Even parts of greater Minnesota that seemed to be weathering the real estate storm showed signs of trouble during April, according to a statewide report from the Minnesota Association of Realtors. It said that the median sale price of all closed sales during the month was down 12 percent, only slightly better than price declines in the 7-county Twin Cities metro area. 

During previous months, several of the 12 economic development regions showed signs of strength. Not so this time. Only one of the 12 regions showed an increase in the median sale price and that was probably the result of a statiscally anamoly. The Headwaters region, a narrow slice of north-central Minnesota that's best known for its lakes and cabins, posted a 23 percent increase in sale prices, most of which was probably the result of a relatively small sample size easily impacted by just a few high-priced listings, according to Chris Galler, head of the state association.

Those statewide numbers mirror national trends. Today the National Association of Realtors said nationwide home prices were down 5 percent while sales were down almost 13 percent compared with last year. 

Here's where the two reports diverged: Inventory levels nationwide rose sharply in April, but in Minnesota inventory levels have fallen slightly. In fact, the number of new listings in April was down 24.4 percent, probably because of a rush to qualify for the federal tax credit, which expired at the end of April.

Also Thursday, several surveys showed that mortgage interest rates fell to their lowest level this year. The 30 year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.61 percent and the 15-year fell to 3.80 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

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