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Continued: From eyesores to eye candy in Brooklyn Park

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 14, 2014 - 2:25 PM

The spruced-up houses have attracted new buyers to Brooklyn Park.

“We pull in some who would have bought elsewhere,” said Stockwell. “They see what they can get here and how nice it is.”

First-time buyers Bill Vang and Maysee Lee didn’t know anything about the program when they bought their rehabbed home after looking at more than 40 houses in several northwestern suburbs.

“Our Realtor knew about the program, but it wasn’t on our radar,” said Lee. “We just wanted a house.” At $197,000, the price of their 1981-built house was a little higher than they’d wanted to pay, she said. “But it was move-in-ready, so there was no more money to invest.”

They liked the location, the open floor plan and the new kitchen, baths and appliances. “Everything was updated, and the craftsmanship was fantastic,” said Vang.

With 1,900 square feet and five bedrooms, there’s more house than the couple need right now but they have plans to fill it. “It’s a good size to start a family,” said Lee, with space to accommodate Vang’s parents, who live in Wisconsin but may move in with Vang and Lee once they start having children. For now, the couple host their friends. “We like to have people over for dinner and movie nights,” Vang said.

“We’re the first of our friends to buy a house,” said Lee. “This is the place to be.”


Vang and Lee got a look at their house before the rehab on a real estate website. “It was pretty bad,” Vang said. He wouldn’t have considered buying it in that condition. “I’m not very handy, and I wanted something low-maintenance.”

That’s typical of today’s buyers, most of whom aren’t interested in tackling fixer-uppers, said Stockwell. “People are so busy with life and work.” With interest rates low, most buyers would rather buy a renovated house, even at a higher price, than have the hassle of getting additional financing and finding contractors to fix problems.

“It’s a win-win,” Stockwell said. “The buyer doesn’t have to do all the work.”

“And the city wins a good-looking house with a new owner,” added Nick Reimler, project manager with My Home Source, one of the city’s development partners.

Meanwhile, the Ariases, who rented in northeast Minneapolis before buying their house, are now happily settled in their new community. “We have loved Brooklyn Park so far,” Emily said. Baby Jonas has joined the family, and his big brother, Lucas, age 6, is enjoying the city’s summer programs. Owen, the family mutt, has room to run in the fenced back yard or at a nearby dog park.

Javier and Emily Arias are getting to know their neighbors — and learning the ins and outs of owning their own home.

“It’s great,” said Emily. “Saturdays go by really fast, with 10 things to do around the house ... so this is what homeowners do on weekends.”


Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784


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