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ON THE HEELS OF A REPORT THAT EXISTING HOME SALES NATIONWIDE WERE DOWN 27% IN JULY, FIGURES WERE RELEASED FOR THE SOUTHWEST PLEX AND THEY SHOWED SIMILAR ALARMING TRENDS.  ACCORDING TO THE GROUP METROSTUDY, JULY’S MEDIAN PRICE FOR EXISTING HOME SALES WAS OFF 12% TO $157,700 IN THE SARASOTA/BRADENTON MARKET, WHICH INCLUDES THE CITY OF VENICE.  IN CHARLOTTE COUNTY, THE JULY MEDIAN PRICE WAS $95,700, DOWN 9%.  PRICES HAD BEEN ON THE UPTREND FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR, BUT REAL ESTATE EXPERTS SAY THE CONTINUING UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS COUPLED WITH A LARGE FORECLOSURE MARKET AND DEMAND FOR LOWER END PRICED HOMES WILL KEEP PRICES HEADING SOUTH FOR THE REST OF THE THIRD QUARTER AND MAYBE LONGER.  ANOTHER MAJOR STUMBLING BLOCK IN HOME SALES FIGURES IS THE BANKS, AS IT CONTINUES TO BE VERY DIFFICULT TO GET A LOAN.  REALTORS ARE HOPING PEOPLE WITH CASH FROM OTHER AREAS OF THE COUNTRY, PARTICULARLY IN THE NORTHEAST, WILL SEE THE LOWER PRICES AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUY NOW.