Home Sales Rise in 49 States, Values Remain Distressed

Existing home sales showed an uptick in 49 states and Washington, D.C. during the first quarter, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Realtors, which attributes the increase in sales to dire home prices across the nation. Twenty-two percent of available metropolitan areas saw prices increases year-over-year, the NAR survey found.

State existing home sales including single family and condos, in total, experienced an 8.3% gain to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.14 million during the quarter, up from 4.75 million in the fourth quarter of last year. Additionally, the median existing single-family home price rose in 34 out of 153 metropolitan statistical areas, fell in 118 of those areas, and remained unchanged in one area.

The national median value for existing single-family homes was $158,700 in the first quarter, a 4.6% decline from $166,400 in the first quarter of 2010.

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“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,” he said. “Annual price data provides a better guide about the direction of the market in those areas.”

“The biggest sales increase has been in the lower price ranges, which are popular with investors and cash buyers,” he added. “The preponderance of sales activity at the lower end is bringing down the median price, so what we’re seeing is the result of a change in the composition of home sales.”

Vermont was the only state that did not experience an increase in home sales during the quarter.

Real estate data hub Zillow reported this week that home prices are unlikely hit bottom before 2012.

See the NAR data findings.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • Seasonally adjusted annual rates based on winter sales activities is hardly a strong indicator of the future direction in home values. NAR is as famous as ever for overreaching. However, having said that it is good to see improved sales activities. The more foreclosed homes move out of inventory, the better for the overall housing industry.

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