The National Association of Realtors was out Tuesday morning with its quarterly survey of existing home sales and pricing, which showed the national median single-family existing home price for the third quarter of 2008 down 9% to $200,500 from the same period last year.
Four of five metropolitan areas posted decreases, and those that showed increases were in areas in which demand was largely unaffected by the housing boom of the 1990s and early 2000s.
The steepest declines were in three California markets: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, where the median price of $227,200 dropped 39.4% from a year ago, followed by Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville at $212,000, down 36.8% and San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, where the price dropped 36.0% to $377,300.
The largest price increase was in the Elmira, N.Y., where the median price of $105,000 rose 12.5% from a year ago. Next was Decatur, Ill., at $93,400, up 8.7%, followed by the Bloomington-Normal, Ill., where the median price increased 8.1% to $168,400.
Meantime, total state sales for the quarter, including single-family and condo, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million units, up 2.6% from the second quarter but 7.7% below the 5.46 million-unit pace in the third quarter of 2007. Distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 35% to 40% of total transactions.
The West, where sales were up 13.1% from the second quarter and 12.4% ahead of the same period last year to an annual pace of 1.15 million, led the price declines with a 21.4% drop from last year's third quarter to $266,300 this year. Only a single western market, Farmington, N.M., posted an increase for the quarter, an anemic 1.7% gain to $193,600. The Midwest, where sales were up 2.7% to a pace of 1.15 million, 10.6% below a year ago, lost 5.5% in median price to $159,900. Sales slipped 1.4% from the previous quarter in the South to a pace of 1.87 million, 13.8% below last year, and the median price declined 3.7% year over year to $174,200. Sales in the Northeast were down 1.6% for the quarter to a pace of 863,000, 11.7% below a year ago, and the median price was down 6.5% to $267,700.
Price declines were greatest throughout California, but Nevada and Arizona were down considerably as well. In addition to the three California markets that led the list of declines, Los Angeles was down 35.1% to $391,400; Orange County down 27.6% to $517,300; San Francisco down 25.3% to $615,700; and San Jose down 23.5% to $650,000. Las Vegas was down 28.4% to $211,600 and Reno was off 20.1% to $253,400. Phoenix was down 27.6% to $185,100, as was Tucson, by 18.6% to $199,300.
Florida markets continued their slump, with Cape Coral/Ft. Myers down 31% to $163,300; Tampa/St. Petersburg off 20.6% to $173,400; Miami off 16.9% to $287,800; Orlando down 20% to $213,400; Melbourne off 20.3% to $145,300; Sarasota down 17.4% to $237,400; Daytona off 16.8% to $162,300; and other metros including Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee down less than 10%.
Another hard-hit area includes the environs of the nation's capital, with the Washington metro posting a 24% decline to $332,700.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.