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A “for sale” sign is posted Thursday outside a property on Willmar’s southwest side. About 250 homes changed hands in Kandiyohi County last year, a figure that’s close to average. However, new figures from the Minnesota Association of Realtors show steady improvement over the past year in virtually every indicator. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Local Realtors say housing market looks rosy this year for both buyers and sellers

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WILLMAR — A real estate market on the rebound has local agents optimistic for 2014.

The forecast looks “very positive,” said Chris Meinert of Willmar Real Estate. “I believe there is an upward trend.”

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New figures from the Minnesota Association of Realtors show steady improvement over the past year in virtually every indicator. Statewide, new listings were up 4.1 percent last year compared to the year before, while closed sales were up 4.6 percent.

Prices also are gaining strength.

On average, homes across Minnesota sold for 11.2 percent more in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of sellers who received their original asking price inched upward as well, from 92.5 percent to 94.6 percent.

Meinert says it’s both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market right now.

“Prices are rising at a good rate. It’s not going up too fast,” he said. “Buyers can buy. Sellers are getting fair prices for their house, whereas even a few years ago it was tough.”

According to the statewide report, trends were just as strong in Region Six East, which includes Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker and Renville counties.

The median sales price for homes in the region rose 17.3 percent last year, from $102,300 to $120,000. Although homes in the four-county region still take longer to sell than in the metro area, there was an 11.5 percent drop last year in the number of days the average house spent on the market, from 131 days to 116 days.

The region also saw a 5.6 percent increase last year in new listings and a 9 percent increase in closed sales.

Last year was “probably one of the best years that a lot of Realtors have seen,” said Paul Ryan of RE/MAX Preferred Realty. “We’re hoping 2014 is going to be the same.”

About 250 homes changed hands in Kandiyohi County last year, a figure that’s close to average.

The local market still contains several foreclosed and short-sale properties, but observers say the numbers of these are on the decline.

The rebound in prices is especially good news for sellers who may have been concerned in the past about getting enough equity out of their house.

Rising prices mean “they’re not underwater as much,” Ryan said. “We’re not seeing leaps and bounds in prices right now, but we are seeing them increasing. That’s the good news. The seller’s market obviously is coming back.”

Meinert, who handles property sales all across the state, said there appears to be more confidence among both buyers and sellers who are ready to make a move.

The demand is there, he noted. “If you get it on the market now, there’s active buyers.”

He also anticipates more activity among home buyers who want to move up to a house that’s larger or has more amenities.

“It’s probably a pretty good opportunity this year,” he said. “That’s the market that really drives the show. If that starts to kick in really good this year, that’ll help drive the market.”

Interest rates are still favorable for buyers, Ryan said.

“I feel the activity is going to go up,” he said. “I’m hoping that we’ll see the inventory pick up because there are a lot of buyers out there looking. … It’s a great time to buy or sell.”

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Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

(320) 235-1150
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