The Iowa Association of Realtors says home sales were up in December, while the average price paid for a home dropped. Association president, Kurt Schade of Des Moines, says December sales were up just over nine-percent. The December numbers help end the down year for sales on an up note.

Schade says they are seeing some positive trends from one year ago, as the sales decreased slightly between 2009 and 2010, but he says we are now seeing some stability in pricing and prices increased slightly in 2010. Sales decreased by four-point-seven-percent (4.7%) from 2009, but the average sale price was up six-tenths of a percent. Schade says a combination of factors led to the drop in overall sales.

Schade says the economic struggles lasted longer than expected, and the loss of the federal tax credit for homebuyers hurt sales in the summer and fall months. He says they are cautiously optimistic after seeing activity pick up the last couple of months. Schade says there are some annual barriers that slow sales at this time of year.

He says the weather has a seasonal impact as buyers who can’t see the roof or landscaping due to snow, tend to not want to make an investment in a property. Schade says there is good inventory and stable prices, but there continues to be “new hurdles presented on the part of the lending industry.” Schade says getting buyers approved for a loan continues to be a long process.

Schade says buyers have to have an entire new mindset, as they can no longer buy a house with no money down. He says the buyers need to have money to put down, need to have good credit, and job stability, or lenders will not give them a second look.

The Realtors Association numbers show 30,313 homes were sold in 2010 compared to 31,795 in 2009. The average sale price was $140,589 in 2010 compared to $139,755 in 2009.