Home Sales Rose Last Month in Iowa City, Slipped in Cedar Rapids

By George Ford, Reporter

In this photo taken July 15, 2011, in Springfield, Ill., a newly constructed home for sale, is shown. Fewer people bought new homes in June, the latest sign that the struggling housing market remains in the doldrums. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Sales of new and existing homes rose last month in Iowa City and statewide, but slipped in Cedar Rapids when compared with January 2011.

The Iowa City Area Association of Realtors reported 110 houses or condominiums were sold last month, compared with 65 sales in January 2011. The average sale price was $165,606 in January, down from $176,795 in January 2011.

The number of pending sales was virtually unchanged from January 2011.

A total of 175 homes or condominiums were sold last month in Cedar Rapids, according to the Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors, down from 189 sales in January 2011. The average sale price was $140,494 last month, up from $133,697 in January 2011.

The Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors does not report pending sales.

Statewide, home sales rose in January and 4,172 new active residential listings came on the market from the end of December.

A total of 1,618 homes were sold in January, up 9.3 percent from 1,481 sold in the same month last year. The median sale price in January was down just 0.9 percent to $109,000 from $110,000 in January 2011.

Twenty-three of Iowa’s 44 local boards of Realtors reported increases in number of sales last month, and 24 boards recorded an increase in the median sale price from last January.

Dale Gross, president of the Iowa Association of Realtors, said January sales continue a trend that may portend a recovering housing market in Iowa.

“January was the seventh month in a row that we’ve seen an increase in the number of homes sold,” Gross said in a statement announcing the statewide sales statistics.

“The upturn started in July 2011. Since then, we have seen varying levels of increased sales activity each month, when comparing each month to the same month in the previous year.”

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa City Realtor associations and the Iowa Association of Realtors do not break out existing and new home sales.

Nationally, existing home sales rose in January, marking three gains in the past four months, according to a report Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors.

Existing home sales increased 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million in January, up 0.7 percent from 4.54 million in January 2011. Existing home sales include single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said the January results are indicative of improving conditions in the housing market.

“The uptrend in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals — pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents,” Yun said in the NAR report. He said foreclosure sales are moving swiftly with ready home buyers and investors competing in nearly all markets.

“A government proposal to turn bank-owned properties into rentals on a large scale does not appear to be needed at this time,” Yun added.

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