Tri-Cities Home Prices Plunge Sharp Decline There Contrasts With 4.6% Increase Nationwide

The Tri-Cities posted the worst decline in home prices in the nation in the third quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

As recently as late 1993, the TriCities was rated as the hottest housing market in the nation. The free-fall there contrasts with a national market, where lower mortgage rates sparked demand and pushed home prices up in most cities in the third quarter.

The Realtors’ quarterly report, released Thursday, said the median price of existing single-family detached and attached homes rose 4.6 percent in the last quarter to $116,200, from $111,100 in the second quarter. The price was 4.3 percent higher than the third quarter of 1994, when the median was $111,400. Prices rose in all regions of the country.

The median is the midpoint, meaning half the homes sell for more and half for less.

Regionally, the median price rose 1.4 percent in the Northeast over the third quarter a year ago, 2.7 percent in the Midwest, 6.3 percent in the South and 4.2 percent in the West.

In Spokane, homes increased 6 percent in value despite a slight downturn in the number of sales. The city also was among the hottest real estate markets in the country a few years ago, but unlike in the Tri-Cities, the boom was not followed by a crash here.

Statewide, according to the Washington Association of Realtors, prices rose 3.4 percent. Portland was the strongest market in the Northwest, with a 10.8 percent increase in prices.

Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 7.7 percent in July through September, down from 7.9 percent the previous three months and 8.6 percent a year earlier, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. Mortgage rates have fallen steadily this year, from a high of 9.25 percent in November 1994.

“Under these affordability conditions, if a home is priced right, it will not stay on the market very long,” said Edmund G. Woods Jr., president of the real estate group.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Home price drop

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