For the first time since the housing bubble burst, the value of homes is rising in Scott and Dakota counties.
But it’s not rising equally everywhere. In places, it’s still dropping, county assessors report.
Suburbs with an inner-ring flavor such as South St. Paul continue to dip, as do some outlying areas. More upscale communities in some areas are perking up again, though not all.
And no place is really hoisting itself from the hole it fell into after the bust.
“We’re not recovering to those ’06, ’07 levels and we never will,” said Prior Lake real estate agent Maggie Klein. “If we did, we’d be in trouble all over again.”
Still, both south-of-the-river counties are seeing a mild upturn — about 3 percent, overall — in residential property values for purposes of 2014 property taxes.
As usual, the range of outcomes is wider in Scott County, with its much more varied residential profile, than in Dakota.
In Dakota, where population is more concentrated in contiguous cities, the range for bigger cities is no more than 3 percent plus or minus.
In Scott, by contrast, where residents are much more spread out, Belle Plaine and several townships saw continued drops of between 5 and 8 percent despite the upturn elsewhere.
“That’s pretty much the sad truth, what can I tell you?” responded Ed Bowler, a Jordan-based appraiser.
The net result is a 2.6 percent rise for Scott overall, compared to 3 percent in Dakota.
“Most counties in the metro are pretty similar,’’ said Gloria Pinke, manager of assessing services for Dakota County. “We all saw some increase both in the value of existing residential properties and in new construction.’’
The two assessors, Michael Thompson in Scott and Bill Peterson in Dakota, stressed that in real-life market terms, their numbers are a bit out of date. By law, this year’s assessments are formed from properties sold between October 2011 through September 2012, Peterson said.
And both real estate salespeople and appraisers agree that there’s some tension between those two fields, with appraisers being more cautious and sales folks more optimistic.
“When appraisers use comparables from even six to eight months ago,” Klein said, “that’s not what we’re seeing today.”
If cities like Savage are rising in value, she said, “I just see a pent-up energy where people who couldn’t buy for a long time are seeing [mortgage] rates creep up and people are a little more confident in the economy, and they are going ahead and making a move before interest rates go up more.
“Townhome buyers are getting out even though they are taking a loss because they are starting families — they are biting the bullet and moving up. Or it’s marriage: Couples get married, one owned a townhouse or both did, and now they want a home.”
In Dakota, contributing to the increased value were jumps in median home values in Apple Valley and Burnsville of slightly more than 3 percent. Communities that showed a loss in median value included Hastings, which represents a long drive for many, down about 3 percent; West St. Paul, down about 2 percent, and South St. Paul, down about 1 percent.
Market forces are different in each community but generally, higher-priced homes rose in value more than the lower-priced homes, which were at the time of assessment still subject to the effects of foreclosure, Peterson said.
It’s likely the upturn will continue next year. The way it’s looking right now, residential property values will increase more in the next valuation than they did in the last one, Peterson said.
In Scott, long-commute cities New Prague and Elko New Market saw recoveries while other small rural towns, Belle Plaine and Jordan, were still sliding.
A possible explanation, experts agreed: the Interstate 35 effect, with its option of fast trips into town via MnPass lanes, vs. the congestion-plagued Bloomington Ferry Bridge.
But the erasure of stoplights on 169 at I-494 could help promote a revival being seen in the northern-tier communities.
“I’m sure that’s true,” said appraiser Bowler. “But so many factors enter into a real estate market that it’s impossible to nail them all down.”