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Home prices and sales dip across region

In just about every county across the region the median price of an existing home dropped in the first quarter of 2008 when compared to the same period of 2007.

Not only was the median sales price down, but the number of home sales also dropped, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

This trend is seen across the state and WRA Chairman Michael Spranger put part of the blame on the hard winter weather the state experienced this year.

"It is important to remember that bad weather always dampens home sales, and given the record snowfall this winter, we were expecting weak numbers for the first quarter," said Spranger.

Pierce County was the only county in the region which saw an increase in the median sales price.

There the price jumped from $178,200 in 2007 to $194,500 this year.

That wasn't the case in St. Croix County, there the median sales price dropped 5.4 percent going from $198,200 to $187,500.

Dunn County was the big loser in the region. There prices dropped 11.5 percent to $122,900 in 2008.

The drop in Polk County was little better, going from $148,900 in 2007 to $133,800 in 2008. This was a drop of 10.1 percent.

For it's report the WRA clumps Pepin, Buffalo and Trempealeau counties together and they found that prices there dropped 6.2 percent to $88,000.

Bill Malkasian, WRA president, said it is healthy to see some moderation in home prices.

"The price change indicates that housing is becoming more affordable, while not significantly diminishing the asset value of the homes," he said.

He added that he believes the time is right for home buyers, especially first-time buyers.

"This remains an excellent time for first-time home buyers to get into the housing market given the low mortgage rates and the healthy inventories statewide," Malkasian said.

Despite the drop in prices the WRA report showed that fewer homes sold in the first quarter of this year.

While Pierce County may have seen a jump in prices, the number of sales there dropped by 32.1 percent, with just 53 homes sold in the first quarter of the year.

Only 195 homes were sold in St. Croix County which was a 19.4 percent drop from last year.

Home sales in Polk County took the biggest drop in the region. There home sales 32.5 percent in 2008 with 54 homes sold.

Dunn County only saw a slight 1.3 percent drop in home sales.

In Pepin, Buffalo and Trempealeau counties there was an increase in home sales. There home sales increased 6.5 percent in 2008 with 33 homes sold.

Spranger said that sales activity seems to have picked up in March and that it could indicate that much of the spring sales activity got pushed into April.

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