More homes on Twin Cities market, a good sign for buyers

Mortgage

There was a slight increase in house listings in the Twin Cities metro last month, suggesting much better times ahead for buyers and their agents.

During November sellers listed 3,992 properties, 12.6% more than last year, according to monthly report from the Minneapolis Area Realtors. At the same time, buyers signed 5.2% fewer purchase agreements, leaving 10,181 listings on the market at the end of the month. That was a 2.3% annual gain and the first in nearly four years.

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“The inventory gains we’ve been waiting for have finally arrived,” said Kath Hammerseng, president of Minneapolis Area Realtors and an agent with Edina Realty. “Buyers — particularly those who feel sidelined — can take comfort in that shift.”

All year sales have been stifled by a shortage of listings and rapidly rising prices, but for most of the recovery the least-expensive houses in the Twin Cities have outpaced new listings in some areas, leaving first-time buyers, downsizing baby boomers and others with few options and the prospect of bidding wars and swiftly increasing prices.

During November the median price of all sales during the month was $265,150, an 8.2% increase over last year and a record high for November. On average, sellers got 97.3% of their original asking price, a substantial break from earlier this year when sellers got 99% of their ask price.

While the November shift is welcome news for buyers, and a relief to those worried about another housing bubble, some segments of the market remain extremely competitive.

At the current sales pace there were only enough houses on the market to last 2.1 months, a 10.5% increase over last year. (The market is considered balanced when there’s a five-month supply.) On average, houses sold in 52 days, 7.1% faster than last year.

The increase in listings at a time when house shoppers typically take a break is happening at an opportune time for buyers: After several weeks of increasing, mortgage interest rates eased slightly this week.

“Rates are actually down from where they were in October and November,” Todd Urbanski, president-elect of Minneapolis Area Realtors, said in statement. “That’s encouraging news for buyers.”


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