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Alexandria area home sales up for quarter

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After three difficult years, residential real estate numbers appear to be stabilizing and moving in a positive direction for Minnesota homeowners.

In a report just released by the Minnesota and Greater Alexandria Area Association of Realtors, sales figures are showing consistent improvement over 2008 and 2009. 

"Home owners in the Alexandria area are beginning to see some very positive signs," said Louise Bakkum, president of the Greater Alexandria Area Association of Realtors (GAAAR). "After a few years of unprecedented activity, the real estate market is in the early stages of recovery."

Closed transactions as reported by the GAAAR MLS are up 24.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010 when compared to the same time frame in 2009.

Increased transaction numbers indicate that consumers are moving back into real estate and feeling confident about their future, Bakkum said.

Pending transactions are also trending positively when compared to activity of the last few years, according to GAAAR.

A pending transaction is a home under contract that has yet to close. Real estate transactions generally have a 30 to 90 day lag time while buyers secure financing and conduct inspections.

March 2010 pending transactions are up 39.1 percent over March figures for 2009. First quarter 2010 pending sales are 34 percent higher than the first quarter number in 2009.

Median home prices in the Alexandria area are still stabilizing after the housing bubble of a few years ago, according to GAAAR.

The current median home price in the Alexandria market area for the first quarter 2010 is $122,500, up 28.9 percent from the same period a year ago. Median indicates a mid-point for housing prices with as many transactions occurring above and below that figure.

"Affordability is playing a key role in this recovery," said Bakkum.

Interest rates, household income and home prices all make up the Housing Affordability Index (HAI). The Alexandria Area HAI is 165, which means the median family income is 165 percent of the necessary income to qualify for a median priced home.

"Minnesota's housing market will not turn around overnight" said Michael Hoffman, president of the Minnesota Association of Realtors. "The Minnesota Housing Report clearly shows that the residential real estate market has turned a corner and is moving in the right direction."

Statewide, closed transactions are up 3.1 percent year-to-date with pending transactions up 14.1 percent over last year.

"Consumers are taking advantage of the Home Buyer Tax Credit, low interest rates and an attractive inventory of homes for sale." said Hoffman.

Home prices across the state are increasing, with the median home price at $145,000 through March.

The statewide average sales price is $177,779, an increase of 4.4 percent over March 2009.