Buyers' interest in condominiums and cooperatives weakened during the third quarter as resales dropped 12.6 percent from the second quarter and 5.5 percent from year-ago levels, the National Association of Realtors reports.

The association said the condo and co-op annual sales rate declined to 312,000 units during the period and quarter-to-quarter declines were posted in all regions except the South.The median price for existing condos was $84,400 during the third quarter, unchanged from a year ago.

With the Persian Gulf crisis and economic downturn grabbing recent headlines, "fear of the unknown kept many home buyers out of the market," said Norman Flynn, the association's president.

Flynn said credit for condo purchases remained available during the quarter, and remains available now.

"People who are able to buy would be well advised to get off the sidelines," Flynn said. "They should not let gloom and doom headlines obscure the long-term benefits of homeownership."