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Home sales inch up, but prices dip

Homes sales in Spokane County edged ahead in February, but average and median prices moved lower.

The Spokane Association of Realtors reported 190 sales for the month, up from 186 in January. Last February’s total, 210, was inflated somewhat by a now-expired first-time homebuyer tax credit.

The average price of $166,418 was 7 percent below the January level, and the median price of $150,000 was off 3 percent.

The average and median prices in February 2010 were $169,936 and $157,500, respectively.

Almost 28 percent of sales were foreclosed properties, or “potential” short sales by homeowners accepting prices below the value of the mortgages against the property.

Association President Rob Higgins said the sales are listed as potential, but that may change at closing.

Despite a slight reduction in closed sales for the first two months of 2011 compared with 2010, active listings were down 10 percent to 2,663 as of March 3, and new listings were off 15 percent. Expired listings were up 18 percent.

Higgins said the decline in listed inventory, if it continues, could solidify prices that have fallen about 20 percent since peaking in 2007.