Associated Press, Published April 23 2010
Midwest sees spike in home salesOMAHA, Neb. – Home sales in the Midwest jumped nearly 20 percent over last year as buyers continued to go after expiring federal tax credits.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that 97,000 existing homes sold in March across the 11-state region, and the median sales price was flat at $139,300.
The Midwest trends were reflected nationally. Compared with March last year, U.S. home sales rose 20 percent, without adjusting for seasonal factors. The median price was also flat, but higher, at $170,700.
Realtors say the looming April 30 tax-credit deadline is motivating first-time buyers and keeping the market moving.
“The tax credit really has a lot to do with it,” said Peggy Isakson, president of the Fargo Moorhead Area Association of Realtors.
Home sales increased in all but one of the 12 major Midwestern cities tracked in the Associated Press-Re/Max Monthly Housing Report.
Most of the Midwest cities recorded annual sales increases between 4 percent and 15 percent in March, but Fargo led the region with a 76 percent increase. The only decline came in Cleveland, but it was so small that sales there were essentially even with March last year.
The AP-Re/Max report tallies sales by all real estate agents in the metropolitan statistical area, regardless of company affiliation. The report covers Chicago, Cleveland, Des Moines, Detroit, Fargo, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis and Wichita.
Fargo’s sales increase may be a bit misleading because widespread flooding in the area last year disrupted the market, said Isakson. That helped make this year’s numbers look even better.
But Greg Baldwin said first-time homebuyers also drove much of the sales increase in Fargo, and the area’s economy remains fairly strong.
“We’re seeing a really strong home-buying market here,” said Baldwin, an agent with Realty Executives North Plains.
Baldwin said a number of Fargo homebuilders have offered incentives this spring to encourage people to buy, including one guarantee that the deal would close in time to meet the tax-credit deadline.