2015 Eden Prairie Housing Market

The City Council and City staff frequently receive updates from the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) regarding housing sales and activity in our City. Yesterday, I received a 2015 “year in review” email from MAAR. Their summation of the past year was that housing demand was at a 10-year high while listing activity reached a 5-year high. Much of this was attributed to low interest rates and an improving labor market.

Home 3Below are some year-end housing market analytics that we received:

  • New Listings in Eden Prairie decreased 2.0 percent to 50.
  • Pending Sales were up 17.2 percent to 68.
  • Closed Sales increased 10.1 percent to 76.
  • Days on Market was up 2.9 percent to 105 days.
  • The Median Sales Price decreased 8.1 percent to $290,950.
  • Inventory levels grew 3.8 percent to 270 homes.
  • Percent of List Price Received at Sale increased 0.1 percent to 97.3 percent.
  • Month’s Supply of Inventory was down 3.3 percent to 2.9 months.
  • Distressed sales made up 5.3 percent of all Closed Sales.
  • Single-Family homes made up 62.0 percent of all Closed Sales.
  • New construction properties made up 6.6 percent of all Closed Sales.

Keep in mind that these statistics are kept by the real estate industry and are not the same as some of our City statistics on housing valuations. For example, of all the homes that were sold in 2015, the median sale price was $290,950 as indicated above. However, the overall median valued home for 2015 in Eden Prairie is $360,300. That is an increase from $343,800 in 2014. These latter values correspond to all single-family residential homes in our City — they are not solely for the homes that sold in 2015.

Looking ahead, MAAR believes there are reasons to be optimistic in 2016. They say that job and wage growth are both accelerating and that the Twin Cities area continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates of any major metropolitan area. They also state that the election cycle, the pace of interest rate hikes, inventory improvements, new construction activity and the financial health of the consumer will be key indicators to watch this year.

It will indeed be interesting to watch how the housing market unfolds in 2016.

Try EP Bill Pay

EP Bill Pay logoWe have offered online bill payment to our water and sewer customers for years. We have seen 25 percent of our utility customers enjoying the convenience of no check writing, no trips to the mailbox, and no paper statements to file. They’ve had 24/7 access to their accounts, with the ability to schedule payments or have them automatically paid from their credit card or bank accounts.

We just recently introduced a new and improved system to make it even easier to pay water and sewer bills online. Formerly called eUtility Billing, EP Bill Pay has an improved user interface and additional payment options. If you haven’t signed up in the past, now may be the time to try it.

It only takes a few minutes to set up your account in EP Bill Pay. Just have your statement nearby so you know your account number and customer number. You then can:

  • Make one-time payments with no registration
  • Use an intuitive interface for mobile payments
  • Pay by phone or text
  • Receive utility bills, confirmation of payments, reminders and receipts via email; and
  • Avoid late payment

water faucetEven with these benefits, some utility customers are hesitant to pay bills online. Some may worry about automatically paying their utility bills, which can change from quarter to quarter, from their credit card or checking accounts. If that’s stopping you from using EP Bill Pay, then don’t make it automatic. Simply log on, enter an amount and pay the bill on its due date.

Some may worry about the security of their personal or financial data. The City partners with Invoice Cloud, which safely stores your financial information using Payment Card Industry (PCI)-compliant systems. No one can access your complete financial information because all check routing and credit card numbers are abbreviated. As an added security precaution, we don’t even show your full financial information to you!

If you’re already paying your utility bill online, thank you for doing your part to help the environment. If not, consider switching to EP Bill Pay today.

You can find more information about EP Bill Pay on our website.

After Hours with the Eden Prairie Chamber

After Hours 2015 1Last Thursday, the City and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce hosted an “After-Hours” event at the City Center. In past years, we have jointly hosted town hall meetings and other community events.  This year we decided to fit into a successful “after hours” format the Chamber already uses. This type of event allows members of the business community to meet at a specified local business to hear about its operations and also take part in a social event with informal networking.

This new event was very well attended and received. The entire City Council was in attendance, as well as more than 40 Chamber members and guests. We decided to focus the content of the event on the release of the 2015 City Business Survey results.

The Morris-LeathermAfter Hours 2015 2an Company conducted the survey of a random sample of 400 business owners or chief decision-makers to obtain statistically valid results.

Overall, the survey results were very positive for the City. Some highlights include:

  1. When asked to consider the amount a business pays in property taxes for City services and the quality of City services the business receives, 88 percent of the respondents answered Excellent or Good.
  2. When asked how satisfied the business is with access to the decision-making process at the City, 89 percent of respondents answered Very Satisfied or Somewhat Satisfied.
  3. For this survey, the top five reasons businesses chose to locate in Eden Prairie were: (1) Fair Value of Lease and Rental Rates, (2) High Speed Internet Access, (3) Available Building Space, (4) Good Housing Choices, and (5) Parks/Walking Paths/Outdoor Amenities.
  4. When asked to give a grade to the City’s business climate, 29 percent of respondents gave the City an A and 61 percent gave the City a B. These are the highest grades the City has received in the past decade.
  5. When asked what issues the City’s Economic Development Division should focus on, the top five were: (1) Retaining/Growing Existing Businesses, (2) Low Interest Small Business Loans/Grants, (3) Investing in Redevelopment, (4) Building Traffic Infrastructure, and (5) Attracting Qualified Workers/Talent.
  6. When asked what the most serious issues facing the City were, the top three answers are: (1) Taxes, (2) Competition, and (3) Cost of Doing Business.

As was stated at the event, we will celebrate the positive findings while also creating a plan of action to maintain high ratings while also working to address areas of concern.

2016 City Budget Adopted

Last Tuesday evening at their final regular meeting of the year, the City Council approved the Eden Prairie budget for 2016.

I thought I would once again share the budget message that I provided to our city employees last week.

Eden Prairie City Council

Good Afternoon,

Last night the City Council unanimously approved the 2016 budget, which will result in a tax levy increase of 2.9 percent. This translates into no change in the City property tax for a median single-family home valued at $360,300, despite the fact that the 2016 median home value increased $21,200, or 4.9 percent. The 2016 General Fund budget totals $43,215,812 which includes a 2.5-percent base wage increase for employees and maintains our high levels of service. The majority of the goals that guided us to our final budget remain consistent with the 2015 budget, which reflects the strength and stability of the City’s leadership and financial policies:

Eden Prairie as a Premier Place

  • Preserve Eden Prairie’s exceptional image internally and externally
  • Enhance Eden Prairie’s sense of community

Operational

  • Continual review for service efficiencies and innovations
  • Continue to improve Eden Prairie’s relative position in fiscal comparisons with comparable cities

Organizational

  • Sustain current levels of employee morale and engagement
  • Enhance service levels in public safety and the maintenance of infrastructure
  • Preserve City service levels and resources

The many efficiencies and innovations we have implemented across our operations play a large part in once again keeping the tax levy increase low. Eden Prairie’s City tax rate continues to rank among the lowest when compared to 15 other comparable metropolitan areas suburbs of similar size.

The City Council commended City staff for continued efforts to find new ways to enhance services while keeping costs down. And I thank all of you for your dedication to excellence in everything we do. It clearly makes a positive difference for Eden Prairie and does not go unnoticed.

The final 2016 budget will be posted on the City’s website by the end of January.

Have a great day,

Rick

Municipal Liquor Profits: Giving Back to the Community

When you walk through the doors at any one of the City’s three municipal liquor stores, you pass by a message that says, “Giving Back to the Community” – it’s an important message, and one that I’d like to elaborate on a little.

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Municipal liquor stores have been in operation since the United States government repealed prohibition in 1933, giving individual states the responsibility and authority to regulate liquor sales. At that time, the Minnesota legislature gave cities the option of issuing liquor licenses to private businesses or providing municipal alcohol dispensing services.

Eden Prairie, along with more than 300 other cities, chose to operate municipal liquor stores. This choice not only allows for greater control over liquor being sold and consumed in the City, but also further diversifies the City’s revenue sources – because it allows us to invest liquor store profits back into the community.

The City’s three Eden Prairie Liquor store locations generate more than $1-million in profits annually.

And within the past year, those profits helped to fund a portion of the following Capital Improvement projects:

  • Community Center Aquatics and Fitness Expansion
  • New Fire Department Ladder Truck
  • Franlo Park Tennis Court Renovations
  • Playground Equipment Replacements

In other words, profits generated at the municipal liquor stores directly fund a number of improvements in our city – which also helps offset the amount of taxpayer dollars needed for these projects.

So next time you pass by that message, you’ll know that your choice to shop at Eden Prairie Liquor makes it possible for us to give back to the community.