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Real Estate Market Finally Turning Around?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The season for buying and selling homes in the Twin Cities is off to a strong start, but is it good enough to turn the housing market around?

Thanks in part to the warmer weather, at one point in March figures from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors show pending sales up 23 percent.

REALTORS are seeing more optimistic buyers. Paul Berglin is preparing to put his 4,400-square-foot home in Ham Lake on the market.

"I think we're going to be able to sell it for a fair price, market price or better," says Berglin, who knows he won't get what his family paid to build the house eight years ago.

The Berglin's are looking for more land and a smaller house, and he thinks they'll find exactly what they're looking for at a good price, and he may be right. According to a recent study released by the University of St. Thomas, traditional sale prices are down 11.3 percent from the same time last year.

Experts point to the number of foreclosures and short sales.

"These foreclosed and distressed properties need to be sold and clear the market in order for the market to really turn around and make a sustained recovery," said Professor Herb Thomas, director of the Real Estate Program at the University of St. Thomas.

More of those homes are now coming off the market in the Twin Cities. The University says foreclosure sales in the month of February are up 9 percent over last year and short sales are up 38 percent.

It's a step in the right direction for the local housing market, which is a reason for sellers like Berglin to be optimistic.

"I think this house is going to sell for what it's worth," he said.

The state housing market as a whole is better off than the metro. A report from the Minnesota Association of REALTORS shows more homes are selling compared to last year, bring inventory down, and median sales prices are starting to increase.

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