Home sales in the 13-county Twin Cities, Minn., metro area gained 15.2 percent in January from their year-ago level, resulting in the strongest start in five years, according to figures compiled from the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota Inc.

Closed sales totaled 2,885 in January, up from 2,504 recorded in January 2004.

The median sales price for a home in the metro area rose 9.8 percent in January to $219,584 from the January 2004 median price of $200,000.

The biggest gains in median sales price for January 2004 versus January 2005 occurred outside the urban core. The leading counties were Chisago (+26.3 percent), Anoka (12.2 percent), Washington (13.3 percent) and St. Croix County in Wisconsin (10.5 percent).

New listings dropped a modest 3.81 percent for the month of January 2005 compared to January 2004.

Chisago County was the only area experiencing an increase in new listings above the 2 percent mark for the 13-county metro during January, growing by 30.3 percent over the same period in 2004.

The Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota Inc. comprises four Realtor associations that serve the Twin Cities market.

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