Minnesota home sales last month got a healthy boost from record low mortgage rates and strengthening consumer confidence, but the gains weren’t felt evenly across the state. That’s according to a monthly report from the Minnesota Association of Realtors (MAAR), which said that during October there were 7,662 closings, an 8 percent increase from last year. The median price of those closings was $152,000, a 9.4 percent increase from last year. Chris Galler, MAAR’s chief executive officer, said that he was somewhat surprised by the strength of the increase considering that sales had already begun to increase by October 2011, raising the bar for those year-over-year increases.

 The MAAR report tracks home sales in 13 multi-county economic development regions. While most of those regions have seen a steady increase in home sales over the past year, a handful are lagging, suggesting that the housing recovery has yet to gain much traction in those areas. In six regions the number of closings was either flat, or had fallen compared with last year. In the Southwest Central Region, for example, sales were down 21 percent, and in the Headwaters sales were off a whopping 26 percent.

Also on Tuesday: The U.S. Commerce Department said that housing starts across the country beat expectations by increasing 3.6 percent in October. An 11.9 percent increase in multifamily starts accounted for most of the increase with starts for single-family houses falling slightly. That comes on the heels of a report earlier this month from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors that said that housing inventory in the 13-county metro area has fallen to the lowest level in a decade.

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Something to be thankful for: Mortgage rates hit another record low