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Existing-home sales increase in Q1

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.14 million in the first quarter, up 8.3% from 4.75 million in the fourth quarter, and down 0.8% from a 5.18-million pace during the same period in 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

Existing-home sales showed gains in 49 states and the District of Columbia, while 22% of the available metropolitan areas saw prices rise from a year ago.

Median existing single-family home price in the first quarter increased in 34 out of 153 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) from the first quarter of 2010; four had double-digit increases, one was unchanged, and 118 areas showed declines.

“The reading of quarterly price data can be volatile because they are based on the types of homes that are sold during the quarter. When buyers principally purchase distressed properties in a given market, the recorded prices will be very low, which is what we’re seeing now in much of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist,. “Annual price data provides a better guide about the direction of the market in those areas.”

The national median existing single-family home price was $158,700 in the first quarter, down 4.6% from $166,400 in the first quarter of 2010.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 0.8% in the first quarter to 800,000 but are 7.3% below the first quarter of 2010. In the Midwest existing-home sales increased 7.9% to a pace of 1.09 million but are 55 below a year ago. In the South, existing-home sales increased 8.5% to an annual rate of 1.96 million and are 2.8% higher than the first quarter of 2010. Existing-home sales in the West rose 13.5% in the first quarter to 1.29 million and are 2.1% above a year ago. 

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