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NAR: Real estate prices flat, sales tumble

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Home prices in the third quarter remained essentially flat despite a drop-off in existing-home sales compared to the same period in 2009, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors. Median existing single-family home prices rose year-over-year in 77 of 155 metropolitan areas tracked by the association. At the same time, median prices fell in 76 metro areas and stayed the same in two. Home prices reflect sales prices of closed transactions. Single-family homes sold for a median $177,900 in the third quarter, roughly flat compared to $178,200 in the third quarter of 2009. "Even with swings in home sales, prices this year have been changing very little from year-ago readings. Areas with some larger swings in home price reflect the degree of distressed sales in those markets," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in a statement. Distressed properties made up 34 percent of sales in the third quarter, up from 30 percent for the same period in 2009 and u...