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Home sales, median prices decline in August

Home sales, median prices decline in August

Capital Region housing sale prices declined in August, the first such decrease since May, according

Capital Region housing sale prices declined in August, the first such decrease since May, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors.

Amid a worsening credit crunch, rising unemployment and Wall Street’s gyrations, the region’s median sale price last month fell 2 percent to $197,500 from $201,000 a year earlier.

August’s lower home values did little to grease closed single-family sales, which over the year plunged 20 percent to 851. Sales for the first eight months were down 16 percent at 5,530, compared with the same period of 2007.

Schenectady did not, as usual, bear the brunt of the housing slump, as its median sale price for August inched up over the year by 1 percent to $176,000, even as sales were down 9 percent. Instead, the market’s pain concentrated on Albany County, which was hit with a pricing correction that sent the median sale price down 6 percent to $202,500. County sales dipped 8 percent. Saratoga County home values rose by 2 percent to $260,900 in the face of a 25 percent sales decline.

Nationwide, single-family home sales last month totaled 4.35 million, down 9.6 percent from a year earlier. The nation’s median sale price fell 9.7 percent to $201,900.

National Association of Realtors officials largely blamed August’s sluggishness on higher interest rates and tighter credit markets, which raised challenges for even creditworthy borrowers. But National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reiterated the hope he expressed last week in Saratoga Springs that the U.S. Treasury Department’s seizure of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will help knock down rates.

Locally, things will likely worsen before they improve. The outlook for September does not look any brighter, with the number of sales pending as of last month dropping by a quarter to 711.

Housing numbers

A look at closed single-family home sales and median prices during the first eight months of 2008 and of 2007:

Regionwide  5,530/6,613/-16% $194,900/$194,000/0%

Albany County 1,396/1,708/-18%    $205,000/$205,000/0%

Montgomery County 142/166/-14% $98,700/$96,800/2%

Rensselaer County   800/875/-9%    $175,000/$172,000/2%

Saratoga County  1,472/1,744/-16%   $255,000/$255,000/0%

Schenectady County   853/1,071/-20%  $165,000/$163,800/1%

Schoharie County 130/160/-19% $138,300/$135,000/2%

Source: Greater Capital Association of Realtors

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