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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2005

Report shows metro homes affordable, gaining


Houses in metro Toledo remain very affordable, besting four of five other major metro areas in the state in price.

Sales values here grew at about twice the rate as in other Ohio cities, but still were just over half of the national average, new figures show.

The median selling price of existing houses in the Toledo area is $123,500, up 8.2 percent from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Nationally, the median price is $215,900, up 14.7 percent from a year ago, the trade group said in a report released yesterday.

In a separate report, the group said sales of houses and condominiums increased to a seasonally adjusted, annualized pace of 7.24 million, surpassing the record 7.22 million in the second quarter of this year.

Toledo typically fares well in the quarterly reports.

Its median price is lower than those for Cincinnati ($148,700), Cleveland ($147,000), Columbus ($156,600), and Dayton ($123,600). Only Youngstown, at $90,200, had a lower price.

But Toledo's figure generally grew twice as rapidly from a year ago than those of other Ohio metro areas.

And Youngstown, at minus 1 percent, was one of just six metro areas nationwide with a drop in house price from last year.

Nationally, 69 metro areas had increases in home price of at least 10 percent compared with a year ago, the group said.

It reports the median price, which is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half for less.

Led by Phoenix and Orlando, Fla., the nation's hottest markets far outperformed the nationwide figure.

The price of existing homes sold during the third quarter in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area jumped to $268,000, up 55.2 percent from a year ago. Orlando was next, with a 44.8 percent gain to $261,300.

Some economists have expressed concern that demand for housing in some parts of the country is being driven by a speculative frenzy that could burst the price bubble as mortgage rates continue to climb.

Freddie Mac's nationwide survey showed that the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage hit 6.36 percent last week, the highest in more than two years.

However, most analysts believe that rising mortgage rates will moderate the gains in home prices of recent years, rather than cause sharp declines in home prices.

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