New report: Iowa housing market stable - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New report: Iowa housing market stable

The total number of home sales in Iowa for 2011 increased 0.4 percent from 2010 The total number of home sales in Iowa for 2011 increased 0.4 percent from 2010

The Iowa Association of Realtors is reporting a glimmer of positive news in its annual 2011 Housing Trends Report, out this month.

It says home sales were up statewide in December, for the fifth consecutive month, and steady throughout 2011.

Rob Cook is a realtor for Ruhl and Ruhl in Dubuque, a real estate blogger and self-proclaimed "numbers guy."

He pulled statistics from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), showing Dubuque is number two in the nation when it comes to high rates of house appreciation.

Those numbers show the average home in Dubuque appreciated 2.46 percent in one year, through Sept. 2011, and 8.06 percent over the course of five years. Bismark, N.D., by the way, took top marks, with a 15.99 percent five-year average appreciation.

In Dubuque, Cook said, "our average sale price right now is about $155,000, give or take, and we've sold just shy of 800 homes in each of the last three years in the Dubuque city: zip codes 52001, 52002, 52003."

A map of the US from the FHFA shows each state's average home value appreciation over the course of 12 months, from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011.

"The whole state's doing relatively well compared to the rest of the country," Cook said.

Iowa is only one of four states that didn't experience depreciating home values. The average Iowa home over the course of that period went up 1.3 percent in value, according to the FHFA. The average Nebraska house appreciated 0.5 percent, Wyoming saw a 2.9 percent increase and North Dakota came in first place, with a 5.4 percent increase.

"When you buy a house, buy a car, buy a boat, there's always a risk that it's going to depreciate or not appreciate like you had planned," Cook said.

Iowa, he said, on average, has a stable housing market.

Mel Graves is a realtor with Brissey in Dubuque and secretary and treasurer of the Dubuque Board of Realtors.

He pointed out 2011 was the first year without any tax credit incentives for home buyers, "so this is a pure year, this is just market-driven," he said.

Graves said he has noticed a slight increase in consumer confidence.

"It seems to me that people are now beginning to say, 'I need to make that decision I've been holding off on, I am comfortable that my job's going to be there, and I'm going to go ahead,'" Graves said. "That's significant. When they can do that, then they can go ahead and make some plans."

He said insurance rates continue to be low, which is encouraging for buyers.

The total number of home sales in Iowa for 2011 increased 0.4 percent from 2010.

Regardless of state or national housing market numbers, however, Cook suggests buyers and sellers look at their own particular market.

"They need to be fully aware of what's going on in their market and not pay attention so much to the national news, you know, as far as, you know, both real estate thing and the economy overall," Cook said. "It's a factor, but, you know, it's kind of like what they say with the realtor ads, you know, 'All real estate is local.'"

The Iowa Association of Realtors said, as of December, the average days on the market for a house in Iowa was 112. That's the same as it was in 2010, according to the association.

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