Twin Cities Homes Prices Decreased in March

The median prices for Twin Cities homes sold during the month of March fell more than 15% to $140,000 from the previous year, according to a report from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

The residential real estate price decrease is accompanied by a 4% drop in the number of closed sales for the 13-county metro area to 3,154 in March 2011 versus March 2010.

"Foreclosure sales accounted for roughly 40 percent of (pending sales) and 43 percent of closings," said Brad Fisher, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, in a statement. "While those market shares are in line with recent trends, they're still higher than what we would like to see."

Foreclosure sales are having a depressing effect on the residential real estate market by flooding it with cheap, available properties. The price of traditionally sold homes decreased 4% last month to $192,000 compared to last year. At the same time, foreclosure prices decreased 11% to $105,000 and short sale prices decreased 7% to $134,950.


Though March is the beginning of the home sale season and activity during this time tends to wind up, pending home sales fell nearly 18% from March 2010 to 4,162 purchase agreements signed in March 2011. Though that seems huge, in March 2010 people were scrambling to take last minute advantage of the first time home buyer federal income tax credit incentive. March 2011 sales were up 3% when compared to March 2009 and up 17% from March 2008.

Another tentatively good sign is that inventory is shrinking, which may help prices become more stabile. Sellers placed 6,977 properties on the real estate market in March 2011, about 30% fewer than in March 2011. Inventory levels as a whole diminished nearly 5%...

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Twin Cities Communities Celebrating Building Safety Month in May

According to Finance & Commerce, the city of St. Paul is celebrating “Building Safety Month” during May. Initiated by the International Code Council Foundation,Building Safety Month is part of a national effort to protect lives and property. It aims to raise awareness of issues like fire prevention, controlling mold, being safe around backyard pools and grills, and regularly replacing HVAC filters.

“The important work we do is often overlooked until a catastrophic tragedy occurs,” said Bob Kessler, director of the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections. “When building safety and fire-prevention experts inspect buildings during and after construction, we help to ensure that the places where you live, learn, work, worship and play are safe.”

This is the first year that building safety has been highlighted for a full month. Building Safety Week was first celebrated in 1980. During 2009, more than 2,600 individuals in 17 countries pledged their support for the 2009 Building Safety Week. Additionally, the President of the United States, governors, mayors and county officials from 31 states issued Proclamations, Official statements and Letters of Recognition in support of 2009 Building Safety Week.

Some different safety issues are being emphasized for each week in May. Week one was Energy & Green Building, week two is Disaster Safety & Mitigation, Week three will be Fire Awareness & Safety, and week four will be ...

Twin Cities Home Construction Up This Winter

Homebuilders in the Twin Cities are keeping busy this winter compared to last year. Builders filed 177 permits to build a total of 202 housing units in February. That was an increase of 65% and 71%, respectively, over February of 2009, when builders filed 107 permits to build 118 units.

Between December through February, builders of Twin Cities homes have filed 626 permits to build about $207 million worth of residential housing, according to the Builders Association of the Twin Cities Keystone Report. During those months a year ago, builders filed just 392 permits for less than $147 million in construction.

"Anecdotal reports from builders confirm that there are area families out looking and buying new homes in the past two months," association President Gary Aulik said in a statement. The spring Parade of Homes, which brings traffic into home models, begins Friday. With fewer than 60 days until the home-buying incentives end, some builders ... are also offering special financing and other incentives to get house hunters to act."

In February, Farmington led the metro in building activity with permits filed to build 19 units. Lakeville, Shakopee and Vadnais Heights followed with permits filed to build 12 units each. The market for new homes isn't anything like it was a few years ago: In 2005, 542 permits were issued for a total of 872 units in February.

The home selling season is expected to start early this year as home buyers venture out now because the home buying tax credits expire April 30.

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