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Home sales drop but prices rise in October

Home sales activity dipped slightly in October compared to a year ago amid a continued drop in listings, but prices rose solidly in yet another sign of the strength of the Western New York market.

Closed deals fell 4.9 percent to 1,184 from 1,245 a year earlier, according to new data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors. That's the lowest monthly tally since May, as summer came to an end, but it was still the second-highest level on record for the month of October in the last 16 years, following last year's pinnacle.

The total number of transactions so far this year is up 16.4 percent to 10,295, compared to the same 10-month period of 2015. That puts 2016 on track to easily best the previous annual record.

Meanwhile, pending sales in October - where a contract is signed, but not final - rose 3.9 percent to 990, compared to October 2015.

For the year to date, pending transactions are up 10.7 percent to 11,159, compared to the same period last year. That's just 322 sales short of the annual record set last year, and likely to easily be exceeded in the remaining two months.

The October drop in sales compared to a year ago - only the second such blip in a year of otherwise booming results - comes as the purchase options for home buyers continues to shrink. New listings in October fell 14.4 percent to 1,241, compared to October 2015. They are down 4.8 percent for the first 10 months of the year, to 15,490.

As a result, the overall inventory of available homes for sale dropped 31.8 percent in October, to 3,894, compared to October 2015. That's the lowest supply for the month of October in at least 16 years, and the lowest for any month of the year since February 2015. So while demand for new homes remains strong, it's much harder for buyers to find homes they want or can afford, especially with rampant competition for many of the same attractive properties.

The October median sales price - half sold for more, half for less - rose 4.7 percent to $133,012, compared to October 2015. Meanwhile, the average sales price in October increased 5.8 percent to $160,405. Both set new records for the month.

BNAR reports arms-length transactions through its Realtor members for the eight-county area of Western New York, plus a handful of sales in Monroe and Livingston counties.

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