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The median price per square foot of resale single family homes dropped 2.6 percent in September. The condo median, which took a much harder hit in August, dropped a more moderate .9 percent for the month. An aggregate of the two property types dropped 2.0 percent.

The accompanying graph displays the declines for the size-adjusted median since it peaked three years ago in September 2005.

Home prices tend to move upward during the spring and early summer months. This has even historically been the the case during protracted housing downturns. Such is the power of the current bust, however, that this year’s “spring rally” seems to have manifested itself as a period of slightly more subdued price declines.

There are a number of crosscurrents at work in the housing market. Significant job losses appear to be an increasingly higher risk, and not just in the housing-related sectors. At the same time the government is going all out prop up the housing and credit markets. How this all plays out in the end is anyone’s guess at this point. For now, the downturn holds sway.

— RICH TOSCANO

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