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Area Realtor Stats Indicate Housing Slump Could Be Ending Soon

Realtors credit the turnaround to a slowdown in foreclosure sales, which typically depress the market's median value.

Across the 13-county Twin Cities region, the median sales price of a home saw its smallest year-over-year decline in 16 months, falling only 1.4 percent from February 2011 to $138,000.

In Hudson, the median sales price of a home went from $221,750 in February 2011 to $142,000 in February 2012—a year-over-year decline of 36 percent.

Realtors said the relatively small decline in the Twin Cities area, along with a host of other statistics, could indicate that the region’s long real estate slump is nearing an end.

For instance:

  • Homes now require an average of 144 days to sell, compared to 159 last February; it was the fifth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases in the average amount of time required to complete a sale. In Hudson the gap has closed from 280 days to 201.
  • Home buyers entered into 3,756 purchase agreements during February, a 34.2 percent increase over the same month last year, and more than any February since 2005. 
  • The number of homes for sale continued to drop, down 27.2 percent from last year to 16,689 active listings—the lowest such reading for any month since 2003. In Hudson, the inventory went from 225 last February to 201 this year.
  • The “months supply of inventory,” meaning the amount of time it would take to sell every home on the market, was at a six-year low of 4.6 months.
  • And sellers, on average, got 90.7 percent of their asking price, up from 88.3 percent in February of 2011. In Hudson it nudged up from 91.2 percent to 91.7 percent.

Realtors said the improvement is due, at least in part, to the slowdown in foreclosure sales, which typically depress the market’s median value, sometimes dramatically. In February, traditional residential real estate sales surged 36.2 percent, while foreclosure sales increased only 8.5 percent. Both segments had nearly identical market shares, comprising 42.7 and 42.3 percent of overall sales, respectively. Short sales—in which banks agree to accept less than the current value of the mortgage—were up 36.3 percent to make up the remaining 15 percent of sales.

"The mix of homes selling is slowly starting to change, which has translated into the smallest price decline since October 2010," said Cari Linn, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.  "Subsiding price declines are a sign of market rebalance."

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