Cambria and Somerset counties are bucking the trend in the real-estate industry.

While the rest of the state – according to a report released Monday by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors – is seeing home sales slow and housing affordability diminish, neither is the case locally.

“One thing I must say about our area is that we don’t follow the rest of the state or country,” said Della Csehoski, Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors executive. “We do our own thing, so the national and state home trends can vary greatly from ours.”

According to the Cambria-Somerset Association of Realtors, home sales in the two counties through the first eight months of the year have been on a steady increase. That trend has been occurring since 2004.

In 2004, 998 residential properties had sold through August and that total increased to 1,044 during the same period of last year. Through Tuesday, 1,037 residences had sold.

But Bob Colvin of ReMax Team Realtors, 2450 Bedford St., Richland Township, said the late-month rush will push this year’s eight-month total well past what was amassed last year.

“This has been a very good month,” Colvin said. “In our office alone, I think we have 20 closings scheduled before the end of the month. So I expect we’ll see a pretty good spike here in the region during the next couple of days.”

Sales numbers for the year show residential real-estate sales were on track to well surpass 2005’s performance. Through May, the number of units sold had increased by 15 percent compared with the first five months of 2005.

Colvin said a short-lived spike in interest rates slowed the market during the past two months. But with interest rates inching downward, sales are again picking up.

“I would still consider it a seller’s market,” said Scott Morris of Century 21 All Service Inc., 212 Bloomfield St., Richland Township.

“We have a lot of qualified buyers out there looking, but they just aren’t able to find the right homes.”

Finding affordable homes in the region, though, is not an issue.

According to the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, sale prices of residential properties statewide have increased by 12 percent over the year, which was roughly reflected in Cambria and Somerset counties.

However, the average sale price of homes in the two-county area remains well below the state average.

The state’s average sale price for a residential property was at $241,600 through the second quarter. The current average price in Cambria and Somerset counties is $95,993.

“I think a lot of that has to do with the number of new-construction homes being sold,” Colvin said.

“Newly constructed homes are obviously more expensive, and we don’t see nearly as much new construction. We do have new development where new homes are being constructed, but a lot of them are owners having them built rather than companies building them reselling them – which inflates the cost.”

Morris said the region does have some locations where more affordable homes will be difficult to locate.

He also said segments of the market – such as updated homes in the $70,000 to $125,000 range or new construction over $200,000 – are hard to find.

“In certain areas – such as Forest Hills or Richland – it’s a little more difficult to find homes that would be considered to be affordable,” Morris said.

“But overall, I can’t say there has been any problems finding affordable homes in the region. There are a lot of homes on the market at very reasonable prices.”

Colvin agrees that certain parts of the local housing market pose some challenges for Realtors. But generally, the region’s housing market is diversified well enough that it can accommodate just about any budget.

“We have such a broad base of pricing in our area,” Colvin said.

“You can buy homes from in the teens up to half a million or more. We have it all, really.”

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