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Fewer April home sales reflects fewer foreclosures

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Although the month of April is traditionally when the spring home-buying season peaks, closings this year failed to keep pace with last year. But prices are up and the amount of time it takes to sell a home has dropped.

MPR News has the monthly metro housing report from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. It shows that pending residential property sales in the 13-county area fell by 4 percent in April. The Star Tribune adds that the monthly report shows that there were 3,806 closings last month. That's an 11.9 percent drop compared to April of 2013.

Despite that, there are indicators that the housing market continues to improve.

MPR explains that the decline is due to a change in the property that is selling. Foreclosure sales fell 42 percent last month. That sharp drop in the number of distressed property sales pulled down the total number of sales but reflects a stronger overall market. The number of traditional, non-distressed homes sold actually climbed last month.

The Star Tribune adds that listings in the Twin Cities rose by 1.5 percent last month compared to the same time one year ago; that represents the biggest increase in more than three years. It indicates that inventory is rising from historically low levels, which gives prospective home buyers more choices.

“What is happening now is hopefully a slow and steady rise to ‘normal’ levels,” Emily Green, president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, told the newspaper.

Prices are on the rise across the metro, with the median price rising to $197,000. The 8 percent increase represents the 26th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. Metro area sellers pocketed 96 percent of their asking price last month. Homes for sale averaged 89 days on the market, an 8.2 percent decline from last April.

A report last month found that only one in ten Minnesota homes are underwater, meaning that they owe more than their homes are worth. Nationally, 17 percent of homeowners are upside down.

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