Local home sales, new and used, boom during October, November

BY MATT OLBERDING / Lincoln Journal Star

November was a month to remember for local home sales.

Existing home sales were up 76 percent over the same month last year. Sales of new homes were up more than 60 percent.

Doug Rotthaus, executive vice president of the Realtors Association of Lincoln, attributed the numbers largely to the $8,000 tax credit for new homebuyers, which was extended last month, and the new $6,500 tax credit for buyers who already own a home.

“Tax credits are playing a big part in this, along with low interest rates,” Rotthaus said.

Kent Obrist, a Realtor with Woods Bros. in Lincoln, said about one-third of his buyers this year have been first-time homebuyers.

He said that helped lead to a “really good” October and November.

Nationally, half of home sales in October and November were to first-time buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales of existing homes were up 44 percent nationally and 53.5 percent in the Midwest compared with November 2008, although those numbers are measured differently from the local ones. The national sales figures are reported as an annual rate, rather than as raw numbers of sales.

“This clearly is a rush of first-time buyers not wanting to miss out on the tax credit,” said Lawrence Yun, the national Realtor group’s chief economist.

National figures for new home sales were not available from the Realtors.

Even with the strong showing in November, sales of new homes locally for the year to date are slightly below where they were last year, but Rotthaus said existing home sales are approaching record numbers.

The local record for existing home sales was set in 2005, and “we’re real close to beating ‘05 year-to-date,” he said.

Rotthaus said he’s looking forward to this year’s success continuing at least into the first half of 2010.

” I think the expanded tax credit will have a good impact on our market,” he said.

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