Is it spring already? Home sales take a big jump earlier than usual

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This Valentine's Day weekend, a new report finds an uptick in buyers who are falling in love with new homes.

Although it's wintry outside, the spring housing market in the metro area is heating up. The Star Tribune reports that although the spring market typically begins in March, numbers suggest this year the accelerated activity started in January, when there was a significant jump in signed purchase agreements.

On Thursday, the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors reported that last month saw 2,986 pending sales, which is 7.8 percent more than last year. However, sales did take a hit this time last year as the polar vortex discouraged house hunting.

"Both buyers and sellers appear confident and energized and the traditional segment enjoyed a strong start to the year,” said Mike Hoffman, president of the Minneapolis association.

Eager buyers snap up new listings

KSTP reports that on average, homes listed in the metro sell in just over two months, although some have sold signs posted within a matter of days.

Buyers are eager; the Star Tribune story cited a real estate agent who had three showings for a house in south Minneapolis before the property was even officially on the market.

Buyers also have more prospective homes to walk through. In January there were 4,497 new listings, up 5.9 percent from last year. And buyers are paying more at closing, with the median sale price last month at $195,000, which represents an 8.5 percent increase over January 2014.

At the end of December, Forbes magazine made its predictions for real estate trends for the year. The financial publication anticipated that mortgage interest rates will creep higher, more millennials will become homeowners, and foreclosures will return to pre-recession levels.

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