The median price of single-family resale homes sank in 88 percent of the 153 U.S. metro areas tracked in fourth-quarter 2008 compared to the same quarter in the previous year, the National Association of Realtors reported today, with the most extreme drops reported in metro areas in Florida, Michigan, California and Arizona.

Sales of all resale homes increased in six states year-over-year in the fourth quarter, the Realtors trade group also reported, with home sales falling 5.9 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter and dropping 6.4 percent compared to third-quarter 2008.

The U.S. median price for single-family resale homes dropped 12.4 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, and fell 10.1 percent from third-quarter 2008 to fourth-quarter 2008 (from $200,400 to $180,100).

Regionally, the median home price dropped 25.1 percent in the West, 10.6 percent in the Midwest, 7.5 percent in the South and 4.7 percent in the Northeast in fourth-quarter 2008 compared to fourth-quarter 2007.

And from third-quarter 2008 to fourth-quarter 2008 the median price of single-family homes dropped 12.2 percent in the Midwest, 9.3 percent in the West, 8.9 percent in the South and 7.8 percent in the Northeast.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., metro area saw the sharpest year-over-year decline in median single-family home prices in the fourth quarter, down 50.8 percent. Next was Saginaw, Mich. (down 41.4 percent); followed by Riverside, Calif. (down 40.8 percent); San Jose, Calif. (down 37.7 percent); San Francisco (down 37.4 percent); Sacramento (down 36.9 percent); San Diego (down 36.4 percent); Phoenix (down 35.5 percent); Grand Rapids, Mich. (down 35.2 percent); and the Sarasota, Fla., metro area (down 35 percent).

Seven of the markets with the steepest year-over-year price drops in the fourth quarter are in California, while five are in Florida.

Meanwhile, prices rose 16.7 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter in the Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, metro area. Bloomington, Ill., had the second-highest rise (9.6 percent); followed by Dover, Del. (6.5 percent); Bismarck, N.D. (6 percent); Decatur, Ill. (5.9 percent); El Paso, Texas (5.3 percent); Jackson, Miss. (4.7 percent); Wichita, Kan. (3.9 percent); Shreveport, La. (2.8 percent); and Amarillo, Texas (2 percent).

Fourth-quarter median single-family resale home prices ranged from $43,900 in the Saginaw metro area of Michigan to $610,000 in Honolulu, NAR reported. The San Jose metro area had the second-highest median price in the fourth quarter ($525,000), followed by the San Francisco metro area ($487,100). And the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman metro area of Ohio and Pennsylvania ranked as the second-most-affordable market among the 153 areas tracked, with a median $61,700 home price. Toledo, Ohio, was third with a $75,600 median price.

Regionally, sales of all types of resale homes rose 26.5 percent in the West while dropping 13.9 percent in the Northeast, 13.4 percent in the South and 12.4 percent in the Midwest.

Sales of resale homes soared 133.7 percent in Nevada in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter in the previous year, and rose 84.7 percent in California, 42.6 percent in Arizona, 12.5 percent in Florida, 7.2 percent in Minnesota and 3.1 percent in Virginia.

Sales fell 35.6 percent in Washington year-over-year in the fourth quarter, while dropping 35.1 percent in Alabama, 34.7 percent in North Carolina, 34.4 percent in Vermont, 31 percent in South Carolina, 30 percent in Hawaii, 29.1 percent in Louisiana, 26.1 percent in Tennessee, 24.4 percent in Utah and 22.9 percent in Mississippi.

Wyoming had the largest quarterly sales drop during the fourth quarter (down 21.7 percent), and Idaho had the largest quarterly gain (up 53.7 percent), according to NAR.

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