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Existing-home sales hit second-highest level in March

Median home prices soar in West, Northeast

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Existing single-family home sales in March were up about 12.7 percent above March 2003 numbers, reaching the second-highest level on record, the National Association of Realtors reported today. Existing-home sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.48 million units in March, compared with the record of 6.68 million in September 2003. In February, NAR recorded 6.13 million units.   David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said, "Although interest rates are rising modestly, an improving job market is creating a favorable backdrop for home sales, but at a somewhat slower pace in the months ahead."   According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.45 percent in March, the second lowest on record, down from 5.64 percent in February. It was 5.75 percent in March 2003; the record low is 5.23 percent set in June 2003. Freddie Mac started tracking interest rates in 1971.   NAR President Walt McDonald said ...