Twin Cities home prices stabilized in March

Real Estate Index Shows Home Prices Rose
A house for sale.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Twin Cities home prices showed continued signs of stabilizing in March. The median home price last month was $165,000. That's about 7 percent higher than in March of 2009. It was also up compared to February of this year.

Brad Fisher, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, said the median sale price has shown three straight months of year over year increases.

"Basically, we had 41 months of continuous decline and now we've had three where we've been stable and where we've actually grown," Fisher said. "So it could show us that we may have flattened and possibly could be rising as far as our median prices."

Fisher said the market is still clogged with short sales. They occur when a homeowner sells a property for less than what's owed to the bank and can also drive down prices.

Foreclosures, which have dragged home prices down, posted a slight 0.3 percent increase to $118,000 and short sale median prices declined 2.0 percent to $147,000 over that period.

The median sales price of traditional homes (excluding foreclosures and short sales) in March was $199,900, down $11,600 or 5.5 percent from last March.

"Our traditional market is healthier, but I think it's still affected by the short sales a little bit, so we may see that kind of bounce around a little bit month to month, as far as that median price for that traditional seller," said Fisher.

A new federal program designed to facilitate short sales could help purge them from inventory.

Fisher says home sales were up in March due to warm weather and the upcoming expiration of federal homebuyer tax credits later this month.

Signed purchase agreements in March were up 14.6 percent from the same time a year ago; completed home sales were up six percent over the same period.

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