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At last! Home values climbing to pre-housing bust levels

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There's good news for homeowners in the metro area. The Star Tribune reports that after a steep drop in values followed by months of stagnation, the value of residential property is again on the rise, documented by property tax statements mailed this spring.

“The drops in recent years were so fast, and so far, that most of us in our lifetimes had never seen such a thing,” said Herb Tousley, director of the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas told the newspaper. “Now, though no one likes to pay more taxes, the house is going up in value and there’s a good side to that.”

The local numbers reflect a national trend. On Friday, a new Gallup Poll reported that 56 percent of Americans now expect home prices in their local area to increase. That is up from 33 percent two years ago, and from 21 percent in 2011. The number stood at 60 percent prior to the housing market collapse. The annual Gallup Economy and Personal Finance survey also found that 74 percent of those polled say their home is now worth more than when they bought it, up from 63 percent last year and 53 percent in 2014.

The Star Tribune story said that Carver County is recording double-digit increases for the first time in years, while Anoka County is experiencing home values rising by as much as 20 percent. The strongest surges are noted in cities that were hit hardest, Anoka County Assessor Michael Sutherland said, pointing to inreases in Anoka and Columbia Heights.

Ramsey County had its “most positive year for residential in eight or nine years,” Assessor Stephen Baker said, with increases in value recorded in Maplewood, Shoreview and in the Como and Payne-Phalen neighborhoods in St. Paul. In Hennepin County, the value of existing homes has jumped by 14 percent to 17 percent in older suburbs like Hopkins, Brooklyn Center and Robbinsdale. Values are up by 20 percent or more in some of the western suburbs.

Despite that, online real estate tracker Zillow reports that 18.6 percent of Twin Cities homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their property is worth. That number is slightly below the national average.

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