Home sales and prices of existing homes in Washington slipped in the last quarter of 2007, reflecting the national downturn, the Washington...

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SPOKANE — Home sales and prices of existing homes in Washington slipped in the last quarter of 2007, reflecting the national downturn, the Washington Center for Real Estate Research said Thursday.

Fourth-quarter sales were 99,120, down 25.6 percent from sales of 133,220 homes in the same period of 2006, according to the report from the center at Washington State University.

The sales decline mirrors the national picture, but other Western states such as Nevada, California and Arizona suffered even steeper declines than Washington state, said Glenn Crellin, the center’s director.

The median home-sales price in Washington during the fourth quarter was $293,900, down 2.5 percent from the final quarter of 2006. That’s the first year-to-year decline since the center began compiling the data in 1994, Crellin said.

In King County, sales were down 28.1 percent to 24,170 and the median price dropped 0.2 percent to $439,000. In Snohomish County, sales were off 35.8 percent to 8,620, while the price rose 2.4 percent to $363,400.

Pierce County saw a 35.1 percent drop in sales to 10,600 and the median price dropped 0.5 percent to $275,000, while sales were off 23.6 percent in Kitsap County to 3,430 homes, with the median price down 2.6 percent to $272,600.

Nationally, home prices slipped 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter, and in the West they fell 8.7 percent compared with the year-earlier period, according to National Association of Realtors data released Thursday, Crellin said.

Median home prices jumped the most in Grant County in Eastern Washington, rising 20.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006, to $169,900.

Nationally, the largest price declines were found in Lansing, Mich.; Sacramento, Calif.; Jackson, Miss.; and Riverside, Calif., which posted price declines of 17 to 19 percent.

South Dakota was the lone state to show a sales increase. Existing-home sales there rose 8.9 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Sales were unchanged in North Dakota. No sales figures were available for Idaho, Indiana and New Hampshire.

The report from the Center for Real Estate Research also measured the ability of typical families to purchase typical homes, through the Housing Affordability Index.

The index for Washington state stood at 90.5 for the fourth quarter, meaning a family with the median statewide income of $64,030 had a little over 90 percent of the income required to qualify for a mortgage on a home priced at the median of $293,900.

It’s the most affordable that housing has been since the opening months of 2006.