Twin Cities home prices fell last monthby Annie Baxter, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Twin Cities home prices fell last month but realtor associations say the market is coming into balance.
The Twin Cities median home prices fell to $162,000 in December, down from $170,000 in November. Year-end numbers show the median price for 2009 was 15 percent lower than in 2008.
Pending and completed home sales rose last year compared to 2008. The total number of homes that had a sales contract during the year was up about 18 percent compared to 2008, and completed sales were up nearly 17 percent.
Area realtor associations say those improvements, plus the significantly reduced inventory of homes, suggest that the metro housing market is coming into balance.
But Augsburg College economist Jeanne Boeh says the market still has a lot of healing to do.
"I don't dispute that it's coming into balance, what I dispute is that it's coming into balance in 2009," said Boeh. "I think we need to go all the way through 2010 before prices start to increase and we see more normal inventory."
Boeh points out that 43 percent of completed home sales in 2009 were lender-mediated, which means they involved foreclosures or homes sold for less than what the seller still owed on the mortgage.
Boeh said the median sales price remains depressed because too few high-priced homes are selling.