A recent Finance and Commerce article provides useful and surprising information regarding Minneapolis housing trends. The article, which is titled “Census: 15,000 Vacant Housing Units in Minneapolis,” notes that Minnepolis’ population remained essentially flat from 2000 to 2010 despite the construction of nearly 10,000 new housing units in that time. Part of the disconnect between the increase in housing units and lack of increase in population is explained by a doubling in the number of vacant units in the last decade. It is widely recognized that the economic downturn of the last several years has increased the numbers of foreclosed and vacant homes in the City.

What is not so apparent is that the average household size in Minneapolis has been declining over the last ten years. As a result, homeowners are more likely to be looking for smaller housing units. Many of the new housing units added to the City of Minneapolis recently have been condominium units, which are appealing to smaller households. One lesson to take away from the article is that raw numbers—e.g. 15,000 vacant housing units, zero population growth, and 10,000 new housing units—give an incomplete picture of the housing market in Minneapolis. Upon closer examination, some neighborhoods have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis and the financial downturn, while others have grown and shown great resiliency. Many single-family homes stand empty or are torn down, but construction of condominium units has essentially offset the loss of those housing units.