Carlton County housing market hums along

The number of listings in the county is up year-over-year, but it's not enough to meet demand, realtors say.

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Lisa Westendorf prepares to show a client a house for sale in Cloquet. She does a walk through with her phone so the client can see if they are interested in an in person showing. This house was built by Northwest Paper Company in the early 1900s and Westendorf looks for unique features to show her client, such as the original folding French doors between the rooms. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the housing market is alive and well in Carlton County according to local and state realtors.

"For Sale" signs are still popping up around Carlton County, even with stores closing and area residents being laid off from jobs.

Realtor Lisa Westendorf said she has noticed a few changes to the real estate market due to the pandemic. She has a handful of homeowners who were ready to put their homes on the market this spring, but postponed because they are senior citizens at a high risk for COVID-19. They told Westendorf that they are not comfortable having strangers walking through their homes right now.

Westendorf hired a virtual tour company to put together video tours for some of the homes she has listed. It allows prospective buyers to see the house before they schedule an in-person tour, which saves time for buyers and sellers. Buyers can view several homes virtually in a shorter amount of time, so they can decide which homes they are interested in and want to see in person.

Another option Westendorf offers clients is a virtual walk-through of a house using FaceTime. That way, she can answer buyers' questions to help them decide if they are interested enough to view the home in person.


Statewide home sales were up 1.1% in April compared to the same time last year, according to the Minnesota Realtors Association. Median home prices across the state were up 9.4%, and the average sales price increased by 5.3%.

The active, pending and sold counts for this year are in line with last year, said Maranda DeSanto, chief executive officer at Lake Superior Area Realtors.

Carlton County saw 49 new listings in April, compared to 42 the year prior, DeSanto said. Single family homes in the county are selling at higher prices than last year at this time.

"The market data for Carlton County is still showing a strong market, but it may be too early to parse out all of the details and trends related to COVID-19," DeSanto said.

Despite Carlton County numbers remaining strong, the overall inventory of homes statewide has dropped. New listings fell 25.8% in April, with overall inventory down 14.1% and 2,645 fewer houses on the market, according to the Minnesota Realtors Association.

Westendorf said the state organization's findings are consistent with what she is seeing with Edina Realty. However, it's a trend that has been building in recent years.

"With the lack of inventory, some homeowners are seeing multiple offers," Westendorf said.


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Lisa Westendorf holds her phone up as she shows a potential client the unique details such as the swinging door between the dining and kitchen area as well as the original cabinets in the butlers pantry. The century old home features nine bedrooms and many vintage details of the era. Many buyers and sellers prefer having a virtual walk through a house before an in person Westendorf said. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal

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