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June home sales flat as prices dip Local home sales run slightly ahead of last year's pace through June

Buffalo Niagara's home sales at the halfway point of the year were slightly ahead of last year's pace.

The Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors reported 1,147 homes were sold in June, identical to a year ago, but sale prices were down slightly. Through the first six months, BNAR reported 5,028 homes were sold, up 2 percent from the same period in 2006.

June is typically strong for home sales, and that held true this year. It was the highest total for any month so far this year, according to BNAR data.

But despite the continued strength in home sales, the region's median sale price, $107,500, slipped about 1 percent from $109,000 in June 2006. It indicates half the homes sold for more than that price and half sold for less.

The average sale price, which is more likely to be influenced by sales of exceptionally high- or low-priced homes, rose less than 1 percent to $131,927. The BNAR reported 27 homes sold for $400,000 or more, compared to 18 a year ago.

The number of homes on the market increased about 1 percent from a year ago to 5,680. The region's inventory has been rising nearly every month from the year before since May 2004, and it was at its highest level for June since 2001.

Merle Whitehead, chief executive officer of RealtyUSA, described the regional market as shifting toward "more balanced" between a buyer's and seller's market, after tilting toward a seller's market.

Homes in the $100,000 to $300,000 price range remain the strongest sellers, he said, adding that he has seen slight softening in prices above that.

While the region's home sales at the halfway mark were slightly ahead of last year's pace, the National Association of Realtors is predicting a year-over-year national drop in sales for all of 2007. The NAR forecasts the full-year total will decline 6 percent from 2006.

Whitehead said part of the reason the national results have seen more fluctuation is that, in some markets, purchases of second homes and investment homes have helped bolster sales.

"Buffalo itself isn't really a big second-home market," he said. Instead, he said, the market is more traditional, driven by "change-of-life" sales, like older couples selling to move into a condo, or young couples buying their first home.

"That just percolates year after year," he said.

BNAR has changed how it counts home sales, excluding pending sales from the figures. It has also revised last year's data to allow for valid year-over-year comparisons.

The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index, released earlier this month and based on May data, was down 13.3 percent from a year earlier. The forward-looking index involves home sales in which a contract has been signed but the transaction has not yet closed.


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