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Home sales in the Buffalo Niagara region dropped 3 percent in October from a year ago, while the median and average sale prices increased.

A total of 804 homes were sold during the month, compared to 831 in October 2003, according to the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

The median sale price of a home in the region was $90,800, up 4 percent from a year ago, the realtors association said. Median means that half the homes sold for more than and less than that amount.

The average sale price increased 10 percent from last October, to $112,043.

Compared to a year ago, the number of homes on the market increased for the sixth consecutive month. There were 4,701 homes listed for sale, up 10 percent from a year ago.

The rise in inventory that began last June has reversed what had been a long-standing downward trend. For more than six years, the number of homes for sale each month had fallen on a year-over-year basis.

Despite the drop off in the number of homes sold, the region through October was two units ahead of the same 10-month period a year ago. 2003 was a record year for home sales locally.

And homes that did sell in October, tended to sell quickly. About 45 percent of the 804 homes sold in 30 days or less. Twenty-one percent of homes sold were bought after 31 to 60 days on the market.

The region's home prices are still a relative bargain compared to the rest of the country's metro areas, according to a National Association of Realtors quarterly survey.

Buffalo Niagara had a median sale price of $94,200 from July through September, which was lowest among all metro areas that reported data.

The region's median price increased by 4 percent, but it wasn't enough to keep pace with other metro areas. Nationally, the median sale price was $188,500, up 7.7 percent from last year.