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District home sales jump in first quarter
Washington Business Journal - 12:27 PM EDT Tuesday, May 15, 2007
by Jeff Clabaugh

Staff Reporter
Home sales in the first quarter were down 6.6 percent from a year ago nationally, but sales of existing homes in the District jumped 9.3 percent, the second biggest increase in the country.

A quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors also says Washington-area home prices rose a modest 1.2 percent from year-ago levels, while nationally, median home prices fell 1.8 percent to a two-year low. Prices fell in almost half the U.S. cities listed in the NAR report.

The median price of an existing home in the Washington area was $427,800 last quarter, compared with $422,800 a year ago.

The biggest gain in year-over-year median prices was in Cumberland, Md., up 17.1 percent, to $100,000.

Sales in the District were outpaced only by a 20 percent gain in Wyoming, but sales were down 5.7 percent from a year ago in Virginia and down 10 percent in Maryland.

While the numbers look better locally than they do nationally, the National Association of Realtors said the report shows a broad stabilization in the housing market.

"It appears the worst of the price correction is behind us," said NAR President Pat Combs. "More stable home prices and declining mortgage interest rates are increasing buying power, which should encourage potential buyers who've been on the sidelines."

The most expensive market in the nation last quarter was San Jose, Calif., with a median home price of $788,000. The cheapest market was Elmira, N.Y., at $75,300.
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