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Low Prices And Rates Can't Slow Fall In Home Sales

The biggest drops in sales are among homes in the low and middle price ranges. For example, 47 percent fewer homes in the Midwest priced between $100,000 and $250,000 sold in July, compared with July last year. By contrast, sales of million-dollar-plus homes in that region actually rose slightly year over year.

This spring, government tax credits helped drive sales, especially among first-time buyers of less expensive homes. But those tax credits have expired now, and many people rushed to lock in sales before they did.

Since then, the number of homes lingering on the market has swelled to nearly 4 million in July. At the current pace of sales, it would take about a year and two weeks to sell all those homes and get them off the market. A healthy level is six months.

Laurie Salaman has been trying to sell her home in New York for a year so she can move to the suburbs. She's had no offers, even after cutting her listing price on the three-bedroom Bronx home from $475,000 to $449,900.

She notes that she has upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms, refinished the basement and put in new decks and patios. Her goal is to take about $100,000 from the sale and put it toward the purchase of the new house. She said she won't lower the price again.

"That's my bottom price," Salaman said. "If I don't get that price, then I will hold off until the market gets a little better."

Not every seller is so firm. Scott Prestopino has cut his listing price on a five-bedroom home in Carmel, N.Y., to $550,000, from $675,000 in December. He had one offer in April, but the buyer backed out.

Prestopino and his family want to move back to Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., where they had lived for 15 years. They've looked at homes on the market there, but that's all they can do.

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