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Are people leaving Minneapolis?

There's been a lot of uncertainty in the city. But numbers from business leaders and realtors show there has not been a "mass exodus."

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis has had a lot going on lately. 

First came the unrest after the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day. Then, the conversation about defunding the Minneapolis Police Department. All of this during a pandemic. 

So, are people packing up and leaving?

According to the Minneapolis Downtown Council, some businesses are. 

President and CEO Steve Cramer says after some city council members announced in early June their intent to defund the city's police, the Downtown Council surveyed large commercial brokerage companies which work with office tenants. He says the survey found 27 companies were considering leaving downtown due to public safety concerns, another eight were either leaving or had already left, and ten which had been considering relocating downtown from the suburbs or elsewhere, cancelled plans to do so.

"I characterize this as a trickle, not a flood. But it's noticeable, because it runs very counter to the trends that we had been experiencing up until now. We'd seen a flood of companies coming into downtown, " said Cramer. "It's of concern, and it's very much related to the conversation that occurred in early June about disbanding the police force in Minneapolis."

Cramer wouldn't name the companies, saying they were concerned about blowback, but said the largest to leave downtown employed 600 people. In all, Cramer says the companies which raised concerns in the survey account for more than 10,000 jobs. However, he says that's only about 5% of the 217,000 people who were working downtown before the pandemic hit. 

"It's not a catastrophic situation. It's just a warning sign that we need to take seriously, and make sure that people who want to do business in Minneapolis, who want to invest in our city, know that it will be safe and secure to do so," Cramer said.

RELATED: What heading back to the office could look like amid the pandemic

What about residential properties? While there is no survey of outgoing Minneapolis homeowners indicating why they chose to list their property, data compiled by the Minneapolis Area Realtors (MAR), a trade group, dispels the idea that an unusually large number of people are choosing to leave. 

"These claims of a mass exodus, or a flood, or a surge of listings really do seem to be overstated, and they only provide a partial picture of what's happening," said David Arbit, Director of Research for MAR.

Arbit says the bigger picture is more detailed. While data pulled from the NorthstarMLS by MAR show 51.3% of all homes on the market in Minneapolis as of August 5 were listed in the last 30 days, that was true for nearby cities, too. 

According to the data, in St. Paul, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth, and St. Louis Park over 50% of the homes on the market were listed in the last 30 days. In Bloomington, it's 66%.

According to numbers from MAR, while new listings in July were up 37.3% compared to July 2019, pending sales also were up over July 2019 by 20.2%.

While Arbit points out that the current number of listings in Minneapolis more resemble what's typical of the peak spring housing market than the middle of summer, he attributes that to a shift in the housing market, not a surge of new listings.

"That spring market that we would have seen in April, May, maybe early June has instead kind of transitioned, or maybe postponed, [to] July or August," Arbit said. 

There are a few reasons, Arbit says, as to why homeowners may have delayed putting their home up for sale in the spring. The most obvious: The pandemic. 

"A lot of sellers were frankly concerned. They had health concerns about buyers going through their homes," Arbit said. 

He said the unrest following the killing of George Floyd may also have played a role, especially in certain neighborhoods of Minneapolis. 

"Sellers, obviously, had to wait a little bit longer [to list]," he said. 

While Cramer says he's heard of some reductions in lease renewals and "a couple" housing projects that were slated for downtown either postponing or cancelling due to safety concerns, he calls the change "slight" and says he agrees with the numbers compiled by MAR.

"This notion of some grand exodus from Minneapolis ... That's not happening. I don't see that," Cramer said. 

Of course, the numbers don't tell why homeowners in Minneapolis are choosing to list. Certainly, some could be listing due to safety concerns, but Arbit points to a host of other reasons people might choose to move.

Beyond that, he says, the Minneapolis housing market is still a seller's market, with agents reporting that most listings are getting multiple offers. 

"There are people who are eager to leave," Arbit said. "And for every one person who is eager to leave, there's usually two, three, several eager to get in."

RELATED: Ballot measure to replace Minneapolis Police Department won't be ready for November


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