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New and existing home sales in the Phoenix metro area reached 6,903 in October, down 24.6% from a year ago for the lowest October in 15 years, according to real estate data provider MDA DataQuick. October home sales also dropped 6.2% from the month before in Phoenix, bucking the seasonal norm. Since 1994, the change between September and October has averaged a 1.5% gain. The Phoenix market averages 9,411 home sales in October, 26.1% more than the October 2010 numbers. Data covers Maricopa and Pinal counties. September was the last month that those who qualified for the homebuyer tax credit could close escrow. The deadline for signing a purchase contract was April 30. According to MDA DataQuick, closing deadline could have given September an extra boost, which could explain the drop. "The main impact of the tax credits was to spur many people who planned to buy a home this year to commit to a purchase before the initial June 30 closing deadline," according to DataQuick. "This left fewer people looking to buy after that date and, for those who did still plan to buy, there has been little pressure — beyond ultra-low mortgage rates — to purchase sooner rather than later." Those who did buy a home in October paid a median sales price of $128,722, down 6.7% from a year ago and 1% from the previous month. The peak came in June 2006 at $264,100. New home sales took up 8.7% of the entire Phoenix market in October, down from 13% a year ago. Historically, new home sales have averaged 24% of the market. Foreclosure resales of those homes that had been foreclosed on in the previous year made up 53.9%. Lenders foreclosed on 4,660 Phoenix homes in October, down 16.2% from a year ago. Write to Jon Prior.

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