Whether they’re tearing down or remodeling older homes, young families are flocking to the neighborhoods around the Minneapolis lakes — Calhoun, Cedar, Harriet, Nokomis and Lake of the Isles.
The lakes attract bathers, boaters, cyclists, runners and walkers throughout the warmer months. Cross-country skiers ply the snow-covered ice in winter. Lakes-area home buyers value the schools, dining, locally owned shops, and the short commute into downtown Minneapolis.
“The infrastructure that’s grown over the years has really made a difference,” said Jim Grandbois, an agent with Lakes Sothebys International Realty in Edina. “Now there’s more restaurants, more things going on around the lakes, and it’s become a high-demand area because of lifestyle.”
The original homes built near the lakes date from the 1890s in the Lowry Hill area to the 1950s around Cedar Lake, according to Grandbois and agent Chad Larsen of Coldwell Banker Burnet’s Minneapolis Lakes office.
The popularity of those homes has waxed and waned over the years. Home buyers and developers targeted the Linden Hills, Lynnhurst and Fulton neighborhoods bordering Lake Harriet in southwest Minneapolis for a slew of teardowns after the recession. Many replaced the original houses with much larger homes of diverse styles, raising concern among many neighbors.
The city imposed a brief moratorium on teardowns in those neighborhoods and a couple more in 2014, adding a construction management agreement to address neighbors’ concerns when it lifted the ban. Teardowns near the lakes still occur, but more buyers have opted to remodel and/or expand in the past year, according to Grandbois.
“Before it was all or nothing,” he said. “Now it seems other options are available as people see how well these ’20s homes were built, plus some of the charm that’s built into them — the woodwork and hardwood.”
These buyers are updating their homes with central air, a master bath, a family room open to the kitchen, white cabinets, marble countertops and a rear entryway with a mudroom and a half bath.
“What people are looking for is that charm of the prewar [design], but yet they want it new,” Larsen said. “I think that’s the biggest challenge these days for the market, and that means for sellers and for buyers.”
Home prices depend upon the condition of the house and its proximity to a particular lake and nearby amenities, the agents agreed. In general, lakefront homes will cost around $1 million, with prices declining with distance from a lake.
“Roughly 93 percent of the market is below the $500,000 threshold of sales that occur,” Larsen noted. “It’s the real meat-and-potato part of the market.”