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Spokane home sales down, but prices holding

Wed., Feb. 25, 2009, 4:56 p.m.

Volume fell noticeably in December

The lingering effects of the early winter snow onslaught weighed on the Spokane residential real estate market in January.

Sales volume fell considerably, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors, but average and median prices held up well relative to other markets in the Northwest.

The 115 closed sales yielded an average selling price of $206,585, almost unchanged from the $207,085 for January 2008, when 201 homes sold.

The median price, $170,000, was off 7.8 percent. By comparison, the median value of Seattle homes fell 12 percent last month.

Sales of new homes remained slow, with only 20 changing hands. Last January, 35 sold.

There were 2,530 homes for sale in January, down only slightly from 2,624 a year ago.

But pending sales were up, and association president Rob Higgins said activity has picked up in February.

He said the $8,000 credit for first-time homebuyers that was included in the stimulus bill may help, especially if income tax refunds give potential buyers the down payments they need to qualify for a loan.

Unemployment, which jumped to 9.6 percent in the county last month, could be a drag on the market, Higgins said.

Foreclosures will increase from the 508 of 2008, he predicted, noting foreclosures exceeded 1,100 during 2002, when the U.S. was working through its last recession.

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