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Home sales up and down in Blue Earth

By Staff | Jan 3, 2011

For O/NE Realty, some months in 2010 saw nearly double the amount of houses sold the previous year.

While the state of the housing market can be somewhat of a guessing game at times, 2010 found itself with more positives than negatives in realty.

Cornelia Hagedorn used to work at Olson Realty in Blue Earth, but bought Olson Realty and Nelson Realty last April and now co-owns O/NE Realty with Cara Drake, which serves Faribault County, eastern Martin County and parts of northern Iowa.

“From April until today, it has been a nice, steady flow,” Hagedorn says of the housing market.

While a lot of people characterize realty as being a seller’s or a buyer’s market, Hagedorn says she stays away from the terms, which often vary based on each individual situation.

“If you’re a buyer, you feel like it’s a seller’s market. If you’re a seller, you feel like it’s a buyer’s market,” she says.

Although the market can fluctuate frequently, it doesn’t always have a major affect on Blue Earth and surrounding small towns.

“Being a rural area, we’re almost insulated from the big price fluctuations,” Hagedorn’s husband, Ryan, says, explaining towns like Mankato can have drastic differences in prices and values of homes compared to the Blue Earth area.

O/NE Realty not only had a steady year throughout 2010, but 2010 proved to have significant jumps in numbers compared to 2009. Some months even finished with double the amount of sales they had shown in 2009.

Another positive that helped 2010 stand out from the past was low interest rates. Near the end of July, interest rates on a 15-year fixed-rate loan dipped as low as 3.5 percent. Several years back, people were facing interest rates of 8, 9 or even 10 percent.

If patterns continue and interest rates remain low, realtors may be able to expect a lot of prospective homebuyers out looking in 2011. But Hagedorn points out that you can never really tell what will happen.

“That’s the thing with real estate — in our area it’s really a day-to-day market,” she says.

Most days can’t be predicted, but Hagedorn says it’s very typical to expect things to calm down a bit as the year progresses.

“Historically, Minnesota winters really take a toll on the real estate business,” she explains. “From the end of November until (early the next year), things are a little slower.”

Hagedorn says that some sellers will even take their houses off the market during the winter because it’s more of a hassle to have showings during the snowy months. But, once again, 2010 stood out from years prior. Surprisingly, it saw no such slow-down during its last couple of months, and seemed to be an exception to the usual trend.

So sellers who have had homes listed for a long time can be hopeful that 2011 mimics 2010 and a buyer shows enough interest to make an offer.

“We always try and encourage sellers that it only takes one person,” Hagedorn says.

In the small-town region that O/NE Realty covers, there aren’t frequent bidding wars, so most homes sell right at the asking price or just under.

Hagedorn says the average price of a house sold in the area is $66,000, with some properties listed as low as $9,000 and others reaching nearly three-quarters of a million dollars. It’s all up to the buyer which price range best suits their taste or their wallet.

Right now in the Blue Earth area, a three-bedroom rambler built in the 1960s is listed with an asking price of $72,500. A slightly larger four-bedroom home with detached garage is priced at $149,900, and for people needing extra space, a completely renovated acreage located between Blue Earth and Elmore is available for $309,000.

“That’s what’s nice about Blue Earth,” Hagedorn says. “There’s always something on the market to appeal to everyone.”