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AREA HOME SALES DECLINE 11 PERCENT IN SEPTEMBER

Terrorist attacks on America and a Wall Street meltdown hurt sales of homes in the Buffalo Niagara area in September.

After a record-breaking summer, home sales fell 11 percent compared with September of last year, according to figures released Monday by the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors. However, the price of homes was not as greatly impacted as the volume.

The median price of the 724 homes sold in September was $82,400. The median means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less. However, the average price of a home bought last month was $93,270 -- a 7 percent decline from that time last year.

For a while after the Sept. 11 attacks, real estate agents' phones were quiet and no one was interested in touring houses, said A. Bruce Wilson, executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

"There were more inexpensive homes sold during the period than normal," Wilson said. "People who are buying expensive homes have a little bit more ability to wait and see before making a decision."

Sales of homes valued at more than $180,000 dropped from 5 percent of all sales in September 2000 to 2.5 percent of all sales this September.

Sales for October should be about the same as they were last year, Wilson said.

One reason for expecting a normal October is that there are about 100 homes that would have sold in September that are still on the market, he said.

However, some area real estate agents are not as optimistic because fewer new customers are calling their offices.

"We don't seem to have the amount of new business that we've had in the past," said Rose Kirsch, owner of WNY Metro Rose Kirsch with offices in Holland and Springville. "Everyone was taken by surprise and they're just sitting back and waiting to see what happens."

e-mail: lhaarlander@buffnews.com

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