Home sales rebound at year's end - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Home sales rebound at year's end

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The housing market has been one of the hardest hit industries in this recession.  But nationwide, the sale of existing homes has now increased for the fourth straight month. 

Local real estate agents say that overall, the Cedar Valley housing market has fared much better than other parts of the state and nation.  Homes here are still selling pretty quickly.

You don't have to drive around much to see several "for sale" signs outside of homes in the Cedar Valley.  And while the winter has slowed down how many "sold" signs are going up, sales here are still pretty steady overall.

"We continue to have buyers.  We continue to have people listing their houses on the market.  It's just really stayed pretty consistent," said Robin Shrader, agent with Century 21 LSB Real Estate in Cedar Falls.

The good news for buyers is that mortgage interest rates remain near historic lows, and home prices in the area have dropped slightly.

"With 1100 properties in the Cedar Valley, we're definitely looking for some buyers.  They definitely have their choice of properties.  They should be able to find something they like for a decent price," Shrader said.

But real estate agents caution that doesn't mean you'll find a big bargain as you might be able to in other parts of the country.

"We don't really have the low ball effect.  If somebody has their house listed for $130,000 you're not going to go in and buy it for $110,000. You know, prices are stable here.  They have not changed.  We did not get hit the way they were," said Shrader.

There's also some competition with local investors that have been scooping up listed properties to rent them out.  And experts expect interest rates and property prices to increase a bit in 2011.  So investing in a home purchase now might get you the best deal.

Local agents say the housing market here remains somewhat insulated from the rest of the country because home prices here remain reasonable.  Even if someone in the family does lose a job, payments are affordable enough that they can typically still stay in their home.

Additional Notes:

Despite a relatively stable market in the Cedar Valley, the state of Iowa is seeing a decline this winter in the number of homes sold. As of last month, 33 percent fewer homes had been sold this year compared to the same time frame in 2009.  But the Iowa Association of Realtors also say the media home price statewide has increased slightly from last year and now sits at just more than $141,000.

Nationwide, home purchasing contracts hit their low in June, but have shown steady increases over the past few months.  Still, the number of signed contracts are 5 percent lower than this time last year, when buyers were scrambling to close deals to qualify for federal tax credits.  And overall, 2010 is shaping up to be the worse year for home sales since 1997.       

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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