DULUTH – Local home sales prices hit another record high in September, a month that usually sees real estate activity start to quiet down, as the number of monthly closed sales remained near decadeslong highs.

The median sale price in the Duluth area reached $205,000 last month, up nearly 20% from a year ago, according to the latest report from the Lake Superior Area Realtors.

Still, the number of homes hitting the market remains low, which is a major factor in driving prices up. Realtor Tom Acton warned the current market won't last forever.

"There is a shortage of housing, which we didn't have last year, and it's getting worse," said Acton with RE/MAX Results in Duluth and Superior. "I don't think this market is sustainable, and we'll see a correction in the future."

Other headwinds remain besides lack of inventory. Unemployment in the area is high and could worsen as the weather turns colder and restaurants and breweries that had been operating largely on patio business may cut back further.

Despite a season that started slowly due to the pandemic, closed sales through the year so far are still up more than 6% over 2019 in the Duluth area.

Typical market forces are expected to remain in play as the weather chills. Fewer houses are expected to be listed as many homeowners try to avoid moving during winter.

That's leaving the available inventory of homes for sale at some of their lowest autumn levels in years, even as showings were up 40% in September and real estate activity has so far remained steady in October.

"It's a crazy, weird time," Acton said. "And who knows what tomorrow will bring."

The year-to-date median home sale price in Duluth city limits ticked up to $213,300 last month, while in Superior the median price so far this year remained steady at $145,000.