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Real estate sales rising

Home sales in Austin increased by a whopping 17.1 percent in 2011.

There were 356 sales in 2011, up from 304 in 2010, according to newly released numbers from the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors.

Low interest rates and a wide selection of homes helped increase sales, said Angie Schott, a Winona Realtor who's the the SEMAR MLS president.

"I would not say we are out off the woods yet with regard to the housing slump, since there are many sellers yet struggling to sell at a price that balances what they purchased their home for, Schott said. "Rather we may be at the start of a stabling market, and we can watch the data at the start of 2012 to know for sure."

In 2011, the median sales price in Austin was $84,500, up 6 percent from 2010.


"I would say it is the first obvious and clear indication that we may have experienced the end of the slowdown," said Duane Sauke, owner of RE/MAX realty of Rochester. "I think we can be positive and optimistic about that. We can say that out loud."

When home prices were rising 6 percent to 10 percent a year during the real estate bubble of the early 2000s, people whose home values were rising felt cash-rich bought new, larger houses before they normally would have, Sauke said. The high number of home sales then reduced sales in the following years, even without a recession, he said.

"I was afraid we were using up transactions from the future, and that's exactly what we did," he said.

But now, after several years of depressed home sales, "people have waited long enough," Sauke said. This coming year will see similar growth, Sauke predicted.

"They are having change in life events so that they're wanting to get back into the buying and selling of a house," he said.

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