Monday, October 26, 2009

Pohlad Foundation's $8,000 Down Payment Assistance Expanded for NoMi!

Good news! The Pohlad Foundation has expanded its $8,000 down payment assistance program into three neighborhoods in 55412 - McKinley, Folwell, and Cleveland! Details from the Live MSP facebook page are below - Get To NoMi!

I have a FANTASTIC listing coming up in Folwell a buyer could use this money on - 4 BR, 2 Baths - more to follow!


Live MSP
The Pohlad Foundation just expanded the $8,000 Home Buyer Assistance to include both the 55411 Zip Code (Willard Hay, Near North, Hawthore and Jordan) & 55412 (Cleveland, Folwell and McKinley) This is $8,000 Down Payment Assistance - 0% Deferred ...Loan (no monthly payment) forgiven after 7 years of continued ownership & residency. Available through Neighborhood Housing Services of Minneapolis, Inc. @ 612-521-3581.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Doing Business in a Pandemic World

I have been told I am "old school" when it comes to my work ethic. I work too much, too long, too hard, and at all times. I just live to work, and I'm at my happiest when I'm productive and getting things done.

So what happens to someone like me who gets hit with the flu (non-H1N1)?

Normally I would take cough medicine, sleep from 6 pm to 7 am, go to work, and repeat until I was through it, spending every non-work moment resting so I wouldn't miss a single minute of the work day. Sometimes I'd even have the cough medicine hidden in a drawer and I'd down the stuff at my desk. My bosses praised my work ethic, and my clients thought I was invincible, while my co-workers would avoid my office, and if they had to walk by - they would often spray Lysol in my direction in a vain attempt to dilute the potency of my germs.

Why did I insist on functioning like this? While I pride myself on possessing a high level of common sense - going to work sick was far from sensible. And as of this year - no more.

I came down with something over the weekend - not sure what, just know it's not the super nasty H1N1 stuff. So I slept all day and most of the night Sunday, stayed in on Monday, slept some more, and ventured out of the house briefly last night, after making sure I was feeling pretty normal.

And the response from my business appointments this week has been very accommodating - they were happy to reschedule, stay home, see you next week, etc. etc.

In the wake of a pandemic world, business is changing. The pace is hectic but more accommodating. We'll opt to email, text, call, fax - just for Pete's sake do not come near me! Getting a deal done has never been so accommodating from a time/distance/technology standpoint. We'll do a virtual "shake on it" - no problem. Need to reschedule? No problem - even if it's your accountant!

So perhaps as Americans we will learn something from this pandemic - slow down, rest, take care of yourself, think of others by NOT going in to work or out in public. As a good friend and fellow workaholic said to me over the weekend "if you don't have your health, you really don't have anything."

I'm going back to bed now.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Who Was C.C. Webber?

A few years ago I contacted the John Deere Company looking for information on Charles C. Webber, or C. C. Webber, the last grandson of John Deere, who donated the money to build the Webber Baths and Webber Library in the Camden Neighborhood of North Minneapolis.

Technically - I believe I do not have the right to reproduce the article in full on this blog, but I believe I can quote the section on C. C. Webber, which I have included below. I hope you enjoy! Steph

Character of a Company: The C.C. Webber’s

By: Neil Dahlstrom
For Two Cylinder Magazine

"Webber was a throwback to another era. Passing away in 1944, he had still never driven a car, preferring horses still, though he did fly once on a plane, which gave him “no pleasure” as he “prefers the solid earth under [his] feet.” Webber was also the last surviving grandson of John Deere. Although it was not uncommon for Deere employees to spend much of their lives with the company, Webber was one of the few who could say that he spent his entire life with the company. Though some of the projects for which his name was attached are now gone, his name can still be found throughout Minneapolis. Some of those projects, some now distant memories, are Webber Municipal Park, the Minneapolis YMCA, Webber Parkway, the John Deere Webber Baths (named for his son who died of Meningitis at age 11), the Webber name adorned many a civic project in Minneapolis.

According to his death announcement by Deere & Company, “his total contribution to the advancement of the implement industry is incalculable. At his death, he was the dean of all farm implement men in the entire United States, having spent 67 years of his life in active association with the John Deere organization. He rose to the position he held in the company and the industry through sheer ability and strength of character.” If there is indeed a character to a company, Charles C. Webber was the epitome of its influence."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Home Improvement Tax Credits for Consumers in 2009 and 2010

The media is focusing a lot of attention on the $8,000 tax credit for first time buyers; however, there is also a tax credit of up to 30% of qualified improvements focused on increasing the energy efficiency of homes ($1,500 maximum) to help homeowners improve their homes.

Rather than try to summarize the program within my blog, I am hoping the following link will be helpful:



Identify the Energy Vampires this Halloween! Save Money with a Power Check Meter

A note from Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein on a new program to help homeowners learn more about reducing energy use via power check meters - what a great idea! It's also a great reminder to use our libraries : ) There's a link to Green Living ideas as well. Enjoy! Steph

Energy meters available for check out at Hennepin County Libraries

Fifty easy-to-use Power Check energy meters from Xcel Energy are available for check out from Hennepin County Libraries. Requests may be placed for the energy meters either online or in person at any of the 39 Hennepin County Libraries (
Plymouth and Nokomis are closed).

The meters will help you:
Identify high energy use appliances in your home.
Determine how much it costs to use appliances.
Predict your savings in reducing appliance use.
Calculate the cost-savings of replacing older equipment with energy-efficient models.
Identify "energy vampires" - appliances that use energy when switched off.

The energy meters come with home energy assessment instructions, worksheets, money-saving energy tips, and information about rebates and incentive programs.

Visit the Library's online catalog and search under Power Check Energy Meter.
Here is a link (you might have to cut and paste).!horizon&view=items&menu=search&uri=full=3100001~!4

For more information on Green Living, go to the Hennepin County Libraries information on green living. Here is the link.

Mark Stenglein
Hennepin County Commissioner
District 2
Office: 612-348-7882

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NoMi Home Buyer's Tour Sunday, Oct 11th

Looking to learn more about the great houses in North Minneapolis and Camden? The NoMi Home Buyer's Tour is on again this weekend! I am passing along this email I received from the organizers of the tour in the form of a post to share with my blog readers. Enjoy! Steph

Date: Sunday, October 11
Time: 10:30am
Location: Papa's Pizza and Pasta (4159 Thomas Ave N)
Enjoy your Sunday morning at Papa's Pizza and Pasta for breakfast or coffee and a pastry prior to our tour - -
If you would like to have breakfast prior to the tour, we recommend that you arrive by 9:30am, coffee and a pastry 10:15am or if you are just going to join us for the Tour please plan on arriving no later than 10:30am.
Please RSVP to this email and let us know if you intend to have breakfast prior to the tour and your preferred reservation time, name as well as the number of guests in your party. We will confirm your reservation at Papa's for you!!
Even if you are going to be joining us for just the Tour, we still want to hear from you.
At this time we are still in the process of selecting the homes for the tour, however we are focusing on the Victory and Cleveland Neighborhoods. We will have realtors on hand to answer any questions you might have about the homes on the tour as well as the many financial incentives that are currently available and don't forget, we are getting close to the deadline for the $8,000 federal tax credit. There will also be plenty of current NOMI residents to tell you about their experiences living on the Northside.
So come on out and meet some of your "new neighbors" while we explore the wonderful neighborhoods of NOMI.
If you have questions please feel free to email
We can't wait for you to Get To NOMI!

Daycare for the Dogs and a Great Local Vet

Some of my clients have asked for referrals for "doggy daycare" being they are gone so much during the day. If you haven't checked it out, Downtown Dogs at 821 2nd Avenue North is a great resource for keeping your dog happy and active during the day.

Our Chow Chow, Indie, goes on occasion and she typically has a ball. The group play promotes good socialization and gets her some exercise. If I am wondering how she is doing - I just go to their website, and click on their live webcam. I can check up on how she's playing and see if she's got a new boyfriend (last time, a Basset Hound was trying to get her attention).

Anyway - it's a fun option to a traditional day at home sleeping in front of the fireplace.

Downtown Dogs also does boarding; however, if you live in the Camden/NoMi area, I encourage you to check out Dr. Cynthia Fetzer's boarding services at Camden Pet Hospital at 1405 44th Avenue North. Dr. Fetzer has been our vet for 13 years, and we've been extremely pleased with her practical approach to the health of our dogs. The staff is incredibly patient and kind. Pure breed Chow Chows like Indie are a bit rare in the Twin Cities - and she has been very helpful in addressing issues specific to the breed. Visit the hospital on the web at:


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding Down Payment Money in the Suburbs

A lot has been written about the down payment assistance funds available in Minneapolis neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosure. Although I'm a loyal urban girl myself - I also know a lot of buyers aren't interested in living in the City for a variety of reasons - their work isn't here, their friends aren't here, or perhaps they just want a house on a larger lot than you typically find in the City.

In researching down payment assistance programs, I recently found one specifically for folks who work in Ramsey County and who want to live in suburban Ramsey County. Some income restrictions apply, and you have to be a first time buyer - but you might be surprised at the details. One of my buyers can qualify for up to $20,000 of down payment assistance to bring the monthly payment down to 30% of the buyer's monthly income.

For more information on the program, drop me a note via my website at or at


Finding Money for a Down Payment

Came across this article today by Kara McGuire, the personal finance journalist at the Star Tribune. Check out the article and the links on the left hand side of my blog for more information on programs out there in the Twin Cities. Steph

Finding money for a down payment

October 5, 2009

Mr. Kablog and I bought our first (and only) house with about 3 percent down; some of that was even a gift from our parents.

It was 2002. We were engaged and I remember waking up one morning and thinking "Let's buy a house." It cost $149,900, so 3 percent wasn't a huge down payment by any stretch. But for two people in their early twenties at the start of careers, it was a significant chunk of change.

I hadn't been working in the field of personal finance journalism for very long and wasn't well versed in housing issues. For instance, I didn't know I should shop around for a loan; we went with the lending arm of the real estate company that our Realtor worked with. And I was too impatient to take a Home Stretch class.

I still wonder if a low-level public radio employee and a county government worker would have qualified for any down payment assistance programs. There are several, and Maria Verven, who does communications work for Edina Realty, put together a nifty list of various down payment assistance programs that I've pasted here.

The best thing of all is that most of these programs are eligible even if you get the $8,000 tax credit that I mentioned in my weekend story.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offers 3.5 percent down mortgages. Qualified buyers must demonstrate that they will spend no more than 31 percent of their gross income on mortgage payments.

A VA home loan is a zero-down loan, which requires a military background with VA loan eligibility.

The Guaranteed Rural Development loan is a zero down loan designed for use in rural communities.

Down Payment Assistance Programs (DAPs) Homebuyers can also obtain low down payment loans on conventional loans with DAPs. Many community, city, county and state agencies offer DAPs, which have unique qualification requirements regarding income, assets, credit, occupancy and location. Some examples available in 2009 include:

HOME HELP: A federally funded loan for qualified first-time homebuyers that lends up to $14,999 in interest free funds for a down payment and closing costs; 70 percent of the loan is forgiven after five years. The goal of this DAP is to make housing more affordable by lowering the borrower’s housing debt ratio to 30 percent.

The Silver Lining Loan Program: This Dakota County DAP program loans up to $15,000 in interest free funds that can be used towards down payment and closing costs. Designed for use within specific Dakota county locations, this DAP is not exclusively for first-time homebuyers, although the borrower cannot own other real estate.

Homeownership Assistance Fund (HAF): This Minnesota Housing program awards eligible first-time homebuyers an interest-free, deferred loan – up to $3,000 – to help with down payment and closing costs. Homebuyers interested in the HAF should contact a Minnesota Housing participating lender prior to signing a purchase agreement. Participating lenders determine eligibility, which generally includes households earning 80 percent or less of area median income.

The St. Paul Heroes Program: This loan was created to honor those who dedicate their lives to serving the community, including active military personnel, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, health care workers, police, teachers and public employees. This program awards up to $10,000 to first-time homebuyers who purchase a home in St. Paul in conjunction with the Take Credit!! Mortgage Certificate Program. This interest and payment free loan helps with down payment or closing costs and is forgiven if the borrower resides in the home over 10 years.

Pohlad Family Giving Foundation Homebuyer Assistance Incentive Program: All prospective homebuyers (not just first-timers) who want to purchase and occupy a home, condo, or town home in the zip codes 55411 (N. Minneapolis) and 55106 (St. Paul-Dayton’s Bluff) may qualify for an $8,000 grant for down payment and closing cost assistance. Buyers must intend to occupy the property as their principal residence for seven years, and they must close on their home on or before Dec. 31, 2009.

Harvest Fest - Celebrate the reopening of Lowry Avenue North


Saturday October 10th, 2009 from 10am to 4 pm

Celebrate the reopening of Lowry Avenue North at Penn Ave North. There'll be art from the Northside Arts Collective (NAC) artists, classic car show, food for sale, kid zone and live music all day. The official ribbon cutting is at 11am.

Get to NoMi - Arts, Parks, and You!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More Info on the First Time Buyer Tax Credit

An interesting question came up recently from one of my buyers who owns some land but not a primary residence - does the buyer still get the credit? Based on the National Association of Home Builder's website - it appears the buyer will qualify - but I would recommend a call to your tax professional for confirmation.

A link to the fact sheet is below for your reference. Hurry - time is running out - you have until November 30th to close on a new primary residence.


Architectural Antiques Sale This Weekend!

As found by a neighbor in this week's Star Tribune:

Architectural Antiques -- a Minneapolis mainstay for more than 30 years for
vintage light fixtures, mantels, doors, plumbing, windows and other
treasures -- is revving up its annual fall customer appreciation sale this
weekend with discounts of 40 percent off its entire inventory, plus
additional markdowns of up to 80 percent on selected items. Manager Bob
Jeffrey noted that these are the stores' lowest prices in a decade and that
the 28,000-square-foot retail warehouse will be freshly stocked. 10 a.m.-6
p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. and noon to 5 p.m. Sun.; 1330 NE. Quincy St.,

Happy Hunting!