Realtors have an obvious interest in talking about how now is the right time to buy a house. Boom or bust markets, it's always a good time to buy!
Today, though, the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors came out with hard data that seem to show signs of a genuine upswing in the Twin Cities area housing market, driven by low rates and the $8,000 first time homebuyer tax credit.
The group said the inventory of homes for sale has fallen over the past month and fallen significantly from last year. Also, there were 7,150 deals closed for homes in 09 compared to 6,668 during the first quarter of 08.
Not everything is swell. The survey noted that the median sales price in the Twin Cites metro area continues to fall, or, as they put it, "continues to search for its low point."
The group put the median sales price for a single-family, residential property in March at $154,125, 23 percent down from a year ago, when it was $200,000.
For the first time since July of last year the median sales price increased on a month-over-month basis by 2.75 percent. The median sales price one month ago was $150,000.
Got a story about the housing market or any other economic story in Minnesota? Tell us what you know.
MPR News reporter Annie Baxter has a good story this morning on some of the unusual places federal stimulus money will land in Minnesota, including $11,000 to the Dakota County Sheriff's office that may buy a couple of updated digital video recorders for cruisers.
But is that the sort of thing that will really stimulate the economy?
I raised this issue earlier in the week when I looked at the list of greater Minnesota road projects financed with stimulus money and asked: Are snow fences and road resurfacing really stimulus?
Yeah, it's small stuff in an $800-plus billion spending package, but I'd love to hear from people who can give me specific examples of how the stimulus money is giving a shot in the arm to their local economy. Or tell us if you don't think it's money well spent.
Brent Olson, one of our Public Insight Network sources who's also a commissioner in Big Stone County in western Minnesota, told us he believes one stimulus project -- $7 million to resurface Big Stone Highway 75 -- will have a positive effect.
Brent told us:
In all honesty, without the stimulus money, I doubt if Highway 75 would have been resurfaced for many years to come - we simply do not have the clout to get the work done. So, a badly needed infrastructure improvement will be done, a great deal of local gravel, etc, will be purchased, and we'll sell some meals and hotel beds for a couple months - all good things.