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Local home sales rise, but prices fall
Sales increase by 4 percent during March,
but the median sale price slips by 2.3 percent

Home sales in the region increased 4 percent in March, but the median and average sale prices declined from a year ago.

The Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors reported 825 homes sold in the region last month, compared with 791 the year before.

The median sale price, meaning half the homes sold for less and half sold for more than that amount, was $93,810, a 2.3 percent decline. The average sale price, which is more likely to be influenced by sales of exceptionally high- or low-priced homes, was $113,474, a 4 percent drop.

The number of homes on the market was up 2 percent, to 4,836, the highest for the month of March since 2001. On a year-over-year basis, the inventory has increased each month since May 2004. While local home sales have been robust, a growing supply of available homes tends to dampen upward pressure on prices as a rising number of sellers compete for buyers.

Through the first three months of the year, BNAR's home-sales total was 7 percent ahead of last year's for the same period.

"The spring market is starting with strong numbers," said BNAR president Patricia Taylor, in a statement. "We expect to see continued growth because of low interest rates and increased inventory."

While April's figures are not yet complete, it is typically among the region's stronger months for home sales.

BNAR has adjusted the way it reports data for home sales and no longer counts pending sales in its figures. The organization also has revised last year's figures to fit that criteria, allowing for year-over-year comparisons. The change also alters the median and average sale prices for this year and last year.

Buffalo Niagara faces minimal risk of a home-price decline in the next two years, according to PMI Mortgage Insurance's most recent report.

The quarterly survey said Buffalo Niagara faces only a 6.2 percent risk of such a decline. PMI's affordability index, which is one part of its "risk index," indicates that the Buffalo Niagara region's incomes are in step with home prices. Sacramento, Calif., was rated as at highest risk for a decline, at 60.4 percent.

e-mail: mglynn@buffnews.com

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