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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2008

Plunging house sales return to NW Ohio


After a brief respite, the local housing slump resumed in August with sales plunging 27 percent across northwest Ohio.

Data compiled by the Toledo Board of Realtors yesterday showed that August sales of single-family homes fell 25 percent in Lucas County, compared to the same period a year ago.

Besides a 27 percent dip in region-wide sales, average sale prices were flat last month in northwest Ohio. However, sales rose 2 percent in Lucas County to $122,000. Regional median prices fell below $100,000 to $99,000 for the first time since April when it was $95,000.

It s very, very sluggish right now, Dan Lepkowski, an agent with ReMax Central Group, said.

The Board of Realtors report in July had shown slight improvements in Lucas County. Sales were up 2 percent and average prices rose 11 percent.

But mortgage banker Ralph Vinciguerra, of Northern Ohio Investment Co., said the August numbers show that we ve got a perfect storm going.

Inventories of unsold homes remains high due to foreclosures and owners unable to sell. Meanwhile, fewer are qualifying for loans because lenders have tightened credit requirements.

Mr. Vinciguerra said a good sign is that while foreclosures remain high, the foreclosure rate seems to be slowing.

The sooner we can stop dumping houses on the market through foreclosures, the better the market will be, he said.

The number of unsold homes fell 8 percent in August to 8,672 from 9,444 a year ago, the Board of Realtors said. But it was unclear if the drop was from slow sales or frustrated sellers taking homes off the market.

The National Association of Realtors said in a report that sales are unlikely to increase much the next few months.

There were 371 single-family homes sold in Lucas County last month, down from 496 in August, 2007, and from 431 in July. In northwest Ohio, single-family home sales totaled 572 in August, down from 786 a year ago. In July there were 655 homes sold.

Contact Gary Pakulski at: gpakulski@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.

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