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SMALL CITIES POST STRONG HOME PRICE GAINS IN THIRD QUARTER

 MIAMI, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Low mortgage rates spurred growth in the nation's lower-priced housing markets during the third quarter of 1993, resulting in healthy gains in home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Steady price increases occurred in markets from coast to coast.
 NAR's quarterly metropolitan home price survey showed that median prices for existing single-family homes ranged from $365,000 in Honolulu to $52,900 in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area of Iowa during the third quarter of 1993. The report was released here today at NAR's 86th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition. Nearly 20,000 Realtors and guests are attending the Nov. 11-16 convention.
 The survey covered median prices for single-family detached and attached existing homes in 128 metropolitan statistical areas(A). A median price is the midpoint; half the homes sell for more and half sell for less.
 The national median price for the third quarter was $108,400, which was 4.6 percent above that of one year earlier. Sixty-seven cities posted median home price increases either equaling or exceeding that amount. Eleven cities recorded double-digit price increases.
 The largest price gains were posted in smaller, "second-tier" markets that are thriving in the West, Midwest and South. The Richland/Kennewick/Pasco counties of Washington state, with a median price of $102,900, recorded an annual price increase of 21.1 percent, the highest in the survey. Spokane, Wash., with a median price of $86,800, ranked second, with an appreciation rate of 15.3 percent. The third highest gain was in Ft. Myers, Fla., where the price of $83,400 rose 13.9 percent.
 According to NAR President William S. Chee, extremely low mortgage rates -- the lowest in more than 20 years -- boosted demand in the lower price ranges, by allowing more first-time buyers to enter the market. The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. reported that the national average commitment rate for 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgages declined from 7.21 percent in July to 6.91 percent in September.
 "Sales of less-expensive homes have been the major force behind many markets," Chee said. "Over the past quarter, the lower-priced segment of the market has continued to draw the most buyers." However, he noted, people are returning to the more expensive segments of the market. "Heavy activity in the lower end has generated sales in the upper end," Chee said.
 The Midwest received an overall boost from greater entry-level activity, because it has a large supply of affordable housing, said NAR Chief Economist John A. Tuccillo. Madison, Wis., recorded an 11.0 percent rise in its price, which was $107,600. Lincoln, Neb., at $74,500, posted a 10.9 percent increase, and Rockford, Ill., at $83,500, posted a 10.6 percent rise. "Overall, the Midwest is in the best shape of all the regions," Tuccillo said. The third-quarter median price for the Midwest was $85,700, up 5.2 percent from one year earlier.
 In the South, several areas recorded healthy price increases along with Ft. Myers. For instance, Charleston, S.C., experienced an 11.8 percent jump in its median price, which was $91,600. In Amarillo, Texas, the median price of $63,500 jumped 9.5 percent, and in Louisville, Ky., the price of $77,500 rose 9.3 percent. In Miami, the recovery from Hurricane Andrew was evident in a notable home price increase. The city's median price of $99,100 rose 6.7 percent. In the South as a whole, the median price was $97,400 in the third quarter, up 6.0 percent from the third quarter of 1992.
 In the West, the highest appreciation rates occurred mainly in the Northwest. In addition to the large price jumps posted in Richland/Kennewick/Pasco and Spokane, a price increase of 12.3 percent was recorded in Boise, Idaho. There, the price was $94,800. In Portland, Ore., the price of $107,700 rose 11.5 percent. The interior of the West also contained some markets with notable price gains. In Tucson, Ariz., the price of $91,200 rose 11.4 percent; and in Salt Lake City, the price of $88,400 rose 11.2 percent.
 Several California markets recorded median price declines, a signal of the state's sputtering economy. In Los Angeles(B), the median price of $196,300 dropped 6.9 percent; and in Anaheim(B), the $221,300 price fell 5.5 percent. In Sacramento(B), which, at $129,900, is one of the least expensive California markets, the price declined 2.8 percent. Most of the activity in these markets is occurring in the lower price ranges, Tuccillo said. However, he pointed out that demand is not strong enough to drive up prices, due to the relatively small number of moderate-income buyers who are entering the market. The West recorded a median price of $143,100, down 1.0 percent from one year ago.
 In the Northeast, the third-quarter median price was $140,400, down 2.2 percent from one year earlier. Marginal changes in the median prices of the high-cost markets indicate a relatively high volume of activity in the lower-price range. For instance, in the New York metro area, the third-quarter median price of $176,500 slipped 0.7 percent from the third quarter of 1992. The median price in Boston, $176,900, rose 1.0 percent; and in Newark, N.J., the median price of $191,900 rose 0.9 percent.
 Currently, NAR is predicting moderate increases for home prices over the next year. For 1993, the national median existing-home price is expected to be $106,800, rising 3.0 percent from 1992; and in 1994, the national price is expected to rise 3.8 percent to $110,900.
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, 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- 11/12/93
 /CONTACT: Trisha Morris, 202-383-7560, Liz Duncan, 202-383-1043, or Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560, all of the National Association of Realtors/


CO: National Association of Realtors ST: Florida IN: CST SU: ECO

IH-MH -- DC005 -- 3527 11/12/93 08:44 EST
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Date:Nov 12, 1993
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