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Home sales rise 3% as median price falls; Pending sales increase as weather warms

Home sales in Western New York rose 3 percent in April from a year ago and the median price dipped, but pending sales took off as warmer weather brought out the buyers and sellers.

According to the latest figures from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, 651 homes changed hands in April, up from 631 in April 2011.

Even more promising, pending sales -- where a contract has been signed but not sealed at the end -- rose 11.4 percent to 1,004 from 901 a year earlier. However, both are down sharply from two years ago, during the peak period of the federal homebuyer tax credits.

Better still, closed sales so far this year, since January, were up 7.8 percent to 2,337, while pending sales are 16.4 percent higher at 3,349.

However, those sales may involve more of the lower-price homes than those at the higher end.

The average sales price rose 1.2 percent to $130,691, but the median price -- a better reflection of values since the average can be skewed by a few high-end deals -- fell 4.2 percent to $108,250. Buyers are getting 94.1 percent of their list price, up slightly from a year ago.

The inventory of homes on the market is also falling. New listings dropped 3.4 percent to 1,605 for April, although they are up 2.4 percent so far this year, to 5,670. But the total number of homes for sale was down 8.5 percent in April, to 5,283, which represents just under a seven-month supply, down from 8.5 months a year ago.

On average, homes for sale spent about 85 days on the market, down from 91 a year ago.

BNAR, which changed the format of its report earlier this year, includes only sales by its members in the eight-county region of Western New York, plus a handful of sales in Monroe and Livingston counties.