The number of homes sold in Madison County last year was down 11.25 percent from 2007, from 1,111 to 986.

According to figures released by the Madison County Board of Realtors, the average price of homes sold in the county during 2008 dropped 3.75 percent, from $155,092 to $149,271.

The total value of homes sold, $147.2 million, declined at a sharper rate, however, almost 14.6 percent from the 2007 total of $172.3 million.

The drop in total sales value could be attributed to a steeper decline in the sale of higher-priced homes.

Although fewer homes sold last year, they spent slightly less time on the market than in 2007. Homes sold after an average of 154 days on the market in 2008, four days fewer than in the previous year.

Despite the decline in sales and prices, the number of homes offered for sale last year jumped 50 percent, from 1,361 to 2,045.

MCRB President Lora Noble said foreclosures helped inflate the number of homes on the market.

Annual foreclosure statistics were unavailable, but in the first nine months of 2008, local foreclosures numbered 213, only four less than in all of 2007.

“Last year was a rough one for home sales in Madison County,” Noble said, “but we still fared much better than most of the country.”

According an Associated Press report in late December, home sales in November were down 17 percent from the year before, with prices 13 percent below the previous year’s.

National statistics for the full year were unavailable, but figures for the first 11 months were the worst in 10 years, the AP report stated.

“With both interest rates and prices down, this is a good time to buy a home,” Noble said. “It’s definitely a buyer’s market.”

“The local market began to slow in the last part of 2007, Noble said, “but we’re hopeful that things will turn around in 2009.”

The National Association of Realtors successfully lobbied Congress last year to enact a $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers and for others who have not owned a home for three years.

“The tax credit is set to expire on June 30, but the NAR is pushing to have that deadline extended and for the $7,500 tax credit to be offered to every home buyer,” Noble said. “That would help reverse the decline.”

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 623-1669, Ext. 6702.

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