By Aubray Erhardt on Friday, December 11th, 2015

With warmer than usual temperatures, impressive job and wage growth and still attractive interest rates, strong home purchase demand continued into November. Pending sales rose 18.1 percent to 3,497 signed contracts; new listings increased 11.5 percent to 3,785 homes. That’s the largest year-over-year increase since June of this year for pending sales, and the largest gain since March for new listings. Inventory levels fell 18.5 percent to 12,984 active units. Persistently low levels of for-sale properties can be a challenge for some buyers. Prices continued to rise as the median sales price gained 7.3 percent to arrive at $219,900. The median list price rose 4.6 percent to $229,995, while the price per square foot rose 6.1 percent to $127.

Due to the low supply and high demand environment, the percent of original list price received at sale was up 1.2 percent to 95.8 percent. Sellers also accepted offers in less time than last November. Days on market declined 7.6 percent to 73 days. Months supply of inventory fell 25.6 percent to 3.2 months—the lowest level on record in almost 12 years. Generally, five to six months of supply is considered balanced. While the metro as a whole is favoring sellers, not all areas, segments or price points reflect that.

“Buyers have truly been out in force this year,” said Mike Hoffman, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) President. “While we’re encouraged by modest increases in seller activity, it’s simply not enough to meet the demand brought on by attractive rates, rising rents and an accelerating labor market. The nice weather has certainly helped.”

Region-wide indicators offer useful insights, but it’s important to dive into individual areas and segments. The percentage of sales that were foreclosure or short sale fell to 11.0 percent as traditional sales rose 21.4 percent. Single-family sales had the strongest gain of any property type, followed by townhomes and condos, respectively. Previously-owned sales increased at nearly twice the rate of new construction. Sales activity in the lowest price range ($150,000 and below) declined 19.3 percent while activity in all other price ranges is rising (homes priced at $400,000 and above had a 15.9 percent sales increase). Though it’s not yet the case for the region, home prices across several local markets including St. Louis Park, Edina and Southwest Minneapolis have reached record highs.

The November jobs numbers beat expectations and were accompanied by upward revisions to September and October. Wages are growing at their fastest pace in six years—an encouraging sign that should offset declining affordability brought on by rising prices and interest rates and facilitate larger down payments. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures also show the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area had the lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area at 3.1 percent compared to 5.0 percent nationally. Mortgage rates are still around 4.0 percent compared to a long-term average of about 8.0 percent. A rate hike at the Federal Reserve is widely expected in December, though changes in mortgage rates will be slow and incremental and shouldn’t disrupt the recovery.

“With all but one month of 2015 in the books, we’re really starting to see how the year will stack up,” said Judy Shields, MAAR President-Elect. “Since consumer demand for housing has fully recovered, the seller component is still the missing puzzle piece.”
From The Skinny Blog.

Weather, Job Growth and Rates Boost November Market Activity

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