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BLOOMINGTON – A brutal winter and stagnant new home construction contributed to a slowdown in Twin City home sales during 2014.

A total of 2,632 units were sold in the Bloomington-Normal area last year, a 6.4 percent drop from the 2,812 homes sold in 2013, according to data from the Bloomington-Normal Association of Realtors.

Last year’s sales included 2,476 existing homes and 156 new construction. That compares to 2,573 existing homes and 239 new construction sold in 2013, a drop of 3.8 percent and 34.7 percent, respectively.

A large portion of the sales decline came in the first quarter of last year, when the Bloomington-Normal area was blanketed with snow and cold. During the first three months of 2014, 392 homes were sold, a 22.6 percent drop from the 507 homes sold during the first three months of 2013.

“It would have been a lot better if we didn’t have Snowzilla and the Polar Vortex,” said Amanda Wycoff, president of the BNAR.

The total number of new homes built is also the lowest in at least a decade and a far cry from a decade earlier when, for example, 563 new homes were built in 2005 and 483 in 2006.

“Almost 35 percent – that scares me,” Wycoff said of the year-over-year decline. “Building means jobs. When a builder decides to dig a hole, they’re employing a multitude of different contractors.

“If you choose not to build that house, all of those people will be looking for work.”

Wycoff hopes low interest rates and the availability of grants and loans for first-time homebuyers will help the home-building industry recover.

There are currently 1,049 homes on the market in the area; 111 are new construction, Wycoff said. Of those, 701 are in Bloomington-Normal and 98 of those are new construction.

The overall average price of a home sold also declined 2.4 percent, from $173,539 in 2013 to $169,318 last year.

Within that, the average price of an existing home dropped slightly, from $162,274 in 2013 to $161,143 last year, while the price of a newly built home increased slightly, from $294,806 in 2013 to $299,060 last year.

Wycoff said much of the new home price increase can be attributed to the implementation of new building codes, and their improved energy efficiency requirements.

The year-end totals also included sales for December, which also declined year-over-year.

Last month, a total of 185 homes were sold, down 7.9 percent from the 201 homes sold in December 2013. Of those, 178 were existing homes with an average price of $162,288 and seven were new construction with an average price of $253,919.. That compares to 182 existing homes and 19 new construction in December 2013.

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