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Portland region homes continued to sell at their slowest pace in at least 15 years during February as nearly one out of five buyers in the resale market chose a foreclosure. The overall median sale price, which has held up better than in most housing markets in the West, inched up from January but still fell short of the year-ago level for the 11th consecutive month, a real estate information service reported.

Foreclosure resales - homes resold that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months - accounted for about 18 percent of all Portland area resales in February. That's well below levels seen in some other major Western markets, where foreclosures account for half or more of all resale activity.

A total of 1,566 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during February in the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton metro area (see included MSA counties below). That sales total rose 13 percent from January but dropped 41.2 percent below a year earlier, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

The number of homes sold in February was the lowest for that month since at least 1994, when DataQuick's complete (all home types) Portland region sales statistics begin. The February total was the second-lowest for any month on record, behind the January 2009 sales tally, and marked the 36th consecutive month in which total sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis. Total Portland region sales have been the lowest on record for that particular month for the last 10 consecutive months.

February sales of newly constructed homes fell the most from last year and were the second-lowest on record.

The regional median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos combined in February was $247,750, up 1.1 percent from $245,000 in January but down 8.2 percent from $270,000 a year earlier. The February median was 14.2 percent below its $288,858 peak in August 2007.

Another price gauge, the median price paid per square foot for resale detached houses, suggests more price erosion since the peak: Buyers paid a median $146 per square foot in February, up slightly from $145 in January but down 14.1 percent from a year ago and down 21.9 percent from the $187 peak in June 2007.

The Portland area's median sale price declines are well below those in many U.S. markets, especially in the West. Portland's 8.2 percent annual drop in its median price paid for all homes combined in February compares with a 14.3 percent decline in the Seattle area, a 39 percent decline in Southern California and a 38 percent decline in the Las Vegas and Phoenix regions.

DataQuick's Portland area statistics reflect sales in Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington and Yamhill counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington.

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