Housing slide: Not so bad here?

A national realtors' report that home prices dropped for the first time in 10 years in August doesn't have dire implications here yet– although prices of properties in the $500,000 range and above could be lower than a year ago, according to local real estate guru Dave Phillips.

The National Association of Realtors reported yesterday that home prices were down 1.7 percent in August from a year ago. In Massachusetts it's even worse– prices have tanked 6.1 percent. Not to worry here?

"I'm just shaking my head," says Phillips, CEO at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Association of Realtors. "They're making it sound like markets have gone to hell in a handbasket."

The Charlottesville market is much more insulated because of UVA, says Phillips, but it has changed dramatically in the past year, with more than twice the inventory. And houses are remaining for sale longer. That said, "This is likely to be the second best year for sales," coming in right behind last year's record, says Phillips.

In mid-May, in one sign of local softening, prices fell on spec houses in this area. However, Phillips notes that houses priced under $300,000 are still appreciating. It's the bigger-ticket properties that are suffering– relatively.

"A house that sold for $800,000 a year ago may sell for $700,000 now," says Phillips.

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