The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 2, 2013

Housing market shaking off slump

MANKATO — Nicole Schmidt had long wanted her own house. She knew interest rates were as low as they’d ever be, but first she needed to clean up some bruises on her credit history.

“I made some mistakes with my credit. I have a friend who works with a mortgage company, so he helped show me how to clean up my credit.”

After taking the time and steps needed to get on the right side of credit-rating agencies, Schmidt set out to find a home for her and her teen son.

“I thought you’d get more of a house for the money. Up to $120,000 they’re kind of junky. You get $130,000 and over, they start getting nicer.”

Schmidt eventually found what she described as “a very nice home with a lot of potential” and closed on it recently. “It was a foreclosure, so I think I got a good deal. They almost had the basement finished and then just stopped. Someone else’s loss was my gain.” 

Schmidt was one of a growing number of people with good enough credit and a desire to buy homes who pushed the long-struggling real estate market decidedly higher last year.

“Things really picked up last year and it’s not slowing down,” said Mary Weller, a longtime Realtor in Mankato with Coldwell Banker Welcome Home Realty.

The number of homes sold in the 10-county area rose 16 percent in 2012 and the average home sales price was up about 10 percent for the year to $140,000, according to the Realtors Association of Southern Minnesota.

While Schmidt benefited as a buyer from a foreclosed home sale, agents say they’re glad to see the stock of foreclosed houses on the market dropping. The homes not only drag down overall sales prices, but the previous owner of the house isn’t looking to buy another home.

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