Housing sales fall in August

After a string of nine straight months of increases, New Hampshire home sales and prices have fallen for the second month in a row, attributed to a lag following the expiration of the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit.According to data released by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors, in August 2010, there were 981 statewide residential home sales in New Hampshire, with a median sale price of $216,000. This is a decrease from August 2009 figures, when there were 1,113 home sales with a median price of $222,000.Despite back-to-back months of decreased sales, cumulative home sales and prices through August of this year are higher than the same period in 2009.Through August 2010, there have been 7,083 home sales, a 4 percent increase from 2009, when there were 6,791. The median price through August 2010 was $217,000, compared with $213,000 through August 2009.The deadline for the homebuyer tax credit was June 30, after which home sales in the state, as well as nationally, have declined.”Naturally, we’re not thrilled to see the decreases over the last two months, but we’re not completely surprised, either,” said Monika McGillicuddy, president of the Realtors Association. “We’re also not ready to call it a trend.”She added, “The reality is that with the intervention of the tax credit, we probably don’t have a true picture of where the market is.”McGillicuddy said it could take until early 2011 to get a true sense of where the housing market stands.Local markets fared similarly to the state as a whole in August, with nine of 10 counties seeing decreases in home sales – the only county without a decrease was Grafton, where sales were the same as a year earlier. Median prices declined in four of 10 counties.Condo unit sales saw a similar decrease in August 2010, with an 18 percent unit sales decrease compared to August 2009. However, median condo unit sales were $171,250 in August 2010, up 4 percent from August 2009 when median sale price was $164,900. – KATHLEEN CALLAHAN