March 22, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

An early spring came to Iowa as monthly sales of existing single-family homes and condominiums jumped from January to February, but home prices continued to edge downward according to the latest housing data from the Iowa Association of Realtors® (IAR).

An estimated total of 1,861 existing single-family homes and condos were sold in the Hawkeye State in February. That was 15.0 percent higher than the 1,618 homes sold in January and 19.4 percent higher than the 1,558 homes sold in February 2011.

The median sales price for an existing home in Iowa fell by 3.7 percent in February to $105,000, down from $109,000 in January, and was 4.5 percent lower than the median price of $110,000 in February of last year.

Dale Gross, president of the Iowa Association of Realtors®, stated, “I think there were more sales in January and February than what’s typical for this time of year for a few reasons. The weather was unseasonably warm, which is great for house hunting, the economy continues to show signs of recovery, and interest rates are still incredibly low. These conditions make for a good time to buy.”

Of the 44 local boards that provide data for the monthly report, 29 of the boards reported gains in home sales over the previous year with Fort Dodge (+113.3 percent) reporting the largest increase while the Cedar Rapids area (-12.8 percent) posted the largest monthly decline in sales (minimum 30 sales).

The Des Moines area recorded the most sales for the month with an estimated 505 home sales, up from 427 the previous month, while the Quad City area followed with an estimated 250 home sales for the month, up from 201 in January.

Year-over-year, 25 local boards posted an increase in their median prices led by Bluegrass (+114.4 percent) with Ottumwa (-42.2 percent) posting the largest decline in prices.

The total number of homes available for sale across the state increased in February with 19,228 homes actively available, up from 18,924 in January. Despite the increase in housing inventory, the state had an average 10.3 months supply of homes available for purchase, down from a 11.7 months supply in January.

The average number of days that a home spent on the market was 115, down from 117 days in January, but unchanged from February 2011.

Tags: existing homes, condos, sales, median home prices, Iowa