Go ahead, mock Minnesota with its brutal winters and unofficial state bird: the mosquito. Zillow, however, ranks the Twin Cities of St. Paul-Minneapolis as the country’s fifth-hottest real estate market driven by jobs.
Hosts Brad and Heather Fox weather it all on HGTV’s Minneapolis-centric “Stay or Sell,” which premiered Aug. 27.
The premise: Homeowners decide whether to stay and renovate their outdated home or buy a new one that the Foxes customize. It’s a heartwarming twist on HGTV’s ever-popular “Love It or List It,” in that the hosts don’t take sides — and the remodel doesn’t launch until a decision is rendered. Heather Fox oversees design, and her broker husband hunts down deals.
We spoke with the Minnesota natives from their Fox Homes offices in Minnetonka, just west of Minneapolis.
What’s such a hot real estate market doing in such a frigid region?
Brad: We have so many Fortune 500 companies based here — Target, Best Buy, General Mills, 3M, UnitedHealth. I feel that we get a lot of transfers that keep the real estate market so strong. Plus, people just love Minneapolis, a great place to raise kids and there’s tons to do — if you can get over the snow.
Heather: We probably had the worst winter of my life. Tons of snow, lots of storms and ice. We’d be filming an interview outside and it would be 10 below, just snowing super hard. Brad and I are both wearing snow pants, heavy boots, four pairs of wool socks, hand and foot warmers … even though from the waist up we look like we’re not wearing all that gear.
Heather: It was a blast to create and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re actually heading there on Wednesday.
Speaking of Midcentury Modern design, you’ve combined rustic elements from a Minnesota northwoods aesthetic with sleek Midcentury lines.
Heather: I think they work together because Midcentury style also has a lot of natural elements. I was taking the natural elements of rustic and Midcentury and cleaning them up a bit. Instead of rough wood cabinets, we used wood but I kept it cleaner (using clear alder) — no profile on the doors, just a flat panel with a medium-tone stain. Slate definitely has a rustic feel, too, with its raw edges (used on a three-sided fireplace). I felt it had a Midcentury vibe because it’s a natural element you would find in a Midcentury home.
Brad: I was skeptical for sure because they’re two conflicting styles. But Heather definitely pulled it off.
The diciest part of staying or selling seems to be the pull of an existing familiar neighborhood.
Brad: For all of our clients, the general idea is that they want to either stay in their neighborhood or as close as they possibly can. It’s a major priority. That’s the turmoil because if certain elements aren’t lining up or it’s not going to be cost-effective, they look elsewhere.
Couples tend to argue over garages both on “Love It or List It” and your show, with men pulling for more space.
Heather: Especially here in Minnesota because we embrace the outdoors so much. Garages are a pretty big deal here. Both men and women have a lot more toys — cross country skis, bikes, maybe a snowmobile, Jet Skis that they have to haul back and forth, or a boat. And that attached garage is nice — you don’t have to haul everything across a snowy yard to get inside.
What are some tips when deciding whether to stay or sell?
Heather: I think it’s all about your neighbors and your lot. When you get the right neighbors it can make your life so much better. You just don’t want to leave that. But then there’s the lot you’re actually on — how big is the backyard? Do you have enough space? Are you on a super-busy road? There are certain situations where we’re not able to do an addition.