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Nov. Numbers Show Local Real Estate Market On the Rebound

Big drop in distressed home sales, big increase in closed sales are positive signs.

Across Southwest Minneapolis, the housing market continues to strengthen, buoyed up by a rising regional housing market, low interest rates, and a strong demand for city living.

According to information released on Wednesday by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) , new listings were relatively static compared to Nov. 2011 at 62, but closed listings were up over 80 percent, to 73 in November 2012. Inventory of homes for sale also dropped from 293 in Nov. 2011 to 169 in Nov. 2012. Last month's median sale price sat at $273,500, while the average price came in at $325,347.

All those numbers were good signs to local Realtor Bill Minge. Minge specializes in Southwest Minneapolis for Edina Realty.

"It seems like the market has turned around," he told Patch in an interview Thursday. "It's a healthier market, stronger market. Prices starting to firm up."

In particular, Minge attributed the rebound to record low interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are hovering around three percent at present. In addition, numbers of distressed sales on the local market has dropped dramatically, he said. According to the MAAR statistics, homeowners are receiving a larger percentage of the original list price than at this time last year.

"A lot of homes in the first-time homebuyer range—$150,000 to $250,000—seem to sell really fast lately," he said. "That bodes well for the market—it frees up more buyers to buy the next level up."

Minge said he believes the low interest rates and a general perception that the market is growing again are encouraging buyers to look more seriously, instead of waiting for prices to sink even further. With the enduring popularity of Southwest Minneapolis' small businesses, schools, and restaurants, Minge said, the local market looked set to remain strong.

"They may not  

Across the Twin Cities, regional trends mirrored the local ones. In November, buyer activity out performed year-ago levels, inventory dropped and, for a ninth consecutive month, home prices rose compared to 2011.

The median sales price was up 16.9 percent to $173,000, partly a result of decreasing supply versus continued demand: The number of homes for sale fell 29.4 percent to 13,860 active listings– the lowest such number since January 2003.

With prices on the way up, Cari Linn, MAAR’s president, expressed hope that more sellers will step into the market: “Price gains combined with more competition among buyers for less supply should be appealing to homeowners looking to make a move in the near future.”

The dropping number of “distressed sales” (foreclosures and short sales) is playing a big part in the rising market. Overall, new listings were up 0.2 percent. However, traditional new listings were up 27.8 percent while foreclosure and short sale new listings fell 21.1 percent and 45.7 percent, respectively. Thus, a pullback in bank-mediated listings has diluted a significant increase in traditional seller activity.

Similarly, closed sales were up 20 percent overall, but traditional sales were up 50.4 percent while foreclosures and short sales were down 14.9 and 2.7 percent, respectively. Homes sold in the traditional manner made up 64.2 percent of sales, foreclosures 24.6 percent and short sales 11.2 percent.

Months’ supply of inventory fell 40.6 percent to 3.4 months. Figures below 4.0 months of supply are typically hallmarks of sellers’ markets. Homes tended to sell in 104 days, on average, 25.9 percent quicker than last year. Sellers received 94.3 percent of their list price, on average, up from 90.9 percent during the same month last year.

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