Monday, May 23, 2011

Good News for the Twin Cities Housing Market

For only the second time since the end of last year's tax credit, there were more Pending Sales for a given week than in the prior year. A total of 958 buyers entered into contract for the week ending May 14, an increase of 15.4 percent and the highest number of pendings since the week ending May 8, 2010.

But let's not get too excited just yet, because this apparent shift in Twin Cities home purchase activity was primarily driven by the post-tax-credit slowdown seen at this time last year. To illustrate this point, 2011 sales activity has increased 4.1 percent since the final week of April, while 2010 saw a 43.5 percent decrease during the same period.

On the supply side, New Listings have come back in line with historical norms for this time of year. Sellers brought 1,704 new homes online, or 7.7 percent more than the same time in 2010. Again, 2011 activity has been fairly stable over the past month while 2010 activity declined by nearly 33 percent.

The 23,739 Active Listings for Sale have grown slightly over the course of the year, but remain 10.1 percent under 2010 inventory levels or about 2,700 units slimmer. All those crunches are really starting to pay off as we enter lake and beach season.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

High Gas Prices Trigger Changes in Buyer Behavior

The rise in gas prices is influencing buyer decisions as they shop for a new home, causing more buyers to make short commutes and home offices a top priority, according to a new Coldwell Banker survey of more than 1,000 of its real estate professionals about buyer trends.

Seventy-five percent of the real estate professionals surveyed say the spike in gas prices is influencing their clients’ decisions on where to live. What’s more, if gas prices continue to increase, 93 percent predict that even more buyers will choose to live somewhere closer to their work.

Gas prices are topping $4 a gallon and higher, and are up about 30 percent over last year, which is starting to put a dent in many Americans’ pocketbook.

More real estate professionals also report that the rise in gas prices is prompting more buyers to look for homes that will allow them to work-from-home. Indeed, 77 percent of those surveyed say that more of their buyers are showing an interest in having a home office compared to five years ago.

Gas prices also seem to be spiking a renewed interest in urban living. More than half of real estate professionals surveyed say they are seeing more buyers wanting to target homes in urban areas compared to five years ago, citing shorter commute times, being able to walk to more places, and being near public transportation as the most likely reasons for the urban-area migration.

More buyers are also choosing homes closer to shops and services due to the increase in gas prices, according to the survey.

Source: “Coldwell Banker Real Estate Survey Finds Spike in Gas Prices Is Impacting Where Home Buyers Choose to Live,” MarketWire (May 18, 2011) and “In Consumer Behavior, Signs of Gas Price Pinch,” The New York Times (May 17, 2011)