Posted by Richard Benedetto on Saturday, February 6th, 2010 at 2:03pm.

In November, the number of homes sold in the state jumped 34 percent and increased 25 percent in the county when compared to 2008 statistics.

The increase brought housing sales numbers for both the state and county back to 2007 levels.

''While the jump in sales compared to last November is obviously a positive sign for the state housing market, the 5.5 percent increase compared to 2007 indicates a return to a typical November sales level,'' said Duncan R. MacKenzie, New York State Association of Realtors chief executive officer. ''This is a strong indicator of the continued recovery of the statewide housing market.''

With the extension of the first-time home buyer credit in November and a new state program that went into effect at the start of the year, Jan. R. Murray, Chautauqua County Board of Realtors executive officer, said housing sales should continue to stay strong.

''It's just a great incentive to increase sales the beginning of this year,'' she said. ''We had a really slow start last year. Hopefully these programs will continue strong housing sales.''

First-time homebuyers have been getting a tax credits of up to $8,000 as part of the economic stimulus package enacted in 2009. The program was extended with also a new incentive to include home owners looking to sell. Anyone who has owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,500. As continuation of the program, first-time homebuyers - or anyone who hasn't owned a home in the last three years - would still receive up to an $8,000 tax credit. Couples earning as much as $225,000 and individuals earning up to $125,000 would qualify for the tax credit. That was also an increase from the original $75,000 limit for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

Now the new state incentive - the Tax Credit Advance Loan - will help people who would have a difficult time paying for the closing costs and other up-front costs in purchasing a house.

''This program will particularly help first-time homebuyers who struggle to save enough money to cover all of New York's highest-in-the-nation up-front costs of purchasing a home,'' MacKenzie said. ''Many will now be able to close that gap by utilizing the federal home buyer tax credit at the closing table through the advance loan program.''

Ms. Murray said strong housing sales not only helps the real estate market, but several other aspects of the national economy.

''The growth in the housing market helps the national, state and local economies,'' she said. ''When you include purchases made for the home like appliances, movers and home contractors, you can see where people buying a new house helps the whole economy.''

State realtors sold 7,424 existing single-family homes in in November, a 34 percent increase compared to the November 2008 total of 5,542. County realtors sold 91 houses in November, a 25 percent increase compared to the 2008 total of 73 sales.

Complete housing sales data is available at New York State Association of Realtors