Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

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Trio of suburban apartment buildings fetch $78 million

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: November 21, 2014 - 2:58 PM

Plymouth Square at 37th

A Kirkland, Washington investor has doubled its holdings in the Twin Cities metro. Weidner Investment Services paid a Chicago, IL based real estate venture more than $78 million for three suburban Twin Cities apartment properties with a total of 606 units. Abe Appert, Keith Collins and Laura Hanneman of CBRE’s Multifamily Group Minneapolis office represented the seller.

Weidner has acquired six apartment complexes in the Twin Cities metro during the last 13 months, bringing its total holdings to 1,236 units, with an additional 138 unit project currently under construction. The company already owns more 40,000 apartments in the US and Canada.

The most recent deal includes Greens at Edinburgh in Brooklyn Park, Plymouth Square at 37th in Plymouth, and Town Centre at Lexington in Eagan. Those buildings have packed with amenites, including underground heated parking, swimming pool(s), community rooms and fitness centers.  The deal follows the sale of several just completed apartment buildings in downtown Minneapolis, including the Nic on Fifth and Velo.Town Centre at Lexington in Eagan

Twin Cities apartment sales nearing a record

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: November 20, 2014 - 10:40 AM

Trammell Crow execs, Johnny Carlson and Grady Hamilton, at Junction Flats the day after the deal closed.

Trammell Crow execs, Johnny Carlson and Grady Hamilton, at Junction Flats the day after the deal closed.

Twin Cities apartment buildings are trading nearly as fast as developers can build them. Last week we reported that Trammell Crow sold the Junction Flats in the North Loop neighborhood to Greystar, a national development company that recently built the sprawling Elan apartments in the Uptown neighborhood in South Minneapolis.

The big news this week is that the Opus Group sold the barely used 253-unit Nic on Fifth building in downtown Minneapolis for what's rumored to be a record price for a Twin Cities apartment building.

What's next? The 222 Hennepin development in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, including 286 luxury apartments and a 40,000 square-foot Whole Foods store, hit the market this week and is expected to close within the next few months. (Here’s a link to the listing.)

This flurry of deals represents an unusual moment for the Twin Cities apartment market, which is benefitting from steady declines in the homeownership rate and a better-than-average jobs recovery. National investors can't resist. Apartment building sales (based on volume) this year could set a record depending on when the 222 deal closes. Stay tuned for more coverage on this topic.

Twin Cities ranked most affordable for homebuyers

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: November 17, 2014 - 12:50 PM

Minneapolis-St. Paul does not have the cheapest housing stock in the nation, but its higher wages make it the most affordable city for home ownership among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas, according to a new report. 

Interest.com calculated its new rankings based on several criteria. The study found that the median household income in the Twin Cities is a little more than $67,000 -- nearly $15,000 above the national average -- and the median-priced home is nearly $213,000. 

The margin isn't as great as last year, but the median income exceeds the wage requirements for purchasing a home by 23 percent. These figures, when combined with median property taxes and homeowners insurance rates, helped lift Minneapolis-St. Paul from the No. 2 spot in 2013 to No. 1 this year.

“The places that are the most unaffordable are locked in by some geographic constraint. Minneapolis (area) can grow 360 degrees. Most of the time when you talk about this, you talk about sprawl and you think of it in negative terms. But the bottom line is,sprawl keeps your prices down," said Mike Sante, managing editor of Interest.com. 

Atlanta won the crown last year, but swapped rank with the Twin Cities this year. St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Phoenix, Washington, Dallas and Houston rounded out the top ten.

Interest.com suggests that median-income workers cannot afford a home in the remaining large metro areas because the wages don't match the real estate costs

San Francisco, not surprisingly, scrapes the bottom with San Diego, New York, Los Angeles and Miami also receiving "F" scorecards. Moving up from the bottom, the other unaffordable cities are Boston, Seattle, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Tampa.

“Low mortgage rates are helping home affordability to some extent, but the key ingredient – which has been missing to this point – is substantial income growth,” Sante said in a statement. "Affordability would improve at a faster pace if wage growth would pick up."

For comparison, the median-income earner in Minneapolis-St.Paul may make about $10,000 less than the median-income earner in San Francisco. But, the median-home price in the Twin Cities is $213,000 to San Francisco's $770,000 -- a gap that the wage difference doesn't even come close to making up. 

Sante says Minneapolis-St. Paul has a great housing market with better median-priced inventory than other cities, but says wages have to keep growing.

Year-over-year wages grew by an average of 2 percent across the 25 largest metropolitan areas, but the Twin Cities only grew 1.38 percent this year.

“If that continues, homes in the Twin Cities will be much less affordable in a decade,” Sante said.

Cash-out refinancings have more than doubled in just two years.

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: November 13, 2014 - 10:22 AM

Recent - and unexpected - declines in mortgage rates over the past several months have sparked some very low levels of refinance activity. A boomlet? Compared with previous levels of refinancing, no. But during the middle of October, for example, mortgage rates dipped slightly to the lowest they've been since the summer 2013. During the third quarter refi activity nationwide rose to about $8 billion, which is less than one-tenth of the refi activity when the market peaked in mid-2006. Still, an analysis by Freddie Mac shows that reduced mortgage payments will save American homeowners more than $1.5 billion in interest payments over the next 12 months with an average interest rate reduction of about 1.3 percentage points , or a savings of about 24 percent. And with house prices on the rise, the share of those cash-out refinancings is on the rise, increasing from 3 percent during the third quarter 2012 to almost 8 percent by the end of September.

Twin Cities home sales fell 1.5 percent during October, while prices increased 7.2 percent

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: November 12, 2014 - 10:39 AM

An surprise dip in mortgage rates last month did little to warm home buyers. During October there were 4,523 home sales in the 13-county metro, a 1.5 percent decline compared with last year, according to a monthly sales report released this morning by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. Because fewer of those sales were foreclosures, the median price of those deals increased 7.2 percent boost to $209,000 - the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. Here's a peak at other hightlights from the report (we'll have a full story later today):

  • Pending sales declined 1.3 percent from last year, while new listings decreased 2.3 percent.
  • Total inventory rose 4.3 percent to 17,132 homes
  • The average price per square foot rose 5.6 percent to $123.
  • The average market fell 4.0 percent to 72 days.
  • The months' supply of inventory rose 10.8 percent to 4.1 months
  • Traditional new listings (not bank-owned) rose 6.7 percent.
  • Foreclosure and short sale new listings were down 42.4 and 31.3 percent, respectively.
  • Traditional closed sales were up 9.7 percent while foreclosure and short sale closings fell 41.1 and 48.3 percent.

Junction Flats apartments in Minneapolis sells for $49 million

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: November 12, 2014 - 10:25 AM

Another national investor is making a big investment in Twin Cities real estate. South Carolina-based Greystar paid $49 million - a whopping $270,000 per unit - for the Junction Flats apartments in the North Loop neighborhood in downtown Minneapolis, according to public records.

The 182-unit property was developed by Dallas-based Trammell Crow in one of the most rapidly developing developing corners of the city. The building is at 643 Fifth St. N. near Target Field and the new Target Field Station transit hub, and is within walking distance of downtown Central Business District. Residents started moving in on August 1 and the building is nearly half occupied.

Greystar is a big national player that's relatively new to Minneapolis. The company developed Elan, a massive multi-phase luxury apartment building with nearly 600 units along the Midtown Greenway in the Uptown neighborhood, and is planning to build a high-rise apartment building along Lake Calhoun.

Trammell Crow has been active in the Twin Cities, as well. The company developed Arcata, a 165 unit rental bulding at Xenia and Golden Hills Drive in Golden Valley, and that's scheduled to open December 1. The company is also building the 175-unit Island Residences at Carlson Center in Minnetonka.

Several major commercial and apartment properties in the Twin Cities have been snapped up national investors who have paid premium prices. Just last week, for example, a Chicago-based partnership paid a record price for the Normandale Lake Office Park.

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