■ Homes selling more quickly
According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), houses are selling faster as supply struggles to meet demand in many areas of the country.
“Recent data shows that housing inventory is tightening in many areas of our marketplace and homes are selling much more quickly,” said Rebecca Sellnow, Greater Lakes Association of Realtors (GLAR) president, in a news release. “We first noticed this short amount of time on market during the spring and it has created more of a balance between homebuyers and sellers in our six-county area. This balance is reinforcing price growth in the market because correctly priced homes usually sell more quickly.”
At the end of August, NAR’s data reports national housing inventory was at a 6.1 month supply. This is 25.6 percent below a year ago when the supply was 8.1 months. In contrast, during the peak of the boom in 2004 and 2005, inventory levels averaged 4.3 months and the median selling time was four weeks. And in 2009 during the economic downturn the time on market peaked at 10 weeks with a 10-month annualized supply.
The supply of homes is decreasing in all areas, GLAR reported, adding prices are slightly rising and the number of closed sales has increased during the last year from 10 percent to 17 percent.
“For some time now, homebuyers have had numerous advantages such as low interest rates and historic affordability,” said Sellnow. “With homes beginning to sell more quickly than before, it’s evident that homebuyers are taking advantage of these opportunities. This is good news not just for buyers, but also for sellers. These market conditions are creating a tremendous balancing act between buyer and seller, thus helping to create a healthy housing market.” GLAR reports it expects the fall season to be a busy one for the area’s housing market.
■ MMFCU Mortgage
Department gains recognition
BAXTER — The Mortgage Services Department of Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union (MMFCU) was recently recognized for outstanding service by the CUNA Mutual Group (CMG) Mortgage Insurance Company.
The “Outstanding Servicing Performance in 2011” award recognized MMFCU’s success in several areas of mortgage servicing, including “helping members stay in their homes.”
Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative serving central Minnesota.
■ Schrupp joins Edina
Realty in Hackensack
HACKENSACK — Judy Schrupp joined the Edina Realty office in Hackensack.
Schrupp has more than 14 years of experience in the real estate business in the lakes community and is a multi-million dollar producer.
■ MDA urges farmers to use
soil temperature as guide
Minnesota’s warm and dry autumn may be accelerating harvest and field work, but the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding farmers that soil temperature, not harvest progress, is the factor to weigh when determining the date of fall anhydrous ammonia and urea applications.
According to MDA Fertilizer Field Unit Supervisor Ron Struss, this year’s early harvest may tempt farmers to apply nitrogen products before soil temperatures fall below 50 degrees. However, that move could be costly, MDA reported.
“Just as a cool refrigerator holds food-spoiling bacteria at bay, soil temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit slow down the natural process of soil bacteria converting ammonium in nitrogen fertilizer to nitrate,” Struss said. “Once ammonium is converted to nitrate, it moves easily with water and can slip past the crop’s rooting zone and into groundwater. That means not only a financial loss for the farmer, but also a potential water quality and human health problem if groundwater and drinking water become contaminated with nitrate.”
For some regions of the state, fall application of anhydrous ammonia or urea is not recommended by Minnesota’s Best Management Practices for Nitrogen Fertilizer Use www.mda.state.mn.us/nitrogenbmps. Where it is recommended, application should be delayed until soil temperatures at a 6-inch depth stabilize at a temperature lower than 50 degrees.
To help farmers know when the 50 degree soil temperature has been reached, MDA established 12 real-time soil temperature monitoring stations across Minnesota. Information from the stations can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/soiltemp. Temperature probes are installed on level sites under grass cover that approximates average crop residue.
■ GLAR receives national grant for expanding housing opportunities
The Greater Lakes Association of Realtors (GLAR) was awarded a $3,500 grant from the National Association of Realtors’ Housing Opportunity Program to support activities that create and expand affordable housing opportunities.
The grant will be used to support the activities of the Brainerd Healthy Communities Partnership’s Housing Task Force.
“Realtors build communities and work hard to make housing affordable to all who are willing and able to become homeowners,” said Rebecca Sellnow, GLAR president, in a news release. “This grant will help raise awareness about the need for more housing opportunities in our community, as well identify and promote solutions that address affordable housing. Through the Housing Opportunity Program Grants homeownership can become an attainable dream for many hard-working American families across the country.”
Grant funding will be used to support Brainerd’s Healthy Communities Partnership Housing Task Force with a goal of improving housing within the city of Brainerd. The group is made up of members from the nonprofit, private, and public sectors, including participants from Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Social Services, GLAR, Progressive Property Management, Brainerd Savings and Loan, the Brainerd Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), and the Crow Wing County HRA.
The Housing Task Force’s Scattered Site Replacement Program (SSRP) is an effort to acquire properties with buildings that are past their useful life, demolish the buildings, and either donate the lot to Habitat for Humanity or resell to an owner-occupant who will build a new home on the lot. Eligible properties are considered on a first-come, first-served basis.
NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program Grants were established in 2006. Individual grants of up to $5,000 are awarded four times per year, in February, May, August and November. During the August cycle NAR awarded $47,300 to 14 Realtor associations across the country. Since the program’s inception nearly 240 grants totaling more than $700,000 have been awarded.
The grants support a wide range of housing opportunity activities, including housing symposia; homebuyer education or housing fairs; counseling and financial literacy efforts; down payment or closing cost financial assistance programs; public opinion surveys; and real estate agent affordable housing education.