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Area home sales, prices rose in August

Home sales in the region are showing no signs of abating.

The number of homes sold in August in Buffalo Niagara increased 15 percent from a year ago, to 1,072, according to the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors (BNAR).

The median sale price was $102,000, up 8.5 percent from the year before. Median means half the homes sold for more than that amount, and half sold for less.

The average price, which is more likely to be influenced by sales of exceptionally high- or low-priced homes, rose 9 percent, to $125,187.

Pete Peterson, president of the BNAR, said the rise in home sales appears to be the result of buyers hoping to make deals, while interest rates remain low. Some economic forecasters have said they expect to see rates rise before the end of the year.

BNAR members often see an uptick in sales in early September, he said. "It seems to have hit us a little early this year."

The number of homes on the Buffalo Niagara market in August increased 9.6 percent, to 5,376, the BNAR said. On a year-over-year basis, the inventory has risen for 16 consecutive months.

That growth in inventory has diminished the number of multiple offers on homes, Peterson said. But the home shoppers who are out there are serious about buying, he added.

Home prices in the Buffalo Niagara region, excluding property taxes and other factors, remain a bargain compared to most of the rest of the country. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says the region's median sale price in the second quarter was $97,500. Only six metro areas that reported data had a lower figure.

At the same time, Buffalo Niagara remains at low risk of its home prices declining any time soon. PMI's most recent index on the topic showed Buffalo had a 5.3 percent chance of dropping in the next two years, placing it among the lowest in the nation.

A NAR barometer, the Pending Homes Sales Index, slipped in July from June, but was still higher than in July 2004, the NAR said. It is based on pending sales of existing homes, which typically close within one or two months of signing.

Through August, Buffalo Niagara's home sales in 2005 were 3 percent ahead of the same period in 2004, according to the BNAR.

While the numbers remain strong, Peterson said he is concerned that proposed county property tax increases might hurt the momentum in area home sales.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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