The average sale price of a home in Iowa last month was just over $132,500. Iowa Association of Realtors President Carey Jensen says the average sale price figure has remained fairly low for the past year – primarily because of an influx of real estate owned (REO) or bank-owned foreclosure listings into the market.

“Typically, those homes are selling for less than comparable homes because you obviously have a much more motivated seller,” Jensen said. “So, in some of these market areas where there are perhaps more REOs on the market, the average price has trended down in those markets.” January is historically a slow month for home sales. The total number of sales across Iowa last month was 1,169 — down 5.6% from a year ago and 38.3% from December.

Jensen says severe weather made it difficult for realtors to get out and show properties in January, particularly in rural areas of the state. A federal program that provides up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers expires on April 30th. Jensen believes the statistics will show the affects of that tax credit in the months ahead.

“We expect to see continued improvement through this spring – at least through April 30 and hopefully they’ll continue after that,” Jensen said. “Interest rates are at historical lows right now, so it’s still a great time to buy even if you’re not eligible for the tax credit.” Depending on the terms of the loan, interest rates are around 5-5.5%.

The Extended Homebuyer Tax Credit also provides up to $6,500 to some current homeowners who purchase a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.