Inventory Crunch Weighing On Sales Activity

Take a look at this blog post from the Minneapolis Association of Realtors from September 18th, 2017. To read the original post, click here.

 By Erin Milburn on Monday, September 18th, 2017

Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 18, 2017) – The Twin Cities housing market continues to show signs of high demand and short supply. While June 2017 marked an all-time home sales record for the Twin Cities, closed sales showed a year-over-year decline for the second consecutive month. The number of sellers listing their homes increased slightly, but that wasn’t enough to counteract the inventory drop. New listings increased 0.7 percent from last year to 7,264, and closed sales dipped 1.4 percent. The number of homes for sale decreased 16.7 percent to 12,602. Factoring out foreclosures and short sales, traditional new listings rose 2.4 percent while traditional closed sales increased 0.9 percent.

With many consumers competing for limited homes, prices remained firm, a trend that should continue into the fall and winter months. The median sales price rose 6.8 percent from last year to $252,000—a new monthly record for August. Home prices have now risen for the last 66 consecutive months or 5.5 years. At 48 days on average, homes went under contract 14.3 percent faster than last August. Sellers who do list are averaging 98.5 percent of their original list price, 0.6 percent higher than August 2016. The metro area has just 2.5 months of housing supply. Generally, five to six months of supply is considered a balanced market where neither buyers nor sellers have a clear advantage.

“The shortage of homes for sale is still driving this market,” said Cotty Lowry, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR) President. “It’s been the story for years, and it continues to influence prices, sales, market times and other indicators. The graphic illustrates how listings and sales have converged, leaving very little product lingering on the market.”


The shortage is most acute for entry-level homes. Well-priced, turnkey, well-presented listings are most competitive. Market times and absorption rates are tightest for homes priced under $200,000. For example, homes between $150,000 and $190,000 had 1.4 months of supply. As you move up the price ladder, the market is less competitive and better supplied. Homes priced between $500,000 and $1,000,000 boast 6.0 months of supply, while homes over $1,000,000 have a plentiful 12.3 months of supply.

The most recent national unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, though it’s 3.3 percent locally—the fourth lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area. A thriving and diverse economy has been conducive to housing recovery, as job and wage growth are key to new household formations and therefore housing demand. The Minneapolis–St. Paul region has a resilient economy with a global reach, a talented workforce, top-notch schools, exposure to the growing technology and healthcare fields, and a quality of life that’s enabled one of the highest homeownership rates in the country.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has declined from 4.3 percent to 3.8 percent recently, still well below its long-term average of around 8.0 percent. Although at least one more rate hike was expected this year, the Fed is now focused on unwinding its large portfolio. Additional inventory is still needed in order to offset declining affordability brought on by higher prices and interest rates.

“We’re always impressed by how determined buyers are, despite the supply hurdle,” said Kath Hammerseng, MAAR President-Elect. “That said, prices are rising faster than incomes and builders are focusing on higher-end product further out while the demand is strongest for affordable product closer in.”

Nail Down the Cost of Your Roofing Project



When installing a new roof, the biggest decision you’re going to face (aside from choosing a roofing pro) is which materials to use. If you’re replacing an existing roof, your decision is easy — just match the current materials. But, if you’re building a new home, the debate over roofing materials can get a bit more complicated. Before jumping into the pros and cons of each material, consider the size and layout of your roof.

Not surprisingly, the size of your roof will play a large role in determining your overall budget. If you’re using a roofer, it’s helpful to understand how your pro will measure your roof. While many contractors base their estimates on square footage, roofing pros go by squares (each square is 100 square feet). The more squares, the more your project will cost.

Continue reading

7 Pricing Myths to Stop Believing If You Ever Hope to Sell Your House


Pricing your own home is hard, what with all the history and hopes this magic number entails. Of course, you want to make a profit. Of course, all that money you spent installing a swimming pool or a half-bath will be recouped, because you’re leaving your digs in better shape than when you bought it, right? Right?

Well, not necessarily. Too many home sellers fall prey to myths about home pricing that seem to make sense at first, but don’t jibe with the reality of real estate markets today. To make sure you haven’t bought into any of this malarkey—since the buyers you’re trying to woo sure haven’t—here are some common pricing myths you’ll want to rinse from your brain so you kick off your home-selling venture with realistic expectations. It’s time to get real, folks!

1. You always make money when you sell a home

Sure, real estate tends to appreciate over time: The National Association of Realtors® estimates that home prices will jump 5% by the end of 2017 and continue rising 3.5% in 2018. But selling your home for more than you paid is by no means a given, and your return on investment can vary greatly based on where you live. Continue reading

End of Summer To-Do List

Your End-of-Summer To-Do List

Labor Day unofficially marks the end of summer, but there’s still plenty of time to cross the remaining home projects off your summer to-do list. In fact, many homeowners wait until Labor Day even to start some of their biggest projects. So, you’re certainly not alone.

According to new HomeAdvisor data, these are the top six most popular end-of-summer projects homeowners are kicking off around Labor Day weekend!

Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Selling Your Home Without a Realtor is a Terrible Idea (An Article Written by a Non-Realtor)


Source: 5 Reasons Why Selling Your Home Without a Realtor is a Terrible Idea (Written by a Non-Realtor)

Written by Patrick O’Brien

Given my background as a career mortgage banker, I often find myself in conversations with people seeking advice when they’re shopping for a home. Occasionally people casually mention that they’re going to “save a ton” by selling their home For Sale By Owner rather than listing with a Realtor. While I admire their confidence, I often (strongly) advise against it. I’ve financed (literally) thousands of transactions so I know the process well, yet I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars in Realtor commissions over the years and I feel it’s money well spent. Here’s five reasons why:

Continue reading

Is Your Home Inspector as Thorough as You Think?

6 Shocking Things Your Home Inspector Won’t Check

an article by Lisa Gordon

Home inspectors are quite thorough. Before you buy a house, they’ll scrutinize things you never thought to look at in your many walk-throughs, from cracks in stucco to how well the toilet flushes. In fact, their checklists include over 1,600 features, all with the goal of helping you decide whether the home is in good enough shape for you to close this deal—or whether you should back out while you can. Given that a basic home inspection costs $300 to $500 but could save you thousands in repairs, that’s a sweet deal!

And yet, home inspectors don’t check everything.

For one, conditions such as mold, radon, or asbestos that require laboratory samples or equipment are the stuff of specialty inspections, which cost extra or must be conducted by other specialists.

Here’s what home inspectors conducting a basic search aren’t eyeballing, and what you can do if you want to make sure your prospective new home checks out on all counts.

Electrical outlets behind heavy furniture

For one, basic home inspections evaluate only the stuff these professionals can see or access easily. That means if furniture is blocking certain areas, your home inspector isn’t about to throw out his back to lug it aside.

“I’ve had china cabinets in front of an electrical panel, and there’s no way we’re going to move that stuff,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, headquartered in Des Plaines, IL. Instead, ask the home seller to move such items in advance so the inspector can do his work without heavy lifting.


Home inspectors will gamely climb onto your roof and check for missing or warped shingles and make sure flashing and gutters are in good shape. There’s one huge caveat: Your roof should be less than three stories tall and not too steep. If it is, they’ll probably pass. After all, if they fall, it’s a long way down!

“We’ll go up on roofs if it’s safe,” says Lesh. “But if it’s raining or it’s too high, we’re not able to get to it.”

It’s reasonable to worry about the roof, which is a big-ticket item. You can hire a specialized roof inspector for $500 to $750 to examine roofs that a regular inspector will avoid. Some, hoping to get business if they turn up issues, will even inspect it for free; others charge according to location, roof height, and material. If they can’t climb onto roofs, they can perform an infrared inspection that assesses temperature differences along your roof to determine where heat is escaping.

Fireplace and chimney

Home inspectors will typically open and shut dampers to make sure they’re working, and shine a flashlight up the chimney to check for big obstructions like a bird nest. But that’s typically where their inspection ends.

Want more? A fireplace inspector can perform a Level 1 inspection to look for soot and creosote buildup, which could start a chimney fire. This extra inspection will cost about $80 to $200. If the home has experienced an earthquake or major storm, a chimney inspector will perform a Level 2 inspection, which adds visits to the roof, attic, and crawl space to check for damage ($100 to $500).

Ground beneath your home

While home inspectors will thoroughly check the home, the ground beneath it might go largely ignored. So if you’re worried about the land’s structural integrity—or whether it shifts, tilts, or has sinkholes or a high water table—you’ll need to hire a geotechnical or structural engineer.

These professionals test the soil for an array of problems, but it’ll cost you: Basic testing costs $300 to $1,000, and drilling a bore hole for deeper investigations can cost $3,000 to $5,000. That’s a lot to pay for a hunch, so if money is tight, go to PlotScan, a free site that will tell you the history of sinkholes and other natural catastrophes in the vicinity of your home—and help you assess whether more research should be done.

Swimming pool

Basic home inspectors will turn on pool pumps and heaters to make sure they’re working. But inspectors won’t routinely evaluate cracks or dents in the pool. For that, you’ll need a professional pool inspector, who will run pressure tests for plumbing leaks. He’ll also scrutinize pumps, filters, decking surfaces, and safety covers. The cost will hover around $250 or could be free, if you end up hiring the pool company for regular maintenance.

Well and septic system

If your inspector works in areas where wells and septic systems are common, for an extra fee ($150) he might test your well water and check that your septic system is running correctly.  But if most houses he inspects are on public well and water, you’ll have to hire a well inspector.

Well inspectors—typically employed by companies that install or repair such systems—will collect water samples for lab analysis for coliform, arsenic, and other harmful bacteria and chemicals. They will ensure that well parts such as seals, vents, and screens have been properly maintained and that the well and pump can produce enough water. This will cost around $250.

Does the home have a full-on septic system? Then for $100 to $200, a septic system inspector will check your tanks, baffles, and piping; evaluate the inside of septic tanks using a camera to check on concrete conditions; and make sure wastewater is going into the tank, not leaking to the surface.

Source: 6 Shocking Things Your Home Inspector Won’t Check