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Realtors see home prices drop

Washington -- Spelling bad news for home owners, the median price of a single-family house fell during the third quarter by 1.2% to $224,900 from year-ago levels, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported.

Hardest hit was the Northeast, where prices fell 4.8%, followed by declines of 2.6% in the Midwest , 0.9% in the West, and a slender 0.1% in the South.

Among cities, Detroit recorded the biggest drop in prices, down 10.5% to a median $154,100. Other rust-bucket cities were hit almost as hard, with median home prices down 9.2% in Canton , Ohio to $112,300; down 8.4% in Akron to $118,200; and down 8.5% in Bloomington , Ill. , to $156,300.

Even Sunbelt cities were hit, with prices down in three Florida metro areas: down 9.4% to $320,700 in Sarasota ; off 9.0% to $193,600 in Palm Beach/Melbourne/Titusville; and down 8.5% in Cape Coral to $255.400.

But not all the news was bad, nor all regions hit hard. Indeed, prices actually rose in 102 of 148 metro markets, while only 45 reported declines. Homeowners did best in Salem , Ore. , where prices jumped up by 24.7% to a median $228,000. Other big gainers were Elmira , N.Y. , up 21.4% to a bargain median price of $93,600; and Salt Lake City , up 19.3% to $216,300.

Homeowners could take some solace from the fact that condo owners did even less well during the third quarter -- median prices dropped almost twice as far, by 2.1% to $222,900 the home sellers' trade association reported.

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