A clergy person and a realtor walk into a bar…


“Vocation,” says one. “Location, location, location,” says the other.

We need a meeting of the minds like this. So, set ’em up Joe.

Every time we look at the Minnesota housing market and national housing and economic trends, we can count on getting hit with conflicting information within 48 hours. This leads people to totally different perspectives.

A recent S&P/Case Shiller study showed housing prices starting to recover in some markets, including here at home. Then, we get more information about job losses that usually spill over on the housing market and lead to foreclosures. Other recent studies and government reports show another wave of foreclosures likely, and still more information flows that the now-extended first time buyers federal stimulus program is prompting sales; but conflicting views suggest this isn’t sustainable.

Combine this information and what have we got? That’s hard to tell, but one thing is certain: Micro — or local markets — are responding differently. Here in Minnesota you can buy a nice, $100,000-value home in some communities for $200,000. In other neighborhoods, you can get a good $100,000 home for about $30,000. Everything hinges on location, buyers’ faith in the neighborhood and their future employment, and faith that the local market supports their investment.

Cut to the core, we have a faith-based housing market and much of Minnesota’s economic well-being hangs on restoring homebuyers’ faith in their local real estate markets. That can be done if the Minnesota Legislature in February takes another good look at a Minnesota 2020 report that proposed a Minnesota Home Values Guarantee program.

A five-year home values guarantee should boost market faith in hard-impacted neighborhoods, restore home buyers’ confidence that their home purchases are secure, and get lenders writing mortgages again with confidence.

That would be enough to make the clergyman, the realtor and the barkeep to look around and say, “Good neighborhood.”