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AREA HOME SALES DECLINE; PRICES INCREASE IN MONTH

Erie County home sales during December fell 25 percent from November's total, according to statistics compiled by the Great Buffalo Board of Realtors.

The large end-of-year drop is expected due to winter weather and the holiday season.

A total of 414 single family, condominium and cooperative units were sold last month, compared to November's 553. Excluding condos and coops, 383 units were sold in December, compared to 515 in November.

"December always is the low point in the sales cycle in this area," said Dan Symoniak, executive vice president of the realtors' board.

The median sales price for all units sold last month was $79,250, while the average sales price was $102,700. The figures compare to November's $74,900 and $82,600, respectively. Total home sales dollar value was $42.5 million, compared to $45.7 million in November.

Symoniak said the 414 figure was within 1 percent of December 1988's total, and actually was a bit better than expected.

"We perhaps did a little better than expected due to the extremely harsh weather experienced in December," said Symoniak.

Three-bedroom homes continue to be the mainstay of the local market, with 207 of the 383 single family units featuring three sleeping rooms. In second place was the four-plus-bedroom category, at 133 units.

While home prices continue to climb, mid-priced homes remain sales volume leaders in the county. The most popular unit price range, based on number of sales, was $70,000 to $79,999, with 55 total units sold. Next most popular was the $80,000 to $89,999 price range, with 52 sales recorded in December.

A majority of homes continue to sell quickly in the Buffalo market, with most buyers opting for conventional financing. According to the December statistics, 177 of the 414 units sold spent one month or less on the market. Seventy-five units, however, remained on the market more than 121 days before selling.

A total of 219 units were financed using conventional methods. FHA financing was a distant second, with 101 units guaranteed under the federal loan program.

Symoniak said that this month's total, if past January sales are an indication, will rebound 50 percent to 75 percent over December's total.

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