Housing market already recovered in Austin area?

Published 11:48 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Other regional cities showed signs of a comeback in 2012

The final 2012 home sales numbers are in, and while some cities in southern Minnesota showed major signs of recovery last year, Austin did not. But one local Realtor says that’s because the city has already mostly recovered.

“Austin has been a stronger economy than a lot of the surrounding areas,” said Casey Hatch, broker and owner of Integrity Real Estate in Austin and treasurer of the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors. “With Hormel, it’s remained a very strong community, and we didn’t see the rough numbers we saw elsewhere.”

There were 362 homes sold in Austin in 2012, up 1.4 percent from 357 in 2011, according to data released yesterday by the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors. While the numbers were up, Owatonna, Rochester, and Winona fared considerably better, each recording double-digit gains compared to 2011. Owatonna reported a 14 percent increase, Rochester had a 20.2 percent jump, and the Winona/Goodview area increased its home sales by 23.7 percent.

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While Austin ranked below Rochester, Winona and Owatonna in total homes sold, Albert Lea recorded a 5.3 percent decline in homes sold compared to 2011. And Austin’s home sales total did hit a four-year high, topping the 357 sold in 2011, 303 sold in 2010, and 345 in 2009.

“Austin didn’t have as dramatic of a bust, so the numbers like anything can look a little swayed,” Hatch said. “Austin didn’t have a dramatic decline, so it’s not going to show a dramatic increase, either.”

Another reason for the difference in Austin, according to Hatch, may be because there were fewer homes on the market here compared to 2011. The town saw a 7 percent drop in new listings, from 740 to 688, unlike Rochester, Owatonna and Winona, where new listings were generally flat or slightly higher.

“Austin doesn’t have a lot of major developments,” Hatch said.

Homes were selling quicker last year in Austin, lasting 121 days on the market, a 5.5 percent drop from 2011. However, Winona’s days-on-market average fell by 9.7 percent, Owatonna’s fell 12.9 percent, and Rochester’s dropped by 25.2 percent.

December’s numbers were down from 2011 for Austin, with 19 sold compared to 23, a trend that has continued since July. Through June, there were 190 homes sold, an 11.1 percent increase from the 171 sold through six months in 2011. Since then, however, there have been 172 sold, down from the 186 sold in the last six months of 2011.

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