Home sales up in much of eastern Iowa, home building up in Water - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Home sales up in much of eastern Iowa, home building up in Waterloo/CF

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Home sales are up for the first six months of the year in eastern Iowa as compared to last year at this time.

According to Ruhl and Ruhl Realtors, sales are up 20 percent in Cedar Rapids, 14 percent in Iowa City and 4 percent in Dubuque.

In the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, sales were down 1 percent in the second quarter, but local home builders are experiencing an uptick in building this year.

Mike Rodebush and his family just moved into a newly-built house in Waterloo. The Rodebush family decided to build because they could choose what they really wanted.

"We spent a lot of time looking at houses beforehand, and every house we'd go in we'd find something we just would want to change -- where this, we started from scratch," said Rodebush.

Craig Fairbanks, president of Craig Fairbanks Homes in Waterloo, said he has seen more families like the Rodebushes turn to home building.

"The last 12 months, home building for us has been extremely busy -- busier than what we've been used to over the last couple years," Fairbanks said. "In fact, we haven't been able to service all the people we would like to."

Fairbanks said they are four times busier than they were last year.

He says people are taking advantage of the low interest rates, but specifically in Waterloo some people are taking advantage of a real estate tax abatement. It's a property tax exemption for any family building a new home within city limits.

"We see a lot of interest," Fairbanks said. "The home that's here will probably save $20,000 over the next four years."

Fairbanks said, although home buying is up, available lot space is down in Waterloo.

"They are just not plentiful," he said. "We don't have land just sitting here that's ready to go."

He says this shouldn't scare people from building in Waterloo.

"They will just have a different selection of lots than three or four years ago," said Fairbanks.

As for Cedar Falls, city officials say they are on the verge of a housing boom: More than 300 residential lots are nearly ready in two developments.

Fairbanks said this home building increase is bringing more business to the area. He said they are working with different subcontractors than in the past because of the inability for their current subcontractors to keep up with demand.

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