Report: signs of recovery in Woodbury housing marketThe number of foreclosures and short sales are dropping. Traditional sellers aren’t waiting months to sell their homes anymore. List prices are rising.
By: Riham Feshir, Woodbury Bulletin
The number of foreclosures and short sales are dropping. Traditional sellers aren’t waiting months to sell their homes anymore. List prices are rising.
Last month’s data gathered by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors states that all are signs of a recovering housing market in Woodbury and across the state.
Buyers have already snatched up the good short sales and foreclosures, said Dixie Ewing, a real estate agent who’s been working in the Woodbury housing market for 34 years.
“The biggest and most influential in our market today is we are seeing more traditional sellers versus the short sales and the foreclosure market,” she said.
Woodbury saw the median sales price rise from $205,705 in June of 2011 to $259,450 last month, a 26 percent jump, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.
New listings, however, were down slightly in 2012, from 848 to 735 in the first six months of 2012.
With interest rates as low as 3.5 to 3.75 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage, buyers are eager to find the perfect home, Ewing said, and if they don’t find what they’re looking for due to lack of inventory, they’re building.
Karl Batalden, housing specialist for the city of Woodbury, said new construction building permits are up this year especially in Stonemill Farms, Dancing Waters and Ridgestone.
The Highland Knoll development, which had 28 tax forfeited lots that were sold in an auction to a Twin Cities builder this spring, has already seen some building activity.
“They’re selling homes before they can start building them,” Batalden said.
The city issued 145 building permits for new homes so far this year, Batalden said – up from 124 in the first seven months of 2011.
“Absolute number wise, that’s only a difference of 21,” he said. “But on a percentage basis that’s 17, 18 percent increase.”
Those who aren’t building have to act quickly if they want the move-in ready, reasonably priced homes in good neighborhoods, Ewing said.
Oftentimes traditional sellers list their homes below market value to attract multiple showings and offers.
“We’re having showings quickly on our listings,” Ewing said. “We list and we get a showing that day.”
The ultimate sale price, however, must meet appraised value before buyers are able to lock in their loans since banks have become more stringent.
“I’ve had a couple of homes that did not appraise,” she said. “In one case the buyer felt that it was very well priced and it was just what they wanted and they purchased it anyway. But they were putting 50 percent down.”
Buyers continue to stay cautious, though, and are not jumping into homes that aren’t worth what they’re paying, she said.
“The buyers today have a good feel of what a home is worth,” Ewing said. “And they are still being wise in their pricing.”
Things were just starting to sell last year, after a couple of years where homes did not sell at any price.
“They were kicking the tires but they were not making the commitment,” Ewing said.
Now with competitive pricing and the potential for home values to increase, the real estate market is showing positive signs.
“It’s difficult to find a negative trend in the local housing market right now,” said Cari Linn, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. “After many years of decline, it’s a welcome change of pace.”
Things are positive, but not perfect, Batalden said. Woodbury still has an “uncomfortable” number of foreclosures, he said.
Current foreclosure and short sale listings, though classified as active, may not be accurate due to pending transactions between buyers, sellers and the banks, he said.
But if things stay the way they are with low interest rates and the high number of buyers, Ewing said the market will continue to stabilize.
“For right now it’s looking great,” she said. “You get up every morning and you see what the market is doing. I tell you, it’s very exciting. And stressful.”