Spring got off to a slow start as Brainerd area homebuyers continue to work their way through the inventory of homes for sale, Edina Realty reported.

Closed home sales in the Brainerd area were down by 25 percent in April 2011 compared to last year; 187 properties sold compared to 248 in April 2010 when tax credits for homebuyers were still available.

The Greater Lakes Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service  reported closed home sales were actually up 33 percent compared to 2009. The absorption rate, or the number of months it would take to sell the current inventory at the present rate of sales, has dropped 5 percent, from 19.9 months in April 2010 to 18.9 months in April 2011.

The number of active listings has dropped by 12 percent, and the number of new listings has dropped by 20 percent.

“When inventory levels are down, there is greater competition for stand-out properties,” said Bob Peltier, president and CEO of Edina Realty Home Services, in a news release.

Foreclosures and short sales continue to dominate the marketplace and drive down home prices. The median sales price of a home in Brainerd is now at $140,950, 1 percent higher than last April. While home sellers may be disappointed in the pricing advice they get from their real estate agent, they will likely be pleasantly surprised by how much home they can get for their money, according to Peltier. “This housing market offers the best of both worlds - attractively priced homes and the lowest interest rates we’ve seen since 1955.”