St. Paul, Minnesota – March 14, 2016
The Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® reported today that Twin Cities home sellers are in motion and adding to a record low inventory of homes at the start of a warmer-than-normal early spring. February saw inventory levels fall 19.4 percent over February 2015 to 10,953 units. With just 2.3 months supply of inventory, sellers are well positioned to attract buyers as the spring selling season begins.
“The buyers are out there, and we are seeing many sales involving multiple offers,” said Bob Clark, 2016 President, Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS®.
Increases in new listings in February are a positive sign that sellers are getting ready. Listings climbed 3.0 percent over prior year to 5,848. Sellers benefit as prices continue to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 3.7 percent to $207,395. Their selling experience has also been a quick one: Days on Market was down 9.4 percent to 96 days. Pending Sales were also up 6.7 percent to 4,032.
“Sellers are in a very good position right now, with homes selling at higher prices than we’ve seen in more than eight years, and at an average of 10 days more quickly than this time last year,” said Clark. “We advise would-be sellers to consult their REALTOR® for an updated Cost Market Analysis.”
Nationally, housing starts were up by 10.8 percent at the end of 2015 when compared to 2014. The unemployment rate is holding low and steady at or near 4.9 percent—with Minnesota even lower at 3.7 percent. Meanwhile, mortgage rates continue to astound, staying below 4.0 percent, and we have witnessed an unprecedented 70 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. As consumers navigate their options, competition for the best available properties should be profound, especially if the market continues to lack supply.
The 2016 real estate market is in full force! Last week, Wendy conducted the first of many buyer/seller seminars for 2016, this time at Thomson Reuters. Coming up next is Hamline, and later comes 191 and 196 school districts. If you are wanting to offer a free educational home buyer or seller seminar to your employees in the Twin Cities, contact Wendy here. Wendy would be happy to educate them on what to expect this year, and how to make their move a success!
Do Minnesota cities have a legal right to inspect rental properties without any evidence of code violations? That’s the critical question that will be answered in a case now headed to the Minnesota court of Appeals.
The case involves Jason and Jackie Wiebesick’s Golden Valley duplex. The city was requesting an inspection in order to renew the couple’s rental license. City housing inspectors were refused access after the couple’s tenants felt such a visit amounted to an invasion of privacy.
“This is about the right to be left alone,” Attorney Anthony Sanders said.
Sanders is with the Institute for Justice, which took on the couple’s case.
“The principle in this case is whether or not a government can come into your home without evidence there’s anything wrong in your home,” he said.
After the Wiebesicks refused access, the city asked a Hennepin County judge for an administrative warrant. Judge Susan Robiner denied the request. Golden Valley now hopes the Minnesota Court of Appeals will affirm its ordinance and grant the inspection when they hear the case this spring.
“What’s at stake is a simple matter of making sure we have safe housing that meets minimal standards,” Golden Valley Fire Chief John Crelly said.
Chief Crelly says inspections are needed to assure the safety of all tenants as inspections search for fire hazards and other code violations. He says the city will normally give 48 hours of notice.
“In general, there are no unannounced inspections,” Crelly said.
But the Wieiebeseck’s say such inspections are unreasonable, because the city provides on evidence of any prior wrongdoing as basis for the administrative warrant.
“What we’re trying to reaffirm is the old rights that the government cannot pass the threshold unless it has a good reason,” Sanders said.
Chief Crelly points out that not all safety violations are obvious and often catch both tenants and landlords by surprise.
Attorneys for the couple say there’s nothing to prevent a tenant or landlord from requesting an inspection.
The case will be watched closely by other municipalities because the outcome could indeed set a statewide precedent. The League of Minnesota Cities has already filed an amicus brief, supporting Golden Valley and the need for inspection access.
After hearing the case of three Winona property owners fighting the city’s cap on rental houses, the Minnesota Supreme Court decided not to decide.
In a ruling issued Wednesday, the high court found that the case was moot because each homeowner had already resolved their fight, either by selling their house, letting it go back to the bank or gaining a rental license. The order left the city’s law in place.
The homeowners were challenging the city’s 2005 ordinance limiting the number of rental properties to 30 percent per block in some neighborhoods. The rule was meant to ease parking problems and protect the neighborhoods from decline, but property owners who were denied long-term rental licenses sued, arguing the rule infringed on their property rights.
The case was being watched around the state to see whether governments could limit house rentals in specific areas to preserve neighborhood livability. Both the district court and state court of appeals ruled in favor of the city.
Mankato, Northfield and West St. Paul had similar caps in varying percentages.
The court acknowledged that other municipalities have similar regulations, but said they did not operate in an identical fashion and would require independent consideration. “This case does not present an urgent question of statewide significance,” the court found.
George Hoff, an attorney for the city, said the ruling importantly leaves in place the appeals court’s analysis of city power to tackle livability issues. The cap was “the product of a long process that included several studies,” he said.
Plaintiffs, represented by lawyers from the Institute for Justice, a national libertarian nonprofit with an office in Minnesota, argued that the law treats homeowners unfairly. They appealed on grounds of constitutional due process, equal protection and other arguments.