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HOME SALES UP 9% FROM YEAR AGO

Low-priced housing continues to drive the residential real estate market in Buffalo.

The Greater Buffalo Association of Realtors recorded 630 single-family home and condominium unit sales in November, a 9 percent jump from 582 units in November 1998.

The local housing market is closing out one of its most active years of the decade, but much of the activity has come from the resale of foreclosed properties.

November's results featured 147 homes selling for less than $50,000, including 70 properties in the bargain basement of below $30,000. The activity at the bottom price range is driving down the area's average price.

The average sale price in the Buffalo area dropped from $96,611 in November 1998 to $89,444 during the recently completed month. The average price is a general number and is not an accurate reflection of property values in specific neighborhoods.

Area realtors expect the strong sales activity to continue into 2000. The heavy sales volume is helping to reduce the inventory of homes on the market, which could eventually have a trickle up effect on local property values.

"November and December are usually slower months, due to the holidays," said GBAR President Scott Pytlak.

"But with the promise of property tax reductions and the strong economy, we anticipate that after the holidays many current owners will be moving up to the next price category to take advantage of values.

Interest rate have remained under the 8 percent barrier, which helps home buyers. Some economists are forecasting mortgage rates to drop below seven percent for a brief period in early 2000.

Buyers of upper-priced area homes were scarce in November. The association recorded 29 sales for more than $200,000, which was down from 35 sales during the same month last year.

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