Updated: 01/14/2014 11:45 AM KSTP.com By: Stephen Tellier
Home buying and selling has cooled off for the season, right along with the winter temperatures. But don't let that fool you -- the Twin Cities housing market in 2013 was as hot as it's been in years.
Four bedrooms, three baths, two stories -- and on Monday night, one prospective buyer.
"We've got three kids, and one's out and two are in school, so it's a good time to make a move," said Rich Sandquist, as he and his wife checked out a home in Woodbury.
They just got an offer on their house, so it's finally time to downsize. Monday was only their second day out looking to buy, and Sandquist said homes similar to the one they toured on Monday are going fast.
"I think some of the houses I've looked at have already had offers on, so you see things moving more quickly than perhaps a year ago or so," Sandquist said.
His observation is spot on.
"The general story was a story of continued recovery," said Emily Green, president of the Minneapolis Area Associations of Realtors.
On Monday, a group of realtors released the year-end data for the 2013 housing market in the Twin Cities metro: Inventory, down 11 percent; the time it takes to sell, down 29 percent; closed sales, up 9 percent; median sales price, up 14 percent.
Nearly all of the numbers are encouraging, and a few are remarkable.
"Many of our metrics returned to levels we haven't seen in the last five or ten years," said Michael Hunstad, president of the Saint Paul Area Association of Realtors.
Realtors said the local housing market finally has the momentum it needs to maintain a full recovery -- coupled with still relatively-low interest rates.
"It was the health of the market that the buyers were waiting for so that they could have that confidence to move forward and purchase," Green said.
Now, they're purchasing -- or, at least, they're hoping they will be very soon.
"I think it's good for the economy," Sandquist said.
The improvement has been somewhat uneven, with sales rising more at the higher end of the market. But even that is a good thing, because foreclosures and other troubled properties are becoming a smaller piece of the purchasing pie.