NAR reports price declines in 77% of tracked metros
The median price of resale homes in 115 of 150 U.S. metro areas tracked by the National Association of Realtors had year-over-year price declines in the second quarter. The median existing single-family home price dropped 7.6 percent in the second quarter compared to the same quarter last year, falling from $223,500 to $206,500, NAR reported.

Total sales of resale homes, including single-family and condo sales, hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.91 million units in the second quarter, down 16.3 percent compared to the pace for the same quarter last year. Sales jumped 17.9 percent year-over-year in the second quarter in Nevada and 3.7 percent in California but fell in all other states for which NAR reported data.

The steepest year-over-year decline in single-family home price in the second quarter was reported in the Sacramento, Calif., area, at 35.6 percent. The Cape Coral, Fla., area was next, with a 33.1 percent year-over-year decline in the second quarter; the Riverside, Calif., area, dropped 32.7 percent. The trade group noted that "foreclosures and short sales account for about one-third of transactions, and there is a downward pull to the national median price" because of this trend. The largest year-over-year increases in the second quarter were in Yakima, Wash., 8.9 percent; Binghamton, N.Y., up 8.7 percent; and Amarillo, Texas, up 7.2 percent. Median single-family resale home prices ranged from a low of $71,700 in the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa., area to a high of $755,000 in the San Jose, Calif., area, NAR reported.

San Francisco housing eats up large share of household budgets
Households in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif., metropolitan area spent a larger-than-average share of their total budget on housing in 2005-2006, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Housing, the largest expenditure category, accounted for $26,382, or 39.8 percent, of a San Francisco-area household’s total budget; this share was significantly higher than the 33.3 percent national average. In comparison, expenditure shares for housing in Los Angeles (36.3 percent) were also higher than the national average. On the other hand, households in Phoenix (30.7 percent) allocated a smaller share of their budget for housing than the national average. In Seattle (34.5 percent), the share was not significantly different from that for the nation. These areas were selected for comparison to San Francisco because they are large metropolitan areas in the same geographic region of the country. Overall, the expenditure share for housing in 11 of the 18 metropolitan areas surveyed was significantly above that for the nation; in two others, it was significantly below, with the remaining areas close to the U.S. average.

The majority of housing expenditures in San Francisco went toward shelter, 71.4 percent, which includes mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs and rent, among other items, compared with 58.6 percent spent nationally. Utilities, fuels and public services expense accounted for 11.1 percent of total housing expenditures in San Francisco; nationally, they made up 20.9 percent. The rate of home ownership in San Francisco, 58 percent, was lower than the national average of 67 percent. Among the three areas chosen for comparison, the home-ownership rate was on a par with that for the nation in Seattle (67 percent) and Phoenix (68 percent), but was lower in Los Angeles (57 percent).

Web site seeks to save seller-funded gifts
Nehemiah Corp. of America has launched a new Web site,, to generate support for a bill that would require HUD to continue allowing seller-funded down-payment assistance on FHA-guaranteed loans beyond Oct. 1 (see story). The site includes a tool that automatically generates letters and e-mails in support of HR 6694 by allowing users to add selected "talking points" to a form they can send to their congressional representatives. The campaign also has dedicated pages on MySpace, Facebook and YouTube, as well as a blog and Twitter stream. The first (and as of Wednesday, only) subscriber to’s YouTube videos was Annette Thompson, a Bryan, Texas, agent who offers "$5,000 in buyer rebates," help with "Zero Downpayment Homes," and guarantees to pay sellers $1,000 at closing if their house stays on the market for more than 90 days.

NRT boosts back-office support for East Coast brokerages
Residential real estate brokerage company NRT LLC on Wednesday announced the expansion of two major regional centers to include back-office support services for nine of its local brokerage companies that operate under the Coldwell Banker and ERA banners along the East Coast from Virginia to Maine. These local operating companies will be able to tap into the strength of a larger pool of talent and share best practices in the functional areas of marketing, finance, human resources, relocation and information technology from the newly formed Eastern Seaboard Support Center in Parsippany, N.J., and the Northeast Support Center in Waltham, Mass. The 324 local branch office locations in these regions and their current staffing levels will not be impacted by this transition.


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