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Cass home sales are up

BACKUS — Cass County home sales numbers and new construction permits issued are up, while foreclosures are declining in 2012 compared with 2011, according to environmental services (ESD) and assessing department reports released Tuesday.

ESD issued 292 land use permits for new buildings and additions or private sewer installations the third quarter of 2011 and again in 2012, but totals for the year through September show 754 permits issued in 2012, compared with 677 in 2011 or an 11.37 percent increase.

The number of variances approved in the third quarter were steady at 26, but for the year to date are up 20.31 percent, rising from 64 in 2011 to 77 in 2012. Shoreland alteration permits issued in the third quarter rose from 38 in 2011 to 58 in 2012. Shoreland alterations are up 72.34 percent so far this year, rising from 94 in 2011 to 162 in 2012.

Only the number of conditional uses declined from 22 issued through the third quarter 2011, compared with 14 this year.

John Ringle, ESD director, told the county board Thursday the increases this year put the number of permits issued back up to 2008 or 2009 levels.

Two new plats were approved through September in 2011 and again in 2012.

The largest number of land use permits the county issued the third quarter 2012 were for the 26 new construction projects in Shingobee Township near Walker, followed by 23 in Crooked Lake Township near Outing, 17 each in Ponto Lake and Powers Townships near Backus, 15 in Woodrow Township between Hackensack and Longville, 14 each in Hiram and Birch Lake Townships near Hackensack and 13 each in Wabedo and Kego Townships near Longville.

Assessor Mark Peterson reported the number of arms-length properties sold through September this year is 550, compared with 478 in 2011. He said in a telephone interview Tuesday he has yet to see any upward turn around in values for properties selling.

The number of foreclosures during the third quarter has declined from 35 in 2010 to 26 in 2011 and to 22 in 2012. Most are homesteads or cabins, though one agricultural property has gone into foreclosure the third quarter each year since 2008, except 2011. No commercial or resort properties were foreclosed in 2012.

The decrease in numbers has mainly been in middle priced properties. From 2008 through 2011, the majority of foreclosed properties were valued between $100,000 and $400,000. The third quarter of 2012, nine properties in that value range were foreclosed, compared with 16 in 2011 and 23 in 2010.

The number of properties foreclosed the third quarter each year since 2008 which were valued under $100,000 has remained constant at about 10. There has been one property valued between $400,000 and $600,000 foreclosed the third quarter each year since 2010.

One property worth $600,000 to $1 million and one worth over $1 million were foreclosed the third quarter this year. There were none in those high value brackets in 2010 or 2011.