COLUMBIA — The number of homes sold in Boone County in 2011 declined, and the average price increased, according to a report from Columbia Board of Realtors.
Home sales fell from 1,592 in 2010 to 1,514 in 2011, and the average price of homes sold increased by $7,054 to $183,066.
The numbers likely mean fewer first-time homebuyers entered the market last year, and people who did buy homes had more money to spend on newer and more extravagant homes, Columbia Board of Realtors President Kim Coleman said.
"My experience with buyers this year is that especially people under the age of 35, is that they're wanting all the bells and whistles," she said.
The end of the first-time homebuyers federal tax credit in 2010 could have contributed to the dip in sales, Columbia Board of Realtors Treasurer Becky Sterling said. This allowed people buying homes for the first time to file an $8,000 income tax credit on their 2009 returns.
Some people bought in 2010 instead of last year to take advantage of the credit, Sterling said. This, coupled with the economic downturn last year, caused a tightening in lending requirements and reduced the number of first-time buyers.
"People still want to buy homes," Sterling said. "It's still the American dream."
Low interest rates could be contributing to an uptick in Boone County home sales during January and December, she said. The warmer January days have also made it easier to show and sell homes.
Coleman said the local housing market could get another boost when people who want to move to Columbia can sell the homes they already have, freeing them up to purchase in Columbia.
"I am optimistic," she said. "I think consumer confidence is starting to build up gradually."