Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

Posts about Buying

Nene Matey-Keke named Realtor of the Year

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:45 PM

The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors named Nene Matey-Keke, principal broker/owner of RNR Realty International, 2014 Realtor of the Year.

“Nene is a Realtor who contributes to the community and advocates at a local, state and national level for home ownership opportunities for all," said Emily Green, MAAR's 2014 president. "His service to our industry has been invaluable and we are proud to honor him."

Nene has been in the business 15 years and has seven real estate certifications and designations through the local and national association. A press release said that as a first generation American, Matey-Keke has close ties with members of the immigrant community and connections with the international community. He's also the first African American to receive this award. Nene is on the MAAR Board of Directors, Diversity Committee (2014 Chair), Global Committee, an active participant of the Young Professionals Network, Public Affairs Committee, Nominating Committee and Finance Committee. At the state level, he is on the Board of Directors, Minnesota RPAC Board of Trustees, Governmental Affairs Committee, Commercial Forms Subcommittee, Professional Standards Committee, Housing Opportunity Committee, Executive Committee, Diversity Committee and an active participant of the Strategic Planning session. At the national level, he is the Federal Political Coordinator who is assigned to the 5th District under Congressman Keith Ellison. He is also the member of the 2015 Global Business and Alliances Committee, 2015 Research Committee and Federal Financing and Housing Policy Committee.

Four developers bid for Nicollet Hotel Block Project in downtown Mpls.

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: December 12, 2014 - 2:47 PM


Duval Development's 80-story tower proposal would stand 32 stories taller than the IDS Center


Four local companies submitted proposals to develop a key parcel in downtown Minneapolis known as the Nicollet Hotel Block. 

The City of Minneapolis closed its request for proposals period Thursday night for  30 Third Street South. The 1.7-acre city block is currently a surface parking lot and will serve as a crucial interchange for many of the major downtown revitalization projects currently in the works.

Doran Development, Duval Development, Mortenson and United Properties all responded with concept designs. 

Renderings began to surface Friday afternoon. The city asked for an iconic building and it looks like it make get it. Duval is proposing an 80-story tower that would stand 23 floors and 100 feet above the IDS Center, which is currently the tallest building in the state.

(A proposed 900-foot tower. Photo courtesy of Duval Development)

The block sits at the northern-most point of the Nicollet Mall that is about to undergo a massive facelift. The city has high hopes for this odd-shaped plot that is bound by 3rd Street S, Washington Av., Hennepin Av. and Nicollet Mall.

The City's requirements for the block include:

  • an iconic, high-quality, designed new construction structure(s) of at least 20 active floors
  • a mix of commercial, retail, residential, office and hotel uses
  • active street-level retail
  • integrated green space for the public



Sitting between the city's commercial core, the Mississippi River and the booming North Loop neighborhood, plans for the plot must include streetcar-ready infrastructure. More than a half a dozen developers expressed interest in the site initially at a pre-proposal meeting, but the complexity of the design and the plethora of other commercial development projects currently underway across the Twin Cities Metro may have deterred some from pursuing the project. 

The city says it wants the small parcel to include a mix of uses, such as office, hotel, residential and retail.


This part of downtown, called The Gateway District, has undergone a development boom over the last two years. Nearby luxury apartment towers like the 4Marq, Nic on Fifth and the Soo Line are beginning to reconnect the River to the Mall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Photo courtesy of United Properties and architect LHB)    


Opus Development executives said in September they are planning to build two 30-story residential towers on the Ritz block, located off Nicollet Mall between 3rd and 4th Streets. City staff will review the proposals and conduct community outreach with the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association. City Council is expected to select one of the developers by April and sell the property by late summer 2015.             (Photo courtesy of BKV Group and Doran Development)        


Construction should begin early- to mid-2016.


The Nicollet Hotel at Christmas time in 1949. Star Tribune file photo.


Aerial view of the Nicollet Hotel Block. Photo courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

Cool Nov. for home sales moves Twin Cities closer to buyer's market

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: December 10, 2014 - 1:54 PM
A cool November for home sales brought the housing market in the Twin Cities one step closer to a buyer’s market -- at least for now.
Last month there were  3,213 home sales in the 13-county metro, a 17-percent decrease over last year, according to monthly data from Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. With fewer foreclosures in the mix and a shortage of listings in some areas, the median price of those sales rose 5.1 percent to $205,000 compared to the same period last year.
“Buyers seem to be back in the driver’s seat this winter,” said Amy Jurek, a sales agent with
RE/MAX Advantage Plus. “They have a decent amount of properties to choose from with amazing interest rates.” 
Home sales in the Twin Cities all year have failed to keep pace with 2013 largely because there were fewer investors in the market. Distressed sales - foreclosures and short sales - represented just 13.4 percent of all closings last month compared with upwards of 20 to 40 percent at various times last year.
“November 2014 wasn’t a normal market,” said Jurek. “With more homes to choose from this fall and winter and less competitive offers, buyers have grown complacent with market.”

 In the second-to-last monthly report of 2014, the year-to-date metrics are down compared to 2013.

Nearly 46,000 home sales closed in the Twin Cities Metro from January-November this year -- 7.6 percent fewer than the same period in 2013.

But, balancing out the slower pace of sales, new listings were also down 12.8 percent year-over-year, staving off an inventory flood for now. 

The takeaway for buyers and sellers -- 

  • Buyers face higher prices but lower interest rates and more housing chices than a year ago.
  • Sellers receive higher sales prices but are up against more inventory competition in active listing areas.

“The Twin Cities housing market is clearly continuing the process of recovery. Sales prices are up but on fewer overall sales. Fewer distressed sales are certainly a welcome sign for homeowners and realtors alike,” said Michael Hunstad, president of the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors, in a statement.

Mortgage rates fall to the lowest level since May 2013

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 4, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Defying expectations, mortgage interest rates appear poised to finish the below 4 percent. This week the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage across the country stood at 3.89 percent, the lowest level since the week of May 30, 2013, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Rate Survey. Here's a rundown on the rates:

  • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.89 percent with an average 0.5 point. It's down from 3.97 percent during the previous week and 4.46 percent last year. 
  • The 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.47 percent.
  • The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.94 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.01 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.99 percent.

Here's what Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac, had to say about the situation:  "Mortgage rates were down across the board on a week of underwhelming economic releases. New home sales missed consensus expectations by selling at an annual pace of 458,000 units in October and the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales dipped in October by 1.1 percent. The ADP's estimate for payroll growth in November was 208,000 jobs, under expectations of 225,000."

First "Energy Fit" certified home hits the MLS

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 3, 2014 - 4:17 PM

Shopping for an energy efficient house? The NorthstarMLS (Multiple Listing Service), the local organization that runs the listing service for buyers and sellers, has started including a "green certification" check box on its online listings 2013, and there's now a new standard for those houses.

The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), a local non-profit, and Coldwell Banker Burnet have listed the first  "Energy Fit" house in the Twin Cities. That house (2626 Zenith Ave. N in Robbinsdale) was bought by CEE and completely retrofitted with a host of improvements aimed at reducing energy costs and making it more comfortable for occupants. Performance testing to make sure the changes were beneficial are part of the drill. The 1,774 square-foot house is on the market for $224,900.

Bruce Erickson, the Coldwell Banker Burnet agent who has the listing, said that homebuyers are increasingly concerned about how much they'll be spending on their utility bills, and he expects the designation to make these houses more marketable. 

“Many homebuyers consider the cost of heating and cooling when buying a new house and this can impact the sale price of the home as well as the time spent on the market," said Erickson. "Having Energy Fit Homes on the MLS can not only help buyers in making their final purchasing decisions, it can also allow sellers to get recognition for improvements made to the home,” he said.

The Energy Fit Homes concept was launched by CEE in February, and more than 60 houses have been certified. The goal is to double that number by the end of the year. For more information on how to get your home certified, visit www.mnenergyfit.org or call 612.335.3483.

Update: Apartments WILL replace polkas at Nye's Polonaise Room

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: December 2, 2014 - 7:43 PM
Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Update: Longtime developer, Schafer Richardson, is joining forces with the owners of the restaurant to build apartments. Here's a link to the latest details.

As hipsters and pensioners alike mourn the 2015 closing of Nye's Polonaise Room in Nordeast Minneapolis, speculation is blazing about the fate of the iconic buildings, which are perched along East Hennepin just a block from the Mississippi River. 

The owners of the restaurant, which is actually four patched-together buildings of various ages, aren't talking specifically about their plans for the site, but various sources say there have been very, very preliminary discussions with at least one well-known and unnamed Minneapolis developer.

One thing is clear: Unless a buyer plans to continue running it as a restaurant, it's very likely the buildings will be bought by a developer and replaced with a modern high-rise. Though the buildings are situated in the heart of the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, which includes the historic milling districts on the east and west banks of the river, the buildings themselves don't have the kind of historic status that would automatically prevent them from being scraped. Here's a link to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District design guidelines, which governs development in the area. In fact, a recent update to the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association small area plan calls for more high-density, pedestrian friendly development, especially along East Hennepin, which is slowly becoming the bustling commercial district it once was.

P. Victor Grambsch, President of the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association, said the group would not oppose demolition of the buildings and is in full support of a high-rise tower.

" We think it's unfortunate that Nye's is going, but no one is going  to the barricades to preserve it," he said "This will be a relatively expensive site and they’ll [the buyers] will want to build something substantial and we're all in favor of that."

Doesn't matter whether it's rental apartments, condos or offices, he said, the group is more concerned that the mixed-use project that will bring more shops, restaurants and housing to the neighborhood. And the base of the building is more important than the shape of the tower because the No. 1 design priority is making the neighborhood pedestrian friendly. Grambsch said that a slender tower that sits atop a more slender two- or three-story podium is a likely scenario. There’s no height restriction in the area, which already has at least two residential towers with nearly 30 floors.

The site isn't without its challenges. Nye's shares the block with the Our Lady of Lourdes Church - a historic limestone church with a distinct steeple that's long been a neighborhood icon. Preserving and enhancing views of the church will be one of the design goals.

"We don’t see a fundamental conflict between a substantial, tall building and Lourdes Church," Grambsch said. "But they’re [the architects] are going to have get out their design chops because this will pose some interesting design challenges...we would like to have something that’s a visibly better piece of archtitecture than what’s there now."

If the buildings are demolished, it's likely the HPC will require the developer to memorialize the building in some way, with either a plaque or an architectural element that provides a symbolic reminder of the history of the building.

The Northeast side of the river is already in the midst of considerable development. Lennar Multifamily has an option to buy a once-contiminated site where it plans to build a mixed-use development that would eventually have two high-rise towers. And Alatus has an option to redevelop the Wasburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel site, where it has proposed building a 40-story apartment or condominium tower. Both projects have received support of neighborhood groups.



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