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Area home sale volume continues surging, but with only modest price improvement compared to 1997.

The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors logged 744 single-family unit sales in October, a 10 percent increase from the same month last year and easily the most productive October of the decade. The previous October record, since the association began recording statistics in 1990, was 708 homes sold in 1993.

The association has only two months left for home closings to be recorded in 1998 and the residential real estate volume is running 11 percent better than last year, while the year-to-date average sale price of $97,420 is a 3 percent improvement.

Buyers still have a huge selection of homes to chose from that could be holding market value down, but the inventory continues to shrink, which should further boost prices. The association had 7,028 homes listed at the end of October, a large drop from 7,711 on the same day last year.

More than half the homes sold in October spent less than 60 days on the market, with 237 selling in less than a month and another 157 sold between 30 and 60 days.

At the other end of the spectrum, 211 homes were decorated with "for sale" signs for more than 120 days.

The market is devoid of big ticket property. Only two homes sold for more than $400,000, which is in the ballpark of the average sale price in the San Francisco area.

"Homes in good condition that are priced well are selling quickly. And the homes owned by sellers who are holding out for 20 percent above market will sit there forever," said Peter Hunt, president of Hunt Real Estate Corp.

The association's single-family home data includes condominium units, but gives an incomplete picture of the market. The data does not include multifamily homes, such as the large number of doubles in the city and inner suburbs, or a significant number of homes listed by the America's Choice owner-assisted marketing company.

The double market has been soft this year, said Jack Horohoe, co-owner of Metro Horohoe-Leimbach Realtors in Kenmore.

"It seems that we're losing a lot of our young people to other cities and they would be excellent candidates for two-family homes," Horohoe said.

He said the association's statistics should be expanded to include some representative of doubles.

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