New Listing in Victor Gardens Hugo! $219,999 4605 Victor Path #6

Beautiful town home in Victor Gardens located at 4605 Victor Path #6. 2 bedrooms with an upper level loft, full master bath and walk-in closet. This unit has an amazing open floor plan as compared to many other Hugo complexes. The whole living room spills out onto the deck with walls of glass. The kitchen has been very updated with quartz counter tops and engineered hardwood floors throughout the main level. There is also a lower level den that makes a great office or third bedroom.

New townhouse listing in Hugo - 13848 Flay Ave N - $174,500

Affordable entry into the hot Hugo town house market in the quaint Pineview Meadows neighborhood located out of the bust of all the building west of 61. Spacious main floor and 2 large bedrooms on the upper level. Situated on a quiet side street make this location even better. Contact me for more information or a showing - 612-202-4334 or brigg@briggbacker.com

Tough Mudder finishers 2019

Congrats to all the runners that competed in the Tough Mudder at Wild Wings Game Farm this past weekend in Hugo. We had a team and made the 8-10 miles with a few scrapes and bruises but had a great time. Its a fun event to crawl around in the mud for a few hours and get some good comraderie with your fellow runners. The best thing about the event is the comraderie and that you have to work together to get over many of the obstacles, you can’t climb them on your own. You need help to either climb up or pull someone over and as the day goes on, for whatever reason, that becomes the best part.

For example, there is one obstacle where you have to stack 4 people on top of each other against a wall and then someone else needs to climb up the stack to get over the wall. The ones on the bottom are being used by complete strangers to get over the wall and you feel great about it. And then when its your turn, they make a human chain from the top and pull you up and then off you go. Its great fun and for any event that highlights this type of cooperation, its a win in my book. See you next year!

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Pre-MLS town house opportunity in Pineview Meadows - $174,500

Pre-mls opportunity to see 13848 Flay Ave N in Hugo before it hits the market at the end of the week. 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit on a quiet side street in the desirable Pineview Meadows neighborhood which is located just east of Highway 61. This complex is a little more off the path than the expansive Victor Gardens and Waters Edge so if you are looking for some peace and quiet this is for you. Contact me for a showing or more information - 612-202-4334 or brigg@briggbacker.com

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Just listed - 20969 Quadrant Ave N - Scandia - $319,900

https://tours.spacecrafting.com/b-2aw3

Want a wonderful, private, nature setting with a quality home with character? This one is special. Custom built A-frame construction with tons of windows for natural light that overlooks the back yard and the towering White Pines. The home is also located at the end of a cul de sac so it has a very private feel and the lot is extremely secluded. There is a wrap around deck for enjoying the yard.

There is also a barn with concrete floors and electric that has been used for horses or a wonderful work shop. The kitchen is open to the living area and there is a wood burning fireplace. The home has a lot of character and charm. Upstairs there is a bedroom and a 3/4 bathroom.

The lower level has another wood burning fireplace and walks out to the back yard. There is also ample storage.

This is a great home for someone that is looking for a home with character and a private, secluded lot.

Hugo Tax Assessor Challenge

Like everyone else this time of year, I just received my new assessed value for determining what my share of property taxes will be for 2020. Property taxes in Washington County are based as a percentage of your assessed value. Washington County says they try to get the assessed value of your property to be 95% of the estimated sale price and then your tax owed is approximately 1% of your assessed value.

Well, being in the real estate industry for a living, I know how hard it can be to accurately determine what a property will sell for, so I know that an assessor has a hard job. I make it a point to get into as many properties in the Hugo area as possible that come on the market so that I can use that knowledge to come up with accurate pricing. Especially for an old farmhouse like mine that has many issues that can affect value, good and bad. So, when I received our value that I think is about $50k high, I called the assessor to dispute the value. I don’t think the value is drastically off but being that valuing property is what I do for a living, I felt that my value should be as accurate as possible. So the assessor came out and I gave him a tour and tried to point out all the things that are wrong with the house and will affect the resale price. He was a nice guy and seemed to be open to adjusting the value, but we will see what happens when he goes back to the office. He was certainly more agreeable than any city assessor that I have encountered in St. Paul or Minneapolis. Those guys were like professionals, they had scripts that they used that made it seem like they were fully trained to negotiate with homeowners on the value issue. Dan, the Hugo assessor, seemed like he was genuinely interested in looking at the value. So, that’s good, I hope.

Here is some data on assessed values of the over 6,000 properties in Hugo from one year to the next:

5-10% decrease - 7

1-5% decrease - 36

no change - 522

1-5% increase - 872

5-10% increase - 2,951

10-15% increase - 1,401

over 15% - 278

Some additional information: according to the City of Hugo, the average home value change for 2018 was 6.9% increase.

With the average increase in value based on actual sales being 6.9%, which is a healthy increase, I am not sure what Washington County is thinking when it has almost 25% of the households in Hugo having a 10-15% increase. That’s where I was and I believe it was my second year in a row of over 10% increase. That’s agressive. I think as a homeowner you should keep these values accurate and it isn’t that hard to dispute your value, especially if you live in area where there are good comparable sales to justify your value. I can always pull a few comparable sales so that you have actual sales to justify your claim. Just give me a call, I am happy to do it.

The assessor told me that if you don’t dispute the value by next week, then you would have to go to the meeting for the board of equalization to dispute the value and I am not sure what the process looks like to dispute at the meeting. I would think it is more difficult than having a conversation with one assessor.

I’ll let you know how my dispute turns out.

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In need of town home sellers....

https://www.8710photography.com/properties/1927/branded

We just listed and sold 4970 149th St N #1 town home in Water’s Edge development of Hugo in 1 day. There are a ton of buyers out there that lost out on this one, so if you are thinking of selling and want a quick, easy sale to some ready to go buyers, please reach out to me. Obviously the town house market in Hugo continues to be red hot.

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Pre-MLS - 12115 Illies Ave N - Hugo - Mahtomedi Schools - $599,999

Wonderful opportunity to own a newer constructed walk out rambler on a 5 acre private lot in Eastern Hugo and located in the Mahtomedi School District. Coming on the market this week, this home features 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms a main floor office, 3 car garage, beautiful sunroom and an open floor plan. Contact me for a pre-MLS showing or more information.

House Review: 4405 Fable Hill Parkway North in Hugo

Just hit the market this week and listed by Sarah Skalicky for $775,000, this super home is located in the highly prestigious Fable Hill neighborhood. It’s one of the prime lots that were built in the original development. The neighborhood has a great feel, very high end with rolling hills and large lots. 
The house is very nice. It sits up on the crown of the hill and faces the Fable Hill tower. The back yard is good but not overly large for the size of the lot. It somewhat backs up to the entrance road but there is some wooded area between the yard and the road so I don't think its much of a factor.

Inside is solid and well built as Pratt homes are. High ceilings in the living room with the gas fireplace. The kitchen is nice but not overly so. Maybe at this price point you would expect a few more bells and whistles and that perhaps shows the age of the house. The main floor space feels just a little small but that could be the fault of the oversized furniture which doesn't help the feel. Also on the staging side, the owner is a big hunter and the multiple deer heads and gun room could be toned down.

On the floor plan side, the master suite is on the main level and there are two bedrooms upstairs with a play area. It works but its different than many of the newer construction homes with the master on the upper floor with the bedrooms. It probably fits a family with older kids more than young ones.

The basement is a walk out and has a nice warm feel with the fireplace and bar. There is also a great storage room that can be accessed or driven into from the back yard. The floor is epoxy. Very nice for the toys.

Overall, its a great house. Could use a little staging help and a bit of decluttering but otherwise a super house in the best neighborhood in Hugo. The only other drawback is the price, which is probably close to the right price but still a lot of money compared to some of the new construction. However this is one of the prime lots in the neighborhood and that certainly has value.

Low radon levels in Hugo

Interesting information and map from a class given by Washington County. This shows the historical data from aggregated radon tests in Washington County. 4.0 p/Cl is considered the threshold for high levels of radon in a home, so if you are under 4.0, the house is considered to be safe and if a test comes back over 4.0 p/Cl the house is considered to have high radon levels and should consider installing a radon mitigation system.

As you can see, Hugo and Forest Lake generally have low levels of radon while areas in Southern Washington County and all along the St. Croix riverfront have generally high levels of radon. Houses can vary from one to the next as the radon levels are based on soil type and conditions but in general, homeowner’s in Hugo and Forest Lake have less to worry about in terms of radon.

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The Preserve at Sunset Lake - new development in Hugo

New, proposed development in eastern Hugo and Mahtomedi Schools. This parcel is 137 acres with 13 proposed lots and shows how land can be developed at a smaller lot size than is allowed in the zoning code. These parcels are classified as rural residential according to the City zoning map, which is 1 parcel of land per 10 acres. As you can see, most of these lots are less than 10 acres. However, if you take the total acreage of 137 acres and divide by the number of platted lots (13), it works out to a density of 1 lot per 10 acres. The City allows this because it satisfies the density requirements per the zoning code. Additional land is set aside as an outlot or common space. All lots are required to have a minimum of 300 feet of road frontage either on the road and cul de sac that the developer is building or on 120th Street. Lot prices are from $250k - $379k with the builder Parent Custom Homes and sold by Edina Realty.  The development has been approved by the City council.

New, proposed development in eastern Hugo and Mahtomedi Schools. This parcel is 137 acres with 13 proposed lots and shows how land can be developed at a smaller lot size than is allowed in the zoning code. These parcels are classified as rural residential according to the City zoning map, which is 1 parcel of land per 10 acres. As you can see, most of these lots are less than 10 acres. However, if you take the total acreage of 137 acres and divide by the number of platted lots (13), it works out to a density of 1 lot per 10 acres. The City allows this because it satisfies the density requirements per the zoning code. Additional land is set aside as an outlot or common space. All lots are required to have a minimum of 300 feet of road frontage either on the road and cul de sac that the developer is building or on 120th Street. Lot prices are from $250k - $379k with the builder Parent Custom Homes and sold by Edina Realty. The development has been approved by the City council.

Rice and Browns Creek Watershed changes in Hugo

Last week at the Hugo City Council meeting changes to the Browns Creek and Rice Creek Watershed dividing line were approved. See attached map. The areas in pink went from Browns Creek to Rice Creek and the areas in green went from Rice Creek to Browns Creek. I received a letter in the mail informing me of this action a few weeks ago and the whole thing smelled a bit fishy to me so I did some investigating. I was concerned that a large property holder was trying to reclassify their land to be more development friendly as the difference between the two watersheds is that Rice Creek doesn’t have buffer restrictions around delineated wetlands. So, that can be a big deal for someone trying to increase density.

I spoke to Rice Creek and Rachel Zuba at the City of Hugo and was told that it wasn’t a developer for a particular piece of land but that it was in response to a prior watershed delineation of the watershed line that was done incorrectly. They said that it was brought up by John Waller and the previous City of Hugo mayor Mike McCallister. I called Mike and spoke with him about it and it seemed like he was trying to set the record straight and that it wasn’t about any particular property being developed. His property was incorrectly classified and he was aware of this because he was mayor at the time of the previous survey and he wanted to set it straight.

My main concern was how Wild Wings game farm has now been reclassified as in the Rice Creek watershed district. They still need to adhere to current density and zoning requirements in the area, which is long term agricultural (10 acre min lot size) but the lack of a buffer requirement could really be advantageous for them if the decide to sell and develop (which I hear rumblings about).

My other concern with this process is how very few homeowners in the area were actually notified about the change. I was the only one of the immediate neighbors that I spoke with that received a letter about this. That’s what also made me a bit suspicious. The City of Hugo mentioned this as well. If this were a big concern or change to the area the local authorities need to follow protocols and notify all those affected.

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Adelaide Landing Review - Hugo new construction

Adelaide Landing is a new contsruction development in southeastern Hugo just off of Highway 61 and 130th St. There are 3 builders involved, Creative homes, Derrick Custom Homes and M/I Homes building the villas. This will be a 4 phase developement that will most likely be selling for 3-4 years. Right now they are selling phase 1 and 2 which are the villas by M/I Homes priced starting at about $350,000 and Creative Homes and Derrick Custom Homes building the single family homes starting in the upper $400k’s on 65 and 85 foot lots.

One aspect of the development that is interesting is that the Mahtomedi and White Bear Lake School District line goes right through the middle of the development. It looks to me that about 1/3 of the single family homes will be in the Mahtomedi School District. I have spoken with the Mahtomedi School District superintendant about how this will affect open enrollment in the district as Mahtomedi is a highly desirable district. He has said that it will greatly affect the process and probably eliminate it. Right now it is extremely difficult to open enroll, especially after kindergarten and 1st grade and who do you think most of the buyers are going to be for two story 4 and 5 bedroom, 3,000 square foot homes….families. It will be interesting to see how Mahtomedi acclimates to adding a potential 40-50 homes and 100 kids to the district in the next couple years.

On the house side, I think the homes are great. Creative homes makes a solid home at an affordable price. The floor plans are open and materials and workmanship are very good. The price point is affordable for new construction. I am not as familiar with Derrick Custom Homes.

The streets are just recently in so you can start to get a feel for how the neighborhood will flow. The entrance is on 130th St and is going to move further east from the models once its more developed. Its not a huge parcel of land so the streets are stretched horizontally more than a boxey feel, which I think is a good thing. There are a lot of wetlands, which there always is in Hugo and we will have to see how they grow in and mesh with the neighborhood. They will use reclaimed storm water for irrigation.

https://www.creativehci.com/community/adelaide-landing/

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House review: 624 Oak Street W Stillwater

http://www.mlsfinder.com/mn_rmls/kwp/index.cfm?action=listing_detail&property_id=5006949&searchkey=25435c45-0ea8-7cee-35d5-10a4b2af8f56

There is a new listing this week in Stillwater on the market for $399,900. Located on the South hill and just a few blocks from downtown. It is a complete renovation from the last sale in 2015 for $157k. It looks like every surface has been touched with a new LP Smartside exterior and new garage exterior, all interior surfaces have been painted, new kitchen and baths.

The house isn’t overly large but is laid out well. Two main floor entrances, with one on Oak and the other on Martha as the house is a corner lot. The curb appeal is excellent and the house ties in very well to the garage and the white exterior is the color of choice for builders these days.

New kitchen has a large center island and everything is new. The dining room is off to the side but there is still a connection to the kitchen through the opened up doorway. The only drawback is the living room is disconnected from the kitchen as you have to pass through the dining room to get to the kitchen.

The main floor has a great master suite. Upstairs has two bedrooms and a full bath. This home would work well for a family with two small children with the main floor master and the upper bedrooms.

Overall, a great home. Its expensive for $1400 square feet, but it should be for the level of finish and style. The basement is unfinished and has typical low ceiling height but there is possiblity for future expansion. I think this one should sell fast.

New townhouse list in Pineview Meadows Hugo! $190k

Just listed this wonderful 3 bedroom, 3 bath end unit in the quaint townhouse complex of Pineview Meadows in eastern Hugo.  The complex is a mature, quiet area just of highway 61 south of downtown Hugo.  This end unit has 3 baths, including a master upstairs and 3 full bedrooms up as well.  The main level has an open feel with a gas fireplace and an updated kitchen.  There is an outdoor side area off the dining space for grilling and also a front porch for relaxing. 

Priced well at $190k.  

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House Review: 14365 Sheffield Lane, May Township

http://www.mlsfinder.com/mn_rmls/kwp/index.cfm?action=listing_detail&property_id=4987169&searchkey=ff6de53d-003b-0675-c3a5-3f84a459fa36

Sheffield Lane is a quiet, feels like private, rustic road that wanders down to a dead end and follows the St. Croix. Not all of the homes are on the river and there are a mix of rustic cabins and new, modern builds. This house isn't a new build but it has been nicely updated and certainly isn't a cabin. I had a client years ago that bought a 3 season cabin just down the street and there have only been a handful of sales on the street since then. Whats really cool about the lot is that it sits on almost 2 acres and most of that is away from the river on pasture with a barn. So, you get the privacy on the river and useful land to play around and feel like you're in the country. The house itself has nice finishes, the main drawback is that there is so much oak wood in the house, with most of the trim and kitchen woodwork and cabinets. It wants to feel contemporary but it's difficult with so much dated oak. It is nestled in the trees and the views of the river are filtered through the branches as you are high above the river on a bluff. The dock is beautiful as you step down to the river and has a very private setting. We'll see if it can fetch $1.1mm.

14929 Old Guslander Trail N $400k

Just looked at this house in May Township. Its has a ton of potential. It has a mid century modern feel to it, unfortunately the finishes look like they were updated in the 50's also. Super quiet, private location, completely surrounded by woods. Shared driveway that splits off from the neighbor and off of Guslander Trail about 1/4 mile back. The driveway is tight and wouldn't want to have a novice driver on it for the first time. 10 acre lot, no pole barn but should have an area to add one.