Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Who would ever want to live at 26th and Portland?!"

I had this question asked of me once.

At the time, I responded immediately with the names of a couple of people I know who DO live at that intersection... one of whom occupies a glorious mansion attributable to T.P Healy. (And, I'd live there myself - in a heartbeat - if it meant I got to call one of the several glorious buildings there my home.)

But anyway, at the time I had no idea that this intersection was also once home to a particularly famous Minnesota resident!

What a world...

I regret that I never got to lay eyes on that home.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Historic Minneapolis Directories (Now online!)

If you're interested in researching the history of a home in Minneapolis, one of the first places to hit for information is the Hennepin History Museum.* Down in the cozy basement research library, you'll find a wealth of fascinating resources, including but not limited to yellowed Sanborn maps, local history books, and of course my personal favorite... the dual-city "blue books." (Er, and the Minneapolis Directories!)

The HHM is an absolutely WONDERFUL place to visit, so I do recommend doing so in person when you have the chance. (And with a super-affordable annual membership fee of $35 per individual, perhaps consider membership as well?) BUT, if you just want to check something out in the blue books (ahem) Minneapolis Directories and don't have time to run over to HHM, guess what? They are now (partially) online!


(And thanks so very much to Heritage Preservation Commissioner, Champion of the Pioneers & Soldiers Cemetery, and all-around super-amazing local historian Sue Hunter Weir for the tip on this.)

*Located in the former George H. & Leonora Christian residence, the museum is also a charming point at which to begin a self-guided walking tour of the Washburn Fair Oaks Mansion District. (Perhaps best summer-time.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Reflections on that first house, twelve years ago

I will never forget the experience of purchasing my first house. More than so many other things one might expect, that place change the course of my life and helped define who I am as a person.

I was twenty-one years old at the time.

The house was an 1886 stick-Victorian duplex in the Phillips neighborhood. It was vacant, foreclosed, and winterized. The attic windows had fallen out and pigeons perched in the frames, cooing dismissively as I shivered on the sidewalk.

My budget was $40,000. I was a student and bartender at the time. I have no idea how the loan officer ever even managed to qualify me, given that I kept no records of my tips, but then again, those were different days of lending... my mortgage was sub-prime and the firm from which I got it has since gone out of business (as has the bank with whom I re-financed two years later in order to build an addition on the house.)

My parents disapproved mightily. I recall eating lunch together post-closing, and one of them (I can't remember which) saying “We kind of thought you were going to need us to co-sign for you on the loan. And we were going to say NO.”

My stepfather bought me a handgun, and a police investigator visited me the first week I owned the place. (He just walked right in -since all the door locks were broken- and handed me a wanted flier, asking if the individual pictured was my boyfriend, husband or roommate.)

I was off to an auspicious start.

As I had scraped together every last penny of tips from innumerable, insufferable bachelorette parties at the hotel where I tended bar in order to come up with a down-payment, it was something of a rude awakening when I had the water to the house turned on and discovered that the pipes had pretty much all frozen and burst.

I thought my mother would cry.

I moved in anyway, rationalizing that the SuperAmerica up the street had a public restroom, and that I only needed a day or two to get this situation figured out. (And then I closed myself up in my filthy, unpainted new bedroom to sob in terror and frustration.)

Ultimately, I got a small loan from my credit union (God bless credit unions) in order to repair the plumbing, but not before the ancient, brittle chimney blew off in the first of several spring storms. Luckily, it wasn't as expensive of a fix as I feared when I first spied those bricks strewn across the lawn from behind my floor-to-ceiling dining room windows. I developed an eye-tic which lasted for a month.

In the years that have followed, many people have asked me what drew me to real estate, and to fixing up old homes in particular. I'm still trying to figure out what the answer is. Clearly, it goes back further than this first home of mine. There's something visceral to me about homes. Especially the old ones. But certainly, this first house of mine is part of the equation.

That initial year was rife with stress. But what is easy to forget is the fact that it passed quickly, and that the following years were wonderful, and that the building gently transitioned into something quite beautiful.

That first year was a trial by fire. But the experiences and the memories have kept me going, and I'm proud to say that I would do it all over again if given the opportunity.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Teddy-Bear Ladies

The Up-Block-Down-House* has long been a perplexing study for my fellow house-historians and I. 

As lovely and comfortable as it is, my home of the last 2.5 years is nonetheless riddled with oddities that have stumped even some of my best friends, highly-esteemed for their knowledge of turn-of-the-century architecture, as well as common twentieth-century home changes in Minneapolis.

Questions that have plagued us include:

Why is the second flight of foyer stairs steeper than the third?

Did my office used to be the kitchen?

Is the kitchen an addition?

Was the house ever duplexed?

Why are so many blocks stamped “UP” laid UPSIDE-DOWN?

Why is my house-mate’s studio floor different from the rest of the wood?

And the list goes on…

But I wasn’t thinking about ANY of this today. 

In fact, I hadn’t thought of these things for quite some time. You see, I’ve grown comfortable in my home. Fond of it, in fact.

Those of you who have followed my blogging over the years may recall my mostly-chipper attitude about the acquisition of this house, even in the face of its utterly revolting state

But what you may not know is that I actually hated this place. I hated it not for what it was, but rather for the change to my life which it signified.

I had been going through a breakup. a protracted, painful, mind-bending experience, about which even the closest of my friends were not really and truly informed.

I left my beloved Healy House to come here… to this… this… place. This place where I would live all alone, ripping filthy carpet and scrubbing filthy ceilings until (I thought) I became so fully coated in UBDH residue that my tears of rage and anguish would be absorbed by a crusty shell.

And indeed that happened. And I lived like that for some time.

A hermit of sorts, as I struggled to figure out who I was, where I was, and what it all meant. And for a time, it pretty much sucked.

And BFF came.

And Uncle Ray.

And then Geri(P)atric.

And before I knew it, we were painting. And we were decorating. And we were cooking and living like undamaged people.

And we were celebrating holidays.

And at some point along the way, it became my home. Along with all of these people, and this neighborhood, and these dogs.

And I became whole again, without even really noticing the specific moment at which that occurred.

So as it happens, and as I prepare to sell this place and move onto the next exciting phase in my life, it was all of THIS that I was considering today, with a great sense of comfort and satisfaction, when I spied the white minivan pull up in front of the UBDH from the comfort of my –now lovely- front porch.

Three elderly women exited, all staring at my home. As they made their way into the street and toward my house, I caught myself thinking “are they looking at the dinosaur? No wait – it’s on vacation at the Nevermind Gallery in St. Paul… WHAT ON EARTH are the doing?”

They were smiling and giddy, and as they came closer, I saw that two of them were holding teddy bears, and the third a digital camera.

Before I could react, they saw me on the porch and one of them giggled, before stating loudly “well we should ask HER!”

Slightly embarrassed at having been caught spying from my porch, I got up and walked out to meet them.

And oh…

It turned out that two of them were sisters. Sisters who had grown up in THIS, MY HOUSE – THIS UP-BLOCK-DOWN-HOUSE, FIFTY YEARS AGO.

I nearly fainted when they told me that.

I wish I could adequately describe either their happiness or mine, but words truly escape me with respect to that particular sense. But suffice it to say, I was overwhelmed. In a good way.

We took photos of them on the front stoop with their childhood teddy bears, and I invited them in to see (after so many years) the same funny staircase, with the banister they had slid down as girls, and the porch that no longer has French doors (THE PORCH HAD FRENCH DOORS?!) and learn about how their parents housed a family of seven on just the first level of my house… because yes, in the middle of the last century, it was in fact used as a duplex.

And it brought tears to my eyes.

Though when I bought this place I didn’t think of it as a home, it WAS a home to others in the past. So special, in fact, that they came back 50 years later, from places like Elk River and Andover, to see if it was still here. And they brought their teddy bears.

And in spite of its long hiatus as a vacant, broken-down foreclosure…

…and before that a rental by a notorious slumlady…

…site of chronic drug-dealing and heart-wrenching family violence…

It has become a safe and wonderful home AGAIN.

My home.

*So named by the BFF for the curious inversion of several basement blocks, embossed with the letters UP

Community Land Trust = Most Expensive Affordable Housing in Hawthorne?

Some of you may have noticed my soft spot for the Hawthorne neighborhood. 

I’m not sure if it’s that I just always love the underdog, or perhaps a challenge, but whatever it is, I find myself paying an inordinate amount of attention to this small neighborhood on the opposite end of the Northside from my own.*

In terms of real estate values, Hawthorne may well be the single most depressed neighborhood in all of the City of Minneapolis. Indeed, over the last four months, the average sold price for single-family residences in that neighborhood was a mere $39,085.

(click to enlarge) 

So knowing this, and being able to count a healthy and growing number of friends who today live MORTGAGE-FREE in NoMi as a result of these ridiculously low prices, is it any wonder that I was a little taken aback to hear that the non-profit Urban Homeworks had decided to sell their newest Hawthorne listing as a Community Land Trust property?

What does this mean, you may ask? Right right – let’s talk about exactly what that means:

The City of Lakes Community Land Trust promotes a model of “homeownership” which is supposed to preserve affordability, among other things. Here’s a little background from their website:

The City of Lakes Community Land Trust resulted from a collective, committed effort by Minneapolis residents and neighborhood associations to preserve affordable housing ownership in their community. 
In late 2001, a collaboration of Powderhorn Residents Group (PRG), Seward Redesign, Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association (PPNA), and the Lyndale Neighborhood Development Corporation (LNDC) began educating themselves on best practices relating to creating and stabilizing affordability in their neighborhoods. 
Through research, community conversations, an environmental scan, and the identification of opportunities, the collaborative group determined that there was a significant need in the City of Minneapolis to form a Community Land Trust (CLT). 
Housed and incubated by PRG, the collaboration incorporated as the City of Lakes Community Land Trust (CLCLT) in August 2002 and acquired its 501(c)(3) status in August 2003. 
The CLCLT hired its first staff person in October 2002.  Current CLCLT staff consists of three employees (two full-time and one part-time). To date, the CLCLT has assisted over 70 low- and moderate-income households into CLCLT homeownership since the fall of 2004 and anticipates adding another 20-30 households over the next 18-24 months.   
The mission of the CLCLT is to provide and foster stewardship of perpetually affordable home ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families throughout Minneapolis and is achieved through three major objectives, including:
• Assisting households that otherwise would never be able to purchase a home responsibly in having the ability to do so;• Ensuring that, if and when the homeowner(s) decide to sell, the CLCLT is there to keep the home(s) affordable for other income-qualified households; and• Provide support necessary for CLCLT homeowners be successful in homeownership. 
Nationally, there are over 150 CLT’s, which work to create perpetually affordable housing while simultaneously balancing escalating housing market appreciation with the ability to meet housing needs for low- to moderate-income homebuyers. 
CLT’s provide permanently affordable housing by owning the land of a particular property but selling the home on the land to an income-qualified buyer.  The homeowner then leases the land from the CLT through a 99-year, renewable ground lease. 
The ground lease connects the homeowner to the community and to keeping the house permanently affordable by including a resale formula that determines the home’s CLT sale price and the homeowner’s share of the home’s increased value at the time of sale. 
This mechanism facilitates the initial investment made in the home by public and private subsidy sources remaining with the home to make it affordable to subsequent, income-qualified buyers.  
Now, that’s all well and good, and I’m very pleased about their three staff people and their commitment to affordability and all… but it really begs the question: Isn’t Hawthorne affordable ENOUGH already? And frankly, considering the fact that the property in question is currently listed at $130,000 (more than THREE TIMES the average sale price over the last four months in this neighborhood) one has to ask, is this really about affordability?

And yes, I am sure that the UH property is (will be when the rehab is completed) in better condition than much of its active competition in Hawthorne right now. And if anyone wants to check, here's that inventory list:

(once again, click to enlarge)

But here are two important things to keep in mind with respect to that notion:

First, a CLT sale includes the house ONLY. So, for one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, you, my friend, do not actually become the owner of real estate. You become the owner of an improvement (the house) and enter into a lease for the land.

Second, even if the competing houses are in poorer shape, they are SO much cheaper, that even when combined with rehab costs, they’re mostly going to end up more affordable than the UH/CLT property.

So, what gives?

I’d really like to know, personally… because I find this highly perplexing.

 Oh, and here's the house:

 I do admit that it's got good bones... 

But so do a whole lot of other homes in Hawthorne that wouldn't sell for such a price in this decade.

*Oh, and I also love a deal – so there’s that as well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glazing your own windows

When I show older homes to buyers, I often hear concerns about windows. Indeed, it seems like nearly once a week I have some client telling me that the windows in a given listing "need to be replaced." I try to be delicate in my disagreement, despite the fact that this totally drives me nuts.

As I've said to many a friend and many a client, I really have to hand it to the replacement window industry - they have worked hard to inculcate the notion that old windows are bad, so much so that it seems to have become a FACT in our culture. Bravo to them. That takes some doing.

Perhaps the reason that preservationists have not been more successful at contradicting this FACT myth is that we lack a product to sell.

But, I digress. What I really want to write about here is glazing your own (old!) windows so that they last you forever, and avert the tragedy that would be tossing old windows into a landfill and spending a bunch of money on some crap that can most likely never be repaired when some part of it breaks.

Specifically, I want to tell you that it is EASY!

Window glazing is a task about which I have long been nervous, and I've always avoided it by bringing broken windows to the hardware store for glazing. (This, of course, is perfectly fine as well if you're not into the whole DIY experience, and it's not overly expensive.) I had always heard that it was a dicey process, and the idea of screwing it up scared me more that it should have.

Enter my fellow house-addicted BFF.

His old house had a TON of multi-paned windows. ONE TON, I tell you. Un montón de ventanas. And of course, the glazing was old and in need of replacement. (We don't buy anything other than fixer-uppers, obviously.) He was determined to glaze them himself.

And he did.

And he told me it was easy.

And I was all, like "OMG! Show me how!"

So he did. It was very exciting.

Here's more or less how we did it:

Step #1 for a broken window is (duh) to removed the broken glass and clean out the old glazing, paint, or whatever gunkiness might be along the small ledge where the glass sits, and then place the pane of glass in. (If you're just replacing old and crumbly glazing, no need to remove and replace the pane, clearly.)

Step #2 is to wedge the points in. You can do this with your putty knife, as the points come with a handy-dandy little ledge under under which to jam the knife and press them into the wood. I have no idea if there's some general rule about how many to put in (I didn't bother googling that part) but we just put 3-4 on each side of average-sized double-hung sash, figuring that was good enough.

Step #3 is the beginning of the fun part. Do you like play-doh? I love play-doh. (Who doesn't like play-doh?)

Take a glob of putty out and start rolling it between your hands like you're making a bread-stick. Lay it along the edge of the glass, covering the points. Press it in a bit with your fingers. Repeat all around. (I forgot to take a picture of this step. I was over-stimulated by the play-doh.)

Step #4 brings the putty knife back into the picture. First, with your knife perpendicular to the sash (and the putty bead,) start pulling the putty up and away from the pane, toward the wood. Scrape the knife (and the putty) up against the wood edge. Do this along the entire edge. Scrape scrape scrape. This helps jam the putty into the corner.

Step #5 is the most technical part. This is where you smooth it out and make it look all lovely. For this step, your knife should be angled, and you'll go in a direction that is parallel to the wood edge, rather than perpendicular. Start in a corner and scrape SLOWLY from one end of the particular edge to the other. If the putty is pulling up behind your knife, you may be going TOO FAST. Slow down.

Step #6 Clean up any lines of putty excess that were cut away in your smoothing strokes.

Step #7 Admire your handiwork and tell all of your friends.


Putty is temperature-sensitive. Try to do this work either indoors or on a relatively warm (but hopefully not sweltering) day outdoors. Also note that it can take up to a month for the putty to cure enough to hold paint. Check your product container for details.

Also, do you know what this is is the photo below?

This is a broken window pane that someone had siliconed into the frame. Please do not do that. It makes the pane VERY difficult to remove. It also looks ugly, and is just all-around annoying. Thank you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More recycling woes

There must be something in the air, because just as I was preparing to write about my annoyance over mis-use of recycling containers, I discovered that North by Northside had already beaten me to it.

So, as Jeff has pretty much covered this issue, I'll spare you all my rant (but please do read his.)

I'll just leave you with the above visual of how this issue is currently manifested over here in UWHO.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

RIP GeriPatric

One day early last summer, as I was out gardening in the front yard, I spotted a lanky dog meandering down the road. Owner-less and collar-less, he sniffled about in leisurely way, completely oblivious to the oddness of his presence.

I called my roommate who, having a dog of his own that he regularly walked through the neighborhood, might recognize this old gent.

As it happened, the roommate did not know the dog, but took him all over town in search of the home from which he had surely escaped.

One month later, after numerous trips, emails, posts to lost dog fora/craigslist/petfinder, calls to the humane society and animal control in two cities, it began to dawn on us that this dog could end up ours for good.

We struggled with a name. He was so old and grey, we had taken to calling him Geriatric. But, a friend informed us that such a thing seemed rude... and suggested GeriPatric. It stuck.

Shortly after Geri's arrival into our lives, we lost my roommate's dog Jacques. One day he simply could not use his back end any longer. Recently, the same thing happened to Geri.

So today, we say goodbye to GeriPatric as well.

Geri will be most remembered for his random voluntary trips to places like Broadway Liquor Outlet (he forgot to bring money) and Fire and Ice, as well as his surprisingly deft pizza-stealing abilities.

Geri was also quite tolerant of our various foster puppies.

Rest in peace, Geri.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple and inexpensive ways to make your home shine

In this crazy housing market, I spend a lot of time talking with sellers about the relative value of improvements to their homes.

While each case is different, given varying degrees of equity, home locations and styles, etc, there are some constants invariably apply across the board.

The first one is PAINT. PAINT! It is ALWAYS a good idea to make sure your home is well-painted. Paint is so cheap, especially relative to the value of the impression a good paint job makes on a prospective buyer. If you only do one single thing to prepare your house for sale, I recommend PAINTING. (Have I said that enough? And with enough capital letters? Let's give it one more try: PAAAAAAAAAAAAINT!)

I don't recommend white, either. Although painting everything white is still better than not painting at all, presuming the walls are anything less than perfect to begin with. Consult home decor magazines, the internet, or your real estate agent for tips on what colors would work best for your home. (Also note: I'm talking primarily about interior here, but the same rules apply for exterior as well. If your color is anything less than fresh, I recommend a paint job. And there should be NO PEELING PAINT ANYWHERE AT ALL. Just trust me on this.)

The second thing is lighting. Pay attention to it. Have enough of it. And try not to have it all be from Home Depot, if possible. I highly recommend lamps. Lower wattage bulbs with soft, warm light are highly superior to those super-bright CFLs, for the record. Even if you want to save the planet with the decreased energy usage that CFLs provide, I recommend swapping them out for soft incandescents AT LEAST just for the period during which your home is on the market. You will see the difference and so will the buyers.

And third, if you have natural woodwork, consider its condition. Is it dull? Are there any scratches or paint splatters? It's not difficult to clean up those small mars and then spruce up the wood with a fresh coat of stain or shellac. I know because I've just done it in my home.

When we live in a house for some time, it can be easy to grow used to the little faults and blemishes, and stop seeing them. But believe me, buyers will see them. So it's important to look at your home with a fresh eye when sizing up the need for cosmetic fixes prior to listing.

And, on the subject of woodwork, another cheap and easy way to give your rooms a boost is adding some sort of trim-work. That could be chair-rail, picture-rail, or crown moulding. In my house, I just had picture-rail installed in the living and dining rooms. The total cost for the wood itself was under $60.00, and with stain, mastic and nails it was still well under $100 (I'm guessing conservatively here because I already had the additional supplies.)

I wish I had a before photo, because these rooms in my house were disgusting when I moved in. White walls, splattered woodwork, dingy light fixtures with icy CFL bulbs, the works. It was awful. But with just a bit of paint, lighting and woodwork help, we now have this:

And yes, in case you were wondering, I am thinking of selling my home this year, and finding yet another fixer-upper. I am totally addicted to this process.

Know anyone in the market?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't buy high and sell low

Alex Stenback has a GREAT post over at Behind the Mortgage, which anyone interested in real estate should -I think- go and read immediately.

Alex hits on something that has perplexed me for a long time, and that is the sort of herd mentality that many people have about real estate.

As far back as eight years ago, it seemed like everyone around me was into buying real estate. At parties and social gatherings, new homes and home projects were a constant topic. If a renter was uncovered in the room it was highly likely that s/he would be overwhelmed with bossy proclamations about how s/he was missing out THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY EVERRRRRR... because homeownership and real estate was totally where it was at.

I had a friend who bought a small condo off of Excelsior at 38th in St. Louis Park. He got seriously lucky over the whole Excelsior/Grand development, and sold for a tidy profit. I was pleased for him. But then he took the money and invested it into no fewer than ELEVEN different rental properties, all of which he paid top dollar for.

I remember discussing the shift with him and expressing concern that the rents may not be sufficient to cover his loan payments, given the high prices of the properties he was purchasing. He told me that he'd make it work with fat Section-8 rents, and that he wasn't worried, because even if that didn't work out, he'd still realize appreciation on the values and could sell the properties if need be.

Well, a couple of years later, he was in bankruptcy. And, the worst part in my view was that he didn't even have a homestead. After selling his condo, he plowed all the gain into investment property down-payments and then rented an apartment for himself. (Interestingly, it seemed that he didn't care to live in the neighborhoods where he invested, which is why he didn't occupy one of his own units. That set off a red flag of an entirely different nature, which I'll save for a future post.)

At any rate, this friend's situation was particularly dramatic, but there were others who got in over their heads even with their primary residences. You probably know a person or two like that - it seems these days that we all do.

So why did everybody believe they needed to buy? Why were buyers engaging in bidding wars, pushing home prices skyward in their desperation to experience ownership?

I really have no idea, to tell you the truth.

Just like I have no idea why today, when home prices are in the tank and half the houses in my neighborhood could be owned for ONE HALF of the monthly expense of renting around here, many people are still terribly hesitant to buy.

Alex called it a "fear bubble."

And I get that. Some people are scared that prices will continue to fall. But consider this: Unlike with price increases, which theoretically could continue on into oblivion, price decreases do actually have a lower bound. A forty thousand dollar house can only decrease to zero/FREE. (Do you think sellers will start giving homes away for free? I suppose it's technically possible.)

But let's say you find a forty thousand dollar house and its value plummets to zero in the course of four years. That's about $834 in value lost per month.

Which is cheaper than the average rent for a three bedroom unit.

So do you really win by renting?

(And we haven't even gotten into things like mortgage interest deduction, potential rental income in the case of duplexes, etc.)

It's time to pop the "fear bubble."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Anonymous threats and stalking - why Northsiders don't want to talk

As Sheila Regan and Ed Kohler both illustrated lately in the Twin Cities Daily Planet and The Deets, there's a bit of drama swirling around the Northside blogosphere these days.

What's unfortunate is that the most nefarious aspects are being perpetuated under a cloak of anonymity.

There's been plenty of speculation as to the identity or identities of the "Jordan Hawkman Group*" but of course, unless someone sues them (or Blogger/Google) it seems unclear as to whether or how these theories can be proven. (But in case you haven't been following the story, word on the street is that it's at least partially Don Allen. Hence the above-linked stories causing a backlash on JHG.)

In the meantime, the angry personality(ies?) hiding behind this moniker are having a grand old time spreading misinformation and -in some cases- outright lies about a variety of Northsiders.

Is it any wonder that nobody wants to talk?

Here's an email I received from "Jane Doe" just today:

from Jane Doe
to Minneapolis Girl
date Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM
subject Constance E. Nompelis
hide details 9:59 AM (2 hours ago)
Don't feel left out as of late, we have not been forgetting about you.

JHG has a few questions for you:

1. How is the completion of the TISH orders coming along for your North Minneapolis House?

2. Were you involved in any way with the Jeff Skrenes accident? In any case, was there alcohol involved in his accident?

3. Have you ever been investigated for Real Estate transactions? Which ones?

As you well know, we keep our word as to what is on the record and off the record. If we dig up the answers on our own we have moved forward with stories. As stated before, we are willing to put up your side of the story....your call.

Your friends at JHG

For the record, this is not the first time I've been contacted by JHG, and while the questions in this particular message are mostly related to me, in the past they've attempted to blackmail me for info about others. Take this message, for example:

from Jane Doe
to Minneapolis Girl
date Sat, Aug 28, 2010 at 8:17 AM
subject Time
hide details 8/28/10
What's it going to be?

We know you represented the buyer side of Goodmundson's house among other things. We have known this all along, yet have not brought it up when there were logical times to publish it. That should prove that JHG can be Connie friendly.

Now would be the appropriate time to slide us information that focuses our attention towards Hoff and Goodmundson. There are others working with us already. Don't be late to the party, because it will not count if you are.

The dumbest part about it all though, is that threats of exposure *should* only work if the threatened party has actually done something wrong. The JHG have implied OVER and OVER again that I had some unethical or illegal role in Megan Goodmundson's home transaction, but the reality is that I did not. The JHG have also implied OVER and OVER again that I have romantic relations with any number of Northside characters, but the reality is that I do not.

So why should I (or anyone else) be afraid?

Well, because they lie. And lies really suck.

And I know a dozen other people over here who won't dare say one word about any of the local issues because they're afraid of some anonymous-lying-COWARD-blogger posting lies about THEM TOO.

Which really is a terrible shame.

I spent a few months trying to ignore this whole mess, hoping that it would just die down, and feeling like the best response was none at all. However, things have not in fact died down.

So, I decided to respond.


Oh, and for the record, I'm happy to answer the questions posed in the initial email. Here goes:

1) All the corrections have been made. (PS - Did you notice the beautiful new paint job on my home? I know you drive by it a lot as part of your intimidation efforts.)

2) Nope. Jeff's car accident took place in Northeast Minneapolis and I was nowhere near him at the time. (But how nice of you to take the friendly act of picking him up and driving him to the hospital and try to twist that into something seedy.)

3) Not unless it's been so super-secret that I wasn't informed about it. (And not unless your obsessive googling and defamatory insinuations count... which I don't believe they do.)

*Which I REFUSE to link to. If you want to read that garbage and you don't already know where it is, please consult with Google.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reflections while scrubbing woodwork

When I first bought the house I now live in, I basically hated it. And not only did I basically hate it, but in uncharacteristic fashion, I had little hope that my sentiments would ever change. Part of it was due to the extreme nature of its hose-up-ness, but also, I now realize, in part due to the particularly grumpy stage of life I was passing through at the time.

In any event, two years later, much has evolved for the positive, both for the house and for my general disposition.

As I ponder the various options this new year has brought to me, I cannot help but also reflect upon the amazing transformation of this house, and my attitude toward it.

There are still things to be done, for sure. But Now I look at them with (mostly) good humor, and I know that they can be accomplished. I also know that this house has finally become a home. And I like it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Remembering the Petro Stop

Here are some not-so-great photos of some REALLY GREAT photos:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Using your IRA to invest in real estate

Did you know that it's possible to invest in real estate with funds from a self-directed IRA?

Yeah, I didn't either until several months ago, when I learned about it from a savvy new client from another state, who I helped purchase in just this fashion, here in Minnesota. I was a little uncertain about how the whole thing worked, so I consulted an estate planning attorney, several custodian firms, and -of course- the internet.

What I found was that it's a surprisingly simple process!

There are some restrictions of course, and it's always wise to consult tax and estate-planning professionals when considering purchasing real estate for any purpose, whether investment or homeownership.

Nevertheless, it's always exciting to learn and share information about new ways to invest in real estate!