Is the Twin Cities Housing Market Really Beginning to Change? – Real Estate Matters
Economics, Government Policy, Home Prices, Housing, Housing Trends, Real Estate Trends, Residential Real Estate, Residential Real Estate Index, Twin Cities Real Estate

Is the Twin Cities Housing Market Really Beginning to Change?

What really drives the need for housing?    

Since the June and July housing numbers have been published there seems to be much more uncertainty about the current state of the housing market. People are beginning to ask questions about the housing market. Is the decrease in sales volume a warning sign? Are we in a bubble? Will there be another housing market correction? One or two months data by themselves doesn’t signal a major change in the direction of the housing market. We will need to look at several more months data to understand more about where the market is headed.

 The number of closed sales were down 12.5% between June and July of this year. However, number of home sales in the Twin Cities was essentially unchanged in July 2018 compared to July 2017. If you look at the overall seasonal pattern for the number of homes sold is following a very similar pattern compared to previous years. Looking at the data for the median sale price, the number of closed sales, and the number of homes available for sale you will notice that the pattern for 2018 is very similar to 2016 and 2017. People have expressed

             Homes Sold YTD 2018 vs. YTD 2017
Jan 2017 2018       +/-
Feb 2805 2787 -18
Mar 2744 2671 -73
Apr 4304 4033 -271
May 4726 4688 -38
Jun 6265 5775 -490
Jul 7527 7160 -367
Aug 6046 6278 232
Total 34417 33392 -1025

concern that the number of sales is declining. When you look at 2018 year to date sales there have been just over 1,000 fewer homes sold this year compared to last year. About half of this amount occurred in May. I think that we are going to need to see a few more months data to understand if this is a long-term change in the market. At this point much of the decrease in the number of homes sold seems to be a result of the continued decrease in the number of homes available for sale. The number of homes available for sale was 12.3% less than last July. Median sale prices continue to increase, up 6.6% year over year compared to July 2017.

What really drives the need for housing?

Many people correctly point to increasing population and job growth as the primary reason. Job growth doesn’t drive housing demand, housing demand responds to job growth. Few people are against job growth, it is considered by many as sign of “progress”. There are many local economic development groups trying to attract new jobs by offering incentives for potential employers. Almost all communities are in favor of job growth but what about the housing needs that are created by this job growth? In many of the communities where people want to live creating more housing translates to more density. The truth be told, many people are in favor of more housing and more affordable housing as long as it not near them. According to recent DEED statistics employment in the Twin Cities metro area in the last 12 months has increased by 30,800 jobs. We have not been creating enough new housing units to keep up with that growth rate. As a result, we have a chronic shortage of homes available for sale, median sale prices are increasing faster than wage growth, a very low vacancy rate for rental housing, and rents that continue rise faster than the cost of living. It’s becoming increasing difficult and expensive to develop and create any type of for sale or rental housing. If we are going to continue to have strong economic growth, then we are going to have to figure out a way to create enough new housing units at all price levels to keep up with the increasing employment growth.

 What about new housing? Why does it take so long? Why is it so expensive?

  •      Lack of entitled land
  •      Difficulty and length of the entitlement process
  •      Excessive impact and local fees
  •      Zoning and bias against density
  •      Inclusionary zoning
  •      Rapidly increasing construction costs
  •      Rapidly increasing land costs

As long as our local economy continues to grow and is creating more jobs these are some of the issues that need to be addressed if we are going to come up with meaningful solutions to our housing market issues.

For more information, visit the Shenehon Center’s complete report for July 2018 at The report is also available for free via email from Tousley at

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