Four years ago, St. Joseph real estate agent John Dube
sold a cabin on Pearl Lake near Kimball for $81,000.Earlier this year, he
drove past the lot and saw the cabin had been replaced with a year-round home.
Simple economics and the quest for lakeshore living are making such conversions commonplace in Central Minnesota, local experts say.The trend is evident in 2000 census data showing Stearns County 22nd in the nation for loss of seasonal property from 1990 to 2000.
The number of Stearns' seasonal homes dropped 1,005, or 42 percent, in the decade.Among Minnesota counties, only St. Louis in the northeastern corner lost a greater number of seasonal properties.
Seasonal property prices have quadrupled in the past nine years, said Dube
, owner of Shoreland Real Estate Co.
since 1975.Even so, seasonal property is roughly half the price of existing year-round lake homes, tempting those who want a permanent place to spend $80,000 to $90,000 on a cabin lot that can be upgraded.Tax rates on seasonal homes have been reduced, but payments are roughly one-third less for a year-round property after accounting for homestead credit.
The relatively small number of lakes coupled with population growth in Central Minnesota intensifies the demand, Dube
"When we're growing as fast as we are population-wise, the natural progression is there's more people who want to live year-round on lakes," Dube
Some are retirees; others are commuting to jobs.
Most of Stearns County's lakeshore lies southwest of Cold Spring, just a half-hour drive from St. Cloud.Much of that lies in Munson Township, which has 273 seasonal homes -- 35 percent of all homes.
Areawide, many of the seasonal lots that remain are those on lots too small to meet individual septic and well requirements for a year-round home, Dube
said.If piped sewage systems someday serve area lakes, even those smaller lots will be snatched up for year-round use, Dube
Turning a seasonal lot into a year-round home means meeting environmental regulations.