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Home Prices Strengthen Nationwide

Existing home prices rose in every region except the Northeast last year as falling mortgage rates boosted consumer demand, a real estate trade group reported Wednesday.

But although the Midwest, South and West posted strong gains during the final three months of 1995, compared with a year earlier, prices in the Northeast slipped 0.7 percent, the National Association of Realtors said.

Spokane prices showed only a modest increase of 1.8 percent over 1994 with a median home price of $99,100. Only 36 cities of the 134 cities polled showed smaller increases.

The median price of a home nationally was $113,800 in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent from $108,400 during the October-December period of 1994. The median is the midpoint, meaning half of the homes cost more and half cost less.

Prices ranged from $352,000 in Honolulu to $54,500 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

In the Midwest, the median price of a home shot up 8.4 percent, to $95,200, including an 18.3 percent jump in South Bend, Ind., to $72,900.

Prices rose 5.1 percent in the South, to $99,100, and 3.1 percent in the West, to $148,400, while slipping to $134,100 in the Northeast.

In all, the Realtors said, 65 of the 134 metropolitan statistical areas surveyed had price increases either equalling or exceeding the national percentage. The survey included single-family detached and attached existing homes.

Following South Bend with the largest appreciation was Salt Lake City, where the median price jumped 16.6 percent, to $119,200.

Other than Salt Lake City, the West was paced by Eugene, Ore., where the median price shot up 11.4 percent to $107,700; Colorado Springs, Colo., up 9.4 percent to $115,400; Portland, up 9.3 percent to $131,200; and Denver, up 8 percent to $128,500.

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