Although the decline in existing-home sales and prices across New York state deepened in December, sales for the year posted their third-highest level on record, according to preliminary data accumulated by the New York State Association of Realtors.

There were 7,462 existing single-family home sales recorded in December, down 19.2 percent from the 9,238 sales in December 2005. The statewide median home price lost 14.2 percent during that period, falling from $265,000 to $227,500.

The steepest declines in sales for December occurred in Long Island where Nassau County’s 559 sales represented a 38.6 percent decrease from 910 sales a year earlier and Suffolk County’s sales tumbled 41 percent to 674.

For the year, a total of 101,131 existing single-family sales changed hands, down 6.3 percent from 2005’s record-setting total of 107,909. Last year was the third consecutive year of 100,000-unit-plus sales activity, according to NYSAR.

The 2006 statewide annual median selling price of $248,500 represents a 2.8 percent decrease from the 2005 statewide median of $255,675. This is the third time the annual median has surpassed the $200,000-mark since NYSAR began tracking data in the 1980s.

“Clearly, there was no ‘bursting bubble’ in the New York housing market in 2006,” said Charles M. Staro, NYSAR chief executive officer. “The market stabilized as expected in 2006 with a slowdown in sales price and a return to balance between buyers and sellers. As evidenced by the third-highest sales total on record, the New York housing market is healthy and we expect it to remain so as we proceed through 2007.”

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