When Rae Bullinger returned to the Minneapolis area three years ago after a spell in Nebraska, she knew she was there to stay.
Ms. Bullinger, 26, loved summer bike rides around the city’s lakes and enjoyed the lively food scene. And she relished being back where she grew up, near her family and close to friends from the University of Minnesota, where she had been a member of the swim team.
But saving to buy her first house was going to be a long process. In 2021, after about a year of living with her parents in the suburbs, Ms. Bullinger rented a two-bedroom, one-bathroom duplex with a former college teammate on the south side of Minneapolis. Her share of the rent was $825 a month, allowing her to continue saving for a down payment from her earnings as a survey research manager for a market research company.
She liked the apartment’s location and hoped to stay in South Minneapolis, where well-kept neighborhoods of single-family homes are interspersed with parkland and walkable retail districts.
“You’re still a part of the city of Minneapolis, but you’re not downtown,” she said. “You’re not in all the hustle and bustle, but you’ve got access to all the lakes, and there’s really cool restaurants.”
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Ms. Bullinger, whose job is fully remote, longed for a separate home office. And she wanted to get a cat, which her landlord wouldn’t allow. So last fall, she started dropping into open houses to get a sense of the market.
At one of them she met Pablo Siqueiros, an agent with the Re/Max Results Greater MSP Homes Team. Ms. Bullinger told him the basics: She wanted a small house, possibly in the Craftsman style that is common in Minneapolis, with enough room to work from home and have overnight guests. With a $350,000 budget, she was open to a place that needed some improvements, but preferred something move-in ready. Proximity to a lake was also a big plus.
“Really, the needs list was pretty small, aside from just something that was going to be functional within her price range and that had some nice character, some personality,” Mr. Siqueiros said.
When Ms. Bullinger began looking last fall, he said, there were plenty of choices within her budget. Interest rates were creeping upward, and places that might have sold immediately with multiple offers a year earlier were lingering on the market.
Among her options:
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