The national median existing single-family home price dropped 1.8 percent to $212,300 in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006, the National Association of Realtors trade group announced today, while the sales rate slipped 6.6 percent.

Prices dropped 2.8 percent in the Midwest, 2.5 percent in the Northeast, 1.8 percent in the West and 0.6 percent in the South in first-quarter 2007 compared to the same quarter last year. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

The largest metro-area price drops in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006 were in Elmira, N.Y., down 14.9 percent; followed by Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla, down 12 percent; New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., down 10.9 percent; Reno-Sparks, Nev., down 8.9 percent; Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Fla, down 8 percent; Green Bay, Wis., down 7.5 percent; Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla., down 7.3 percent; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa-Ill., down 6.4 percent; Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis., down 5.8 percent; and Hagerstown-Martinsburg, Md.-W.V., down 5.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the metro markets with the largest year-over-year price gains in the first quarter were: Cumberland, Md.-W.V., at 17.1 percent; Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, 16.5 percent; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss., 15.7 percent; Salem, Ore., 15.6 percent; Bismarck, N.D., 14.1 percent; Albuquerque, N.M., 12.7 percent; Salt Lake City, Utah, 12.3 percent; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 12.3 percent; Oklahoma City, Okla., 12.1 percent; and Farmington, N.M., 12 percent.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for single-family homes, condos and co-ops was 6.41 million in the first quarter, compared with 6.86 million in first-quarter 2006. This rate is a projection of a quarterly sales total over a 12-month period.

The sales rate dropped 11.9 percent in the West, 7.3 percent in the South, 6.1 percent in the Midwest and rose 1.2 percent in the Northeast.

The largest statewide sales rate drop in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006 was in Nevada, at 27.4 percent, followed by Hawaii, 25.5 percent; Florida, 25.1 percent; Louisiana, 19.5 percent; New Mexico, 16.3 percent; Tennessee, 15.5 percent; Arizona, 14.3 percent; California, 13.6 percent; Utah, 11.5 percent; and Illinois, 11.3 percent.

The sales rate rose most in Wyoming, at 19.9 percent; followed by District Of Columbia, 9.3 percent; Arkansas, 8.8 percent; Iowa, 8.2 percent; New Jersey, 7.6 percent; New York, 7.4 percent; North Dakota, 4.7 percent; Kentucky, 3.9 percent; Massachusetts, 3.9 percent; Indiana, 2.9 percent; and Texas, 2.7 percent.

Median first-quarter metro-area single-family prices ranged from a low of $75,300 in Elmira, N.Y., to a median price of $788,000 in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., metro area. The second most expensive metro area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., at $748,100, followed by the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif., area at $697,300.

After Elmira, other low-price markets included Decatur, Ill., with a first-quarter median price of $76,200, and the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Penn., area at $78,300.

Metro-area condominium and cooperative prices — covering changes in 59 metro areas — show the national median existing condo price was $224,500 in the first quarter, up 1 percent from the same quarter in 2006, NAR reported.

Twenty-seven metros showed annual increases in the median condo price, including seven areas with double-digit gains; while 31 areas had price declines and one was unchanged.

The strongest condo price gains were in the Salt Lake City area, where the first-quarter price of $164,600 rose 25.6 percent from a year ago, followed by Albuquerque, where the median condo price of $147,100 rose 17.9 percent from the first quarter of 2006, and the Austin-Round Rock area of Texas at $169,000, an increase of 14.4 percent.

Metro area median existing-condo prices in the first quarter ranged from $91,600 in Bismarck, N.D., to $584,700 in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area. The second most expensive condo market reported was the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Fla., area at $413,900, followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif., area at $403,500.

Other affordable condo markets include Wichita, Kan., at $94,500, and Greensboro-High Point, N.C., at $112,100.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com, or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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