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With nearly 200,000 fewer sales in August than in the same month last year, the state saw a 30.1 percent decline in home sales – the biggest drop since August 1982, when the year-on-year drop was 30.4 percent, said the California Association of Realtors today.

On the heels of the national data released this morning showing a dip into the red for national median prices for the first time in 11 years, CAR reported an increase of the state’s existing home median price of 1.6 percent compared to a year ago.

Here’s a statement from CAR’s chief economist, Leslie Appleton-Young (who made waves in July when she publicly stopped referring to the downturn as a “soft landing”):

“Although the median price in the state and in several regions hit an all-time record in August, we expect softer prices toward the end of the year,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. …

“Some areas of the state already have experienced year-to-year declines for more than two months. This is in stark contrast to the past several years when there were constant double-digit increases. The long-term trend remains to be seen.”

Inventory levels were also up in the state, reaching a 6.8 month supply in August, compared with a 2.6 month supply in August 2005. And homes sat on the market longer last month than they did a year ago. Appleton-Young said only 29 percent of homes were on the market for 30 days or less in August, compared with 51 percent in that bracket a year ago. And those on the market for more than 90 days has increased nearly four times – it was at 22 percent last month compared to just 6 percent fort the same time last year.

KELLY BENNETT

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