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The median price for a resale home across the country was 1.7 percent lower last month than it was a year ago, and that’s the first instance of a negative year-on-year comparison nationwide in more than 11 years. That report was issued this morning by the National Association of Realtors.

San Diego saw its first dip into negative territory for home prices in June, when the median price for a home in the county was 1 percent lower than it had been in June 2005.

The NAR also reported that the number of sales of existing homes in August dropped for the fifth straight month. That decline was measured at a 0.5 percent drop from July’s sales, and a 12.6 percent fall from last August. August 2005’s rate of sales made that month the second highest on record.

Inventory levels nationwide are up higher than they’ve been since April 1993, NAR said. There are enough homes on the market right now to last 7.5 months at the current sales pace.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, had this to say about the numbers in a press release:

“After a stronger-than-expected drop in July, the fairly even sales numbers in August tell us the market is at a more sustainable pace,” he said. “It keeps us on track to see the third highest sales year on record, but we do expect an adjustment in home prices to last several months as we work through a build up in the inventory of homes on the market.”

But The New York Times, in its report of the data, included a gloomier short-term outlook from an economist:

“With inventory still rising, there is no chance of any short-term relief” for sellers, said Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist with High Frequency Economics. “Prices and volumes have a long way to fall yet.”

KELLY BENNETT

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