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F-M home sales still strong

Sales of existing homes in metropolitan Fargo-Moorhead remain strong despite the national economic slowdown, according to the president of the F-M Area Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing homes in metropolitan Fargo-Moorhead remain strong despite the national economic slowdown, according to the president of the F-M Area Association of Realtors.

Dewey Uhlir, senior sales associate for Park Co. GMAC Real Estate of Fargo, Wednesday said sales of single-family homes and twin homes were up 10 percent through April 30, compared to January through April of 2001, and that sales dollar volume for the same period of this year was up 16 percent over 2001.

Of the 574 housing units sold through April 30 of 2002, the value was $60.6 million.

Sales of existing homes and construction of new homes are testaments to Fargo-Moorhead's vibrant economy, driven by everything from university research and medicine to the emergence and growth of high-tech companies here, Uhlir said.

"It just continues to build upon itself," said Uhlir.

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Uhlir spoke at a morning press conference at the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead heralding June as National Homeownership Month.

Also speaking at the conference were the mayors of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and Dilworth, Tina Breiland of Village Family Services and Paul Kochmann of the home builders association.

Kochmann said the combination of low interest rates on home mortgages and a wide variety of community programs has kept new and existing homes, and the cost of home expansion and remodeling, affordable in the Fargo-Moorhead market.

"This is one of the best times to buy a home in years," Kochmann said.

Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness said his city continues to make progress toward a higher homeownership rate. According to the 2000 Census, Furness said, 47 percent of the community's living units were homes owned by the occupants.

That said, he added, 56 percent of the city's residents live in single-family, owned homes.

Demand for participation in the city's home revitalization program -- which encourages home ownership in the city's older neighborhoods -- exceeds available funding, he said.

West Fargo Mayor Dave Stedman said his city has a homeownership rate of 62 percent. With another 240 new homes last year, West Fargo is North Dakota's fastest-growing city, he said.

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"We look forward to that rapid growth continuing," Stedman said.

Dilworth Mayor Keith Coalwell said home ownership is the No. 1 focus in his city. "We're the fastest-growing city in Clay County," he said. Interest in the Kroshus development, on the city's north side, and Woodbridge Addition, on the east, is high, Coalwell said.

"For many people, a home is the largest investment they will ever make. We're proud that people are making that investment in Dilworth," he said.

Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland said his city has a home ownership rate of 64 percent. The city has building activity in 14 separate developments this year, he added.

Moorhead is also investing in its older neighborhoods through its rehabilitation program. "We value our neighborhoods, and we value the idea of home ownership," Voxland said.

Voxland said Moorhead expects interest in Moorhead housing to rise as the Moorhead School District approaches a 2004 completion of its school construction program.

"We'll have a whole new school system, and that adds luster to what we already have," Voxland said.

Breiland said participation in The Village's Homebuyer Education program, launched in 1994, has exploded. More than 700 people are currently involved in classes, which cover everything from mortgages and personal finances to new home construction and home rehabilitation.

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Kochmann said homeownership is a strong force in the metropolitan area's economy. "It isn't just the products that go into the home and the labor during construction. It's the window applications, the furniture and the dishes," he said. "It has an impact that people don't realize."

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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