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  Friday January 30th, 2015    

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A great place to own a home (08/08/2007)
The first question I am often asked these days is, "How is the housing market here? Is it as bad as we hear on the news?" My response is that Winona's market is solid and balanced. While we have never enjoyed the benefits of incredible inflation in home value, we've been fortunate to avoid the tremendous price drops that many other areas have experienced.

Winona's housing market remains very affordable. With our area's healthy and diverse economy, the dream of owning a home is most often a reality. Our entry-level housing supply is not new or fancy, but it is comfortable and accessible to people who could never hope to be homeowners in many areas of the country. Starter home prices in some sectors of our nation are what luxury homes sell for here. Well-priced, well-kept homes in every price range are finding buyers in this market.

With housing prices stable and the housing supply favorable, Winona is an excellent place to live and work. Salaries in the community generally allow for those who manage their incomes responsibly to own their own homes. Move-ups to second, third or fourth homes are common. It's humorous to me to hear comments like, "Sure the housing prices are high in California, but the wages are higher too!" With starter homes there going for half a million and up, there is no way a secretary, store clerk, police officer, nurse, teacher, etc., would make five to six times what they do here. It is all relative, of course, but Winona ranks very high on relative affordability.

In the Winona area, midrange homes start at about $150,000, offering good square footage and many amenities. The high end of our market starts at about $350,000 and up. At those prices, the homes have great square footage, many high-end upgrades and lovely locations -- pretty much all the bells and whistles and all for less than a starter home elsewhere!

Another question I hear is the foreclosure rate! In this category too, Winona is a good place to be. Our foreclosure rate remains very low. There is good reason for that. Winona lenders, while very competitive in every way, have also been responsible. They believe in the value of treating customers ethically, thus ensuring long-term relationships with them. Knowing this, most of the real estate community has strongly encouraged clients to use these local lenders. Therefore, we are not seeing large numbers of buyers getting into trouble from predatory lending practices that force them to sell their homes at "fire sale" prices.

Winona homeowners take pride in their homes. Neighborhoods are diverse, interesting and well-kept. A wide variety of housing is available -- from the historic to the contemporary and everything in between. Winona is still a community of neighborhoods- people watching out for each other. All housing here is close to shopping, parks, trails, schools and every amenity this community offers. Affordable, available housing is definitely one of the Winona area's biggest assets!

Jonelle Moore is broker/co-owner of Coldwell Banker Skeels/Moore and Associates



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