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NAR: Existing-home sales on the rise during Q1 2011

Existing-home sales were up during the first quarter of 2011.

Existing-home sales were up during the first quarter of 2011.

The National Association of Realtors recently released its latest survey regarding existing-home sales, which found improvement in 49 states during the first quarter of 2011.

Total existing-home sales, which include single-family homes and condos nationwide, were up 8.3 percent, climbing to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.14 million units during Q1 2011. This is a quarter-over-quarter increase from the 4.75 million rate during Q4 2010. Despite the increase, the total is still down 0.8 percent year-over-year from Q1 2010's rate of 5.18 million.

The median home price for single-family residences was also down, falling 4.6 percent year-over-year to $166,400. Distressed homes were sold at a discount of 20 percent and represented 39 percent of all sales during Q1 2011, which is a 36 percent improvement year-over-year.

"The biggest sales increase has been in the lower price ranges, which are popular with investors and cash buyers," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "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."

For those interested in moving, existing-home sales in the West had the largest jump, increasing 13.5 percent during the first quarter of 2011, followed by the South at 8.5 percent, Midwest at 7.9 percent and the Northeast at 0.8 percent.