Contest is set to spark Iowa home sales

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Local home sales are doing better than last year. That's the word from the Quad City Area Realtor Association.

Year to date, the number of residential sales is up 16% from 2011. That positive trend is sparking a call to keep the heat for summer sales.

With 2012 off to a good start, the birds seem to be singing about home sales in Iowa these days.

That's as the dream of home ownership becomes more of a reality. The Hawkeye state is bucking national trends. That momentum reaches to the Quad Cities.

"The confidence of the consumers is totally coming back," said Kris Ratigan, director of marketing for Mel Foster Real Estate. "It's being reflected in what's happening in the home sales."

Reasons why the Iowa Finance Authority is teaming up with Davenport realtors and lenders. They're launching a social media contest to promote home ownership.

"Get them excited about home ownership," said David Jamison, executive director of the Iowa Finance Authority. "It really is such a fundamental element to building a family."

Iowa participants should write a word or phrase on a memo board that describes home ownership and photograph it. To find out where to enter, check out

Voting will take place in July. The winner will get a $1,500 gift card. The realtor and lender with the most votes will get a $2,500 community betterment grant.

The program comes as first quarter home sales in Iowa are the best in five years. That includes both an uptick in sales and prices from last year.

Nearly three-quarters of Iowa's realtor boards showed a jump in median sale prices from last year. The Quad City Area Realtor Association reports its median price jumping 12% from April 2011.

"I think we have more stable employment, strong work ethic and an ethic to make a payment," said Deb Sullivan, Valley Bank.

A more robust local economy helps to keep these homes moving. Sales that rub off on the entire economy by creating jobs and enhancing neighborhoods. The goal now is to keep that sizzle through the summer.

"It's a perfect time to get out and actually look for the opportunities because of how things are going for our economy and for the housing market," Ratigan concluded.

It's a hot seller for homes in 2012.