Surging inventory sent home sales and prices in Central Indiana down in August, creating favorable conditions for buyers, according to the latest MLS statistics from the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors.

Home sales in the nine-county region surrounding Indianapolis totaled 2,980 last month, a 10.5 percent drop from a year ago when 3,331 homes were sold.

The average sales price sank 3.5 percent between August 2005 and August 2006, falling from $161,302 to $155,684.

Although 4 percent fewer new listings were placed on the MLS in August compared to a year ago, some 19,784 homes remained active on the market at month end, up 16 percent from the same period last year.

Despite the gloomier real estate picture, some in the industry point to healthy year-to-date figures, as sales (22,202 so far in 2006) have kept pace with the same period last year (22,140 YTD in 2005).

“While the real estate news across much of the country indicates a market slowdown, the reality in central Indiana is quite different,” said H. James Litten, president of F.C. Tucker Co.’s Residential Real Estate Services Division, a large Indiana real estate brokerage. “Inventory is up and we are experiencing a buyers’ market, but prices and year-to-date sales remain steady. We’re experiencing natural ebbs and flows of the market, but fortunately we live in Indianapolis, which is a historically stable market. If we can continue to have years like 2005, then we’re in good shape.”

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