Realtors: Bluegrass home sales up 22 percent in October

Home sales in Central Kentucky rose 22 percent in October compared with a year earlier, fueled by first-time home buyers, the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Realtors closed 693 residential sales compared with 566 a year ago. That's also up from 651 in September, which saw its numbers bolstered, too, because of the surge of buyers looking to take advantage of the federal government's $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit. The credit was set to expire Nov. 30 but was recently extended until next spring.

LBAR President Gale Fulton said future sales might also be affected by the government's new $6,500 tax credit for current homeowners buying a new home.

"I think we'll see an increase in the move-up buyers, and we'll still see some first-time home buyers who were just not able to make that Nov. 30 date," she said. "Now they have a second chance."

In September, the surge of first-time home buyers looking for more affordable properties drove down the median sales price to $140,000 from $142,625 a year earlier. The median sales price was $141,200 in October, up from $136,013 last October.

Fulton said that number will probably rise slightly because existing homeowners looking to take advantage of the $6,500 tax credit will be looking at more expensive homes than most first-time buyers.

LBAR's statistics also showed the inventory of homes has fallen 23 percent, to eight months in October 2009 from 10.4 months in October 2008. LBAR said a balanced market contains five to six months of inventory.