Tracking a tight housing market

Real Estate Guide

The Southwest Minneapolis housing market remains tight, and agents say the local inventory this spring is feeling tighter than last year.

The March supply of homes for sale in Minneapolis was down 27.5 percent from the prior year, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR). Across the metro, the price range that sold most quickly was $190,001-$250,000, and homes under $250,000 had the biggest declines in inventory from last year.

Local realtors have noticed — homes in Armatage, Kenny and Windom priced at $250,000-$300,000 seem to fly, said Realtor Erik Wood of Edina Realty.

Some homes under $500,000 are fielding multiple offers within days of hitting the market, with some houses selling before they reach the open market at all. Realtor Sarah Duerson said she’s seen homes priced around $200,000 in the metro generate up to seven offers in a week.

According to data compiled by Wood: Between March 1 and April 6, 37 homes in the zip codes 55419, 55410 and 55409 sold in 10 days or less. Seven of those homes sold at zero days on the market, before the home was listed online. Two of the homes sold above $1.1 million.

“If the property is priced right and staged well, it’s selling very well,” said Realtor Manny Duerson.

To explain the tight market, MAAR cites Steve Cook of Real Estate Economy Watch, who states that 1 in 5 homeowners with a mortgage doesn’t have enough equity to sell. He said buyers who bought during the 2004-06 boom are still waiting to make a profit. Inventory shortages are squeezing move-up buyers, he said, and the boomer timetable has been delayed.

Despite the low inventory, Sarah Duerson said this market doesn’t have the frenzied feel of 2003-2006, when buyers seemed to feel more urgency. Buyers are more selective today, she said.

Realtors said buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready, with updated kitchens and bathrooms. The neighborhood and proximity to the lakes continue to be major factors, they said.

Houses priced over $500,000 are taking longer to sell, however.

“It’s definitely a tale of two worlds with days on the market,” said Wood.

Real estate agents say higher-priced homes generally take longer to sell, but the number of days on the market has crept up in the past year.

Realtor Julie Regan, a lead member of Hornig & Regan Group at Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, said the market is cyclical. Homeowners remain cautious about listing their houses for sale until they find a new place to live, and current options are more limited. Minneapolis remains a popular destination, she said. She also noted that corporate demand for relocating high-level executives is healthier than she’s seen it in the past five years.

“Before a lot of people were moving out of the city,” she said. “More often than not, people are starting to stay.”


Tips for buying in a tight market

— Sarah Duerson suggested that buyers secure preapproval for a mortgage, so they can act quickly when they are ready to make an offer.

— Duerson said it’s always nice to include a personal note with the offer, which can be meaningful to sellers who loved their home and want the next buyer to love it as well.

— Early notice of home listings shows up on neighborhood Facebook pages and the private neighborhood site Nextdoor. Wood said some sellers post outdoor for-sale signs before they’re ready to share the listing online — one client agreed to sell the house while they were still in the process of moving and de-cluttering. The quick sale allowed them to skip a flood of disruptive showings while they juggled life with a newborn.

— Buyers should be comfortable with the price range of their search, Wood said. Even if homes fetch multiple offers, he recommends that buyers continue to be pragmatic and smart when determining the value of a highly sought-after property.

“Today’s buyers are very savvy and know the market; this allows them to make informed choices for their needs,” he said.