Archive for March, 2009

Have We Hit The Bottom Yet?

This Article was in the Star-Tribune today:

North Side home sale clears nothing but the books

Last update: March 30, 2009 – 11:59 PM

The market for foreclosed and stripped houses has gotten so bad on the North Side of Minneapolis that lenders are walking away from some closings barely clearing any money when they unload a house.

Just ask real estate agent Scott Ficek. He represented investors at a closing Friday at which the lender walked away with a grand total of $69.60.

That’s because normal closing costs plus city assessments against the property at 1914 Russell Av. N. nearly ate up the entire $12,500 sales price.

Ficek said he’s seen banks walk away with as little as a couple thousand dollars before, but he found this closing so unusual that he featured it on his real estate blog. “This one happened to catch my eye,” he said.

Get ready for more, said neighborhood activist Roberta Englund, who tracks North Side real estate patterns. She said she knows of more than 30 houses in the two north Minneapolis ZIP codes listed for less than $30,000. “I think in many cases the banks are clearing nothing except their books,” she said.

The squeezed margins come after banks already have discounted sales prices heavily. The three-bedroom Russell Avenue house sold for $189,900 early in 2006. But after a year and half on the market, it had been stripped of its copper pipes and its radiators. It was listed for $35,300 when Ficek approached the agent representing owner Fannie Mae. He offered a mere $8,000.

Ficek had a powerful negotiating tool on his side. The city already had assessed $6,000 against the house, which represented an unpaid fee from 2008 that the city imposes on houses registered as vacant and boarded. With the same fee due to be imposed next month for 2009, Fannie Mae had a strong incentive to unload the house now.

There is a lot of this going on right now.

I’ve working with a few cash buyer/investors who are looking at homes at prices that would have been unimaginable just two years ago (think $25,000 for a “habitable” home), bidding lower then asking prices and getting it.

Banks can’t be clearing anything on these deals, just getting these properties off their books, and avoiding further fees from the city on boarded-up properties.

I’ve seen investors update these homes, which in the case of a boarded house means EVERYTHING has to be brought up to code (a  tall order in a century plus old home), and turning it for over a $100,000 more then what they bought it for.

Some of these homes are gorgeous, even before they are renovated, but the work involved in replacing all the plumbing and electrical can be daunting.

Tread cautiously.


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Direct Hit

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What’s Hot at The Hub

As you might imagine, things are picking up at The Hub Bike Co-Op. 40 degrees seems to be the magic number, and with the possibility of highs near 60 today it could be a very busy day.

Here’s what folks seem to be gravitating to at the Minnehaha location:

The Giant Defy 3

A great, well-spec’d first road bike. Shorter top tube for a slightly more upright positioning then a traditional road bike, hyrdo-formed tubing for vertical compliance, mix of Sora/Tiagra components, carbon fiber seatpost and fork make for a no-brainer for those looking for a new way to ride. Particularly popular with the first time tri-athletes.

White Vittoria Zaffiro Pro

White tires in general are flying out the door. There’s this kevlar beaded 700×23 Zaffiro, and the 700×35 Randonneur. I pre-seasoned what I thought would be enough to get me through April, and we sold out by March, 1st, long before the streets were “clean”.

I was a bit flabbergasted by that. I’ve re-ordered twice as many and they should be back in the store the first week of April.

Velocity Deep V rims and wheels

What can I say; The Kids Love ’em. Colors. colors, colors!

Also this week, the much awaited bikes from Vicious Cycles will arrive

The Casual Agent

An amazing cro-moly tubeset with all the bells and whistles. An epic bike, for the epic cyclist.

Over at the West Bank store it’s all about Surly

Long Haul Trucker

LHT’s, Crosschecks, Steamrollers, Big Dummy Cargo bikes, even a fair number of Pugsleys.

You want it, they probably have one built up in your size and ready to ride at the West Bank Hub.

Finally, check out Orbea

The Orca

Looking for the ride of your life? Look no further.

Built with Co-Op pride in the heart of the Pyrenees.

See you at the shop.

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Mid-March Madness

With several days left in this month of March, 2009, I’ve got two full days of Cycling Home Tours under my belt, and two more scheduled before the week is over.

I packed up the winter bike (Electra Street Rod 7) on Monday and broke out the skinny tires on the cyclo-cross bike, and man, did that feel good!

Business at The Hub Bike Co-op has been gangbusters as well. Our bike sales for this winter were up 46% from last year!

Today I sat down with one of my product reps who handles a great many of the parts and accessories that I purchase for the shop. Today we we’re looking at clothing for next fall/winter season.

He had a new line with him, Showers Pass, quality rain and cold weather gear.

Nice stuff.

After he was done, I inquired about testing some samples.

I wound up shelling out for their new Portland Jacket.

Fully waterproof, comfortable as all-get-out, and just enough grey tweed style to make the retro-grouch in me very, very happy.

I rode it all afternoon and evening while showing houses, and it is surprisingly warm. It was a chilly night, and the cold air never got past the new hotness.

Dig it.

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Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I had my routine down.

I used to sit in front of my computer with my lap full of active listings, calling in my appointments over the phone.

My practiced appointment spiel rolled off my tongue; name, agent i.d., company name, office phone number, property address, time and date of the request, along with whether it was a preview, or a first or second showing.

Along with all the appropriate pleasantries of course.

It was equal parts comforting and annoying.

Shortly thereafter, my phone would start ringing with conformations and lock-box codes.

Yesterday, for the first time, I just typed in MLS numbers, clicked a couple buttons, and within a few minutes my email in-box began to fill with all the necessary information to conduct a day’s showings for multiple properties and clients.

My daughter is delighted she never has to overhear my Realtor appointment spiel ever again.

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In Search Of……

I’m working with a number of different buyers right now.

Each with different criteria and pricepoints.

Trust that I’m getting to know the inventory in South Minneapolis (particularly in the $150,000 and under range), very, very well.

I’m averaging 20-40 showings a week. Mostly in the Powderhorn and Longfellow areas..

If you’ve had your eye on it, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ve been there.

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