July Housing Numbers Down Nationally, Iowa's Up

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

George C. Ford/The Gazette


By Forrest Saunders

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Nationally, home sales took a nose dive in July. Friday, new numbers from the Department of Commerce showed a 13.4% decline compared to June. Experts suggested the market was reacting to climbing mortgage rates.

For months, rates have made headlines by bottoming out at record lows, but recently have started to tick back up and could be discouraging some sales. Freddie Mac reports average 30-year fixed rates have climbed more than a full percentage point, 3.35% in May to 4.58% as of Thursday.

In contrast to the national numbers, home sales in Iowa stayed strong in July. Recent numbers from the Iowa Association of Realtors show July sales bumped up about 8% from June.

The Cedar Rapids Area Association of Realtors said July sales in town jumped up 12.8% compared to a year ago. The market is so hot locally-- demand is greater than supply.

"We are short on inventory," said the president-elect of the associations’ board, Renae Forsyth-Christy.

Forsyth-Christy said having the Cedar Rapids area differ from the national numbers is nothing new. She said the city is often unaffected by swings in the national market.

"We never experienced the type of lows that the other parts of the country had. Things continue to be good. They always have been," she said.

Forsyth-Christy said Cedar Rapid's benefit may be caused by its agriculture. She said Iowa has a strong farm-based economy. “I think, because we're Iowa, we feed the world. I think that people have to eat," she said.

Compared to a year ago, July sales in Iowa climbed 18.3% higher. Nationally, the U.S. market only saw an increase of 6.8%.

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