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City Snapshot: In Twin Cities, Home Sales Increased in June, First-time Buyers Responding to Low Prices

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By Christopher Snowbeck

sold_home_7_14_consumerRISMEDIA, July 14, 2009-(MCT)-The number of closed home sales in the Twin Cities during June shot up 20 percent compared with the same period last year, according to numbers released Friday, and the median price for the month was the highest yet this year.

Those were the highlights from the monthly sales report from local Realtor groups, which found the June median price — the point at which half of all homes sold for more, and half sold for less — came in at $173,500 for the 13-county metro area. That was down 15 percent compared with the June 2008 median of $205,000.

Realtors said the June median price was relatively strong, compared with previous months, because of the seasonal resurgence in what they call the “traditional” market for home sellers. Those homes in June fetched a median price of $210,000, compared with a median price of $124,025 for “lender-mediated” listings — meaning those homes in foreclosure or subject to a short sale.

“Having 41 percent of our sales (during June) be foreclosures and short sales is still too high, but it’s an improvement from six months ago,” said Steve Havig, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, in a statement.

The increased number of closed sales during the month was a function of first-time homebuyers responding to low interest rates and a federal tax credit to buy houses, said Rae Jean Malone, president of the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors. Home purchases by those first-timers, in turn, are
letting other homeowners become second-time buyers, Malone said.

Finally, the number of closed sales in June was higher because many closings originally scheduled for May had to be pushed back a month so that financing snags could be ironed out, Malone said.

June was the second consecutive month where the median sale price trended upward following four months at the start of the year where the median price lingered between $150,000 and $155,000. A flood of foreclosed properties on the market has been the key factor in a dramatic 37 percent decline in the median sale price for a home in the Twin Cities between the market’s peak in June 2006 and its lowest low, which came during February.

Copyright (c) 2009, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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