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Survey finds house prices still stable in August as buyer interest hits 'brick wall'

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Home prices stabilized in August, but homebuyer interest continues to fall, according to a Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance (IMF) survey of more than 1,500 real estate agents. Average prices increased 6.3% for damaged REO and 2.5% for refurbished REO. Prices also increased 3.8% for short sales. Non-distressed home prices showed a slight 0.9% decline for the month. But first-time, current and investor buyer interest all declined, according to the survey, an indication that pricing hasn't fallen far enough to meet what demand remains after the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. "We’re in transition," said Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Surveys. "Individual homeowners listing non-distressed properties and mortgage servicers listing distressed properties are holding out for prices established before the end of the tax credit. Meanwhile, only a few homebuyers are willing to transact at these prices – and these are the transactions going into the averages. That’s why we saw such declines in traffic and volume in today’s market." Surveyed agents commented that sellers of non-distressed properties are "strongly resisting" low-ball offers, sometimes not even giving counter-offers. But with many while some informed buyers continue to move forward, interest is falling. "It's like we hit a brick wall," said one respondent in Indiana. "The market has almost come to a standstill. First part of the year was great and we actually saw a slight increase in home values. Now listings are reducing their prices – if we can even get an offer, it's a low offer." Write to Jon Prior.

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