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Local home sales are up, prices down; Inventory declines in mixed report from Realtors association

Western New York's housing market took a strong jump in sales activity in February, as the number of completed deals rose 20 percent, while pending sales rose 12 percent, signaling another strong month ahead, according to the latest sales figures.

But prices dipped, as higher level homes struggled to sell, and the inventory of available homes dropped a notch.

The Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors said closed home sales soared to 469 in February from 392 in the same month a year ago. That's the highest level for that month in four years. However, it's down 9.3 percent from 517 deals in January, and marks the low point for any month since exactly a year ago.

Pending sales -- where a deal is signed, but not completed -- rose to 649 from 578, and were even up 7 percent from January. It's the highest level for any month since last September, and indicates a likely increase in closed sales in the coming month or two.

But sale prices aren't sustaining the momentum of the past two years, when both the average and median prices set new records. The average price for February fell 5.9 percent to $125,601 from $133,461 a year ago -- and was even down 1.3 percent from January. That's the lowest for any month since last March, and the lowest for February in two years.

The median price -- where half the prices are higher and half are lower -- fell 3 percent to $103,000 from $106,500 a year ago, and was down 5 percent from $108,650 in January. That's the lowest for any month since March 2010 -- two years ago -- and the lowest for February since 2009.

Meanwhile, home listings were mixed. The number of new listings added to the market rose 2 percent in February to 1,161 from 1,140 a year earlier. That's down 8 percent, however, from 1,268 in January. And the total inventory dropped 2 percent to 5,232 from 5,325 a year ago, although it was up 4 percent from 5,042 in January.

The report includes homes sold through multiple listing by members of the trade group in the eight counties of Western New York and parts of Livingston and Monroe counties.