Zillow home data shows a tale of two cities

January presented a tale of two cities for the local housing market, and I'm not talking about Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Twin Cities metro was one of only two major U.S. markets to see rental rates drop in January compared with the same month a year ago, Zillow says. Nationally, rents were up 3.3 percent year-over-year, while the Twin Cities market experienced a 0.3 percent drop to $1,502. The only other city to see a decrease was Chicago, where rental rates dropped 0.5 percent year-over-year.

That's good news for renters, but perhaps discomforting for the multitude of apartment complexes under construction across the metro.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis-St. Paul's home values in January rose faster, at 5.9 percent, than the national average of 5.4 percent.

The median home in the Twin Cities has a value of $212,600, while the national median is $178,500. By comparison, Chicago's home values also grew, but at a much slower rate of 3.6 percent.

Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research in Minneapolis, cautions that Zillow's January Real Estate Market Report may not be a complete snapshot of the Twin Cities rental market.

"I'm certainly not worried about it," Bujold said. "Yes, we are seeing minor modifications in some submarkets, but overall we are seeing an increase in rents."



Schuler Shoes opens 10th location

Schuler Shoes opened its 10th Twin Cities' location in St. Paul last week. "We sold our first pair of shoes 10 minutes after we opened," said Schuler's marketing director Kari Palmer.

Schuler's continues to grow at a time when many other shoe stores are closing. Venerable retailers such as Roberts Shoes on Lake Street in Minneapolis and Bay Street Shoes in Uptown closed last year.

Schuler's has strengthened its niche by catering to an audience that wants good customer service, knowledgeable sales staff, a wide range of sizes and relatively stylish but comfortable shoes. Most of its stores are in the suburbs.

Co-owner John Schuler said only 3 percent of the retailer's sales are online, but the company is hoping to increase that this year.

No additional locations are in the pipeline, Palmer said, but the Roseville store is moving in the fall from Har Mar Mall to a new building across County Road B in the SuperTarget parking lot. Construction has begun there.

As Highland Park shoppers know well, parking is tight in the neighborhood. Schuler's has its own parking lot with 14 dedicated spaces. The new shoe store is at 2081 Ford Pkwy. in St. Paul.