House sales in the Twin Cities reached a 10-year high in 2015


If you need a sign that the Twin Cities' housing market has recovered from the financial downturn, this could be it.

In 2015, the Twin Cities saw the most closed house sales since 2005 – with buyers sealing the deal on 56,390 homes, a 13.7 percent increase on 2014.

That's according to the year-end review from Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors and its St. Paul equivalent, who say metro area residents "are just as committed to homeownership as ever" and there are positive signs for continued economic buoyancy in the housing market going forward.

"Last year (2015) really showcased the durability of our economic and housing recovery, despite a few obstacles," Judy Shields, president of the Minneapolis group, said. "Attractive rates, rising rents, job growth, wage increases and the lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area will continue to be positive factors for real estate."

Prices rise, amid dearth of supply

The average sales price also rose significantly, with a median of $220,000 seven percent higher than the $205,600 in 2014, which itself saw a rise of 14.4 percent on 2013.

Fewer people are foreclosing as well, with "distressed sales" accounting for just 10.6 percent of all closed sales, a drop of 26.7 percent in foreclosed and short sales on 2014, as more homeowners keep up with their mortgage payments.

But the increase in average sales price highlights a pressing issue within the Twin Cities housing market: a lack of supply.

The Realtor association says the "supply of inventory" at the end of the year was 2.1 months. This is the time it would take to sell all homes currently for sale if no new houses went on the market.

This is despite sellers listing the highest number of homes for sale since 2010, with new listings up 5.1 percent on 2014 (many of these however were snapped up – with buyers said to be "out in force" last year).

Housing inventory levels are considered "balanced" at five months, which means it is currently a sellers' market and those who are thinking of listing anytime soon could end up getting more money than they'd expect.

As a result of this, the Realtor groups expect inventories to be "replenished" in 2016.

Housing market in figures

96.6 percent: The proportion of the asking price sellers have been getting on average in the metro area (i.e., $100,000 listing price, selling for $96,600).

99.6 percent: The proportion of asking price people buying newly construction homes are paying.

76 days: The amount of time houses spent on the market in 2015 before selling – a 10-year low.

77,830: The number of properties listed on the market in 2015, the highest since 2010.

56,390: The number of deals closed in the seven-county metro area in 2015.

4.5 percent: The median sales price of $220,000 is just 4.5 percent below the 2006 peak (and 47 percent above the low-point in 2011).

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