By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Experts say 2015 was a good year for the housing market and 2016 could be even better.

A University of St. Thomas study shows the Twin Cities housing market is getting close to where it was before the crash we saw seven years ago, and it predicts median home sale prices will jump 6 to 8 percent next year.

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“The last four properties I put on the market, I sold three of them within six hours,” realtor Claire Killen said.

Killen has no doubt that it’s a seller’s market right now. As the owner of Emerald Real Estate, she’s seeing multiple offers come in as soon as homes hit the market.

“Sellers need to be cautious of that, because they think they can put the price wherever they want and someone’s going to buy it, but that’s just not going to happen,” she said.

But Killen says a competitively priced home in good condition will sell very quickly. Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the University of St. Thomas, says the housing market is looking as good as we’ve seen in quite a while.

“People always ask, ‘Are we ever going to get back to the pre-crash levels?’ We’re starting to get pretty close,” he said.

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Tousley said his recent housing market study shows encouraging trends, and that the number of homes sold in the Twin Cities in 2016 should increase by 4 to 6 percent.

But he believes the one thing holding the housing market back is that there are a lot more buyers than sellers right now, and the number of available existing homes in the Twin Cities is way below average.

“Last time I looked it was 13,800 homes, which is really low, because it’s normally over 20,000 to 25,000,” Tousley said.

That means first-time home buyers like Andy Davis may have to offer a little more than the asking price to get what they want. He’s looked at 25 houses since September.

“I like some of the houses that I’ve seen, and I’ll just keep looking,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll find something that looks like home.”

Experts said interest rates should only increase slightly, from just below 4 percent to slightly over 4 percent, which is encouraging for buyers.

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By springtime, Tousley thinks there will be more inventory and that could be a really good time to buy.

John Lauritsen