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STEADY GAINS SEEN IN SECOND-QUARTER HOME PRICES

 STEADY GAINS SEEN IN SECOND-QUARTER HOME PRICES
 WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Home values in many less-


expensive metropolitan areas continued to rise during the second quarter of 1992, as favorable mortgage rates spurred buyer demand in the lower price ranges, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 A few markets in the Northwest posted spikes in home prices, while other areas in the West recorded either slight increases or decreases in home values. Steady gains occurred in the Midwest and South, and pockets of sizeable appreciation were recorded in the Northeast. Market variations in home prices are largely traceable to the availability of affordable housing and local economic health, said NAR President Dorcas T. Helfant.
 The association's metropolitan home price survey for the second quarter of 1992 showed that median prices for existing single-family homes ranged from $339,500 in Honolulu to $46,200 in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area of Iowa. The survey covered median prices for single-family detached and attached existing homes in 127 metropolitan statistical areas(A). A median price is the midpoint; half the homes sell for more and half sell for less.
 Low mortgage rates throughout the second quarter of this year made the market more affordable for buyers in a lower income range. As a result, many of the sales that took place were of lower-priced homes, Helfant said. "A lot of people grabbed the opportunity to buy their first homes," she said. According to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., the average commitment rate for fixed-rate, 30-year conventional mortgages dropped from 8.85 percent to 8.51 percent between April and June. Rates generally remained at least one percentage point below the level reached one year ago.
 The national price for the second quarter was $103,600, rising 2.3 percent from one year earlier. Eighty-three markets posted home price increases exceeding the national increase.
 Several markets in the Midwest, the region with the nation's largest concentration of affordable homes, were boosted by a spurt of purchases by first-time buyers. "In the Midwest, home prices haven't soared out of reach. As a result, housing markets there remain among the healthiest in the nation," Helfant said.
 Leading the price gains in the Midwest was Topeka, Kan., where the median price of $68,700 rose 18.0 percent from the second quarter of 1991. In Sioux Falls, S.D., the median price of $69,000 rose 13.3 percent; in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the price of $70,300 rose 12.7 percent.
 Chicago, pricey by Midwest standards, but less costly than major urban areas on either coast, recorded an increase of 3.8 percent. Its fourth quarter price was $138,300. The median price for the entire region was $81,500 in the second quarter, up 4.4 percent from the same period one year ago.
 The South, another region with a large supply of affordable housing, also experienced heavy first-time buyer activity, Helfant noted. Corpus Christi, Texas, led the region in home appreciation. There, the median price of $70,400 rose 10.9 percent from the second quarter of 1991. In the Greenville/Spartanburg area of South Carolina, the median price of $82,700 rose 9.5 percent from the second quarter of 1991; while in San Antonio, Texas, the price of $69,600 rose 9.1 percent. In the South as a whole, the second- quarter price of $91,900 rose 3.0 percent.
 Several cities in the Northeast continue to be strained by the economic recession. In the New York metropolitan area, the median price of $174,500 dropped 0.8 percent from the second quarter of 1991; in Hartford, Conn., the price of $144,100 fell 4.8 percent. However, a few areas posted surprisingly strong price gains in the second quarter. In Newark, N.J., the median price of $188,900 rose 7.1 percent from one year earlier, and in the Middlesex/Somerset/Hunterdon counties of New Jersey, the median price of $163,200 rose 7.0 percent.
 According to NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo, the Northeast appears to be on the brink of a revival. The current pick-up in home buying activity there could lead to home price increases throughout the region in the months ahead, he said. "The pending comeback in the Northeast is a sleeper story," he said. The Northeast's second- quarter price was $143,600, rising 0.3 percent from one year earlier.
 The Northwest portion of the West contained some extraordinary home price increases in the second quarter. In the Richland/Kennewick/Pasco counties of Washington, the median price of $83,500 soared 21.7 percent, which was the highest percentage gain recorded in NAR's survey. In Spokane, Wash., the median price of $75,800 rose 19.7 percent. The median price of $108,800 in Tacoma, Wash., rose 14.8 percent. The price spurts in this section of the West show that home buying activity has shifted northward from the California coast.
 For instance, in San Francisco(B), the median price of $262,000 dropped 3.1 percent from a year ago, and in Los Angeles(B), the price of $216,600 fell 3.6 percent. In Sacramento, Calif.(B), the median price of $135,900 declined 2.4 percent. "California is reeling from the effects of a sour economy," Tuccillo said. However, he pointed out that buyer's market conditions are prevalent for people who are in a position to buy. In the West, the second-quarter price of $144,600 dropped 5.0 percent from a year ago.
 The National Association of Realtors, the nation's largest trade association, is the voice for real estate, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 (A) All areas surveyed are metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. They include the specified city and surrounding suburban areas.
 (B) Provided by the California Association of Realtors.
 -0- 8/5/92
 /CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560; Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560; or Scott Sherwood, 202-383-1016; all of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


DS -- DC006 -- 6939 08/05/92 08:46 EDT
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Date:Aug 5, 1992
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