Warmer Weather May Help Minn. Housing Market Spring Back

Updated: 03/13/2014 6:11 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

The rough winter has proven frustrating for Minnesotans looking to buy or sell a home. There are fewer houses available and the market has been slow. However, industry leaders say the market may be on the verge of a spring turn around.

A new, fresh season in real estate typically springs right after the Super Bowl. This year, the market is still catching up well into March.

"Everything is a mess," said Chris Galler, CEO of the Minnesota Association of Realtors. In the cold, buyers have been slow to get out and tour homes.

"They have to bundle all up in boots and heavy winter clothes and try and get in and out of the car, to see a number of properties. They just haven't been interested in it," Galler said.

According to the Minnesota Association of Realtors, home sales were down 13.8 percent in the Metro this January compared to last January. Inventory was down 16.7 percent.

"Consumers go out with a home to sell, go out and look for a home to buy, there's not very much inventory. So they say well we'll wait until the inventory comes on because we don't want to sell our house and then not have a place to move," Galler said.

Beth and Wesley Pfeifer posted their Minneapolis home about three weeks ago. "We put it on the market and then it was negative 20 degrees. So our first couple of weeks out of the gate we had maybe slower than normal activity," Beth Pfeifer said.

The melt may be turning the tide. "Things are finally starting to thaw and warm up, and we have seen a pick-up in traffic this week of people coming in. We had two showings this morning," Pfeifer said.

The Pfeifers are not alone. The Minnesota Association of Realtors says just one weekend of warmth brought more buyers to open houses.

"We just do a lot of vacuuming," Pfeifer said. Realty experts say sellers will have better luck if their homes have nice bathrooms, kitchens and front doors.

"If the outside of the property doesn't look nice, then they'll assume the inside isn't that way," Galler said.

Over the past decade, the Pfeifers have invested more than 75 thousand dollars perfecting their home for themselves and its new owner. Now they hope the warm up will be the charm.
"We love the way that it is here and we enjoyed living here," Pfeifer said.

There is more good news for sellers in terms of pricing. According to the Minnesota Association of Realtors, home prices were up 12.2 percent this January compared to the same time last year.

In January, the median sales price was $184,995.