rapidly. As young families continue to move into the neighborhood, we expect that Armatage will grow more interesting and exciting in the years to come!

 

As a resident of Armatage, Kelly would love for you to visit sometime! She is a gold sponsor at this year’s Armatage Summer Festival, so why don’t you come and enjoy some food trucks, local music, door prizes, and more? The Armatage Summer Festival is Sunday, August 13, from 3:00 to 7:00pm at Armatage Park (2500 W 57th St).

Posted in Twin Cities
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates