February Home Prices and Sales Drop

The median home sale price slid 10.4 percent to $142,500 in February largely due to an increase in foreclosure sales.

January's improvement in the housing market was short-lived as February prices and sales both posted double-digit decreases, according to a monthly report released Thursday by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR).

Buyer activity was down 12.6 percent from February 2010 to 3,082 purchase agreements, but the figures were slightly skewed because activity was “uniquely strong” last year due to the then-approaching tax credit deadline.

The decline in pending sales was less dramatic-7 percent-when compared to 2009 and was down only 0.2 percent compared to 2008. The number of closed sales was down 1.7 percent from last February but was actually up 2.5 percent from the same month in 2009 and up 5.6 percent from 2008.

“At this point in time, 2008 and 2009 serve as a more useful baseline for year-over-year market comparisons,” Cari Linn, MAAR president-elect, said in a news release. “We can't reliably compare to 2010 just yet.”

The overall median sales price dropped 10.4 percent from February 2010 to $142,500, largely due to a 40 percent increase in foreclosure sales. Non-distressed properties posted a 4 percent price decrease to $194,605, foreclosures dropped 12.5 percent to $105,000, and short sales declined 3.2 percent to $140,290.

Sellers placed 5,299 homes on the market during the month, representing a 26 percent decrease in new listings from February 2010. The only increase in listings came in the foreclosure segment, which saw a 5.5 percent increase. The traditional and short-sale segments both saw double-digit declines in listing activity during the month.

February's declines come just one month after increases were reported in the local housing industry for the first time in nine months.

The MAAR, a provider of information services and research pertaining to the real estate industry, bases its reports on data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. Its report analyzes 13 counties in the metro area.