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Sale prices of existing homes fall in eight of 10 metro markets in third quarter [Updated]

November 10, 2009 |  9:26 am

Whole lotta houses for sale
Prices of existing homes fell in 80% of the nation’s metro markets in the third quarter as distressed sales -- foreclosures and short sales -- accounted for nearly a third of all deals, a national group said this morning.

The national median sale price for an existing single-family home was $177,900, an 11.2% drop from the same period a year earlier, according to the National Assn. of Realtors in Washington. Distressed sales continued to weigh on prices despite a popular tax credit fueling the volume of deals.

Last week President Obama signed an extension of the $8,000 credit for first-time buyers and added a $6,500 extension of the tax break for those homeowners looking to trade up.

During the third quarter, 123 of 153 metropolitan areas reported lower median sale prices for existing single-family homes in comparison with the third quarter of 2008, while 30 areas had price gains.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the Realtors group, said shrinking inventories of homes had helped to moderate price declines this year, but many economists worry that another wave of foreclosures could hit the market and again push prices down.

Median prices ranged from $61,400 in the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan to $566,000 in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California. No. 2 was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont at $538,100, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine area at $498,800.

[Update] The median home price in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metro area fell 11.5% to $345,600 in the third quarter.

And in case you were interested in sales volume, the Realtors group also reported today that total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, increased 11.4% in the third quarter to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.3 million units from 4.76 million units in the second quarter, and are now 5.9% above the 5.01 million-unit pace in the third quarter of 2008.

-- Alejandro Lazo

Photo: Rows of houses in Las Vegas. Credit: Bloomberg

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