Home prices fall again in most cities

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Home prices fell in nearly three quarters of U.S. cities in the second quarter even as fewer homes were sold when compared to the same time a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Overall, 27% of the 151 metropolitan areas surveyed saw higher prices compared to the same period last year, while 72% of cities saw lower prices.

The median home price declined from $176,800 to $171,900, a difference of $4,900, or 2.8%, according to the trade group's latest home sales survey.

Prices were lowest in the Midwest, where prices fell 5.4% compared to the same period last year and the median single-family home price was $139,800.

Prices were highest in the Northeast, where prices rose slightly and the median single-family home price was $245,600.

The number of homes sold declined by nearly 20% in both regions, however.

For the country as a whole, 12.7% fewer homes sold in the second quarter of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Ten metropolitan areas experienced price decreases of 15% or more:

Four metro areas experienced double-digit price increases:

The number of distressed home sales -- short sales or homes in foreclosure -- is about the same compared to the same period last year. (33% vs. 32%).

However, significantly more buyers were repeat buyers and significantly fewer buyers were first-time buyers. The federal first-time homebuyer tax credit was still in effect in the second quarter of 2010.

According to the NAR’s records, since the fourth quarter of 2010, housing has been more affordable than at any time since 1970. The NAR uses median home price, median family income and mortgage interest rates in determining affordability.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun and NAR president Ron Phipps indicated that access to mortgage credit remained a hindrance to would-be borrowers and to housing-market recovery.

If you’re in the market for a home, click here to compare the best mortgage rates from scores of lenders in your area.

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