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HOME SALES IN AREA SHOW FIRST GAIN IN SIX MONTHS

Erie County existing-home sales broke out of the doldrums in June as total purchases topped sales in the same month a year ago for the first time in six months.

However, single-family sales, by far the largest sales category, continued to trail last year's totals, the Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors reported Monday.

Association statistics show 738 single-family, condominium and cooperative units sold in June, up six units or 0.8 percent from 732 one year ago but off 61 units or 7.6 percent from May 1997's 799.

The total remains mired on the negative side for single-family sales, with 686 units sold, down nine units or 1.3 percent from June 1996's 695 and down 60 homes or 8 percent from May's 746.

Total and single-family sales remain down from the five-year running average for 1992-96. Total sales are off 66 units or 8.2 percent from 804, while single-family home sales are down 71 homes or 9.4 percent from 757.

"The sales figures are pretty much in line with what we've seen over the last 12 months, in fact almost extraordinarily consistent," said Daniel Symoniak, association executive vice president.

Buffalo and Erie County remains a market dominated by sale prices under $90,000. The monthly report found that 441 units or 59.7 percent of all June sales were priced under the $90,000 mark. By contrast, just 14 homes, 1.9 percent of total sales, were priced at $250,000 and above.

"Prices tend to be flat or slightly down," Symoniak said. "Certainly, there is no evidence of price increases."

While sales were flat or fell, the number of available listings continues setting new records monthly. In June, 8,752 units were on the market, up 233 units or 2.7 percent from May's 8,519, but up a whopping 703 homes or 8.7 percent from June 1996's 8,049, the first time the multiple-listing service's available homes' list finished above the 8,000-unit mark.

June's total represents an 11.9-month supply of homes, with six months generally considered the optimum amount for a market.

"We expect June to be the high point for listings," Symoniak said. "Listings tend to have seasonal highs
and lows and June-July generally is the peak before people begin getting ready for the upcoming school year."

With the number of listings continuing to set monthly records, the median and average sales prices of units sporting "sold" signs dropped in all but one category.

The overall median of all sales was $81,250, off $1,418 or 1.7 percent from June 1996's 82,668.

The lone bright spot in the median-price survey came in the four-plus-bedroom sales category. The largest homes experienced a $1,000 or 0.8 percent median price increase to $120,000 from $119,000 one year ago.

The largest median price drop in terms of dollars came in the condo/co-op category, down $10,000 or 11.5 percent to $77,000 from $87,000 one year ago.

The median price for two-bedroom units fell in median price by $3,000 or 5.5 percent to $51,000 from $54,000 one year ago. Three-bedroom homes fell in median price by $2,518 or 5 percent to $79,900 from 82,418 in June 1996.

Three-bedroom homes remain by far the size of choice for county home buyers, capturing exactly 50 percent of all June sales.

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