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Northwest Bank Building
Davenport, IA

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Moline, IL 61265

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Davenport, IA

Olsten Health Services Staffing
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Northwest Bank Building
Davenport, IA

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Rock Island, IL 61201

Kelly Services
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Moline, IL 61265

Kelly Services
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Northwest Bank Building
Davenport, IA

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Bettendorf, IA 52722

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AllStaff Medical Inc
207 N Elm
Creston, IA

Q-C ahead of curve on home ownership

By Tory Brecht, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

The American dream of owning your own house is alive and well in the Quad- Cities.

Home ownership is on the rise nationally, and the Quad-Cities is ahead of the curve. According to the 1998 statistics from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 66.3 of all U.S. residents own their homes. The total in the Quad City area is 69 percent in Rock Island County and 68.4 percent in Scott County. Bettendorf leads the metro area with 73.4 percent single-family homes.

Other similar-sized metro areas in the Midwest lag behind the Quad-Cities. For example, only 59.6 percent of the homes in Rockford are owned. Des Moines has a 62 percent owner occupancy rate.

Still, HUD officials say 1998 was a record year for home ownership everywhere, and if the economy stays strong the trend should continue.

``More American families owned homes in 1998 than in any year in U.S. history, including more minorities than ever,'' HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo stated in a press release. ``All across the country, low interest rates, low unemployment, business prosperity and our home-ownership initiatives are turning renters into homeowners.''

Local Realtors say those same conditions are fueling home ownership in the Quad-Cities. In addition, the area's extremely affordable housing market is attracting more first-time buyers.

Caroline Beason, president of Ruhl & Ruhl, said she expects even more first-time buyers to enter the market.

``I think it will continue to improve as long as the national and local economies stay strong,'' she said. ``If people have jobs, they are willing to invest in homes.''

Ms. Beason said another factor in the Quad-Cities' home ownership boom is the lack of good rental properties.

``We don't have many nice rental properties that aren't full,'' she said. ``Our property taxes, on both sides of the river, are so high investors don't want to invest in rental property.''

Dick Armstrong, director of the Illinois Quad City Board of Realtors, said the lowest interest rates in 20 years, coupled with reasonable home prices in the Quad-Cities, make it an ideal time to purchase a home.

``Last year was one of the best years local Realtors have had,'' he said. ``It was in many cases a record year for Realtors and firms. We anticipate the pace may be a little lighter this year, but it still wont be bad.''

Both HUD officials and local real estate agents say home ownership has a positive influence on local economies.

``It gives individuals economic stability,'' said Mr. Armstrong. ``They have an investment. Plus, when someone buys a home there are literally thousands of dollars they spend to improve it that they wouldn't if they were renting.''

Ms. Beason said the psychological boost of home ownership is significant as well.

``It gives a sense of responsibility and pride,'' she said. ``The federal government is doing everything it can to promote home ownership.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.