Although decreased demand for Virginia real estate cooled sales statewide for the 16th straight month in December, the overall median home price posted growth, the Virginia Association of Realtors reported.

Realtors recorded 8,351 sales of existing single-family homes last month, down 21 percent from 10,565 in December 2005, but the state’s median existing-home price — the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less — gained 4 percent during the period, rising from $192,225 to $199,973.

Melanie Thompson, president of the Virginia Association of Realtors, said the state is in the midst of a buyer’s market, “and a window of opportunity is open now for buyers to make a great deal at still very reasonable interest rates. We’re encouraging buyers to take advantage of that while the market continues to normalize.”

Homes that sold in December spent an average of 122 days on the market, up from 91 days for homes that sold in December 2005. As a result of the longer market time, fewer homeowners decided to list their properties for sale in December, with just 6,882 homes being placed on the market last month, down 11 percent from 7,774 homes a year ago.

For the year, the state’s 112,699 existing-home sales were 18.4 percent below the 2005 level of 138,117. Despite the cooling, several areas showed increases in closed transactions for the year, including the Eastern Shore, Martinsville/Henry County, Chesapeake Bay & Rivers, New River Valley, South Central and Southwest Virginia, Greater Augusta and Williamsburg.

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