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Housing values see upswing in county

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The majority of new housing starts taking place last year came from Woodbury, but Cottage Grove and other Washington County communities saw some positive housing numbers during the year as well.

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The Washington County Assessor Division released the annual assessment report last week, where market trends from October 2011 through September 2012 were analyzed.

Although not quite back to the housing boom of 2008, traditional sales saw more activity compared to foreclosures that were the focus at the height of the recession.

In Woodbury, foreclosure and short sale transactions declined from 373 in 2011 to 291 last year, while Cottage Grove saw 226 foreclosed homes sold in 2012, compared to 214 the previous year.

County assessor Bruce Munneke said some of those lender-mediated sales can get competitive with bidding wars, especially last year as the list prices continued to jump, which might explain why Cottage Grove's numbers were up slightly.

Cottage Grove also saw a jump in the value of apartment buildings, which is defined as any property with four or more units.

According to the report, the city welcomed new units last year valued at $950,500, making the total value jump to about $52.9 million or 11.9 percent over the previous year.

Woodbury, on the other hand, saw a 4.8 percent increase in apartment values at around $10.8 million, the report states.

Not all areas of construction expanded, however.

In fact, nearly every city in the county saw a decrease in commercial values with just Baytown, Landfall and Grey Cloud seeing a percentage increase of between 3 and 7 percent, while all other cities experienced a decline.

But residential estimated market values are the signs that make county officials say the housing market is on the mend.

All residential dwellings -- single family, townhomes and condos -- saw increases in market values in both Woodbury and Cottage Grove.

The average value in Cottage Grove was at $196,100, up about $10,000 from the previous year.

In Woodbury, the average home was valued at $245,000, up from about $235,000 the year before.

"We feel that the market value that's bottomed out is showing signs of life," Munneke said.

Additionally, out of the total 697 new construction units in 2012, about half came from Woodbury, while 48 were built in Cottage Grove.

Communities like Hugo, Stillwater and Lake Elmo also saw some activity at 92, 42 and 29 starts.

"Once again we were seeing signs of life in new construction," Munneke said.

The city of Cottage Grove recently approved a plat for one housing addition and agreements for two new housing developments.

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Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.
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